Saturday, November 22, 2014

Book: Organic Pest Control

With growing consumer awareness about the dangers of garden chemicals, turn to The Organic Gardener’s Handbook of Natural Pest and Disease Control (by Fern Bradley) as the most reliable and comprehensive guide on the garden shelf. Rodale has been the category leader in organic methods for decades, and this thoroughly updated edition features the latest science-based recommendations for battling garden problems. With all-new photos of common and recently introduced pests and plant diseases, you can quickly identify whether you've discovered garden friend or foe and what action, if any, you should take.


Tuesday, November 18, 2014


If you are looking for a plant that is happy in the shade, produces great foliage and beautiful flowers then look no further than the hosta.
The hosta is a native of Japan and it was Englebert Kaempfer (1651-1715) who was a doctor and botanist with the Dutch East India Company who was the first Westerner to see a hosta. Kaempfer was also the first to draw and describe one.
He gave them names which reflected the style of the times calling one Joksan, vulgo gibbooshi Gladiolus Plantagenis folio (meaning 'the common hosta with the plantain-like leaves'); the other he named simply Gibbooshi altera (meaning 'the other hosta').

The hostas were renamed by also by a doctor who followed Kaempfer who was also a botanist. Carl Thunberg (7143-1828) renamed the hostas in Linnaean binomial style, calling one of them Aletris japonica, transferring it to the genus Hemerocallis in 1784.
It was an Austrian botanist, Leopold Trattinick (1761-1848), who first proposed the generic name Hosta in 1812. The name hosta was chose in honour of an Austrian, Nicholas Thomas Host (1761-1834), who was not only a botanist, the author of Flora Austriaca and a work on grasses. Host was physician to the Emperor Frances II.
The hosta can survive in all zones and is a hermaphrodite (has both male and female organs). The flowers bloom from August to September. The young leaves and stems are said to eb edible when cooked, steamed or sir fried.
Hostas can handle a variety of soil conditions; light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and can grow in heavy clay soils; and acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils.
I acquired my first hosta plant this year when we moved into our new house. I have included them in various garden designs but this is the first time I have had one in my direct care.
The hostas are clustered around a senior maple tree in our backyard. The roots of this ancient run throughout the yard and the one hosta, a small plant with a single flower, that I decided to transplant was sitting right on top of a root.
Hostas are fairly simple to transplant; but I did not want to harm the tree or the hosta. So rather than using a shovel to dig it up, I got my trusty hand trowel of the shed. It came out easily enough and the tree root was not visibly marked.
I had already filled the wheelbarrow with the soil I was moving to a new garden bed beside the side porch along the driveway and placed the hosta on that.
It was a cool and cloudy morning so the trauma to the plant would be minimal.
I spread the soil over the cardboard that I had lain down two days ago and watered twice since then, the last time just before I put the soil down. Once the soil was in place, I situated the hosta and made sure the roots were well covered and the soil was all around then I watered again.
The plant is doing well and is in an area with dappled shade so should stay happy. If you are seeking a plant for that shady or partially shady spot one that will provide great foliage and gorgeous flowers and ask little from you then the hosta is your best bet.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Rose of Sharon

The Rose of Sharon or Hibiscus syriacus, depending upon variety is hardy from zone 5a to zone 9 and I am a zone 3 or 4 gardener.
Soil ph ranges
From 5.6 to 6.0 (acidic)
6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)
6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)
The Rose of Sharon is referred to in the Bible in King Solomon’s Song of Songs
I am the rose of Sharon,
and the lily of the valleys.
As the lily among thorns,
so is my love among the daughters.
As the apple tree among the trees of the wood,
so is my beloved among the sons.
The flower's symbolic significance stems from the Korean word mugung, meaning immortality.
If leaf spots are seen, pick off and destroy the infected leaves.If bacterial leaf spot causes problems, pick off and destroy infected leaves. Canker can kill branches or entire plants. Bright,reddish-orange fruiting bodies may appear on the bark.Prune out infected branches.
Flowers may be infected with a blight caused by a fungus.Bud drop can be caused by too much or too little fertilization. One potential problem that may affect the Rose of Sharon is during its first summer, if you live in a hot climate or have a particularly hot summer, the first year that you plant it, it is possible that the heat will kill the plant if it does not get enough water.
When most plants are first planted they usually need closer attention than they do when they have become established and this is especially so in extreme weather, excess heat or rain, for example.
The plant requires ample moisture and some protection from midday to afternoon sun if it is to reach its peak. The Rose of Sharon is a shrub that will keep its upright form as it grows. This means you will not need to do much pruning.
Best pruning times are late winter or early spring; this way you will minimize the loss of the emerging flower buds on the new growth.
Heavy spring pruning cutting back to nor more than 3 buds will produce fewer but larger flowers.

Monday, November 10, 2014

The Gardener's Imperative

For the true gardener there is no gardening season. There is an outdoor period beginning, locally, after the May 24th long weekend and ending usually in late September.

However, in the days, weeks and months between that time there is the indoor gardening season. For some, this consists of taking care of a variety for houseplants, for others this time involves study and reflection, looking through the garden journal, examining what worked in the previous year and what did not. 

Spending time in seed catalogues, dreaming of next years garden and making plans. For others, it is both. I fall into he later category.

My houseplants are only two, an ivy and a Christmas cactus; however, this year I started a bean seed in the kitchen window. At the moment it is approximately 18 inches high.

My point, I must garden or be involved in garden related activities. Gardening is an imperative. It brings me pleasure and challenges and plants make great companions.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Stem Cuttings: Propagating Houseplants

Many houseplants can be propagated from stem cuttings. The cuts need to be made with a sharp knife or razor blade as you do not want to bruise the stem which may split the stem and casue rot to set in.
If you plant this operation ahead of time you can be sure to water the plant about two hours before you cut.
This ensures that the stems and leaves are fully charged with moisture.
If you are using a flowering stem, pinch the flowers off first.
If you want to hurry up the rooting process you can coat the cut end of the stem with a root hormone.
Rooting in water:
  1. make a clean cut just above a leaf axil or node, this allows the parent plant to make new shoots from the top axils.
  2. make a second cut immediately below the lowest node of leaf axil of the cutting and then gently remove the lower leaves.
  3. place in water ; it may take up to 4 weeks, but do check, for 2-4 cm of new root to appear.
Now you can place the cutting into a potting mixture. I have found this to be a very effective method for creating new plants when I want to expand my collection or to prepare a gift for someone, also if the plant is getting too large for its location, taking cutting and rooting them is an effective way to keep the size under control, maintain the plant’s shape and create a new plant.
It can take up to 4 weeks for the new roots to develop sufficiently enough to be placed into potting soil but I do strongly suggest that you keep a close eye on their growth as I have seen, basil at least, develop, much faster than this.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Christmas Plants: Amaryllis

The amaryllis loves a bright sunny window and will produce its large, trumpet shaped flowers when properly situated. This makes sense as the plant’s native land is South America’s tropical zones. 
If you want blooms for the Christmas season then make sure to purchase a Christmas flowering variety. The Apple Blossom variety is white with soft pink touches. The bulbs are large and will produce up to three stems that have four to six flowers per stem. 
The Apple Blossom will reach a height of approximately 20 inches (50cms) and will flower six to eight weeks after planting. 
The name amaryllis comes from the Greek αμαρυσσω (amarysso) which means "to sparkle". The amaryllis flower is named for a heroine in Virgil's epic poem 'Eclogues'. 
There are two plants that are often confused, the Hippeastrun hybrida (Amaryllis) and the Amaryllis belladonna (Belladonna Lily). This hub refers to the former the Hippeastrum hybrida.
The amaryllis is one of the easiest bulbs to get to bloom: you can bring your plant into bloom either indoors or out.
Beside the large trumpet shaped flowers one of the amaryllis’s main attractions is that it is available in a variety of colours and red, white, pink, salmon and orange. In addition, the amaryllis has a number of striped and multicolored varieties.
When you first bring home your amaryllis remember to place the base and roots of the bulb in lukewarm water for a few hours. If you must wait to plant them store them at a cool temperature between 40-50 degrees F.
The bulb must be planted up to its neck in the potting compost, do not to damage the roots; then firmly press the soil down to set the bulb securely in place after planting.
Amaryllis is a great container plant and needs to be put in a warm place with direct light since heat is necessary for the development of the stems. The ideal temperature is 68 to 70 degrees F.
Until the stem appears you will water sparingly and gradually increase water as the bud and leaves appear. Now the stem will rapidly grow and you will see the flowers burst forth when the stem has reached its mature growth.
When the plants stops flowering you can bring the blooms back by cutting the old flowers from the stem after flowering, and when the stem starts to sag, cut it back to the top of the bulb.
The leaves will likely begin to yellow in the early fall and that is the time to cut the leaves back to about 2 inches from the top of the bulb and remove the bulb from the soil.
If you plant to store your bulbs, first clean them and then out them in a cool (40-50 deg. F), dark place such as the crisper of your refrigerator for at least six weeks.
Indoors over the holiday season the amaryllis adds to the festive atmosphere. They also make great gifts for anyone on your list that enjoys houseplants. They have become almost as popular over the holidays as the poinsettia.

Native Plants

There are two projects happening here in Campbellton that have me turning to the subject of native plants. When we are discussing native pl...