Bee Counted! Million Pollinator Garden Challenge


Reprinted with permission of the National Garden Bureau.

Bee a Part of the
Million Pollinator Garden Challenge

June 15-21 is National Pollinator Week

National Pollinator Garden Network Launches Million Pollinator Garden Challenge

In an unprecedented collaboration, dozens of conservation and gardening organizations, including National Garden Bureau, joined together to form the National Pollinator Garden Network and launch a new nationwide campaign – the Million Pollinator Garden Challenge. Designed to accelerate growing efforts across America, the Network is launching the Challenge in support of President Barack Obama’s call to action to reverse the decline of pollinating insects, such as honey bees and native bees, as well as monarch butterflies. Representatives of the Network joined First Lady Michelle Obama at the White House garden, which includes a section dedicated to support pollinators, to formally launch the Challenge.

The Network is challenging the nation to reach the goal of one million additional pollinator gardens by the end of 2016.

Any individual can contribute by planting for pollinators!

To tackle these challenges, the Network is rallying hundreds of thousands of gardeners, horticultural professionals, schools, and volunteers to help reach a million pollinator gardens over the next two years.

Every habitat of every size counts!

From window boxes and garden plots to farm borders, golf courses, school gardens, corporate and university campuses. Everywhere we live, work, play and worship can, with small improvements, offer essential food and shelter for pollinators.

It’s easy to register your pollinator habitat!

“National Garden Bureau supports gardens of all types, done by any type of gardener for any reason and gardening for the health of pollinators is a priority for NGB and our members,” said Diane Blazek, executive director of the National Garden Bureau. “We are thrilled to be part of the National Pollinator Garden Network and look forward to the day we reach one million pollinator gardens registered in the Million Pollinator Garden Challenge.”

Click here to shop for pollinator-friendly plants from NGB Members.

It’s a simple two-step process:
1) Plant pollen or nectar rich plants
2) Register your pollinator habitat here

Additional steps you can take to make your area more pollinator-friendly:

  • Provide a water source
  • Situate your garden and/or plants in a sunny area with wind breaks
  • Establish continuous blooms throughout the growing season
  • Minimize the impact of pesticides
Full list of National Pollinator Garden Network partner organizations:

Learn more at www.millionpollinatorgardens.org and join the discussion on Social Media through the hashtag #PolliNation.

Your Garden, Your Sanctuary


 Reprinted with permission of the National Garden Bureau:

 

 

Your Garden, Your Sanctuary

This is an excerpt from The Herb Lover’s Spa Book: Create a Luxury Spa Experience at Home with Fragrant Herbs from Your Garden (St. Lynn’s Press, 2015) by Sue Goetz

As a garden designer, I often hear people say their garden is their therapy.
They will work outside in the dark with a flashlight after a long day at work, just to have precious moments to dig in the dirt. It is amazing how a few hours of tending the garden will melt away a whole day of stress. The influence of a garden is written in history and long studied, whether you go back to Eden with Adam and Eve or study the history of medicine derived from plants.

There is much that can be said about how a garden affects us. It all but forces us into a patient tempo and away from the instant gratification that drives so many aspects of modern life. When we’re in the garden, there is no device that dings in our brain when time is up or a computerized sound to remind us to go somewhere. We plant bulbs in dark, damp soil, knowing the fulfillment will be months away. We push tiny seeds into the ground with a memory of the taste of fresh tomatoes off the vine. In the fast-paced life of today, we need to find sanctuary and healing therapy. What is at the top of the list? Planting, nurturing and being in the garden. We can toss aside the statistics about the popularity of gardening, and say that it is long-revered as a place to go when one wants to slow down and linger. There is simply something about nature that forces us to not be in a hurry. She is also a powerful seductress that keeps us always longing to smell flowers and gather herbs for tea, and crave the first fresh-picked raspberry.

Happy Gardening, Happy Relaxing!

PAMPER YOURSELF
The Herb Lover’s Spa Book invites you to unplug, relax and make the world go away. Herb gardener and spa enthusiast Sue Goetz shows how easy it is to grow and prepare therapeutic herbs for a nurturing spa experience in the comfort of your own home. With lavish photography and simple step-by-steps, she presents 19 fragrant herbs (such as Aloe vera, basil, dandelion, eucalyptus, hops, lavender, parsley, rose, sage, scented geranium, thyme and witch hazel) for your garden and over 50 herbal recipes for maximum pampering: lotions, soaks, teas, masks, scrubs, aromatherapy and more.
HAND AND NAIL BUTTER (perfect for a gardener’s achy hands)

Tension can elicit pain in any part of the body, but sometimes a massage to one area can release tension in another. If arms and shoulders are tense, the simplicity of a hand massage begins to soothe and release. Hand massage techniques can be done anywhere to help ease stress, especially after working outside or on a computer all day. This recipe is rich in natural waxes and oils to saturate the skin in herbal goodness. This is great as a fingernail and cuticle treatment. For an intensive overnight treatment, use butter on hands and feet, and wear socks and gloves to help seal in moisture.

2 tablespoons cocoa butter
2 tablespoons beeswax
4 tablespoons grapeseed oil
8 drops lavender essential oil
4 drops lemon essential oil
3 drops rose geranium essential oil

What to do:
In a small saucepan, slowly melt cocoa butter and beeswax. Stir until well blended together and liquefied. Add grapeseed oil, stir well and remove from heat. Continue stirring until almost cooled down.
Add the essential oils, stir well and pour into jar. The mixture will harden slightly to a smooth, buttery texture. Use this within 3 months for best freshness.

Give this hand massage to a partner or friend: Apply a small amount of hand and nail butter to your friend’s hand. Support one hand with your fingers and begin to stroke the ends of the fingers, working each finger gently along the joints and fingers. Work your way up to the wrist with gentle motions, spreading the herbal lotion as you go. Then sandwich their hand between your own hands and draw away very slowly and deliberately. Repeat several times before letting go completely. Repeat the motions on the other hand. 

2015 AAS Summer/Fall Summit registration is now open


Reprinted with permission of All-American Selections:

 

Registration is Now Open!
AAS Summer/Fall Summit
“Urban Ag Opportunities”
October 5-8, 2015
Dallas, TX 

All-America Selections is heading south! South to Texas, that is. In an ongoing mission to visit states and AAS Trial Grounds that we’ve never visited, the AAS Summer/Fall Summit will be held in Dallas, Texas this year.

BONUS! The 2015 AAS Summer/Fall Summit is being held in partnership with the Home Garden Seed Association. One trip, three days, new faces and multiple stops to see many different facets of Urban Agriculture as represented in the Dallas Ft. Worth area.

Registration for the AAS Summer/Fall Summit is now open; click here to register.

Some of the exciting details about our trip to the big state of Texas:

MONDAY, OCTOBER 5, 2015
Arrive in Dallas, Texas, via Dallas Love Field or DFW International airport. Our hotel offers a free shuttle from Love Field.
Welcome reception at 6:00 PM: Settle in to your comfortable suite, then join HGSA, AAS and NGB for the evening’s welcome reception.

TUESDAY, OCTOBER 6, 2015
After breakfast at Embassy Suites Hotel, our first stop is the Dallas branch of the Texas A&M AgriLife Research & Extension Center. We will visit their Water-Wise demonstration home as well as their “Food 3.0” sustainable ag project.
After an authentic Texas-style lunch served at the beautiful North Haven Garden Center, we’ll make our way to the world-famous 66-acre Dallas Arboretum for a tour of the 2015 AAS Trials as well their award-winning gardens. That evening, we’ll dine together as we celebrate at the annual AAS Awards Banquet.

WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 7
After breakfast and meeting updates from all three organizations, we’ll travel to Fort Worth to visit the Fort Worth Botanic Garden to see the AAS Display and Japanese Garden.  Lunch today is at the trendy Clear Fork Food Park then we’ll head to the Botanical Research Institute of Texas for a tour and the HGSA roundtable discussion on market trends, industry concerns and opportunities. Later we’ll indulge our senses with tequila tasting, chocolate tasting and an evening of flavor explosions in the hip multi-use urban area of Forth Worth known as West 7th Street.

THURSDAY, OCTOBER 8
Today we focus on the Downtown Dallas area as we tour Ruibal’s Rosemeade Market, including HGSA member’s container trials, located next to the Dallas Farmer’s Market. After lunch, we’ll have an NGB panel presentation from several of Dallas’ urban ag visionaries. That afternoon, continue on to Ruibal’s production facility to review the extensive plantings of 2015 HGSA summer trials. Time permitting, we’ll make a quick stop at the Klyde Warren Park and Parkland Hospital’s Therapy Garden before finishing our 2015 event with an HGSA evening of camaraderie and dining in Dallas’ up and coming Greenville Street neighborhood. 

Full Registration is available for $395
Single day options are $200 per day.
Host hotel is the Embassy Suites Market Center; rooms are only $129/night.

AAS Judges – this is a great opportunity to meet other judges and share your experiences.
AAS Display Gardens – this is a chance to learn more about the AAS trialing process and the story behind the AAS Winners you feature in your gardens.
Garden Writers – this is an opportunity to meet the industry folks behind the AAS Winners and learn the in-depth process each and ever entry goes through in order to become an AAS Winner.

Come join us!

Growing a Bountiful Harvest on a Patio


Reprinted with permission of the National Garden Bureau:

 

Growing a Bountiful Harvest on a Patio

At National Garden Bureau, we like to encourage those who think they have a brown thumb to attempt gardening, even if on a small scale. And what better way to start than with produce grown in easy-to-manage containers on your own patio! 

Container growing offers many benefits, not the least of which is that you can put a ‘garden’ just about anywhere. Balconies on a highrise building can become urban gardens and a backyard deck or patio becomes a produce garden at your fingertips. The top vegetable breeders that are members of National Garden Bureau are encouraging this trend by breeding smaller, more compact varieties that still are prolific producers.

Without a doubt, container gardens will require less weeding than their in-ground counterparts. This makes them ideal for busy people who love gardening and fresh food but have limited time. However, watering container gardens has to be monitored more closely. Smaller gardens in hot sun can dry out quickly and even a gentle summer breeze will wick moisture from plants. Be prepared to water daily or even twice daily during long, hot, dry spells.

As for supplies, the shopping list is small:

* Appropriately sized container (bigger is usually better)
* Good quality growing medium
* Young plants or seeds
* Your desired choice of fertilizer or plant food
* Stakes or cages if growing tall or vining edibles

After that, with a little sun, a little water and a little patience, you’ll soon have fresh delicious vegetables and herbs, even fruit, at your back door (or front door!). We always feel a little like Martha Stewart when we can step out the back door, snip a few herbs, grab a handful of tomatoes and a pepper or two then go back inside to continue with our meal preparation.

Helpful tips from NGB and our members:

Tips on selecting the right container can be found here from National Garden Bureau.

Johnny’s Seeds has a blog post about mixing vegetables herbs and flowers all in the same container for a very trendy look.

Burpee has this assortment of vegetables selected explicitly for containers. They also offer these tips on which herbs and vegetables grow well together.

A large selection of suitable containers can be found here from Gardener’s Supply as well as a helpful selection of self-watering containers for vegetables.

American Meadows offers a hanging garden, perfect for lettuce or strawberries, to utilize wall space.

Botanical Interests offers some tips for growing vegetables in shady areas as well as a container vegetable seed collection.

For more reading, here are some great books on growing vegetables from St. Lynn’s Press:
No Nonsense Vegetable Gardening by Donna Balzer and Steven Biggs
Plants with Benefits by Helen Yoest
The 20-30 Something Garden Guide by Dee Nash
Tomatoes Garlic Basil by Doug Oster

For more on growing container edibles, click here for the “Veggies in Containers” article from NGB.

For proven performers, check our these AAS Winners perfect for growing in containers:
Basil Dolce Fresca
Bean Mascotte
Cucumber Parisian Gherkin
Cucumber Pick a Bushel
Eggplant Patio Baby
Pepper Pretty N Sweet
Squash Butterscotch
Tomato Terenzo

Happy Gardening, Cooking, and Eating!

More Plant Combination Inspirations


Republished with permission of the National Garden Bureau:

 

More Plant Combination Inspirations

Based on the response from the last e-newsletter about possible combination planter ideas, we are again presenting a few ideas on plants that can grow well together. Listed below, you can find additional National Garden Bureau’s members’ new varieties, including recent AAS Winners, as possible combinations to try.

Many great container designers suggest a thriller element for the container, meaning something tall, bold and/or dramatic. If you like the look of a softened planter edge, then by all means, add some sort of vining element if the combinations below do not offer a vining/cascading plant. Additionally, adding foliage plants to a combination planter can add texture and additional color variations.

Have fun trying new combinations and once you have something you like, share it on our Facebook page!

Let’s Go Garden!

An edible combo for the sun that’s as pretty as it is practical! Pair AAS Winners Mascotte bean with Pretty N Sweet pepper for a range of bright summer colors that produce delicious edible goodies all season long. Both have a compact habit perfect for window boxes and/or containers.
The lovely pink edged leaves of Ornamental Japonica Striped corn will act as a stunning accent plant in a container of Pinto Premium Lavender Rose geraniums. If you’re looking for a low-maintenance combination planter, this one is for you!
Zinnia Salsiando can act as a medium-height accent plant with red interior petals that will blend perfectly with the flowing and mounding habit of Petunia Easy Wave Velour Red.
Brand new hydrangea L.A. Dreamin’ boasts of blooms in blue, pink and every color in between, all on the same plant. Pair it with airy Glitz euphorbia in a large container for a dreamy combination of large hydrangea flowers and delicate white euphorbia blooms.
New Sanguna® Radiant Blue petunia has a unique, eye-catching pattern that will add flair to landscape beds, hanging baskets and combination containers. Its white center with blue trimmed petals looks stunning with the all-white osteospermum Akila® Daisy White. Both varieties have very good heat tolerance and will perform well in full sun while attracting butterflies, bees and hummingbirds.

Where to find Lutz Green Leaf Winter Keeper Beet?


“Does anyone sell real honest to God Lutz Green Leaf Winter Keeper Beet seed?  I’ve been very disappointed in buying this seed from mail order catalogs.  It’s not Lutz in my opinion. Real Lutz is 15 inches high and grows big sweet beets up to 6 inches. Have you run field trials on this seed? Can you verify it’s the real deal? Do you have a picture of the beets? Who is selling the real thing?

Donald in Iowa”

___________________________________________________________________

Hi Donald,

Thank you for the email regarding Lutz Green Leaf Beets.  Lutz is a pretty popular heirloom variety, but the true strain of the variety does not match your description.

Lutz BeetPer the “Garden Seed Inventory”, 6th ed., published by Seed Saver’s Exchange, the description of Lutz Green Leaf Beet is:

“60-80 days – Smooth purple-red top-shaped beet, 2.25-3 in. diameter, lighter zones, half-long taproot, long glossy 14-18 in. tops with pink midribs, good for greens, excellent keeper, grows large without getting woody, good fresh, for winter and fall use.”  The variety is also legally known as New Century, Winter Keeper, Lutz Green, Lutz Salad, and Lutz Green Top.

Many companies like Harris Seed, Johnny’s and Territorial carry a true strain of the Lutz Green Leaf Beet, and it matches the description above.

I hope this information helps you out.  If you have any other questions, please feel free to contact me.

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© Mertie Mae Botanics LLC and Horticulture Talk!, 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Mertie Mae Botanics LLC and Horticulture Talk! with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

I’m Baaaaaa-yack…


As you may have noticed, Horticulture Talk has been pretty quiet for the last few months as this horticulturist has been a bit under the weather.  Things are returning more to normal for now, so I am hoping to have more time to post my responses to your questions.  As those of you who have asked questions know, I still respond personally to your questions even when I’m not here much.  As I catch up here, I will be posting those responses so other can gain knowledge from them too.  As always, you are encouraged to send in any and all questions related to gardening, and I will take a stab at them and feature them here.

Hope this finds all my readers well and on the way to a successful 2015 gardening year!