Archive | June 2013

Radicchio? Or Lettuce?


“I ordered Radicchio from Pinetree Seeds and had this grow. It looks like lettuce to me. I didn’t plant all the seeds and what was left in the package looks like radicchio. I have grown both radicchio and lettuce for at least 40 years.

P1010401Thank you,

Vlad”

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Hi Vlad,

Thank you for the email regarding your radicchio. Actually, your radicchio looks like some I have grown in the past.  Some varieties of radicchio is green to begin and then will have the red head form in the middle (where you see more red coloration in the photo).

I want to make sure this is clear: your radicchio seed did not grow lettuce. It just doesn’t work that way. You may already know that, but there are a lot of people out there that do not and will start to cook up horticultural conspiracy theories about it.

If it were me growing this, I would not be concerned. You do have radicchio.

If you are still in doubt, I would take a picture of the seeds you have remaining in the package and contact Pinetree Seeds. You have the proof of what was in the package and what grew in it’s place.

Thanks for the question. Let me know how it works out!

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© Mertie Mae Botanics LLC and Horticulture Talk!, 2013. 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.

Horticulture Talk on Hiatus… and Prowling for Plagiarizing Losers!


Hey Everyone,

Just wanted to let you know — some of the content on my blog may not be available during the next few days (weeks?).

I became aware today that I have an individual that is plagiarizing content from my blog — whole articles at a time. I started my blog in 2005 to see if I really *knew* things about horticulture. As a professional horticulturist, I can say stuff to people and they will believe me because of who I am. This blog was my way of seeing if people still believed my information and found me to be credible when my big professional name was removed from the picture.  I guess my advice is really good, so I should be flattered that others want to steal it.

The individual that plagiarized my content has a garlic farm in the NW USA, so you would –think– they would know enough about their crop to actually write up their own information. Pretty sad when Ms. PhD has to steal content from a little old blog like mine to make her company successful!

*insert eyeroll*

Anyway, I will be going about copyrighting all of my entries and doing some online research to see if there are other folks that have done the same. I know others have PROPERLY used the content from my blog because I get the pingbacks from them. (You know, that old habit some people use of using a web address to CITE their information that they have used.) If you see an article online that sounds like one you have read on my blog and doesn’t have me cited, let me know!

Plagiarism IS ILLEGAL and is theft of my intellectual property! I went to school for many, many years and didn’t sit for years in a dank little lab through graduate school analyzing vegetable juice samples for nothing! I have been honing my craft for over 30 years. It’s not like I don’t know what I am talking about — and if I did, I know how to cite my work and give credit where credit is due.

If you are looking for anything in particular or you have a question pop up during this time, feel free to ask. All of my entries will be back soon, so don’t fret!

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© Mertie Mae Botanics LLC and Horticulture Talk!, 2013. 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.

Onion Dieback


” My red candy apple onions only grew to about 1 1/2″ in diamter and the green tops died back.  Are they done?  Should I dig them up?  leave them in?  I was expecting them to be more the size of a racquetball or tennis ball and that the green tops would remain, just dry up.

Susan”

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Hi Susan,

Thank you for the email regarding your Red Candy Apple Onions.  Dieback of onion tops signals that the onion is done growing and ready to be harvested. If left in the ground, the onions will start to send up shoots again like it is spring, but in the process of doing so will ruin the bulb that has formed.  Also, the ‘reshooting’ will not make vegetative growth, but will produce a flower head and seeds.

Red Candy Apple onions should be much larger in size when mature.  Onions do like cooler temperatures and are prone to dying early if it becomes too hot (temperatures over 95-100 degrees).

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

 

© Mertie Mae Botanics LLC and Horticulture Talk!, 2013. 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.

Growing Red and Black Raspberries Together


“Horticulturist,

I’ve read that red and black raspberries shouldn’t be grown together.  Is this true, and why?

-J.”

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f you live in a region suitable for growing both red and black raspberries, by all means, grow both fruits. Black raspberries, sometimes called “black caps,” are hardy only to U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 5 or 6, while some other raspberry cultivars are hardy to zone 3. Whether or not you grow the two together depends on several factors:

1. Disease. You may have heard not to plant bramble plants together because they can spread diseases. Diseases are always a possibility, but are more likely if you transplant wild plants or diseased plants from a neighbor. Destroy any wild berry plants lurking on your property. Stick with nursery-purchased plants that are certified disease-free. and red and black raspberries will likely stay healthy for many years, even when planted together.

2. Growing Conditions. Both red and black raspberries need full sun and rich, well-drained soil. If you have plenty of room, plant red and black raspberries separately. Otherwise, plant them together in a sunny location with access to good soil and water.

3. Trellising. Consider how you plan to trellis the plants before planting them together. Black raspberries have tall, arching canes that send out fruiting side branches. Like blackberries, they need some sort of support. Red raspberries, on the other hand, produce fruit on stiff canes and don’t need a trellis. Many people prefer to grow red raspberries as a hedgerow. Additionally, if you grow primocane red raspberries and cut the canes to ground level each fall, plant them in a separate bed so you can mow them down after harvest.

Whether to plant red and black raspberries together is largely a matter of garden economics. If you can separate them, do so, simply because their growth patterns are different; otherwise, plant them together. Avoid planting raspberries where tomatoes, potatoes, eggplants and peppers have grown within the last three years, though. These crops can spread verticillium wilt to your berries.

 

© Mertie Mae Botanics LLC and Horticulture Talk!, 2013. 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.

Tips for Growing Great Geraniums!


Geraniums are one of my favorite flowers to grow, but I am often surprised that many people know very little about them… at least in their all-encompassing diversity.  When I meet someone like this, the first thing I do is give them a few quick facts to bring them up to speed:

1. The bedding plants gardeners plant in late spring and bring inside in autumn are commonly known as Geraniums; but Geraniums they are not. They are Pelargonium.

2. True Geraniums are the Cranesbills, hardy North American and European herbaceous perennials; Pelargoniums are semi-tender or tender plants, mostly from South Africa, that have graced our gardens with their large flowers for decades. For this blog entry, I will be referring to the annual bedding plants as geraniums.

3. Traditionally, plants were grown from cuttings (vegetatively propagated). However, in 1962, Dr. Richard Craig of Pennsylvania State University developed a technique for seed scarification (nicking) and bred the first commercially successful open-pollinated, seed propagated geranium, ‘Nittany Lion Red’. Four years later, the first F1 hybrid geranium from seed was developed.

The four basic types of annual geraniums are:

1. Common or Zonal Geraniums (Pelargonium x hortorum) – This is the classic bedding plant, which typically comes to mind when someone says “geranium.” Deriving its name from the “zoned” leaf markings, it thrives both in containers as floriferous single specimens as well as planted out in swaths awash with color in the landscape.

2. Regal and Angel Geraniums (Pelargonium domesticum) – The Regals, which are also known as Martha Washington geraniums, are bushy plants with large blossoms, single or double flowers in dramatic colors and patterns. Regals tend to be spring blooming, requiring cool nighttime temperatures to bud. Angels are smaller versions of Regals developed for their dazzling blooms which look somewhat like pansies.

3. Scented Leaf Geranium (Pelargonium domesticum) – Scented-leaf geraniums are coveted heirloom plants, still grown today for their pleasing fragrance, unusual foliage, delicate flowers, essential oil and culinary use. The scent, created by oils in the leaves, is released when the leaves are rubbed or bruised. The fragrance of a scented-leaf geranium may remind you of roses, lemons, pineapple, chocolate and other spicy fragrances.

4. Ivy-Leaf Geranium (Pelargonium peltatum) – Plants with long, brittle stems full of sculptured, ivy shaped leaves and gracefully trailing habits are immensely popular for hanging baskets, window-boxes and containers. Flowering abundantly throughout the summer, they have smaller, looser flower umbels of single, semi-double or double blossoms in shades of deep maroon, red or pink.

When shopping for geranium plants, choose plants based on their color and size. Look for healthy leaves, with no discolored spots above or underneath, fairly compact growth with no straggly stems that indicate it was grown in poor light, and no obvious pests.

Geraniums are popular garden plants because of their long-lasting flower displays, even under adverse weather conditions. For maximum bloom, plant where they’ll get at least 4 to 6 hours of direct sunlight daily and space them 8 – 12 inches apart. Geraniums need good air circulation, but should be protected from strong winds which can break their brittle branches. Geraniums should be planted in moisture retentive, but well drained garden soils, at the same level as they were growing in pots. Mulch when possible to reduce soil temperature extremes and weed growth. Promptly deadhead spent flowering stems to promote additional flowering. Pinch stems to prevent legginess and promote bushiness.Water geraniums regularly if there is no rain, preferably early in the day to allow leaves and flowers to dry before nightfall, which will help prevent disease problems.

Popular mainstays for containers, hanging baskets and window boxes, geraniums are well-behaved, low-maintenance, high-performaning garden divas. Use a container with drainage holes to prevent soggy soil, which can cause root rot. Fill the container with a good quality soil-less potting mix (not dirt) and position in full sun.Water thoroughly, allow to dry out before watering again. Do not use a saucer under the container unless filled with pebbles. Fertilize every 2 weeks with a balanced water-soluble fertilizer at half strength.

Few plants offer such variation in flower color, growth habit, leaf pattern, and scent. Lush growing geraniums are versatile plants perfect for any spot that calls for a splash of sparkling color throughout the season.

 

© Mertie Mae Botanics LLC and Horticulture Talk!, 2013. 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.

Attacking the Aphids!


“The ants are getting crazy. They’re doing weird stuff on the thistles in my garden and our new honeycrisp apple tree. Anybody know what to do? I’m pulling the thistles, but I don’t know what to do for the apple. Ideas?

~D.

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Hi D.,

Thanks for the question. First of all, pulling the thistle is your best option — not only for the aphids, but also for the fact that one thistle now is about a million thistles next year (or at least it seems that way).

The wilt is indeed caused by the aphids and the ants are there to eat the ‘honeydew’ from the aphids.  Ants and aphids share a well-documented relationship of mutualism. In exchange, the ants protect the aphids from predators and parasites. It’s important to treat the aphids as soon as possible because they mouth parts can transmit viruses to the tree and they can reproduce live young without fertilization (essentially, aphids are born already pregnant because they have mini aphids rather than ova in them). You can effectively (and safely for the tree) kill them with:

1. Neem Oil
Pure neem oil, an oil derived from the neem tree, has long been used in many natural remedies, including pest control. The oil, or Azadirachtin, acts as a repellent and growth regulator. To the insects, the neem oil has a bitter taste, so they will not eat the leaves treated with it. Also, if the insects do come in contact with the Azadirachtin, it prevents the larvae from growing into adults. Neem oil can be purchased at various online stores or made from neem trees (in the event that you have one around…).

2. Homemade Lemon Spray
This natural aphid pesticide works as an instant remedy, killing the aphids on contact. To make this natural pesticide, grate the rind of a large lemon. Boil it in enough water to fill a garden spray bottle. Let the mixture sit overnight. Drain the liquid into the garden spray bottle. Spray the aphids and larvae directly. It will cause them to convulse.

3.Homemade Vinegar Spray
Get out a spray bottle and fill it 1/3 of the way with distilled white vinegar and the rest of the way with water. This will kill the aphids and larvae on contact. Some plants react badly to the vinegar. It’s important know which plants you can and cannot use this method with.

4. Aluminum Foil
Place a square of aluminum foil around the base of plants affected by aphids. This causes light to bounce around to the underside of the leaves, which repels the aphids. It is also good for the plants, as it brings them more natural sunlight.

5. Calcium Powder
Sprinkling calcium powder around the base of the plants is another natural aphid repellent. The aphids do not like the calcium and will generally stay away from it.

6. Yellow Plastic Bowl
Aphids are naturally attracted to the color yellow. Place a yellow plastic bowl filled about 1/3 of the way with water in the center of the infested area. Many of the aphids will be drawn to the bowl and will go into the water and die.

7. Banana Peels
Burying shredded banana peels around the base of plants is an odd, but effective remedy. It has been around for ages and many gardeners will swear by it.

8. Smash Their Buddies
Squashing a few aphids near the infested area will signify to the other aphids that it is time to go. It’s a chemical reaction.

9. Ladybugs
Ladybugs can be purchased at garden and home improvement centers. The ladybugs feed on the aphids and if you purchase enough, the aphids will be gone in no time. Ladybugs are also good for the garden in other ways.

10. Garlic or Onions
Planting garlic or onions is another natural aphid deterrent. They do not like garlic or onion and will not likely come near an area they are in.  You can also hang unpeeled cloves of garlic with a string poked through (I use a sewing needle to do this) in the tree if planting is not an option.

As mentioned by another on your Facebook post: if you do decide to use dish soap, be careful! In general, the more effective dish soap is in killing an insect, the more damage there is to the plant. Soaps work by penetrating and dissolving the cells covering the insect’s body, resulting in dehydration and death. Plants also have a wax covering called the cuticle that is affected by the soap. The plant may not die instantly; however, disintegration of the leaf’s outermost layer may result in the loss of water and dehydration of the plant.

As for the leaves, they will remain distorted for the rest of the summer simply because there is dead mesophyll (internal green cells that make up the leaf) from the aphids piercing them, but it will not adversely affect the future of the tree.

 

© Mertie Mae Botanics LLC and Horticulture Talk!, 2013. 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.

Finding A Mailbox Rose


“I’m wanting to get a rose bush similar to one we had at our previous house. It was what I called an “old-fashioned” rose bush with clusters of small, true red (not pink) flowers. Each rose was on a very tiny stem. It surrounded our mailbox and took very little maintenance.

The nearest I could find in the catalogs was “Midwest Living” or “Wing-Ding.” I also wondered if the “Double Knock Out” might be similar.

Do you have a suggestion for one that would be similar?

Thanks,
Hazel”

(See original question here.)

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Hi Hazel,

Thanks for the posting on the questions page. Midwest Living, Wing-Ding, and Double Knock Out would all be great choices — assuming that they are ‘twins’ of the rose you used to have. It sounds like you are looking for a polyantha-type rose, some others I recommend that have similar qualities to the one at your previous house are:

Fairy Dance

Mother’s Day

Orange Triumph

Red Fairy

I hope this information helps you out. If you need any further descriptions or recommendations on where to purchase these, just let me know!

 

© Mertie Mae Botanics LLC and Horticulture Talk!, 2013. 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.