Our 2020 annual picnic and plant exchange meeting was held on Pat’s driveway on June 18 as scheduled and it was attended by 15 members and a guest.
Season’s Greetings and Best wishes for the New Year
Countryside Garden Club
Photo: Our holiday container at Tweed’s Exhibit Bldg.
Well it’s officially Fall but forever Summer in my mind 😊 I do enjoy this weather for longer cooler hikes, annual Fall social events/traditions and gathering all sorts of pumpkins and squashes to decorate and eat! It’s also a great time to bring out the crockpot to use for a plethora of recipes and a perfect time to make soup for the soul.
In addition, Fall is a great time to plant in the garden and collect those favorite plants from summer you hope to overwinter with success. Which made me think how do we get these plants to overwinter and bring us more joy next Spring and Summer?
First I had to acquire the right soil and it has been a challenge lately finding soil without the famous fertilizer we all know that begins with the letter “M” my experience with these new soils is they hold A LOT of water and thus rots the plants especially tender cuttings, I did however end up finding an organic potting soil that might work; we shall see. The next thing that is needed in helping our plants form good and strong roots is a rooting hormone. In order to save some money and practice sustainability, I thought it would be great to use a natural rooting hormone and better yet maybe use something we had in our cupboards and storage bins as a source.
What exactly is a rooting hormone and what is it used for?
Rooting hormones act as catalysts for the promotion of new roots, they also protect the cuttings from fungus and disease that could have occurred when you initially cut the plant of interest.
A rooting medium is the mixture you would use to grow your new plants. It is not a garden soil, but is usually much lighter; it actually is not a soil at all. You can purchase pre-made rooting medium mixtures or you can use a combination of various commercially organized components as a rooting medium.
The trick is to get something that will retain water but not bogged down the newly forming roots.
I will share some homemade natural root hormone mixtures to try, just remember to make sure to separate your stock from your working mixture, just place what you think you might need in a small container or paper cup and dip your plant cutting into that mixture vs. the stock mixture to avoid contamination.
So the first idea was to just spit on the cutting, yup you heard it right “spit on it” Hmm, that is a bit crass so I am going suggest you use your saliva sounds a little better right?. With all the new DNA tests out now to help us find out who we really are and which ancestors we came from you may have recently had to “spit in a cup” so this might not be so hard to do. The idea is to use your saliva and dip your cutting in it. I’ll try if you will, LOL! Just make sure you do not lick the cutting as some instructions suggest since your cutting could be poisonous or toxic so do not lick it!
Second idea is a honey root hormone mixture. Just boil 2 cups of water add 1 TBSP of honey, let it cool place a small amount in a separate container and then dip your cutting. The honey is antibacterial and antifungal so it will keep your cutting healthy and also promote new roots. This can be stored in a dark place for two weeks.
Third idea is using 3 tsp of apple cider vinegar in 1 gallon of water. This is a large volume of root hormone mixture but if it works you will have an abundant supply of it.
Fourth idea is crushing an aspirin tablet and dissolving it in water, just use enough water to dissolve the tablet and it should produce a weak paste or loose slurry after it goes into solution.
Fifth idea is making a stinging nettle or comfrey tea let the leaves of these plants soak in water for a few days. I would say a cup of water would make a strong enough tea to create a good root hormone mixture. First picture stinging nettle, second picture comfrey.
Sixth and last idea is a classic old school natural hormone and that is using the new stems of a willow tree, best time to retrieve this is in the early Spring when the Willow is filling out and new shoots are emerging in abundance. Once the stem is retrieved cut into pieces and allow it to sit in water for three days, producing a willow stem tea. Maybe try a stem now and see if it works and let us know.
Keep in mind you can also root your plants by using the water method but not all plants will root this way successfully or may take longer but it is the “go to” option for sure.
Hopefully these homemade ideas will allow you to save some of your favorite summer plantings by creating some really strong roots. Once the cuttings have rooted plant in a good potting soil mix free of fertilizer and keep in an area that gets good lighting and warmth during the winter while inside, then after the first frost move outside so your plants can begin to get established.
Till next time; clean up your garden but leave some seed heads for birds migrating thru they make a nice flight snack and try gathering those seeds you want to share with the club in November, remember collect in a paper envelope or bag never anything plastic because seeds are living organisms in a dormant state and lastly enjoy saving your summer favorites and maybe try one or two of the ideas above and let us know which ones worked the best for you.
Happy Fall, ENJOY!
This year my garden exploded literally with Rudbeckia hirta aka Black-eyed Susan (terrible name by the way when you think about it) RRGH! But legend has it, the name did not refer to violence upon Susan but rather it referred to an Old English poem describing a dark eyed woman Susan, looking for the love of her life on a ship going into battle. Pretty interesting huh 😊
So I would say the excessive masses of this particular plant in our gardens, probably had something to do with all of that rain earlier in the season. My Mom and I attend an annual garden tour and this year one of the gardens featured unique and familiar herbs and yes some were in the form of what we would consider typical garden flowers or wildflowers, and guess what? The Black-eyed Susan was featured as a herb in this garden and labelled for its medicinal benefits. I must say out all the herbs we were exposed to in this beautiful garden I did not expect this plant to be on the list, but it is actually an herb!
This plant is in the Asteraceae Family (Aster family) and is to say the least a cheerful and widespread wildflower, for some it is considered an annual for others a short lived perennial. It’s characteristics are bright-yellow, 2-3 inch wide daisy like flowers with dark centers which is it’s claim to fame. They are indigenous to many areas of the United States and were introduced into Europe after Columbus’ visits. They were named by Linnaeus in 1753 , he gave them the Latin name Rudbeckia Hirta after his mentor Olaf Rudbeck and hirta means rough and hairy. The leaves are alternate and mostly basal covered by coarse hairs, so hirta makes sense.
Native Americans used the plant to wash sores and soak swellings, it was a poultice for snake bites, treating worms and for children with colds. A poultice is just a soft, moist mass of material usually made out of plant material or flour. They also used it as a diuretic to increase the flow of urine and extracted juice from the root to treat earaches.
Recent studies state that the extract from the root of this plant can help benefit the immune system and can stimulate higher effects than Echinacea.
Rudbeckia Hirta is the floral emblem of the State of Maryland
and each year this flower shines in full glory for the world to see as a drape made of hundreds of black eyed susans placed on the back of the horse that wins the Preakness; one of the second jewels of the triple crown of horse racing. This year’s winner was War of Will in May of 2019 won at the Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore, MD. Notice the flowers on the horse, had you ever paid attention to which flower it was before?
In our area it is a annual that self seeds prolifically (therefore we THINK its an perennial but that’s another lesson to be learned 😊) It grows in full sun or partial shade. It is drought, heat and soil tolerant. My kind of plant, LOL!!! Seeds can be planted in the spring after the threat of frost has long gone, seeds can be planted about ¼ inch deep and the seeds germinate in about 2 weeks. Separate plants by at least 8 inches apart. These plants will produce flowers by mid-summer and will continue to bloom until the first hard frost. Now is a great time to harvest seed heads and you could share them at our seed exchange in November. What a great way to share a plant with so many hidden benefits, it definitely makes me look at this plant differently now, it is not only beautiful visually in its massive wonder but beneficial to us as well internally in promoting a healthier immune system. It is for sure listed in my book as a whole body plant to enjoy both in mind, body and soul. Till next time, get out there and get dirty in the garden!
Photo credits: NBC, Chestnutherb, Eden Brothers, Google pics.
I recently went to visit a dear friend who is doing their very best to deal with some difficult life challenges, as I pulled into the driveway I immediately noticed a really sweet little garden and of course as any gardener would do I cheesed a big grin and might have said out loud “So cute, I love it!” It was quaint and had some mature plantings along with unique garden artifacts such as an old cement horse post, really cool! After our awesome visit and my escort back to the car following numerous hugs and kisses, we proceeded to check out this side garden by the driveway. I was happy to see some very unusual coneflower seed heads that were then gifted to me to take home to my garden; I received them with gratitude and pleasure. To be honest it was more about having a part of my friend in my garden, for when this coneflower blooms it would be a warm and fuzzy reminder of our friendship. I’m quite sentimental about these types of exchanges they mean the world to me!
So once we said our final good byes I drove off but did think more about seed exchange and how it’s an amazing trade, both sentimental and economical. It cost nothing; my price tag was BIG HUGS and KISSES can’t beat that!
Thought it might be fun to share how a seed becomes a seed and to invite us to start collecting when things in our gardens’ start going to seed at the end of the season (always leave enough for our feather friends for winter snacks of course) but let’s harvest some seeds and then do a seed exchange maybe in November when we are in the giving and thankful mode and reflecting on those we are grateful for and our love of gardens when they are being put to sleep for winter. We can plant them indoors starting in February or wait and plant them outside in pots or directly into our gardens after the first frost.
Here’s a picture of my seed heads and then the next picture is one in which the seeds have been separated notice the long brown part is NOT the seed, it’s the prickly portion of the seed head and just protects the seed which is actually the tan portion attached.
See the lone seed separated from the prickly portion. Always store your seed heads or separated seeds in a paper bag or paper envelope and NEVER in plastic. Remember it is a living thing and it needs to breathe in its dormancy until you plant it. Yup that’s right unplanted seeds are in dormancy, so when you are eating trail mix with pumpkin seeds, almonds etc.. you are actually eating dormant seeds 😊. Popcorn kernels, peas, rice and acorns are seeds too! Just in their dormancy stage, all of these can be sprouted! (That’s another story for another time)
So what is a seed? A small part of a flowering plant that grows into a new plant.
A seed has three parts:
- Seed coat – protects the entire seed
- Embryo- this is where the baby plant lives
- Endosperm – food storage of the plant
Note: If you eat whole grains you are eating all three parts. The seed coat is called bran and the embryo is called germ; if you are eating refined grains you are eating just the endosperm which is mainly carbohydrates. That’s why it’s encouraged to eat the whole grain which has more nutrients and more benefits to our bodies.
Back to the fabulous seed, the seed is formed when pollen fuses with the ovules this fusion creates a fertilized seed. The pollen comes from the anther which sits on top of the filament these are the male parts collectively called the stamen. If you have ever touched a flower and a powdery residue gets on you that’s the pollen or sperm to be exact. The female parts are the stigma, style, ovary and ovules (eggs to be exact) this collectively is called the pistil. The pollen from the anther adheres to the sticky stigma then travels down into the ovary and fuses with the ovules and voila’ a fertilized seed is created. See anatomy of a flower below. Oh yeah the flower is the reproductive unit and the petals are the pretty part of the flower which we all enjoy and the sepals are at the base of the flower they are green and protect the bud of the flower.
(Thanks Adobe for the pic)
Common pollinators are honey bees, bats, birds, butterflies and moths.
Seeds need water (moisture), temperature (warmth), sunlight, nutrient rich soil and to be a good quality seed. Once it has all of these conditions in place, roots are the first to form within the soil and then the seed pushes up thru the soil towards sunlight and then loses its seed coat and the baby plant emerges (a sprout) and is equipped with two new leaves, the roots push down deeper and get stronger to prepare to support the new plant.
So are you ready to produce new plants from seeds? If so, get out there and start collecting and lets see what we come up with, it should be a wonderful seedy event!
Till next time, visit a friend, garden with joy and prepare to share the blessings from your garden.
Hello Gardening Friends!!!
So it is pretty hot out there and I thought it would be nice to share some tips on how we can best serve our gardens in the extreme heat. I found a great source of information and instead of me summarizing it all I figured I would just allow you to hit the link and enjoy this informative article.
I will say the article link above is about helping your garden stay viable during extreme heat; but I would like to give some suggestions for you the gardener in these high temperatures and humidity.
Please please be careful while gardening whether you like it or not it is important to take good care of yourself while working outdoors.
Here are some tips:
- Do your heaviest work early in the morning or late in the afternoon. Think “siesta time”and take a break between 11 to 2; sit in the shade, relax and enjoy your garden, do some birdwatching and let the weeding go till after the sun goes down when it could be much cooler.
- Go slow and take quite a few breaks.
- Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. Drink plenty of cool water before, during and after working outdoors. And once you realize you are thirsty it is too late you are already dehydrated. No cocktails until the work is done LOL, alcohol dehydrates you even more.
- Use sunscreen! Remember to reapply after sweating.
- Use a hat that covers and shades your face, ears and neck and wear light colored clothing it helps to reflect the sun.
- Purchase a cooling tie if you are into gardening gadgets or just wet a bandana or old towel and wrap that around your neck to keep cool.
I don’t know about you but I am like the energize bunny and I tend to just keep pushing myself until I’m done what I set out to do in the garden for that day, but be careful doing this in extreme heat and humidity.
If the temperature plus the humidity added together equals over 160 you need to stop and definitely go inside to recover. Also if your pet is gardening with you remember they have fur and do not sweat to cool themselves like we do, so their number is when the two values equal over 150. For example if it is 80 degrees outside and the humidity is 90% add the two together and the result is 170 both you and your pooch need to run for cover! Heat induced deaths are more prevalent than natural disaster tragedies so take this seriously and avoid heat stroke or a fatality. Yes it would be nice to die in your beautiful garden but not like that!
If you experience muscle cramps, fatigue, headache, nausea, dizziness, heavy sweating or pale and flushed skin you are heading towards a serious issue so pay attention to your body it will definitely tell you when enough is enough. The symptoms above are for heat stress and heat exhaustion. When you stop sweating and are vomiting, your temperature is over 104, heart is racing and beating rapid, your breathing is shallow your are approaching a heat stroke and therefore seek medical attention immediately! Heat strokes can cause permenant and serious damage to your body so listen to it and be smart when you garden in the heat.
Ok now that you have been scared have to death; just remember your garden can not be taken care of if you dont take care of YOU in order to do so. So garden when it is cool and garden with caution on these truly blazing summer days now and throughout the season.
Till next time, get out there and get dirty in the garden but stay cool and smart about it!
Well, we have had a great deal of liquid sunshine and with that being said; things grow, things we want and things we think we don’t want. Rain is the precursor for mushrooms. After our many torrential down pours at night we all are mostly likely to awaken to mushrooms and toadstools.
Hmm, what’s the difference between mushrooms and toadstools. I have to be honest every time I hear or see the word toadstool I picture a toad atop a red mushroom speckled with white polka dots perched to perfection. See the toadstool found in my garden in the featured picture of this blog above, I was bummed there was not a tiny toad sitting upon it like the photo below. LOL!
But the simple difference is mushrooms are edible and toadstools are not. And yes I know not all mushrooms are edible therefore those mushrooms are toadstools. Get it???
I will focus on mushrooms, so let’s get to what a mushroom is. Mushrooms are fungi more specifically the reproduction part of the fungi that live under the surface of the soil. They spread by spores into the air then go away when the sun appears or when the soil dries up. What you see above the soil is the fruiting body after all the major production is done underground. A fruiting body is the same as a flower on a plant, once that flower dies it spreads it’s seeds to continue procreating, thus the mushroom’s fruiting body is doing the same thing when it releases it’s spores.
The perfect making of a mushroom requires moisture, shade, cloudy weather, and rich organic soil; mix these up in any combination or all of the above and a mushroom is born!
Things to do in your garden to keep the mushrooms from appearing more frequently:
- Decrease shade – trim back or thin out branches on trees and shrubs
- Avoid compacted soil- if you notice standing water or damp areas after long periods of rain your soil is compacted. Therefore aerate the soil to improve drainage and decrease thatched areas that are over an inch. What is thatch? Thatch is little bits and pieces of grass that have died and have gathered above the soil.
See photo below.
- Lastly, be attentive to old trees and pets – remove stumps completely to prevent organic matter for mushrooms to grow in and pick up pet waste and do not let it sit on your lawn or soil for this to brings about mushrooms.
Keep in mind mushrooms are not all “bad” they are an indicator of rich organic matter in your soil. Mushrooms break down the organic matter and make the soil more productive. Mushrooms found at the base of trees near their roots is a good thing, as pictured in my garden.
But, those found on the tree such as the shelf mushroom pictured below is a warning for concern since the tree could be dying from the inside out, remember mushrooms start their growth out of sight in areas that are breaking down into organic matter. By the way, shelf mushrooms are edible at certain times in the season and are called “chicken of the woods” (Laetiporous sulphureus a bracket fungus)
A fairy ring is a natural occurring ring or arc of mushrooms that can grow up to 10 yards in diameter. The cute folk lore regarding this phenomenon suggests that fairies dance in the ring at night and rest when they are tired on the toadstools. I know you have a visual don’t you (giggling) does it look like this?
But this is what it would look like in nature for real.
Hopefully this information has given you a closer look at how a mushroom is made and also what you can do to minimize their appearance in your garden if you choose to do so; or you could just go with the flow and maybe experience a true fairy ring and actually spy on those fairies dancing in the night when they aren’t looking, smiling. Anyhoooo, enjoy mushrooms both in the garden and in your kitchen but beware of toadstools, now that you know the difference:)
Till next time enjoy the season of summer gardening and Happy Early Summer Solstice, it officially arrives this Friday June 21, 2019. ENJOY!
I don’t know about you but it’s been a challenge doing Spring Clean Up with all of this liquid sunshine. The good news is I managed to get in about 8 hours of clean up recently and to my surprise found some new friends in the garden. One in particular made me shout out for joy, the unwonted(for my garden that is) Jack-in-the-pulpit (Arisaema triphyllum) hidden behind a nice pile of winter decorative foliage aka, a disassembled winter wreath or swag of some sort under a pretty dense shrub. Once that was all cleared out; there in an eye’s view was this little beauty, quite tall and proud indeed! I was quite surprise it had not been damaged in my not so careful removal of the winter debris since I did not think anything was there to be cautious about. I’m still trying to figure out how it got there, but we will get to that later 🙂
So Jack-in-the-pulpit is a pretty cool looking plant for sure, it’s botanical name is Arisaema triphyllum as I mentioned earlier, it is phonetically pronounced air-iss-EE-muh try-FY-lum. We need to practice our Latin pronunciation of the true botanical names when we can, so count this as today’s lesson, LOL.
Anyway, this herbaceous perennial plant grows from a corm, which could have three parted leaves and a flower contained in a spathe. Ok let’s break it down a bit; a corm is a rounded underground storage organ that some plants use to survive winter or other extreme conditions such as a summer drought and high heated temperatures sometimes experienced in nature; it has a swollen stem base covered with scale leaves. You will also find corms in crocuses, gladioli and cyclamen. Corms are also called bulbo-tuber or bulbotuber it is short, vertical and a swollen modified stem, other types of modified stems are rhizomes, tuber, stolons, and bulbs.
The bloom consist of a very deep cylindrical pouch called a spathe- the “pulpit” it will have alternating strips of lighter and darker green sometimes purple. When you lift up the flap at the top of the spathe you will see a round headed slender spike this is our friend “Jack” this spike is called a spadix.
If the plant has three parted leaves it is usually a male and at the base of the spadix will be thread like male flowers that yield yellow pollen, if it is large and has only two parted leaves it is a female and at the base of it’s spadix will be tiny green berry like structures. In the female once the flowers have faded a cluster of bright red berries will appear and last till the end of summer. These seeds will seed themselves or you can remove them and plant elsewhere. The female is called Jill-in-the-pulpit.
My guy is definitely a boy.
Jack-in-the-pulpit is pollinated by tiny fungus flies that are attracted to the flowers by a faint odor that smells like mushrooms. The flies enter at the top of the spathe are trapped and then covered with pollen, once they relax they realize they can exit at the base of the spathe by leaving thru a small slit.
So I’m not sure how my flower ended up in my front garden, I could have planted it there maybe two years ago cause that’s when I remember a friend sharing it but this was the first time I’ve ever seen one survive the transplant.
There are two other reasons it may have emerged this season one could be all of this consistent liquid sunshine, the end of the winter heavy rains apparently has a lot to do with mature plants (which take about two years to grow) sprouting into big healthy blossoms. That particular area of the garden gets soaked due to a never ending clogged gutter and poor landscape grading; at least this flower brought joy amidst the trials of this soggy area.
Secondly, it could have ended up in this area due to a local native creature; a box turtle. Yup, that’s right our native eastern box turtle is known to transplant these flowers via seed disbursement passing thru their digestive tracts. They love muck gardens, that are wet,with lots of leaf litter, trees and shrubs to hide in, with a little area to sunbathe too, which is totally the description of this front area. They also transplant may apples which might explain my explosion of may apples on the other side of the house. So yeah Mr. Turtle might be the culprit. How cool is that! I’m leaning towards the latter reason, since I don’t remember putting it there (cause I sort of keep a semi-good log of where I plant stuff) plus it sounds better saying the turtle put it there, LOL what gardener wouldn’t want to tell that story (giggling) thanks Mr. Turtle 🙂
Either way, it is now there, it’s been documented as such and shared with the world so let’s see what happens next year.
Lastly, not sure why its called Jack-in-the-pulpit, some say maybe it was named after a clergyman named Jack. The finger like spadix that sticks up standing in the spathe resembles a man of the cloth standing in a church pulpit, preaching to the garden, LOL. It has other names such as bog onion (since onions are corms), wild turnip, brown dragon and Indian turnip. I think we all agree Jack-in-the-pulpit sounds more intriguing and just plain fun!
Well, if you don’t get to church regularly and you want to find some peace in your life for just a moment and you are fortunate enough to have this unique flower in your garden, just go sit next to it, observe it, and let it teach you a spiritual lesson from nature’s pulpit of taking the time to slow down, chill and enjoy the amazing and wonderful creations from God above, because no human in all their abilities to create things on earth could ever copy this wonderful specimen!
Till we meet again, get out there, get dirty and enjoy gardening.
For more detail information please click the link.
- Thursday, April 25, 3-6pm (UDBG members day, 10% off entire plant purchase)
- Friday, April 26, 3-6pm (General Public)
- Saturday, April 27, 9:00am – 4pm (General Public)
- Thursday, May 2, 3-6 pm (General Public)
- Saturday, May 4, 9am-3 pm (General Public)
15th Annual Shearing Day and Herb Sale at Greenbank Mills and Philips Farm
- Saturday, April 27, 10am – 4pm
Annual Wildflower Celebration at Mt Cuba Center
- Sunday, April 28, 10am- 4pm
- Sunday, April 28, 8am – 4pm (kick off day) through Sunday, May 5
- Weekends: 8am – 4pm
- Weekdays; 9am – 6pm
Native Plant Sales at Coverdale Farm Preserve
- Thursday, May 2, 1-7pm (Members Only)
- Friday, May 3, 2-7pm (Open to Public)
- Saturday, May 4, 9am – 4pm (Open to Public)
8th Annual Community Plant Exchange at Good News Church
- Saturday, May 4, 10am – 12pm
Boy Scout Troop 29 Spring Plant Sale at Red Clay Creek Presbyterian Church
- Saturday, May 11, 9am – 6pm
- Sunday, May 12, 9am – 6pm
Flower Show and Nature Photography Exhibit by Brandywine Garden Club (at St Albans Center at the Episcopal Church of Delaware)
- Wednesday, May 15, 1-4pm