Saturday, July 1, 2017

All-American landscape filled with natives

What could be more patriotic than a native landscape that supports Mother Nature??

Belfast castle garden is an example of a non-native and
unsustainable landscape. This is NOT authentic to America.
For far too long, the standard landscaping in our country has ignored the plants that belong here. Maybe it's a throwback to the European upper class castles where impossibly maintained formal gardens and the most exotic plants showed how much wealth they had. This landscape style is not only difficult to maintain, it's also not authentic to America.

It's time for a more patriotic approach...

The All-American Landscape
filled with regionally authentic plants 


Friday, June 9, 2017

Squash family on our menu

3 different species of bee work a
Seminole pumpkin flower.

The Squash family

There are quite a few important crops in this family (Curcubitaceae), from cucumbers and melons to zucchinis and pumpkins, all members of this family have separate male and female flowers which need to be pollinated--most female flowers need to be visited by pollinators (mostly bees and wasps) 7 to 10 times before a fruit forms. The female flower sits atop a small preformed fruit, while the male flower is borne on a long stalk. If a fruit does not grow after the flower fades and it turns yellow, this usually means that it was not fertilized.

Most squash vines put out several to many male flowers first before the first female flower is formed. My guess is that this strategy attracts pollinators to the area before it spends the extra energy to form a female flower.

Up until 2 weeks ago, it's been a dry spring, so I've irrigated the squashes every other day at the minimum to keep them from stressing due to wilting. This has been hand irrigation with rain barrel water, in addition to the once a week landscape-wide irrigation. The reason for this is that squashes need a consistent and generous amount of water to produce the fastest growth of the fruit.

For more detailed information on growing the squash family crops see our book "Organic Methods for Vegetable Gardening in Florida."

Sunday, April 23, 2017

The March for Science

Ready to go

I had scheduled a trip north for several reasons including an event at UMass in Amherst on April 29th. So I extended the trip to include the March for Science in Washington, DC. I have friends and family there so this was a logical stopping place for a couple of days.  I had a "There is No Planet B!!" sign made and I dug out my old lab coat from my days as a botany grad student--I'd embroidered it with plants including a fern up the back, so I'd kept it all these years for some reason, so now I know its real purpose. :-)

Here are some of the photos I took of the event. It was misting in the morning but it was supposed to start clearing around noon. It did not; it rained harder and at times quite hard, but the weather did not scare too many people away. Fortunately, I'd carried my poncho.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Reaching new audiences

The itinerary for the 2nd leg of the Incan Empires cruise.
(The first leg had mostly different ports.)
Surprise! 18 months after applying to be a cruise lecturer for Holland America Line, I received an email on Feb. 10th offering me a choice of the first or second leg of their Incan Empires Cruise (from San Diego to Lima, Peru and back) I chose the 2nd leg (leaving Lima Peru on March 9th) so I'd have an extra 2 weeks to prepare seven 40-minute lectures with most of them being destination oriented. Not much time to prepare; so pretty much almost everything else was put on hold to do the research and pull together coherent presentations and then practice them.

Here is what I submitted:

Presentations by Ginny Stibolt for the 2nd leg of the Incan Empires Cruise: 03/09/17 - 03/24/17 
Destination presentations
 1) Wake Up and Smell the Coffee Details on coffee history, types of coffee, how it's grown and processed.
2) Oceans: The Real Lungs of the World We can thank the oceans' plants for the oxygen in our atmosphere
3) Rainforests: the most Diverse Ecosystems in the World There is so much going on under the calm-looking canopies of the rain forests
4) Farming Methods of the Maya, Aztec, & Inca Growing food on a mass scale was as impressive a feat as building their cities and monuments.
5) Traveling Plants Plants have various methods of self disbursal, but humans have changed the patterns.
General presentations
6)Public Gardens Take a Walk on the Wild Side Traditional public gardens are well-trimmed and orderly, but newer public gardens have emphasized native plants.
7) Gardens around the World: Why do people “Need” to Garden. A tour of gardens large and small, especially those in unusual places.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Harvesting rainbows and other garden tales

Harvested rainbows--carrots that is.

I love how much we eat out of the garden.

This lovely harvest of lettuces and rainbow carrots that have been through their preliminary cleaning with rain barrel water. Their tops have been put in the compost. I'll rinse the carrots again with tap water, but the pre-washing keeps my kitchen cleaner and saves potable water. The lettuces will be the layer just inside a fried flour tortilla for our tuna salad roll-up. The carrots became dippers (along with crackers) for my homemade pesto-based dip for a pot luck lunch at the FNPS retreat at Gold Head State Park in Clay County. The pesto had been frozen since last fall when I picked the last of the fall basil. For the dip I added plain yogurt, mayonnaise, Parmesan cheese and some finely chopped fresh dill. Yummy. Not much was left after the event.

Monday, January 2, 2017

7 Action Items to support Mother Nature in 2017

Many people in our country and elsewhere, including me, are worried about environmental issues because our incoming administration our country is filled with climate change deniers and those who think science is something you can choose to believe in or not. But now is NOT the time to wring our hands and wait to see what happens. Here are 7 ways to take action to help our Mother Earth: Do it today!

There is NO Planet B!

We don't have time to spare, so now is the time to act. 
Mother Earth is our ONLY Planet: Treat with care. We must think of future generations and do better at preserving what is left of public lands and work at restoring spent lands.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Spiders in the marigolds & a new bed

I've been entranced by a wicked-looking spider! 


I first noticed this green lynx spider (Peucetia viridans) out in my marigold cover crop on September 10th when she'd bent the marigold leaves together with her silk. I left this section of marigolds in place and built wide rows on either side for our fall crops.
I first noticed this spider on 09/10/16 out in the marigolds as she seemed to have created a cocoon with marigold leaves. Look at how much fatter she is on 09/27/16,
as she sucks the juices from her yellow jacket prey.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

A discussion on neonicotinoids

Here's a great discussion about neonicotinoids in response to a question posted on the Garden Professors Blog page on Facebook. (I have X'd out people's names.)

Neonicotinoids are systemic insecticides, which have been widely used on plants sold in garden centers. Now people are realizing that these poisons are detrimental to our pollinators. This discussion includes good solid resources The problem with most readily available information is lack of scientific references.

I hope you find this useful. Sustainable gardeners love their pollinators.

Green Gardening Matters,
Ginny Stibolt

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Just say no to seasonal plantings

Nothing says fall like pumpkins, gourds, and mums
~ ~ ~
 

Don't plant the mums.

Don't you just love these fall displays? Can't you almost taste the hot apple cider?

These gorgeous mums have been raised so they are at their peak right now. But if you buy them, don't bother putting them in your garden. They'll look good for only a few weeks, if you're lucky. Treat them like bouquets and drop their pots into some nice containers or hanging baskets so you can enjoy them. Compost them when they go by.

The problem with seasonal plantings


The tradition varies by region, but it usually goes something like this: mums in the fall. pansies in the winter, begonias or coleus in the spring and thirsty impatiens in the summer.

This means that several times a year you will be disturbing the soil which prepares the soil for weeds, either from the soil's seed bank or from newly dropped seeds. This disturbed soil is more subject to droughts. The soil microbes have to readjust after being disturbed.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Soap destroys plants' defenses

How to fight aphids on milkweed?

We plant milkweeds to encourage the monarch butterflies, not only for the nectar, but also because milkweed is the ONLY larval food for the monarch caterpillars. But milkweed also attracts aphids...
Non-native scarlet milkweed (Asclepias curassavica)*. Notice all the yellow aphids on the stems.
I was focused on the monarch when I took the above photo, but it's obvious that my milkweeds had become infested with aphids. I just allowed the aphids to stay. Eventually some ladybugs came in, but the plant is better off without any "treatment" from the gardener.

Often the "expert" advice is to spray homemade concoctions with soap or detergent to get rid of the aphids. Don't do it!