Sunday, July 29, 2012

Barry Glick in Waynesboro

Hellebore specialist and native plant enthusiast Barry Glick, proprietor of Sunshine Farm and Gardens is speaking at the Waynesboro Country Club on Wednesday, August 15th at 1:30 p.m.

The lecture, Enhancing the Shade Garden, is sponsored by the Blue Ridge Summit Garden Club.  A selection of plant specimens from Barry's inventory will be available for purchase, as well.

Reservations can be made by sending a check for $10.00 made payable to the Blue Ridge Garden Club to:
Ms. Eunice Statler
11465 Pine Hill Drive
Waynesboro, PA 17268.
Tickets also available at the door.  Kathy Engle wrote about Lenten Rose here, and I covered its cousin, Stinking Hellebore here.

Update: July 31 - Link to the Waynesboro CC fixed to point to the one here in Franklin County, in Waynesboro, PA.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Wildlife Area - Before and After

If you came to the monthly general meeting this past Tuesday, you got a glimpse of our Wildlife Area Demonstration Garden's transformation from a horse pasture to its current state.  Here's an attempt to use pictures from before juxtaposed with pictures taken Wednesday, July 25th, using the same, or similar angle.  Current pictures taken by Jenn Wetzel.








Quite a difference.  Lots of work and TLC, especially from Wildlife Area Team Captain Jane Krumpe to get where we are.  Jane and Linda will be teaching a workshop on Saturday, August 25th - "Gardening for Wildlife" where participants will learn the principles of backyard habitat gardening.

Earlier pictures from the Woodland Meadow Native Habitat (Wildlife Area) Garden:  April 2012 and June 2012.

Oh - and check out how well we're doing attracting wildlife:

"A Place to Rear Their Young"

Friday, July 20, 2012

Summer Garden Experience 2012 - Saturday, July 28th

2012 Calibrachoa and Petunias
Penn State Extension’s Summer Garden Experience will be held July 28, 2012 at the Penn State Southeast Ag Research and Extension Center in Manheim, PA from 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.  The day is filled with educational lectures, demonstrations, and farm tours.  Our feature speaker this year is Dr. John Scala from the News 8 Storm Team. He will be presenting Recent Temperature and Precipitation Extremes: What Do They Mean for Pennsylvania Gardeners?

Grill food and milkshakes are available for purchase. There is no registration fee other than $10/vehicle for parking, so bring a carload!

This is where new varieties of annual flowers are trialed and rated each year on how well they do in our climate.  In addition to annual flowers, tomatoes, vegetables, and other Agricultural Crop trials are also conducted here.  This year, there will also be a tomato tasting of new cherry and grape varieties, where the public gets to have their say, rating unnamed varieties for looks and taste.

Other learning activities at this year's event include: 
  • Overwintering Insects - How do insects survive our winters?
  • Killing them Softly - Safer and more targeted pesticides 
  • Wagon Tours of the Trials
To learn more, and get a full schedule of events, go here.  Directions to the site in Lancaster, about an hour and an half from us in Chambersburg can be found here.

Pictures from previous years here, here, and here.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Imperial Moth - Eacles imperialis

Eacles imperialis - Imperial Moth
Quinn Cashell, a 4-H Summer Program Assistant noticed this beautiful moth laying eggs on the Gass House this afternoon.  Linda Secrist, and Don Knode, the Master Gardener on duty at the Hotline identified it as an Imperial Moth, or Eacles imperialis.  Jenn Wetzel came out and took these close up pictures.

Eacles imperialis - Imperial Moth
Imperial Moths belong to the family Saturniidae, that include the Polyphemus Moth, and the Hickory Horned Devil that we've noticed elsewhere on the blog.

Egg Laying Closeup - Eacles imperialis - Imperial Moth
The larval host plants for this moth are trees like Bald Cypress, basswood, birch, cedar, elm, hickory, Honeylocust, maple, oak, pine, Sassafras (Sassafras albidum), Sweetgum (Liquidambar styraciflua), sycamore, and walnut.  They are seldom present in sufficient numbers to cause serious damage.

The chance of these eggs hatching and finding a host species for food are not high - poor choice for an egg laying site, mommy moth.

Eacles imperialis - Imperial Moth

Come learn more about gardening for wildlife, including moths and butterflies and their larval host plants at the Saturday, August 4th workshop,
 "Butterflies in Your Backyard" from 9:30-11:30 where Master Gardeners Kathy Engle and Laurie Collins will show participants how to design and maintain a butterfly garden.

Eacles imperialis - Imperial Moth

This class will discuss basic design principles and important requirements for a successful butterfly garden. Focus will be on different butterflies found in our area and proper plant selection for each type. Information on various conservation programs to certify local gardens will also be discussed.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Salpiglossis sinuata (Painted Tongue)

Salpiglossis sinuata
Back in January of this year, Commercial Horticulture Educator, Steve Bogash, cleaned out his back store of leftover seeds from various trials over the years. There were tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, and various annual seeds left from his days of doing cut flower trials. When the MG greenhouse team started seeds in March, we sorted through the packets and planted them. One of the cut flower trial seeds was labeled Salpiglossis. Our team had never heard of it, but we liked the name and sowed a flat anyway. Steve mentioned that they didn't do very well in his trials as a potential for the cut flower trade.  They were dated for planting in 2006, so we weren't sure about viability, but they germinated well - I remember because they were a pain in the butt to thin to one plant per cell.

Salpiglossis sinuata
They didn't sell very well at the various plant sales in May, probably because I knew so little about them, so there were several leftover that wound up in my containers and an annual bed. They started blooming about a week ago with this incredibly rich blue color.

They apparently come in lots of different colors

Salpiglossis sinuata
 Painted Tongue is native to Chile and a member of the Solanaceae family, which makes it a cousin to tomatoes, potatoes, and eggplant, as well as petunias. The name comes from two Greek words, "salpinx" meaning trumpet and "glossa" meaning tongue.

Salpiglossis sinuata

Apparently Steve's experience was duplicated in Colorado, where this assessment of its use as a cut flower was made, "very beautiful flowers but unfortunately faded quickly and stems were too short for fresh cuts."

Maybe not so good for the cut flower trade, but If I can successfully save seed, they may wind up with a permanent place in my gardens.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Creating a Drought-Tolerant, Water-Wise Garden

Planting the new Drought Tolerant Demonstration Garden
Almost every year at this time, we gardeners cry out a familiar lament wondering aloud how much time, money, and energy we waste watering our gardens. Some years are better than others, of course, and good cultural practices like mulching, can reduce the effort, but when temperatures soar into triple digits, and Nature withholds her rain - weather conditions we're experiencing now - then we have little choice other than to supply what's lacking, or risk losing some prized specimens.

Franklin County Master Gardener Donna Berard, however, can sit back and indulge in air-conditioned comfort wearing a well-earned Cheshire Cat grin, while the rest of us chafe at the chore.  Back in 2003, after experiencing a second year of drought conditions and tired of having to deal with all the watering work as a consequence, Donna researched Xeriscaping, or the science of water-wise landscaping and then replaced a perennial bed, applying all she had learned.

Donna regularly teaches the principles of xeriscaping at a spring workshop, but until this year, attendees had to engage in a road trip to Donna's Garden, to see what one looked like. This is how Donna described her drought tolerant garden for an item in the news column last year:
A sturdy boxwood hedge, with its waxy leaves, provides the structure for the garden and several ornamental grasses, including, small blue festucas, maiden grass, little bluestem, and porcupine grass, anchor the other plantings. Both the grasses and boxwoods are well established and show great tolerance for the dry weather.

Because new drought tolerant plantings do require watering the first year to insure a strong root establishment, I have had to water the new catmint, Nepeta Blue Dragon. The older Walker’s low catmint blooms continuously, never fazed by lack of moisture.

There are several varieties of sedums and the prickly pear cactus which have fat, fleshy leaves to help with moisture storage and they show no sign of stress.

I have many varieties of fine, thread leafed plants including, penstemons, coreopsis, meadow sage, dianthus, and Allium Blue Twister, whose leaves have a very small surface area and allow for less evaporation.

The dwarf silver leaf sage, sea foam Artemisia, and lavender have silver foliage which reflects the sun. Poppy mallow and dwarf silver leaf sage grow close to the ground giving them a reduced rate of evaporation.

The leaves of Salvias, Gaillardia, Rudbeckia, and Coneflowers all have tiny hairs on them which, when moved by a breeze, provide a cooling effect to the plant. All the Rudbekia, Salvias, and Coneflowers look wonderful but the Gaillardia (Blanket flower) looks sad and droopy. It is the only plant I have been tempted to water.

But my very favorite drought tolerant plants are the Agastaches including Golden Jubilee, Blue Fortune, Acapulco Salmon and Pink, and Cotton Candy. They have a deep tap root, searching for water and the most wonderful minty smell. Growing tall and colorful, they are magnets for the bees and butterflies.
Watch a video of Donna's garden recorded in 2010 here. Follow up story here. And here is an article, with sidebar, from 2007 from the archives of the Hagerstown newspaper, The Morning Herald.

Placing Specimens
This year, Donna recruited a team of fellow Master Gardeners to install a drought tolerant demonstration garden here on the Franklin Farm campus, in front of the fence surrounding the Victory Garden, and adjacent to the Perennial Demonstration Garden. Although the first year probably requires a fair amount of watering to establish the plants, you too can wear that Cheshire grin in the future, if you adopt a water wise way to garden.

Plant List for the Drought Tolerant Demonstration Garden

Gemo St. John’s Wort Hypericum kalmianum ‘Gemo’
Bangle Greenwood Genista lydia ‘Bangle’
Catmint Nepeta faassenni  'Alba’
Columnar Mugo Pine Pinus mugo ‘ Columnaris’
Threadbrach Arborvitae Thuja occidentalis ‘Filiformis'
Juniper Juniperus squamata 'Blue Star'
Dwarf Norway Spruce Picea abies 'pumila'
Blue Spirea Caryopteris Caryopteris X clandonensis 'Dark Knight'
Threadleaf Coreopsis Coreopsis verticillata 'Zagreb'
Amsonia Arkansas Blue star Amsonia hubrichtii (2011 perennial of the year)
Penstemon Penstemon strictus 'Rocky Mountain Purple'
Yucca Hesperaloe parviflora 'Perpa Brake Light'
Blue gamma grass Bouteloua gracilis 'Blonde Ambition'  - more pictures and info here.
Festuca 'Elijah blue' - more pictures and info here.
Panicum virgatum 'Cheyenne Sky' - more pictures and info here.
Agastache 'Blue Blazes' Hyssop
Agastache Anise hyssop 'Purple haze'
Agastache Texas hummingbird mint
Russian Sage Perovskia atriplicifolia 'Blue Spires'
Salvia Salvia nemorosa 'May Night'
Salvia 'Wendy’s Wish'
Sedum 'Purple Emperor'
Jupiter’s Beard Centranthus ruber var. coccineus

Monday, July 9, 2012

Betty in Bloom

Betty in Bloom - July 2012

Back in April, I introduced you to the Magnolia Kosar De Vos Hybrid 'Betty', where I quoted from the National Arboretum description:

"The flowers are doubly delightful! They welcome spring in shades of pink to purple and later surprise you with occasional summer blooms."
Apparently, this is one of those occasional summers.

Betty in Bloom

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Early Veggie Harvest - 2012

Green and Yellow Zucchini

First flush of fresh vegetables coming in from my garden.  Green and Yellow zucchini producing enough to share with fellow congregants at church this morning.

First Tomato (and Pepper) Pickings
Started picking my first tomatoes this week.  Mostly cherry varieties (Sungold, Chocolate Cherry, Solid Gold yellow grape, and Five Star red grape) plus smallish, but early and well-flavored Czech heirloom Stupice, and the smallish, ribbed variety Ceylon.  I ate (and saved the seeds from) the first Maglia Rosa fruit, before I remembered to take a picture.  The orange pepper is the heirloom variety Yummy, a mini-bell, which I overwintered in a pot indoors and have been picking for a little over a week now.  Not enough production to do much sharing, yet.

Speaking of tomatoes, there's some interesting recently published research about why commercial tomatoes seem to be flavorless.  A while back, tomato breeders for commercial production discovered a  trait for uniform ripening and then bred it into tomatoes that became standard in the industry.  No more undesirable green or yellow shoulders, or unusable unripe parts at the stem end. The unintended consequence, however, was that the trait for even ripening disabled another trait, the sugar producing dark green skins on unripe fruit.  Apparently, not all the sugars and flavenoids are produced by the leaves of the plant, so the resultant fruit was less flavorful.  Here are two follow up newspaper articles on the subject:
1) NY Times
The discovery “is one piece of the puzzle about why the modern tomato stinks,” said Harry Klee, a tomato researcher at the University of Florida in Gainesville who was not involved in the research. “That mutation has been introduced into almost all modern tomatoes. Now we can say that in trying to make the fruit prettier, they reduced some of the important compounds that are linked to flavor.”
2) Philadelphia Inquirer
Tomatoes that have been bred to ripen with a uniform color contain up to 20 percent less sugar than their counterparts with green or yellow patches on the "shoulder" of the fruit, the researchers found after a genetic analysis. These uniform varieties suffer a similar reduction in the antioxidant lycopene and of beta carotene, a precursor of vitamin A.
Notice the two heirloom varieties in the picture above - Ceylon and Stupice.  Both have an unripe green tinge at the stem end.  Both taste terrific.

Elsewhere in my garden ...

Garlic Curing
I harvested my garlic earlier this week.  Remember that 2011 unharvested clump I pointed out back in April?  I left it alone to see what would happen.  Here it is.

2011 Unharvested Clump
Kinda uninteresting.  As predicted, smaller bulbs with fewer cloves than those grown from selected, separated cloves.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Victory Garden 2012 Log - July 2

MG Bill Dorman on Cole Crops
Growing cole crops  (Brassica oleracea) was the subject of today's talk, given by Bill Dorman.

Cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, Brussels sprouts and kale make up a group of cool season vegetables known as cole crops. The word "cole" means stem and has nothing to do with the fact that these vegetables are tolerant to "cold." They are hardy plants and grow best in the spring and fall.

Leafy vegetables are not considered to be cole crops, but are of best quality when harvested under moderately cool temperatures, similar to cole crops. Spring and fall plantings are recommended. Leafy vegetables include turnip and mustard greens. Vegetables that can be planted now are broccoli, cabbage, endive, kale, mustard greens, kohirabi, lettuce, spinach, radish, celery, leek and turnip.

Now is the time to plan for a Fall and Winter vegetable garden.  Bill is teaching a full 2 hour workshop next Thursday, July 12th at 6:30 p.m. on the subject.
Out in the garden, it's Harvest Time!  First payoffs for all our hard work coming in!  We were able to harvest beans, peas, yellow and green squash (zucchini), beets, lettuce, swiss chard and cucumbers.  There were very few weeds and they were pulled.  Tomatoes were growing taller and had to be tied.  Turnip seeds were separated from the husks and planted in the no-till garden.

Harvesting Beans
Harvesting Squash

Supporting Tomato Vines
 Harvesting of tomatoes still a week or two away.

Separating Turnip Seed
Practicing what we preach - planting saved turnip seed for a fall, winter, or early next spring harvest.
Here's how to save seeds in the brassica family.

Sharing the Rewards

Friday, July 6, 2012

Why I Became a Master Gardener - Part 5

After years of enjoying planting trees, shrubs, flowers, and bulbs wherever we lived (IBM stands for "I've Been Moved,") we retired to our deceased mother's house, and it was such a pleasure to have the shade and beauty of the mature trees we had planted in her yard to commemorate when our children were born thirtysome years earlier. The Celebration Maple we had planted for our twenty-fifth wedding anniversary was now thirty feet tall! Finally we had a small property where we could put down roots and plan and plant for posterity. We wanted to establish a wildlife habitat that would be natural and welcoming to animals as well as people, and especially our grandchildren.

However, we needed specific knowledge about local soils and native species before we proceeded. I applied to become a Master Gardener in order to learn about the ecology of rain gardens so we could do our part to help save the Chesapeake Bay, and understand the complex, interdependent microbiology of various plants. The college professors at Penn State who taught the courses were very informative and down-to-earth (pardon the pun) instead of ivory tower esoterics. Their presentations were not just fact-filled, but also fun; and getting to keep their lectures and my notes in binders to refer to whenever necessary was like having a how-to library at my fingertips. Being able to ask them questions and receive real-time answers tailored to my individual concerns via video-conferencing was more intimate than being in a large lecture hall with hundreds of students on campus. Each day I came home with knowledge I could immediately apply both in our yard and at church where we are establishing a Green Sanctuary. In addition there was an experimental rain garden in the Master Gardeners' Wildlife Area where I could volunteer to help maintain it and learn real-life lessons while enjoying the camaraderie of like-minded fellow Master Gardeners. What a great group of kindred spirits who don't mind rolling up their sleeves and digging in the dirt!

A completely unexpected bonus was being encouraged to learn enough about Japanese gardening and handicapped-accessible tools and techniques to be able to facilitate workshops for the general public on those subjects and share with others in the community the diversity of information available through the Franklin County Penn State Cooperative Extension. The continuing advanced training offered every year ensures that I am learning state-of-the-art agricultural science and best practices researched at Penn State and other land grant universitiies to be extended to my church, friends, neighbors, and relatives to preserve and protect our precious environment.
Read Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3 and Part 4 of this series.

That's the last of the emails I received.  I'll post more if folks send in more.  Next Thursday, July 12th, we'll be interviewing the folks who want to become part of the next class of Franklin County Master Gardeners.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Victory Garden 2012 Log - June 25


Fulton County MG Gary Ankney talked about critter control at the June 25th VG class.  He covered the different pests that could invade our gardens and the different methods of dealing with them; repellents, barriers, fences, traps, etc.

We had a few weeds to attend to but all in all the garden looks great. One of our members has been faithfully coming during the week to water and the effort has paid off. The squashes are forming and we should be picking them next week.

Weeding and Checking
 We were able to harvest some beets and swiss chard. The tomatoes needed to be tied up since they are getting taller. There seemed to be few insect pests to worry about, so no handpicking needed.

Yellow Zuke Getting Ready to Pick

Tying up Tomatoes

Harvesting Beets and Swiss Chard

Harvesting Beets and Swiss Chard (same plant, botanically - Beta vulgaris, just a different cultivar of the same species)