Saturday, May 31, 2014

Growing Herbs

 Basic techniques for propagating herbs at home: 

Cluster Sowing (Indoors) - Cluster sowing indoors permits herbs to grow in a fairly thick stand. Cluster sow by evenly spreading 15-25 seeds across the surface of a four-inch clay pot filled with moistened potting mix. Cover the seeds with a fine layer of sand and place the pot in natural light but out of full direct sunlight. In the home, pots may be placed on the top of the refrigerator to provide bottom heat, hastening germination. Cover with a plastic bag to retain moisture or mist daily until germination. The following herbs are best propagated by cluster sowing indoors:
Catnip, Nepeta cataria
Chives, Allium schoenoprasum
Marjoram, Origanum majorana
Roman Camomile, Anthemis nobilis
Thyme, Thymus vulgare
Spot Sowing (Indoors) - The spot sowing technique is identical to cluster sowing except that only three to five seeds are sown per pot. When seedlings are between one and two inches tall, remove all but the hardiest and nurture the remaining seedlings to maturity. Spot sow the following herbs:
Basil, Ocimum basilicum
Borage, Borago officinalis
Burnet, Sanguisorba minor
Caraway, Carum carvi
Chervil, Anthriscus cerefolium
Coriander, Coriander sativum
Cumin, Cuminum cyminum
Horehound, Marrubium vulgare
Hyssop, Hyssopus officinalis
Lavender, Lavendula sp.
Lemon Balm, Melissa officinalis
Lovage, Levisticum officinale
Mullein, Verbascum thapsus
Poppy, Papaver rhoeas
Rue, Ruta graveolens
Yarrow, Achillea filipendulina
Direct Sowing (Outdoors) - A few herbs do not transplant well and should be sown directly into the garden. Be certain to wait after all the danger of frost has passed. Propagate these herbs by cluster sowing outdoors:
Anise, Pimpinella anisum
Dill, Anethum graveolens
Fennel, Foeniculum vulgare
Nasturtium, Tropaeolum majus
Parsley, Petroselinum crispum
Pennyroyal, Mentha puleguim
Mustard, Brassica juncea
Stem Cuttings - To make stem tip cuttings, use a razor blade to take a three-to four-inch tip cutting just below a growing node on the parent plant. Strip the leaves on the bottom of the cutting leaving a 3/4” - 1” bare stem. Insert the stem into a small clay or plastic pot filled with one part sand and one part perlite. Water the rooting medium thoroughly and do not allow it to dry out. Mist daily until roots form. If desired, a rooting hormone may be applied to the stripped end of the stem cutting to timulate new root formation. Take stem cuttings from the following herbs:
Artemisia, Artemisia sp.
Bay, Laurus nobilis
Santolina, Santolina sp.
Sage, Salvia officinalis
Woodruff, Galium odoratum
Lavender, Lavendula sp.
Lemon Verbena, Aloysia triphylla
Scented Geraniums, Pelargonium sp.
Rosemary, Rosmarinus officinalis
Root Division - The best time to take root divisions of your perennial herbs is approximately four to six weeks before the spring frost date. To obtain a root division, dig up the parent plant and cut or pull apart into pieces. Transplant your new root division and water in thoroughly. Perennial herbs that are
propagated by division include:
Artemisia, Artemisia sp.
Bee Balm, Monarda sp.
Catmint, Nepeta mussinii
Catnip, Nepeta cataria
Comfrey, Symphytum officinale
Garlic Chives, Allium tuberosum
Sweet Woodruff, Galium odoratum
Lemon Balm, Melissa officinalis
Lamb’s Ear, Stachys lanata
Mint, Mentha sp.
Oregano, Origanum vulgare
Tansy, Tanacetum vulgare
Tarragon, Artemisia dracunculus
Yarrow, Achillea filipendulina

Growing herbs in the garden
Most herbs require a minimum of six to eight hours of full sunlight each day.  Herbs that will tolerate partial shade include Bay (Laurus nobilis), Chervil (Anthriscus cerefolium),  Sweet cicely (Myrrhis odorata),  Comfrey (Symphytum officinale), Lemon balm (Melissa officinalis),  Lovage (Levisticum officinale), Mints (Mentha sp.),  Oregano (Origanum vulgare), Parsley (Petroselinum crispum), Winter savory (Saturja montana), Lemon verbena (Aloysia triphylla),  and Woodruff (Galium odoratum). To improve the drainage, incorporate several bushels of organic matter such as compost or peat moss to each 100 square feet of garden area. Poorly drained sites may also be improved with underground drainage tiles or a raised bed. A soil pH between 6.5 and 7.0 will produce the best herbs.  Herbs require much less fertilizer than heavier feeding vegetables. Overfertilizing will promote excessive leaf growth and diminish the manufacture of the essential oils that give herbs their distinct aroma and flavor. Herbs that require a bit of extra fertilization to maximize their output, include basil, parsley, and dill, will benefit from supplemental side dressings with a liquid fertilizer such as fish emulsion or a balanced general purpose, water-soluble fertilizer (such as 12-12-12), every 2-3 weeks.
Growing herbs indoors
Plant herbs in clay pots as they are more porous than plastic pots, allowing for better soil drainage. A potting mix of equal parts sand, commercial potting mix, peat moss and perlite will provide an excellent medium for growing herbs indoors. Indoors, herbs do best when grown in a very sunny window that receives between six and eight hours of direct sunlight each day, typically a southern or southwestern exposure.  Rotate the pot every three to four days to insure uniform growth of the plant. If the most convenient window location does not attract enough sunlight, you can supplement natural lighting with two hours of fluorescent light, for every hour of sunlight. Place herb plants no closer than five or six inches, and no farther than 15 inches from the light source.  If the air is dry where you live, place the herb pots in a tray of stones and keep the tray filled with water just up to the bottom of the pot. Providing ample humidity will promote good herbal growth while keeping the foliage succulent and tasty. When grown in containers, most herbs will benefit from a feeding every 2 weeks with a liquid fertilizer such as fish emulsion, seaweed or a general purpose, water-soluble fertilizer (such as 12-12- 12).

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Wild Ones Fox Valley yard tours begin

The first first yard tour of the season for Wild Ones Fox Valley chapter was a late May visit to two contrasting properties rich with native plants that attract native butterflies, birds, and insects. At the first yard, spring-flowering native ephemerals miraculously emerged after the owners eradicated buckthorn, garlic mustard, Virginia creeper, grape vine, black locust,  and other invasives from their woodland lot.   Buckthorn removal involved using extraction, a chain saw, painting with Roundup immediately after cutting back stems, and a weed wrench. Native plants that appeared after removal of buckthorn and other invasives include violets, wild geranium, false Solomon's seal and milkweed.  Others native plants have been purchased from wild Ones & Prairie Nursery and grown from seed share by neighbors.

Shooting Star
Golden Alexanders
Prairie Smoke
Wild Columbine towering above carpet of violets
Shagbark Hickory surrounded by spring ephemerals
Pagoda Dogwood

A short distance up the road, neighbors had chosen to clear native vegetation from around the existing trees to plant lawn, a very different approach , most likely requiring substantial maintenance in the shady conditions, with few of the seasonal blooms to enjoy through the changing seasons.

Further up the road another Wild ones member have lupines blooming on an open, sunny two acres in front of the home.  The owners began converting this former hayfield to native plants in 1997.

In back of their home they had established their first prairie planting with native seed with the help of Neil Diboll of Prairie Nursery.  Most of these plants will bloom in late summer into the fall, giving them blooms to enjoy throughout the growing season.   They have paths mowed through the prairie allowing visitors to wander sitting to rest in a circle of Aldo Leopold benches surrounding a fire pit  

While the owners have devoted the majority of their acreage to native plantings, they have a traditional lawn and foundation plantings immediately surrounding their home as well as a vegetable garden adjacent to their shed and a number of small, more traditional gardens with adjacent seating areas allowing them to enjoy some of their favorite non-natives as well.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Herb Gardens at the Green Bay Botanical Gardens

The NEWHSA met to spruce up the herb beds we maintain at the Green Bay Botanical Gardens prior to the annual Garden Fair.

The Wellhouse has moon windows framing three important garden features: the pastoral Larsen Orchard remnant to the left, the Kress Oval to the right, and the Wellhouse garden straight ahead. The Wellhouse Garden is a summer garden featuring a boxwood and barberry parterre filled with flowering bulbs in patterns meant to be ‘read’ from above. The garden is edged with herb display beds featuring various medicinal, culinary, and ornamental plants. 

One of the herb beds the NEWHSA maintains is the butterfly bed, with a metal butterfly filled with sedum that overwinters, returning each spring.

The butterfly we chose to highlight this year is the Clouded Sulphur (Colias philodice), a common native butterfly in Wisconsin from early spring until late fall.  It is common to see fields teeming with hundreds of these butterflies. This species is most abundant in hay fields, especially fields with abundant alfalfa and clover. At times they can easily be seen along the roadsides adjacent to the hayfields and prairies.
The upper surface of male wings is bright, clear yellow with solid black edging, while the lower side of the forewing has some dark submarginal spots and the hindwing has a silver cell spot rimmed with orange-pink, usually doubled. The female has 2 forms.  One form is yellow with uneven black edging enclosing yellow spots. A white form is greenish-white rather than yellow. Spring and fall forms are smaller and less conspicuously marked.
Clouded sulphurs lay eggs singly on leaves of various legumes including alfalfa (Medicago sativa), white clover (Trifolium repens), and pea (Pisum sativum). In about five days eggs hatch into caterpillars that are bright green, with a darker stripe down the back and whitish lateral stripes. The chrysalis are green, and pointed at both ends. Pupation averages ten days in the non-wintering generations. Hibernation is by third-stage caterpillars in the chrysalis stage. 
From mid spring to fall, Clouded Sulphurs cruise low over the grasstops with a vigorous, searching flight. During courtship, females respond to the male‘s pheromone, which is released when the male buffets her with his wings, causing the female to extend the abdomen out from the hindwings such that the male can join. Adults feed on the flower nectar of many plants. Males of this and other sulphur species congregate in large groups at puddles and other moist ground possibly to take nutrients from the wet soil. 

Another herb bed NEWHSA maintains highlights herbs of the Bible:

"Let your food be your medicine and your medicine your food."
~Hippocrates, Greek father of natural medicine

  St. Fiacre
  Aloe (Aquilari agalioche)   John 19:39-40
  Bay (Laurel Nobilis)   Psalms 37:35
  Chicory (Cichorium intybus)   Exodus 12:8 ("bitter herbs")  
  Cumin (Cuminum cyminum)   Isaiah 28:25
  Dill (Anethum graveolens)   Matthew 23:23
  English Ivy (Hedera helix)   Maccabees 6:7
  Fig ((Ficus carica)   Micah 4:4
  Garlic, onions, & leeks (Alium cepa)   Numbers 11:5-6
  Lemongrass (Cymbopogon citratus)   Exodus 30:23 ("Calamus")
  Moroccan Mint (Mentha spicata)   Luke 11:42
  Syrian Oregano (Origanum maru)   Psalms 51:7
  Rose (Rosa spp.)   Isaiah 35:1
  Rue (Ruta chalepensis)   Luke 11:42
  Wormwood (Artemesia absinthium)   Revelations 8:11

Herbs in Thyme maintains several of the herb beds at the Green Bay Botanical Garden including culinary beds and fairy garden beds.

"An herb is a weed you can eat."
~Bartell Desmond

A culinary herb garden
Fairy garden with miniture formal beds filled with sedums

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Companion Planting Inspiration

Native Americans have long practiced a gardening technique of companion planting Three Sisters
together on the same mound.  These Three Sisters - corn, beans and squash - supplement and complement each other.  

Corn is the oldest sister. She stands tall in the center.
Squash is the next sister. She grows over the mound, protecting her sisters from weeds and shades the soil from the sun with her leaves, keeping it cool and moist.
Beans are the third sister. She climbs through squash and then up corn to bind all together as she reaches for the sun. Beans help keep the soil fertile by converting the sun’s energy into nitrogen filled nodules that grow in its roots. As beans grow they use the stored nitrogen as food.

Traditional planting method: Corn and beans are planted together. Pumpkin is planted in every seventh hill. The pumpkin seeds can be planted alone, or with the corn and beans in the seventh hill.

 Caring for the White Corn goes hand in hand with caring for and respecting our natural environment and all that it provides in return. It is our job to respect all that the Creator has offered, and we look at food as the natural medicines and health provided for us by the Creator. As with every year we began this season with a recognition for the Seed that we planted, and invite the Community. The tobacco burning is a traditional way to honor and recognize our White Corn, including those Community members that are planting their corn, their gardens and the responsibility that we all have in caring for our sustainers. Each year we plant between 3 - 6 acres. The life cycle of our White Corn runs from May till October. We plant and cultivate the White Corn with modern equipment (Tractor/Seeder), and in accordance with our traditional ceremonies and the lunar cycle. We celebrate the Green Corn stage in August, with our Green Corn Ceremony, and we set the date for our Community Harvest and Husking Bee based on this Stage. During the Green Corn stage it is sweeter, milkier, and yellowish in color. It is the Corn that determines the dates for Harvest and Seed selection. We hold another Tobacco Burning for the seed selection, which the Community and all personnel at tsyunhehkw^ take part. We look for traits that will provide the strongest seed for the coming years, such as stalk strength, average height, one ear per stalk, and eight kernel rows. After husking, we make more than two hundred braids, each with sixty-five ears in them, and hang them to dry in the traditional manner. The rest is placed in storage racks in our greenhouse for the Winter season. We plant our crops on a rotational basis, and are able to rotate for 3 to 4 years before we plant the White Corn in the same field. Cover crops of clover, legumes, and grasses are applied to the rest of the fields until the White Corn is scheduled to be planted again. They not only help to return nutrients to the soil, but provide hay for our cattle.

Frybread originated 144 years ago, when the United States forced Indians living in Arizona to make the "Long Walk", a 300-mile journey to relocate to New Mexico, onto land that couldn't easily support their traditional staples of vegetables and beans. To prevent the indigenous populations from starving, the government gave them canned goods, white flour, processed sugar and lard—the makings of frybread.

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups warm water
Extra flour for processing

To make the dough thoroughly blend the flour with the baking powder and salt in a mixing bowl or on a suitable, clean working surface. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture and pour the warm water in the center of the well. Work the flour mixture into the water with a wooden spoon, or use your hands. Gently knead the dough into a ball and form it into a roll about 3 inches in diameter. Cover the dough with a clean kitchen towel to prevent drying and let the dough relax for a minimum of 10 minutes. This dough is best used within a few hours, although it may be used the next day if covered tightly with plastic wrap, refrigerated, then allowed to warm to room temperature.
To form the bread, place the dough on a cutting board. Cut the dough with a dough cutter or knife into desired thickness. This process of cutting helps keep your portion sizes consistent. Naturally, you will want to cut small pieces for appetizers (or, alternatively, if you are making sandwiches, cut them bigger). Once you have determined the size, begin cutting in the center of the roll and continue the halving process until all of the portions have been sliced. Cover the pieces of dough with a dry, clean towel while you process each piece to prevent drying. Place some flour in a shallow pan to work with when rolling out the dough. Lightly dust each piece of dough and then place the dough on a lightly floured work surface. With a rolling pin, roll each piece to about 1/4-inch thickness. Place each finished piece in the flour, turn and lightly coat each piece, gently shaking to remove the excess flour. Stack the rolled pieces on a plate as you complete the process. Cover with a dry towel until ready to cook.
To cook fry bread, place any suitable frying oil in a deep, heavy pan. The oil should be a minimum of 1 inch deep. Place pieces of bread in the oil. Do not overcrowd the pan. Cook 2 to 3 minutes per side. This bread generally does not brown and should be dry on the exterior and moist in the center. Try cooking one piece first, let it cool, and taste for doneness. This will give you a better gauge of how to proceed with the balance of the bread, ensuring good results. Place the finished breads on a paper towel to absorb excess oil. Serve this bread immediately after cooking.
To make grill bread, place the bread on a clean medium hot grill. When bubbles form and the dough has risen slightly, turn the bread over to finish cooking. The bread is done when the surface appears smooth and is dry to the touch. Cooking time will vary but plan on approximately 2 to 3 minutes per side. This bread cooks quickly and is best when moist in the center, with a pliant crust. Some browning occurs, but generally speaking, this is a blond bread.
-Smithsonian magazine

Frybread is popular at powwows,  Native American people’s way of meeting together to join in dancing, singing, visiting, renewing old friendships and making new ones.

Companion Planting

Now that the danger of frost appears to be past, planting of many seedlings commences. A quick review of companion planting suggestions may prove helpful in planning layout of the plants.  

Trees and turf release natural herbicides,"allelochemicals", that inhibit the growth of their neighbors and keep other plants from growing too close. Some allelopathic chemicalsretard growth or inhibit germination by disrupting cell division. Some interfere with respiration and other energy-transfer processes. Many affect plant nutrition by inhibiting water and nutrient uptake. In some instances, allelopathy prevents the establishment of a plant or kills established plants, but most often it simply reduces plant growth. Allelochemicals may be absorbed directly from the air, but most must pass into the soil before being absorbed. In the soil, the chemicals may be deactivated by adsorption onto clays or organic matter, or they may be decomposed by microorganisms. The level of toxins in the soil is affected by soil types, drainage, aeration, temperature, and microbial activity. Clay soils drain poorly, and toxins do not leach readily, so toxin-sensitive plants may be at higher risk when planted in heavy soils. The only practical controls to prevent the interaction of incompatible plants.are physical separation and planning ahead since there are no chemical controls available to stop the potential toxicity of one plant toward another. 

Table 1. Some allelopathic plants, the chemicals they produce, and the plants they affect.
Allelopathic SpeciesType of ChemicalAffected Species
Sugar MaplePhenolicsYellow Birch, White Spruce
HackberryCoumarinsHerbs, grasses
EucalyptusPhenolicsShrubs, herbs, grasses
Black WalnutJuglone (Quinone)Pines (Austrian, Scots, red, white), Apple, Birch, Black Alder, Hackberry, Basswood, Azalea, et al.
Sycamore (Planetree)CoumarinsYellow Birch, herbs, grasses
Black CherryCyanogenic glycosidesRed Maple, Red Pine
OaksCoumarins,Herbs, grasses
Other phenolics
SassafrasTerpenoidsElm, Silver Maple, Boxelder
Balsam PoplarGreen Alder
Southern Red OakSweetgum
Laurel -- Kalmia angustifoliaPhenolicsBlack Spruce
ManzanitaCoumarins,Herbs, grasses
Other phenolics
BearberryPhenolicsPine, Spruce
SumacPhenolics, terpenoidsDouglas fir
RhododendronPhenolicsDouglas fir
ElderberryPhenolicsDouglas fir
Forsythia intermediaKentucky Bluegrass
Goldenrod, AsterPhenolics, terpenoidsSugar Maple, Bl. Cherry, Tulip Poplar, Red Pine
New York FernPhenolicsBlack Cherry
Bracken FernPhenolicsDouglas fir
Shorthusk GrassPhenolicsBlack Cherry
ClubmossPhenolicsBlack Cherry
Reindeer LichenPhenolicsJack Pine, White Spruce
Tall FescuePhenolicsSweetgum, Black Walnut, White Ash
Red Fescue, Kentucky BluegrassAzalea, Barberry, Forsythia, Flowering Dogwood, Yew
Colonial BentgrassAzalea, Barberry, Yew, Forsythia
Perennial RyeApple, Forsythia, Flowering Dogwood
Foxtail, Smooth BromePopulus spp.

But there is hope for some potential benefits for allelopathic plants

  • acting as natural weed killers or pesticides, substituting for chemicals, and promote sustainable agriculture.
  • suppressing tree growth might someday reduce the cost of pruning or herbicide applications in conflicts between trees and power lines.
  • using allelopathic cover crops (e.g., rye) for weed suppression can decrease reliance upon herbicides

Table 1. COMPANION PLANTING CHART FOR HOME & MARKET GARDENING (compiled from traditional literature on companion planting)
AsparagusTomato, Parsley, Basil
BeansMost Vegetables & Herbs
Beans, BushIrish Potato, Cucumber, Corn, Strawberry, Celery, Summer SavoryOnion
Beans, PoleCorn, Summer Savory, RadishOnion, Beets, Kohlrabi, Sunflower
Cabbage FamilyAromatic Herbs, Celery, Beets, Onion Family, Chamomile, Spinach, ChardDill, Strawberries, Pole Beans, Tomato
CarrotsEnglish Pea, Lettuce, Rosemary, Onion Family, Sage, TomatoDill
CeleryOnion & Cabbage Families, Tomato, Bush Beans, Nasturtium
CornIrish Potato, Beans, English Pea, Pumpkin, Cucumber, SquashTomato
CucumberBeans, Corn, English Pea, Sunflowers, RadishIrish Potato, Aromatic Herbs
EggplantBeans, Marigold
LettuceCarrot, Radish, Strawberry, Cucumber
Onion FamilyBeets, Carrot, Lettuce, Cabbage Family, Summer SavoryBeans, English Peas
ParsleyTomato, Asparagus
Pea, EnglishCarrots, Radish, Turnip, Cucumber, Corn, BeansOnion Family, Gladiolus, Irish Potato
Potato, IrishBeans, Corn, Cabbage Family, Marigolds, HorseradishPumpkin, Squash, Tomato, Cucumber, Sunflower
PumpkinsCorn, MarigoldIrish Potato
RadishEnglish Pea, Nasturtium, Lettuce, CucumberHyssop
SpinachStrawberry, Faba Bean
SquashNasturtium, Corn, MarigoldIrish Potato
TomatoOnion Family, Nasturtium, Marigold, Asparagus, Carrot, Parsley, CucumberIrish Potato, Fennel, Cabbage Family
TurnipEnglish PeaIrish Potato
Mechanisms thought to create beneficial plant associations include:

Trap Cropping-Sometimes, a neighboring crop may be selected because it is more attractive to pests and serves to distract them from the main crop. An example of this is the use of collards to draw the diamond back moth away from cabbage.

Symbiotic Nitrogen Fixation-Legumes (such as peas, beans, and clover) have the ability to fix atmospheric nitrogen for their own use and for the benefit of neighboring plants via symbiotic relationship with Rhizobium bacteria. Forage legumes are commonly seeded with grasses to reduce the need for nitrogen fertilizer. Likewise, beans are sometimes interplanted with corn. 

Biochemical Pest Suppression-Some plants exude chemicals from roots or aerial parts that suppress or repel pests and protect neighboring plants. The African marigold releases thiopen, a nematode repellent, making it a good companion for a number of garden crops. A positive use of plant allelopathy is the use of mow-killed grain rye as a mulch. The allelochemicals that leach from rye residue prevent weed germination but do not harm transplanted tomatoes, broccoli, or many other vegetables.

Physical Spatial Interactions-Tall-growing, sun-loving plants may share space with lower-growing, shade-tolerant species, resulting in higher total yields from the land. Spatial interaction can also yield pest control benefits. The diverse canopy resulting when corn is companion-planted with squash or pumpkins is believed to disorient the adult squash vine borer and protect the vining crop from this damaging pest. In turn, the presence of the prickly vines is said to discourage raccoons from ravaging the sweet corn.

Nurse Cropping-Tall or dense-canopied plants may protect more vulnerable species through shading or by providing a windbreak. Nurse crops such as oats have long been used to help establish alfalfa and other forages by supplanting the more competitive weeds that would otherwise grow in their place. In many instances, nurse cropping is simply another form of physical-spatial interaction.

Beneficial Habitats or refugia—are derived when companion plants provide a desirable environment for beneficial insects and other arthropod, especially those predatory and parasitic species which help to keep pest populations in check. Predators include ladybird beetles, lacewings, hover flies, mantids, robber flies, and non-insects such as spiders and predatory mites. Parasites include a wide range of fly and wasp species including tachinid flies, and Trichogramma and ichneumonid wasps. Agroecologists believe that by developing systems to include habitats that draw and sustain beneficial insects, the twin objectives of reducing both pest damage and pesticide use can be attained. 

Security Through Diversity-A more general mixing of various crops and varieties provides a degree of security to the grower. If pests or adverse conditions reduce or destroy a single crop or cultivar, others remain to produce some level of yield. The mixing of cultivars of a single crop, can reduce aphid infestation, as demonstrated with broccoli in University of California research.

Garlic Mustard - Invasive in Wisconsin

This spring, garlic mustard (Alliaria petiolata) was spotted blooming in perennial beds in the yard. Some research helped determine how to deal with this "Restricted Invasive".

Garlic mustard is an herbaceous biennial with stems 1–4’ tall as flowering plant. First-year plants form a basal rosette that remains green through the winter. Second-year plants produce one to several flowering stems.
Legal classification in Wisconsin: Restricted
Leaves: First-year plants are 2–4” tall rosettes with 3–4 heart-shaped leaves, with a toothed margin. Second-year plants produce a flowering stalk with alternate, triangular leaves that are 2–3” wide. Foliage emits a distinct onion or garlic smell when crushed.
Flowers: Late spring to early summer of second year, producing numerous small, white, four-petaled flowers.
Fruits and seeds: Fruits are slender capsules (siliques) 1–2.5” long and contain a single row of oblong black seeds with a distinct ridge.
Roots: Taproot that often has a distinctive S-shaped curve near the top of the root.
Similar species: Creeping charlie (Glechoma hederacea) is often confused with garlic mustard, but its prostrate growth with stolons allows for differentiation from garlic mustard.
Ecological threat:
• Invades upland forests, floodplain forests, savannas, yards, and roadsides.
It is typically found in shaded areas,
but can be found in full sun. Invasion of forests usually begins along the wood’s edge, and progresses via streams, animal trails, and disturbed areas.
• Exudes antifungal chemicals into the soil that disrupt associations between mycorrhizal fungi and native plants, suppressing native plant growth.

Non-chemical control-Removal
Effectiveness in season: 90–100% Season after treatment: < 50%
Pulling or cutting the root from the stem before flowering are effective individual plant control techniques. Pull if soil conditions allow for the removal of the taproot. Pulling second-year plants is easier than pulling first-year rosettes. Alternately, cut the entire taproot with a sharp shovel or spade 1–2” below the surface. If flowers are present, bag material and dispose of it in a landfill to avoid potential for seed spread.  Repeat any control method for several years since garlic mustard seeds can survive in the soil for up to 7 years.  Hand-pull small infestations, but do not compost the plants because most compost piles do not get hot enough to kill the seeds.  Dispose of pulled plants by burying deeply in an area that will not be disturbed, or landfilling.  Call the Bureau of Endangered Resources at 608-266-7012 if you need permission to landfill garlic mustard.  To burn collected plants, burn them while still moist, because dried garlic mustard seedpods can burst open and spread the seed.

Chemical Removal:

If infestations are mixed with desirable vegetation, applications of herbicides without soil activity in the late fall through early spring can reduce injury to desirable plants since garlic mustard emerges earlier and goes dormant later than most desirable vegetation. A 1-2% solution of a glyphosate-containing herbicide is very effective.  Glyphosate is a nonselective herbicide, so avoid spraying nontarget plants.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Favorites purchased at 2014 local plant sales

Having become fond of magnolias while living in the South, I began to notice some smaller varieties blooming here in the spring.  I chose to plant 'Butterflies' Magnolia in the front yard, which should only grow 12-15' high , spreading 6' wide. The yellow spring blossoms are said to perch like butterflies on the branches.

'Bartzella' Peony is a recent yellow introduction local Master Gardeners have been coveting.  Spotting one on clearance at a local big box store, I decided to give it a try.  It's a cross between a herbaceous and a tree peony, that looks and behaves like a very big, healthy herbaceous peony bearing dozens of huge flowers (9in across) on strong stems, above rich green foliage. There are very few yellows in the herbaceous Peony world. The quest for this elusive marvel began in Japan in the 1950s, but it was Roger Anderson, an amateur breeder in Wisconsin, whose 12 patient years of crosses between species finally hit the jackpot in 1980, though he didn't see 'Bartzella' bloom until 1986. Bartzella features large lemon-scented yellow blossoms with soft red flares in the center and white-tipped carpels. An excellent plant possessing health and vigor, it is Winner of the American Peony Society Gold Medal.

Hellebores have come to be of particular interest recently as harbingers of spring, blooming for six weeks or more beginning in late winter.  They are often flowering during the Christian season of Lent, from which they get their common name, Lenten Rose.

Two of the three 'Pink Parachutes' Hellebores planted during a past season have sprung up in the garden this year.  Very strong, pencil-width stems carry loads of huge 3¾” flowers from early through mid-spring. The blooms are bright pink with a fine spray of tiny dark pink to wine colored spots on all of the petals.  Most flowers have soft blush pink backs, but others have nicely contrasting white backs, lending a two-tone look to the blooms.

A new addition this spring is ‘Mango Magic’, a rare color strain for hellebores. Like the flesh of a ripe mango, the flowers range in color from mango yellow to apricot with rose speckling and veining. This especially floriferous strain typically produces 50-60, large 2-3” blossoms on mature four year old plants.  Like all WINTER THRILLERS™ hellebores, it has beautiful dark green, bushy foliage that looks great all year. It will grow to a height of 18-22' with a spread of 24", in part to full shade in neutral to alkaline soil.  This is the perfect plant for naturalizing in moist, woodland areas where its extensive root system will spread as far as it is allowed. (Note: Not native to North America)

Time to get planting, lake flies or no lake flies...

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Sunny Lemon Shortbread Cookies

1    c. sugar
16  T. unsalted butter, softened
2     t. vanilla extract
1/4  t. salt
2    c. flour

1½ c. sugar
6    T. cornstarch
¼    t. salt
½   c. freshly squeezed lemon juice (at least 3 lemons)
3        egg yolks, beaten
2    T. butter
1½ c. boiling water
2-3 T. lemon zest

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar. Add vanilla, giving a quick mix. Add a little bit of flour at a time, mixing until smooth. Shape dough into 2 equal discs, wrapping separately in plastic. Chill for at least 1 hour.
In a saucepan, stir together the sugar, salt, and cornstarch. Then, add in the lemon juice and cook over medium low heat until smooth. Add the egg yolks and butter. Keep stirring constantly until it thickens more.  Add 1 1/2 cups boiling water and continue to cook for 2 to 3 minutes more. The mixture will thicken a lot. (Make sure there are not “scrambled egg bits” in the mixture. You can either put it through a strainer or use a spoon to scoop them out.  Stir in the lemon zest. OR purchase lemon curd to use instead.
Lightly grease a mini cupcake pan. Roll out the dough to about 1/4-inch thick and cut using a round flower-shpaed cookie cutter. Gently press cut out dough flowers into greased cupcake pan.  Fork each throughout on the bottom and sides to prevent them too much puffing . Then transfer to the freezer for 10 minutes before putting in the oven to bake for 8-10 minutes. Put a dab of lemon filling in the center of each cooking. Bake for an additional 5-8 minutes. Cool to room temperature, then transfer to the refrigerator to cool until completely set. Store chilled. When ready to serve, sprinkle with powdered sugar, if desired.

Tried a variation on a recipe from "The Love Nerds" blog, which was reminiscent of lemon bars in taste.  Sugar cookie dough wass rolled, cut into flowers that were pressed into a mini cupcake pan, baked, and filled with lemon curd.  (Apricot jam was substituted when jar of lemon curd ran out, but a number of other fillings would work, possible caramel or chocolate would be popular.)

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

NEW Herb Society Plant & Yard Sale & Tea Garden

Northeast Wisconsin Unit 
of the Herb Society of America 

 Annual Fundraiser Plant and Yard Sale 

May 17, 2014   8 - 3 
(Same day as Seymour City-Wide Rummage Sale) 

Tea Garden and Refreshments available 

Herbalists on hand to answer questions! 

Planhigion Herbal Learning Center 
N6935 Hwy 55 – Seymour 
6 miles north of Freedom – 2 miles south of Seymour 

Don't miss the Outagamie County Master Gardener Association Annual Plant Sale

May 17, 2014
8a.m. - 2p.m.  
UW-Extension Grounds
3365 W. Brewster St., Appleton, WI 

Keeping busy organizing, labelling & pricing plants for the annua OCMGA Plant Sale coming up on Saturday, May 17th.

and coming in June:

 Outagamie County Master Gardener Association 
Garden Discoveries 
Educational garden tour

Sunday, May 11, 2014

At home, the first blooms of the season

“A daffodil bulb will divide and redivide endlessly. That's why, like the peony, it is one of the few flowers you can find around abandoned farmhouses, still blooming and increasing in numbers fifty years after the farmer and his wife have moved to heaven, or the other place, Boca Raton. If you dig up a clump when no one is nearby and there is no danger of being shot, you'll find that there are scores of little bulbs in each clump, the progeny of a dozen or so planted by the farmer's wife in 1942. If you take these home, separate them, and plant them in your own yard, within a couple of years, you'll have a hundred daffodils for the mere price of a trespassing fine or imprisonment or both. I had this adventure once, and I consider it one of the great cheap thrills of my gardening career. I am not advocating trespassing, especially on my property, but there is no law against having a shovel in the trunk of your car.”
~ Cassandra Danz, Mrs. Greenthumbs: How I Turned a Boring Yard into a Glorious Garden and How You Can, Too

PJM Rhododendron

Mother' Day native blooms

Looking carefully in the wooded areas on the Butterfly Pond trail at High Cliff State Park reveals delicate spring ephemerals in bloom.

Yellow trout lily
White trout lily
Common blue violet
Yellow violet
White violet
May apple

... and the Purple Martins have returned from South America to nest.


Purple Martins