Thursday, July 26, 2012

Favorite flower: Aquilegia or Columbine

 By Linda Grimwade

We have these interesting hybrids in a variety of colors in all our flowerbeds, but have not tried eating them.

Information from Wikipedia:
The genus name Aquilegia is derived from the Latin word for eagle (aquila), because the shape of the flower petals, which are said to resemble an eagle's claw.
"Columbine" is derived from the Latin word for pigeon (columba). Another old-fashioned name for this cottage garden plant is "Granny's Bonnet" as the shape of the bloom resembles the mob caps old women used to wear.

They are used as food plants by some Lepidoptera (butterflies and moths) caterpillars. These are mainly of noctuid moths – noted for feeding on many poisonous plants without harm – like Cabbage Moth (Mamestra brassicae), Dot Moth (Melanchra persicariae) and Mouse Moth (Amphipyra tragopoginis). The Engrailed (Ectropis crepuscularia), a geometer moth, also uses columbine as larval foodplant.
Several species are grown in gardens, including the European Columbine (A. vulgaris), a traditional garden flower in many parts of the world. Numerous cultivars and hybrids have also been developed as well.

They are easy to propagate from seed.
Columbine is a perennial, which propagates by seed. It will grow to a height of 15 to 20 inches. It will grow in full sun, however, prefers growing in partial shade and well drained soil, and is able to tolerate average soils and dry soil conditions. Columbine is rated hardiness of Zone 3 so does not require mulching or protection in the winter.
Large numbers of hybrids are now available for the garden, since the British A vulgaris was joined by other European and N American varieties.  Aquilegia species are very interfertile, and will self sow.

Succession Planting

Submitted by Megan Bucknum and Michele Sokoloff

Succession Planting
Keeping the Good Times Rolling In the Garden
It’s July and it’s time to plant .  .  . again .  .  .  some more.
You’ve planted your garden and perhaps, maybe, are focusing on weeding, watering and harvesting. Crop and garden planning can wait until next winter, right?  Well there’s a window of opportunity happening for you right now!
It’s called “Succession Planting.” All you do is follow one crop with another. It’s a great way to maximize your garden’s yield. What can you plant right now so you can harvest in the Fall? Succession planting and planning is the way to go. Even just a couple or a few additions to your garden will make you feel over-the-top satisfied. If you are a gardener with limited space, you will select the vegetables you really like for your Fall picking pleasure. Here are some tips on keeping your crops coming:
1.  Make a wish list of the foods you want to grow within the season. Do a quick check about each plant’s needs and preferences.  This information can easily be found online or on the back of the seed packets; when to plant, days until full growth, space and light needs and weather tolerance.  
2. Take into consideration the time it takes for each crop to come to maturity.  Vegetables with shorter maturation time can even be planted multiple times.
3. Use a “succession planting chart” for a handy reference. It can be valuable for deciding which crops will do well together and when to plant them.
4. It is actually quite helpful to make a diagram of your garden space for each season; spring, summer, fall and winter.  Keep these diagrams on file throughout the years. You might even go back and check the pros and cons of certain plants, if you bother to write a note or two. This can help you deal with nasty pests as well.
Get on out there and do some succession planting. Early evening or early morning are the best times. You’ll be glad you did!
 Below are some great succession planting resources:

Planting Notes
Bush Beans
many varieties are ready in 50–60 days and can be planted until mid-July; late plantings avoid the ravages of the Mexican Bean Beetle
direct seed into a well-prepared nursery bed, and then transplant throughout the garden when seedlings are 4–6 weeks old
same as broccoli; however, varieties over 90 days to maturity may not reach full maturity if planted in July
Chinese Cabbage
same as broccoli
same as broccoli
plant only varieties such as Hookers or Triple Play that mature in 60–70 days.
the longest maturing varieties require 75 days
eaves can be harvested in 60–70 days, or roots can be harvested in 100 or more days
loves the heat, and matures quickly
from transplants
same as chicory
a cold-hardy root that requires a fairly long, cool season for best results
Summer Squash
great for quickly filling in empty spots in a mid-summer garden

Planting Notes
varieties requiring 80–100 days to reach full maturity, eg. Kurota ChantenayJapanese Imperial LongScarlet Keeper, and St. Valery, may not reach full size if planted at this time
can be planted even later but yields will decline
same as broccoli above
same as broccoli
a narrow planting window of opportunity for producing a fall crop

Planting Notes
if grown with protection such as a cloche or hoop house, can be planted well into the fall season
Broccoli Raab
same as broccoli above
wait until the end of August as soil temperatures begin cooling, and keep soil moist for best germination results
plant every three weeks throughout the summer for continual harvests; can be planted in September but yields decline significantly
sow in nursery bed and then transplant throughout the garden
planting at this time produces tasty greens in October
all roots are extra sweet

Planting Notes
versatile, quick green that will re-seed and emerge early the following spring
rapid-growing green that can be planted throughout the winter if grown under cloches or a hoop house
in climates with minimum winter temperatures above 10ยบ F (Zone 8 and warmer), short–mid day length-adapted varieties such as Riverside andValenciacan be planted throughout the southern U.S; long day length-adapted varieties such as Siskiyou Sweet can be planted in western Oregon and Washington
quick-growing roots have milder flavor in cool soils
planting at this time produces small plants in the fall that go dormant during the winter and resume growing in early spring; harvest begins in late March, ensuring continual production throughout the spring
This chart is courtesy of Seeds of Change -
Other Fabulous Resources:
  1. “Succession Planting:  Keep it Coming” by Organic Gardening
  2. “Succession Planting (or ‘Don’t Stop Now’)” by Seeds of Change
  3. “Succession Planting Guide” by Johnny’s Selected Seeds
  4. “Succession Planting:  Lettuce, Carrots and More” by Mother Earth News
  5. “Succession Planting.” Notes from the Vegetable Garden.  Penn State Master Gardeners in Cumberland and Perry Counties.
  6. “Succession Planting” by Veggie Gardener
  7. (Online Garden Planner)
  8. Philadelphia Master Gardener’s Horticulture HortLine is free and a live person will be there to respond back to any gardening question you may have!
  1. (215) 471-2200 x 116
  2., with “Hortline” in the subject line

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Monet in the Bronx

Claude Monet's Bridge Over a Pond of Water Lilies
Sandy Grimwade

Some of the most famous and beloved paintings of gardens are by artist Claude Monet. As well as being a great painter he designed a wonderful garden at Giverny, about 50 miles from Paris. He particularly loved water lilies and he bought some of the first hybrid water lilies for his ponds at Giverny, where he painted massive Impressionist paintings of his water gardens.

This year, the New York Botanic Garden in the Bronx is featuring a special exhibition recreating some aspects of Monet’s garden, with a long, beautifully chaotic flower border, a recreation of his famous green bridge and two huge ponds of water lilies, lotus and other aquatic plants. There are even direct descendents of the original lily hybrids from Monet's garden.

The New York Botanic Garden is worth a visit at any time, and this exhibition adds extra interest for anyone interested in water gardens, water lilies and Impressionist painting.

The "Monet Bridge" in the New York Botanic Garden

New IPM summer newsletter/Ticks and Yellow Jackets

The new IPM summer newsletter talks about ticks and yellow jackets. Link to newsletter

What to do with that bean harvest....Dilly Beans

Big Time Bean Harvest??

If you're searching for ways to prepare your string beans, here's what I consider THE BEST recipe for large quantities of beans. It requires a water bath canning process. If you are new to canning or have questions, feel free to contact me. I have been canning for almost 50 years and have plenty of experience and information that I can share with you.

Dilly Beans
2 pounds trimmed green beans
1/4 cup kosher salt
4 heads dill
4 cloves garlic
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 1/2 cups vinegar
2 1/2 cups distilled water

Pack beans, lengthwise, into hot, sterilized jars, leaving 1/4 inch headspace. To each pint jar, add 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, 1 clove of garlic and 1 head of dill. Combine remaining ingredients into large non-reactive pot and bring to a boil. Pour boiling, hot liquid over beans leaving 1/4 inch head space. Remove air bubbles with plastic knife. Adjust caps. Process pints for 10 minutes in boiling water bath. Yield: about 4 pints.

Lois Fischer

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Uncommon crops.......Cardoon

In a previous entry on May 4th the cardoon plant was photographed in the demonstration garden.

The photos here are from June 9th with the artichoke like spike (cynara cardunculus) beginning to bloom

To find recipe's for the cardoon you must go to the Italian chefs as the cardoon is one of the well loved vegetables of the Italians. Preparation of this vegetable seems complicated but once investigated simple.
Below are a few sites that speak about the cardoon and cooking preparations.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Do you hate stinkbugs?

By Sandy Grimwade

Anyone who lives in this area has been bugged by stinkbugs. They creep into cracks in windows and doors, they incompetently zoom around lights, and when dead they give off a nasty smell. Why are we seeing these bugs in such large numbers over the past few years and how can we keep them out of our homes and gardens?

Brown marmorated stink bug adult
Copyright Steven Jacobs, Penn State University
When people talk about “Stink bugs” nowadays they are usually referring to the brown marmorated stink bug (Halyomorpha halys). Pennsylvania is the center of this stinkbug invasion -- they are a species native to China and east Asia that was first seen in Allentown in 1996. In only 16 years they have spread across the USA and have become a significant agricultural pest, damaging mostly fruit crops and spreading viral diseases. They also feed on ornamental plants though they do not do severe damage. There is a great series of slides on the Rutgers University web site showing the scary spread of the stink bug over the past several years. 

Contrary to legend, stink bugs do not bite people or animals --  their mouth parts are not designed for biting. However, they are not great fliers and they can smack into you, leaving a welt.

What can we do about them and should we, as home gardeners and home owners worry about them? They certainly can be a nuisance in the home, and we want to keep them out if we can. The best way to do this is do make sure that they are excluded from entering by blocking up cracks around windows, doors etc. Check around your home with a caulk gun and fill up any cracks or gaps you find.

Once they are in the house, again, it is old-fashioned mechanical methods that are best. My favorite technique is catch-and-flush using toilet tissue. If you squash them, vacuum them, or trash them they will start to smell. Another popular way of catching stink bugs is to flick them into a jar of water containing a little dishwashing soap. Soapy water is lethal to stink bugs and once you have a batch of dead bugs in a jar you can easily flush them. Although stinkbugs can be killed with insecticides, it is preferable not to use insecticides inside the house.

Scientists and entomologists are still working on the best ways to control stink bug infestations on crop plants and ornamentals. Apparently common insecticides are only moderately effective and there is evidence that the stinkbugs can become resistant to insecticides.  Finally, those little brown bombers are mobile so even if you kill them off in your garden, another batch of bugs will fly in from a non-treated area.

Penn State Extension has a fact sheet about stinkbugs, as do many other state extension services. There are also a number of websites of varying reliability and entertainment value about stinkbugs and their control (e.g. Some people really hate stinkbugs.