Every post on gardening - and most other subjects - means I am reading information from books, magazines, or the Net to support claims or fill in gaps of information. Below are some things that struck me as new, unusual, or essential to know, in spite of gardening and reading about the subject for the last 35 years, starting in Midland, Michigan.
Giant Weed Is Creation Gardening Dream Plant
Pokeweed annoyed me with its gigantic growth everywhere. On the Net and in books I learned - birds and mammals love the berries, and beneficial insects flock to the flowers. Now I admire my healthy, growing, blooming and fruiting Pokeweed.
Crabgrass Is a Grain
Crabgrass spreads because it is a grain plant brought over in the early days. As they say, it got loose. It is easily controlled with mowing - or even better - mulching over it to create compost.
|"I don't digest? Then why are you selling my manure,|
you heartless capitalist! You exploit the poor for your
profits, your luxuries. Bacteria do the digesting?
Earthworms Do Not Digest Food
I am the Johnie Appleseed of red wigglers, but they do not digest the food they eat. Bacteria in their gut break down the food and make it available for plants. Bonus fact - slugs and earthworms share the same task, shredding food so it can decompose.
Spiders without Webs
The spiders in a yard may destroy more insect pests than any other beneficial creature. Many of them work without nets, running along and snagging their food - cursorial spiders. Observation - many perfect roses are found with a thick spider's net at the bottom of the flowering part.
Treat a Plant Like a Princess
I knew about Crepe Myrtle and had one struggling near our mail box. When I put extra mulch, lawnmower droppings, leaves, or mushroom compost underneath, the soil food disappeared rapidly and the flowers began to change from boring to wow. I spent a lot of time removing lower branches to give it the Lyle Lovett look, so now we have pink fireworks on top for months. Pruning some of those flowers renewed the blooming all over. Bonus fact - Cardinals love CM seeds, and I now have a pair nesting there.
Squirrels Are Like Bears
Neat holes in the mulch are probably from squirrels digging for earthworms and grubs. Almost Eden told me - they are like bears, eating anything. Bonus fact - mama squirrel kicks the babies out of the nest rather early, so that is why I have baby squirrels eating sunflower seeds from the bird feeders.
Chaste Tree Forehead Slapper
I knew how great the Chaste Tree bush was for bees, but I grew one in a shady area and watered it diligently. The plant looked so bad I researched CT care on the Net. Errors:
- Never water a Chaste Tree.
- Always plant it in the sun.
- Prune it as much as desired.
I dug it up, planted it in the sun, pruned every branch somewhat, refused to water it, and saw it perk up and sprout healthy leaves.
Foundational Mistake - Jeff Lowenfels
In the olden days, every gardening book emphasized having a healthy supply of earthworms in the soil as the basis for fertile, lively plants. Wrong! The real foundation is microbial, with fungus doing a surprising amount of decomposition, movement of nutrition to plant hairs, and disease control. Therefore, moving the soil around unnecessarily is a big mistake. Earthworms are the proof of a healthy microbial foundation - fungus, bacteria, protozoa, nematodes, all eating and being eaten - but with fungus feeding desired products to the root hairs in exchange for carbon from the plant.
|Aphids love white and Peace roses.|
Therefore, they attract beneficial insects and feed them.
KnockOut Roses Not Like Any Other
KnockOut roses are popular but treated badly. As disease resistant shrubs, KOs are packed with growth energy when mulched and watered. Based on several years experience - they respond with delight to heavy pruning - as much as 50% - and regain the lost height by growing and blooming all over again. Too much heat and wilted flower? - prune heavily. Too much rain and droopy bushes - prune 50% and watch them sprout 50 blooms each.
Walliser Dictum - The Pests Are Food for Pest Predators - Backed by Sharon Lovejoy
Nothing makes us go crazier than aphids destroying rose blooms. No man-made cure works. Hosing them off? Haha. Pesticides? - sure, kill all the spiders too. The first attack will generate a response team that usually lays eggs that hatch into aphid eating monsters, creatures which mature into egg-laying beneficials that... Jessica Walliser and Sharon Lovejoy write about this phenomenon. My white and Peace roses are trashed by aphids on the first bloom, then almost perfect the rest of the season.
|One of the greatest rose hybridizers|
gave us Chrysler Imperial and Queen Elizabeth roses.
A PhD, he was a Creationist.
Tiny Flowers Are Good Flowers
The beneficial insects that eat pests are tiny - not just the cute little Ladybugs. Because most of the adults need flower or pollen or both, any plant with tiny flowers will help the beneficial insect population. A constant bloom of tiny flowers will create a yard where the beneficials can wait for the cry of stricken plants. That may come from extra nectar being released, hormones, or maybe the sound of sipping and crunching from the pests. Therefore, I want:
- Queen Ann's Lace
- Carrot family plants, and
- Those little colorful plants that bloom in the grass for a short time.
| Mountain Mint - tiny flowers.|
Many overlooked and unknown flowers are
the perfect medicine for gardening, attracting beneficial insects
and supporting other life in the garden.
Moles Are Good Soil Mixers
Every spring the gardeners share their hatred of moles with each other. I already knew they could not be killed. Secondly, I learned their annoying food tunnels, that alarm us in the spring, are difficult to trace later in the summer. Most importantly, since moles will never go away - they are superb soil mixers, like giant subway tunnel borers in comparison with earthworms, one of their favorite foods. The underground swimming of moles opens up the soil and creates room for new earthworms to take over. When moles establish storage places for earthworms - up to 1200 at a time - they are making sure more nitrogen is placed in that area.
| Queen Elizabeth Rose - developed by Lammaerts,|
designed by the Creating Word.