7-8-17 Garden News Roundup

Heard Weekly on the Still Growing Gardening Podcast

This is a curated group of posts and articles that I have shared over the past week with the listener community and in the Free Facebook Group: the Still Growing Podcast Group. 

The Garden News Roundup is made up of a dozen different segments - from updates on past guests to articles featuring fascinating folks in the world of horticulture I'd love to chat with (and that's something that I call the dream guest segment.) I also cover news and information on special topic areas like sustainability and science.

The Garden News Roundup segments are designed to honor the commitment of the show: to helping you and your garden grow. The full list of segments includes:

What's nice about covering these segments in the weekly Podcast is that you can stay pretty informed of the latest news in horticulture and gardening just by listening to this part of the show each week. Furthermore, you can easily check out these curated articles and posts for yourself because I share all of it with the listener community in the FREE Facebook Group: The Still Growing Podcast Group

Guest Update

Megan Cain (SG557) shared a great post called 5 Reasons You Should Prune Your Tomato Plants Now.

Let me give you one reason just as a teaser. The first one she mentions is that you can harvest your tomatoes sooner. Here's what she wrote right after planting our tomatoes.

"We want to put as much energy as possible into growing bigger and better a healthy size tomato plant will yield more fruit than a stunted one. But there comes a time when the scale tips and has the tomato plant grows it keeps producing more and more suckers stems and leaves. Each of these new suckers is forming into a whole new tomato plant attached to the main stem. That means the plant needs to pump a lot of energy into these new parts to help them grow and that takes energy away from fruit production. When you keep the new growth to a minimum you encourage the plant to focus on what you really wanted to do produce delicious fruit. Pruning can often lead to earlier harvests of your favorite garden vegetable fruit tomato."

Megan goes on to offer four additional reasons. It's a great read.

Vegetable Literacy author Deborah Madison (SG533) shared a blog post on her blog called Cooking with Confidence where she said,

"I recently did an online interview with Lisa King who has a blog called Cook with Confidence. It was great fun to do and if you're at all unsure of yourself in the kitchen I hope you'll take a look."

Anyway, I did just that. I signed up for Lisa's site to get her newsletter. Her Website is called CookingwithConfidence.me and I'd love it. She's sharing tips tricks and secrets from experts chefs, food bloggers, cooking teachers, and more - to help you find inspiration passion and success in the kitchen. Of course she talked to Deborah Madison - and that of course was a reason enough for me to sign up.

Guest Shelley Cramm (SG548), the author of The Gardener's Bible, shared a new plant called Olive Martini from the southern living plants collection that she was very pleased with.  

And then Laurie Neverman (SG541), a blogger over at Common Sense Homesteading (http://commonsensehome.com), shared a new blog post called Queen Anne's Lace - Butterfly Host Plant and Blueberry Protector. Now, one of the more memorable things that Lori points out with regard to Queen Anne's Lace is that she received an interesting comment when discussing weeds on Linkedin from an organic blueberry grower who uses Queen Anne's lace to attract beneficial insects. Here's what he said:

"As I wrote to you we have planted Queen Anne's Lace among our certified organic blueberries.

They attract a parasitic wasp that attacks the drosophila fly that is spreading throughout the Pacific Northwest attacking blueberries, cherries, blackberries, and other soft skin fruit.

We do not have to spray the drosophila because of the wasps solving the problem for us.

How fantastic is that?!


Author Kylee Baumle shared a post called A Milkweed Bouquet

Kylee is an expert when it comes to monarchs. In the post she outlines the steps that she takes to help monarchs thrive on her Ohio property.

Also in sustainability this week, Thomas Christopher shared a fun post on Garden Rant (http://www.gardenrant.com) and it was simply called Wildlife Encounters. My favorite line from this post is,

“A quick look at my Peterson field guide to animal tracks revealed that we had acquired a garden moose.”

So when I shared this post on social, I came up with these hash tags: #gardenmoose and then, of course, #mooseontheloose.

What I loved about this post is that Thomas had seen tracks in his garden and then was determined to figure out what those tracks were made by - and of course it turns out to be a moose. It's a fun little article and I really liked it.

Continuing Ed

Listener Sue Luftig had shared a question in our Facebook group basically about how to handle the squash bore and so in Continuing Ed this week I shared a post calledHow to Defeat the Squash Vine Borer. This was a very excellent post by Nature Moms and here's what she recommended:

“You need to start with some prevention in the early spring. Most of us buy starts or transplant starts that we grow indoors. You can wrap the stems of your squash seedlings with medical gauze. It is flexible enough to grow with plants but prevents caterpillars from eating into the stems.

Spray your plants with BTK (Bacillus Thuricide). It is a beneficial bacteria that controls the larva stage (caterpillars) of certain moths. It will not harm beneficial insects. I also use it on cabbage and plants in the brassica family who are attacked by moths/caterpillars. You can also spray with Dr. Bronner’s soap. Re-spray both after rain. Wipe down the vines, stems, leaves with a damp cloth to remove bugs and eggs once or twice a week. After spraying dust them with Diatomaceous Earth and create a ring around the plants to create a barrier.

You may want to cover your squash plants right up until they flower with a row covera cage, or some kind of gauzy netting that will not give moths access to the plants. Once they flower you will need to remove these impediments so the pollinators can visit.”

Overall, this was an excellent article on defeating the squash vine borer by Nature Moms

How to / DIY

In the How to / DIY segment, were a number of posts this week.

The first was 6 Secrets To Growing Better Bush Beans by Off the Grid News.

There was a fantastic DIY project that was posted in Smart School House and it was instructions for how to make a seashell planter.

There was also a great video tutorial on how to make hypertufa spheres that you can basically make these with cheap beach balls that you buy at Wal-Mart. You cover them with drywall tape and then cover them with quick wall and then there's a video to walk you through that. My favorite part about it is that you can moss them up so they end up with that attractive moss covering over the hypertufa.

Gardenista shared probably one of the most comprehensive posts I've seen on how to make Kokedama String Balls for a hanging garden. That was fantastic.

Plant Spotlight

Boy, there were so many plants that made it into the plant spotlight this week - that spotlight is shining pretty brightly.

First up was a fantastic post by Garden in a City. This is a blog that's done by a husband-wife team (Jason & Judy) outside of Chicago and they had shared a post called Culver’s Root: Sometimes Newer IS Better. There’s a Fascination version of Culver's Root that is a gorgeous purple.

Anyway now that I'm reading more of this blog they had also shared a great post about June Berries and they wrote:

“We think of fall as the season of fruitfulness. But there are a number of plants bearing ripe fruits in June and of course that includes June Berries.”

It was a very nice article about June Berries.

Guest of the show Gail Eichelberger (SG544) shared a post on her blog at Clay and Limestone (http://www.clayandlimestone.com) back in the beginning of July that was called Gloriosa Daisies for National Pollinator Week. The picture of her Irish Eyes Indian Summer Black-eyed Susans were absolutely striking. The emerald green central cone on Irish eyes is just something else! That definitely made it in the plant spotlight this week.

Greenhousegrower.com shared a post with Kelly Norris's recommendations on new plants and the one that caught my eye is the Czech Mark Wigelia from Spring Meadow Nursery. It has red, pink, and white blossoms - an absolutely beautiful combination for wigelia lovers.

Amy at GetBusyGardening.com shared an article that was called Plumeria Plant Care: How To Care For A Potted Plumeria Plant and this was a fantastic coincidence because listener Michael Lockstampfor had just shared a picture of his plumeria as he wrote,

“Another happy accident. I had no idea how easy it is to propagate plumeria in these parts.”

Michael lives down in Florida. He continued,

“Now I have 25 plus baby plants. I don't think I'm legally allowed to sell them. So if anyone is nearby and would like one or three, you're welcome to them.”

Amy did a great job on this post and it was perfect timing. I happily shared that with Michael.

Finally, the blog woodchuckacres.blogspot.com shared a post with a beautiful picture of Indian Hemp and I say it's a nice Joe Pye Weed alternative.

In the News

The Michigan State University Extension shared an article about howHomeowners battling a weedy orchid invading lawns and flowerbeds. It's broad-leaved Helleborine and it's once again causing trouble for homeowners who are finding it in their lawns and in their flower beds.

Dream Guest

In the dream guest segment this week is Nettie Edwards. Nettie was recently an artist in residence at Lacock Abbey. Lacock Abbey is this gorgeous setting for many different movies including Downton Abbey and Harry Potter. It's absolutely exquisite. And Michelle over at VegPlotting.com wrote this amazing profile of Nettie and it was very captivating.

Now what Nettie was doing as the artist in residence is she was set up over at the Botanic Garden on this huge property over at Lacock and she was creating her work with anthotypes. If you're not familiar with what an anthotype is you're not alone. (I had to look it up) An anthotype is one of the earliest methods of trying to replicate something and then creating an image and you use the juices from plants and or flower juice.

Of course, the first step that Nettie would have to take is to extract the juice from the flower fruit or vegetable and this would be done using a pestle and mortar. The next step is that the flower juice is mixed with either alcohol or water to make it thinned out a little bit and then it's brushed onto a paper and then you have two options.

First, you can either take the object that you're trying to use (whether it's a peony flower or some type of physical photo image from the garden) and you lay it on top of the paper. You just set it down flat on a horizontal surface and wait for it to dry. Where the flower is sitting on top of that liquid will dry darker and so you'll have the outline of the leaf of the flower or whatever it is you're trying to create with your anthotype.

The other option is to sandwich the specimen between glass and then you put it in the sunlight and the sun will work its magic to create the outline of the image that you're trying to create with your anthotype.

In a nutshell, these anthotypes are botanical photographic prints and Nettie Edwards was there to do demonstrations for folks who were visiting the botanic garden. I thought her studio set up looked absolutely charming and I've since started following her on Twitter.

One of the most captivating images was a scan that was taken of Nettie's notebook where she's taking samples of the dyes that different plants produce: there was the soft blue of clematis Arabella, the bright yellow of Buttercup, the Viking purple of Rosa the Fairy, the hazy grayish purple of the allium. Nettie is currently experimenting with Bull's Blood Beet Root and other Allium.

Now the other wonderful resource that this blog post linked to is Nettie's blog it's called Hortus Lucis and I'll share this post in the Facebook group this week. In that post, Nettie shares her introduction to the anthotype process and then it shows her very first print. And I tell you what: for a first time, I thought it turned out very nicely. She did a great job. So, you'll have to read the post. Btw, it's a mess memorizing thing to walk through and watch her work. I find the entire anthotype experience completely fascinating and that's why Nettie Edwards was in the Dream Guest segment this week.


This first post is about New Research Exploring the Potential of Using Steam or Hot Water for Early Weed Control . Now this research showed that creeping wood sorrel required exposure to 90 degrees Celsius for at least five minutes for 100 percent control and bitter cress was completely controlled within just a minute of using hot steam on it.

I thought this had tremendous potential for product development for someone who wants to create some type of steam machine for weed control out in the garden, because there are folks that are afraid of using flame weeders but a steamer might be something that they be more open to using.

Just imagine: we could be seeing steamers on the market in the near future if someone wants to act on this research.

The conversation.com shared a wonderful article that was called Pavlov's plants: new study shows plants can learn from experience. This new study shows plants can learn from experience. Now this article was about Australian evolutionary ecologist Monica Gagliano. Gagliano uses phrases such as “plant cognitive ecology” and “plant learning and communication”. In fact in 2013 she was featured in an article by Michael Pollan called The Intelligent Plant. Additionally, Gagliono's run a number of experiments on plant behavior. And here's what she says:

“Plants may lack brains and neural tissues, but they do possess a sophisticated calcium-based signaling network in their cells similar to animals memory processes.”

There is much more detail in this article about her experiments but it ends with some tough questions:

  • Do plants like animals have consciousness?

  • If plants learn choose and associate, what does this mean for our ethical relationship with them?

  • Can humans learn from the adaptive capacities of plants?

Very fascinating.


In Shopping this week are some really fun items to consider.

The first is the ‘Just Add Cream’ new strawberry. These strawberries were featured in The Guardian and apparently what sets this new variety apart is its flavor and not only that it has an outstanding scent. It produces for almost six months out of the year! So the ‘Just Add Cream’ strawberry should be in everyone's garden.


Gardenista of wrote an article this week on 10 Easy Pieces: Rainwater Collection Urns. They shared a variety that are sourced everywhere and of course they have a number of different prices from very affordable to outrageously expensive. But they're all featured in this wonderful post that I shared in the Facebook group this week.

Then there was a very fun post that was shared by Inhabit and they're featuring a giant nest for humans lets get away from it all.  The giant nest comes complete with two huge egg pillows and you can curl up in it and fall asleep. So this piece of furniture looks like a huge bird's nest and it even comes at these two egg pillows. They show these kids and their dad all snuggled up in this nest on an egg pillow reading a book or playing on their iPhones. It looks so relaxing and just really fun.

Finally, I had the pleasure of sitting in the back of this motor coach as we were touring gardens in D.C. for the Garden Bloggers Fling and I was sitting by Karen Rexrode who is just a wonderful lifelong gardener and plantswoman. Karen owned her own nursery and we somehow got on the topic of garden tools. Anyway, she shared with me that her favorite tool was this Barnel BLK727 Stainless Serrated Harvest Sickle. Well, I wasn't going to let this opportunity pass me by so I whipped up my phone right away and she helped me located on line. And you're never going to believe this - it's a whopping $8.61! Now, you have to be careful because it's extremely sharp - but it can get the job done when you're out in the garden.

Later that same week, I had to chuckle because I saw a post from a listener named Laura Gonzales in the Still Growing Gardening Podcast Group on Facebook and she as she was showing her gorgeous lavender and as she was harvesting her lavender, what did I see in her picture? A harvest sickle.

Clearly, folks love to sickles in the garden. This would be a great resource for you if you're looking for something new to try out there. I ordered one for myself and I'm looking forward to getting it later this week.


In Inspiration this week, Gardenista a shared a post called10 Classic Layouts for Townhouse Gardens. This is a great inspirational post for people with small gardens who are looking for exceptional layouts to accommodate dining, lounging, and play - lots of great ideas in this one.

Then, fellow garden blogger Dean Nash over at Red Dirt Ramblings (http://reddirtramblings.com) shared an adorable post calledTour gardens are pageant girls and here was the part of the article that I loved:

“My husband will tell you that gardeners are the most competitive people he knows. Gardeners who love a particular plant are even more discerning. They will go to great lengths to get their gardens pageant, ‘er tour ready."

And, I think anyone who's ever been on a garden tour can relate with this next part:

“I’ve seen gardeners install new landscapes, build new buildings, create ponds–oh, wait, that’s me, or should I say, Bill? He doesn’t know it, but Bill would make the best pageant mom ever. He sees the overall woman–I mean–garden and works on improving what Mother Nature gave her. You may not remember, but three weeks before the Oklahoma Horticulture Society tour, he built a pond with a lot of help from his friends.

I could have killed him.”

It's a super fun post for anyone who's ever stressed-out to get their garden ready for a tour or a visit from friends and family. Totally relatable.

Finally, Beth Engle shared a link that could be inspiring to someone out there. She wrote:

“In case anyone out there is interested here's some information on grants being awarded to therapeutic gardens. Please see the link for details.”

Of course, I clicked on the Therapeutic Garden Grant Application and this is a grant by the National Garden Bureau. Every year they select three therapeutic guardians as recipients of a grant that will help build or perpetuate a therapeutic garden. Applicants must have the plot of land in their possession at the time of application with at least a five year commitment for a garden to be on that property.


No recipe posts this week

Given that the topic of our show this week was about grasses, I was trying to find some quotes about grasses.

And, I tell you what - when you look at quotes and you're searching just exclusively for the term ‘grass’, not much comes up and the things that do come up aren't exactly the kind of quotes that I'm looking for.

So, I started to think about grass and probably grass’s best friend and I think that's the wind. When I put those two terms together (grass + wind), the kind of quotes that I was looking for started popping up like crazy. I thought I'd share some of them in a blog post and of course they'll feature not only grass, but also, the wind.

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Jennifer Ebeling
Jennifer Ebeling is a proud Minnesotan and U of MN alumni. Gooooooo Gophers! Each week, Jennifer produces and hosts Still Growing - a gardening podcast dedicated to helping you and your garden grow. The show is an in-depth interview format. Guests featured on the show share a passion for gardening and include authors, bloggers, professional gardeners, etc. Listeners and guests of the show can join the Still Growing community on Facebook. It's a place to ask questions, share garden stories, interact with great guests featured on the show, and continue to grow and learn. Jennifer and her husband Philip have four children, a big golden lab named Sonny, and live in lovely Maple Grove, Minnesota. P.S. When she's not teaching her four kids a new card game - or teaching them how to drive a car - Jennifer loves inspiring individuals and groups to maximize and personalize their home & garden.
Jennifer Ebeling
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  2. Jason on July 14, 2017 at 4:19 pm

    Jennifer, thank you so much for the link! I love your blog – very impressive!

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