Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Invasive Plant: Garlic Mustard - Identification & Control

Garlic Mustard should have been on my list of the dirty dozen plants that I try to keep out of my garden.  Here's a quick take on Garlic Mustard, how to identify, and importantly control it. 

Garlic Mustard Background:

Garlic Mustard Invasive - thriving in rock border
Garlic Mustard  (Alliaria petiolata) is an invasive biennial herb with a distinctive garlic/onion smell. First found in New York state in 1868, it was probably brought by Europeans as a medicinal herb. These days it grows in over 31 states and is labeled an invasive plant. It has no natural enemies of note in North America.  Garlic mustard grows in open woodlands, dense shade, driveway cracks, and your vegetable garden.  It's a biennial so in the first year it produces only leaves, the following spring the plant sends out white flowers on ugly stalks up to 3 1/2 feet tall. Each plant can produce 350-7000 seeds which are dispersed in late summer.  

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Wildflowers and Native Plants of Peru - A Tourist view

Native Plants flowering at Machu Picchu, Peru
From adventure traveler to casual tourist, the Inca Trail provides an unforgettable experience. I traveled it over forty years ago and still dream of the cool, lush, humid Andean rain forest full of unusual flora and fauna. The mystery of the high city and long forgotten tales. If I was taking the trip today, I'm sure I would soak up all the bromeliads and orchids which are native to this area.  The native flower is an orchid! Peruvian native plants are often lusted after house plants :)  The abundance of unusual native plants in Peru is acute in the Machu Picchu Sanctuary and nearby areas. Peru hosts more than 3,000 known orchid species, and some experts claim that this is only half of the Peruvian native species; more to be discovered!  So just think, if you take this hike you might discover an orchid that you could call your own?!

Monday, April 14, 2014

Arizona Wildflowers - A tourist view

Hiking - Vermilion Cliffs, AZ
The desert can be so beautiful! This year I had the pleasure of spending time in Arizona and Utah during early spring. I just caught the beginning of the splendor of desert flowers - I'm sharing a few shots of those I encountered on the trail.  As we got off road on BLM lands and into Vermillion Cliffs, Grand Staircase Escalante, Grand Canyon, and Bryce Canyon - the little pops of color from mother natures blooms were unexpected and pleasurable. Hiking with the fragrance from sage and wide open spaces - Priceless!

While I'm tagging these are wild flowers or Native flowers - someone local with much more experience may say some of these are invasive. Like I say, this is a tourist view :)

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Container Gardens - Growing Herbs

Grow Your Own Fresh Herbs - Container Gardening
More recently as I teach Container Garden classes I'm asked specifically about growing herbs.  In particular small urban patio gardens and families with small children seem to enjoy this activity. I am an avid consumer of fresh, home grown herbs! Photo of harvest of mint, dill, parsley! Herb container gardening is a great way for new gardeners to dig in. There is a great satisfaction in serving delights from your garden. Plus the fragrance from herbs is wonderful. There are many herbs that I always grow in container (aka mint!) This year I'm putting more herbs and veggies in containers to make it easier to access from my kitchen! Planning container gardens is one of the many tasks on my Spring to-do list for my cold climate garden. 

Monday, April 7, 2014

Alternative Deer Repellents - DIY

I'd previously blogged about the challenges I had been having keeping the Damn Deer out of my garden.  I keep a fence that works very well. However, as I started the woodland restoration that now hugs their trail, my love-hate relationship with this plant predator has continued.

Bad smells keep Deer Away. 
Recently folks have suggested some alternatives to the chemical sprays I have been using. This spring as tulips, hostas, iris, and chokeberry are starting to come out. I'm trying these out - the more potential deterrents the better!  If I can make my precious bits of green plants taste and smell terrible - unless they are starving, the deer should just move on (to my neighbors yard!)  One downside of a treatment that relies on taste (like the pepper spray below) is that the deer must taste the plant to discover they don't really want to eat more.  So there will be some nibbling with this method along. Another reason I like using combos.

Just keep in mind that everything needs reapplication. Make sure to treat the plant completely! Rain and time take away the smell and taste. I do not put these treatments onto food crops by the way. My vegetable garden is safe inside a fence (mostly) - although the bunnies do make a mess. That's another blog.