Connie Schultz, Master Gardener/Composter (’95 Cornell Extension) now volunteering in Johnston County, NC
Connie Schultz, Master Gardener/Composter (’95 Cornell Extension) now volunteering in Johnston County, NC
Maricopa County Master Gardener
University of Arizona Cooperative Extension
Several years ago I was smitten by living wreaths. They were so beautiful and versatile….and different! Excited by the possibilities, I tried growing all kinds of things in wreaths I made from a metal form used for Christmas wreaths and an old nylon stocking filled with potting soil that I wired into the metal form. I tried ivy first because it would curl around the form nicely and make it look fuller. That worked well so next I tried growing a wreath from seed using lobelia. I have to say the lobelia one filled out beautifully and when it bloomed it was very pretty! But most of the time I used one inch seedlings.I learned to choose plants that had small leaves and would not get too large or outgrow the wreath form too quickly. Also because the wreaths were narrow, the plant roots needed to be small and not bothered by cramped conditions.
Succulents are one of the most popular choices to use in wreaths. Their roots like cramped spaces and they don’t mind getting a little dry either. Other popular plants to try are mosses, groundcovers, and tillandsia.
I also learned that it’s hard to keep a wreath evenly round. Plants like to grow their own way which isn’t always even.
It’s messy to water a wreath when it’s hanging up and even harder to water evenly because the water runs down and out so quickly. This leaves the plants not watered thoroughly or the ones on the top drier than the ones on the bottom. The best practice is to water a wreath lying down in a plant saucer, letting it soak a little because uneven watering also leads to uneven growth.I hope this holiday season you’ll be inspired to try this too. I’ve included a picture here to illustrate the project but since I don’t have any pictures of my old experiments, I made a Pinterest Board with other interesting wreaths to try. I tried to pick a wide variety of plant types to inspire you to try lots of ideas and few new ones for me to try too!
Connie Schultz, Master Gardener/Composter (’95 Cornell) now volunteering in Johnston County NC
November 15th is America Recycles Day and, since we’re approaching Thanksgiving, I thought it could be good to focus on waste during a time of feasting. I was surprised at what I learned about food waste in America. The land of plenty is abundantly wasteful! The infographics below show what we can do to help reduce our own food waste or keep it out of the landfill by composting it. Please take the EPA challenge to reduce waste food and enjoy a bountiful Thanksgiving table.
Connie Schultz, Master Gardener/Composter (’95 Cornell Extension) volunteering now in Johnston County
For gardeners in many parts of the country, the growing season is winding down with the fall harvest; for others, things are still incredibly busy. Regardless of your location, the blog was chock-full of outstanding information during October! Let’s see what you might have missed if you weren’t able to read regularly . . .
On October 1, we were celebrating Native Plants (Celebrating the Native Plant), which can form the backbone of a great garden no matter your location. While the natives may vary from region to region, they are all hard-working plants ideally suited to local conditions; many believe we should give more emphasis to natives and be very discriminating in our introductions of non-native species into local ecosystems. Here are a couple of the highlighted plants:
Mary-Jean Grimes, of Grays Harbor-Pacific Counties in Washington State, had a great post October 2 about the Lake Sylvia Native Plant Project (Wordless Wednesday – Lake Sylvia Native Plant Project), including photos of families being introduced to the local plants at the park:
October 3 featured a plant profile of the Desert Four O’Clock (Mirabilis multiflora), native to the southwestern states, by Susan Buffler of Cache County, Utah. This fascinating plant grows from a large tuber, which makes transplanting difficult; it’s a beauty, well worth whatever trouble it may be to establish!
On October 5, we learned much more about the Native Plant Projects from Two Washington Counties. This post, from Mary-Jean Grimes, went into detail about the Lake Sylvia Park project, which included the development of plant identification cards for the native plants, and the Discovery Garden project in Ilwaco, which entailed the renovation of an overgrown planting at the Columbia Pacific Heritage Museum. (As a North Carolina gardener, it’s particularly fascinating to me to see what our most distant gardening neighbors are up to.) Both projects look absolutely terrific!
October 8 brought us a listing of Favorite Natives of WA Master Gardeners; the top five plants were trillium, red flowering currant, evergreen huckleberry, vine maple, and Oregon grape. The results were tabulated from the participants in the Grays Harbor-Pacific Counties MG and the Washington State Master Gardener Advanced Education Conference in September. The overall listing included more than 50 plants, as well as a link to more information about all of them.
Wordless Wednesday: Farmer’s Markets & Fall Festivals for October 9 brought some gorgeous photos from North Carolina: Johnston County’s Connie Schultz highlighted just a few of the many Farmers Markets that have popped up statewide in recent months as the interest in locally grown food has virtually exploded. Combine the colors of ripe produce, beautifully displayed, with the background of a crisp, clear October day, and the results are sure to be captivating!
October 11 brought my first Monthly Blog Recap (EMG Blog Learning Notes – Recapping September 2013); if you feel you missed anything from September, here’s where to start tracking it down.
On October 12, we took an in-depth look (Native Plants, Native Foods: Ramps) at a native food plant that some Americans may never have heard of: the ramp (Allium tricoccum). Just as the Southwest has chili peppers, and the Northeast has maple syrup, the Southeast has ramps. This odiferous wild leek grows in Appalachia, and its history as a “spring tonic” is fascinating, as is its place in society today, with annual ramp festivals devoted solely to its cultivation, lore, and use. If you love both history and horticulture, this post is worth every second of your time: go read it right now!
Permaculture was the topic for our October 14 post (Work With Nature Rather Than Against It – What is Permaculture?), featuring a new campus permaculture garden at Utah State University. Since permaculture – which essentially means working with nature rather than against it to create sustainable landscapes and ecosystems – is very much in the news lately, this is an extremely timely post, accompanied by beautiful photos. Susan Buffler, of Cache County EMGs in Utah, provided links to additional permaculture information, as well, and the post even includes a brief video at the Central Rocky Mountain Permaculture Institute.
October 16 featured another Almost Wordless Wednesday post, this one focusing on some Southwest farmers markets (Wordless Wednesday: Southwest Farmers Markets Fall). Thanks to Eileen Kane for a lovely glimpse at the glory of fresh produce. It’s fascinating to see how the produce shown in her photos differs from the veggies in Connie Schultz’s earlier Wordless Wednesday post about North Carolina farmers markets.
For those of us who are orderly and disciplined enough to keep records of their gardens, the post from October 17 will be particularly fascinating. Carla Albright, of Tillamook County, Oregon, created a wonderful piece on maintaining a consistent and useful garden journal (7 Steps for Keeping a Consistent (and Useful) Garden Journal). With the simplicity of incorporating digital photography into computerized documents, journaling is easier than it’s ever been . . . if you make the time to do it! This is an excellent, illustrated primer on the topic that will make it easy for you to get started. So what are you waiting for?
October 19 brought us an outstanding post from Lisa Tompkins, Chair, Southern Piedmont Chapter, North Carolina Native Plant Society, on the top ten native plants of North Carolina (North Carolina’s List of the Ten Top Choices for Native Plants). This article highlights some of the plants that can form the foundation of a great garden in the Southeast, including photos and essential horticultural information about each of the plants.
Eileen Kane, of the University of Arizona Maricopa County EMG program, provided the October 22 post on Low Desert vegetable and herb gardens in the Southwest (Southwest Autumns Feature Herbs and Vegetable Transplants and Seeds). This piece provides real insight into just what is going on this time of year in Southwestern gardens; it’s fascinating to compare and contrast it with what’s happening where I garden in the Southeast.
October 23’s Wordless Wednesday highlighted the North Carolina Food Corps Salad Days for kids at school gardens (Almost Wordless Wednesday: Salad Days for Kids at School Gardens with North Carolina Food Corps). It’s amazing to watch school kids carrying bunches of freshly-harvested greens down the hallways at school, bouquet fashion, munching as they walk . . . especially when you realize that some of these children have never eaten fresh vegetables in their lives.
And on October 24, FOOD DAY, we posted an infographic about the American Diet, provided by Food Day. Fascinating to see how well – or how poorly – the average American eats.
On October 25, the blog post featured an absolutely outstanding iBook created by Mary Free, an EMG in Northern Virginia (Consumer Horticulture iBook Publication Contest Winner Announced). Mary won the Virginia Cooperative Extension 2012 consumer horticulture iBook publication contest with her creation, “For the Birds, Butterflies & Hummingbirds: Creating Inviting Habitats.” It’s also available in PDF and ePub formats on the VCE publications website, and it looks absolutely wonderful – visually appealing and packed with good information.
October 27 featured another look at school gardens: Healthy Gardens, Healthy Youth – Can we prove the benefits of school gardens?. Kerri Wilson, WSU Pierce County Extension, sent in this article on the benefits of school gardens and attempts to prove those benefits through a pilot research project in her four-state area.
The plight of the honeybee was the topic of the October 29 post from Gladys Hutson, Union County EMGV in North Carolina (Bees 101 – 2013 – WOW a Tough Year on Honeybees!). She outlined some of the trials and tribulations beekeepers faced during 2013.
And the October 30 Almost Wordless Wednesday showcased photos from Kerri Wilson, WSU Pierce County EMG Coordinator, taken at a number of area school gardens (Healthy Gardens, Healthy Youth-Almost Wordless Wednesday). In a time when food insecurity is an increasingly obvious issue in this country, school gardens are receiving more and more focus as an attempt to help our children learn about proper nutrition and where food actually comes from.
Please stay tuned for next month’s blog recap. Until then, we’d love to hear from you about what’s going on in your area as we head into winter, so please stay in touch!
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Extension Master Gardener Blog
Linda Brandon, Extension Master Gardener Volunteer Coordinator, NC Cooperative Extension/ Guilford County Center, Greensboro, NC
Kerri Wilson, WSU Pierce County Extension Master Gardener Coordinator planting strawberries with second grade student at Fern Hill Elementary School in the Tacoma School District.
Kerri Wilson, WSU Pierce County Extension Master Gardener Coordinator helping a fifth grader thin radishes at Mary Lyon Elementary School in the Tacoma School District.
The Daffodil Valley Elementary School Garden under construction in the Spring of 2013.
Sumner WA School District
In the background you can see the completed fence and raised beds installed by Sumner High School Students.
In the background you can see the completed greenhouse and raised beds.
The Daffodil Valley Elementary School Garden in summer 2013.
All over the country, gardens are increasing access to fresh and healthy foods and promoting exercise. But is there evidence to show that gardening—particularly school gardening—can lead to improved eating and other health benefits? That’s what the People’s Garden School Pilot Project, “Healthy Gardens, Healthy Youth” (HGHY) is trying to find out.
More than 4,000 students in low-income communities have taken part in this four-state research project funded by USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service, and part of the national Peoples Garden program. Co-led by Washington State University Extension and Cornell University Cooperative Extension-NYC, with partners Iowa State University Extension and Outreach, and the University of Arkansas Extension, HGHY has followed students in 54 elementary schools for the past two years. Data collection was completed in June of 2013 and analysis by the researchers is underway with results expected in spring of 2014.
As part of the project, gardens were installed at half of the schools and students participated in gardening lessons. The other half of the schools served as a control group, receiving no gardens or lessons until the project concluded. After waiting two long years for their gardens, the control schools could hardly wait to get their gardens started – especially Daffodil Valley Elementary.
Daffodil Valley Elementary School in Sumner, Washington is a great example of how community makes a garden successful! When it came time to build the garden, the school formed a garden committee consisting of the school’s librarian, science teacher, after school program coordinator, a parent volunteer, the Sumner High School Agriculture and Future Farmers of America (FFA) Faculty and a Pierce County Master Garden plans to join this committee soon! The committee decided the school would most benefit from a tilled, in-ground garden utilizing the rich soils of the Puyallup Valley, home to many berry and former bulb farms. The committee quickly got to work designing the garden, recruiting youth and community volunteers, and donations from local businesses. Within a few months the garden plot was tilled, a shed and green house were installed, and a fence was raised. On a sunny day in late May, Daffodil students came out to the garden to plant seeds and transplants. The Sumner High School FFA members participated in each step of the garden installation, from planning meetings to building the fence. Several FFA students completed social science projects inspired by the garden. One Sumner High student completed his Eagle Scout Project by building three wheel chair accessible beds so that all students can garden.
With all the care and attention from the school community, the Daffodil garden produced a bountiful harvest by summer. Everyone is planning for next year’s garden when some of the produce will be sold at a Junior Farmer’s Market – a joint Daffodil Elementary and Sumner High School project to help teach students math and business skills.
Many schools across the country in Healthy Gardens, Healthy Youth benefited from the guidance and expertise of Master Gardener volunteers. Master Gardeners taught gardening lessons, provided guidance in garden installation and planting and are now helping with the long term sustainability of the gardens through continual support. A Washington State University Pierce County Master Gardener has been partnered with Daffodil Valley to provide garden education to students and guidance to the garden committee.
Enjoy schools’ garden pictures Wed., Oct. 30, as an Almost Wordless Wednesday post.
Submitted by Kerri Wilson
WSU Pierce County Extension