- Author: Betty Victor
While working at the Master Gardeners information table this weekend at one of the box stores I couldn't help noticing all the people who were buying planter boxes, there were also several who were buying wood to build their own.
Some of the already made boxes were oblong, others square, even a few round barrel looking ones, some made of redwood, other planter material was a plastic to look like wood. Some very large planter boxes some that were small that would be great for someone that has only a small space for planting.
These people were also buying soil, for their boxes. There are so many different brands of soil each with different ingredients it seems according to the information on the bags. Some with worm castings, some with bat guano, and others that just have a compost mixture and some with all three in one bag. There is grass soil, potting soil, vegetable soil and one and on , each one is suppose to be for what the label on the bag say. Unless you have done some homework before you set out to buy soil, it can be overwhelming.
This got me thinking about the planter boxes that my granddaughter Tiffany's husband Peter had made for a customer along with a sand box with a top to keep the cats out when the sand box was not in use by the customer's granddaughter.
The planter boxes are approximately 5 X 8, and made of redwood, that was coated with a water sealer for additional protection from the weather.
These planter boxes are edge all around the top, so that you can sit and plant as well as harvest vegetables or pick flowers.
The wide edge makes planting so much easier for people that have trouble bending down to the soil to plant. They are also wide enough across that it's not to difficult to work from the edge almost across them.
This just might be a project for Peter down the road for me.
- Author: Susan P Croissant
On our MG field trip to UC Botanical Gardens (Berkeley) last June, we almost missed a unique display. There is no sign-post. While strolling, we happened to look up and notice a "structure" that, from a distance, seemed to merely provide shade to plants. We asked a volunteer, who said it is an artistic configuration of honeycomb. We headed up the path.
"Garden of Mouthings" is perched above the Garden of Old Roses and just below the water tanks. We were taken aback by the peacefulness. A quiet, cool spot to pause and rest awhile. Concrete-cast stools drip with honey. A comfortable bench-seat styled from bags of soil amendments. Photos of honey bees and our often overlooked native bees performing their unsung ecosystem services. The honeycomb structure undulates like a wave--rises and falls, rolls, swells, flows. The translucent quality and weave of the natural fiber is reflected with the help of the sun--another asset to our environment. It is a vignette, an impressionistic scene that fades into the surrounding vegetation. Art and science meet and flow, if you will. A review I read described it as such: the context being the human emotion evoked by the natural world and woven into it, part of a barely seen whole.
"Garden of Mouthings" was designed and installed in 2011 by landscape artist Shirley Alexander Watts. She was inspired by Sylvia Plath's poem, "The Beekeeper's Daughter." She did not take the cheerless perspective common in this and most of Plath's writings but, rather, Plath's descriptive words of the garden as delightfully lush and peopled with bees.
"A garden of mouthings, Purple, scarlet-speckled, black.
The great corollas dilate, peeling back their silks."
The volunteer had mentioned another art piece near the water tanks, but we did not find it. We wondered if there were other art creations we had missed along the way. It's a pity the garden has neither signage at path intersections nor icons on their map, so as to alert visitors to explore another wonder of these gardens. It is a most pleasant place, enhancing the holistic perspective of the garden as an ecosystem.
Garden tips from Watts at Minimalist website:
- Author: Cheryl A Potts
Master Gardeners, generally speaking, have an interest in the environment as a whole; nature and its many aspects, not just plants, but birds and our waters, wild life, natural foods, concern for weather changes and a desire to strive to live as healthy a lifestyle as possible. This morning I was struck, once again, by how perilous our planet is, as I was just leafing through one of our magazines, one which focuses on the protection of our environment:
- I read that more and more corn is being planted, therefore the use of neonicotinoid is increasing annually. This pesticide is believed to be the culprit in our dying bee population. This poison is reported also to effect birds and other wildlife, as it disrupts the animal's nervous and immune system.
- I read that the salamander population is being wiped out in some parts of the world due to a fungus which causes an ulcer- like lesion on the skin which leaves the animal vulnerable to lethal bacterial infections. Apparently this has not reached the U.S. yet, but there is fear it will soon, due to the fact that as many as 250,000 newts enter our country from China annually in the very under-regulated pet trade, which will probably lead to this fungus infestation here.
- I read that 2014 was the hottest year on record and that the California drought is the worst in 1,200 years.
- I read that acres of rainforests in Indonesia are being eliminated, thereby displacing indigenous people, in order to plant palm trees from which palm oil is extracted. These trees, unlike the natural trees of the jungle, release massive amount of carbon. Americans consume up to eight pounds of palm oil per year, often unknowingly. Palm oil is used in, among other things, fast foods and cosmetics. This deforestation is also effecting other wild life, including the Sumatran orangutan, of which only 6,600 remain. It is said that this creature may become the first great ape to go extinct.
- I read that the rufa red knot bird, which migrates from Tierra del Fuego to Canada is the first bird to be designated as a threatened species because of the effects of climate change.
- I read that a mountain lion was seen in Kentucky for the first time since the Civil War. Officers from the Fish and Wildlife Resources killed it.
All of this reading before I was finished with my first cup of coffee.
It is so easy to get depressed and feel helpless to do anything really significant in the era of natural and unnatural attacks on and due to nature. But wait! There was more to my reading.
The other day I read an article (on Face Book) about Singing Frog Farm located in Sebastopol where truckloads of vegetables, fruits, berries, and herbs are organically grown in a relatively small space and using very little water. The farmers there, Paul and Elizabeth Kaiser are anxious to share their farming methods with the world.
- I have been reading about seed banks around the world and rooftop gardens.
- I just read that a new species of snake has been discovered.
- I just read an article about Urban Organics in St. Paul, Minn. which raises tilapia in tanks, feeding them soy based products, and recycling the water from the tanks to their hydroponic vegetable garden. Fish and veggies are sold to local restaurants. The size of the very successful operation is about the size of two tennis courts.
- I just read that Intel continues to top the EPS's 100% Green Power list annually and has done so since 2008.
- I just read that China has added enough hydropower to its grid to replace 26 million tons of coal per year.
The water glass can be half full or half empty. (But is it clean water?)
We can give up, or we can do our part, no matter how small (or in some cases, large) to protect our lands, our air, and our waters.
This is such an old theme by now. We have heard it, read it, been lectured to about it, felt it, embraced it, and even rejected it as our own. But I was thinking since Earth Day is approaching (April 22) , what if each Master Gardener did one thing on that day--planted a tree, started a compost pile, walked to the store and used their own shopping bags, gave a talk to a group, volunteered at our booth at the Earth Day celebration in Fairfield or gave some seeds to a neighbor who has not yet tried growing their own vegetables. Just try adding all us MGs up, and I bet we we can be added to the list of positive contributors in capital letters.
- Author: Betsy Buxton
If you have a flat backyard and want to change that dimensional look, think growing up! The use of vines on fences, supporting structures, or even trees will give the illusion that there is more than flat land there.
One vine that works well in our area is Jasminum polyanthum, also known as Pink Jasmine. With its bright pink buds and light pink flowers this vine is a real winner in the scent department! Growing to 20 feet, this plant intertwines easily with other larger upright shrubs to form garden walls luring one further into the garden. Not a water hog, planted along a fence, this vine helps provide bird shelter, is a food source –look out for hummingbirds, and a very pleasant but not overpowering scent during the day and evenings. Blooming in late winter, reminding one that spring is coming and continuing throughout spring and continuing sporadically for the rest of the year. Planted in full sun or partial shade, pink jasmine holds its own; plant it in the ground or put in a large container with a trellis and it is a “happy camper”! It can even be grown as a ground cover! How good is that?
Prune every year to keep neat and tidy, otherwise this vine tumbles over itself to form large green tangles. A very nice addition to any garden! Plant it and enjoy!
I've included some pictures of pink jasmine in my yard blooming away. Since the fence on which the trellis is on will be replaced in a week and the vine pruned way back (out of season) these pictures will be my memories for this year!
- Author: Kathy Low
If you're into numbers, 1630 is the minimum number of print and e-books, DVDs, magazines, and audio books on the general topic of gardening available to you. 110 is the number of books on roses you have access to. And 270 is the number of books on vegetable gardening you can read at your leisure whether you have a library card from the Benicia Public Library, Dixon Library, or Solano County Library. In honor of National Library Week (April 12 – 18, 2015) it seems fitting to look at the wealth of gardening information available to you through your local public library.
Long gone are the days when you were limited to only the books on the shelf at your local library. Today any circulating book or item at any public or partnering library (including Solano Community College's library) in the county can be requested and delivered to your local library for you to check out. But besides books, the library has DVDs, e-books, and electronic databases to meet your information and recreational needs.
If you like watching gardening videos, you can check out dozens of gardening DVDs on topics ranging from soils to lawn care. Or if you're into reading gardening related e-books, you can check out a variety of them from the library. And if you haven't discovered the Zinio database on the Solano County Library's website yet, be sure to check it out. It allows you to read the current and back issues of various magazines, including Mother Earth News and Organic Gardening.
Whether you're looking for information on how to grow marijuana, or information on hydroponics, you'll find it at the library. And don't forget there are books and DVDs on gardening for children, and books on gardening for seniors. And if there's a current gardening book you think the library should have but doesn't, you can suggest they purchase it for their collection. The library is your library and your source of gardening information.