Seedling in hand

Getting Started with Seed Saving

If you find the perfect tasting tomato, harvesting and saving the seed will ensure you can have that tomato again next season. The seed stores the genetic information for a new plant. With a bit of practice and patience, you can have the seeds of your favorite vegetables ready for next year's garden.

Poinsettia at Christmas time

The colorful poinsettia is a beautiful addition to end-of-the-year holiday festivities. One of the most common questions about poinsettias is how to keep them and get them to rebloom the following season. 

The first step to reblooming is to keep the plant healthy and growing throughout the year. Around the first of the year, fertilize your poinsettia with a soluble houseplant fertilizer. Six hours of indirect light and consistently moist soils will keep the plants healthy.

Colorful amaryllis

The large, colorful blooms of the Amaryllis can brighten dreary winter days. This South American native has showy flowers in a range of colors from white to pink to red. Amaryllis is a beautiful addition to holiday or winter décor.

Getting Started

Often you will find Amaryllis sold as a bulb in a kit with soil and a pot. These large bulbs produce bell-shaped flowers on long stalks. As the flowers begin to open, large, straplike leaves emerge.  

Paperwhites in winter

The delicate paperwhites, Narcissus tazetta, are a lovely way to brighten winter days. 

These relatives of the daffodil are an excellent choice for winter blooms as they don’t require a chilling period as other bulbs do.

Paperwhites have a cluster of small blooms at the end of a flower stalk (scape). The flowers can be white, bi-color, or doubles.  

Paperwhites can have a strong fragrance. Some varieties have more of an odor than others. Two varieties with less scent are Ariel and Nir. 

Poinsettias

The beautiful Poinsettia is a colorful plant that brightens dark winter days. Whether you use it to decorate for the holiday season or it was given to you as a gift, giving the plant the care it needs can keep it colorful for six to eight weeks in the home.

The showy-colored parts of the Poinsettia are colored bracts (modified leaves). The yellow flowers or cyathia are in the center of the bracts.

Poinsettias

The festive poinsettia, Euphorbia pulcherrima, is a lovely addition to holiday décor. The bright, cheery plant, a native to Mexico, comes in many colors and sizes making it a good choice to brighten up the long, dark days of winter.

The showy colored parts of the poinsettia are colored bracts. The yellow flowers or cyathia are in the center of the bracts. 

Seed in a glass

At first: Why save seeds? 

Saving seeds is a great way to save money and be prepared for the following year, but it is also a way to pick out the best of what you have grown and save seeds from that specimen (flower, vegetable, etc.). With each successive year, you will be picking out the hardiest and delicious/beautiful specimens until you have amazing strains of your favorites.

Crimson Clover

Healthy soil is essential for healthy plants.  Using cover crops in the home garden is one way to promote soil health. 

Cover crops are non-harvested crops that add organic matter to the soil, transfer nitrogen by creating nitrogen compounds usable by plants, and break up heavy clay or compacted soil. 

Cover crops are planted either before you plant your garden or after harvest.  They can also be planted in areas that are unused for the season. 

Biodiversity

What you need to know

Clovers are making a comeback in lawn seed mixes. Today many families want to attract more pollinators to their yards. They are searching for ecologically sound ways to grow grass, including adding white clover back to the turf seed mix. Clover adds diversity and durability to lawns and provides food for bees. The microclover species is short growing, self-fertilizing, low maintenance and additionally long-living.

bowl of myrrh resin

Just what are frankincense and myrrh? Certainly, they are part of many Christmas stories, but do you know what those products are and why they were so valuable? Here is more information on both of these plant-based products.

Frankincense and myrrh are both resins -- dried tree sap -- that come from trees of the genus Boswellia (frankincense) and Commiphora (myrrh), which are common to Somalia and Ethiopia.  Both are in the botanical family Burseruceae commonly called the incense tree family. 

plate of Christmas cookies

Sugar and spice make everything nice, especially Christmas cookies. But, do you know where your sugar and spice come from?

Plants make the sugar glucose during photosynthesis. Certain plants can take excess glucose, create sucrose then stored it in either the stalk or root. This is the sugar we use every day to sweeten treats from coffee to cookies. Sugar adds sweetness, gives a tender texture, and allows browning to occur in baked goods. 

bird at a bird bath with flowing water

North America has lost 3 billion birds since 1970, according to a study from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. This is a 30% decrease.

This statistic may feel devastating and overwhelming, but you don’t have to feel helpless. There are some simple things that you can do to make your yard bird-friendly.

composte bins in yard

Peat wetlands are delicate ecosystems that take thousands of years to form. Peat accumulates at a rate of about 1 millimeter per year. When the peat moss industry harvests 22 centimeters per year, it is easy to see why there is a concern for its sustainability. 

Many rare plants and animals can only survive in peat wetlands. These wetlands purify water and remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. To harvest peat moss, ditches are constructed to drain water from the area. Large vacuums remove the peat.

wedding bouquet using local blooms

Flowers are a wonderful way to make any wedding day special.  There are many ways to choose beautiful and sustainably grown and arranged flowers. 

Choose a local source for your blooms.

Flowers that are locally grown have a much smaller carbon footprint than flowers flown thousands of miles in refrigerated containers.  By choosing locally grown flowers for your wedding décor, you are getting fresh, high-quality blooms and can be a cost-effective option. 

jumping worm
  • Thoroughly clean tools, shoes, and vehicles when moving from one site to another.
  • Only purchase compost, mulch, or other organic matter that has been heated to appropriate temperatures and duration to reduce the spread of pathogens, insects, and weeds. Jumping worm egg casings do not survive temperatures over 104°F
  • Remove adult jumping worms.  Place adults in a plastic bag and leave in the sun at least 10 minutes.
jumping worm

Only accept plants...

  • From gardeners that have looked for jumping worms 
  • That don't come from an area known to have jumping worms.
  • If there is no evidence (like soil that resembles coffee grounds) to suspect there are jumping worms at the site that produced these plants/materials.

Use these practices to prevent their spread:

  • Remove soil from all plants before transporting them
    • This limits the spread of weeds and worms by removing most earthworm egg cases or weed seeds.
  • Wash roots
jumping worm

Originally posted April 15, 2021

Jumping worms (Amynthas spp) are an invasive earthworm probably brought into the country as fishing bait. They go by many names, such as crazy worms, Alabama jumpers, or snake worms. These worms are known to change the soil structure, deplete available nutrients, damage plant roots, and alter water-holding capacity of the soil. This is especially a concern in our forests, where organic matter is limited. It is important to stop the spread of jumping worms. 

field of pink cosmos

Spring brings thoughts of beautiful, colorful, fragrant blooms that brighten up our landscapes after a long winter.  

But we aren't the only ones on the lookout for flowers. Pollinators are looking for them also. Heirloom flowers provide these pollinators with more of the resources they require. 

pothos

Two houseplants that are often confused with each other are philodendron and pothos. Many houseplants are referred to as philodendron, but most are probably actually pothos. Both are vining plants with green leaves, but they have some distinctive characteristics that will help you to tell them apart.

Philodendrons

Philodendrons are popular because they tolerate very low light and variable temperatures.

Dried flowers in vase

Bring nature to the table this Thanksgiving by creating decorations from collected natural materials. Fall is a great time to explore outdoors and use what you find almost directly in arrangements after gathering.

Dry not Damp

Make sure to collect when material is dry. Damp material breaks down more quickly. Collect more than needed because dried material is fragile. Choose only material that is free of insect and disease damage. 

Sugar and spice make everything nice, especially Christmas cookies. But, do you know where your sugar and spice come from?

Sugar beets vs Sugarcane

The sugar we use comes from two different plants: sugar beets or sugarcane.

Sugarcane

Worldwide, 70% of our sugar comes from sugarcane. Sugarcane is a tall grass that grows in tropical areas. In a tropical setting like Hawaii and Jamaica, it grows in fields and looks similar to corn.