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June 07, 2010
Weather this past week was a bit more seasonal.
We managed a couple of well needed soaking rains, while areas around us were have flash floods and other issues (up to 7 inches of rain in a 2 hour time).
South of where I am, on Saturday there were tornados and warnings a good portion of the day and more flash flooding.
Our prayers continue to all that were in harms way of the storms.
It's that time of year again.
Graduations and Open Houses that occupy virtually every Saturday and Sunday for the next few weeks.
This year is no exception as a couple of great nephews and parts of our church family have sent invitations our way.
Sometimes it is pick and choose and others it is a mad dash from one event to another.
We celebrate and close of one chapter of a young person's life and celebrate the beginning of another chapter.
Even as summer draws near, we still need to celebrate spring and new life.
Life and new life is all around you.
Even new life like insects need to be celebrated to some degree.
Many insects pollinate,
There are beneficial insects the feed on bad bugs.
Where would many of our beloved birds be without insects?
Continue to celebrate the new life and color of your flowers and vegetable gardens.
Gardens for food.
Gardens that relax and bring joy.
One thing about all of the heat was the toll it takes on many of our flowers.
Bloom seasons are cut short for Iris, Peonies and other flowers.
Rose blooms come and go almost over night.
Still, veggies and annuals thrive.
My dad used to tell us that if you sat in a corn field on a hot day, you could hear the corn growing.
I don't know how much of that is true (never tried it), but you sure can almost see plants grow.
Do you have pots or hanging baskets?
Watering them often becomes an issue, especially when they dry out so much, that the soil separates from the pot and water runs right through.
When this happens, take a pencil, screwdriver, or another object and poke a few holes, running your object down as far as possible.
By piercing the soil, it helps the water to permeate the soil and a damaged root or two is good for the plant as it forces new root growth.
Pots and baskets should be fed at least once a week.
You may want to dilute your mixture and feed them with every drink (this allows for even feeding).
Why so often?
Every time you water a pot or basket, nutrients drain out of the bottom.
Eventually the soil will be leached clean of any goodness.
By feeding on a regular basis, your plants are healthier and veggies produce better and tastier goodies for you.
I waited and waited and I am sad to report, that my Gerbera daisies didn't survive this past winter.
I have reported to you before that I have had success with this on many tender perennials and I have over wintered Gerberas to become a three year old plant.
Yes, they get bigger and better.
Now it could be it was time to die or because we didn't have enough snow for good insulation.
Maybe something munched it as it over wintered under the bag of leaves.
No matter, I saved a few bucks by not buying new Gerberas every spring.
Try it this fall, you have nothing to lose.
I am glad to say however, that my Black and Blue salvia survived and is growing quite well.
After a short series on hummers and hummingbird flowers, it is time for a lighter side letter.
Today is a bit N Pieces.
I've shared a bit with you, now for some more.
A few things you may or may not know.
What to look for and to always keep your eyes open, as nature always has something to share or show off.
Writing fresh is a difficult task, especially when we readership continues to grow or change.
Some bits of information are familiar for some of you, while new readers may learn something new.
Still, I sneak in something for everybody once in while.
Have you seen this in your gardens or on your walks?
No need for alarm.
Many new readers may not know what the foam is or what it is from.
I wrote about this last year in a letter.
What you are seeing, is secretions from a Spittle bug, or at least the larvae of a Spittle bug.
Other than looking unsightly, spittle bugs do very little damage to a plant.
They do suck some of the sap from the plant, but rarely enough to harm the plant.
The plant foam serves mostly to hide the adult and immature spittle bugs from birds and other predators.
The foam isn't spit, but plant juices secreted from the other end of the bug with air or gas bubbles added (tooted in) to make the foam.
There are many different species of Spittle bug and this makes it difficult to identify, but either way, they all do the same thing.
When looking for an organic spittle bug killer, you must keeping mind that you are looking for something that will not only kill the spittle bug but will repel further infestation.
A garlic or hot based organic or homemade insecticide for spittle bugs works well. You can do a double whammy with the following organic and homemade insecticide for spittle bugs.
Organic spittle bug killer recipe:
1/2 cup hot peppers, diced
Puree peppers, garlic and water together. Let sit for 24 hours. Strain and mix in the liquid soap. Wipe the plant foam off the plant and spray all parts of the plant.
Now that you know a little more about spittle bugs you know what bug leaves white foam on plants and what you can do to stop it.
Poison ivy (Toxicodendron radicans):
(Images are taken in the field and woods nearby.)
Considered a noxious weed in Michigan, Minnesota, and Canadian province of Ontario.
It is all over the fields and wooded areas around here, walks are limited now days.
Poison ivy grows throughout much of North America, including the Canadian Maritime provinces, Quebec and Ontario, and all U.S. states east of the Rockies except North Dakota.
The plant toxins can remain on clothing for years and NEVER burn it.
The following three characteristics are sufficient to identify poison ivy in most situations:
Clusters of three leaflets,
Alternate leaf arrangement, and lack of thorns.
Although a number of other plants fit this simplified description, any plant with these criteria should be prudently avoided by people unfamiliar with identifying poison ivy.
Identification by experienced people is often made difficult by leaf damage, leafless conditions during winter, and unusual growth forms due to environmental and/or genetic factors.
The appearance of poison ivy can vary very greatly between environments and even individual specimens within a single area.
One batch may climb and vine, while another stays short and stays on the ground.
Still another may look like a small shrub.
Always remember this...................
"Leaves of three, let it be."
"Hairy vine, no friend of mine."
"Berries white, run in fright"
In the West, and along the East coast, you have to worry about a similar looking plant in 'Poison oak'.
If you want to avoid Poison ivy, in addition to learning what it looks like, you should learn where it likes to grow and avoid those areas.
So stick to paths, trails, etc., and avoid short cuts through the woods, which might save you some time, but will likely get you a poison ivy rash.
Keep in mind that 'wild' areas like this are very tempting spots for kids to go off playing and exploring, so do a little exploring of your own first to make sure that they are free of poison ivy or make them off limits to your kids.
As young boys, my brothers and I were always getting into this stuff (clueless of course).
You don't have to use much of your imagination when you think about boys not washing their hands and nature calls, whether in the field or at home.
You got it.......... itching, agony and pain.
In places you don't talk about.
Thankfully memories can fade and medicine has come a long way from just Calamine lotion and Epsom salts.
Windflower (Anemone canadensis):
This native Anemone is blooming right now in Michigan as the picture shows.
I recently discovered this patch with joy and wondering how I had missed it before.
Windflower is an under appreciated wildflower, yet when grown in a patch, it is very attractive and butterflies enjoy the flat open face flowers.
Hardy from Zones 3 to 9, Anemone canadensis is native to the northern two thirds of the United States and most Canada.
Depending on your location, bloom times can be from April to June.
Sometimes called Meadow anemone, it grows in full sun to part shade, often grows up to 2' tall and typically occurs (often in large colonies) along rivers next to levees and on river flood plains, in low, moist meadows and in moist thickets.
Flowers (2" diameter) are borne on erect stems above the foliage and feature five, white, petal-like sepals and numerous, yellow center stamens.
A showy, spring wildflower for naturalizing in moist areas of a wildflower or native plant garden.
Also may be grown near streams, ponds or water gardens.
Remember, it is unlawful to take plants from nature without permission.
Yarrow (Achillea millefolium):
Native to the Northern Hemisphere, Yarrow can grow from a few inches to a good three feet or one meter tall.
The species is generally too weedy for gardens but cultivars include 'Paprika', 'Cerise Queen' and 'Red Beauty'; and the many hybrids of this species designated.
Common yarrow is a drought tolerant species of which there are several different ornamental cultivars.
Common yarrow responds best to soil that is poorly developed and well drained. The plant has a relatively short life, but may be prolonged by dividing the plant every other year, and planting 12 to 18 inches apart.
Common yarrow is a weedy species and can become invasive.
Throughout history, Achillea has been known for and used in medicines, from a diaphoretic, stimulant, to going to war in ancient battlefields. stop bleeding when placed on wounds.
Great for the butterfly gardens, but keep an eye on it, Rhizomatous roots spread and take over an area.
It may suffer from mildew or root rot if not planted in well-drained soil.
Well, it is time to fly for now.
Before I go, here is your positive thought for the week.
Good manners make any man a pleasure to be with. Ask any woman.
Peter Mayle (1939-) British Author and Writer
Do I really want to open this can of worms?
Good manners is more then putting the toilet seat beck down (no one ever leaves it up for me).
Good manners is more than opening a door.
Some of the most important good manners is learning to say Please, Thank You and You're Welcome.
These special words open many doors, especially in strange towns and countries.
They also work with loved ones.
I feel that good manners are also learning the art of listening.
You hear me.......................................
Guys, often a lady simply needs an ear to bend.
A shoulder to lean on.
Someone to vent to.
Your lady isn't looking for an answer, they just need to talk and have you listen most of the time.
Try to solve their problem and watch the conversation turn south.
Sorry ladies, it seems to be in a man's nature to hear a situation and then act or react.
The problem solver.
The same guy that wont or refuses to read instructions.
Guys, it takes practice to learn this special language of women.
And that, is learning some manners.
Learning the fine art of listening and simply being there.
Ladies, sometimes we need to vent as well, but often we are seeking advice, even if we don't ask for it or take it.
Manners go way beyond what we say or do.
Manners can also be in what we don't say or don't do.
Good manners should go with you as well.
Strangers appreciate good manners as well as you, so think about the other person out there.
Maybe they are having a bad day.
Could be they just lost a job or they are rushing to the hospital and that is why they cut you off.
Maybe that person is rude and thoughtless.
Either way, they need a smile and a prayer don't you think?
After all, we have all been taught that two wrongs don't make a right.
Sharing smiles can be one of the most important good manners, as you share with everyone around you.
Not a word is spoken, yet it is a universal language in itself.
Just ask any woman.
Until next time my friend.
Thus you will walk in the ways of good men and keep to the paths of the righteous. For the upright will inhabit the land, and the blameless will remain in it; but the wicked will be cut off from the land, and the unfaithful will be rooted out of it.
"Treat the earth well:
It was not given to you by your parents,
It was loaned to you by your children.
We do not inherit the Earth from our
Ancestors, we borrow it from our Children."
Ancient Indian Proverb
Your friend indeed,
Better yet, have them sign up so they can receive their own letters.
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