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Free books, garden tools, bulbs and food with Doug Sunday

Written by Doug Oster on .

Blog wholeysCome talk gardening at Wholey's on Sunday. Post-Gazette photo

I'll be at Wholey's in the Strip District at 1 p.m. on Sunday January 25, 2015. I'm talking about how to eat healthy by growing your own food and then will be cooking Stuffed Trout with Sweet Potato, Onion and Spinach.

I've got many of the latest garden books to giveaway, some cool garden tools and some bulbs for growing inside and out.

Parking is plentiful, come early, find a spot and then spend some time talking gardening.

Hope to see you there.

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Cool houseplants are indestructible and clean the air

Written by Doug Oster on .

Blog African VioletAfrican violets are beautiful and easy to grow. Photo by Doug Oster

The bright yellow blooms of begonias light up the living room on a gray winter day. It's just one the plants I grow on the windowsill to keep me sane until the spring bulbs emerge.

In this segment from Pittsburgh Today Live, I show Jon Burnett some really cool houseplants from Chapon's Greenhouse in Baldwin.

I was at Chapon’s Greenhouse in Baldwin with manager Matt Hirsh looking over some of the beautiful plants.
They keep me sane in the winter. One of my favorites is Mother of Thousands. Small plantlets form on the leaves which drop to the base of the plant and sprout. All houseplants are bulletproof and will happily grow all winter on the windowsill. There are some things you can do now to keep them looking their best.
Look carefully at the leaves, if there are yellow or brown foliage, remove them. Any part of a plant that’s looking worse for wear should be cut off and put in the compost (you do compost don’t you?). Look at the plants closely. If there are discolored leaves, maybe a purple tint, that’s a clue they are not getting what they need, so hit them with some organic fertilizer. There are a couple ways to do that. One is to use a liquid fertilizer like fish emulsion or something seaweed based.

If the tips of the leaves are turning brown there might be a salt build up from chemical fertilizers. Be sure your pot has good drainage to flush those salts out.

The leaves of houseplants are more important than the flowers — they need to be kept clean so they can stay healthy. My house is old and often dusty, so I let the houseplants dry out and then place them all in the bathtub and run the shower over them once or twice a year. This is also a great way to flush out the soil. With plants that have big sturdy leaves, I wipe them down as they go back near the window.
When nurseries started offering houseplants, the reason they chose certain varieties was due to their indestructible nature. They knew people would forget to water them.

The only thing that can kill houseplants is too much water and fertilizer. Keep most of them on the dry side, but not completely without water.

I’ve got a few cool flowering plants which will enjoy the winter on the windowsill and then can go out in the garden at the end of May. Begonias, bellflower and coleus are things many gardeners have outside in the shade, that’s why these three work so well inside.

African violets will provide flowers for months at a time. One trick for them is to water them from below. Put a dish underneath as the leaves don’t like getting wet.

It’s great to have something to take care of inside during the winter, and neglect is actually a good thing. As the days get longer, the birds begin to sing, the air smell different and it won’t be long until the crocus poke through the soil. When that happens there’s nothing left to stop us.
I’ve written about clean air plants in the Post-Gazette before. Kelly Ogrodnik, former Phipps’ sustainable design and programs manager did lots of research about what’s in our air and how plants can filter the bad stuff.
Here’s a list of plants grown indoors that will help take toxins out of our indoor air-

English Ivy (Hedera helix)
Spider plant (Chlorophytum comosum)
Golden pothos (Scindapsus aures or Epipremnum aureum)
Peace lily (Spathiphyllum ‘Mauna Loa’)
Chinese evergreen (Aglaonema modestum)
Bamboo palm (Chamaedorea sefritzii)
Snake plant (Sansevieria trifasciata‘Laurentii’)
Heartleaf philodendron (Philodendron oxycardium, syn. Philodendron cordatum)
Selloum philodendron (Philodendron bipinnatifidum, syn. Philodendron selloum)
Elephant ear philodendron (Philodendron domesticum)
Red-edged dracaena (Dracaena marginata)
Cornstalk dracaena (Dracaena fragans ‘Massangeana’)
Janet Craig dracaena (Dracaena deremensis ‘Janet Craig’)
Warneck dracaena (Dracaena deremensis ‘Warneckii’)
Weeping Fig (Ficus benjamina)
Gerbera Daisy (Gerbera jamesonii)
Pot Mum (Chrysantheium morifolium)
Rubber Plant (Ficus elastica)

 

 

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A new way to plant bulbs

Written by Doug Oster on .

Blog Easy Bloom PadThese are Easy Bloom Pads on display at MANTS. Photo by Doug Oster

For two years my friend Randy Soergel of Soergel Orchards in Franklin Park knew about the Easy Bloom Pad, but was sworn to secrecy. He's the one who introduced me to people behind the product on my recent visit to the Mid Atlantic Nursery Trade Show. The Bloom Pad is a group of bulbs prepackaged in a biodegradable paper like disc.

Gardeners dig a hole and put the pad in the soil. It's clearly labeled which side goes down, which makes the pad fool proof.

One of the biggest advantages to the Easy Bloom Pad is for novice gardeners. Instead of planting the bulbs like a row of soldiers, the pad encourages making drifts of bulbs, which is the way many experienced gardeners prefer to grow them.

This video explains the new product-


It's going to be fun to play with this fall.

 

 

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New slug control uses wool to stop pests

Written by Doug Oster on .

blog vertical 6 slugaSlugs don't just eat hostas, they love tomatoes and many other plants. Slug Gone uses wool as a slug barrier. Photo by Doug Oster

Blog Slug Gone2aI'm looking forward to trying Slug Gone this spring.While walking the floor of the Mid-Atlantic Nursery Trade Show, I saw a display from Slug Gone. The company uses recycled wool, made into pellets to stop slugs.

The pellets are applied to the base of the plant. When they get wet, the pellets swell forming a barrier. Slugs detest rough surfaces like wool and avoid it at all costs.

Another added benefit of Slug Gone is the wool also becomes a great mulch for the plants.

I'm looking forward to trying out Slug Gone this spring in my garden, looks like a great natural way to deal with the pests.

This video from the MANTS show in Balitmore explains how the product works.

Here are some other organic solutions for slugs this season in the garden-

Slugs spend the day hidden under mulch or in the soil and emerge at night to feed.

One indication of slug damage is the silver, slimy trail they leave behind.

The pests love hostas, but will feed on many other plants. They are especially devastating on small, newly sprouted plants which can be wiped out overnight.

The easiest control is an organic bait like Sluggo or Escar-Go. These use iron phosphate as their main ingredient. It kills the slugs specifically, and doesn't negatively affect the environment. Chemical slug baits use metaldehyde which can attract mammals. Dog, cats, raccoons ect. can be harmed by those pellets.

Of course there are lots of other ways to deal with slugs.

Trapping works well. Put a dish of stale beer at ground level and the slugs will crawl in and drown. A grapefruit rind works well too as the pest is attracted to the rind and the beer. The traps need emptied every couple days.

Slugs will not cross copper as it has a natural electric charge. Fine wire placed around the plants forms a barrier.

Diatomaceous earth is sharp on the microscopic level. The slugs crawl over it and they are punctured by the DE and then die.

Some people use crushed eggshells or sharp construction sand around their plants as slugs don't like to crawl across either.

Hand picking (with gloves) is a very effective way of controlling slugs.

Slugs are a summer pest which can easily be controlled, I'm looking forward to trying Slug Gone as another natural control for the pests.

 

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New rose celebrates Downton Abbey (first in a series)

Written by Doug Oster on .

AnnasPromise a'Anna's Promise,' from Weeks Roses is named for Anna Bates, a character from Downton Abbey.

One of the most talked about new introductions this year at the Mid-Atlantic Nursery Trade Show is the new rose from Weeks Roses called 'Anna's Promise'. It's named for Anna Bates from the television show Downton Abbey.

The rose has golden petals with a hint of pink and also have a glowing bronze reverse which sales and marketing manager Karen Kemp-Docksteader says, "actually sparkles and is almost translucent. In the garden, it looks like it's tipped in gold." The flowers offer a fruity fragrance too.

Danielle Chapon, from Chapon's Nursery in Baldwin, who is attending the show with the rest of the Chapon family, first heard about the rose two years ago. After learning about it and seeing the color she said, "I have to have it."  Chapon's will be giving away a Downton Abbey tote with each rose sold this spring. They are also talking about bundling soil amendments and the right kind of fertilizer to keep the plant thriving.

This is the first in a series of roses with a Downton Abbey theme. All I know about the next one is that it's amazing according the folks working the display here at the show.

I'll continue to post the coolest stuff I find here at the MANTS show.

 

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