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Take time to enjoy the "little" things in the garden

Written by Doug Oster on .

blog  nice bee in flight aJewelweed is a great pollinator plant. I didn't get these plants pulled early and the peas used them for support. When the peas are done, the jewelweed will probably be done blooming and can be removed. Photos by Doug Oster

Tiny green, luminescent bees dance around the pink petals of cosmos flowers. It's a stunning color combination and one which is often missed as gardeners are overwhelmed with chores this time of the year.

Even though the garden is thriving with all the rain, the weeds are doing even better. With so many jobs to do and so little time, it can be difficult to stop and observe the magical tiny creatures which help us garden.

Those wild patches of weeds are great for the good bugs, so they have a purpose. At least it's a good excuse until there's time to clean things up.

Growing without chemicals also gives all the pollinators and other insects a chance to create a balance in the garden. Nature does do a great job of making things work, without our interference.

Slow down and explore the plants in the garden. It's fun to take a few minutes to closely look at what's going on in there, you might be surprised at the beautiful things happening right under your nose.

blog bee cosmos 1I'm no bug expert, I love watching these bright green bees in the garden. Just because I don't know what they are, doesn't mean I can't enjoy them.

blog damsel 1The colors on this damsel fly are amazing.

blog bug on daylily 2This little guy was happy to sit for a portrait regardless of how close I got.

blog butterfly 2Annabelle hydrangeas are a magnet to butterflies and other pollinators.

 blog bee in hydrangeaThis little bee was happy in the flowers of an Annabelle hydrangea.

blog spider backlitSmall Venusta Orchard Spiders are all over the garden waiting for something to get caught in their webs.

 

 

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Free gardening/cooking demonstration Sunday with Doug and free garlic and garden swag too!

Written by Doug Oster on .

blog Janoskis GarlicThis 'German White' garlic was just pulled at Janoski's Farm and Greenhouse when I arrived. I wish you could smell it! Photos by Doug Oster

blog 3 Victoria BlueWe've got two flats of 'Victoria Blue' salvia to give away.This Sunday, June 28, 2015 I'll be joined by my radio partner Jessica Walliser for our free monthly gardening/cooking demonstration at three Giant Eagle Market District Stores on Sunday.

We're at the Bethel Park GEMD at 9:30am, Waterworks at 12 noon and Pine at 2:30pm.

The event is all about herbs. How to grow them and use them in the kitchen. We'll be cooking Grilled Trout with Oregano and Grilled Rosemary Onions. They'll also be an herb tasting with the Giant Eagle chefs too. The Organic Gardeners also have lots of garden swag to giveaway too. Seeds, AAS winning daylilies, BrazelBerry blueberry plants, Soergel Orchards gift certificates, two flats of 'Victoria Blue' salvia courtesy of Janoski's Farm and Greenhouse. Janoski's has also sweetened the pot with 50 heads of fresh 'German White' garlic for planting!

Hope to see you there!

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It's a weed, or is it?

Written by Doug Oster on .

blog insta impatiens weed 4Jewelweed isn't a weed at all, depending on who you ask. Photos by Doug Oster

It is a season of weeds, fueled by a wet, warm start to summer. But they can be beautiful, like most things in nature.

"A weed is but an unloved flower," Ella Wheeler Wilcox.

During a recent speaking engagement in consort with my friend Bob Mulvihill from the National Aviary, when the topic of jewelweed came up, he flatly stated, "I don't consider it a weed at all." That's because it's a great pollinator plant, and upon close examination the flowers are pretty too.

Jewelweed grows wild though the forest which surrounds my house and through the garden too. I spend lots of time pulling it out, when young, it's easy to remove. But there are always plants I don't get to and that's when I'm reminded how spectacular jewelweed flowers are.

It's actually a type of impatiens (Impatiens capensis) and the bees love it.

Take a close look at the flowers around your garden, the common dayflower is a weed I never pull.

Everyone enjoys blue in the garden...right?

I love the sky blue flowers and the touch of yellow on the inside of the flower.

Not all weeds need to be obliterated. What's considered a weed and what isn't is all in our mind. You either like the plant or you don't.

"Weeds are flowers too, once you get to know them," A.A. Milne.

blog common dayflower 625Blue is my favorite color and that's what the common dayflower does best.

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Learn permaculture from the best this August

Written by Doug Oster on .

Cherry-tomatoes-4Darrell Frey, who is the farmer at Three Sisters Farm in Mercer County, harvests cherry tomatoes hanging from the second level of the bioshelter. Post-Gazette photo by Larry Roberts

 

I've known Darrell Frey for over 15 years and have had the pleasure of doing many stories and photos at his Three Sisters Farm in Sandy Lake, Pa.

The farm is a model of sustainability and organic growing practices. If you're interesting in learning about his techniques, check out the Permaculture Design Course at Three Sisters Farm.

The event runs from August 3 - 15, 2015  with a reduced Fee. $900-$1200 (work trade discounts are available).
During this 12-day intensive course, enjoy great food from local farms and country living at Three Sisters Farm, a 30 year old demonstration of permaculture, and visit other local examples of permaculture in action.

Learn the design process and co-create a design to enhance Three Sister's Food Forest. Experience hands-on applications of permaculture and team learning while sharing your own expertise. Acquire practical skills that can be integrated into your life and inspiration to create a more sustainable world around you.
Instructors:  Darrell Frey , author of Bioshelter Market Garden: A Permaculture Farm. Guest instructors include Liz Lynch and Michelle Czolba.


Cost: $1200, includes fees, food andcamping accommodations. $200 deposit by July 15, 2015.
For more information contact:
Darrell Frey, Three SistersPermaculture Design
134 Obitz Road, Sandy Lake, Pa 16145

Or by email  

For more information click here.  
 

 

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Caladiums create luminescent magic in the shade

Written by Doug Oster on .

blog caladium 3Caladiums area quick fix to add color in the shade garden. Photos by Doug Oster

Summer's first light streams through the trees, causing the leaves of deep red caladiums to be become luminescent when viewed from behind.

My garden won't be in shape until sometime in July. It's one of the ironies of being a garden writer (and an avid fisherman). Sometimes the garden gets neglected for both reasons.

blog 35 caladium 6One quick fix in my shade garden to add instant color is planting caladiums, grown for their foliage. There are a plethora of beautiful varieties in a wide choice of colors.

I've fallen in love with most of them. I'll take the deep red colors and plant them in the center of a container with chartreuse sweet potato vine spilling over the edges. The white and green varieties will light up the shadiest of corners. They are fun to mix with each other and other plants which enjoy shade.

They are great for containers, but make a nice mass planting in the garden too. Seven caladiums transplanted into moist, fertile soil will put on a show under the trees in consort with other annuals.

When looking over the plants at the nursery, I like to buy the biggest pot I can afford, usually six or eight inches. The leaves are bigger and they seem to do better.

In a couple weeks, the plants will get marked down an many garden centers, that's a great time to give them a try.

Being cheap, I save lots of them from year to year. They are actually kind of tough to get started in my unheated greenhouse as they love warm temperatures.

Here's a primer for saving any tender tubers.

Caladiums love summer as much as their gardeners do, enjoy some time together and watch the sun dance across their leaves.

blog caladium 2Spend time this summer watching the light dance over caladium blooms.

Blog caladium 5Caladiums come in many colors.

 

 

 

 

 

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