Friday, August 31, 2012

Letter from Dianne - Rose Rosette Disease

Hi Suzanne,

Are you familiar with "Rose Rosette Disease?" I have decided this is what my roses have. It started with the Knockouts last year. I noticed what appeared to be reddish new growth and lots of buds.

Reddish new growth
The red color never matured into green leaves but stayed red and twisted with lots of distorted buds and an elongated thick stem.

Elongated stems on roses
Whenever I would see this I would prune that area away. I did not realize that I should not have used that pruning shears on other rose bushes, as I believe that is what helped to spread the disease. It has now affected all of the Knockouts and has spread to my two David Austin roses. That is the extent of the rose bushes in my yard, with the exception of a lovely 10-year-old New Dawn.

I do not see symptoms on the New Dawn, but have read that it is highly susceptible.

In the information I've read, the disease is thought to be spread by a virus and there is no known cure, but no one seems to have definite answers. It is believed to have started with the wild multiflora rose, which is an invasive plant imported from Japan. Until just recently, these were present in the lot next to our yard, so I am assuming that is where my roses contracted it.

I wonder how widespread it is in this area. I have not heard of anyone complaining of it yet, but I do not know a lot of "rose people." In other parts of the country it is a big problem.

I am not real upset over losing the roses, as I have enjoyed them for many years and am ready for a change. However, I am partial to the New Dawn and hope that it stays disease free. It is so beautiful in the spring.

New Dawn roses in spring

(Read the University of Tennessee pamphlet on Rosette Rose disease here.)

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Fun stuff

from Garden Tracker in the iTunes App Store

Monday's Wall Street Journal devoted the Technology section to The Best Way to Do Almost Anything on Your Mobile Devices.  Wowee!  The Be a Gardener section has apps for figuring out

  • what to plant
  • recording when you plant, water, fertilizer, and treat
  • cooking and preserving what you grow
NOTE:  check the link quickly, I'm not sure it's a permalink.

At PAR Davies next year, we're going to experiment with a cloud-based program that will allow multiple users to input information into the same platform so that we can all see what everyone has done.

Finally, a friend turned me on to AppZilla (available in the iTunes app store.)  This app is a gateway to 120 (free) or 150 ($.99) other apps!  Color Detect lets you hold your device to a color and it will tell you the RPG.  Bubble Level lets you straighten all those crooked pictures in your doctor's office!  I foresee lots of exploring in my future...

Monday, August 27, 2012

Letter from Dianne 8/27/12

Refrigerator dills.  Garlic & jalapenos made these really flavorful.

Hi Suzanne,

Before I get into planting a fall garden, I will recap the summer crops…failures and successes. We were kept in tomatoes all summer, and I didn't have to buy a tomato from late May until now. The Early Girl was the most prolific followed by Black Cherry and Health Kick (plum). The World's Largest Tomato did well, but in my garden it did not live up to its name. Celebrity and Beefsteak did so-so. I have pruned dead vegetation from the tomatoes and they are all putting out a flush of new growth and lots of blossoms. I believe I will have a second crop before frost.

New flush of growth & blossoms on tomatoes
One big failure is the pole beans. Lots of foliage and blossoms, but the blossoms just fell off and we had only two meals of pole beans. After talking to an old timey gardener, I found out that they should have been planted in early April (the Good Friday planting), and actually this year could have been planted even earlier. Mine did not get in until the first week in May, and then it got hot fast. Pole beans don't like hot weather. So I will know better next year.

I will keep planting squash in the future, even though I know they will succumb to the vine borer. I got plenty of cucumbers before the bacterial wilt took over. The eggplant, okra and peppers are still doing well. I cut back the chard but it is not putting out new leaves, so it will be pulled.

I have a few open spaces now to start planting the fall garden. Some things I am considering are carrots, beets, parsnips, mustard greens, lettuce, kale, cabbage, brussels sprouts and cilantro; kohlrabi seeds have been ordered. I definitely need more room!! I will be trying a fall crop of snow peas, a new variety, Schweizer Riesen (Swiss Giant). I will report back on just how many of these items I am actually able to squeeze into my little space.

Okra & tomatoes standing tall

Friday, August 24, 2012

Habanero Shrub

No, it's not a pepper plant that grows into a shrub!  The speaker at last week's Herb Society meeting gave a program on shrubs, aciduated beverages made with fruit juices, sugar, and other ingredients.  Shrubs were popular before refrigeration, as a means to preserve fruits long past picking time.  They're used as a mix with other ingredients, like soda water or iced tea, to provide a pick-me-up.

They're usually made with berries such as blackberries, elderberries, blueberries and the like. The speaker provided a recipe for one made with habanero peppers!

Marion's Habanero Shrub

1/4 cup ripe blemish-free habanero peppers
1 cup apple cider vinegar
About 1 cup honey
2 tbsp cocoa (or to taste)
1/2 vanilla bean

If you're not that adventurous, try this Blackberry Shrub!

Blackberry Shrub

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

'Blue Ice' Arizona Cypress

'Blue Ice' Arizona Cypress

In the scorching summer heat, a glance at the cool powdery blue ‘Blue Ice’ Arizona Cypress  (Cupressus  arizonica var.  glabra ‘Blue Ice’) might give you a brief respite from the unmerciful temperatures. This fast growing, dense, pyramidal shaped conifer was selected as one of the “Best Woody Plants of 2007 “by the University of Tennessee. The University of Arkansas Agricultural Institute reports var. glabra cultivars are hardier than the species and their striking powder blue color, rapid growth and high resistance to insects and diseases make them a good alternative to the overused and disease prone Leyland Cypress and Redtip Photinea for screening.  

As a specimen plant or for screening, the ‘Blue Ice’ Cypress offers fabulous year round color. While it grows taller in the southwest Mexico, UT reports it reaches 15 ft tall and 7 ft. wide. Dark chocolate brown tightly scaled one inch cones remain on the tree for two years. The closely pressed scales on the lichen blue, needles appear soft to the touch. Smooth, continuously exfoliating dark brown outer bark reveals a cinnamon to deep red inner bark.  

Plant the ‘Blue Ice’ Arizona Cypress in elevated well drained sites that gets full sun. It prefers hot and dry conditions but is cold hardy to -5 degrees F. (University of Florida). It adapts to a variety of soil types. Water deeply and regularly during the first few years, but once established its drought tolerant and often recommended for xeriscaping.

There are over 30 Cupressus arizonica var. glabra varieties and several seem to be adapting well to the southeast. Cupressus arizonica var. glabra ‘Limelight’, was named one of the “Best Plants for 2008” by the West Tennessee Research and Education Center Gardens in Jackson, TN.  ‘Blue Ice,’ ‘Blue Pyramid,’ ‘Carolina Sapphire,’ and ‘Silver Smoke’ are recommended by the University of Arkansas Agricultural Division. NC State endorses the smaller and more open “Carolina Sapphire’ for Christmas tree farms as well as for a landscape plant. Many of the var. glabra cultivars have originated in Australia and New Zealand where this North American native has become a favorite of landscapers.

--Jan Castillo, MG '05

Monday, August 20, 2012

Long of Naples Squash

Last Friday I went to visit my dad, who lives on a small farm near Hardy, Arkansas.  That night we drove over to Thayer, Missouri where there is an auction every Friday night from 5:00 to 8:30.  I've been hearing about this auction for years; my father is a regular, both selling and buying.  Well, let me tell you:  it was fabulous.  They sold everything from produce to power tools, from jelly to air conditioners.  And the prices!  We bought a brand-new 10" Ryobi table saw, with stand and dust bag for $100.  My son was ecstatic.

What does this have to do with Long of Naples Squash?  When we walked in, sitting on a table were two of the biggest vegetables I've ever seen:

Can you believe it?  The auctioneer called it a Naples Squash.  He said it had meat like a sweet potato and that the lady in the concession stand had made a wonderful squash pie.  By the time I got to the stand, the pie was gone, boo hoo.  You can see how big it is - it weighed about 45 pounds and it sold for $15.  Now I wish I'd bought one!

After I got home I did a little research.  The actual name is Long of Naples Squash (C. moschata.)  It's an Italian heirloom squash, rare in the United States.  The seeds are all at one end, leaving the rest of the squash total meat.
Is this not totally cool?  I told the lady in the concession stand to save the seeds and bring them to the auction and I asked my dad to keep an eye open for them.  But they're commercially available (Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds, for one), so that's my backup.  

Can you just taste a squash soup made with this delicious looking vegetable?  Yum!

By the way, this same auction owner does an auction twice a week in Jonesboro, AR - only about an hour from here.  I highly recommend trying it sometime!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

The Drought

Drought conditions
Sunday's New York Times had an interesting article on the drought we're experiencing.  The forecast does not look promising.  According to the map above, Memphis is experiencing "extreme" drought.  My father lives in Hardy, AR (north central Arkansas) and he can vouch for the "exceptional" drought conditions.  He plants a huge garden every year; this year, in his words, was pitiful, all burned up.  He couldn't water enough.  (As he's so "frugal," you have to take that with a grain of salt!)  I was recently in western North Carolina and it rained almost every day.  Good rains.  Rains that we would give a row of corn for.  And you can see by the map that most of North Carolina is not in a drought area at all.

So far, we're very lucky here that we have water for irrigation.  But the West is not so fortunate.  The media is full of stories about crop failures and increasing food prices due to the drought.

A related article in Sunday's Times reported on research done by scientists using tree ring samples from El Malpais National Monument in New Mexico.  They were able to map wet and dry conditions for over 2000 years.  Using the period 1931 to 1990 as the baseline, they produced a graph showing wetter and drier years from 137B.C. to 1992.

All this makes me ever more conscious of food sufficiency.  When my father was telling me about his crop failure, I remarked that we're lucky we don't have to depend on our home gardens for food.  I doubt that any of us knows anyone who has ever had to depend on what they could individually produce for survival.  Hopefully, it won't come to that.  But wouldn't it be good to know that we could do it if we have to?

More on that subject later.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Dog Days of Summer

Home Outside
Yes, I know, I've been very bad about posting.  The truth is that I've been out of town, I've had guests, the dog ate my computer - well, not that last one!  Anyway, like a lot of you, the heat has gotten me down and I'm ready for cool weather.  This morning's clouds are very welcome!  I'm also ready for a little planning ahead.  Some of us are already discussing our fall gardens, but here's some dreaming that could get you a big prize:

The Garden Writer's Association sent out a press release this week to their members.  Like the GWA, I don't endorse the contents, products or services mentioned in the press release.  Having said that, it sounds like fun to me.

Do you Pinterest?  I do, on a limited basis, because it would be so easy to get sucked into the gorgeous images and ideas and never have time for anything else.  But this is right up my alley!  This is a contest sponsored by a garden design firm.  You set up a Pinterest board and pin images of your dream garden, or elements that you would like in your garden.  The boards will be judged based on creativity, composition, and style.  The winners get some good prizes, including a personalized design for their home landscape.

Even if you don't want to enter, check out the entries (everything is public.)  You may get some good ideas!

See the contest details here.  The links to the entries are in the comments at the bottom of that post.  (So far there's only three entries, so chances to win are good!!!!)

Now I know we have some gifted dreamers out there.  The contest ends at midnight EST on August 19.  (I wonder if they really mean EDT?  Just don't wait til the last minute!)

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

How Does Your Garden Grow?

At PAR Davies we're having troubles.  Our tomatoes are infested with aphids and look pitiful.  Some of the fruit is split:

This problem is really beyond our control.  Tomatoes split due to flucuations in watering.  We have a drip irrigation system that waters on a schedule.  But then we've had very, very hot weather for several weeks, followed by thunderstorms this last week.  So we suspect that the garden maybe didn't get quite enough water for a period, then got too much.  Leave these tomatoes on the vine too long and this is what you get - it's not for the squeamish:

Yuk, right? We decided to harvest what we could and begin pulling up and destroying the plants.  So disappointing.  How did this happen, you ask?  Why didn't we apply some kind of control?  The answer is simple:  the few volunteers who work in this garden are doing good to keep up with basic tasks like planting and harvesting.  The time to inspect and head off problems before they overwhelm a crop is a luxury we don't have.  Add the lack of funds to the lack of time and you see the result above.  If not for the huge generosity of our volunteers, who pay for many items out of pocket, we would not be able to operate.  The MAMG organization contributes significantly, but it's still not enough.

On the bright side, we delivered 77 pounds of produce to the Food Bank yesterday!

We're struggling with the problem.  If you have an idea, let us know.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Collierville Victory Garden in the News

Read a great article about the Memphis Area Master Gardeners' Plant-A-Row for the Hungry garden in Collierville in today's Commercial Appeal.  Then go to the CVG website for more photos and stories.

Good job!

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Better Bikes and Gardens

Coffee 'n Roses
I can brag about all (four) of my boys, each is special in his own way.  But today I want to direct you to a website that my son Cort maintains, Better Bikes and Gardens.  I think he's a talented writer.  Even better, he and his cute wife, Emily, love gardening.  I can vouch for the fact that they brought the roses at their rented house back to life!  See what you think and, you rosarians, pass along some advice to them!