Archive for June, 2019

Naida subscribes to a Newsletter “Gardening in Michigan – MSU Extension News” and thought others would enjoy receiving this. https://www.canr.msu.edu/home_gardening/tip_sheets/

Smart Gardening is MSU Extension’s campaign using earth-friendly messages to help gardeners make smart choices in their own backyards. The goal is to equip gardeners with a “tool kit” of research-based knowledge to use immediately at home. Whether choosing plants, using garden chemicals, fertilizer or applying water, gardeners need to understand the long-term impacts on their communities.

In this Newsletter are FEATURED EVENTS which are MSU Extension Classes throughout Michigan. Most often these classes are quite a distance from S.E. Michigan so not reasonable for me to consider. There is also a section CURRENT NEWS STORIES with some very good information and photos. I especially enjoyed this recent article on Pollination in Vegetable Gardens and Back Yard Fruit, very easy to understand:

Another good article on Growing Lavender in Michigan:


Read Full Post »

May Meeting Recap

by Gail K.
As is our usual–For our May meeting

Bob Bransky a past member-who has been involved in a community garden project; arrives with his volkswagon loaded with a selection of vegetable and native plants. Some of his vegetables are heirloom tomato plants………….

Emoke & Jenny discuss the various tomato plants while Paul
& Joan talk over the native plant selection.

Looks like Emoke has made her decision— Tom ?? BLTs for lunch

Looks like Joan has her hands full and isn’t quite done yet and Paul still
hasn’t made his choice.

Jenny discusses with Bob on her selection.

Thanks Bob—til next year…………….gk

By Gail K. & Jennie S.
In May–Jennie invited Marissa Schuh, from MSU; An expert for the Commercial Vegetable Growers in southwest MIchigan.

Her role is to educate small growers who produce for local fresh markets and large growers who supply large quantities of produce to major grocery chains (often through the Detroit Eastern Market,) and restaurants.

Our area is notable for growing large acreage of tomatoes for Red Gold, and large amounts of cabbage for fresh use and for processing into coleslaw and sauerkraut.

She helped conduct a research project at Tollgate on soil blocking vs plastic trays for starting tomatoes, she said the data did not support the idea that soil blocks produced higher yielding plants either in greenhouse “tunnels” or outdoors. Read more here: https://www.canr.msu.edu/news/impact-of-soil-blocks-on-yield-and-earliness-of-six-tomato-varieties

While it does reduce use of plastics, it requires more effort and management. A main point is the variety you choose will make more difference to the health and productivity of your tomato plants than any other factor. Heirloom varieties tend to be less predictable, and less disease resistant.
Her well-illustrated talk gave examples from Johnny’s catalog, which provides good information on disease resistance and other plant characteristics, recommending that gardeners learn which diseases are causing them problems and choose varieties with specific resistance to those.

She spoke on the Western Bean Cutworm, how it has moved into our area in very recent years and affects sweet corn. Most field corn is now produced from seed that has been genetically altered to produce the natural insecticide Bt, so there are far fewer corn borer and corn earworm moths than previously and growers of peppers and other vegetables can use less insecticide as a result of that. This newer worm is resistant to some “Bt” hybrids, thus able to multiply in field corn at present.
However, commercial sweet corn growers do not use genetically modified seed because the fresh market and major grocery chains will not accept it. They must continue to closely monitor insect development so they can spray at the right times to prevent egg-laying or to kill tiny emerging caterpillars before they burrow into the ears.

In closing, Marissa referenced a book and the MSU Enviroweather page for our area, where you can also monitor pest development, weather factors, etc. (Click on Vegetables, for example, in the bar at the top of the page.) https://enviroweather.msu.edu/weather.php?commodity=&stn=drf

Read Full Post »

April Meeting Recap

By Gail K.
At our April 27th meeting, Stella had Steven Stockford from the Toledo Metropark system speak on the newest
project to be installed at the Toledo Botanical Gardens. The botanical gardens are seeing a revitalization since merging with the Toledo Metropark system.

The parks deal with people from all aspects of life–young, old; along with those who are physically & mentally challenged. The project Steve is developing is an Accessible-Sensory Garden. Stella as a volunteer master gardener, has worked with Steve on other projects. They both felt our group would be able to offer some insight and ideas for the project. Below the group listens intently to Steven describe
the plans.

What is a sensory garden-it is a garden environment designed to stimulate the senses.
It involves using plants and materials that engage our senses of sight, smell, touch, taste and sound.
This type of garden can be beneficial for both adults and children with various disabilities.
Below is the preliminary layout.

Steve spoke to the various plants that could be used for sight, touch, smell and
taste. He included the types of features used for the sense of sound–the use of grasses,
bamboo–chimes etc. This feature will also have to be designed with a focus on the structural components.
Not just for safety but to ensure that there is an inclusiveness for those who may
visit. Below is a vision of a raised planting bed

Some of the major aspects of the structural components are the surfaces, sitting wall with areas for wheelchairs to join in- trellis and water walls. All of these features will add a dimension to
the sensory aspect as well as provide the type of environment needed to include ALL. Below is an option that may be used to allow wheelchair bound people to be able to roll right up to an area to plant, weed and pick the product…………..

Lastly, Steve answered our questions & we all helped with offering ideas for the project.
It is the first of its kind for the metro parks –we’re excited to see this project come to fruition
and have offered a donation—Steve and Stella both asked for any of us who have the time to
sign up to volunteer at the parks……..contact information Steven.Stockford@metroparksToledo.com
Thank you Steve–

Read Full Post »