Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Starting Wildflower Seeds

Tossing seeds onto snow might result in an instant bird feeding frenzy rather than a naturalized garden come spring. Some seeds, including many native wildflower seeds, need a moist chilling period (below 45°F for about 60 to 90 days) to break dormancy.

The process is called cold stratification, and it can be done several ways, including sowing seed outside into beds in autumn, planting flats of seeds in coldframes, and chilling seeds in the refrigerator.

"Broadcasting seeds on snow could work, but I don't see any real point in it," says William Cullina, author and nursery director of the New England Wild Flower Society. "You'd have better luck preparing a site in fall, before the first snow, and sowing the seeds then." Wildflowers often grow in poor soils and difficult climates, but they still benefit from a well-prepared seedbed. A raised bed filled with high-quality topsoil provides the best environment, but a garden bed with well-draining, fine-textured soil will work fine, too. In either situation, dig in 1 to 2 inches of finished compost before sowing.

Cullina suggests sowing rows of seeds in late fall and covering the seeds very lightly with soil or hay. "In spring, you'll see the seedlings come up in rows, and then you can thin them and transplant them." This method produces successful results with minimal hassle. Columbine (Aquilegia spp.), blue stars (Amsonia spp.), and members of the aster family (Asteraceae), including Joe Pye weed (Eupatorium spp.) and blazing star (Liatris spp.), generally germinate well with this method, Cullina says. I recommend that you also contact a local wildflower organization and ask about wildflowers that grow well from seed in your area (try the McHenry County Defenders Wildflower Preservation and Propagation Committee; 815-338-0393, mcdef.org).
If you'd like to try the other cold stratification methods mentioned above, I encourage you to read Cullina's book The New England Wild Flower Society Guide to Growing and Propagating Wildflowers of the United States and Canada (Houghton Mifflin, 2000). With several detailed propagation techniques and profiles of a vast array of native wildflowers, it's a wonderful resource for anyone interested in dipping their toe (or entire self) into the sea of wildflower propagati

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

iS Clinical™ Super Serum Advance+

iS Clinical Super Serum Advance+ is excellent for reducing lines and wrinkles.

Safely lightens skin and effectively treats
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Monday, March 17, 2014

Best Herbs for Spring

The best herbs to direct-sow in spring 

Best Herbs to Direct Sow in Spring.Spring Herbs
These herbs may thrive in cooler temperatures, but some seeds, such as those of parsley, can take up to a month to germinate, especially in cold spring soils. Soaking the seeds overnight and planting in raised beds will help speed germination of direct-sown seeds.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Rescue Flowers from Frost

What you can do to save spring flowers from freezing temperatures, snow, and sleet.

 Ask Organic Gardening
tulips in the snowMy tulips and daffodils are just about to bloom, but our forecast is for freezing temperatures, snow, and sleet. What can I do to save the flowers? —C. J. O’Brien, Acton, Massachusetts
The good news is that flowering bulbs are remarkably resilient. Most will not be fazed by limited periods of cold weather, says Steve Zwiep, Parks Department supervisor for the city of Holland, Michigan, home of the annual Tulip Time Festival. “We’ve had snow a foot deep and packed around the tulips. When the snow melted, the tulip buds were fine and ready to go,” Zwiep says. The risk of damage is greatest, he explains, when the plants are blooming.
Before the buds open, both daffodils and tulips are fairly immune to the cold, but open flowers are more sensitive to frosts and freezes. “Freezing temperatures overnight with warming during the day usually doesn’t cause any problems,” says Zwiep, who has grown literally millions of tulips over the years, both in his family’s greenhouse business and for the city of Holland. “Once [tulip] stamens start showing, the flowers become sensitive to prolonged frost and may be damaged by the cold.”
By “prolonged,” he means round-the-clock low temperatures lasting for several days. He recommends covering small areas of blooming flowers with a sheet (supported by plant stakes to avoid breaking stems) during the nights when such conditions occur. “You can also use a sprinkler to spray water on the flowers to prevent injury, as growers in Florida do to protect the blossoms on fruit trees,” he adds.
The Holland, Michigan, 2011 Tulip Time Festival will be held May 7 to 14 and will feature parades, celebrations of the city’s Dutch heritage and culture, and 6 million tulips.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Hellmann's Introduces New Creamy Balsamic Dressing

Launching this month at grocery retailers nationwide (MSRP: $5.00-$6.49) the new recipe is made from 100% free-run eggs, oil and balsamic vinegar. It will add a great new taste to everything from sandwiches to dips and  salads. Hellmann's has also created a new salad recipe – Creamy Balsamic Grilled Chicken Spinach Salad – that further highlights the delicious flavour of the mayonnaise.