Articles & Blogs

Opportunity In Disguise

August 28, 2020

“Be careful what you wish for.” You might say my wish for more time to explore the things I love, minus the pandemic was granted. Although my heart goes out to those affected by the virus in any way, time to explore the many subjects associated with herbs has been plentiful. I have read books, articles, scientific papers, emails, and newsletters, gone on exciting virtual garden tours and herb walks, listened to podcasts, attended numerous webinars, zoom classes, and club meetings to my heart’s content. Too much to share in one newsletter contribution, I hope some of what I write may interest you. I’ll begin with tea. Tea recipes flooded my inbox daily. Teas for this or that, all to either soothe or lift your spirits during confinement. I found one particular tea, named the “last good nerve tea,” especially good hot or cold. Using garden herbs such as chamomile ... Read More

United States Department of Agricultural Investigates Packages

July 28, 2020

United States Department of Agricultural Investigates Packages of Unsolicited Seeds from China. USDA is aware that people across the country have received suspicious, unsolicited packages of seed that appear to be coming from China. USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) is working closely with the Department of Homeland Security’s Customs and Border Protection, other federal agencies, and State departments of agriculture to investigate the situation. USDA urges anyone who receives an unsolicited package of seeds to immediately contact their State plant regulatory official or APHIS State plant health director. Please hold onto the seeds and packaging, including the mailing label, until someone from your State department of agriculture or APHIS contacts you with further instructions. Do not plant seeds from unknown origins. To finish reading the full report from the United States Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service at: https://www.aphis.usda.gov/aphis/newsroom/stakeholder-info/sa_by_date/sa-2020/sa-07/seeds-china To report any suspicious seeds ... Read More

Beyond Daffodils and Narcissus

July 18, 2020

We live in an area of the country blessed with a Mediterranean climate (warm, wet winters under prevailing westerly winds and calm, hot, dry summers.) Sooo, why not venture beyond the familiar and try some South African corms in your garden? Corms? Not bulbs? Yep! Bulbs are underground stems that contain an embryonic plant complete with leaves, stems, and flower buds. These are wrapped around with scales (modified leaves) held together at the base. Bulbs will persist for many years, periodically producing new small bulbs. Corms, on the other hand, are underground stems that are solid and do not have the overlapping leaves. Each corm only lasts one year. It shrivels as it uses up its stored energy to grow and bloom. A new corm forms on top. Cormels also grow around the base. Some of the more popular are: Sparaxis, Babiana, Ixia, Freesia, and Watsonia. All can be planted ... Read More

Companion Plants for Roses

June 20, 2020

There is a long-standing debate in the rose community of whether you should plant anything else with your roses. The truth is, in the long run, monoculture is detrimental to your soil and plants. Growing them on their own is an open invitation to any pests and diseases that favor roses. But what plants play well with roses? A plant that is known for not liking others. First off, small plants or at least ones that will not overshadow. Your rose needs sun, and any companion has to let the rose get the lion’s share of light. They also cannot compete with the rose for resources. That means nothing aggressive or invasive like periwinkle, cover grasses, mint, or sweet alyssum. They should require the same type of resource, water, and care as your roses. For instance, do not plant something that wants acidic or alkaline soil. Roses like a well-balanced ... Read More