“All of the flowers of tomorrow are in the seeds of today”
an Indian proverb
When you garden with children you are definitely planting the seeds for our future gardeners. The Jr. Master Gardener program is designed to educate children in a manner that makes learning fun. Jr. Master Gardener instructors can allow their creative side to flourish. Last year there were two new Jr. Master Gardener classes and the creativity of activities was amazing. Please read on for some of the highlights of these classes.
Karen McClatchey held classes at the Peninsula Community Library, in conjunction with Old Mission Peninsula School. Karen began her classes in late January to run through mid April with 10 students. A few of the comments from the children are: “I LOVED Jr. Master Gardening. I want to do it again this year.” “I learned a lot and it was fun at the same time.” “We did a lot. I had to miss one day and I was sad because it was so much fun.” “I helped my mother with the garden during the summer with all that I learned.”
Karen’s classes were one hour long and there was a hands-on project in each class. Some of the projects were miniature landscapes, terrariums, potpourri, etc. Karen’s children made the sweetest little ivy topiary for me for Valentine’s Day and I smile every time I go by it under my gro-lights. Karen started her new classes this year on February 13th. The wonderful quote at the beginning of the article was suggested by Karen.
Dorothy Batzer (assisted by Cyndi and Deb) held classes at Kaleva/Norman/Dickson Schools in Brethren. The classes were part of the “Healthy Self” program sponsored by MSU and West Shore Medical Center. Prior to the JRMG offering there were classes on nutrition education and physical activity. After the JRMG progrem there were classes on hands-on cooking.
Dorothy also incorporated many projects including making paper hats and flowers, taste-testing sprouts, insects and flower designs on muslin for Mother’s Day, growing and planting seeds, etc.
When I have held classes some of my activities have been making lavender sachets, growing bean seeds, creating miniature landscapes, etc. One of my favorite activities is to ask the children to pretend they are a fly and just narrowly escaped from a Venus Fly Trap. I still smile when I recall one of the terrific stories and expect to see that little girl’s name on the cover of a best selling novel in years to come.
Another of my children’s favorite activities is singing and dancing to “The Water Cycle Boogie” and “F.B.I. (fungus, bacteria, invertebrates)” by the Banana Slug String Band. I turn on the CD player during the last 5-10 minutes of class while I cleaning up. The moms have reported to me that the children also sing the songs in the car on the way home. The Slugs are 4 fellows in California and they have a number of CDs on various themes. You can listen to the songs either on Amazon or the Slugs website at www.bananaslugstringband.com
The next Jr. Master Gardener training class will be held on Monday, March 24th from 6:00 p.m. until 8:00 p.m. at the Grand Traverse Government Center, 400 Boardman Avenue. The center is just north of 8th Street on Boardman Avenue. Please enter by the front doors and go downstairs to the cafeteria. Please make reservations by March 17th either by emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org or calling 256-8844. Email is usually the easiest way to reach me and I will send you a confirmation.
Please don’t hesitate to contact me if you have any questions about the Jr. Master Gardener program. The program is sponsored by MSUE and 4-H in the various counties. I can pretty much guarantee that you will have fun and rediscover your “inner child gardener”. top
Our new Botanical Garden is going to have an amazing visitors center!
If you have not yet heard, the area around The Village at Grand Traverse Commons is getting a Botanical Garden! The Master Gardener Association of Northwest Michigan (MGANM) is an official part/partner of the Traverse City Botanical Garden Society, and we are excited to share some news about this amazing and one-of-a-kind project. Read below for their first big update of the year. Links to their site and Facebook are also provided. Happy gardening!
Botanic Garden at the Historic Barns Park Update 2014
By now most everyone knows that our Visitor Center is up and running and ready for rental. If you have been following us on Facebook you already know what the upstairs venue looks like. It is bright and airy with amazing vistas out the windows. The upstairs will accommodate 74 people for an event with tables and comfortable chairs. There is a small kitchenette equipped with a coffee maker and small refrigerator and dishwasher. This space has been used for several meetings and is also equipped with a large-screen TV monitor and the hook ups for power point presentations. Keep us in mind if you have need of a venue for rent.
The downstairs will encompass a small gift shop, which is being planned as I write. It is due to open this spring. You will want to check this out as well. Some plantings have taken place around the Visitor Center with the help of several Master Gardeners volunteering their time. Of course there will be more plantings to take place later when our snow disappears.
So, you might ask….what is in store for 2014 at The Garden? Be on the lookout for the water feature to be constructed using one of the old silos. There will be numerous plantings around this area and when finished, will be a beautiful, calming space to enjoy. In addition to the water feature, work will begin on the walled garden with paint removal and repointing of the stone foundation. All of that will have to be done before the cement “floor” is removed making the inside area ready for planting.
Do check us out, especially when spring comes to see all the daffodils in bloom. And…don’t forget to like us on Facebook!
There is much to consider about mulch. Curious about mulch? Maybe not. Perhaps you think of it as the icing on the cake or window dressing. A freshly mulched landscape can have that ‘finished look‘. But, is that all there is? Is mulch only about appearance? Mulch decisions can be made based upon a design element in landscaping, such as stone mulch in a rock garden, or as a tool in weed suppression. Can it do more? Can the material used as mulch harm the plants? What about mulch throughout the season? Is there a good mulch for spring that might harm the same bed in summer? Oh, my. Too many questions.
According to Brian Zimmerman, of Four Season Nursery, prior to the 1970’s, it was common to cultivate garden beds to remove weeds and mulch foundation plantings with black plastic and stone. That was it. Spreading mulch was not yet in vogue. By the mid-70’s cedar bark was given away in our region by mills as it was viewed as a waste product. While the cedar bark was far more reasonable than stone, it did require ‘freshening’ annually. Finally, the movement toward wood chips as mulch appeared on the scene in the late 70’s. Any wood scraps from the mills could be turned into a product and sold. Municipalities began giving away wood chips and shredded wood from tree trimming to residents. Zimmerman clearly distinguishes between bark and wood chips, recommending bark but never using wood chips.
It is a widely held tenant that the primary purpose of mulch is to retain moisture around the plant during dry spells and to shade roots from hot summer sun. Secondarily, mulch will suppress weeds. Pile it on deeply enough and banked seeds will not see the light of day, so to speak. Another important virtue of mulch is moderating soil temperature. A good mulch layer will keep soils cooler in the summer and reduce the freeze/thaw cycle in winter. However, that same mulch can slow the soil warming process in spring.
Some mulch products will ‘knit’ together over time and form a solid barrier. This barrier, according to Zimmerman, is to be avoided. It prevents water and oxygen from reaching the soil and creating habitat for the billions of soil microbes in healthy soil. Watch your mulch for this tendency and break it up if needed. Mulches with knitting tendencies are hardwood chips and cedar. Non-knitting mulches that allow for free air and oxygen transfer include pine bark mulch, compost, straw, and pine needles.
While there is a host of mulch materials from which to choose, there is no ‘perfect’ mulch. To begin, mulches can be either organic or inorganic. Organic mulch will decompose, inorganic mulch will not. Organic mulch may enhance the quality of the soil or may absorb nutrients from the soil underneath. Inorganic mulches stay in place and may not decompose, but some stone can leach alkaline minerals into the soil and, if spread too heavily, can compact and damage roots. Review the information below and consider your past mulching practices/experiences.
Mulches to consider:
Straw: Good for winter coverage to moderate soil temperatures. Good to use in vegetable beds year round. Need to watch for seeds in the product (do not mistake hay for straw). May house rodents. Needs to be removed in spring in landscaped beds. Rarely compacts.
Wood Chips: Hardwood chips spread in the spring can last for a couple of seasons. However, the color will change to a gray or silver color. Piling more fresh mulch over dull old mulch may create air and moisture barriers to the soil. Chips require nitrogen from the soil to decompose therefore, a nitrogen fertilizer is recommended under wood chip mulch. The old layer should be cultivated and broken up before a fresh layer is laid. Caution: wood mulch can host shotgun or artillery fungus (Sphaerobolus). This fungus shoots spores into the air that land on plants, house siding and cars. The tiny black dots can be very hard to remove.
Shredded leaves or leaf mold: Fall leaves can be advantageous in the garden. It is recommended that they be shredded first, or even allowed to begin decomposition before being used. Full-sized leaves limit water and air circulation to the soil. Shredded leaves can form a nice barrier, if not shredded too finely. Leaves that have begun to compost can be used to amend the soil, however, watch that a crust does not form.
Bark: Bark is generally viewed as a suitable mulch. It can come in largish chunks or shredded. It may float away in a heavy water situation and may attract wood-eating insects, such as termites.
Pine needles: If you can collect them, pine needles work nicely around acid loving plants. Generally not sold in bulk or bags.
Compost: a well processed black compost will feed the roots below as well as warm the soil in the spring and retain moisture. Beware of weeds seeding in the compost; a weed-preventer might be helpful to create the weed barrier.
Gravel, pebbles and stone: Best used in permanent landscaped beds. Do not use around acid loving plants. Use about a one inch layer to prevent soil compaction.
Black plastic: Good a weed prevention. Good for moisture retention. If soil is wet, it will not dry well when covered in plastic which can add to root diseases. Hot in summer, plastic breaks down quickly if not protected from sunlight. Not attractive.
Landscape cloth (various): Allows air and water movement to and from the soil. Controls weeds well, but grasses may survive. Not attractive.
Recycled rubber: Recycled rubber is the newest mulching material and can most often be seen on playgrounds. Will not decompose. Effectiveness it not yet known.
While there may be no perfect mulch, there may be a suitable one for your yard and your plants.
-Mulching around trees to create a barrier between the lawn mower and the trunk is a very good idea. Be sure to allow space between the mulch and the trunk.
– Use black plastic to warm the vegetable garden soil in the spring and, when removed, the warmed soil can jump start your plants.
-Adding pine needles around acid loving plants can add a kick to the ph.
-Shredding and bagging fall leaves can be a real budget saver come spring.
There is much to know about mulch. You can read more about it from the following websites.
Most of us brave souls who stay through the winter in northern Michigan experience a little SAD after the holidays. This is the time of year when the only thing green and still living has just been unceremoniously dragged out the door. Suddenly the house feels especially empty. Now the shorter, colder days have forced us indoors, where we can quickly get bored, less productive, more sedentary, and – if we’re not careful – even sickly.
Having survived and thrived through many a long winter, I do feel somewhat qualified to tell you that, to embrace this season of solar sequestration with alacrity, you need a plan that includes one of the following: an ambitious project, an engaging hobby, a lofty goal – and you need (and this is my secret to success) houseplants. I’m quite serious! Scientific studies have shown that indoor plants improve our air quality, our blood oxygen ratio, our productivity, and our outlook – all key ingredients to our survival.
Did you know that houseplants actually do more to beautify our body’s “interior” than our home’s interior? You could never pick a better partner to be cooped up indoors with for four months of the year. Within 24 hours, indoor plants can remove 87% of toxic volatile organic compounds (VOCs) like formaldehydes and benzenes from your home. In addition, they reduce respiratory distress by returning 97% of the water they take in back into the air, increasing the humidity in our home during these dry winter months. I group mine together in each room on boot trays filled with pebbles to create a micro-climate – a miniature rain forest to combat forced-air and wood heat.
It is hard to conceive a more symbiotic relationship than that of humans and plants. When you breathe, your body takes in oxygen and releases carbon dioxide. During photosynthesis, plants absorb carbon dioxide and release oxygen. In recent years, I learned that I had developed allergies to nearly everything in my environment, indoors and out. Formaldehyde was the first allergen identified. It is ubiquitous – found in everything such as most cosmetics, lotions, shampoos, detergents, and in furniture, rugs, grocery bags, construction materials, etc. After listening to a TED talk on “How to grow your own fresh air” I learned that I could eliminate these toxins from my environment, simply and inexpensively, and without suffering the side effects of allergy medications. Listen to Karmal Meattle describe the results of his findings with NASA: www.ted.com/talks/kamal_meattle_on_how_to_grow_your_own_ fresh_air.html
Consider this fact when making your New Year’s resolutions to get healthy this year: When detoxing your body, approximately 70% of it occurs through breathing, 20% through perspiration, 8% through urination and 2% through the bowels.1 Wouldn’t it make sense then, if you want the most internal bang for your buck, to skip the “total cleanse” and get some house plants instead?
“Health …is the complete and full union between soul, mind and body; and this is not a difficult…ideal to attain, but one so easy and natural that many of us have overlooked it”, Dr. Edward Bach.
Dr Bach, (1886-1936) was an English physician who became increasingly dissatisfied with conventional medical systems of treatment and went on to study immunology. He was more interested in the people he treated than their disease and concluded that with illness, personality is more important than symptoms and should be considered in determining treatment. Dr. Bach believed that illness was the effect of disharmony between the body and mind and the symptoms were the outer expressions of a negative emotional state.
While working at the London Homeopathic Hospital (1919-1922), Dr. Bach merged the earlier principals of homeopathy by Dr. Samuel Hahnemann with his own knowledge of traditional medicine to develop the Seven Bach Nosodes. These were oral vaccines which cleansed the intestinal tract with excellent effects on the general health of the patient.
In 1928 Dr. Bach used the plants, Impatiens, Mimulus and Clematis, as he did his other oral vaccines, prescribed them according to his patients’ distinct personality and discovered quick and positive results. By 1930 he was seeking out and preparing more flower remedies with continued success in treatment. In 1932 he revealed his first of twelve remedies; 1933 brought the seven helper remedies and 1934 the final nineteen remedies to complete the program. These thirty-eight remedies were to cover all characteristics of human nature and all the negative states of mind which trigger illness. Dr. Bach died in November 1936, at the young age of 50. Today the Bach Centre at Mt Vernon, Oxfordshire, England continues the work of Dr. Bach, training, advising students and preparing the mother tinctures.
And so…These remedies, as clearly stated in all Bach literature, are not meant to take the place of medical attention but to work in subtle harmony with “conventional” treatment. The essences are safe, with no chance of overdose; will not interfere with any other form of treatment; have no side effects and can be used as often as needed until symptoms are gone.
Dr Bach divided the thirty eight remedies into seven categories which embody essential conflicts which inhibit us from “being true to ourselves.” 3 These categories are: fear, uncertainty, loneliness, insufficient interest in present circumstances, over sensitivity to influence and ideas, despondency or despair, and over-care for the welfare of others. Within each category, there are specific forms which can be treated with one or more remedies, such as fear- in the form of terror, everyday fears, fear of losing one’s mind, etc. Bach’s (and others) books contain descriptions of the remedies and the emotional and mental issues for which each is needed so the reader must recognize how s/he feels at that moment. It may be difficult as the descriptions are not always complimentary and depict the need in the most negative state, so it may be useful to ask a friend who can be objective to help pinpoint the best remedy.
Once your remedy has been selected, it is recommended to take two drops in a cup of water and sip at intervals, holding the dose in your mouth for a few moments before swallowing. One may also apply drops directly to the tongue or rub behind the ears, temples or wrist or add to lotions, oils or bath water. Usually these remedies work “undramatically and gently” so one would easily adapt.3 If no change occurs in two weeks you may need to review the remedies to add or change your choice.
In producing a remedy, blooms are picked for peak extract and preserved by mixing a1:1 combination of extract and brandy which becomes the “mother”. Drops of the mother are then diluted with additional brandy and bottled as stock, then further diluted with water when used.
The remedies are divided as: twelve “Healers” (e.g., Chicory, Clematis, Vervain…); seven “Helpers” (e.g., Gorse, Heather, Olive..); a second set of nineteen “Healers” (e.g., Aspen, Crabapple, Holly…) and a first aid “Rescue Remedy” comprised of Cherry Plum, Clematis, Impatiens, Rock Rose, and Star of Bethlehem; which is used quickly after an emotional shock, accident, or illness.
Dr. Bach’s aim was to help people understand themselves and use that understanding to benefit others. The best way to help others is to become all we can be, “to realize our own true nature- our greatest potential for good.”1 Bach believed that good health is simply a state of mind, thus if we are strong spiritually and mentally, we are able to deal with the external world with clarity, flexibility and balance.
Bach Flower Remedies for Beginners. David Vennels, Llewellyn Publications, 2001.
Illustrated Handbook of the Bach Flower Remedies. Phillip M Chancellor, Vermilion, 1971
The 38 Flower Remedies. Wigmore Publications Ltd. 1993
“The Spirit of Dr. Bach, the Bach Flower Therapy”. BachWiki, 2/21/07
Description: It is a biennial plant which grows a rosette of leaves in the spring and summer, while building up the stout taproot, which stores large amounts of sugars for the plant to flower in the second year. The leaves are dissected and the flowering stem grows to about 1 meter (3 ft) tall, with an umbel of white flowers. The carrot is a root vegetable, usually orange in color, though purple, red, white, and yellow varieties exist. It has a crisp texture when fresh. The most commonly eaten part of a carrot is a taproot, although the greens are edible as well. Different cultivars of carrot have different shaped taproot.
Origin: It is a domesticated form of the wild carrot Daucus carota, native to Europe and southwestern Asia. The domestic carrot has been selectively bred for its greatly enlarged and more palatable, less woody-textured edible taproot. The wild ancestors of the carrot are likely to have come from Iran and Afghanistan, which remains the center of diversity of D. carota.
In early use, carrots were grown for their aromatic leaves and seeds, not their roots. Some relatives of the carrot are still grown for these, such as parsley, fennel, dill and cumin. The first mention of the root in classical sources is in the 1st century. The modern carrot appears to have been introduced to Europe in the 8–10th centuries. Some believe there is evidence that carrots were eaten by the ancient Egyptians, Greeks and Romans.
Cultivation (how and where grown): Carrots grow best in full sun but tolerate some shade. In order to avoid growing deformed carrots it is better to plant them in loose soil free from rocks. The seeds, which are 1-3mm in diameter, should be sown about 2cm deep or sown on surface. Carrots take around 4 months to mature for eating but flower the next year if left in the ground. Carrots seeds are very small and seedlings are difficult to thin. To deal with this in home gardens, carrots seeds are often mixed with sand to space out the seeds, or mixed with radish seeds to grow two harvests in the same space. Once the radishes are harvested, the carrots grow at the appropriate spacing. Carrot flowers are pollinated primarily by bees – honeybees or mason bees. Carrots are used as food plants by the larvae of some Lepidoptera species, including Common Swift, Garden Dart, Ghost Moth, Large Yellow Underwing and Setaceous Hebrew Character.
Carrots are grown in temperate climates and China, Russia and the United States are the largest producers. Eastern carrots from Iran and Afghanistan were purple or yellow. Western carrots developed in the Netherlands were primarily orange. The color orange was an emblem of the House of Orange and the struggle for Dutch independence.
Fun Facts: The city of Holtville, California, promotes itself as “Carrot Capital of the World”, and holds an annual festival devoted entirely to the carrot.
Nutrition: The domestic carrot gets its characteristic and bright orange color from β-carotene, which is metabolized into vitamin A in humans when bile salts are present in the intestines. One hundred milligrams of carrots contains over 100% of the RDA of vitamin A. Lack of vitamin A can cause poor vision, including night vision, and vision can be restored by adding it back into the diet. However, only 3% of the β-carotene in raw carrots is released during digestion: this can be improved to 39% by pulping, cooking and adding cooking oil. Massive overconsumption of carrots can cause carotenoids, a benign condition in which the skin turns orange. Carrots are also rich in dietary fiber, antioxidants, and minerals.
Different colored carrots contain different nutrients.
Orange carrots contain beta carotene, with some alpha-carotene, both of which are orange pigments. High in Vitamin A essential for well-being, healthy eyes. These carrots are from Europe and the Middle East.
Yellow carrots contain xanthophylls and lutene, pigments similar to beta carotene, which help develop healthy eyes aid in the fight against macular degeneration and may prevent lung and other cancers and reduce the risk of astherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries).
Red carrots are tinted by lycopene, (another form of carotene) a pigment also found in tomatoes and watermelon; lycopene is associated with the reduced risk of macular degeneration, serum lipid oxidation, helps prevent heart disease and a wide variety of cancers including prostate cancer. Originally from India and China.
Purple carrots (usually orange inside) have even more beta carotene than their orange cousins, and get their pigment from an entirely different class, the anthocyanins, these pigments act as powerful antioxidants, grabbing and holding on to harmful free radicals in the body. Anthocyanins also help prevent heart disease by slowing blood clotting and are good anti inflammatory agents. Some people say these will be the next superfood. These originate from Turkey, and the Middle and Far East.
White carrots lack pigment, but may contain other health-promoting substances called phytochemicals, natural bioactive compounds found in plant foods that work with nutrients and dietary fiber to protect against disease. One might say these are the least healthy of carrots. They originate from Afghanistan, Iran, Pakistan.
Black carrots contain anthocyanins, part of the flavonoid family with antioxidant properties. Flavonoids are currently under investigation as anticancer compounds, as free radical scavengers in living systems, as well as inhibitors of LDL (the bad) cholesterol and the black carrot anthocyanins are especially active. It has anti-bacterial and anti-fungicidal properties and oil made from its seed can help control scalp itchiness and provides essential nutrients for hair growth. The ancient black carrot has been making a comeback, not so much for culinary purposes but as a source of natural food colorants. These originate from Turkey, and the Middle and Far East.
Culinary Uses: Carrots can be eaten in a variety of ways. They may be pulped, chopped and boiled, fried or steamed, and cooked in soups and stews, as well as baby and pet foods. A well-known dish is carrots julienne. The greens are edible as a leaf vegetable, but are rarely eaten by humans. Together with onion and celery, carrots are one of the primary vegetables used in a mirepoix to make various broths.
The north Indian carrot is pink-red and sweet. In India carrots are used in a variety of ways, as salads or as vegetables added to spicy rice or daal dishes. The most popular variation in north India is the Gaajar Kaa Halwaa carrot dessert, which has carrots grated and cooked in milk until the whole mixture is solid, after which nuts and butter are added. Carrot salads are usually made with grated carrots in western parts with a seasoning of mustard seeds and green chilies popped in hot oil, while adding carrots to rice usually is in julienne shape.
Ever since the late 1980s, baby carrots or mini-carrots (carrots that have been peeled and cut into uniform cylinders) have been a popular ready-to-eat snack food available in many supermarkets.
The sweetness of carrots allows the vegetable to be used in some fruit-like roles. Grated carrots are used in carrot cakes, as well as carrot puddings, an old English dish thought to have originated in the early 19th century. Carrots can also be used alone or with fruits in jam and preserves. Carrot juice is also widely marketed, especially as a health drink, either stand-alone or blended with fruits and other vegetables.
Medicinal Uses: Carrots are high in Vitamin A essential for well-being, healthy eyes. As a folk remedy, the roots are used to treat digestive problems, intestinal parasites, and tonsillitis or constipation.
Variety grown or eaten at local schools: Purple Haze, Snow White, Amarillo, Napolini, Cosmic Red, and several others
Impact on Culture: The carrot is said to be the second most popular vegetable after potatoes. The word “carrot” has become a common slang word that means “reward” in the English language, such as in the expression “Dangle a Carrot” in order to motivate someone.
Appearance in Literature: The most famous book about carrots was a children’s book published in 1945 – “The Carrot Seed” by Ruth Krauss. It has been in continuous publication for over 60 years. It is a story about persistence and optimism. The book opens with the words: “A little boy planted a carrot seed. His mother said, ‘I’m afraid it won’t come up.” Despite the skepticism of his parents and, particularly, his older brother, he persists and “pulled up the weeds around it every day and sprinkled the ground with water.” The book concludes simply “And then, one day, a carrot came up just as the little boy had known it would.” However, the singular carrot is so large that it fills a wheelbarrow.
“The Carrot Principle” by Adrian Gostick and Chester Elton is a well-known management book that talks about how to use recognition rewards to reduce employee turnover and achieve organizational goals.
Master Gardener Association of Northwest Michigan members make our world more beautiful by participating in gardening projects, educational programs, activities and CONNECTING A COMMUNITY OF GARDENERS THROUGH LEARNING!
8527 East Government Center Drive (Suite 107) – Suttons Bay, MI 49682 Phone: 231-256-9888 :: Email: email@example.com