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Monthly Archives: February 2017

Beware of Evil Plants

What I mean when I say, “A few Plants are Evil” is that not all plants have what I would call a decent reason. A few plants murder, harm, attack, inebriate, make torment, are risky to human or pets, or are hostile somehow. Fiendish plants are wherever on the planet and some are notable and others are well-concealed mysteries. I would like to address some of these plants to help us better comprehend the employments of these plants for good or terrible and to help you secure your youngsters, your pets, and yourself.

All through history plants have been utilized as murder weapons, a few plants have begun wars, incurred torment, they can detonate, they can smell severely, or wreck. There are a large number of plants that are harmful, difficult, intrusive, or inebriating. My motivation with this article is to help the home plant specialist and their families remain sheltered as they garden and play in the inside and outside. Plants harm more than 68,000 individuals yearly, so we do should be careful and instruct our kids not eat any plant material. It is highly unlikely I can incorporate all plants that cause issues, yet I will endeavor to list the most tricky.

We’ll first look at plants that are the most popular and are typically grown indoors. These plants should be kept away from children and pets. This small list contains the name of the plant and what part is dangerous.

Amaryllis – Bulbs
Dieffenbachia – Leaves and Sap
Easter Lily – Leaves and Bulbs
Ficus Tree – Sap
Peace Lily – Sap
Philodendron – Leaves and Sap
Poinsettia – Sap (Mildly irritating to the skin)
Schefflera – Leaves and Sap

A good rule of thumb is milky sap of any plant should be treated with respect. It may cause skin irritation. If you are a cat lover remember that all parts of a lily are dangerous to a cat. It can cause kidney failure and death within 24 – 48 hours, if ingested.

There are many outdoor plants to be mindful of and they include the following with the name of the plant and the part of the plant that is dangerous. Please remember this is not a complete list, rather this is a list of common vegetation to be mindful of their toxicity levels. All of the plants listed below are harmful in some way.

Azalea/Rhododendron – Leaves, Flower Nectar
Bleeding Heart – Leaves and Tubers
Castor Bean – All Parts
Chrysanthemum/Mums – Flower Heads
Columbine – Berries
Daffodil – Bulbs
Dogwood – Fruits
Elephant Ears – All parts
Four ‘clock – Roots and seeds
Foxglove – Flowers/Leaves/Seeds
Hemlock – All parts
Holly – Berries
Hyacinth – Bulbs
Hydrangea -Flowers
Ivy (most) – Leaves
Lantana – All parts
Lupines – Seeds and Leaves
Lily of the Valley – All Parts
Oleander – All Parts
Poison Oak, Ivy, and Sumac – Oil
Wisteria – All Parts

Remember plants poison on contact, ingestion, or by absorption or inhalation. Be cautious if you are not sure. There are many look-alikes so be sure you know what plant you are growing or being exposed to.

About Wildlife Ponds

These simple to make water elements can add brilliant assorted qualities to your yard while giving unlimited hours of stimulation and instructive open doors for you and your family. I have gotten some data from the National Wildlife Federation (NWF) that I might want to impart to you.

Frequently a “welcome sight” to lizards and frogs that may have lost their normal vernal pools to improvement, patio lakes can overflow with life not long after they are made. Spring will welcome you with lizards, singing frogs and amphibians, and egg masses seeming overnight. Reptiles, for example, turtles may likewise exploit this new expansion to your terrace. In the event that you give a shallow territory, feathered creatures and butterflies will get a kick out of day by day washing and mud puddling schedules.

Voracious “mosquito-eaters,” dragonflies and damselflies, will also set up home in your pond and work to keep nature in balance. Balanced backyard ponds rarely attract unusual numbers of mosquitoes as often believed. A variety of flora and fauna will work together to maintain your pond as a healthy ecosystem.

Beachfront property is where it’s at! If possible, use a flexible liner and design a beach into your pond edge. This shallow graduation allows easy access for critters to get in, and out, and gives birds and butterflies a place to dip into shallow water. Many wildlife drownings occur in backyard ponds because they inadvertently fall in and cannot escape. Chipmunks, shrews, and box turtles are common victims. Some animals such as frogs, toads and salamanders visit the ponds in spring to breed and lay eggs, but need to have a way of getting out of the ponds to return to their terrestrial habitats for the remainder of the year.

Full sun or part shade? You will find that different critters will inhabit your pond depending on the amount of sunlight it receives. It is most desirable to locate it where it will receive some direct sun, but not full sun.

The depth of your pond and the area you live in will determine the degree to which it freezes. If your pond freezes entirely to the bottom, plants and wildlife may not survive. If your pond is shallow you may need additional heating in the winter. If small children play near your pond, you may want to add a fence for safety purposes. Check your local laws to see if a fence is required and what maximum depth is allowed.

The healthiest pond will most closely resemble a natural pond, with plenty of native plants, some debris settling on the bottom, and perhaps a log or branch floating on the surface. A pond with these ingredients should soon balance itself, and algal growth will be seasonal and minimal.

For a wildlife pond, fish and snails are not necessary, and in fact can be disruptive to the natural balance of your pond. Most fish are very predacious, and can quickly multiply and dominate in the pond environment without the check of natural predators. Snails will generally eat your plants and algae. Essentially, fish and snails may turn your wildlife pond into a large outdoor fish tank that could require additional maintenance to keep clean.

Pumps, waterfalls, and fountains can add the wonderful elements of sound and flowing water. Birds are actually attracted to moving water, and provided they have a place to land, they will be frequent visitors. Moving water is not essential to the health of the pond, but will add additional oxygen.

If you fill your pond with water that is being treated with chlorine, you should consider using a product to remove the chlorine. You can jump-start your pond life by adding a bucket of water from a nearby natural pond. One bucket is all it takes to introduce the millions of microbes that help keep the systems in check!

There is a vast assortment of additional information available on ponds of all kinds on the web, through your local water gardening stores and the public library.

Chemical Weed Killers Effects

A couple days back I got a call from somebody needed to think about a weed executioner that he had perused about in daily paper.

Before I disclose to you the name I need to reveal to you that my saying the compound, or the web internet searcher that I used to research it are just the assessments of this old soil digger and don’t speak to any official Penn State University proposal or judgment of anything. Despite the fact that you will see that Penn State is one of the principal logical bodies that had event to discover the issue.

The guest said that the synthetic was called clopyralid. I revealed to him that I wasn’t acquainted with it, however would find it and see what I could discover for him. He said that he would mail me a duplicate of the article. After supper I turned on the Internet and went to “ “. I wrote in clopyralid. Seemed as though I would not need to sit tight for the snail mail entry of the article, on the grounds that in under 5 seconds I had connections to 4700 articles that were on the web. I began to peruse the articles. One of the first was from Penn State. It appears that they began a manure program and at initially utilized their subsequent chestnut gold just in the fancy beds.

The compost was first tried in the vegetable trial beds on the bell peppers. They were trying to determine the correct amounts of compost to apply. About 4 weeks after the peppers were transplanted from the greenhouse to the trial beds they began to show signs of what looked like 2,4,D herbicide contamination. To save space look up the results of this investigation on line and see why once it was determined that the compost did it, they are still putting it on the trial beds. I found a 30 some page paper from the manufacturer that broke down all the tests and results and made the stuff seem as safe as rain.

Then I came to the ” The Journal of Pesticide Reform ” page. It said a lot of contradictory things. These people (the Manufacturer and the detractors) all talk about half-life of the chemical. Half-life? I thought that referred to nuclear degradation. Chemical degradation also, it seems is expressed in this manner. The findings from this organization were very different than that of the people who make it. Fetal skeletal deformities in ducks, rats, mice. Water solubility was another area where the opinions differed.

The chemical comes in three formulations. Two of the bases seem to cause very bad and sometimes permanent vision problems in humans. The compost counsel said that the occurrence of clopyralid in compost could not be controlled by the commercial compost operation. They took the stand that there could be contamination in compost for 14 months or more. The revised labeling on one of the brand names of clopyralid said that compost containing treated materials should not be used in the same year as the treatment was applied. This is not feasible. Some compost facilities make the transition from waste to compost in a row method and this takes from 2 to 6 months. There are faster ways.

Tumbler composters make this miracle happen in a whole lot less time than that. The main homeowner use of clopyralid is the elimination of broadleaf weeds in turf grass. If you compost at home do your grass clippings go into your compost? If one homeowner sends treated grass clippings to the commercial compost plant will that be enough to make the whole batch lethal to the garden plants it is put on.

Penn State’s peppers were affected not by composted grass as a main course for the composters, but by the incidental grass that was sucked up when the leaves were vacuumed up. As most weed killer is applied in the spring, and most leaves are vacuumed in the fall this make me wonder about that half-live. Would you not like to roll in the grass, walk down a power line, or have your pet frolic in the beautiful, weed-free front yard of your home, with your children. What is used on the parks and ball fields in our area? How about where we travel? I know that all sides of a question slant issues at times, and that to have any adverse effects you would probably have to dive into a bath tub full of the stuff, or would you? What are you to do?

As a home composter, you can control what you put into your own version of brown gold. Read labels. Become an informed consumer. Research is so easy now that we have the Internet. No computer you say, go to the Adams County Library. They will help you find the pages you need. Ask a Master Gardener. We exist to educate the people of our home counties. Find out which weeds are edible and throw a dinner party. Learn to pull weeds and if the scale of your operation makes that impractical read, understand and follow the application rates and listed uses on the package label. More is not better.

I do not know who is right and who is wrong in this debate. No matter what the truth is, higher prices or chemical poisoning will mean that the ultimate loser is us.

Healthy Organic Garden Techniques

Not exclusively will you develop delectable, new, sound sustenances; you will likewise add to the soundness of the earth and group by not utilizing hurtful chemicals. In any case, natural planting doesn’t simply mean not utilizing chemicals. It is a strategy that energizes life and differences in the dirt, plants, and creepy crawlies that live in the garden.

The part that puts the “natural” in natural planting is organic material (OM). This is the stuff that was once alive and, with the assistance of valuable microbes, is currently breaking down in your garden. For an incredible garden, you need however much of this decayed matter as could reasonably be expected.

Addition of OM. If you are ambitious this time of year you can start putting OM into your garden now. Put a thin layer of dead leaves, straw, hay, or grass clipping on your garden right away. It will break down, and when it is time to start planting you will have already incorporated some ever-so-important OM into your soil.

Compost. A key component to organic gardening is compost. Incorporate a fair amount (up to a 1 inch layer) of compost to your beds before planting. Leafgro™ is available at local garden centers, as well as other brands. Free compost is available from the county recycling centers in both Frederick and Carroll Counties. Learn about composting techniques and make your own pile and by this time next year you may not have to buy any.

Organic Seeds. If you usually start your own plants, you can buy organically grown seeds (sources below). This seed has been grown in compliance with the USDA organic program. With this seed you can be sure that you are supporting non-genetically engineered, sustainable production techniques.

Heirloom varieties are often chosen in organic gardens. Heirlooms are open-pollinated varieties that have been preserved for many generations. These plants will produce seed that will grow a plant genetically identical to the parent. This way you can save your seed from year to year and know what will result and at the same time preserve the diversity of unique varieties.

Weed Control. During the year, to discourage weeds, use mulch. Thick layers of the organic materials that I mentioned before will prohibit weed seed germination, as well as break down and add organic matter to the soil. You may also use synthetic mulches such as weed barrier fabric or black plastic (but make sure you remove plastic at the season’s end). Lay these over your garden beds and secure with soil at the edges. Cut holes and plant into them; this will greatly reduce weed pressure.

Pest Management. This can be challenging in organic gardening. It is said that when your soil is of high quality (containing lots of organic matter and nutrients), your plants will resist pests naturally. It takes a long time for soil to achieve this status. In the mean time, plant lots of flowering plants to encourage beneficial insects, which prey on pests. A few examples of these plants are yarrow, sea holly, allysum, dill and tansy. Another great weapon against pests is row cover. This thin, water and light permeable synthetic fabric provides a physical barrier between your plants and pests.

Cover Crops. One additional method that you may want to experiment with is cover crops. A good rule is to always keep your soil covered. If you grow a nice spring crop of lettuce and don’t have anything to put in when it is finished producing in July, grow some soil nourishing crops like buckwheat rather than leaving your soil bare. You can mow or cut it down before it produces seed and let the plant matter decompose into the soil, adding organic matter along the way. There are endless variations on cover cropping techniques.