Good Times!

Ashland Garden Club’s 2017 holiday party was festive and fun!

 

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‘Christmas Bells’

Sandersonia aurantiaca

Sandersonia aurantiaca, a member of the Colchicaceae family, is a native grassland plant in the eastern areas of South Africa.  It’s often called ‘Christmas bells’ because in the southern hemisphere it blooms in December. Sometimes it is also referred to as Chinese Lanterns.  Highly prized for a long-lasting cut flower, New Zealand cultivates them for the cut flower industry.

The Beauty of Leaf Mold

Instead of carting off your tree leaves to the landfill, or recycling them in a yard debris bin, why not improve your soil by making leaf mold?  Leaf mold is made from decayed tree leaves;  it’s easy to make, it’s free and it improves your soil!leaf mold bin

How Leaf mold helps:

  1. Adds trace minerals to the soil
  2. Reduces rainwater runoff, and evaporation
  3. Retains moisture. Leaf mold hold 50% of it’s own weight in water
  4. Loosens compacted soils
  5. Cools roots and foliage during hot weather
  6. Improves habitat for soil dwellers, such as earthworms & beneficial bacteria
  7. As mulch it helps control weeds
  8. Saves you money by using less fertilizer and less water

Methods:

Build a 3-4 foot tall wire-fence enclosure, fill it up with leaves, add water, cover with cardboard, mix occasionally if you want to, but it’s not necessary and in two years the leaves break down into a rich brown weed-free mulch.

To speed up the process:  Place your wire bin in a semi-shaded area, shred your leaves, add some nitrogen like grass clippings, coffee grounds, or a 1/2 cup of high nitrogen fertilizer, like urea, then cover leaves with a piece of cardboard.
Note: If you don’t own a leaf shredder, then make a pile of leaves and run over them with your lawnmower several times. You should have leaf mold in 9-12 months.

You can also make leaf mold using large plastic bags. Fill large bags half full with leaves, add two cups of coffee grounds, or a ¼ cup urea fertilizer.  Wet leaves thoroughly.  Tie the top,  poke holes in the sides for lots of air flow.  Stack bags in warm location, shake occasionally to mix. You could have leaf mold as soon as 2 months.

After leaves have decomposed, incorporate your leaf mold directly into the garden soil, and/or mulch around your plants. You can also mix it with potting soil to use in container gardens.

Note: Do not use these Walnut, Eucalyptus, or Camphor Laurel leaves for leaf mold. They contain growth-inhibitors, and are toxic to other plants.

Oak leaves take longer to break down, so it’s best to shred them.

Composting guide:  http://compostguide.com/using-leaves-for-composting/

Step-by-Step Guide to Making Leaf Mold : http://making-mulch-from-leaves

Article by : Carlotta Lucas

Warning: Japanese Barberry!

Japanese Barberry  (Berberis thunbergii)
has been on the USDA invasive species Japanese Barberrylist since the 1980s. With its high seed production and 90% germination rate, this plant has taken over forest floors, wetlands and open spaces at an alarming rate. It is now found in the wild in 31 states; throughout all eastern and mid-western states, and areas of Wyoming and Washington.

Deer Tick_blacklegged tickRecently an alarming side effect of this plant’s escape into the wild has been discovered.  Japanese Barberry creates a humid microclimate creating a highly favorable environment for tick survival and reproduction cycles. This humid environment is especially suited for Deer Ticks (aka: Blacklegged Ticks) ( Ixodes scapularis), vectors of Lyme Disease!   And indeed, studies show Lyme Disease has increased where Japanese Barberry is prevalent.  This plant’s encroachment has now created a public health issue, which has BLM, USDA, and Agriculture Mangers  stepping up efforts to eradicate it in the wild.

Public education is key to controlling invasive species, but inexcusably this highly invasive shrub is still sold in nurseries and written about in garden magazines and nursery catalogs publicizing it as a suitable plant for urban landscapes!  Many states now prohibit the sell of Japanese Barberry, but they are still sold in Oregon, so please research plants before you buy them.  Be a Conscientious Gardener!

Invasive Plant Atlas:  https://www.invasiveplantatlas.org/index.html

Entomology Today: https://entomologytoday.org/2017/10/04/the-5-year-plan-manage-japanese-barberry-to-keep-tick-levels-low-reduce-lyme-risk/

Scientific American: https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/guest-blog/barberry-bambi-and-bugs-the-link-between-japanese-barberry-and-lyme-disease/

Oregon Invasive Species: http://www.oregon.gov/ODA/programs/Weeds/OregonNoxiousWeeds/Pages/AboutOregonWeeds.aspx

Article by: Carlotta Lucas