Winter Magic!

Are you longing for flowers during winter’s dark days? Try forcing flowering tree branches to bloom Forsythiaindoors.

Cut branches from spring-flowering trees such as forsythia, dogwood, and crabapple and place them in container of warm water for an hour to bring them out of dormancy.  Then re-cut their stems to enhance their water absorption and arrange them in a vase which has warm water in it with a drop of bleach added.  Set the vase in a sunny window and before you know it,  Alakazam, flowers appear!

 

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Butterfly Gardens

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Monarch Butterfly

Robin McKenzie, Master Gardener and principal designer for Rockbird Gardens, gave an outstanding presentation on Monday at the Ashland Garden Club meeting. Robin specializes in creating sustainable backyard ecosystems for wildlife, and for people. Monday she talked about “Planning and Growing a Butterfly Garden”,  her talking points were:

• Research the items you need to attract butterflies
• Find a sunny garden location. ( 6-8 hrs of sun)
• Create a garden plan for your yard: flowerbeds, raised beds, and/or containers
• Know the timeline needed to create a garden
• Prepare the soil for your plants, add amendments, make sure you have good drainage
• Install borders and hardscape before you plant (*see mud-puddle below)
• Decide your plant choices: purchase and/or grow your plants, then plant according to their specific directions, don’t crowd your plants!

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Butterfly Puddle

*Butterflies need water, so make them a mud puddle!
Use a shallow dish such as a plastic or terracotta plant saucer in a sunny area of your garden that is protected from the wind. Fill the bottom of the pan with sand, gravel, and a few small stones, add water to the dampen sand.

Host plants:
Attract more butterflies by having plants for larval food in your yard, for instance:

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Milkweed

Milkweed for Monarchs
Tarragon for Swallowtails
Angelica for Anise Swallowtails
Violas for Great Spangled Great Spangled Fritillary
Note: Be prepared for heavy munching on these host plants, these plants are  caterpillar food!

See list of host plants here:
http://nababutterfly.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/southwestern-Oregon-butterfly-garden-guide.pdf

And here….http://extension.oregonstate.edu/4hwildlifestewards/pdfs/butterfly.pdf

How to become a Certified monarch Butterfly Station:  www.monarchwatch.org

Lecture was by Robin McKenzie www.rockbirdgardens.com
Monarch Butterfly image by Simon Koopmann‎ on Wikimedia Commons
Submitted by: Carlotta Lucas

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Bee City: Ashland Food Bank

The Ashland Emergency Food Bank has Ashland’s first pollinator garden recognized by Bee City USA Ashland. It’s in bloom now at 560 Clover Lane. You can see it M-F,  9:00am-12:30, and get ideas for your own garden. Plant list is available.
Do you want to get your Ashland garden recognized? Visit the City’s website to learn more.
by: John Love

Composting Dos & Don’ts

Alternate layers of nitrogen-rich greens & carbon-rich browns.

Greens:

• Vegetable peelings
• Rotten fruit & Fruit Peelings
• Leaves & Grass ( green & dry)
• Coffee grounds &  Tea leaves
• Manure from vegetarian pets: rabbits, gerbils, guinea pigs, sheep, horses,cows, llamas, etc.

Browns:

• Dry leaves, grass and plant stalks
• Shredded newsprint (non-toxic inks only),
• Shredded Brown Paper bags,
• Unbleached paper towels, napkins, wet is okay, greasy no!
• Cardboard ( small pieces)
• Corncobs
• Straw
 
You can also add:
• Rinsed, crushed eggshells
• Pet hair, to help discourage rodents
• Dryer lint
• Wood ash

Tips:

• Select a level, partially-shaded spot for your bin with good water drainage. Be sure it is at least 8 in – 12 in away from walls, fences, bushes, doors and windows.
• Cut kitchen scraps up into smaller pieces – faster decomposition.
• Whenever you add any food layer, top it off with brown material. Keep a pile of dry browns near the bin to sprinkle on top each time you add kitchen scraps.
• The beneficial microorganisms in your pile need oxygen. If too compacted (like in a landfill), they produce methane as they decompose, which is a greenhouse gas. Leave lots of air space in your bin and mix the contents every week or two with an aerator tool, or an old broom handle.
• Collect dry leaves and grass in a separate, dry container. Then you can use them year-round.
• Compost is generally ready to use after two or three months but aging the pile another one to two months before putting it on lawns or garden will improve it.
 

DON’Ts:

WHY? They attract rodents & other pests and cause odor problems.
 
AVOID ADDING THESE TO YOUR COMPOST:
    • Grease, oils or fats.
    • Bread or bread products
    • Rice
    • Pastas
    • Salad dressings or sauces
    • Dairy products
    • Nuts or nut butters
    • Fish
    • Meat
    • Bones
    • Dog or cat feces, kitty litter, human waste – Meat-eating animals, including humans,  carry diseases, and kitty litter may contain chemicals.
    • Ash from barbecues or coal Contains harmful chemicals.
   • Weeds with mature seeds. When you spread the compost, you’ll spread those weeds, to your garden.
    • Treated wood products May contain harmful chemicals.
 

Troubleshooting:

SYMPTOM DIAGNOSIS TREATMENT
Compost is attracting pests: dogs, rodents, raccoons. Improper materials added. Use a pest-resistant bin.
Put kitchen scraps in the center of the pile and cover with soil.
 
Compost pile is wet and stinky, too much green material. Add brown material. Turn pile. Insufficient covering.
Put scraps at the center of the pile.
 
Pile is dry too much brown material. Not enough water.
Add fresh kitchen scraps. Moisten with water.
Cover pile to reduce evaporation.
 
Pile is cold Lack of nitrogen. Add green materials such as
grass clippings, kitchen scraps.
 
Compost is attracting flies. Food scraps are exposed. Cover green material with browns. Avoid adding grease, oils, meats, breads, etc (see checklist above). Cover food scraps with soil or brown material. Put kitchen scraps in the center of the pile.