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Book Review: How to Eat in the Woods

Author Bradford Angier in his book, How to Eat in the Woods, a guide to surviving in the wild. He points out that although many people like to go camping in rugged conditions sometimes people are faced with surviving for days, weeks, or months in inhospitable conditions not of their choosing. His book is written for both groups of people and offers a wealth of advice on topics ranging from foraging for plants and hunting for animals to searching for potable water and building a fire. [click to continue…]

Earth Kind Roses: Most Fragrant

Earthkind fragrantEveryone likes roses with fragrance and bemoan the many cultivars on the market today that have little or none. Eight Earth Kind roses, however, combine outstanding fragrance with low maintenance requirements making them a very good choice for any garden. The scents vary from sweet to spicy , peppery, and musky, but once established all them tolerate heat, drought and a variety of soil types, and can be grown without pesticides, fungicides, or fertilizers. [click to continue…]

Betula lenta lvSweet birch is a deciduous tree also known as black birch, cherry birch, mahogany birch or spice birch, and is native to eastern North America from southern Maine and Ontario, south to northern Georgia and Mississippi, where it grows in dry woods, rocky slopes, and streambanks. It is a member of the birch family, Betulaceae, that also includes hornbeams, alders, and hazels. Trees are usually single stemmed with smooth charcoal-gray bark marked by horizontal lenticels. The twigs emit the scent of peppermint when scraped. The ovate leaves are 2.5 to 6 inches long by 1 ½ -3.5 inches wide, are pleated, and have finely toothed margins. They are shiny green above, paler below, and turn golden yellow in fall. Catkins of male and female flowers appear in the spring on the same tree. The male catkins are pendulous and two to three inches long while the female catkins are, erect, one inch long, and give way to tiny winged nutlets. Sweet birch is a good choice for a specimen tree, shade tree, and tall screen. [click to continue…]

big eyed bug 2 geocorisThere are over twenty five species of bug-eyed bugs in North America some of which live coast to coast in the US. They are tiny but very abundant and considered highly valuable natural enemies of over 75 agricultural pests of turf, ornamental, and agricultural plants. Big-eyed bugs are generalist predators but occasionally eat plant material although usually not in sufficient quantity to damage the plant. Their diet include many different insect eggs, spider mites, aphids, pink bollworm, cabbage worms, cabbage loopers, cinch bugs, caterpillars, flea beetles, leafhoppers, thrips, corn earworms, and whiteflies. [click to continue…]

Dianthus knappiiHairy garden pink is a short-lived herbaceous perennial native to eastern Europe where it grows in grassy places and scrub. It belongs to the carnation family that includes baby’s breath, soapwort, and Lychnis. Wiry upright stems carry sparse distributed gray-green leaves ¼ inch wide and two to three inches long. The light yellow flowers appear in summer and persist for four to six weeks. They are toothed, ¾ inch wide, lack fragrance, and are produced in clusters of four to ten. They never put on a significant display and are best used in informal and cottage gardens. [click to continue…]

Botanical Latin: Crispus

CRISP us: from the Latin crispus meaning wavy or curly

Rumex crispus 4Crispus is a specific or varietal epithet usually used for plants that have leaves with wavy or curly edges but can also be used for plants with curly leaves. In addition, it is applied to a small red alga (Chondrus crispus), and to curly thistle (Carduus crispus) that has curly hairs on its leaves. [click to continue…]

Populus-grandidentataBig tooth aspen is a deciduous tree native to eastern North America from Newfoundland and Manitoba, south to Virginia, Kentucky, and Iowa where it grows in open woods, edges of clearings and other disturbed sites. It is a member of the willow family, Salicaceae, that also includes poplars, aspen, and cottonwoods. The trees may be single stemmed or clump-forming and have smooth, beige to green bark that becomes gray and deeply furrowed with maturity. The oval to egg-shaped leaves are two to four inches long and 1 ¾ to 3 ½ inches wide, and are dark green until turning yellow in the fall. They have sinuate dentate margins , white woolly hair on both surfaces when young, and long flattened petioles that enable them to tremble in the wind. Catkins hang from leaf axils of 1 year old branch twigs and carry male or female flowers on separate trees in spring. The male flowers are 3 ½” long and have red stamens while the female flowers are 1 ¼ “-3” long, have red stigmas, and produce rounded fruit with cottony seeds. Bigtoothed aspen is fast growing, short lived, and tolerant of a wide range of soils but intolerant of shade. They are pioneer species on disturbed sites and are useful as specimens trees, shade trees, patio trees, screen, or windbreaks. The generic name Populus is the Latin name for the tree. The specific epithet grandidentata comes from the Latin words grandis meaning large, and dens, meaning tooth, referring to the coarsely toothed margins of the leaves. [click to continue…]

Chinese tallow tree is a deciduous tree growing up to 40’ tall and native to China and Japan. It was introduced in the 1700s as an ornamental valued for its shade and fall coloration, and to be cultivated for seed oil but has become invasive throughout southeastern US to Texas, and is a Red Alert pest in California. Growing especially well in open fields and abandoned farmland, roadsides, vacant lots, natural wet prairies, and bottomlands, Chinese tallow tree replaces native vegetation. It’s high reproductive capacity, vigor, lack of natural enemies, and resistance to control attempts, contribute to its success. USDA Hardiness zones 8-10. [click to continue…]

Aster sedifoliusRhone asters are herbaceous perennials native to southern Europe. They belong to the Asteraceae family that also includes daisies, sunflowrs, and lettuce. The multi-stemmed plants have a bushy habit with small elongated leaves that are hairy, rough, and entire. The flowerheads are produced from late summer to fall and are carried in terminal corymbs of thirty to forty. Each starry flowerhead is 1-1 ¾ inches across and consists of five to ten lavender-blue to pinkish-lilac ray flowers widely spaced around a protruding center of yellow disc flowers. Although the individual flowerheads are not outstanding together to create an impressive look on the plant and attract butterflies. A good choice for a butterfly garden or border. The species is rarely seen because the cultivar ‘Nanus’ is more popular because of its small compact size. The genus name Aster comes from the Latin word aster meaning star referring to the shape of the flowerheads.

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Book Review: Pure Food

Pure FoodMotivated by a desire to find healthy organic snacks for her children, author Veronica Bosgraaf decided to create her own and started on a journey to make her cooking and living more healthful. A result of this is her book, Pure Food, which features recipes that are simple and wholesome, and use real, seasonal foods rather than processed ones. Most of the recipes are vegetarian but many are vegan and gluten-free too. In addition to recipes, Bosgraaf, provided many tips on ways to enhance healthy living. [click to continue…]