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Old 2022-03-10, 15:46   #34
rogue
 
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Personally I'm more into fruiting trees and shrubs. My wife does the gardening. I have had a difficult time getting black mulberry to grow here. I'm in zone 5, so it should survive the winters, but it has never done much. One tree died a couple of years ago, but never grew above 4 feet in height. I have two now. I'll know in May if they survived. White mulberry is invasive, so I won't touch it.

I have also tried high bush blueberries, but they don't like my soil either. I know that both of these like very acidic soil, but the soil here is not that acidic. Even though I've added stuff to bring up the acid level in the soil, that hasn't helped.

Although we have had good luck with red raspberries and thornless blackberries, black raspberries have been a challenge. They are growing along the tree line, but not spreading much. We forage for them in July in public parks.

I would like to plant a black walnut, but my wife is strongly against that because they drop a lot of sap. Fortunately there are many places to pick up black walnuts in fall.
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Old 2022-03-11, 13:46   #35
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Quote:
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<snip>
I would like to plant a black walnut, but my wife is strongly against that because they drop a lot of sap. Fortunately there are many places to pick up black walnuts in fall.
Black walnut trees (Juglans nigra) also drop a lot of black walnuts some years; it seems about every other year. They can practically carpet the ground.

For those not familiar, black walnuts have a very thick green outer hull that makes them about the size of tennis balls, and heavy enough that you do NOT want to park underneath a black walnut tree when the nuts are dropping, because the impact on a car windshield can require its replacement. You also probably don't want to hit fallen black walnuts with a power mower. Stepping on a black walnut can lead to a sprained ankle, which I learned the hard way.

The nuts are edible. Running them over with a car will loosen the outer hulls, exposing the inner hull, which is a little smaller than the familiar English walnut, and - guess what - black. The black dye in black walnuts will stain your skin, and will not wash away. Cracking them without breaking the meats into small pieces is an art.

Black walnut meats do not taste like English walnuts. They have an strong aromatic flavor which I would describe as "banana-like." The most delicious oatmeal cookies I ever ate had pieces of black walnut in them.

Black walnut trees also wage chemical warfare on some kinds of plants. The plant exudes a substance called juglone, which is death to tomato plants, generally not good for plants in the Nightshade family, and also said to kill apple trees.
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Old 2022-03-20, 13:57   #36
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The Spring (Vernal) Equinox will be in a little less than two hours!

I have had Snowdrops and Crocuses blooming. Some of my Crocuses were eaten by rabbits.

Hyacinths have buds. Narcissuses (Narcissi), Tulips up but nowhere near blooming. Some young Tulip shoots were mowed down by rabbits. The tulips are now in an enclosure, and the mowed-down ones are coming back strong. (The tulips were a gift from a neighbor who didn't know what they were because the nearby trees had grown so much they weren't getting enough sun, so they never bloomed. They thought they were Mother-in-law's tongue! Daffodils are blooming in the neighborhood.

Violets are coming up. Peonies are coming up.

Hyacinth, Daffodil, and Narcissus are all fairly toxic, so rabbits won't eat them. One of my hyacinths got nibbled a little bit last year, and also last year the rabbits snipped a bunch of leaves of my neighbor's Daffodils. Clean cuts at about a 45 degree angle, leaves left in a pile.

In the weed department, Dandelions are up. Multiple varieties of Chickweed; Creeping Charlie; and Mock Strawberry are growing well. Some weedy mustards are up. Can't identify them for sure yet. Shepherd's Purse and some kind of Peppergrass are endemic. I have found Creeping Veronica and Whitlow Grass (a very small weedy mustard) in bloom.

EDIT: I forgot to mention, on Wednesday I saw a butterfly for the first time this year - an Eastern Comma (Polygonia comma).

Last fiddled with by Dr Sardonicus on 2022-03-20 at 14:10 Reason: fignix topsy and as indicated
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Old 2022-05-22, 13:51   #37
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After mainly cloudy, dreary, chilly weather more like late Winter than early to mid-Spring lasting through the first week of May, we went straight to Summer - temperatures in the upper 80's to over 90 F (low 30's C).

Plants grew explosively. Including, of course, weeds. But during the hot weather it stayed fairly dry. I was having to water newly planted seeds and seedlings. Plant growth slowed. Except for my Irises, which were forced by the hot weather - they bloomed and most if them faded very quickly.

But Friday night through yesterday we got a good soaking rain, and the thirsty plants perked right up and are growing like crazy. It's going to be cool in the next several days, with more rain during the week.

In my back yard, the two Common Milkweed plants I had bought and the few I had transplanted from my front yard to my back yard a couple of years ago have become three sizable colonies, which may soon merge. I should see plenty of Monarch butterflies this year!

It is because of Common Milkweed's spreading habit that I have to eliminate the colony that formed from the single plant I put in my front yard 3 years ago. I did have a taker for some. There's no way I can dig it all out, so I am simply poisoning new shoots as I find them.

I planted some of ornamentals from seeds I saved last year - two varieties of Cosmos, and Flowering Tobacco. Some of the Cosmos I grew last year dropped seeds, so I have volunteer Cosmos also. I also have volunteer poppies, Calendula, Moss Roses, and Trailing Petunias. I put in some already-started Zinnias and Cosmos too.

My peppers are in and starting to grow well. I am expanding my herb garden. I have put in some more prairie plants.

My Prairie Columbine is blooming, and the hummingbirds are feeding on it.

My perennial Western wildflowers have buds, almost a month earlier than usual.

My peony is blooming, a week earlier than usual.

My sunflower patch on the verge (between the sidewalk and the street) is doing well.
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Old 2022-05-23, 11:53   #38
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Do you have cosmos caudatus by chance? We have troubles here to get seeds from them because they bloom so late in the year. But having it as a salad is great!
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Old 2022-05-23, 12:34   #39
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Quote:
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Do you have cosmos caudatus by chance? We have troubles here to get seeds from them because they bloom so late in the year. But having it as a salad is great!
Cosmos caudatus? Never heard of it. <google google>

Hmm. I may have had one - and purely by chance - last year. I had Diablo, Bright Lights, Picotee and Sensation Cosmos. But there was this one Cosmos plant that just kept getting bigger, growing more and more foliage, and no hint of a flower bud. It was almost like a small shrub. I finally had to yank it because it got so big it was getting in my way.

There was an identical specimen among some extra Cosmos that got put in a neighbor's yard, along with some other annuals, to fill in the patch where a street tree had been removed the year before, and the stump ground out. Long after I'd yanked the one from my garden - well into Fall IIRC - that bushy Cosmos finally bloomed. The flowers weren't very big. I don't even remember what color they were.

I would say that Cosmos caudatus is a likely suspect. Perhaps some of its seeds got into the packets of other varieties of Cosmos by mistake.
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Old 2022-06-01, 12:49   #40
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My Columbines and Irises are nearly done. Some of my volunteer Picatee Cosmos and trailing Petunias are blooming. My Penstemons are open. My Common Milkweed (Asclepias syriaca) and Butterfly Weed (Asclepias tuberosa) have buds that are showing color. My Mexican Hats and Gaillardias (Western wildflowers) are starting to open.

My other ornamentals (Sunflowers, Zinnias, orange Cosmos, Poppies, Marigolds) are growing well. I have seeding Flowering Tobacco (Nicotiana pennsylvanica) where my initial front-yard Common Milkweed was. I have had to eliminate Common Milkweed from my front yard because it spreads uncontrollably. I now have plenty in my back yard, though!

Also in my back yard, my Wild Quinine (Parthenium integrifolium) is blooming. My other prairie plants are doing well, but don't bloom until later. I have added Cardinal Flower (Lobelia cardinalis), Tall Bellflower (Campanula americana, AKA Campanulastris americana), Lance-leaf Coreopsis (Coreopsis lanceolata) and more Missouri Ironweed to supplement my established specimen. My Coreopsis came with buds already formed, and started blooming when I put them in. The flower stalks on one of them were snipped off by rabbits, which left the stalks lying on the ground. The other new additions may not bloom until next year.

My False Sunflower (Heliopsis helianthoides) has done well since I planted it two years ago. It bloomed its first year. It has since been spreading. In honor of its vigorous growth, I massacred the genus name and dubbed it "Heliopolis." It has buds.

But this year, it has come under attack by a heavy infestation of red aphids. I am using a spray bottle of water with a dash of liquid soap to kill them. A lot died and turned black after my first application, but there were more than enough survivors to justify a second application.

For those not familiar, aphids (sometimes called "plant lice") are very small, soft-bodied insects which suck the sap out of plants. They often go for tender areas of new growth. Heavy infestations can wilt, permanently deform, or kill the affected parts. Aphids sometimes also transmit pathogens like viruses.

Aphid infestations increase explosively when females reproduce asexually by parthenogenesis, giving birth to live young. The affected areas quickly become completely encrusted with aphids.

Meanwhile, there is a different kind of aphid attacking my established Missouri Ironweed (Vernonia missurica). Unlike the aphids on my False Sunflower, these are being "farmed" by ants. The ants use a sugary liquid called "honeydew," excreted by the aphids, as food. The soap spray seems to be reducing this infestation rapidly.

Honeydew can accumulate on plant surfaces, providing a medium of growth for "sooty mold." This is commonly seen on trees due to infestations of scale insects.

Last fiddled with by Dr Sardonicus on 2022-06-01 at 12:55 Reason: xinfig topsy
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Old 2022-06-01, 15:57   #41
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We've had good results using ladybugs on our aphid-infested milkweed that we grow for Monarch butterflies. The ladybugs suck the internal fluids out of the aphids.
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Old 2022-06-02, 04:49   #42
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We've had good results using ladybugs on our aphid-infested milkweed that we grow for Monarch butterflies. The ladybugs suck the internal fluids out of the aphids.
In my experience, the yellow-orange Oleander Aphid (Aphis nerii) is the one that attacks Common Milkweed (Asclepias syriaca).

From Bugguide, Aphis nerii - Oleander Aphid

Quote:
Larvae of lacewings and lady beetles that feed on Aphis nerii may have developmental problems during pupation, and either emerge with deformities (especially of the wings), or fail to emerge at all.
So I'm leery of using predatory insects on these imported pests.

Luckily, they haven't attacked my Common Milkweed this year - at least not yet. I don't want to harm any Monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippius) caterpillars that may be feeding on the leaves! Soap water might harm them. So if the dreaded Oleander Aphid attacks, I may simply clip off infested portions, or use alcohol-soaked swabs.

Ladybugs, being beetles, have chewing mouth parts. They simply eat aphids. Their larvae, which look like miniature lizards, really chow down on them. Lacewing larvae, AKA "aphid lions," also eat aphids.

BTW, if you happen to have Tropical Milkweed (Asclepias curassavica), get rid of it! It harbors a protozoan parasite (Ophryocystis elektroscirrha) of the Monarch butterfly. Replant with Common Milkweed (Asclepias syriaca) or Butterfly Weed (Asclepias tuberosa) which is a better garden plant than Common Milkweed, since it doesn't spread uncontrollably, and is not terribly tall.

Last fiddled with by Dr Sardonicus on 2022-06-02 at 04:51
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Old 2022-06-03, 04:03   #43
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No tropical milkweed here! We adopted about a half-dozen Monarch caterpillars last year when they completely denuded our friends' milkweed. We couldn't let them starve to death!
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Old 2022-08-08, 13:32   #44
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After a very dry late Spring and early Summer, a lot of my plants were stunted and struggling. But we got a much-needed soaking rain the second week of July, and recently got another good soaking. My plants are now quite happy, though generally much shorter than last year. My Diablo and Bright Lights Cosmos (light yellow-orange to dark orange) which I planted from seeds I gathered last year, have done very well.

My sunflower patch out by the street did quite well. A couple of the tall ones are in full bloom, but most of the patch has gone to seed.

My Common Milkweed and Butterfly Weed did spectacularly well, but alas there have been very few Monarchs in the area this year - in fact, very few butterflies of most common species. A lot of people have noticed this. I did see one female Monarch laying eggs on my Common Milkweed, but did not see any subsequent signs of caterpillar damage on the plants.

My war against my sister's unwanted trumpet creepers is continuing. It had become clear by last fall that my tactics as described in this post were insufficient. Herbicides stronger than glyphosate (Roundup) or concentrated brush killer (triclopyr 8.8%) are not an option, due to the proximity of desirable plants. I decided I had to dig more and deeper than I had been digging. And I have been much more vigilant about monitoring for new shoots. If I spot one, and know I won't be able to dig it out soon, I cut it to a short stub and poison the stub. This prevents the plant from regaining strength. But that merely holds it in check. It would take decades for that approach to exhaust the huge underground reserves this plant possesses.

I decided that, in order to destroy the enemy in a reasonable length of time, I had to apply an advanced mathematical technique - extraction of roots! Since I can't use stronger poisons or heavy equipment, this means, in some cases, digging out desirable plants temporarily so I can engage the enemy. In particular, I have lifted out goodly sections of iris beds after they were done blooming.

I have also adopted superior weapons and equipment. Garden gloves have been supplanted by work gloves made of stretchy fabric with the palms coated with a rubbery coating. Much more durable when used to grab and pull loose dirt out of a hole, and also much cheaper than garden gloves. The trowel has been replaced by a drain spade. The five gallon bucket to hold the dirt I dig out, has given way to an 18-gallon tote.

This year, I have more than once as I pursued the enemy, encountered the plastic I had wrapped around the roots last year. I hadn't gone nearly deep enough.

This year, I am either going as deep as the roots go, or until they become horizontal underground runners, or as deep as I can dig, which is as far down as my arm can reach to pull out the dirt I have loosened with the shovel or the asparagus picker, which is ideal for careful digging in tight quarters. I also carefully remove and set aside any fragments of root I accidently chop off.

Whatever root stubs I have to leave in the ground get thoroughly slathered with Roundup Super Concentrate (50% glyphosate) which is like a syrup and sticks well, and wrapped in plastic before I refill the hole.

During the hot summer weather I have only been able to work in the morning. Most digs produce right circular cylindrical holes about 9 inches in diameter, going straight down 2 feet, sometimes more. Some of my digs have uncovered what look like snakes' nests of roots looking like large intestines extending in multiple directions. Some digs have taken 2 days. One of those resulted in my removing 8 feet of rootstock. Another dig took took 3 days, and required extra buckets to hold the dirt. There were several large roots going straight down, and they were all connected. That might have been the "mother plant." I was told that that spot had once been a hibernaculum. I said it looked like one again. But not any more!

A lot of what I have read about trumpet creepers understates their resilience. The usual figure is that they can send up new shoots from up to 9 inches underground. My initial method, cutting to short stumps and poisoning the stumps, killed the root that far down. It was nowhere near enough. I have routinely encountered new shoots coming up from twice that deep (18 inches down). My record so far is a shoot that was starting upward from 26 inches down. That was from a 30-inch section of root that went straight down from a point underground where my previous efforts had damaged it, and was still going down when I ran out of arm. And I had trenched out from the edge of the hole so I could reach further down.

There have been a few butterfly species that have shown up in respectable numbers. These include some of the very small blue butterflies.

And one of these provided a bit of interest after my arduous toil digging out trumpet creeper roots the morning of August 7. After clipping out a 3-pronged root at arm's length deep, poisoning the remaining stubs, covering them with plastic, and starting to toss the loose dirt into the hole, a tiny blue butterfly landed on the back of my left work glove. (I have tentatively identified it as a male Eastern Tailed Blue, Cupido comyntas FKA Everes comyntas.) It took out its proboscis and put it on the fabric, which was very dirty and thoroughly soaked in sweat. (This type of feeding is called "puddling.")

It stayed there, intermittently sipping, and sometimes rubbing its hind wings back and forth. It stayed put as I used that hand to gab dirt from the tote and toss it into the hole. It stayed put as I took the handle of the shovel in both hands, and used the grip to tamp down the dirt in the hole before tossing in more. I did this several times.

When the hole was all filled in, and the tote was empty, the butterfly was still there. I went to my sister's door to show her. She got her phone and got some pictures.

The butterfly took off but stayed close. I took off the work gloves. The butterfly landed on my bare hand! It walked, bobbed its antennae down and back up, and drank my sweat. It stayed around, taking off and landing on my hand again a few times. Then it went over to my sister for a visit, and finally flew away.
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