So sorry !  Due to an erroneous handling I lost a number of messages and requests for advice.  Please forgive my mistake.  Should you feel the need to contact me again, please do not hesitate.

Promising to be more careful,

Willem Van Cotthem

Butterflies in your garden



GREEN THUMBS UP: Create a garden for butterflies


Throughout my landscape, multicolored butterflies float from flower to flower, adding a magical touch to my summer gardens. Despite the ongoing drought, continued warmth and sunshine have produced a profusion of “fluttering flowers”, as Robert Frost described these ethereal creatures. As the summer progresses, a broad diversity of butterflies can be enticed to visit our gardens if their basic needs of food, water, shelter, and reproductive areas are provided.

Last summer, butterfly sightings were few and far between, due to the previous challenging winter, but the recent resurgence of multiple species is offering hope that their populations will soon recover. Perhaps the most encouraging sign was the appearance of two Monarch butterflies in my yard this month, several weeks apart. I had only seen a total of two in my gardens in the past three years.

A diversity of butterflies can be enticed to visit our gardens if their basic needs of food, water, shelter and reproductive areas are provided. An ideal habitat for butterflies should include a multi-layered landscape with a variety of nectar-rich flowers in sunny open spaces bordered by small trees and shrubs, hedgerows, or thickets that will offer shelter from bad weather and predators as well as nooks for over-wintering butterflies in the caterpillar, pupal, or adult stages.

A water source is also essential and may be provided by water gardens, birdbaths, or practically any shallow container that holds water. You can create your own butterfly bath by sinking a plastic dish or liner into the ground. Fill it with crushed stone or sand and add water. Place a few small stones or sticks on the surface to serve as landing platforms.

A progression and variety of nectar-rich flowers will ensure many winged visitors. Mass plantings of colorful flowers, particularly those tinted pink and lavender, are irresistible to butterflies passing overhead. Daisy-like flowers invite numerous butterfly species, their petals providing platforms from which to sip the nectar found in the myriad of tiny flowers forming the central disk. Cosmos, Shasta daisy, coreopsis, aster, stokesia, zinnia, scabiosa, black-eyed Susan, and echinacea are only a few of the plants that can be grown. Flowers that grow in clusters at various heights are equally desirable: azaleas, lilacs, lantana, numerous herbs, Joe-Pye-weed, beebalm, phlox, sedum, pentas, and liatris invite a diversity of butterfly species.

As one would expect, plants bearing the common names of butterfly weed (Asclepias tuberosa) and butterfly bush (Buddleia) are deserving of these designations as butterfly magnets. The brilliant orange butterfly weed performs best in well-drained soils while its relative, swamp milkweed (A. incarnata) adapts to nearly all soils, with appealing umbels in pink or white. Members of the milkweed family have the added benefit of serving as larval food sources for Monarch butterflies.

Read the full story: Wicked Local


Sounds a lot like “green roofs” and “container gardening”


Michelle Simakis

Ken Blaze


Old practices, new technology

Industry expert and author Ernest Wertheim, who probably needs no introduction here, once told me to be wary when people call something a trend. Plants, décor, gardening methods and retail strategies go in and out of popularity, and there are very few truly new things introduced. “Trends” are often just different takes on what’s been done before.

I thought about his advice when reflecting on the articles throughout this issue. Jolene Hansen, a frequent contributor to this magazine, spoke to one garden center for her article, “Creative community connections,” that is using messaging from the Victory Gardens of WWII in its marketing. You can read more about how the IGC tied this in on page 76, but it prompted me to investigate Victory Gardens a bit more. The U.S. government asked citizens to build these gardens during both WWI and WWII to help the war effort and prevent a food shortage. They suggested easy-to-grow plants like Swiss chard to promote successful harvests. At that time, more people were living in cities. According to The National WWII Museum website, that meant that people grew whatever they could wherever they could — apartment dwellers planted edibles in window boxes and residents of buildings all took care of produce gardens they grew on rooftops together. Herb and vegetable gardens were planted in public parks, as well.

Sounds a lot like “green roofs” and “container gardening” to me.

Read the full story : Garden Center

The Solar-powered Edyn Garden Sensor and Water Valve


Photo credit: Food Tank

Solar-powered Edyn Garden Sensor and Water Valve use Wi-Fi to constantly monitor small changes occurring in a garden’s ecosystem to provide gardeners with guidance tailored to their particular land and plants.

The Wireless Garden of Edyn: Changing How Gardeners Grow Food

The Edyn Garden Sensor is a wireless, solar-powered device that uses the Internet to track changes in soil and the environment around farms. Then, the sensor sends information to farmers about light, temperature, soil nutrition, and other information regarding her/his farm via an app. As a result, farmers know more about what their crops need.

Edyn, formerly known as Soil IQ, was founded in 2013 by soil scientist Jason Aramburu with the vision of changing the way people with small gardens or farms grow food.

Aramburu explains the impetus behind the venture at a TechCrunch Disrupt meet in San Francisco in 2013: “The reality in this country, and much of the world, is that most of our food is produced on [factory farms]. These farms are great for producing corn, soybeans, grains, but not so good for producing healthy food. [They are] also bad for the environment.”

The Edyn team of scientists, technologists, and designers has since set out to develop a user-friendly smart gardening system which may make it easier for even the most inexperienced gardeners to grow their own nutritious and organic food.

Once planted into a garden’s soil and connected to Wi-Fi, the Edyn Garden Sensor measures conditions like humidity, temperature, moisture, soil nutrition, pH, and light in that garden on a continuous basis. This collected data is cross-referenced with existing plant databases, soil science, and weather information to provide users with guidance tailored to their specific land and plants. The information is then conveyed to gardeners through the Edyn app allowing gardeners to know more about when their plants need fertilizer, light, and water. Users are not only alerted to current changes, but they can also access historical trends unique to their local environment.

Read the full article: Food Tank

Straw for Mulch


Photo credit: Amber Burst

Using Straw for Mulch in the Garden

by Rachel

If you are starting out in backyard gardening like I am, you may find it difficult to figure out what kinds of materials you need and where to get them.  I know I have.

To this point, all of my raised bed gardens have been bare dirt.  I know this isn’t optimal; I have read up on all the garden blogs that say you desperately need to mulch your gardens for the following reasons:

  • Mulch keeps the soil temperature more even (warmer in winter months and cooler in summer months)
  • Mulch helps retain moisture in the soil
  • Mulch keeps weeds from being able to germinate
  • Mulch adds nutrients back into the soil as it decomposesView 20+ Styles of Raised Garden Beds -

But I was faced with the challenge of what to use for mulch. All of the mulch I see in stores is meant to put around landscaping, not raised vegetable beds.  A search online yielded tons of blog posts singing the praises of grass clippings and dried leaves. But you see, I live in an area that is going through a severe drought.  I don’t have a lawn to be able to use grass clippings.  I don’t have that many trees to be able to use dead leaves.  The trees I do have are Eucalyptus and Peppercorn, neither of which would be good for use in a garden.  So it seems my best, most responsible option is to use straw.

Read the full article: Amber Burst

Tamarillo or tree tomato


Photo credit: Garden Drum

Ripening tamarillos on my tree

How to grow tamarillo or tree tomato

Your daily fruits and vegetables



Get your daily fruits, vegetables with container gardening

By Brenda Anderson01047056cc6a37ff9fc14e156866204c

Four of the 10 leading causes of death in America (heart disease, cancer, stroke and diabetes) are linked to foods eaten. Consuming a diet rich in fruits and vegetables can help to reduce the risk of developing these chronic diseases. One of the best ways to make sure you are getting enough is to grow it yourself so that it is handy and less costly.

If you think that you can’t grow your own fresh, healthy vegetables because you don’t have a yard or because you have mobility issues, think again. Container gardening is the answer. Here is a brief step-by-step guide to getting started on your own container garden:

1. Choose what you would like to grow.

Tomatoes, carrots, beets, kale, peppers, eggplant, green onions, okra, beans, lettuce, squash, radishes and parsley are good container crops, but read each seed packet to see when they should be planted in our area and for other tips about the amount of moisture and light needed for that particular vegetable.

2. Use a potting mix instead of potting soil.

It is free of disease and weed seeds, holds moisture and nutrients, drains well and is lightweight.

3. Decide on a container.

Almost any container will work as long as it can drain out water and is large enough for your plant. Examples of great containers are a milk jug with holes poked through the bottom for drainage, the bag your potting mix came in, an old shoe or a small trash can. If you have mobility issues, you may want to choose a container that is smaller and more portable or buy a plant stand that has wheels on the bottom of it.

4. Plant your seeds or seedlings.

If you purchase seeds, you will have to start them in starter pots or sections of an old egg container (anywhere from about 4-14 days) and then transplant them to your chosen container when the second set of leaves appears. See each seed packet for how deep to plant your seeds. If you choose to start your plants from seedlings, simply place them into your container of potting mix and lightly cover the root area with soil.

5. Sprinkle water your plants two to three times a week at first, then water as needed.

Check the top inch of soil for dryness.

Read the full article: Victoria Advocate


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