Students grow more than just plants in school gardens

NPR’s The Salt:

School is still out for the summer, but at Eastern Senior High School in Washington, D.C., students are hard at work — outdoors.

In a garden filled with flowers and beds bursting with vegetables and herbs, nearly a dozen teenagers are harvesting vegetables for the weekend’s farmers market.

Roshawn Little is going into her junior year at Eastern, and has been working in this garden for three years now. “I didn’t really like bugs or dirt,” Little says, thinking back to when she got started. “Well, I still don’t really like bugs, but I like the dirt,” she laughs. She gathers a handful of greens, yanks from the stem and pulls up a baseball-sized beet.

During the summer, Little gets paid to work Tuesday through Saturday from 9 a.m. until 2 p.m. with City Blossoms, a nonprofit that brings community gardens to schools, community centers and other places where kids gather in urban areas.

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Hogweed that can blind humans found in Michigan

The Batlle Creek Enquirer:

The Calhoun County Public Health Department has found the dangerous giant hogweed plant in the county and is asking residents to be cautious.

According to a Monday news release from health officials, the plant was found in Pennfield Township. The plant was completely removed and the site will be monitored by township and county officials for several years.

Hogweed is dangerous because the sap on the leaves, roots, flower heads, seeds and stem hairs can cause blistering and scars if they touch bare skin. Sap can also cause permanent blindness if it gets in the eyes.

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Eliminating snow-on-the-mountain from the garden

Snow-on-the-mountain (Aegopodium podagraria) was introduced in English gardens during the Middle Ages by the Romans, and was used as an herb. Due to its vigor, it escaped to the wild where it made itself at home on the edge of woodlands and in waste places. Historically it has been used medicinally as a treatment for gout, bee stings, burns, wounds, etc. In his book The Herbal, John Gerard made this comment in 1633: “… it groweth of it selfe in gardens without setting or sowing, and is so fruitful in his increase, that where it once hath taken root, it will be hardly got out againe, spoiling and getting every year more ground, to the annoying of better herbs.” (Nearly 400 years later, we are still battling this plant!)

A few people love it as a groundcover, but most people have grown to thoroughly dislike it, to say the least. It can take over a garden so aggressively that some people even consider bulldozing the entire garden. It spreads like wildfire, by rhizomes and by seed. Under the right conditions, 3 little starter plants can spread 30 feet in two years! This is a serious pest for any climate that gets regular rainfall or moisture. It smothers other plants up to 12 inches tall. Roots break off (especially in hard, packed soil) and sprout, even a year or more later.

There are several ways to try to get rid of it. In loose soil, you can pull/sift it out of the soil by hand, with lots coming back from parts you missed. Even the smallest piece of root left behind will start a new patch. You can try multiple applications of Roundup: spray, wait until new growth starts, then spray again. You’ll have to repeat this process multiple times, for several years. You can also try a combination of Roundup and covering the area with black plastic or carpet. You would have to leave that on for 2 years at least, and still monitor for any shoots coming up. A possible biological control: groundhogs. They love it. They, however, have their own downsides in the garden.

How to identify and manage caterpillar pests of the cabbage family

Michgan State University Extension:

During this time of year in many backyard vegetable gardens, members of the cabbage family are growing vigorously, but their leaves are beginning to take on the appearance of lace. Several caterpillar pests find cabbage, Brussels sprouts, kale, collards, broccoli, cauliflower and related cole crops very appealing.

Identifying caterpillar pests

One of the most common caterpillar pests of the cabbage family is the cabbage butterfly. Cabbageworms are the larvae of cabbage butterflies, a species with white wings that have black margins and black spots. They can be seen fluttering around vegetable gardens where they stop to lay eggs. In three to five days, the eggs hatch into velvety, pale green caterpillars. After feeding for two to three weeks, larvae are full grown and pupate. Younger larvae chew holes in the foliage, leaving the veins behind. Older larvae may keep feeding on leaves or tunnel into heads. There can be four to five generations per year. They overwinter as pupae near their host plants.

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Television personality Jamie Durie comes to Metro Detroit


Jamie Durie

On Saturday, July 25 from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m., award-winning landscape designer Jamie Durie is appearing at the English Gardens store in Royal Oak, Michigan (4901 Coolidge Highway). Durie will share tips on creating a beautiful outdoor living space, answer questions and sign two of his books: “Edible Garden Designs” and “The Outdoor Room,” available for purchase. The event is free and open to the public. Space is limited. Register in-store or online at to reserve your seat.

An exclusive event will be held on Friday, July 24 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. for English Gardens Garden Club members. Customers can sign up for the Garden Club in-store or online to attend the exclusive event.

The author of ten best-selling books, Jamie Durie has hosted over 50 prime time design television shows, airing in over 30 countries. Durie was introduced to America by Oprah Winfrey in 2006 and since then has starred in “The Outdoor Room” on HGTV, hosted “The Victory Garden” (the longest-running gardening program on PBS), and won numerous awards for his television work. Today, he continues to work on design TV projects with the A&E Network on the FYI channel.