Unlocking the secrets of healthy soil

MSU Extension:

Understanding healthy soil biology is quickly becoming the “next frontier” for science exploration. Michigan State University professor of nematology George Bird reminds us that “Like the oxygen we breathe, no life can exist without soil.” Similarly, soil cannot function without life.

While soil scientists have long understood the physical and chemical properties of the ground we garden in, new research is unlocking secrets of the “living component” of soils that make them able to regenerate and function as a living ecosystem. So, what does this mean? Do we need a bunch of earthworms sliding around to make our soils healthy?

According to Bird, a large percentage of the living component is microscopic, not visible to the naked eye. Like magic, organisms such as bacteria, fungi, nematodes, flagellates and actinomycetes work in harmony with one another to release, or mineralize, nutrients and make them available to plant roots. Often these very organisms become the “gatekeeper” of essential elements to enter plant roots. What Bird describes as “gardener’s friends,” these diminutive creatures work in tandem with plant roots and each other, allowing the soil to respond to management practices in a predictable manner and preventing soil degradation.

Read the full article…

Designer edibles allow gardeners to grow for taste and good looks

The nearly translucent Glass Gem Corn looks more like a work of art than a vegetable. (Photo: Greg Schoen/Native Seeds)

The nearly translucent Glass Gem Corn looks more like a work of art than a vegetable.
(Photo: Greg Schoen/Native Seeds)

 

The Salt at NPR:

To the home gardener who says “been there, done that” to the heirloom green bean, the French breakfast radish or the Brandywine tomato, take heart.

Nurseries and seed companies are competing to bring you the most colorful and flavorful designer edibles they can come up with. They travel the world looking for the next in-vogue plant for the home horticulturist. Every few years they introduce these new chic varieties in their catalogs and websites.

Alice Doyle, a founder of Log House Plants, a wholesale nursery for classic and unusual plants, says some of her customers are like wine connoisseurs who are always seeking the next best thing.

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Jamie Durie brings his high-energy gardening style to Michigan

durie-may-14Wojo’s Greenhouse in Ortonville, Michigan is celebrating spring with a special guest appearance by Jamie Durie on Sunday, May 4, 2:00 p.m. at Wojo’s Greenhouse (2570 Oakwood Road Ortonville, MI 48462).

At Jamie’s high-energy presentation, he shares his international award-winning design philosophy with everyone from budding gardeners to new homeowners to the seasoned gardener. Using hand-picked and proven plants, he will show you how to create a garden oasis out of any space.

Durie was a regular on the Oprah Winfrey show for 3 years and credits Ms. Winfrey with his introduction to America. He has designed international resorts and took home the prestigious Gold Medal Award at the 2008 Chelsea Flower Show. The author of 9 books, he will be available for complimentary autographs of his latest book, “Edible Garden Design,” where he inspires new ideas to help make your garden look as good as it tastes.

The event includes a presentation and book signing. Admission: $20, which includes a $10 Wojo’s gift card. Space is limited. Please call 248-627-6498 to register or click here.

Bitter cold winter has caused frost cracks to develop in trees

A popular topic these days is our record challenging winter here in Michigan. Many of you may have noticed the cracks that have developed on certain trees like sycamores and London planes as a result of the recent frigid temperatures. We recently read about Evanston, IL where the city removed over 60 trees that it felt had become hazardous as a result of cracking. Bob Bricault from the MSU Extension recently wrote on the topic:

Subzero weather is hardly anyone’s favorite time to look for problems in the landscape. Often we do not see damage that happens over winter until spring. Below zero temperatures can create some unique problems for landscape plants. One such problem, frost cracks, can permanently damage trees. Very low temperatures in Michigan this winter have left some trees with vertical cracks. These longitudinal openings referred to as frost cracks can extend deep into the wood of the tree. Certain trees tend to be more prone to this disorder. Most commonly it is seen in sycamores, but it also occurs in maples, apples, cherries, horse chestnuts, lindens, walnuts and willows.

Read the rest of the story here…

Great Dixter’s Fergus Garrett comes to Metro Detroit

Fergus Garrett, the Head Gardener at the England’s world-famous Great Dixter, presents “Designing with Plants” on Thursday, March 20, at 6:30 p.m. at Goldner Walsh Garden & Home in Pontiac, MI.

Great Dixter was the family home of gardener and gardening writer Christopher Lloyd. Now under the stewardship of Fergus Garrett, Great Dixter is a place of pilgrimage for horticulturalists from across the world. Great Dixter’s gardens are as vital and inspiring as ever. They flourish under the guidance of Fergus as he continues in Christopher Lloyd’s spirit of challenge and creativity. His presentation will feature breathtaking images of these well-known and well-loved gardens. He will illustrate the professional techniques he uses to ensure the success of this magnificent garden, and will share some of his best methods that we can employ here in Michigan.

The lecture is $30 per person. Space is limited; call 248-332-6430 to register. Book signing to follow.