Bearded Iris Care Guide

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Iris germanica

Native to Central and Southern Europe

Native soil conditions: Bearded irises are tolerant to most soil pHs, but thrive in soils with a slightly acidic pH of approximately 6.8. Well-drained soils are preferred for bearded irises or heavy soils with humus added to improve drainage. 

Native light conditions: Bearded irises need at least six to eight hours of direct sunlight. They will not flower if grown in shady areas. 

Native rainfall: The native range of the iris includes areas that may be subject to drought, but do not get extensive rainfall. Therefore, the bearded iris is drought resistant and does not require heavy watering. When they first begin to grow, bearded irises require at least 1 inch of water weekly. 

Groundwater quality parameters: It can be hypothesized from the soil and moisture requirements of the bearded iris that groundwater quality is not affected much by this plant. It requires well-drained soil, which means that the groundwater will be filtered quickly by the soil. There will be more groundwater in the table of this soil than water retained in the soil for plant use. 

Unique nutrient requirements: Bearded irises do not have any really unique nutrient requirements, but they can be negatively affected by excess nutrients, especially in the rhizome stage. Soil high in nitrogen can encourage rhizome rot which can be detrimental to the forming plant. 

  • Drainage, sunlight, acidic
  • High nitrogen that causes rhizome rot
  • Poorly drained soil that inhibits plant growth
  • I would like to learn what nutrients this plant would require in a fertilizer to maximize its success.

Sources: 

Featured Plants – Bearded Iris. (2013, April 17). Retrieved from https://extension.umd.edu/learn/featured-plants-bearded-iris

Growing Irises. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.almanac.com/plant/irises#
Morris, J. (2011). How to Plant and Grow Bearded Iris. Retrieved from https://www.irises.org/About_Irises/Cultural%20Information/Grow_Bearded.html

Shasta Daisy Care Guide

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Brief Overview

Leucanthemum x superbum, commonly known as the shasta daisy, is a perennial flowering plant mainly used in outdoor landscaping. This simple, but beautiful plant requires full sun exposure and their growing season begins in early summer and ends in early fall. The shasta daisy is a quadruple hybrid from the oxeye daisy (Leucanthemum vulgare), English field daisy (Leucanthemum maximum), Portuguese field daisy (Leucanthemum lacustre), and the Japanese field daisy (Nipponanthemum nipponicum). Because of this, the shasta daisy can use sexual reproduction to reproduce. This means that you can plant shasta daisy seeds and the hybrid will be produced. 

Requirements

To successfully sow shasta daisy seeds, you need to take the following into consideration before the planting process begins: 

  • Shasta daisies require full sunlight. Therefore, you should choose a planting spot where full sunlight is available during the day. 
  • Shasta daisies grow best in well-drained medium. If you are planting directly into the ground a loamy soil will work well. Growing in a clayey environment will not be beneficial for the plant. 
  • Shasta daisies require moderate fertilization. You do not need to add much fertilizer to the medium. 
  • Shasta daisies should be planted in spring or early summer. They can be divided up to late summer. 

The Process of Planting

  • After choosing an adequate location, loosen the soil in the spot you would like to plant the seed. 
  • The seeds should be placed 1/8th inch under the soil and lightly covered. 
  • The area should be kept moist until germination occurs. 
  • Germination should begin within two weeks of planting the seeds. 

Once seeds have sprouted, they can be moved to provide more space for the plants. To successfully move and care for the plants: 

  • The recommended age to move shasta daisies is three years. The plant is fully developed and has flowered. 
  • To move the plant, first, loosen the soil in the desired area. Plants should be planted about one to two feet apart. 
  • Dig into the soil approximately twelve to fifteen inches. 
  • The plant should be placed with the root system level with the soil surface. 
  • Gently fill in the space around the plant. 
  • You should try to divide shasta daisies every three to four years in the correct growing seasons.

Bonsai Basics

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The art of bonsai has been around since it originated in 1700s China and is still widely practiced today. The main purpose of bonsai is to gain a connection between man and nature. By adapting nature to a certain desired aesthetic, you can control what is represented by the plant. It’s a fun and challenging way to show off your creativity. 

Bonsai can be made from any tree, but the key is pruning, trimming, and re-potting. Pruning back the branches and roots are what give the plant a miniature look. There are many different styles of bonsai. For example: 

  • Formal: A single upright trunk that tapers towards the top. 
  • Informal: A single upright trunk with well balanced curves. The top usually bends towards the front. 
  • Semi or full cascade: A single arching or cascading trunk either severely slanting or extending below the container.
  • Group or forest: Usually trees of related species representing a miniature landscape. 
  • Free form: A sparse single upright trunk- straight, slanted, or curved characterized by a simple, tasteful elegance. 

When choosing a plant for bonsai, you will want to make sure it has the following characteristics: a woody plant, tree-like growth habit, strong surface rootage, good trunk taper, proportional foliage, and healthy material. Bonsai can be done both inside and outside as well. Some examples of plants that work well for outdoor bonsai are junipers, maples, azaleas, and pines. For indoor bonsai, you will want to use a plant that cannot be allowed to freeze. For example: figs, citrus, jades, and gardenias. 

In order to have a successful bonsai, you will need to adhere to the needs of the specific plant that you have chosen. The main concern with bonsai is making sure that you do not end up with a root bound tree. Along with pruning, it is very important to re-pot your bonsai to prevent this. 

Practicing the art of bonsai is a fun and rewarding experience that people have enjoyed for hundreds of years. With practice and patience, you can create a look of your very own to represent whatever you please. This hobby is one that can be passed down for generations and generations, with dedication.

For more information on bonsai: https://jcra.ncsu.edu/events/details.php?ID=1250 

The Basics of Raised Bed Gardening

Gardening is a fun, relaxing, and rewarding experience, but it’s not always easy. One of the most difficult parts of gardening is bending over to tend to your plants. Not everyone has the physical ability to do this and it makes gardening for them nearly impossible, but there is a solution to this problem. Raised bed gardening is designed to make growing your own plants possible for everyone. The raised bed elevates the garden to an appropriate height, eliminating the need for anyone to bend over. It is growing in popularity in nursing homes, hospitals, and schools. Raised bed gardening is also a good way to keep pesky burrowing pets out of your garden. With an enclosed bottom, your plants roots stay safe from harm. 

Starting a raised bed garden is easy. You can purchase pre-made beds from specialty companies, purchase a raised bed kit, or make it yourself. The materials to make your own can be purchased at your local hardware store or made from recycled materials. Here are the steps to make a standard wooden raised bed: 

  1. Select a location. Make sure you have enough space to make your garden as large as you would like. You also want to choose a location that is easily accessible to water and has adequate sunlight. When you have decided on your space, position where you would like the box and dig holes for the corner posts. These posts can be a few inches into the soil to make it more permanent or just sit on the surface if you would like for it to be mobile. 
  2. Preparing your wooden posts. You will need four 4”x4” pieces of lumber for your posts. Cut them to the desired height of your bed. Raised beds can be as tall or short as you would like them. Keep in mind when deciding your width, a person’s reach is about 2 feet.
  3. Cut the side walls. You will use 2”x4”, 2”x6”, or 2”x8” boards, depending on what height you would like, to create these walls. Cut these boards for the two long sides, equal to the distance from the far edge of one corner post to the far edge of the other. Cut the short end boards to be equal to the distance between the far edges of the posts, plus the ends of the long side boards.
  4. Screw the boards into place. You will need to screw wood screws through the boards directly into the posts. This will hold all of the sides together and keep all of the soil properly contained. 
  5. Place a cloth barrier. You can use landscape fabric to line the bottom of the bed to prevent pests from entering the garden from underneath. This also prevents soil from leaking from the box. To further your pest control, you may even want to consider netting over your raised bed.
  6. Add soil. Fill the box with your desired soil about two inches from the top. A huge advantage of having a raised bed gardening is having control over the soil your plants are in. It’s also easy to add any amendments you need/want to the soil.
  7. Add plants. Fill your garden with fruits, vegetables, herbs, or any other plant you would like to grow. Have fun with your plants and enjoy watching them grow. Consider using a raised bed to start your fall gardening this year!

Raised bed gardening is a fun and simple project that you can have to enjoy in your very own backyard. From planning the location and materials for your box to choosing and caring for your plants, it’s an exciting and rewarding experience. 

Food Safety Rules You Should Be Following in Your Garden

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Whether you’re growing tomatoes in your backyard or have a ten-acre field of sweet potatoes, food safety should be a concern. When we garden, we don’t often think about the risks associated with paying little attention to food safety. We expect produce purchased from a grocery store or local market to be safely handled and ready for human consumption, so why not have the same standards for your home garden?

Here are a few rules to follow to ensure food safety in your garden:

1. Always wash your hands!

Proper hand-washing is essential for keeping pathogens off of your produce whenever handling the fruits. Gloves can carry pathogens on them, so unless you’re washing your gloves as well as you do your hands, gloves are not a great way to prevent contamination. Using hand sanitizer is also not effective. Unlike hand sanitizer, properly washing your hands with warm water and soap allows for germs to be reached in the groves of your skin. The soap breaks the surface tension of the water and the friction you create from scrubbing removes grime. Here a quick refresher of proper hand-washing procedure:

  1. Wet your hands with warm, clean water
  2. Apply soap to hands and lather by rubbing them together
  3. Scrub your hands all over for 30 seconds (sing the Happy Birthday song twice)
  4. Don’t forget the backs of your hands, fingertips, and fingernails
  5. Rinse your hands
  6. Dry hands with paper towel (this is more sanitary than a dish towel or air dryer)
  7. Turn off faucet with the paper towel

For more information on hand washing: https://www.cdc.gov/handwashing/when-how-handwashing.html

2. Keep animals out of the garden.

We love our pets, but our gardens are no place for animals. Pets and wildlife have the potential to spread pathogens to produce very easily through saliva and feces. Here are a few ways to help keep wildlife from contaminating your garden:

  • Fence in your garden to keep out larger wildlife such as deer
  • Use spray repellents that replicate odors such as coyote urine (can be purchased at garden supply stores)
  • Utilize raised beds for your vegetable plants to keep smaller animals such as rabbits and mice from getting to your plants
  • Cover your garden with fabric, chicken wire, netting, or grow in a hoop house
  • Grow plants that naturally repel animals such as azaleas, boxwood, daffodils, and marigolds

3. Use easy to clean equipment.

When using equipment in your garden, make sure you choose ones that are easy to clean. Stainless steel trowels, shovels, and hoes allow soil to slide off easily and make gardening a lot easier in general. Clean your equipment with household cleaners after use and storage.

4. Avoid contact between plants and your shoes.

Nothing makes me cringe more than seeing a trailer full of beautiful crops with someone standing in the trailer with it. Shoes are probably the least clean clothing item we wear, especially if you’re working in a garden. Once you let your shoes touch your produce, all the germs from everywhere you’ve been with those shoes are now on your food. This is really simple to avoid. Watch where you’re stepping in your garden and please, never stand on top of your crops on purpose.

5. Make sure everyone is aware of your rules.

Your garden, your rules! To make sure your garden is following food safety standards at all times, make sure your visitors are aware of these rules. This could be a good learning opportunity for anyone visiting your garden and ensures your produce is staying as safe as possible.

For more information on food safety: https://www.cdc.gov/foodsafety/communication/steps-healthy-fruits-veggies.html