Archive for Things & Stuff

Walnut tree
Photo by cizauskas
A few years ago I lived in an old victorian house in Ann Arbor, Michigan that had a handful of stately old 100 foot tall Walnut trees (juglans regia). I quickly discovered that there were a number of plants that simply died or started to die as soon as I planted them under that tree – petunias, peonies, roses, impatiens to name just an unfortunate few. I was beginning to think perhaps I was not as good a gardener as I thought myself to be.

After asking around a bit I discovered that walnut trees are considered a gardening challenge because there are a number of plants that simply can not survive under them. This is due to a poisonous substance that leaches from the walnut trees called juglone-I sure would not be eating any veggies or herbs grown near or under a walnut tree( I heard somewhere that it was an ingredient in rat poison many years ago…not sure if that is true or just some kind of urban legend). So if you have hanging plants under a giant and elegant tree that keep dying and you do not know why, try looking up to see if that tree is a walnut tree. If it is then that is one garden problem you can consider solved! Read More→

Originally posted 2009-12-16 16:57:36. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

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How to Grow Avocado

Posted by: CoolGardenThings | Comments (0)

avocado shells and seeds
Photo by bionicteaching
by: Hans Dekker
Fruit gardening and vegetable gardening is a very exciting venture. Growing Avocado’s was one of the challenges I took on as a hobby fruit and vegetable gardener. When you are not an inhabitant of state with a tropical climate you can grow avocado’s in containers.

avocado seed
Photo by silencematters

So, if you’re a fan of the avocado, chances are you already know how to grow avocado plants. Although the avocado tree is a tropical plant that thrives only in zones 9, 10, and 11, many gardeners grow avocado plants indoors, they grow it as a houseplant. Avocado plants are typically started from the seed in the center of the fruit. Many gardeners begin their avocado plants by piercing the seed with toothpicks and then suspending it (pointed end up) over a glass, vase, or jar of water. You can keep the water sweet by adding some charcoal in the bottom of your container. In two to six weeks, if the seed germinates, you should have a young plant, ready to pot. However, not all avocado seeds will germinate in this way. If your seed hasn’t sprouted in six weeks, toss it out and try again. Read More→

Originally posted 2010-01-08 11:09:14. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

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The Zebra Longwing, Beautiful and Unique by Diana Cooper

The Zebra Longwing, also known as the Zebra Heliconian, was declared the official butterfly of my home state Florida in 1996. These beautiful and unique little creatures, actually insects, with long narrow black wings and yellow zebra-like stripes (purposely designed by nature to help avoid and warn off predators) live throughout Florida and are plentiful on my land in the North Central section. You can also find Zebras in warm and damp tropical areas of Texas, Mexico, Central America and South America.

Certain passion vines are the host plant for the Zebra Longwing; it is the only plant the larvae will eat. A corky stemmed passion vine is a favorite of theirs which grows wild in Florida, classified as a weed. Eggs are laid in groups of 5-15 on leaves of the host plant. The larvae will hang in a “J” position waiting to form a chrysalis. In about 10 to 14 days the adult emerges. No time is wasted with this life cycle for an eager male will mate with a female as she is about to emerge from the chrysalis. The Zebra Longwing can go from egg to butterfly in a little over three weeks.

Zebra Longwings live a longer life than most butterflies, up to 6 months compared to a week or two. Experts believe this is because of their diet. Not only do Zebras feed on nectar, they are the only known butterflies to eat pollen which is rich in protein. If denied pollen, their life span is greatly decreased. Zebras feed off of a variety of plants. I noticed my group feeds off many, including the lantana, porterweed, mexican sunflower, powder puff, milkweed and candy corn but the one they seem to enjoy the most is the red penta.

During the daytime hours the Zebras will fly slowly and gracefully, almost as floating, through the air instead of fast and fluttery like other butterflies; however, they can pick up speed when threatened. The Zebra Longwing is less fearful of predators, not only because of their warning colors, but because of their foul taste. Passion vines, consumed by the larvae, contain a toxin that makes adult Zebras poisonous to predators. Once a predator experiences such a taste they will never forget.

Another unusual feature of Zebra Longwings is that adults roost in groups of up to 70 at night. The Zebras on my land will huddle together (about 18-20) on a strand of moss hanging from an oak tree near one of my gardens. Each night they return to the same spot and on cold and gloomy days they will remain there. Although Zebras are commonly in flight all year in South Florida, I have seen a few survive on my land during the cold winter months.

Zebra Longwings are wonderful to have around. If you live in their territory and don’t have the native plants required, just plant some of the above mentioned flowers and in no time you should have your own family of Zebra Longwings.

Diana Cooper specializes in nature and wildlife photography. You can visit her websites at (gallery, articles, links) and (photo cards and gift items of flowers and butterflies).

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Originally posted 2009-01-30 01:16:57. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

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When I had you / Dok sam te imao
Photo by lepiaf.geo (better off slipping into blur)
In November in Michigan it is time to put your garden to sleep for the winter. There are perhaps three different approaches to this and each one has its advantages and disadvantages to consider.

The “tidy clean-up” basically cuts every plant-except woody herbs and shrubs- to with-in an inch of it’s life and removes every ounce of dead plant matter with-in a mile. This method looks very clean. Reminiscent of your living room after the maid service leaves. This technique will ensure that very few diseased leaves are left behind to infect next years plants.It may also help hinder the slug and pest population. The cons of this technique outweigh the pros, because by removing all plant matter you have also removed all the vital nutrients the decomposing plant matter provides. You have also removed the winter protection and that plant matter provides for roots. Which means that you will have to add expensive fertilizers and amendments to your garden to make up for this. More expensive and less healthy for your garden this technique is not the best approach to a healthy garden. Read More→

Originally posted 2009-12-03 15:47:47. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

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Weed Watch Spring 2009

Posted by: CoolGardenThings | Comments (2)

Alright people!  I’m not going to tip-toe around this important garden issue. Spring is coming and it’s time to start planning ahead for the weeds that are coming with it. The invasive ones are my biggest concern. And this spring I want you all to keep an eye out for HORSETAIL (Equisetum arvense).
horse tail weed
The first time you saw Horsetail you may have innocently thought to yourself…Hmmm that looks like an interesting plant. Maybe you even foolishly thought to add it to your garden! Oh such folly! Perhaps you are one of those crazy gardeners like my father who likes to pit invasive against invasive *SIGH*

Well, if that is the case you may now unfortunately have it, and you probably want to get rid of it…LOL!  Good luck with that!  All I can recommend based on asking other gardeners, and from personal experience fighting it in the garden is to:  MULCH it, WEED it and SPRAY it with Round UP.

Why is this plant so difficult to get rid of?  Because it has SPORES people!  We are talking invisible microscopic prehistoric, grows in volcano SPORES.  So I would not ignore it if it appears…Pull it out…Pull it out….Pull it out! Luckily it pulls easily, except you are not going to get the entire root, as it lies like 6 feet underground akin to some kind of alien mother ship…Lurking …

What should you do? It would seem the thing to do is to make your garden less like a volcan0 and more like a jungle.  So fertilize, enrich the soil, mulch, and weed. I have found that you can plant taller plants near it to hide it and try to choke it out. Maybe my father’s method of invasive vs. invasive isn’t so far off the mark-No! Avoid invasives!  Try NATIVE (which sometimes behave a bit invasive if you ask me-which you didn’t)

Well, enough said for the moment. GartenGrl out.

Originally posted 2009-02-04 15:22:03. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

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Author: Jay Ruppel
One of the best additions you can make to your back yard is a fire pit.  People are naturally attracted to fire, and there is a long history going back to the days of bonfireprehistory of people gathering around a fire to exchange stories and enjoy each other’s company.

This concept is being brought forward to today’s culture with the fire pit.  There are a couple of ways that you can accomplish this.  One is to build your own fire pit.  It can be as simple as a hole in the ground, or it can be as dramatic as a large stonework above the ground, complete with natural gas plumbed into it with an elective starter.

Read More→

Originally posted 2009-09-23 14:26:30. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

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Bird Watching Basics

Posted by: CoolGardenThings | Comments (0)

by:Albreht Moy

Bird watching or birding is a very popular hobby that includes the observation and study of birds.Because visual observation of birds is complemented with auditory observation, the term “birding” is more accurate. Birding is the second most popular outdoor activity in America, second only to gardening as the number-one recreation.

For many people bird watching is an opportunity to feel close to nature. They also enjoy the relaxation and peacefulness by watching birds.Some birders,however,will travel long distances just to see a rare bird. These birders are known as twitchers. Twitching is popular in Britain and several other European countries.

Most birders start out by watching and attracting birds to their own back yards.Bird feeding can benefit birds and also provide great bird watching.You can attract a variety of interesting birds to your yard by selecting and offering the right kinds of food. The common types of food offered in bird feeding are seeds,nectar,suet and fruit.Early morning is the best time for bird watching since many birds are then searching most actively for food.

Once you start feeding birds, you’ll probably want to identify who is coming to visit. Equipment used for birding includes binoculars,a blank notebook, and one or more good field guides.

Field guides are books with pictures and descriptions of the birds. A field guide shows birds of just one country, or one region of a country, or one habitat.

Binoculars are described by two numbers: 8×32 for example. The first number tells you the magnification power of the binoculars. The second tells you the size of the objective lens at the end of the binoculars in millimeters. Most bird watchers think that 7 or 8 power is about right for most birding.

The next step is to broaden your birding experience beyond your own back yard. Plan a trip to a bird sanctuary, national park and other locations where you can see birds in large numbers. Wherever you go,never harm the birds and always respect other birders.

And don’t forget to join a local birding club. Clubs organize field trips,show films of good bird watching destinations and some of them are involved in local environmental projects. Also visit your local library and check out books on birds and ornithology.


Originally posted 2010-02-07 14:04:37. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

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7 Plants That Can Poison Pets

Posted by: CoolGardenThings | Comments (0)

Got this from my sister and thought you might find it helpful ;)

7 Plants That Can Poison Pets


Symptoms of poisoning include severe burning and irritation of the mouth, lips and tongue, excessive drooling, vomiting and difficulty


Ingesting the plant can cause excessive salivation, vomiting and diarrhea. Large ingestions of tubers can result in heart rhythm abnormalities, seizures and death.

Munching on the plant can result in dilated pupils, abdominal pain, increased heart rate and drooling in cats, and vomiting, depression, loss of appetite, drooling, loss of coordination, and weakness in both cats and dogs.


Ingestion can result in intense burning and irritation of the mouth, lips and tongue, excessive drooling, vomiting and difficulty in swallowing.
Aloe vera

A perfect reminder that we shouldn’t make assumptions about safety. Though aloe vera juice is marketed as a health tonic for humans, and its gel is used to treat burns, the plant is toxic to pets. Signs of poisoning include vomiting, depression, diarrhea, anorexia, tremors and change in urine color.


Though it inspires kisses around the holidays, the traditional plant causes gastrointestinal disorders, cardiovascular collapse, erratic behavior and a host of other ills.
Lucky bamboo (aka ribbon plant)

Vomiting (occasionally with blood), depression, anorexia, hypersalivation and, in cats, dilated pupils.
Watch after your loved ones!

Originally posted 2009-01-27 16:19:25. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

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It is winter. The ground is frozen. What should a gardener do? The only thing left for an obsessed gardener to do is make a wish list of things to plant in the summer. Some plants that should be on any northern gardeners wish list are these three midwest natives: Coneflower, Black-eyed Susans, and False Indigo. Why should you care that they are natives? Any gardener worth their dirt knows that choosing native plants for your garden saves water, time, money and helps the environment by providing food for local wildlife.

Photo by melolou
Coneflower or echinacea is a native plant that is a wonderful contribution to any garden. As a flower it is quite simply pretty in pink and as a native it provides food for the wild life that visits your garden. It makes a great companion plant with many grasses and roses and sedum. It also has roots that can survive in drought weather and clay soil. It will reseed itself and spread in a friendly and non aggressive manner. It should certainly be at the top of any gardeners to plant list. Read More→

Originally posted 2010-01-13 14:42:44. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

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I just put this new page up and I think you will like it and here
is why…

Over the years I have traveled to many different countries. Being
that I love to take pictures, there are usually a few good ones that
turn out that others like too.

Recently I saw some really beautiful pictures as computer desktop
background images. This got me to thinking about some of the many
pictures that I’ve taken in beautiful areas.

With that in mind, I proceeded to making some of these images into
formatting for…

you guessed it, computer desktop background images!

There are a couple of pictures up already that you can have and use
starting now. All you have to do is go to the website using this
link, find one that you like and follow the directions to getting
it to your computer. It is pretty easy.



P.S. The images that are up now are from a batch of pictures I took
while in Hong Kong, Singapore, and Ho Chi Minh City all on different

*also, by the way, we will be putting up several more. I’ll be sure
to let you know when they are ready. Here is the link to the ones
that are ready now…

Originally posted 2009-02-17 21:59:30. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

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