Make your own fertilizer

There are many different all natural garden fertilizers that you can use right in your garden or with potting soil. Some of these fertilizers can be made or collected at home using common items from your pantry or your backyard. Here are 8 of our favorite DIY fertilizers for a variety of needs.

1. Grass Clippings

Grass clippings are rich in nitrogen.

If you have an organic lawn, make sure to collect your grass clippings to use on your gardens. Half an inch to an inch of grass clippings makes a great weed-blocking mulch, and it is also rich in nitrogen, which is an essential nutrient for most plants.

2. Weeds

Weed tea makes great fertilizer. 

Just like grass clippings, many of the weeds that you’ll find in your gardens are very high in nitrogen and will make an excellent fertilizer. The problem is, once you’ve pulled the weeds, you certainly won’t want to put them back in the garden because any seeds will sprout and make new weeds. The solution? Make weed tea. To do this, fill a five-gallon bucket no more than 1/4 full with weeds that you’ve pulled. Then fill the bucket the rest of the way with water, and let the weeds soak for a week or two. Once the water turns nice and brown (like tea), pour this nutrient-rich weed tea on your gardens.

3. Kitchen Scraps


Put your kitchen and garden waste to work by making your own compost. Compost releases nutrients slowly, which means a well-composted garden can go a year or two without requiring reapplication of fertilizer. Compost also helps the soil retain moisture, which is essential for vegetable gardens to thrive during hot, dry summers.

4. Manure

Manure comes from a variety of sources — cows, horses, chickens, and even bats. Each type of manure is high in nitrogen and other nutrients, but you’ll need to use it carefully. Raw manure is highly acidic and may actually have more nutrients than your plants need, so too much can burn your plants. It’s best to use composted manure. Since it is less nutrient-dense and acidic, you can use more of it to improve your soil’s water retention without risking your plants. You won’t have to wait long—manure quickly turns to a perfect odor-free soil amendment.

5. Tree Leaves

Rather than bagging up the fall leaves and putting them out on your curb, collect them for your gardens instead. Leaves are rich with trace minerals, they attract earthworms, they retain moisture, and they’ll help make heavy soils lighter. You can use leaves in two ways: Either till them into your soil (or mix crushed leaves into potting soil), or use them as a mulch to both fertilize your plants and keep weeds down.

6. Coffee Grounds

Coffee grounds come with a lot of uses, but one of their best is as a garden fertilizer. Lots of plants, such as blueberries, rhododendron, roses, and tomatoes, thrive best in acidic soil. Recycle your coffee grounds to help acidify your soil. There are a couple of ways to do this— you can either top dress by sprinkling the used grounds over the surface of the soil, or you can make “coffee” to pour on your gardens. Soak up to six cups of used coffee grounds for up to a week to make garden coffee, then use it to water your acid-loving plants.

7. Eggshells

Egg shells help lower the acidity of your soil.

If you’ve ever used lime on your garden, then you know it comes with lots of benefits — chiefly, it helps lower the acidity of your soil for plants that don’t like acid, and it provides plants with lots of calcium, which is an essential nutrient. Lime itself is an all-natural fertilizer that you can buy at the garden center, but if you’d rather save some money, there is a cheaper way to get the same benefits. Simply wash out the eggshells from your kitchen, save them, and crush them to use in your garden. It turns out that eggshells are 93% calcium carbonate, which is the scientific name for lime. See what else you can do with eggshells here!

8. Banana Peels

We eat bananas for their potassium, and roses love potassium too. Simply bury peels in a hole alongside the rose bush so they can compost naturally. As the rose grows, bury the peels into the soil’s top layer. Both of these approaches will provide much-needed potassium for the plant’s proper growth

Aphids on Milkweed

Aphids on Milkweed

All Milkweed are prone to aphids – it is just part of what you deal with.

You can use natural pesticides late in the evenings, but even better use Palmolive dish washing liquid.

Do not use the newer versions of this or other brands, but instead just use the old green variety, because the ‘surfactants’ it contains will not harm the plant or the pollinators coming to feed.

In agriculture, surfactants (short for “surface-acting agents”) help farmers use herbicides and pesticides more efficiently by making applications stick to the plants.

This dish washing liquid will serve as a pesticide to aphids and other sucking insects. (I also use it on the beetles on my tomatoes.)

You can also just spray the aphids off with the hose but they tend to come back when handled this way.

Use 2 Tablespoons of this soap in a Windex sized spray bottle and gently slosh around to mix, then spray.

Crepe Myrtles

Written By Danny Lipford

Crape myrtle in bloom
Variety of Colors

About Crape Myrtles

With literally hundreds of sizes and colors available, crape (or crepe) myrtles are a terrific, low-maintenance choice for prolific blooms during hot, humid summers. Nowadays, many varieties are hybrids that maximize the colorful blooms of the common crape myrtle (Lagerstroemia indica) and/or the distinctive bark, cold hardiness, and disease-resistance of the Japanese crape myrtle (Lagerstroemia faurei).

Crape myrtles bloom in midsummer, with colors including white, lavender, purple, pink, magenta, and red. After blooming, they develop distinctive seed heads, then the leaves tend to fall toward the end of autumn, leaving the colorful, exfoliating bark for the winter.

Peeling bark on crape myrtle trunk
Exfoliating bark on crape myrtle.

Selecting Crape Myrtles

Crape Myrtles truly come in every possible size and shape, from knee-high shrubby dwarf plants to towering tree forms, so it is possible to choose a variety that exactly fits your purpose. When choosing crape myrtles for your yard, there are several factors to consider including:

  • Height
  • Natural shape (shrub vs. tree)
  • Flower color
  • Amount of bark exfoliation
  • Disease resistance

Planting Crape Myrtles

Ideally, crape myrtles should be planted in cool weather when they’re dormant, here’s how to go about it:

  • Dig Hole: Dig a hole twice the size of the root ball on the crape myrtle.
  • Soil amendments: It’s usually not necessary to amend the soil when planting crape myrtles, unless you’re amending the entire planting bed, since pockets of high-nutrient soil can prevent the roots from branching out properly.
  • Planting Depth: Plant your crape myrtle at the same depth it was in the nursery pot, and backfill with loosened soil.
  • Mulch: Apply 3″- 5″ of mulcharound the base of your crape myrtle.
  • Watering: Water your newly planted crape myrtle thoroughly after planting. Water newly planted crape myrtles at least once a week if dormant and in cool weather, and up to five times a week if planted during hot weather or in very sandy soil. Water new plants regularly for about two months, and water during drought for better blooms and healthier plants.
Blooming crape myrtle

Growing Crape Myrtles

Crape myrtles can be grown in much of the U.S., except colder climates in the north. Here’s what you need to know to grow crape myrtles in your yard:

  • Climate: Crape myrtles can be grown in hardiness zones 6-10, although in zone 6 they’re likely to die back to the ground in winter.
  • Water: Crape myrtles like humid climates. Once established, they can tolerate quite a bit of drought.
  • Light: Crape myrtles flower best in full sun (at least six hours per day).
  • Soil: Crape myrtles do well in most any kind of soil, as long as it’s well-drained. The ideal soil pH is neutral to slightly acidic.
  • Fertilizer: Crape myrtles benefit from annual feeding with a general-purpose or high-nitrogen fertilizer, in early spring as soon as you see leaves. If you want to fertilize twice, do the second application about two months later. Slow-release fertilizer can help prevent rapid sucker growth that is vulnerable to diseases and insects. Take advantage of the toughness of these plants – too much fertilization can actually result in excessive leaf growth and fewer blooms!
Crape myrtle in bloom
Crape myrtle in bloom!

Pruning Crape Myrtles

Depending on the variety, crape myrtles can have different shapes and sizes. The miniature, or dwarf, varieties are generally bred to have lots of branches, and they tend to look shrublike and shouldn’t need pruning unless they are growing unevenly.

Medium and large varieties tend to develop sucker growth, or small shoots at the base of the trunk. These may be pruned off if desired, and the entire plant may be pruned according to your tastes. For varieties that bloom before mid-July, deadheading can often result in a second blooming.

  • When to Prune: Crape myrtles bloom on this year’s new growth (sometimes called “new wood”), so prune during late winter before growth starts. Fall pruning, especially in warm climates, can result in a quick growth response that prevents dormancy and makes winter freezes potentially deadly.
  • How to Prune: There are two schools of thought, and quite a bit of debate, about larger pruning jobs. Some gardeners like to lop off all stems at a uniform height each year, leaving branch stubs in the winter that flush out into a ball of growth in the spring. This is useful if you want a uniform border and height control, but it can result in bunchy growth and knobby stems that may be more susceptible to aphids and disease. Other gardeners decry this method as “crape murder” and adopt a less aggressive approach that conforms more to the natural size and shape of the plant. Most growers and researchers agree that only light pruning is necessary for plenty of blooms, so the choice is really yours.

To achieve a graceful tree shape that shows off the lovely bark, first remove all but 3-5 strong trunks. Then remove lateral branches on the bottom half of the tree. Make “heading back” cuts on long, leggy limbs to encourage branching. Don’t over prune in the beginning – make the basic cuts and then allow the plant to grow, and continue shaping over time.

The best decision about the size of your crape myrtle is made when you buy it. Buy the right variety to fit the space! If you buy a 15′ variety and try to keep it 7′ tall, you will prune yourself silly. Instead, buy a 7′ variety, and you will find yourself with an incredibly low-maintenance plant.

Pests and Diseases for Crape Myrtles

Crepe myrtles are susceptible to several diseases and pests, including:

  • Powdery Mildew: The most common scourge of crape myrtles is powdery mildew – particularly during hot, humid days followed by cool, dewy nights. Treat with a general fungicide.
  • Sooty Mold: This is caused by the excretions of pests such as aphids. Treat with the appropriate insecticide.
  • Leaf Spot: Another common problem is leaf spot (Cercospora lythracearum), which resembles dark brown spots on the leaves that then turn yellow and fall off. Treat with a general fungicide.
  • Root Rot: Crape myrtles can also be affected by root rot, caused by poorly-draining soil.

For more information and instructions please contact Deltona Garden Club

Dukat Dill

Inga’s Creations

Dukat dill is both gorgeous, and huge! It stands about 3 to 4 feet tall, and it is growing a fireworks of flower heads.

Dill pairs absolutely excellent with salmon or other seafood dishes. You can use the seeds, flowers, or fern like leafs in vinaigrette, pickles, and you can add it to tzaziki sauce, egg salad and salad dressings as well.

If you pick the flower heads that form, you can continue to harvest the leafs for savory dishes! You can even dry bundles of dill leafs so you can stick the dill in spice jars.

This herb is native to the Mediterranean and also can be found as a native in Asia.

Dill does not transplant well. Sow seeds directly into the ground where the plants are going to grow or sow them in a large pot. Begin sowing seeds after the danger of…

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When you Leave your Squash One More Day…

Inga’s Creations

Well… if you do, you get a one pound whopper! Wow!

Look at the smaller ones I picked before compared to that ginormous whopper! Mary from Mary’s Heirloom Seeds has some amazing varieties of squashes and as you can see her seeds produce miracles!

Compare this with the smaller ones I picked

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How to Pollinate Your Tomato Plants With a Tuning Fork

How to Pollinate Your Tomato Plants With a Tuning Fork
— Read on

Tassel Flower

Emilia, also known as Tassel Flower, is a genus of more than 100 species in the family Asteraceae, distributed mainly in tropical regions of the Old World.

Tassel Flower

Emilia has bright, tassel-like flowers appearing on its slender stems in summer and early fall. The flowers come in shades of purple, red and orange and are great for container gardens and fresh cut flower arrangements.

Interesting facts about Emilia

Lilac Tassel Flower (Emilia sonchifolia)

Emilia sonchifolia, also known as Lilac Tassel Flower, is one of the “Ten Sacred Flowers” of Kerala State in India, commonly known as Dasapushpam.

These herbs are culturally and medicinally significant to the people of Kerala in India. Dasapushpam constitute a group of ten auspicious herbs used as an ayurvedic medicine for curing chronic diseases.

Women of Kerala wear these flowers in their hair on the day of Thiruvathira and perform Thiruvathirakkali, a dance form native to Kerala. It is said that wearing these flowers

benefit their health. According to Ayurveda, Emilia sonchifolia is used for the treatment of Kapha and Vata imbalances and is effective in treating fever, tonsillitis, conjunctivitis, worm infections and allergy.

Is Emilia Invasive?

Some species may be invasive where soil and climate are suitable. They produce large amounts of wind-dispersed seeds that may be carried long distances.
Emilia fosbergii has been listed as a weed in Columbia, Costa Rica, Mexico and many Pacific islands.

Benefits and Uses

The plant has been used for food and medicinal purposes by various communities.
It has been used as a cure for various ailments, such as wound healing, sore throat, high blood pressure and conjunctivitis.

It has also been used for upset stomach and as an antidiarrheal medicine.
The scientific research shows that this plant could be useful in the management of eye diseases.
The plant is also edible, but it’s not everyone’s favorite. The leaves are eaten in salads and soups.

Coral Bean

Driving around Deltona the Coral Bean wildflower is blooming and can be seen growing wild in and around the undisturbed areas.

Coral Bean – Spring Wildflower- Deltona Florida
Photo Anna Sarich

Coral bean is a native plant that can add interest to the landscape from spring until fall.

Red tubular flowers grow on tall stalks in the spring, drawing hummingbirds and butterflies. In the fall, as the rest of the summer garden starts to fade, coral bean’s seed pods begin to mature and the show begins. What once looked a bit like English pea pods turn dark, almost black, and split open to reveal shiny, scarlet red seeds nestled inside. They’re very pretty—and very poisonous, so be sure to keep them away from kids and pets.

In North and Central Florida coral bean grows as a large perennial, reaching 6 feet tall before it freezes to the ground in winter. In South Florida it grows as a large deciduous shrub or small tree.

This Florida-Friendly plant is a great choice for the back of a mixed borders. While coral bean is a very attractive plant when in flower, it can appear somewhat sparse and ragged the rest of the year. 

Coral bean plant in flower

Excellent for a natural landscape, it grows in a wide range of soil, but does best in fertile, well-drained, sandy soil. It flowers best in full sun or light shade.

Scientific Name(s): Erythrina herbacea
Abundance: uncommon
What: flowers & young leaves
How: cooked flowers and leaves; tea from young leaves
Where: open fields and woodland clearings with sandy soil
When: spring
Nutritional Value: antioxidants
Dangers: plant must be cooked to remove toxins, do NOT eat the seeds or older, mature leaves.

A young Coral Bean flowering in the spring woods.

Coral Bean

Look around I disturbed Sandy areas in Deltona and most of the southern states. although edible and rich in antioxidants, do not eat without proper preparation.

Safe Roundup Alternatives | Killing Weeds Without Glyphosate

Interest in alternatives to Roundup has grown after it was found to potentially cause cancer. Learn more about safe weed-killing alternatives to glyphosate.
— Read on

Aji Dulce Pepper

AJI DULCE Venezuelan heirloom variety

If you’re looking for a flavor-packed, very mild spice pepper, Aji Dulce might be just for you!

Aji Dulce pepper as the same shape, size, color and aroma as Habanero, but is sweet, spicy, and delicious, with only a trace of heat.

This Central American native goes great in salads, stir-fry, Caribbean dishes, and much more. Tastes great pickled too!

Heat Level: >1,000 Scoville Heat Units
Start seeds indoors 8-12 weeks before last frost date. Bury seeds 1/16 deep – keep room constant 70 degrees. Germination might be erratic as seeds can take up to 4 weeks to germinate.
Don’t over water seeds or they will turn to mush.

Aji dulce peppers (Capsicum chinense) are small, sweet peppers similar to habaneros but without the heat. The fruit of the aji dulce plant is about 2 inches long, and start off green then turn red when ripe. Aji dulce plants bear fruit when they are about 18 inches tall.

Aji dulce peppers (Capsicum chinense) are small, sweet peppers similar to habaneros but without the heat.

Aji dulce peppers (Capsicum chinense) with Rattlesnake Beans -Photo Anna Sarich

The fruit of the aji dulce plant is about 2 inches long, and start off green then turn red when ripe.

In Puerto Rico, it is known as ají dulce or ajicito (sweet pepper and small pepper, respectively, in Spanish).

In the Dominican Republic, it is also known asají gustoso or ají cachucha (tasty pepper, and cap-shaped pepper, respectively, in Spanish). It has the shape and size of a habanero pepper without the intense heat.

Unlike many other countries in Latin America, hot peppers are not commonly used in the cuisine of Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, or Cuba. However, there can be some ají dulce fruit that is pungent, probably due to out-crossing. 

This pepper is used to season dishes and is an important ingredient for sofrito, a sauce used in several Latin American cuisines.

A must for those Cuban Style black beans, homemade or canned.

Just add a couple of CACHUCHA peppers and the flavor soars.

I grow these special plants in my own Garden without pesticides. Ají Dulce plants are very hard to find in the US.

I harvest my own seeds and plant them each year. plant your own, so that you can make your own fresh sofrito, save the seeds and plant them again the following year. 

The compact nature of the pepper plant makes it well-suited to container growing. Growing the peppers in a pot also gives you more control.

This particular pepper plant was given to me by DGC member Barry Johnson, Deltona Fl. Winner Yard of the year Congratulations Barry!

Learn more about pepper varieties from our members by joining our garden club!

Never buy another plant. The Deltona Garden Club has a network of giving environmentally conscious individuals. I learn something new everyday and every meeting!

Membership is only $15 a year. Better than spending $15 on a plant that doesn’t understand Florida heat 😉

It’s so simple and easy today! All you have to do is scan the below QR code like you’re taking a picture.

Takes you directly to payment page. We can’t exist without your help or donation. Thank you.

Together We Can Do Great Things.

Beautifying Deltona one garden at a time.

Next meeting is March 3, 2023 from 2-4 PM

Deltona Library across from City Hall. FIRST FRIDAYS of EVERY month!

We don’t break for summer! We go on day trips and do garden tours! Kids bored?

Shout out to Moms and Homeschoolers! We love teaching and sharing with our future gardeners!

Bacterial Leaf Spot

The Signs of Bacterial Leaf Spot

The problem with bacterial leaf spot is that it shows up on plants in many different ways, making identifying this disease harder.

Some symptoms of bacterial leaf spot include:

• Black-edged lesions on the leaves

• Brown spots with yellow halos on the leaves

• Light and dark areas throughout the foliage

• Brownish-yellow edges of the leaf

• Papery, dry leaves that break off easily.

Prevention is key when it comes to avoiding Leaf Spot in your houseplants.

Proper watering: Bacterial Leaf Spot thrives in damp conditions, so it’s important to avoid over-watering your plants. Water your plants only when the soil is dry to the touch, and avoid getting water on the leaves. Proper irrigation can go a long way to prevent this.

Good air circulation: Good air circulation is essential for preventing Bacterial Leaf Spot, as it helps to keep the leaves dry. Be sure to space your plants out adequately and avoid overcrowding. High humidity is a breeding ground for bacteria.

Cleanliness: Regularly cleaning your plants and their surroundings can help prevent the spread of Bacterial Leaf Spot. This includes removing fallen leaves and dead plant material and disinfecting your tools and surfaces.

Resistant varieties: As mentioned in the treatment section, planting disease-resistant varieties of plants can help prevent Bacterial Leaf Spot and other plant diseases.

By following these simple preventative measures, you can keep your houseplants healthy and free from Bacterial Leaf Spot. And, if you do encounter an infection, the treatments and preventative measures outlined in this blog post will help you get your plants back on the road to recovery.

Common Plants for Bacterial Leaf Spot

No plant is safe from this disease. It likes ornamental and edible plants, but some of the most common hosts are:

• Lettuce

• Beets

• Eggplant

• Peppers

• Philodendrons

• Stone fruit trees, such as apricot, peach, plum, and cherry

• Tomatoes

• Peppers

Bacterial leaf also infects some annual and perennial flowers, but not as often as they infect vegetable plants and fruit trees. Some common flowers that it attacks include:

• Zinnias

• Geraniums

• Purple Cone Flowers

• Black-Eyed Susan

1. Plant Resistant Seeds

The first preventative measure is to plant disease-resistant seeds. Some seeds are resistant to specific bacteria, so make sure to read the description of the plants or seeds before you buy them.

2. Rotate The Crops

Many diseases, including bacterial leaf spot, live in the soil for years, so is essential. Some crops are more likely to fight off this disease, and others are more vulnerable.

3. Water at the Base

Never water overhead; water on the foliage encourages the spread of bacteria. We can’t control the rain, but we can control watering overhead. Always water your plants at the base.

If the bacteria live in the soil and water from a sprinkler splashes it up onto your plant, it can become infected. It’s that easy, so always avoid sprinklers. Drip irrigation systems are the way to go.

4. Remove Plant Debris

Plant debris creates a home for bacteria to live in, even if the plants were disease-free. Removing plant debris is even more important when the plants are infected by any disease.

5. Lay Mulch

Always lay a thick layer of mulch under your plants and trees to cover the soil. Mulch has several benefits in the garden, but when it comes to this disease, it stops water from splashing soil onto your leaves.

6. Prune and Stake Plants

Stake large plants, like tomatoes, that have the possibility of tipping over and touching the ground. The leaves need to stay off of the ground where the bacteria lives.

Always disinfect your pruning equipment after each cut using a mixture of one part bleach and four parts water. You don’t want to spread bacteria to a healthy plant.

How to Treat

1. Spread Copper Fungicide

One treatment method is using a copper fungicide spray on the crops. It’s only effective if it’s applied early in the disease cycle. If the disease has progressed, don’t expect this to work.

Copper sprays, when used weekly, may prevent the spread of this bacteria, but won’t get rid of it entirely.

2. Try a Baking Soda Solution

Some gardeners say that a baking soda solution works well to stop the spread. Mix one tablespoon of baking soda, 2 1/2 tablespoons of vegetable oil, and one teaspoon liquid dish soap in one gallon of water.

Use this when you notice signs of the disease. Spray every two weeks to help stop the progression.

Some plants burn when exposed to baking soda, so be sure to try just one or two before spraying your entire plant.

3. Neem Oil

Another option is to use neem oil to stop the spread of bacterial leaf spot. Remember, you won’t be able to get rid of it entirely, so slowing the spread is the next best bet.

Neem oil is one of the best treatment sprays for organic gardeners to have available at all times. It treats and prevents a range of common problems that gardeners face.

4. Try Copper and Pyrethrins

One safe treatment method for many fungal diseases and pests is Bonide Garden Dust, a combination of copper and pyrethrins. Cover the tops and undersides of leaves with a uniform layer of dust. Repeat the application every 7-10 days or as needed.

NOTE: 🚫🙈

Never compost plants that are infected with diseases; they’ll infect your entire compost.

If you have remedies that have worked, leave your comments for others!

One of the Oldest Trees in the World

In honor of The Senator, we named our massive Stag-horn Fern for the Old Cypress. Read on ….

Although humanity is destroying the planet quicker than Mother Nature can recover, fortunately, there are still natural wonders in this world that have survived for thousands of years.

All of the trees on this list are/were at least 3,500 years old — unfortunately, a few of these ancient giants were destroyed by human hands.

The rest of the surviving trees on this list are protected to prevent their destruction and one of the oldest individual trees even has a secret location not disclosed to the public. With continued conservation efforts, hopefully these trees will live for thousands of years more.

The Senator

Age: estimated to be 3,500 years
Species: Pond cypress (Taxodium ascendens)
Location: Longwood, Florida
Still Alive: No

The Senator

photo source: Wikimedia Commons

The Senator was one of the oldest and biggest bald cypress trees in the world with an estimated age of 3,500 years.

Prior to its demise, The Senator was 36 m tall (118 ft) with a circumference of 10.7 m (35 ft) — the tree was originally 50 m (165 ft) tall, but the top was damaged by a hurricane in 1925.

Unfortunately, the Senator was destroyed by a fire in 2012, which was started by Sarah Barnes and a friend who were smoking inside the tree; she left the fire burning which destroyed the tree from the inside out.

In 2014, a 50-foot-tall clone of The Senator (one of 10 trees cloned from The Senator in the 1990s) was planted in the park and named “The Phoenix.”

Did You Know?
In 2013, a group of artists were given permission by Seminole County to make vases, pens, flutes and sculptures from the charred remains of The Senator to pay respect to the fallen tree.

Have you ever visited Big Tree Park? The remains of the Senator are still visible but decaying. Sadly the park was named for the big tree that no longer exists.

Boat-tailed Grackle(Quiscalus major)

Taken in Merrit Island Florida – Anna Sarich
Range Map for Boat-tailed Grackle
Texas and Florida


Year-round resident. Most individuals spend their lives within about 10 miles of their birthplace.

The longest recorded movement comes from a second-year male that was banded in Charleston, South Carolina, and recovered in Daytona Beach, Florida, about 320 miles away by land.

Seed Terminology

Common Seed Catalog Definitions

Open-pollinated. Open-pollinated seeds are those that have been collected from plants that have undergone pollination from natural sources such as insects, birds, bats, wind, and fire. The offspring of open-pollinated plants will remain true to type – they will exhibit the same traits as their parents. (An exception to this occurs when two different varieties within the same species share pollen. This happens frequently when growing squash plants). When collecting and saving seed, do so from open-pollinated varieties.

Hybrid. Hybridized seed is produced when human plant breeders control the pollination of two different species or varieties and deliberately cross them together. The goal of hybridizing seed is to create plants that have traits that are desirable to growers. For example, they may be resistant to bolting or have a double flower form.

F₁. No, it’s not a tornado category! F₁ is the designation for the first generation of a hybridized seed. These seeds will possess the traits the varieties were specifically bred for. F₁ seed cannot be saved, as there are no guarantees that successive generations will be true to the parent (that is, exhibit the desired traits of the hybrid).

Heirloom. Heirloom seeds are those that are passed down from generation to generation, often within a certain geographical location. Some seed suppliers designate varieties that have a documented history of 50 years or more as heirlooms. Heirloom seeds are always open pollinated.

Treated or dressed seed. Treated seeds have been dressed with a coating that may contain fungicides, antimicrobial chemicals, or insecticides. The goal of applying the chemical at the same time the seed is planted is to minimize the risk of problems from insects or disease.

Days to maturity or days to harvest. This is the number of days it takes for a seed directly sown into the ground to germinate and grow to maturity. (In the case of transplants, it is the number of days from the time the plant is placed in the ground to the time it produces flowers or fruit). Unfortunately, this number isn’t set in stone – it may be altered by growing conditions and weather. It does act as a good guideline, however, and you can look at your region’s frost-free dates and use the days to maturity number to see if you have enough time to grow your crop and bring it to harvest.

Days to germinate. This is the number of days, under optimal growing conditions, that a seed will take to sprout.

Bare root. This is a common way for nurseries to ship trees, shrubs, and herbaceous perennials. Plants are dug up, the soil is washed from their roots, and they are wrapped in a damp packing material for mailing. Bare root plants are usually cheaper to buy than those in containers.

Certified organic. Organic crops (and seeds collected from them) are grown without the use of synthetic pesticides or other chemicals. To be certified organic, a farmer or seed supplier must meet a series of standards issued by the government or other certifying body. These requirements may differ from country to country.

Determinate or indeterminate. Tomatoes are the first plants that usually come to mind when you think of determinate or indeterminate varieties. Determinate tomatoes have a compact, bush-like growth habit, reaching a maximum height of about 4 feet. They do not require staking. Indeterminate tomatoes are the vining types that grow continuously and produce fruit through the whole season until frost. They will require staking, as heights of 6 to 12 feet are common.

Grafted. Plants that are joined by combining a scion (the top part of one plant) to a rootstock (the base part of another plant which contains the root system) are considered grafted. They will look like they are a single plant, even though it is possible to graft several scions onto one rootstock. The different species of plants must be compatible and the graft must be performed successfully in order for the grafted plant to thrive.

Hardiness zone. This refers to a map of the lowest temperatures recorded in a given region. The temperature ranges are then matched to a number, which is used to designate plants that will withstand the minimum temperatures in that particular location.

Pelleted seed. Tiny seeds are sometimes pelleted (coated) with powdered clay or other materials to make them easier to handle and sow. (This is particularly useful in large-scale agriculture, where mechanized seeders are used but it is also handy in small garden settings). Seed treatments such as fungicides are sometimes added to pelleted seed.

Bolting. Many cool-weather crops such as cilantro, spinach, and lettuce will flower and go to seed rapidly in hot weather. This process is called bolting. Unfortunately, bolting usually causes produce to become bitter and unsuitable for harvest. Breeders have created plants that are less likely to bolt and if this is a common issue in your garden, look for cultivars that claim to be “resistant to bolting.”

Now that you’re in the know, have fun ordering plants and seeds for spring!

Start planning your garden!

Credit The Farmers Almanac

Bee Balm

Spotted Bee Balm – Monarda Punctata (100% Heirloom/Non-Hybrid/Non-GMO)

If you have an area of yard you would like to shield for a bit more privacy, consider planting a border of bee balm.

  • The spotted bee balm plant produces a beautiful plant with purple spotted flowers known to attract bees and other beneficial garden pollinators.
  • Common names include bee balm, horsemint, oswego tea, and wild bergamot.
  • Smell is similar to thyme.
  • Has been used in teas and for other medicinal purposes.
  • This plant is drought tolerant. Grows well in dry conditions, requiring little water to grow.
  • Can grow up to 40″ tall.
  • Perennial.

Many varieties grow to be 3-4 feet tall, making them an ideal mid-height privacy screen.

When you consider that bee balm’s scent naturally repels most insects, it becomes a prime candidate to plant around your porch or patio. 🐝

The leaves and flowers are edible and make a delicious (and healthy) tea and popular folk remedies. Even if you don’t care to eat them, the impressive flowers, with their long, sturdy stems, are an obvious choice in cut-flower arrangements. Their sweet, citrusy scent is a bonus.

Growing Bee Balm

Bee balm grows easily in USDA hardiness zones 4-9. The plant prefers rich, moist soil but needs good airflow among its leaves. It will flourish in full sun and does well in partial shade. If you have a shaded area of your lawn for a portion of the day, bee balm will be quite happy there. for more great articles.

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While many arthropod predator and pollinator activities benefit crop quality and yields, traditional farming environments may not be ideal…
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