Archive for March, 2011


The Dinner Garden

March 31, 2011

Today is your last chance to pledge a quarter and a pack of seeds through In and Around the Garden’s fundraiser. Remember, one-hundred percent of collected funds/seeds will:

  • Help someone grow a garden in the future.
  • Provide vegetable seeds to the thousands of students who only eat when they get free meals at school.
  • Increase food security for families through gardening and lessening their dependence on public assistance.

Your donation is needed so please email me ( for mailing instructions by tonight, March 31, midnight.

Thank you, Dianne 


April Events

March 30, 2011

Outdoor activities and garden events are emerging like spring buds. Don’t miss out . . . view April events and start planning FUN for the whole family.


Science in the Garden

March 28, 2011

Did you know:

  • Ferns can soak up poisons such as arsenic from the soil. Absorbed through their roots, arsenic is stored in fern leaves which can be cut off. Arsenic, once used to treat wood can still lurk in old roofs, decks, and playgrounds. (Purdue University, 2010, June 14)
  • Some common flowers have not-so-sweet or toxic nectars. Researchers found that both the sugar content and the toxins in nectar affected a honeybee’s memory for learned odours. Honeybees learned not to respond to odors associated with toxins within 20 minutes of eating toxins, and would retain this ability up to 24 hours after eating a toxin. This suggests that honeybees can react to toxins in nectar, but that this ability may mainly be after they have ingested the toxins. (Society for Experimental Biology, 2007, April 10).
  • A study lead by Dr Rebecca Dolan, director of the Friesner Herbarium, Butler University, found that over the past 70 years, Indianapolis’s native plants have been lost at a rate of 2.4 species per year, while over the same period 1.4 non-natives arrive each year. According to Dolan: “This study shows that our flora is becoming less distinctive.The team examined 2,800 dried plants collected around Indianapolis before 1940 and compared these with plants found at 16 field sites between 1996 and 2006. Although the city supports a similar number of plant species (around 700) today’s flora has fewer native plants and more non-native species, which have been introduced from other parts of the world and are now spreading on their own.” (Rebecca W. Dolan, Marcia E. Moore, Jessica D. Stephens. Documenting effects of urbanization on flora using herbarium records. Journal of Ecology, 2011)
  • In addition to polishing silverware, leather shoes, and houseplant leaves, minced banana peels perform better than other purifications materials. (American Chemical Society, 2011, March 10)

A little heath tip:

A daily dose of safflower oil for 16 weeks can improve health measures as good cholesterol, blood sugar, insulin sensitivity, and inflammation in obese postmenopausal women who have Type 2 diabetes. This is based on an 18-month study after researchers learned that safflower oil reduces abdominal fat and increases muscle tissue in a group of women after 16 weeks of daily supplementation. Researchers suggest that a daily dose of safflower oil in the diet (about 1 2/3 teaspoons) is a safe way to help reduce cardiovascular disease risk. (Reprinted by Ohio State University, 2011, March 21. Original article written by Emily Caldwell.).


Soulful Plotting

March 25, 2011


Any plant (usually unattractive) growing out of place where it’s unwanted or interferes with desirable plants in the landscape. Generally weed seeds spread by winds. But seeds can also spread through domestic and commercial bulk or bags of manure, potting soil etc., and through transplants from neighbor’s yards and nursery plants.


March 25, 2011

What a muddy mess with all this rain! So much for getting started on the spring checklist.


Spring Checklist

March 23, 2011

When springtime rolls around and indoor chores expand to the landscape a checklist can create a sense of order. Time, money or bad weather may not allow completion right away, but a task list does inspire one to move forward and to prioritize the must-dos from the I-wants. Here are a few spring tasks to get you started.

  • Repair garden hoses
  • Reorganize garden shed
  • Clean bird baths and feeders
  • Test pond and fountain pumps
  • Replenish driveway road base
  • Remove old fly and wasp traps
  • Clean and repair outdoor furniture
  • Clear debris or turn into woodchips
  • Tighten screws in deck and re-stain
  • Wash exterior windows and screens
  • Clean and sharpen hand-tool blades
  • Check sprinkler heads and test timers
  • Tighten or replace stakes and tree ties
  • Transplant root bound plants to larger pots
  • Power wash walkways and patio hardscape
  • Repair and repaint wrought-iron fence or railing
  • Repair retaining walls, raised beds, and walkways
  • Clean gutters and splash trays under down spouts
  • Clean barbecues, wheelbarrows, and lawn mowers
  • Sterilize pots with 1-part bleach to 10-parts water
  • Remove standing water from saucers and unused pots
  • Organize and store tree stakes and fence boards out of sight
  • Repair loose and damaged fence pickets, trellises and arbors
  • Build or buy supports for peonies, peas, beans, tomatoes
  • Remove trees and/or branches that lean heavily against rooftops and fence lines
  • Dispose of hazardous chemicals according to county and city waste management guidelines

Chores such as these will keep the landscape looking pristine and life running more smoothly. For spring ‘gardening’ tasks, click on Monthly Tasks on the sidebar to the right.



March 21, 2011

Only 10 days left to get your ‘Quarter and a Pack of Seeds in. For quick and easy details email me at


Greenhouse Dreams

March 21, 2011

Gardening during inclement weather is an impossible task unless one has a greenhouse, which I do. It’s stacked piece-by-piece against the interior barn wall in the form of salvaged window frames. I even have building plans that I downloaded a year ago from the internet and tucked in the office armoire. The windows and plans are stored away because I need more windows before the construction can begin. Once I have enough (did I say they have to be freebies?), it will take a little nudging to get hubby started on the project.

He can build anything as his construction résumé could circle the state of California. Years of amazing work at occupational job sites, building our house, my garden house, his barn, and other projects at the homes of friends and family members make him a fit candidate. My only candidate.

I can picture the greenhouse as a quaint, attractive glass cottage, unheated because that would defeat the economic purpose of seed germination. There could be power, though, for heated tables on cold wintry days like this. Wouldn’t that be nice? Kind of like a heated bathtub. Of course, if we have the ingenuity to install a homemade solar system, my cottage greenhouse would be perfect in every aspect— seeds sunbathing through repurposed window frames or when needed, sprouting by way of solar heat.

I’ve been hoping to set up a temporary greenhouse in the garage but it hasn’t happened yet. The garage and barn are hubby’s manly precincts. If I were to move potting mix, watering can, and flower seeds into his zone, life would be over. I could sneak one or two flats into the garage but I need a dozen or more to make an impact in the beds. I could put a flat on top of the refrigerator (a great place to germinate seeds because of the warmth from the refrigerator) but for me, it’s all or nothing. So here I sit inside my cozy house on another stormy day, picturing in my mind a quaint greenhouse. And I have to say, it looks pretty darn good.


Soulful Plotting

March 18, 2011


An organic substance resulting from the breakdown of plant material occurring naturally in soil or in the production of compost.

Humus is rich in plant nutrients and is very retentive of water when added to soil.

Humus is extremely important to the fertility of soils in both a physical and chemical sense.


The Shamrock

March 16, 2011 Registered & Protected

By Bernadine Chapman-Cruz

For centuries, the shamrock has been surrounded by Irish legend and lore. Often the green three-leaf plant is confused with the lucky four-leaf clover. Other traditional Irish icons are closely associated with the shamrock. The Emerald Isle’s mischievous leprechauns, pots of gold, and rainbows have a place in Ireland’s history, but the shamrock has a fascinating legacy all its own.

Early pre-Christian Irish history depicts the shamrock connected with pagan ceremonies, fire rites and spring festivals honoring the gods and goddesses of plant life. During this time, ashes from burned branches and other green foliage, including moss, grass and shamrocks were spread across pastures and fields.  Farmers hoped this treatment would make soil more fertile for grazing livestock and the coming season’s crops.

Later accounts claim St. Patrick, the Patron Saint of Ireland, used the shamrock to represent the Holy Trinity, because of its three leaves on a single stem. Over time, the Irish embraced the plant, holding it dear in their hearts.

Today, shamrocks are regarded as the national plant of Ireland for their simple, fresh beauty displayed amid a natural background of castles, rugged mountain terrains, the grey stone of old walls, and rustic peat cottages, where they reign supreme as the most identifiable symbol of the country.  

However, on March 17, St. Patrick’s Day, no matter what race, nationality or creed, we all become Irish for a day. Enjoy this whimsical transformation by wearing green clothing, drinking green beer and eating corned beef and cabbage or giving a shamrock plant to a friend. Or, even better, plant a perky patch of bright green shamrocks. Your garden will reflect the groundcover of Ireland’s misty valleys, mossy vales, and serene meadowlands throughout the year. Copyright © 2011 Bernadine Chapman-Cruz  

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