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Lemon Thyme growing on my kitchen windowsill.

Herb Pots

The smallest urban garden of all might be an herb grown in a pot on a sunny windowsill.  The proper fresh herbs added to just about any vegetable or meat dish heighten flavor of the food—yet most folks cook with just salt and pepper.  Fresh herbs are an expensive addition to our grocery list that is often skipped for the sake of frugality.  Growing herbs on a sunny windowsill is an inexpensive option that is open to all residents.

 

Members of the NGHS Environmental Club look at the plants in their experimental garden.  Charlene, on the right, will take over leadership of the club in the fall.

First Preliminary Report from NGHS Environmental Club’s Experimental Garden

I was thinking about herbs this morning after getting an email from Jane, President of Loving Garland Green, regarding the first preliminary report on their experimental garden from the North Garland High School (NGHS) Environmental Club.  Shannon Lawless, president of the NGHS Environmental Club reported that she was surprised at how great food tastes with the addition of herbs.

Since the end of March the students have harvested 18 pounds of food from the small (125 square foot) garden plot they are stewarding down at the Garland Community Garden.  Eighteen pounds of food in two months is great in my opinion, but in reality it is likely typical of what one might expect to produce from a similar space in their own yard here in Garland, Texas. 

The benefits derived from growing 18 pounds of food far exceed the dollar value of that food.  Good things happen to people who grow some of the food they eat.  Perhaps the most important change in the gardener is a deepening appreciation and love of nature and an increased awareness of nature’s processes and the parts and responsibilities we have in protecting theses processes.

 

Salad served up made from lettuce, other greens, carrots and radishes from their garden

NGHS Environmental Club Memorial Day Picnic

To end the 2016-2017 stewardship of their garden plot down at the Garland Community Garden, student members held a picnic.  Some of the food served included produce from their garden plot:

  1. A salad of greens, carrots and radishes from the garden.
  2. Cucumber and goat cheese sandwiches—make from garden cucumbers enhanced by herbs grown in the garden.
  3. Braised turnip greens served with caramelized turnips from the garden.

 

Shannon Lawless (outgoing President of the NGHS Environmental Club) and Megan May enjoy the picnic food.  Both girls are graduating on Thursday and with scholarships, Shannon is headed for Tarleton and Megan is going to Texas A&M.

In addition to the food, the students chatted about their future. Many of them are graduating and going off to college in August.  Their experimental garden plot, however, will continue.   Over the summer months members of Loving Garland Green will take over the responsibility of stewardship of this 125 square foot garden plot.  We will harvest and maintain careful records.  Then in September, the NGHS Environmental Club will take over their plot again. 

After we harvest the sweet potatoes in November, the two groups will jointly prepare a report that will be released to the public regarding just how much fun (and fun) one can expect from a 125 square foot garden in Garland, Texas.

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The Garland Community Garden is an excellent place for the youth of our community to learn all kinds of important things—from sharing with others to living sustainable lifestyles.

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Saturday was our monthly get together to clean up the garden.  We combined the cleanup with a breakfast brunch and posting the official sign on the little free library that was installed in the garden about a month ago.  The Little Free Library is a joint project undertaken by Loving Garland Green and the Flamingo Neighbors.

Possibility of a Garden Mural by Local Artists

The possibility of a mural for the side of the shed was discussed.  Of course we would need to obtain permission from our parks department for this undertaking.  The theme of the mural would feature people of all ages, color shapes and sizes planting and working together in a garden.  Realistically this project could begin in July.  It would be led by local Garland artists and also would involve Garland students as well.  We’ll see where this idea goes.  That wall of the shed is a great space for a mural.  The shed itself would be a great space to turn into an indoor/outdoor learning center for gardening classes and other garden events.

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We Have Another Number Now:  53746

This number on our charter sign signifies the Little Free Library located at the Garland Community Garden is the 53,746th Little Free Library in the world.  Soon we will be added to the world map of little free libraries. https://littlefreelibrary.org/ourmap

 

Maddi, Kyle and Ana Maria DeYoung at the latest Little Free Library – Garland Community Garden.  Kyle is the artist who painted the logos on the library and Ana Maria DeYoung, President of Flamingo Neighbors, is the official steward of the library.

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Update on Loving Garland Green Projects and Garden Features

1. CORN PROJECT 

The Bantam, Aztec Black and Oaxacan Green corn are all about four feet tall, deep green healthy and beautiful.  The Teosinte (original ancestor of corn) is now about six inches tall and looking better than it has.  I found out from my friend Susan Metz the teosinte takes 120 days to germinate!  Other corn generally takes about 90 days.  We are not going to get to cross pollinate the Teosinte with the other corn but we can still cross some of the older varieties (Aztec and Oaxacan) with the Bantam.  When the teosinte matures we will grind some of it into cornmeal for making tortillas.  We will save and dry some of the corn from the other three varieties and grind that too into cornmeal for making tortillas.  Perhaps at our second Monday of the month meeting in September we will have a taste test.

2.  BEANS BEANS BEANS PROJECT

In addition to the “official” bean patch we have bean poles erected all over the garden with pole beans at various stages of development.  By the end of June we will have beans “coming out our ears.”  In addition to the beans at the garden, we also installed eight 27-gallon pots at the Garland Good Samaritans and a few poles in one of their flowerbeds.   Pole beans are ideal for urban spaces because they are grown vertically and take up little space.  This healthy vegetable is also easy to grow, looks great in your yard and is good to eat. 

3. CHARLIE’S OKRA

What a guy!  Being from Iowa, Charlie has never acquired a taste for okra, yet here he is in charge of what promises to be our largest okra patch ever.  He has now about 25 okra plants up and growing.  By the end of June there should be lots of okra.

4. EXTENSION OF POLLINATOR HEAVEN

This second bed, parallel to the original plot is coming along but it is still in the tiny seedling stage for the most part.  I hope this rain we are getting today will help it along.  By the end of June there should be a large splash of color visible from the road.

5.TIPI TRELLIS 

Like the new section Pollinator Heaven, this area is also mostly still in the seedling stage with a variety of plants—pole beans, tomatoes, milkweed and lemongrass.

6.  BLACKBERRIES

They are coming into their own down at the garden.  I have several in pots at my home that I need to bring down and plant.  Blackberries and pole beans are two great edibles to grow in Garland.  Both require little care.

7. LOOFAH TUNNEL 

At last the loofah vines are climbing.  It looks like once again this popular feature of the garden will be thriving with blooms and thick vines by mid-June.

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THE GREAT SWEET POTATO PROJECTS

 We already have two going/growing at the Garden:  1) four pots planted by 69 first graders from Beaver MST.  2) one pot at the North Garland High School Environmental Club’s experimental garden.

Now we are adding one more sweet potato project.  In the coming week we are erecting a large wooden trellis that was given to us by one of the many anonymous donors that leave presents at the garden.  We are making cloth pots and will plant sweet potatoes in these pots on either side of the trellis.  By the end of June people can harvest leaves from the vines for salads (as long as no more than one-third are cut every week).  Unlike the white potato, the sweet potato leaves are edible and good in salads or stir-fried.

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UPCOMING IN THE GARDEN

Monday, May 29, 2017 the North Garland High School Environmental Club is having a potluck down at the garden.  They will be passing the stewardship of their experimental garden plot over to members of Loving Garland Green (LGG)for June to mid-September.  We will be recording information regarding production and care of the garden over these three months.  In November, after harvesting sweet potatoes, LGG and the environmental club will create a report on the results of growing a 125 square foot garden in Garland from March to November.

VIRTUAL GARLAND COMMUNITY GARDEN TOUR

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Scenes from the Garland Community Garden - May 22, 2017
BEAN PATCH with five different varieties of pole beans and POLLINATOR HEAVEN a bed beloved by pollinators of all shapes and sizes

The Garland Community Garden is becoming more lush and green by the day.  If you haven't stopped by for a while, now is definitely the time to stop and take a look.

Instead of bare poles in the Bean Patch, we now have green towers--many of which are blooming

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Large box bed in the winding garden at the Back of the Garden
Last week Charlie planted eleven heirloom tomato plants he grew from seed.  We checked on Sunday and they are thriving as is the Sunn Hemp, a cover crop that we planted in the other half of the bed

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North Garland High School Environmental Club Experimental Garden

This 125 square-foot garden is really thriving and has produced several salads.  It is a citizen science project being jointly undertaken by students of the North Garland High School Environmental Club and Loving Garland Green to ascertain just how much food one might expect to grow from a small (125 Square Foot) urban garden in Garland Texas.  Records of produce and value will be kept until the first week in November at the time of the sweet potato harvest.  Loving Garland Green will take over stewardship of the garden for June, July and August.

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Inventory of New Plants in Multicultural Garden Plot

At the Garland Community Garden we have a Multicultural Garden plot that was installed in October of 2014 in partnership with the Garland Multicultural Commission.  Donna Baird, a member of this commission as well as a Loving Garland Green member, is the official steward of this plot.  However, Donna has some health issues this spring that keep her out of the garden so she asked that I take care of the plot this season until she recovers.

This garden plot is on the way to becoming both attractive and interesting.  This week I installed a bunch of plants purchased at Rohdes—a local nursery here in Garland, Texas. With the rain and all I had time to paint a few rocks to identify the plants.

Russian Tarragon - Artemisia dracunculus


Although weaker in flavor than either French or Mexican Tarragon, the Russian Tarragon is the heartiest.  It grows to 39 inches tall, is drought tolerant and thrives in poor soil.  Russian Tarragon is so weak in flavor that many cooks disregard its value in the kitchen altogether.

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Rue - Ruta graveolens – native of Southern Europe
This herb is extremely drought tolerant. Medicinally, like many herbs, it has been touted to cure just about everything—even used as a witch repellant. Rue grows two to three feet tall with small yellow flowers

Rue is one of the oldest garden plants in Britain.  This hardy little evergreen thrives in poor rubbishy soils—even better than in rich soils.  Rue constituted a chief ingredient of the famous antidote to poison used by Mithridates.  In the middle ages Rue was thought to be a powerful defense against witchcraft and many believed that it provided second sight.  Early Roman painters consumed the herb because they believed it improved their eyesight.  Since the earliest of times Rue has been regarded as successful in warding off contagion and preventing attacks of fleas and other noxious insects. If bruised and applied, the leaves are said to ease the severe pain of sciatica. 

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Holy Basil - Ocimum tenuiflorum


This bushy shrub grows 18 inches high and is indigenous to the Indian subcontinent.  As the name suggests, Holy Basil has spiritual significance.  According to Hindu mythology, the plant is an incarnation of the Hindu Goddess of loyalty, Tulasi who offers divine protection.  Many Indian families keep a living Holy Basil plant in their homes and tend it carefully.  Accordingly there are many rituals associated with this plant and its care.  For example, one must bathe and be clean before watering or picking the leaves of this plant.  There are even handbooks available for download regarding proper care and respect for the Holy Basil plant.  http://www.stephen-knapp.com/tulasi_devi_handbook.htm

Holy basil’s oil is said to have antioxidant properties that help reduce the damaging effects of stress and aging on the body. 

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Four Tomato Plants – all grown from heirloom seed
Tomatoes originated from the Andes, in what is now called Peru, Bolivia, Chile and Ecuador - where they grew wild.  The Aztecs and Incas first cultivated tomatoes as early as 700 AD.  Thus they have an appropriate place in our Multicultural Garden, as they are not native to the USA. [On Sunday Charlie and I counted the tomato plants that we planted from the collection he grew from heirloom seed.  We have 42 tomato plants growing all over the garden. In addition to these there are at least 10 more that other members planted and several that came up as volunteers from last year.]

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Chinese Kale
Friends have been telling me for several years now that I should go to an Asian market to get seeds and plants for the garden.  About a month ago I did.  I bought several bunches of lemon grass for $2.98 that have rooted in water. [It takes about a month so don’t give up.  It’s worth it as most garden stores charge from $10 to $12.98 per plant.]  I also bought some Chinese Kale and some Chinese Basil seeds which have now germinated.

 

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Tansy

Many of the plants newly installed in the Multicultural Garden are identified with Rock signs--Garland Community Garden May 22, 2017

There are two varieties of Tansy:  Senecio Jacobacea L. and Tanacetum vulgare.  I think I purchased Senecio Jacobacea which also has the common name “ragwort.”  I will know for certain when the Tansy blooms as ragwort has a flower that has petals similar to daisy plants while common tansy (Tanacetum vulgare) has button flowers that look like little clusters of balls.

In either case, both of these species are classified in eight states as “noxious weeds.”  Thus I will monitor the Tansy closely and not allow it to go to seed. However, it is not on the list of noxious weeds for Texas. https://plants.usda.gov/java/noxious?rptType=State&statefips=48

Tansy has an interesting history.  Once upon a time no respectable garden in Britain and Europe would have been without a few Tansy plants.  It was used to make funeral wreaths and often corpses were wrapped in Tansy as it is an insect repellant.  The leaves of this plant are said to repeal fleas and ticks.  In fact, the man at Rohdes who helped me locate the tansy said that he wraps the leaves around his dog’s collar to prevent ticks.  One of the reasons I was interested in the plant is due to its reported ability to repel and even kill squash bugs—thus making it an ideal companion plant for members of the cucurbit family.

The Tansy and the Cinnabar Moth have eco paths that cross.  The Tansy is the host plant for the Cinnabar caterpillar.  As far as I know, the Tansy is the only host plant on which the Cinnabar Moth will lay its eggs. Many members of the Lepidoptera Order choose poisonous plants on which to lay their eggs.  The Monarch butterfly is another example.  Cinnabar Moths, not native to the USA, were introduced as biological control for ragwort in Oregon and the state of Washington.  These daytime moths did a good job of getting ragwort under control.

 

Cinnabar Moth (Tyria jacobaeae) - Charlesjsharp - Own work, from Sharp Photography, sharpphotography

We won’t be touching any caterpillars found on the Tansy!

The caterpillar stage of the moth’s growth cycle is covered in tiny venomous spines which readily release toxins into human skin following dermal contact. Although the effects of envenomation are usually limited to an itchy and/or painful rash spreading from the site of contact, more serious symptoms such as atopic asthma, dermatitis, hemorrhage and potentially fatal renal failure have been attributed to direct contact with the caterpillar.

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Bitter Melon - Momorica charantia (also known as bitter gourd and bitter squash)
Bitter melon originated in India and was introduced into China in the 14th century.  It is widely used in Asian cuisine as well as in Hindu or Ayurveda medicine.  This squash-like vegetable has a number of purported uses including cancer prevention, treatment of diabetes, fever, HIV and AIDS, and infections. While it has shown some potential clinical activity in laboratory experiments, "further studies are required to recommend its use."  Most of us Heinz-57 Americans shy away from bitter.  It is just not in the vocabulary of our cuisine.  Thus the taste of a bitter melon dish is an adventure worthy to undertake.  I had some bitter melon soup a couple of years ago and it was indeed bitter.  

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Winged Bean (Psophocarpus tetragonolobus), also known as the Goa bean, and Dragon Bean

Wiki Commons

Winged bean is widely recognized by farmers and consumers in southern Asia for its variety of uses and disease resistance.    Winged bean is nutrient-rich, and all parts of the plant are edible. Leaves can be eaten like spinach, flowers can be used in salads, tubers can be eaten raw or cooked, seeds can be used in similar ways as the soybean.  The winged bean i has the potential to become a major multi-use food crop in the tropics of Asia, Africa, and Latin America.

The seeds are about 35% protein and 18% fat. They require cooking for two to three hours to destroy the trypsin inhibitors and hemagglutinins that inhibit digestion.They can be eaten dried or roasted. Dried and ground seeds make flour, and can be brewed to make a coffee-like drink.  The nutrient-rich, tuberous roots have a nutty flavor. They are about 20% protein and its roots have more protein than many other root vegetables.  The leaves and flowers are also high in protein (10–15%).

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Cardoon
Cynara cadunculus

Cardoon belongs to the artichoke family.  However, unlike the artichoke, the fruit is not eaten.  The plant is harvested for its stems.  Once about 15 years ago when I was in Nice, France I ate some steamed cardoon stalks and they were delicious.  I hadn’t thought about them in years until I saw this plant when I was at Rohdes the other day.  If you would like a better understanding of what they are and how to prepare them, visit this link from Food and Style.  I will look for them and ask in the produce sections of specialty grocery stores.  They look like celery but taste more like artichoke hearts. Food and Style Recipe for Cardoon.  

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Pigeon Pea - Cajanus cajan

This perennial legume (not perennial in our zone) was domesticated in India 3,500 years ago.  It is consumed on a large scale mainly in south Asia and is a major source of protein for the population of that subcontinent.  The crop is cultivated on marginal land by resource-poor farmers, Last year we had it in the garden and it grew into small 7-feet tall bean treesThe seeds (peas) of this legume are similar in appearance and taste to the lentil.  Although not an important crop in the USA, the pigeon pea is critical to the survival of millions of people in the world who live and farm marginal land. Lifting Awareness on the Pigeon Pea—a Global perspective.  

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Lots more to see at the Garland Community Garden!  And we now have a little free library on the grounds. In addition to the 1,500 real ladybugs that Charlie and I released last week, our Bean Patch now has a permanent Ladybug resident.  But I don't think she will be eating too many aphids.

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May 19 @ 08:17

 

Squash Bug (Anasa tristis) – Photo Credit: University of Delaware Cooperative Extension Photo Credit for Squash Vine Borer: Lee Jenkins, University of Missouri Extension. 

According to the Old Farmers’ Almanac:  The Squash bug’s damage is limited to the cucurbit   family (squashes, cucumbers, melons).    Squash bugs are often mistaken for stinkbugs, as they are similar in appearance and both have a foul odor when squashed.  Squash Bugs, however, are endemic to the Americas while stinkbugs are not.  [I know when we were kids there were bugs we called “stinkbugs” and did they stink.  Most likely these were squash bugs.  It’s too bad we weren’t educated from first grade on to refer to plants and animals by their scientific names—then there would not be all this confusion resulting from common names we give to various species.  Often a species can have several different common names and the same common name is used sometimes to refer to different species.]

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Squash Vine Borers– Larvae of Clear Wing Moths

Squash Vine Borers (Melittia cucurbitae) are the larvae of Clear Wing Moths. The Sesiidae or clearwing moths are a family of the Lepidoptera that look like wasps and are active in the daytime.

 The larvae overwinter as pupae in cocoons in the soil.  Then they hatch in early to midsummer and lay their eggs at the base of the stems of squash, melons, and pumpkins.  Clear Wing moths are often mistaken for wasps.  Unlike other moths, Clear Wing moths are active during the daytime.

Now is the time to install your defenses against SQUASH VINE BORERS

Within a few weeks adult clearwing moths will emerge and lay eggs singly or in small groups at the base of stems. The eggs will hatch within 1 to 2 weeks after being laid. The larvae will then bore into stems to feed for about 2 to 4 weeks—totally destroying the squash plant.

 

PREVENTING IS USUALLY EASIER THAN CURING

Following is some great advice from the Old Farmer’s Almanac regarding squash bugs:

  • In the fall, burn or hot-compost old squash vines to rid your garden of any possible shelters for breeding and over-wintering.
  • Avoid deep, cool mulches like straw or hay that provide an environment that these bugs seem to love.
  • Rotate your crops.
  • Consider keeping vines covered until blossoming begins. Remove the cover for pollination needs. There is only one generation of squash bugs per year, and you can avoid them by covering your plants for the first month of spring. You can also delay planting your squash until the early months of summer.
  • Companion planting can be useful in repelling squash bugs. Try planting nasturtium and tansy around your plants that are commonly affected by squash bugs.
  • Select varieties of squash that are resistant to the squash bug if you have a big problem. ‘Butternut,’ ‘Royal Acorn,’ and ‘Sweet Cheese’ varieties are all more resistant to squash bugs 

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A NASTY LOOK-ALIKE TO THE SQUASH BUG:  THE STINKBUG
Photo Credit:  photographed in the laboratory of Fondazione Edmund Mach, Italy – From Wiki CommonsHalyomorpha halys a.k.a. brown mormorated stinkbug (BMSB)

You probably won’t see this critter around your squash, but look for him in your orchard.

Halyomorpha halys, also known as the brown marmorated stink bug (BMSB), or simply the stink bug, is an insect in the family Pentomidae that is native to China, Japan, Korea, and Taiwan.  It was accidentally introduced into the United States, with the first specimen being collected in September 1998.  It is now a season-long pest in orchards.

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TANSY - Tanacetum vulgare

a possible natural botanical solution for controlling squash bugs

 

WIKI COMMONS:  Ivar Leidus- Own work

I’ve never to my knowledge met a Tansy in person, but I’m going in search of some of these plants today. Their photographs bear a strong resemblance to yarrow.

They have an interesting history.  This flowering plant, supposed to repel squash bugs, is a member of the aster family.  It is native to Eurasia and in 16th century Britain it was considered to be “necessary for a garden.”  It was first recorded as being cultivated by the ancient Greeks for medicinal purposes.  In the 15th century, Christians began serving tansy with meals during Lent to commemorate the bitter herbs eaten by the Israelites. Tansy was used as a face wash and was reported to lighten and purify the skin.  Most of its medicinal uses have been discredited,however, Tansy is still a component of some medicines and is listed by the United States Pharmacopeia  as a treatment for fevers, feverish colds, and jaundice. Tansy has also been cultivated and used for its insect repellent capability.   

It was packed into coffins, wrapped in funeral winding sheets, and tansy wreaths  were sometimes placed on the dead.  During the American colonial period, meat was frequently rubbed with or packed in tansy leaves to repel insects and delay spoilage. In England tansy is placed on window sills to repel flies; sprigs are placed in bed linen to drive away pests, and it has been used as an ant repellent. 

The Cherokee used an infusion of the plant for backache, use the plant as a tonic , and wore it around the waist and in shoes to prevent miscarriages. The Cheyenne used an infusion of the pulverized leaves and blossoms for dizziness and weakness.  Tansy is considered to be a great companion plant for squash and cucumbers as it repels the squash bug.  However it is no longer recommended for ingestion as tansy can damage the liver. Application to the skin can cause skin irritation as well.

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How do I deal with the squash bug on my plants?

I monitor my squash and cucumber plants daily.  When I see a squash bug, I squash it. (Isn’t that simple and appropriate?)  Due to the scale of our farming operations, the urban farmer has many options that are not readily available to the commercial farmer.  There is absolutely no need for urban farmers to use chemical warfare on pests.   Now that I have learned about the Tansy, I will plant some near by squash and cucumber plants.

For the squash borer, I’m generously powdering the stems, near the ground with diatomaceous earth (DE).  After a rain or watering, I reapply.

Before using a chemical pesticide, please consider eco-system connections.

We are all connected in the chain of life on this planet.  Consider why we even have squash bugs in the first place.  Their purpose is to provide food for other creatures--birds in particular.  Squash bugs take plant nutrients into their bodies and then are eaten by other animals.  Thus birds and other insect-eaters can be harmed indirectly by consuming poisoned insects.

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Packet of Sunn Hemp (Croteleria junicea) seed from my friend Susan Metz.  Generally speaking, the best seed of any kind you’ll ever acquire are those from a friend who lives nearby.

Replenish Your Soil with Crop Rotation, Cover Crops and Green Manure

Crop rotation is the practice of growing different types of crops in the same beds from season to season.  Different plants use different amounts of nutrients from the soil.  For example, corn is a high nitrogen user while legumes such as beans make their own nitrogen.  Tomatoes are heavy users of magnesium and nitrogen.  In the off-season most organic gardeners either plant cover crops or put compost, molasses and manure on their beds.  If you have enough space it is best to do both: grow different crops in the same space from season to season and replenish the soil with organic nutrients before planting a new crop.

The healthier the soil, the better the harvest.  Conversely, the poorer the soil, the poorer the harvest.  Most of the area of North Texas is part of the eco-region known as the Blackland Prairie.  Our soil, while rich in organic matter, is a heavy clay.  In order to successfully grow edibles in our area, gardeners must amend to the soil to make it more “fluffy” and not so dense. 

Our dense clay soil makes it difficult for roots to pull nutrients and water up to the plant.  Thus it can starve a plant to death—regardless how much the plant is watered.  To remedy this condition gardeners add substances such as expanded shale and perlite to the soil.  These amendments create air spaces in the soil and make it fluffy and easier for the roots to breathe and pull nutrients from the soil to the plant.

 

Farmers have practiced Crop Rotation for thousands of years.

Farmers have long understood the important relationship between the soil and the quality of the edibles at harvest.  For thousands of years in Europe and the Middle East farmers followed a two-field crop rotation.  Under this system of crop rotation, half the land was planted in a year, while the other half lay fallow. Then, in the next year, the planting in the two fields was reversed.

Then, around 814, farmers in Europe transitioned from a two-field crop rotation to a three-field crop rotation.  Under the three- field crop rotation, farmers divided available lands into three parts. One section was planted in the autumn with rye or winter wheat, followed by spring oats or barley; the second section grew crops such as peas, lentils, or beans; and the third field was left fallow. The three fields were rotated in this manner so that every three years, a field would rest and be fallow.

Under the two-field system, if one has a total of 600 acres of fertile land, one would only plant 300 acres. Under the new three-field rotation system, one could plant  400 acres. But the additional crops had a more significant effect than mere quantitative productivity. Since the spring crops were mostly legumes, they increased the overall nutrition of the people of Northern Europe. [Source Wikipedia]

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My Sunn Hemp seeds on a damp paper towel.  Inoculant I ordered from MBS in Denton should be here in a couple of days.

Sunn Hemp—A Cover Crop Is Coming to the Garland Community Garden

This week I am planting the sunn hemp Seed that Susan Metz, a local farmer and A&M educated agricultural researcher, gave to me.  [Note: Sunn Hemp is a member of the Crotalaria genus and is legal to grow; therefore there are no concerns about the appropriateness of its use as an agricultural crop. The Crotalaria genus has 600 known species all with varying characteristics. Please see this USDA article for more information.  http://www.seedland.com/seedland/info-PDF/sunn-hemp.pdf ]

In late August we will pull up the sunn hemp, chop it up into small bits and then spread it on top of the bed like topsoil.  After preparing the bed in this manner we will plant a winter crop of turnips, beets, cabbage, broccoli and kale.  The soil will not require fertilizer and there should be no weeds.

Sunn Hemp has many advantages.

Sunn hemp originated in India where it has been grown since the dawn of agriculture. It has been used as a green manure, livestock feed, and as a non-wood fiber crop. It has also been grown in Brazil and Bangladesh as a soil-improving crop.  It matures 60 to 90 days from planting at around 6 ft tall -- this may increase under proper conditions, to a height of 10 -12 ft.  This means around the first of September we can cut it down and use it as green manure for our winter garden.

    • Sunn hemp (Crotalaria juncea L.) is a legume that when grown as a summer annual can produce over 5,000 pounds of biomass and over 100 pounds of nitrogen per acre. 
    • Moves a minimum of 10 lbs of residual phosphorous from the subsoil to the topsoil -- this can be as high as 20 lbs
    • Moves around 80 lbs of residual potash from the subsoil to the topsoil -- under favorable conditions this may increase to 160 lbs
    • Suppresses rootknot and nematodes as well as weeds!
    • A great soil builder, increases drought tolerance and yield and cash value of the next crop
    • The leaves of Sunn Hemp contain 30% protein
    • Food plots -- Deer love the leaves; turkey and quail love the cover provided; Livestock will eat the dried leaves or 'hay'.
    • When properly planted Sunn Hemp will eliminate weeds -- an advantage for food plots and farmers alikeInoculate the Seeds

Inoculate Seeds

Raw Sunn Hemp seed will thrive with cowpea-type rhizobia bacteria.

The inoculant can be purchased at a quality garden store.  You can spread inoculant on an old dinner plate and, after soaking the seeds, roll them in the inoculant. But you can also sprinkle the inoculate right from the can after laying the seed in its furrow and before covering with soil.

There are several types of Rhizobium bacteria and most are plant specific when setting up symbiosis. The bacterium that works together with beans and peas is Rhizobium leguminosera. I have never inoculated my bean seeds.  I might try next year and see what happens.  However, a friend of mine mentioned that she inoculated her bean seeds last year and could not tell any improvement in the production or general health of the plants.

I’ve read that inoculation is recommended when the field has no past history of growth of your particular legume, or when you have a high value crop for which you want to ensure successful growth. Often, inoculant rhizobia can remain viable in the soil without the presence of a legume for a few years, and then be ready to form nodules when its host plant is sown.

 Specifically, inoculation is recommended if the field has been out of host plant production for 3–5 years, or never planted to the host. Further, inoculation can help increase rhizobia populations in fields with unfavorable environmental conditions for the bacteria's long-term survival.

Take care of your inoculants.  They are Alive*

Inoculants come in many forms, but the most common is as a bacteria-infused peat that has a black, dust-like appearance. The bacteria on the peat particles may not look like much, but they are indeed alive, and should be treated with care. Although peat has been shown to mediate unfavorable conditions such as high temperatures and long storage times, certain precautions are necessary in order to increase inoculant effectiveness.

Inoculant packages come with an expiration date that should be heeded—use of an inoculant past its expiration date could mean that you are adding bacteria to your seed that are not alive or healthy. Treat the inoculant as you might treat a living organism—don’t leave it in the sun for extended periods of time, and store it in a cool dry place when not in use, such as a refrigerator. Many manufacturer recommendations offer a suggested temperature of 40°F.

Inoculants can be added to the soil or directly to your seed prior to planting.

*Source: 

http://articles.extension.org/pages/64401/legume-inoculation-for-organic-farming-systems - accessed May 17, 2017

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Yesterday, Ana Maria DeYoung donated this book, available from Rodale Store, to the Garland Community Garden Little Free Library.  Bring a book to exchange for it and take it home to read if you’ve been thinking about getting some urban chickens but haven’t made up your mind yet.  If you did already take this book from our little free library, I hope you will return it when you are finished reading it as I’m sure others in our community are also interested about the prospect of chickens in their back yards.

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ORGANIC GARDENING AND SUSTAINABLE LIFESTYLES  -- from quirky advocates to mainstream supporters

“Healthy soil, healthy food, healthy people” J.I. Rodale 

As mentioned in a previous post, I came across my copy of the Special Collector’s Issue (Feb/March 2015) of the ORGANIC GARDENING magazine when I was looking for books and magazines to contribute to the Garland Community Garden Little Free Library.

The magazine has some interesting history.  In the spring of 1942 the first copy of Organic Farming and Gardening was sent to 14,000 American farmers.  J.I. Rodale was the small-time publisher who was behind this magazine.  He believed that synthetic fertilizers and pesticides made food less nutritious and consumers less healthy.  That was 1942 and such a notion back then was downright radical.  Too bad more people didn’t follow his advice and articles on composting, biodynamic farming and earthworms.  As a nation, we would likely be much more healthy today.

Fortunately Rodale didn't pay much attention to other people's opinions.  He sent out a coupon with each of those first 14,000 black/white thin copies of Organic Farming and Gardening offering $1 annual subscriptions.  The organic movement began with 12 readers who each sent in $1. Today, through the Rodale website readers can get an annual subscription for $15.00.  I think the per copy price for the magazine is at about $6.00.

 Over 75 years and eight name changes, the magazine became Rodale’s Organic Life in 2015.  They also have a great website at https://www.rodalesorganiclife.com

Organic Gardening First Subscriber in 1942

Harry J. Beatty of Kingston New York was the first subscriber to Organic Farming and Gardening.  His inked out 1942 order form still hangs of the walls of the Rodale headquarters.  In 1957 it was said that age 68 he still “. . . intelligently husbanded the resources of 130 acres of rich, sandy loam of Suydam Farm, laid out over two centuries ago by thrifty Hudson Valley Dutch.”

 

Favorites from the 2015 Collector's Issue of Organic Gardening

Much of the content from this special issue makes me want to run out and simultaneously begin about 50 projects all at once.   Other pieces are thought provoking.  I’ll list just a few of my favorites:

  1. Housing Project for Blue birds—one page complete with an illustration of a bluebird house that you can build.  Bluebirds pay rent in the vast numbers of harmful insects they consume every year.

  2. Silent Spring Two Years Later—one page commentary by Robert Rodale in 1965, two years after Rachael Carson published the first major warning to Americans regarding insecticides that seemed to soak into the minds of a substantial number of people.  Prior to the publication of Silent Spring, enlightened scientists had warned us, but it was Ms. Carson's book that brought the issue mainstream. Imagine that!  People began to have second thoughts about allowing their children to run behind DDT foggers.  Even so the chemical companies went to work to paint Carson as some wacko who didn't know what she was talking about.  However, the majority in the world are winning this war.  Today there are now large cities all over the world that are pesticide-free.

    Small beginnings matter.  Nearly 25 years ago, the small town of Hudson in Quebec, Canada (Pop 5,135) became a world leader when it introduced a by-law banning the use of chemical pesticides within the town limits.  Cities all over the world are following this example.  Today over 170 cities in Canada are pesticide free.  In France there are over 900 cities pesticide-free and this include Paris which has been pesticide-free since 2000.  Looks like we can live without pesticides, folks.

  3. Survival in the Wilds of Central Park—a two-page article from August of 1968 written by Euell Gibbons.  His lunch included Lamb’s quarter, dandelion, sour grass, peppergrass, sassafras tea, wild onions, dock, crab apple and sunfish.

  4. Economic Freedom on One Acre – a one-page article about a couple from Maine whose one-acre truck patch brings in $3,000 a year. This did not include the food they grew and ate.  This article was published in 1973.  Today that $3,000 would be $17,042.26.   

  5. 90 pounds of tomatoes from 5 plants – half-page article.   This article is follows a composting method that we use in some of the plots at the Garland Community Garden using a wire mesh cylinder filled with compost.  You water the compost and it fertilizes the nearby plants.

  6. The Problem with Genetic Engineering—two-page article from 2000 that explains clearly how genetic engineering works.  The folks at Organic Gardening believe the risks of genetically engineered foods vastly outweigh any benefits.  Our biggest concern is not what we know about genetic manipulation, but rather what we don’t know.  History, from DDT to Love Canal, has been strewn with the inadvertent consequences of “progress.”  With regard to genetically altered life forms, once a mistake is made and released into the environment, there is no certainty it can ever be undone.

  7. This Collector’s issue of Organic Gardening also contains many interesting recipes.  One is titled “Amaranth, Rice and Parmesan pancakes” that I plan to make as I have Amaranth growing in my yard. (Just don’t mention it to my friends.)

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The Garland Community Garden - stewarded by Loving Garland Green

Speaking of organic living and organic gardens, we have a rather large example of an organic garden in Garland, Texas. The official stewards of this space are members of Loving Garland Green. Our garden, founded in April of 2014, is completely organic.  The closest thing to a pesticide is DE that we use to help control the fire ants.  The key word here is "help" because in Garland and all of that strip of land from the Red River southwest through the DFW area ending in San Antonio is heavy clay soil of what was once the Blackland Prairie.  The fire ant, believe it or not has an ecological mission:  to aerate the soil.  Believe me, in our area the fire ant will likely never finish its goal as a species.

At least 70% of all the plants grown in the garden began as heirloom seeds.  All but five of the 27 blackberry bushes in garden came from cuttings from the blackberry bushes in my yard.

Our mission is to encourage residents in our community to grow some of the food they eat.  We know that when people start to garden, even a little, other aspects of their lives and health will improve as well.

Many community gardens charge a fee for people to garden a certain sized plot.  The produce is theirs to keep and there is often not a lot interaction among the gardeners unless they happen to be there at the same time.  The Garland Community Garden is different from many community gardens in several ways:

Our garden doesn't look like most community gardens as we have slightly different goals.

1. Our beds vary in shape and material. Our beds are not a bunch of uniformed-sized wooden rectangles.  Many of them don't even have a hard border.  This makes it easier for mowing.  We want to show visitors that gardens come in all shapes and sizes.  Make one in your yard or on your patio  to fit your needs.  The only recommendations we make are 1) no more than 4 feet wide so you can reach to the middle from either side and 2) the bed should be accessible from all sides.

2.  We emphasize diversity over production.  We are not attempting to produce food for the community, although we do a tiny bit of that.  We are more about showing by example how many different vegetables and fruits people can grow in their yards or patios.  We have so far demonstrated that you can grow many many different kinds of edibles in our community.

3. We share knowledge more than food with the community. We do have a local charity, the Garland Good Samaritans, that we share 50% of our produce with.  Even so, we share our knowledge with them.  For example, in April of this year we install eight 27 gallon pots with trellises planted with pole beans at their home.  We helped them to create a demonstration garden showing how it's possible to grow great edibles in a tiny urban space.

4. We ask that the people who garden in the Garland Community Garden also attend Loving Garland Green meetings and participate in our community activities.  

5.  Our garden is located on a main traffic corridor in our city and thus has high visibility.

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Installation of the Garland Community Garden Little Free Library – May 12, 2017 - If you want to go fast, go alone, but if you want to go far, go together. – An African proverb

The group in the photo above attended the installation of the Garland Community Garden Little Library this morning.  Ana Maria DeYoung, President Garland Flamingo Neighbors  (at the left in white) and Jane Stroud, President Loving Garland Green (in the green shirt near the center) were the two “movers and shakers” who made the Library happen.  But there were also lots of people and connections that were also part of this story:  There were the folks at the Garland Neighborhood Vitality Department, who had access to the discarded Newspaper rack that they shared with us; there was the man who painted the rack and put the Flamingo and Loving Garland Green logos on it; and there were the citizens who donated the books and magazines to get the library going. And there will be the citizens who come to borrow and give to the Little Free Library and sustain it through their participation. 

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Charlie Bevilacqua, one of the founding members of Loving Garland Green, puts some Smithsonian Magazines that he brought into the Garland Community Garden Little Free Library and Ana Maria DeYoung adds a book about chickens.

Yes, this morning we installed a Little Free Library down at the garden. I can’t think of a more perfect place for a Little Free Library than the Garland Community Garden. Like our garden, the Little Free Library also reflects permaculture principles of sharing and reusing/repurposing things—both concepts central to the healthy and sustainable community.  

Little Free Library is a nonprofit organization that inspires a love of reading, builds community, and sparks creativity by fostering neighborhood book exchanges around the world.  The Little Free Library is a free book exchange.  The general idea is that you bring a book and take a book.  As of November 2016, there were 50,000 registered little free libraries and no two are exactly alike.  You can find one near you by selecting this link: world map of Little Free Libraries.   Here in Garland we have three now that I know of:  One on Orchard Hill, one in the Camelot area, and now one at the Garland Community Garden. 

Ana Maria's grandson relaxes in front of the latest little free library in Garland Texas--made possible in large part by his grandmother.

We have registered the Garland Community Garden Little Free Library with its parent nonprofit organization and will be receiving our official number and license plate in the mail soon.  When it arrives, we will put it on our Little Library.  When folks visit the world map of Little Free Libraries, the Garland Community Garden will be on that map—thus we have helped to put our lovable city on yet another world map.

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Sir Albert Howard and Jerome Irving Rodale – Pioneers in organic gardening would have most likely approved of Little Free Libraries.

The Pioneers in Organic Farming Were Right

As I culled through my books and magazines earlier this morning to see what I would like to donate to the Garland Community Garden Little Free Library, I was reminded that making the choice to organically grow some of the food we eat has implications that ripple out to all aspects of one’s life and community—influencing not only our choices for the food we eat, but also many of the social aspects of our lives as well.

One of the magazines I came across was a special collector’s issue of ORGANIC GARDENING.  This issue contains stories about all my favorite organic pioneers—from Ruth Stout to Michael Pollan. There is a photo of J.I. Rodale and a quote from him on the cover.  In May of 1942 he said:  “One of these fine days, the public is going to wake up and will pay for eggs, meats, vegetables, etc., according to how they were produced.”  I would say that day has arrived.

 It’s somewhat ironic that Rodale (originally with the last name of Cohen) from the Lower East Side of New York City would become such an important leader in the organic agricultural movement. In fact, Rodale is the one who used the word “organic” to label the ideas that Sir Albert Howard wrote about in his classic An Agricultural Testament.  Sir Howard did understand that his concept was the basis for a revolution in lifestyles extending beyond agriculture but he didn’t provide the label that would promote his ideas. 

Sir Albert Howard (b. 1873 d. 1947) worked in India as agricultural adviser and was in charge of a government research farm at Indore.  Howard supported traditional Indian farming practices over conventional agricultural science.  He has been called the father of modern composting as he refined a traditional Indian composting system into what is not known as the Indore method.  His book, An Agricultural Testament, is a classic organic farming text aimed at the general public.  He advocated studying the forest in order to farm like the forest.  Understanding the interface between ecology and agriculture was especially important to him.

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May 11 @ 08:54

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wiki Commons:  

Gilles San Martin from Namur, Belgium - Coccinella magnifica

Ladybug- The Real Deal

Yesterday evening Charlie and I released 1,500 live Ladybugs in the Garland Community Garden. We got this bag of insects for free at the continuation of  Earth Day in the City of Garland. 

According to legend, during the Middle Ages crops were plagued by pests, so the farmers began praying to the Blessed Lady, the Virgin Mary. Soon, ladybugs appeared in their fields, and the crops were miraculously saved from the pests. They associated their good fortune with the black and red beetles, and so began calling them lady beetles.  In Germany the Ladybug is called Marienkafer.

Just for the record, ladybugs are beetles, not bugs.  Gardeners like this insect because they are experts at keeping aphid populations in the garden under control.

But,when it comes to ladybugs, it’s important to know there are some ladybugs lookalikes that smart gardeners do not count as their “best buds” or “beneficial insects.”

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Nasty Ladybug Imposters

I know of two ladybug lookalikes.  There may be more.  Unlike the ladybug, these pests are bugs.  Confusingly so, both have the same common name of harlequin bug.  The best ways I know to tell the differences are 1) these insects are generally a little larger than the ladybug and their shape is less round and more oval.  2) The plants where I find them are almost always members of the Brassicaceae family. This family contains the cruciferous vegetables, including species such as Brassica oleracea   (e.g., broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, kale, collards), Brassica rapa  (turnip, Chinese cabbage, etc.) Napus (rapeseed, etc.),Raphanus sativus    (common radish), Armoraciarusticana  (horseradish)

Note on another Pest of the Brassicaceae family—the white butterfly:

Pieris rapae and other butterflies of the family Pieridae are some of the best-known pests of Brassicaceae species planted as commercial crops. The white butterflies use plants from the Brassicaceae family (particularly cabbage) as host plants.  The caterpillar of the white butterfly is also known as “the cabbage worm.”

If your plants with edible greens aren’t looking healthy, most likely it’s the fault of the harlequin bug or the caterpillar of the white butterfly.  My method of control is to pick the bugs off and dump them in a bucket of soapy water. 

To organically control harlequin bugs, some folks plant fast-growing mustard early in the spring as a sacrifice plant.  They remove the infested plant to the trash (not to the compost) and then plant their other leafy greens.

  

Mating Pair Murgantia histroinica - WIKI Commons: Judy Gallagher - http://www.flickr.com/photos/52450054@N04/9340575446/

Common name: Harlequin Bug

scientific name: Murgantia histrionica   

It feeds on its host plant by sucking the plant’s juices.  It literally sucks the plant to death.  This insect prefers cabbage and cabbage-related plants such as kale, broccoli, and cauliflower.  If not controlled, this pest has the ability to destroy an entire crop. You can forget any kind theories about “living in harmony” with the harlequin bug.  Either you will eat your leafy greens, or it will. It was introduced in the USA from Mexico at the time of the Civil War.  If the leaves on your kale or cabbage look like they are skeletons with just the vein structure left.  Look for harlequins on your plants.  Most likely you will find lots of them.

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Harmonia axyridis – Wiki Commons- Harmonia axyridis source: http://home.tiscali.be/entomart.ins

Common Name:  Harlequin Bug
Scientific name:  Harmonia axyridis

This species became established in North America as the result of introduction into the United States in an attempt to control the spread of aphids. In the last three decades, this insect has spread throughout the United States and Canada, and has been a prominent factor in controlling aphid populations. In the US, the first introductions took place as far back as 1916.  This bug is also know as the “Halloween Beetle” as it comes into homes around the end of October to prepare for overwintering.

The Harmonia axyridis looks more like the lady bug than the Murgantia histrionica.  The only way I can tell the difference is to 1) observe the health of the plant and 2) the size of the insect.  If it is somewhat larger than the average ladybug and the condition of the plant is not that great, it is likely the insect is Harmonia axridis and not a ladybug.

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Snakes in Paradise

Just ask Adam or Eve.  It happens.  Snakes occur all over the planet.  Seven species of venomous snakes occur in the Dallas Fort Worth area.  To keep things in the general range of reality, it should be noted the national average for fatal snakebites in the United States is only 2 per year. 

Also, a vast majority of bite victims are white males ages 18-25 who are capturing, handling or molesting a venomous snake.  Oftentimes alcohol or other drugs are involved.  While legitimate bites occur on occasion it should be noted that most snakebites are avoidable and are the fault of the bite victim. 

More people in the United States die from vending machines falling over on them (after being shaken), being struck by lightning, or due to an allergic reaction from an insect sting.  [SOURCE]  

 

Seven Venomous Snakes Occur in the DFW Area

The following linked items from the University of Texas at Arlington's Amphibian and Reptile Diversity Research Center provide information regarding the three Venomous snakes that have been sighted in Garland.  Of them, to my knowledge, only the Copperhead has been sighted in the Garland Community Garden over the past four years.  However, the wooded area adjacent to the garden may be a different story.  Therefore, when you visit, stay out of the woods. 

Copperhead (Agkistrodon contortrix)

Cottonmouth (Agkistrodon piscivorous)

Western Diamondback Rattlesnake (Crotalus atrox)

*Timber Rattlesnake (Crotalus horridus)

*Massasagua (Sisturus catenatus)

*Pigmy Rattlesnake (Sisturus miliarius)

*Texas Coral Snake (Micrurus tener)

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SAFETY TIPS FOR AVOIDING VENOMOUS SNAKE BITE

These tips are from the Amphibian and Reptile Diversity Research Center at the University of Texas at Arlington—a reliable source. 

1. Do not attempt to capture or kill a venomous snake.

2. Do not attempt to capture or handle venomous snakes or any snake whose identity you are uncertain.

3. Wear shoes and appropriate clothing when walking through habitats in which snakes occur.

4. When hiking always pay attention to the ground and visually check logs, rocks, and other objects before stepping over them.

5. Watch where you place your hands and avoid placing your hands into rocky crevices, hollow logs, holes in the ground or any such location.

6. When lifting objects in places where venomous snakes occur, boards, logs or rocks should be moved with caution to avoid receiving a bite.

7. If you encounter a venomous snake in the wild leave it alone and move away.  SOURCE https://www.uta.edu/biology/herpetology/venomous_snakes_of_the_dallas_fo.htm

 

FIRST AID TIPS FOR SNAKE BITES

These tips are from the Amphibian and Reptile Diversity Research Center at the University of Texas at Arlington

1. Do not try to kill or bring the venomous snake that bit the victim.  This can sometimes result in another bite!

2. Remain calm.  This is important as it allows for clearer thinking and lower blood pressure.

3. If bitten on the arm, hand, or fingers remove all jewelry, watches or long sleeved shirts.

4. DO NOT APPLY TOURNIQUETS OR CONSTRICTING BANDS.

5. DO NOT APPLY ICE TO THE BITE.

6. DO NOT CUT THE BITE AREA IN AN ATTEMPT TO REMOVE VENOM.

7. DO NOT APPLY ELECTRICITY TO THE BITE.

8. DO NOT GIVE THE VICTIM ALCOHOLIC BEVERAGES OR ASPIRIN.

9. Keep the victim calm and seek immediate medical attention from a qualified physician.

The bite from a venomous snakes occurring in north Central Texas is an excruciating and painful experience.  However, it is important to remember that there is a high survival rate for venomous snake bites in the United States.

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After two sightings of Copperheads in the Garland Community Garden this spring, and after much discussion, we have decided to err on the side of caution and post the following sign in the area where most visitors enter the garden.  Copperheads are most active during the spring, early summer and late fall when the weather turns cooler.  During the hot dry months of summer and early fall they become almost entirely nocturnal.  Thus it’s a good idea to not wander in the garden after dark and in the very early hours of morning during the summer.

ADDED NOTE AFTER POSTING:   TWO COMMON SNAKE MYTHS:

 1.  Myth:  You can tell a snake is venomous if it has a triangular head.     
      fact:    Almost all snakes have triangular heads.

2.  Myth:  Venomous snakes have patterns.
     Fact:   Almost all snakes have patterns. For example, harmless snakes such as Garter snakes; Corn Snakes; and Milk Snakes all have patterns.

If you live in the DFW area and are interested in identifying the venomous snakes in our area, you would be better served by looking at photos of and reading up on Copperheads; Cottonmouths; Western Diamondbacks; Timber Rattlesnakes; Massasagua (a type of rattlesnake); Pigmy Rattlesnake and Texas Coral Snake.

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Liz Berry, President Emeritus and Jane Stroud, President Loving Garland Green support the Keep Garland Beautiful Spring Trash Bash in Garland on Saturday May 6, 2017.

Yesterday was a big day for me as a local yokel and member of the Garland Texas Park Board. Our celebration for Earth Day was extended into May and Saturday was also the day I voted for Mayor and my city councilman.  After voting at 7:15 AM Charlie and I drove over to 66 and Commerce Street to sign in for the Spring Trash Bash.  We got our trash sacks and gloves and headed on over to 4022 Naaman School Road where we picked up trash near the roadway that faces the Garland Community Garden. 

I was happy to see all my friends from Keep Garland Beautiful there—Betty Roberts, President; Reba Collins and Ken Risser.  Donna Baird, from our Garland Multicultural Commission, was also helping them out.  It’s great to see all our organizations working together to make Garland even more beautiful and healthy.  In addition to Keep Garland Beautiful, our Environmental Waste Services, our Garland Storm Water Management, our Garland ISD, the North Central Texas Council of Governments and other local groups helped to make this event the success it was.  There were also Scout troops and a large group from the local Knights of Columbus who were among those participating in our Trash Bash pickup activities.

The Loving Garland Green group found only one cigarette butt.

One thing that made me happy about the trash we found was that there was only one cigarette butt among our trash collected.    According to Keep America Beautiful, the parent organization for our Keep Garland Beautiful, only 10% of cigarette butts are properly deposited in ash receptacles.  A survey of more than 1,000 smokers found that 35% of smokers toss five or more cigarette butts from each pack on the ground.

Cigarette butts are the most littered item in the world.  Over 4.5 trillion cigarette butts are littered worldwide each year.  These little butts add up. There are over 176,000,000 pounds of discarded cigarette butts in the USA each year.  (http://www.cigarettelitter.org).

Cigarettes are extremely toxic.  They contain over 165 chemicals—bad stuff like arsenic, acetone, lead, formaldehyde, and cadmium to name a few of these polluting and deadly chemicals in a cigarette. 

In a study performed by Elli Slaughter of San Diego State University, a single cigarette butt that had traces of tobacco was introduced to a liter of water. This resulted in high toxicity levels, and the death of 50% of the fish in the water. This is the result of one little cigarette butt.

  

Charlie brings in his haul for delivery to the community trash-gathering bin.

Turning in Trash for Prizes

We really would do this even if there were no prizes, but the prizes and games make the event even more fun.  After gathering our trash we returned to our starting point to turn it in and be rewarded for our efforts with hotdogs, fun and games and prizes.  In order to win the prizes, visitors had to answer questions regarding the environment and responsible practices as a good citizen.  I’m happy to report that Jane, Charlie and I got all the answer correct and thus we went away with a sack full of loot.

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Downtown Marketplace and then to the Native Plants and Prairies Day

Jane and I left about 10:30AM and headed for downtown Garland for the twice a month MarketPlace.  From there we left the boundaries of our great municipality and headed over to the White Rock Lake area where the historic Bath House Cultural Center is located.  This is where the fifth annual North Texas Master Naturalist Native Plants and Prairies Day was being held.  The event is supported by the Texas A& AgriLife Extension, the Texas Parks and Wildlife, and the North Texas chapter of Texas Master Naturalists.  The most interesting booth for me was a collection of native snakes (all behind glass).  I was able to see a large copperhead up close and safe.

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Public Farmers Market at Firewheel Town Center

Jane and I ended our community gad-about by returning to the Firewheel Center here in Garland where they were holding a produce market on the northeast side of Macy’s.  We bought beets, delicious tomatoes and Brussels sprouts.

Firewheel Town Center is excited to be hosting a Farmer's Market kicking off on Saturday, May 6. 

Interested in setting up? 

Visit www.publicmarketgarland.com for more details.

The Public Market will run from May 6th - July 30th in the grass lot behind Macy's next to the apartments.
Saturdays and Sundays
9am-4pm

 

Monday Update:  PRODUCE VENDORS TAKE NOTE--Vendor made more Money at this Firewheel Town Center market than he did at the Dallas Farmer's Market

On Sunday Jane and her husband who live in Firewheel returned for more good produce.  One of the vendors told Jane that on the first day of this new market that he made more money than he made selling his produce at the Dallas Farmer's Market.  I attribute this to the fact that Firewheel Center is located nearby Garland's most upscale residential area--a perfect location as it is very convenient to customers who are interested in and who can best afford quality produce.  Instead of having to drive twenty minutes to half an hour to get to a Whole Foods, they can just hop in their car and get the very freshest produce in five minutes.

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But, if you want the freshest and  the most affordable produce:  grow your own!