Thursday, September 19, 2013

The name of the moth is....

I recently published a post about a beautiful moth and ask if anyone knew what it was. Ray, Jessica Sandy and I all agreed it is a Eumorpha Pandorus.

  • Eumorpha pandorus

  • The Pandora sphinx moth, also called the Pandorus Sphinx Moth, is a North American moth in the Sphingidae family. It is a large, greenish gray moth with darker patches and pink edges and small pink eyespots. Wikipedia
  • News from the Edible Landscape Demonstration Garden

    Grape Arbor Garden Entrance
    Hip Hip Hooray!! We have won first prize for community vegetable garden in the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society's City Gardens Contest! The dedicated volunteers who have worked tirelessly from early spring through the hot days of summer are doing a victory dance and chanting "We're Number One!" Well, maybe we just have broad smiles on our faces. Gardeners tend to be more modest folks.

    What we are definitely doing right now is planning for next season. The garlic that was ordered two months ago from a mail order catalog will be arriving soon and to be planted next month. Successful plantings for this year have been noted, as well as those that were a bit disappointing. While this season has been the "year of beans", thought is being given to what vegetables to hightlight in 2014. Tomatoes seem to top the list. Crop rotation to avoid disease infestation is always a major consideration and challenge in a relatively small garden. Finding a different spot each season for the nightshade family plants (tomatoes and eggplants) can be tricky.

    The gardeners have also begun the necessary fall housecleaning. Some of the summer plants including many of the beans have finished producing and have been removed. Some fall crops have been planted and the battle with our four-legged friends has begun. The rabbits have feasted upon the peas and lettuces. The curly endive and arugula have been spared. Row covers over the broccoli, cabbage, collards and pak choi that were so effective in the spring, have done little to deter the hungry insects. Life is never perfect in the vegetable patch.
    Brown Turkey Fig

    The fig tree this year has been amazingly bountiful producing well over fifty pounds of lucious fruit. All of the gardeners, the Horticultural Center staff, friends and families have enjoyed the harvest. The home canners in the group have jars and jars of fig jam in their pantries.

    We have had numerous visitors to the garden, beyond the critters. Many folks have left messages at the sign in box --- "Thank you, thank you, what a beautiful oasis you created" --- and a personal favorite: "As good as Longwood". Kind words inspire us all!

    Friday, September 13, 2013

    Planting a Tree for the Fall

    Brian Olszak

    As Fall quickly approaches, we all start to notice the trees a little more, becoming flush with yellows, reds and oranges, reminding us that Winter is not too far away. Many people instinctively break out the shovel and trough in the Spring to plant their trees, but planting your tree in the Fall can be as great a time for it (or even greater!). Your tree will have two extra seasons (Winter and Spring) to establish itself in the soil before the heat stress of Summer sets in. Here's a good primer to start your way to planting that tree you've been meaning to plant!

    Trees of all species usually come from a nursery or garden store in one of three different ways: balled-and-burlapped, bare-root, or potted. Bare-root trees are usually considered the best, mainly because the majority of the tree's roots remain intact, and will have the easiest time acclimating itself to its new home in your yard or street. Balled-and-burlapped trees, also known as "B&B's", are perhaps the most commonly-seen, ready-to-be-planted forms. However, they come with the least of its original root-system intact--up to 90% of its roots were severed when it was dug up from a nursery and balled and burlapped. These will need extra watering vigilance as you try to establish the tree in its first year. Potted trees, when purchased young enough, can be excellent as well.

    Assuming you already know which species of tree you'd like to plant, make sure to pick a sunny, well-drained patch of earth, clear of any possible aerial obstacles like power lines or other trees. Planning where a tree should go should be no small decision: they can live and thrive for decades, quickly out-growing any cramped space. A well-placed tree can shade your house during the hottest of days, saving on energy costs for years to come.

    When you've picked your patch of earth, start digging--but not too deep! The number one mistake perpetrated when planting trees is planting them too deep--the vast majority of a tree's roots will be within a foot of the soil surface, and planting a tree too deep at the beginning will diminish its ability to receive oxygen or water from the surface. The root flare--the bump on the lower part of the trunk where the roots begin--should show above the surface. You can lower the tree into the hole to gauge how deep it is as your digging, or you can take a tape measure to be more precise. Dig the hole at least two times wider than the root ball is: since these roots will be primarily growing out instead of down, loosening up this soil is crucial for the roots to establish themselves.

    When you've reached the right depth, place the tree in the hole, making sure it is positioned as straight-up as possible. If it is a B&B, do remove the burlap and wire basket at this point, otherwise the roots will twist around and stunt the growth of the tree, if not eventually strangling and killing it. If you have a bare-root tree, place an extra mound of soil in the hole upon which to lay out the roots radially, still making sure the tree will be at the right depth when you backfill the rest of the hole. Make sure to backfill the rest of the hole with as much of the original soil that you took out of the hole as possible.
    Friends don't let friends have Mulch Volcanos. Source:

    When mulching, it is much better to mulch wide and not deep. Mulch no more than 3 inches deep and make sure to not have the mulch actually touching the tree trunk itself. Avoid piling the mulch high up against the tree, a practice infamously known as the "mulch volcano." This can trap moisture against the tree, encouraging rot, or preventing water from infiltrating down to the roots at all!

    Water the tree generously right at planting, and every few days after. About 5 gallons at a time will do. A best practice is to use a 5-gallon bucket with a few holes punched in the bottom: place the bucket next to the tree, fill it up, and let it percolate down into the soil.

    For more info on planting a balled-and-burlapped tree, click here.

    Thursday, September 5, 2013

    Insect in the garden. Moth?

    Michele K. Koskinen

    While harvesting vegetables I freightened a large brown flying something. I followed it and it's wings were beating like a hummingbird as it was trapped against the stone wall of my garden. It then flew through my garden and landed on a Euphorbia. Camera in hand I started to try and get some good closeups while my neighbor and husband held the foliage back.

    It is huge and looks like a moth, not a butterfly, with a body approxipately 2" long, large eyes and wings that are split and attached high over the body. The photos are closeups of the insect while hanging with no full wingspan. It remained as still as something hiding in camouflage. Is this what has been eating my flowers?

    I will try to research what exactly I am seeing but, if anyone out there knows its name, please comment.

    Summer into Fall Gardening

    As fall arrives the summer garden is waning and the intrepid gardener has much work to do. Hopefully you have taken photos of your garden as it has grown, bloomed and produced for future planning. If you are not planting a fall garden what is next?
    Veteren gardens know you are never totally finished in the garden. New or beginner gardeners need to be thinking of all the additional steps to good gardening Below is a short list to get you started.

    A short list of things to do in September.


    This is the time to take photos of your garden, and pull out your notebook and takes notes on successes and failures of your garden. Did you like your selection of container plants? How productive were those tomatoes and peppers? What insects or diseases did you encounter? How was the overall weather pattern? Where are you going to rework that perrenial garden? Are you expanding your raised beds and getting them finished by November for next year? What bulbs will need to be planted for a spring garden? Do you need an additional shrub or small tree? These are just a few of the questions that will make your life easier in the spring.

    If you have not read our blogs on photographing and logging information visit these links.

    Photographing your garden
    Journals for Gardens

    Planting and Harvesting:
    • It is not too late to sow some lettuce or other cold hardy greens nto the ground.
    • Transplant cabbages, collards, kale, broccoli and kohlrabi.
    • If you have a sunny place indoors, pot some of your favorites and healthiest herbs and enjoy them in the the winter.
    • To prolong the vegetable production, keep your veggies picked
    • Watch for frost and cover your tomatoes that are still on the vine. Pull the green tomatoes in your garden and wrap them in paper. Store them at 55to 60 degrees. You could have tomatoes at Thanksgiving.
    • Start pulling up plants that are no longer producing or past their prime.
    • Clean the garden of dropped foliage to discourage disease and insects from overwintering in the soil.
    • Make sure the mulch is thick enough on your cold season crops.

    A little light reading:

    And finally, refresh your containers.  Find fall plants like ornamental cabbages, grasses, hardy pansies and chrysanthemums. Take color and beauty into the fall.