Friday, September 15, 2017

500,000 Views!

Feeling blessed!



There's been many times I nearly quit - so here's hoping the garden continues to teach me things that I can pass along to you!

Thanks for visiting and making comments!

Saturday, September 09, 2017

Jewelweed: A Natural Treatment For Insect Bites

This time of year, there isn't a day where I don't get stung or bit by some insect. Whether it be from accidentally disturbing an ant colony hill while weeding a bed, or pruning shrubs that harbour mosquitos - there's no escape.  As autumn approaches, yellow jacket wasps are in a frenzy looking for something sweet or for protein. I dread the wasp season, as I get stung quite often too.

We usually carry After-Bite with us where we work, but in one garden area, we don't need to use it. Instead, nature has provided us with a wonderful annual plant called Jewelweed (Impatiens capensis). It's worked so well for me that I had to share.


I am thankful for a natural resource that enables us to find a quick solution without running to the first-aid kit.

I specifically took photos of this plant in the early hours of the morning, because the dew droplets covering the leaves is why the plant was named Jewelweed.  If the sun hits those leaves just right, you get an eye-catching shimmer.


Used medicinally by indigenous people for years, Impatiens capensis leaves contain a compound called Lawsone - which has anti-histamine and anti-inflammatory properties. Just take a few leaves in between your fingers and squish them until the "juice" exudes. Rub the juice and leafy mush onto bites and within a few minutes the sting/bite pain/itch will diminish.

It's that simple.

Further, Jewelweed can be used as a natural topical treatment for poison ivy!  Great for nature lovers, bird watchers and hunters who may come upon poison ivy in the wild. It's ideal to use when you have no lotion or ability to wash off the urushiol oil that gives us rashes.  The lawsone in the Jewelweed leaves, acts as a barrier for the skin not to absorb the urushiol oil.

Please look at the link here --->  medical info regarding Jewelweed which describes the plant's ability to treat poison ivy, when you have no soap or water around to clean your skin.

Where to find Jewelweed:  they like moist, wetland areas.  If you see Cattails, then you'll probably find Jewelweed.


They are an annual plant which self seeds readily. You never really find just one plant here and there. Instead, a mass - which makes them easy to find.


I love it when plants provide an antidote to other noxious plants.


The flowers look orange from afar, but here you can see it's a combo of red and yellow that make a clear ID.

Try it for yourself!


Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Mutant Rudbeckia


I like to introduce you to a two headed Black Eyed Susan.


Rudbeckias (Black Eyed Susan) are part of the Asteraceae family, typically the daisy group of plants. They are known to have these anomalies now and again.

Sometimes these rare form of flowers are created due to a disease called Aster Yellows,  some virus,  physical damage, or just a random natural mutation.


For some reason, these are conjoined at the base of the flower.  Held taller than the other flowers, it was quite noticeable. Once the petals begin to fall, I will update and show what the seed heads look like.


Pretty cool. They remind me of a sunflower held this way.



Monday, August 07, 2017

Apiosporina morbosa - AKA Sh*t on a Stick

Please excuse the crudeness of Sh*t on a Stick, but that was the first coined term I was taught 25+ years ago. It stuck and I will never forget it. lol


It certainly depicts poop on a stick, doesn't it?  Apiosporina morbosa (even known as Dibotryon morbosum) is also called Black Knot. It is a rather noxious, pervasive fungus that attacks the prunus species of plants. Cherries, Plum, Chokecherry, Apricot, Almonds and ornamental cherry trees and shrubs fall victim to it.


This wet spring and rainy summer has made it more visible than ever. I usually see it more in the winter, when no leaves cover the knots.

Here, I found it on a Chokecherry tree. Matter of fact, I think every Chokecherry tree in the vicinity had it.

When the lesions first appear, they are much smaller. Just a callous and swelling bark - usually green-brownish-black in colour. Hardly noticeable at first, and only enveloping one side of the stem.  Each following growing season, the callous gall grows in diameter and becomes black and gnarly. Can get as long as 30cm. The knot is woody and will eventually encase the entire stem/branch. Eventually girdling the branch and causing die-back.  Once black, the infection has been around for about 2-3 years already. If there are several knotty turd like lesions on the tree, you'll definitely notice brach die back before you see the black knot.

 The Black Knot becomes active during warm, wet weather. "Ascospores" are forcibly released from the ascostromata of the fungus. On this sample, it had rained a lot overnight with strong winds. You can see the knot has white masses. Beginning a new life cycle on the blackened gall. Those white spots contain the acospores.  These spores are spread by air currents and rain splashing. 

When wet weather persists, the fungus acospores disperse and an injury or susceptible spot on the branch bark is like an open wound. The inoculum spores of the fungus invade the wound and start the whole process.  More Black Knot galls on the tree = eventual total die back = dead tree.

Treatment: Removal is key.

1) Remove during the dormant season. When the spores and tree are not active.

2) Cut back at least 10" below the knot. Better yet, if possible, remove the branch further back to a secondary stem, so that no stubby ends are left. Cut back to a collar or side shoot. Make the cuts on an angle so that no water sits on the newly cut area.



3) With EACH cut, disinfect your pruners/loppers. This prevents any contamination on newly cut ends and spreading it from host to new host.

4) Destroy the pruned branches. DO NOT COMPOST. Burn or discard in garbage. Black Knot can still release spores several months after being removed from the tree.

Prevention:

1) Stressed out trees are susceptible to Black Knot. Love on them a bit more. Water during drought periods. Mulch trees, accordingly.

2) Prune regularly. One of the biggest issues is overcrowded canopies. No air circulating between the branches or branches banging into each other, causes perfect conditions for the fungus to adhere and  spread throughout the tree.

3) Don't plant a Prunus species tree within a area close to a tree with Black Knot.


Here's proof:


At the base of this Chokecherry are visible signs that the tree had been suckering from the base. This is very common for older Chokecherry trees. A true sign of stress.

With TLC and extra monitoring, the Prunus species of trees can survive Black Knot.

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