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A new and exciting crop

There is an exciting new cash crop that is now taking off like gang busters. Plus this crop is environmentally friendly, fast growing and easily replaced.

Hemp, the plant that was banned solely on the basis that it is related to marijuana, even though it does not have the chemical make up to produce a high, is now being used for products instead of using wood.

Just think, a crop of hemp takes about six months from planting to harvesting, while a hard wood tree such as oak to be ready for harvest takes 60 years.

Hemp can be replanted after having been harvested. Oak has been in demand for making hard sturdy furniture. A product called “hempwood” is now being produced and is said to be 20 percent harder than regular oak wood. The product is used to make furniture, flooring, cutting boards and even skateboards. It is also cheaper.

Trying to help Mother Nature often is not a good idea. She is set in her ways and has been since time began. An article from the University of Chicago, which did a study on Monarch butterflies, stated that when you breed the Monarch in captivity, the Monarch loses its ability to migrate.

Instead of trying to go into all the information from the article, here is the link for you to read. I found it very interesting and disturbing that we may have unintentionally done more harm than good in our attempt to help Mother Nature and the Monarch: https://phys.org/news/2019-06-monarch-butterflies-bred-captivity-ability.html

When I do my plantings, I want to make sure that I have three seasons of flowering plants for the birds and bees, plus other wildlife.

Aesculus parviflora, commonly called bottlebrush buckeye, makes a great plant for those areas where a living fence is needed. This native shrub should be grown where there is plenty of space as it will grow to be 12 feet high and just as wide or wider. Plus it will spread by sending out suckers. The flowers bloom this time of year, providing pollinators of all species a great source of food. Buckeye nuts are provided for wildlife only, not edible for humans.

A spring bloomer of the buckeye family is the Aesculus pavia or red buckeye. The red buckeye is a show stopper in the spring with its long red tubular flowers on a small tree that grows to 15 feet in height and width. Certainly a hummingbird magnet.

As long as there are people on this earth that want plants that must be pristine and have no flaws, there will be manufacturers and sellers who will sell pesticides without regard to the harm that they create.

I know you have heard and read about the neonicotinoids or neonics that were introduced in the late 1990s as a systemic insecticide. In other words the insecticide instead of being sprayed on the plant is introduced into the plant via the roots. The roots will send up the poison to the leaves and flowers and any insect that would try to eat the plant would die.

Guess what? Studies have now found that not only are insects, such as bees, affected but birds are being affected too.

Hummingbirds that rely on the nectar are ingesting the insecticide into their bodies. Seeds that have been coated with neonics and eaten by song birds can cause death or a decrease in reproduction.

Do you have an area that you just hate to mow? Maybe this area could be put to better use, meaning Mother Nature idea of better use.

Once again, when I go back into those dark recesses of my brain, I can remember as a mere youngster playing in an open grassy field next to our house. There were nesting birds, wild strawberry plants, grasses of all shapes found in that field. Wildlife was abundant. There was even a boggy area on one corner of the field. But it is long gone, with a house and nothing but grass that must be mowed.

You can change that area that you hate to mow into one that has ecological benefits.

By planting native grasses of all types you can attract butterflies that will use the grasses for their caterpillars. Birds will use the previous year’s dead grass, which you leave alone, to build their nests. Even better, throw in some wildflower seeds and you will have a happy beneficial piece of property.

If you are looking for a great native plant nursery go to edgeofthewoodsnursery.com. Unfortunately they do not ship, but the visit is worth the trip.

We are blessed to have two feline members of our household. They are both indoor only cats, but one thinks he is part cow or some form of grazer.

Any household plant that resembles grass he feels is for him to chew on. Needless to say you know that he has been grazing when you hear the telltale noise that a cat makes when they are about to throw up.

There are many theories why this carnivore would eat grass. One theory is that they do this because they feel ill and this helps them throw up. Another idea is that the cat does this to get rid of hairballs.

The current theory is that cat’s ancestors would use this method to rid their stomach of parasites and it is just part of the cat’s nature that has evolved from their ancestors. Late at night is not the time to discover a wet glob of the cat’s desire to rid themselves of whatever they decided to eat.

Now is the time to consider planting that fall crop. Many plants will benefits from the coming fall temperatures. Any plant that is in the cabbage family, such a broccoli, cauliflower, Brussel sprouts or your lettuces, radishes, turnips, parsnips and carrots will take advantage of cool weather.

Read the seed packets to see how long it takes from germination to maturity and plan accordingly. Another benefit to fall planting is that many of the pests that were a problem in the spring are not a problem in the fall.

Spotted lantern fly is on the move. Educate yourself on this pest. It will eventually become an unwelcome guest in our area.

Tomato late blight and downy mildew on cucurbits, take precaution now or stand a chance to lose your plants.

Please feel free to ask me questions. Your questions give me material about which to write. Email me at qstocum@gmail.com or if you see me out and about, stop and talk to me. I thank everyone who has contacted me.

Remember, it is easy to be green. Happy Gardening!

Quentin Stocum, Just Your Common Ordinary Gardener

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Quentin Stocum, former Clinton County Master Gardener Coordinator, can be reached at 570-726-0022 or qbs5000@ag.psu.edu.

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