Easy to be green: Time to get out and prune

As I have mentioned before, now is the time to get out and do any necessary pruning.

Hopefully you read the article from the 16th where the Master Gardeners were shown proper pruning techniques at the fairgrounds. Just remember, you do not prune everything this time of year. When in doubt or if you need help, give them a call at 570-726-0022. It is always good to have someone show you the proper method of pruning. Tell them I sent you!

Did you know that there is a way to eliminate an invasive plant from your yard and also help lower your blood pressure?

Many, many articles ago I had written about what native plants you could grow to replace an invasive, useless, nonnative species.

A popular nonnative invasive plant still pushed by landscapers, box stores and even garden centers is the burning bush, so named for the brilliant red leaves in the fall. I suggested using blueberries as a replacement.

This native bush is really a work horse. The flowers provide nectar and pollen for pollinators, the plant is a host to several species of butterflies. The caterpillars are a food source for adult birds feeding their young. The resulting berries will provide food for wildlife or yourself.

Besides tasting good, a study has shown that blueberries are definitely a super food.

It was discovered during a study that blue berries, when consumed in a beverage over a month, resulted in the reduction of blood pressure. The blueberries themselves have other cardiovascular benefits.

The study stated that blueberries effect on the cardiovascular system was such that if the berries were consumed on a daily basis; the risk of developing problems could be reduced by up to 20 percent. Chalk one up for the natives.

While on the subject of invasive, the Japanese knotweed will soon be making itself a nuisance.

Landowners are always asking what they can do to at least eliminate or control it on their property. The safest way with no harmful chemicals involved is to find someone with a goat. Goat will eat almost anything. I think leasing out goats would make a good money making business, plus goat’s milk for cheese.

I guess we are going to have to be patient this year as I cannot find any sources for the new strain of impatiens that are resistant to the killer, downy mildew.

I will continue to look, but I don’t want to wear my patience thin looking for impatiens. I know, that even made me groan.

Burpee Seeds has introduced a variety of marigolds called Endurance marigolds. The plus for this plant is that it does not set seed; therefore there is no need to deadhead. The plant self-cleans itself. It has great endurance in all types of weather conditions. My only concern with this new variety, what has been taken away to make the plant sterile. Will it still attract pollinators or will it lack pollen or nectar?

Marigolds are a great companion plant. Beans and members of the Brassica (cabbage, broccoli, etc.) prefer that you do not plant the two near each other. Marigold are said to help deter beetles. The greater the “marigold” smell, greater the protection.

Maybe the new variety has little or no smell. I think I’ll stay with the older variety that set seeds and needs to be deadheaded. While I’m deadheading I can check out the other plants and also pull a few weeds.

Shortly after last month’s article I received an email from a faithful reader posing the following question. What is the best way to remove pesticides from fruits and berries?

This question really intrigued me. I had not really given it much thought. Normally a quick wash under the faucet was what we do.

Through researching this question I found that pesticide residue is not easily removed with just plain water. The following solution can be used on many fruits and vegetables: One ounce of baking soda mixed with 100 ounces of water and a soaking of about 15 minutes is said to completely remove any pesticide residue.

The article that I am listing here for those with computers also indicated that store bought vegetable and fruit washes are no more effective that plain water. Check out the following: https://foodrevolution.org/blog/how-to-wash-vegetables-fruits/ .

I would also refer you to Laurie Welch at Penn State Extension. She is the Extension Educator for Food, Families and Health. She can be reached at 570-726-0022.

There is nothing more frustrating than to have a beautiful row of peonies suddenly be ruined and become unsightly after a rain. The addition of water on an already heavy flower head is a reason for disaster. There are several solutions to this problem, short of removing the plant.

I have a long row along my drive way. I use an inexpensive store bought fence and place it around the plants before they get tall. This allows the plants to use the fence as support. Someone who isn’t all thumbs could make a nice wooden fence, painted a nice color to bring attention to the plants.

Another solution is to purchase single petaled peonies. They come in many different shapes and sizes and will not droop after a rain. Search online and you will be amazed.

In a few weeks you will be able to go out in your yards and harvest dandelions for a nice spring salad. In fact the use of this plant is amazing. All parts are edible and also can be made into wine. But there is another plant that soon will be emerging from its winter nap.

You won’t find it growing alongside the dandelions in the yard, but in your shady flowerbeds or placed at the base of a tree. Hostas are an edible plant. We know slugs love them and deer apparently can’t pass them up. The flavor is said to be similar to asparagus and even scallions.

Harvest the young shoots that are still curled and haven’t started to leaf out. If I get up the courage to try them, which I think I will, I’ll give you my take on edible hostas. I also ran across some recipes, they look good. Bacon wrapped hosta shoots!

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, “just your common ordinary gardener,” can be reached at qstocum@gmail.com.

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