Which color to choose?

One of the prettiest sights of the holiday season just might be a greenhouse growing range of poinsettias at their peak. Joel Poinsett, ambassador to Mexico in the 1820s, is generally credited with introducing the poinsettia (Euphorbia pulcherrima) to the U.S. He had the foresight to bring specimens back to his South Carolina greenhouse. In Mexico, its native home, the poinsettia is a perennial shrub that can grow to ten feet! The beautiful red, white, pink and variegated bracts are not flowers at all, just colorful leaves. The true flowers of the poinsettia are located in the center of the bracts at the tip of each stem; they are those little tiny yellow blobs that can easily be overlooked.

Many say that the poinsettia is poisonous. Though the plant leaves and stems do ooze a milky, white sap when broken, the toxins which contain diterpene esters, vary by variety. An Ohio State University study reported that, if ingested, the plant may only cause some stomach discomfort. The sap may cause some skin irritation and you definitely don’t want to get it in your eyes. Ok. Call me a chicken, but I’m not going to test the validity of this report. It would be wise to keep them out of the reach of children and pets.

There are hundreds of different colored varieties on the market right now. If you frequent a quality garden center, they should even have the varieties noted by name. Say you’ve seen blue poinsettias in the stores? You can’t blame the sightings of blue poinsettias on that eggnog you’ve been drinking. Here’s the scoop on the behind-the-scene magic!

The grower will take one naturally grown white poinsettia, some commercial plant dye and spray until the desired color is reached. Blue, pink, burgundy, orange, yellow…. For purple, just spray the blue dye on a naturally grown red poinsettia. I learned something really neat: the dye can be used on other plants such as Euphorbia ‘Diamond Frost’.

Start with a white poinsettia...

... choose your color...

... spray with dye ...

... and, tada! A blue poinsettia.

My Landreth seed catalog is here

As I mentioned a while back, the D. Landreth Seed Company, the oldest seed company in the U.S. (since 1784!), is in financial troubles. The company is not out of the woods yet but the sale of their 2012 catalog goes a long way to preserve its future. I ordered 4 and should have ordered more. It’s WAY more than a seed catalog – it’s U.S. agriculture history in your hand. If you haven’t ordered your catalog yet, you’d better get on the ball before they sell out. Check their website out HERE.

Yipppeee! It's here!

In a seed there is a promise

D. Landreth Seed Company

Since 1784 – that’s a crazy 217 years – the D. Landreth Seed Company (New Freedom, PA) has been providing its customers with one of the most extensive selections of fine lawn and garden seeds in the world. The founders introduced into the United States some of the most beloved flowers and vegetables known today including the zinnia, the white potato, various tomatoes, and Bloomsdale spinach. They are the oldest seed house and the fifth oldest continuously operated business in the United States. The company is passionate in its quest for excellence in quality, service and innovation.

Today, the firm is in deep financial trouble and may have to close. If that would happen it would be a serious blow to everyone – whether they understand the impact or not. Personnel from the Smithsonian say that Landreth’s bound catalogs may be the only collection of its kind in the world – a historical journey from 1839 to present day telling the story of America’s journey in history in agriculture and horticulture.

In order to dig their way out of the financial hole the company is currently promoting the purchase of their 2012 seed catalog ($5). It is more than a seed catalog as it contains data from their library of catalogs and tons of history information about the flowers, herbs and vegetables we eat. Time is of the essence. They must raise this money QUICKLY. If you are inclined, please listen to a public radio piece that aired this week HERE to hear more on this. Then if you decide to order a catalog, place your order HERE.

D. Landreth was the ONLY seed company I could find that offered a favorite bean of mine: a European heirloom purple pole bean called “Purple Peacock”. If you are what you eat, I’d be a purple pole bean, at least while they are in season. Or an ear of sweet corn. Or a watermelon. It’s a toss-up.

Ohio Gardening with Melinda Myers

I forgot to note the other speakers speakers that will be at the October 2 event at Cox Arboretum. They include: Marvin Duren (Marvin’s Organic Gardens); Christine & Tony Carpenter (Beyond The Greenhouse); Tomasz Przepiorkowski (Studebaker Nursery); Eric Sauer (Cypripedium Landscape Architecture); and Yvonne Dunphe (Five Rivers MetroParks). Event location: Cox Arboretum. Fee: $10 (includes light lunch). Registration: available online (www.metroparks.org) or call Five Rivers MetroPark (937-434-9005).

I have a question

I know it is the season for the dreaded FRUIT FLY, but how do you deal with their fall invasion? Feel free to share by posting your comments.