Our plants do not have price tags, and our helpers do not make sales.

 

Discover Your Green Thumb

We provide gardening tutorials to homeowners or startup businesses. Established since 1983, we first started growing and selling native plants and seedlings. As business thrives, now we have been able to help a lot of commercial and residential properties throughout the years- from ordinary front lawn or backyard to city parks to entire subdivision/village areas.

Our exclusive garden is also available for booking. Whatever special occasion or celebration you plan, using a garden theme would surely mesmerize your visitors. Even if you’re only just using our garden for pre-nuptials or post-nuptials photo! Visit us anytime for viewing. Our schedules are below:

  • Monday to Thursdays:  8am – 4pm
  • Friday to Saturday:  6am – 10pm
  • Sunday: 1pm to 5pm

UPCOMING WORKSHOPS

  • Finding Your Call Every Mon 9am - 11pm

    This is a startup orientation for those who want to make planting, gardening and landscaping a hobby or a business. We entertain questions and try our best to answer all your questions about this stuff. We also demonstrate and explain in detail the process that we do in keeping up our love for the plants and the environment. (Limited seats only. We do it by schedule)

  • The Art of Collecting Seeds Every Thurs 9am - 11am

    We sell seeds but the knowledge of keeping a bunch and maintaining it in your garden. whether in a bed garden or potted and improvised pots, is considered free. We wanted to impart the value of what we do. It’s not just a money business. It’s something that can help the world in time. How seeds are taken care of, and how they are supposed to be planted and maintained, everything you need to know about seeds in their nature. We tackle here every Friday. (Limited seats only. We do it by schedule)

Helpful Guides

5 Chemicals You Can Remove from Your Home Right Now

We all have them. The shelf full of bottles, each containing a different cleaner, polish, disinfectant, or soap; a chemical filled wonderland for the war on household dirt. But how many of us also have to keep child safety locks on the cabinet doors or keep these cleaners on high shelves because we know that if children or animals were to find these chemicals it could be a deadly situation? If you want to reduce your risk and get some of these dangerous chemicals out of your house here are five things you can toss out right now, and effective yet safe replacements for each.

Bleach – This harsh chemical can be deadly if ingested and has been linked to respiratory problems from exposure to the fumes. It can also mix with ammonia and cause a deadly gas. Most people use bleach to disinfect, whiten, and clean stubborn stains; and with its relatively low cost it is a common cleaner in most households.

There are several ways you can clean without using bleach. Lemon juice is very effective at cleaning almost anything. Mixing lemon juice with vinegar is a powerful cleaner that can work on everything. You can also use lemon juice to whiten clothing and remove stains. Using a little lemon juice on the stain before hanging it out in the sunshine will work wonders; it can even remove some of the red stain from plastic food containers.

Scrubbing powder – There are several kinds of scouring cleaners on the market today, and many of them contain silica which is very dangerous if inhaled or they contain chlorine which can create a dangerous gas when mixed with other cleaners. These scrubbing cleaning powders can be a dangerous thing to have in the house.

You can easily replace any household scrubber with baking soda. Baking soda is just as effective and without the hazardous chemicals. You can clean surfaces, shine metal, deodorize, and soften hard water with just plain baking soda. Sprinkle some on a sliced lemon to wash dishes and scrub stains.

Window cleaner – Most window cleaner is made with ammonia, which can cause headaches and respiratory problems, and can create a toxic gas when mixed with other cleaners. These cleaners often are available in colors and scented which can make them more appealing to children who mistake the cleaner for juice.

Plain water and a soft cloth can be just as effective at cleaning the glass in windows and doors. For fingerprints or dirt a mixture of lemon juice and water can easily clean and shine.

All purpose cleaner – This is another common cleaner that is dangerous to have. Irritation, respiratory problems, headaches, blindness, and death can occur if children or animals get into these cleaners.

Safer than the strong chemicals to clean the various surfaces in your home is simple vinegar. Mix one part vinegar to one part water in an empty spray bottle and you have a safe and effective cleaner that you can use on anything. Vinegar is also a natural deodorizer and disinfectant, use it to kill mold and clean dirty toilets. Though vinegar has a slightly strong odor that some people may not like while cleaning the smell quickly disappears once dry, and it is certainly a nicer smell than the overpowering chemical fumes of most cleaners.

Disinfectant – Germs, bacteria, mold; these are a few of the things growing in everyone’s home that no one wants living there. There are many products today that disinfect our homes, but are dangerous to more than just the things we want to kill.

Mixing two teaspoons of Australian tea tree oil with two cups of water crates a safe and effective disinfectant spray that can be used on grout, mold, mildew, and more. You can also add a few drops of tea tree oil to your wash when cleaning clothing that has become moldy. Cleaning most surfaces with just soap and hot water will also kill most germs and bacteria safely and easily.

Before World War II the many kinds of chemical cleaners were not available, people used safe, cheap, and readily available ways to clean and care for their homes. Soap, vinegar, baking soda, lemon juice, cornstarch, and certain foods were used to lift out spots and stains, deodorize, disinfect, scrub, wash clothes, and to clean almost anything. By removing some of the unsafe and dangerous chemicals from your home and instead using time tested cleaning methods you can make your home a safer place for your children and pets.

How a Plumber in Cumming, GA Remodeled His Own Backyard

A plumber can do a lot of activities in a backyard. Let’s talk about a plumbing contractor I know in Cumming, GA who remodeled his own backyard. The first things he did was installing an outdoor shower.

To install an outdoor shower stall he dug a hole about two feet deep. Then lined the bottom with gravel. Placed the fence of his shower into the hole. Its upper end should be about six feet above the ground surface. Poured concrete around the shower post, and made sure that it was level. If not, adjusted the post accordingly. Put the shower frame into the concrete post and then allowed the concrete to set and dry. In the end, he attached the shower siding to the first pole on the structure, stapling just below the top and above the bottom marks. Then repeated this procedure with the remaining poles. After assembling the outdoor shower stall, he decided to decorate it. There are ways like he filled the interior perimeter of the shower with river rocks or shells. Needless to say, the outcome was just amazing.

A water fountain is an incredible addition to the backyard and a plumber will not hesitate to put it in his own vineyard. It adds the beauty of your garden due to its sizzling sound that invites a stimulating peaceful environment.

To build your water fountain is somewhat daunting in the first place. But, as you see your efforts, you realized the importance of establishing a water fountain to give benefits and beauty to your garden.

#1 – Install the pump and attach the hose

After you’ve finished the necessary leveling and final touches in your fountain area, install the pump out in the basin and attach the plastic water hose according to the desired length you wish. Then attach the other end of the plastic hose to your pile of rocks or statue (depending on your design how the water comes out from the hose) to allow the water to trickle up out from the piled rocks or spread in the statue.

# 2 – Install an electrical outlet

It would be much better if your water fountain is close to an electrical outlet for ease in the connection

to your pump. But, if it’s far from the main source, hire an electrician to do the job if you do not know electricity. Don’t ever do it yourself; your fountain might become a danger zone rather than a comfort zone.

#3 – Maintain the water level

Always check your catch-basin to maintain its water level capacity to ensure a continues flow of the water fountain which is what you aimed for – an attractive fountain in your garden.

Doing a project of your own and using your own expertise will always give the best results. Knowing the trade on your own will also save you from over pricing in the renovation. You get to execute your own ideas (unlimited options) since you would know all the possibilities without consulting a professional in the same field. You can even get the most affordable help and assistance from your peers.

Three Great Tips for Raising Corn

garden-corn-raising

So you finally did it and planted your first garden. Now you know what type of plants that you wanted to grow, but have no idea which ones will do good in your area or how to grow them! Imagine the pain that you will have as you lovingly tend to your garden everyday only to see your garden fail. Granted not all of your vegetables will fail, but some of them will. However, corn which can be grown in your garden very easily and have a very good success rate at getting edible ears can easily fail as well.

Most people like having corn in the garden, but most do not know how to take care of it. Taking care of your corn is actually rather easy in your garden. The hard part is managing to keep all of the pests out of your patch and keeping the ears till harvest time. Here are three tips that I found to be most helpful that helped my crop succeed.

Tip #1  – Start your corn plants on time

The first tip that I have is start your corn plants on time. I know I managed to get my ears of corn later in the season, but that is only because the growing season ended later than normal. I did manage to get my corn plants to grow quickly by starting them in the nutrient rich seed pods. Now normally corn does not transplant well at all, but I used the degradable plant cups filled with the nutrient laden growing soil for seed starting. Using these pots helped get my corn up to an acceptable height before the summer heat dried out the ground.

Tip #2 – Use fertilizer

The next tip that I had to use was fertilizer. I know that seems fairly straightforward to fertilize your garden, but I had to take extra care because I did not get my crop in until late in the season. The extra fertilizer allowed my plants to grow quickly and catch up in time to produce a small crop. Granted the crop probably would have been larger if I had gotten the seeds straight into the ground on time, but a little bit is better than none at all.

Tip #3  – Check on your corn everyday

The third tip I have is to try to check on your corn everyday to every couple of days for the possibility of bugs. I know that my corn crop did get ravaged by bugs and I had to use sprays on them to keep the bugs from eating the crop. The only problem is the sprays helped to a point, but did not keep the raccoons out of my little patch of corn.

Garden corn tastes great and helps save you money during the season because you do not have to purchase corn. If you try to follow these tips your corn might produce ears for you to enjoy too! Just think about the warm goodness that can be found while you sink your teeth into the corn.

Container Gardening Can Offset Rising Food Prices

garden-container

 

I have never had the inclination to become a farmer, but if food costs keep going up at the current rate, I may have no other option but to start a garden on my balcony. Every week the prices for basic foods are higher than the week before. No one is saying anything, but I am sure everyone has noticed. At this current pace, our weekly groceries will equal our monthly rent payment before the end of the year. I have no clue what is driving these prices, but something is going to have to give.

The economy and jobless statistics are still too unstable. Prolonged unemployment has thrown crushing blows within our family for the last two years. We have had to downsize from renting a house to an apartment. I’m not used to apartment living, but at least I have a roof over my head and am not camping in a tent, yet. Several of our family members have had to double up under one roof just to make ends meet. We do what we have to do and try to remain optimistic. We look for ways to cut costs, reduce spending, increase cash flow, and pray we will make it through this long crisis. Now, with the rising food costs, each week becomes harder and more impossible to make ends meet. This is devastating to the already stressed families barely able to pay for rent and utilities. We will have to make further cuts in our food budget to pay the bills.

Food is a basic necessity for everyone. If I have to become a balcony farmer to insure my family will have food, I am sure there are others contemplating this same option. We are talking real survival, here. I suspect there are going to be quite a few balcony farmers throughout the nation in urban areas.

I remember during the late 1990’s with the Y2K millennia fears, people were starting organic container gardens in urban areas where they did not have a yard to plant gardens. Now, as some people are fearing the approach of 2012 predictions, I am beginning to see that trend reappear. I don’t claim to know much about dooms day predictions, but I do know that the crisis is real, and the biggest threat is not just jobs and money. It is the accessibility, and affordability of food. We would all be wise to do what we can to prepare ahead in the event prices sky rocket beyond comprehension. Besides, should a natural disaster strike, having your own food to pull your family through would be priceless.

Get prepared and start your garden, now. The more prepared you are, the less vulnerable you and your family will be to conditions, situations, and events which we have no control.
.
Here is a great way to recycle your water and soda bottles to grow food, even if you live in an apartment.

2-Liter Bottle Recycled Garden Container:

  1. Cut plastic bottle in half.
  2. Turn upper bottle half upside down.
  3. Insert cotton cloth remnant into spout, leaving half inside bottle and half out, to serve as a wick.
  4. Fill lower half of bottle with water.
  5. Place upside down upper bottle half into lower bottle half (Cotton remnant will wick up water)
  6. Fill upside down upper bottle with soil and plant seeds or seedling.
    (TIP: Using different colored cotton remnants will add color to your recycled bottle garden.)

Best vegetables to grow on the balcony for apartment dwellers:

  1. Peas
  2. Green beans
  3. Lettuce
  4. Potatoes
  5. Tomatoes
  6. Peppers
  7. Squash
  8. Beans
  9. Strawberries

Remember, plants need pollination of their flowers in order to produce their fruit. You may have to do the work of a bee to pollinate your plants, since your balcony is probably not a bee’s ideal place to visit. The end of a Q-tip swab will do the trick easily. Just remember to poke the swab in the center of the plant’s flowers. Use a new Q-tip for each different plant. Pollen from a tomato plant won’t work with a green bean plant.

Visit www.seedsavers.org, you may find a lot of helpful information and ways to hep the world too.

Composting in Your Garden

Gardening has always been one of my hobbies. As a kid growing up we always had a garden and I was usually out helping tend to our garden.

When my husband and I moved into the house we now reside in 4 years ago, there was already an established compost pile. We didn’t give it much thought, we just dutifully piled broken or trimmed tree branches on top and added grass clippings and occasionally some vegetable peelings. We are both very keen on segregating junks – the ones that will still help our garden and from those that needed proper disposal. We normally call junk removal atlanta assistance whenever we need to do a total clean-up especially when tree pruning has just been done and when we think the cleaning gets out of control.

Surprisingly, we realized that the soil under the compost pile was a deep rich brown and it looked really really healthy. We added it to our garden. Our garden flourished.

To make things more convenient, my then 13 year old son took an old washtub and added some dirt and some freshly dug earth worms to digest the peelings. He placed it near a door in the kitchen and admonished us to please place all vegetable peelings into this washtub.

As time passed the tub got full and we would stir it down with a shovel. Over time it would be dumped onto the other compost pile in our garden and we would start a newer compost pile in the washtub near the door.

We continually stirred the compost pile out in the garden with our shovels and added the now rich in nutrients soil to our garden.

Over the years our garden has flourished in this manner and our pantry is full of wonderful fresh food for the eating year round. Some of it I freeze and some is canned. We eat a lot of fresh garden produce in the summer months and into the fall.

By composting in your garden we are preserving the nutrients in our soil and improving the production of our garden without adding harsh chemicals that many of our family have reactions to. We are providing wholesome food and healthy alternatives to those sugary snacks that kids often love.

We are recycling mother natures way. We are giving back to the earth in order to bring forth more from the earth. The grass clippings add needed nitrogen to our soil. The variety of nutrients is endless. We add some steer manure or llama manure when ever we are able to get some from friends that own said animals.

A good weekly stir with the shovel keeps the compost decomposing and it is only a short time till we are hauling it to our flower beds and one of our 5 vegetable gardens. We have a ready source of compost for our yard. It is a family project and we all enjoy it.

One of my kids favorite foods is the fresh broccoli that our garden produces. There are not many kids that will tell you they love broccoli, but mine will tell you just that. They even ask for it at dinner. What a healthy way to teach your kids to eat.

Should I get an Automatic / Retractable Pool Cover for My Garden Pool?

To most people, owning a swimming pool is a lifetime dream, but being able to swim regardless of the weather condition is just overboard. This is possible when you invest in a retractable pool cover.

Benefits of Retractable pool cover

The most important benefit of owning the retractable pool cover is the convenience of being able to swim all year round; during winter and summer. The cover blocks direct heat during summer, thus enabling you to enjoy swimming without worrying about sunburns. During winter, the cover blocks the cold winter winds and snow from interfering with the pool area. Hence, you can enjoy swimming all year round. Further, by protecting your pool from extreme weather conditions, you are increasing the lifespan.

With a retractable pool cover, you can enjoy the benefits of indoor and outdoor pool in one pool. Imagine being able to swim in an outdoor pool while watching TV or listening to music without worrying about rain damaging your music system. Well, this is possible when you invest in the pool cover. Not only will you enjoy the benefits of an indoor pool while using an outdoor pool, but also, you can enjoy swimming while enjoying the sound of rain pattering the roof. Also, with the covers, you don’t need to spend time removing leaves from the pool, thus saving you time and money.

Preventing water loss from your pool is another major benefit of the pool covers. Fact is, as the wind blows, it blows away the water from your pool leading to evaporation which is a major cause of water loss. Pool cover prevents this in two ways; one by blocking strong wind from blowing water from the pool. Further, the water that evaporates is condensed by the cover, and channeled back to the pool, thus preventing water loss.

Security and improving the overall appearance of the pool is another major benefit of this pool cover. When you invest in a retractable pool cover, you can control who has access to your pool at all times. This is because the cover comes with two locking mechanisms, both for the internal and external. Thus, you can only allow the people you trust to access your pool, thus reducing the occurrence of incidences and accidents on your pool. Further, the cover improves the overall appearance of your pool, since most covers come in unique, trending and fashionable styles.

How the pool enclosure is more energy efficient

The biggest advantage associated with pool enclosure is energy saving abilities. Reduced circulation system time is one of the major energy saving abilities of the pool cover. Most pools take an average of eight hours per day to filter and treat the water. With the automatic pool cover, the time drastically drops to two hours per day, which represents a 75% reduced energy consumption. This not only saves the electricity bill but also ensures that equipment like pumps and motors last longer. The overall effect is reduced energy use, reduced water consumption and decreased the tendency to replace the equipment.

Reduced maintenance is another major energy-saving benefits of automatic pool covers. When the pool is closed, dirt and debris are kept away from the pool thus reducing the costs associated with routine servicing.

Also, the covers prevent UV light from getting into direct light with chlorine. Remember, chlorine is used to purify the water in most swimming pools. When chlorine gets into direct contact with UV, it burns causing you to spend more money on chlorine. The automatic pool cover prevents this by reducing the amount of UV light that gets into direct contact with chlorine. Thus, filtering out the UV reduces energy costs.

Pool covers also prevent evaporation and water loss from the pool. Water loss due to evaporation will cause you to pump water to maintain the water level in the pool. Pumping water uses a motor and other equipment, which can increase your electricity bill. Also, preventing evaporation ensures that the pool temperature is kept intact. Research indicates that pool covers cause a temperature gain as high as 4 degrees.This temperature gain can be beneficial especially during winter, as it implies spending less electricity in heating the pool.

Should I get an automatic pool cover?

Basing on the benefits of the pool cover enumerated above ranging from energy saving, health benefits, ability to use the pool all year round and reduced chemical consumption, it makes sense to recommend investing in pool covers. However, pool covers are quite expensive. The most ordinary ones range from $10,000 to $20,000.Thus, conduct a cost-benefit analysis of the pool cover before making the decision to buy. The rule of thumb is, if the benefits associated with energy saving and chemical saving outweigh the cost of buying the pool cover, then you should buy one. If you are looking for high quality pool covers, check out https://www.coversinplay.com

Winter Botany – Yes You Can!

Ahhh…. A wonderful hike yesterday, Thanksgiving, to the fire tower( fartar) at Frozen Head State Park with my furry friends. Did not see a soul in all of the 6 or so miles. Amazing. But they were understandibly home enjoying a feast, so maybe they’ll be on the trails today to try and lighten their load?

It’s been another busy week, but got out several times as work or play so not complaining. Pretty much all the leaves are down now, doing their part for protecting the soil and keeping the soil temps moderated. (DO NOT throw your leaves on the street – MULCH them!) It always amazes me how the landscape changes so completely and rapidly from verdant green, jungle-like conditions to…apparent nothingness. A brilliant strategy. But we all know there’s still plenty going on and lots to learn.

Trying to identify plant remains is always a fun challenge over the winter months. So if you are lucky enough to get outside after the tryptophan wears off, take the challenge of winter plant ID and keep the trails interesting.

Winter botany is pretty easy to do in your own garden since in theory you knew what was there and over time you learn to recognize the dried leaves and stalks as still failry unique to each plant. If you regularly get out to certain wildish places, you probably know what plants are where and you can still recognize them. It’s surprizing to most folks that you can even get close to identifying plants from such scant remains, but a little experience is all it takes. Like you need another excuse to get outside?? Make some dried arrangements to help you get your search image ingrained.

So test yourself through the winter and see how long before you get stumped. And take someone else along when you can, especially youngsters. Where else are they going to learn this stuff if we don’t show them how fascinating the real world is?? No batteries required. You will amaze them with your brilliance!!

Here are a few winter plants I’ve seen lately, most that stay green and are easy. Then some shots of my Thanksgiving outing.

Xmas fern

Christmas fern, Polystichum acrostichoides .  Our most common fern of somewhat more upland sites and so one of the more adaptable ferns for many gardens.

lycopodium 2

I was rusty on the species and here’s what I found:  Fan Clubmoss, Runningcedar, Groundpine (Lycopodium digitatum, Diphasiastrum digitatum, Lycopodium flabelliforme, L. complanatum var. flabelliforme).   I’m still unsure…but it’s runningcedar to me.   I see these often in disturbed woods or areas that may have been severely eroded in the past.  Guessing they prefer fairly sterile soils to get established?  Don’t bother trying to transplants these.  They are known to be very difficult. 

Hepatica 2

Sharp-lobed Hepatica, Hepatica acutiloba .  It’s always a pleasure to see the painted foliage peeking thru the leaves.  The flowers are very early and quite brief, but the leaves aren’t too shabby the rest of the time.  Yes, it’s evergreen.

S speciosa

Showy Goldenrod, Solidago speciosa.   Alright.  I agree that goldenrods are intimidating to identify even with all the parts.  But not that bad at all after you’ve grown a few in your garden.  This is a very common one in our area and it is distinctive this time of year with the very neat, compact plumes of seed, and plants are usually found in large numbers along the roadside and in old fields. There is probably still some basal foliage that is smooth and roundish to oblong (I know there are better botanical terms for the shape, but they tend to confuse my simple mind). You could easily scatter some of these seeds on some bare, sunny spots and expect them to prosper.

Feeding the Barn Cats

barn-cat

Alas, it’s payback time for me. Have had some wonderful work days this fall crawling around spectacular pieces of properties for work. Now it’s time to put it all “on paper” so having to hunker down on this thing for a few weeks. I’ve long ago learned that getting up every couple of hours is critical to getting some oxygen and blood pumping in my brain to keep me going. One much anticipated break is the walk up the hill and thru the woods to feed the barn cats.

This 15 minute walk every day keeps me in touch on days when I’m otherwise in lockup. Of course the dogs are excited and there are toys to be played with on the way which helps the blood get going. It was a bit dreary today with some drizzle and a few showers. With most of the leaves and flowers gone, I found lots of individual plants caught my attention with either a few bright leaves or flowers hanging on, or of course, seed! And I thought about the blog…but didn’t have a camera. Oh well. But then I realized when I was feeding that duh I’d forgotten to bring a jug of water up, now that we’ve cut the water off up there. Well dang. Looks like I’ll just have to trudge back down and back up the hill – Oh no!! 😀 . So I grabbed the camera and I can now share with you a few plants that are making their statement in these last few days before we are left with only shades of gray.

Aromatic Aster, Aster oblongifolius .  About the last thing to bloom for us.  There are still some butterflies happy to find these.

Dutchmans Pipevine, Aristolochia macrophylla , hangs along the East end of the front porch.  Bloomed like crazy this year and had tons of pipevine swallowtails and caterpillars.  Their chrysalises hang from the porch ceiling.  What do they think about all winter?? 

Switchgrass and blueberries.  Ideal dog habitat.  Just add a toy and the Grass-a-thon is on!

Woodland Aster, Eurybia (no – Aster!!) divaricatus , in seed.  Almost as nice as when in flower!

Lazy way to spread diversity:  Take seedheads, scrape away the leaves and duff with our boot, drop the whole stems and seeds, step on them a time or 2, kick some leaves back over them, visualize success.  Took less than 30 seconds to accomplish.

 Deep red blueberry foliage.

Ahhh….remembering picking these blueberries in July with thrashers and titmice flitting thru the bushes with me.
Lunch today – blueberry and p-nut butter on wholegrain toast.  : )  Tastes like summer for just a little while.

A couple of the barn cats – Callie and the Big Guy.  They’d love to have their own family should you find yourself in need of a furry pal or 4

Change The World, Sow Some Seeds

sowing-seed

The viburnum plugs got planted, plus I got some seed planted and some seed cleaned. Now I can’t wait for spring!

I was invited earlier days of this year to mentor a group of people in GA, having our common advocacy to plant and sow seeds for the next generation. It was a small gathering hosted by a humble company that does tree service Lawrenceville GA. It was a fun day and I got to meet a lot of networks. What I’ll discuss with you here is actually the same discussion we had.

Once you learn the basics of seed collecting, storing and sowing, there is no limit to what you can grow. Most seed is pretty easy to handle and sowing in outdoor beds or containers is usually a fairly low maintenance method.

This is a great way to get a few or a lot of plants for yourself or to share. If you have some property that you’d like to restore some diversity to, and you are patient, planting seeds is a great way to do that. It’s inexpensive, often free once you are set up, its a pleasant way to spend time outdoors with your hands in the dirt, and something anyone can do to improve the environment. What about growing enough to offer to a local natural area??

Today I had some maple-lvd. viburnum seed that I had collected while on a nearby trail several weeks ago – with permission. I put the seed in ziplock bags with a little water for a week or so to let the pulp soften, then used a spray setting on the hose nozzle to rinse that off over a screen. Next took cleaned seed to the propagation beds, with 2 dogs and a cat as escorts, made a narrow furrow with my hands, spread the seed out in the furrow and covered them back up. Labeled it of course. Some spicebush seed that was large and easy to handle I sowed in plug flats that will over winter in an unheated coldframe.

Many native seeds from this region need a cold moist period (stratification) of about 3 months before they will sprout. Basically this simulates being in the ground over winter. So These seeds will sprout next spring when the soil warms up. Seeing seeds you collected, cleaned, and sowed with your own hands, poking through the soil is always a happy, happy moment. And addicting!

Here’s a little graphic walk thru of the process:

Big-leaf Magnolia, Viburnum, American Bittersweet, Holly seeds collected recently

Fleshy fruits soaking

Cleaning bittersweet seed on a screen

Happy hands with viburnum seed ready for planting.

Baby sitting on the planting furrow in the propagation bed.  Why do cats do that??

Spicebush seed.  Sowing one seed per cell in a plug tray.

The Red Chokeberry

red-chokeberry

Was just playing with all the blogger toys and sent this pic, so I’ll go ahead and mention a few things that might be of interest since now is a showy time for this plant.

This is Photinia pyrifolia ( old name is Aronia arbutifoia which I stubbornly use since I dislike Photinia), Red Chokeberry, and is the most likely Aronia you will find in the trade. It is a large shrub or can be shaped to a small tree form, and will be anywhere from 5′-10′ tall. The shorter range has been my experience. They are colonial and slowly spread to nice mounds. With more sun they will spread less.

In spring plants flower heavily with white, apple like blooms clusters for 2-3 weeks, and are popular with many insects. Fall color is a rich red and very attractive.

Birds appreciate the fruit but usually only after it has “aged” and so we get to enjoy seeing the fruit most of the winter.

As for propagation, if you have a plant, the easiest way is to dig the sprouts after they are well rooted, say after their first year. This can be done in late fall or winter in our area (TN).

Seeds can be collected easily since birds tend to wait until later in the spring to eat them. So anytime from fall to mid-winter just collect some berries, clean off the pulp, and either sow them outdoors in pots or propagation beds, or stratify the seed for about 3 months in moist soil before sowing outdoors.

There is also a black fruited species.

If you are like me and tend to chose plants that the birds and wildlife will also enjoy, you will find Red Chokeberry fills the bill.