Organic Horticultural Benefits Alliance – Lecture in Houston review

Green Grow Organics founder Sam Sittlerle, our business development director, Mary Nethery, and our friend Hector Navarro attended the Betsy Ross lecture in Houston Tuesday evening. Our hosts were the OHBA. A fantastic evening of learning and discussion about how to get carbon back into the ground. Analyzing soil structure and seeing where a property is, before deciding where we want it to be, is critical. Deciding what kind of landscape we want to produce and what end result we want is key.  Many local landscape architects and organic product manufacturers as well as property managers were present.  A great turn out and discussion ensued of some of Betsy Ross’s projects in the Houston area as well as the George W. Bush Library on the SMU Campus in Dallas.

OHBA is a community focused organization dedicating to educating all individuals, gardeners, homeowners, landscapers, schools and truth seekers on the real world application and benefits of organics, so that our community not only survives but thrives, as the world moves towards organics and sustainability.

Betsy Ross is our friend and mentor. She is the founder of Sustainable Growth Texas.  Green Grow Organics is working with Betsy on the City of San Antonio’s first chemical-free project, starting soon.  The Lackland Corridor Gateway project is the 1st phase of a multi-phased project along Military Drive.  Creating these safe, healthy, natural environments has untold benefits.  We carved a significant savings out of the project by following natural biological horizontal construction methodology, rather than chemical-conventional, which is all too prevalent.  Fortunately, our industry, municipalities and institutions are moving toward this methodology.

Look for more of these projects on the horizon as the GSA (General Services Administration) has moved to SITES Standards, which are the environmentally-friendly standards the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center helped develop.  It is a bit odd since LBJWC is not fully-organic.  Regardless, it’s a great move for the earth and for all its creatures.

The Flower Arranger’s Garden by Rosemary Verey – a quick review

We can learn so much by having a great design library. Rosemary Verey was an English Garden Designer who bought a 1697 Vicarage in the Cotswolds and over a 40 year period, turned it into one of the most visited gardens in England. Barnsley House is quite simply one of the finest examples of English […]

Memories from a Hill Country Garden: Flowers, Stones and Critters

BOOK RECOMMENDATIONS FOR THE HILL COUNTRY AND SOUTH CENTRAL TEXAS GARDENER

Sometimes we get these regional gardening books that really sing to us. Jim Truchard’s coffee table size ode to his beloved Hill Country Garden is such a book.

Inside jacket reads thusly:

“An inside look at the diverse and distinctive Texas Hill Country through the eyes of a passionate gardener.

When Jim Truchard moved to Austin to attend the University of Texas, he immediately fell in love with the unique character of the Hill Country. In the decades since, he has found much joy and relaxation in creating a garden that showcases the region’s wide ranging flora. In Memories from a Hill Country Garden, a personal reflection on this breathtaking part of the American landscape, Jim documents his journey toward creating a garden that could endure unpredictable Texas weather and the presence of abundant wildlife.”

“Jim has endeavored to work with the land and utilize as much native plant life as possible, creating a harmonious retreat for his family and local plants and wildlife. Memories from a Hill Country Garden showcases the path of a man whose passion lies in the beauty and serenity that bloom when one finds his or her place in nature.”

Broaden Your Library with regional books that delve down into our limestone and soil formations, that get to the heart of what it takes to be part of the natural ecosystem, rather than fighting what we have been given. There’s a wealth of knowledge in the South Central Texas regional gardening tome. We will publish a series of recommendations to liven up our understanding of this marvelous combination of clear water and blue sky, on the Edwards Aquifer-fluid lands we’ve inhabited. Where we pinch a garden out of mere nothing, where we dance with drought and intense floods. We learn a natural rhythm of our soil. Listen to it closely. Books such as Jim Truchard’s help us all do just that.

Fungal Issues in the South Central Texas Landscape: A Basic Primer

Fungal issues arise in our landscapes for a variety of reasons and cause any number of unsightly conditions, and worse, demise in our plant material. Some of the fungal diseases we experience in the South Central Texas Region are:

  • Powdery Mildew,
  • Black Spot,
  • Cotton Root Rot, and
  • Oak Wilt fungus.

We approach these issues by understanding ‘the disease triangle’ – the connection between the plant, the disease-causing organism, and the environment.

Many fungal issues arise from foliage remaining wet for long periods of time and in extended periods of temperatures in a certain range. Careful consideration of irrigation settings, especially during an odd bought of drought or intense seasonal rains, is crucial to successful landscape management. Watering in the early morning is best, to allow foliage to completely dry before nightfall. Leaves are the plant and tree’s lungs. They do not “drink”, they merely breathe.

PRUNING TECHNIQUES CAN PREVENT FUNGAL ISSUES 
Proper pruning techniques will save many a fungal issue from arising. Roses are very similar to Crape Myrtles in structure and pruning requirements. They both require excellent internal air circulation. Crossing branches and heavy foliage on the interior of roses and crape myrtles can lead to wet foliage and powdery mildew, which appears grey and crystalline, folding and contorting leaves. Roses will develop Black Spot when foliage is kept wet by improper irrigation rotor heads rather than the preferred drip irrigation. (See diagram for proper pruning techniques to avoid fungal issues in roses and crape myrtles).

041105308_pruning_lagerstroemia_xlg pruningdiagram

 

images-5 showimage

PLANTING TECHNIQUES TO PREVENT FUNGAL ISSUES

Proper spacing of plant material, based on mature size, will also save many fungal issues. Overcrowded foliage is more susceptible to wet conditions by nature of the foliage density.  Shrubs can be pruned to achieve ideal branch configuration and to eliminate overcrowding and tangled branches. Planting a variety of cultivars, rather than wide swaths of monoculture, help create a well-integrated, multi-faceted garden that encourages beneficial inhabitants.

ORGANIC REMEDIES FOR FUNGAL ISSUES
Powdery mildew and black spot can both be treated organically, with many recipes and opinions available online. Organic controls include neem oil, made from the neem tree in India. Neem has been found to be nominally effective for powdery mildew, and more effective as a broad spectrum, natural insecticide. Baking soda and a dormant oil or liquid soap mixture can be sprayed early on at first detection. Spraying every two weeks will usually deter further development of powdery mildew. Vinegar and even common mouthwash can be used to deter fungal disease. 1 part to 3 parts water is a good rule, but always test foliage to check any particular sensitivities and dilute mixture accordingly. 1 part milk and 2 parts water have been discovered to combat disease while also boosting a plant’s immune system. In any spraying task, wear good rubber gloves and if windy, wear eye and nose protection for any mixtures containing mint, citrus, alcohol or peppers.

Good hygiene in the garden is a very effective tool to combat disease. Keep the base of all plant material clear and free of mulch. Expose the flare root of all trees. In rose gardens, keep foliage exhibiting Black Spot, off the ground, or it will merely keep a cycle of disease going. Dispose of diseased plant matter carefully and do not add to your compost pile.  3-5% organic matter in landscape soils and under turf grass will keep a healthy ecosystem that will feed on organic applications of “biologicals”. We flip the ‘disease triangle’ on its back by building proper, balanced soil biology, planting a variety of cultivars and knowing the early signs of any fungal issue. Set your landscape up for success and know that there are many completely safe, non-toxic methods of help available, should your garden succumb to weather and a “fungus amongus”.

Stay tuned. In our next blog post, we will address Cotton Root Rot and Oak Wilt, A Basic Primer.

Seed: The Untold Story

http://www.seedthemovie.com/

“Few things on Earth are as miraculous and vital as seeds. Worshipped and treasured since the dawn of humankind. In the last century, 94% of our seed varieties have disappeared. SEED: The Untold Story follows passionate seed keepers protecting our 12,000 year-old food legacy. As biotech chemical companies control the majority of our seeds, farmers, scientists, lawyers, and indigenous seed keepers fight a David and Goliath battle to defend the future of our food. In a harrowing and heartening story, these heroes rekindle a lost connection to our most treasured resource and revive a culture connected to seeds. SEED features Vandana Shiva, Dr. Jane Goodall, Andrew Kimbrell, Winona Laduke and Raj Patel.

SEED is Executive Produced by Academy Award Winning Actress Marisa Tomei, Marc Turtletaub (Little Miss Sunshine) and Phil Fairclough (Grizzly Man, Cave of Forgotten Dreams). ”

 

#filmrecommendations

#filmseries

#seedsavers

Green Grow Organics Submits Sustainability Award Entry

Green Grow Organics submitted an entry to the SA Tomorrow Sustainability Award Program in the Sustainable Programs category. 12 winners in 5 categories will be announced November 1st. Here’s a link to the sponsor, SA Tomorrow and also an article in the Rivard Report further explaining the program. Green Grow Organics will bring you a host of sustainability topics related to our work.  We touch the ecosystem #Soil2Sky ™.

http://www.sasustainabilityplan.com
http://therivardreport.com/sa-tomorrow-accepting-nominations-for-sustainability-awards-1/

 

 Green Grow Organics