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Northern Gardening

Northern Gardening

  • 2nd Thursday 7-8pm
  • and following Saturday at 6am
News & Information

Recipes | Local Food on the North Shore

Northern Gardening covers a variety of gardening topics relevant to our northern climate. The program airs on the second Thursday of each month from 7-8 p.m. and is rebroadcast the following Saturday at 6 a.m. The program is a partnership between the Northwoods Food Project, the Cook County U of MN Extension Office, and WTIP.

The Northwood's Food Project is a non-profit organization who's purpose is to increase Cook County's long term food sustainability and self-reliance by eating and growing locally produced food.

Learn more about the partnership between WTIP, the Northwoods Food Project, and the Cook County U of MN Extension Office that makes Northern Gardening possible.

Jeanne Wright and daughter Olya, Diane Booth, and Melinda Spinler in the WTIP studio for Northern Gardening.

What's On:

Beekeeping and How To Shrink Your Lawn & Plant Flowers Instead

NorGard_020812.mp3109.81 MB

Northern Gardening hosts Joan Farnam and Paula Sundet-Wolf welcome author Evelyn Hadden and bee entomologist Mike Goblirsch on the first show of the 2012 season.
Hadden has written a number of books about naturalistic landscaping, including "Apprentice to a Garden," and "Shrink Your Lawn: Design Ideas for Any Landscape." She has a new book coming out this month, "Beautiful No-Mow Yards." To see a video about this book, click here. In this program, she discusses what people can do to shrink their lawn and plant flowers and grasses which will thrive in our area.
Goblirsch is a Ph.D student in entomology at the University of Minnesota and will be teaching "Introduction to Hobby Beekeeping" at the Cook County Community Center on Saturday, Feb. 18 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. (To register for this class, call Diane Booth at 387-3015.)
In this program, he talks about the mysterious collapse of honey bee colonies across the world, as well as his experiences as a beekeeper.


Now is the time to think about seeds for this season's garden.

Growing for the Co-op, growing for yourself

NorGard_011412.mp3112.58 MB

Northern Gardening hosts Diane Booth and Joan Farnam talk to Jeri Persons, produce manager at the Cook County Whole Foods Co-op, about what growers need to know about growing vegetables for the co-op. Rick Skoog, who grows kale, kohlrabi and radishes for the co-op, was in the studio as well.
The hosts also talk to Paul Gallione, from Johnny Seeds Co. in Maine, a popular seed source for Cook County gardeners.

Below are notes and questions used in the interview as well as lists of popular vegetable varieties that do well in Cook County.

Jeri Person, Cook County Co-op
Jeri: Many of us have watched the growth of the Cook County Whole Foods Cooperative over the years and have applauded the organic / local foods movement in part represented by the co-op. One of the goals both Extension and the Northwoods Food project share is trying to get more local food production in Cook County. How much of the produce provided by the co-op (%) is:

· From Cook County

· From the northeastern region of Minnesota

· From Minnesota

· From Wisconsin, Iowa or the Dakotas

· From further away?

· What about Canada?

As the produce manager for the co-op, would you please share some thoughts or ideas you might have for folks interested in selling produce to the co-op? How would they go about doing that and what things should they know about? Do you have written guidelines or certain requirements? (these are just some thoughts I have – you might have others)

· Reliable source: Can you meet with someone this time of year and contract for a certain amount of produce and kinds to be available – or is that too uncertain for our county?

What about if a group of growers worked together to create better certainty for products? Seasonal vs. out of season?

· Paperwork and tracking: How difficult is it to say, oh, I’ll purchase your extra apples but you will need to supply us with (x) amount in order to make it feasible for the paperwork and tracking we have to do for occasional suppliers?

An invoice that identifies the supplier or grower’s name and address. Good record keeping is important in case of a trace back of a product due to illness or injury.

· Organically certified vs. naturally grown:

Documentation needed for sale to Co-op? Three years of records, documentation that references the USDA organic certifying agent. If less than $5,000 products sold, a record of what has been done to produce and / or land where product has been grown?

· Quality of produce: Are you seeing any signs of insects, disease, bruising and damage, freshness, over ripeness or immaturity? Is the product kept cold after picking, how soon before the product is brought to the Co-op before being sold? What condition does it need to be in? Dirt washed off, bundled in the case of radishes, carrots, small onions, small turnips, lettuce cleaned and spun dry???

· Contamination of product: Is the product transported in clean boxes, containers, or with dogs, dog hair and dog breath? Are there signs of contamination by rodents, insects or birds? Does the grower wash his / her hands before picking produce?

· Is the produce something people will buy? If wild raspberries are abundant and some is picking them and trying to sell them, will people buy them if they are readily available? If you are growing a more unusual product like purple mizuna – it might be easy to grow – but will people purchase it? Are you willing to try things like this?

Licensing, state requirements, etc… · Commercial food operators(i.e. restaurants, caterers, grocery stores, food markets) can purchase produce directly from the grower if the person is selling produce that they have grown on their own land.

*State of Minnesota Constitution, Article 13, Section 7 NO LICENSE REQUIRED TO PEDDLE. Any person may sell or peddle the products of the farm or garden occupied and cultivated by him without obtaining a license therefor.

*Minnesota Statutes, Chapter 28A.15, Subdivision 1 highlights:

Sales by farmers, not others in food business

Prepares and sells not potentially hazardous food at community event / farmers market $5000 or less. “Products are homemade and not subject to state inspection” if they are prepared in a non-licensed kitchen. Name and address of person preparing and selling the food.

Home processed / home canned foods need to have less than $5,000 in gross sales and can be pickles, vegetables or fruits having a pH value of 4.6 or lower.

· If a grower is selling produce to commercial food establishments, is the grower considered an approved source?

*Yes, as long as the food is not processed and is grown on the farm or garden cultivated by them. Food cannot be prepared or stored in the private home.

· Would a grower be required to have a license for foods that are processed?

*Yes, but processing does not include trimming as part of the harvest process or preliminary washing to remove extraneous soil and debris. Cutting, heating, canning, freezing, drying, mixing, coating, bottling would require a license.

· What if I buy produce from my Uncle Sam and want to resell it here along with my produce?

*You might need to be licensed as a Minnesota Wholesale Produce dealer.

· If a grower does not need a license, does that mean they do not have to comply with good agricultural and management practices?

*No, even though a grower

Jeri: What products are you looking to maybe purchase locally?

Meeting in April with potential growers for the Whole Foods Coop?

Johnny's Seeds, Paul Gallione
Paul: As a small commercial grower in Maine, do you have any additional suggestions we have not discussed for marketing your produce to a Whole Foods Cooperative or restaurant, etc?

Paul, you operate a small organic farm in Maine, you are an agonomist and you work as a technical services technician for Johnny’s Seeds. Tell us more about what you grow and what you do for Johnny’s.

Johnny’s Seeds has become known for selling seeds that will do well in short season, cold weather varieties. Winslow, Maine where Johnny’s Seeds is located sits at a latitude of 44.54 while Grand Marais is about 47.73. Our growing zones would be considered zones 3 and 4. How different or similar is your growing zone to ours?

· Have you noticed a change in climate that has been translated to being able to grow longer days to maturity for vegetable varieties?

We have seen a resurgence in both gardening as a whole and especially in gardeners looking for heirloom or open-pollinated varieties. Johnny’s offers some heirloom varieties but still offers a large number of F1 hybrids. Do you see this changing in the near future? Is Johnny’s doing more research on heirloom varieties for northern climates?

Johnny’s offers some seed varieties they have developed themselves. Talk to us a little bit about the process you go through to develop those varieties.

· If your company hasn’t developed these varieties directly, how do you determine what seeds to sell and / or recommend in your catalog?

Interplanting and succession planting becomes more difficult when you are growing vegetables in short season, cold climates. What seed combinations / varieties have worked well for interplanting and give us some recommendations for succession plantings that work well. Too cold – then too hot – then too cold…. How much do you rely on season extenders?f

· Problems with bitterness in lettuce.

· Problems with bolting in spinach

· Problems with timing for a second crop of broccoli or a later crop of peas.

· Other common problems people encounter?

· How important are inoculants for peas, beans, etc?

Paul, what are some of your favorite vegetable varieties you continue to plant year after year that you have had good success with?

Tell us about some of the new vegetable varieties you are offering and how you think they may ‘stack up’ against the older more favorite varieties for our zones 3 and 4?


· Provider – 50 days germinates well in cold soils

· Amethyst - 56 day (new) purple bean flavor?

· Fortex – 60 day pole bean – how does it compare in flavor to the blue lake beans


· Touchstone gold – 55 days

· Blankoma – 55 days – white, taste in comparison to touchstone gold and red ace


· ? shorter day varieties seem to have less side shoot production

· Development of ‘button heads’ if left in seed flats too long before being transplanted out.

· Excessive heat when developing can cause little to no head development

Mini Broccoli (Gailon is Chinese broccoli (Kale) Brassica oleracea var. alboglabra

· Broccoli x Gailon – Happy Rich – 55 days Better, smaller tasting stems than regular broccoli?

· Atlantis – 60 days

Brussels Sprouts

Flower Sprouts Brussels sprouts x kale

· Kaleidoscope mix - 90 days Flavor??


· Best for making sauerkraut? Kaitlin – 94 days

· Gonzales – 66 days for mini cabbages

· Ruby Perfection – 85 days

· Red cabbage seems to be more resistant to the white cabbage butterfly than green cabbage?


· Mokum – 36 days very sweet early Nantes type for fresh eating ( high in sugar, low is starch – don’t keep well)

· Caracas – 57 day baby Chantenay – better for growing in heavier soils

· Bolero – 75 days great for storage

· ? No Danvers type carrots are listed in the catalog?


· Best self-blanching varieties

· Fremont – 62 days

· Bishop - 65 days better Fremont variety

· Denali - 73 days for Fall production

· Graffiti – 80 days purple variety - flavor? – freezing qualities?

Corn ( Natural II treatment applied to seed as a film?)

· Spring Treat – 66 days (se) sugary enhanced yellow

· Trinity – 68 days (se+) sugary enhanced bicolor

· Mirai corn varieties – combination of se,su, sh2 ??? Have you trialed it there?

· Painted Mountain – 85 days flour, hominy, roasting


· Northern Pickling – 48 days for pickles

· Diva – 58 days Sweet, seedless, bitterfree cucumbers (variety developed by Johnny’s?)

Asian Greens:
Tatsoi, Mizuna, etc. What varieties are best for late Fall, early Spring in unheated

greenhouse / cold frame, etc.?


· Toscano – 30 days a type of dinosaur kale – better tasting?


· King Richard – 75 day vs. later varieties


· Best varieties that won’t become bitter over summer

· Keep replanting every 20 days or so? / shade cloth

· Bambi – 50 days little gem type for mini-heads.


· Sarah’s Choice – 76 days, cantaloupe F1 consistently best tasting

· Honey Pearl – 74 days, honeydew F1 early and cool-weather tolerant

Onions ( If onions bolt and form flower stalk before end of season – any prevention?)

· Copra – 104 days best storage… Is Patterson a better variety? Or Pontiac?

· How well have cipollini onions done for you?


· Maxigolt – 62 days best tasting pea

· Sienna – 55 days powdery mildew resistant

· Penelope – 59 days powdery mildew resistant


· Ace – 50 days / 70 days

· Olympus – 65 days / 85 days

· Lipstick – 53 green, 73 days red

· Superior – (early) white, scab resistant, long-storing

· Dark Red Norland – (early) stores well

· Gold Rush – (mid) stores well, early russet

· Yukon Gold – (early-mid) yellow, stores well, Production?

· Kennebec – (late) white, good storage


· Racer – 85 days, 12 – 16 lbs

· Big Doris - 90 days, 30 -40 lbs

· Orange Smoothie – 95 days, 6 – 9 lbs


· Rover – 21 days – heat tolerance – better to plant as 2nd or 3rd crop?

· Alpine - 55 days Daikon white radish more tolerant in warm weather

Spinach Smooth vs. Savoy?

· Best for Fall or Winter growing? Red Cardinal – 21 days

· Best for summer growing in more heat? Emu – 42 days

· Tyee – 40 days Typically bolts


· Honey Bear – 85 days

· Delicata – 100 days - different strains taste different

· Sunshine – 95 days – kabocha

· Red Kuri – 92 days – hubbard

· Butternut – what works best for you/

Tomatoes …. Are you using rootstocks for your tomatoes? Best roma tomato?

· New Girl – (F1) 62 days – better tasting and more disease resistant than Early Girl (Ind)

· Martha Washington (F1) – 78 days – too late for outdoors here? Pick green and ripen indoors?(Ind)

· Polbig – 60 days (F1) – perform in cool climates, better tasting than Oregon Spring (Det.)

· Juliet – 60 days (F1) – nice small roma for salsa, salads, pasta, long shelf life (Ind)

· Rebelski – 75 days (F1) – best greenhouse tomato: northern exposure, celebrity, 4th of July,(Ind)

Best Cherry / GrapeTomato

· Sun Gold (F1) – 57 days

· Sakura (F1) – 55 days One of the first varieties to ripen in greenhouse How do they do outside?

· Five Star Grape – 62 days – Bred by Johnny’s (Ind.)

· Black Cherry – 64 days – Almost black in color, taste is more like an heirloom


· Little Baby Flower – 70 days (F1) Smallest red 2-4 lbs, fruit with 3 – 5 per plant

· Sweet Bite – 75 days (F1) seedless – what about the flavor of seedless watermelons?

Announcements: Introduction to Hobby Beekeeping class on Saturday, Feb. 18 from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. with Mike Goblirsch, graduate student working with Marla Spivak, University of Minnesota. Mike plans to cover the following topics: Starting and managing healthy honey bee colonies, performing routine hive management, identifying and inspecting for diseases and parasites, harvesting and packaging honey, and overwintering a colony. Cost will be $35 for the day and include lunch. Please call the Cook County Extension office at (218) 387-3015 to register for the class.

Squash-a-thon Potluck: Sunday, Feb. 5 starting at 5:30 p.m. at the Cook County Community Center. If you still have squash – make something with squash, otherwise make something wonderful to share. If you need squash, contact Diane at 387-3015. Bring your recipe to share for the Northwoods Food Project cookbook, too. For more information, call Joan at 287-3101.


Purple coneflowers grow well in gardens on the North Shore

Perennial gardening on the North Shore

Nor Gard_060911.mp3108.95 MB

This week, hosts Diane Booth and Joan Farnam talk perennial gardening on the North Shore with Mike Heger from Ambergate Gardens and author of "Growing Perennials in Cold Climates" and Gan Mesenbring, local master gardener and perennial trial gardener for the U of M.


Ruby-throated hummingbirds come to the North Shore.

Landscaping or Lakescaping for Wildlife, or Not?

NorGard_051211.mp3109.93 MB

Landscaping or Lakescaping for Wildlife, or Not?

Welcome to Northern Gardening!

Hosts Joan Farnam and Diane Booth talk about  "Landscaping for Wildlife, or Not?" with Carroll Henderson, DNR Non-game Wildlife program leader and Molly Hoffman, well-known local gardener and birder. Northern Gardening airs on the second Thursday of every month from 4 – 5 p.m. and is hosted by The Northwoods Foods Project and Cook County Extension. It is also rebroadcast at 6:00 a.m. on the 2nd Saturday morning of the month

Carroll has been the DNR Non-game Wildlife Program leader since the DNR program started in 1977. Here are some of the topics discussed in the program:

• Do we have bluebirds here in Cook County? What can people do to support them? They require a 5/acre home range per pair

• What about trumpeter swans? Weren’t they originally found around the Great Lakes?

• Pileated woodpecker? 100 acres for home range pair

• Yellow bellied sapsuckers? 10 acres home range pair

• Hairy woodpecker? 25 acres home range pair

• Downy woodpecker 10 acres home range pair

• Deer mouse 3- 4 acres home range pair

• Red squirrel 100 acres home range pair

People often move to northeastern Minnesota to "get back to nature." Gardening is one of those activities. Many of us are interested in growing our own food and still want to live harmoniously with the local animals that live here as well. It is kind of a balancing act.I know Molly, you and Ken have really strived to achieve that balance on your property.
Molly and Carroll: Can you give us some suggestions about how to enhance our properties for wildlife use?

• Animals need food, water, shelter and space.

• Having a diverse landscape is important as it supports more species of wildlife

• Your landscape is less vulnerable to large scale destruction caused by insect pests or diseases that can devastate a single species

• You increase the ecological stability of your yard by increasing the number of plant species

• By planting certain plant species on your property, you can increase wildlife abundance.

Carroll, in your book, "Landscaping for Wildlife" you have appendixes for plant groups that also include plant characteristics, height & width, sun exposure, moisture preference, pH preference, soil types and then what their value is for wildlife and how you can use them in your landscape.
Number of wildlife species is also documented for

1. Wildlife value ratings are

• A Both food and cover

• B Butterfly nectar plant

• C Mainly cover

• E Honeybee and bumblebee nectar source

• F Mainly food

• L Butterfly caterpillar plant

• M Moth nectar source

• N Hummingbird nectar source

• O Oriole nectar source

• S Seeds also eaten by finches and juncos

• Native vs. non-native plantings??

2. Landscape Uses – there is a landscape score as well that values the plants according to traditional landscape qualities like fall color, winter interest, etc. = 75 points total

• A Edging borders

• B Backyard

• B Border shrub

• C Grassy nesting cover

• D Foundation plants in yards

• E Erosion control on slopes

• F Food plot

• G Ground cover

• H Hanging basket

• I Formal hedge

• J1 Tub or 2.5 gallon container

J2 8”- 12” diameter pot

J3 4 - 6” diameter pot

• K Vines for trellises and fences

• L Boulevard trees

• M Privacy hedges and screens

• N Flower garden / bedding

• P Prairie

• Q Wetland or pond

• R Rock garden

• S Shelterbelt/ windbreak

• t Small ornamental trees / shrubs for lawns

• U Tall annuals /perennials – backdrop for borders

• T Shade tree in yard

• V Vegetable garden

• W Woodland

• X Window boxes

• Y Orchard

• Z Herb garden


Amelanchier alnifolia – Saskatoon berry, juneberry, serviceberry

Plant type: SS short shrub

Origin : N native

No wildlife species: 58 58

Wildlife value: F food

Landscape uses: BSWP backyard, shelterbelt windbreak, woodland, prairie

Plant characteristics: DS dioecious (plant 2 or more), suckers to form


3. Plants are also listed according to whether they are summer, fall or winter plants and rated for wildlife as excellent, good or fair.

Examples: Rubus idaeus var. strigosus Red Raspberry

No. wildlife species: 97

Wildlife value: A both food and cover

Equisetum Horsetails

No wildlife species: 6

Wildlife value: A both food & cover

Vaccinium angustifolium Blueberries

No wildlife species: 53

Wildlife value: F food

Zizania aquatic Wild rice

No wildlife species: 23

Wildlife value: F food

Potamogeton spp. Pondweed

No wildlife species: 40

Wildlife value: F food

Zea mays Field corn

No wildlife species: 100

Wildlife value; A both food & cover

Crataegus phaenopyrum Washington hawthorn

No wildlife species: 25

Wildlife value: BN Butterfly nectar plant; hummingbird nectar plant

** What about our native hawthorns here?

Bats and birds can be especially effective helpmates in the landscape and in the garden. Molly and Carroll can you give us our listeners some ideas about what species we might want to encourage and how we might do that?

1. Pollination with insects and birds

Hummingbirds for pollination:

• Delphinium, bee balm, bleeding heart, canna lily, dahlia, 4-o’clock, fuschia, impatiens, sweet William, honeysuckle, morning glory, apple, crabapple, hawthorn, azaleas

• Jewelweed (Impatiens

• Scarlet runner beans

• Coralberry

• Love misters for water

• Need cover and perching places close to the humming bird feeders / flowers

• Solution ¼ sugar water – very clean – no red dye

Wings at 55 beats per minute

Fatten up in August / early September

Need to nearly double their weight in fat stores for migration

Butterflies for pollination:

• Creating puddling places

• Creating hiding places for butterflies by intermingling various heights of plants and evergreens

• Creating a long season of nectar sources from early spring to fall for larva and adults

• Herbicide & pesticide free area

• Basking areas – large flat rocks to warm up on

• Butterfly houses?? Have you talked to anyone where these are being used? What butterflies

might overwinter in them?

Moths: Sweet William, 4-o’ clocks, heliotrope, nicotiana, petunias

Specific larval plants for specific butterfly and moth larvae (coevolution & pollination)

• i.e. Baltimore Checkerspot larvae and turtleheads or chelone

2. Bats and insect control ‘Woodworking for Wildlife’ book by Carroll Hendersen

• Provide the right habitat to encourage insect-eating predators like purple martins, dragonflies, tree swallows, bluebirds.

• How well do bat houses work? Our house is wrapped with tyvek – they love that.

• Bats can eat 3,000 – 7,000 insects / night

• What are the favorite insects they consume?

If you are lucky enough to live along a lakeshore, you want to seriously consider "lakescaping" along the shore to increase the wildlife using the area. Carroll’s book, ‘"Lakescaping for Wildlife and Water Quality’ would be a great resource.
In Cook County, we have folks who live along Lake Superior and folks who live on inland lakes… can you make some suggestions for what folks might want to consider when they purchase lake property?

• Live and dead plants for habitat along the shore – they absorb the energy of waves to prevent soil erosion

• Dead trees and logs

• A thriving plant and animal community will give you better water quality

• How do people get started if they have lawn right down to the shoreline?

• Buffer zone – take a look at the native landscape around your lake and learn what native plants thrive there

• Mulching native plantings / keeping everything weeded well to get established

• Leave dried vegetation in the winter for interest and cover for wildlife

• Shoreline stabilization - great section in your book on bioengineering- wattles, soil erosion blankets, brush mattresses, – also local Soil & Water office can be a great resource

1. Suggestions for plant species for bioengineering

• Speckled alder

• Red osier dogwood

• Willows

• American elderberry

• Arrowwood

• Nannyberry

2. Great information on plants that grow along buffer zones showing what wildlife uses them, sun exposure, habitat, seasonal interest, etc.

The most numerous calls I receive during the gardening season (besides what vegetable varieties to plant and what is wrong with my plant) - has to do with deer, bunny, vole and chipmunk control. The last couple of years this has gone on to now include problems with crows, racoons and groundhogs. So, let’s spend a little bit of time talking about these critters and humane methods to co-exist without losing your entire vegetable crop, flowers or fruit trees…

• Fencing – exclusion, type of fencing, baiting if using electrical. Groundhogs? Deer, hare and voles (winter control)

• Live trap and relocation?

• Plantskydd or liquid fence

• Homemade repellent of 4 eggs, 2 ounces of red pepper sauce, 2 ounces of chopped garlic – put in 1 quart container and add enough water to fill. Blend, strain, and add antiperspirants for longer lasting…(could burn your plants) All of these work about equally well or not as the commercial varieties.. ‘the Truth about Garden Remedies w/ Jeff Gillman’. They last a short time. None work in the winter or really very well under heavy deer pressure

• Hanging bars of soap will protect things around a meter in diameter. Research shows it doesn’t matter what brand of soap you use

• Timing of when you grow things?

• Creating a false food environment that will support more animals within a smaller space


Great Expectations School will be having a Pancake Breakfast and Plant Sale on Saturday, May 21. Plant sale goes from 8:00 a.m. until 1:00 p.m. with the pancake breakfast from 8:00 a.m. until 11:00 a.m.

All proceeds will go to support the school!

Tom Plocher will be here for a second Grape Workshop on Saturday, May 21st from 1- 3 p.m. at the Cook County Community Center. Grape varieties are being trialed here by a number of gardeners so come and learn more about growing grapes in our northern climate.

The Small Footprint Living Fair emphasizing sustainable living will be held this year all day on Friday, June 24 and Saturday, June 25. 18 classes will be held in the areas of animal husbandry, green building, energy, and growing. A silent auction will be held where a greenhouse built on Friday and a large water cachement system built on Saturday will go to the highest bidder. Noon time speakers on bioenergy / biomass and community organizing for sustainability will be wonderful to listen to while you ‘chow down’ on homemade soups and build your own sandwiches. An environmental film festival will be held on Friday evening from 4:30 until 9:00 p.m.

Brochures are available around town, at the Cook County Extension office, and on the web at Call 218-387-3015 and I will be happy to mail one out to you or e-mail you a copy.

If you are looking for a garden space this year, check with Joan at 370-9794 to see whether there are any GardenShare spaces available



Organic Production, Mulches & Tomato Varieties for the North Shore

NorGard_Thurs_041411.mp3102.27 MB

Organic Food Production, Mulches, Pruning and Tomato Varieties
April 14, 2011

Welcome to Northern Gardening!

In this show, Joan Farnam and Diane Booth talk about Organic Food Production, Mulches, Pruning and Tomato Varieties. Guests are  Jim Riddle from the University of Minnesota Organic Ecology Research and Outreach Program in Lamberton and local gardener Bill Lane.

What is organic production?
There are lots of terms out there like ‘natural’, ‘sustainable’, ‘green’ or ‘locally‐grown’, but what does the term "Organic" mean?
• Organic production is defined by the USDA National Organic Program regulation as a “production system that is managed…to respond to site‐specific conditions by integrating cultural, biological, and mechanical practices that foster cycling of resources, promote ecological balance, and conserve biodiversity.”

Crop Farms
‐ 3 years with no application of synthetic fertilizers, pesticides or Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) prior to the first harvest of organic crops
‐ Buffer zones to prevent contamination from adjoining land uses
‐ Organic system plan for the farm
‐ Use of natural inputs or approved synthetic substances on the National List only after preventative practices are insufficient
‐ No use of GMOs, sewage sludge, ionizing radiation
‐ Use of organic seeds and planting stock
‐ Raw manure and compost must follow restrictions to safeguard human and environmental health
‐ Maintain or improve physical, chemical and biological condition of the soil, minimize soil erosion, use crop rotations
‐ No field burning to dispose of crop residues – burning only to suppress disease or stimulate seed germination – flame weeding allowed.

Processing Operations
‐ Mechanical or biological processing methods
‐ No commingling or contamination of organic products
‐ No use of GMOs, ionizing radiation, artificial dyes, solvents or preservatives
‐ Use proactive sanitation and facility pest management practices to prevent pest infestations
‐ No use of fungicides, preservatives or fumigants in packaging materials
‐ 100 percent organic ingredients; 95 percent organic ingredients or 70 percent organic ingredients
‐ Required traceability – name of certification agency on product’s information panel

Livestock Operations
‐ 100 percent organic feed for all organic animals
‐ Organic management for last 1/3 gestation for meat animals and 2nd day after hatching for poultry
‐ One year of organic management for dairy cows
‐ Mandatory grazing on pasture for ruminants at least 120 days per year
‐ Mandatory outdoor access for all species when weather is suitable
‐ No antibiotics, growth hormones, GMOs, or feeding of animal by‐products
‐ Manure needs to be managed to prevent contamination of crops, water and to optimize recycling of nutrients.

Food labels review:
• "Natural" is simply a ploy to get you to buy a product. Doesn’t let us know whether it is organic, local or humanely raised.
• "No Hormones" is false because all animals have hormones in their products.
• “Naturally raised” is a voluntary (read: unregulated) label that means livestock have been raised without antibiotics and growth hormones and have not been fed animal byproducts.
• Cage-Free: Hens are uncaged inside barns or warehouses but may not have access to the outdoors.
• Free-Range: Essentially the same as “cage‐free”, hens are uncaged and more likely to have access to the outdoors.

Why should I care if I grow my own foods organically or purchase organically grown foods?

 Health Reasons
1. Exposure to pesticides is associated with the risk of cancer.
2. Organic products have very low or no pesticide residues.
3. Organic product consumption reduces exposures to organophosphorous insecticides that are known to disrupt neurological development in infants and children.
4. Vegetables grown on organic farms or non‐organic farms have the same amount of risk for sources of food borne disease.
• Nutrition
1. Organic crops contain fewer nitrates, nitrites and pesticide residues.
2. Organic crops contain more dry matter, vitamin C, phenolic compounds, essential amino acids, minerals and total sugars
• Soil Quality
1. Organic practices build soil organic matter content – offsets tillage, increases microbial activity.
2. By year 4 or 5 of organic production, often will out produce conventional farming methods.

1. Diverse plant communities support beneficial insect communities that help manage pest populations.
• No Genetic Engineering
1. Genetically engineered Bt corn harms aquatic insects and disrupts stream ecosystems.
2. Genetically engineered crops have established feral populations outside of cultivated crops.

Climate Change
1. Integrates closed nutrient cycles and enhances soil carbon sequestration
2. 33 percent reduction in fossil fuel use for organic corn/soybean farm systems that use cover crops or compost instead of chemical fertilizers

Feeding the World
1. 30 percent increase in world‐wide yields using organic methods.

Mulches and Soil Amendments

What’s the difference between a soil amendment and a mulch?
• Mulches are placed on top of the soil.
• Soil amendments are incorporated into the soil.

What’s the purpose of a mulch or a soil amendment?
• A soil amendment is any material added to a soil to improve its physical properties, such as water retention, permeability, water infiltration, drainage, aeration and structure. The goal is to provide a better environment for roots.
• A mulch is left on the soil surface. Its purpose is to reduce evaporation and runoff, inhibit weed growth, and create an attractive appearance. Mulches also moderate soil temperature, helping to warm soils in the spring and cool them in the summer. Mulches may be incorporated into the soil as amendments after they have decomposed to the point that they no longer serve their purpose.

Soil Amendments
 There are two broad categories of soil amendments: organic and inorganic.
• Organic amendments come from something that is or was alive. Organic amendments include sphagnum peat, wood chips, grass clippings, straw, compost, manure, biosolids, sawdust and wood ash.

Organic amendments increase soil organic matter content and offer many benefits. Organic matter improves soil aeration, water infiltration, and both water- and nutrient-holding capacity. Many organic amendments contain plant nutrients and act as organic fertilizers. Organic matter also is an important energy source for bacteria, fungi and earthworms that live in the soil.

The Changing Forms of Soil Organic Matter
• Additions. When roots and leaves die, they become part of the soil organic matter.
• Transformations. Soil organisms continually change organic compounds from one form to another. They consume plant residue and other organic matter, and then create by-products, wastes, and cell tissue.
• Microbes feed plants. Some of the wastes released by soil organisms are nutrients that can be used by plants. Organisms release other compounds that affect plant growth.
• Stabilization of organic matter. Eventually, soil organic compounds become stabilized and resistant to further changes.

Inorganic amendments, on the other hand, are either mined or man-made. Inorganic amendments include vermiculite, perlite, tire chunks, pea gravel and sand.

Mulches: Organic and Inorganic
• Reduce weed growth
• Regulate temperatures
• Maintain uniform moisture
• Organic mulches can add nutrients and humus

Organic: straw, cardboard, wood chips, pine needles, grass clippings, leaves, compost,
Inorganic: black plastic, clear plastic, newspaper, red plastic,
Cover crops / green manures: clover, rye, buckwheat, legumes, etc.

Tomato Varieties
• Determinate vs. indeterminate
• Use for the tomato or fruit characteristics
• Disease resistance
• Heirloom or open-pollinated or hybrid
• Time to maturity

Sun Gold is a 65-day, hybrid, indeterminate golden-orange cherry tomato. The plants are big and rangy, so they need to be well staked, and should be surrounded by a strong cage. Support them well, and they'll produce an incredible abundance of 1" diameter ultra-sweet fruit over a full 3 months. If you live where summers are hot, you probably don't have much trouble growing sweet, flavorful tomatoes. But in areas where summer is short and nights are cool, tomatoes never get very sweet. I have been so spoiled by Sun
Gold's dependable super-sweet flavor that I now add them to my tomato sauces and slice them onto my sandwiches.

Juliet is a 60-day indeterminate that produces a huge crop. The fruit is oval and it's about 2" long. It's firm, glossy and quite dense, like a miniature paste tomato. Juliet ripens fast and furious, and I use it for soups, sauces, salsas and cold salads. They also get stewed whole for canning, and get halved for drying. Leave on the vine a long time for the best flavor as it turns color fast but isn’t ready.

Sweet Million--Indet. Hybrid. (65 days) An improved Sweet 100 type cherry. Equally prolific and sweet, but with less cracking and better disease resistance.

Early Girl--Indet. Hybrid. (64 days) Very early, red salad tomato. Consistently does well in taste tests. Bush early girl that is determinate. BURPEE or Early Girl Improved (60 days) Ind. PINE TREE

Glacier – OP (56 days) Det. Superior in flavor to Siberia, Stupice and Bloody Butcher. I haven’t tried this one yet, but plan to compare it to some of the others in this early class. One to try from FEDCO

Black Prince – OP (75 days) Ind. Outstanding flavor similar to Black Krim but a bit earlier, more uniform and without a tendency to crack.

Honeydrop – OP (62 days) cherry tomato that is very sweet, juicy, fruity. Light honey gold in color. One to try from FEDCO.

Gardener’s Delight – OP (68 days) Ind. Large cherry tomato that has a tendency to crack but has excellent flavor.

Sweet Chelsea – hybrid (67 days) Large cherry tomato that is indeterminate but bears lots of great tasting fruit perfect for salads.

Grandma Mary’s Paste Tomato – (68 days) OP Ind. Tried for one year – will try again – was too late even though it is supposed to be early. FEDCO

Fourth of July – hybrid (49 days) Ind. Haven’t tried this one yet, but will be trialing this one in the summer. It has been grown in St. Louis County with good results. BURPEE

Sweet Baby Girl - hybrid (65 days) Ind. Great tasting, very prolific cherry tomato that grows in immense red clusters.

Anna Russian - OP (65 days) Ind. Teardrop shaped fruit very large – up to a lb – too sweet and mushy for me. More of a dark pink color.

Prune for plant health
1. Dead or dying branches
2. Branches that rub together
3. Mechanical damage

Prune to maintain your plants
1. Encourage fruit and flowers
2. Maintain a dense hedge
3. Keep a tree form or shape

Prune for plant appearance
1. Control the plant size
2. Keep everything well proportioned
3. Remove branches, suckers, waterspouts

Prune to protect property
1. Narrow crotches w/ included bark
2. Plant obscuring vision
3. Hazardous trees

When to prune
Early Spring Bloomers - Prune after blooming before flower buds are set for the following year.
Foliage Shrubs - Prune early in the year before the leaves bud out
New Growth Bloomers - Prune in the spring
Hedges – Prune twice a year – spring and fall – keep base wider than top for sunlight
Older, Overgrown Shrubs – Renewal pruning 1/3 over three years
Spruce / Balsam Fir - Early spring – side buds will grow if terminal bud is removed
Pines – Young candles can be cut back up to 2/3 – if you remove terminal buds there are no lateral buds
Arborvitae, junipers, yews, hemlocks – They can be cut back anytime through middle of summer

If you are looking for a garden space this year,  we might be able to find a garden for you in our GardenShare program. For more information, contact Joan Farnam at 370-9794.

Call us and tell us what topics you'd like to hear us cover on Northern Gardening. You can call Diane Booth at 387-3015 or Joan Farnam at 387-3101 or e-mail her at

Our next program will be on Thursday, May 12 from 4 – 5 p.m. on WTIP.


Half-gallon milk jugs can be mini-greenhouses in winter.

Sowing Seeds in Winter

NorGard_031011.mp3106.93 MB

Sowing seeds in the wintertime sounds like a pretty crazy idea, but Northern Gardening hosts Diane Booth and Joan Farnam talk about this amazing trick with  Sue Schiess, U of M Master Gardener from Hennepin Count on this week's program. Later in the show, Jerry Starr and Peter Henrikson  discuss how they designed and built a solar greenhouse at Great Expectations School which has provided students with salad greens this year.

Note: if you want to learn more and/or want to start a vegetable garden this year, there will be a 2-hour workshop on how to start a vegetable garden at the Cook County Community Center from 1o a.m. to noon on Saturday, March, 26. Everyone is invited. For more information, call Diane at 387-301.

Winter Seed Sowing is a really old method of starting seeds during the winter time without starting your seeds or plants indoors under grow lights.

What  is Winter Seed Sowing?

  • An easy seed germination method that allows you to plant seeds in milk jugs or other containers, set them outside, and let ‘Mother Nature’ start these seeds when the timing is right for those particular seeds.
  • The temperature differences with freezing and thawing helps loosen up the seed coats and allows for germination at the correct time.

What kind of seeds would you use?

  •  Seeds that typically reseed themselves or self sow
  • Wildflowers / native seeds
  • Seeds that are considered to be hardy
  •  Seeds that can be directly sown early
  • Seedlings can withstand frost
  • Seeds that can be sown outdoors in Autumn, early Winter, early spring while nights are still cool
  •  Seeds that can be sown in early Spring while frosts may still occur, like spinach and lettuce.
  • Seeds that need to be pre-chilled, stratified, etc. to break their dormancy

How do you do it?

  • Save clear milk jugs, take out containers, strawberry containers – anything that can be used as a miniature greenhouse.
  • Make sure your containers are clean before using them.
  • You will need holes poked in the bottom for drainage and holes poked in the top for air circulation and for heat escape during warmer days.
  • Cut the milk jug nearly all the way around about 1/3 to 2/3rd of the way up on the jug.
  • Leave the handle part attached and bend it backwards.
  • Put about 3 inches of fairly good soil with some fertilizer in the bottom. Add another inch of germination mix to the soil for where your seeds will begin germination.
  • Make sure that the soil you add is already pre-moistened.
  • Plant your seeds to the correct depth.
  • Make sure you label your container with duck tape label on the bottom and /or a plastic label wrapped in tinfoil and placed inside the container. The tinfoil prevents the ink from breaking down. You can use a paint pen on a wooden stick as well.
  • Duck tape the milk jug back together.
  • Stick your containers outside where you can easily get to them.
  • Keep the cap on until the weather warms up.
  • Once the seedlings have their first set of true leaves, you can gradually open the top of the milk jug or cut more holes in the jug and expose them to more wind variations.
  • Eventually you transplant them into the garden or into larger pots and place them outside, protecting them at night if need be, until you can transplant them into the garden.

Why would people want to do this?

  • It allows you to start a lot of seeds very cheaply without having to purchase or make an indoor light setup.
  • If you have limited space in your home, this allows you to start a lot of seeds ahead of time outdoors.
  •  Gives you gardening projects to do during the off-season.
  • Recycle and reuse milk jugs, take out containers, anything you can turn into a miniature greenhouse, basically.
  •  Damping off is less likely to occur using this method. (Damping off is when young seedlings wither and seem to die at the soil line. It is usually caused by two fungi Rhizoctonia solani and Pythium species.
  • Rhyizoctonia usually causes stem lesions that girdle the stem. Pythium attacks underground root hairs and root tips either causing the seed to rot in the ground or to wither and die. Other fungi can also be associated with this like Botrytis cinerea, Sclerotina sclerotiorum, Alternaria species, Phytophthora
  • species, Fusarium species, etc.)
  • Stronger, hardier plants often result.
  •  Hardening off your plants is much easier. They are already used to temperature and light fluctuations and really only need the addition of being hardened off to wind.

What are some of the seeds work with the Winter Seed Sowing method?

Annual Flowers

1. Snapdragons ‘Magic Carpet’, ‘Tall Deluxe’, ‘Tetra Giants’
2. Artemesia
3. Aster chinensis ‘Crego Mix’, ‘Perser Mix’, ‘Powder Puff’
4. Brachycome iberidfolia Daisy – Swan river
5. Calendula officinalis ‘Double Mix’, ‘Indian Prince’
6. Calibrachoa Million Bells
7. Celosia cristata ‘Coral Garden’
8. Centaurea cyanus Bachelor Buttons
9. Clarkia elegans
10. Cleome hassleriana Cleome unspecified
11. Cosmos bipinnata ‘Sensation’
Larkspur ‘Imperial Giant’
12. Delphinium
13. Dianthus chinensis China pinks
14. Helianthus ‘Giant Russian’, ‘Earth Walker’, ‘Moulin Rouge’, ‘Valentine’, ‘Vanilla Ice’
15. Limonium sinuata Statice ‘Sunset Shades’, ‘Pacific’
16. Lobularia maritima Sweet Alyssum
17. Matthiola Stock ‘Mammoth Excelsior’ Night-scented
18. Mirabilis jalapa Four O-Clock
19. Molucella laevis Bells of Ireland
20. Nicotiana ‘Sensation Mix’
Love in a Mist
21. Nigella
22. Papaver Poppies
23. Petunia ‘Blue Wave’, ‘Misty Lilac Wave’, ‘Purple Wave’,
‘Dwarf Beauty’
24. Phlox drummondii
25. Portulaca ‘Sundial Mix’, ‘Margarita Rosita’
26. Scabiosa atropurpurea Pincushion Flower
27. Tagetes Marigold ‘Crackerjack’
28. Thunbergia alata Black Eyed Susan Vine
Nasturium ‘Jewel Mix’, ‘Cherry Pink’, Tall climbing
29. Tropaeolum
30. Viola tricolor Pansy ‘Helen Mount’
31. Zinnia haageana

Perennial Flowers
1. Achillea
2. Aconitum
3. Alcea rosea
Butterfly Weed
4. Asclepias tuberosa
American Bellflower & Creeping Bellfower
5. Campanula
6. Chelone glabra Turtlehead
7. Dianthus
8. Digitalis
9. Echinacea purpurea
‘Goblin’ ‘Burgundy’
10. Gaillardia
Baby’s Breath
11. Gypsophila
Day Lily
12. Hemerocallis
Dame’s Rocket
13. Hesperis matronalis
14. Lavendula angustifolia ‘Munstead’
15. Liatris
16. Lobelia cardinalis Cardinal Flower
17. Lychnis coronaria Rose Campion
18. Malva
19. Meconopsis x sheldonii Blue Poppy
Virginia Blue Bells
20. Mertensia
Bee Balm
21. Mondarda
Baby Blue Eyes
22. Nemophilia menseseii
23. Papaver
24. Penstemon hirsutus, strictus
Obedient Plant
25. Physostegia
Balloon Flower
26. Platycodon
Jacob’s Ladder
27. Polemonium
28. Rudbeckia hirta Black-eyed Susan
Painted Daisies
29. Tanacetum coccineum
30. Verbascum
Verbena on a stick
31. Verbena bonariensis

1. Alliums (onions, shallots, garlic, chives)
2. Beets
3. Brassicas (broccoli, brussel sprouts, cabbage, kale, cauliflower)
4. Chards
5. Corn – early types that can handle cold soils
6. Leafy greens, lettuces
7. Peas
8. Radishes
9. Spinach

Solar Greenhouses

What is a solar greenhouse and what makes it different than a regular greenhouse? All greenhouses collect solar energy, but solar greenhouses are designed to collect solar energy during sunny days and store the heat for use at night or during periods when it is cloudy.

A lot of people are getting more excited about the use of solar greenhouses. This is not a new concept. It was used during the time of the Romans and in this country was readily discussed in the 1970’s and 1980’s.
The Romans improved on Greek solar architecture by covering south-facing windows with clear materials such as mica or glass. They also passed sun-right laws that forbade other builders from blocking a solar-designed structure's access to the winter sun.
The ancient Romans not only used window coverings to hold in solar heat for their homes but also relied on solar heat traps for horticulture so that plants would mature quicker, produce fruits and vegetables out of season, and allow for the cultivation at home of exotic plants from hotter climates. With the fall of the Roman Empire, so to came the collapse of glass for either buildings or greenhouses.

Basic Principles of Solar Greenhouse Design (Passive and Active)
• They have glazing materials oriented to receive maximum solar heat during the winter.
• Use heat storing materials to retain solar heat.
• Have large amounts of insulation where there is little or no direct sunlight.
• Use glazing materials and glazing installation methods that minimize heat loss.
• Rely primarily on natural ventilation for summer cooling.
• Should be twice as long as it is wide to offset the effect of shade from the east and west walls.
• The peak should be made about as high as the building is wide.
How has the Great Expectations school greenhouse been designed and built using those principles?
• Shed type solar greenhouse with orientation of the long axis running east to west.
• South facing wall is glazed to collect the optimum amount of solar energy.
• North facing wall is insulated to prevent heat loss. R-22 for roof and walls
• North wall is covered with reflective material to reduce the effects of poor light distribution in an east-
west oriented greenhouse.
• 45 degree south roof glazing? (site latitude 47 + 10-15 = 57 -62 degrees)
• What type of glazing material was used?
• Part of end walls glazed for additional light.
• Earth thermal storage (ETS) collection of solar heat beneath the floor with pipes and rock flooring 3 times the volume of rocks for heat storage than water storage due to their lower value for heat storage
• Active solar was used where 4” black corrugated sewer pipe is in a bed of ? - 1 ?” rocks under the greenhouse. (Divide the square feet of the greenhouse by 2 to get the number of feet of 4” pipe you will need.) Pipes go up at each end of the greenhouse where small fans force the warm, heated air at the top of the greenhouse down into the pipes, heating up the floor area of the greenhouse. This heat then is
given off when the temperatures of the greenhouse decline such as in the evening. Is one pipe higher
than the other, giving a circular flow?
• Sand covered polyethylene sheet over the top of the rocks to prevent an air gap if the rocks settle.

How to select glazing materials?
• Lifespan
• Resistance to damage from hail or rocks
• Ability to support your snowload
• Resistance to condensation
• Sheet size and distance required between supports
• Fire-resistance
• Ease of installation

Glazing materials have a National Fenestration Rating Council Sticker that lists the following factors:
1. The SHGC (Solar Heat Gain Coefficient) is a measure of the amount of sunlight that passes through a
glazing material. A number of 0.60 or higher is desired.
2. The U-Factor is a measure of heat that is lost to the outside through a glazing material. A number of
0.35 BTU/hr –ft2-F or less is desired.
3. VT or visible transmittance refers to the amount of visible light that enters through a glazing material. A
number of 0.70 or greater is desired.
4. PAR or photosynthetically active radiation is the amount of sunlight in the wavelengths critical for
photosynthesis and healthy plant growth. PAR wavelength range is 400 – 700 namometers.

Active Solar Storage

Year round growing – 5 gallons of water storage per square foot of glazing.
Season extension – 3 gallons of water storage per square foot of glazing
Small sized containers like glass bottles provide more heat storage than large 55 gallon drums.


If you are looking for a garden space this year, there are several spaces available in our community gardens and private backyards through the GardenShare program. For more information please contact Joan Farnam at 370-9794.

Our next program will be on Thursday, April 14 from 4 – 5 p.m. on WTIP. Please call 387-3015 for future program topics or guest ideas you have!


flowers and lettuce

Grow a Flower Garden This Year

Northern Gardening_6A_SAT_021211mp3.mp3108.61 MB

Northern Gardening with hosts Emma Bradley and Joan Farnam talk to Tom Kasper, Duluth maintenance supervisor and co-host of WDSE's "Great Gardening" show and Paula Sundet Wolf, a former host of Northern Gardening and an exceptional gardener, about growing flowers on the North Shore. Pictured, at left, is a pot of alyssum and lettuce.

Here are some tips on how to begin a flower garden this spring:

• Sketch out your plans for your garden. Make a diagram of the area, including its width and length. This will help you properly place the plants as you choose them.

• See how much light the area receives. Different plants have different light requirements. Choose plants that have the same light requirements to plant in the garden.

• Select plants that have the same water and soil requirements

• Decide if you want to use annuals. Annuals usually grow and bloom for one season and are broken into warm- and cold-season annuals.

• Consider using perennials. Perennials will usually give you several seasons, if not years, of blooms and growth.

• Shrubs will give you color and contrast throughout the seasons.

• Figure out how big each plant is at maturity. This will give you a better idea of how many plants you will require and how far to space them apart.

• Consider the placement of the plants and what look you are trying to achieve. Formal flower gardens will have all the plants lined up in a straight row. Flower gardens with a more natural flow will have the plants unevenly spaced throughout.

• Native flowering plants that grow in your region are a great addition to attract butterflies and for easier maintenance

• Consider using a focal point in your flower garden.

• How much time do you have for maintenance and care?

If you plan on starting with shrubs, here are some suggestions for color in gardens along the lakeshore vs. away from Lake Superior.

Hardy Summersweet (Clethra alnifolia) is a carefree shrub that no garden should be without. One of the best native American shrubs, Summersweet has everything. Carefree, with sweet smelling summer blooms of pink, white, or deep-rose, Summersweet is pest and disease free. Beautiful when planted in
mass or as a foundation plant. Prefers slightly acid, sandy soil and full sun, but tolerates clay and dense shade. Late summer/early fall bloom. Zone: 3-9. Height: 4-6 feet.

Autumn Magic Black Chokecherry has glossy dark green foliage with an upright shape. Does well in full sun and partial shade. Fragrant white flowers in spring followed by clusters of large dark purple-black berries that persist through the season. Leaves turn reddish purple in the fall. 3-5’tall and 2-4’ spread. Zone: 3-7

Saskatoon Boxwood is for those folks who really miss having a boxwood in their garden. It has done well for three years, is a slow growing evergreen shrub that is easy to prune and has not been decimated yet by the deer. Zones: 4- 8 It will grow about 2 feet tall and spread 2-3 feet.

Pygmy Peashrub works well for a nice short hedge or backdrop for smaller flowers. It stays a light green and has small yellow flowers in spring. Great for difficult soils and dry areas. Zones: 3 – 7. It grows about 3-feet tall and spreads 4-5 feet.

Tom Thumb Creeping Cotoneaster has shiny miniature leaves and beautiful herringbone branching pattern. Great fall red color it grows 8 – 12 inches tall and spreads out about 4- 6 feet. Nice in dry soils and full sun and works great along the edge of the rock garden. Zones: 4-9.

Twist & Shout Hydrangea has dark green leaves that turn burgundy-red in the fall. Blooms on new and old wood with lacy, deep-pink centers surrounded by pink or blue blossoms. Grows 3-5 feet tall and 3- 4 feet wide. Nice specimen plant. Zones: 4-9.

Other suggestions might include: Dart’s Gold Ninebark, Nugget Ninebark, Rhododendrons, Lilacs, Spireas, Viburnums, etc.

Here are some new Introductions from Bailey’s Seeds to consider

Hydrangea arborescens Bella Anna (‘PIIHA-I’)-- Part of the Endless Summer collection, Bella Anna features large, peppy pink blooms. Harsh winter weather or severe pruning is not a problem for Bella Anna. This hardy, reliable hydrangea keeps blooming from early summer through fall, with minimal care. Grows 3 feet tall and wide. Full sun to partial shade. Zones 3–9.

Rosa Pinktopia (‘BAImas’ )--Pinktopia, an Easy Elegance rose, packs masses of dreamy medium pink blooms against dark green leaves. Pinktopia’s new growth is a stunning red. It makes a great low-maintenance accent plant or
hedge. Recurrent bloom cycle. Grows 4 feet tall and 3 feet wide. Zones 4–9.

Rosa Sigrid Rose (‘UMNsigrid’) --This Northern Accent beauty boasts enormous clusters of red double blooms. Reaches just over 3 feet with inch-wide double flowers. Everblooming. Zones 4–9.

Physocarpus opulifolius Little Devil (‘Donna May’)--An exciting improvement in ninebark, First Editions Little Devil resists pests and diseases and requires very little maintenance. It keeps its compact shape without pruning, making it great as a background or in a shrub border. Grows up to 4 feet tall and wide. Full sun or part shade. Zones 3–7.

Hydrangea paniculata Tickled Pink (‘HYPMAD II’) --Tickled Pink’s cone-shaped blossoms start out soft white then gradually turn a rosy pink. The extraordinary blooms are loaded with petals that curve, giving Tickled Pink a lacy, flirty look. Grows 4 to 5 feet tall and spreads 5 to 6 feet. Full Sun. Zones 4–8.

Here are some suggestions for Hardy Perennials:

Early summer
• Allium
• Bergenia cordifolia
• Dicentra spectabilis (Bleeding Hearts)
• Ajuga reptans
• Candy Tuft ‘Autumn Snow’
• Aquilegia canadensis
• Geranium ‘Johnson’s Blue’
• Phlox subulata (Creeping Phlox)
• Daffodils
• Agopodium (Snow on the Mountain)
• Hostas
• Iris cristata (Dwarf Crested Iris)
• Iris siberica (Siberian Iris)
• Polemonium caeruleum (Jacob’s Ladder)
• Convallaria majalis (Lily of the Valley)
• Pulmonaria ‘Mrs. Moon’ (Lungwort)
• Primrose ‘Primula auricula’
• Cerastium tomentosum (Snow in Summer)
• Trollius europus ‘Superbus’
• Phlox divaricata (Woodland Phlox)

Mid summer
• Allium giganteum
• Mondarda didyma (Bee balm)
• Nepeta ‘Blue Wonder’ (Catmint)
• Heuchera (Coral bells)
• Hemerocallis (Daylilies)
• Delphiniums ‘Magic Fountains’
• Digitalis x mertonensis (Foxglove)
• Hostas
• Lilium cultivars (Asiatic)
• Lilium lancifolium cultivars ( Tiger)
• Peony ‘Festiva Maxima’
• Phlox ‘Miss Lingard’
• Lychnis coronaria (Rose campion)
• Veronica (Speedwells)

Late Summer
• Achillea ‘Coronation Gold’ ‘Rose’
• Moonshine
• Astilbe ‘Superba’, ‘Visions in Pink’ Pumila’
• Aster novae-angliae (New England)
• Aster novi-belgii (New York)
• Rudbeckia
• Coreopsis ‘Sunburst’
• Coreopsis verticillata ‘Moonbeam’ ‘Zagreb’
• Joe Pye Weed Eupatorium maculatum ‘Atropurpureum’
• Oriental Lilies
• Monkshood carmichaeli
• Obedient Plant Physostegia
• Sedum ‘Black Jack’ ‘Autumn Joy’ ‘Purple Emporer’
• Chelone glabra, lyonnii, oblique (Turtleheads)
• Chrysanthemums ‘Betty Lou’ (red) ‘Centerpiece (pink) Clara • • Cutris (pink), Centennial Sun (yellow)
(Peach Centerpiece)
• Plume Poppy ‘Kelway’s Coral Plume’ Macleaya microcarpa

Here are some possible perennial combinations:
Spring: Alchemilla mollis, daffodils, Iris ‘cristata’ and Lysimachia nummularia ‘aurea’ ; Muscari
Summer: Daylily ‘Little Fellow’, ‘Stella’d’Oro’, Black eyed Susan, Echinacea ‘alba’
Summer: Obedient plant’Summer Snow’, Bee Balm ‘Marshall’s Delight’, Daylily ‘Catherine, Woodward’
Fall: Autumn Joy ‘Sedum, Coreopsis ‘Moonbeam’ Aster ‘Violet Carpet’

Dividing Perennials – Rule of thumb: Divide fall blooming plantsin the spring and spring blooming plants in the fall.
Iris (6 weeks after blooming); Peonies (late August); Daylilies (after blooming – late August)

Annuals are usually an important part of any flower garden, too.
Cool-season annuals are those that like 70 deg. days and cool nights.
Warm-season annuals are those that like 80 – 90 deg. days and nights in the 60 – 70 deg. range.

Annuals can also be categorized according to their temperature tolerance. They are often categorized as very hardy or hardy, half-hardy, tender and warm-loving.

Very hardy - withstanding temperatures down to 20 deg. F. Bloom early in spring and late in fall during cooler temperatures. Direct seed in cool ground for germination. May retreat Or die-off when temperatures become very hot.
Hardy – withstanding temperatures down to 30 deg.
Half-hardy – tolerate long periods of cold, wet, damp weather but can be damaged by frost. Will usually have earlier and later bloom periods during cooler weather. Can self-seed.
Tender – plant when all danger of frost is over; won’t germinate under 60 deg. and are usually native
to warm tropical regions of the world. Bloom during July & August, don’t usually self-seed. Warm-loving - like 80 degree days.

Combinations of annuals that work well together
• Long bloom period / or bloom periods that complement each other
• Color and contrast of flowers and foliage (repetition)
• Pick up colors of home, deck where you are going to be placing container / window box
• Different heights / styles / textures (repetition)
• Culture conditions are similar – temperature, sun exposure, etc.

Some suggestions for annuals that will re-seed themselves
• Bachelor buttons
• Calendula
• California poppy
• Candytuft
• Cleome
• Cosmos
• Dianthus
• Forget-me-not
• Four-O-Clocks
• Johnny-Jump-Ups
• Larkspur
• Love-in-a Mist
• Moss rose
• Pansies

Some suggestions for biennials or perennials that will re-seed themselves:
• Purple coneflower
• Fig hollyhock
• Poppies
• Black-eyed Susan
• Cardinal flower
• Columbine
• Delphinium
• Foxgloves
• Echinops ritro
• Sea Holly
• Sweet William

Cook County Extension has put together a “Guide to Some Annual Flowers 2010” and is currently working on a new, revised recommended perennial list. Call 387-3015 for more information.


Seed catalogs are available by mail and may be found online, too.

Planning This Year's Garden

NorGard_010611.mp3109.94 MB

The Northwoods Food Project and Cook County Extension together with WTIP produce Northern Gardening, a radio show about gardening in Cook County.
Northern Gardening will air on the second Thursday of each month through March and then the second and  fourth Thursdays from April through October. We will be focusing on a variety of issues and topics that our listeners are interested in learning more about.

If you have a topic you would like discussed, call Diane Booth at 387-3015 or email
This week's hosts were Diane Booth and Joan Farnam with guest Buck Benson.
The following are notes used during the show which might interest our listeners.

We love this time of year when the seed catalogs arrive with all the new, shiny photographs of lush spinach and mouth-watering tomatoes. Anything seems possible in January!

Before you start ordering seeds though, there’s the inevitable Seedbox Organizing Event or Taking Inventory where you go through last year’s seeds and see what you have.
Divide the seeds into several groups:
winter sowing,
seeds that need to be started in the garden,
seeds that need to be started 8 to 10, 4 to 6, or 2 to 3 weeks before last frost

The Cook County Extension office has a pamphlet which gives you the approximate time that seeds remain viable, but it’s always a good idea to do a germination test before planting.
Place 10 seeds from a packet between layers of moist toweling and see how many germinate. If 70 percent, or 7 seeds germinate, you know how much you should plant to get a good stand this year.

And now you’re ready to look at seed catalogs and make your choices. There are lots of seed catalogs out there which specialize in short-season varieties as well as larger seed companies that include short-season choices as well. A few names include Seeds of Change, Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds, FedCo , Johnny's Select Seeds, Jung Seed Company, Pine Tree Garden Seeds, Gurney's Seeds, Burpee Seeds, Stokes Seeds to name a few.
Chose Vegetables/ flowers that are acclimated to our northern climate. They should be short season varieties (60-70 days) for vegetables and flowers you plan to start from seed. If you’re starting the seeds indoors and plan to transplant, then you can get varieties with a little longer maturation date.
We checked out the median cates of critical low temperature thresholds in Minnesota at, which reports frost dates from 57 years. The site reported that in Grand Marais, the median last day of frost in the spring was May 16 and the median first day of frost in the fall was Oct. 1, leaving 137 growing days.
At the Duluth Airport, on the other hand, which would be equivalent to gardens about one mile from Lake Superior, the last day of frost in spring is May 17 and the first day of frost in fall is Sept. 23, leaving 125 growing days.
So choosing your varieties carefully is important for gardeners on the North Shore.

Seed Saving:
Another important question to ask before you purchase seeds is whether you plan to save seeds for next year’s garden.
If you are saving seeds you probably don’t want to purchase F1 hybrids. If you get open pollinated or heirloom seeds, they will grow the same variety year after year. It’s also important to find out if our season is long enough for the plants to produce mature seeds in that first year.
Another important factor is whether the seeds are wind-pollinated, insect-pollinated or self-pollinated.
Squash and pumpkins, for example, can cross with each other if they’re planted too close together, and you’ll get hybrid seeds. However, there are different species of squash which do not cross-pollinate, although many seed packets don’t tell you what they are. You need to know the genus and species to know which varieties will or won’t cross-pollinate. There are three species of squash -- C. pepo, C.moschata, C. maxima. C. pepo can be planted next to C. moschata without cross-pollination, for example.

Many people these days are interested in buying organic seeds and more and more seed companies are providing this option to their customers.
One seed company in particular, Seeds of Change ( provides organic seeds, and they regularly test their seeds for genetic engineering contamination.

Here’s a list of some vegetable varities from Seeds of Change that would probably do well in Cook County. The seeds can be ordered online and are also found at Buck’s Hardware.


Maxibel (50 -55 days) ‘haricots verte’ fresh eating
Provider (50-55 days) cold tolerant, good frozen, canned, dried
Blue Lake (50 – 60 days)
Beurre de Roquencourt (H) (55-60 days) vining tendencies
Indian Woman Yellow (H) (60 – 75 days)
Hutterite (H) (75-85 days) great soup / chowder bean


Alvro Mono (55-65 days) One seed beet earlier than moneta
Touchstone Gold (45 baby – 60 days)

Nutri bud (55-70 days) good side shoot production
Early Green (60-70 days) good side shoot production

Scarlet Nantes (65-75 days)
Kurota Chantenay (80 – 90 days) 5-8” roots in heavy soils / good
Yellowstone (70 – 75 days) 8- 10” Danver’s type

Cassius F1 (65 – 70 days)

Rhubarb (50 – 60 days)
Golden (50 – 60 days)

You should aim for less than 70 days and/or a short-statured corn that will grow 4- 5’ tall.
*Triple Play (60 -70 day) SU yellow ripe, blue sweet.

Oriental, under 70 days

Gourmet Greens
Most greens do well here. Kales are becoming much more popular as are mustards, tatsoi
Sputnik arugula
(30 – 40 days) 3-8” leaves

 King Richard type, (75-85 days), does not overwinter

Lettuce Look for long growing varieties that resist bolting, bottom rot, tipburn in warmer weather, etc. Mixes are great for cutting. Choose Mesclun, greens or lettuce mixes.

Flint, (28-50 days) green leaf
Nevada, (50 -55 days) summer crisp
Concept, (28 – 50 days) summer crisp
Galactic, (28 days) red summer crisp
Winter Density (55-65 days) mini-romaine
Icaro, (55-65 days) green butterhead

Not more than 80 days usually but depends upon your growing situation. They need heat and probably won't do well if your garden is next to Lake Superior, unless you cover them.

Sugar Snap (60 – 70 days) 4-5’ vines

Generally under 70 days for our weather.
Bendigo F 1 (55-65 days) green to red fruit – would try this one

Desiree, (95 – 100 days) 4-6” x 2.5” red skin / gold
Bintje, (110 – 120 days) gold skin / white
German Butterball (105-115 days) golden skin / yellow

Plum purple, (20-30 days)

Tyee F1, (45 days) bolt resistant

Gold Nugget, (75-95 days) C. maxima
Delicata Zeppelin, (90-100 days) C. pepo
Uchiki Kuri, (90-100 days) C. maxima

Young’s Beauty, (95-110 days) 8 – 12 lbs /pie/jack 'o lantern, C. pepo
Small sugar, (100 -110 days), 5 – 8 lbs pie, C pepo

Tomatoes are best grown under 70 days here. Those that have potato-like foliage might need to be separated – they are more likely to cross-pollinate.
Flavor is usually better on indeterminates rather than determinates. Determinates are usually earlier season varieties.
Legend (60-70 days) Det. 4-5” fruits parthenocarpic (few seeds)
Tigerella (55-65 days) Ind. 4-6 oz. Striped fruit
Annelise F1 (60 -70 days) 2 oz fruits in trusses.

Sugar Baby, (60 -70 days) 10 -12 lbs.

Flowers to try from Seeds of Change: (shorter days 60 – 70 days best for blooms)

Alyssum, White Sweet (50 – 60 days) start indoors or outside in cloches
Bachelor buttons, (80 – 90 days) start indoors or outside in cloches
Bells of Ireland, (95-105 days) start indoors or outside in cloches
Cleome, Purple Queen (70 – 80 days) cold stratify outside in cloches
Cosmos, Bright Lights (70- 80 days) start indoors or outside in cloches
Larkspur, Beauty Spire (70 – 80 days) start indoors or outside in cloches
Marigold, Lemon Gem (60 – 70 days)
Marigold, Tangerine Gem (60 -70 days) “
Marigold, French Brocade (60 -70 days) “
Morning Glory, Heavenly Blue (80 – 90 days) “
Nasturtium Mix (55- 65 days)
Nasturtium, Mahogany (55-65 days)
Poppies, Cornfield (65-80 days)
Poppies, Icelandic (80 – 90 days) Can be perennial here by reseeding.“
Portulacea, Double mix (60 -70 days) “
Zohar F-1
Goldy Double (50 -55 days) 4-5’ tall

Persian Carpet (60 -70 days) 12-15”
Cut and Come Again Mix (60 – 70 days) 3’ tall, 2-3” blooms
Righteous Red (60 – 70 days) 3- 5’ single, double
Shades of Pink (60 -70 days) 3- 5’ single and double 4” blooms



Bedtime for Northern Gardening

NorGard_EDIT_102110.mp3108.86 MB

Northern Gardening is "put to bed" for the season in this show, although it will come out of "hibernation"' in January to talk about ordering seeds and great varieties for Cook County. In this show, guests talk about bees and chickens  and getting them ready for winter as well as things to think about for the coming growing season. We also talk about recipes for fall produce. To listen, click on the audio icon.

Here are a few recipes submitted by our guests and radio fans.

Apple Butternut Squash Soup

Serves 6
* 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
* 1 medium onion, diced
* 1 butternut squash (about 2 pounds), peeled, seeded, and chopped
* 4 red or golden apples, peeled, cored, and chopped, plus 1 apple, finely diced and tossed in lemon juice, for garnish (optional)
* 2 teaspoons coarse salt
* 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
* 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
* 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
* 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
* 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
* 2 cups homemade or store-bought low-sodium chicken or vegetable stock
* 2 1/2 cups water, plus more if needed
* 1 jalapeno chile, thinly sliced, for garnish (optional)
* Sour cream, for garnish (optional)

Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion; cook, stirring occasionally, until it begins to soften, about 4 minutes. Add squash, and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft, about 10 minutes.
Add apples, salt, cumin, coriander, ginger, cayenne, black pepper, stock, and the water (just enough to cover). Bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer, and cook until vegetables are very soft, about 30 minutes.
Puree in batches in a food processor or blender until smooth, and return to saucepan. Heat over low, thinning with more water if necessary. To serve, ladle into shallow bowls; garnish with diced apples, jalapeno slices, and sour cream if desired.
I like to take a toothpick and swirl a pattern with the sour cream ontop of the soup. A little flare is always welcome!

Here are a few recipes for kale lovers.

Baked Kale Chips

Kale chips can be crumbled over popcorn for a tasty, nutritious snack.


  • 1 bunch kale
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon seasoned salt
  1. Preheat an oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Line a non insulated cookie sheet with parchment paper.
  2. With a knife or kitchen shears carefully remove the leaves from the thick stems and tear into bite size pieces. Wash and thoroughly dry kale with a salad spinner. Drizzle kale with olive oil and sprinkle with seasoning salt.
  3. Bake until the edges brown but are not burnt, 10 to 15 minutes.

Kale Crisps

This recipe includes cheese.  Both of these recipes are from


  • 2 bunches kale, washed and dried
  • 2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese


  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Spray 2 baking sheets with cooking spray.
  2. Remove the stems and ribs from the kale, and shred the kale very thinly. Spread the shredded kale onto the baking sheets, and sprinkle evenly with Cheddar cheese.
  3. Bake the kale for 10 minutes, watching carefully to prevent burning, until the kale is crisp and the cheese is browned.