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Karen Bovio

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Karen Bovio last won the day on January 15 2012

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About Karen Bovio

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  • Birthday 11/26/1953

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    Howell, MI
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    Gardening (of course!), wine tasting, cooking, nutrition, astrology.
  1. In my experience, fungus growing on the outside of peat pots is not damaging to the plants. I have had this happen many time, in fact, usually it does happen. It appear that the fungus that attacks the peat pot is not something that would infect living plants. I wouldn't worry, just proceed as usual!
  2. Early Goliath has been my favorite among the large-fruited hybrids. Great flavor, good production, and nice large round fruits. I also agree that Chocolate Cherry is delicious. We tried them last year for the first time, and loved the flavor. Much more tomatoe-y than other cherry tomatoes. However, we did find that the fruits were more prone to rot than other cherry varieties. They would get a small water-soaked patch on them that quickly expanded and ruined the fruit. Other varieties were not troubled by this. I don't know what the disease was, but discovered that the best way to avoid this trouble was to pick the fruits when they were a little bit underripe and let them ripen indoors. Despite this issue, I will definitley be planting a Chocolate Cherry in my garden again this year.
  3. Thanks for the advice on the different types of hazels and Juneberries! It's also been fun exploring the Oikos Tree Crops website! I am learning a lot!
  4. I have a huge norway maple and have had Euonymus coloratus (or something quite similar - it never gets shrubby or upright) growing under it. It has been successful there, in dense dry shade, for 20 years! You can usually buy ground cover Euonymus by the flat at nurseries, and of course it is VERY easy to propagate on your own. Cuttings are very easy to root, so with a season's head-start you could accomplish the project very inexpensively.
  5. I am certainly concerned because of the confusion this causes in the horticulture industry as a whole. There are countless publications (books, catalogs, online information) that are now outdated, for all practical purposes. And what of all of the already-printed plant tags out there? Will the plant tag companies have to discard millions of tags, and go through the cost of reprinting them? How will we gardeners refer to hardiness zones - we'll have to use tems like "old zone 5 or new zone 5"! I am happy that the new map puts extra emphasis on the A and B designations, and takes into consideration more topography and microclimate issues. This can be a help, but the confusion that will be created by everyone now having to adjust their thinking to a new zone will cause some problems. My particular location is now zone 6A instead of 5B. Not a big difference in temperature, buthaving to say 6 instead of 5 will certainly be an adjustment. It just SOUNDS a lot warmer! I know that the new map was drawn using data from a much longer time frame than the old 1990 map, and that is good. But we all know how variable mother nature can be! In southeast/central Michigan, we are are now definitely experiencing a zone 6 winter, but remember last year when our winter was morel like a zone 4!
  6. Try Green Zebra! I was amazed not only at the fantastic flavor, but by the very heavy production. The fruits are a little larger than golf balls and are green when ripe. You can judge when to pick them because the faint stripes over the fruits become somewhat yellow when ripe. The fruits hold well on the vine and are not prone to cracking. Some people consider this an heirloom variety. For an heirloom, I found it to be much more productive and one of the most disease resistant heirlooms I have grown. They are a real conversation piece, both fresh and when you can them. Make pretty Christmas gifts by canning Green Zebra along with red tomatoes in the same jar! This is my new favorite tomato. Among hybrids, I like Early Goliath best. Nice firm very round fruits (on the large side, but not huge despite the name). Great flavor and perfect for canning due to their perfect shape.
  7. My experience with the newer cultivars of Ajuga is that they need quite a bit of sun. The very old- fashioned ones (smaller leaves, green or bronze, running not clumping habit) can thrive in shade. But they also like some moisture. I do not consider Ajuga a drought tolerant ground cover. I think Lamium or Lamiastrum might be better choices. Lamiastrum (Yellow Archangel) is so vigorous it will grow anywhere including dense shade. It can be invasive, so you will need to cut it back ocassionally to keep it in bounds. Lamium is less aggressive, and tolerates dry shade. If too shady though, it will thin out over time.
  8. I am interested in growing filbers and/or hazlenuts (Corylus), and Serviceberry (Amelanchier) in southeast/central Michigan. Possibly Hardy Kiwi as well. I know that Filberts (Corylus avellana) may not be totally hardy here, and see that hybrids of Corylus avellana and the native Corylus americana have been developed, and are prehaps better suited to the Midwest compared to the commercial Filberts commonly grown on the West Coast. Does anyone have experience with these? I am looking for a hazlenut or hazelbert that grows as a shrub, not a tree. Anyone have experience in choosing an Amelanchier for its fruit rather than ornamental qualities? Again, I want a shrub-like form, and not tree form. I see that St. Lawrence Nurseries in Potsdam N.Y. (zone 3) offers many varieties. Some are A. canadensis and others are A. alnifolia. Can anyone shed any light on which are preferable for fruit and the shrub-like habit I am looking for? Has anyone grown the Hardy Kiwis and actually gotten a lot of fruit from them? I know the variety 'Arctic Beauty' is widely available and a gorgeous variegated vine, but I am more interested in fruit production.
  9. Ester, I am considering starting some Shitake logs this spring. I have heard that the best time to gather your (live) logs is in late winter, very early spring, before bud break. Then innoculate with spore within 10 days of cutting your logs. Is that your suggestion as well? I am going to use Red Oak; White is not as common in my woods. How large a log do you use (diameter and length)? And where to you "keep" your logs in order to produce the mushrooms? I was figuring a shady spot behind my barn might work.
  10. In my experience, in central to mid Michigan, in most years it won't make any difference if you cut your butterfly bushes (Buddleia) back in fall or wait until spring. In zone 5, butterfly bush "wood" is not winter hardy, but the roots are. So most of the wood will die over winter, and new growth will occur from the base, almost like the non-woody herbaceous perennials. (Be patient - in a cool spring, it will seem like they are taking forever to emerge!) Butterfly bushes bloom on new wood each year, so you won't lose anything by cutting back in fall. In a very mild winter, some of the upper wood may survive, in which case, new growth will appear both at the base of the plant, and from buds on old wood that managed to survive the winter. In that case, you will have what looks like a true shrub. However, you can't count on that in most of zone 5 so I always cut mine back to the ground (either fall or winter, depending on how much I get done in the fall!). If you leave it standing over winter, and you get a mild winter and some wood survives, then you can cut back to live wood when you see the buds emerge along the"branches" in the spring. Another thought - since butterfly bushes (the standard types anyway) get pretty darn big - often growing 8 feet in a single year - you may not want much wood to survive the winter, or you'll have a really big plant that year! And if that happens repeatedly you can get a rather sgraggly looking plant. Another reason why I advise cutting them back to the ground each year. Also, in those rare years where it is brutally cold with no snow cover, even Buddleia roots may not survive. Butterfly bush is a zone 5, not zone 4 plant. In my experience the yellow varieties (B. weyeriana and its hybrids) are less winter hardy than B. davidii types. B. weyeriana is often considerred a zone 6 plant.
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