Submitted by ~ Sheri Kisch

I had planned to answer this question, plain and simply. Bolting in any plant is not plain or simple. I and others just want to know why the spinach is bolting at 2” tall and another year it doesn’t bolt till July. And what’s up with mums in full bloom in July?

“Bolting is the premature production of flowers, especially of vegetables usually triggered by environmental or cultivation factors” according to the Dictionary of Gardening.

bolting 2That being said I found that many things rule bolting in plants. To start, it can be induced by plant hormones. Really! Gibberellin regulates different developmental processes that include germination, stem elongation, dormancy, flowering and flower development. When plants are exposed to chilly temperatures more GA’s are produced. You can see how cold wet spring weather can start the process.

Bolting can sometimes occur from changes in day-length called photoperiodism. The critical day length for spinach is 13 hours. So when I planted seed in May, I would already be behind as the May day-length is at 14 hours. My row of spinach that was left to seed on purpose, then chopped up and turned under for mulch. It started growing last fall. It was very hardy – but – it was also very cold with a rainy spring that triggered the GA’s which in turn started senescence. The plants already had small flowers forming at 2” high. You can find calendars and charts online that give day length and critical hours. Scientists have long thought it was the length of daylight that made differences in plants. They have now found that the amount of complete darkness is what makes the most difference.

Take a deep breath. Ok, you have heard about planting by the moon. We now go into a whole other realm. Root crops are planted in the dark of the moon and above ground vegetables are to be planted in the light of the moon. The moon controls gravity, which influences soil and water. The Old Farmer’s Almanac is a good source of information.

bolting 1Senescence is the aging process of a plant or part of a plant. Trees are a good example of senescence because of the amount of leaves changing color and falling off, dying. Sometimes it’s a natural process or it can be caused by environmental factors such as day length and season change. It can be triggered on only part of the plant due to pests, disease or drought. The plant can shut down the part that is diseased to save the whole plant or tree and prevent disease from spreading. All natural senescence is regulated by hormones.

There is so much more about bolting for me to learn and tons of information out there. Using your favorite search engine, type in bolting, photoperiod, day-length, moon phases, or senescence. This is where level 2 & 3 come in laying the ground work. Dara Palmer gave me some good extension websites.


Do trees heal?

Submitted By ~ Corry Mordeaux

Guess what? They do not!

Wait a minute…I prune my tree and the wound heals up. Nope! Let me introduce you to the funny abbreviation “CODIT”. This stands for Compartmentalization Of Decay In Trees. OK, this is pretty fuzzy. Let’s dig a bit deeper.

We need to look at trees as being a tree within a tree. Each annual ring that you see in a cross section is actually a tree. (Illus. 1 below)

trees 1

Illus. 1

trees 2

Illus. 2






If we look at a cross section of a tree, we see the annual rings (tree within a tree) but we also see ray cells from the center to the outside. (Illus. 2 above)
Now hold those two pictures in your mind for a moment. As you well know, animals heal or restore a wound or infection to a healthy condition. Trees wall off or compart-mentalize injured tissues. Trees have no healing abilities. They wall off or isolate the injury. With the previous pictures in mind, CODIT is based on “walls” …top, bottom, and sides. These walls are in the growth rings and are penetrated by “tubes” (vessels or tracheids).

Some organisms and insects are able to continue to work through the walls. The cambium forms the most important barrier wall separating infection from new wood. This new wood is seen growing around a wound.

A good example of CODIT is provided by the reference for this article. “trees 3Another way to look at this situation is to show how it is similar to a battleship. A battleship is a very slow moving vehicle. It is highly compartmented. When it is hit the survival of the ship depends on the ability of the crew to close off the areas hit by a shell or torpedo. When the crew is very active and the ship has preset construction that permits effective walling off, the ‘injury’ can be limited to a small space. But, if the crew is sluggish, and the preset construction of the ship is weak, then the injury could cause severe problems – the ship could sink.”

The basis and diagrams for this article come from the National Arborist Association Home Study Course and is based on research conducted and published by Dr. Alex L. Shigo.


Black Walnuts – Do Black Walnut trees really poison other plants?

Submitted by ~ Corry Mordeaux

Do Black Walnut trees really poison other plants?DR. Bob

Yes. Many plants are killed when grown within the root spread of the black walnut tree. Butternut and Persian walnut trees grafted onto black walnut rootstocks give the same effect.

Black walnut trees contain a phytotoxin, juglone, which remains in the roots and is not secreted into the soil. For injury to occur the roots of the walnut must contact the roots of other plants growing nearby. Plants closest to the walnut tree are usually injured first but plants up to 80 feet away can be injured because that is the average root spread of a mature black walnut tree. Even after the walnut tree is removed, juglone may remain in the dead roots until they decay.

The wilting caused by a plant’s contact with juglone cannot be reversed or reduced by watering. Stunting, death, or wilting of the whole plant or only a part of it may occur. The side nearest to the walnut tree usually wilts first. Although most plants are affected, even other walnut trees, the problem is most severe on tomatoes, potatoes, and evergreens.

Note: I have a 30 foot Pinus sylvestris (Scots Pine) that is very dead. It was planted about 15 feet from a Black walnut. (Not too smart, Corry.)

Dr. Bob is gone but his wisdom lives on.

Fantastic Fungi

Film by Louie Schwartzberg; based on a book by the same title edited by Paul Stamets.

Submitted by ~ Ann McKean

When I came out of the Art House Theater after seeing Fantastic Fungi this week, I wanted to run through the streets telling everyone that they MUST see this movie. Fantastic Fungi is a magical, mesmerizing film about, well, fungi, but the incredible time lapse photography and the knowledge and enthusiasm of the people in it and behind it make it so breathtaking and riveting that I wished I could have sat there and watched it three more times. The film takes the viewer on a journey underground and above, to reveal a world of extraordinary complexity and beauty without which we cannot survive. When most of us see a mushroom in nature, we view it with little curiosity and maybe even mild suspicion, but once you have seen this film, you will never look at a mushroom the same way again; you will be filled with awe, wonder and hope.

Movie available for home streaming, book available from Amazon and independent booksellers.

The Suburban Micro-Farm: Modern Solutions for Busy People

The Suburban Micro-Farm: Modern Solutions for Busy People

by Amy Stross

Submitted by ~ Elizabeth Waddington
Illustrated liberally with photographs, the book includes chapters on developing healthy soil, landscaping with edibles, and even permaculture. I’m pretty taken with the herb spiral project. Stross includes Life Hacks such as #1: Spend 15 minutes a day (to keep from being overwhelmed). While the author lives in Ohio, the information is applicable to our Montana growing conditions. She includes a variety of extenders for both shoulders of our short summer growing season and gives advice about no-till gardening techniques. Loaded with practical info!

(available from Amazon)

The Wildlife-Friendly Vegetable Gardener—How to Grow Food in Harmony with Nature

The Wildlife-Friendly Vegetable Gardener—How to Grow Food in Harmony with Nature

By Tammi Hartung

Submitted by ~ Ann Guthals

Tammi Hartung and her husband started Desert Canyon Farm in Colorado in 1996 to grow herbs and raise food for themselves. They are now a certified wildlife and botanical sanctuary and they often have field trips for students at their farm. Their goal is to co-exist with wildlife — meeting the needs of wildlife as well as their own needs. They attempt to provide protection, food, water and homesites for wildlife.
They now have over 20 years experience trying to meet these goals. Some solutions have worked, like growing parsley for rabbits and deer to avoid losing lettuce and other crops. Some solutions have not worked, but have taught them much about nature. They have found that being wildlife-friendly can actually increase garden yields through better soil, more pollinators, and more beneficial predators helping with pest management.
book review 2
This book lays out the steps one can follow to develop a garden that is supportive of wildlife. The first activity is the get to know the site — the land, its inhabitants, water sources, light and wind patterns. Tammi believes the most important first step to beginning the garden itself is to make sure there is healthy soil. She describes how to minimally disturb the soil, provide organic matter including by growing green manure, ensure a water source, and incorporate the use of mulch. Then she explains the importance of deciding where to position perennials to provide a structure to the garden and not, for example, overshadow vegetable crops. She suggests one research the site carefully because once in, the perennials are more difficult to move than annuals. Next she wants us to get to know pollinators (bees and other insects and animals) and beneficial predators (ladybugs, praying mantises, lacewings, spiders, wasps, etc.) on our land and to research how to encourage and support them to work in partnership with the gardener. Tammi actually
creates mini-habitats for wild animals to meet the goals outlined above and also to keep them from the main garden.

One of the most useful chapters is how to repel pests without using poisons — ironic in a book about encouraging wildlife. Strategies described include sharing crops, planting crops that distract animals from other crops, hand-picking pests, repelling them with aromatics, hosing the pests off plants, using hot pepper, mint, cinnamon, and wood ash to repel pests, trapping, scare tactics (like the Scaredy-Cat, a motion-activated spray device) and blocking access with netting, screens, fences, hoop-houses, and greenhouses.

The illustrations are delightful and the book is applicable to our growing conditions because the farm is in Colorado. The sidebars are very useful and I plan to use several suggestions going forward. There is also a quick reference chart for remedies at the end of the book.

The only disappointments were the plans in the last chapter for different kinds of gardens did not provide specific information about the plants in the plans and it seemed to me you would need quite a lot of property to implement all of Tammi’s ideas, though one could still learn much from the book even for a smaller garden.
It took me a little while to catch the rhythm of this book, but once I did I began to realize what a plethora of information the author was presenting. And I have many ideas to try in the garden this year after finishing the book.

(Also available as an ebook from Amazon)