Commentary

EARTH WORMS 101

From A Way to Garden.com suggested by Susan Thornbury

October 29, 2013 at 7:52 pm

Earthworms, from Great Lakes Worm WatchPERHAPS THE CREATURE the gardener knows best is the earthworm, but how deep does that knowledge go? Lately readers have been emailing me sensational headlines about “bad” earthworms, asking: Aren’t all earthworms “good”? To get an earthworm 101, I invited Ryan Hueffmeier, an environmental scientist at the University of Minnesota-Duluth and Director of Great Lakes Worm Watch, to join me on the radio this week. Our Q&A includes some surprises:

prefer the podcast?

THE TOPIC WAS EARTHWORMS on this week’s public-radio show. It’s a must-listen, and you can do so anywhere, anytime: Locally, in my Hudson Valley (NY)-Berkshires (MA)-Litchfield Hills (CT) region, “A Way to Garden” airs on Robin Hood Radio’s three stations on Monday at 8:30 AM Eastern, with a rerun at 8:30 Saturdays. It is available free on iTunes, the Stitcher app, or streaming from RobinHoodRadio.com or via its RSS feed. The October 21, 2013 show can be streamed here now. Robin Hood is the smallest NPR station in the nation; our garden show marked the start of its fourth year in March, and is syndicated via PRX.

First, some background: Great Lakes Worm Watch is a citizen-science outreach organization, working to map the state of the earthworms—and the habitats they’re living in.

“We want to know where earthworms are across the landscape,” says Ryan—and that means even beyond the Great Lakes area, where the project began.  (There is a Canada Worm Watch, too, for those across the border; researchers at the University of Vermont, at the Cary Institute in Millbrook, New York, and elsewhere are likewise studying earthworm invasion.)

Individuals, schools or garden groups can sign on help collect data on what worms are found when and where. That last bit—the habitat, or “where” aspect–is key, because earthworms are neither good nor bad. The role they play, and whether it’s helpful or harmful, depends on the environment they make their way into.

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HYPERTUFA CONTAINERS

 Some folks asked me about my hypertufa pots during the garden tour. They were very simple and fun to make. Here is a "how to" video that pretty much is the way we (Nancy and I) did it though we made a bigger batch in a wheel barrow to make a number of containers. Biggest thing is to be patient and let the container dry for a week or two before you take it out of the mold. We also did not sift the peat moss and that did not seem to affect the pots any. Maybe sifting makes them smoother? Also, be sure to use plain portland cement, not the kind with stones in it. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vFL1GY19d8s
Hypertufa: How to make a planter
www.youtube.com

ROSE HIPS

A GDOGC facebooker posted a question on rose hips.  I found this article that may be of interest.

rose_hips

Photo by Pamela Delgado P


Question: Rose Hips - What are They and What Do You Do with Them?

Answer: Rose hips are the seed pods of roses. We don’t often see them anymore, because we tend to prune the faded rose blossoms to encourage more flowers. However if you leave the spent flowers on the rose bush at the end of the season, you should see these small, berry-sized, reddish seed balls, left on tips of the stems. They are actually very ornamental and birds enjoy them too.

Are Rose Hips Edible?

Both rose hips and rose petals are edible. Roses are in the same family as apples and crabapples, so the resemblance of their fruits is not purely coincidental. Rose hips also have a bit of the tartness of crabapples and are a great source of vitamin C.

All roses should produce hips, although rugosa roses are said to have the best tasting hips. These are also generally the largest and most abundant.

Caution: Don’t use rose hips from plants that have been treated with a pesticide that is not labeled for use on edibles.

Read more: ROSE HIPS