Keeping cozy with the latest podcast

Gardeners are spending more time indoors than out this time of year, so this week’s podcast features an interview with Dr. Rita Hummel. Dr. Hummel teaches a course on interior plantscaping and is also an expert on plant cold hardiness.  Here she combines both areas to explain chilling injury on tropical houseplants.

The greenhouse that this plant lives in lost its heating system and is now showing signs of chilling injury.

Comparison of three leaves on the same plant.  In the back is a healthy leaf; in the middle is one with initial signs of damage (bronzed areas on leaf), and in front is a severely injured leaf that has already begun to turn yellow.

The podcast also has a couple of interesting news items on compost safety and treating disease with thermotherapy, and finally a discussion about the wisdom of wound sealants.

Enjoy!  And keep warm!

Last minute advice about Christmas trees and other fun stuff

The next podcast is up and running for your listening pleasure.  I’ve got an interview with Dr. Gary Chastagner, WSU’s Christmas tree expert.  He’ll tell you about his latest research and share some tips for keeping your tree happy and your carpet needle-free.

Here are some photos from Gary’s “dungeon” where he’s been comparing needle retention with some new promising conifer species from other parts of the world:

In the dungeon with Gary Chastagner

What dungeon would be complete without a rack or two?

I know which one I’d choose…

If you are really hard core, here’s a link to some of Dr. Chastagner’s research.  Just look for the Christmas tree heading and click on it.

Winter winners podcast

I got so excited about our live tree hunt (posted yesterday) that I forgot to put up the podcast!  So here it is…Winter Winners.

The interview of the week is at the Washington Park Arboretum in Seattle, with Director Dr. Sarah Reichard.  We visited the Winter Garden, where she (wearing her taxonomy hat) picked out her favorite plants.  They include paperbark maple (Acer griseum)…

(the sun shining through the bark is incredible)

…and contorted hazelnut (Corylus contorta)…

(hard to see, but love the bare twigs)

…and Garrya x issaquahensis

Sierra Exif JPEG
(these most amazing catkins get longer and longer)

…and Rhododendron strigillosum with the coolest bristly petioles:

(a very tidy rhododendron)

As always, I would love questions and suggestions for future podcasts!

Yet another fine podcast

We’re popping out the podcasts like crazy!  This week the theme is “Gifts that keep on giving.” Along with the news tidbits and myth busting, I had a lot of fun interviewing shoppers at some Seattle nurseries.  I started out with two relatively simple questions about gardening gifts, and you’ll enjoy hearing the responses.  There are some great ideas out there! 

As always, feel free to let me know if you’ve got suggestions for future topics.  We’re halfway through Season 2, and I’m collecting spring ideas for Season 3.

Another podcast to chew on along with Thanksgiving leftovers

While our US readers enjoy the Thanksgiving holidays, you can all enjoy this week’s podcast, entitled “Leftovers.”  We discuss good leftovers (transforming orange peels into useful chemicals) and bad leftovers (fertilizer runoff), and then take a trip to an innovative company (Recovery 1) that recycles building demolition materials:

Huge piles of wood, wallboard, and other materials left over from demolition.

The initial sorting process – metals like nails are pulled out, wallboard is separated into components, and wood continues…

…to the end, where it’s chipped into different sizes to create a recycled mulch product.

Discarded carpet awaits separation into components that might eventually be used to help mop up marine oil spills.

All surface water from the site ends up in this detention pond, where it’s filtered and tested before it’s released to the environment.

Be sure to let me know if you have questions about the podcast, or even better if you have ideas for future topics and/or interviewees.

A Thanksgiving Podcast

Round two of Season 2 is up and running!  In keeping with the season, this episode is called “Real Turkeys.”  I talk about some of my least favorite garden products and why they’re on my “turkey” list.

We’ve also brought back Riz Reyes, who’s wearing his horticultural consultant hat in advising my podcasting engineer Shelli at Sky Nursery.  Riz has some great ideas for container gardens that look great during the winter and keep performing the rest of the year, too.

If you haven’t seen it before, be sure to check out Riz’s web page.  There’s a link to some great container gardens that he’s put together.

Please let me know if you’ve got comments or suggestions for future topics and/or interviews.  I can even do Skype interviews, so living in Seattle is not a requirement!

Podcast Season 2 is here!

My abject apologies for being late in posting this week.  I’ve been in Angel’s Camp, California since Tuesday – a lovely, wonderful place – but without anything above 2G wifi.  Needless to say, posting on the blog was impossible.  So I’m in the Sacramento airport, enjoying a glass of wine and a crab Louis before I leave for Seattle, and finally able to access a 4G connection!

In any case, here’s the beginning of Season 2’s podcasts.  I’m assured that soon we will be on i-Tunes, but for now you can download the podcasts here.  The first podcast is built around the theme of “Scary Garden.”  A little late for Halloween, but there you are.  For this first podcast, I take on lasagna mulching and bring you some garden tips for the fall/winter season.

Let me know if you’ve got some ideas for upcoming themes throughout November and December!

Podcast #8 – Water Works

We’ve finally gotten our summer here in the Pacific NW and it’s been pretty hot for a few weeks. The plants weren’t really prepared for this, so we’ve had to irrigate quite a bit to keep all that lush foliage happy. So the topic of this podcast is Water Works – focusing on how water moves in the soil and through plants.

One of the more interesting tidbits I found this week is a recent USDA study on growing more potatoes with less water. Sound impossible? Listen to find out the one single, simple thing that increased water use efficiency by 12% and reduced fertilizer runoff as well.

I also debunk the common myth about using drainage material in container plants. Research from 100 years ago demonstrated that water won’t cross textural barriers – so putting gravel in the bottom of the pot will actually create a bathtub effect rather than helping drainage.

The interview this week is with my garden – primarily the sunny south-facing side. I thought I’d take you on a tour to see what’s happened in the last 11 years. The photos below will help you visualize the interview.

The front yard in 2003. We’ve started taking out the turf and moving around trees and shrubs.

The front yard in 2003 from another angle. We’ve removed the second driveway and covered the area in wood chips. By the garage you can see two of the roses I dug up from the shady back yard and moved to the sunny front.

The new front yard, with fencing, more plants, a pond, and no turf.

The rhody-hydrangea corner in front of the arbor vitae hedge

The new street garden, with a new retaining wall to hold back the soil that used to wash into the street.  Everything not covered in plants is covered with wood chips.

This is the last podcast of the first “season” of The Informed Gardener. We’re going to take off for about a month before starting the next series. If you’ve got ideas about future topics, you can email me or post a comment here. In the meantime, you can listen to archived podcasts found on this blog; just click on “podcasts” on the right-hand menu.

Podcast #7 – Better Red Than Dead

This week’s podcast is dedicated to anthocyanins – those pigments that give plants red, blue, and purple colors. Anthocyanins are also powerful antioxidants, important visual signals for pollinators, and often deadly to insect pests. The myth of the week explains why red leaves aren’t usually a sign of phosphorus deficiency, but instead an indicator that anthocyanins can help plants survive many environmental stresses.

My interview this week is with Cass Turnbull, founder of PlantAmnesty, a Seattle organization dedicated to “ending the senseless torture and mutilation of trees and shrubs.”  My son Jack took the interview photos, and Cass supplied the others from the PlantAmnesty photo archive.  You’ll love the way she combines her educational message with humor!

Cass on her “throne”

One of the nonbotanical garden residents

A selection of PlantAmnesty humor

Please let me know what you think of the podcast; you can email me directly or post a comment on the blog. Suggestions for future podcasts are most welcome!

Podcast #6 – Garden Hocus Pocus

Forgive my tardy posting – I spent yesterday traveling from Indianapolis back to Seattle.  I was in Indianapolis for the Garden Writers Association annual meeting and gave a talk on “evidence based garden information.”  It was encouraging to see how many garden writers DO want reliable sources of good gardening science.  And I got to meet Joseph Tychonievich, a frequent commenter on this blog and a PhD student at Michigan State.

Anyway, on to this week’s podcast. The theme is “Garden Hocus Pocus” which just opens the door for so many topics!  I settled on opening with the ancient Greek Doctrine of Signatures and how it’s being used today.  Then I discuss the function of plant alkaloids a bit, since they have historical use in magic and witchcraft.  And the myth of the week is quite similar to the talk I gave at GWA – specifically, how to separate the science from the snake oil.

My interview this week is with plantsman Riz Reyes, who works at the UW Center for Urban Horticulture and collects plants and has a landscaping business and blogs….and he’s not even 30 yet!  My daughter Charlotte came along and took some great photos of Riz’s garden.  (Thanks, Riz, for identifying all the plants here!)

Riz with Cardiocrinum giganteum var. yunnanense at Kew Gardens

Dahlia ‘Weston Spanish Dancer’

Left to Right: Lilium ‘Miss Lucy’, Petasites x hybridus, and Ulmus glabra ‘Camperdownii’

Lilium ‘Magic Star’

Dahlia ‘Bishop of York’

Linda interviewing Riz out of the rain

Please let me know what you think of the podcast; you can email me directly or post a comment on the blog. Suggestions for future podcasts are most welcome!