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#294 Brenda's Butterfly Habitat

Posted by Brenda Dziedzic on 02 March 2012 - 01:00 PM

It is very important to help our ecosystem. I have been trying to do my part by giving talks on Butterfly Gardening, starting a Butterfly Group, and by writing the book "Learn About Butterflies in the Garden". Birds, amphibians, beneficial insects, and other wildlife also benefit from planting for butterflies.

I am going to open "Brenda's Butterfly Habitat". It will be at Barson's Greenhouse, 6414 Merriman Road, Westland, MI 48185. I plan on opening it June 1st. This will have only the butterflies that are native to this area. The whole life cycle will be able to be witnessed because the habitat will include the host plants of each butterfly.

There will be no fee for admittance. Donations will be accepted and used for maintenance.

Here is the progress of Brenda's Butterfly Habitat so far.

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#856 Introduction Averted

Posted by Dsmith74 on 08 September 2012 - 07:34 PM

Holy cow I almost made a big mistake today! I had about a dozen spare Geranium x cantabrigiense 'Biokovo' that I potted up last year after ordering WAY too many for a groundcover project (which isn't doing so well, but that's another issue). The potted ones are doing pretty good so this weekend I decided to take them up north and put them in the ground because I get so much enjoyment from providing deer with new and different things to eat.

After planting them, I gathered up the empty nursery pots, which I was going to toss in the barn for future use. As I picked one up, look who I found.


That is Limax maximus, or leopard slug, an introduced pest common around my house in Grand Rapids, but neither present (to the best of my knowledge) nor desired at the family shack "retreat" in northern Michigan. Let's hope this was the only one, which is now deceased. One isn't enough to start an invasion (unless already carrying fertilized eggs), but still too close for comfort.

I'll really be mad if I caught the adult and missed a blob of eggs in one (or more) of the pots. These little slime monsters and their crazy, swingin' sex shows are not something I enjoy, although at home they do very efficiently dispose of inconsiderate neighbors' pet waste, as well as every other kind of slug that may have once lived here. Now if I could just teach them to eat black vine weevils.

#830 Pied Piper of Birds

Posted by Cricket on 12 August 2012 - 10:45 AM

With the severe drought of late - my gardening opposite decided it was the perfect time to stick some shrub trimmings in the ground to root - and what better spot to do this than under a spruce tree row :rolleyes:

He is devoted to watering "his sticks" - and also "making the day" of every bird in the neighborhood.... Had to chuckle when I observed him walking along with the hose so intent on watering he didn't notice being shadowed by robins, flickers, sparrows and a pair of cardinals - looked like an organized avarian parade....

#78 Suggestions for new forum topics

Posted by Ester on 15 January 2012 - 11:28 AM

The logs need to "cool off" after they are cut, so I waited 2 weeks and I made a point of collecting them and getting them off the ground, so nothing else could contaminate them. I stacked them on pallets.  Then I "seeded" them and put them back on the pallet. I also covered them loosely to help keep the moisture in them. Tight bark is important - don't bother with logs that have loose hides. I have them outside in a shady spot and have been havesting Shitakis for 3 years so far...

When the logs are ready (3 - 6months usually), I roll them into a pool I make by digging a ditch and lining it with pond liner (I can move the location easily) If you select your log size by imagining yourself on the ground, trying to roll a soaking wet log out of the pool, you will hopefully not choose logs too big for you. I took my 4ft. long giants and cut them down to 2ft. cuz I just couldn't handle them.

I use http://www.fungiperfecti.com/ for information and product. I copied this from their site:
Plug Spawn prefers to grow on hardwoods, with the exception of the Phoenix Oyster, which grows well on firs. Most species can be grown on either logs or stumps. Non-aromatic hardwoods such as oak, poplar (cottonwood), elm, maple and similar woods are very good candidates for log cultivation. Alder is a good wood for the cultivation of Oyster and Shiitake mushrooms, but must be kept above ground because it will decompose quickly in contact with the soil. (We do not recommend using aromatic woods such as cedar or pine.) Thick-barked woods are preferable over "paper-bark" woods such as birch, and any log that is shedding it's bark should not be used. Logs should be cut at least two weeks in advance of plugging. Cutting your logs in the late Winter or early Spring helps to insure that they have a high sugar content, although this is not strictly necessary. Freshly-cut logs should not be immediately inoculated; trees naturally produce anti-fungal compounds, which degrade in two to three weeks from cutting. Aged deadwood is also not recommended for plugging, as it has a poor nutrient base for supporting mushroom growth. Logs or stumps with fine cracks (called "checks") running through them are more quickly colonized with mushroom mycelium than those without.

By using the fungiperfecti dowels to inoculate cut hardwood logs or stumps, mushroom mycelium can be encouraged to grow throughout or colonize the wood. Once the wood is fully colonized (typically 9-12 months) mushrooms will spring forth from cracks or channels in the wood. Generally, the best time of year to inoculate logs and stumps is in the Spring, after your last hard frost. However, you can inoculate your logs any time up to 30-45 days before consistently (i.e. 'round the clock) freezing temperatures set in for the Winter. The idea is to allow the mushroom mycelium growing on the Plug Spawn time to establish itself in its new home before it goes into dormancy over the Winter. Logs can be left outdoors over the Winter, under a layer of straw or a burlap tarp, shade cloth or other vapor-permeable cover (do not use plastic tarps: this can cause mold to form). In areas where the Winter is exceptionally harsh, logs can be stored in a shed, barn, garage or other outbuilding.

Logs should be cut to lengths of 3-4 feet, and are best if they do not exceed 14 inches in diameter. Use a 5/16" drill bit in a high-speed drill to drill 2-inch deep holes no more than 4 inches apart, evenly spaced in a "diamond" pattern along the length and around the full circumference of the logs. Stumps should be inoculated along the circumference of their face, in the border between the bark and the heartwood. Insert 1 plug per hole and whack it in with a hammer. A 3-4 foot log can take 50 or more plugs, while stumps usually hold 30-50 plugs The more plugs you use per log, the faster the wood will be colonized with mushroom mycelium. Holes can be sealed with cheese wax or beeswax to protect the mycelium from weather and insects while it is growing; although this step can be helpful, it is not absolutely necessary.

They have a great catalog too.

Good luck and good eating!

#774 Egret and a fish

Posted by Steven Nikkila on 18 June 2012 - 10:36 PM

I always try to carry my camera with me and sometimes it pays off in enabling me to see and tell some really cool stories with the photos more than the words. The following is just such a story.

8:13:13 pm
I saw this egret while driving down a road, stopped and took this photo. I turned around to set the camera down and drive away, when I heard a loud splash...

8:13:56 pm
Turned back, pointed the camera and started shooting as the egret ran to shore with its catch.

8:13:59 pm
The egret shook off.

8:14:11 pm
Then dropped the fish. By this time I was wondering why the bird hadn't just swallowed the fish like all the other egrets I've seen hunt and eat.

8:14:15 pm
The egret then picked up the fish, a bullhead catfish, by its dorsal fin (the fin on top of the fish). Now I understand why it came to shore. This particular kind of catfish has sharp, stiff spines on its dorsal fin and on the pectoral fins. The pectoral fins are located just behind the gills and when the catfish stiffens up, the spines stick straight out and don't bend. These spines make it very difficult for the egret to swallow the fish without hurting itself.

8:14:23 pm
The bird repeatedly shook the fish while holding on to the spine on the dorsal fin allowing the weight of the fish to help tear or break off the spine. How does this bird know to react this way to a particular fish?

8:14:36 pm
The bird dropped the fish, picked it back up and shook it some more.

8:14:47 pm
It then took the fish to the water and dipped it in.

8:14:55 pm
Took the fish out and shook it some more.

8:16:27 pm
Once the dorsal spine had been torn off, the egret began to work on the pectoral fins' stiff spines. It grabbed the fish by one the spines and shook it letting the weight of the fish help.

8:19:12 pm
The same process, shake, rinse, shake, was repeated.

8:21:16 pm
The egret tested if it could swallow the fish safely.

8:21:57 pm
Taking the fish back out it would again shake it, drop it and pick it back up.

8:22:35 pm
Giving the fish one last quick hard shake,

8:22:38 pm
it flipped the fish head first into its mouth...

8:22:39 pm
and swallowed.

8:22:44 pm
Then got a drink,

8:22:46 pm

8:23:02 pm
and took another drink. This time a much deeper one.

8:23:15 pm
Then, shuttered all over,

8:23:29 pm
stretched the neck out as far as it would go,

8:23:38 pm
took one last drink,

8:24:31 pm
groomed the feathers,

8:24:38 pm
and went back to hunting, appearing to be quite proud of itself.

#77 Welcome to our

Posted by ginnystobby on 15 January 2012 - 10:27 AM

It's like Christmas morning!  Thank you, Janet and Steven, for this endlessly useful gift to gardeners everywhere. (And so beautifully wrapped!)  I'm beside myself with glee.

#658 Wildlife in a Garden

Posted by Steven Nikkila on 03 May 2012 - 09:11 PM

Here's some photos of some of the wildlife that was in a garden I was at today.
TwineSawfly8922.jpg   BlackHeadSaw8899.jpg
FrogGolds8974.jpg   Dragonfly8986.jpg
Kiyo9050.jpg   KiyoHuntsGarter9068.jpg

#54 Suggestions for new forum topics

Posted by Margaret Thele on 10 January 2012 - 09:09 PM

Very good suggestions folks - as Janet said, we don't want a million folders on the site, but I believe we can make a sub-category. Glad to welcome both of you and great to see you are still hanging in Corky!

I think we should also make a folder called something like the lounge, or the living room or the toolshed to just post "stuff" that's on our minds or jokes or recipes or anything like that. Just an idea...

#246 Cleaning siding near flowerbeds

Posted by MG gal on 17 February 2012 - 08:33 PM

I have used a product called RustAid.  It can be used around plants.  Read the label.  Spray it on and rust disappears.  It is available at the big box stores.  Check it out on line.

#2427 Redbud pruning

Posted by Janet Macunovich on 03 September 2016 - 11:11 AM

From direct email:


I have been a big fan of yours for about 20 years. Your advice is always helpful and I enjoy your articles in the "MI Gardener.” I have taken your written advice and been to several lectures at Meadow Brook Garden Club. You are a wonderful, enlightening and interesting lecturer. I also love your amusing asides about gardening.

I attended your lecture about the correct way to prune last spring at the Meadow Brook Garden Club. I have a Redbud my son raised from seed at his nursery in Wisconsin and gave to me as a sapling. It was 3 years in the ground and was looking pretty pathetic with my skewed pruning jobs. At that lecture I asked you when and how to prune a Redbud and you advised me “Now and do it drastically.” I went home and the next day I pruned it exactly how you told me to. I pruned it down to about 40 inches with just a few big branches. It was a little better than a stick. I fertilized it and mulched it. I made sure it had enough water. Then I waited and I waited. For about a month it didn’t do much but bloom on the stems, then slowly it started to leaf out. About mid-June it went nuts and became the tree I wanted. As the summer has progressed it tripled in size and is now about 15 feet tall with lush and balanced growth. A happy second beginning for this tree. The main branches are all at least 3 to 4 feet long, well leafed out but not branching. Should I wait until next year to prune for branching or will it branch out by itself? How do I progress from here? I hope you can help.

You may never get feedback from the people you advise on tree pruning but I, the big doubter, wanted you to know that your pruning method for this Redbud really worked. I learned a lot the day of your lecture and have used your methods of pruning on other trees since. So, I say a big “Thank you.” This believer is grateful for your pruning guidance.

Best regards, B.Z.

#152 lower maintenance for older gardeners

Posted by Anne on 28 January 2012 - 03:19 PM

Hi Shelley,
I've been living the same experience for two years now. Here's what I've learned:

(1) Remember - it's your Mom's garden. She always wins. Let her tell you what she needs help with
(2) Weeding and watering is a big help!!!
(3) Digging out, splitting and replanting is a big help!
(4) When you're helping her out with the drudge chores - make some suggestions for changes - don't try to change everything. If she agrees to a change and likes it - she'll be more agreeable to others (maybe sometimes....:-)
(5) Just enjoy the day in the garden with your Mom.

Good luck. This will be my third year helping her out - we've got one corner looking really good - but at least everything else is weeded and doesn't look neglected...and she actually mentioned how good the corner looked because it was "simpler and cleaner". Maybe I'll get to prune the overgrown evergreens this year......

#150 lower maintenance for older gardeners

Posted by suej on 28 January 2012 - 11:13 AM

As I am in my 60s and an aging gardener, I have looked at my large back beds that now overwhelm me.  I have decided to plant more 3 season flowering shrubs, conifers, and easy care grasses with some easy care perennials here and there. There are native plants and shrubs that can be used along with non-natives.  I am also planning on increasing my use of ground covers to cut down on the weeds this year. My favorite grasses are Karl Forester, native Little Bluestem, and native Prairie Dropseed. There are many flowering small shrubs with good fall color that your mother can use. Good luck in your gardening transition journey with your mom. You might want to make a section of her garden in memory of your dad with the things he made around it with plants and flowers.  I wish I had made some raised beds instead of the mounded variety which would have been easier on the back. There are also a lot of ergonomic garden tools out there that your mom can use. I like my Step2 kneeler/seat combo to garden.


#1392 Birds

Posted by Steven Nikkila on 05 June 2013 - 02:05 PM

Recently I've been able to get some really nice bird photos. Some of them follow.


This swan was blowing bubbles.



Saw this female redwing blackbird staying close and going in and out of a pond area with a very  small willow tree. She got quite close to me and preened herself. She's a beauty.



Took awhile to find this very young redwing blackbird in a small willow. Do you see it?



Always keep your eyes and ears open something maybe there that you're missing. After focusing on just the baby redwing, I finally heard a second chick squeak.



Watched redwing black birds feed their young for quite awhile to get this photo of Mom feeding a youngster.



Dad didn't like it when you got too close and often told you so by swooping and chirping at you.



Mama goose and her babies.



Saw this mallard in a garden.



She let me get very close and photograph her. There maybe eggs but I didn't see any.



These ducklings seem to need their own space. Stay away Mom we're ok.



A great blue heron is a serious hunter they can stalk and move very slowly to stab and grab very quickly.


#135 Posting Photos

Posted by Steven Nikkila on 24 January 2012 - 08:44 AM

We've had questions about how to post a photo. Here's a quick how to.

1 - Optional, but recommended for faster loading: Reduce the image size using a photo editing program such as Photoshop, Paint, I-Photo, etc.  It's very clear on screen if you make it 10" wide or tall and set the pixels to 72 per inch. Save images in .jpg format for best results.

2 - When posting a photo you click on the Attach Files. AttachFiles.jpg

3 - If replying to a topic you need to select the "More Reply Options" button. postreply.jpg

4 - Your screen should then look like this (it's just how the "Post New Topic" screen looks): postreplyexpanded.jpg

5 - Once you click on attach files, select your photo. then click on "Open" to upload. Selectphoto.jpg

6 - Once the photo is uploaded, place your cursor where you want the photo to be in the post and select "Add to Post". photouploaded.jpg

7 - The photo should then be posted into the text of the post. I found out you don't use the photo icon on the toolbar, it can't see your computer's photos. Toolbar.jpg

Hope this helps.


About sideways and upside down photo: Use a photo editor (Photoshop, etc.) to rotate your photos before you attach them. In our Forum program we don't have any tools for rotating.

#1234 Getting rid of existing plants

Posted by Janet Macunovich on 24 March 2013 - 12:21 AM

Backhoe is right. And then soil replacement. Absolutely true that one herbicide application won't do it. Not unless the herbicide is a persistent one that ruins the soil for ALL plant growth for X years.

In our experience, the following applies not only to dayliles but to other tenacious perennials that store a lot of energy in their roots.

We've smothered daylilies under cardboard and heavy mulch renewed by heavy newspaper and mulch as the cardboard developed breaks. Took two seasons (smothering began late summer, and 18 months later in spring we cleared the mulch to pursue the survivors.

There were survivors; always are. After loosening the soil around each live daylily shoot and lifting out it and its roots, we went ahead and planted the area with the new plants, seeking and removing daylily pieces as we went. Then we watched for more shoots that whole growing season. Bed has been clear since.

Most times we don't have so much time to spare. So when we need daylilies gone, we dig them out. It loses a lot of soil because it's nearly impossible to knock soil off the excavated root balls without having grow-able bits of dayliliy tuber break off, too, and end up in the soil. One memorable time, we dug out daylilies -- I mean we lifted every square foot of the bed -- but it was late in fall when the soil was wet. We set a bunch of the clumps on the driveway hoping to dry them some so we could break them up into smaller, less backbreaking units. Suddenly, cold weather set in a bit early. The clumps froze in place on the concrete. The next spring, having been above ground all winter in one of the coldest and most exposed winters we've had, those daylilies began to grow. The neighbors asked us, "So you've planted the driveway now, too?"

#1154 I saw the signs!

Posted by Dsmith74 on 28 February 2013 - 10:23 AM



Sorry for the quality - holding an iPhone at arm's length while stooping ('cause I don't want to tromp around on that wet soil) isn't the formula for prize-winning photography. Still, a sign nonetheless! Quite a bit of bird noise out there this morning, too. 


Anybody else got pics of the earliest spring signifiers?

#11 Fertilize house plants

Posted by Steven Nikkila on 03 January 2012 - 10:40 AM

Here's some more on fertilizing orchids in the winter from Ron Ciesinski of Taylor Orchids in Monroe, Michigan. He grows thousands of orchids and is just about to quit fertilizing most of them until March. "They don't grow in winter, even under lights. When they start growing again, usually in March, I use a high nitrogen fertilizer. Then once the new leaves are formed I switch to one with lower nitrogen, such as 6-30-30 and keep that up into fall, blossom booster or something like that especially in September and October. Might cut to half in winter, December, hold off entirely especially in January, start up again in March.


#2479 Spreading/Andorra juniper center dying - options?

Posted by Rudy on 16 April 2017 - 03:23 PM

I have an Andorra juniper about 20 years or more old.  It occupies a spot near the curb where I can't grow grass.  It's huge now, but the middle is dying out.  My initial thought was to remove it and replace, but then I realized that lots of the branches have developed roots.  How about if I cut off some of these younger branches, with roots, and try to replant them after getting rid of the old dead center?  Any chance of success or just a waste of time?



Never mind - decided to yank them.

#2315 Best soil for new box garden

Posted by Janet Macunovich on 25 April 2016 - 02:31 PM

You can grow vegetables in compost-alone, if it's finished compost with detectable mineral content (soil, enough to feel the grit; this soil might have come from bits of sod you've composted, or soil you've added to break up and activate thick leaf layers).  Without mineral content the plants may lack for micronutrients and drainage may be slow.


Trouble with growing in compost alone, even the gritty well drained stuff, is that even finished compost keeps breaking down and settlin. So even if you fill and tamp the box at the beginning of the growing season the level may drop by late summer and the crowns of the plants may descend into poorly ventilated area prime for mildew development. We've frequently used a mixture of compost and screened (rock free) topsoil for flower and vegetable gardens, about half-anf-half. It settles, too, but not so quickly as compost alone. If you're growing an annually-replanted crop of flowers or vegetables, it'll work but for shrubs, trees and perennials (including perennial edibles like asparagus and rhubarb) you can expect to have to lift and replant down the road.

#2019 Rainfall Data by city

Posted by Michele A on 21 September 2014 - 08:00 AM

I just found this sight that tells amount of rain/snow fall by city.  http://www.cocorahs....s.aspx?state=MI


It is community observers all around the country that report  their findings on line.  They are used by lots of people and organizations including the National Weather Service.


I think the site is quite interesting it even shows some of the volunteer training slides.