Saturday, April 30, 2016

When to plant annuals

It may be too early for most annuals, but it's not too early to plant pansies outside.
There's a fund-raiser plant sale for Habitat for Humanity, May 6-7 at Culvers in Lake Orion, where you will likely find pansies and other flowers.
For most annuals, if you can't cover them, keep them inside until Memorial Weekend. That seems to be the best time for Southeast Michigan. always wait until then to plant tomatoes and peppers because they grow slower when it gets too cold at night. Besides I'm lazy about covering them at night, when there's a frost advisory.
All is not lost if it does frost. If you have plants or flowering trees that are frost sensitive and you didn't get them covered before a frost, go outside before the sun shines on the plants and spray water on them, rinsing off the frost. This works for a light to moderate frost, but not for a hard frost or freeze.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Plants that deer and rabbits can resist

If hungry enough, deer will eat nearly anything growing in your yard. But planting things they don't like so much, can help them be strong and resist grazing in your yard.
The plants that have the best chance of surviving the foraging of deer, are flowers and plants that have a pungent scent; fuzzy, coarse or spiny leaves or an unpleasant or bitter taste. Deer don't usually eat herbs because of their pungent scent.

Flowers that are usually left alone by deer, most of these are perennials
Alyssum - annual
Amaranth - annual
Black-eyed Susan
Butterfly bush
Butterfly weed
Cone flower
Cosmos - annual
Evening primrose
Four O' Clock
Hen and chicks
Marigold - annual
Morning Glory
Salvia - annual
Snapdragon - annual
Zinnia - annual

Deer resistant herbs
Marjoram, Oregano, Rosemary, Sage, Spearmint and Thyme

Deer resistant vegetables
I have found that deer will eat jalapenos when hungry enough, but that's not their first choice. They don't usually eat onion, potato, squash and tomato plants or parsley or other herbs.

Renee's has a list of deer resistant plant varieties, Also check with the Michigan State County Extension office

Deer love hostas, green beans, Swiss chard, spinach, lettuce, carrots, peas and broccoli, beets and other greens. Rabbits like most of those too.
Rabbits are attracted to most of the same things as deer. One of their favorites is young tulip shoots. In the winter, rabbits nibble on landscape plants, roses, raspberries, apple, cherry and plum trees.

Deer leave torn leaves with jagged edges, while rabbits and other rodents will make a clean cut, often at an angle. Sometimes you can see deer or rabbit tracks, or rabbit excrement to pinpoint the perpetrator.
Deterring small and large (deer) rodents is not easy. We have a joke about deer bathing with Irish Spring soap at our house, but it seems to keep the bunnies away if I cut it in pieces and spread around the plants. I planted marigolds around the perimenter of our garden and that helped throw rodents off the scent of our vegetables. Our garden which is also fenced, was not disturbed by rodents that year. There are also products available to repel deer, called "Deer Away" and "Hinder." I haven't tried them.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Upcoming gardening events in Oakland County

• Sylvan Lake Garden Club is hosting a workshop to learn about rain barrels, 7 p.m. April 21 at Sylvan Lake Community Center, 2456 Pontiac Drive, Sylvan Lake, free, for information, call Barb Ash at 248-682-0209.

• “Heritage Peonies: Beautiful Then, Glorious Now” is 10-11:30 a.m. April 22 at Meadow Brook Hall, 480 South Adams Road, Rochester, 248-364-6210,, $5 nonmember donation.

• Michigan Orchid Show with hundreds of orchids on display and for sale is 11 a.m.-5 p.m. April 23 and 11 a.m.-4 p.m. April 24 at United Food Workers Building, 876 Horace Brown Drive, Madison Heights,, free event, educational talks on both days. Families are welcome, free parking, for information, contact Joe Peterson at 248-528-1453 or

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Flowers and plants that attract bees

With the Colony Collapse Disorder affecting the bee population, it's a good idea to plant flowers that attract pollinators to improve the success of crops and increase the local bee and butterfly population.
Common flowers that are attractive to pollinators are poppy, lupine, viola, wallflower, black-eyed Susan, Butterfly flower, Calendula, Dahlia, Amaranth, Marigold, Salvia, Sunflower, Zinnia, Portulaca, Lavender, Foxglove, Cosmos, Coneflower and Echinacea.
Anybody who has run barefoot in a yard knows that clover attracts bees. It is a great ground cover plant too.
Garden plants that are highly attractive to bees and butterflies include parsley, cilantro, thyme, dill, basil, chives, peas, squash and pumpkin.

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Dust off the snow and plant the greens

Yesterday, before the snow fell, I dug around in the garden for awhile. It was cold, but it's hard to find a time period that is warm enough to get the soil ready, plus plant the seeds. So, I am late planting greens, although we've had a warm spring, the opportunity has not presented itself, due to procrastination.
The other excuse is finding the right seeds.
There are many different types of seeds available. Not only are there different varieties of the same plant, there are different ways the seeds are produced. There are cultivar (cultivated variety which can be a hybrid or open-pollinated); genetically engineered; genetically modified; open-pollinated; hybrid; heirloom and of course organic. For more information on this, visit

Here's some of the top seed and nursery catalog companies: seed and nursery nonprofit heirloom seeds since 1881 seed and nursery since 1907

In Southeast Michigan, it is time, actually past time, to plant peas, potatoes, lettuce, onions, radishes and parsley, and of course the greens: spinach, Swiss chard, kale, etc...
The plants aforementioned can actually be planted outside as soon as the ground is workable, usually in mid-March.
Broccoli, cabbage, celery, kahlrabi, Brussels spouts and cauliflower plants can be planted outside at this time.
But it's best to wait until mid-May to plant beans and squash seeds outside.
Then, wait until late May to plant the eggplant, peppers and tomato plants. It seems if you put these plants outside while it's still cold, the plants will grow slowly until it warms up and be wimpy, defeating the early planting.