Light Conditions for Planting and What to Plant in Them

By Beth Luck, Tin Roof Garden

Full sun: at least 6 to 8 full hours of direct sunlight. Many sun-loving plants can tolerate more than 6 hours per day but need to be watered regularly to endure mid-summer (July through August) heat. Annuals that tolerate full sun: verbena, lantana, geraniums, petunias, marigolds, thunbergia. Perennials that tolerate full sun: yarrow, silver mound, butterfly weed, coreopsis, cone flowers, salvia.

Partial sun/partial shade: these terms are often used interchangeably to indicate 3 to 6 hours of direct sunlight, preferably morning and early afternoon sun, daily. Morning and early afternoon sun are less harsh than the afternoon sun, especially in the summer months.
Annuals that tolerate part sun/part shade: bacopa, ivy, torenia, fuschia, impatiens, begonias. Perennials that tolerate part sun/part shade: Jacob’s ladder, hostas, coral bells, perennial geranium, lamium.

Dappled sun: less light than the limited direct exposure of partial shade. This is the sunlight that makes it through a canopy of deciduous trees. Think of the plants you would see growing in the woods, ferns, lady slippers, trillium, etc.
Annuals that tolerate dappled sun: fuschia, ivy, begonias, coleus, streptocarpus, cyclamen.
Perennials that tolerate dappled sun: hostas, coral bells, columbine, ferns, brunnera.

Full shade: less than 3 hours of direct sunlight daily, with filtered/dappled sun during the rest of the day. Full shade does not mean no sun. There are not many plants, except mushrooms, that can survive in the dark.
Annuals that tolerate full shade: ferns, ivy, cyclamen.
Perennials that tolerate full shade: ligularia, bergenia, ivy, ferns.

Tips regarding planting and sunlight:

  • When you are planning out a garden, keep track of the amount of sun the location receives throughout the day and pick plants according to the descriptions above.
  • If you are planting in the spring before the trees have leaves, make sure to take into consideration where trees, when they do get leaves, will shade your plantings and for how many hours per day.
  • Spring sun is not as intense as summer sun, it still being a bit further away, and this is why shade-loving plants can be planted in spring in locations that might receive more light while the sun is low and there are no leaves on the trees.
  • Plant according to the light conditions you expect to see at the end of May and throughout the rest of the summer.
  • The amount of change in light conditions throughout the growing season due to the movement of the sun does not affect the growth of a plant if it is planted in the correct location from the start.

For more information, stop in Tin Roof Garden at 5310 Friedeck Road, Eau Claire, visit http://tinroofgarden.com/, or call 715-834-4232.

Make a Backyard Bee House: It’s Easy!

Did you know you and your kids can make a special house for bees? This isn’t the bee habitat used by those raising bees for honey; this bee house simply provides a safe place for bees to raise their young.

From the National Wildlife Federation, here’s how:

  1. Take some scrap lumber and drill several 3 to 5 inch deep holes in it—BUT NOT ALL THE WAY THROUGH.
  2. Cover the structure with chicken wire to protect it from birds and other larger wildlife.
  3. Place the house on the south side of a building, like your house! Or on a fence post or a tree. Attach it securely.
  4. Some DO NOTs:
    1. Do not move the bee house once it is established until at least November.
    2. Do not use insecticides near the bee house.
    3. Do not use treated wood to build it.

The Nifty Homestead website encourages you to build “insect hotels,” made from upcycled materials placed between layers of sturdy protective material like old pallets, in which bees can overwinter. Why are insect hotels a good idea? Nifty Homesteader explains: “Insect hotels provide safe areas for solitary insects to hibernate over winter. Big lawns and the lack of dead wood in our yards leaves wild bees, spiders, and ladybugs without a place to live. Building accommodations for beneficial insects like ladybugs or flying pollinators can help benefit both your environment and your garden in the spring.”

When you make a “hotel” for solitary bees (bees whose females are all fertile and build separate nest cells for the baby bees), put it in a location that is sunny but sheltered from harsh weather. Wood nester bees like to nest in cavities they find, like hollow stems or holes in wood. The female will then create individual compartments for each egg. As she goes out to find pollen and nectar for the brood, she pollinates various plants and food crops. She puts nectar and pollen in each compartment before laying an egg in it. You can make a “bee hotel” using materials you find at home or out on a walk that either already have small compartments in them or have small spaces the female bee can then develop, or you could drill tunnels in wood, too. If you open this hotel for business, bees will “check in” for winter!

Sources:
www.nwf.org/Garden-For-Wildlife/Young/Build-a-Bee-House.aspx
www.niftyhomestead.com/blog/insect-hotel/

Celebrate Earth Day by Investing in Your Community and Your Health: Join the Forest St. Community Garden!

By Kerri Kiernan, Master Herbalist

This Earth Day, consider giving back to the planet, to your community, and to yourself by joining a local community garden. The Forest Street Community Garden is celebrating its eighth season and is now open to new and returning gardeners; it is located in downtown Eau Claire, just a couple blocks north of Phoenix Park.

The Chippewa Valley is blessed with several existing community gardens offering rental plots for the public. What differentiates the Forest St. Garden from other gardens is that it also offers a Shared Garden that is run jointly by members who share in the work and harvest. The Shared Garden also serves as a learning community for members to gain experience in basic gardening skills, leadership, teaching, coordinating, and community outreach.

Members of the Shared Garden participate in weekly sessions to maintain the nearly half-acre plot as a collaborative effort. Seeds and transplants are started in early spring, and members work together to plan and prepare the garden as the last frost ceases. During the garden season, the work and the produce is shared amongst the contributing members. Extra produce is harvested and donated to the Community Table, which supplements meal services benefiting Eau Claire residents who may not have access to healthy meals due to lack of finances, education, or due to other life situations.

Besides benefiting the community, Shared Gardeners experience a deep sense of connection to their community, to each other, and to the Earth. Social events such as potlucks and gatherings are often held at the Forest St. Garden Pavilion, where members and plot renters spend time together connecting over beautiful meals made from the very veggies they grew together in the garden.

Besides decreasing carbon emissions, gardening helps to increase physical activity and vegetable consumption and also helps to foster a sense of wonder and gratitude for the bounty of nature. The shared struggle of growing one’s own food serves as a relatable conversation topic between people who may otherwise never cross paths nor have much in common. Any gardener can share their own story of patience, diligence, failure, and success, but it’s the commonality of spending so much time in the dirt, paying very close attention to the rhythms of the weather, and savoring the fruits of one’s labor that bring people together through gardening.

Join the Forest St. Community Garden and learn how to grow food together. Prices increase after June 15. Please visit the Forest St. Community Garden website for more information.

 

To Join the Co-op/Shared garden or to rent a plot at the Forest St. Community Garden, please visit: http://eauclairecommunitygardens.com/ or email: eauclairecommunitygarden@gmail.com

Kerri Kiernan is a local Master Herbalist who works with plants from her garden as well as wild weeds from the Chippewa Valley to help people thrive with handmade remedies and personalized herbal consults. Kerri is the owner and operator of a small herbal business, River Prairie Apothecary, located in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, and is also the founder CommuniTEA, the Herbalism Outreach & Internship Project located downtown Eau Claire at the Forest St. Garden.

Contact Kerri: River Prairie Apothecary on FB: www.facebook.com/riverprairieapothecary/

www.riverprairieapothecary.com/contact.htm.

Spring Gardening Work

When beginning your spring gardening work, it’s also important to keep these points in mind:

▪ Stay hydrated.  When your body is low on fluids your muscles will become tense and are more prone to injury (picture twisting a piece of jerky!).  Though heat/environment may increase your need, typical fluid intake should include half of your body weight in ounces of water on a daily basis (e.g., if you weigh 100 pounds you should attempt to consume 50 ounces of water daily).

▪ The most dangerous activity for the low back is a bend/twist/lift.  This activity (e.g., raking, unloading items from the trunk, weeding, etc.) can place the joints of the lumbar spine in a vulnerable position and cause excess pressure on the lumbar discs.  It is always best to move your feet to rotate, rather than twisting your spine.  With raking for instance, it is best to use short strokes while holding the rake close to your body and switch from side to side (as opposed to planting your feet and bending/twisting to one side to reach the rake as far as you can).  The same goes for weeding (focus on the area in front of you rather than reaching off to the side).

▪ The body loves symmetry.  It is difficult to always be symmetrical with gardening activities but do your best to switch sides and take turns from right to left.  This will help to minimize injuries by building strength bilaterally and avoiding overuse of one side of the body.

▪ Utilize the proper tools and equipment.  This can make the yard work not only more efficient but also more enjoyable.  Stools, kneelers, or knee pads can help minimize stress and strain on the knee joints and allow you to spend more time in the garden.

▪ Take breaks frequently.  Being in one position for more than thirty minutes can lead to muscle cramps and degrading posture.  Move around the yard or garden and change up your activity whenever possible. For those who love to garden but are unable due to available space, body limitations, etc., there are options!

Check out https://es87578.towergarden.com/ to learn more about the Tower Garden, an aeroponic, vertical garden. The unit can be used outside or inside and requires no dirt and no weeding!

Dr. Emily Smith, of Smith and Prissel Chiropractic, has a specialty in Chiropractic Pediatrics but loves working with patients of any age.

Energy AlertHousehold energy data varies by geographical location, but the U.S Department of Energy reports national averages that pertain to our sources of fuel and our lifestyle choices:

• 34% of our household energy consumed goes to space heating
• 34% goes to lighting and other appliances
• 13% goes to heating water
• 11% goes to air conditioning
• 8% goes to refrigeration

This chart shows the number of pesticides that might be on the  non-organic produce you buy.

Food # of Different Pesticides

Celery  64
Peaches  62
Strawberries  59
Blueberries  52
Leafy Greens  51
Bell Peppers  49
Spinach  48
Apples  42
Cherries  42
Potatoes  37
Grapes  34
Nectarines  33

From year to year, this list of the top twelve items with the most pesticides on them changes.

Starting Seeds Indoors

By Erin LaFaive, Horticulture Educator, Eau Claire County UW Cooperative Extension
Do you want to get ahead of the growing season? Do you want to plant vegetables that need a longer growing season? Do you want to grow a plant that you can’t find in the stores? A solution to these challenges is to start your own seeds indoors.

Many plants do better if started indoors, because it gives them a jump start on the growing season. This is especially the case in northern Wisconsin where the growing season is shorter and some seeds have a difficult time germinating in the early season. Tomatoes and peppers are a great example of plants that need a longer growing season than northern Wisconsin can provide.

Containers
Any type of container can be used to start seeds as long as it is sterilized before planting and has drainage holes at the bottom. To sterilize pots, soak the containers in a 10 percent bleach mixture and thoroughly rinse. Single celled pots are sold in stores and generally only a seed or two are planted in one cell. Mass-sowing seeds are done in flats that do not have dividers, and they require transplanting after the seedling is bigger.

Soil
Use a seed starting mix or other soil-less indoor plant mixture. These types of soils have been sterilized and contain smaller particles so the embryos have an easier time pushing through. In addition, they are light weight and drain well. If you want to create your own mixture, use a pasteurized mixture of equal amounts of soil, sand, vermiculite or perlite, and peat moss.

Planting
Moisten the soil before you add it to the containers. It shouldn’t be soggy. The general rule for planting depth is four times the thickness of the seed. Also, check the seed packet for recommendations. Some seeds are very small and hard to see. In those cases, mixing the seed in sterile sand can help you see where you are spreading the seed. Very small seeds are simply sprinkled over the top of the soil. To cover seeds, use vermiculite or a layer of screened potting mix you are already using over the seeds. Leave about a ¼ of an inch from the top of the container to allow enough room for the vermiculite.

Germination
Cover the planted seeds with plastic leaving an inch to an inch and a half gap. The plastic helps to keep the soil from drying out and traps some heat. A heating source underneath the seeds will speed up germination. Place them in a window with moderate light but not in direct sunlight. The temperatures should be 55 to 60 degrees Fahrenheit at night and 65 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit during the day.

Watering
Keep the soil moist, but be careful not to overwater. Using a spray bottle works great for tiny seeds because a strong stream of water may move the seeds around too much. Even a stream being poured from a glass of water can be too strong. Watch for the growth of mold, which generally looks like white fuzz on the soil surface. When the first seedlings appear, take off the plastic. This is also the time they need stronger light, so they require a south facing window or artificial lights.

My plants are lopsided! My plants are spindly! This can be prevented by turning the container as the seedlings grow and by giving enough light. Fluorescent lights are another source of lighting. They need sixteen to eighteen hours of light each day. One warm-white, 40-watt bulb and one cool-white, 40-watt bulb used together are adequate for seed starting and seedling growth. You can also use fluorescent lights or grow lights.

Gradually acquaint the seedlings to outside by first starting with an hour and working up. The seedlings are not use to fluctuating temperatures, wind, and the sun, and this gradual introduction prepares the plant for new conditions.

These are general indoor seed germinating rules. By reading the seed package you will likely find more detailed information on seed depth, germination time, and any other specialized requirements.
Erin LaFaive is the horticulture educator for UW-Extension in Eau Claire County. Erin earned a M.S. in Environmental Studies from the Nelson Institute for environmental studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She also earned a B.S. in geography with an emphasis in natural resource management at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire.