People, towns, businesses, farms and gardens all grow in Michigan soil.

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Buying Local Daylilies and Iris

There are different blooming time for different daylilies, providing options for color waves. Image by F.D. Richards at

There are different blooming time for different daylilies, providing options for color waves. Image by F.D. Richards at

Here is a Michigan plant nursery consortium to add to your list of places to shop.

The Iris Warehouse sells iris and daylily plants read to go into the ground and thrive.

You can place your order now and the plants will ship when it’s the right time for your Zone. If you order merchandise worth $100 or more before March 1, you get a 10% discount.

Daylilies begin shipping in early May and iris begin shipping in July. Some rhizome iris ship later in July.

This online seller says they are:

“a select group of vendors/and growers and hybridizers who are considered the top experts in their field. We have specialty growers for tall bearded iris, dwarf & intermediate iris, historic iris, Siberian iris, Japanese iris and special species iris. We have also collected a group of daylily specialist gardeners. The daylily specialists have registered daylilies and currently have developing nurseries which will produce the newest varieties of daylilies which we will make available to our customers!”

Under the category, Discount Daylilies, I fell in love with Daring Deception, a charming tetraploid in a pale lavender/pink and a deep purple at the eye and edge.

What will you buy first? Buying locally grown plants helps our economy and helps ensure the plants will do well in our climate.


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The Urban Orchard

Layout of estate in Gardens for Small Country Houses by Gertrude Jekyll and Lawrence Weaver. Image by Revival.

Layout of estate in Gardens for Small Country Houses by Gertrude Jekyll and Lawrence Weaver. Image by Revival.

To those of us who are, or aspire to be, avid gardeners, do you grow fruit on your property or in a community garden plot? Is it even possible, or cost effective?

I grow several fruiting shrubs in my quarter-acre urban lot. I don’t share berries with the birds; the birds get there first and eat whatever is close to ripe. Someone in the subdivision has an apple tree in the front yard. They don’t spray, and the fruit is oddly misshapen and pre-eaten by insects. Growing fruit successfully takes both planning and work.

Throughout through the pages of Gardens for Small Country Houses by Gertrude Jekyll and Lawrence Weaver, the layout drawings carefully show the location of the orchard. The book was originally published in 1914, the first year of WWI in Britain. Local greengrocers in town were small businesses and they brought produce to the consumer via a horse-drawn wagon. People in the rural areas grew their own food because they had to.

We don’t need to grow our own food. Today, we are delightfully pampered with out-of-season fruits and vegetables shipped from around the State and the world. Michigan is a fruit-growing powerhouse. Our farmers grow apples, blueberries, sweet and tart cherries, peaches, grapes, pears, and plums. Agriculture as a whole is the third largest economic sector in Michigan.

We might want to grow more of our own food. Michigan State University Extension has a wealth of information for the home orchardist.
The gardener’s guide to ordering fruit trees January 2, 2013 | Gary Heilig | It’s not too early to start planning for a backyard orchard.
• Several fact sheets (PDF) with tips for growing, among other things, strawberries, raspberries, cherries, apples, pears, and peaches.

We might prefer to buy local. Check out the CSAs (community supported agriculture) in your area. CSAs sell shares of the garden produce ahead of the season to help them fund their operations. Local Harvest has a list of CSA farms in Michigan, but farms enter and leave this market frequently, so check local resources for a newer list of CSA farms near you. There are farmers markets in season and the old fashioned farm stand by the side of the road. Locally grown fruit is more accessible than it’s been in years.

I don’t foresee a revival of home orchards. I do love to see a small vineyard planted in a front yard or a hedge of blueberries waiting to be picked. I’ll let the birds feast on serviceberries, elderberries, and blackberries from my yard. There are a couple of quince bushes still too young to produce fruit. I make become more protective of them. Time will tell.

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Where is Spring?

Mid-January in the fruit/vegetable garden.

Mid-January in the fruit/vegetable garden.

After the thaw and snowmelt, I can clearly see the remains of the garden. More leaves blew in after the final raking. More acorns dropped. More plants died. It looks dreary. It looks like January. Where is spring?

I’m into planning and dreaming now. The fence/trellis for the beans and cukes can be dug up and moved. Or I can ignore it for a year or two, plant bush beans and greens there. The chairs are really tomato cages and they were born portable. The ladder supports the blackberry bush. It stays. What I plant after that could be anything.

The best advice I get says plant what I like to eat. I add caveats. Plant what I have the room and climate to grow. Plant what I can put up or freeze. Plant more than greens, even though I love greens. This year I want to plant something new.

The listing for Noir des Carmes (in the family Cucumis melo) is enticing. The skin is black as it grows and turns orange/green as it ripens. Hard to miss a color change like that. It needs to be started indoors here in Michigan. It wants soil warmed to 65-70º just to germinate and then it needs 75 to 85 days to mature.

Some literature suggests warming the soil outdoors with black plastic before transplanting. The ground needs to be at least 70º. Why not just leave the plastic on the ground during the growing season?

All of this sound moderately fussy. But if I’m successful, I’ll be eating and sharing 4-6 pound muskmelons.

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Starting Seed Indoors

When is the last frost date where you live?

When is the last frost date where you live? Image by  Lilli2de

The web is buzzing about planting seeds. It certainly is the right time somewhere in the world to start seeds indoors, but not yet for us here in Michigan.

The information on the back of seed packets talks about 4,5,6, or more weeks before the last frost date to start seeds indoors. Most tomato plants can be started indoors 6 to 8 weeks before the last expected frost date. When is the last frost date in your garden? has a great interactive map that makes it easier to understand our multi-zoned geography that includes Zones 3a to 6b.

Double-click on the map, or use the + icon to zoom in to see your exact location. Our last frost date in Michigan varies from April 21 to June 21—that’s 2 months! Look at these examples from

Alpena Last Frost: May 1 – May 10
Ann Arbor Last Frost: Apr. 21 – Apr. 30
Clinton Township Last Frost: Apr. 21 – Apr. 30
Dearborn Last Frost: Apr. 21 – Apr. 30
Detroit Last Frost: Apr. 21 – Apr. 30
Flint Last Frost: May 1 – May 10
Grand Rapids Last Frost: May 1 – May 10
Kalamazoo Last Frost: May 1 – May 10
Lansing Last Frost: May 11 – May 20
Livonia Last Frost: Apr. 21 – Apr. 30
Marquette Last Frost: May 11 – May 20
Sault Ste Marie Last Frost: May 21 – May 31
Southfield Last Frost: Apr. 21 – Apr. 30
Sterling Heights Last Frost: Apr. 21 – Apr. 30
Warren Last Frost: Apr. 21 – Apr. 30
Westland Last Frost: May 1 – May 10

6 weeks prior to the last frost date in Saginaw is (May 10 minus 6 weeks) March 29—plus or minus the actual outdoor conditions.
6 weeks prior to the last frost date in Sault Ste Marie is (May 21 minus 6 weeks) April 9—plus or minus the actual outdoor conditions.

We have a few months to wait. Let’s enjoy the winter and dream about spring.

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Michigan Supports Project BudBurst

BudBurst Banner_0Banner logo from Project Budburst

Michigan is home to plenty of gardeners and plant enthusiasts. Here is an interesting and easy way to expand your interest in plants to helping advance horticulture science. Project BudBurst is about regular people (citizen scientists) reporting the first leaf, first flower, first fall color and more about the plants in their area. Participants choose which plant(s) they will follow. The time involved is minimal, but the increase in personal “plant awareness” is phenomenal.

Which plants interest you?

• Urban canopy trees
• National Park Plants
• Wildlife Refuge Plants
• The plants growing in your yard and neighborhood.

Sign up anytime, starting now, at the website. You will be an important part of effort to learn more about our environment. Your “report” is quickly filed online and you can “see” and click on your plant site on the map of the US survey results. The map is a great way for you to compare your findings with other citizen scientists in the area.

There are also BudBurst classes for teachers to take. Teachers can register for the first of the winter session offered by the NEON Citizen Science Academy. There are two courses this winter (listed below) and more to come. All courses are geared towards K-12 teachers.
Register at
Questions? Email:

Classes for Teachers Details

Intro to Project BudBurst for Educators
Learn how to use Project BudBurst in your educational setting. Register now for class meeting Jan 29 – Feb 27. Register in February for class meeting Mar 26 – Apr 24.

How to use Project BudBurst Data in the Classroom
Learn about the National Geographic FieldScope data visualization tools. Register now for class meeting Jan 29 – Feb 27. Register in February for class meeting Mar 26 – Apr 24.

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Maps for Michigan Snowmobilers

Maps of trails around Sanilac.

Maps of trails around Sanilac.

Thank you Michigan DNR. Here is an interactive tool that lets you find snowmobile trails by Region within the State. Then use the Zoom and Snapshot features within Acrobat Reader to size and print the map to meet your needs.

The DNR says, “These maps are accurate as of the most recent date specified. The State Designated Snowmobile Trail information is updated regularly by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) as new trail additions, re-routes, and closures are completed. Please return to this site and review the update dates for each map to make sure you have the most recent version available.”

You will need the most recent version of Acrobat Reader.

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The Banished Word List from Lake Superior State University

James Norris Physical Education Center at Lake Superior State University.

James Norris Physical Education Center at Lake Superior State University.

The 38th Annual List of Banished Words has been released by Lake Superior State University in Sault Ste. Marie.

Fiscal Cliff
Kick The Can Down The Road
Double Down
Job Creators/Creation
Yolo (You Only Live Once)
Spoiler Alert
Bucket List
Boneless Wings

If you want to submit a word or phrase for the 2014 list, check out

Read the complete list at

You don’t use any of these already banished phrases, do you?

Alternative Lifestyle
Close Proximity
Foreseeable Future
Heighth (for Height)
Joe Sixpack
Meaningful Dialogue
Now, More Than Ever