Michigan Master Gardener Association Events Calendar
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We have long strove to modify our crops to be more disease resistant, yield better (and more) produce, and otherwise be better versions of their wild ancestors that we took interest in centuries upon centuries ago. Before the advent of modern genetically modified foods, where scientists actively and precisely manipulate the genome of the plant, the process of modifying crops was a laborious one akin to breeding dogs to select for traits. You simply had to spend a lot of time with lots of trial and error to produce a plant that had a trait you were looking for.
In the mid-20th century, however, a new technique was developed. This technique was a middle road between the agonizing slowness of generational breeding and the speed and precision of modern genetic work: atomic gardening. In the 1950s, 60s, and early 70s, atomic energy of all types seemed like the key to all the promises of the future. Researchers used radioactive materials to create “atomic gardens” (also known as gamma gardens) in a bid to force mutations in plants and create better, hardier, and interesting variations of the plants. Gardening clubs and individual gardeners helped by planting irradiated seeds produced by the research.
Arranged in a circular fashion, atomic gardens had a simple premise. Place a radioactive substance in the center of the garden, typically Cobalt-60, and then grow the plants in concentric circles around the source as a way to naturally control the dosage. The closest plants would get the highest dose, and if the garden was large enough, the dosage would be negligible by the time you got to the rings furthest from the center.
While this method of gardening yielded many unusable mutations and the crops closest to the radiation source almost always withered from exposure, the outer plants would sometimes develop useful mutations. For example, the “Todd’s Mitcham” cultivar of peppermint (released in 1971) was developed in this fashion starting with experiments in 1955 and is now popular in the peppermint industry thanks to its strong resistance to disease. Furthermore, many crops around the world trace their origins back to mid-century atomic gardening experiments including variations of food staples like rice, wheat, and tomatoes.
Although atomic gardening is not as popular as it once was, it is starting to experience a renaissance and research continues at many national laboratories—like the multi-acre atomic garden at the Institute of Radiation Breeding in Hitachiohmiya, Japan (seen in the photo here)—that have been in operation for decades and still produce new and novel variants of plants with regularity.
OAK WILT WEBINAR
EARN 1.5 Education Hours
The recording for the Oak Wilt Webinar held on 3-24-17, is now available through the VMS. Log into the VMS and under State Links, click on "2017 Free Online Webinars". You will see the link for the recording (and password) at the top of the document that opens. Also, under State Links, you will find the 2017 Oak Wilt Presentation as a document that you can open to read or print.
Remember, you should report 1.5 education hours after viewing this video.
Select the project "2017 Oak Wilt Disease Webinar".
Image courtesy of Better Made Potato Chips Inc.
MSU PLANT SALE
News / Events
There’s a good chance that when you think of potatoes you think of Idaho (and rightly so as the state grows over 14 billion pounds of potatoes per year). There’s also a good chance that you don’t think of Michigan.
However, Michigan does have a significant potato industry (they’re ranked 8th in the United States and produce over 1.6 billion pounds per year) and, more importantly, most of the Michigan potato crop is devoted to what the industry calls “processing potatoes”. Processing potatoes are potatoes destined to be turned into something else instead of simply bagged and sold for people to take home to slice, dice, and otherwise prepare on their own. Of all those millions upon millions of potatoes used expressly for potato chip processing, a whopping 70% are grown in Michigan.
The relationship between potatoes and Michigan isn’t a recent development either. The well-known Better Made Potato Chips company, for example, has operated out of Detroit since the 1930s (and continues to do so) and at the time the company was started it was only one of 31 potato chip companies operating out of the city.
So whether you’re sitting at a summer BBQ in Detroit, Michigan, shopping for a Super Bowl party in Austin, Texas, or picking up a snack at a gas station in Fresno, California, there’s a very good chance that your potato chips started life somewhere in the farm country of Michigan.
Will Michigan honor Monarchs?
Backers of state insect campaign say butterfly needs a boost.
Maine has its honeybee. Massachusetts has its ladybug.
Mississippi, the Magnolia state, has two state insects: the firefly and ladybug. Michigan has no state insect. It has a state fish, the brook trout; a state bird, the robin; even a state fossil, the mastodon, unlikely as that may be.
Ilse Gebhard, a retired chemist from Kalamazoo, hopes that will change. She is part of a Michigan campaign to protect the monarch butterfly. She and others have expressed support for Michigan Senate Bill 812, introduced in February 2016 by Sen. Jim Marleau, R-Lake Orion. It designates the monarch as Michigan's official state insect.
"Designating it will not give it any extra protection, like threatened or endangered status, Gebhard said. "But it is a way to make people more aware of it and its conservation needs. They may want to protect it because it is the state symbol."
Gebhard, 76, maintains a butterfly garden at her home. Tending to it and analyzing the results is her way of helping monarchs and other pollinators. Scientists now say the monarch could face extinction in 20 years. Its numbers have plummeted, dropping from a billion seen on its winter grounds in 1996-97 to just 35 million in 2013-14.
The reasons are varied, from habitat loss in Mexico on the preserves where it winters, to storms and drought conditions that decimate populations. Farmers also are using more herbicides that kill milkweed, monarchs' sole food source. Adult monarchs lay their eggs on mildweed. The yound caterpillars emerge and eat the plant to survive. It if disappears, so do monarch butterflies.
Gebhard plants native mildweed, which is free from pesticides. Ever a scientist, she tallies the number of butterflies that arrive and lay their eggs in her garden, then counts the butterflies that develop from the caterpillars that emerge. She uploads her data to Monarch Watch, an international citizen science project (monarchwatch.org).
The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service proposed listing the eastern monarch population as a threatened species in 2014. The agency is reviewing data to determine if it is warranted.
In Michigan, more than 1,300 people have signed an online petition to "SAY YES TO THE MONARCH AS OUR OFFICIAL STATE INSECT" (bit.ly/monarchpetition.)
Michigan is one of only three states without a state insect. Seven states already list the monarch.
"It's time to remedy that and designate the monarch butterfly with that honor." Marleau's bill has been referred to the Senate Government Operations Committee.
No action has been taken, as of this writing, but if Gebhard and others have their way, that could soon change. (Ref: Michigan BLUE Magazine. Howard Meyerson)
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NEW PUBLIC GARDEN ON DETROIT'S BELLE ISLE!
The garden will be designed by internationally renowned garden designer Piet Oudolf.
Oudolf’s acclaimed gardens include the Lurie Garden in Chicago and the Highline in New York City, among scores of gardens around the world. He is one today's premier garden designers for public landscapes and is a leading figure of the "New Perennial" movement that is characterized by utilizing herbaceous perennials and grasses. His garden designs are artistic, ecologically inspired, accessible, welcoming and enjoyed year-round.
After touring Detroit with the Garden Club of Michigan this past spring, Oudolf selected Belle Isle Park as the proposed site for one of his acclaimed garden designs. The site, located near the Nancy Brown Carillon Peace tower between the Remick Band Shell and the Anna Scripps Whitcomb Conservatory, will be a connector in the cultural heart of the park. It also will help revitalize the island and attract garden lovers from near and far. The proposed garden will be paid for through donations and fundraising that will cover all the design, installation and maintenance costs.
Oudolf described the proposed Belle Isle site as a connector for people and activities on the island and "an opportunity to reinvigorate the adjacent structures and facilities."
Date: September 22, 2018
Time: 9 a.m. - Noon
MSU Tollgate Farm, 28115 Meadowbrook Rd.
Novi, MI 48377
Roy Prentice, 248-347-3860
Jessica Haynes, email@example.com
Poisonous, noxious, invasive: Just some of the words used to describe a list of weeds that are now prohibited in Midland.
The list of outlawed plants had not been updated since Feb. 2, 1982. Three plants are being removed from the list: Goldenrod, devil’s pitchfork and dodder plant, because of their importance to pollination or lack of invasive qualities.
“We want to keep a focus on those plants that really do pose a risk or a threat to the area,” said Karen Murphy, Midland public services director.
Those declared a public nuisance include: Garlic mustard, phragmites, crown vetch, purple loosestrife, giant hogweed, wild parsnip, spotted knapweed, Japanese knotweed, giant knotweed, autumn olive, glossy buckthorn, and common buckthorn.
The plants join Canada thistle, mustards, wild carrot, bindweed, hoary alyssum, ragweed, poison ivy, poison sumac, sow thistle and a plant known as climbing nightshade or European bittersweet.
Parks staff worked with Mid-Mitten Wild Ones Chapter and The Little Forks Conservancy to go over the list and propose edits and changes based on what plants have been located and identified as a threat to Midland County, Murphy said.
Revamping the ordinance allows city staff to respond on a complaint basis, Murphy said, and move forward with the violations process for any residents found to have the destructive plants on their property.
She recommended residents contact The Little Forks Conservancy for help with identifying and removing the plants. “They have guidance they will give to homeowners,” Murphy said.
The ordinance amendment changes Section 26.1 of Article I of the City’s Code of Ordinances, which can be found at http://cityofmidlandmi.gov/437/Code-of-Ordinances
The Midland City Council recently approved the ordinance amendment by a vote of 5-0; the changes took effect upon adoption of the amendment.
Michigan Gardener shares this link for upcoming events and class details.
NEWS FROM OUR BRITISH GARDENING FRIENDS
Is your garden being taken over by franken flowers? If you’ve got orange petunias, it almost certainly is - and it’s proof of a disturbing GM (Genetically Modified) invasion by stealth.
Beauty is beguiling, and what could be more delightful than a garden lined with bright orange petunias? And they have such pretty, evocative names: African Sunset, Pegasus Orange Morn, Potunia Plus Papaya, Bonnie Orange, Sanguna Patio Salmon ... But petunias are not naturally orange and, when these varieties first appeared on the market two years ago, they were a suburban border sensation. Such a change from staid old purple and blue. Legions of Britons snapped them up for their beds, hanging baskets and patios and, just a few months ago, experts hailed them ‘the fashionable colour for 2017.
But now we know something sinister lurks in those glowing petals. These are illegal ‘Franken-flowers’, genetically modified with DNA taken from maize plants to create their unnatural orange hue. They should never have been introduced here, but somehow evaded Britain’s bio border defenses. This lack of oversight means there isn’t even an estimate of how many orange petunias are in the UK, or where they are. And no one can say for certain what other GM plants are lurking in our gardens. It is tempting just to shrug and say: ‘Oh well, they’re only flowers.’ But the story emerging this week of how scientifically altered plants have infiltrated our shores should sound loud alarm bells — for some experts are warning that the bedding plants may harbor threats, as yet unknown, to crops and pollinating insects such as bees and butterflies.
Genetically modified (GM) orange petunia seeds and plants first featured in British catalogs early in 2015. Apparently, the products were sourced from the Continent. But Defra — the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs — took action only this month, when it issued an edict telling sellers of suspected GM petunias to stop selling them.
Source: The Daily Mail / London