Oliver Smith

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since Jun 24, 2018
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Recent posts by Oliver Smith

I am just looking for general ideas about plants that appear unhealthy, be they veggies, nearby landscaping plants, cover crops, or potential chop and drop material.

For example, a patch of wild bergamot (Monarda fistulosa) is near a potential new veggie bed location and has powdery mildew or something similar.  Is this a potential risk to spread to the veggies?   Mondarda is subject to this type of thing and the plants otherwise are growing well.   What should I do about this?   Ignore?  Try to treat the monarda or soil?  Alternately I could move/remove the Mondarda I suppose.   I could limit that bed to certain non-susceptible veggies.

Related, for chop and drop, how picky should I be regarding outward appearance and health of the weeds being dropped?  For instance, consider discolored clover leaves (likely due to heat stress and competition), or late season dandelion that is quite battered.

I have read suggestions that veggie plants showing unhealthy signs should be disposed of in the garbage, but that seems a bit extreme to me.  Any thoughts on how to think about plants showing blight, disease, decay, or stress near veggies are appreciated!

Thanks for any ideas or musings, as I don't have much experience with food crops.
4 months ago
Removing English ivy where invasive is a recommended endeavor IMO.  The berries of mature (climbing) vines are eaten by birds in the fall and spread to neighboring areas via droppings.  Robust Ivy is a tree strangler, winding tightly around the base roots as well as covering the trunk and branches.  

Interesting article about ivy removal and replacement plants:
7 months ago
This is a great topic.  As already mentioned, it is amazing how clover, dandelion, and plantain are sort of a natural vegetation for lawn-like areas.  I encourage them and get them for free.  

A plant community could also include grasses.   I have had good results from low-height fescues, which are deep rooted, tolerate moderate shade and tree roots, keep an armor coating on the ground year round (even when dormant), and are vigorous but not aggressive, so as to fill in nicely between the other plants.   These are cool season grasses and become active fairly early in the spring when rains are heavy to aid in water management.  

In general grasses grow well with clovers and take advantage of the nitrogen, and fescues don't require any additional inputs due to the deep root system.

Ideally the plant community would have both warm and cool season varieties of broadleaf and grass.   For warm a season grass, I been considering adding buffalo grass to the mix.

9 months ago
I believe the groundcover may be thimbleweed or related.  I enjoy the patch I have growing in my backyard.  it is a somewhat aggressive but low height plant.  


Ther are several Anemone species that look similar.
Does anyone know of houseplants that can easily be grown from seed?    When I search online for seed sources I get a few hits but mostly shipments for actual plants.

Or alternately, which possibly unconventional plants from seed would make good houseplants: relatively small growth and maximum size, roots happy within a pot, and fairly low light conditions?

Thanks for any information!
1 year ago
You could consider a clover or clover/grass mixture.  White clover is my preference due to low growth habit.   Should do well in full sun.


If you are willing to keep existing grass, clover can be seeded in place.  Clover and grass complement each other well, since the clover fixes nitrogen and grass uses it.  The turf stays in place during winter so the ground is covered until clover emerges each spring.

Some other types of clover for lawns are alsike and strawberry.  I noticed that even Scott's now has a 'clover-lawn' seed with strawberry.  Both are taller growing.  
1 year ago
Pennsylvania sedge could form the basis of a nice planting.  Also known as oak sedge, it naturally grows in oak woodlands and savannas.  Can look like lawn but does not need mowing.  Can handle shade or sun.  Also could combine with other plants for a nice garden.

Sedges have fibrous root systems that soak up water like a sponge after well established.
1 year ago
Euonymus fortunei - winter creeper vine.
It spreads everywhere, climbs walls and trees with damaging roots, and smothers garden beds.
Repeated pulling will take it out but is disruptive to the soil.
1 year ago
Seeps / shallow springs are enabled by the vegetation as well.  A deep and healthy fibrous root layer (anchored by sedges for example) holds rainfall in the soill, it will slowly percolate.  

You may be interested in a book called "Timberhill: Chronicle of A Restoration" that discusses 'pioneer' springs from a bygone era returning after trees were thinned and high quality understory restored.  The property described is hilly land in southern Iowa.

Might not exactly line up with your goals or situation, but passing along in case helpful, in light of the densely wooded hillside in the photo.
1 year ago
Dennis Mitchell, that is such a great point, the Pacific salmon transport tons nutrients from the sea (where present) to land (where absent or sparse).  

The fish that instinctively swim upstream where they eventually die and decompose, or are eaten.

The workings of nature are so very interesting.
1 year ago