Friday, September 3, 2010

EC's Fall Native Plant Sale, September 10th - 11th

Fall is a great time to add color to your garden and native plants are a great choice! What could be better than enhancing your garden with environmentally-friendly native plants that need less water, less chemicals and will attract pollinators to your landscape? Friday, September 10th and Saturday, September 11th, Environmental Concern, Inc. a non-profit dedicated to protecting the beauty of local wetlands, will hold their 11th annual Fall Native Plant Sale.

Take advantage of the plant sale opportunity on Friday from 9 - 4 and on Saturday from 9- 2, to see mature native plants growing in EC’s gardens, nursery, and living shoreline. The EC nursery staff, including three Certified Professional Horticulturists, will be on-hand to help answer your questions and select plants for your garden.

EC offers a variety of plants well-suited for Butterfly Gardens, Rain Gardens, Shade Gardens, Salt Tolerant Plantings and Songbird Hedgerows. Not sure which plants to try? We have plug sampler packs for each that offer a chance to try several species with great savings. Popular fall-blooming native plant species grown in our nursery, such as seaside goldenrod, New York aster, and seashore mallow will also be available for sale. Retail plant orders may be placed in advance, but must be ordered by 12 pm on Wednesday, September 8th.

Environmental Concern is located at 201 Boundary Lane in St. Michaels, MD.

For more information, call EC at 410-745-9620 or visit

Do bees chase butterflies?

Someone emailed me this question and I thought I would share it, hoping to find an answer for her:

Question: I have lots of container plants to attract butterflies and bees, both larval-host and nectar plants. Blue hyssop especially seems to draw a great variety and number of bees and now I don't see as many butterflies around. I wonder whether the bees are scaring off butterflies. Yesterday I observed what seemed to be a bee chasing a butterfly away from a flower blossom. Have you ever heard of this?

From Martha M.

My answer: Hi Martha. I know I have seen bumblebees and other insects that come to my flowers chasing off hummingbirds, but I have never seen it with bees and butterflies. Even with hummingbirds, I think it is more the hummingbirds flying away than the wasps actually chasing.

I do know that certain WASPS actually eat caterpillars. I was really surprised the first time that I saw it, but I know that a lot more of my caterpillars are just disappearing and I think it is the wasps.


I told Martha that I would post the question in hopes of finding someone with a little more knowledge on the subject. Soooooo, has anyone else ever noticed butterflies and bees competing for the same plants? If so, can bees actually hurt butterflies? I'd sure love to know the answer myself.

In search of the Big "O": Finding Locally Grown Organic Produce

Sure, chocolate is sexy, in a guilty-pleasure sort of way. But when you are ready for a more meaningful culinary relationship, one that you can really sink your teeth into, nothing is quite as perfect as the pleasures of produce.

Consider the tomato, with it’s beautiful, clear complexioned skin. It is firm to the touch, it has a beautiful tantalizing aroma, your mind reels with all of the wonderful things you can do with it. And best of all, this particular plump beauty you have found is pure, big “O” organic! Or is it?

“All-natural”, “hormone-free”, “locally-grown” and “pesticide free” are all terms that you may see applied to produce and other products at your local supermarket or farmers market. But do those steps make a product “organic”? Not necessarily.

The term “organic” is actually a legal term which is defined and governed by the United States Department of agriculture.

The National Organic Program (NOP) is a certification program administered by the United Stated Department of Agriculture (USDA) that requires all organic foods to meet strict government standards. These standards regulate how foods are grown, handled and processed. Any single-ingredient food that meets the criteria can carry the USDA label of 100% organic.

Anyone who has tackled the challenge of going organic in their own home gardens knows that the process does sometime mean more work. At home, the temptation to use just a little bit of pesticide or fast-acting fertilizer is sometimes too hard to resist. Organic farmers are strictly forbidden from utilizing any of those quick, but harmful, methods.

Under the National Organic Program, organic produce is grown without any antibiotics, hormones, pesticides or other harmful chemicals. Farmers use all natural fertilizers and often hand-pick insect pests. To earn the NOP Organic label, all of their procedures are carefully monitored by third party certifiers, including the entire handling, processing and shipping of the products.

September is National Organic Harvest Month. It’s a great time to support local organic farms that are taking steps to create products that are healthier for consumers and for the planet.

The Maryland Department of Agriculture has a great list of Maryland Certified Organic Growers, Retailers, Processors & Handlers (pdf).

The Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services provides this list of Certified Organic Producers.

"Organic" Vegetable Gardening at Home
The NOP Organic designation does not apply to gardeners that grow produce for their own consumption. However, to provide the same benefits to your produce and to the environment, here are some suggested tips for organic vegetable gardening.

Amend the Soil 
* Before planting, amend the soil with organic matter such as compost, manures, coffee grounds etc. Continue to do this once or twice a year.

• Use organic fertilizers which are plant, animal or mineral based. These are generally slow release and can’t burn the plants.

• Liquid seaweed (ex. Maxicrop) makes a great foliar spray for plants that produce food. Spray both sides of the leaves until they drip weekly for vegetable plants and monthly for fruit bearing trees, etc.

Methods of Insect Control 
• Insecticidal soap. • Ultra-fine Horticultural Oil.

• To control caterpillars use Bt. (Bacillus Thuringensis)

• Mechanical Controls such as Agrofabric row covers, staking or caging plants & sticky traps.

Weed Control
• Mulch, mulch, mulch!

• Corn gluten is not only a natural preemergent herbicide but it is also a great source of organic Nitrogen..

• Vinegar has been found to kill annual weeds!

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