‘THE SAGE’-Klein’s Online Newsletter—FEBRUARY 2015
Klein’s Floral & Greenhouses
3758 E. Washington Ave.
Madison, WI 53704
608/244-5661 or [email protected]
 
 
THIS MONTH’S HIGHLIGHTS:
Wisconsin Public Television Garden Expo Feb. 13-15
We Need Some Room for Spring Plants! 50% Off Houseplants!
Our ‘Mad Gardener’ Is Ready for Your Questions
Live Like a Flower and Be Grateful for Rain
Seed Catalog & Seed Buying Dos & Don’ts
About Genetically Engineered Food Labeling in America
Klein’s Favorite Seed, Bulb & Plant Sources
You Asked the Mad Gardener About Forcing Elephant’s Ears
Plant of the Month: Winter Blooming Jasmine
Our Very Favorite Mexican Sour Gherkin Recipes
Product Spotlight: Home & Garden Decor from Elizabeth Keith Designs
Notes from Rick’s Garden Journal—From January 2015
–Tool Library Opens in Madison
–2015 Plants of the Year Awards
–About House Finches
February in the Garden: A Planner
Gardening Events Around Town
Join Us on Twitter
Follow Us on Facebook
Join Klein’s Blooming Plant or Fresh Flower Club
Delivery Information
Related Resources and Websites
Plants Harmful to Kids and Pets
 
 
While supplies last, Klein’s is conducting our annual houseplant blow out–
50% OFF HOUSEPLANTS IN 6” POTS AND LARGER!
(This sale excludes selected plants, peace lilies, blooming plants and cannot be used with other discounts. A minimum $25 purchase is required for delivery. Delivery charges are extra. Please call Klein’s at 608/244-5661 for details.)
 
 
 
THE MAD GARDENER
“Madison’s Firsthand Source for Expert Gardening Advice”
 
Ask any of your gardening questions by e-mailing them to us at [email protected]. Klein’s in-house Mad Gardener will e-mail you with an answer as promptly as we can. We’ve also posted a link to this e-mail address on our home page for your convenience. Your question might then appear in the “You Asked” feature of our monthly newsletter. If your question is the one selected for our monthly newsletter, you’ll receive a small gift from us at Klein’s. The Mad Gardener hopes to hear from you soon!
 
Sorry, we can only answer those questions pertaining to gardening in Southern Wisconsin and we reserve the right to leave correspondence unanswered at our discretion. Please allow 2-3 days for a response.
 
Please note that our Mad Gardener is not only an expert gardener, but can answer all of your indoor plant questions as well.
 
 
 
FEBRUARY STORE HOURS:
Monday thru Friday : 8:00-6:00
Saturday: 9:00-5:00
Sunday: 10:00-4:00
 
Special Valentine’s Hours:
Thursday & Friday, February 12 & 13: 8:00-7:00
Saturday, February 14: 8:00-6:00
 
 
 
CALENDAR OF EVENTS:
February 2–Ground Hog Day
 
February 3–Full Moon
 
February 13-15Wisconsin Public Television’s Garden Expo at the Alliant Energy Center. The Klein’s booths will entice all senses with fresh herbs, colorful windowsill bloomers, spring annuals and garden decor. We’ll also be giving out coupons for free annuals and in-store savings come spring. Tickets for Wisconsin Public Television’s Garden Expo are available at Klein’s for a lesser price than at the door. More details are available at www.wigardenexpo.com. There, you’ll find a complete list of exhibitors and a calendar of scheduled events.
 
February 14Valentine’s Day. Order early for guaranteed delivery. We deliver throughout Madison and most of Dane County.
 
February 16–Presidents’ Day
 
February 18—Ash Wednesday
 
February 19–Chinese New Year
 
Throughout February–Ever thought about working at a greenhouse? Now is the time to stop in and ask for an application. We always need seasonal, part-time counter help in the spring and greenhouse production swings into gear by mid-February. If you’re interested, ask for Sue for the retail area or Jamie or Rick for the greenhouses. Benefits include a generous discount on all those plants you buy at Klein’s anyway. Join our team and experience how it’s all done.
 
 
 
‘THE FLOWER SHOPPE’:
LIVE LIKE A FLOWER (Part 8): Be Grateful for Rain
 
A prioritized life prepares you to live like a flower – nimbly and gracefully in all kinds of weather and refreshed by the rain. Follow this advice from change agent and author of Restoring Order, Vicki Norris, to be grateful for rain.
 

  1. Receive the Rain.

Look at life’s circumstances–not as inconveniences or intrusions–but as enrichment to your soil. Even the tough stuff can bring growth, and even beauty, to your life. Determine to always become better, not bitter.
 

  1. Refine Your Transisitions.

Make your transitions stress-free: give attention to your going-and-coming spaces. Set up a mudroom or hallway where coats, boots, gloves, keys and sunglasses can be easily placed for grab-and-go ease, and welcoming and orderly returns. Display flowers and plants in the area to greet you and help keep clutter at bay.
 

  1. Reconsider Your Remnants.

Pause to enjoy (and even photograph) the overlooked, dirty, or disruptive things, instead of perceiving a nuisance. Snap a mental or actual picture of the muddy boots by the front door, the dishes piled up, the toys lurking under the couch. Remember that these are actually evidence of what we DO have – the beautiful blessings of today.
 

  1. Refuse the Daily Grind.

Infuse your busy life with little pleasures that invite you to breathe in the sweet joys that no circumstance can steal. Take the doors off your kitchen cabinets so you can behold your pretty dishes, add a small vase of flowers in the kitchen or laundry room, tuck love notes inside your spouse’s pocket.
 

  1. Reclaim Your Priorities.

Prioritize your life around that which matters most. Resolve to live with no regrets by putting first the relationships and moments that count. And, like a flower, you will be happier living when the rain comes; you will have the roots and support system to weather the storm and rebound resiliently.
 
Because there are many life lessons we can gather from beautiful, resilient flowers as they grow from seedling to stem, the Society of American Florists and Aboutflowers.com created Live Like a Flower, a series of pieces of advice from well-known experts in life and happiness. Through the easy-to-follow advice of authors, speakers, designers and more, we can learn to bloom like a flower and live life to its fullest and most rewarding.
 
Source: Society of American Florists @ www.aboutflowers.com
 
 
 
YOU ASKED THE MAD GARDENER . . .
In last month’s newsletter, it mentions that January is the time to start forcing elephant ears. I didn’t know I was supposed to do this. I always just plant them in the garden in mid- to late May and wait. It does take them awhile to get going. So how do I force them? Thanks. Donna
 
Hi Donna,
You don’t say if yours are bulbs you’ve overwintered, or new ones you purchase each year. When I read between the lines, it sounds as though you store your own bulbs that you’ve had a while, dig them from the garden, allow them to go dormant and then overwinter the dormant bulbs. How do you store your dormant bulbs?
 
I store my elephant’s ear bulbs (going on 25 years) packed in dry peat moss (after they’ve been properly cured) in a muck bucket purchased at Menards and placed in a very cool location (about 50 degrees) in the basement.
 
On the last weekend each January, I pull the buckets from their cool location into a warm part of the basement and water them thoroughly. They don’t need light because they have no foliage (though they receive diffused light from a nearby basement window). In about 8 weeks (usually about April 1), the first of the sprouts appear through the peat moss (I pack A LOT of bulbs into each of my three large muck buckets). I continue to water them as needed. By early May, all of the bulbs have sprouted and are usually 1-2 feet tall with just a few new ‘true’ leaves.
 
In early May I move the buckets to the garage and move them in and out of the garage as needed to acclimate them to the outdoors. By late May when I plant them into the garden, the new growth is now at least 2 feet tall; giving them a many month jump start over planting the bulbs directly into the garden. Our summers are so short that this head start yields amazing results. My clumps of elephant’s ears are usually well over 2 feet across by summer’s end with leaves up to 4 feet long and 3 feet wide (depending on summer heat–which they relish). At the end of summer, I allow the foliage to freeze off, dig the bulbs and cure them in the garage for about three weeks before I pack them into peat moss, move them to the basement ‘cool spot’ and start over again.
 
Though I don’t start them as early (usually about March 1), I give my stored cannas, dahlias, Brazilian sage, cannas, brugmansias, pineapple lilies, etc. that same head start. By the time I move them outdoors, they are all well sprouted and growing vigorously for the leap into summer. It’s very rewarding to have cannas in full bloom by mid-June instead of late July.
 
Alternatively, you can plant bulbs individually in 8-10″ pots and about 6-8″ deep in potting soil around Feb. 1 with similar results. If you feel your plants are progressing too quickly, simply move them to a cooler location to slow them down. I find it’s not the amount of new foliage that gives them the head start, but vigorous new root growth that yields the best results (i.e. plants sometimes get late frost or wind damage or are burned in bright sunshine). So long as well-rooted, they rebound at a phenomenal speed.
 
And a side note: Alocasias (rather than colocasias or true elephant’s ears) are treated a little differently. Though they can be stored semi-dormant, they prefer to be kept warm with active growth throughout the winter months. In addition, some of the newer, fancy-leaved (Mojito, Limeade, Elena, etc.) and especially dark-leaved colocasias (Black Coral, Illustrus, Coal Miner, etc.) don’t store as well completely dormant as old-fashioned green Colocasia esculenta and closely related varieties. They too, do best stored a bit warmer and with some active growth through the winter months.
 
This may have been more info than you were looking for, but I hope I was of help.
 
Thanks for your question,
Klein’s Mad Gardener
[email protected]
 
 
 
DID YOU KNOW. . .
. . . that there are some very important seed catalog and seed buying dos and don’ts?
 
The following article by Joe Lamp’l @ growingagreenerworld.com appeared in a recent Sunday edition of Wisconsin State Journal and discusses some of the dos and don’ts of seed buying as we gardeners look forward to the upcoming spring.
 
Seed Catalog Buying Dos and Don’ts
Now that we have all those newly-delivered, luscious seed catalogs staring us in the face, what are we going to do with them? For many, the answer is nothing. They’re nice to look at but we never get around to buying anything. Then there is the other extreme.
Catalog-crazed purists, once hooked, find it preposterous to think of actually buying run of the mill seeds at a local garden center. Heaven forbid, those are always so ordinary!
For those who are buying seeds through the mail for the first time or for a lifetime, there are certain dos and don’ts that will make you a smarter shopper. Let’s start with the two most common mistakes gardeners make when catalog shopping:
 
Most common mistakes—
Overbuying: Even the veterans are guilty of this. It’s like going to the grocery store on an empty stomach or hitting the buffet line when you’re starving. When it comes to gardening, even the most disciplined can find themselves impulsive. Seed packs are pretty cheap, so hey, what the heck, right?
 
Wrong! Although seeds can be stored and saved, eventually they loose much of their viability. The best germination rate occurs on seeds that are packaged for the current year.
 
Buying without regard to appropriate conditions: Buying seeds (or plants) simply on the merits of their beauty and without regard to the appropriate zone or conditions is a common but avoidable mistake. It’s fun to experiment but no matter how good they look in the catalog, lilacs won’t thrive in the Deep South nor will blueberries prosper in non-acidic soil.
 
The photographs and artwork you see in catalog are as good as it gets. They’re grown under ideal conditions by professionals. In the garden of your mind, the seeds you plant will look just as good. But in reality, your true garden may have poor soil, pests, diseases and possibly shade. Take these issues into consideration and order seeds and plants that are appropriate for your growing conditions.
 
What you should do—
Plan ahead: In order to avoid the mistake of biting off more than you can chew, do a little advance planning. First, try to calculate how many plants you can realistically add to a given space.
 
Consider how much time you have to devote to planting and maintenance: Even if you have unlimited room, there’s still work to do in planting the seeds and subsequent care. Gardening should not be a burden or chore. Keep it manageable to fit your schedule and lifestyle.
 
Find reliable catalog companies: There are plenty of companies out there and seed quality can vary from one company to the next. In addition, freshness matters. Companies that offer bargain basement prices may be able to do so only because of inferior quality or stale seeds. (Visit:www.gardenlist.com)
 
Consider making your first order small: If you are unsure as to a company’s reputation, start with a small order, you can always buy more later but don’t bet your entire garden’s success on an unknown company to supply the seeds.
 
Investigate shipping and handling costs: Some companies offer a minimal flat rate for shipping, while others base the rate on weight or by the size of your order.
 
Call before you buy if you’re unsure. Make sure ‘customer service’ is for real. If you do have questions before or after the sale or encounter problems with your order, a responsive service department with real people to talk to can resolve your problem and answer your questions.
 
Although this list is not exhaustive, it will give you some guidelines and remind you to look beyond the pretty pictures. Don’t be afraid to experiment with new varieties; just be realistic with what you’ll be able to do, before you spend your money.
 
 
 
 
NOTES FROM MY GARDEN JOURNAL–Tips and Observations from My Own Garden by Rick Halbach.
 
ENTRY: DECEMBER 31, 2014 (Tool Library Opens in Madison)
What a great concept! The following article appeared in today’s issue of The Cap Times:
 
Madison’s East Side Has a New Library — for Tools
By Byrna Godar @ host.madison.com.
Have you ever needed a specific tool for a project, maybe a sander, maybe some shears, but you don’t want to go out and buy one? If so, you could soon have an option other than pestering your neighbors: The Atwood Tool Library.
 
Run through Sustainable Atwood, the library has a growing stock of tools — everything from drills to chalk lines to an electric engraver. For a $20 yearly fee, members can check out up to seven tools per week, due back seven days later.
 
Director Jessica Ray spoke with WORT last week about the library, saying she had the idea from similar models in Portland.
 
She said donations mostly come from local people in the neighborhoods, possibly moving or doing spring cleaning.
 
The eligible coverage area includes the near east side and part of the isthmus, with the actual library located in the basement of Zion Lutheran Church on Linden Avenue.
 
The grand opening took place Jan. 31, with hours of operation on Wednesdays from 6 to 8 p.m. and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
 
The library right now includes home repair, bike repair and lawn and garden tools. Ray said they might venture into kitchen or arts tools at some point.
 
If you want to sign up or donate, you can get details on the library’s website @ sustainableatwood.org/tool-library/membership/.
 
 
ENTRY: JANUARY 17, 2015 (2015 Plants of the Year Awards)
Near the end of each year, nearly every garden plant society or organization announces their plants of the year for the following growing season. I thought it might be kind of fun to share with you some of 2015’s Plants of the Year awards.
 
2015 Annual of the Year: Coleus determined by the National Garden Bureau. With hundreds of varieties to choose from and versatile plant forms that grow in a variety of conditions from full sun to full shade, the world of coleus is a spectacular, colorful one. Coleus come in dwarf forms, as well as giants, compact container plants as well as massive, vining form perfect for hanging baskets. Coleus are easy to propagate from cuttings all year round, making them even more valuable and intriguing to gardeners.
 
2015 Edible Plant of the Year: Sweet Bell Pepper determined by the National Garden Bureau. Available in a rainbow of colors, sweet peppers are not only flavorful but highly nutritious and easy to grow in full sun. Versatile and varied in size, shape, color and flavor, sweet peppers will grow equally well in containers as in the ground, making them attractive for apartment gardens, patio gardens, even hanging gardens.
 
2015 Herb of the Year: Savory determined by the International Herb Association. Savory is a versatile and easy-to-grow herb that works well as an addition to many dishes. Easy to grow from cuttings and similar to thyme, savory is even easier to dry and use in the kitchen. Gardeners may be aware that there are two main types, winter savory and summer savory. Winter savory is said to have the stronger flavor and works well with meats. Summer savory is lighter in flavor and works well with grilled vegetables, eggs, sauces and other dishes.
 
2015 Hosta of the Year: ‘Victory’ determined by the American Hosta Growers Association. ‘Victory’ features shimmering, silvery green foliage with prominent veining and a beautiful cascading form. Each leaf is edged in a variable edge of feathery, creamy yellow that brightens to white with more sun. With huge, elegantly pointed leaves that may reach 15 to 17 inches long and 12 to 14 inches wide, a mature plant may span 5 to 6 feet across. Flower stalks in mid-summer may reach over 5 feet high.
 
2015 Perennial Plant of the Year: Geranium x cantabrigiense ‘Biokovo’ determined by the Perennial Plant Association. This hybrid geranium is a spreading, rhizomatous plant typically growing 6-10″ high. Features masses of 5-petaled white flowers (3/4″ diameter) which are tinged with pink at the base of each petal (pink throat-like centers) and which have pronounced pink stamens. The overall flower effect is that of a very pale pink geranium. Blooms in late spring. Rounded, lobed, medium green foliage. ‘Biokovo’ runners extend further than those of the original hybrid, and therefore do not form as dense a foliage carpet. A naturally occurring hybrid which was discovered in the Biokova Mountains in Croatia.
 
2015 Woody Plant of the Year: Musclewood determined by the Wisconsin Nursery and Landscape Association. Growing 20 to 30 feet in height, musclewood is perhaps best known for its stunning, long-lasting fall color. Often holding its leaves throughout the entire winter, musclewood is easy to identify in the winter woods with pointed, serrated-edge leaves still clinging to its branches in the understory. For most of the year, the leaves are a shiny, bluish-green, turning bright yellow and orange in fall, eventually turning a rich, caramel brown. Musclewood gets its name from its smooth bark texture, which is said to resemble the texture of human muscles. Grows in full sun to full shade.
 
Sources include: www.postcrescent.com by Rob Zimmer and www.missouribotanicalgarden.org
 
 
ENTRY: JANUARY 27, 2015 (About House Finches)
As I’m working here on Klein’s February newsletter, there’s quite a raucous just outside the window at by birdfeeding stations. Because of yesterday’s snow, there’s quite a bit of activity at the feeders today.
 
Among the most popular birds at my feeders are the house finches. Their cheery song certainly means spring is just around the corner. In just a few short weeks, the males and females will begin paring up and courting for the upcoming nesting season. Not native to Wisconsin, the first house finches began showing up at my feeders during the mid- to late 1980’s. We had heard years in advance of their inevitable influx from the East Coast. I’m happy to say they are one of my favorite birds at the feeders. They are tidy feeders and prefer plain safflower seed over anything else I offer—even sunflower seed. Here are some fun facts about house finches from Wild Birds Unlimited @ brookfield.wbu.com
 
—The House Finch has not always been found in the eastern United States. In 1940, they were illegally captured in California and imported to New York by pet dealers. Fearing prosecution, the dealers released their “Hollywood Finches” on Long Island in 1940. Since then the finches have spread to all corners of the east and have even rejoined their relatives in the west.
—The eastern population of House Finches has developed a consistent annual and often long-range migration pattern, while the native western population is primarily residential, occasionally migrating only short distances. Many House Finches from the Northeast U.S. and Great Lakes regions migrate to the southern U.S. to spend the winter. They are year round residents here in Madison.
—In the East, female House Fiches migrate farther south than do the males. Southern states often find a majority of brown females at their feeders, while northerners enjoy more of the colorful red males.
—House Finch populations found in the east are rarely found far from urban or suburban areas, but in its native western range they may also be found in a wide variety of open or semi-open habitats including undisturbed deserts.
—Male House Finches display a wide variety of plumage coloration ranging from gray to bright crimson. The coloration comes from carotenoid pigments found in some wild foods. The more pigment present in the foods eaten when they are molting new feathers … the redder the male.
—Female house finches prefer to mate with the reddest males they can find.
—House Finches were introduced on the Hawaiian Islands sometime before 1870. Known there as the papaya bird, after its favorite island food, males lack the red color of mainland birds as papaya has no red pigments.
—House Finches roost at night in close proximity to each other, sometimes huddling together for warmth. Favorite roosting spots are used repeatedly.
—House Finches are fond of nectar and can become a nuisance at hummingbird feeders, if they do, offer them a dish of nectar for their own use.
—A water source can be a strong attractant for House Finches. They can drink up to 40% of their body weight on a hot summer day.
—House Finches are almost strictly vegetarian feeders and approximately 97% of their diet is made up of vegetable matter including buds, seeds, and fruits. They are strongly attracted to feeders, where they prefer small sunflower seeds.
—House Finches’ diets are the most vegetarian of any North American bird. Unlike most other seed eating birds, finches do not switch to an insect diet during the summer nesting season. They continue to eat mostly seeds, although they will prey on some insects when they are abundant.
—House Finches are highly attracted to sodium salt and will seek out sources of it to eat.
—House finches differ from purple finches by the male purple finch’s purple side streaks (unlike the brown streaks in a house finch) and by the female’s conspicuous eye stripe (female house finches lack this feature).
—The Eastern population of the House Finch has decreased by almost 50% in the last 10 years due to an eye disease known as avian conjunctivitis.
—Studies have shown that when the avian conjunctivitis enters a new area, it takes three years before the population of House Finches stabilizes at about half of the pre-disease level. It is theorized that transmission of avian conjunctivitis between House Finches is dependent on high density populations.
—It is thought that since the entire Eastern population of the House Finch is the progeny of a small number of birds liberated on Long Island, New York in 1940, their low genetic diversity may make them more susceptible to the avian conjunctivitis disease than other bird species.
—It was once believed that the rapid increase of the eastern House Finch population was responsible for a decline in the number of House Sparrows. Recent research shows that that the two population trends are unrelated.
—Banding studies show House Finches may live to be over 11 years old in the wild.
—House finches are early nesters, beginning in March in most of the country.
—Both male and female House Finch display a strong tendency to return to the same area to breed, often occupying the same nest site as the previous year.
—Male House Finches do not defend a defined territory very far away from their nest; instead they concentrate on defending the area immediately surrounding their mate. They will chase and fight another male when it gets too close to their female partner.
—Ironically, House Finches rarely use bird houses to build their nest in; instead they seem to prefer locations such as: coniferous trees, cactus plants, ledges, street lamps, ivy on building and hanging planters.
—House Finch typically produce at least two broods each nesting season. Research has shown that some individuals may attempt to nest up to six times per year, but only half of the attempts were successful in fledging young.
—A few female House Finches have been observed laying their second clutch of eggs several days before fledging their young from a previous brood. This is possible due to the male predominant role in raising the young from the earlier nest.
 
 
 
KLEIN’S RECIPES OF THE MONTHThese are a selection of relatively simple recipes chosen by our staff. New recipes appear monthly. Enjoy!!
 
Just last month, Horticulture magazine did an article on Mexican sour gherkins or ‘cucamelons’ (Melothria scabra). While rather new here in the north, Mexican sour gherkins are an heirloom fruit in their native Mexico and throughout Central America. The robust plants are quite cold tolerant and produce huge amounts of fruit that look like miniature watermelons. In fact, ‘mouse melon’ is another of their common names. The flavor is like a cucumber “with a peppy citrus kick.” Plants begin production in August and can produce up to 100 fruits per plant through October. They are delicious fresh and in salads and are used in salsas or pickled. The easy-to-grow seeds are readily available and starter plants are available at Klein’s beginning in early May. Plants are generally pest-free and are more drought tolerant than either cucumbers or melons.
 
QUICK PICKLED MEXICAN SOUR GHERKINS—From Bon Apetit.
1 1/2 cups white vinegar
1 cup water
2 TBS. Kosher salt
1 TBS. sugar
1 serrano chile, halved
1 garlic head (yes, the whole bulb), halved crosswise
2 whole cloves
1 bay leaf
1 tsp. mustard seeds
1 tsp. whole black peppercorns
1 cup whole gherkins
 
Combine the vinegar, water, salt and sugar in a saucepan over medium heat. Simmer, stirring, until the sugar dissolves. Add the chile, garlic, cloves, bay leaf, mustard seed and peppercorns. Remove from the heat and steep until the liquid is warm (no longer hot). Add gherkins, cool completely and chill. Place in a jar or air tight container. Stores for 3 weeks. Delicious when used as garnish in your favorite cocktails (as olives or cocktail onions).
 
MEXICAN SOUR GHERKIN SALSA—From The Root Cellar’s Garden @ therootcellarsgarden.com
8-10 Mexican sour gherkins, sliced
1 large tomato, diced
1 small jalapeño, seeded if desired, and minced
1/4 red onion, diced small
1 TBS. finely chopped cilantro
1 TBS. cider vinegar
1 TBS. olive oil
a pinch of coarse salt and pepper.
 
Whisk together the vinegar, oil, salt and pepper in a small bowl. Toss in the rest of the ingredients and mix well to coat. Chill until ready to use. Delicious as a condiment with your favorite Mexican food or with chips. Makes 2 servings.
 
MEXICAN SOUR GHERKINS WITH LEMON VERBENA—From Food.com
1 cup fresh lemon verbena leaves
1 strip of lemon zest
1/4 tsp. black peppercorns
4 cups Mexican sour gherkins, ends trimmed
1 cup champagne or white wine vinegar
1/2 cup water
1 tsp. coarse salt
 
Place the verbena leaves, lemon zest, and peppercorns in a quart jar. Pack with the cucumbers, being careful not to crush them. Bring the vinegar, water, and salt to a boil in a small nonreactive pot, stirring to dissolve the salt. Pour over the cucumbers, leaving a 1/2″ headspace. Make sure the cucumbers are submerged. Check for air bubbles, wipe the rim, and seal. Process for 10 minutes in a boiling water bath. Makes 1 quart.
 
CRUNCHY SUMMER SALAD—From the Log House Plants website @ www.loghouseplants.com
2 cups chopped cucumber
2 cups peeled, cubed watermelon
1 cup Mexican sour gherkins
1 cup blueberries
1/4 cup chopped red onion
1/4 cup stemmed Italian parsley
2 TBS. minced mint
1 TBS. fresh lime juice
1/4 tsp. sea salt
 
Gently toss all ingredients and let stand for 20 minutes before serving. Serve cold or at room temperature. Serves 4-6.
 
SPUNKY SUMMER SALAD—From the Log House Plants website @ www.loghouseplants.com
1 cup Greek plain yogurt
1 clove garlic, minced or pressed
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
1/4 tsp. sea salt
1 head Buttercrunch lettuce, torn in pieces
2 cups chopped cucumber
2 cups halved cherry tomatoes
1 cup halved Mexican sour gherkins
4 green onions, thinly sliced
 
Combine yogurt, garlic, basil, and sea salt, set aside for at least 10 minutes. In a serving bowl, combine remaining ingredients, toss with yogurt dressing and serve. Serves 4-6.
 
PERFECT POACHED SALMON WITH MEXICAN SOUR GHERKIN SALSA—From the Log House Plants website @ www.loghouseplants.com
 
For the fish:
1 pound wild salmon fillet, cut in four pieces
2-3 TBS. lemon juice or dry white wine
1/8 tsp. sea salt
1/8 tsp. freshly ground pepper
Rinse fish well and place skin side down in a wide, shallow pan. Add lemon juice to a depth of about 1/8 inch, splashing some on the fish. Sprinkle fish with salt and pepper. Bring liquid to a simmer over medium heat. Cover pan, reduce heat to low an simmer for 8-10 minutes, to interior temperature of 136 degrees F. (usually 10 minutes for inch-thick fillets). Add a little water if need be (usually not). Remove from heat, uncover pan and let stand for 10 minutes. Serve with salsa (see below). Serves four.
 
For the salsa:
1 clove garlic, minced or pressed
1 ear fresh sweet corn, kernels trimmed
1 cup quartered cherry tomatoes
1 cup chopped Mexican sour gherkins
1/2 cup chopped sweet onion
1/4 cup stemmed fresh cilantro
2-3 tsp. fresh lime juice
1/4 tsp. sea salt
1 jalapeno pepper, finely chopped (use gloves)
 
Combine first 6 ingredients, then add lime juice, sea salt, and jalapeño to taste. Let stand for 10 minutes before serving. Makes about 2 cups. Refrigerate leftovers for up to 2 days.
 
 
 
NATURAL NEWS–
 
About Genetically Engineered Food Labeling in America
(Sources: www.centerforfoodsafety.org and www.nongmoproject.org)
If you want to know if your food contains gluten, aspartame, high fructose corn syrup, trans-fats or MSG, you simply read the label. But if you want to know if your food is genetically engineered (GE), you’re not going to find any information on the package.
 
Why? Because unlike most other developed countries—such as the 15 nations in the European Union, Japan, Australia, Brazil, Russia and China—the U.S. has no laws requiring labeling of GE foods. Yet polls have repeatedly shown that the overwhelming majority of Americans—over 90% in most polls—believe GE foods should be labeled.
 
Unsuspecting consumers by the tens of millions are being allowed to purchase and consume unlabeled GE foods, despite the fact that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does no independent testing of their safety. In fact, documents uncovered in prior Center for Food Safety litigation show that scientists within FDA indicated that the foods could pose serious risks. Nonetheless, FDA only holds a voluntary (and confidential) meeting with industry before allowing commercialization of these foods and relies entirely on the data the industry chooses to show them.
 
So why has the FDA not acted to require labeling?
Almost 20 years ago, FDA decided that GE foods did not need to be labeled because they were not “materially” different from other foods. While the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act requires the FDA to prevent consumer deception by clarifying that a food label is misleading if it omits significant, “material” information, the FDA issued a policy statement in 1992 that limited what it considered “material” to only changes in food that could be noted by taste, smell or other senses. Since GE foods can’t be “sensed” in this way, FDA declared them to be “substantially equivalent” to conventionally produced foods, and no labeling was required. It was, and remains, a political decision, not a scientific one. Two decades later, this outdated policy is still in effect. Yet the 21st century has brought fundamental changes to food that cannot be sensed; first through genetic engineering and, soon, through nanotechnology and synthetic biology.
 
In the spring of 2000, the FDA announced that labeling of GE foods would remain voluntary, even though there was no indication that any company would voluntarily label GE foods. And in the 12 years since, none have. Companies who have eliminated GE ingredients to add “NON-GMO” labels to their products have faced tight regulations and litigation challenges from industry, while the FDA allows other companies continue to use GE ingredients in secret.
 
What is GMO?
GMOs (or “genetically modified organisms”) are living organisms whose genetic material has been artificially manipulated in a laboratory through genetic engineering, or GE. This relatively new science creates unstable combinations of plant, animal, bacteria and viral genes that do not occur in nature or through traditional crossbreeding methods.
 
Agricultural products are segmented into two groups: (1) those that are high-risk of being GMO because they are currently in commercial production, and (2) those that have a monitored risk because suspected or known incidents of contamination have occurred and/or the crops have genetically modified relatives in commercial production with which cross-pollination (and consequently contamination) is possible.
 
The most common GMOs are soy, cotton, canola, corn, sugar beets, Hawaiian papaya, alfalfa, and squash (zucchini and yellow). Many of these items appear as added ingredients in a large amount of the foods we eat. For instance, your family may not eat tofu or drink soy milk, but soy is most likely present in a large percentage of the foods in your pantry.
 
GMOs may be hidden in common processed food ingredients such as: Amino Acids, Aspartame, Ascorbic Acid, Sodium Ascorbate, Vitamin C, Citric Acid, Sodium Citrate, Flavorings (“natural” and “artificial”), High Fructose Corn Syrup, Hydrolyzed Vegetable Protein, Lactic Acid, Maltodextrins, Molasses, Monosodium Glutamate, Sucrose, Textured Vegetable Protein (TVP), Xanthan Gum, Vitamins, Yeast Products.
 
In North America, over 80% of our food contains GMOs. If you are not buying foods that are Non-GMO Project Verified, most likely GMOs are present at breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
 
What if I only buy organic?
Shopping organic is one of the best steps you can take towards ensuring that your family eats the healthiest foods possible. According to the Organic Trade Association, “The use of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) is prohibited in organic products. This means an organic farmer can’t plant GMO seeds, an organic cow can’t eat GMO alfalfa or corn, and an organic soup producer can’t use any GMO ingredients. To meet the USDA organic regulations, farmers and processors must show they aren’t using GMOs, and that they are protecting their products from contact with prohibited substances, such as GMOs, from farm to table.” The rigorous requirements of the National Organic Program help to prevent GMO contamination of organic foods through a process-based approach, which includes testing when GMO contamination is suspected.
 
 
 
FEBRUARY’S PLANT OF THE MONTH:
 
WINTER BLOOMING JASMINE (Jasminum polyanthum)
It’s only for these few months and weeks in late winter and early spring that winter-blooming jasmine becomes readily available at retail outlets here in the north. Their intoxicating fragrance is unsurpassed for brightening one’s spirit as we await the onset of spring in just a few short weeks. This vining member of the olive family is equally attractive scrambling up a trellis as it is cascading from a hanging basket when placed in any bright location. In the south, this lovely and easy-to-grow vine is available year round as a garden plant. Even here in the north, winter-blooming jasmine makes for an exceptional annual vine, growing to 6 or more feet and sometimes treating us to a few fall blooms as the weather cools and the days shorten. Once it gets too cold outside, place indoors in a bright location. By late winter, your plant will be ready to put on another intoxicating display.
 
To get winter-blooming jasmine to bloom properly, it must be allowed to follow its natural rhythms. Once the weather warms in May, place the plant outdoors in a very sunny spot where it will scramble vigorously up any support. In the fall, the jasmine must be exposed to 6 weeks of very cool, but not freezing, temperatures. These cool temps force the plant to set buds. Because the flower buds are set, plants cannot be pruned back at this time if they are to bloom in late winter. Flower buds may remain on the plant all winter without blooming. Then suddenly in February or March, buds enlarge and turn pink and plants burst into bloom with star-shaped pure white flowers. The cooler the plant is kept, the longer the plant will continue blooming. The fragrance is strongest at the end of the day. It’s only after the plant has finished blooming that it can be pruned back hard to start the cycle anew.
 
Winter-blooming jasmine is a very easy-to-grow houseplant with very few requirements. Plants like to be kept moderately moist while actively growing and then on the dry side during their dormant state after blooming. Fertilize regularly during the summer months then lightly, if at all, during the winter and while blooming. Plants are easily propagated by stem cuttings when pruning the plant or in early summer. Healthy plants can live for many years and will eventually form a substantial trunk. Winter-blooming jasmine is a native of China.
 
Winter-blooming jasmine becomes available at Klein’s during February and for only a few weeks into March. They are also available on-line almost year round.
 
 
 
AROUND TOWN:
 
For neighborhood events or garden tours that you would like posted in our monthly newsletter, please contact Rick at (608) 244-5661 or [email protected] or Sue at [email protected]. Please include all details, i.e. dates, locations, prices, brief description, etc. Events must be garden related and must take place in the Madison vicinity and we must receive your information by the first of the month in which the event takes place for it to appear in that month’s newsletter. This is a great opportunity for free advertising.
 
 
Bolz Conservatory Exhibit—Innovations Inspired by Rainforests
November 1, 2014 thru March 1, 2015
Daily from 10:00-4:00, Sundays 10:00-5:00
In the Bolz Conservatory
 
Have you ever wondered what inspires people to develop cool gadgets, life saving technologies, and solutions to complex human challenges? Rainforests are a treasure-trove of brilliant design and many of our best inventions are based on nature. The slippery inside of bottles and pipes mimic the slick leaves of the carnivorous Nepenthes pitcher plant. Coconuts’ buoyancy inspired life preservers carried on boats and ships. Security marks on bank notes to combat counterfeiting are inspired by the iridescence of butterfly wings. All these innovations came to life with the help of biomimicry, a growing field that studies the technology of biology and emulates nature’s models, systems, and elements to solve complex human design challenges. Explore some of the ways rainforests have inspired many objects and processes that have improved our daily lives.
 
Olbrich Botanical Gardens
3330 Atwood Ave., Madison
608/246-4550 or www.olbrich.org for details.
 
 
28th Annual Orchid Quest 2015
Saturday, January 31, 10:00-5:00
Sunday, February 1, 10:00-4:00
 
New Location! — Marriot West Conference Center, 1313 John Q. Hammons Dr., Middleton.
 
Escape the winter blues and join orchid enthusiasts at Orchid Quest 2015. Exhibits of exotic and deliciously fragrant orchid flowers will awaken your senses and bring cheers on a winter day. In addition to many orchid exhibits, OQ will also feature florist displays, painted porcelain, art work, quilted banners and a raffle. OQ is one of the largest orchid shows and sales in the Midwest.
 
Aspiring home growers can expand their knowledge by attending orchid related educational seminars, conducted by renowned orchid experts.
 
This year’s Orchid Quest keynote speaker is Jason Fischer from Orchids Limited, Plymouth, MN. Jason has had a life-long education in orchids mainly from the opportunity to be raised in a family orchid business. Jason’s educational interests were strongly influenced by Japan with studying the Japanese language and culture for six years in high school and at the University of Minnesota. He lived in Kyoto, Japan from 2001 to 2003 and added Japanese orchid species as a new niche to the business.
 
Orchid Quest 2015 is excited and privileged to have Jason Fisher as our main speaker. He will be talking at 11:00 a. m. on Saturday about Native Orchids of Japan.
 
20+ vendors from the Midwest and East Coast will be selling their exotic blooming orchids. You will be able to find everything you need to take care of your new orchid plants including literature, growing media, fertilizer, orchid pots, and more. Come see this multidimensional show. Visitwww.orchidguild.org for more details. Tickets are $9 or $14 for the two days. Children under 12 are free. Parking is FREE at the Marriot.
 
 
22nd Annual Wisconsin Public Television Garden Expo
Friday, February 13, 3:00-9:00
Saturday, February 14, 9:00-6:00
Sunday, February 15, 10:00-4:00
 
Garden Expo is a midwinter oasis for people ready to venture out and dig their hands in the dirt. Now in it’s 22nd year, this three-day event celebrates the latest trends in gardening and landscaping. Join other gardening enthusiasts to share ideas, gain inspiration and create something new. All proceeds support Wisconsin Public Television.
 
Things to do at the Garden Expo;
 
-Get your hands dirty with more than 150 educational seminars, demonstrations and hands-on workshops.
 
-Visit with hundreds of businesses, independent contractors, nonprofits and artists to share ideas and learn about the newest in gardening and landscaping equipment and services.
 
-Relax with a casual walk through the central garden—courtesy of The Wisconsin Nursery and Landscape Association, Madison Chapter Inc..
 
-Discuss innovative gardening techniques with experts from the UW-Extention/Cooperative Extension Horticulture Team.
 
-Purchase seeds, tools and everything else you need to be ready when the trees bud and the ground thaws.
 
Tickets cost $7 in advance, $8 at the door. Children 12 and under are admitted free. Two and three-day passes are available for added savings. Advance tickets are available at Klein’s. Visit www.wigardenexpo.com for more information.
 
Alliant Energy Center Exhibition Hall
1919 Alliant Energy Center Way
Madison, WI 53713
608/267-3976 or www.alliantenergycenter.com
 
 
Understanding Complex Environmental Problems:
The Case of Vanishing Honey Bees
Thursday, February 19, 9:00 am – 11:30 am
Arboretum Visitor Center, 1207 Seminole Hwy.
 
Winter Enrichment lecture with Daniel Lee Kleinman, associate dean, Graduate School, professor, Dept of Community and Environmental Sociology, faculty affiliate, Holtz Center for Science and Technology Studies, UW–Madison, and Dr. Sainath Suryanarayanan, assistant scientist, Dept of Community and Environment Sociology, UW–Madison.
 
The cost is $10. Please register at uwarboretum.org/events/register_1.php? id=2325
 
University of WI Arboretum
1207 Seminole Hwy.
Madison, WI 53711
608/263-7888 or http://uwarboretum.org/
 
 
Fungi in a Changing World
Thursday, February 26, 9:00 am – 11:30 am
Arboretum Visitor Center, 1207 Seminole Hwy.
 
Winter Enrichment lecture with Jessie Glaeser, PhD, Plant Pathology, and Karen Nakasone, PhD, botany, U.S. Forest Service, Forest Products Laboratory, Madison, Wis.
 
The cost is $10. Please register at uwarboretum.org/events/register_1.php?id=2329
 
University of WI Arboretum
1207 Seminole Hwy.
Madison, WI 53711
608/263-7888 or http://uwarboretum.org/
 
 
Dane County Winter Farmer’s Market
Saturdays, January 3 thru April 11, 8:00-noon
Madison Senior Center
330 W. Mifflin
 
For details visit www.dcfm.org
 
 
 
FEBRUARY IN THE GARDENA checklist of things to do this month.
___Check perennials for heaving during warm spells. Remulch as needed.
___Continue bringing out your cooled forced bulbs for indoor enjoyment.
___Inspect stored summer bulbs like dahlias, cannas and glads for rotting.
___Check for and treat for pests on plants brought in from the garden.
___Keep birdfeeders full. Clean periodically with soap and water.
___Repair and clean out birdhouses. Early arrivals will be here soon!
___Inventory last year’s leftover seeds before ordering or buying new ones.
___Order seeds and plants. Some of our very favorite seed and plant sources include:
___Visit Klein’s—it’s green, it’s warm, it’s colorful—it’s always spring.
 
Some of our very favorite seed and plant sources include:
 
For seeds:
Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds @ www.rareseeds.com or 417/924-8887
Burpee @ www.burpee.com or 800/888-1447
Harris Seeds @ www.harrisseeds.com or 800/514-4441
Johnny’s Select Seeds @ www.johnnyseeds.com or 207/861-3901
Jung’s Seeds @ www.jungseed.com or 800/247-5864
Park’s Seeds @ www.parkseed.com or 800/845-3369
Pinetree @ www.superseeds.com or 207/926-3400
Seeds of Change @ www.seedsofchange.com or 888/762-7333
Seed Savers @ www.seedsavers.org or 563/382-5990
Select Seeds @ www.selectseeds.com or 800/684-0395
Territorial Seeds @ www.territorialseed.com or 888/657-3131
Thompson & Morgan @ www.thompson-morgan.com or 800/274-7333
 
For bulbs:
Brent & Becky’s Bulbs @ www.brentandbeckysbulbs.com or 877/661-2852
Colorblends @ www.colorblends.com or 888/847-8637
John Scheeper’s @ www.johnscheepers.com or 860/567-0838
McClure & Zimmerman @ www.mzbulb.com or 800/883-6998
 
For plants:
High Country Gardens @ www.highcountrygardens.com or 800/925-9387
Logee’s Greenhouses @ www.logees.com or 888/330-8038
Plant Delights Nursery @ www.plantdelights.com or 912/772-4794
Roots and Rhizomes @ www.rootsrhizomes.com or 800/374-5035
Wayside Gardens @ www.waysidegardens.com or 800/213-0379
White Flower Farm @ www.whiteflowerfarm.com or 800/503-9624
 
Note: To receive every possible seed, plant or garden supply catalog imaginable, check out Cyndi’s Catalog of Garden Catalogs @ www.gardenlist.com. Most catalogs are free and make for great winter reading!
 
 
 
BEHIND THE SCENES AT KLEIN’SThis is a sneak peek of what is going on each month behind the scenes in our greenhouses. Many people are unaware that our facility operates year round or that we have 10 more greenhouses on the property in addition to the 6 open for retail. At any given moment we already have a jump on the upcoming season–be it poinsettias in July, geraniums in December or fall mums in May.
 
IN FEBRUARY:
—We’re readying ourselves for two of our year’s biggest events–Garden Expo and Valentine’s Day. For Garden Expo, we’ve readied our displays and the plants we’re selling are bursting with color. For Valentine’s Day, we’re awaiting the onslaught by prepping the thousands of additional cut flowers, unpacking all the beautiful vases and containers, ordering hundreds of blooming plants and securing additional delivery vehicles and staff.
 
—Spring plants begin arriving enforce! After Valentine’s Day the first spring bedding annuals arrive. Pansies, violas and dianthus plugs are popped into cell packs so they’re ready for early April sales.
 
—We’re planting up our thousands of mixed annuals hanging baskets. The geranium hanging baskets planted in January are filling out and almost ready for their first pinching and shaping.
 
—We reopen greenhouses in our back range as needed. They’ve been shut down to save on heat and eliminate pest problems.
 
—The deadline approaches for Easter orders. Dozens of area churches order lilies, tulips, hyacinths, daffodils, mums, hydrangeas and azaleas for Easter delivery.
 
—We take advantage of the warm and sunny rooms in our front range (the retail area) to do any touch up painting or construction to ready ourselves for the spring season.
 
—Spring product begins arriving for unpacking and pricing–the pots, the tools, the sundries. We need to have everything priced and ready to go by April 1.
 
—We continue to access our needs for spring staffing and try to have the new people in place and trained by March 1. March and April are the busiest months behind the scenes in the greenhouse and we rely on a dedicated, hardworking team to have everything ready for the customer come May 1 and the spring onslaught.
 
 
 
PRODUCT SPOTLIGHTEach month we spotlight some product that we already carry or one that we’ve taken note of and plan to carry in the near future. Likewise, if you would like to see Klein’s to carry a product that we don’t currently, please let us know. Our goal is to be responsive to the marketplace and to our loyal clientele. If a product fits into our profile, we will make every effort to get it into our store. In addition, we may be able to special order an item for you, whether plant or hard good, given enough time.
 
Home and Garden Decor from Elizabeth Keith Designs
“A Unique Vision for Your Home & Garden”
 
One of Klein’s most popular and eye-catching product lines during our 2014 spring season was our collection of outdoor artwork from Elizabeth Keith Designs. Among our most popular items were our oftentimes tongue-in-cheek or sometimes philosophical sayings stamped from metal—most of them garden themed. Our Trees of Life were equally popular. In 2015 Klein’s is continuing with some Elizabeth Keith Designs of garden art.
 
“We want your home and your garden to inspire, calm and to delight your senses. Our distinctive line of metal art continues to grow and all metal pieces are rusted for old world charm look.”
 
Visit www.elizabethkeithdesigns.com for a look into the world of Elizabeth Keith Designs.