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As told by Tree Frog:

Weather Frog

It is only One (1) more days until Groundhogs Day, so what. Why silly people have been using a Ground Hog or whatever they can find to predict the coming of spring and fresh flowers. Their guesswork is based on years of practice and refining. A tradition from the Pennsylvania German as it’s called Grundsaudaag or Murmeltiertag is celebrated on February 2.  If it is cloudy when a groundhog emerges from its burrow on this day, then spring will come early; if it is sunny, the groundhog will supposedly see its shadow and retreat back into its burrow, and the winter weather will persist for six more weeks.

The human’s dress in their funny costumes and old hats only to get bitten by a cranky groundhog that wants no part of their ancient traditions only to be left alone so he can go back into his winter borrow until its spring.   Why humans do not look at a calendar to know it probably will be about six weeks more until spring I do not know.

As for me, I rely on the small flies and insects to predict spring. When they are flying I am filling my stomach. As the temperature warms, I start to warm and so do the insects.  I start catching my lunch as they fly by. It is the best time of the year unless some stupid human misused insecticides last year and killed my lunch, which will be bad for me.  Humans just disrupt nature to please themselves with no regard for what is going on around them.

The weatherman here is calling for rain so maybe we will have an early spring. Whatever happens on groundhogs day and his shadow, the flavor of the day at Culver’s is Twix Mix. Have a happy Ground Hogs Day.

© 2016

This entry was posted in Horticulture TipsUncategorized and tagged Ground Hog DayInsectsWeather on February 1, 2016, by Ken WilsonEdit

Red Maple “The Native”

Red Maple

Red Maple “The Native”

The native Red Maple is very diverse and has many cultivars because of this multiplicity in its gene which allows it to ranges from Canada through the southern states. From east and west, it runs from the plans to the coast. The diversities of this plant can be seen as it grows from the low swamps to the rocky outcrops of Missouri.
Because of the range of habitat of this tree, it can grow in the moist area of the yard as well as dryer sites. While growing in dryer areas however the roots tend to come to the surface and can give rise to some problems as the tree matures.
Red maples bloom early in the spring before the leaves sometimes present themselves, as early as February, in Missouri. This early bloom gives the bees a source of pollen and nectar early in the season so when they become active there is a food source for them. The samara seeds are called helicopters they are produced in late spring. The tree can have both male and female flowers on the tree or both. This attribute is tremendous as it gives rise to some seedless cultivars.
The fall color can be yellow-red to dark red this is another characteristic that been selected out in many cultivars this gives rise to so great fall color show. The Red Maple will mature in seventy-five to eighty years an can live up to one hundred years.
The growth of this tree is faster than sugar maples slower than silver maples. It is listed as a soft maple due to growth rate but it was used furniture in the early pioneer days.
Native Red Maples are used to making a very sweet maple sugar. It can grow to a height of fifty-plus feet. However, its width can vary if the tree is fifty feet tall the width can be from ten to fifty feet wide.
As a native, it is great to plant in certain areas but around urban communities, it is better to plant one of the fifty-plus cultivars for great fall color. In the late 1800s Acer rubrum was crossed with Acer saccharinum giving rise to what is called the Freemanii maples which are half silver and half red maple, today there are about a dozen in cultivation in the United States.

As for the cultivars selected from mutations and or selections of Acer rubrum, there are about forty plus varieties. Any of these are an excellent selection for urban use depending on location. I will add later on the many red maple varieties.

©Ken Wilson Gardening Whisperer 2015

This entry was posted in Old and True VarietiesUncategorized and tagged MaplesNativenative plants. on January 22, 2015, by Ken WilsonEdit

Snow Drops


Snow Drops

On a dull cloud covered rainy winter day I noticed that the Snowdrops ‘Galanthus nivalis’ that I planted 20 years ago were coming up and starting to bloom. This is in contrast to last year as they waited until it was February before they poked the little heads out of the ground to bloom and announcing that spring was coming.

Snowdrops are one of the first spring bulbs that flower followed by Grape Hyacinths and Crocus. In reality, there are twenty types of snowdrops only three are in commercial production.   The standard is ‘Galanthus nivalis’ but if you can find ‘G. nivalis Flore plena’ you will have a great show of white spring flowers. Their cold requirement is 15 -18 hours of temperatures below 45 degrees, this why they bloom early.  They can even bloom under the snow, however in extreme cold with no snow cover the blooms seem to give up the ghost.

Planting of Snowdrops is done in the fall, which is when they are harvested, then shipped to a location near you. Snowdrops are hard to find in the fall in most garden stores. They do not count for high dollars in the store but add great beauty in the early spring. The best effort to find a retail mail-order garden catalog that sells many types of fall bulbs. If you are looking for one let me know I have several.

Frequently Snow Drops like several other early winter spring flowers are left out of landscape design because their bloom time is before people are active in the yards. If you find a garden location as you travel in the winter going in and out of your house that is the best place because you will be able to enjoy their beauty. Planted around trees is another great location.  In some areas when planted in the grass as they have gone before lawn mowing has commenced. The bulbs are small and when planted they should be groups of five to six they will make larger clumps over the years and give that early hello that spring is coming.

©Ken Wilson & Gardening Whisperer 2015


I 16 copy

This wonderful vegetable, one of the oldest edible sources known to mankind, found in a bewildering array of recipes and preparations, be it your favorite salad, gravy or curries. It has also been in use in traditional medicines since ancient times for health-promoting curative properties. Onions are a cool-season vegetable that can be grown successfully through most of Temperate America. They may be started from seed, sets, or transplants. What starts onions to enlarge is day length. This is in March April. Different varieties of onions require different day lengths. Local garden centers will have the proper varieties for your area. The normally sweet onions that are grown in the south take a longer growing season to turn the starches into sugars.

“An Onion a Da

Onions, one of the most versatile vegetables, are one of many popular members of the nutritious allium family. Shallots, garlic, green onions, leeks, and chives are other well-known cousins, and they all have extraordinary health benefits. They each contain flavonoids, natural antioxidants that may help to prevent many diseases including cancer and heart disease. Garlic, in particular, stands out for its ability to lower cholesterol and blood pressure and reduce the risk of blood clots and infection. Alliums are also antifungal and antibacterial which means they can fight viruses that can lead to the flu and colds, and relieve upset stomach and other gastrointestinal disorders. To maximize their benefits, it is recommended that alliums be eaten raw, but cooking doesn’t entirely diminish their effects. ”

Soil Preparation

Onions are grown in almost any type of soil; a soil high in organic matter and well-drained is preferred. Add rotted manure, compost or other organic matter the fall preceding the spring crop and work into the soil.


Get a soil sample before starting in spring. Then you will know exactly what your soil needs and how much. Apply a fertilizer that is high in phosphorus and potassium such as 6-24-24 at 4 to 5 pounds per 100 square feet. This is always good for root crops if you have not had a soil sample. As the crop grows a side dressing of fertilizer,10-10-10, 1# per 10 feet at 2 -3 inches from rows. Another suggestion is after onions are actively growing put down compost this will restrict the weeds and add some fertilizer to the plants.


Plant onions as early when the soil is dry enough to be worked in the spring since light freezes do not injure them. Later crops can be started up to May 15 but early planting is advantageous for larger bulbs and better storing onions. Planting for green onions can be made at any time. The minimum spacing of rows is 12 to 15 inches apart.


Sowing every from seed takes a long time and usually good for green onions only. Thin down to 3-4 inches apart allowing onions to enlarge.



Sets are small dormant bulbs planted directly into the garden. They should 1 to 2 inches deep 2 to 3 inches apart. Thin to 3 to 4 inches apart as they grow. Those that are removed can be used as green onions. Sets come in red, yellow, and white. Taste and flavor can vary do to cultivars types.

Larger sets tend to bolt more easily. Use these as green onions. Smaller bulbs tend to make larger onions.

What causes onions to enlarge is a combination of day length and temperature. Day length is the trigger, however, if there are cold temperatures the onions will not enlarge satisfactorily.



Plant roots 1 inch deep or lower to make the white portion greater in white onions plant deeper. Transplant the seedlings outside in early April. They will damage if temperatures are less than 20 degrees F.

Winter storage onions should be planted in early May.


Green onions can be harvested any time after the plants are 6 inches high. Larger onions can be harvested any time after the tops fall over. The longer it takes the sweeter the onion. Once harvested the can be stored in a cool dry area with lots of air circulation, like hanging in a potato sack from the rafters.

See the table below for an in-depth analysis of nutrients: Onion (Allium cepa),  raw, Nutrition value per 100 g. (Source: USDA National Nutrient database)
Principle Nutrient Value Percentage of RDA
Energy 40 Kcal 2%
Carbohydrates 9.34 g 7%
Protein 1.10 g 2%
Total Fat 0.10 g 0.5%
Cholesterol 0 mg 0%
Dietary Fiber 1.7 g 4.5%
Folates 19 mcg 5%
Niacin 0.116 mg 1%
Pantothenic acid 0.123 mg 2.5%
Pyridoxine 0.120 mg 9%
Riboflavin 0.027 mg 2%
Thiamin 0.046 mg 4%
Vitamin A 2 IU 0%
Vitamin C 7.4 mg 12%
Vitamin E 0.02 mg 0%
Sodium 4 mg 0%
Potassium 146 mg 3%
Calcium 23 mg 2%
Copper 0.039mg 4%
Iron 0.0.21 mg 3%
Magnesium 10 mg 2.5%
Manganese 0.129 mg 5.5%
Phosphorus 29 mg 4%
Zinc 0.17 mg 1.5%
Carotene–ß 1 mcg
Crypto-xanthin-ß 0 mcg
Lutein-zeaxanthin 4 mcg


The phytochemical compounds allium and Allyl disulfide in onions have anti-mutagenic (protects from cancers) and anti-diabetic properties (helps lower blood sugar levels in diabetics. They are a rich source of chromium, the trace mineral that helps tissue cells respond appropriately to insulin levels in the blood; thus helps facilitate insulin action and control sugar levels in diabetes. are also a good source of the antioxidant flavonoid quercetin, which is found to have anti-carcinogenic, anti-inflammatory and anti-diabetogenic functions. They are also good at antioxidant vitamin, vitamin C and mineral manganese which is required as a co-factor for anti-oxidant enzyme superoxide dismutase. In addition, isothiocyanate anti-oxidants help relieve cold and flu by exerting anti-inflammatory actions. Onions are also good in a b-complex group of vitamins like pantothenic acid, pyridoxine, folates and thiamin. Pyridoxine or vitamin. B-6 helps keep up GABA levels in the brain which works against neurotic conditions.

Nutritional Analysis

Good points

  • Very low in saturated fat
  • No cholesterol
  • Very low in sodium
  • High in dietary fiber
  • High in manganese
  • High in potassium
  • High in vitamin B6
  • Very high in vitamin C

Bad points

Very high in sugar