Friday, April 25, 2008


It has been a busy winter with Greater Charlotte Home and Garden Show, Southern Spring Show, 3rd Annual Herb Festival, Ideal Home Show, pesticide classes, Country Living Seminar and Master Gardener Training along with all the other TV shows, news articles and phone calls that are part of my Extension Job. I have a talk scheduled for Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden and also at the Research Campus in May.
My garden looks great. I have planted more than I ever have and the tomatoes in my high tunnel cold frame are close to waist high with my first tomato set on the same day we had our last frost.
This winter I put up more maple syrup than I ever have. That only amounts to about ½ gallon but I have used it on pancakes and oatmeal. Then I found the best morel I have ever found. Morel hunting is my least profitable activity and I have only found them 3 times. With the same effort, a person in Ohio could have filled up several bushel baskets. Then I have harvested some shitake mushrooms for the first time in several years. I hope things continue as the best. Of course there are some things less than rosy. The cherry and plum trees have a very poor crop with the late freezes and my tomatillo plants went to the garden very overgrown. I think March 1 would be a better seeding date on them. In fact, I might wait until March 10 or so next year. Some peaches lost all their blooms in the freeze but overall I still have a good crop. Maybe it will be like the maple syrup and the morel.
By the way, I have bees on my property for the first time since my last hive died out in January of 2000. I have them on welfare right now (about a quart of sugar water a day) but hope they build up strong enough to take some persimmon honey from them. (My wife doesn't like that terminology and thinks talking abou them that way may be the reason I lost the last hive.)

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Hardinesss Zones

I read an article in the Mother Earth News about how hardiness zones have changed. The referenced a map from the National Arbor Day Foundation.
While it is mathematically possible to have that much change with the 2 degrees or so of actual global warming we have had, I wouldn’t expect it. So I did some checking I noticed that the new hardiness map says Raleigh NC is zone 8. So Raleigh should have a low temperature between 10 and 20 degrees at least every five years. Yet Raleigh had a day with 9 degree and another day with 7 degree temperature in January of 2005. That would keep it in zone 7 not the zone 8 shown on the new map. (
Using the same website I found Greensboro had a 7 in 2004 so it remains in zone 7 not the zone 8 showed on the map. Fort Wayne had a -15 in December of 2004 which puts it in zone 5 not the zone 6 show on the map.
Using the same website I found that Sioux City had a -14 in 2003 so it hasn’t changed from zone 5. Wichita Falls had a 7 in 2004 which makes it zone 7 not the zone 8 shown on the new map.
In summary, 100% of the locations I checked (5 out of 5) have had a minimum temperature within the last five years below the zone listed on the hardiness zone change map. My conclusion is that the map from the Arbor Day Foundation over states the zone changes for the last 16 years.
Actually each temperature I quoted was in the top three of all time minimum temperature records for the day it occurred. My conclusion is that the global warming has increase minimum temperature extremes. This is what I would predict from bigger winter storms caused by global warming. They are sucking the colder air farther south.
I bounced this off a real climatologist and he said the maps may be accurate but 10 years of data was not enough to draw conclusions or maps. He thinks we need to use every year we have data and then some. Be curious to hear what you think.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Call back slips

The end of an era. Call back slips have gone digital so I am throwing out the olds ones. This collection is about 20 years worth but even so, it looks impressive.