What’s Blooming

Do You Know the Muffin Man? New Mississippi Blueberry

Early last week I was out in the blueberry plots at one of the research stations collecting samples. I was instantly enamored, if not surprised, by the outstanding pink ambiance given off by a few large blueberry bushes.

Muffin Man blueberry

 

I was not out to collect from this selection, but I was drawn to it. This blueberry was without a doubt the most gorgeous in the entire field.

 

PINK! So much pink. Pink flowers, pink buds, pink calyx, warm pink hues on the stems, pink color on the new, emerging leaves. Perfect for Valentine’s Day. As you can well imagine, I meant to do this post last week on Valentine’s Day, but time got away from me.

 

As a horticulturist with a background in ornamentals first, I was impressed with the idea of what a wonderful edible hedge this would make in someone’s yard. Not to mention that at this time of year, when things are just beginning to get going in south Mississippi, it makes a grand ornamental entrance into the landscape.

 

This blueberry was recently released as ‘Muffin Man’ from the Southern Horticultural Research Laboratory in Poplarville, MS. You can read a bit about it on this USDA ARS page. Members of the American Society for Horticultural Science who subscribe to the Hort Science Journal can also read more about this blueberry in Volume 53 issue 10

To promote fruiting, you’ll need a pollinator, rabbiteye blueberry that also flowers early. In ornamental design, I would suggest planting a smaller, early flowering, rabbiteye blueberry behind the hedge, or flanking the ends, so that ‘Muffin Man’ in all its glory is not obstructed.

If you are looking for the perfect Valentine’s gift for next year inquire, then do as this little honey bee did, seek out, and find ‘Muffin Man’ to give to your sweetheart.

 

 

Congratulations to the team for traditional, old fashioned plant breeding!

What does this mean, traditional plant breeding? Select potted blueberry plants are brought into the greenhouse in winter and “crossing” begins by a biological science technician when flowers open. That is to say the pollen (collected from the anthers of the male part) of one desired flower is used to fertilize the stigma (the sticky end of the female reproductive part) of another desired blueberry flower.  This takes quick work to be sure that no insects happen to be pollinating the flowers in the greenhouse and the greenhouse is checked almost daily. Fertilized flowers are protected while the fertilized flowers develop blueberry fruit, and after fruit set and maturity, the fruit are collected, cut open, and the seed harvested and stored in refrigeration. In summer, seed are planted out in trays in the greenhouse. When seedlings reach several inches tall, they are transplanted into individual peat pots. Those little babies are nurtured in the greenhouse and the following spring/early summer, they are planted out into field plots (generally by this time they are 12-24″ tall). The young plants are closely monitored by the breeder over several years for a variety of desirable traits. (Just imagine that when two humans procreate, every baby the same two humans produce is different. Right? The same is true here.) Those that make the cut are transplanted out to long term fields for continued observations over several more years. The plants may be propagated and then planted at several sites to test their desired traits, growth, cultural habits, fruiting, qualities, etc.  Then if all has been successful, after many years since cross pollination in the greenhouse, that selection may be released for public use or plant patented. Technically, traditional plant breeding is genetically modifying plants (organisms). It is however, not genetically engineering plants-GE (basically something which could never occur naturally- a fish will never make love to a tomato). An unfortunate use of the term GMO, that is now commonplace and causes confusion.

Man, I must have had some good coffee this morning!!!! Oh, wait, I did. Three Peckered Billy Goat. I love Raven’s Brew Whole Bean Coffees. USDA Organic. Roasting facilities: Ketchikan, AK and Tumwater, WA.

Yours in Caffeine-Induced Writing & Gardening,

The Garden Maiden

All images and text copyright 2019 The Garden Maiden
@thegardenmaiden

 

 

 

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Categories: Fruit Crops, Research, What's Blooming | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The Garden Carnage of Monday Morning Shark Week

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Pulling these from my Twitter feed for Monday morning July 23, 2018:

So here it is Monday morning when a melancholy stroll through the garden is interrupted by #SharkWeek Sharks eating chive flowers, bat face cuphea, sharks swimming thru the lawn.

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I tried to run from #SharkWeek sharks in my garden, but they were everywhere. Sharks eating organically grown cucumbers (Sumter), green Paul Robeson tomatoes, and attacking my scarecrow.

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Unbelievably, #SharkWeek sharks even attacked my garden fish sculpture and my defenseless garden gnome. Pure garden carnage. What a Monday morning!

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With all the #SharkWeek garden carnage this Monday morning, even the Rudbeckia in my pollinator garden was not safe. Though, in the shark’s defense, it did look tasty.

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After witnessing all that, I went back inside for some online education in photography, water gardens and pollinators as part of some courses I am enrolled in.

Later I needed to take the dogs out to go potty. Just when I think it is safe to go back out into the garden, #SharkWeek sneak attack at the mailbox on my Passiflora vine as I reach for my mail.  The flower just opened today. Died so young.

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Beware of lawn sharks and teach your garden gnomes self-defense.

Yours in #SharkWeek gardening,

The Garden Maiden

All images and text copyright 2018 The Garden Maiden

 

Categories: Crazy Plant Things I See, Observations from My Garden of Goods & Evils, Vegetable Crops, What's Blooming | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Adding and Certifying Pollinator, Wildlife, Butterfly Gardens

 

 

Have you heard about the Million Pollinator Gardens initiative? I just added mine to their map yesterday. If you have a pollinator garden of any size, won’t you consider adding your’s to this great cause?

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I have been working on three pollinator flower bed areas for a couple of years. Being sure to include water sources. I use flowering vines such as Passiflora, native shrubs, fruit (blueberry, kumquat, pomegranite, raspberry, blackberry, and hopefully soon fruit from grape and muscadine), herbs, and annuals and perennials (native and non-native). Some plants work, some struggle and some do not survive. But it is all fun and for a great cause.

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I recently re-hung a bat house the squirrels had worked over in a terrible way. A bee “hotel” is my newest addition.

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The USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service has some good pollinator garden/habitat information. Remember, you are providing food, shelter and water. The type needed will change depending on the life stage of the particular organism you are hoping to attract.

Other ways you can make your friendly garden official is to certify it through programs such as the National Wildlife Federation’s Certified Wildlife Habitat (they have a $10 off bonus during Pollinator Week, just check out their website for details and the code) and North American Butterfly Association’s Certified Butterfly Garden programs. I have done both of these. The signage you are able to purchase once you have a paid certification is attractive and educational and looks swell placed into your landscape/garden.

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Yours in Gardening,

The Garden Maiden

 

All images and text copyright 2018 The Garden Maiden

 

 

Categories: Observations from My Garden of Goods & Evils, What's Blooming | Tags: , , , , , ,
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