February 15th, 2012

New USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map

The word was out last summer, quietly being passed about, that Longwood Gardens had been elevated to a "Zone 7a" by the USDA.

That's right—the global warming that isn't happening, in some circles, is actually happening and we are warming up.

The USDA has just published a new 2012 Plant Hardiness Zone Map that is searchable by state and zip code. What was a 6b might now be a 7a.

Although some areas just have had some better temp readings done than in the past. Many areas have not been effected to the changes due to their location in the previous map, where they are in relation to dividing lines, and the extent of the somewhat northerly shift.

To find out your specific zone location to the new 2012 USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map check out the link on my website, USDA Plant Hardiness Map.

Editor's note: Stephen Coan blogs for Patch sites throughout South Jersey. He is a Collingswood resident.
The Patch Posting
Comments add a comment (0)
February 14th, 2012


Hi all,

Today's post is on the practice of vermicomposting which is very well described by Wikipedia as: Wikipedia Vermicomposting link

"Vermicompost is the product or process of composting utilizing various species of worms, usually red wigglers, white worms, and earthworms to create a heterogeneous mixture of decomposing vegetable or food waste, bedding materials, and vermicast. Vermicast, similarly known as worm castings, worm humus or worm manure, is the end-product of the breakdown of organic matter by a species of earthworm.[1]

Containing water-soluble nutrients, vermicompost is an excellent, nutrient-rich organic fertilizer and soil conditioner.[2] The process of producing vermicompost is called vermicomposting."

The use of vermicompost is quite useful for a well balanced nutrient rich soil for gardens and plantings.  It has an already established beneficial biological content, bacteria, fungi, mold, nematodes, etc. that your plants will thrive on and with a good quality one it could control soil pathogens.

A very good video to watch describing the process and benefits for those who are interested is: vermicomposting video

A small composting set up can be achieved in your own home/kitchen. You just need a container, worms, and the proper ingredients. Take a look at the Wikipedia link above for a basic recipe.  There are a number of worm sources online and one somewhat locally but I don't want to favor one over the other, although I have been told by plant pathology sources at Longwood Gardens that a good commercial producer of Vermicompost is "Worm Power."

For other topic information take a look at my Garden Blog and my Ferret Hollow Gardens website.

The Patch Posting

Comments add a comment (0)
February 8th, 2012

The Patch Blog

Earlier this year I started to blog for the "Patch" website in eight towns covering all of South Jersey.  Here is the first one: Patch

I look forward to having the Ferret Hollow Gardens Blog added to the Patch.  I'll be adding posts regarding garden, green and sustainable practices, and environmental issues, ideas, information, questions, and answers.  Please feel free to ask gardening questions and I'll do my best to answer. I'll link this to my other blog when the address is updated in a couple of weeks.  For the time being you can reach it at: The Ferret Hollow Gardens - The Blog

To start off with here are a few ideas.

1.  Due to the warm winter season many plants are already starting to wake up and grow.  It's time to cut down your Liriope and other perennials before the new shoots emerge.

2. Consider going totally green this year.  Instead of chemical fertilizers try using compost tea, leaf mold/mulch, compost, worm castings and other Natural soil ammendments.  This would also go for turf grass lawns.  More at a later date.

3. Start sewing seeds indoors by the end of the month for a jump start in the spring.

4. Prune your shrubs and trees that bloom on new growth this year.  Wait until after blooming for shrubs and trees that bloom on last year's bud set.

5. Feed your local wildlife.  This is the hard part of the winter when fresh food sources are scarce.  I put out bird food and wildlife food mixed with berries-grapes and cherries.  A good suet is also appreciated by the birds that don't eat seed. 

I have also included a photo of Emma, the Queen Chipmunk of Ferret Hollow Gardens taken last year in August.  She is a bit chunky - pregnant.  Check out my blog for other images and videos of her, Stella, and the other chipmunks, Fauna, and Flora.

Comments add a comment (0)