A Plant A Day Till Spring – Day 3 – Hellebores

SAM_0075

“Lenten Rose” – Spring 2013 – Hutchinson Avenue – Edgewood, PA

“A Plant a Day till Spring” will highlight one plant a day, starting on the winter solstice (December 21, 2013)… And ending on the vernal equinox (March 20, 2014)… If all goes to plan I will be starting with old Snowdrop photos from 2013… And ending with new photos of Snowdrops in 2014…

There are around 20 species of Helleborus… They are herbaceous or evergreen perennial flowering plants in the family Ranunculaceae… Many species are poisonous… Despite common names such as “Christmas Rose” and “Lenten Rose”… Hellebores are not closely related to the rose family…

Hellebores are particularly valued by gardeners for their winter and early spring-flowering period… These plants are surprisingly frost resistant… Many are in fact evergreen… I have been playing with different varieties for the past six years… After all this time I have yet to experience a killing freeze…

SAM_0077

“Hybrid Hellebores” – Spring 2013 – Hutchinson Avenue – Wilkinsburg, PA

Hellebores has a lethal reputation… “Black Hellebore” was at one time used to treat insanity… Black Hellebore is also highly toxic causing a multitude of symptoms that culminates in death… My best advice is to keep this plant away from children…

Propagation is really not necessary as this plant is a self-seeder… Hellebores often expands in a circle with the new plants growing to the outside… All one has to do is carefully dig out the new seedlings in late spring… The entire clump can also be dug up and divided…

I tend to watch my clumps of Hellebores throughout the winter as they will often start bud formation well in advance of actually blooming… Hellebores is a very low-maintenance plant that once established will flourish without human intervention… Even in the most inhospitable environments…

plant petunias and question everything – chriscondello

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Practical Permaculture – Pallet Garden Cautions

BleedingHearts

“White Hearts Bleeding” – © chriscondello 2013 – Wilkinsburg, PA – Natural Composition – Red dye in a puddle with white bleeding heart floaters – Like I said… I hate pallets… So I have no photographs of them… Get over it…

I know you have all seen them on Pinterest, commercial pallets designed into 30′ tall vertical garden wonderland. Pallets layed out on the ground full of row after row of healthy greens. Even pallets on saw-horses turned into gardening tables for the handi-capable person. Some really incredible and creative ideas are out there for the gardener to explore, I recommend trying anything that interests you in the gardening world.

But… As far as pallets are concerned… I hate them with a passion… I have worked my fair share of retail jobs, and I promise you I have dragged more than enough pallets across a retail floor for the both of us. But I also understand why people like to use them. Having worked around them, I have a bit of an inside view into the travels pallets often take part in…

Commercial pallets come in treated, and untreated varieties. Although the untreated types are relatively safe, the chemically treated varieties are often treated with nastier chemicals than the treated lumber available at home depot. Chemical treatment is easily recognizable by how much heavier it will be than the other pallets. Chemically treated pallets tend to be darker in color as well, it will stick out in the pile. Treated lumber often looks wet in appearance, this rule applies to pallets as well…

I actually don’t consider chemical treatment to be the real danger associated with pallets… Next time you are looking at a pallet, ask yourself what was on that pallet. Organic food is not the only thing shipped on pallets… Chemicals like draino, Clorox, ammonia and even pool chemicals are all shipped to grocery stores on pallets… These shipments regularly break inside the truck… That pallet is not thrown away… It is sent back to the supply house and repacked… And shipped… With God knows what…

A pallet can travel all around the country, hell, it could even travel all around the world. Pallets are re-used, it is really only when one has broken beyond usefulness that it is taken out of circulation. So technically, using pallets in your garden is not really all that green as every good pallet taken out of the mix has to be replaced with a new one. I believe it is better to recycle them through the retail mix, than to have them cutting down pine trees to make new ones… Just my perspective…

I also would like to mention that while many pallets tend to stay in the retail stream, many of them end up in some pretty nasty places. Pallets are regularly used to ship hospital supplies, no big deal right… After the pallet has been unloaded there is a chance it could be reloaded by the hospital with say… Soiled linens… Or worse… Medical waste… Then that pallet is sent somewhere… They unload it… And maybe load it with something nastier…

It’s the circle… The circle of life… Or… The circle of waste…

Eventually… There is a pretty good chance this pallet could end up back at a grocery store… Pallets are meant to be used more than once… Most distributors would rather reuse pallets than purchase new ones… They do not do chemical tests on each pallet… Don’t be stupid… If you are the type of person that is worried about chemicals in any shape or form… Stay away from pallets… That would be my professional opinion at least…

I hope I am not breaking any pallet gardeners heart with this post… But I feel this is an issue of safety… An issue that not many people consider… Having worked retail… I have seen some of the nasty shit that soaks into those pallets you are growing your lettuce in… It’s just not for me…

plant petunias and question everything – chriscondello

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