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Dar's Plant Zone

Darla - AV May 12, 2020

Kitchen Scrap Gardening

Romaine Lettuce

Use milk cartons and plastic liter bottles as plant containers. Kitchen produce scraps can be used as vegetable garden starter plants. Seeds, roots, stalks, and cloves can be set aside to start new plants. 

Place bell pepper, tomato, apple, or cantaloupe seeds in soil in egg cartons, milk cartons, or plastic water bottle containers. 

Bury a potato in garden soil to start a potato plant, which will yield six potatoes in a few months. 

Chop a couple of inches off of several green onion stumps and place them in garden soil to have fresh onion for years to come. 

Bury individual garlic cloves in garden soil to get a new clove in a matter of months or wait till fall to plant the cloves, because they overwinter well. 

Chop off two inches of a romaine stump and place in a glass bowl with one half inch of water. Place the bowl in a sunny window (see the picture above). Change the water every day. When the new leaves are two to three inches tall plant them in soil and add vegetable fertilizer.

Plant carrot tops in your outdoor garden and let their greens grow. You will not have carrots this year; however, the carrots will self-seed and you will have carrots next year.


What is phenology? Phenology is the study of cyclical biological events that are dependent on seasons and climate.   

When you see a crocus and a robin, you know spring is coming, and you are using phenology! Plants are at the base of the food chain and affect the insects that eat them and the other animals that in turn eat them.  The way that plants bloom and insects emerge follows a pattern. An example of a plant pattern that gardeners are familiar with is forsythia’s yellow bloom appearance in early spring. 

Phenology is important because certain plants need to bloom at certain times for particular insects and animals to survive. Our food supply depends on the timing of phenological events.

Beekeepers follow the chronological sequence of plant blooms. When dandelions cover the ground in spring, beekeepers know that bees will not starve from lack of nectar. Throughout spring, summer, and fall a beekeeper can guess with great accuracy which blooms their bees will get their nectar from and predict what the color and taste of the resulting honey will be. Here is a webinar on discussing phenology for beekeepers:

How can gardeners and beekeepers use a phenology calendar?

They can see what plant is blooming or what insects are emerging in their Ohio neighborhood in real time, because Ohio State University created a handy dandy phenology calendar for gardeners and beekeepers. To see use the calendar follow these steps:

  1. Go to the website The Ohio State University’s Phenology Calendar:
  2. Enter your zip code and a date 
  3. Click on “Show me the Calendar”
  4. You will see the name of a plant or an insect along with a description of what it is doing for that day. A plant may be in emergence, first bloom, or full bloom, while an insect may be in adult emergence, egg hatch, larval stage, or larval feeding.

I entered 44903 and April 13, 2020

Notice in the example above that Sargent Cherry has first bloom, Larch Casebearer’s larval feeding begins, Japanese Pieris has full bloom, and Exotic Ambrosia Beetle has first adult emergence. “First bloom” means the very first bloom on the cherry tree appears. “Full bloom” means most of the blooms have opened up on Japanese Pieris. “Larval feeding begins” means that the Larch Casebearer has started feeding on its host plant. “First adult emergence” means the first of the Exotic Ambrosia Beetle has emerged. The small number above the plant or insect name are Growing Degree Days (GDD).

What are Growing Degree Days (GDD)?

GDD measure the growth and development of plants and insects during the growing season. Note that the GDD increases from left to right.

Researchers have created a math formula that can consistently tell us that Sargent Cherry will have first bloom on GDD 127 (A base temperature of 50 degrees Fahrenheit is considered acceptable for all plants and insects).

 This means that in 2021 or 2022,  Sargent Cherry will always have its first bloom on GDD 127. The month and day will probably be different, because the weather, shade, sunlight, weeds, precipitation, fertility and nutrient level of the soil will be different, but the math formula will accurately predict that Sargent Cherry will have first bloom on GDD 127 of any given year. 

 The Phenology Calendar can be used to see what’s blooming in your Ohio neighborhood. Bookmark it and compare to your area’s plants. Share the link with friends. It’s a great resource for Ohio gardeners and beekeepers!

 Spotlight On: Pawpaw


I started a Pawpaw tree a couple of years ago from the Pawpaw fruit in the above left picture. The picture above right is how the tree looked last summer. I was amazed that a plant with a tropical-looking fruit grew right here in Ohio!

The Pawpaw is native to Ohio and inhabits most of the Eastern United States. It grows in Zones 5-8, and its botanical name is Asimina triloba. The deciduous plant grows to 25 feet, can grow in full to partial sun, and is a woodland edge tree that thrives in moist areas. The Pawpaw tree puts out suckers to start more trees, forming a colony.

The zebra swallowtail butterfly’s larvae feed on the leaves of the Pawpaw. Other insects do not feed on the Pawpaw due to insecticidal properties of the tree. Due to its Pawpaw diet, the zebra swallowtail is unappetizing to birds.

The unusual fruit tastes like a cross between a mango and a banana. It has a custard-like texture and a tropical taste. The yellow-fleshed fruit is packed with large black seeds and can be kept fresh two to three days or refrigerated one week. 

In spring, it sports lavender to purple-red flowers. A tree from a different colony is needed to pollinate a flower. So, I will not have any fruit on my tree unless it is fertilized by a different colony. 

For more information on the Pawpaw tree go to the resource page from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources Division of Forestry:

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