Joanie Lapic has been gardening in Pennsylvania for about 45 years, at first alongside her Daddy in his vegetable patches, and the past 20 years or so as an intent Herb grower and studier. Master Herbalist, owner of Everlasting Gardener in New Brighton,  Herb grower and teacher, lecturer, therapeutic horticulture teacher,  developer of Pocket Therapy aromatherapy products.


Seed Viability
by Joanie Lapic - posted 02/20/16

 This is the time of year when gardeners are getting serious about planting seeds, whether indoors or outside in the garden. Usually it’s also when new seed orders are placed.
   I especially cherish this time of year, because my “early” planted seeds have begun sprouting. Here in western Pennsylvania, I start Lavandula angustifolia(usually ‘Hidcote’, my favorite Lavender) and Leeks in January, as they need the extra months to grow to planting out/selling size.
   Going through my seed collection, I came across this seed viability list and think it might be helpful to other gardeners. It is a partial listing, so I’d be interested to hear from any of you with experience with other seeds, especially Herb seeds.
   First thing I do, when I purchase seed packets, is write prominently on the package that particular year, for future reference. And I always store all seeds in a refrigerator bin. This keeps them chilled and just moist enough, ensuring best future germination and strength. 
   I also group seed packets in plastic bags according to when they need to be planted: Fall/Jan., Feb., Mar. 1, Mar. 15. April 1 and 15, May 1 and 15. Those seeds which need planted directly in the garden are also grouped in the bag with seeds needing to be started indoors. I just note ‘outside’ on the packets. 
   Last summer my kids and I constructed a tall teepee trellis for my Kentucky Wonder green beans. This Spring, around St. Patrick's Day, I plan to plant Oregon Giant peas on that teepee. Planting peas and onions on or about St. Patrick's Day is a tradition here in western Pennsylvania. There is nearly always a significant (2" or more) snowfall after that, we call 'the onion snow'. Once my pea plants have yielded all they will, I'll plant the bean seeds to re-adorn the teepee.
1 year: chive, leek, onion, parsnip, rosemary, shallot, sweet corn
2 years: okra, parsley, popcorn
3 years: anise, asparagus, bean, caraway, carrot, chervil, coriander, cow pea (black eye), dill, fennel, lima bean, pea, pepper, soybean, tomato
4 years: beet, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, Chinese cabbage, collards, cress, kale, kohlrabi, mustard, New Zealand spinach, pumpkin, radish, rutabaga, spinach, squash, Swiss chard, turnip
5 years: celeriac, celery, citron, collard, cucumber, eggplant, endive, gherkin, lettuce, mushroom, muskmelon, salsify, watermelon
   I don’t usually discard ‘old’ seeds, unless that variety of plant has fallen out of favor. I just plant MORE of them, to be sure enough sprout for my harvesting needs.

More thoughts on gardening

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Late Summer Pennsylvania Garden
by Joanie Lapic - posted 09/13/15

                                                                                                       blooming Purple Basil - but not for long....

Calendula with katydid visitor  


Foxglove - This beauty sprouted leaves in mid-June, in a place I would not have chosen for it, along a pathway. Since Foxglove is one of my favorites, I left it there. I am very pleased with it, and all of its cousins, one of which has already begun blooming, and is more of a purple hue.



white Japanese Anemone

                                                         Hardy Begonia
                                                         Begonia grandis


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Green Dragon
by Joanie Lapic - posted 06/20/15


Arisaemia dracontium
(Arum Family)
I acquired this impressive plant in mid-June 2015, at the Harmony Garden Fair. The lady who sold them is on a mission to preserve these somewhat rare plants, and propagates them to share. It is considered to be less common than Jack-in-the-Pulpit She originally found plants at Camp Silver Lake in Marion Township, Beaver County, Pennsylvania. 
Its common name derives from the long spadix borne above the spathe, reminding us of a dragon's tongue.
"Green Dragon" enjoys rich, moist woodland or stream-side conditions, well-drained. It prefers part shade (not deep shade or full sun) in alkaline, neutral or acidic soil. I hope I can place my plants in a moist enough site, as there is no stream on my property - but I do have shady woodland conditions.  It's good to know that the plant can adapt to dry soil, I assume in the shade.
It is hardy in USDA zones 4 through 8. Each plant can grow up to 3 feet high by about 1 and 1/2 feet wide. The leaf is as follows: one leaf forked into 5 to 15 lance-shaped leaflets on a horse-shoe shaped frond. Green Dragon blooms in western Pennsylvania in late May to early June. Flowers are tiny white to pale yellow or green, upon a spadix, inside a hooded spathe. Plants are dioecious, meaning each plant is either male or female, but not on the same plant, and they are not able to self-fertilize. To propagate by seed, there must be two plants, one of each sex. They are pollinated by flies. The flower (immature green seed head closeup shown here) develops into orange-to-red berries
The root can be used as food, but CAUTION - it contains calcium oxalate crystals. These cause 'needle-prick' pain in the mouth and must be boiled or dried before eaten.

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