Northern & Central Midwest

October, 2009
Regional Report

Books

Soil Web
It's high time we started looking at the wonders of the soil. Teaming with Microbes: A Gardener's Guide to the Soil Food Web, by Jeff Lowenfels (Timber Press, 2006), will assist you in your lessons. Jeff has a remarkable sense of humor as well as a clearly scientific manner in which he explains so much of what goes on at the soil level. I promise, you will never rototill again. The review from Debra McKinney, Anchorage Daily News, September 14, 2006 says it all. "Sure, it's a gardening book, but it has all the drama and suspense of an extraterrestrial thriller...Read this book and you'll never look at soil the same way."

Favorite or New Plant

Oakleaf hydrangea
Lovely oakleaf hydrangea shrubs are at peak color, in hues of red-orange to red-purple. Hydrangea quercifolia grows to about 8 feet tall and can be twice as wide but they are fairly slow growers. They have huge panicles of white flowers that turn to pink and finally tan as they dry on the plant. Oakleaf hydrangea thrives in partial to full shade and a moist, organic soil. When planting, mulch them in well and give newly planted shrubs some protection until they mature a bit and can withstand the rigors of winter.

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