Did you receive a random packet of seeds apparently from China? Don't plant them.

Several US state departments of agriculture report that people are receiving unsolicited packets of seeds in the mail, apparently from China. Don't plant them, the officials warn. From USA Today:

The agriculture departments in Washington, Louisiana, Kansas and Virginia have recently issued statements warning residents that the seeds may be invasive or otherwise harmful to local plants or livestock. People in Utah, Arizona and Ohio have also reported receiving the mysterious packages, local news outlets reported.

Some of the packages were labeled as jewelry and may have Chinese writing on them, according to agriculture officials[...]

Police in Whitehouse, Ohio, said the seeds appear to be connected to an online scam and are not "directly dangerous."

“A brushing scam is an exploit by a vendor used to bolster product ratings and increase visibility online by shipping an inexpensive product to an unwitting receiver and then submitting positive reviews on the receiver’s behalf under the guise of a verified owner," the department said in a statement.

Read the rest

Watch this whirlwind tour of eight of the world's greatest gardens

NOWNESS created eight episodes that beautifully showcase some remarkable gardens from around the world, like the Sunnylands desert garden in California: Read the rest

Beautiful gardens in the back of Japanese mini pickup trucks

The Japan Federation of Landscape Contractors' Kei Truck Garden Contest challenges people to transform the beds of their miniature pickup trucks into lovely mobile gardens. From Spoon & Tamago:

Other than using the kei truck there are very few limitations and landscapers have incorporated everything from benches and aquariums to elements of lighting into their designs. Judges then rank the entries based on planning, expression, design, execution and environment.

See more here.

Read the rest

Watch how to set up a food forest

One of the more interesting methods of gardening that people are trying is the food forest, where they convert a yard into a low-maintenance garden that doesn't really look like one.

A lot of urban gardeners point out that the "Back to Eden" / "Food Forest" options are not going to give optimal yields on smaller parcels of land, and certainly are not ideal if you're doing an urban or suburban garden as a commercial venture.

Does The BACK TO EDEN Method Actually WORK!? (YouTube / The Gardening Channel With James Prigioni) Read the rest

An electric fence to keep snails out of your vegetable garden

Here's a vegetable gardener who didn't want to share his bounty with slugs and snails, so he strung an electric barrier around the perimeter of his raised bed garden. Anytime a voracious mollusk attempts to enter the garden, it must first crawl over a pair of electrified wires, where it receives a mild shock sufficient to thwart its plans.

The gardener has kindly posted instructions for others interested in making a 9 volt electric snail/slug fence. Read the rest

Spectacular garden created from plants rescued from the compost pile

Pearl Fryar of Bishopville, South Carolina created this incredible garden mostly from plants he saved from a local nursery's compost dump.

Ironically, according to Great Big Story, "When he first moved to the small town in the 1980s, he was almost unable to build his house because neighbors feared that as an African American, he wouldn’t keep up his yard."

Read the rest

This garden can kill you

The delightful grounds of Alnwick Castle in Northumberland, England contain such alluring settings as the Poison Garden, home to more than 100 species of plants that are deadly to humans. Please meet the head gardener, Trevor Jones, who must wear protective gear when he's digging in the dirt.

Read the rest

Excellent $5 metal pistol grip nozzle

Last month I added this garden hose bib extender to my outdoor faucet. It's held up so far. I also bought this $5 metal pistol grip nozzle on Amazon, which allows me to select the kind of water stream I need, from a wide cone to a high-pressure jet, by squeezing the handle. Releasing the handle shuts off the water completely. Read the rest

Meet Sedgewick the Monarch Caterpillar—and find out what you can do to save his species

Danaus plexippus is in trouble. David Mizejewski raised one to demonstrate its life cycle, and explains what you can do to help them thrive

Seed lending library

Basalt, CO's public library has added packets of seeds to its circulating collection: you grow 'em, pick out the best fruits, and harvest the seeds and give them back to the library for the next patron:

Here's how it works: A library card gets you a packet of seeds. You then grow the fruits and vegetables, harvest the new seeds from the biggest and best, and return those seeds so the library can lend them out to others.

Syson says tending a garden in Western Colorado can be frustrating. The dry climate, alkaline soils and short growing season keep many novices from starting. She'll take seeds from the plants that withstand pests and persevere through drought.

"If you save seed from those plants, already, in one generation, you will now be able to grow a plant that has those traits," Syson says.

How To Save A Public Library: Make It A Seed Bank [NPR/Luke Runyon]

(via Neatorama) Read the rest