By Margaret Bayne, OSU Extension Staff-retired, OSU Master Gardener

June 2018

Photo credit: Chris Branam OSU

Grow your own strawberries to sweet perfection.  (Kym Pokorny, OSU)

Gut microbes can help insects beat pesticides.   Probiotic products now line store shelves, promising to improve human health by replenishing the gut microbiome, or the collection of bacteria and other microbes that live in the digestive system. Insects have a gut microbiome too, and it not only benefits their general well-being but may also help them adapt to and overcome pesticides.” (Leslie Mertz, Ph.D., Entomology Today)

Moss that removes arsenic from contaminated water so it’s safe to drink discovered. “From plastic-eating bacteria to oil-devouring bacterium, it seems Mother Nature keeps surprising us with new ways to protect the environment. Now, scientists have discovered a type of moss capable of purifying water contaminated with arsenic, making it once again safe for human consumption.” (

5 things that make you attractive to mosquitoes. Although there is lots of anecdotal evidence from people about what influences the little critters to bite, from eating garlic to having “sweet” blood, there are some aspects that have been proven by science to genuinely increase your chances.” (Josh Davis, Iflscience)

A partnership between Bluebells and Fungi. (Indefense of Plants)

What is it about snowdrops that earns them such a devoted following? Do you have Galanthomania too? (Andy Biefield, The Guardian)

The secret of a long life–“Usually the rule in the animal kingdom is: a lot of progeny means a short life – if you are less fertile, you live longer. However, it seems that social insects – that is, insects that live in societies – can escape this fate.” (Daniel Elsner/Karen Meusemann/Judith Korb UNIVERSITY OF FREIBURG, via

How do butterflies survive storms? C. Claiborne Ray,

Mowing down the myth of high-maintenance lawns. (Carol Reese,

Plants get a brace to precisely shed flowers and leaves. Biologists … have just reported …how plants regulate the detachment process and protect themselves. As shedding is closely associated with a plants’ life cycle, this is a topic of substantial interest to improve crop and fruit production. (Institute for Basic Science,

So you think you have bark beetles.  While it is from Florida, it is a very informative video. (Jiri Hulcr, Youtube)

Plant story – 200 year old seeds spring to life. Against all expectations, seed scientists from Kew’s Millennium Seed Bank at Wakehurst, germinated 200 year old seeds discovered in The National Archives. Some of these have now grown into healthy plants.” (

Blue flowers! Cool blue hues can help your garden become a calming and tranquil place. Of course, there aren’t many “true blue” flowering plants to be found, but we’ve come up with a few that could help you bring on the blue.” (Gardening Solutions, University of Florida,)

Best practices for container gardening. Andrea Laine, EMGV, Durham Extension Master Gardener)

Photo credit: Joan – Flickr – CC

Grow Kiwi!  “If you have a good strong trellis, are a bit of a gambler and have a love of kiwifruit, there’s no reason not to grow your own crop.” (Kym Pokorny, OSU)

10 Ideas to steal from the world’s biggest botanical garden. (Clare Coulson,

Butterfly wings inspire light-manipulating surface for medical implants. (Vinayak Narasimhan et al, California Institute of Technology, via

Scientist rediscovers insect lost for 105 years. (Sarah Nightingale, ucrtoday, University of California, Riverside)

Learn how to keep cats out of your garden. (Brooke Edmunds, OSU, via

The gelatinous looking tongues on the seeds of “Dicentra cucullaria, Dutchman’s Breeches, … are the elaiosomes. “They are rich in fatty lipids and proteins and meant for ants. Ants carry the seeds off into the ground, eat the fatty package and then leave the seed planted and ready to sprout when the time comes. This relationship is called myrmecochory. myrmeco=ant, chory=dispersal. Fun fact: Anthropochory is human dispersal of seeds, like when seeds stick to your pant leg. Many different plants, including Wild Ginger, trilliums and other Dicentra species like the more common Bleeding Heart, Dicentra formosa, have this relationship and produce elaiosomes. Ants are gardeners too.” (Humblerootsnursery, Instagram)

Genetic secrets of the rose revealed. (Helen Briggs, BBC New)

Grassland plants react unexpectedly to high levels of carbon dioxide. (University of Minnesota)

Watch the informative video—“Illnesses on the rise from Mosquito, Tick and Flea Bits. Disease from Mosquitoes, Tick and Flea bites have more than tripled in the US from 2004 to 2016.”(Centers for Disease

Ants navigate with the sixth sense. “Researchers…have now made the surprising discovery that the desert ant uses the Earth’s magnetic field as orientation cue during these calibration trips. This ability had been previously unknown for desert ants.” (University of Wurzburg, via

Celebrating Robber flies – big, beautiful venomous assassins! (Erica McAlister, Natural History Museum, London)

A new Spider family tree tries to untangle the Evolution of Webs. Scientists have fiercely debated the origins of the orb-style web. A new study challenges the idea that all spiders who make this web had a common ancestor.” (Veronique Greenwood, New York Times)

Fruit DNA in invasive Flies’ (SWD) guts could help track their dispersal. (Laura Kraft,

New apple disease spoils even pasteurized foods. (Krishna Ramanujan, Cornell University)

Learn how to make your own Codling Moth traps, from an OSU expert:  You can make your own apple, pear and Asian pear codling moth pheromone traps. Get a 2 liter pop bottle. 3/4 inch up from the base, cut a 2×2 inch square. Add a good jam, like strawberry; mixed with water so it is sticky and place in the bottom of the pop bottle. Place the pop bottle in the upper 1/3 of the fruit tree. Check each night. They tend to be most active in the evening.” (Ross Penhalagen. OSU farm forum, Facebook)

With more than 4,000 cultivars, Hostas are emperors of the shade. (Linda Geist, University of Missouri Extension)

Can Dirt Save the Earth?  “Agriculture could pull carbon out of the air and into the soil — but it would mean a whole new way of thinking about how to tend the land.” (Moises Velasquez-Manof,

A passion for purple foliage plants. (Cindy Haynes, Iowa State University Extension)

A Chinese factory is using AI to breed 6 billion cockroaches each year. (

It turns out that trees have a “heartbeat” too. (

Science and Twitter join forces to uncover a globally imperiled plant species of Heuchera. (Schuette S, Folk RA, Cantley JT, Martine CT, via Pensoft Publishers,

Menu/recipe themed gardens.  Specialists have made it easy for you! Check out the different types of gardens, from Pizza, Salsa, Tea, French Fries and more! “Juicy, plump red tomatoes. Crisp onions. Aromatic green basil. Fresh-cut lettuce.  These sound enticing on the pages of seed catalogs, but many people may feel intimidated by the idea of their own garden and the tilling, weeding and work that comes with it.  The key ingredient to a menu/recipe garden? Plant the most-used produce and herbs from your most-used recipes.  (Insights, Ohio State University)

Photo credit: OSU EESC photo archive

THIS MYTH BUSTED! Sometimes concepts that are spread via social media and web pages that are just too juicy to pass by such as this “Easy at Home Soil Test”: “… Soil, Plant Pest Center tested several acidic soils and several alkaline soils submitted to the center and testing was complete. They followed the directions for this test using vinegar (weak acetic acid) or baking soda (sodium bicarbonate). Each soil was mixed with either vinegar or baking soda + water.

The results were as follows: 1. None of the acidic soils bubbled when baking soda + water was added; 2. Most of the neutral to alkaline soils did not bubble when vinegar was added. There were a few exceptions. Debbie pulled two soils with pH readings of over 8.1. One bubbled vigorously when vinegar was added; the other, also with an 8.1 pH did not bubble. In general, the test did not work as advertised. To be honest, if it had worked, it still would have yielded very little information. If it had worked, it would not have given the degree of alkalinity or acidity.

If you want reliable information about soils, use a professional soils laboratory that’s certified by meeting industry standards”… (Extension Master Gardener, Facebook)

Rip Van Winkle’ plants hide underground for up to 20 years (University of Sussex, via

While not a local list, here are brief descriptions of many Apple, Crabapple, Pear, Plum and Cherry  varieties. (

How a common beetle (Rove Beetle) may offer deep insights into evolution. (James Gorman,

What you learn when you put smelly socks in front of Mosquitoes. (Rina Shaikh-Lesko, American University-Washington, via NPR)

Why do your teeth feel weird after eating spinach? (Laura Geggel,

Beyond the Honey Bee: How pesticides affect solitary, cavity-nesting Bees (Meredith Swett Walker,

Lizards, mice, bats and other vertebrates are important pollinators too. (Fabrizia Ratto et al, via Ecological Society of America &

Variegated Tulips: Beauty from a Virus (Olivia Tracy, Master Gardener, Colorado State University via

5 plants and animals utterly confused by climate change. Global warming is causing spring to arrive early and autumn to come late in many places, and not all species are adapting at the same rate.” (Livia Albeck-Ripka & Brad Plumer,

Need help in finding pollinator attracting plants? Use a search engine: Search by zip code and pollinator type and other characteristics. (Rutgers University, protecting bees, Rutgers University)

Listen to the sick beats of Rhubarb growing in the darksnap, crackle, produce! (Eric Grundhauser,

Let’s be rational about roots- the myth about root pruning. (Linda Chalker-Scott, WSU via

Gnome management in the garden! (Utah State Extension, youtube)

Summer flower recommendations. (Chris Rusch, OSU Master Gardener, Douglas Co. Oregon, via New Times Review)

Having one eye better than the other may explain ants’ left bias. (University of Bristol via

Colorful moth wings date back to the dinosaur era-New fossils reveal the structure of the ancient insects’ light-scattering scales. (Laurel Hamers,

How big spiders use nanoscale physics to fly New study reveals the complex strategies crab spiders use to soar on streamers of silk. (Nala Rogers,

Online garden tour-a contemporary English garden offers a reflection of the past.  Traditional influences and materials create a garden in harmony with its history. (Anne Balogh, (Note : Master Gardeners do not endorse any commercial products. Mention of products in this article does not indicate endorsement.)

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