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  • February 12 - Douglas C. Berry
  • February 12 - Douglas C. Berry
  • February 12 - Douglas C. Berry
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Summer growth of table grapes in Northern Missouri

This season's weather has included an abundent amount of precipitation; hence it is looking to be a bumper corn crop in Missouri.  Chariton County located in the north central part of the state has fared well when it concerns rain; abundent but not too much to flood out the crops.  The soy bean harvest is still up in the air at this point, but the corn harvest looks to be a confirmed good one. Gardens have seen the appearance of the dreaded Japanese beetle.  These beetles were in my table grape vineyard in Mendon, MO, which means they will most likely only get worse in the future.  Worse than the beetles was the damage in my vineyard due to 2-4-D herbicide spray drift from the surrounding corn and soybean fields.  I opine that every town in the Midwest should have table grapes planted only if to be indicators of herbicide drift into our communities where we live.  Grapes in particular are very sensitive to herbide drift and exhibit damaged leaves and twisted shoots that are easilly identifiable.  Grapes are like a canary in a coal mine when it comes to alerting us of high levels of herbicide drift.  The grape cultivers Mars, Vanessa, Neptune, Venus, Canadice, Concord, Van Buren, America,and  Sunbelt were negatively impacted by glyphosphate and various 2-4-D herbicide drift.  The grape varieties Price, Steuben, Reliance, Joy, and Edeilweis showed some resistance.  One older variety from the University of Arkansas breeding program called Mars was almost killed from the spray drift.  I will post some further updates on spray drift resistant table grape varieties from my home vineyard in Chariton County, Missouri in the future. When you live in such a friendly town as Mendon and in such a pretty part of Missouri as Chariton County who can complain?  We have had such a moist summer that the table grapes have mostly rebounded after being poisoned and have made excellent growth with one vine of Steuben actuallly reaching over ten feet high and wide that began as a small transplant this spring! Happy gardening and good luck farming!


Missouri Spring

 The past few days have seen the return of our robins and each morning instead of silence we are greeted with their singing.  The grass is starting to green up and grow.  Dutch white clover seed is sprouting... It is early spring in north central Missouri.  Area farmers are busy preparing for spring planting.  Here at Gem Metro we are also gearing up for the season ahead.  Now is the time to get your garden landscaping cleaned up:  hauling off brush, trimming roses, removing leaf piles, picking up any windblown trash, laying out vegetable gardens,... so much to do!  This season keep in mind that if you mow your grass turf at a higher cut this will allow the grass to better compete with weeds such as crab grass.  Spraying for crab grass is a waste of time and expense; instead keep your lawn grass taller during the hotter periods of the season.  Getting rid of weeds is all about turf managemant.  Take care of the turf grass and it will be thick and vigorous.  Many "weeds" actually are only trying to cover the bare soil from the effects of wind, compaction, and erosion.  Most weeds are annual pioneer plants that are covering bare ground.  To beat the weeds battle them with cultural practices and good soil management; treat the cause not the symptoms.  A thick stand of crab grass or prostrate knotweed in your lawn is evidence of poor cultural practices and soil compaction that will never be solved with the use of herbicides.  Think smart this season and beat the weeds.


Fall Flowers Last Flush: A Poem by Philip Frenau

Hybrid Tea Roses on their own (ungrafted) roots: Brandy & Fragrant Cloud


“The Wild Honey Suckle” Philip Frenau (1752-1832)


Fair flower, thou dost so comely grow,

Hid in this silent, dull retreat,

Untouched thy honied blossoms blow,

Unseen thy little branches greet:

     No roving foot shall crush thee here,

     No busy hand provoke a tear.


By nature’s self in white arrayed,

She bade thee shun the vulgar eye,

And planted here the guardian shade,

And sent soft waters murmuring by;

     Thus quietly thy summer goes,

     Thy days declining to repose.


Smit with those charms, that must decay,

 I grieve to see your future doom;

They died – nor were those flowers more gay,

The flowers that did in Eden bloom;

     Unpitying frosts, and Autumn’s power

     Shall leave no vestige of this flower.


From morning suns and evening dews

At first thy little being came:

If nothing once, you nothing lose,

For when you die you are the same;

     The space between, is but an hour

     The frail duration of a flower.


Dynamic Accumulator

Dynamic Accumulator


                No, this is not a person who collects any and everything from garage sales and auctions and then stores them in their house in piles so high they make a pack rat green with envy…no, in fact a dynamic accumulator is, specifically, a plant that is able to mine the mineral riches contained in subsoil by bringing them to the surface.  A plant such as common Comfrey (symphytum x uplandicum) is a good example of a dynamic accumulator.  Comfrey is a deep rooted perennial   armed with roots reaching way down into the abyss of subsoil normally not accessible to the plow, shovel, or rotary tiller.  Although comfrey is a big user of nitrogen it is able to pull potassium from deep within the subsoil where it ultimately ends up in its leaves.  These leaves can be harvested by the gardener where upon being laid as mulch around plants quickly composts into a black material rich in a readily available form of potash.  “Potash” is a term originating from early experiments wherein a potted plant was burned and the resulting ashes were shown to contain the element potassium.  Potassium (Potash) is the third numeral of the common fertilizer code: such as 5-10-12; 5 indicating Nitrogen content, 10 Phosphorus, and 12 Potash (K).  Some other commonly found plants easily used by the gardener as dynamic accumulators include but is not limited to: chicory, borage, buckwheat, lemon balm, stinging nettle, and yarrow.

      I will argue many trees can be considered in this category also.  Consider the mature maples growing all around the Kansas City area...  Like the lilies of the field they neither toil nor spin, but King Solomon could never array his garden’s compost pile with the macro and micronutrients these stately old trees mine for free.  The process works where first the tree roots pull up elements ten feet under 12th Street and Vine, then traveling up the cambium layer some of these materials end up in the tree’s leaves.  Fall comes and the chlorophyll laden sap returns into the trees limbs and the true pigment of the Norway Maple’s leaves shine forth in burgundy and orange hues.  Finally, a big crisp wind from the prairie blows off the season’s spent leaves like some fallen angel onto your lawn where the humic acids and the shading of the decaying leaf begins to stain your sidewalks and kill your grass.  To the rescue comes Gem Metro Yard Service to save the day as your leaves are removed and trucked to Mishka’s commercial salad greens field where they are incorporated into the farm soil.  The final stop is where your salad fork shoves the lettuce into your mouth at the upscale restaurant you both decided on while in KCMO… as the trace micronutrient called copper is incorporated into your living breathing being to keep your heart pumping as it should.  Bottom line: Dynamic Accumulators are our friends.


Business Meeting in the West




"We need to stop the people who do not believe in us"  Douglas C. Berry 7-15-2011