Tahlequah Daily Press


April 23, 2012

Library kicks off new Living Green series

TAHLEQUAH — These days, more and more people want to know where their food comes from, and many prefer a source close to home.

In recognition of that trend, the Tahlequah Public Library held a plant swap in the Carnegie Room Thursday to kick off its Living Green Series program.

Participants brought flowers, vegetables, ground-cover plants, seeds and other related items to be traded.

“This is the first [activity] of the series, and we’re hoping to repeat it next year, if it takes off,” said Adult Programs Instructor Cherokee Lowe. “We’re doing several different programs [about] recycling, using the Farmers’ Market and growing your own crops, and plastic-free living. This is a way to encourage people [to learn more about green living] so  they’re all together in the same place. It’s something we need here in Tahlequah.”

Those who had something to trade were able to leave with the same number of plants they came with, said Lowe. Oklahoma State University Extension Office Agriculture Educator Roger Williams was available to answer questions and provide information about gardening and plant care.

“With a vegetable garden, you’ve got to decide what produces well in this area, and what time of year you’re wanting to plant it,” he said. “You’ve got to get a [good garden] spot, know about what you’re going to plant, and then study the varieties [of the plant] to make sure you’re planting something that is for this area, and not something that only produces in Minnesota.”

A gardener also needs to be familiar with plant protection, said Williams.

“You need to make yourself aware of what type of pests are going to come around,” he said.  “Year after year, there will be certain pests on certain things. If you catch it early when it’s small and easy to control, it’s not near the problem. Plus, if there’s a [photo of a] little bug that you’ve seen on the internet that could be on your tomato plant or your beans or whatever, you’ll know what you’re looking at when checking your plants. You’ve got to educate yourself a little bit.”

Williams said the key in developing a green thumb is knowing the local surroundings and being able to identify the best growing conditions for native plants and vegetation.

“Tomatoes, okra, squash are some of the things that always produce well in this area,” said Williams. “A beginning gardener can do that, and then if you think, ‘I’m good enough that I think I could grow this hard thing to grow that can only be grown in Oregon,’ give it a try, but at least get some production out of it.”

Northeastern State University student Laura Hulbert is from Grand Rapids, Mich., and she arrived in Oklahoma in December expecting to see gravel-covered terrain.

The sophomore social work student found out about the plant swap at a meeting of the NSU Horticulture Club, and wanted to see what the locals are growing – especially after discovering the state’s natural environment offers more than tundra-like conditions.

“I’ve found more grass in Michigan, and it all looks the same, whereas here it looks patchy,” she said. “But plant-wise, I can go for hikes in the woods and I still notice the same things I would go hunting for in Michigan.”

Ten-year-old Conner Wallace finds plants “cool,” and offered a brief lesson on an herbaceous annual that’s native to the Mediterranean region, but can be grown indoors anywhere on the planet.

“The arugula is an eatable plant, and it tastes real spicy,” he said.

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