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Wetlands are vital to global existence, and next to the rain forests in importance, provide a necessary habitat for a wide range of plants and animals. These areas, which some deem as waste lands and a place to dump, are essential to clean drinking water and are important as flood control zones. Wetland are unique and and full of surprises.

Pickerelweed is one of those surprises. A native plant to the Americas, it thrives in a large swath of territory from Canada to Argentina. It is a common plant found in many wetland areas of the United States.

Officially known as Pontederia cordata, this perennial aquatic plant is perhaps best known for it’s brilliant display of sky-blue flowers, although the flowers can also be purple or white. The flowers appear above the water on spikes which can reach upwards from the water to three feet or more. The flowers appear in mid to late spring and the blooms continue for most of the summer.


The exotic blooms, often unseen by millions of people, begin in late spring and continue until late summer. The flowers, however, are seen by a wide variety of insects who feast on the pollen and nectar. A wide range of wasps, butterflies, bumblebees, honeybees and other insects, as well as, hummingbirds, enjoy visits to the plant’s flowers. One bee, the Dufourea novae-angliae, visits only the pickerelweed weed for nectar and pollen.

Deer are particularly fond of the pickerelweed as are muskrats. Waterfowl also  enjoy the seeds.

The leaves of this water plant, which grows in colonies, also provide a habitat for fish, frogs and other water life, such as tadpoles and pollywogs.

For humans, the shiny green heart-shaped leaves can be eaten after they are briefly boiled or eaten raw in a salad. The seeds produced by the flowers can also be eaten like nuts after they are dried and can be used in a variety of dishes.

These hardy water plants are often used in ponds and water gardens and are readily available at many commercial water garden outlets as plants to enjoy in the backyard. They can be started from seeds or rhizomes. They are winter hardy and can survive cold temperatures as low as minus 27.

They do require freshwater. The pickerelweed will grow in soggy soil but water from a foot to three feet deep is best.. They will thrive in areas with partial shade to full sun..

Pickerelweed is an amazing and important wetland plant; one that’s easy to grow in a water garden to dazzle and enchant, as well as to help a host insects, fish, amphibians and reptiles.

Two Fun Facts:

The official first name of pickerelweed,Pontederia, is named for the Italian botanist Guilio Pontedera (1688 – 1759); cordata is Latin for heart shaped.

Pickerelweed receives its unofficial name from the fish pickerel or the Northern Pike with whom it co-exists.

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Tomatoes, once a wild weed discovered just a few centuries ago, are one of the most popular vegetables today in countless home gardens. Discovered by early explorers in Central America during colonization, perhaps around 1520 or so, tomatoes have captivated and amazed  and fed a good portion of the world’s population ever since.

The tomato pictured above has no name except what I call it, Koyote  Brandywine. I have grown this variety for years and years. At the Spartansburg Community Fair one year, I met an Amish man and he won first place for his tomatoes. He told me his family has grown it for generations and gave me a couple to take home. He told me it was an heirloom Brandywine.

The tomatoes were delicious, the best I had ever eaten. I was fortunate enough to take and save some of the seeds to store for the next year. Ever since, it has been the most reliable tomato variety, ripening early and throughout the season. Perhaps, it seems strange to talk about tomatoes this late in the growing season, but it is the time to also save seeds. More towards the end of this post. First a couple basics.

Today, as in the past, there are no secret formulas or magic chants to growing a successful tomato harvest, just some basic tips. A tomato can be either determinate or indeterminate. Determinate means simply that most of the tomatoes of this variety ripen more or less at the same time. These varieties come in handy when a bumper crop is needed for preserving. Indeterminate simply means the variety will produce throughout the growing season. These varieties are great for fresh table use, sale, and if enough are planted, there are still plenty for preserving.

The second tomato tip to remember has more recent origins dating to 1949 when the W. Atlee Burpee company introduced the first hybrid tomato the, “Big Boy Hybrid”. This was the beginning of what could be dubbed the “tomato revolution”. Hundreds of new varieties have appeared ever since. A basic  hybrid is simply a cross between two tomato varieties; breeders select the best qualities of each. While there are many advantages to hybrids, the seeds will not grow true to the parent plant. The next generation will revert back to one or the other parent plant, or develop into a unique and unknown variety.

Before 1949, all tomatoes were, in general, heirlooms. Heirloom varieties which were grown year after year have same generally predictable results. They were grown for a variety of reasons: flavor, disease resistance, storage, preservation. The heirloom seeds could be saved; and it was a safe bet that the following year’s crop would be the same. The heirlooms, like many “wild plants” became adjusted to particular soil conditions and environmental conditions over the generations.

Saving the seed from your fav tomato plant is actually pretty easy. Besides the named Koyote Brandywine, I also grow a variety from Seed Savers Exchange called Striped Roman. It is a fantastic paste tomato. I also save those seeds every year. What’s really, really, important is to label the seeds from the get go so varieties don’t get mixed up.


Usually I seed save the Koyote Brandywine Tomato first (it ripens earlier anyway), about the same time as when the garlic is ready to dig. Choose the best and scoop the seeds out. They will be encased in a gel. I usually have a pint jar, place the seeds and the surrounding gel in the jar and fill with water. Shake the jar whenever you think about it. In four days or so, all of the good tomato, seeds will have sunk to the bottom of the jar. Pour the liquid and the seeds into a screener and be sure to wash or rinse off the seeds under running water. Place the cleaned seeds on a glass plate to dry, avoid using paper towels, the seeds will stick to the paper and it’s a mess.

After a few days, the seeds should be dry. I place mine in a glass baby jar and then store in a cool dry spot until ready to plant in the spring. There are plenty of Websites which have much the same information which anyone can google search. But, if you discover an extraordinary tomato this harvest season, make sure it isn’t a hybrid and learn as much as possible from the grower. Start seed saving.

There are no hidden secrets to growing a great tomato harvest; just a few common sense steps based on plant knowledge; know your seed, know your soil, weed, mulch, stake and experiment with other techniques. Tomatoes, after all, are wild plants, and since 1520 or so they have surprised and captivated gardeners, some for a lifetime.


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August opens an important and colorful season as the goldenrods turn fields and roadside ditches brilliant yellow. The important goldenrods attract a huge variety of insects, including many honey bees and native bees; the nectar and pollen provides a winter food supply and for some. the last meals before winter arrives. While bees are common on the goldenrod flowers, the plant is important to a host of others, including moths and butterflies, flies, caterpillars, ambush bugs, lacewings and an assortment of beetles. One of the more popular insects to be seen around the goldenrod is the praying mantis. The Praying Mantis will lay eggs on the goldenrod so that when they hatch, the young will have plenty eat. Much the same is true with the Gall Fly. Gall Flies live entirely on the goldenrod plant and the female injects her eggs into the stem forming what is called the gall, a round ball seen on the stem. At times, woodpeckers can be seen on the gall, knocking though to get a meal of the developing larvae. There is even a unique crab spider called the Goldenrod Spider. While it is not harmful to humans, it does strike it’s prey, often much larger, with a powerful venom. The Goldenrod Spider does not make a web to catch it’s prey but rather waits in the yellow flowers for a meal. This spider is also unusual in that it can change it’s color, shifting back and forth between white and yellow.

Goldenrods and wild purple asters bloom during September and October and the display is the best, free flower show intown.

Goldenrods and wild purple asters bloom during September and October and the display is the best, free flower show intown.

There are over dozens of known species of goldenrod in North America which often bloom with the wild and regal purple asters. Together, along with other brilliant wildflowers in bloom, the display is one of the best, free flower shows available. While the vast majority of goldenrod flowers are shades yellows and golds, there is one species with white flowers,Solidago bicolor. Goldenrods are abundant throughout much of North America and Europe. While they are often blamed for fall allergies, it is most likely the ragweed, with a lighter, wind blown, pollen, which is the culprit. In folk medicine, the common goldenrod is most used to brew a tea. It is reputed to help urinary tract infections, kidney stones and to heal wounds. It’s Latin name, solidago, means to make whole,  or to strengthen. The Solidago Family actually rules the autumn months. In many regions of Appalachia, a tea brewed from the leaves, called “Blue Mountain Tea”, the tea is drank to alleviate exhaustion and to help treat cold and flu symptoms. The tea made from the leaves has a somewhat anise flavor. The medicinal aspects of the goldenrod were also known to many Native American peoples, some who called it sun medicine. The goldenrod flower has long been associated with good fortune in folklore. It was believed that wearing flower would result in meeting a true love the following day. Another folklore claims, that a baby bathed in goldenrod leaves would grow up to have a sunny disposition. Thomas Edison was thinking about more than a sunny disposition when he was experimenting with the plant. Edison believed the goldenrod could be a good source for domestic rubber. Edison, along with Henry Ford and Henry Firestone, tested 17,000 plants and found the goldenrod plant to be the best suited for home grown rubber production. The testing was done at the Edison Botanic Research Corporation located in Fort Myers, Florida. A crossbred goldenrod plant developed there grew to an amazing 12 feet tall and was believed to contain 12 percent rubber. Some test tires, made from rubber extracted from the goldenrod plant, were made for the Model T Fords. The goldenrod rubber project was discontinued when synthetic rubber was discovered. Those yellow fields in the late summer and early autumn countryside have a lot of history, both commercial and medicinal; they are vital to the environment, and provide one of the best flower show around.

More About August Happenings


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Getting the kitchen blues is actually very good and healthy. Native blueberries are one of the best and most important health foods that grow throughout much of northern North America either as domesticated bush, or in the wild. In recent decades, blueberries have been developed and planted in warmer climates, such as South America, making the tasty berries available throuighout the year.

In northwestern Pennsylvania and many other northern locations, the harvest season begins in late July and continues well into August and even September. The “little blue dynamos” can be found at roadside stands, farmers markets, pick-your-own berry farms, in addition to supermarkets. With very little effort, it is easy to find plenty of berries to last throughout the year, Blueberries can be frozen or canned for kitchen use throughout the year; the berries also make a very good wine or brandy.

Blueberry bushes can also be easily planted in the yard or garden at home for your own personal use. The bushes are attractive and require minimal space. The stunning white flowers in the spring, attract a wide variety of native bees, such as the bumblebee as well as honey bees. The blueberry bush, however,  prefers a soil which is on the acidic side, enjoy plenty of organic material, along with plenty of sun. Most experts suggest planting at least two different varities of blueberries which will help to increase yields. The bushes can live and reproduce for decades. (I have bsushes, which are approaching 75 years as far as anyone can tell; they’ve just always been there.).

Deer don’t bother the bushes, nor do rabbits or groundhogs. Even when there were cows and sheep here, the farm animals didn’t bother the bushes. There can be several problems with some insect pests but those can be easily controlled with the proper information from an agricultural organization. Here, the bushes have been pest free from insect problems. Once the berries begin to ripen birds enjoys them just as much as humans. Many growers use an inexpenive netting to control the bird-plucking.

Blueberries are flavorful and can be used in a wide range of recipes, even in a blueberry pizza!  Best of all, the berries are a great health food. One cup contains only about 80 calories and has more antioxidents than either spinach or oranges.. Blueberries are high in Vitamins C, one cup is 50 percent of the FDA recommended allowance,  and contain commendable amounts of Vitamin E and other vital nutrients such as beta-carotene, folic acid, fiber and potassium.

For more information about blueberries, including one communities Blueberry Social, and other rural tips and comments, discover Koyote Hill

For health sake,  the blues are pretty good, and perhaps, the best.


For Immediate Release

Tyler Built, an American company, located in Belsena Mills, PA, announced  the availability of a new, inovative and technological device, which will provide High Speed Internet Service to millions of underserved rural Americans as well as many people throughout the global community.

The small sized device (about the size of a match box), is inexpensive and the convenient installation of the device, will provide high speed internet access to virtually anywhere in the world

. “The driving force for this innovation is to provide persons of all ages access to the learning resources, educational resource, business opportunities and other vital tools needed by our society,” Jeffery Charles Tyler, the inventor, visionary and engineer at Tyler Built, said. “This technology greatly improves the total information that can be transmitted over small wires and other medium starting in the range of MHz to infinity. By itself and combined with other transmission devices, it will change the way the internet is accessed the way we know it today. “

Customer Impact Greatly Improved

Many students, businessmen and women, and other customers in rural USA are under-served with old “dial up” internet service or other expensive and somewhat unreliable services.

“I have spent eight years developing this inexpensive and easily installed device,” Tyler said. “This electronic/regenerator can accept any transmission signal, digital or analogue and repeat, reform, and regenerate that signal for long distance high speed communications. The device can be easily installed into existing telephone lines or other outside cabling

Jeffrey Tyler, Engineer, Visionary, Inventor

“Innovation that connects people with technologies”

Tyler BuiltSM

“Patent Pending” 62069889 Under 35 U.S.C. 111, 35 U.S.C. 371.

Skype: Tyler_Built

Doing what they said could not be done.

For More Information:

VoIP: 813-523-0247

Cell: 727-262-1991

Penn State University EET

St Petersburg College

The names of actual companies and products mentioned herein may be the trademarks of their respective owners.

Jeffrey C Tyler

Mobile: (727) 262-1991

Business: (813) 523-0247

More information and other good news for rural America Discover Koyote Hill

The fields and meadows of the eastern United States and Canada are turning white. The native perennial herb, Boneset, is blooming. The white blooms appear in August and the display usually runs through the end of September. The white blossoms were valauable medicine to many in the early days. Today, boneset is largely forgotten,.


I was fortunate one day to meet a logger who was checking a timber stand one day. As we were leaving the woods and walking into a field, he pointed the boneset plants out. For as long as I can remember, the plants were always there, year after year, but was unsure of what they were.

Boneset, technically known as Eupatorium perfoliatum, usually grows in moist areas of the fields. It’s white blossoms are produced on the top of hairy stalks. The stalks can be upwards of five to six feet feet tall. Often the herb can often be found growing among another important native plants; the golden yellow goldenrod, the deep purple wild asters, the shades of glowing pink Joe Pye Weed and the orange flowers of native Jewelweed. Boneset helps to provide quite the stunning flower show, free of all charge.

Boneset was an important medicinal herb and still has a place in a few medicine cabinets. Boneset was a well known and an important medicinal to the Native Americans, the early pioneers and to most rural American families until the early to mid -1900’s. The blossoms had a message, get ready flu and cold season is coming.


Boneset was used much like we use any aspirin today. It was widely prescribed to help the pain of broken bones and aid in their healing. Boneset was a common remedy for coughs, fevers and was the early stand-out treatment for the treating the flu. Interestingly, influenza or the word flu was not a common word for the pioneers. The term “break bone fever” (boneset) described what is commonly called the flu or influenza today.

Boneset was also used to treat other ailments such as malaria, rheumatism and pneumonia, arthritis and even migraines.

Originally, the herb boneset was used as a poultice and then a boneset tea became more popular.

The logger explained that the time to harvest the Boneset plant was when it was blooming. He said it makes a good tea, although it was somewhat on the bitter side. He was first introduced to the herb by some older loggers when he was younger, some twenty years ago. They would drink the tea a couple times a day when taking a break from cutting timber.

Boneset’s popularity went downhill in the early 1900’s and was largely forgotten after a new miracle drug from the bark of the willow tree was introduced. Aspirin was first sold in tablet form in 1915 by the German pharmaceutical company, Bayer. Soon afterward, boneset began to loose it’s importance. Today, aspirin has a special place today in medicine cabinets throughout the world, while the dried leaves and flowers of the boneset, have all but disappeared.

Interestingly, boneset does have a rather intriguing family tree, I discovered. It is in the same family tree as sunflowers, enchinea and daisy. One of it’s closer relatives is another important medicinal plant Joe Pye Weed.

Boneset is known by other names, depending on the region. It is also called agueweed, thoroughwort, and Indian sage. But regardless of it’s name, it was always considered one of the most effective medicinals.

As with any herbal home remedy it is always a good idea to consult with a medical professional. There are some indications that some people may have negative reactions to the herb. Apparently, however, there have been no exhaustive studies completed on it’s value although some valuable properties in the plant have been identified.


Boneset is harvested when it blossoms The plant should be dried before using; using the plant green, herbal wisdom claims, can be toxic. Most herbalists recommend using the dried flowers and leaves for a tea,  about ½ teaspoon per cup. Most home herbalist recommend three cups per day. For most people, the tea has a bitter taste and will induce sweating by raising the body temperature.

Many herbalists recommend discontinuing use of the tea after a two week period. For some, the plant’s herbal tea relieves symptoms within a twenty-four to 48 hour period.

While for some, boneset could be a valuable home remedy, medical plant, other see another value. Boneset is an excellent landscaping plant, particularly for a “wild” chemical free area of the yard. Boneset, a carefree perennial, can be planted with any number of other plants such as the native asters, Joe Pye Weed, the golden yellow goldenrod and other native plants to provide a wild garden which blooms throughout the seasons.. The added advantage is that boneset, like other native plants will attract many helpful native insects, butterflies and birds.

After the logger left for the day, I went back to field of boneset. I was amazed at the insect activity on the flowers, including the feral honeybees and many others which I did not recognize.

I’ll be cutting some soon to dry out, after all the cold and flu season is approaching, and try to learn about some of the other insects. It sure seems as if boneset, the original “aspirin”, remains a good choice for health benefits, landscaping and for the bees and other insects. It won’t be the forgotten herb growing in a nearby field.

Discover more about wild herbs, gardening, honey bees and more issues of rural concerns at Koyote Hill

August has many meanings. It means school is soon to begin for many. It also means summer is winding down and it won’t be long before the leaves begin to do their magic before the winter snows.

In many regions August is Fair month and harvest season; tomatoes and peppers ( and a myriad of other veggies) are at their peak and sweet corn is abundant. The magical sunflowers are also in full bloom – magical plants which have always had an important place for people since the very beginnings.


Sunflowers have rather unique history, can bloom in a range of colors, are healthy for people and wildlife. They are the plant of choice for many young children and older adults. Discover more about these amazing plants at Koyote Hill.

Sunflowers are a sign of hope and all that is good on earth. Sure tomatoes and other garden veggies and even pumpkins have their day in the “sun” as well. But the sunflower is life, after all it is the Sun…Flower.



For over some twenty years, garlic, the hardneck variety, has had a special spot in the backyard garden. There are numerous advantages for the home gardener. Homegrown garlic has a far superior taste to supermarket varieties which are normally the softneck variety which, in general, were grown thousands of miles away of even on a different continent. Another big advantage to growing garlic are the numerous health benefits. It is one of the healthiest garden crops around. For thousands of years now, people have used garlic as a medicinal plant as well as a culinary ingredient. Garlic is a low maintenance plant and doesn’t really require a lot of care. A little organic compost and, following the recommendations of a soil test, lime may be necessary (as well as some other minerals and additives depending on the test results). Wildlife, such as the groundhogs, deer and rabbits just seem to stay away from garlic. Nor is it bothered by insects.

. garlicsnow

In the Beginning

I got my first garlic bulbs from an older Italian immigrant who gave me a couple basic pointers for successful growing. It was a hardneck variety called Rocambole (there are nine listed other hardneck varieties also available). Rocambole is a good choice for northern gardeners. It is exceptionally winter hardy and even laughs at the cold and snow. In northwestern Pennsylvania, some thirty miles inland from Lake Erie, early spring snow storms are rather commonplace. But the garlic doesn’t mind and will continue growing through the snow as pictured above. Garlic, in northern regions is generally planted in October and begins to grow as soon as warmer weather arrives in late winter. A few nice warm and sunny days is all it takes.


The Scapes

Usually anytime from mid to late June or early July, the twisting scapes appear on a flower stalk. The scape is a sign that the underground garlic bulb is reaching maturity and in about four weeks will be ready to be dug. There are several uses for the garlic scape or the first garlic harvest. First the scapes are delicious in many dishes from salads, soups and stews, casseroles and pesto. And they are many of the same health benefits. The scapes can also be left to mature on the flower stalk (Note:there is no flower). The scape will swell with about 50 small garlic bulbs, called bulbils, which can then be planted later in the fall. The advantage here is that a gardener can increase the amount of garlic planted, although it takes about two years for the bulbils to reach a respectable size. Another use for the scape is a little extra income. I have never seen garlic scapes in a supermarket. But on occasions have seen them being sold at Farmer’s Markets or roadside stands. Some growers cut the scapes off as soon as they appear. The theory behind this practice is that the underground bulb will grow larger.

Garlic hung for several hours in the shade  before hung in a shed.

There are many online sources which sell garlic, both hardneck and softneck. Or get to know a local garlic grower and buy some of the best bulbs for your garden. Discover more about the magical scapes at The First Garlic Harvest.  Please note: this a a Yahoo Voices Web site which will be discontinued on July 31, 2014.

Or Discover more at Funny Looking but Darn Good  


The important goldenrods are beginning to bloom in many fields and meadows. The botanical name for this important plant is Solidago, a word derived from the Latin word “solidare” which means to make whole. Goldenrods are native to Europe and parts of Asia; since the colonial days it has become a naturalized plant in North America. Today, in North America, 130 species of goldenrod have been discovered.

Goldenrods did play a role in the American Revolution. After the Boston Tea Party, the early colonist switched to goldenrod as a substitute beverage. It was called “Liberty Tea”.

The amazing goldenrod also provides shelter and food for a wide range of fascinating insects. Perhaps, the best known is the Praying Mantis. Other insects include the Gall Fly (ever wonder about those lumps on the goldenrod stems?), and the Golden Rod Spider.

It’s an essential plant for the honeybees and provides their last meals before winter weather. Other native bees and moths also feast on the plants nectar and pollen.

In mid-August the goldenrods are just beginning to put on their display along with the old time herb Boneset. This white flowering herb can often be found blooming with the golden yellow goldenrods (pictured above).

Long before Big Pharma and synthetic drugs, Boneset was widely used and could be found in many medicine cabinets. In general, it was dried and brewed into a tea to treat colds and flu.

Explore and discover these two important plants:

Sun Medicine

Boneset – The Forgotten American Herb

An August Reminder


The herb Rosemary, a native to the Mediterranean area (think healthy diet), does not like the northern winters. But it can be potted and placed inside in a sunny window, providing fresh tasty and healthy leaves all winter. It is an attractive plant, which doesn’t require a whole lot of attention as long as there is ample sunlight.

August says: “Think about moving Rosemary inside.”

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Rosemary – The Ancient Evergreen



The wet conditions in northwestern Pennsylvania over the last month have created some unique problems for home gardeners and commercial farmers. One of the more unknown problems is the lack of nectar and pollen for the bees. According to Kirk Johnson, the president of the Northwestern PA Beekeepers Asociation, the heavy rains are keeping the bees in their hives. When they are able to venture out, much of the pollen and nectar has been washed out of the flowers.

I am not so sure the pollen and nectar is missing from the Bee Plant or more commonly known as Borage. The star shaped, sky flowers open facing the ground, not facing towards the sky.  Borage is a very useful garden herb for many reasons. And high on the list is that it attracts bees, lots of bees.


Bees are important in any backyard garden since they help increase pollination and eventually the home harvest. Borage is also useful in the kitchen and is a respected medicinal herb packed with many good vitamins and minerals.

The herb is hardy, carefree and re-seeds itself every spring. For more information on this important herb, Borage.


The garlic scapes began to twist and turn at the end of June and soon became ready to cut and use in the kitchen. The scapes are the first garlic harvest following last year’s garlic planting. For more information and benefits of garlic scapes, click First Harvest.


Koyote Hill : A Grin and Bear it Growing Season

Wildflowers Life

Crawford County, PAWhat is Going On


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