Chicken Lettuce Wraps
3 tbsp. hoisin sauce
2 tbsp. soy sauce
2 tbsp. rice wine vinegar
1 tbsp. Sriracha, optional
1 tsp. sesame oil
1 c. diced red onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp. freshly grated ginger
1 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1 lb. ground chicken
1/2 c. unsalted peanuts, chopped
1/2 c. chopped cilantro
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded, chopped
kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Large leafy lettuce (leaves separated), for serving
Make the sauce: Whisk together hoisin sauce, soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, Sriracha, and sesame oil in a small bowl.
Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and sauté until soft. Stir in garlic and ginger and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add ground chicken and cook until browned.
Pour in the sauce and cook 1 to 2 minutes more. Turn off heat and stir in cilantro, peanuts and jalapeno. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

Spoon a large scoop (about 1/4 cup) of chicken mixture into the center of each lettuce leaf. Serve immediately.

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USDA Zone Hardiness Map -
Dead on Arrival 
With hardiness zone maps, gardeners can trace zone lines around their state to find out which plants they could possibly grow in their own region. Let's see here St. Paul, Minnesota (Zone 4) we cannot plant a coconut palm (Zone 9). Outdoors, one freeze (below 25 degrees) will kill them.
The zones in the latest 2012 edition come from 1976-2005 temperature data. Each of the USDA's 13 zones is based on averaging the lowest winter temperatures. Not sure about where you live, but I have yet to see an average winter. Marking another milestone for a changing planet, scientists reported that the Earth reached its highest temperature ever recorded in 2016. This surpasses the last two years which also were the hottest on record. None of this data is included on the latest zone map.

So, what should gardeners do with this information?  I like to think about the zone hardiness map as a guide for winter survivability only. Winter hardiness is just one piece of information in plant selection. We also need to consider summer heat, rainfall, snow cover, micro-climates, insects, and soil factors such as drainage, pH, and so on. 
Human nature says we want what we can't have and gardeners love to cheat the boundaries of their hardiness zone - people in zone 4 love to grow zone 5 plants; people in zone 5 love to grow zone 6 and so on. If you can't plant things you're not supposed to grow, you're not having fun as a gardener.

I think hardiness maps are about giving you a ballpark figure, a starting point from which to make better judgments based on experience. If one's climate is getting consistently warmer, that can be anticipated and planned for. Furthermore, you would have noticed it getting warmer before any map comes out to tell you about it. But if the climate is getting more erratic and inconsistent, that is more difficult for both the gardener and the plants he or she tends. And in that case, no hardiness map can tell you what you need to know.

Click to view the USDA Hardiness Map by Zone

A surprise discovery, flowering dogwood (Cornus florida) Zone 5-9 in a Zone 4 backyard.

Japanese maple (Acer palmatum) Zone 5-9 growing for many years in a protected location Zone 4.

European Beach, such as Tricolor (pictured here), Red Obelisk, and Rivers Purple are Zone 5 selections you may want to try in Zone 4.  
So Long Sucker!!
Suckers are those little shoots that come off a plant's roots or right at the base of the trunk. This occurs frequently in trees that are grafted such as fruit trees. Grafting   is the practice of taking the upper part from one plant selected for its stems , leaves , flowers , or fruits  (called the scion) and splicing it onto a lower portion of a different plant that will provide the roots for the cutting (called the rootstock).
Sometimes grafted rootstocks sucker and send out shoots in response to having lost their upper part of the tree. A growth hormone located in this leader would have controlled new shoot development. When this is removed it's like a country without a king; all hell breaks loose.

A common practice of removing suckers by cutting them away has been shown to increase sprouting, as this creates a wound response in the plant and initiation of more suckers. The use of glyphosate herbicides such as Roundup ® to remove suckers is a high-risk practice that can kill the entire plant. One might be tempted to just leave the suckers, but it is best to remove them as quickly as possible. Suckers sap the energy from the main tree and diminish its health, plus add nothing to the trees ornamental appeal. 

The best way to conduct sucker control is with a sprout inhibitor such as Tre-Hold Sprout Inhibitor ® , Sucker Stopper ® or other formulations containing naphthaleneacetic acid (NAA) to inhibit the development of sprouts. These products contain hormones that replace the apical dominance of the tree, which is why the tree is suckering.

Suckers should be removed in early summer, just after the tree has completed its spring growth. Paint or spray the NAA products onto pruning cuts after sprouts are removed.

Suckering sprouts emerge from the roots of a crabapple tree.

Sucker Stopper ® is a hormone based spray that is effective in controlling sucker growth.

The graft union is clearly visible early in the tree's life, but will disappear as it grows 
Click to purchase Sucker Stopper from Amazon. 

Thanks for reading.  
Happy Planting!    


Faith Appelquist

President & Founder


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