October 31, 2008

Marigolds Make Way for Marijuana in Suburbia

Filed under: annuals, flower gardens, flowers, marigolds — Tags: , , , — patoconnor @ 1:21 pm

Marigolds Make Way for Marijuana in Suburbia                 

   Police Say ‘Grow Houses’ Have Proliferated Because They Offer Privacy and Move Growers Closer to Their Markets

By PATRIK JONSSONChristian Science Monitor

 SNELLVILLE, Ga., March 11, 2007 — The only permanent residents in the manicured, multigabled ranch east of Atlanta were illegal.

No, not that kind. They were little green creatures of the cannabis family — in short, marijuana plants.

Raids on 40 houses in 12 suburban Georgia counties over the past two weeks are one recent sign of what police say is a national trend in marijuana marketing: growing the illicit crop year-round indoors, using suburban homes as “grow-houses.”

Grow-houses — a spacious incarnation of the old grow-room — have proliferated like suburban-garden gnomes, as antidrug squads have chased growers off remote mountainsides and out of cornfields. In these basements, lights hum with thousands of watts across a sea of plants lodged in a hydroponic soup of nutrients. Upstairs, there’s usually no furniture, police say, except a cot, a chair and a rabbit-ear TV.

“It’s the most impressive thing I’ve seen in 20 years of law enforcement,” says Lt. Jody Thomas of the Fayette County Drug Taskforce.

Police say the ‘burbs give growers a degree of solace and safety, protected by suburbia’s premium on privacy and even a 2001 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that prevents law officers from aiming heat-sensing equipment at homes unless they first obtain search warrants.

The trend also signals that “production is moving closer to consumption” — a path that leads straight to the suburbs, says Jon Gettman, editor of the Bulletin of Cannabis Reform in Lovettsville, Va., which promotes legalizing marijuana for medicinal use.

Alarm about suburban pot-growing is rising, and some worry that efforts to eradicate crops grown outdoors are driving the illicit industry to become more entrenched in middle-class America, a la Showtime’s hit TV show “Weeds,” about a suburban mom who sells pot.

“This is horrifying,” says Sue Rusche, president of National Families in Action, which works to help children and teens resist drug use.

In the early 1980s, 80 percent of marijuana on U.S. streets was imported, mostly from Mexico, according to the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML), which works to stop arrests of marijuana smokers. Today, 40 percent of the supply is grown domestically — about half of it indoors under high-wattage lights that turn dank basements into sweltering hothouses.

While outdoor growing is risky and the results inconsistent, indoor growing, which began 30 years ago, has become a science, as amateur botanists produce potent varieties in controlled environments. Experts say it was only a matter of time before syndicates began applying basic black-market principles: higher potency and consistent yields equal more profit.

“It’s Adam Smith 101,” says Allen St. Pierre, executive director of NORML in Washington. “In a world of prohibition, if you can grow it in your little suburban home and cure it properly, it goes right to the top of the market and you see an incredible level of profit that all the other dealers don’t enjoy.”

Here’s how it worked, according to Fayette County’s Lieutenant Thomas: A wealthy buyer tied to a group of Cuban nationals in Miami bought homes in the endless suburbs of metro Atlanta. So as not to raise suspicion, growers illegally cut into public utilities such as water and electricity. Fences would go up in the backyards, and basement windows would be blacked over. “Baby sitters” would arrive late at night in pickup trucks, often talking on cellphones. Sometimes they would live in the homes on cots.

Harvested at 90-day intervals, the cured “buds” fetched as much as $6,000 a pound in New York City, where most of the suburban Atlanta crop was shipped. Police say a single house could yield more than $1 million in profit a year. Others say the figure is probably lower because authorities often overestimate per-plant yields.

Georgia has lagged behind in indoor busts, with just one last year. The U.S. government eradicates some 3.5 million marijuana plants each year, mostly outdoors, according to the Drug Enforcement Administration. Of some 800,000 marijuana-related arrests in 2005, 90,000 were for trafficking or growing, according to the FBI. The bureau does not further break out its numbers, but experts say growers by far make up the fewest number of arrests.

“We would never have found it without this tip from Florida,” says Thomas, referring to a similar series of busts of the same organization in the Miami area earlier this year. “It’s so extravagant, yet it has some amount of legitimacy. There’s often a car parked in the yard, but no traffic in and out, no buyers.”

Growers may have had several reasons for setting up shop in subdivisions like Summit Chase here in Snellville. A key one, though, is the privacy ethos. Darrell Lamb, a local high schooler, says the smell of pot would “slap me across the face” as he and some friends shot arrows in the nearby woods. But he never called the police.

Pat Edwards, who lives across the street, says privacy and anonymity trumped suspicion of the “unfriendly” men who tended the house at 2851 Creekwood Drive, but who evidently did not live there.

“Nobody really speaks to each other on this street, and that’s how we all like it,” she says. “Maybe these guys sensed that.”

Still, people talk. Pre-bust, the biggest gossip in the neighborhood was how the house at 2851 Creekwood fetched one of the highest sales prices in the subdivision, $219,000. Post-bust, speculation centered on whether it would affect property values. Closing up a yard sale across the street, Edwards struck a pragmatic note as she looks to leave the city for her childhood home in south Georgia.

“Maybe they want to buy my house,” she jokes. “I’ve got a big basement.”                            


Marigolds – Asteraceae/Compositae

Filed under: annuals, flower gardens, flowers, marigolds — Tags: , , , , — patoconnor @ 1:12 pm

                            Marigolds – Asteraceae/Compositae

Hundreds of varieties of marigold have been developed for the garden over the last few hundred years. These plants were brought from the new world to Europe in the 16th century and plant hybridizers have been busy with them ever since.

Marigolds are categorized into three groups: French, African and triploid marigolds. The French marigolds (Tagetes patula) are small bushy plants that are about 6-12 in (15-30 cm) in height. The flowers are up to 2 in (5 cm) across and are composed of a dense arrangement of “rays” that come in yellow, orange and a unique bronze color. The French marigolds bloom continuously until cut down by frost. The African marigolds (Tagetes erecta), also called American marigolds, are tall stout plants that grow to 3 ft (0.9 m) in height. They have larger blossoms and a shorter flowering period than their French cousins – remove faded flowers to encourage a second flush of bloom. The triploid marigolds are sterile hybrids obtained by crossing the French with the African species. These triploids are non-stop bloomers with impressive 3 in (7.6 cm) flower heads in clear warm colors of gold, yellow, red and russet. The leaves of all marigolds are dark green, deeply divided and have a somewhat unpleasant, aromatic fragrance.

Despite its common name, the African marigold (T. erecta) is native to Mexico and Central America. The French marigold (T. patula), is also from this region. Marigolds have naturalized in many other warm climate areas all over the world.

Marigolds are not fussy, they will adapt to most garden soils.
Light: Full sun.
Moisture: Water during periods of drought.
Hardiness: USDA Zones 9 – 11. Marigolds are tender tropical plants and are killed by frost. But as garden annuals they are grown, well, everywhere!
Propagation: The black needle-like seeds can be easily sown directly where they are to be grown – even by young kids. When seedlings are 1-2 in (2.5-5 cm) high thin to 12 in (30 cm) apart. They can also be sown indoors and transplanted outdoors when danger of frost has passed.

There is no finer plant for use in beds and borders than the marigold. Common but colorful, inexpensive and easy to germinate and grow, there are varieties available in a wide range of heights, hues and flower forms. The marigold is a workhorse of the garden where they bloom non-stop for virtually the entire summer. The rugged marigolds are perfect for containers where they combine well with other plants (I like them with
blue sage and blue ageratum). Plant marigolds in the vegetable garden where they are said to discourage certain insect pests.

Fast growth, nonstop color, and resistance to disease and pests make marigolds superstars in the garden. These tough annuals are perfect “learner plants” for demonstrating plant care and the miracle of seed germination to young kids. Marigolds have the stamina and endurance to survive an entire life cycle under the care of a 5 year old! Marigold flower petals are fed to chickens which imparts a yellow hue to the meat and fat – this provides no nutritional benefits but is said to be preferred by consumers.
Another Tagetes species is commonly called Mexican tarragon (Tagetes lucida). It is used in the kitchen as a substitute for the more familiar French tarragon.  



Basic Supplies for Growing Marigolds

Basic Supplies for Growing Marigolds 


Before we get started learning all about growing marigolds, you should know there are a few basic supplies you should have on hand:

1. ) Lots and Lots of cow manure.  You can buy the non-smelly composted bags, 40 lbs worth for a buck at most large gardening supply centers.  I have always found this essential to improve the soil and maintain its health.  It is also important in attracting earthworms, which are vital to a rich, soft soil. 

2.) Miracle grow – or any type of good bloom booster fertilizer.  You won’t believe the number of flowers you will have using these products.  When you read the package look for the numbers 15-30-15 on the front of the package.  The product is easy to use as well.  Simply fill your sprayer canister with the crystals and apply with a water hose.  You will also be able to find store brands or less known brands that are just as good.  Simply be sure of those 15-30-15 readings.
3.) Beer – should be ice cold and refreshing.  No, no….now this isn’t for the slugs.  I have always heard this will atract them and they drown while drinking it.   Now that is a waste of good brew and is reserved for the gardener.
4.) Good, comfy yard chair/lounge.  You’ll need one of these for those rest breaks when you sip your beer and admire your handy work.

Welcome to Marvelous Marigolds!

Filed under: annuals, flower gardens, flowers, marigolds — Tags: , , , , — patoconnor @ 12:38 am

  Welcome to MARIGOLDS  

Since I now have my “Zany for Zinnias” blog up and running, I am starting my second flower blog.

I have some thirty-six other internet sites on prose, inspirational writings and medical conditions.  But, I needed a change and what a better idea could there be then starting some blogs on my favorite flowers and ideas on gardening.

Marigolds are native to the Western hemisphere and are as American as apple pie.  They are easy to grow, provide an abundant reward in beauty and in attracting butterflies and hummingbirds to your garden and are simply fantastic for cut flower bouquets. Infact, the more you cut them, the more flowers you have.  They also come in varieties small enough for beautiful borders or tall enough to provide incredible background color for other flowers.

So enjoy!


                               Pat O’Connor  


                                   This replaces our previous blog located on AOL, which closed down its blog operations.  


October 31, 2008

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