DoLeaf presents at Startup Riot 2010

Note: This is a bit of a deviation from our usual theme of gardening, so browse around if you’re looking for gardening tips or DoLeaf updates.

DoLeaf was proud to present at Startup Riot 2010, an Atlanta event for showcasing local entrepreneurs and businesses who are getting off the ground. It was a lot of fun, plus we met people from all these great companies:

CitiSync

CitiSync keeps you in sync with all the events and specials in your city making it easy to make plans with friends. They’re getting started in Florida and slowly branching their way out.

Learn it Live

Connect with top experts in many fields. Sid mentioned that perhaps in the future, DoLeaf sellers might want to list themselves as expert botanists on Learn it Live. An interesting idea…

Less Accounting

Dedicated to ending the tyranny of Quickbooks by making accounting simple. These guys were simply hilarious, and well deserving of the prize they won at the end of the day.

Looxii

They’re trying to simplify social media analytics, which is a very hot area right now. They’re also part of Shotput Ventures, a local Atlanta incubator program.

Make Small Talk

Get a quick summary of a subject so you can have a watercooler talk about it. Makes perfect sense to me, since I never watched sports and could never be part of a conversation about “the Big Game.”

Mobilization Labs

Zach of Mobilization Labs was on hand to present about The Wildfire Platform. Wildfire allows you to manage and mobilize a disparate supporter base. A great example is managing a political campaign or a band’s fanbase.

Netparty

Netparty hosts social networking events for young professionals. Network with other business professionals from your area in a local nightclub hotspot.

NinjaPost

NinjaPost, a Shotput Ventures company, is aiming to drag forums and message boards out of the web antiquity bin. They feature real-time AJAX updating, Twitter and WordPress integration, and lots of customization.

oBo Games

With a couple iPhone apps released and a whole slew in development, these guys are looking to storm the App Store.

Rank ‘Em

Allows music enthusiasts to pick out and rank their favorite artists.

Savont

Savont aims to bring ROSCAs to social networks. Borrow from and lend to your friends using a simple, proven system.

TransactionTree

Do you like how an online transaction results in a receipt being emailed to you? What if the same were true for transactions at brick & mortar stores? No more paper receipts to fumble with and lose. Instead, just check your email and it’s there. This was my favorite business idea of Startup Riot, and I can see retailers loving it.

UVestor

The real estate world is a confusing one, and UVestor is looking to clean it up. Their system allows all parties in a real estate transaction to interact through a simple system, doing away with the spaghetti snarl of communication that accompanies real estate.

Viral Prints

Another simple-but-awesome idea, Viral Prints lets you get a YouTube star on a T-shirt. The video makers set up a store and upload the designs. Then, all they have to do is direct their fans to the store from their YouTube channel. Brilliant!

That’s It!

It was a great day, and I really enjoyed meeting everyone. I wish all the other companies the best of luck and look forward to hearing more about them in the future.

If you’d like to read more about Startup Riot, I’d suggest the following:

Get to know Big John from Oregon’s Big John’s Garden

Big John’s Garden near Klamath Falls, Oregon produces high quality certified organic garlic and shallot planting stock and is able to provide them in good quantities. Big John’s Garden is a nationally known resource for organic garlic growing, and the farm has been featured in Sunset and Domino magazines. Big John supplies Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) and community gardens with five pound orders of high-quality garlic and shallots, but can also work with backyard gardener on smaller orders.

After seeing his great selection, we became very interested in Big John’s story and products. Here are our six questions for Big John.


1) What makes Big John’s Garden unique and worth checking out?

We are focused on garlic and shallots. Our quality and service are excellent and we can supply large quantities.

2) When did you start your farm? Have you always been organic?
We started the farm in 1969 and began certified organic operation 2005.

3) Why did you decide to grow shallots and garlic?
These plants excel in our area of Oregon. The temperate climate and soil types are just right for them to thrive.

4) Personally, what’s your favorite plant to grow and why?
I like to grow any type of garlic. [Big John even grows heirloom varieties like the Nootka Rose and the Lorz Italian.) Garlic is an amazing plant that can withstand just about anything Mother Nature throws at it. It’s very easy and satisfying to grow.

5) Can you share any general tips to growing good garlic and shallots?
I am lucky in that I do not have to add inputs to increase fertility. I do cover-cropping with rye, tricale, vetch and (experimentally last year) buckwheat. I am a firm believer in mulch and use about 1 inch of ground-up pasture hay. Lots of different types will work, just be careful to not have any seeds! I harvest when the bottom 4 leaves are seriously dried and browned out. It is better to get it on the slightly early side than on the late side. Full sun is a requirement and try to plant in such a way as there will never be any standing water (supersaturated soil) for any length of time. For the small grower, raised beds are great. For the larger grower, chiseling (sub-soiling) is very important. Garlic roots extend (and want to extend) down a lot farther than most people realize… I’ve seen them go down 10-12 inches.

6) Do you have specific advice for the growers out there who buy shallots or garlic from Big John’s Garden?
Order early to insure the quantities you want… we ship first come, first served.

Hardy Banana… meet January. January… please be nice.

I’ve never had the guts to get a banana tree. Our indoor and outdoor space is shady and limited, and this tropical plant never seemed like a good idea in places with snow. A recent trip to New Orleans seduced me into rethinking my no-banana yard. There are plenty of fabulous plants in the (surprise!) Garden District, including banana trees flush with tiny yellow-green fruit. I’m still not sure if I’m ready for a Siam Ruby , Muse Bordelon or Praying Hands banana tree, but I broke down and got a lovely Hardy Banana a couple days ago .

Banana Tree in the New Orleans Garden District. From Wikimedia Commons.

The ‘Musa Basajoo’ or Hardy Banana is one of the most cold-hardy bananas around. While the fruit’s not edible, the foliage is beautiful ( rich green  leaves that start out as almost chartruse). Hardy Bananas are cold hardy as far up as Ohio, and they can grow up to twelve FEET in a single season.  I’m planting mine in an oversized container along with some colorful trailing groundcover.  Thanks Terregan Nurseries and NOLA for the push to banana!

A River Runs Through It

… and “it” is our street. Every time we get a solid rainstorm in Atlanta, we generally have about four feet of rain running down each side of the street. Today’s rain  was so bad, that the entire road became a fast moving river for about three hours.  Micah filmed a squirrel hopping through the torrent and safely into the neighbors lawn. Another squirrel has apparently taken shelter under our house and is now bumping against our kitchen floor. Bon voyage, squirrel… and safe passage.  Here are a couple pictures of today’s river.

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Inside DoLeaf: Now With More Plants

The DoLeaf team spends a lot of time doing two things: working on DoLeaf and working with plants. Since it’s the middle of winter all our backyards are pretty neglected, but our indoor plantings are going strong. Ryan’s Kansas City office looks like a Midwest jungle after he brought in his container plants for winter and added a banana tree, and Micah and my office is getting greener and greener with each DoLeaf purchase.

In December I bought two ruby rubber trees from Studley’s to give as a Christmas present. My laziness and the giftee’s home renovation left me with the two plants, which was fine with Micah, a lover of all things ficus. So, three weeks after arriving at our door, I give you our new rubber trees. Micah potted each and put them on our desks. They work pretty well with the 1920s inspired decor.

Side by Side: Micah's desk (right), Sarah's desk (left)

DoLeaf Featured in American Vegetable Grower

American Vegetable Grower featured DoLeaf in their January issue. The article, “Leveraging the Web” explains how DoLeaf works for sellers and gives a little background about us and why we started the company.

Here’s an excerpt:

“When DoLeaf cofounder Micah Wedemeyer started digging beds in his back yard to plant the garden he’d always wanted, he quickly realized garden centers at the big box stores didn’t carry the types of plants he was looking for. He had a hard time finding heirloom vegetables and even some perennials. “Since we buy everything else online, we started looking around to see if we could find a greater variety on the Web,” Wedemeyer says.” Read More…

Cacti from Iowa — What Could Be Better?

One of my favorite DoLeaf tasks is buying plants from  sellers to test out the quality of their shipped plants. Often, I get a shrub for my own garden, but the January weather (and frozen soil) has pushed me to get more houseplants.  I must confess that Micah and Ryan are the houseplant experts on the DoLeaf team so most often my housplant purchases go to them or other indoor greenthumbs so the plants can actually live for more than a month. ( I’m around 0-10 on houseplants since I started gardening.)

But I think my luck’s going to change. I bought an assortment of cacti from DoLeaf’s latest seller Krieger Greenhouses of Jefferson, Iowa and received six super healthy plants. I’m up to my ears in cacti and succulents (in a good, not prickly way) and all of them are doing great. Here’s some pictures of the 2 lovely plantings I got from the $15.00 order.  (Micah’s taking care of one at DoLeaf headquarters, and I’ve got the other.)

Three lovely plants from Krieger Greenhouses.
The other three plants from Krieger's 6 cacti assortment.

Gardenology

Gardenology LogoThanks to Shirley Bovshow, I found out about Gardenology today. It’s a Mediawiki site (like Wikipedia) devoted specifically to plants.

Copious Information

Browsing randomly, the first thing to notice is that there is a lot of information about each plant. Take the Rose entry for example. There’s a ton of information to browse through there. It seems as though a good portion of it was imported from the Standard Cyclopedia of Horticulture.

On the downside, all of this information makes things very text heavy. Gardeners love good pictures, and for many of the Gardenology articles, there is a lack of photos. It’s really a shame, but they have a plan for that…

iplantification

In the iplantification section you can find photos that have been uploaded by users. The purpose of this category is to allow users to tag and categorize photos.

This answers a very common need amongst gardeners of “What is this plant?” Just upload a photo, mark it as unlabeled, and hopefully someone will be able to figure out what it is. Then, they’ll link it to the plant article on Gardenology and you can go see what it is you took a photo of.

It’s an ambitious plan, and I wish them the best of luck, but it’s a pretty monumental task, and this message makes me skeptical:

5,113 unlabeled photos...ouch!

It will be tough going through a backlog of over 5,000 unlabeled photos.

What about folia?

My first thought when hearing about Gardenology was, “Hmm, sounds a lot like MyFolia…” They both seem to be angling toward building an online database of plant information.

However, the approach seems to be somewhat different. While folia is focusing more on social networking (such as with their Folia Faire), Gardenology is taking the more Wikipedia approach where the plants take center stage and the users are more of a buzzing background that “tends the garden” so to speak.

It’s good to see more and more online resources appearing for identifying and classifying plants. We here at DoLeaf will definitely be keeping an eye on Gardenology to see where it goes!

Book Review – Grow Your Own, Eat Your Own

Book Cover

After seeing it reviewed by MrBrownThumb, I knew I had to get a copy of Grow Your Own, Eat Your Own by Bob Flowerdew. For the past couple years, I’ve done a decent job of growing fruits and vegetables in my garden, but I’ve always been pretty bad at keeping the surpluses. My hope is that with the instruction and guidance provided by this book, I’ll be able to do a better job of preservation.

Basic Advice

The book starts off with some very practical advice about raising your own fruits and vegetables. Recommended tools, basic practices, and amenities are all covered. The tools include things like old french fry baskets (for washing produce) and discarded refrigerators (for cramming in a shed and using to store picked fruit). These suggestions are an example of the refreshing charm of the book. I’d characterize it as more economical hobbyist than hardcore environmentalist or political activist. The book seems geared toward people that view their garden as a delicious diversion and not a political statement. I consider myself an environmentalist, but not everything I do has to be measured in carbon.

Skill, Luck, and Ingenuity

When discussing the gardening and storing of foods, Bob often mentions that certain techniques take skill, luck, ingenuity, or some combination. The simple descriptions that he gives make everything seem possible, and this is a bit of a danger for casual folks like me. I think it’s important to recognize your own limitations up front and don’t fall into the trap of believing you have the time or skill to try everything in the book. Instead, commit to trying one or two things each season and find out what works for you.

Beware Overconfidence

With all the great advice in the book, it’s easy to get overconfident. There are so many ways to jam, jelly, pickle, freeze, or smash up pretty much any fruit. It’s important to balance this against what I’ve discovered in the past: Don’t grow what you don’t eat. If you don’t eat squash from the grocery store, what makes you think you’ll eat it from your garden? It’s important to try new things, but before you plant a whole row of something and dream up all kinds of big plans for canning it, ask yourself: Will I ever actually eat any of this?

So Little on Peppers?

One nitpick I have with the book is the tiny amount devoted to peppers. While there are roughly four pages devoted to growing and preserving apples, there is barely 1/4 of a page for peppers, half for sweet, half for spicy. Considering that jalapenos are a big part of my crop each year, and I love spicy food, this is a bit of a disappointment. I’d love to see more advice about canning or pickling peppers, but I suppose I’ll have to look elsewhere.

Buy or Not Buy?

I’m definitely very glad I picked up this book (or glad that Sarah got it for me). The simple advice makes me believe that I will be able to accomplish at least some of the preservation techniques described inside. Considering the great sense of satisfaction I got from making my own crushed red pepper, I’m eager to try something more advanced, like pickled peppers, canned tomatoes, or raspberry jam. Uh oh…I think I’m getting overconfident again…

Holiday Gifts on DoLeaf

While it’s chilly outside and most gardens are in hibernation, it’s a great time to give the gift of green for the holidays. Instead of  giving traditional  holiday plants like poinsettias and amaryllis,  here are a some great options that will surprise and delight your friends and family.

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Ruby Rubber Tree

Ruby Ficus has a deep, ruby red glow to the new foliage. The older leaves are a deeper green, splashed irregularly with cream variegation and sometimes still have a hint of red or pink. A striking houseplant that is easy to care for.

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Budda Belly Plant

This is a delightful plant with very unusual appearance. The trunk develops its “belly” close to the ground than continues in an ever growing stem. The new leaves at the tip of the stem create a lush green crown where the flower stems develop.  It will bloom year-round and makes a great container plant.

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Lenten Roses

Lenten or Christmas Roses  are one of the first plants to bloom in the spring — a welcome sign of warmer days to come after a long winter. They are very hardy and keep their green leaves all through the winter. Blooms can vary in color from a creamy white, to green, to pink, and in some varieties even a dark wine.

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Christmas Cactus

Christmas cactus is another foolproof house plant which will provide years of reliable annual color. We will choose the nicest available plant in colors ranging from shades of red, pink, white or yellow.

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Madagascar Palm

Madagascar Palm (Pachypodium lamrei) is a stem succulent and comes from Madagascar. It has large thorns and long leaves that sprout mostly just at the top of the plant The plant bears large, fragrant flowers. They are friendly and gregarious and adapt well to captivity being relatively easy to propagate and grow.

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Maki Buddhist Pine

Maki Buddhist Pine puts out vibrant chartreuse new growth that contrasts sharply with the deep, solid green of the older foliage. Older specimens can develop some character and have an interesting . They can also be trained as a bonsai specimen.