Tweeting over the Garden Fence: Weekly Chats

Echinacea or Coneflower

New Echinacea Cultivar

As an oldie to garden writing but a newbie to social media, I have discovered that Twitter can make life fun. It adds a new dimension to watching the Superbowl or the Grammy Awards but more importantly, Twitter grants you access to gardening experts and current information. There are several hour-long chats on Twitter related to some aspect of gardening, every day of the work week. This past Monday was a holiday so I was able to participate on #plantchat for the first time.

On Mondays, from 2:00 to 3:00 p.m. EST, Corona Tools hosts #plantchat, which is a great way to learn more about plants, gardening, and horticulture. Corona Tools (@CoronaTools) lines up a guest and a specific topic. The first few minutes are spent on introductions; people can elect to tweet where they live or their hardiness zone; most comment on the weather. I use tweetdeck to keep up with the conversation because it enables me to focus only on the plantchat conversation; not other tweets. Except for your internet connection, a twitter chat is free; all you have to do is sign in to Twitter and tweet using #plantchat. You don’t have to tweet; you can just read the conversation. With some chats, a transcript is available if you miss the live chat (as I have in the past when I am at the office). For #plantchat, @CoronaTools uses Storify to provide the recap.

This Monday’s guest was Rodale Institute (RI) and the topic was medicinal plants and herbs in the garden. I tweeted a question specifically to Rodale Institute about Echinacea. I knew the roots were beneficial in preventing or stopping a cold because I tried it years ago but wanted to know if the new cultivars on the market were equally effective. @RodaleInstitute first said: “General immune booster but most wait till symptoms start to take it. Prevention is best!” The person then responded: “Generally, it’s the Echinacea purpurea, other cultivars don’t carry the same quality at the same strength,” which is just as I had suspected but where else would I get such a quick answer from a leading expert? As people chatted, I learned the benefits of tulsi (holy basil) tea (reduces stress and anxiety) and the fact that comfrey and yaupon holly tea are anti-inflammatories. Someone recommended elderberry syrup for cough and cold, which led to another person chiming in that lemon balm makes a great tea and soothes the throat and stomach. Another person explained that stevia, an herb, can be used as a sweetener. I explained how I grow dill and cilantro in the cool months and someone said that cilantro provides Vitamin K, antioxidants, and phytonutrients. This was a paradigm shift; an herb such as cilantro may not be used for treating an illness but in addition to culinary benefits, it may act as a preventative.

Try out a Twitter chat, each are a little different but all are fun and educational.

Monday:          #plantchat, 2-3 pm; #gardenchat 9-10 pm

Tuesday:          #treechat 2-3 pm; #pollin8rchat 9-10 pm

Wednesday:     #landscapechat 2-3 pm; #seedchat 9-10 pm; #rosechat 9-10 pm

Thursday:        #herbchat 2-3 pm

Friday:             #groundchat 2-3 pm

Eastern Standard Time

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