Robotic Piece-Picking Coming to a Warehouse Near You

An interview with RightHand Robotics’ Co-Founder, Leif Jentoft This year’s Promat trade show included many interesting warehouse technologies. I found RightHand Robotics (RHR) RightPick solution to be one of the premier exhibits. RHR had its own booth exhibiting its piece picking solution. But perhaps most impressive was the fact that three RHR partners also chose to exhibit RightPick integrated into automated fulfillment processes such as goods-to-picking tending, sorter induction, and automated packaging. While at the […]

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Thank you!

Thank you to everyone who wrote in and told me they were still getting blog notifications. Yes, thankfully the notifications sent via WordPress.com are still working. The issue is with MailChimp, affecting over 200 people who signed up to be notified via the form in the sidebar. MailChimp is working on the problem and they asked me to publish another post to aid them in their troubleshooting. That’s all this is, another test post–but it gives me a chance to say thank you for your encouragement and for sticking with me.

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Precision Farming Provides the Best Example of an Industry Undergoing Digital Transformation

The core idea behind digital agriculture is that a farmer should not uniformly apply seeds, fertilizer and other inputs to their field. The farmer’s smart machinery applies seeds and fertilizer at variable rates based on the soil characteristics – nitrogen levels, organic matter content, moisture, etc. – at different points in the field. This is a digital revolution in agriculture.

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Why Can’t It Just Work?

This is a test to see if MailChimp is sending out an email notification after I publish a new post. It didn’t send out one after I published New Plants Blooming in August, or Rescuing the Madonna Lily, or What’s Blooming in My Damp Meadow. If you signed up for email notifications, I hope you are getting notice of this via email. It should leave MailChimp at 4am on August 21, 2017. If you just happened to stumble upon it without getting your email notice, please know that I am trying to fix it.

This is also a test to see if links to my blog posts are showing up properly on Facebook.

When I’m done troubleshooting these problems, I will take down this post. Gladly.

Ever since I moved to a new server, WordPress has worked but everything that WordPress talks to has stopped listening. Why, why, why can’t everything just work?

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New Plants Blooming In August

There is a comfort in seeing plants bloom when you expect them to bloom. You sense the rhythm of the seasons that is one of the pleasures of gardening. But if the garden were totally predictable it would get a little boring. That’s why even though my garden is supposedly full, I continue to add new plants, even if it means taking out others. (If you subscribe to my newsletter, you know there are at least seven different ways to make room for new plants.) So here are some plants that are either new to me this year or just hitting their stride.

Arisaema consanguineum

Arisaema consanguineum–my third try.

Plant Delights Nursery claims “Arisaema consanguineum is without a doubt one of the easiest-to-grow and garden-worthy of the Jack-in-the-pulpits.” I agree it’s garden-worthy, but until this year I hadn’t had any success getting it through the winter. And since it didn’t even emerge until July 18th, I thought I had failed this year, too.

In my previous attempts I had started with a pretty small seedling from a garden club sale, but last year I abandoned my frugality and sprung for a larger plant. I’d like to think the fact that it was more mature did the trick, but we also had a pretty mild winter (see below). So hey, it’s not technically blooming, but it is alive–which I consider a major victory.

Let's Dance® Diva! hydrangea

Let’s Dance® Diva! is strutting her stuff.

Not all hydrangeas are created equal. (Here’s a good chart explaining the differences.) Big-leaf or mophead hydrangeas (Hydrangea macrophylla) are not well-suited to our cold climate because they set their flower buds in fall and those buds get killed by our cold winters. Starting with ‘Endless Summer‘, breeders have been trying to come up with big-leaf hydrangeas that also set flower buds in the same year that they will bloom. I keep receiving sample hydrangeas claiming that this one really truly will give you lots of blooms–and I keep getting disappointed.

Let’s Dance® Diva! (Hydrangea macrophylla ‘SMHMLDD’) has so far put out seven flowers after having a year to get settled. I really love the large sterile florets and the two-tone flower clusters. In my acid soil they’re not quite blue. If you have alkaline soil this type of hydrangea will bloom pink. I am crossing my fingers that this mophead will be the one that fulfills the promise of loads of blooms–even for Zone 5 gardens–because it’s really pretty!

tricyrtis formosana Gilt Edge

Each leaf of Tricyrtis formosana ‘Gilt Edge’ is edged in gold.

I thought toad lilies were fall bloomers but ‘Gilt Edge’ started blooming in early August. In truth I got it for the foliage more than the flowers.

tricyrtis Gilt Edge closeup

Toad lily flowers are unusual, but on the small side and not that showy from a distance.

At least, not that showy in the quantities my baby plant is putting out.

Miscanthus Gold Bar

I really thought ‘Gold Bar’ miscanthus would be taller by now.

The catalog copy said it would get five feet tall. But doing a little more research, I find that it has a reputation for being a slow grower, “requiring an additional two to three years to reach maturity.” And the five foot height is counting the flower stalks, which often don’t even show up in colder climates. So, I like it, but I may have to move it, since it’s not going to get as tall as I was planning on.

blue paradise phlox and daylilies

‘Blue Paradise’ phlox does look blue sometimes.

It’s a color that works really well with lemon yellow and apricot. I got a piece from a friend last year, and I’ve already thought of more places where I want it in my garden.

Knautia macedonica Thunder and Lightning

I saw Knautia macedonica ‘Thunder and Lightning’ in a botanical garden and I had to have it.

I love the contrast between the variegated foliage and the maroon flowers. I love that it’s getting bigger–maybe I’ll get brave and divide it next year.

At Last rose

If I could only have one rose in my garden, ‘At Last’ would be it.

It’s hardy, it’s disease-resistant, it’s gorgeous, and it’s fragrant. Unfortunately, the deer love it, too, but they haven’t eaten all the flowers, and ‘At Last’ is on its second flush of bloom.

How I know it was a mild winter

gladiolas

My husband’s gladiolas wintered over.

Gladiolas aren’t considered hardy here. Every so often one will come back, but if we want to make sure they come back, we dig them and replant them, just like we do with dahlias and cannas. Last fall we left them in the ground (warehouse stores sell them pretty cheaply each spring) and every single one came back. So I look at the big-leaf hydrangeas with a critical eye. If they had a mild winter and still can’t manage to pump out the flowers, I need to find them a new (warmer) home.

Inspired by the words of Elizabeth Lawrence, “We can have flowers nearly every month of the year,” Carol of May Dreams Gardens started Garden Bloggers Bloom Day. On the 15th of every month, garden bloggers from all over the world publish what is currently blooming in their gardens. Check it out at May Dreams Gardens.

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This Week in Logistics News (August 12 – 18)

This summer in the Boston area has been an interesting one. We have seen temperatures fluctuating in a bizarre pattern that I cannot ever remember, with a few days in August only reaching a high temperature of the upper sixties. So, when the leaves started changing colors in early August and dropping off the trees, I couldn’t help but wonder if the cooler temperatures this summer were bringing an extremely early fall. It turns out […]

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