Monday, May 28, 2012

There's Something Going On

What it is ain't exactly clear.
  • January 5, 30
  • February 2
  • March 12, 14, 15, 16, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22
  • April 2
  • May 3, 6, 7, 24, 27, 28?
What do these dates have in common in 2012? They all tied or broke records for high temperatures. That's nineteen days and we aren't even done with the fifth month of the year. 

I'm wondering about the changes I've seen in plant development and how bloom times and early plant death will impact the insects and other members of the food webs. The National Weather Service is predicting above normal temperatures for the rest of the summer and below normal precipitation. Wonderful. I've already watered my garden way more than I ever have at this time of year. That's ugly. 

How 'bout a quick pictorial view of what's in bloom since it is a holiday or something. BBQ day?

Flowers in Bloom
Datura- before

Datura- the morning after. She's already weeping.
I'd really like to do a series of 10-20 minute pics of this flower opening. It's starts emitting it's lemony smell before it opens. Delish. 
Illinois Prairie Rose in full burst (left)

Illinois Prairie Rose upclose
beloved by Honeybees and Bumbles

Lily #1

Lily #2

Lily #3

Lily #4

Variegation Obsession
Being a plant dork I was obsessing over the patterns in variegated leaves on my back porch last night. Nothing better to do. Kept me mostly out of trouble while the hub was away. These were some of my favorite individual leaves. In awe. 
Caladium variegation
Scented Geranium variegation

Elephant Ear- variety Mojito

Oh ya, Back to more Flowers in Bloom
More Sunflowers planted by the chickens. (came with the compost from the chicken coop)

Flower from one of my desert succulents. Coolness.

Gesneriad- front porch

Peruvian Spider Lily- ooohhh. First time for this one. Got some old bulbs at a box store. 

And one for the ridiculous file
Why yes this IS New England Aster (a late summer/fall bloomer) blooming in late May.

Scenes from the Wild Kingdom
Back porch collection

Brick path to back porch- blue thing is the rain barrel

Hosta bed

Cuttings and Seed Starting
Sedum cuttings for the hellstrip in town
(in a 50-50 sand/potting mix)

Clitoria (shhhs) and 3 types of Basil starting
(nothing will germinate in the soil- too dry)

Oxalis depressa bulbs sprouting

"Autumn Mix" pumpkins and squashes (right) 
Luffa gourds (left)

Other happenings and Experiments
Mortgage Lifter (will it be my first large mater of the season?)

My hundredth attempt at growing Eggplant organically. This time using tulle (only 90cents per yard with my coupon- cheaper than buying garden bug barrier)

Newest attempt at surviving the drought. Kitty litter buckets with 2 pinholes each on the bottom. It takes almost all day for these to drain slowly releasing water into the soil. Straw as mulch also for water preservation.

Same practice, but in my containers using a grape juice bottle:

I like insects
Found this very interesting critter on my bathroom curtain. It looks like it mimics the scale of a pinecone. It tucks its 2 front legs in so you can only see the 4 with crazy feathery projections. I'm thinking it is related to the assassin bugs. I also think that I may have seen it squirt something out its rear end. 

Camouflaged Dragonfly on the lime green feverfew.

Free Stuff 
I made 16 pints of Strawberry jam from all the free strawberries I could pick. The owners were out of town and asked people to pick as much as they could. 

Happy Memorial Day Ya'll.

Thursday, May 17, 2012


Where do I begin? Things happen way too fast in spring to wait a couple of weeks to blog about it. One day you have cherries and the next none. Exams ended on Monday and I've been pushing my out-of-shape body hard. It's finally knocking on my brain's door "Can you give it a little rest, please?" But how does one do that in the time of abundance?

Highlights of what's in bloom

Nicotiana- Cranberry Isle? 
This one returned unphased by the pitiful winter.
I love all of the shades of lavender that one plant produces. Gorgeous.

Borage- my first sowing has begun to bloom. A bee's dream. 

Cornflowers- perpetual reminder of Grandma W.

Cheery Hollyhocks- from last year's planting

Cilantro- has gone to seed. Let it. First, the flowers attract a large variety of beneficial insects and second it reseeds and germinates when the conditions are best for the plant. Cilantro can be successively sowed throughout the summer so that you CAN have some during tomato season (for salsa!). You just have to remember to do it later.

Veilchenblau- This German "Veil of Blue" rose is just finishing. It also attracts bees and has an amazing aroma and unusual color in the world of roses. It is an heirloom rose. 

And now for some Natives
Ohio Horsemint- also loved by the bees

Wafer Ash- tiny flowers you will only know are there by the incredible aroma they display. This one is done blooming now. 

Native Yellow Honeysuckle (not the invasive sucky kind)

Now let's talk about food!
Cherries and berries were ripe together, if only for a day. Each year my cherries succumb to a fungus the day before they are ripe. Ha. So we eat as many non-molding and almost ripe ones as we can because the very next day they will all be gone. Seriously. It's ridiculous. This year I just put the kid in the tree and told her to gorge on all she could since these will be the only cherries we have. So, like a bird she ate until she was ready to burst. 

Tronchuda Cabbage: This is it. This is the only cabbage I will ever plant again. It is the only one I've ever had luck with and I can harvest individual leaves as I need them. Also, every leaf is green and healthy and it takes up less space. Now, the flavor is equally strong in each leaf, not like heading cabbage where the flavor gets milder with lighter leaves. I used this batch in Cabbage in Sweet & Sour Tamarind Sauce- a Thai Dish.

The sauce: 1 1/2 Tbs. brown sugar, 1 Tbs Tamarind pulp, 2 tsp. soy sauce, 1/2 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp. ground black pepper, red pepper to taste, 1 Tbs garlic  + water to thin it.

I fried some tofu, steamed the cabbage in this sauce and served over rice noodles:
The kid liked it better than the Spanakopita, which I thought was out of this world.

The person who thought she hated Chard now finds otherwise
Ok. I admit it. It doesn't suck. I don't know why I thought it did (how did I eat it before?). The irony is the only reason I'm growing this is because I bought some seed called "Perpetual Spinach" not knowing it was really a chard and here I am eating and loving and promoting it. 

See the lime-green leaves after the tall strappy onions? That is the "perpetual spinach" disguised as chard.

Here is one amazing Chard Spanakopita
I followed (almost) this month's issue of Veg Times recipe. It isn't posted on their website yet and substituted chard for spinach and mexican cheese for feta (you can't tell the difference). So amazing. I can't wait to make it again. OH! And another secret...when you've forgotten to get the phyllo dough out of the freezer to thaw it crumbles into flakes so all you have to do is crumble half of the dough on the bottom, spread the greens layer and then top with the remaining crumbled phyllo. This is WAY easier than working each layer of dough and it tastes the same. 

Totally made on the fly chard rolls that I'll probably never be able to make again recipe

Here's what I remember: brown rice, black beans. Saute onion, mushroom, 1 random turnip, cumin, oregano, some mexican cheese and some leftover green onion cheese, S & P
Slap some of this mix on one end of the chard leaf and roll. See how nicely I tucked in the first one and then got sloppier as I went along.

Toss on 1 large jar of good salsa and bake, covered with foil until you think it is probably done.
This was very outstanding. I gave some to my parents knowing my dad would probably like it, but refuse to try it. He did and asked for the recipe so mom- here it is. 

Other food stuff ready
Walking Onions- they make new onions on their tops which get heavy and lean to the ground and plant themselves again. And the curly-ques they make are neat. 

Snap Peas galore

Kale tip: put fresh cut leaves in a glass of water (just like flowers) to keep them turgid and fresh!

And finally some closing shots of the Garden and Biergarten
Got the tomato tent up and strawed the paths. I'm ready for summer. 

Cleaning up the Biergarten for some R & R before mosquito season hits. Spray-painting the old rusted chairs and scored a 5-piece iron patio table/chair set plus 8 cushions for FREE yesterday. If I only knew the things that got thrown away in other parts of town regularly I probably could live off of other's trash. I will post of pic of these new finds when they get their new paint too.