Wednesday, May 28, 2014

I can't post as fast as plants grow.

Every day there is something new and I feel like if I don't post each day I will miss something! So, not a lot for words today, just a lot of going-ons.

Before & on Memorial Day: Events
Before and After 
I get so repulsively excited when Stinkhorns pop up in the yard! Immediately upon opening the back door I KNEW it was there. Just follow your nose. The flies found it and removed the spores in no time flat. See the brown mass on the first photo and then gone on the second?The next day the fungus was gone, like it never happened. Fleeting natural events. Since I'm in charge of celebrations today I celebrate the Stinkhorn.

I bought a successive broccoli seed mix from Territorial Seed this year. Several of the varieties bolted quickly. Instead of wasting the food plant I collected the leaves, stems and flowers and made a stir-fry with them. It was completely satisfying. If this happens to your plants- just eat it!
  When life hands you bolted broccoli
                                                                               just eat it. 

Our lovely bolted broccoli stir fry, fresh strawberries and salad from the garden. 

What do you do when you have leftover cucumber & melon seedlings, but no place to put them?
You make a new bed!         
 Below: outline the bed with a shovel & sticks        

 Put a thick layer of newspaper & straw down
 Make depressions in the straw, add compost, plant seedlings.
Wa-la = new bed with more plants. Who needs grass, anyway?

Food in Jars

The folks brought over some surplus berries = freezer jam.

1 head of local cabbage + 2 shredded carrots + salt + caraway = future sauerkraut.

I easily forget that NOW is the perfect time to harvest, dry and store some herbs, like chives & oregano. Done.

Garden at the Back Porch
 Relocated water fountain

 Pot of Browalia & Rosemary

 New wall plant hanger- from Freuhlingsfest with  
Goblin-fingered jade
 This year I did fewer porch pots and am trying annuals and herb combos.
Here I have Curry plant, Lavender, Berggarten Sage and petunias.

New- Verbena- Glandularia bipinnatifida
(say that twice)
The "Old" Garden
 Doing fine. Looking Good.
The Broccoli & Carrot bed.
Das Biergarten
 Salvia "Caradonna" Catmint & Perennial Cornflowers in bloom.
Centaurea dealtbata- Perennial Cornflower
Grown from seed- Thompson & Morgan (source)
Skyward Caradonna
 Memorial Day visitors: this Lovely Black Rat Snake and
a smaller, possibly Water Snake, near the garden. 
Third snake of the season. Three different species!
Happy Snake Day! 
First Harvest:
 These petite snow peas were accidentally purchased from Baker's Creek. They grew fast, short and were productive, but I don't LOVE snow peas. I would have rather grown snaps. Oh well. They aren't being wasted. 

First Serviceberries are coming in- the robins told me so. I wish they would just eat the ones I can't reach and save the "low hanging fruit" for me. 

The rose: Is it Cecile Brunner? I can't remember. She is lovely and oh so aromatic. She lost the support of the old dead peach tree this year, but doesn't appear to have suffered.

 She flushes in bloom

See her behind the prairie? She's huge!
In other bloom news:
 The torch lily by the veg garden.

 The Coreopsis I started from seed last year- first bloom.
Above & below.
 Missouri Primrose
 Clematis- violacea
 I can't get enough of the diversity in these
old fashioned petunias that appear each day.

A friend sent me this tshirt idea. 
I love a good play on words. 
This is my BIO...TCH face.
The "Old" Garden behind me. 

This garden needs to slow down a bit.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Reuse and Reduce

I started a native plant nursery a few years ago because:

  • I like starting my own seeds
  • I wanted more diversity of native plants in my yard and that I can't buy locally
  • It's a lot cheaper ($2- 2.50/pack of seeds)
I have a running list of seeds I planted in each row, each year, so that I can monitor what does or doesn't come up and if something germinates the 2nd year within a row of another seedling I know what it would be. Some things don't germinate- this year I planted 2 alliums, neither of which germinated, but I was only out a few bucks. Conversely, I have lots of Late and Early Figwort and American Bellflower. You can't buy these as plants locally. So, I'm saving $, shipping and plastic pots. Here you see 2 rows of Figwort surrounding 1 row of Bellflower. Both of these species like shade and are great hosts to many pollinators. 
Figwort & Bellflower seedlings in the nursery.

These bellflowers will be perfect in this semi-shaded spot 
in the back row where they can grow tall. 

Transplanting Milkweed
Also from the nursery bed were several species of Milkweeds. Key notes on transplanting milkweeds:
  • only transplant when very young
  • take as much soil as possible around their roots from their original site
  • water very well until established
Milkweeds have taproots that once severed often die. They are very temperamental about being moved. Here are two recently successful transplants. 
 This is Poke Milkweed, Asclepias exaltata
It appears to be a successful transplant.

 And Butterfly weed, A. tuberosa, also a success. 
These were from a 2012 planting in the nursery that I had missed. 
The taller one drooped for a few days, but daily watering perked it up again. 

I've been at my house since 2001 so a lot of plants have had a chance to establish themselves and are abundant reseeders. Some of these have become somewhat of a nuisance. Cupplant being the big one. Another one, which really isn't a problem, but it will come up willy nilly is Brown-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia triloba). Normally this plant could turn into a 5-6 foot bushy thing, but the really nice perk about it is that you can cut it back and it will turn into a 2 foot flowering bushy thing. Having lost some plants to last year's roofing fiasco I had some holes. Instead of buying more plants and instead of killing the "weeds" (aka Brown eyed Susans) in the driveway I simply dug a few up, cut them back and transplanting them in these gaps. Ta da- instant and free native plants. 
Filling in the gaps with reseeders from around the yard:
Purple Coneflowers, River Oats and Brown-eyed Susans.

Fresh Food in Season
I've tried to incorporate foods from the yard into as many meals as possible. This week has included:
Green Curry (with cilantro, green onions, garlic, asparagus)- I'm looking forward to when my Kaffir Lime tree is big enough to harvest leaves from it for this recipe. We've eaten lots of salads with homemade dressings (with herbs & garlic). Salad season is coming to an end. I've nearly picked and stored all of the lettuce from the garden. Last night I made an enchilada casserole (garlic, oregano, green onions, kale) and Sunday we had Crepes with strawberries (with eggs & honey). 
 First Strawberries! 
 Lots of salads these days.
 Enchilada Casserole
(mental note: make your own jarred enchilada sauce this summer)
The romaine harvest. 
In Bloom or Growing
 Clematis along bedroom wall.
 Old fashioned tall, pale purple Iris.
 Yellow Iris and sweet smelling shrub rose along southwest fence.
 Bignonia is growing!
 Fun and random old-fashioned petunias from seed.
Spiderwort peak! 

Catmint, Spiderwort & Caradona Salvia are in bloom and where are my bumblebees? Is it too early? I've seen a few of the smaller ones. Where I wasn't looking was here:
 Native Yellow Honeysuckle -Lonicera flava
Not only were the bumblebees (or carpenter bees, perhaps) on here
but they were fighting with the Hummingbirds for food! 

I got a few lousy photos and submitted them to Beespotter  for identification and data collection. I took a better look at the bumblebee keys and I think they aren't as intimidating as I originally thought. I think I can figure this out, actually. In fact, here is a great key to Bumblebees of the area. Beespotter will only accept data/photo submissions from Illinois at this time. It's a U of I project. 

Random end notes & photos: 
 Chuy discovers the catnip and proceeds to get high.
 Finishing the lettuces & replacing them with peppers and random 
other plants.
White sage
 Pot of sedums. Thyme in foreground.
 Scutellaria- unknown species from MBC greenhouses in Millstadt.
 Hmmmm. Nya. 
 View from the Biergarten. 
 Murl escaping Big Meanie.
Big Meanie biting me instead. 

Happy May in the Garden.