Friday, May 27, 2016

Sugar snap peas

I planted peas with no expectation that I'd harvest any.  It was a cold February this year, so it wasn't until early March.

In the South, peas (of whatever sort) are a dance in the spring, between cool temperatures and the onset of summer.  If it's cool, there are peas to harvest.  Too warm.  Not good.

I'm still adjusting to the new rhythms of a slightly cooler mountain garden (compared to my Piedmont one), but I've gardened here now for 7 seasons, first as a part-time gardener, now full-time.

Regardless, I've been really happy to be harvesting these sugar snap peas in late May.  This was the second harvest -- I'm figuring it's not too shabby for just a few trellises planted late -- what fun to have them, along with all of the greens.

And the tomatoes are growing well!

I just planted a second round of beans and squash, as the first round must have succumbed to too cool soil, thanks to an impatient gardener and a marauding critter (which turned out to be an opossum, rather than a woodchuck, we think!)

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Vegetable gardening musings

I'm all about growing what I can in my small vegetable garden beds. Frankly, we can barely keep up eating (currently) with what I produce in the small front beds and the one down below.

I'm harvesting kale, swiss chard, sugar snap peas, turnip greens, leeks and garlic.  Uh, there's only two of us.

front vegetable beds
So, calls for more edibles in public landscapes are appealing, but I'm still thinking and musing about this, as I'm volunteering in one community garden and picking up eggs from another (with apologies that I don't need more greens, no matter how lovely.)

It's great to encourage folks to grow more of their own vegetables.  I've been doing this for close two decades, now, when I think about it.

Hooray for gardens of all sizes, I'm thinking, and "re-skilling" with knowledge of how to grow vegetables, too.

But perhaps what we really need is encouragement (and perhaps teaching) for folks to cook vegetables and eat them? 

I think you need to be a cook to enjoy growing vegetables, as they're so delicious straight from the garden (or from the farmer's market or community garden).

But they do require prepping, cleaning, and chopping, as well as cooking.

I'm enjoying the fresh sugar snap peas from my garden, at the moment (it's a good thing to have them because of a cool spring!)

 The nutrient levels in my beds came back high (not surprisingly); whether there are micro-nutrient issues, not examined.  So that's all good.  Now, I've replanted beans, sowed squash, tomatoes, eggplant, and peppers are in place.

Friday, May 20, 2016

A foraging woodchuck ( I think)

OK, I don't mind a bit of nibbling, but...

I think it's a woodchuck that has been making visits to my vegetable garden beds and selecting, in sequence, his or her favorites.  First, the young beans, then the young broccoli (that weren't under my wire cloches), now the young leaves of chard and whatever young pea shoots he/she can reach. Not to mention the young Tuscan kale.  The patches under the wire cloches are fine, thankfully.


Of course, I live in a community full of fresh veggies, and most of us live in areas with an abundance of food, from whatever source. So, I won't be without fresh vegetables, as I'm volunteering in one community garden and have credits in another.

But,  I've reset my large Havahart trap with more Chuckster (a favorite of a late colleague) and some fresh apple, and moved it to the middle of the path from the ravine to my veggie garden.

We'll see.

My last experience with trapping was down in the Piedmont, and involved a young opossum, who I had to free from getting caught in the wire mesh of the trap.  Most upsetting, although I was successful in letting it go!

Thursday, May 19, 2016

A foraging dark-eyed junco

In the lawn near the Pisgah Inn, along the Blue Ridge Parkway, there were juncos foraging on dandelion seeds.

We were tagging along on a birding preview, with our friend George Ellison, a well-known naturalist in this area, and his friend, Rick Perry, an amazing birding expert (and a retired local physician of long tenure).

We had fun trying to hear the birds that they did, and looked them up on our birding apps (iBird Pro is my favorite).

Amid a LOT of great birds, I actually enjoyed seeing these dark-eyed juncos eating dandelion seeds the most "blog" worthy.
A dark-eyed junco foraging on weed seeds

I don't see many juncos, as they're not normal feeder birds in our ravine, so it was fun to see them in a naturalized habitat off the parkway.

Of course, this image (from my iPhone on a rainy day) is quite sub-par -- but the real thing was fun to see.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Sunset at the Grove Park Inn

View from the Sunset Terrace (Grove Park Inn)
Blue Ridge view (Sunset Terrace)
After a wonderful b-day dinner at the Golden Fleece (adjacent to the Grove Park Inn), we took in the sunset view of the Blue Ridge mountains and downtown Asheville.  Lovely.

Monday, May 16, 2016

A lovely native azalea (Rhododendron arborescens)

Rhododendron arborescens
Spotted at the Botanical Gardens at Asheville last weekend, this native azalea was lovely.

It may be Mountain Azalea (Rhododendron canescens) --I didn't make note of its tag.  R. canescens is quite variable, and would fit.

I'll get back there and check!

An update:  it's R. arborescens (Swamp Azalea or Sweet Azalea
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