Tuesday, March 31, 2009

More winter vegetables

A comment on a post made in December about winter vegetables and an after-school program this afternoon have me thinking about change-outs in vegetable garden beds.

I had harvested some Tuscan and redbor kale, spinach, and purple mustard from the kitchen garden next to the visitor center to show a group of 2nd graders from a nearby school learning about eating and growing vegetables as part of a Clemson University Healthy Campus Initative outreach program.

It was a fun program; three Clemson students in a nutrition class had talked to the kids at their school last week about eating a rainbow of colors and will do a follow-up next week.

We sniffed herbs, sampled flowers from the bolting collards, looked at lettuces, saw strawberries in flower, and tasted garlic chives. Another three Clemson students (student athletes) helped with the kids, too, and were great (they're part of a group called Tigers who Care -- we're the Clemson Tigers in our athletic programs.

I showed them my flat of spicy salad mix (they all tasted young purple mustard leaves), spinach seedlings, and had them 'plant' in dry potting mix seeds of scarlet runner beans and yard-long beans.

We're about two weeks out from our average last frost date.

The variable temperatures and moisture levels have the kales and collards bolting (some years they last until May). So we'll be pulling out (and giving away) the greens in the visitor center vegetable garden over the next couple of weeks, to make room for the warm-season transplants.

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Monday, March 30, 2009

Early spring flowers

Not only are all the deciduous forest trees (oaks, beeches, etc.) producing catkins and other sorts of flowers, and expanding fresh young leaves, but our native early spring flowers are making an appearance.

The Gelsemium sempervirens (Carolina Jessamine) vine outside my study window is flowering, cascading down through the windowpanes.

The Iris cristata, shared with me by a wonderful former volunteer and SC Master Gardener, is starting to flower.

And Hexastylis arifolia (Little Brown Jugs) is producing its long-lasting jug-shaped flowers (pollinated by fungus gnats). That's if the plant is lucky!

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Sunday, March 29, 2009

Vegetable seedlings

Working out in the garden this morning (mostly weeding winter annuals), I was admiring my flats of salad mix, Asian greens, and young spinach and radicchio seedlings.

Of course, there are young plants in the ground, too, but the flats are particularly pretty!

It's so easy to sow mixes of lettuce and greens in flats or containers or window boxes, it's worth doing even if you aren't really a vegetable gardener.

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Saturday, March 28, 2009

Beneficial nematodes

There are many different species of nematodes, but since a couple of blocks in my main vegetable garden have developed a root-knot nematode problem (primarily affecting susceptible tomatoes and peppers), I've been interested in ways to reduce their numbers.

Root-knot nematode damage on tomato (University of Missouri Extension)

Rotation management is the primary organic method, using non-susceptible crops and varieties to decrease numbers, prior to trying some susceptible sort of heirloom tomato, for example (actually, my heirlooms are going to go in containers this year). Using trap crops such as rape seed (canola) and French marigolds is another recommended strategy.

But, beneficial nematodes that are supposedly parasitic on root-knot nematodes, sting nematodes, and ring nematodes sounded particularly appealing. The notion of having good guys take care of the bad guys in an underground soil contest, hmmm -- sounds promising to me.

So I plopped down my credit card for a supply of 5 millon Steinernema feltiae (Sf) nematodes, supposedly enough for 100-150 square feet, about the size of my main garden area. The company suggests that this variety might achieve 100% control of root knot nematodes. We'll see.

They're shipped at exactly the right time for your area, and mine arrived yesterday. More seeds, my gardening companion asked? No, it's my beneficial nematodes, I said. Woo-hoo! We'll see if they're effective at all. I hope they're hungry. I haven't been able to find a great deal of credible research information about their effectiveness, but figure it's worth a try.

Fortunately, conditions were perfect this morning for application (use immediately (√), early morning is best (√), soil should be damp (√), over 55° (√), during a rain was ideal (√), and additional watering or rain expected next few days (√).

I'm still only going to plant resistant varieties in those blocks, so this isn't a great experimental test (I suppose I could try ONE non-resistant pepper, but that gives the bad guys food). Hmrph.

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Friday, March 27, 2009

Nutrients for vegetables

A question in a recent kitchen gardening program has had me thinking about nutrients and vegetables again. Vegetables are so much more nutrient-intensive than perennials, shrubs, trees, or any 'landscape' plants, it's hard to realize sometimes how much they appreciate excellent, fertile soil to grow in.

The person who asked the question wondered why her vegetables just seemed average, in their compost-enriched raised beds (but with no added fertilizer). Her soil test was 'fine' for vegetables, according to our state Ag Services Lab.

But another participant had just told us about her two Early Girl tomato plants last season that produced so many tomatoes that she was giving them away to her friends, neighbors, people at her church, etc. But she was fertilizing her plants.

Hmm. Most of my vegetable plants are a lot more in the average category - nice and productive, but nothing overwhelming. But I don't fertilize much either, after adding compost at each rotation or bed preparation. It's hard (as a plant ecologist) to get my head around nutrient and water hungry vegetables.

I think the key is that if you look at the advice for sustainable gardening using compost and green manures, it takes a LOT more than you'd ever think to keep soil nutrients high. 4-5 inches of compost is often recommended for additions to each year's bed -- that's a lot of compost!

And actually, now that I think about it, the Ag Services Lab recommendations are probably assuming that you'll add fertilizer (whether inorganic or organic) to your vegetables over the growing season.

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Thursday, March 26, 2009

Vegetable seed germination temperatures

I ran across a great chart recently illustrating the difference in practical planting times and optimal planting times for vegetables.

Vegetables are quite domesticated, needless to say, and far from their native origins. They've been selected for rapid and uniform germination (among other traits such as big leaves or large tasty fruits).

But the interaction between soil temperature and seed germination is fascinating. Many of our warm season crops will germinate rapidly and uniformly at temperatures that most of our soils will never achieve, even in a warm climate like ours (in the Southeastern U.S.). But germination will occur, more slowly, at lower soil temperatures and this is what this chart illustrates so nicely.

It was included in a Gardener's Tip about When is it warm enough to plant? from the Gardener's Supply Company, an informative online/catalog retailer based in Vermont with lots of great information on their website.

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Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Interpreting nature

Observing, noticing, and being curious are at the heart of 'interpreting nature.'

I'm passably good at it now- I'm full of 'I wonder' questions, and I can tell a good story, and I think that I can engage program participants and encourage interest in the natural world.

That's all we can do, after all.

A follow-up:
I was thinking about this after an afternoon program focusing on interpretation. A two-hour period was barely enough time to observe and practice some basic interpretive approaches, and leave with some reflections and new questions.... one was whether the foliage of deodar cedar (one of the cut branches I'd brought to use as one of number of subjects for interpretation) was rich in Vitamin C (like some of our native pines) so we began thinking about the role of Vitamin C in plants. Another observation was how flexible the branch was (a great adaption for heavy snow in its native Himalaya mountains). Another subject was a collection of smooth colorful stones -- they're sedimentary, one person observed, so they weren't from around here. Cool!

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Tuesday, March 24, 2009

More thoughts on a White House vegetable garden

Maybe I didn't realize quite how remarkable this was before, but this piece in the NY Times was eye-opening. 60 years?

Hmm, no wonder there was a campaign going to encourage the next inhabitants of the White House to 'Eat the View.'

And thank goodness that Michele Obama is willing to give it a try, although I was touched to see her photo with the kids from a local elementary literally digging up the lawn, accompanied by one of the White House chefs, too. None of their garb seemed suitable for gardening, nor does turning over turf necessarily create a good garden. But, they'll learn, and enjoy the fruits of gardening, to be sure.

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Monday, March 23, 2009

Potato planting time

Veronica flowering in the shed border

A lovely spring day, in the perfect potato planting window for us (Mar. 15-30), was a great opportunity to spend a day working in the garden. It was another furlough day, but one that was an excellent day to spend outdoors after a weekend of 'inside' learning.

I planted one large bed the conventional way, putting the cut seed potatoes (from Wood Prairie Farm) about 2-3 inches deep, with the sprouts pointing up (of course), and then mulching them with straw.

But I thought I'd try a straw bale set, too, so put down cardboard, covered it with freshly harvested compost from one of the bins, put the cut pieces on top of the compost, and covered them with a 4-5 inch layer of old straw.

I had bought fresh straw bales to use, but decided to use the old bales around the compost bins instead, after a bit of web research. I needed to fluff the straw up a bit, but it'll dry out rapidly in the current weather.

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Sunday, March 22, 2009

Growing, growing, and more growing....

A second day at the Organic Growers Conference was just as interesting, although with the beautiful spring weather, I'd really have rather been hiking or gardening! The threads of interest at this conference were fascinating -- the growers who are making a living providing organic vegetables and edibles are clearly working hard, but at something they love. As a home gardener and garden educator, I'm feeling like maybe I take a bit too much for granted in terms of my food supply. I recently joined the American Farmland Trust -- their bumper sticker of No Farms, No Food tells the story.

A artisan baker (Farm and Sparrow) whose bread I greatly admire (I'd sign up for his classes anytime) who was a vendor, said that he didn't have time right now for teaching, but was hopeful of focusing on just wholesale in the winter and doing more teaching again.

But, today, I learned more about management of nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium with cover crops, antique and heirloom apples, hoop house production of vegetables, and passive solar greenhouses. Maybe I should have learned more about heirloom tomatoes or managing tomato diseases. But all were interesting.

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Saturday, March 21, 2009

Organic growing

A first day of a weekend Organic Growers School (in Flat Rock, NC) has been fascinating. I've never attended before, but the mix of folks is great. The point seems to be instructive (classes rather than programs) and certainly the two morning programs that I attended about soils were both instructive and very interesting and full of research-based advice about how to use cover crops and fungi (mycorrhiza) to increase soil fertility. The second soils program I attended (Soil Science 101) was full of interesting information about how to manage organic matter (hey, nothing much about soil chemistry here!) but presented in context of soil fauna, tillage, and nitrogen management.

As a plant ecologist, and keen vegetable gardener, one of my biggest challenges is to understand the nutrient needs of (nutrient-hungry) vegetables (uh, native plants are quite happy with recycled plant nutrients in relatively natural systems). I'm trying to get an understanding of how to improve the nutrient level of my vegetable garden beds with cover crops and organic soil amendents (eg.- don't overdo the chicken litter for years and years, because of the high phosphorus levels, something I learned today).

Quite interesting......

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Friday, March 20, 2009

A vegetable garden at the White House

Woo-hoo! Finally, we'll have an organic vegetable garden instead of a patch of White House lawn. Fortunately, Michele Obama, in spite of this being her 'first' vegetable garden, is keenly interested in fresh food and improving the nutritional status of children in the U.S.

Of course, there's been plenty of lobbying from Kitchen Gardening, Slow Food, and other fresh food advocates (eg. Alice Waters and Michael Pollan), as well as lots of petition signers (including myself).

But this is a great thing as a model for all the other lawn-abundant folks in this country who certainly could convert a sunny spot to seasonal vegetables!

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Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Spring in the Southeastern U.S.

March brings spring to those of us in the Southeastern U.S. The hints come in winter, with the lovely flowering imports from Asia, Turkey, Greece, and elsewhere. Crocus, snowdrops, daffodils, and spring snowflakes are among the bulbs; ornamental apricots flower in January and camellias flower from fall through winter, depending on the species and cultivar.

In good years, Magnolia stellata (Star magnolia) and Magnolia x soulangiana (Saucer magnolia) avoid the late freezes and put on a show. This year is one of those. I don't have a single picture that I've taken of Saucer magnolia (it's pretty enough, but otherwise not all that interesting from a wildlife gardening point of view, and 4 out of 5 years, the flowers get zapped by frost). So here's a photo downloaded years ago from Clipart.com, now Jupiter Images, I think.

But real spring means our ephemeral spring wildflowers: Trilliums, bloodroot, mayapple, Tiarella, Shortia (Oconee Bell), Wild Ginger, and a host of others. And now, the hardwoods are expanding their buds, from the hickories and oaks, to the flowers of sassafras and dogwood, and the really early flowering trees like red maple and winged elm are developing fruits.

A colleague took this lovely photo of Trillium cuneatum at the Garden. It's a remarkably large rosette that has apparently persisted through habitat alteration and path construction, as we just noticed it after a new path was built a couple of years ago.

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Tuesday, March 17, 2009

A first spring butterfly

Leaving work at lunchtime, I saw a couple of sulfur butterflies spiraling in a courtship pattern, and a third flying nearby. It was close to 70°F this afternoon, warm and sunny.

Here's a cloudless sulfur taken by Gene Hanson in Arizona. He has a great site with beautiful butterfly images (he was gracious enough to let me use several for one of the Garden's butterfly garden signs).

We have a number of sulfur species; they have great common names such as Clouded Sulphur, Little Yellow, and Cloudless Sulphur, and Southern Dogface. It may have been something like a Little Yellow that I saw, since they had dark-edged wings. But I didn't have time to really get a good look at their markings. Many sulfurs specialize on different legumes for their larval host plants, while a few focus on blueberries and willows.

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Monday, March 16, 2009

Value-added transplants

A quick trip to a local big-box home supply store required an initial detour through the garden center's display of vegetables and herbs (not the point of the excursion!) It looked like there were more plants than the last time I visited.

I wasn't surprised with the array of hardy kale, cabbage, and other transplants. Even the herb varieties offered up looked OK, although cilantro and arugula transplants are decidedly unsuited to the warm spring weather that's just around the corner here.

But I've got to give the transplant producing company credit for being proactive and imaginative; they had snap pea transplants (!) for sale (also labeled as sweet peas...), onion plants in 6-packs, and a number of other things that I hadn't seen offered before in previous seasons. Now snow peas are very easy to sow directly, and best grown that way, but geez, what a clever idea to try to get folks to buy a 6-pack for more than the price of a packet of seeds? They were attractive, too; they might even grow well if very gently and quickly transplanted.

Less reasonable were the bean plants (it's still a month until our last frost date). They're not likely to be successful if planted out now, and neither will the cucumber and squash plants also on offer. The Mr. Stripey tomatoes (and all the regular Early Girl sorts) looked nice enough now, having recently been delivered from warm greenhouses, but wouldn't be happy in the currently cold, wet soil, not to mention air temperatures below 50° F. This is simply value-added marketing at work.

I felt like nabbing Mr. Stripey and bringing him home to put on the heating mat under grow lights for the next month. Oh, dear.

I'm glad that the main producers are providing a greater variety of transplants, and maybe encouraging beginning gardeners, but do wish that plants were provided at the right time to plant! To their credit, the info on their (the producers) website is decent.

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Sunday, March 15, 2009

A newly planted rose

It's been raining all weekend, thank goodness.

We NEED the rain, facing yet another spring and summer of drought, if the predictions are accurate. That unpleasant red band covers where we garden.

The rain followed by snow two weeks ago was great; the soil slowly became well hydrated. But then, unusually warm weather and sunny skies kicked in.

Since rain was forecast for this weekend, I managed a sowing of chard, beets, and carrots late on Friday, and I'm imaging those seeds imbibing moisture, ready for the warm weather again this week. My previously-sown seedlings are doing great; nothing like warm weather to encourage growth.

A newly planted rose

My gardening companion was inspired to root out the rest of a patch of Nandina at the back of the house, and proceeded to plant a well-rooted rose taken as a cutting from our tough-as-nails rose in front. We hope to train it up the side of the house, with the help of some attachments, drilled into the stone.

The same plant last September (2008)

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Saturday, March 14, 2009

Herons & gardens

Great Blue Heron, taken by Gene Oleney, Fermilab,
used with permission in
The Nature of Clemson.

It's always a treat to watch Great Blue Herons flying over the backyard on their way to our nearby lakes. They stop at the ponds at the Garden, too. This morning, a group of us were lucky enough to see one catch and eat a small fish.

I wish we had a small pond as part of our wildlife habitat here at home. We've talked about it for quite awhile; considerations include muddy gardening assistants (ie Mocha), the expense and effort of excavating and lining a pond versus all of the wildlife benefits and pleasant aspects of having a continuous source of water in the garden.

My gardening companion (after hearing the cost estimates) always thinks that he'll dig it, but he's pretty darn busy to dig an entire pond in his 'free' time. I could dig a small pond, too, but it would be more like a largish-deep puddle in our heavy soil.

Hmm, seeing that heron today was inspiring. I probably could dig a pond big enough for frogs!

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Friday, March 13, 2009

Ready for hummingbirds

It's still too early to expect the first male ruby-throated hummingbirds; they've made it up to central Georgia on the most recent map from Journey North, and north GA on hummingbird.net, but the colder weather this weekend will slow them down. Last year, hummingbird.net reported sightings on March 23 and 24 in our area -- probably the earliest scouts! The males come first, to scout out and claim their breeding sites, followed by the females a couple of weeks later.

The males roughly follow an overnight temperature isothermal line in their migration, staying just about the freezing line, according to Operation RubyThroat, managed by Bill Hilton, an active hummingbird investigator and naturalist based at Hilton Pond, in York Co, SC.

Our first sighting last year wasn't until April 13, when we saw a single male. But I've got the feeders ready as of this afternoon.

Here's a young female coming towards the porch feeder last summer.

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Thursday, March 12, 2009

Gardening and hope

I've been reading an excellent, and beautifully written, collection of essays called Grassroots Gardening: Rituals for Sustaining Activism by Donna Schaper. It's about gardening and keeping grounded.

I came across a mention of it in An Urban Plot, written by a gardener in North Carolina. I'm quite certain I wouldn't have come across it otherwise. So for a miniscule price + shipping, I've obtained this lovely book of meditations on gardening.

Something I connected with, and why I bought a copy, was an prologue quote posted in An Urban Plot that "I garden to remind myself of my hope." And her next post about the book included: "I just love this image of growing hope and curing despair through the garden and the act of recreating (create again, renew) while recreating (activity done for enjoyment)! Yes indeed, good stuff happens in the garden, layers and layers of amazing stuff that one can not even begin to measure by any standardized means."

I find gardening (both transforming our former lawn to wildlife-friendly plantings and my vegetable gardening activities) and doing garden outreach to be both personally restorative, meaningful, and grounding -- and it does bring me hope.

Gardening can be stewardship (of the earth) or it can be extractive, and everything in between. It's hopeful to be a good steward.

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Wednesday, March 11, 2009

A March full moon

This morning, the moon greeted me out the bedroom door. Today's the full moon, and perhaps it was this morning's. A handheld photo, in low light, had a pleasing shaky quality, I thought.

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Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Preparing garden beds

A couple of years ago, I set up what I call the 'satellite' garden.

Originally meant as an experimental (uh, I'm not really expanding my beds, I said to myself) sort of plot, I decided to incorporate them into permanent beds to expand my (rudimentary) rotation scheme. Also, as the holly hedge near my main vegetable garden has gotten larger, my main vegetable garden is even more shaded in the winter than it used to be. It's a great summer plot, OK in fall, but only gets several hours of sun in the late afternoon, even now, in early March.

So, to have a sunnier space for late winter and early spring crops, my satellite garden is great. Last spring, a hungry young woodchuck was a nemesis, and was relocated, but a relative has now appeared, and I'm determined to find a better place for him/her (the Havahart trap is set).

The unseasonably mild weather has made preparing beds for carrots, beets, chard, and potatoes (as well as preparing warm-season beds) a joy. What fun to be able to be out there digging in early March!

Since this is the second year of serious cultivation for most of these beds, they still have lots of clayey soil, so more compost, composted manure, and mushroom compost is needed. I'd limed all the beds in the fall (our soil is quite acidic), so hopefully, that will help, too. I'm afraid this is all very unscientific (not recommended) and I DO need to do a soil test.

But the beds are looking quite nice, and are ready to plant.

And seedlings are popping up in my flats and containers. Hooray!

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Monday, March 9, 2009

Out in the woods

I had a lovely hike this morning in nearby woods, near Lake Issaqueena in the Clemson University Experimental Forest. I was with a friend who shares my love of nature as well as a keen interest in getting others interested too. Delightful.

A wonderful restored forest area (through natural succession), it was worn-out cotton and corn fields back in the 1930's, when the federal government (in the US) provided buyouts to farmers. The lake was used for bombing practice during World War II, but is peaceful today.

The upper loop seems like you're in the mountains -- there's mountain laurel, rhododendron, beech, and a diversity of hardwoods.

I spent the afternoon digging in my (satellite) vegetable garden, adding composted manure, compost, etc. and then went to a sustainability forum on campus. How encouraging and what a nice way to spend a day.

I was on one of my 5 furlough days for this spring (my employer HAS to balance the budget), but this was a delight. I hope the rest of my 'off' days are so productive!

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Sunday, March 8, 2009

'Spring' planting

Our local big box stores are raring to go, with hardy transplants (standard varieties) of broccoli, cabbage, and collards, as well as romaine, leaf, and butter lettuce (also pretty standard varieties) all just as easy to grow from seed. (At least the seed offerings are much more extensive than they used to be at these garden centers).

The array of tomato and pepper transplants available, as well as squash and cucumber seedlings, is certainly aimed at sales, not success; our average last frost date is April 15, a good 5 weeks from now.

An interesting new twist is offering up pots of arugula (at least they might be hardy), but growing arugula from seed is SO easy, a pot of a few young plants is an impulse buy, pure and simple.

But what really amazed me (I actually bought a pot as an experiment) was a pot of very young leek seedlings. Leeks? In a big box store? Offered by the mainstream purveyor of herbs and vegetable transplants? Hmm, maybe we're making a bit of progress in terms of vegetable varieties, or maybe it's really easy to germinate pots of leek seedlings (probably the latter). To the producer's credit, they have a very nice account of how you should transplant leek seedlings into the garden (suggesting that the ones in their pots would be a MUCH larger size).

They're supposed to be pencil-width by the time you transplant them, so these (having barely got past the cotyledon stage, and sporting seed coats, in some cases) are hardly ready for the outside world. But they were attractive, and obviously I bought a pot.

I transplanted the largest seedlings to several pots of potting soil enriched with compost. It will be interesting to see how they fare. I haven't had any success with leeks before, but I haven't tried very hard either.

I'm sort of remembering that germinating seeds in the summer, and overwintering leeks is the best method in our hot summer climate. But young leeks are tasty, according to the purveyor's website! All I'm familiar with is the huge, woody version in the supermarket, so maybe I'm in for a treat.

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Saturday, March 7, 2009

A late winter camellia flower

An unusually warm sunny day and seedlings popping up (snow pea, spinach, lettuce, and mustard) have me thinking spring is just about here. I saw the first (native) spring wildflowers on Friday: a single trout lily, a small bloodroot flower (where hundreds will be later), and several Oconee Bells (a locally rare species that's a regional treasure).

But late this afternoon, this lone camellia flower was blooming in view of the kitchen window. Only last weekend, these branches were bent down by the weight of the wet, heavy late window snow.

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Thursday, March 5, 2009

Mystery squash seeds

CEN recently presented a squash mystery (see her comment) - a winter squash medley that's left to the buyer (that's us, to figure out). She sleuthed it out, and identified the butternut variety that she wanted. But I also poked around trying to figure it out too.

I don't know if this was the packet of seeds that she saw, but I happened on to it at a local big box store, and it caught my eye ( I always love a plant mystery).

Sorting them out, there were definitely 4 seed types, but not in the 25% each that were advertised on the packet.

After some time spent looking at squash seed characteristics and images, I figure that the large seeds on the upper left are the acorn squash (a C. pepo variety), the seeds on the right are the spaghetti squash (another C. pepo variety), the seeds on the lower left are the butternut squash (a C. moschata variety), and the two whitish seeds are C. maxima (the Lakota squash).

I could easily be wrong, but this was my best guess!

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Wednesday, March 4, 2009

From winter to spring

Just in an afternoon, we've gone from winter to practically spring. Certainly, the early March snow persists in shady patches, but it was in the mid-50's (°F) this afternoon, so it shouldn't last much longer. And the prediction is for temperatures in the mid-70's for Saturday and Sunday.

It's hard to know what plants will make of this. It will depend on their genetic heritage, for sure, whether sudden (exceptional) warmth will encourage bud expansion or not. Most of our native plants are still dormant, an adaptive strategy that's probably serving them well in a changeable climate.

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Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Spinach and lettuce seedlings

I'm not sure if they'll make it through the deep freeze after our big snow, but I was glad to see spinach and salad mix seedlings in my large containers this afternoon. I hadn't looked at them in a couple of days because of the snow, and the fallen power pole to the house that had come down and was lying on top of my potting bench, next to these pots.

But, with power turned off, and trying to get the pole and meter fixed again, I noticed an abundance of seedlings popping up, covered with small patches of unmelted snow.

I'd figured my early unsheltered sowings were food for the blue jays at this point, so I was delighted to see them.

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Monday, March 2, 2009

An afternoon crocus

A crocus was in flower this afternoon. It's one of the several crocuses by the front walk that come back every winter (I almost wrote spring!) These predate our gardening efforts and are an echo from someone long ago who thought to plant them there.

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More snow

The snow fell until almost midnight, and we woke up to a thick blanket of snow.


Sunday, March 1, 2009

A late winter snow

Snow is a matter of delight and concern for those of us who live in warmer winter climates.

Because we're so unused to snow, snow (or ice) days shut down schools, offices, and government buildings. Everyone stays home, hopefully warm, if the power is still on.

But, we're all still delighted to see the beauty of the snow cloaking trees, softening the landscape, and creating an unfamiliar wintry scene. And, we dash out to enjoy snowballs, sliding down slopes on cardboard, and other winter delights.

We've had lots of cold weather this winter, but no snow, so having large flakes pelting down late this afternoon and the prospects of 2-4 inches overnight was unexpected and fun to see, at least when you don't have to be traveling!

There was an Eastern Towhee pair kicking up mulch, foraging for seeds near the front stone path, as the snow came down. I wish I'd gotten a clear photo of them, but the light was already too dim.

The view from the porch was lovely, and a nice contrast to the view in warmer times.

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