Thursday, February 28, 2013

Cool vs. warm season vegetables and herbs

In an herb-gardening class this morning, I had a lovely participant that had recently moved to South Carolina from upstate NY. 

It was a great reminder (for me) of what a wonderfully benign climate that we have in the Carolinas for growing herbs and vegetables!

Our average last spring frost date ("historically" April 15) is really more like April 8 (or earlier) now.  And we've moved from Zone 7b to Zone 8, in the Piedmont of South Carolina.

In the mountains of Western North Carolina, where I spend time in the summer and on weekends, in the Asheville basin (where our small house is), we're now Zone 7 b, instead of Zone 6, and I'm sure the 'heat island effect' along with the stone raised beds that I have, bump that up!

Needless to say, even as we're moving into true spring, I'm harvesting the last overwintered arugula (it's starting to bolt) as I'm planting spring cool-season seeds, too, and thinking about transplants of warm-season vegetables to come.

Amending vegetable beds in the satellite garden (a couple of years ago)
A Master Gardener volunteer, who enjoyed the Hawaiian Pineapple tomatoes last year (that I did, too) asked via email today if we would have transplants for them at our spring sale.  Well, no, I replied, as we've rearranged how we grow transplants, but I then ordered seeds, and will share, for sure!

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Tuesday, February 26, 2013


I'm grateful for the rain, truly.  It's refilled our upstate SC lakes, hydrated the soil in the mountains, but...

The path past the main vegetable garden (from the kitchen door) is becoming a compacted, muddy mess with all of the rain.

We fell into the habit of using the kitchen garden/mud room door while our sweet rescue Golden, Woody, was recovering from knee surgery last fall (the 'taking the dog out' excursion...) There's just a small step down through the door verge there.

But, now he's fine, and we're continuing to use that path.

Hmm, perhaps he needs to use the steps down from the bedroom door, or out the front door, as alternative "step" exercises!

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Friday, February 22, 2013

Tulips are emerging

Hmm, if I'd been energetic (which I'm not, still recovering from a bad cold), I'd have pictures of the tulips emerging in front of our house in the mountains.

We didn't plant them, the previous owner (and designer of our small house) did.  He wasn't a gardener, at all, but his tulips have been lovely over the last springs.  The colors coordinate with our house -- how nice is that!

This was last year's post about their appearance.

The tulip foliage looks great and robust so far --we'll see what the flowers are like this year.

This is what they looked like a couple of years ago.

Tulips at the base of the house

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Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Looking forward to spring vegetables!

I'm doing a program this weekend about "creating an attractive and sustainable vegetable garden" and it has me thinking hopefully about spring vegetables.

I'm feeling behind on sowing seeds and getting started due to travel and a bad cold, so am ready for thinking positively about lettuce, spinach, beets, arugula, mustards, peas, etc. -- all the spring possibilities that can be totally successful (and delicious) depending on the vagaries of late winter/early spring weather.

I've STILL got offset baby leeks to transplant, but hopefully they'll catch up quickly when I have time and energy to do that.  I managed to get in onion seedlings and transplants this afternoon, but they suffered a bit from a delay in planting (due to my being under the weather), so it'll be interesting to see how they fare.

In the meantime, this view of June raised beds in the mountains last year cheered me up!

Raised beds in June

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Sunday, February 17, 2013


The downie woodpeckers have been visiting the suet feeders (note to self, put suet cakes on the grocery list).

Yes, I could make homemade suet for them, but I'm already making (homemade) bread, granola, and yogurt for us --hmm, and keeping Woody from helping himself from cooling bread on the counter!

Hmmrph.  He managed half a loaf this afternoon.

It's been great fun to watch spring coming along (and winter blasting back, too).  I was going to put onion seedlings in the ground this afternoon, in spite of suffering with a bad cold, but quickly realized that the top inch or so was still frozen.  Hmm, I guess I'll wait for both onion seedlings and dormant onions!

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Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Signs of spring

The first Carolina Jessamine flowers have opened, both outside my study window and along the front step railing.  Well-expanded flower buds of a single bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis) plant near the front path are just waiting for a bright sunny day to open, too.

I imagine that the small patch of Hepatica acutiloba at the Garden might be in flower, too.  What with the continuing rainy weather and more traveling, I haven't had time to check.

Daffodils, early cherries, and Chinese redbuds have all popped over the last few days -- noticeable after coming 'down the hill' from the mountains yesterday.

I've got onion plants (both dormant and ones growing actively) to get in the ground, along with leek offsets (from my perennial leeks) to transplant, too.  The prediction for the weekend is much colder weather, which although seasonal, might not be conducive to planting.  We'll see!

I haven't yet planted peas of any sort -- they're due, too, although they'll catch up quickly, whenever they're planted -- the key to their spring success is a long cool spring -- not a variable (or hot) one!

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Thursday, February 7, 2013

Embracing plants

I've loved learning about plants for decades -- native plants, vegetables, plant combinations, garden design, etc.  Visiting far-flung places as well as places closer to home has brought a wonderful sense of place to my view.

And it's all about the learning.

One of my favorite quotes is Thomas Jefferson's: "No occupation is so delightful to me as the culture of the earth, and no culture comparable to that of the garden...But though an old man, I am but a young gardener."

We're all young gardeners, whatever our age.  I love that. I just had the delightful experience of encouraging some younger gardeners/landscaper/plant people to grow more vegetables in the landscapes that they create and/or tend.

Piet Oudolf's garden, Sept. 2012
Let's do more to encourage young gardeners - whether it's growing vegetables or creating inspirational plantings.  It's a totally good thing.

P.S. This post is a milestone: number 1300.

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Sunday, February 3, 2013

Colorful winter vegetables

I'm adapting a program about creative and attractive vegetable gardening to focus on urban vegetable gardening (for a talk next week) and came across a photo I took of a mid-winter vegetable planting last December.  Impressive, partially because there hadn't a long hard period of freezing temperatures.
Winter vegetables
I love the textures and color combinations and everything I've harvested so far (from the kale to the leeks) has been tasty!

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