Saturday, August 31, 2013

Cleaning up for fall

I'm almost done "excavating" the main vegetable garden and the satellite garden in the Piedmont of their cloak of over-summering crabgrass.  It was thick, and more abundant than I'd ever experienced before, thanks to the exceptionally high rainfall this summer.

Evidence of deer and spotting of woodchucks (one has taken up residence under the garden shed) means that defensive measures need to be taken before greens are planted. Hrmph.

I'm fine planting recently received garlic, shipped from a West Coast farm, and dividing and moving around the perennial leeks, dividing

But with greens -- hmm, I might as well just say welcome, woodchucks -- I have something tasty for you -- help yourself!

I may try to use a row cover/hoop house barrier to see if that deters them short-term.   Or, I may just rely on my mountain beds for greens.  They're less susceptible to woodchucks because of the city location, although not immune.

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Thursday, August 29, 2013

Ruby-throated hummingbirds

I just set up the hummingbird feeder late this morning after its summer hiatus.

We've had lots of hummers in the mountains over summer, visiting the masses of Lobelia cardinalis, Salvia guaranitica, Lonicera sempervirens, and Impatiens capensis, but didn't have a feeder set up (the one I bought early in the summer dripped and I thought I'd just rely on flowers).

The feeder in the Piedmont hangs from the edge of the porch and has been a favorite of hummingbirds over the years. There's a large oak nearby, perfect for perching and snagging insects.

So I was delighted to see a female hummingbird discover the feeder within half an hour--we were eating lunch on the porch, and although she was initially concerned by our presence (not to mention Woody, who was snoozing by the porch table), she proceeded to visit over a number of minutes.

Hopefully, we'll have more visitors, too.  A post from September of last year reflected on several whizzing around.

What fun!

A female visiting the same feeder several years ago
It was fun to re-read some of the posts that I've made in the past about ruby-throated hummingbirds -- they're such a great part of summer and fall.

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Monday, August 26, 2013


Wamboldtopia is a special private garden in West Asheville.

It's a collaboration between two artists, working with different media: stone, ceramic and plants.  I first visited a year ago in May, when it was part of the Garden Bloggers Fling.

My eclectic garden club group visited a couple of weeks ago.  It was still remarkable.

The artistic elements were what stood out. The rainy summer and a shady garden were reflected in a subdued plant palette. The structural and artistic elements took the stage.


Sunday, August 25, 2013

Evening light

The view out the front door was wonderful yesterday evening.  We've had so much rain and cloudy weather this summer that it seemed like an exceptional treat, combined with the much cooler drier air that's pushed through. 

The air feels like fall this morning, in spite of the date at the end of August.

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Monday, August 12, 2013

Fall is coming

It was a lovely evening here in the mountains of Western North Carolina.

MORE rain during the day, but the evening was nice -- cool for this time of year and the crescent moon was evident - beautiful (but no Perseid meteors to be seen).  An evening to be appreciated, too, as we're back "down the hill" later in the week to start fall semester.

Two of the largest raised beds are ready to plant with fall greens, cleansed of the final tomatoes -- harvested before late blight ravaged their vines.  I'll be planting beets, turnips (red and white), creasy greens, lettuce mix, mache, mustard greens, kale of all sorts, mixed greens, etc. and maybe I'll try some broccoli raab, too. 

I'm imagining the woodchucks would sneak out of the ravine for any cole transplants, so I don't think I'll bother to plant any of those for them (been there, done that).

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Friday, August 9, 2013

A gardening reflection

This has been a pretty difficult year for summer vegetables, except for the beans, even as the Mexican bean beetles (and their larvae) have decimated the leaves.

I've harvested (and we've eaten) more beans than I'd like -- OK, I shouldn't be complaining as they're the essence of local veggies, after all.  I've harvested some squash, and amazingly, the Black Tula tomatoes have been the backbone of what I've roasted and frozen.  They've been decent fresh (similar to Cherokee Purple), but without heat, sweetness hasn't rounded out their flavor profiles, so roasting for sauce is the best use.

The hybrid tomato varieties that I received "free" have languished, too, and are succumbing to late blight now as well.  They look like supermarket tomatoes -- and maybe would have been tasty given sun and warmth (which they didn't receive).

They're "ripening" on the counter as I'm harvesting ahead of late blight fruit damage -- the question is always about whether "green" tomatoes or those that are counter ripe are tasty enough to roast and freeze (my favorite way to preserve tomatoes).

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Thursday, August 1, 2013

Morning glories and Liatris

I know morning glories are "weedy" - but they're also beautiful.
I'm enjoying how the volunteers from last year are colonizing the telephone pole outside our deck. 

It makes for a lovely view as we're eating meals out there - the contrast with the blazing star in full flower is wonderful.

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