Saturday, April 30, 2016

A developing woodland garden

The ravine forest below the house is now definitely looking like a woodland garden -- full of natives in the understory and mid-canopy now, as well as the native canopy trees (red oaks and hickories, largely, with black cherries (of course), and now black gum, tulip poplar, white oak, fraser magnolia, halesia, etc. all mixed in.

looking down towards the forest
It's a lovely view from our deck.  I'm so grateful to have this restored woodland landscape to greet me each morning, looking down the slope, not to mention the front vegetable garden, pocket meadow, and pollinator plantings in front.

We've created another garden here (we've had this house now for 8 years) -- it's a landscape that suits both of us, and we had SO much fun adding more special plants to woodland, meadow, and vegetable gardens this weekend, post plant-sales at the Botanical Garden at Asheville and the WNC Herb Festival.

Isn't that the real fun of gardening?  Creating landscapes that make us happy?

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Thursday, April 28, 2016

Bear corn

Lots of bear corn!
Bear corn (Conopholis americana) is a parasitic plant that derives its nourishment from the roots of oak and beech trees.

On a recent hike off the Blue Ridge Parkway on the Mountains to Sea trail, there were large patches of bear corn in flower.  Striking!

Bear corn in flower

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Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Compost spread

A cubic yard of compost is quite a bit. 

But we've spread it over all of my vegetable beds, amended others, enriched the soil around some woodland natives, etc.

The bag was emptied.  Thanks, SuperSod. I'll let you know how my vegetables grow. They already look great, post-watering with compost top-dressing.

An almost empty bag

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Sunday, April 24, 2016

Organic compost

A recent email from SuperSod in Hendersonville offered up some certified organic compost (a cubic yard, delivered for free). Hmm, what's not to like about that, I thought, and said yes, sure.  (This seems to be related to being a local garden writer/garden blogger/member of GWA).

Soil3 organic compost from SuperSod, Hendersonville, NC
At their booth at the Mother Earth News Fair a couple of weekends ago, I actually saw the size of the Big Yellow Bag. Yikes.  It was BIG.

But it was delivered on Friday, via a large truck and small fork lift, and we've now spread it over our raised beds, added to some of the in-ground beds, top-dressed recently planted shrubs and trees, and saved several buckets of it for mid-season amending.

It's great-looking compost.  It looks like it came from an organic dairy (it seems rich in composted manure), but will definitely give a boost to all of my raised beds, as they're getting close to change out from cool-season to warm-season veggies.

The bag is now empty and ready to return!  It'll be great to see how the veggies and other plants respond. Here's a link to more information about the compost.

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Thursday, April 21, 2016

An interesting planted combination

A local brew pub has a talented gardener,  I'm thinking.  Looping by Wicked Weed on an evening walk found me admiring this planted container.

This was one of two similarly planted barrels, on either side of their front entrance walk. 

Kudos for doing something different, I thought!


Monday, April 18, 2016

Perennial leeks

I've been thinking that I've been harvesting green garlic, but today, I realized, these are really perennial leeks, grown in great soil, with plenty of nutrients, and full sun all winter.

They're huge, and delicious.  I've harvested, and we've eaten plenty of young perennial leeks (they're great, too), but these were different.

About the same time that I managed to stick some garlic gloves in various spots, I also separated and transplanted perennial leeks.

These are what I've been harvesting in the lower bed.

They certainly look more like leeks than garlic, and slice up that way, too!  And I certainly didn't plant any "normal" leeks down there, just moved around the perennial ones and planted some garlic (I think).  But it's been an eventful year, and I need to revisit my blog posts to remind me of what I might have done....

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Saturday, April 16, 2016

Halesia in flower

Our native Halesia species (Silverbell) are wonderful understory trees. This one, planted in our ravine forest some years ago, has flourished; this is the best flowering year yet.
Looking down the slope, we see the Halesia, a red buckeye (also in flower), an Eastern Hemlock, an evergreen rhododendron, and still some Packera (Golden ragwort) in flower.

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Friday, April 15, 2016

Green garlic, perennial leeks, and roots

A chef on a favorite food-oriented podcast was extolling the virtues of using garlic roots for a delicious rich broth.  Garlic roots?  Hmm.

Green garlic, I get.  Mine are wonderful this spring, stout and delicious.

Both the white stalk and the green leaves are perfect, sauteed in a bit of olive oil. 

My perennial leeks have been great, too (they're at the center of the photo).  But my experiment with the green garlic roots (laborious to clean) was ho-hum at best. 

Yes, they added garlic flavor, but not anything over the top (as the interviewed chef suggested).  Perhaps his were different, or perhaps not.

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Monday, April 11, 2016

Evidence of beaver on the Laurel Creek Trail

Along the Laurel Creek trail, outside of Hot Springs, NC,  evidence of beaver was common. 
Fresh beaver foraging:  the sap was dripping!
It didn't really seem like a good beaver area; the river there is wonderful and diverse, passing over rocky boulders as well as meandering through pools.

But beavers are there, perhaps creating dens along the edges, as sometimes they do.

They were chewing on the side branches, too...

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Friday, April 8, 2016


A search for "harvest" on previous posts, for a friend who's doing an article about freezing from your garden, brought up SO many rewarding posts.  My first search had been tomatoes, and then harvest.

Fascinating, and rewarding, since I've been growing, commenting, and thinking about these sorts of things for so long now.

I'm heading over to hear Elliot Coleman, one of my gardening heroes, tomorrow at the Mother Earth Fair here in Asheville. 

He's talking about extending the seasons, which he's written about extensively.  I may not learn anything new, but I'd love to say "thank you" for his truly visionary perspective.

I'm going to try to pick up some of the other talks, too.

A tomato harvest from a couple of years ago -- ready to cook, freeze, and eat!

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Thursday, April 7, 2016

Ravine forest at sunset

For now, the ravine forest below the house is intact (and hopefully will be for the foreseeable future). 

The "other side" will be developed, most certainly - how soon, and in what guise, remains to be seen.  It's been vacant land for a long time.

But the view now is wonderful, and in the early spring light at sunset, extraordinary.  We're fortunate.

Although these are similar views, we essentially have a panorama of forest beyond our deck and kitchen windows.


Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Changeable weather

I overheard a comment this afternoon (a store cashier) telling her colleague -- I can't ever remember it being so cold in April before.  This is a curious comment, since historically, in our mountain town, the last average frost date is April 15.

Not that many years ago, a April 8 "Easter freeze" had temperatures down to 22° in the Piedmont, so probably 5-8° lower in the mountains; it zapped natives and ornamentals alike.

But it is chilly, and we have forecasted lows of 27° for Saturday, nippy by whatever standards.

My cool-season veggies shouldn't be phased;  the kale, spinach, carrots, beets, chard, lettuces, peas, mustards, arugula, etc. all are looking good, along with the garlic and leeks, which overwintered.

I just hope it rains tonight as predicted; we need it!

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Monday, April 4, 2016

Tulips and Mt. Pisgah view at Biltmore Estate

tulips in the walled garden at Biltmore Estate

view of Mt. Pisgah from the terrace at Biltmore Estate
It's always wonderful to swing through the Biltmore Estate in April;  the tulips in the walled garden are at their peak right now, and the cool air of spring (following a front) brought clear views of the Blue Ridge mountains and Mt. Pisgah beyond.

A lovely morning excursion.

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Sunday, April 3, 2016

Purple mustards and pac choi

Encouraging myself, after a cold February, I sowed Oriental purple (red)  mustards in one of my containers.  Apparently, there were also dormant Pac Choi seeds in the potting mix (from the flat) that I'd used to top off the container's soil mix.

This was the result.

Purple mustard and Pac Choi
Lovely young purple mustard greens and pac choi.  What's not to like about that?

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