Monday, May 30, 2016

A welcoming corner

In the urban landscape of my town, I bump through a road full of potholes several times each day.

The high point as I'm returning from the grocery store (we're fortunate to have a Harris Teeter and a Trader Joe's less than a mile away) is this corner planting.

This fellow's work has brightened my journeys for several years now.

This is what it look likes currently.  Thanks to a great gardening neighbor!

Flint and Chestnut

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Sunday, May 29, 2016

A Carolina rose (Rosa carolina)

A flourishing Carolina rose (Rosa carolina)
This rose is in its third year, and definitely likes its spot.  I've noted it before; this was last year's post.

It's a lovely and fragrant native rose, with its own specialist bee, but also attractive to bumblebees and honeybees, too.

Bumblebee foraging for pollen

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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!)

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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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Thursday, May 12, 2016

Raised bed vegetable gardening

I've had these raised beds in the mountains for quite awhile now - about 6 years.  Here was a reflection about them. 

They were originally filled with commercial compost (from the Asheville Mulch Yard), a locally created compost with veggie waste from the WNC Farmer's Market probably mixed with manures and turned frequently to compost.  It was quite a light "compost" mix.

So over the years, I've added mushroom compost, "garden soil," Espoma organic fertilizer, Black Kow, Black Hen, Ace's cow manure compost, as well as leftover Epsom salts, liquified ancient calcium tablets, fish emulsion, etc.

So now I'm suddenly thinking about micronutrients -- geez, has all of this compost provided enough?

Why aren't my plants gigantic like the ones in the community gardens that I'm associated with?  Is it that I'm planting them too closely, or just that I'm harvesting baby leaves as soon as I can, and planting intensively?

Are we getting enough iodine in our vegetables,  I'm also questioning?  Do I need to add some sort of kelp mixture to my amendments?


We still have as many greens as we can eat right now, with lots of veggies to come, not to mention the giant leaves of the community garden veggies, too, purchased with farmstand credits or volunteer/plant donation perks.  Yikes.

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Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Our native wisteria

I don't see too many gardens with native wisteria, (Wisteria frutescens) but was glad to see these, planted on porches, in recent walks around my local neighborhoods.

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Sunday, May 8, 2016

Intensively managed raised vegetable beds

I'm volunteering in a large neighborhood community garden (managed under a non-profit umbrella) that's planted with long traditional raised beds in rows.

It's productive, scarily so (I don't know who going to harvest all of the greens, etc., not to mention the tomatoes, peppers, and potatoes to come).

Part of the produce serves the Kitchen Ready project of Go Opportunities, but there's a lot more than they can use, and we're quickly getting into a harvest phase for greens and sugar snap peas.  And the small group of folks that seems to be part of the second year of this project (my friend and I are new this year) aren't a large group -- not sure where all of this will go!  Hopefully, the neighborhood folks will help themselves, as this garden is part of a community center landscape, near a housing area for the City of Asheville.

It's making me thankful for the discipline of my small raised bed vegetable gardens.  I don't have unlimited space, so I swap things out, plant closely (my goal is baby greens, not giant ones, for spring).  I just harvested all of the arugula and much of the turnips, as well as much of the last spinach.
It's time for summer crops to take hold.  I've moved around transplants of Swiss chard; hopefully as a more-heat-tolerant green, it'll keep coming.

There are pole beans coming up under the sugar snap peas, a dance to come.  Hopefully there will be a few peas before it's too hot for their flowers!

I've loved having the wire cloches from Gardening Supply -- they've definitely deterred the cabbage white butterfly caterpillar impact on my baby kales and other coles... They (the cloches) were pricey, but worth it.

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Thursday, May 5, 2016

A reinvigorated garden

The Pearson Garden, owned by Bountiful Cities, and now managed by Patchwork Urban Farms, is flourishing.

Lots of peas, greens, and turnips!

A productive urban garden
I discovered Bountiful Cities and the Pearson Garden some years ago, after we bought our small infill house in Montford in 2008. I've posted about them before.

It was a community garden then, and often looked great.

It was so nice to visit the Montford Farm Stand this afternoon and check out how nice the garden is looking. I joined as a member, took a dozen eggs and some white Japanese turnips as this week's purchase, so I'm a happy neighbor.

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Tuesday, May 3, 2016

A lovely climbing rose

I'd made note of this lovely climbing rose last year, a raffle win from the Asheville Garden Bloggers Fling, some years ago.

Wow, it looked puny last year compared to this.

A heirloom climbing rose

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Monday, May 2, 2016

Planting more seeds

I believe in swapping things out, practicing successional gardening (as well as four-season gardening), for sure.

So, I (hopefully) seeded various warm-season favorites in outdoor flats and containers last weekend. 

They'll replace cool-season veggies as they decline, but also provide late transplants, way beyond when they're available at garden centers, etc.


They included specialty peppers, tomatillos, squashes, unusual tomatoes, leeks, cilantro, basil mixes (thanks, Botanical Interests!), dill and parsley as well as other things.

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