Thursday, November 14, 2019

Coffee from Laos

My hubbie brought home a bag of coffee grown in southern Laos this morning (bought at Trader Joe's).  It was the sample coffee this morning and he'd liked it. 
We had a remarkable trip to central and northern Lao back around 2004, not long after it had been opened up to foreign tourists.
Coffee from Lao, I asked?  
Amazing, but apparently coffee is now a successful agricultural crop in Southern Lao (where we didn't visit).

coffee from Laos
And googling "Bolaven Plateau coffee" brought up quite a few interesting sites with more information, including this piece from CNN:

We haven't been back to Asia for awhile, but it's a great part of the world, with a wonderful vegetable gardening culture (as well as a long and diverse history, too).

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Wednesday, November 13, 2019

The storm has passed

As the arctic blast moved through, many of the remaining leaves blew off, although some yellows (mostly hickories) are falling slowly now. They're beautiful.

Remarkable to have such cold weather last night, and in the 20's again tonight.  Now, in mid-November.  The kale and collards look OK; I didn't expect that.  I'll see how they look in the coming weeks.

What I covered with heavy Remay -- well, I'm vaguely hopeful there, too, as when I rearranged the hoops and cloth covering the spinach seedlings this afternoon, they still looked largely OK.

I've posted this photo before,  but it's worth including again.  Talking about four-season vegetable gardening yesterday reminds me of the vagaries of the weather.

The far right Remay covers my seedling spinach. 
Perhaps I'll have some spinach to harvest in mid to late winter, when we return in early March from Quebec.

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Monday, November 11, 2019

Year-round kitchen gardening

It's a bit ironic to be talking tomorrow morning about year-round kitchen gardening down in Brevard, for a Master Gardeners outreach program, as our temperatures here in Asheville will dip into record low temperatures tomorrow night.

I've already covered some of my cool-season veggies, planted late from transplants in October and young spinach seedlings, too, with heavy horticultural fabric.

But the temperatures expected tomorrow night are so extreme for this time of the year, I'm expecting to lose even kale and collards, in spite of protection.  I'm planning to cover all of the beds tomorrow with Remay and greenhouse plastic film,  thinking well, why not?

Maybe some plants will survive the deep freeze -- it's been so warm recently, I'm thinking the stones will buffer some of the cold, as will the apartment next door.

Before the freeze a couple of days ago


Friday, November 8, 2019

Sudden low temperatures

The low tonight is predicted to be 23°F.  That's cold compared to recent temperatures, which haven't be lower than about 30°F and it's following a spell of quite warm temperatures, so plants are not accommodating very well, whether native or non-native.

The leaves of the Frazer magnolia near the porch were frosted before they dropped off.  Our ginkgo in front has just turned yellow --hmm.

And the purple mustard, Swiss chard, and young spinach seedlings -- well, I harvested most of the leaves of the mustard and chard (along with the chives), and covered up the rest with Remay.  Not pretty, of course, but.

Not my idea of attractive, but useful
This deep amplitude of cold is what I'm worried about.  Perhaps in the past, I never would have had purple mustard or Swiss chard.  I'm not that worried about kale and chard, of course.  All interesting.

I'm doing a presentation next week about four-season gardening in Western North Carolina.  It's interesting, that's for sure.


Monday, November 4, 2019

A talk about pollinator-friendly gardening

I've given lots of talks about pollinator-friendly gardening over the decades that I've been doing classes and presentations.  It's a much more pertinent (and immediate) topic today than it was when I began sharing thoughts about it.

Driving down the Blue Ridge Escarpment tomorrow to speak to the Greenville Council of Garden Clubs --- I'll be doing my regular encouraging talk about including more native perennials, shrubs, and trees that support pollinators in your garden, I'm pondering the topic again.

I think in some ways that this is largely a message for folks who are already gardeners, who are more easily encouraged around pollinator-friendly plantings than novice gardeners, although the message is the same.

At a meeting this afternoon related to pollinator-friendly gardening (one of the many initiatives of a local non-profit), a visitor who participates in the Blue Ridge Naturalist Program at the NC Arboretum related a recent experience in a class where a participant in the program didn't know what a bumblebee was.  Discouraging, to say the least. But, this person wanted to learn after all, so that's great.

Hey, I didn't know much about native bees until a couple of decades ago, as I participated in a symposium organized by my best friend from graduate school -- a pollination biologist like my hubbie.

Steve Buchmann, one of the authors of Forgotten Pollinators (published in 1996) was a speaker.  He talked about the 4000+ native bees here in North America.  It was a revelation to me.

And I always remember my mom, in her years of disability, when she watched a lot of documentaries on PBS, asking me once on our daily phone calls:  Lisa, did you know bats were mammals?  Well, I did, but I was glad she had learned that.

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