Thursday, May 30, 2013

Mystery at PAR Davies 5/29/13


We had a hard working group Wednesday morning…Suzanne, Jamie, G.A., Cathy, Susan, Melba, John, Ann, newcomer Greg Meeks and myself. We harvested peas, onions, chard, broccoli, garlic scapes and herbs. All of the broccoli was harvested, the beds cleaned out, and ready to plant something else. We didn't get as good a broccoli harvest in the spring as the fall planting because of the heads going to seed too fast. However, the cabbage looks better, and we should be able to harvest some nice big heads next week. Cathy made the delivery to the women's shelter, and we included a sheet explaining the scapes and how to use them.

Ya see that zucchini?
We uncovered the squash bed to see what was going on, and look what we found! The self pollinators seem to be doing their thing with no evidence of the SB's and SVB's (Squash bugs and squash vine borers.) There were lots of blossoms and little squashes. We may have to hand pollinate the yellow squash; we will know by next week if that is necessary. So, if things progress as they have been, we should be harvesting squash next week! While the cover was off we fertilized with comfrey tea and covered backup again. In the words of C.W. and now my words…ain't God good!

G.A., Greg and Jamie picked the last of the in-ground bed of peas and pulled out all the vines. They then prepared the bed for planting, and planted two double rows of okra. John took care of mulching some of the in-ground plants and watered them along with the container plants. Jamie mulched the sweet potato bed. We re-seeded spots in several beds that didn't all germinate. In addition to squash and cabbage next week, we should be able to start harvesting some of the garlic. I will need volunteers to take some home with them to spread out and dry.

Melba harvesting garlic scapes
We found this (below) growing amongst the garlic. At first we thought it was corn, and now we don't know. Does anyone have a clue what it is? Whatever, it will be removed next week.

The mystery plant with what looks like grainy heads
The beet bed was weeded with many little trees removed. The beets are looking good as are the carrots and onions, and the melons are coming along after a rocky start. The voles are at it again with the potatoes in addition to a carrot being destroyed. The trap is not working, but has been moved over by the potatoes.

Below is a picture of our busy gardeners. We really got a lot accomplished today, and it was starting to heat up as we were getting ready to leave.

It's hot in the sunny part!
'Til later,

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Year Round Vegetable Gardening in Containers

Hi Suzanne,

Today I harvested one pot of garlic that I planted last November. There are three pots yet to be harvested within the next month. The pots on my patio have had things planted in them all year. Last fall/winter/spring, they were full of garlic, cilantro, parsley and lettuce. Container gardening works great for your veggies especially in the winter. They are so easy to cover up when the temps are freezing, and there are no insects or disease to contend with.

'Transylvania,' the first variety harvested now out to dry
Now as the cool weather crops are being harvested, I am gradually putting in the summer veggies. I have put a tomato in a pot with some garlic, and as the tomato gets bigger, the garlic will be ready to come out. I will then put a little basil in with the tomato plant. I am doing this with two pots.

Tomato and garlic
I had planted three pots with cilantro just because I love it. I am going to let the cilantro self sow in all the pots and I should be able to get another crop when the weather cools down in the fall. I plan on saving a bunch of seeds to share with friends just because cilantro is so easy to grow.

Cilantro going to seed with attractive flowers
I planted 'Minnesota Midget' cantaloupe (small personal size) in a pot that has parsley and cilantro. When the cilantro is done, I will put fencing in the pot for the cantaloupe to climb on. In the pot where I just harvested the garlic I put a squash plant and added a floating row cover to protect against squash bugs and squash vine borers.

Cantaloupe and parsley will share a pot

Yellow summer squash covered up
In addition to container vegetable gardening, I have made a strawberry patch in a flower bed. This fall/winter I had a half dozen collard plants in the flower bed that produced all winter into spring. So far I have picked over 8 lbs of strawberries this year. They will continue to produce all summer, although only sporadically…just enough to throw a few in your smoothie or in a salad. I have covered them with netting to keep critters out.

Strawberries sharing a bed with flowers
So, if you have a flower bed and/or a sunny place to set containers, you can still grow things to eat all year.


Monday, May 20, 2013

Tennessee Yards Done Right

Learn how to water effectively!

Are you familiar with the many, many resources available on the Tennessee State Master Gardener website?  You don't even have to be a Master Gardener to access most of these resources!

One publication is especially timely as we move into summer:  The Tennessee Yardstick Workbook.  In it you will discover the nine principles of the Tennessee Yards and Neighborhoods Program:

• Right Plant, Right Place
• Manage Soils and Mulch
• Manage Turfgrass Appropriately
• Water Efficiently
• Use Fertilizer Appropriately
• Manage Yard Pests
• Reduce Stormwater Runoff and its Pollutants
• Provide for Wildlife
• Protect Water's Edge

Check it out.  And explore the website - you never know what you'll find!

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Rainbow Chard

Rainbow Chard from Dianne's garden

Suzanne, I had to show you the beautiful rainbow chard from the seeds you gave me.  I used it in this recipe for Asian Noodle Bowl.  I had some of the ingredients in the garden…. scallions, snow peas, cilantro, and I used the chard because the pan choy had gone to seed.  It was very good.  Thank you for the seeds.  Someone told me that the white chard is much better than the rainbow, but I don't think so. 


Thursday, May 16, 2013

Voles, beans, and PAR Davies 5/15/13


There was a lot going on today and  we were quite productive. Our gardeners were G.A., Ann, Mary Elizabeth, Susan, John, Cathy and myself. We harvested just 10 lbs. of bits and pieces….kale, onions, strawberries, spinach, herbs and snow peas. Cathy weighed everything and made the delivery.

We replanted cantaloupe--Minnesota Midgets in containers and Charentais in the hugelkultur bed. We put cucumbers and  beans in Bed 21. The cucumbers are two extra long varieties, which will climb on tomato cages, and these are interplanted with bush beans. We also put more bush beans in Bed 2, which has tomatoes on one side. G.A. planted Seed Savers Exchange 'Sweet Fall' winter squash in Bed 10. I am considering putting a cover over this bed to keep the squash bugs off. Our other squash bed with the floating row has really taken off since last week when it looked a little sickly. Incidentally, last week this was fertilized with the Comfrey tea. I wonder….

Squash (yellow and zucchini) mounding up under the floating row cover.Vole trap is in the distance with the brick on top. More on this next week.
We noticed little tomatoes on the Tumbling Tom Yellows in the containers. We should be able to have a pretty good pea harvest next week. Everything looks quite good in spite of the increasing vole problem. Almost all of the beds are planted full now, except for the sweet potato bed. The cabbage and broccoli are finally heading up. When it is harvested, that will be four beds that will need something planted….any suggestions? Okra will replace the in-ground pea bed, and I had planned for several varieties of regular sized cucumbers for Bed 12 when the peas come out.

We got the irrigation tubes positioned correctly in the tomato beds, and none to soon because they are starting to fill the cages. The larger green bell peppers and tomatillos were caged. One of our blackberry bushes I believe did succumb to a vole. I tried fixing it and watering in, but I have my doubts. The other plant looks great. We added Comfrey tea to the blackberries and pear trees.

Fava beans are looking good!
The favas….these are supposed to taste really good, but involves a lot of work (see link below). I think this first crop will be a learning experience for the garden workers. Since we only have about a dozen plants, the harvest will be small, but enough for us to do a taste test to see if we want to grow more. They are way on up there for fixing nitrogen in the soil. A fall crop is said to be better than spring for our area. An interesting bean.

I'm sure I am missing something, but that is all I can think of for now.


Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Heuchera Mania

I’ve become mildly obsessed with Heuchera.  I purchased my first Heuchera in 1995; I can’t remember the name of it.  It did well in my garden in part-shade until my boyfriend (now my husband) whacked it down thinking it was a weed.  I had serious concerns about marrying him after that, but his many other good qualities prevailed.  Today he only gardens with direct supervision.

Heuchera 'Caramel'
A couple of years ago I bought a couple of Heuchera ‘Caramel’ plants at a plant sale and tucked them into my current garden, which is mostly shade.  Last year I noticed how well they were doing – and how wonderful they looked with my hostas (another obsession,) so I bought ‘Palace Purple.’  (See note below!)

Heuchera 'Palace Purple'
This year, at the Dixon plant sale, I went crazy and bought  ‘Alabama Sunrise,’ ‘Delta Dawn,’ and three ‘Berry Smoothie’ plants!

Heuchera 'Delta Dawn'
Heuchera 'Berry Smoothie' under a Japanese maple
Heucherella 'Alabama Sunrise'
But something was different about ‘Alabama Sunrise.’  The tag on it said “Heucherella,” not “Heuchera.”  What is up with that?  So I did some research and here’s the deal.
Heuchera, known as Alumroot and Coral Bells, is in the Saxifragaceae family, which also includes Astilbe and Tiarella, commonly known as Foamflower. 

Tiarella 'Sugar and Spice'
There are at least 50 species, but the majority of the plants that we see for sale in garden centers are hybrids of H americana.  For instance, my ‘Palace Purple’ is the result of crossing H americana with ‘Purple Palace,’ a plant found in a royal palace in England which is believed to be a H micrantha x H villosa hybrid.
Remember I said that tiarella is in the same family as heuchera?  Well, someone crossed tiarella and huechera and voila:  heucherella!  Would you be surprised to learn that the common name is Foamy Bells? (Coral Bells + Foamflower = Foamy Bells)

Some interesting Heucherella history, straight from Wikipedia:

x Heucherella was first bred in France in 1912 by Emile Lemoine, who created a sterile hybrid between Heuchera x brizoides and Tiarella cordifolia.  It was later named Heucherella tiarelloides.  ‘Bridget Bloom’ was bred in the 1950s by Percy Piper, at the suggestion of Alan Bloom.  It is a cross between Heuchera ‘Freedom’ with pink flowers and Tiarella wherryi.  It was brought to Blooms of Bressingham in 1955 and had the market to itself until 1983, which was when ‘Rosalie’ appeared (Kemper, William T.)  These two flowers have pink petals that look a lot like the heuchera and tiarella, and some reddish purple markings on their dark green leaves.  Around 1987 the ‘Tinian Pink’ and the ‘Tinian White’ where both created by Charles Oliver of The Primrose Path.  These go by the names ‘Pink Frost’ and ‘Snow White’ in the trade.  After that, people have been looking for possible new combinations and making new heucherellas.

Where a heucherella grows well depends on its breeding lines.  Heucherellas bred with shade loving heucheras will grow best in shade or part shade.  Those bred with sun loving heucheras will perform better in part shade to full sun.  Most heucherellas have the strongest colors when grown in partial shade (preferable afternoon,)

Like hostas, heucheras, tiarellas, and heucherellas are grown for their foliage, not their flowers.  And what foliage!  My oh my!

Terra Nova collage

1. Heucherella 'Alabama Sunrise'
2. Heuchera 'Electric Lime (Available in 2010)
3. Heuchera 'Mint Julep' (Available in 2010)
4. Heuchera 'Berry Smoothie'
5. Heuchera 'Georgia Peach'
6. Heuchera 'Purple Petticoats'
7. Heuchera 'Sashay'
8. Heuchera 'Southern Comfort'
9. Heuchera 'Ginger Ale'
10. Heuchera 'Cinnabar Silver'
11. Heuchera 'Shanghai' (Available in 2010)
12. Heuchera 'Midnight Bayou' (Available in 2010)
13. Heuchera 'Obsidian'
14. Heucherella 'Sweet Tea'
15. Heuchera 'Midnight Rose' Select
16. Heucherella 'Tapestry'
17. Heuchera 'Sugar Plum' (Available in 2010)
18. Heuchera 'Paris'

Terra Nova Nurseries is a leader in heuchera hybridization.  They're in Oregon, wholesale only (boo-hoo), but I bet your local nursery would be able to order something that you want.  

I've ordered a couple of books to learn more about heucheras, so stay tuned.

Oh, another addition, this time from Lowe's:

Heuchera 'Midnight Rose'

Note:  One of the books I ordered is Heuchera, Tiarella and Heucherella - A Gardener's Guide by Charles & Martha Oliver.  Here's what they say about Palace Purple:

'Palace Purple' was selected in England from a seed lot from North America but degenerated into a mediocre seed strain, and had its Award of Garden Merit from the Royal Horticultural Society rescinded.  However, it is still popular and is widely used by out-of-date landscape designers.