Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Visitors to PAR: Young Children, Young Deer, and Young Frogs

Children from Funtime Learning Center with their teachers

PAR Davies recently welcomed 10 youngsters from Funtime Learning Center and their teachers, Anne and Jean, to tour the garden. 

The fun began the minute the children arrived.  A newborn fawn startled up about 10 feet from the bus and bounded away!  It took a few minutes to convince the children that they would never be able to catch up with the fawn and pet it.       

Susan showing off a squash plant and bush beans
G.A. Crosby and Susan Phillips led the children around the garden talking about the different vegetables. The children were amazed to see G.A pull a carrot out of the ground!

Each child harvested a carrot - yum!
We showed the group how to repurpose discarded "junk" for use in the garden.

The sedum-filled typewriter
The boys were especially interested in the one-inch toads that were hopping all over the garden.  They wanted to take some back to class, but we convinced them that we need the toads for insect control.  The teachers were greatly relieved!

Boys and toads, a natural combination!
What a great day!  I don't know who enjoyed it more, us or the children.  We love to show off the garden and to demonstrate how we grow vegetables organically.  We especially like to show "city kids" where their food comes from.  Let us know if you want to set up a tour!


Friday, June 21, 2013

Perennial Petunias and Pistachio Pesto

Mystery plant

I love alliteration!

A friend sent me this picture (how do you like the disembodied hand?) that she took in Jackson, MS and wondered if I knew what it was.  Thanks to the miracle of Google Images, I identified it as perennial Mexican petunia (Ruellia brittoniana.)

Known by several common names (Desert Petunia, Mexican Bluebells, Mexican Petunia), this plant is hardy to Zone 7a, likes full sun to partial shade, and will grow from one to three feet depending on conditions.  It likes moist, but well-drained soil.  Each bloom lasts only one day, but it flowers from spring to fall.  The flowers are a pretty purple-blue.

You can propagate from seed or from cuttings.  Be aware that in good conditions it has been known to self-seed "aggressively," meaning invasive!  Does anyone in Memphis have experience with this plant?

Fettuccine with Pistachio-Mint Pesto and Tomatoes

Last Sunday night I cut some mint from my garden and used it in a recipe from this month's issue of Cooking Light:  Fettuccine with Pistachio-Mint Pesto and Tomatoes.  (Have you noticed that I love Cooking Light?)  It was delicious and easy!  You can add chicken or shrimp if you want.

Have a great weekend!

Monday, June 17, 2013

Cobb Salad with Green Goddess Dressing

Cobb Salad with Green Goddess Dressing from Cooking Light

I just wanted to share one of my favorite dinner salads with you.  We had it last night and I remembered how much I like it.  The dressing has several ingredients, but you just dump everything into your blender or food processor, so it's not a big deal.  I put in cooked, crumbled bacon instead of the chicken, but you can add almost anything you like.  It's the dressing that phenomenal!  It's from Cooking Light - enjoy!

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Tomatillos and More - PAR Davies 6/12/13

A bounty!

Hi Everyone,

What a great day. As usual a lot was accomplished with all our garden workers….Susan, Jamie, Melba, Greg, John, Mary Elizabeth, Trisha, Lauren and myself. First off, we had a great harvest of a variety of onions, beets, zucchini, a few cherry tomatoes, banana peppers, cabbage, chard, garlic and basil. We sent a good amount of basil and garlic to the women's shelter along with our pesto recipe. Suzanne was our delivery girl today. The peppers and cherry tomatoes are just starting, and next week we should start having more. I believe we will also be able to harvest some of Aunt Ida's Pole Beans.

Jamie, John and Greg got busy with the irrigation system and the fencing. It will be several weeks before they get everything accomplished in those two departments, but they did get a good start. As always guys….we appreciate you.

Melba checked beds for bugs/disease and did a lot of weeding along the way. Lauren tied up tomatoes and tomatillos, both of which look good. We are having yellowing of the bottom leaves of some of the tomatoes. Both Susan and I have that on our tomatoes at home too. Could it be all the rain that we got earlier as the problem? Is anyone else having this problem?

Our tomatillo crop. I believe we may be able to harvest some
within 2 weeks (3 varieties--green, purple and pineapple)
We uncovered the squash bed and have now left it uncovered. One of the plants has a vine borer but no squash bugs. I think with the cover being left off now, we will start getting more squash, as there are plenty of 'babies' on the vines. We did get several of the Cavilli zucchini from one plant that was not covered. Trisha fertilized with our Comfrey tea. We did not get a chance to harvest more Comfrey, but maybe the Saturday crew can. Susan and Mary Elizabeth harvested cabbage and cleaned out the beds. We did not put the cabbage leaves in the compost because there were still Harlequin bugs and eggs present. Susan side dressed the pole beans that were planted down the center of the cabbage, and watered them in good.

All of our peppers are doing well. We have many varieties of peppers planted this year….Jalapeno, several varieties of Bell, Yellow Snacking, Shishito, Corno di Toro Rosso, Habanero, Purple Beauty, Regular Banana and Giant Banana, Serrano and Pimento, in addition to two more of the seeds I got from Peru--Rocoto (a vining type) and Aji Amarillo. Except for the Bell, we have just a smattering of each variety.

Here are the bananas, the first variety to get ripe
The okra is up and needs to be thinned out. These are the seeds that spent 7 years in a freezer and 3 years in my fridge. Obviously, there was not a germination problem, and they will have to be thinned soon. Greg finished mulching the okra bed today.

The voles are still at it, and so far they like potatoes, carrots and beans. We re-armed the traps, and this time we propped up buckets over them as advised by Mary Elizabeth.

We fixed the containers so the Minnesota Midget cantaloupes could climb on fencing. All the containers were watered and the last of them were mulched. With a thick layer of mulch, the containers aren't drying out so fast. All container plants seem to be doing very well. The watermelon and cantaloupe beds that G.A. planted are really thriving.

Below is the Ciagua (S. American 'cucumber') that is finally taking off. It should climb our 10-ft. fence and then some.

The Scarlet Runner Beans (below) are pretty, and they are starting to get little beans. These beans are supposed to be edible, so I will check to see how they are prepared. The arched trellis will be beautiful when covered, so being able to eat them is just a bonus.

Scarlett Runner Beans
A good bit of the garlic was harvested, and Jamie, Susan and I took it home to dry. We will get the rest of the garlic next week. I wanted to get some more things planted today, but we ran out of time. Most of our beds are planted full, but there are a few empty spots and those areas where the voles took out things that can be planted with beans or peas or whatever seems appropriate.

We were really hot and thirsty by quitting time. If you haven't been to the garden in a while, remember to bring something to drink and hats, sunglasses, towels, etc. Take a break if you start getting too hot. Susan is going to start coming to the garden on Wednesdays at 7:00 a.m., in case anyone wants to start work when it's cooler, and I will be there by or before 8:00. We will still work until at least 10:00. So come when you can and work whatever time is convenient for you. We appreciate whatever time you can give us.

The weather looks favorable for Saturday, and I will be sending out a 'To Do' list Friday. Stay cool.


Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Hosta Miscellany

Memphis is a hosta-loving town!  At this year's sale sponsored by the Mid-South Hosta Society, over 1600 plants were sold - a record number.  Were you there?  I was in line for the opening and you  would have thought we were waiting at St. Peter's Gate!

I've fallen in love with mini hostas, mainly because I've run out of room in this garden.  (BUT - we've bought a new house!  With a bigger yard!  And it's like a blank slate because it hasn't been tended for years!  More in future posts...)

Back to mini hostas.  Here's my small collection:

Clockwise beginning at the bottom left:  Frosted Mouse Ears, Justine, Spinach Souffle, Wonderful, Rainbow's End, Blue Mouse Ears, Green Mouse Ears (the tiny one in the middle.)  I also have Holy Mouse Ears...

...but it's in my Heavenly Garden along with Pilgrim, Cup of Grace, Cathedral Windows, and Guardian  Angel.  And yes, that's a heuchera 'Midnight Rose.'  I know it's doesn't exactly fit in with the heavenly theme, but that's where it had to go.  You know I love heucheras!

But I digress.  I mainly wanted to link you to a great hosta discussion that Margaret Roach had recently with Tony Avent.  You can read about it here and there's also a link to the podcast.  Tony has a 10 foot rule that may intrigue you and there's scientific information that helps you understand about hosta colors and fading and fragrance.

Speaking of Tony Avent, I bought a book recently at Booksellers at Laurelwood called The Roots of My Obsession, edited by Thomas C. Cooper.  In it are essays by thirty great gardeners telling why they garden.  Tony says,

I was born with a fully functional 7.0 horticultural operating system, along with some specialized apps like an obsessive personality, and overactive imagination, an overly logical brain, and a touch of ADD.

Sound familiar?  I'll share more of these gardeners' motivations as I read the various essays.  I'm trying to take little bites of this book so I can prolong the pleasure!

p.s.  -  If you know someone in the market for a zero-lot line house in East Memphis with a great shade garden, let me know!

Monday, June 10, 2013

Blessings in the Chaos - A Correction and an Apology

Shimmers Within the Storm
© Jan L. Richardson
(Used with permission!)
Last year I discovered a lovely poem called "Blessings in the Chaos" and posted about it here. Usually I verify the author and ask permission to use the poem.  I have tried to remember what happened with respect to this poem and have no memory of it (I have a hard time remembering last week, let alone last year!)

But I received a very gracious email from the real author, Jan Richardson, which I will quote in full:

I found you via your lovely "Garden Musings" blog. I'm grateful to you for sharing "Blessing in the Chaos" in a post on May 4, 2012, and wanted to let you know that although the blessing has been traveling the web as having been written by John O'Donohue, it's actually one that I wrote for my blog The Painted Prayerbook, at this post:

I quoted John O'Donohue in the post, and evidently a few readers thought the blessing was by him as well and began to circulate it with his name attached. I just recently discovered this, and would be so grateful if you would correct the attribution on your blog. If you would provide a link back to the original post on my blog, that would be lovely as well!

Thanks so much for your help with this, and thank you for good work. I send you many blessings!


I sincerely apologize to Ms. Richardson.  Her poem is lovely and I hope you will take the time to check out her Painted Prayerbook site and her other sites as well.  She is an amazing artist in addition to being a gifted writer.

I'm almost glad I did make my mistake because it led me to her.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

It's a Beautiful Day for a Garden Tour! (think Mr. Rogers' tune)

The peonies from the Pittman garden have quit blooming,
but there's lots more to see!
Get yourself going this morning to see six gorgeous gardens in Memphis!  Sponsored by Memphis Area Master Gardeners, these are gardens belonging to members who are graciously opening them to the public.  Along with eye candy, we're offering short lectures at each garden on a variety of topics.

Get the entire schedule and a map here.

Admission is free, but your donation will fund our county-wide horticultural education programs, so thank you!

We're been providing sneak peeks on our Facebook page.  Take a look, motivate yourself, and enjoy this beautiful Saturday in the garden!

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Beans, Beans, the Wonderful Fruit! PAR Davies 6/5/13


Another fabulous day. We did so many things that I know I'm going to leave something out. Our team was: Sally, John, G.A., Craig, Greg, Jamie, Susan, Mary Elizabeth, Lauren, Randy Williams (first timer) and myself. We harvested cabbage, red onion beauties, more garlic scapes in addition to beginning the garlic harvest, chard and herbs of basil and parsley. We should be able to finish up the cabbage next week.

Some of our harvest waiting to be weighed

Everything is looking good and WE HAVE BABY TOMATILLOS! The tomatoes look good. Still there is the vole problem that seems to be devastating our potato crop (except for the towers). The traps in the box were sprung but they are smart critters as they did not get caught. Susan placed 3 traps baited with peanut butter and oatmeal. I wonder….

G.A. and Jamie worked hard on the irrigation system. I think their salary should be double of what everyone else gets, but G.A. said "no extra charge." We ladies especially appreciate you guys handling this, as it is something we just don't want to get involved with (unless absolutely necessary.) Thanks guys.

Jamie and G.A. our irrigation system experts

We got some planting done, too. G.A. brought Purple Hull Pea seeds and planted a whole bed full next to the lovely sweet potato bed. Craig, Randy and Greg caged most of the rest of the pepper plants in addition to pulling out the pea vines. Craig and Randy planted 3 varieties of cucumbers in Bed 12 where the peas were. Sally and Lauren suckered the tomatoes and tied unruly vines escaping from the cages. The tomatillos were also secured better in the cages. Susan harvested the cabbage and checked for bugs, and then planted more bush beans. Greg mulched the okra. Mary Elizabeth brought some more 'yellow snacking peppers' and planted them along with the peanut plants. John pulled out the kale among other chores. Many other jobs were completed, but I can't remember who all did what.
SQUASH: The squash under cover is still uncertain. I think next week we will uncover the yellow squash so it can be pollinated. I believe the stems will be tough enough to resist the vine borer, and we will just have to watch for the squash bugs. The self-pollinating (parthenocarpic) zucchini supposedly don't need the bees. We will keep it covered up for a while yet to see if we get some sizable zucchini.

BOXES IN THE BARN: I found two boxes of miscellaneous items left in the barn. I don't know who these belong to. Could you please check with us before dropping things off, because we are trying to de-clutter the barn. We are not supposed to have a lot of things sitting on the floor. The boxes contain all garden items, so anyone who wants to go through the boxes and get that they want, please do. I will leave them there another week, and then they will be discarded.

FAVA BEAN COOKING DEMO: I picked some fava beans today that were big and plump, and took home to prepare. Below is what the beans look like inside the pod.

The beans were then cooked for about 5 minutes in salted water and immediately plunged into ice water.

Then the actual beans that you eat were removed from their soft outer shell, and yielded a little over one-third cup.

Then the cool beans were sautéed in a little butter. It seems like a lot of work, but the beans are so big that it doesn't take many beans to make a serving. I will say these are THE BEST beans I have ever tasted. And no, I didn't have Chianti with them. The remaining beans in the garden will be left on to dry for seeds. I believe we should be able to have a larger crop in the fall.

Sauteed fava beans

REMINDER: No Saturday workday because of Through Our Garden Gates.  Hope to see you there!

'Til next week,