23 October 2012


Final pull of carrots. They look nice, but have a bitter aftertaste raw. Tasted good when cooked, though!

little flores

My Stevia is flowering. So there is a slim chance I just might get some seed...

19 October 2012

garden seed

In the throes of more moving preparation, I took a break from packing boxes to go through my seed packets. Now they're all nicely sorted into three separate jars: herbs, flowers and ornamentals, veggies.
And this pile is all the stuff that I don't think will grow well in containers, or needs more sun than my balcony will probably get.
Who wants some seed? It's all up for giveaway. Just leave a comment telling what you'd like and it's first come, first serve. The varieties and sources are to the best of my knowledge- some are saved seed off plants I grew, or off plants Chris grew that he swapped with me last year. The date is either from what was printed on the packets (when the seed is supposed to expire) or when it was harvested for home-picked seed. I've planted from these packets saved in my fridge every year and most all still grow fine for me....

I would save them longer but I'm in an apartment indefinitely now and if it's another five or ten years before I have a patch of real ground again for sure these seed will be expired. So I'd rather they go to someone who can grow them!

Here's what I've got:

Orange Cosmos (home harvest) 2010
Green Beans, bush variety (home harvest) 2010
Cypress? seed picked off a shrub in my mom's yard 2011
Pumpkin, light orange smooth (Chris' harvest) ?
Cedar? seed picked off a shrub 2010
Watermelon, sugar baby (Chris' harvest) 2011
Green Okra (Chris' harvest) ?
Brussel Sprouts (Chris' harvest) 2012
Burgundy Okra (Chris' harvest) ?
Cantaloupe (Chris' harvest) 2011

Sunflower, evening sun mix (Burpee) 2010
Beets, Detroit dark red (Ferry-Morse) 2011
Wheatgrass- organic (mountain Rose Herbs) 2011
Orange Cosmos (National Home Gardening Club) 2010
Cauliflower, early snowball A (Ferry-Morse) 2009
Cantaloupe, Ambrosia hybrid (Burpee) 2010
Zucchini, Fordhook giant (Burpee) 2010
Pumpkin, jack-o-lantern (Lake Valley Seed) 2009
Turnip, purple-top organic (Martha Stewart) 2010
Broccoli, organic de Cicco (Southern Exposure Seed Exchange) 2011
Peas, oregon sugar pod/snow peas (Lake Valley Seed) 2010
Sweet Corn, early sunglow hybrid (Burpee) 2009
Pole Snap Beans, kentucky wonder (Southern Exposure Seed Exchange) 2011
Watermelon, sugar baby icebox size (Lake Valley Seed) 2010
Rhubarb, paragon (Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Co) 2011
Peppers, hot mix (Burpee) -japlapeno, hungarian wax, ancho and cayenne 2009
Squash variety mix (Burpee) from the picture it looks like spaghetti, acorn, butternut and fourth unknown

11 October 2012


Brought a few of my pots indoors as the nights are getting chill with frost. The two Basil, two of the Hibiscus (the other pair don't look good, wilting) and the two Mimosa which have sprouted new leaves. These are the plants which seem too tender to survive the cold.
Also the largest, the Pepper plant:
They'll live in my mudroom near the window until the move.

10 October 2012

fall tomatoes

My large Tomato plants seem happy for now, in the fall weather. They look better than they did all summer!
But I don't know if the fruit will get enough sun to ripen. And I've tried them before but am not too fond of fried green tomatoes...

small harvest

Even as the days turn colder and rain comes down, the garden still gives me a little. I continue to cut plenty of Swiss Chard, and picked a handful of the last cherry Tomatoes the other day... went together into a pasta dish with parm and sausage.

09 October 2012

orange trio

I have three nice Pumpkins! Two the disease spread by cucumber beetles had reached the stem before I cut them off, so I won't be trying to eat those. We'll carve them soon.

06 October 2012

last pots

I potted up two kinds of Basil, as they're still growing well; regular Basil (I've forgotten the variety name but this one makes white flowers):
and purple Thai Basil:
My current growing experiments consisted of digging up four Hibiscus seedlings that sprouted of their own accord in the yard and putting them in pots to move to my balcony. You can prune hibiscus into a small shrub so maybe it can grow for a little while in a pot. These little plants would have been cut down by the lawn mower anyways. I dug up four because I want a pink or purple one, but lots of white ones grow in the backyard too.
Also dug up some young Mimosa (or silk tree) seedlings that sprout up everywhere too. These ones immediately went into shock and dropped all their leaves (see the bare stem in center of photo below). I thought they were done for but the next day they showed signs of sprouting new growth. So maybe they'll be alright.

05 October 2012

many pots

Over the past few days I have been busy digging up herbs and other plants from the garden to transport in pots to their new home: an apartment balcony. I hope it's one that gets enough sun.... Originally I planned to just take the perennial herbs but then I kept going. Most of the plants are really thriving in the nice fall weather and if this season is like last we'll have a long, balmy autumn so I might get some more life out of the annuals as well. I ended up with thirty plants in pots, total (most pictured here):
The other five are the Lavender, Rosemary,Tarragon, and two Thymes which I pictured earlier.

Most of them are doing very well. I was particularly surprised at the Mints; I just clipped the nicest stems, most didn't even have roots, but they are remarkably perky (chocolate mint on the left, spear-or-peppermint on the right):
I've also got potted up the Parsley
two pots of Green Onions
three pots of Swiss Chard
two youngest Echinacea in my biggest pot
two little Marjoram plants
the Stevia (still hoping to get seed out of it)
a Bell Pepper plant
and one Marigold
There's also two Basil plants that I somehow missed a picture of, and a few experiments in here so watch for a second posting on this...

03 October 2012

final compost

The theme over the next few weeks will now be: Disassembly of a Garden. I'm moving into an apartment soon and it is very sad to leave the garden I have worked hard on over the last few years. I will have a balcony, so plan to continue growing a few things in containers, and am considering learning more about vermicomposting...

So now for the last time I've dug into the "compost cake", bottom of my pile in the backyard. Some of it got mixed into my herb pots.  Most was spread a final time around the perennials I once planted and will be leaving behind: crepe myrtles, hosta, daylilies, young trees...I gave the solo Rhubarb plant an entire bucketful of compost although I seriously doubt this last one will survive another year without me nursing it through the hot summers...
I never thought that working up a sweat to dig through a pile of dirt would make me feel morose.

02 October 2012


Picking a few last cherry tomatoes I saw an unfamiliar butterfly darting around the Tithonias nearby. Usually I see various skippers here, occasionally a monarch or swallowtail. This butterfly was very different: it had an irridescent green-blue back, and the forewings short but with long narrow hindwings. Also the body rather furry, maybe it's a moth?
I'm starting to think I should get myself a good insect field guide (maybe a wildflower one too) as I'm always seeing critters and wondering what they are.
~ This was fortuitous! I found a few websites with photos and ID's of butterflies common in Virginia and pleased to recognize many of them. I've gone back and added comments with the identity of all the ones I've posted about here on the garden blog.

I have seen (but not photograhed) all of these in my yard: tiger swallowtail, black swallowtail, cabbage white, clouded sulfer, gray hairstreak, pearl crescent, painted lady, red admiral, common buckeye, monarch.

The one pictured here I think is a long-tailed skipper!

potting up

Have begun digging up some of my perennial herbs and resettling them into pots. Here's the first ones to move their roots: Lavender, Rosemary, Tarragon, Lemon Thyme and regular Thyme. I didn't realize the lavender had grown so large until I dug it up and realized it could easily split into two plants. The lemon thyme and tarragon especially never thrived and I think that's because they were in too heavy of soil in the ground, that area of the garden was still pretty much clay. Now they're potted in a much lighter mixture of potting soil, eggshells and sand.

01 October 2012

okra glut

The Okra patch continues to just grow and grow and grow. I've quit picking the pods, though- I've got a gallon freezer bag full in storage and still haven't tried cooking with any of it yet. My little girl got hold of a pod that was too mature for eating- no longer tender- and splitting open the sides she found all the round seeds in rows. Kept her busy a while picking them out and eating them!

Ha! I just discovered an interesting fact- looked up "eat okra seed" and apparently it's another plant item you can dry, roast, grind and use for a coffee substitute. Now of course I'm curious to try that! Almost done using up my roasted dandelion root (haven't got ahold of any chicory root- the only ones I see around are growing on roadsides where it's not wise to harvest as the plants can absorb toxins from the fumes of cars- but I've been considering growing it). I've been using the dandelion root mixed in with the regular coffee beans, fifty percent each, ground fresh together. It doesn't change the taste much, you can just barely discern the herby flavor of the dandelion, and gives me the nutritional boost. (Also keeps my husband from drinking my leftover coffee- I drink so little that one carafe brewed last me several days but he really dislikes the dandelion root so leaves mine alone if I've added that!)

I also learned that okra is related to hibiscus- makes sense. The flowers look so similar now that I pay attention to them.