Wednesday, June 17, 2009


Some time ago I encountered something wonderful and lovely on my hollyhocks:

This fellow was rather large, about the size of my palm (though I have small hands, so think 4 inches long and 3 inches tall). After some deduction I believe to have determined it to be a lime hawk moth, and luckily not another beauty of nature that wants to eat my plants. The moth hung around for a few days on the hollyhock, causing no damage that I could see of before deciding to make its departure.

This picture reminds me that I am utterly guilty of not posting more pics of my garden and I will be more vigilant of doing so from now on. As a matter of fact, this weekend I shall go on a pic posting spree!

For now, feel free to check out my defunct Flickr account:

Ta ta!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Canna I eat it? YeS!

So, the recent storm/hurricane like conditions that passed through here recently surprisingly did not screw up my vegetable garden.

The tomatoes are doing fine, malabar spinach is loving the water, the bean trellis broke a little, but I just propped it up a bit. Dittany of Crete (herb, member of Oregano family) got waterlogged and isn't looking great (aka all the leaves fell off) but I have a cutting when it broke earlier, so hopefully that will survive.

The real damage happened in the flower garden areas, with the tallest of my Bells of Ireland (interestingly spicy smelling I found out) flopped over a broke, Calla lilies sagged sadly and my cannas, those got majorly icked over and were so heavy and sort tall they decided to fall over in the soft waterlogged hill patch I have them in, so I decided to take all my sad flowers and make the very rare bouquet in my house:
No huge loss as I have a ridiculous number of cannas and I was thinking of giving half of them away anyways, but I have been thinking about their edibility and my research shows, DELICIOUS:

Glass/cellophane noodles are Asian noodles that can be made with various types of starches, primarily mung beans, but cannas are rising in popularity as their starch has been found to be apparantly quite excellent in noodle making. You can find glass noodles in Asian stores, in restaurants usually in spring rolls, or basic noodle dishes...mmmm....

(Thanks to for pic)
Though the idea of making glass noodles may be somewhat time consuming, I understand that you can eat the tubers like potatoes anyways... we'll see, if people don't want cannas, what better way to use them than to FEED!??

Monday, June 15, 2009

Gardening Lusts

There are a few things that I wish I could enjoy as a gardener and if anyone out there has the money or space for these things, I am jealous:

Alitex green houses (
I encountered ads for Alitex greenhouses in donated Gardens Illustrated magazines by a sweet friend and fell into a deep lustful frenzy over these gorgeous buildings that under what my husband calls "garden porn" into a subcategory of "greenhouse porn." Brick foundations! Built in cold/hot boxes! Even specific lower, long flat vegetable garden greenhouses!
In my ecstasy I visited their website and signed up for a catalog that came within days and was full of lush pictures of greenhouses that I drooled over.
I was sort of mortified when a representative from Jersey called me and asked about ordering one.... I had to explain that I "...didn't quite have the funds..."*cry*

Snazzy Potting shed and bench, though I guess the greenhouse could function as such:
Something that had lots of hooks to hang the gloves I never use, a built in tool sharpener, potting soil storage, a huge twine spool, shelves for various pots, a paper pot maker... and so much more...

Front yard Vegetable Victory garden:
Stupid property value, work and not certain how long we're living here :(

Mongoose (Mongeese?):
Just for the poisonous snakes? I am tired of worrying if the dog will get bit, I'd like a useful pet! (just kidding, my dog alerts us if people are around, that's helpful I suppose)


Becoming immune to ticks/mosquitoes/spider bites:
....or even better, partially gaining a helpful mutant ability from these bites. SoIdon'thavetoworryaboutLymediseaseallthetime!

If only.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Weather, location, what?

The weather here, well more precisely the forecast on has gone a little batty as it is telling me "Hurricane Preparation?" and "Beach Weather?" Granted, as long as I am getting correct weather information, doesn't need to be a "Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego?" champ.

Dammit, I am NEVER going to get the game show's Rockapella theme song out of my head now!

Anyways, waiting on the weather to not have a chance of rain so I can NEEM spray my plants up because I am slowly realizing that I will be needing to spray once a week to control all these flea beetles and squash vine borers.

In addition to the spraying NEEM oil, I am going to use leaves/flowers of my feverfew and chrysanthemum plants to make a tea and create a truly organic pyrethrum concoction (, and hopefully that will knock out most of my pest problems.

I am beginning to wonder too if I need to turn the ginormous compost/lawn waste area by the house to expose pest larvae.

ON TOP OF ALL THAT, in my quest to have delectable squash this year, I will submit and be getting floating row covers ( and Nema-Ject Nematodes ( from Gardeners Alive because I really really want squash. What better vegetable than one that is tasty, decorative and that can hold for a long time? Plus, I have a $20 off coupon.

These nematodes sound awesome, something about tiny things that can create havoc on another species... hmmm, this explains a lots about my fascination with viruses and bacteria for a long time... NOTE: bacteria are good and essential too, for the soil and humans, so no one go all anti-bac on me!

Anyways, still watching the weather.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Secret Confession

Few people know this about me, but I have a mad crush on TJ. Thomas Jefferson. (My poor husband knows this oddity of mine.)

The tall, red headed, renaissance man does it for me, and is relative to this gardening blog because TJ was a mad gardener and liked to spread the word of gardening.

I'm rather pleased that his gardens in Monticello were recreated:
and I was lucky enough to get to visit them during a visit to Virginia last year. An actual working garden, at Monticello and at the White House now, YES!

Check out: Obama Foodarama article: (
to learn more about the awesomeness that is TJ, the new White House Garden and gardening food.

The Monticello site sells seeds from the Monticello gardens, so you can feel closer to TJ... I mean history!

Monday, June 8, 2009

Pepper, attack!

As there were no more bean leaves to eat, the bunny has moved onto the bell pepper plant.


Today I have erected a bamboo and leftover black plastic net fence and doused the garden with mustard and cayenne powders as well as crushed chili flakes.

May your little bunny paws burn upon touching my capsaicin-ed garden!!!!!

Though, I do have a confession. I am starting to wonder if it is the bunny that is causing the damage. Just because I can see the fuzz ball flopping around in the yard doesn't mean it's causing all the damage.... I do wonder if the damage could be caused by some insect.... More research to be done.

Other than that delightful news, I noticed nasty fracas, evidence of squash borers on an acorn squash plant today:

Blah, why does a moth so pretty have to have such ugly babies? (Thanks to Dallasbutterflies for moth pic and wiki for borer pic)

*sigh* Springtime is for planting, summertime is for war.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Hi-Fives Garden Rant and the myth of gardens = scary

Garden Rant from made this great comment I'd like to share in regards to people who are too nervous to garden:

"Scared? Please. Heart attacks are scary. "

I can't agree more, but I'm the type that throws herself into things because I figure, if it can't kill me, might as well just give it a TRY.

I've had a hell of a lot more types of failure to worry about, and gardening is the least of my worries. It's not life or death that's for sure.

Example, you don't need to start with a full blown garden. If you like tomatoes, or cucumbers, or even salad, you can just have ONE pot with that plant and give it a go! Little sprinkle of water, a bit of sunlight, bam! Instant tasty.

As the avuncular Felder Rushing said to someone once: “You don’t have a garden? Come on! Grow a pot of lettuce, man.”

Dear Home Depot

Dear Home Depot,

Why must you persist in sending me coupons from your "Garden Club" with coupons that include annoying nasty chemicals of insect killer?

Many insects are pollinators, or beneficial in some other way, like predatory towards harmful insects and it's not nice to wipe out the good guys to get to the bad. There are also simpler, cheaper and better ways to get rid of pests (borax, anyone?)

I appreciate the tips on gardening, which you are kind enough to add some organic blurbs, but why then can you not send me organic product coupons, when you APPEAR to be trying to push an organic lifestyle????

Why can't I get a happy organic fertilizer coupon? Or coupons off of plants or pots?


P.S. You ought to talk to whoever is ordering plants from Lowes because their selection has been rocking your selection.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009


The bunny not only has nipped EVERY leaf from my vine beans, but decided to eat all the bush bean leaves too. I've spread bloodmeal aplenty around, which I hate to do as I want to eventually convert to all green fertilizers/manures, but I had it on hand and I understand that the scent should drive the rodent off.

Husband and I have contemplated setting the dog on it, with clanky collar off, as she is a real ninja when she doesn't have jangling following her every stealthy step. If the dog catches the rabbit (and humanely 'gits it,' as humanely as nature takes her course...) and if the husband and I can retrieve the bunny from the dog's jaws we're contemplating Hasenpfeffer

Very Important Links:

It is a tiny cute bunny though :/ (Vegetarian friend Molly please do not disown me!)

Monday, June 1, 2009

Plant smuggling...

Just got back from visiting relatives in California and as it can be assumed, it was plant-rific!

California, being a long state is lucky to be endowed with a multitude of climates and environments and has a healthy appreciation for native plants and biodiversity. I saw desert, coastal, mountain, chaparral, and woodland plants during my visit and imagine I still missed out on a good amount of different plant environments.

During my stay my aunt decided to invest in a local botanical gardens family membership, which apparent gets her and 3 other people into a good amount of botanical gardens in the nation for a year for just 60 bucks. Needless to say we made that membership worthwhile in a couple of days with a couple of friends!

The best thing about the California botanical gardens I encountered? The garden gift shops. It seems that there is no dearth of plants, but a limited amount of space in the gardens and they are very willing to share their plant thinnings of high quality, unusual or rare plants at a LOW cost.

At Encinitas Quail Botanical Gardens ( the gardens were lovely and well labeled and laid out. I went giddy over the edible garden (with no pick fruit signs :( *sigh*) and lost my small group when I hunted a volunteer down to chat and high five her over the selection of edible ornamentals. One minute into leaving her to catch up with my group I lost them again because I had walked into the herb garden section (I am mad for herbs) and became possessed by their selection of scented geraniums.

(If you are unaware of scented geraniums, they are not true geraniums, nor are the fakers you commonly see in the garden center) (to see true geraniums: Scented geraniums though are still infinitely more interesting than their non-scented friends. (

(The other reason why I've been enamored with scented geraniums is because their edible! You can bake with them and make tea!)

So, 10 seconds into admiring their scented geraniums I ran back to the volunteer lady who was accompanied by another volunteer on a go-kart and I was given a little ride back to the geraniums, point them out and ask as politely as I could, if they gave out cutting because I knew geraniums are supposedly easy to propagate.

Though they said they could not offer me cuttings despite my explanation that I have been lusting after these geraniums for a long time and have been too cheap to pay shipping for them online, they informed me that their garden gift shop had plants available. Quail Gardens were quite lovely, though admittedly, my plant lust/consumerism/natural wish to stimulate the economy (really) made me head way to the gift shop FAST.

I realized as I would be flying home, and am, once again, cheap, only hauling a carryon the plane, I had to be conservative in my plant purchases. So 3 scented geraniums it was! One mint, one attar of rose and a ginger scented one. SO GIDDY. There's also coconut, peach, lime, cinnamon, orange and other scents available (not at the gift shop unfortunately), but I need to build this collection carefully anyways as I sort of need to make room... in the house... since these guys will need to be overwintered... (I can hear my husband's palm slapping his forehead in disbelief already. We had a wee bit of a fruit fly problem last year because of the amount of plants indoors).

I also got something called Dittany of Crete ( which I had heard about on NPR in reference to Harry Potter. I saw that it is a member of the oregano family and can be culinary, so I decided it would be fun to get. It also has some very interesting history/background. (Plus it grew flattish and I figured it would be an easy fit into the carryon bag)

A shout out to another garden: Rancho Santa Ana Botanical Gardens ( in Claremont that was having an end of season (It's-going-to-be-WAY-too-HOT-plant-anything-soon) sale. Only purchased one item, a salvia clevelandii, arroyo azul cultivar that will need to be potted up in the crappiest dry soil available because this plant likes abuse. This herb has the most heavily, heavenly scented sage scent I think, and it was the only salvia they had there that they knew would be tasty. Not all salvia/sages are delicious apparently.

So, after all the wonderful garden trekking, it was finally time to pack all the plants into my carryon bag. Luckily I am a space ninja (ability to find space to fit stuff in anywhere, though I will say, my husband has a double black belt in finding space) and I got all the plants, plus stuff to protect them, my clothes, and souvenirs into the bag.

Should have realized it, but my bulging bag appeared suspicious apparently "really jumbled" is what the x-ray woman said scanning my bag, and they decided they needed to search it.

I had done my research before I packed, and there was no mention that you couldn't take plants home with you, even the California botanical garden people said that it was ok to take them home! So, because I didn't want them to think I was trying to be evasive or seem like "Where did that come from?" I said up front that I did have plants in the bag and I was informed that it was ok. They confirmed that it was (thank goodness) and said that they still had to search it. The search guy unzipped my bag and the bag literally opened itself by bursting open with stuff... Guy found the box of scented geraniums and I said, "those are geraniums." I didn't want to explain that they were scented, better make things simple.

Then he opened the box that had the Dittany of Crete in it, and I really didn't want to explain Dittany of Crete, so I said that it was just an "oregano." He rubbed the leaves and smelled it and said appreciatively (almost too appreciatively), "oh yeah, I know that scent," in a bit of a weird way, as though he had some sort of very close bond with oregano. I wondered if he was hinting at something...? I later found out Dittany of Crete is thought to be an aphrodisiac. Well, hey, whatever gets my plants through security.

The security guy was rather nice and said that it was very sweet about how patient I was to letting him check my bag (not like I really had much of a choice...) and then said all was good and I could go. He left, and as I struggled to get my bag in order and closed again, another security guy stepped in and helped it get zipped up again and as I left he commented that he, "liked my outfit." Hmmm... (I have to dress up business-like as I fly standby using my husband's company tickets) Later another guy commented that he had been in the fabric and fashion industry and also "admired my dress."

Dittany of Crete? ....or is it just the power of the little red dress? Next time I travel I'll experiment.

Anyways, for anyone interested in scented geraniums, here are some good places online: