Friday, April 30, 2010

Icing on the Cake: Diatomeceous Earth

Nope, this isn't me powder sugaring my garden as sweet as gardening is.

This is me using diatomaceous earth to cut some bad buggies up.

Diatomaceous earth, while looking delicious and dessert-like (or like a particular drug I suppose...FLOUR, of course!  Those darn addictive carbs...) is actually sharp and lethal at the microscopic level to slugs, snails and all sorts of pests that creep and crawl.

As its name implies, it is made of diatoms, specifically thei very old, very dead and very fossilized remains.  These diatoms were once algae swimming in the sea, except they are special due to their hard shells which are composed of silica.

Eventually these fossilized diatoms get compacted into a type of sedimentary rock where it is crushed up for many human uses such as filterization (the diatom shells are very porous), cat litter, dynamite and as a mechanical insecticide (<-- what wiki says, very interestingly to put it. Wish there were some gears and cogs included like it sounds).

OK, so to get actually scientific rather than bellicose sounding about how diatomaceous earth works (I feel so Alton Brown-ish, which is funny to say because I don't watch tv), apparently while it is abrasive in nature and can potentially cut-up slugs/snails so that they lie bleeding in my beds to be composted, the powder of D.E. is so fine that it absorb the outer shell lipids of your pest, anthropod and cockroaches all lumped together.  By absorbing the lipids, like a person using baby powder (or you know how those silica packets in food say "DO NOT EAT" because they'll suck you dry from the inside out), well the pest will lost a dramatic amount of water and die due to loss of water pressure.

That was more gruesome than I thought.  Ick.  Mm! Mm! Dessicated slugs.  (I feel a little bad now).

Interesting still yet, diatomaceous earth (medical grade) can be used to de-worm animals (even humans) and is often used in grain storage to prevent pests from decimating the supply. 

When applying the D.E. I used a wire colander and would tap under and over and in-between the plants I wanted to protect. (STRAWBERRIES.  Last year, the sluggies got a LOT of them. There will be no victory for them this year!)  It's smart to use a face mask (I don't. Woo, white lung. No, I just don't breathe much when doing this.  I know, smart) and wear gloves as the powder is quite drying (I don't either and just wash and moisturize afterwards).  I just make sure that the powder is liberally laden on the lower parts of the plants stems and ground so crawlies will get into it.

If you don't want to use a colander you can use a vintage flour sifter which are always cheap to devote to powdering your plants.  Many ways to go about this of course.

Like most pesticides, reapplication is necessary after it rains and to be honest, it is suspect as to the efficacy of the powder in humid environments like where the slugs reside.  I don't think I see as much damage as I usually do on my plants, but the strawberries are just beginning to turn red, and once they are fully ripened the slugs see that as "go time!" to nosh down, so currently this is just my pre-emptive strike agains slug-fest 2010. 

(I have used the beer-swamp of death method in the past to stop slugs and still hand pick, but for my amount of slugs and sanity this was easier.  I also often relocate toads from the park/neighborhood to my garden.  Is this illegal? O_O)

If you do want to use D.E. go for the largest bag you can find for cost savings because it's not the cheapest.  A 5 pound bag was $13 at cheapest for me in my area, but I already have used it numerous times and there's a good amount left depending on how liberally you do apply and how often you need to (I only reapply after rain).

Best of luck with your bugs!

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Bug Identification: One that I will never forget now


So, I was able to contact a Purdue University entomologist, Tom Turpin, about my bug situation and sent him a link to my page and pictures (you should check out his page too).

YEAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH, about that excitement about the bug maybe being a beneficial.  Not the case.  Here's the email I got back from him:

"What you have is a sawfly, probably of the Argidae family.  The immature argid sawflies are caterpillar like and feed on the foliage of  their host plants.  Many times the immatures feed in groups and can defoliate the plant.  So you might want to be on the lookout for little caterpillars chowing down on some of the garden plants.  It that happens there is not much choice but to get out the old spray can and have a go at them.  I hope this helps.  Good hearing from you, and best wishes."

I asked in a later email if neem oil would work and he wasn't sure, but worth a try.  I also asked if  diatomaceous earth was of any use either and he didn't think so.

As usual, many words, that cannot be said are going though my head right now. (Wow, that sounds like the lyrics to a song doesn't it?)


is a SAWFLY. 


and will make me do a lot of work now.  Bah.

On a more positive note though, here's a shout out to Purdue and their awesome entomology department that educates dumb folks likes me about the ways and looks of bugs.  If you're ever in the area when they are having their annual Bug Bowl, you too can enjoy chocolate covered crickets (a little chewy), stir fried crickets (actually quite good, nutty) and cricket spitting!  (No, the crickets do not get a running leap off of your tongue when you spit them; they are dead prior to being spat.  My record was like... 6 ft.  I think the record is like 22ft... or farther, if you're lucky the wind's to your back.)

(AND, no one can ever tell me that I wasn't adventurous!)

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The Usual Suspects- Bug Lineup

Whilst walking about ye olde garden a couple of days ago I came upon this lil' buggie, first on my Rose Mallow Hibiscus (from local Gardens Oy Vey years ago, perennial and AWESOME!) and then I noticed its presence on my hollyhock leaves:

There were a good amount, about 8 on the hibiscus, and a few on the hollyhock.  Each bug was 0.5cm in length and a couple thick.
I flicked off a couple from the hibiscus and refrained from squishing them because they could be unknown beneficials, you know?

Bah, this is just another reminder that I need to work on my bug identification....

Either way, a quick internet search helped me find a million pics of bugs that look similarly like mine.  Lots of tabs in a row like a crime lineup I think has helped me narrow down some bugs over others.

I think (more or less, hope) that it might be a soldier beetle of some type as it's a beneficial:

or a kind of robber fly:
(which is still fine, but not so good as these guys seem to kill both good and bad)

Some details that might nix this hope for a soldier beetle is that the antennae of this bug are smooth (at least at the distance I was viewing them at) and the wings are more fly-like than "leather-wing" like, a major characteristic of beetles. So maybe more robber-y?

Another thing is that the eyes of this particular bug I had are well, really buggy. They are bulbous and stick out on the side of the bug's head like Princess Lea's hair buns.

So, as none of these descriptors are exact matches for the ZILLIONS of bugs/beetles that there are I am stumped as to the certainty of my hope that it's a soldier beetle.

Wish I could go up to one and be like, "Good day sir, if I might inquire as to your presence in my garden and the nature of your visit?  Be you friend or foe?  Would you care for a shot of neem oil or some delicious rain water?"

Even better would be if Google could use its Goggles feature for nature rather than just products...  How awesome would that be?!   Conservationists and butterfly counters and the like could make use of their phones in the field!

Anyways though, If anyone has any ideas, or can direct me to a nice entomology professor  who'll actually write back to me with info it would be appreciated. 


Monday, April 26, 2010

Earth what?

This is just a brief mini rant before I sit my butt down and compose actual blog-i-tude since I was a bad, bad, blogger this weekend (I hate going more than a couple of days without posting, but it was a very nice weekend for me).  Anyways...

So I missed Earth Day/Week/Month.  Boohoo.

I have no television access (really, doesn't connect, I don't get the local stations or want to pay for cable) so I missed out any commercials or shows that might be/have been "Go Earth!" themed.

I do get a newspaper (which I've canceled due to finances, and have used the b/w stuff in the garden and recycled the colored/shinies), but as I don't really do much "fun" or recreational shopping I barely noticed Earth Day sales.

My biggest realization that it was "Hurray for Earth!" Day came from my RSS feeder blogs which made me somewhat aware that it was "Love our Planet"time.

Needless to say, even with this one simple source of media used, I too, like the editor of Inhabitat,  was sort of sick of a one day devotion and awareness of simple "good living practices."

Granted I know that many people who frequent this blog and other blogs or sites on sustainability or gardening already do lots of things that are environmentally friendly or are making it a working goal of theirs to be more environmentally friendly.  So Earth Day is just preaching to the choir for those folks.  I believe Earth Day is a good way though to help those who aren't as environmentally aware to become more educated and that it takes a shot at making people usually apathetic more caring about the world's situation.

STILL, all the hullaballoo about Earth Day can be eye-rollerific  time for those who make sustainable practices a ritual rather than a holiday.

I know our society's made great progress and we need the enthusiasm of those who put forth the effort to organize and bring to light to the general public what they can do to make the planet better, but it's just painful that local Home Depots/Lowes all around are having sales of gallon volume ROUND-UP and ant poison in celebration of Earth Day in comparison to the no-blink attitude of the Japanese about the concept of energy and water conservation; and Europeans who take personal cloth bags to the grocery store for granted.

So, to get off my high horse, I probably should still be doing a lot of things like: have no plastic bags (I still have some around mostly from the newspaper covers to pick up the dog's cr@p with, so when that goes, I need to figure something out), bring my own containers to hold meat/veg products at the store (or just eschew the bag which I try), save water more by taking 5 minute showers, buy only unpackaged foods, have just one car, live in a tiny house (I wish, really),  never turn on my heater/ac (ok, go off the grid in general), feed my dog tofu, use a compostable toilet (would like that), and some many more things!

Point being, I'm learning, you're learning, and though I'm a stick in the mud (though corny still) about holidays let's make it an Earth Year every year without all the flashy stuff or surprise sales (especially of Roundup).

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Fixing the root of the problem

I have been delaying this for a while, but when one of my potted citrus trees started dropping leaves/flowers/potential fruits like a dying thing and appeared to be constantly dried out despite a watering only the day before.  I knew it was the time I've been dreading:

Root pruning.  *sigh*

I was rather intimidated to mess with all that stuff under the soil (and to see the mess that it was in) but for the health of my tree (and the fact that I don't want to keep buying bigger and bigger pots as I have to haul these babies in every winter in a not so big  house) it had to be done.

My 2 largest citrus trees (a navel orange and star ruby grapefruit) have been in pots for the past 3 years, I have known (and once again, dreading) the past 2 years as to when I would have to give the ladies a trim "down there"(it's been hard not to make jokes about it!) roots some pruning.  I had a feeling it would be this year and waited and waited, especially when they went into heavenly fragranced flower (which I lovingly hand pollinated in hopes for fruit after a fruitless 3 years ;).

Prior to the root pruning, all was going swimmingly with the trees, it then went south (literally) very quickly recently and all the flowers/fruit from the ruby star grapefruit fell off as well as 85% of the leaves (mostly old ones at least).  So, instead of deciding to root prune both trees (as the navel orange looks like there's hope of some fruit still) I'm experimenting with the grapefruit first to see if my surgery becomes plant murder.

Having never had to root prune anything so large before I obviously did some research (2 years ago in preparation and so I re-reviewed it again) and decided to take someone's suggestion of doing this "wedge"/"pyramid" prune where you cut 3 sides of the outer roots in to form a pyramid/wedge root ball eventually.

Well, easy goes it...  Taking out the grapefruit tree from the pot, check.

 (pot bound, but not at bad as I thought)

 Shaking the soil from the roots, check again.

And now... cut.  Um, cut?

So, I sort of stood there for a few minutes in worried panic, but by this point, you can't just leave the tree or just shove it back into the pot, so I do what I always do when something needs to be done:  YOU JUST DO IT (<--no, no Nike sponsorship here, alas... hmm, Nike and gardening?  What a concept!)

So I started hacking, holding my breath as I went and finally, ta da!

A much lighter (I could easily hold this up with one hand now) and hopefully still alive grapefruit tree.

(look at all them roots cut!)

 I gave it some happy extra potting soil, added most of the old stuff back it (had really good drainage already) and put the old mulch on top again, then watered thoroughly until everything sank and settled down.

This post-operative plant patient will now be given a couple to few days of rest in the sunroom, out of exposure to harsh light and maybe a light martini (hey, it's not as bad for them as you think, minus the vermouth though).

I think in a week or two I'll give it a light dose of some liquid fertilizer to buck it up again and hope that root wounds have mostly healed up.

The true test will be this winter.  We'll see if it flowers again!  The root pruning might affect that, but hey, citrus tree and I have a long life ahead of us.

Link of interest:

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Digging (or excavating?) for Black Gold

I have been bummed until recently as to my lame compost pile.  Granted it was lame because I was bad about turning it (not having those awesome sphere/side barrel ones, ok, excuses excuses...)

Anyways, so this year I was bad and didn't add compost to the garden beds early on like I usually do because the bin was looking fullish of unrotted things.

After being tired of feeling like things have been slow going for the pile I decided to investigate and thought, "Maybe if I look under the pile and poke deep in?"  (I have one of those tall box shape plastic commercial compost bins.  I know, silly early mistake when I was younger to purchase).

AND OMG.  Was there compost.  Loads of delicious crumbly beautiful stuff.  BUCKETS.  6 HEAVY FULL giant kitty litter plastic square buckets ("borrowed" from someone's recycling... who I now scope out often) of amazing compost.

It was perilous digging into it like that because I started just before dusk when I couldn't see anything very well (except filthy rich compost) and with how warm compost can get and as I've seen snakes chilling in the bin before (and how I don't like to wear gloves...) I could have probably had issues if I encountered any creepy crawlies and it may have been my imagination, but I thought I did see a small tail slither by... but there were a lot of squash seedling roots that could have tricked my eyes...  I was just so giddy about the compost I kept digging and digging, elbow deep (horizontally) into the bin until my 2 main 5 ft x 15 ft beds were both given a good layer of compost before I decided to call it a night.
(side of compost bin that I was digging into to get to compost.  There was all sorts of un-composted stuff that had packed into the side, which was the reason I thought I had no compost, but I just had to dig! And dig I did.)

(essentially this pic shows poorly how I dug into the bin, underneath the pile until there was over a full foot between the floor of the bin and the actual pile above.  I probably dug more up in the center.  It was sort of interesting because though the pile looked depleted by half from above when I was done with my 6 bucketfuls, I think it slowly sank, and filtered itself out of really large chunks of unrotted material as I dug underneath the pile)
The next day I took pics and tried all other side of the bin to mine for more black gold when I discovered that if I dug a little upwards too more compost was there and I hauled bunches more to fill my 7 smaller 1 ft x 4ft beds that hold vines and strawberry plants!  It was so grand to see all that scrap saving work out into such huge rewards.

Now garden, let's get growing!

Monday, April 19, 2010

Plant Haul Adventures! and Battle won on plant mislabeling!

I had the fortune of being able to attend the Botanic Garden and Lichterman Nature Center plant sale this past Friday and what great finds there were!

(I feel a little silly talking about “my haul” as this reminds me of a recent article about people, specifically teenage girls talking about their clothing purchases online on Youtube.  Granted I’m not going through the effort to upload a video of this, so I feel better about gushing in text about “le haul.”)

The day began with a plant dropoff to a good friend’s place and then a dig n’ dash (with her permission of course!) of what I identified as an arum from her newly inherited backyard garden (she just moved there).  Though not edible, it’s somewhat rare to find (at least for me) and the cherry red berry studded spathe (ok, that sounded just a little salacious)  in the winter months will be pleasant to look at.

Then I jetted off to the awesome Lichterman Nature Center plant sale (which was awesome and lovingly laid out) where, though I didn’t get everything I wanted (stupid budgets as usual) I did get: 2 spicebushes ($10/apiece!), a good size yarrow ($4), a baby ornamental pepper ($4) by the intriguing name of “Fish,”
and I won a mini-mislabeling battle on the spicebush!

Explanation of won-battle:

Prior to going to the sale I was doing research on the plants I was interested in that would be at the sale.  The Center is brilliant enough to put out a preview list, which makes things very helpful when you know what to expect/pick up what you want immediately.  The spicebush was a definite draw.  There were two plants listed by the common name spicebush, but from research, Lindera benzoin is the native edible kind.  Crushed leaves make a spicy tea and the berries are like allspice.  They also have the advantage of being one of the first plants to flower in spring, so that’s pleasant.

I found the spicebushes soon after my first run through of the place and was setting some nice looking ones off to the side talking out loud about “how these are going to taste great!”  when a lady overheard me and said that the description sign on the plant stated that “all parts are poisonous.”

“WHAAAAT?!?!?”  I explained that it couldn’t be.  The internet does not lie (ha, btw on that one), but no really, I looked up the LATIN name to confirm that it was indeed edible and every source confirmed it.  I frantically whipped out my netbook in hopes that there would amazingly be wireless available in the MIDDLE OF THE HUGE LICHTERMAN LAWN, but to no avail, no connection for confirmation.  I was pretty confident that something was wrong, but worried that Lichterman’s staff knew some news that I (and the internet community) wasn’t aware of about the plant.

After confronting a very helpful volunteer about the labeling, she too was confused because she had always been told of the bush’s edibility.  During this entire time and a little prior a few people had walked by at the few available spicebushes and clucked that they had been interested but saw that the sign noted it was poisonous.  In a weird way, I think that might have helped me get the bushes I got, due to misinformation!

A half an hour of research on the Lichterman staff and confirmed with 3 other sources that yep, the sign was wrong and out of nowhere a new sign replaced it with the correct info.
Ok, so a little over-proud of myself here, but I think it was really important to fix that mistake because it’s my mission obviously to educate people that you can eat nearly everything (to me, apparently).

Though excited about the spicebushes, I got 2 because they are dioecious, meaning they need a male and female plant in order to produce berries.  Unfortunately plants are not labeled or were in flower to be able to ‘sex’ the plants (harder than chickens, I swear!)  So unless I wanted to wait and try to locate the opposite sex plant later, no berries until who know when.  So I decided to gamble and got 2 plants for that fun 50-50 thing.  Tell you how it goes and if I get berried or buried eventually.

On another note, I convinced a lady to purchase a Haight-Ashbury hibiscus because it’s awesome of course.  In addition to this note, this lady buys these hibiscus for her dog who eat the flowers.  Yep, hibiscus flower eating dogs.  AND, she gives EACH of them a hibiscus of their own to consume/destroy and they each know which hibiscus is theirs to eat.

I wonder if they pee on their respective plants to fertilize them and get them to produce more flowers (though I am sure this could stimulate more foliage growth… and um, that was a little crass thought, but if you have a dog the peeing thing shouldn’t make you blink).  I also told her that you can just keep taking cuttings of the Haight Ashbury and have forever amounts of it eventually to feed to the dogs.  I wish I had gotten her number so I could have had opportunity to witness hibiscus flower eating dogs someday.  Obviously I am easily amused.
The yarrow purchased was for potential edible reasons and also I happen to purchase plants that have the potential/are noted to repel pests because I need help avoiding getting bitten by mosquitoes/ticks/THINGS at all costs.  I have mosquitoes with apparently steel syringe mouth parts on them because they bite through thick jeans when I garden and I don’t appreciate it.  Thus, I have a nice collection of pennyroyal, citronella, lemon thyme, Artemisia, oregano and the like around the garden for pest repelling properties and not just for taste.  I literally give hugs to them all prior to gardening in hopes that their properties will linger with me as I garden.  (I also tend to tuck a sprig of  pennyroyal into my hat as a precaution too).

Obviously this is a long-ish entry so allow me to hurry it up a bit.

Next was the Memphis Botanic Garden’s Spring’s Best Plant sale which was also wonderful and huge (and crammed, lots of people and plants).  There is obvious love for hostas there, a plant that I have little fondness for (unless someone tells me the leaves make a good salad), but there is one variety called “mouse ears” that caught my attention some years back.  I wondered if the price had gone down at all, and when I was led to the plant by a volunteer, we both gushed at its cuteness and minuteness, but spending $15 for a 3 inch diameter plant I’m not that even fond of was not going to occur.

I did fantasize about how much fun and “Alice in Wonderland”-like it would be to plant a tea set with one in a tea cup, a little larger version in the pot and some small flowering plants like white violets in the creamer and sugar set (!!!)  With also maybe a tea spoon with light colored lichen in it on the tea saucer (!!!!!)  So, um, if anyone does something like that, take a picture of it for me.  OR if anyone has any money to spare I’d love to make a display like this for you.  I wouldn’t even want it, or ask for money to my time, I just want to make this happen! (<---plant design geek)

The ginger scented geranium was to replace one that died earlier this year.  Smells like ginger ale and I look forward to cooking with it, or making delicious drinks from the leaves!
Little pots of rue were a steal at $2/apiece if I can keep the swallowtail butterfly caterpillars from completely eating them again.  Note to self again: DO NOT place rue  right next to the other caterpillar food plants such as cilantro, dill and parsley.

So, my total haul for Friday was this:
Arum (FREE!)
Spicebush (x2) ($10 x 2 = $20)
Yarrow ($4)
Ornamental pepper “Fish” var. ($4)
Ginger Scented Geranium ($5)
Rue ($2)

TOTAL: $35

Amazing.  Lesson learned: Go to local plant sales annual for a great deal on unusual and awesome plants.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Weekends are for fruits and flowers: Part 2 (Warning: PIC HEAVY)

Though the vegetable garden is still coming along a little slow (at least in my personal time-space perspective), The flowers are have a good ol' time and continue to be breathtaking.

I received a white iris from one of my master gardener neighbors a year ago which I plunked in a very random corner of the yard because I had no idea where I wanted to put it/hadn't had time to dig up some grass for it, so there it sat for an entire year.  This spring I chopped it in half as it made some good growth and I realized that I wanted some permanent leafage in front of a fence so I transplanted one half there and kept the other half in its original location, undisturbed so that I could at least see what was up with this iris's flowers.  Here are the results! (reminder, pics are smaller than usual for easier loading, please click on them to expand them if you wish to see them in their full glory):

Love taking zoomed in detail shots!  As you might guess, I am a Georgia O'Keefe fan.  The stripes/speckles make me think of a white tiger.

It's like the iris has a fuzzy tongue!

I don't know why but this makes me think of ballet, or white sheets in the wind.

 The hellebores are still coming along!  Pods developing and looking wicked and spiky.

This hellebore innard's only have 3 pods developing, vs the 4 above.  I liked how they crossed like this.

A self seeded pansy from last year's winter.  I wonder if some mixed because this doesn't look like the plain purple I had before.  If you could only see them in real life! Huge flowers, wonder aroma and the colors are truly vibrant.  They seem to be doing well in the part shade under my tree and producing loads of flowers.

I like this fern uncurling, makes me think of an infant with its fists curled.

Mama and baby fern

I will never stop loving fluffy dandelion seed heads!  I like how this one is just barely holding on.

Have a great weekend and hope you're enjoying the little things in life.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Weekends are for fruits and flowers: Part 1 (Warning: PIC HEAVY)

vAs people have time to look at pretty pictures on the weekends (or will just ignore these posts because they have better things to do during the weekend...can't blame them!) I decided to post some recent pics of the garden as I don't think I share the prettier side often enough.

This is during a time when I had time and get my artsy pics on.  (Click to enlarge pics btw, I kept most of them at medium for easier loading, but they're obviously better when expanded)

Surprise! I left a daikon radish in the ground too long and it flowered!

 Unexpectedly pretty purple geranium-like looking flowers to me
 The everbearing strawberries have all been in full bloom and looking healthier than before.  Many are starting to bear fruit, but it will take a while before they go from this:
 ... to luscious and red.  This one looks like it's got a bonnet on and has fingers to its lips in thought.

 Even the mache has cute little flowers, tiny ones that I am sure hoverflies will like.

Some waxy broccoli holding onto a drop of water

Sweet, sweet sugar pea!  It's relatively hot, but I suppose for their cool steeple shaped flowers and nitrogen fixing properties even not get a good crop is fine (I started them a bit late too anyways)

Sunny mustard flowers. Look like little butterflies.

The salad burnet, which is doing AMAZINGLY well from the winter into this weather is flowering for me for the first time. Meaning: I need to cut it back hard and as I don't think I will be using this like a mad woman the flowers will probably have to go because it makes the leaves tough (like they sort of are now... probably a good idea to split this baby too.  It's big and beautiful!)

My happy columbine!  Love these unusual flowers!

 Closeup:  (each flower bud just prior to blooming looks like an alien space ship or a squid or octopus!  

A whole bunch of them together looks like a school of them swimming in an ocean!)

Finally, for this last part I leave you with a hyacinth bean just emerging:

Friday, April 16, 2010

It's not my fault! The garden just doesn't understand "no!"

So, I'm on a squash growing moratorium due to squash vine borers being full of hate and eating of my past squash crops.

APPARENTLY, the garden didn't get the memo.

Opening my compost pile, what do I see?
(Yeah, pardon the giant crumpled up newspaper, sometimes I gets lazy...)

Yep, those looks like some kombucha squash (seedlings now)  husband and I ate some time ago.  I had saved the seeds for another time when squash growing was more favorable, but apparently I missed a few/need to turn the compost pile.  Man, these guys are straining to get some light.  AND boy, do I want to let them grow out the compost pile....mmmmm Japanese squashiness.

But gah.  Can you imagine how terrible it would be to have squash vine borers lay in your compost pile?! TURN PILE! TURN!

The garden can't stop dropping hints though!
(UPDATE: apparently this photo didn't load earlier though I swear I saw it had)

Yep, them be some self seeded cucumber seedlings.  For reals Garden?  You know that the husband doesn't even like cucumber!

So... shall I "let things be?" or become Persephone, SQUASH DESTROYER?

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Let us eat lettuce! Salud to the salad!

A while back my mother gave me a bunch of seeds that she thought were chard, then I realized when looking at them later they weren't and confronted her about this and she then said it was a Chinese vegetable of sorts, which after a while of talking with her I concluded that my mom is just a nut as usual. 

The seeds (sown under a raspberry plant) appeared to be lettuce like and after promising that inform readers of their fate this is what has sprung up in their place:

Looks like lettuce doesn't it? (Bleeds like lettuce too, you know that white sap that oozes when they're cut)

The only thing is, is that I have no clue what lettuce they are.  They were apparently 2 different lettuce varieties.  Obviously lettuce seeds are pretty standard tiny skinny football shaped things of varying shades of brown so if anyone is able to discern what is what here I'd appreciate it.  Both appear to be loose leaf lettuces, one I would not be surprised to be a generic black simpson and the other has light purpling about the leaves.

Here's the first type:

And now the second:
(closeup of purpling)

If you're a lettuce eater/grower/identifier, I'd appreciate any info!

On a similar note, husband and I made chirashi salad again with the plethora of greens that abounded in the garden!  In the basket is sorrel, salad burnet, siberian kale, garlic green, mache, mystery lettuces #1 and #2, mustard greens and Swiss chard.

Though not a "true" salad by some historical definitions where there are dozens of greens if not more, it was still quite delish with the pops of spicy of the mustard, the textures of the soft mache leaves/flowers (it was bolting now) to the ruffly kale, garlickiness of the... garlic and unexpected flavor of the chard.

It was my first year growing the Swiss chard and I was WEIRDED OUT by the saltiness of it.  Not unpleasant, just not expected.  I wonder if it really was as salty as I thought it was or if I simply note saltiness more than other people.  Other than dehydration, what might make chard more salty than usual I wonder? Large amounts of fertilizer (which I swear I didn't do)?