Flower post

I will buy no more fuchsias or bougainvilleas. They don’t do well for me and coming to my house is a death sentence.

I grow other stuff well. So, that shouldn’t be a hardship.


Last SAturday, I went to a floriography workshop with a friend at Körner’s Folly in Kernersville, NC. We toured the house and made sachets and tussy mussies using plants from the garden at the Paul J. Ciener Botanical Garden nearby.

Aaaaaaand we got a handout with a list of Victorian plant meanings, which I’m going to partially transcribe here. Le Language des Fleurs by Charlotte de la Tour was first published in 1816. Although the use of floral messages had mostly faded by the beginning of WWI, there are still reminders in some of the choices we still make, now.

AmaryllisPride
AsterDaintiness
Baby’s breathPurity and innocence
BasilHate
BelladonnaSilence
CamelliaLonging
CarnationA mother’s eternal love
CattailPeace, prosperity
Chamomileenergy in adversity
ChrysanthemumsCondolences
ClematisCleverness, ingenuity
CloverGood luck
DaffodilUnrequited love
DahliaEternal love, commitment
DaisyInnocence, childhood
DandelionDivination, fortune-telling
DaturaDeceitful charms
DogwoodOur love will overcome adversity
EucalyptusProtection
FernMagic, secrecy
FoxgloveRiddles, secrets
GladiolusYou pierce my heart
HawthornHope
HeatherLuck, protection
HelleboreWe shall overcome scandal and slander
HoneysuckleDevotion
HyacinthPlease forgive me
HydrangeaBoastfulness
IrisValor, wisdom, faith
IvyFidelity
LaurelGlory, victory, success
LavenderDistrust
LilacFirst love, nostalgia
LilyPurity
MagnoliaDignity
MarigoldGrief
MintConsolation
MyrtleLove
NettleCruelty
Orange blossomsEternal love
OrchidElegance
PansyYou occupy my thoughts
PassionflowerFaith
PeonyBashfulness
PetuniaAnger, resentment
PoppyEternal sleep
Queen Anne’s LaceSanctuary
RoseLove
RosemaryRemembrance, wisdom
SnapdragonPresumption
SunflowerFalse riches
Sweet PeaThank you for a lovely time
Sweet WilliamBravery
TansyHostility
TulipDeclaration of love
VioletModesty
WheatRiches, abundance
WillowMourning
WormwoodBitterness
YarrowCure for a broken heart
ZinniaEverlasting friendship

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Filed under Annuals, Flowers, Fuchsias, Perennials

We are growing tea, again.

I killed the first tea patch by trying to transplant the bushes. I had put barberries in as foundation plantings in front of the house and they had become a problem. So, we yanked them out, debated a little and decided to use camellias.

Chuck went to Camellia Forest Nursery to pick out when I was working. He got two ‘Super Sochi’ tea, two ‘Chia Tsao’ tea and two ‘Black Tie’ ornamental camellias.

The ‘Super Sochi’ is particularly cold hardy. The ‘Chia Tsao’ is especially good for oolong (my favorite style). And the ‘Black Tie’ between them is just to be attractive.

After we got them in the ground, I saw that Camellia Forest was going to do a Harvest and Production workshop and signed us up. And took the day off from work. It was GREAT!

We picked a bunch. Then, we sorted everything. pinching out the 2-leaves-and-a-bud for green tea production.

Coarse pluck (3 leaves and a bud)

Christine talked to us about tea for a while as everything wilted. And we drank some iced tea she had grown and produced. We rolled a big pile that they had picked the day before.

Rolling is twisting it up in a lint-free cloth and mashing the hell out of it until you have squeezed as much juice out as possible. You turn and mash and turn and mash and, eventually, orange juice starts squeezing out. After you have it as juiced as possible, you let it sit out to oxidize, giving it a little toss every once in a while so that all of it gets exposed to the air. It smells lovely.

Black tea oxidizing

For green tea, you do things a little backwards from black. First, you heat it, either with steam or simply pan firing in a dry pan. She uses an electric wok and tongs to keep stirring so the leaves didn’t burn. There is some mashing down with your hand to get everything cooked when you do that, too. So, it’s a little riskier. AFTER it has cooked, you roll it. Green tea doesn’t get oxidized. It just goes into the oven for drying.

We came home with some steamed green, some pan fired green, some black and some raw tea leaves that were part of what we had picked that morning. Chuck dried the 3 prepared teas in our oven and he made a small batch of black the next day with the leaves we had brought home. We have 2 small containers of green tea and about 2 cups of black tea ready to go.

Pan fired (L), steamed (R) and black (B)

The black tea tastes very much like it smelled as it oxidized. The difference in flavor between the steam and pan fired greens is astonishing. We both think pan firing is the way to go.

It’s going to be a while before we are able to make more than a small pot at the time from our bushes. But, we feel ready. Hands on is always the best way for me to learn.

Handy dandy reference sheet

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Spring is creeping in.

Last year, I read that strawberries and asparagus grow well together. The strawberries keep the weeds out of the asparagus bed and the asparagus ferns shade the strawberries through the summer heat. Yesterday, I picked up some strawberry plants and found as a delightful surprise.

Also, the fuchsia died and, now, that pot has purple pansies and yellow moss roses in it.

And the hummingbird feeders are out. I used this map to decide it was time.

Last Thanksgiving I had a really hard time finding sage for the gravy and dressing. That’s when I learned that Thanksgiving is the sage flavored holiday. I’m not dealing with that again. This went in the ring bed in the back.

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Filed under Asparagus, Fuchsias, Strawberries

Fuchsias

I have always spelled that word wrong. A friend told me that she discovered it when she was a kid looking in the dictionary for a “bad word” and it’s been easier to remember.

When I lived in Florence, SC, in the early ’80s I found a hanging basket of the standard fuchsia-with-dark-purple variety and fell in love. Later that season I found one that was all pale pink and I liked having a different variety. I knew they liked shade and kept them inside. When I moved them to Charleston, they both died and I haven’t tried them since.

Seeing them growing into bushes planted in the ground in the UK in 1999 was astonishing to me.

My mother likes to have flowers blooming. But, she has no desire to maintain plants between flushes. So, when the hanging basket she has bad on her porch all summer started to crap out, she gave it to me.

I have looked up fuchsia care and I’m making notes here so I don’t have to reinvent that wheel later.

It will be dormant soon with no leaves or blossoms. (You can see they’re dropping like crazy already.) It needs to go into the guest room where it can stay cool and shady all winter. It should be watered about every 3 weeks until it starts getting new growth. When the leaves are all off, I can trim the branches to half as long.

It should do well outside the east facing kitchen window next summer. it should be watered regularly with the soil kept moist all blooming season.

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Filed under Flowers, Fuchsias, Perennials

Autumn report

The Candy Roaster winter squash is boring. Not much flavor and a kind of stringy texture. We won’t grow that again. Back to pattypans next year.

The Rutgers were OK. But, I prefer Cherokee Purples. Same with the yellow cherry tomatoes. They were good. But, I prefer Sweet 100s. They are more prolific and I like the smaller size.

We have Tango lettuce, spinach and kale doing nicely, each in a different trough. (We added a 4th.) I am spoiled by fall greens. If we ever can’t keep up a garden so that I have to buy them all the time, I’m going to get whiny.

The asparagus has done well in the trough. It’s going to be interesting to see how productive it is next year after the spring transplant.

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Filed under Asparagus, Harvest, Kale, Lettuce, planting, Spinach, Squash, Tomatoes

So many changes

We decided to take down the raised beds. We were both frustrated by the ongoing battle against the Trees of Heaven that kept growing up through everything. Chuck had put serious effort into getting the roots out of 2 or 3 of the beds last year. And it helped. But, it wasn’t a cure. And the asparagus couldn’t win.

So, Chuck sold the cinder blocks and we’re letting the grass grow in. Of course, this has been THE best year for the asparagus.

He put 2 100-gallon watering troughs in the part of the hazelnut ring where the bushes don’t grow, filled them with compost and planted salad in one and tomatoes in the other. The tomato varieties are ‘Cherokee Purple’, ‘Rutgers’ and ‘Golden (something)’. The yellow ones are cherry sized and ‘Rutgers’ is supposed to be sandwich sized.

I got another watering trough and transplanted the asparagus. Wrong time of year. I know. But, the cinder blocks were gone and the roots were exposed all around the edges. And they aren’t dead. There were even 4 edible stalks last week. So, I remain hopeful.

I’m late to post. So, the salad is already done and there is Candy Roaster winter squash in that trough, now.

My first peach is putting out fruit prolifically this year. But the Damson plum next to it is dying and we have no clue why.

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Filed under Asparagus, Peach, planting, Plum, Squash, Tomatoes

April makes me crazy

There has been snow in April the last 2 years. So, we’re holding back. There is a threat of near freezing/potential snow this weekend. It was 84ºF on Monday.

We have 6 types of tomatoes in the grow room/pantry/attic/3rd bedroom waiting until the end of April to go in the ground. There are Better Boys for sandwiches, Cherokee Purple for salads, Golden Jubilee and Hawaiian Pineapple yellow varieties for Chuck, Grape and Indigo Blue cherry sized varieties for both of us. (I don’t dislike the yellow ones. He’s just particularly fond of them.)

I have 4 jalapeno plants waiting, too. We’ll plant Brandywine okra, Delicata and Pattypan squash and Hamby pole beans directly into the raised beds.

The new Martha Washington asparagus is coming up nicely. I’m hoping for a nice crop next year when we can finally harvest from the raised bed.

We have taken apart the herb bed and used the blocks to edge the front flowerbed. We didn’t have enough blocks and Lowe’s isn’t carrying that style anymore. So, I filled in gaps with stones from the disassembled labyrinth. It needs mulch.

I am expanding the little planting area around the well. A circle has been requested. Cannas will be moved from the side of the house to that bed when I have the grass dug out.

Chuck has been removing the grass-laden mulch from the outer ring of the defunct labyrinth. When we take up the ineffectual weed barrier, it will be seeded with clover. When I finish tweaking the front, I’ll manage the second ring that we intend to use for herbs and flowers. I’ve already got resurrection lilies and foxgloves transplanted there.

2016-05-03 10.19.06

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Filed under Asparagus, Beans, Flowers, Legumes, Okra, Peppers, planting, Squash, Tomatoes

More blueberries!

We decided the dismantle the labyrinth because it was a pain in the ass to maintain and it almost never got any use. In the entire time it was here, I don’t think 25 people have walked it.  But, we couldn’t just take up the rocks and let it go back to lawn because it has a hazelnut hedge around 2/3 of the outside.

Since there is going to be a circle in  the middle of the back yard one way or the other, we decided to make it a bull’s-eye.  The center will still be mulched and keep the benches.  The first ring will get the  herbs from the disassembled herb bed and whatever flowers I want that flourish in blistering sun like lilies, irises, foxgloves, crocosmia.  I don’t know what else. The next ring will be low maintenance clover.  And then, the hedge.

We decided that we really don’t need more hazelnuts, even though that means the circle of the hedge will be uneven.  So, today, we added 5 new blueberry bushes.  Like the  hazelnuts, they will be naked in the winter. And we look forward to the fruit.  (We’ve never had too many berries in life.)

We found one variety of blueberries at Lowe’s and 3 at Mebane Shrubbery.  We already had one of those (Climax) by the fence.  So, we have 3 Brightwells, a Powder Blue and a Tifblue.

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Filed under Asparagus, Blueberries, Fruit and berries, planting, tea

Bug Spray

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It’s about to be Japanese Beetle season. I found this on FaceBook.

An addition from John Snippe: Add a tablespoon of soap to that (even use it to replace the oil, actually)… and it will work better with crushed fresh garlic. Oh, and add a teaspoon of cheyenne pepper… anti- snails/slugs and nibblers.

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Our salad bar

P1030270

Yes. I am gloating a little bit.  There is a little lettuce plant growing by the compost bucket in the middle of the bed, one growing in the bed by the wall and a couple growing on the ground outside the bed.  We’ll be eating lettuce until we turn green.

Don’t hate.

 

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Filed under Asparagus, Lettuce, Vegetables