Archive for October 2009

What a Mess!

This photo, taken from the same vantage point as the one in the previous post, shows what 20" of snow can do to a lovely autumn garden. All the pretty fall foliage is now buried or scattered on the snow...
Luckily, I didn't have any damage to any of my trees or shrubs even the apricot, below, which was still holding a lot of its leaves.
Today is bright and sunny and a breezy 45 degrees (F) --- major meltage happening! Seriously, I don't want to see any more snow until December 21st. Let's keep snow a winter happening, eh?!

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Dressed in Red

Autumn garden

Who doesn't look great in red? This plant combo outside my office window is still going strong. Autumn Brilliance serviceberry (Amelanchier x grandiflora), compact burning bush (Euonymus alatus compacta) and bloody cranesbill (Geranium sanguinem) all strut their stuff for several weeks during the fall.

My Northern red oak (Quercus rubra), on the other hand, never turns red, just a milk chocolate brown. It's losing its leaves today. All of them. This is one smart tree, as we are expecting heavy snows midweek.

Oak leaves

What color(s) is your garden wearing now?

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news from City Square

We have managed to put most of our garden to bed for the winter! here are a few photo updates with some of the joys and lessons of this season

This is damage caused by white flies. The black spots are sooty mold, and seem to have had an effect, not on productivity, but on taste. The tomatoes and beans got hit especially hard, and they moved on to chard and celery later in season. In fact, they're still there.... Prevention and early action are key!

We have planted cover crops to build the soil, this is baby rye coming up. We also planted oats and clover in some of the beds, so we can compare which is more effective.

Ed, helping with clean up - thanks a bunch!

This is proof that pruninig your tomatoes encourages them to grow vertically - this one was 12 feet high! Also, we saw that none of the tomato roots had the root disease that we saw last season. Our tecnique of lasagna gardening really paid off!

Cheesmani tomatoes....productive right to the very end! We removed all the plants and saved the green tomatoes to ripen on windowsills.

In September we planted lettuce, spinach, beets, and radishes. Although they've sprouted, there hasn't been very much growth....

The parsnips are looking great, and can be harvested now. This past week we planted garlic in the other half of this bed, in a shadier spot, and also in a sunnier spot to see the difference. It will be hard to wait until they are next July or August, but we look forward to the scapes!

The beds with no cover cropped have been mulched with dry leaves in order to protect them for winter. The flowers were still too lovely to pull out.....
Although there's not much activity in the garden, we will still meet every second week until close to Christmas, with the next meeting being November 8th.

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America's National Parks

· Posted in

Looking across the salt flats of Death Valley

In response to an invitation by fellow garden blogger Pam, at Digging, I’m going to write a bit about some of the National Parks I’ve visited over the years. As Pam noted in her introductory post (here), most gardeners share a love of the greater outdoors, not just their own little patch of dirt. There’s so much to learn from, and be inspired by, the vast expanses of natural landscapes featured in our parks. Each and every one of them has at least one OMG! vista that will live in your mind’s eye forever. They are truly a gift of our American heritage.

My First

One of my earliest childhood memories is of a rare family vacation that was not just a visit to “the relatives.” Our destination was Yellowstone Park, or as I thought of it, Jellystone Park. Our goal was to see Yogi and Boo-Boo, and we did! I also remember looking out over a steep cliff to view a beautiful waterfall and the river far below. My dear dad kept urging me to “get closer for a better look!” (Amazingly, I did not develop a deep seated fear of heights.) I must admit though, that my biggest memory of that entire trip was that we got to stay in a motel, and that the motel had a swimming pool, and that I had gotten a new swimming suit just for the trip that matched my big sister’s (oversized harlequin diamonds, hers was blue, mine gold). Oh, well. I guess when you’re five years old it’s the little things that make the big impressions.

My Most Recent

Last December my husband and I took a long road trip over the Christmas holidays. Part of the plan was to spend a day in Death Valley. The enormity of the space is pretty overwhelming; I kept thinking, “This is what Afghanistan must look like?!” That, plus the extremely low speed limits and poorly designed/built roads (must’ve taken the lowest bid on that one…), made for a marathon day. I would recommend that you plan to stay in the park at least one night so you can see some of the attractions featured off of the main road. The ability to be there very early in the morning or at sunset would allow for some terrific photo opps!

My All Time Favorite

Gotta be Mesa Verde. I first visited this park when I was about ten years old. I loved reading historical fiction as a child. Stories of pioneers, cowboys and, particularly, Native Americans were my favorites. The idea that this remnant of an ancient civilization had been discovered just recently by working cowboys really captured my imagination. As I grew older, my interests in architecture, fine crafts, and plants! would also be enriched and expanded by visits to Mesa Verde. My roots are deep in the southwest; New Mexico, Colorado, and even (yes, I’ll admit it) Texas. The beauty of the southwestern landscape really speaks to me, and the vistas in this park are gorgeous in any season. A special sense of place and timelessness is what makes Mesa Verde resonate deep within my core and makes it a joy to visit again and again.

Been Here, Too

Rocky Mountain - kind of a snooze for me, I see vistas like this all the time!

Zion - awsome! I would love to stay in the lodge here.

Grand Canyon - make it a destination. It's too hard to get to for a quick peek over the edge.

Great Sand Dunes - a fun, fun family spot.

Don’t Forget our National Monuments!

They are certainly smaller, but typically quirky and fun. Check out Black Canyon of the Gunnison in Colorado, Capulin, Bandelier, and White Sands (my destination come November) in New Mexico, and Four Corners in, well, the four corners.

Happy travels!

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Harvest Time!

We have been very busy during the last week with our rooftop crops, harvesting, weighing and recording data. Thanks to the volunteers who have helped us out (Erin, Daryl, Laura, Megan, Frank, Ana, Tim and Jon) we have successfully harvested all of our radishes and obtained a lot of data.

The methods we used were as follows: (Each pot had 3 radishes in it)

- Remove the soil from the pot and using a bucket of water, separated each radish (attempting to keep the roots intact).

- Photograph the radishes with I.D tag
- Number radishes/leaves from each pot 1, 2, or 3
- Measure root length, bulb (height and width), and leaf (height and width)
- Weigh radish bulb
- Weigh radish leaves
- Dry the radish/leaves and weigh again

After labeling each radish and it's leaves with a number 1-3 we put them into a paper bag labeled with their I.D (an I.D. for example might read R-GG-1 meaning 'radish-Gaia Green- replicate 1'). We weighed them immediately after harvest as well as 5 or 6 days later after they had dried out. This is to account for any variation in mass due to water retention.

Now the fun part... analyzing all the numbers!

While we are doing that we will soon be starting to harvest the next crop... kale.

We noticed visually that there were increases in size of radish between the control (no amendment) and the ones grown with amendments. Not surprisingly the Miracle Grow radishes were quite a bit larger but we noticed that radishes grown in Gaia Green also did very well and seemed to have healthier, larger foliage.

We will look at the trends that the data tells us to get a better idea and know for sure what the differences are.. stay tuned!

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We awoke this morning to our first snow of the season. Snow in October isn’t that unusual, but sunny skies and mild temperatures are the norm. As you can see, my Autumn Brilliance serviceberry has barely had a chance to show off its brilliance!

I’m feeling a bit smug that I got my artichokes harvested before this weather hit. Unfortunately, they just weren’t very tasty. Even the smallest buds were very tough, and the leaves of the larger buds were pretty much “meatless.” My plant’s label did not include a variety name, but next year I’m going to search out one called ‘Emerald’ that is supposedly is frost and heat tolerant with few spines.

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We had a nice visit from Jack Frost last night. A late afternoon rain and temperatures down into the 30s made for a perfect collaboration.
Plants closest to the house or paving were spared Jack's icy paintbrush, but those a bit further out in the garden got a nice, light whitewashing.
Snow will be here before we know it!

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