Sunday, June 24, 2018

It's Offically Summer


            Welcome back to another episode of Lost In The Farmer’s Market, where we take a look into varied topics regarding sustainability, horticulture and organic practices. This particular episode will cover a few after-images regarding plants I’ve described at the market in bloom to show you what I meant. Additionally, I’m going to cover a few things in the test garden that are of note or in bloom. First off early this spring for the first time in a few years I offered Purple Vienna Kohlrabi ( Brassica oleracea Gongylodes Group ) for sale and it wasn’t the best of sellers but a select few gardeners decided to be brave and give it a shot. For those who don’t know what Kohlrabi is, it is a member of the cabbage family and you eat the leaves and its swollen stem.


As you can see in the image above this kohlrabi has developed perfectly. While the image does not do its size justice this specimen, one of two leftovers that did not sell is about the diameter of a baseball which is about average for the home garden for a plant that was planted too late. Now, I bet some of you readers out there are wondering what one does with a kohlrabi, the leaves can be added to salads, or cooked in a similar way to cabbage, collards or kale. The swollen stem is generally sliced and steamed like broccoli but can be sliced and can be eaten raw with something akin to ranch dressing just like broccoli. I do recommend gardeners grow Kohlrabi because it’s easy, and since the part you are eating (the stem) is less apt to be attacked by pests plus it’s less temperamental about it’s location. Additionally, chances are it will be a good conversation piece when you show visitors your garden. Next I have pictures of ‘Irish Eyes’ Rudbeckia before and after the actual flowers open to show what it’s developed flowers actually look like. I sold this perennial variety of Rudbeckia at the City Market last year and when I told customers the centers of the flowers were green I was met with a bit of skepticism. Here is the proof of how this plant looks in the landscape.

 
This photo was taken back in May.

The same plant, but this photo was taken last week.


The second picture requires some explanation, Rudbeckia is a member of the Daisy Family which is collectively called the Asters (Asteraceae) and as such it has a composite flower where the petals are ornamentation as one might expect but that disc or cone at the center of the flower is actually a tightly packed head containing potentially hundreds of very simplistic flowers. From a biological standpoint since many insects, birds and animals eat the seeds having hundreds of flowers each of which can produce a single seed is a survival strategy. If each flower head produces fifty seeds, and forty of those are eaten, destroyed or are duds, the surviving ten carry on the genetics of the species which guarantees in some part that there will be room for biological adaptation and growth in the next generation.  Now in this case in the second flower the actual flowers are developing and are opening from the outside inward as the cone extends. This changes the color of the flower’s center to a dirty sort of yellow-green as the golden pollen of this plant is released. Of course, letting this plant flower and produce seed is essential to the biological diversity of the test gardens and it yields seed to grow more of this Rudbeckia for future plant sales and as a food source for the varied birds and pollinators that visit the test garden. I have two more plants to cover before we move to the usual sales-oriented portion of this post.



I snapped this photo recently of a white balloon flower in the crescent bed. Balloon flowers ( Platycodon grandifloras ) are a interesting garden perennial that are members of the Campanulaceae family which includes the Lobelia family. Aside from the group of plants the family is name for, the Campanulaceae family also includes the lawn “weed” called a Venus’ Looking Glass. Personally, I don’t consider the Venus looking glass a weed because of it’s pretty but tiny blue flowers and interesting leaf arrangement and thus they are spared mowing in my yard. Balloon flowers are of specific note because of their unique blooms which look like balloons until they open, though normally most balloon flowers as seen are blue, in the last decade or so pink and pure white hybrids have been made available which further expands the versatility of this garden perennial. In terms of care Balloon flowers are tough, and drought tolerant once established, add in that their normal height is at least two feet and they become a pretty structural addition to the garden. As far as I know they have no pest problems and are fairly tolerant of varied soil types though heavy clay soils might be a problem.

Trying to describe the colors of Golden jubilee has been amusingly difficult.

Finally as a closer to the garden-oriented portion of this post, we have a picture of Golden Jubilee’ Agastache ( Agastache rugosa  ‘Golden Jubilee’). Agastache is sometimes called Anise-Hyssop but is best known by the common name ‘Hummingbird Mint’ which accurately identifies that it is a strong attractor of pollinators and that it is a source of nectar for hummingbirds. I should note that Agastache is ultimately a member of the Mint family ( Lamiaceae ) and has square stems which is the common identifying trait of plants likely to be in the mint family. Additionally, it’s foliage has a minty aroma and it has some use in herbal medicine. What really makes these plants special is that incredible chartreuse foliage which sets off the violet-pink flowers. This plant will readily sow seed and spread out so it should be planted where it can take over and be pretty much a chartreuse neon sign for pollinators. I had to wait to discuss this deciduous perennial here because it had to be in bloom so I could adequately demonstrate the foliage flower color contrast. Theres also the fact that I had a somewhat hard time describing the color of the blooms so a picture does that better then I can. For note I will have more of these available at the market soon, so if you are interested, come on down!


For note this is where the advertising starts because it keeps the Test Garden’s supplied and running tests so you don’t have to. If you want to get some GMO-free, Organic vegetables, herbs and fruiting shrubs come on down to the Fayetteville City Market on 325 Maxwell Street in downtown Fayetteville between the Hours of 9:00 am and 1:00 pm on Saturdays. Barring bad weather, I’ll be there selling the following spring offerings while supplies last.

Late Spring Plant Sale: - All 3” Peat pot plants $2.00!

Plants Available Now:
Peppers, Sweet Banana - $2.00
Peppers, Giant Marconi - $2.00
Peppers, Red Peter - $2.00
Peppers, Furious Sunset - $2.00
Peppers, Tobasco - $2.00
Peppers, Ghost – $3.00
Peppers, Aji Limon - $3.00
Peppers, Peporncini - $3.00

Tomato, White Wonder - $2.00 <Low Acid Type>
Tomato, Carolina Golden - $2.00 <Low Acid Type>
Tomato, Radiator Charlie - $2.00
Tomato, Brandywine - $2.00
Tomato, Black Krim - $2.00
Tomato, Golden Jubilee - $2.00 <Low Acid Type>
Tomato, Glacier - $2.00
Tomato, Mountain Spring - $2.00
Tomato, Sungold - $2.00 <Low Acid Type>
Tomato, Sweet 100 - $2.00

Basil, Holy - $ 2.00
Basil, Sweet – $2.00
Basil, Thai - $2.00
Burnet, Salad - $2.00
Oregano, Italian - $2.00

Aloe Vera, Small - $5.00
Aloe Vera, Large - $7.00
Dancing Bones Cactus - $3.00

Coming Soon: (New Items Available July 14th at the latest)
Herbs - Santolina (aka Lavender-Cotton)
Lavender, English
Thyme, English
Rosemary

Ornamental - Milkweed
Ornamental – Coneflower, Pow Wow Berry Mix
Ornamental – Coneflower, Cheyenne Spirit
Ornamental - Agastache 'Golden Jubilee'

Houseplants - Flowering Maple
Houseplants - Eve’s Needle Opuntia
Houseplants - Benjamin Fig
Houseplants – Mini Variegated Jade Plant
Houseplants – Shark Tooth Plant
Houseplants – Live Saver Plant
Houseplants – Philodendrons, assorted
Houseplants – Gold Dust Plant


            As noted in the last update, Bordeaux Regional Nursery is no longer delivering exotic houseplants to Leclairs general store. We will however be honoring the warranties of plants sold in the store until the end of 2018. For the detailed reasons why we have made this change please see the blog posted on the 22nd of June.  These days I am generally at Leclair’s General Store once a week, for the weekly Sustainable Neighbors meeting at 5:30pm through 7:00 pm. If you have questions then I will be there to answer your questions. Since our meetings have an open-door policy you don’t need to sign up for anything or join anything, you can come on in ask for us and join the meetings. If not, you can always send me questions through this blog or visit the farmer’s market or pay attention to what Sustainable Neighbors is doing at the link below.



            This brings to a close the twelfth LITFM post of the new year, stay tuned the next episode which should be posted on the 6th of July roughly speaking.


Friday, June 22, 2018

A rather late update

June has been so rough even the roses joined a biker gang.

Welcome back to another episode of Lost In The Farmer’s Market, where we take a look into varied topics regarding sustainability, horticulture and organic practices. Before I get into he substance of this episode, I urge that all you regular readers out there put down the pitchforks and torches, the delay in this month’s posts is for a very good reason. I started a new day job at the beginning of June and have been in that normal three-week trial period where most jobs work you like a dog to see if you’ll survive. This meant I had no time for the blog or other things and as such this post is late so the other June post will be up here very soon, literally this weekend if I can manage so sit tight, there will be updates in dolby surround sound!


I don't have a name for this variety yet, but I'm working on it.


First off for this post we have the picture above, those two suggestive fruits are the first two ripe hybrid super-hot peppers off any of the three hybrid peppers that volunteered last year. Based on shape I would say they are a mix of Ghost pepper and Trinidad scorpion, but taste testing will reveal how much burn and what flavors are present. Hopefully the local barbecue restaurant Fowlers will like these and want more for making hot sauce with. I’ve worked pretty hard to get these plants to this status and I am hoping that they produce face-meltingly hot but tasty peppers that pepper-heads of all levels can enjoy.


The main topic of today’s article is a house plant that you may not have heard of even if you are familiar with it’s relatives. The family this house plant is from is called Malvaceae, which means the Mallow family which contains two super-well known members, Cotton ( Gossypium sp. ) and Okra ( Abelmoschus esculentus ), but also contains a common southern garden perennial by the name of Cotton-Rose ( Hibisucus mutabilis ) and an even more common garden shrub called Rose of Sharon ( Hibiscus syriacus ). Another common relative seen on every spring seed rack is the Hollyhock ( Alcea sp. ) and if you’re from the Caribbean you might have heard of False Roselle ( Hibisucus acetosella ) the true roselle ( Hibiscus sabdariffa) is still in the mallow family though. In short, the mallows are a large and diverse family with a common trait in that their leaves are almost always palmate shaped and that their seed pods are sub divided into wedges and the flowers are often disproportionately large.

Meet the member of the Mallows that impersonates a tree.
However, the cousin of this family that I will be offering for sale as a house plant later this year is different, it’s leaves are somewhat palmate and its flowers are not terribly large. In fact, this hibiscus relative’s scientific name isn’t ‘hibiscus’ or ‘mallow’ or similar to any of the listed names above. This mallow’s common name is Flowering Maple and its scientific name is Abutilon species. The Flowering Maple in the southern parts of North Carolina is a semi-perennial though if in doubt I would not plant it in the ground. Like a lot of it’s cousins it responds to fertilizer quickly and requires water in heavy amounts at regular intervals. A Flowering Maple in a twelve-inch diameter pot will easily need a bare minimum of four cups (32 ounces) of water a day and will dramatically wilt when dry. I recommend repotting once per year if not every other year to maintain growth and vigor, though eventually for the obvious reasons this will become impossible to maintain and taking cuttings via air layering or typical methods involving rooting hormone.
 

The image above although not the most symmetrical bloom highlights why you would want a Flowering Maple. The foliage is nice and all but Flowering Maples have flowers in a staggering variety of colors but the bicolor varieties like this one are the most staggering. This variety is called ‘Fireball’ for it’s deep red veins and variable orange petals. Some varieties of Flowering Maple have flowers that dangle, and others have flowers that have more rigid stems similar in form to other members of the family. What makes this plant really nice is that it is really easy to care for and is an excellent starter plant for Bonsai. If you wanted your own Japanese Maple but lacked the space or the climate is all wrong, Flowering Maples can fill that niche, they look like the real thing, they come with awesome blooms and they don’t demand much in return except regular water. With careful pruning Flowering Maples can be used in topiaries and given that they grow fast they can be used as seasonal green screens to hide eyesores. The two down sides to Flowering Maples is that they don’t tolerate long droughts and they are occasionally bothered by scale insects, mealy bugs and aphids. The latter two pests are easy to handle, scale insects require systemic treatment which barring a rare specimen plant may not be cost-effective to apply. Fortunately, as I noted before almost any method of taking cuttings works for flowering maple so it’s not hard to replace a plant that’s being invaded.


For note this is where the advertising starts because it keeps the Test Garden’s supplied and running tests so you don’t have to. If you want to get some GMO-free, Organic vegetables, herbs and fruiting shrubs come on down to the Fayetteville City Market on 325 Maxwell Street in downtown Fayetteville between the Hours of 9:00 am and 1:00 pm on Saturdays. Barring bad weather, I’ll be there selling the following spring offerings while supplies last.

Late Spring Plant Sale: - All 3” Peat pot plants $2.00!

Plants Available Now:
Peppers, Sweet Banana - $2.00
Peppers, Giant Marconi - $2.00
Peppers, Red Peter - $2.00
Peppers, Furious Sunset - $2.00
Peppers, Tobasco - $2.00
Peppers, Ghost – $3.00
Peppers, Aji Limon - $3.00
Peppers, Peporncini - $3.00

Tomato, White Wonder - $2.00 <Low Acid Type>
Tomato, Carolina Golden - $2.00 <Low Acid Type>
Tomato, Radiator Charlie - $2.00
Tomato, Brandywine - $2.00
Tomato, Black Krim - $2.00
Tomato, Golden Jubilee - $2.00 <Low Acid Type>
Tomato, Glacier - $2.00
Tomato, Mountain Spring - $2.00
Tomato, Sungold - $2.00 <Low Acid Type>
Tomato, Sweet 100 - $2.00

Basil, Holy - $ 2.00
Basil, Sweet – $2.00
Basil, Thai - $2.00
Burnet, Salad - $2.00
Oregano, Italian - $2.00

Aloe Vera, Small - $5.00
Aloe Vera, Large - $7.00
Dancing Bones Cactus - $3.00

Coming Soon: (New Items Available July 14th at the latest)
Herbs - Santolina (aka Lavender-Cotton)
Lavender, English
Thyme, English
Rosemary

Ornamental - Milkweed
Ornamental – Coneflower, Pow Wow Berry Mix
Ornamental – Coneflower, Cheyenne Spirit

Houseplants - Flowering Maple
Houseplants - Eve’s Needle Opuntia
Houseplants - Benjamin Fig
Houseplants – Mini Variegated Jade Plant
Houseplants – Shark Tooth Plant
Houseplants – Live Saver Plant
Houseplants – Philodendrons, assorted
Houseplants – Gold Dust Plant

More to be announced as we near the launch date, stay tuned folks!


As another update, after much debate and research into the feasibility of the operation, I have made the decision not to renew the agreement with Leclair’s General store. Simply put, from an economic perspective, it was an agreement that was costing Bordeaux Regional Nurseries a fair amount of income. Given the difficult nature of the weather this year, the rough winter and other factors I decided to end the agreement so that BRN operations could shift to other markets that have greater potential. While working with them for a little over a year has brought great exposure for BRN, I could not allow my operation to continue to absorb a loss.

For those of you who bought a plant at Leclair’s General store I will continue to stand by my exchange policies for the replacement of plants that have died and were sold in Leclair’s General store through the end of 2018 after which the warranties of the plants will be on a case by case basis. These days I am generally at Leclair’s General Store once a week, for the weekly Sustainable Neighbors meeting at 5:30pm through 7:00 pm. If you have questions then I will be there to answer your questions. Since our meetings have an open-door policy you don’t need to sign up for anything or join anything, you can come on in ask for us and join the meetings. If not, you can always send me questions through this blog or visit the farmer’s market or pay attention to what Sustainable Neighbors is doing at the link below.


            This brings to a close the eleventh LITFM post of the new year, stay tuned the next episode which should be posted within a few days.