Thursday, April 10, 2014

April Showers bring....the pollen down.

Welcome to another episode of Lost In the Farmer’s Market, today's episode is sponsored by Coffee! Yes, you know you want to join our Caffeinated Legions!  Ironically this less of a joke then you’d think, most experienced gardeners know that coffee grounds after you’ve made coffee are a useful thing to add to compost as they break down into something resembling less acidic peat moss. More so they are the cheapest “brown” material for your compost possible for the effect they have in darkening soil and leaching caffeine to your drowsy plants. The aforementioned is somewhat of a joke though, realistically their decomposing grounds actually darken soils because they add organic matter and do actually to some degree stain lighter soil components a bit. Plus there’s the bonus of you still having your coffee and getting to drink it too. With that aside we have some spring pictures this week and the beginning of a discussion about garden ecology.

OMG Napa…are you by chance related to canola?!

So first of here we have a Napa Cabbage trying to bolt. Bolting in the case of a plant is a term used to describe any plant with a finite life span (annuals and biennials) that is going to flower and is thus at the end of its life. For note, most members of the cabbage family have a white or yellow bloom, Napa cabbage is yellow clearly whereas Daikon Radish another member of the cabbage family is white flowering. In some cases (Rat-tail radish, broccoli, broccoli rabe and cauliflower) you actually want the plants to bloom because you eat the bloom. In plants such as arugula, lettuce, Swiss chard and spinach blooming is discouraged because the leaves of the plant tend to get bitter after blooming occurs. The act of removing a soon to be flower or a flower after it is no longer pretty is called ‘dead heading’ which the mention of which just now probably excited a lot of grateful dead fans out there. But enough of this cabbage talk; below is the next picture.

Chinese Wisteria – Wisteria sinensis
The picture above demonstrates what all the fuss is about when it comes to Wisteria. Wisteria is positively gorgeous in bloom, which almost makes it’s invasive and prolific habits acceptable. Since Wisteria is in the Pea family it fixes nitrogen somewhat and it’s flowers attract scores of pollinators. I might add the fallen blooms are like high octane compost fuel. The downside is that the seeds of this plant almost always germinate, it puts out runners and can creep into your yard hidden under the pine straw until it decides seemingly at random to sprout and suddenly appear in the middle of a lawn or in a garden bed. Since wisteria is fast growing and hard to kill it can be a problem in your yard for years. This fact has earned wisteria the well-earned title of Invasive plant and ecological threat.

Lemon Verbena – Aloysia citrodora
This is a picture of what I thought was a dead Lemon Verbena plant. In our climate they are tender perennials that may or may not survive the winter. Given the weather this last winter I figured my lemon verbena was a goner for sure. Several times I thought of pulling the plant’s dead remains out and tried once only to discover fire ants had a nest under it. Patience and or laziness won out and it stayed in the ground. To my surprise this is its new growth. The citronella geranium a few feet away in the same bed also is sprouting proving one old saying about plant hardiness. The hardiness of a plant is in its roots, thus if the roots survive so will the rest of the plant most likely. But a lemon verbena that survives winter is bound to be super-vigorous because it’s got a really big root system

Squashes? Melons? Squalons?
I don’t even know what precise plant these are but they are coming up in the new berm and I’ve got no intention of stopping them. I would imagine the likely culprits are acorn, butternut or yellow crookneck squash or a cantaloupe. Either way their willing germination signals that the temperatures are just right which also tells me that is most certainly spring. I’ll have more photos as these little guys develop.

So with the topic of the day filed under ‘completed’ we now move the conversation to other points. The precipitation this week was about 0.3” which is not quite the 1” needed but given prior rainfall it’s ok. As you may know Easter is on the 21st, which is the last theoretical frost date however I’ve personally had pepper and tomato plants out at the gardens for at least the last week so with some careful siting you all out there should be safe. Weather aside this weekend at the market is a pretty big one, the strawberry plants are coming to market. Behind them are the things you’ve asked for specifically basil, peppers, tomatoes and eggplant.

The Fayetteville Farmer’s market is located in downtown Fayetteville on 325 Franklin Street in the front and back lot of the Fayetteville Transportation Museum. There is a ton of parking about the area so don’t worry about fighting over a parking spot. The weather is supposed to be quite nice and if you are not a morning person the Market runs from 9 am to 1 pm sometimes with a little extra if there are a lot of folks at the market. But with timing set aside, here is what I will be bringing to market this week. As I tell folks who visit the booth, the plant list below is not absolute, more often than not there is more than listed. I pack the truck Friday night starting with what is listed and should something look good it may wind up as an early extra item that goes unlisted.

Southward Skies: A northern guide to southern Gardening
This is the second edition of my book, which was published using data compiled from several years of test garden operations. It’s written to aid gardeners of all skill levels in successful garden methods that are targeted for the south east but had proven to be a valued resource for gardens across the eastern coast. It’s certainly a good gift for that gardener you know or for yourself if you’d like to have a reliable field guide. The book costs $25.00 and we do take checks for this item, you can even have it signed.

Black Magic Fertilizer
That’s right you’ve heard about it in trials all summer. This specially formulated liquid fertilizer was made and tested at the test gardens using natural ingredients and no chemicals. The result explosive growth, great harvests and of course no environmental side effects! We’re making batches of this stuff to order, at $6.00 per gallon of fertilizer. You can either order it at the market and pick it up the next week or have it delivered to your home in the Fayetteville area for a delivery charge of an additional $2.00.

Oh yes the production line in action! Goods stuff, what you see here is Radicchio, Borage, Tansy, Oregano and at the far left Marjoram.
House Plants
5x Aloe Vera ($5.00)

5x Dinosaur Kale, 3.5” pot ($3.00)
4x Mustard, India green, 3.5” pot ($3.00)
4x Radicchio, Crimson, 3.5” pot ($3.00)
4x Swiss Chard, 3.5” pot ($3.00)
6x Bloody Dock, 3.5” pot ($3.00)
4x Asparagus, Gallon pot ($6.00)

10x Strawberry- Ozark Beauty, 3.5” pot ($3.00)

2x Fennel-Black, 3.5” pot ($3.00)
2x Horehound, 3.5” pot ($3.00)
2x Hyssop-White, 3.5” pot ($3.00)
3x Lamb’s Ear, 3.5” pot ($3.00)
4x Lavender-Cotton-Green, 3.5” pot ($3.00)
3x Marjoram, 3.5” pot ($3.00)
3x Oregano, 3.5” pot ($3.00)
2x Oregano, Bristol Cross, 3.5” pot ($3.00)
2x Rosemary, 3.5” pot ($3.00)
4x Sage, 3.5” pot ($3.00)

Coming Soon:
Tomatoes (16+ varieties)
Potato, Red Norland
Bee Balm

Well this brings to a close another April episode of Lost in the Farmer’s Market, spring has clearly gone off without incident save for the immense amount of pine pollen this year. Honestly there’s so much yellow drift you’d think the pines had been celibate for a decade or something. But anyway the night time temperatures are looking good folks so you should be safe to transition to summer plants. Just be wary of temperatures at night below 40 degrees and with some care you should have no problem keeping ‘em growing.

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