Friday, May 23, 2014

As spring gently jumps out of a plane into summer.

Welcome back to another springtime episode of Lost in the farmer’s market where we talk about the casual obsession that makes one a gardener. Today’s topic is that of spring time photographs from the test gardens and a few announcements that are of some Importance to you the reader. First off one of the Sustainable Neighbor’s contributors Bryan W. is heading back to Reno Nevada and thus The sustainable neighbors threw him a going away party. In you can see in our first photo of the week there he is receiving a award from Marsha Howe. LITFM also presented him with a rare copy of Desert Harvest which was written for that region of the United States.

Bryan being presented with the Leadership award by Marsha Howe.
For those who don’t know, Bryan was critical to the establishment of the Bridge gardens and the central organizer of the Coffee Klatch. Not to mention he put the words Kombucha and Kimchee in the lexicons of the Sustainable Neighbors group and taught a few members how to make both. Needless to say he will be missed but on the other hand we doubt this is the last we’ve heard of Bryan and wish him the best.

So the first thing I think the readers of this blog should see is the after effects of using black magic on certain plants. It is well and good to spout numbers and statistics and make statements but it is another to provide pictures and a sort of “where are they now” sort of comparison. Where possible I will post the older archived image of the plant for comparison with the most current ones to show the long term effects of application of black magic.

Ficus afghanistanica – Afghan Fig  (Picture taken on 09-05-2013)

Ficus afghanistanica – Afghan Fig (Picture taken on 05-23-2014)

As you can see that same Afghan fig has doubled in growth and is showing exceptional vigor. Keep in mind it started the year running and has only just received its first black magic treatment for 2014. It is clearly twice as large as last year which suggests black magic may also be suitable for use as a transplant fertilizer.

Rosa sp. – Antique rose

Because of a heavy application of mulch, the demolition of the Carolina Cherry tree nearby and a three month regimen of black magic this battered old rose is for the first time producing vigorous new growth. For the longest time this rose only had three stems tops and produced a maximum of three blooms a year. As noted in an earlier post this year the few blooms this rose had were incredible and now it’s finally showing positive growth. 

Actinidia arguta – Desert Kiwi
These two vines struggled in their position or two years and until the removal of the Carolina Cherry tree over the winter seemed unable to make any real positive growth. A combination of heavy mulching and the same three month black magic regiment as was provided to the antique rose mentioned before seems to have produced better growth while the tree being removed has removed competition.  No matter how you slice it it seems the fertilizer does indeed work in short and long term and can be used anywhere but with seedlings, which is a use I’ve not tried yet.

Lupinis polyphyllus – Russell Hybrid Lupine (aka lupin)
These little guys somehow made it through the winter and the dismantlement of the annual bet they are in to emerge this year. The piece of chicken wire is there to serve as a squirrel or rabbit deterrent while the plastic pots with the bottoms cut out serve as a growing berm. As the annual bed in question is having soil applied the lupines don’t get buried and thus stand a chance to grow out even while the bed soil level is being raised. Some have said it is hard to grow lupines and I agree they are a plant for the patient much like Columbines, Milkweed, Foxglove, Birds Foot Violets and Indian Pinks. The wait is always worth it and for Lupines the trick is to sow them in fall in gravelly soil and let them naturally stratify then nurse them along for at least a year until they are established. You should avoid transplanting them at all costs as lupines are known for their deep tap roots and their aversion to being transplanted.

Cyrtomium falcatum – Holly Fern
One of the toughest ferns around Holly fern only asks for decent soil and some regular water. I’ve seen large stands of this plant resist student traffic on college campuses with little or no maintenance. They won’t do well in poor dry soils though so consider their siting carefully.

Vaccinium ashei – Rabbiteye Blueberry

If you ever find yourself debating Highbush versus Rabbiteye blueberries this is why you should plant the Rabbiteye type. Highbush rarely produces suckers which essentially expand the amount of fruiting plants you have yet Rabbiteyes as seen above will do so. Rabbiteyes tend to produce theses suckers if they are happy in their current siting or have been settled in for a few years. I like to think of it as a growing investment.

Spigelia marilandica – Indian Pink

Spigelia marilandica – Indian Pink

This is the plant that sold me on natives, I got the pictured plant as rootstock two years ago at Blowes, as sold through some NC natives promoting company. While I cannot recall the name of the company it turns out they were selling this plant as Silene Virginica which is a very different plant. Then again one little root crown looks like every other one I guess. I later found out the said company was illegally collecting from wild plant stocks but that’s another story. So I dutifully planted the little root along with what I thought were two Bird’s Foot Violet tubers in the shady rock garden and waited patiently. I went out and read about the two and all the pictures of the plants on Google made them seem fantastic but the roots were tiny and so it was a long waiting game for the plants to mature enough to actually do something. The bird’s foot violet bloomed last year and again this year proving it was worth it. The second birds foot violet turned out not to be a violet at all but an immature Lady’s Mantle Alchemilla mollis instead while the supposed fire pink just produced leaves. This year the supposed fire pinks bloomed and turned out not even to be fire pinks but rather Indian pinks. A trip to big bloomers resulted in the acquisition of a properly labeled Indian pinks plant which resulted in the reverse verification that my ‘fire pinks’ were Indian pinks. Am I mad, not really the Indian pinks are fare nicer than what I intended to buy and the trio of imperfectly labeled plants were transplanted and now reside in the crescent garden.

Tiantia pringlei – Spotted Wandering Jew
I got this one through one of Laura Bradley’s plant swap events. As it turns out this guy is a definite relative of widow’s tears and the house plant called wandering Jew. The grouping is also known as the Day flower family because each flower lasts for roughly a day. As a hardy perennial I don’t mind it’s exotic foliage and sporadic blooms but time will tell if it misbehaves as widow’s tears tends to do.

Penstemon Barbatus – Beardtongue
A year later and these hot pink beardtongues continue onward alongside the hybrid yuccas in the little corner garden. Many of their comrades didn’t make it but these three persis ant are now getting black magic treatments for their troubles.

Yucca filimentosa – Spanish Bayonet
Although I’ve said that the name “Yucca” was the most pat name for a species ever their flowers are kind of nice and oddly smell like soap too. This plant receives full sun now that the Carolina cherry is gone and is blooming harder than ever before.

But enough of the garden’s splendor because as of this writing I am happy to say that the test gardens can be toured in two weeks or starting with the second week of June. It is also likely that the gardens will be a part of the upcoming Sustainable Neighbors Garden tour so you all out there get a chance to see what I’m talking about at the market and see some of the process that gets my plants on that table for sale. I might add it is memorial day week end and I’ll be manning a double-header, I’ll have the booth set up for 4th Friday (5-9pm) and I’ll be manning the Fayetteville Farmer’s Market (9am-1pm) and it’s follow up Health Fair (1-3pm) on Saturday. All of this occurs at 325 Franklin Street in downtown Fayetteville in the Fayetteville Transportation museum parking lot.

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.


2x Eggplant, Casper , 3.5” pot ($3.00)
2x Pepper, Jalapeno, 3.5” pot ($3.00)
2x Pepper, Habenero, 3.5” pot ($3.00)
2x Pepper, Sweet Banana , 3.5” pot ($3.00)
2x Pepper, Pimento, 3.5” pot ($3.00)
2x Pepper, Carolina Wonder, 3.5” pot ($3.00)

2x Tomato, Amana Orange, 3.5” pot ($3.00)
2x Tomato, Brown Berry, 3.5” pot ($3.00)
2x Tomato, Cherokee Purple, 3.5” pot ($3.00)
2x Tomato, Martino’s Roma, 3.5” pot ($3.00)
2x Tomato, Mexico Midget, 3.5” pot ($3.00)
2x Tomato, Rainbow Cherry Mix, 3.5” pot ($3.00)
2x Tomato, Red & Yellow Currant, 3.5” pot ($3.00)
2x Tomato, Reisotomate, 3.5” pot ($3.00)
2x Tomato, San Marzano, 3.5” pot ($3.00)
2x Tomato, Underground Rail Road, 3.5” pot ($3.00)

6x Strawberry- Ozark Beauty, 3.5” pot ($3.00)

4x Basil, Sweet, 3.5” pot ($3.00)
2x Basil, Thai, 3.5” pot ($3.00)
2x Basil, Cinnamon, 3.5” pot ($3.00)
2x Basil, Red Rubin
2x Bee Balm, Lambada, 3.5” pot ($3.00)
2x Chives, Common, 3.5” pot ($3.00)
2x Fennel, Black, 3.5” pot ($3.00)
2x Mint, Chocolate, 3.5” pot ($3.00)
2x Lavender-Cotton-Green, 3.5” pot ($3.00)
3x Marjoram, 3.5” pot ($3.00)
3x Oregano, 3.5” pot ($3.00)
2x Parsley, Italian, 3.5” pot ($3.00)
2x Sage, 3.5” pot ($3.00)
2x Tansy, 3.5” pot ($3.00)

Coming Soon:
Black Hungarian Pepper
Striped Togo Eggplant
Louisiana Long Green Eggplant
Triple Crop Tomato
Passion Vine

And this brings to an close a holiday weekend edition of Lost In the Farmer’s Market. Despite the threat of thunder showers at 2am on Sunday morning through 4 am there is supposed to be a rather impressive meteor shower, and if it does rain well you won’t have to work all that hard to keep ‘em growing.  By the way friends don’t let friends have squirrels as pets, why do I say this, the tree rates destroyed most of the early black egg eggplant crop; ‘nuff said!

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