Thursday, May 1, 2014

I knew it was bad when I saw the dandelions making an ark.

Welcome back to the first May edition of Lost in the farmer’s Market, and you’ve heard me repeat that old rhyme ‘April showers bring may flowers’ but what’s been going on this week is well completely ridiculous. Fortunately despite being bunkered by an obscene amount of rain, thunderstorm activity and two separate hailstorm events I managed to catch the super storms on camera and collected the precipitation report.  Now I hope all you gardening-maniacs out there are sitting down because we received an average rainfall of 5.3” between Monday and Wednesday alone, and an additional 0.2” last week so that’s a total of 5.5” which is literally some crazy weather. On Tuesday we received about three inches which included high winds, violent electrical activity and Hailstones that looked like this guy below.

Yes that’s for reals, they were irregular hailstones no real size but roughly about the diameter of a dime.

It seems as of late we get a hailstorm yearly now and that’s probably a validating point for climate change. But anyway, here’s some pictures from the front porch of the ranch of the deluge in action.

See those weird ‘spheres’ in the picture? They aren’t lens flare or moisture on the lens that’s light reflecting off the hail as they ricochet off the roof.

For comparison, I bring you the rare and elusive Roof-Waterfall, right up there next to seeing a double rainbow and in mystified fashion pondering what it means.
Yeah so the weather was kind of a big deal, the amount of rain overwhelmed the new drain system briefly and flooded the rear deck. Fortunately as part of flood preparedness I had already elevated all electrical devices several inches above the deck and water proofed everything else as well so no damage to be had.  Or so I thought, I went to get the mail on Wednesday afternoon.

At the time this pooling seemed harmless, I mean the front sidewalk was under an inch of water the lawn was clearly saturated and then…

I had not realized at the time the front lawn is on a slope, in fact the entire property was on a slope. None of the pictures show it but all that water rushing from back to front exerted enough force to suck six bricks out of the front bed by the curb and wash them down the street almost to Ireland Drive. When I discovered this while maintaining the front bed initially I thought the mailman had hit the beds again and perhaps busted a few bricks and discarded them. A neighbor told me he’d seen the bricks up the road a bit and well sure enough… But that leads to the discovery of something else of note. During all that the antique rose on premises decided to bloom and I think it is the most spectacular rose bloom I’ve ever seen. Older photographs indicate it’s never produced a triple-bloom before like this but judge for yourselves.

I left the garden scissors in this image to show how giant this flower is.

So in the aftermath of the ‘Uber Storm of  Spring 2014 the following pictures were taken of the garden. As you can figure, if the rose bloomed despite the conditions then other things did also and so the glory of spring really came into its own after the fact. So lets make with the garden floral show.

Check it out; the Rhubarb has finally after five years matured enough to bloom! The flowers aren’t open yet but now you know what to look for.

There are many Irises on the property, and originally they used to bloom blue but they have become dominated by white and yellow varieties, expect a picture of the yellow ones soon.

The ornamental sage plants in the curbside bed were undamaged and responded to the deluge by blooming more.

The Arapaho Blackberries are in full bloom this year and looking good.

While not in bloom, the foliage of this rescued Heuchera is worth a look. Its unique coloration is visible from a distance and its eventual bloom is no slouch either. Every year this garden perennial gets better and is solid proof of what you get when you place a plant perfectly. Some of the readers might remember I salvaged this plant off the roadside after some landscaper dumped it in the Haymont section.
Also while avoiding a sudden downpour on Wednesday I snapped this picture of one of the rabbits that passes through the property while taking shelter in the shed.

I never knew rabbits ate wisteria, looks like they've become double useful!

But photographs aside I bring to all of you the first Skye Project Test Garden Challenge. That’s right, this one all started with a comment made by a visitor to the Farmer’s Market booth a few months back when it was too cold to really plant anything. As I recall the conversation went something like the following.

Me: “Have you tried installing rain barrels to bring your water bill down?”
Customer: “No I haven’t.”
Me: “Well you know they come in a variety of shapes colors and sizes or at the least there are the big fifty-five gallon ones the county sells for thirty-five dollars…”
Customer: “I don’t think I like them.”
Me: “Why not, you said you had a high bill for watering…short of a soaker hose or irrigation system that can really cut a garden increased water bill.”
Customer: “It’s just that they’re so ugly!”
Me: “I’m sorry what?!”

From there you can guess how the conversation went but still yes I realize rain barrels are not exactly pretty. I know the county ones are basically large black pickle barrels and thus are definitely not pretty but it got me thinking. If appearance is a problem how can we as gardeners fix that? We’re incredibly inventive folk right? So that brings us to the 2014 Garden Challenge, how would you make your Rain barrels more attractive?

What I did at the test gardens was to buy several of those hanging planting pouches, and plant them out with  red, purple, and red and white petunias as well as some moss rose in pink and pink & white varieties. Then to hold the plating backs up I secured a length of chain around the neck of the barrel and held it in place using a joining link, and installed six heavy S-hooks to hold the sacks up. The results are pictured below but keep in mind the sacks got a little beat up by the rain so I’ll take a later shot after the plants get going.

Right side: (from right) Bravo Red Petunia, Samba Fuscia & Peppermint Moss Rose.
Center: (from right) Bravo Purple Petunia, Picotee Red Petunia.

Left Side: (from right) Bravo Red Petunia, Samba Fuscia & Peppermint Moss Rose.
For note what you can’t see is on the end of that dangling chain in the left side picture is a hanging basket filled with Bravo Red Petunias. So, why did I pick the layout and colors? Well red flowers tend to attract Humming birds as some of you may have seen this is what the entire back deck looks like. All the hanging baskets are filled with petunias, which left the rain barrel lacking. By the middle of summer I expect this to look incredi-epic. Seriously as you can see below that’s a lot of tomatoes growing up and a lot of petunias growing down, my back deck may disappear for a few months because of this.

I told you all at the market I went a bit overboard, and some of you thought I was joking too!

But that’s just a fraction of the challenge I want to see what all the readers do.  Will you take up the challenge and try something for 2014?  Make sure to take pictures at the start and as your project grows.

With all that said, the market is on this weekend and it looks like the weather has broken. Saturday is supposed to be rather nice with a high of 77 degrees a slight wind and no noted chance of rain. In short, this is perfect weather for the Farmer’s Market. Now the market is located at 325 Franklin Street in the parking lots of the Fayetteville Transportation Museum. The Museum is located in downtown Fayetteville and the Market runs from 9:00 am to 1:00 pm though given the time of the year it may run a bit over if there are enough folks at the market.  Also for note we will have a presence at the Wednesday Farmer’s market at the same location which runs between 2:00 pm and 6:00 pm on Wednesdays weather permitting. But enough of this market stuff here is a list of what we will be carrying this week at the market.

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.

2x Asparagus, Gallon pot ($6.00)
3x Bloody Dock, 3.5” pot ($3.00)
2x Borage, 3.5” pot ($3.00)
4x Eggplant, Casper , 3.5” pot ($3.00)
3x Pepper, Sweet Banana , 3.5” pot ($3.00)
3x Pepper, Pimento, 3.5” pot ($3.00)
3x Tomato, Amana Orange, 3.5” pot ($3.00)
2x Tomato, Brown Berry, 3.5” pot ($3.00)
1x Tomato, Cherokee Purple, 3.5” pot ($3.00)
2x Tomato, Tlacolula, 3.5” pot ($3.00)
2x Tomato, Black Krim, 3.5” pot ($3.00)
2x Tomato, Paul Robeson, 3.5” pot ($3.00)

10x Strawberry- Ozark Beauty, 3.5” pot ($3.00)
2x Strawberry- Ozark Beauty, 5” pot ($4.00)

3x Basil-Sweet, 3.5” pot ($3.00)
3x Basil-Thai, 3.5” pot ($3.00)
2x Basil-Cinnamon, 3.5” pot ($3.00)
2x Borage, 3.5” pot ($3.00)
1x Horehound, 3.5” pot ($3.00)
2x Lamb’s Ear, 3.5” pot ($3.00)
1x Lavender-Cotton-Green, 3.5” pot ($3.00)
3x Marjoram, 3.5” pot ($3.00)
4x Oregano, 3.5” pot ($3.00)
3x Sage, 3.5” pot ($3.00)
3x Tansy, 3.5” pot ($3.00)

Coming Soon:
Chocolate Mint
Bee Balm
Red Rubin Basil
Genovese Basil
Black Hungarian Pepper
Striped Togo Eggplant
Louisiana Long Green Eggplant
Early Black Egg Eggplant
Rainbow Cherry Tomato Mix
Red & Yellow Currant Tomatoes
Mexico Midget Tomato
Triple Crop Tomato

…and the above is just the beginning!

This draws to a close the first rain soaked episode of LITFM in the month of May. It may be a cruel irony that after our weather everything outside is literally super-green. It also stands as a good reason to have a rain barrel when you consider how much of that water could have been stored and used. But anyway, just remember one thing, after a rain like this always check on your potted plants that have saucers as they may not drain fully. Standing water in that case may promote root rot or encourage mosquitoes to breed in the water. For pots outside without a means of drainage you can carefully set them on their side to let the water runoff, though this may take upwards of an hour for larger pots.  So with that said, Keep ‘em growing!

P.S.  I missed the exact date but LITFM has now had 10,651 page views!  Keep them garden visits coming folks and thank you for reading.

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