Friday, December 26, 2014

Farewell to a year

Welcome back to Lost In the Farmer’s Market. This marks the last episode of 2014, and with the start of the New Year we begin the 2014 review.  I think it’s fair to state we had an interesting year and the vital statistics will definitely support this assumption.  As per the new tradition I thought it’d be wise to cap off the year with some unique year-end images and the first of which is a look at what sort of “Tree” we decorated this year. If you looked at this blog last year the plant decorated was a Pencil cactus or Euphorbia tirucali ‘Firesticks’. We picked the plant in question due to its size and the fact that it had developed a cheerful red-orange color by the time it had to be brought in for the winter. Well move over euphorbia for 2015 is the year of the Desert Rose Adenium obesum. The specimen this year was picked because of its exceptional growth, over the year and it’s decidedly much more tree-like form by the end of the warm season.

I did skip putting lights on the plant because let’s face it; the big plant is too good looking in all that bling to need lights.

A close up of the trim placed on our Desert Rose.

For those not in the know, the Desert Rose is a succulent plant classified as a caudiciform or a plant with a swollen trunk or base that serves to store water and nutrients which enables the plant to survive drought or periods of dormancy or bad weather. From a biological perspective a Desert Rose is interesting because as the above images suggest Desert Roses have actual leaves which put them somewhere between broadleaf non-succulent plants and the true succulents indicating a transition between environments in the plant kingdom. They still can get the same maladies as a succulent but when stressed can also suffer non-succulent pest problems so their care is a careful regimen of benign neglect. A bright sunny spot and occasional water is all one of these stoic plants needs to be happy. For those of you out there who are inspired to buy one, don’t be surprised if in your first winter with it the plant drops all leaves and goes dormant. It takes at least a year or more for them to stop doing this as new plants. The trick for handling dormancy when you have a new (less than two years old) Desert Rose is simply to water less often, and allow the soil to dry before watering and then only water enough to moisten the soil slightly.  The specimen plant here at the Test Gardens generally retains its foliage year-round and blooms twice a year. Fertilization during the warm season often produces better growth and heavier bloom set during the holidays. The typical bloom color for this species is pink however red and white and limited bicolor mixes of the aforementioned plants can be found occasionally.  Desert roses grow well in basic potting soil mixes that are not specifically geared to moisture retention and preferably do not have any of those fertilizer gimmicks in them. You may need to repot your Desert Rose every two to three years depending on its health and vigor and this should be during the winter during dormancy after its winter blooming period.  As a final note some publications suggest that Desert Rose is poisonous to dogs, the sap is said to contain glycosides. So it may be wise to surround a desert rose in a limited access area with pricklier companions as a pet defense.
Undoubtedly, you might be asking why 2015 is the year of the Desert Rose.  The Desert rose isn’t for everyone, it’s a plant that has needs and if you are careless it won’t survive but if you allow it to largely live without interference it’ll be just fine. Your reward is a plant that has attractive slightly lemon-scented blooms that it will delight you with at least twice a year for minimal care. In a way the Desert Rose is a little like a parable of interpersonal understanding, if you give it its fair due it will give the same back to you. Even a dormant leafless desert rose has a form and stature that in of itself is attractive and if you’re like me it lends itself to being decorated.  The trunks of these plants with age grow and take on forms and shapes that defy and prediction or logic. As far as a plant for the rigid science of Bonsai this plant excels in its role making do with what it receives. If I had to sum up all that with just a few words, the desert rose epitomizes the ideals of compromise, understanding and patience.

But enough of this end of year talk there is one other thing worth posting here as far as images. The initial cutting of this plant was given to me by Sharon (the cactus-terrarium lady) down at the Fayetteville City Market last year. So I planted the tiny snippets and waited through the summer of 2013, and the plants rooted and began growing. Now honestly I have a lot of members of this plants’ family but this one gave me trouble in identification because it did not match the other plant’s growing habits. I knew then it was a member of the Rhipsalis family but not which one. Late this year I found an identical plant in a nursery, and got ahold of a spare plant tag. Finally this plant had a name! Rhipsalis baccifera ssp. horrida…that’s not an encouraging name, horrida means horrible! The plant was covered with thin white spines that posted little threat so I suppose someone had “cactus-phobia” or something. Well just a few days ago the plant did something amazing really, at the end of my second year of caring for it; it bloomed. The flowers were nothing like any of the other rhipsalis, they resembled queen of the night cactus and other night bloomers but incredibly tiny.  Well take a look below and see for yourself the Christmas Rhipsalis as this one bloomed on Christmas Eve.

I don’t know how I missed the buds, they looked like new growth, but fuzzier.

The flowers pretty much comprise of all white or semi-translucent white parts so they aren't easy to photograph.
It was just after with the plant in one hand that I searched for the common name for this succulent, and there after matching up flowers by size and color a common name for this plant finally was located for sure.  Mouse-Tail Cactus, honestly I was a little underwhelmed, that isn’t a flattering name but then, I think I’ll stick to Christmas Rhsipsalis. As a side note a lot of plants in the trade have botanical Latin synonym names the Christmas Rhipsalis is also known under the Latin name of Rhipsalis quellebambensis.

But of course the overdue part of this post, I will be at the Fayetteville City Market this Saturday (tomorrow) as the last market event of 2014, obviously there is no market on the 31st so the next time I’ll be out there is January 3rd 2015. If or if not I continue to do Wednesday markets for January and February 2015 is in debate, the weather and supply status are all in question for those months so for now feel free to ask on Saturdays to find out. In the meanwhile I’m on much needed vacation so Happy New Years, and here is the final product listing of 2014.

Southward Skies: A northern guide to southern Gardening
Southward Skies is a pocket-sized guide to gardening in the Carolina region. It will guide you through the process of having a productive garden in our region using a year-round format that matches the timing of what you should do and what time of the year you should do it. Unlike a lot of garden guides Southward is written in a way that can help even the most discouraged gardener to find success. Southward Skies has been tested by gardeners in other states ranging from as far south as Naples, Florida, as far north as Dorset, Vermont and as far west as Reno, Nevada. As a general guide you can’t lay hands on a better collection of tips, tricks and methods. The book is available on as a digital book for the kindle and makes a good gift in print or digital format. The book costs $25.00 and we do take checks for this item, you can even have it signed. During the month of December we will wrap copies of the book at your request if you intend them as a gift.

Cold Season Crops
6x Mustard Greens, India - 3.5” pot ($3.00)
6x Mustard Greens, Japanese Red Giant - 3.5” pot ($3.00)
3x Cabbage, Copenhagen Market  - 3.5” pot ($3.00)
3x Collards, Georgia Southern Creole - 3.5” pot ($3.00)

Fresh Foods
2x Bordeaux Blend Soup Kit – ($5.00)

After quite a few discussions with visitors to the booth and other Sustainable Neighbors the lack of a locally available soup-making package seems to be an unaddressed need at our local markets. The Bordeaux blend soup mix contains carrots, purple top turnips, red potatoes, celery, parsnips, red onions. In short, it’s the last word in soup kits because all you need to add is bullion and meat or beans. The best part is that all items in the kit are organic and as much of it is home grown as is possible. Any item that is not homegrown is sourced within the state.

Herbal Bundles
3x Rosemary, Bagged – ($2.00)
3x Eucalyptus Bundles – ($2.00)
1x Mixed Sweet Potatoes – ($3.00)

Holiday Splendor
2x 6.75” Checkerboard Aloe – ($8.00) –SALE
1x 6” Gator Aloe – ($7.00) - SALE
2x 4.5” Silver Ridge Aloe – ($6.00)  - SALE
1x 4.5” Gator Aloe – ($6.00) - SALE
3x Bucket Teardrop Peperomia – ($7.00) - SALE

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