Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Hot, but not in the way you think

Welcome back to another episode of Lost In The Farmer’s Market! It’s that prime season where the spring’s cool day time temperatures are tapering off and the first real challenge of summer’s heat and humidity are beginning to limit one’s ability to garden for as long as was possible during the spring. This is a time of some of the most violent and brief pop-up thunderstorms which help in keeping our gardens reasonably well stocked in water and green due to the delivery of atmospheric nitrogen. Amidst all that the mosquitoes, fleas and ticks become a problem as well so we break out the repellant and appropriate attire and hope for the best while performing the usual garden chores with the aim being a better harvest.  Yes, indeed it is late spring and we’re getting a taste of the heat of summer. With all that we get a chance to see some cool things in the fields and, to kick off today’s post I have some interesting photographs from the field.

Charadrius vociferous - Killdeer

I spotted this bird on the Fayetteville Technical Community College’s main campus, I’d seem them running about on a nearby grassy area before but it seems now the campus has a breeding population of Killdeer. This one has decided to nest in the pine straw not far off a loblolly near the construction site so I can presume it is very used to people. For note Killdeer are a native medium sized plover, they are named onomatopoeically after their primary call.

Santolina rosmarinifolia – Green Lavender cotton/Santolina
So all the types of santolina are in bloom right now but the green type which is more minimalistic in form is striking because of the ration between bloom and foliage. You can see compound flower which identifies it as a member of the daisy flower clearly here. The flowers of santolina are literally the center of a daisy with none of what we might call petals.

Santolina chamecyparissus – Grey Lavender Cotton / Santolina
The grey form is also in bloom, keep in mind mature stands of santolina tend to bloom from mid-April through June. Both are incredibly drought tolerant once established and will survive poor soil neglect and are evergreen and aromatic but have no known culinary uses. The primary use for santolina is as a natural alternative when paired with Cedar as a clothing moth repellant.

Asclepias curassavica – Scarlet Milkweed
Milkweed is a diverse group of plants that all are pollen providers or hosts to a number of butterflies. Scarlet Milkweed may be an attractive magnet plant for Humming birds due to its incredibly red blooms which have yellow centers. For those who wanted to know what the difference in bloom is between Scarlet and common milkweed look below at common Milkweed.

Asclepias tuberosum – Common Milkweed
To be fair this stand was grown from seed and is about six years old, but what a show! This specimen will be blooming hardcore for another few weeks to a month. Common milkweed is perhaps the most orange thing in any given garden short of an African marigold and yet it is one of those temperamental perennials that hates being transplanted due to its deep taproot. Once it in and established, generally a milkweed when provided with annual compost and spring fertilizer will grow into a potentially large deciduous flowering hedge every year. The plant that the seeds for the one photographed came from reached four feet in height.

Salvia verticillata ‘Purple Rain’ – Liliac Sage
Originally this battered specimen was found on the distressed plant rack for $3.00 it was fairly beat up. But being planted in a partial shade bed for protection from summer heat it’s finally recovered it seems. Only time will tell if it’s a long-term success or not but I do know Sages LOVE cold winters as all varieties of sage on premises rebounded incredibly after our last harsh winter. Honestly…with a name like purple rain how could a ex-DJ like myself not buy if only for the chance to make Prince Jokes.

But now we move on to the closing of this overdue post*. I do have some very good news, I’ve managed to work out a trade partnership with the pepper lady. As some of you might remember Laura Bradley used to be a market vendor at the Farmer’s Market and stopped attending. She never stopped growing horticultural curiosities and now I am bringing her organically grown GMO-free exotic pepper plants and spices to the City market! This is one hell of an event because now you can hit up the booth and find things that no one has seen before. Starting with the Wednesday market you can expect to see Turmeric plants, and a new variety of pepper plants such as super-hots like Naga Jolokia, and Chocolate Scorpion. We’ll have strong hots like Trinidad Congo and Red Fatali. For those not into the burn there is a selection of low-hots such as Aji Pineapple, Aji Limon. The selection is random and always super good. But don’t worry if you want regular peppers we’ll have that, and the usual array of garden favorites.

*Another will be posted for the last weekend of May shortly.

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