Thursday, June 27, 2013

How are the Veggies Doing?

I haven't posted much about the veggie garden this year, but there is a large veggie garden at The Lents Farmer.

I mostly grow heirloom tomatoes (I think there are 15 varieties this year), but I feel like I should grow other things too.  Seems silly not too.

We've had a lot of wet weather recently, but everything seems to be doing good and the lack of warm weather has kept things from bolting.

The first couple rows are lettuce mix, mustard greens, radishes, and turnips.  The radishes got away from me a little and the turnips seem to be on the verge.  Not sure how many turnips I can eat and I have 3 rows of them!
Brussels sprouts
Extra protein?
I appear to be growing a bumper crop of aphids on my Brussels sprouts. There may be more aphids than sprouts at this point. Need to find a good way to get rid of them - any suggestions?

The mustard greens and lettuce mix are going to town.  Can't eat it all fast enough!

Some of the tomatoes are up to the 3rd rung on the cages. I'm not sure I will get my first tomato by July 4th this year, but there are plenty of green ones out there.  

The red celery starts I planted late have settled in. I planted green celery seeds but they didn't germinate - I probably planted them too deep and they didn't sprout. Here at the Lents Farmer, we sometimes forgo reading the planting information and consequently have mixed success. Isn't gardening fun?!?  The red variety is supposed to taste better than the green. Right now it looks like tiny rhubarb.

It's amazing how many yellow squash you get from just a couple starts. In a couple weeks, I'll be handing these out at the freeway ramp just to get rid of them. Stop at the red light and get a squash.

I love to grow Scarlet Runner beans. The hummers like the flowers and the beans are very tasty.  Some people don't care for them being fuzzy, but I think the flavor is good, especially when they are on the smaller side.


Kale is growing on me, figuratively, not literally.

Can't wait to eat this Romanesco!  It's like eating a cross between broccoli and cauliflower. The spiral geometry of the flowers is so cool too.

There are several types of eggplants, hot peppers, basils, pumpkins/squash and a few other things intermixed, but I didn't get pics of them.

Hopefully in 2-3 weeks, I'll be enjoying my first tomatoes and my first BLT of the season.

Monday, June 24, 2013

What's Blooming in the Garden?

After spending 5 or 6 hours with the sprinklers constantly running on Saturday, which was a beautiful hot sunny day, it began raining on Sunday.  If Mother Nature could give me a credit on my Portland Water bill  for that - I'd really appreciate it.

So, instead of fighting the weather to get a few unimportant things done, I grabbed a blanket and a cocktail and I took some time to sit on the covered porch and just watch the rain.

View from the side porch.
I would have been using the electric lawn edger otherwise.  Surprisingly, I'm smart enough to know that rain and long extension power cords are not a good mix.

My post today is just a mix of what's blooming in the garden.

Bletilla ochracea - Next to the 'Alba' form this is my favorite. 
Anomatheca laxa (False Freesia) - Such a cute little thing! An Iris relative of course.
Nymphaea 'Wanvisa' blooming in the rain.
Filipendula ulmaria 'Flore Pleno' (Meadow Queen) - a nice double white.
Campanula glomerata alba (Clustered Bellflower)
Asclepias speciosa (Showy Milkweed) - Smells yummy.
Grevillea junipera 'Xera Ember' - A smaller growing plant, very prickly though. No touchy!
Asclepias tuberosa 'Gay Butterflies' (Butterfly Weed)
Saxifraga stolonifera 'Cuscutiformis' (Strawberry Begonia)
Campanula lactiflora (Milky Bellflower) - It's a tall one!
Dierama pulcherrimum (Angel's Fishing Rod) - It took about 5 years to bloom.
Thalia dealbata - Love the way water drops pool on the leaves.
Sparaxis - Should have been mixed colors, but mine were all the same color!
Opuntia compressa (Prickly Pear)

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Lobelia tupa & Hummingbird

My original Lobelia tupa is very lovely at the moment.  I saw this hummingbird out the window and grabbed my camera to go say hello.  See the video below! View in full screen mode or the hummers too small to see.

Growing up to 6’ high and as wide, it has large felted light grey-green leaves and impressive flower spiked covered in hooked red bloom, which are a particular favorite of humming birds. Given a sunny site with excellent drainage and room to grow, this Lobelia will make an impact in any garden. This large perennial is not what most people expect when they hear the name ‘Lobelia’, but once you see it growing you will not forget it.

Sorry about the neighbors Tow Truck in the background in the video!

Side View

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Is This Plant Even Alive? (poke, poke)

Do you have that one plant that you have to poke every now and then to see if it's still alive?  

That's how I feel about Carex buchananii (Bronze Leatherleaf Sedge Grass).  Because of it's brown color and curly tips, I often wonder if the plant is really dead and I just don't know it.

This sedge is grown for its clumps of narrow, reddish or copper-colored, evergreen leaves. It likes a growing area in full sun or partial shade but with a moist soil. A tolerance for wet soil allows the plant to be used near water too. Newly planted clumps may be slow to establish too, but when they are happy, they really poof out. I find babies of this plant 100 feet away from the parent, I'm always amazed where they pop up and they survive being moved amazingly well. 

Mixed in with "Thug" Angelina Sedum and Acorus gramineus 'Ogon'

Monday, June 17, 2013

Today's Farvorite Plant - Gazanias

My favorite plant today is the Gazania.

They are native to South Africa and have daisy-like flowers in brilliant shades of pink, purple, yellow and orange. They bloom all summer and are pretty drought tolerant once established. They love sun, but the down side is that the flowers will close at night.

Although they are an annual, mine come back every year and often reseed themselves about. In early summer, I remove spent flowers to encourage more, but towards the end of the season, I leave a few flower heads. This ensures there will be babies the following year.

Some can seed themselves pretty heavily in the bark mulch, but the babies are easy to identify and pull out.  I have to replace three or four plants each year that die due to winter rot, but in general, they just keep making more and I just move a new baby into the old spot.

I generally like to buy them in a 6-pack, but I was only able to find a good assortment of them as single plants in pots for $1.99 at Tony's Garden Center on Holgate (10300 SE Holgate Blvd).  Please check out Tony's if you have not been.  

I have had the best luck with the "Kiss" hybrids ('Frosty Kiss', 'Kiss Flame Mix', and 'Kiss and Tell Mix').  The 'Frosty Kiss' plants have more of a grey fuzzy look to the leaves (like a Dusty Miller).

When the petals get pointy, it's time to dead head.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Today's Farvorite Plant - Bastard Balm

It was one of those days.  I was feeling a little low after work.

Earlier in the day, my Assistant Yvette, was handed back to her other parent. After our breakup in February - I now have shared custody. She's been my new partner in crime while visiting nurseries.

My Assistant Yvette working on some sticks.

So what's a lonely gardener to do other then to stop by Portland Nursery on the way home and do a little plant retail therapy?!?

I would have gone back to Xera but they were not open Tuesday.  Perhaps they should have special "emergency" hours for the depressed and/or desperate?  Perhaps a key in a glass case with a little hammer to break in case of plant emergency? 

I wandered around looking at veggies (two more eggplants and some heirloom pumpkins found their way into my cart), then over to the annuals (a Gazania krebsiana 'Orange Peacock' in the cart too), then the shade house.

While perusing the shade house, a cute little plant caught my eye - Melittis melissophyllum. At first its square stems reminded me of Lamium and I got frightened, but then I read the common name - "Bastard Balm".

What a fitting name for a plant that I obviously must have in my garden, especially if it enjoys partial shade.

Yep, had to have it! 

Melittis melissophyllum 'Royal Velvet Distinction'
Melittis melissophyllum is a perennial growing to 1' x 1' 
in moist semi-shade and is hardy to Zone 6.  Beloved by bees.

And the best parts was that it made me smile!

We will see in the future if this plant really acts like a bastard in the garden.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Danger in the Garden

Misumena vatia - Flower Crab Spider
Always be sure to stop and smell the roses -  But beware, you just never know when something beautiful is going to try to kill you.

Favorite Inappropriate Tool = $2 Scissors

My blog post today is about my love for my $2 scissors. It's a love/hate kind of relationship. I can't overuse them though or I get nasty blisters, because I never remember to wear gloves of course.   

While I do really have nice clippers and an electric edger, I often find that my cheap scissors works best, so I gravitate towards it as my favorite pruning tool.

My pruners often have a hard time cutting through delicate new plant growths, for example, Barberries. Which probably means my clippers needs to be tightened or sharpened or something else I'm too lazy to do. I hate cutting through a growth and it just sort of smashes and doesn't cut and then hangs off the plant.  The scissors works well for this.

While I do have an expensive electric edger from Home Depot, I do often use my scissors, to do my first lawn edge each spring. This gets me down to the level of the beds and I can easily remove my clippings (the power edger makes a mess of the bark and sometimes slices the edging).  This also gives me a chance to pull hidden weeds and I get to see all the plants up close and personal. It is murder on my knees though. Getting old is a bitch.   

Juniperus chinensis 'Old Gold'
I often use my scissors to thin out the growing ends of my junipers along the sidewalk.  This way I can thoughtfully remove excessive growth I don't want with without making them look overly sheared. The pointed scissors helps me only cut the parts I want to thin out. While the Junipers are ending up looking a little "boxy", they still have a furry appearance and are not perfectly flat.

I also find them useful in situations, where I am looking for a more sculpted look, but I am still thoughtful about not hacking leaves, and just cutting stems.  This works well for small leaved shrubs with wiry stems. 

Osmanthus delavayi
I often also use them in the pond (because i wouldn't want to get my expensive pruning clippers wet) to trim aquatic plants along with the ginormous Philips head screwdriver, I found buried in the ground. The screwdriver works great for making holes in overgrown waterlilies to insert fertilizer tablets. 

So what is your favorite inappropriate tool?

Friday, June 7, 2013

Xera Opens Retail in Portland

I stopped by Xera's soft open on June 6th.  They are located at SE 11th and SE Clay. Their grand opening is June 8th and their regular hours are Thursday - Sunday from 10 am - 6 pm.

As I walked through the chain link fence with my Assistant Yvette in tow. I almost heard Etta James sing "At Last" in my brain.  I instantly knew this was going to a be really great new place to plant shop and that this new love was going to hurt my wallet bad.

There is a lot of diversity of plants here and some pretty amazing stuff. The prices were reasonable, but be prepared to pay a little more for something more unusual, which most is of course. Smaller plants started at $4 and went up from there. 

There are a lot of unusual plants here and you really need to take the time to read the tags fully, especially because some of the plants are so unique and some are on the verge of hardiness.

I was fortunate to have assistance from Paul Bonine, one of the co-owners. He was very helpful and thoughtful about what I would like and could easily describe each plant, its unique characteristics and convince me I couldn't live without it. 

I went home with one of the Echinoceros mid left.
My glorious booty!

Acacia boormanii - There was only one so I had to scoop it up!
Apparently this Acacia gets to be 10-16 feet tall by 11-12 feet wide. So I think I have to dig out some more grass.  But it's needle like foliage is so pretty and it will be a sea of yellow poofs when it blooms.

One of Paul's beloved Telopea x 'Braidwood Brilliant' - there were only a few!
Telopea is in the family Proteaceae and is spectacular in flower. It forms a large evergreen shrub and is cold hardy to just below 10ºF. It is native to Australia. This baby gets 8' x 4' or so - I'm not sure where I will put it either, but I still had to have it.

So I think my shopping at Xera mantra will be "At least I still have grass, at least I still have grass".  Meaning if I buy something that gets 12 feet tall, at least I still have grass I can dig out for a new home. Less grass = less mowing!

Xera is conveniently located on my way home from work! Oy this is going to be bad...