Central Virginia Organic Gardener

"And 'tis my faith that every flower enjoys the air it breathes." - William Wordsworth, 1798

Friday, August 26, 2011

Garden Prep for a Hurricane

:[NOAA image of impact area of Irene]

There are a few things you can do to protect your garden, and home, in high winds, like hurricane Irene:
1. Move potted plants indoors to a garage or shed or any sheltered area you have (even a crawlspace below your house or deck).
2. Tip potted plants too large to move on their sides, in an angle that will not roll with the wind.
3. Take down any hanging plant-and anything that can act as a missile in high winds: bird feeders and houses, my bottle tree, garden ornaments! Bring in anything loose- watering cans, tools, stakes that are not holding plants up.
4. Harvest any fruits or vegetables that are ready or will ripen indoors, like "breaker" tomatoes. Root crops can stay in the ground, but might be flooded out.
5. Pick flowers that will be destroyed to enjoy indoors.
6. Set up that rain barrel to capture some of the deluge.
Happy gardening! Stay safe!
Addendum: Betsy Franz has more prep tips, including removing weak and fallen branches: go to http://www.metro-dc-lawn-garden-blog.com/2011/08/25/hurricane-preparations-for-your-landscape/

Monday, August 22, 2011

Update to "Pretty, but noxious"

A list of invasive plants in Virginia can be found at:


Another invasive (but moderately so- it is not difficult to pull) is pictured above- the obedient plant Physostegia virginiana- this plant is a native, not an exotic, and can spread quickly through a garden. It is pretty, but think about it before you buy one!
Happy gardening!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Pretty, But "Noxious"

Sorry, this is the "do as I say, not as I do" kind of advice. Morning glories (Ipomoeas) in all their "glory" are very pretty flowers (see above). However, many state agricultural departments list it as a "noxious weed" and try to eradicate it (though Virginia seems t0 list only purple loosestrife and European wand loosestrife as noxious). Morning glory seeds, which you can buy at garden centers, will quickly grow up fences and other plants and eventually present a smothering blanket. They tolerate poor, dry soils well and produce many seeds. Stop this vine once you see it, or, if you must have it, at least cut it back before it sets seed. Why is this a "do as I say, not as I do" blog entry? See the photo below- this is not the only point of morning glory invasion I have to deal with- and soon!Happy gardening! And weeding!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Potted Pepper Success

After lack of success with peppers planted in the ground, I began to pot then up and have had success. A few words of advice: the bigger the pot the better- use at least a 5 gallon pot for full sized bell peppers, though chili peppers can use a smaller pot. Plastic pots, with drain holes, drain well but do not dry out as fast as terra cotta. Use regular potting soil, adding organic fertilizer according to package directions, plus one tablespoon Epsom salts for the magnesium. Above are photos of my loaded red bell pepper and my orange pimento plants. So, if you have trouble with in-ground peppers, try potting them up!
Happy gardening!

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Lavender Touch Eggplant

I have grown many varieties of eggplant- the standard black beauty, Ichiban Asian, green ad white, but none have been as productive as Lavender Touch eggplant (I got the seeds from Pinetree Garden Seeds at www.superseeds.com though I am sure other companies carry them). Sometimes eggplant can be difficult to grow- you have to wait until it really warms up to plant them, about 2 weeks after the last frost date. They can be plagued by flea beetles if not grown under cover until they are big enough to outgrow the beetle damage. They are relatively heavy feeders. But this particular eggplant, aside from being lovely and tasty, is very productive in my central VA garden. This year my efforts to grow it under cover were foiled by my dog and many birds who tore at the floating row cover and the plants still took off and are pumping out fruit even in this hot weather!
Eggplants can be roasted and preserved for winter eating in baba ganooj (that tasty eggplant spread often on mezze plates) or Indian and Asian dishes that require roasted eggplant. Simply wash and top the eggplant, dry it, place in a roasting pan that has been brushed with olive oil. Brush the skin of the eggplants with more olive oil and sprinkle with some salt (I use large grain sea salt). Roast in a 350 degree oven for 45 mins, allow to cool, scrape out and freeze the flesh. Yum!
Happy gardening (and eating!)