Central Virginia Organic Gardener

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

Sunday, April 29, 2012

The Sign of a Good Gardener?

Why are these bags of "trash" the sign of a good gardener?  Well, that involves a story. I first planted four peach trees (two Elberta and two Red Haven) about eight years ago.  The first few years, they grew and grew.  The third year they blossomed for the first time and we got a decent crop of organic fruit.  This lulled us into a false sense of security.  The next year the trees set more fruit, and it was too much for them, Oh, we read about thinning, but could not bring ourselves to pull off many little fruits that could be destined to be delicious PEACHES!  So, we got lots of small peaches with little flesh.  And the branches of the trees actually snapped off under the weight of the fruit.  I swear I heard a few branches groan and snap off in the middle of the night.  We learned that, to produce a decent crop of good fruit, you need to pull off NINE of every TEN peaches when they are marble size, so the tree puts energy into making fewer, larger fruits (some sources say to pull off 19 of every 20 peaches!).  And this is what these bags in the photos above represent-  you see three bags of thinnings here, two more are in the trash and two more in the garden...and we are still thinning.
So, what does this have to do with being a good gardener?  A good gardener steels herself to pull off a ton of peaches (or apples, pears, plums...) to get a good crop.  A good gardener removes an under performing plant.  A good gardener takes out a plant that is the wrong size, shape or form for the place.  Gardening is not all about the planting and harvesting, it is about the good sense to "unplant," to thin, to realize your mistakes and correct them.
Happy thinning!
Happy gardening!

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Another plant sale: Ginter Gardens

Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden Plant Sale:
Thursday, May 3 ,  1  p.m. – 6 p.m.
Friday, May 4, 9  a.m. – 5 p.m.
Saturday, May 5, 9 a.m. – 3 p.m.
For directions:  http://www.lewisginter.org/plan/hours_admission_directions.php
I always fine something fun (and some bargains under the green Ginter tent)!
Happy gardening!

Friday, April 27, 2012

High School Plant Sales

Area high schools host plant sales by their horticulture departments in late April and early May.  I have been shopping at the Atlee High School plant sale for a few years.  Their plants (a mix of annuals and perennials, plus some veggies) are uniformly good quality and a good price.  The horticulture teacher, Marc Moran, usually has the students pick one unusual plant to grow and sell (past examples are passionflower vines, ornamental millet, and the new, exotic echinaceas).  Mr. Moran said they are having some neat plants this year including:  'Phantom' Petunia (Black/Purple with a yellow star stripe), Pentas 'Northern Lights Lavender', 'Martha Washington' Geraniums and Gazania 'Big Kiss.' The proceeds of any HS plant sale go to support the hort ed programs.

Atlee High School Spring Plant Sale:
May 9th through the 12th.  W-F 8:30 til
6pm and Sat. 8am-1pm

9414 Atlee Station Road
Mechanicsville, VA 23116

Thursday, April 19, 2012

How Much Earlier?

Like every gardener I know, I have noted how much earlier plants are blooming and leafing out this year. How much earlier? My "Bridal Wreathe Spirea Clock" "went off" in early March , 11 days before its normal bloom time, though my daffodils started months early, in mid-December. Early bloom is different for various plants, depending on what triggers the end of their dormancy. For a take on this, and how much earlier flowers are blooming than during Thoreau's day, read:


Monday, April 16, 2012

Dove Tree

A dear friend gave me a Dove tree (Davidia involucrata) about 10 years ago. It is also commonly know as the handkerchief tree. It is a lovely tree, growing in a fine, pyramidal form, with heart-shaped leaves with a red/purple, serrated edge, but it has never bloomed, until now. It is the only member of its genus, sometimes placed with tupelos and other times with dogwoods (you can see a little resemblance of the dogwood flower when you look at the center). A native of China, this plant has been relatively carefree for me, only needing supplemental water during very dry periods. The reason for the common name of the tree this: when there is a breeze, the creamy white bracts (not really petals) flutter like a dove in flight, or a clutched handkerchief being waved.
Happy gardening!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Inchworms...too many inchworms!

I will soon be posting a pod cast on all those nasty "inchworms" (fall cankerworm larvae) that are infesting the area and stripping our trees bare, but first check this out:
Happy gardening!