Central Virginia Organic Gardener

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

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Wednesday Lagniappe: Confirmed by "Science"

One of my favorite programs, NPR's "Science Friday," recently provided validation of my abhorrence of lawns!  Yay!  Listen to this illuminating, 11 minute piece at:

Happy gardening!

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Hippy Apples

     This year we have what I call "hippy apples."  In the 1970's, when some back-to-the-land, counterculture folks (my spiritual ancestors in some ways) began organic gardening and farming, there were fewer organic tools at their disposal to care for fruit trees and carry the fruit through to harvest.  There were many a tale of misshapen, wormy, corky, organic apples during this time, aka "hippy apples."  Now, I am not claiming to have grown excellent and cosmetically perfect apples in my life, but they have been of better quality than this year.  So what happened this year? Rain, rain and more rain. Every time I had the opportunity to spray the trees with Surround (a trademarked, kaolin clay substance that presents a barrier to apples maggots and the like) it was raining or about to rain.  You see, kaolin clay is water-soluble and washes off in the rain.  A light rain has not too much of an effect, but heavy rain, like we had one and off all during the season that the apples were forming.  In addition, wet conditions promote fungal diseases and I could not spray for that either. So, we got the hippy apples pictured above.
     So, do we need to trash them?  Not at all.  These apples still have plenty of tasty, edible flesh and I am pretty darn good at peeling, removing the bad parts and slicing them.  Below are the sliced apples, in our dehydrator, ready for lovely dried apples to eat and bake with all winter long.  By the way, I pre-soak them for 2 minutes in a solution of 4 cups of water, 600 mg crushed vitamin C pills and 1/4 c of lemon juice to prevent browning in the dehydrator.  From yuck to yum!

Happy gardening!

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Wednesday Lagniappe: Gratuitous Photo

A totally gratuitous photo of the Fluff Monster getting a much-deserved bath!  Happy Wednesday!

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Waltham butternut and the dreaded "vacation zucchini"

I have been casting about for a winter squash that is productive, and fights back when squash vine borers attack. I searched for a winter squash that was resistant to squash vine borers and settled for the old-time favorite, Waltham butternut.  Apparently, any squash with harder stems is more resistant to these pests, the plague of squash growers everywhere.  I planted my butternuts late (apparently a no-no: early planting helps foil these beasties) and they began producing the beautiful fruits you see here.  The plants did finally get borers, but I used a garden syringe to inject BT (a bacteria that only kills caterpillars who munch on it) and the plants are still out-growing the borer damage.  I also will mound soil over various parts of the stem to encourage it to root, and I think I may get some more squash from these babies (this is from 2 plants).
Also pictured, the gardener's embarassment: vacation zucchini.  If you go away during the summer, have a neighbor pick your zucchini!  Large ones like these can be shredded and frozen for winter soups and stews.  If they have sizeable seeds, core them to remove the seeds before you shred them.  If they get woody, it is time for the compost heap!
Happy gardening!

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Wednesday Lagniappe: Food for Thought

An interesting link on the globalization of landscapes....