Central Virginia Organic Gardener

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

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Cucumber Success!

One-day's harvest, July 1, 2014

I recently posted on the methods I am trying this year after two years of cucumber failure. To be fair (to moi) the failure was because I was too busy to get a decent garden in and tried to directly sow my cucumbers. Before I could deal with them, the cucumber beetles struck and the plants wilted.  This year, I started the plants in peat pots. planted them in vole-deterrent cages, covered then with floating row covers, and, when it was time to take the covers off, I sprayed them with a kaolin clay spray (the trademarked surround).  So far, SUCCESS!  The two varieties I planted were Alibi cucumber (a greenhouse type) and Muncher (a pickler) ordered from Pinetree Garden Seeds ( http://www.superseeds.com )  And both are delicious!
Happy gardening!

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Truth in Labelling

Lovely hot peppers, no?  Only one problem: they are grown from seed from a packet labelled
"Jalapeño!"  I have had minimal problems with mixed up seed packs before...I expect
this pepper is way more hotter that a Jalapeño!  Guess I need to send the seed company a note!
Happy gardening!

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Need a soakin'

It has been dry here in central VA. Here is the pattern: we get a prediction for a good chance of rain and...as I watch the radar online, the rain clouds skirt my town.  Time to drag out the soaker hoses!
I hope you already know that overhead watering is very inefficient, for this reason: most of the water is lost to evaporation.  Very little of it actually goes into the ground.  In addition, when you use a sprinkler in your garden, much of the water goes onto the paths.  Soaker hoses, which emit drops of water across their length, are far more precise and are better at getting the water where you want it to go.  My mistake this season was I did not lay the hoses when I was doing the initial planting:  this would have saved me a lot of grief. Laying hose while planting is easy, but laying it around large existing plants is tedious.  When you do use a soaker, leave it on for two or more hours.  You will use less water, use it more efficiently and your plants will reward you!  Soaker hoses are not expensive, last for seasons and are a good investment.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Pretty, but Invasive: Purple Loosestrife

On a recent trip up north, I again noticed the plant above in wetland areas, especially in the NJ wetlands. Very pretty, this plant is the highly invasive purple loosestrife,  Lythrum salicaria.  The sale of this plant is banned in many states, but I have seen it for sale at flea markets, yard sales and small-scale, charity plant sales or swaps.  AVOID IT AT ALL COSTS!  Loosestrife infestations are costly to manage, hard to eradicate and actually decrease the sites available for nesting water fowl.  (If you see this plant, differentiate it from the native Winged Loosestrife, Lythrum alatum, before you eradicate it. "As compared to the native plant, purple loosestrife has wingless stems, a larger size, and slender willow-like leaves that often have hairs" from:  http://davesgarden.com/guides/pf/go/31778/#ixzz36FN21Y7O )
 For additional information, go to: http://www.ecy.wa.gov/programs/wq/plants/weeds/aqua009.html

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Field Trip: Lily Pons Water Gardens

Lily Pons

Top left clockwise:  Formal display garden, lotus pond, water lilies for sale, 
lotus bloom, slender cattails.

The lotus pond and garden store in the background
From:  http://www.lilypons.com/our-garden-store

I have been purchasing from Lily Pons Water Gardens (named for an opera star born in 1898) since I had my pond built 4 years ago.  I was pleased with the plants and materials I purchased and, on a recent trip up north, I took a short detour to visit.  Lily Ponds is situated on 250 acres in Adamstown, MD. The garden center is in a colonial building on the property (see second photo from top) and is full of practical and ornamental items for the water garden. Immediately outside the garden you will find long, narrow ponds from which you can select plants for purchase.  Immediately behind the building, under shade of a lean-to, are the tanks holding koi and other aquatic creature for sale (Lily Pons started under another name to sell ornamental fish).  Surrounding the building are production ponds stuffed to the gills (pun?) with water lilies, lotuses, large and dwarf cattails and other amazing plants.  Their large koi pond is home to koi of all sizes, and you can buy a bag of fish food to feed them in the garden center building.  In addition to production ponds large and small with beautiful flowers and plants, there are many display gardens scattered around the property, plus picnic spots in sun and shade.  If you are in the area, or are a water garden fan, pack a picnic lunch and visit!