Central Virginia Organic Gardener

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

Monday, March 30, 2015

Spring, 2015

We were in the midst of a major garden renovation (building 6  planter boxes) when I left for a 17-day trip.  I have missed planting some things (spring greens, for the most part), but, this week, I planted about 50 Allstar and Honeoye strawberry plants (they still need to be mulched with straw, not hay: hay has many seed heads and sprouts like crazy)-not much to see yet:

two large bunches of red and sweet white onions (plant in loose soil, about an inch deep.  I prefer starts (bundles plants that have sprouted) to bulbs, they get going faster): :

and, my garlic weathered the winter and looks great! (Garlic needs to be planted in fall, then harvested in June):

This week, I want to plant lettuces, tat soi, kale, chard, cilantro and start, indoors, my squashes, and some oddball ornamentals....yay!
And it is almost time to spray the peaches with an organic fungicide.
Happy gardening!

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Waltham Butternut

Waltham butternut, an heirloom variety, is a great winter squash and they keep in your pantry for months (if properly cured by sun exposure, outdoors, for 4-5 days after harvest). They have harder vines than most squash, so are less susceptible to squash vine borers.  I roast mine, pierced, but whole, in a 350-degree oven until soft. I scoop out the flesh for the best "pumpkin" pie ever! Start the seeds 4 weeks before your last average frost date.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Wettest Place...

The peak pictured in the photo is a contender for the wettest place on earth,  Mount Waialale on Kaua'i, HI, where I am right now!  Over 400 inches of rain per year!

Monday, March 16, 2015

Plant Native Plants

While I am away at a botanical art workshop, I thought I would give you some food for thought, a article by the wonderful Doug Tallamy on planting native plants in your yard to create a "wildlife corridor" for native creatures.


Dr. Tallamy convinced me to keep what I thought of as "trash trees" in my yard, native wild cherries, to feed birds and insects, and to begin transforming my yard, as much as possible, to a home for wildlife.

Saturday, March 14, 2015


I have...er...had 27 amaryllis plants (amarylli?). Every summer, I put my amaryllis plants outdoors, where they soak up sunlight and grow strong.  Come early September, I put them in my garage, under boxes and drop cloths to block out light.   Amaryllis need this dormant time to rest to get ready to bloom again.  I bring them into the house two months later, begin watering them, and set them on a sunny windowsill.
Then this year, I pulled out the first two pots.  Hum, odd, no amaryllis bulbs there.  "Oh, well, maybe they rotted or dessicated."  But there were no bulbs in the next pot, and the next.  Or in 22 total pots!  Then, I came to a pot with a partly gnawed bulb, and 4 untouched survivors.  Rodents!  Rodents ate most of my amaryllis collection! I could see their distinctive teeth marks.

Next year, the amaryllis will rest elsewhere, or in wire cages.   I have 5 surviving plants, ordered 5 more (waiting for them to bloom) and a friend gave me this one:  The "Beth" amaryllis:

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Seedling labels

I don't Like to buy things that I can easily make.  I save plastic cartons, ones that are not recyclable
in my area, and cut them into seedling tags.  Easy to do and free!

Thursday, March 5, 2015

New beds

A couple of months ago, we had a very solid raised bed built for...milkweeds.  The Monarch butterfly has
greatly declined, as much of its habitat has been lost, and much of the loss involves the host plant, the milkweeds.  The Monarch caterpillar feeds on the milkweed, taking in the toxins, present in the plant, as part of its defensive arsenal.  We are planting common milkweed, butterfly weed and swamp milkweed.... And any other native milkweed we can find!  It is a necessary host plant to insure Monarch survival.  The raised bed is made from raw, untreated timbers, and should last 20 years.  As you can see in the photos, we lined the bed with garden cloth/hardware cloth to deter voles.
I will post photos as the milkweed emerges!