Central Virginia Organic Gardener

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

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Saving Butterflies? Now Save the Bees

I just posted a bit about planting milkweeds to help support monarch butterflies.  What about specialist bees?  These bees, often native, are like some butterflies, in that they need specific host plants.  Virginia has a high proportion of specialist bees.  For more information, read this:  http://vnps.org/specialist-bees-need-special-plants/

and go here for a list of plants to support these bees:  http://vnps.org/plants-for-specialist-bees/

Why support bees?  We need all the bees we can get for food production and for the very existence of many plants!

Friday, May 29, 2015

Plant Milkweed, Help the Monarchs

Last summer, I started common milkweed plants from seed and planted them in a new garden bed in the fall.  This spring, I started swamp milkweed and butterfly weed and planted those, too, all in an effort at support dwindling monarch butterflies.  Want to try this?  Here is some information:

Will post photos soon of my thriving plants.
Happy Gardening!

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Today in My Garden, May 27, 2015

Today in my garden:

Photo, clockwise from top left:
Pitcher plants in their bog; native cactus in bloom; podded peas plumping; common and swamp milkweed for Monarch butterflies and: zucchini, maligned by some, loved by me!

Cucumber Beetles and Squash Vine Borers

(Not all my garden is yet in framed, raised beds).

Cucumber beetles and squash vine borers are menaces to cucumber and squash plants.
Right now, my cucumbers are still under a floating row cover, to protect them from
cucumber beetles.  But my zucchini and squash plants are too larger to cover.  The photo
above shows two strategies: first, note the whitish color of the leaves?  This is because I
sprayed the plants with Surround (trademarked,) a fine-milked kaolin clay that is mixed 
with water and sprayed on the entire plant.  Vine borer moths, squash beetles and other bugs
seem to dislike the gritty surface, so it acts as a barrier to their egg laying.  Surround
washes off in the rain and must be reapplied.  The yellow cards hanging from stakes are 
coated with Tangle Trap, similar to the sticky gunk on fly paper.  It comes in a can with a built
in brush lid to ease application.  Cucumber beetles, which transmit wilt (and are more bother-
some to cucumbers than zucchini, but harm it too) are attracted to the color yellow, stick and die.  
When my cucumbers are uncovered, I will put some of these yellow traps in that bed, too.  I 
will monitor the traps to make sure no bees are caught, and, if they are, down will come the
Happy gardening!

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Orchids in you garden

Here is an easy orchid you can grow in your central Virginia garden,
Bletilla striata.  I planted this about 10 years ago in a semi-shady spot in
my garden, and it has formed a pretty little colony.  I ordered the bulbs
from Brent and Becky's Bulbs, the only company from which I will buy 
bulbs (no, not a paid endorsement, they are just good!) at:

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

It's Easy Being green!

I don't know if this is evidence of the wonderful new raised beds we built,
or the season, but these are the most amazing greens I have ever grown!

I posted the varieties earlier, just had to show you what I picked today!

Monday, May 18, 2015

Pitcher Plants

Spring has sprung, summer is closing in.  My pitcher plants are showing their
exotic blooms.  These plants are fascinating at all stages of development. The
green-yellow flower is Sarracenia flava and the red is S. leucophylla.  Please search
for and read an earlier post on bog gardens for how to plant and care for these beauties!

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Today In My Garden: May 17, 2015

From the top, left to right: water iris, pitcher plants, Asian mustard, cacti and succulents, landscape rose, primrose, peony, tradescantia/spiderwort, bearded iris.

Catching Up: Finis

More good reads:
A simple vegetable trellis:

Roundup fears:

Topping Trees? Stop!

Here is a brief write up on the evils of topping trees:
I will try to post a photo soon of this terrible practice....

Friday, May 15, 2015

Beautiful Greens

I think my friends all know how much I love greens.  This spring, I have grown the
most lovely and tasty salad greens ever!  Arugula, freckles lettuce, redbor kale, bright
lights Swiss chard and Bibb lettuce.  I don't know if it is this combination, good weather 
or the new raised beds I planted in, but I am delighted!  Due to renovating the garden,
however, I planted late, so these greens won't last too much longer (the arugula is already 
starting to bolt- one trick is to let it bolt, and flop down, and it will produce fresh green 
leaves in the fall).
Happy gardening!

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Catching Up: 3

Some more good reads:

On a weird climate trend for the mid-Atlantic states …that has ended:

And, the Virginia invasive species list:

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Garden Scenes

A few scenes from my garden, first week of  May, 2015:
Top left, clockwise: Flame honeysuckle (invasive, but I keep it contained); pitcher plant blooms (Sarracenia leucophylla); my pond; Golden Marguerite, a dye plant; weigela, spirea and: a cut-leaf, Japanese maple.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Catching up: 2

You all know that there are very few plants I dislike (maybe mahonia... well, and all invasives), but one tree, that is lovely in autumn, is a target of my ire: the callery (or Bradford) pear.  The wood is weak, easily splitting in an ice storm (I have written on this before), but the main reason for my dislike is this: it smells bad when in bloom, ugh!  Read (and listen) on!

Catching Up! 1

So, I am still catching up after my long trip in March.  Until I write some field trip reports, I will provide some good reads and interesting information:
First off:  On the politics of invasive species: