Central Virginia Organic Gardener

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

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Saving the Monarch

An article on some plants you can use to help the declining monarch butterfly:

Passion in the Garden

I finally have established passionflower in a place my garden where it won't smother nearby plants..   A few years ago, I was walking by a beautiful passionflower vine that would soon be torn out due to construction.  So, I gathered some ripe fruit and planted it next to a fence.  This is the lovely, native passionflower (Passiflora incarnata) and I have posted about it before.  Once established, it grows easily, though a very cold winter can kill off the plant.  In this case, the plant will likely have set seed to grow all over again.

See the immature, green fruit?  When ripe, it is orange, and full of gelatinous seeds.  Then, I can plant it near another fence! (I need to remove that morning glory vine that will compete with the passiflora!)

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Prohibited Plants

Interesting list of prohibited plants in the state of New York.  Residents cannot transport, propagate, transplant, sell, etc, these plants.  Good list of plants to avoid in Virginia, too!

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Warty Baby

My Galeux d'Eysines winter squash is getting warty! OhBoyOhBoyOhBoy!

And Pintree Garden Seeds (where I purchased the seed from) says it might get like this:


Should be good eating, too!  It is supposed to grow 10-15 pounds.

Plant Diseases

Gee, this is a depressing list for a gardener:


Oh boy!  I purchased hardback garlic from the Hudson Valley Seed Library http://www.seedlibrary.org after visiting there last September.  Garlic needs to be fall planted, to establish itself before it gets cold.  This garlic was fantastic, it grew well, produced beautiful, tasty cloves.  I harvested it in June.  Garlic is ready to harvest about three weeks after the edible scapes (blooms) appear (and the scapes are edible too!).  The scapes themselves are beautiful!  See my arrangement that I drew?

Plants as Sculpture

As you might know, I am a gardener and botanical artist.  We recently visited family in New Jersey and the state has some amazing places!  One such place is Grounds for Sculpture, in Hamilton Square:  http://www.groundsforsculpture.org

It is a wonderful place, with various garden rooms and passages, all leading to sculptural surprises!  Well, a sculpture garden, to truly succeed, must place some emphasis on the sculptural contributions of its plantings/
landscaping.  Here are a few examples (in addition to the use of bamboo, of which I did not take photos):

Tree Passage or alee leading from one garden room to another:

Wisteria tunnel:

Canopied tree:

This last is a poor photo, but the weeping blue spruce is a part of the sculpture 
with its blue patina:

...and one last: a tall reed or grass, being used as a visual stand-in for corn:

There are many more examples, including lotus pools and other botanical companions!
Go visit!
Happy gardening!

Sunday, July 19, 2015


I cannot find seeds for my beloved Lavendar Touch eggplant anymore, so am trying two new varieties, Fairy Tale and Comet.   I have not tasted either yet.  However, though beautiful, Fairy Tale might prove to be a disappointment.  All my fault, I did not read fully the plant description.  These fruits are slender, but only 4-5 inches long, max! They are going to be a pain to use, especially as a member of my household does not like eggplant skin (small, tender eggplant do not have to be peeled before cooking).  Well, at least I can draw them!

Happy gardening!

Sunday, July 12, 2015


Yes, I am still bragging about my greens, especially rainbow Swiss chard.  The new raised beds have produced the best, longest-lasting stand of chard I have ever grown.
How do I eat this bounty?  I love to braise it in olive oil, with garlic and onions, sometimes red bell pepper and mushrooms, too. It is an excellent substitute for spinach in quiches and Indian paneer-based dishes. I even use it,  along with kale  and lettuce, in a chopped salad, fabulous!
If you didn't plant any this spring, start some in mid-August for fall greens!

Happy gardening!

Sunday, July 5, 2015


You know how zucchini is a bit of a garden joke?  Hear stories of how people leave anonymous packages of zucchini on their neighbor's doorsteps, on a coworker's desk, or in a stranger's car?  (Of course, if you have that much, donate it to a food bank!).  I love zucchini and, until now, have never had enough.  And here is the reason:

Dehydrator Zucchini Chips

These amazing chips are crunchy, though their crisp will not last as long as commercial potato chips.  We love them!

3 medium zucchini, stem and bottom removed 
A few T's oil
1 t smoked paprika 
1 t chipotle chili powder
1 t cumin
1 t garlic powder
1 t salt OR
equivalent amount of chili powder and salt OR
whatever strikes your fancy!

Using a food processor (I used my 1/4 inch slicing blade) or mandolin, slice the zucchini.  Put it in a bowl and drizzle in 1 T of oil.  
Using your hands, gently separate the zucchini slices and rub the oil on.
Load up your food processor trays.
Mix the spices, and sprinkle it on the zucchini slices.
Dehydrate for three hours (will need more time if they are thicker than mine) and gobble 'em up!

Why do I have so much zucchini now?  First, the raised beds filled with soil, compost and mushroom compost, i.e., plant rocket fuel, created healthy growth.  And, the vine borers have been stymied, until now, by frequent applications of Surround (trademarked kaolin clay that is mixed with water, sprayed on and acts as an irritant  barrier to pests).  
Happy Gardening!