Monday, June 25, 2012

Around the Veggie Patch

Everything in the veggie patch this year revolves around July 7th - that's when Dan Hinkley comes to visit along with the rest of Normandy Park.  So I've planted things that should be ready on that day for snacking on - like peas, strawberries, and carrots.

Several different types of peas scrambling up a bamboo scaffolding
We've already eaten about a hundred strawberries already with a ton on the way!

The raspberries are at least still two weeks away from ripening.

Come on, ripen!!
I started with about 30 seedlings each of broccoli, cauliflower, and Brussels but the cabbage root fly killed about a quarter of those.  The rest are going strong and there haven't been any more casualties in about a month.

Front to back: Carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts
Nothing like home-grown cauliflower
Red cabbage
This basil is stubbornly reluctant to grow in our unseasonably cool late spring/early summer.
This Ed Hume mesclun mix keeps pumping out new leaves and shows no signs of bolting.
Amazingly the corn looks like it will be knee high by the fourth of July in spite of the persistent cold weather keeping other crops from growing well.  The seeds were planted directly in the soil in late April.
These tomatillos have also been growing well in the cooler than normal weather.
Of course the potatoes are just going nuts.
As are the pumpkins.
Looking at this rhubarb makes me think of one thing: strawberry rhubarb pie.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Grape Trellis: Done!

It's been a month in the making, and it is finally finished.  No, it's not perfectly level.  Yes, it is slightly asymmetrical.  But the grapes don't care.  All they care about is lots of sun and something to grow on, and now they have both of those things.

The top weighs about 200 pounds and had to be lifted into place very carefully!

Here are a few more finished shots:

Friday, June 22, 2012

Grape Trellis Update

Each of the three boards in the curved beams took a day to steam, glue, and bend (12 days total), with about another week to patch the holes, let dry, sand, repeat, paint, leave out in the rain, bring in the garage and dry with a towel because I'm an idiot and left them out in the rain, and screw together.  But now it is at last ready for final assembly!  No more waiting for something to dry.  Tomorrow, weather permitting, the grape trellis will no longer be a figment of my imagination; it will become a reality.  Course, then I'll have to wait several years for the grapes to grow up it.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Hey Look! More Plants!

Yesterday I stopped at Zenith Holland Gardens in Des Moines and managed to find a few noble characters.  The nursery is wholesale but open to the public on most weekends in the spring/summer.  And the winners are...

Back Row:
Agapanthus 'Black Buddha' - The flowers are purple but at least the stems are black
Dahlia 'Black Wizard' - Dark red foliage with intense reddish black flowers
Eucomis 'Sparkling Burgundy' - Incredibly tropical-looking foliage and flowers
Agave geminiflora - Another agave for a container - not entirely hardy unfortunately

Middle Row:
Agapanthus 'Silver Moon' -  From far away the foliage blends into silvery white.
Asplenium antiquum 'Victoria' - I've been growing several A. scolopendrium plants, which are not only reliably hardy but also look great year-round so I think it's time I branch out into other species.
Eucomis vandermerwei 'Octopus' - A miniature Eucomis with mottled red and green foliage & flowers
Talinum paniculatum 'Limon' - I didn't know this was tender perennial when I bought it, but now that I know I'm sort of not that interested in it anymore.

Front Row:
Polypodium pseudo-aurem 'Virginia Blue' - I've never heard of a blue fern before!
Setcreasea pallida - This is my first attempt at growing this plant - aka Wandering Jew.  I've heard it's a marginally hardy perennial.  We shall see!

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Cry Me A Cardiocrinum

I could complain about the fact that we've been 10 degrees below normal in June so far with 2 inches of rainfall, already more than our monthly average, but I'm not going to.  That's not why you're here.  You're here to look at pictures like this:

Cardiocrinum giganteum
This lily is incredible, and thrives in our cool coastal climate.  It is 8 feet tall with a sturdy stalk.  It is fragrant like other Oriental liles, yet is in bloom right now in late spring vs. mid-summer for Oriental lilies.

The picture below shows just how tall it is, with the flowers higher than the top of the arbor.

Aloe 'Johnson's Hybrid'
I was noticing how closely this aloe resembples a kniphofia.  As it turns out, the two genuses are closely related, both being in the Asphodelaceae subfamily.

Kniphofia 'Shining Sceptre'
Speaking of Kniphofias, this is my favorite one called Kniphofia 'Shining Sceptre'.  I'm not sure if there are any truly fluorescent plants, but the two-toned orange and yellow flowers are about as fluorescent-looking as any I've ever seen.

I saw some ornamental millets at Furney's Nursery and bought two, not knowing where I was eventually going to plant them.  I decided to plant them in this island, but needed one more to balance it out, so I went back to Furney's and got one more.

 A couple days later, I found myself going back to Furney's for two more, filling in a couple areas by the pond.

Pennisetum glaucum 'Purple Baron' & Solenostemon 'Trailing Burgundy'
Today marked the LAST time I went back to Furney's to buy an ornamental millet.  This coleus and millet make a nice duo.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Grape Trellis: Week 2

Physics has proven me wrong.


Steaming the wood before bending it has turned out to be the way to go.  Wouldn't you know it, it also takes longer.

This is my steaming contraption: Four inch ABS piping, capped on both ends, connected to a hacked teapot.  That small piece of wood in the photo is holding down the lever that pops up when the water starts to boil, enabling the teapot to boil indefinietely.  The wood goes inside and gets nice and steamy for about an hour.  Burning myself has been kept to a minimum.

I found a few stray kids to test it.  But when you're three years old, the only thing that matters is how far Lightning McQueen can go down it without falling off.