Friday, March 25, 2011

One Year Closer To Home Grown Asparagus

Yay, my asparagus is finally breaking ground!!!

As an aside, I'm a little freaked out by the articles I've been reading about asparagus making your pee stink. Details are a little sketchy, but either only 50% of the population is adversely affected, or only 50% of the population have the gene to recognize the smell of asparagus pee. Either way, gross.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Kimberly Ferns

I'm always amazed at the the things I see when I visit a Master Gardener at home. About a week ago, a friend of mine decided to divide her humungous Kimberly Ferns and give pieces away. Luckily for me, she had my number.

So the kids and I get there just when she was wrapping up surgery. I don't know how I always imagine the total opposite of what's going on, but when she said fern, I pictured lush greenery. What I saw was a brown rootball that had been disected with a reciprocating saw and couldn't tell head from tail. I didn't want to express doubt that the victims were still alive, so thankfully without any prompting my friend assured me that once I planted them (didn't matter which way), they would come back. Ok, I figured I didn't have anything to lose.

The kids and I came home and potted two pieces. My little helpers had a great time wearing my old gloves, scooping soil and dumping it in every pot they could reach. After salvaging soil from the garage floor and two little monkeys, I set the ferns in the corner of the garage and forgot about them.

To my pleasant surprise yesterday, I peeked over and noticed two tiny little fronds emerging from their sea of brown. I grabbed the hubby to show him, and in classic form he asked me if they're weeds. Sorry hon, they're a little bigger today and they're most definately ferns! What do husbands know anyway?

Pike County Pocosin

You won't believe this, but on Tuesday I visited the Pike County Pocosin for the second time. Who would have thought. lol! (Read about my previous experience ) This round, there were about 20 people in our group, and we were guided by one Dr. Barger, an Alabama State Conservationist. This time I was prepared. I wore my pink galoshes, tough jeans, garden gloves, tons of  bug patches under my long-sleeved lightweight coat (in 80+ F weather) and a wide brim hat. For sure I was protected from the elements and prickly flora. However, I was wide open to any potential wildlife we'd encounter. I half-joked about borrowing a shotgun from a friend to ward off snakes, but she wisely turned me down. Then I thought about taking a machete, but eventually decided against it. I figured the last thing people would want is me wielding a weapon near their limbs while running for my life. Thankfully, the snakes stayed away. And I nestled comfortably in the middle of the group so I wouldn't be the first or the last person the snakes saw.

As with the last trip, I enjoyed seeing many interesting things I probably wouldn't get the opportunity to see otherwise. In the Pocosin basin, we walked along a creek. I love the sound it created. Very peaceful. Almost made me forget about snakes. Almost. (Renewed my interest in creating a water feature in my yard though, but I digress.)

Also along the creek, we spotted Crane Fly Orchids. I was taken with the two-toned leaves; green on the top and purple on the bottom. Very unusual. We also saw last year's seed pods. Unlike most flowering perennials, these seeds were minute, even smaller than grains of sand. Too bad they were not in bloom.

Of course I googled their image the second I came home (and took a shower).

Image by Dave Otto.

Something I would have totally missed were male flower of the wild ginger plant, also known as something brown pod. (If you're reading this, and you were there, please fill in the blank for me.) The first picture shows the pod closed and the second shows it open. The only way to find one, is to look for the smilac-looking groundcover leaves and dig around, usually under inches of rotted mulch, to spot it. It was amusing watching adults digging in the woods with childlike energy, myself included.

Red Buckeye and Bloodroot are two other plants that stood out. I was able to take a picture of the former, which is beautiful for its red flowers. Bloodroot however, 'bleeds' from the stem when you pick a leaf. As I was too busy gawking, I forgot to take a snapshot. To see the latter, click on the following link:

As far as trees, the Beach Tree was a big hit for me. Its leaves were just beginning to emerge. They are initially covered in some type of golden cocoon which look like spikes. However, the Arizona Oak seemed to be the tree to see. It's a rare species of oak in North America and the group clamored to find one. Unfortunately the leaves have not yet emerged, making it difficult to distinguish it from other oaks. While most in the group were a little disappointed, they recovered quickly once Dr. Barger pointed out dry Arizona Oak leaves on the ground. These were then passed around with gusto. Again, a little amusing.

An hour and a half later, we were done. I survived yet another hike through the Pocosin without spotting any snakes. How about that?!? Again, a great learning experience. I'll have to work on the DH now and convince him to go on the next hike. I'm looking forward to that blog entry.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Double-Edged Sword

The sun has been in hiding for the last few days. And it's been raining cats and dogs for nearly 12 hours. Great for my rain barrels, trees, shrubs and lawn. Awful for my new seedlings. Devoid of necessary sunshine, they've started falling over. A few even got beaten down by the rain. I feel so frustrated and very tempted to purchase a few small tomato and bell pepper bushes instead of starting over. :(

Monday, March 7, 2011

Every so often I come across pretty useful and interesting websites. One such website is . A homemaker in Alaska, Ana blogs about do-it-yourself wood projects and provides free plans. Awesome.

One plan that caught my eye is for raised beds:

Just off my rain garden is an area that holds water, rendering it useless for most things. I figured I'd try a raised garden bed and see if I can get some use from it. Ana found clearance cedar and was able to build hers for less than $10 each. If we could all be so lucky... :)

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Asparagus, Muscari and Dahlias

This is the year I stop planting reasonably priced produce and focus on planting the more expensive items. As such, I decided to take a friend's advice and plant some asparagus roots. Here's an interesting fact...asparagus is a perennial vegetable. And while many people will tell you there are only two perennial vegetables - asparagus and rhubarb, there are actually over 100.

The planting process is a bit more involved than planting other vegetables, since you have to dig and 8" trench, only partially cover the roots, then fill the trench once the first shoots appear weeks later, but it will be worth it. Especially since I planted two-year roots, getting a jump start on my harvest. (Asparagus is harvested in its third year and beyond.)

In other news, my muscari and dahlia are beginning to flower and even multiplying. They are such delicate beauties. Enjoy.