Monday, July 27, 2009

diseases... of bee balm and men

Certain plants seem to attract powdery mildew, and bee balm seems to be one of them. It still manages to attract hummingbirds even when diseased. Here is some info on the fungus, and what can be done when it shows up. I have used the 1 tablespoon of baking soda per gallon of water approach to control its spread in the past and I am using it again this year.

Friday night I thought a mosquito had gotten me. Saturday morning thoughts of worse things crept in to my head. Helping my wife at a craft show this weekend kept me busy, but by Sunday morning I was checking out the CDC's info on Lyme disease and by Sunday night I had my Monday planned out. I did not call out sick, but I did call in to say that whenever my doctor could see me, I was leaving work and heading for antibiotics. I am not usually as reactive to bodily woes, but this one was serious enough that I moved on it. My hope is that my quick response will have me not experiencing any more symptoms than the rash. I knew that working in a garden frequented by deer put me at a high risk so I am far from shocked, if far from happy.

But a new challenge has arisen. The doctor and the info that came with the meds were real clear... stay out of the sun. My mind is already racing towards solutions to this problem.

sorry, no photo of the diseased man.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

deer protection which is not perfect but does float

I wish my garden at the school did not look this way...

But this does keep the deer away and it also does what it is meant to do... keep insects pests away and in the fall--- some frost protection. Air, sun, and rain pass through the floating row covers and except for a failed attempt at growing radicchio, the deer have stayed on the other side. The onions and the leeks in the foreground have yet to be bothered by pest. Since I took this photo three more "tents" have appeared in this area.

plants that tend to vine, will find there way out and since I took this photo the tip of this cucumber plant has been nipped....

and then there are peppers. For several years no mammals had a taste for them, but apparently those tender leaves at the top of the plants are approved deer chow. Here is a look at the peppers under cover....

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Calendula for the first time

This past week at the school, I was surely smitten by something I tend to not adore... a "doubled" flower emerged from our first ever attempt at growing Calendula. "Look at this," I said and directed many a student eye toward a flower that amazed me. Friday afternoon I grabbed my camera as the work week was coming to an end and first headed to the flower I wanted the world to see. And there was one on the far left of the five Calendula plants we had put into the ground...

Next to it another of the plants was beginning to have some flower buds unfold into a double, but appearing to be a different color...

I went over to the far right plant because I wanted an example of the first Calendula to bloom this year, all that was there was a flower ready to be deadheaded...

But I knew where I could find one. Earlier in the morning my students had helped me make a flower arrangement which we took to the good women in the education office who assist all of us...

the bright yellow flower at the bottom is what I was expecting from all the plants. Now if I had a memory I would not have been shocked, but what fun would that have been. I dug out the seed packet: Calendula Flashback Mix from Johnny's Selected Seeds.

I just glanced and found some recipes in which the petals of this plant are listed as an ingredient. Now I am curious, what would the Human Suggestion Box, who despised lavender brownies think of Calendula Corn Muffins? And does anyone put them into brownies??????????

Thursday, July 16, 2009

9/35 through summer

I am wondering about how very little we have harvested so far this summer and I have some theories as to why it is so...

and while my age certainly has slowed me down, and while teaching two science classes has taken time away from horticulture, and while we spent some time planting beds of raspberries and blackberries, and then the potatoes took two beds...

it was the weather... those 11 straight days of rain and all the other cool rainy days this past spring which is the main reason for the slow harvest.

But things are happening and the garden looks great to me these days. We have weeded and watered. We fertilized with the fish fertilizer which claims on its label to not smell. We have made a late but hopeful attempt to grow zucchini, and we have planted two beds of green beans for the fall. We harvested a tray full of onions (many more in the garden) which sold except for one, which then went into my dinner. We have deadheaded a few times and we have started drying flowers, a new project this year. We combined bags of Right Dress, compost, and top soil to make a mulch for around the peppers, eggplants and berries.

The plants are thriving and the harvest is near.

Today I took some of my basil to the school and in a major group effort we made pesto the old fashioned way... with mortar and pestle. The fresh garlic was a bit "hot" but all the students ate it and none gagged, though some gagged at the sight of it.

and I am so grateful that 8/9 of these days were around 80 with low humidity. Sometimes the weather gets you, sometimes it helps you out.


Saturday, July 11, 2009

a truly once a year event--- garlic harvest

After three straight days of pulling weeds at the school, it was time to do something a bit more fun on Thursday, if not a bit more stinky... The annual garlic harvest. There is different opinions on how brown/green the leaves should be when you harvest the garlic. Some years I have gone to the browner end of the spectrum, but I like doing it at the greener end.

At the greener end the students are less likely to find rotted bulbs and are also less likely to snap the connection between bulb and leaves.

The students are shown the technique then I for the most part step back only to rush back if help is needed. I wait for the bundles to be tied up, at which point I venture into our cart garage to hang them for drying.

For the next few months it is a place one is not likely to find any vampires. However, if you chose to hide out in there, the smell will very likely permeate your being. In two weeks or so, we will begin selling it.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

2/35th gone already... summer school

Two days of summer school completed and here are some thoughts:

1. I have given up on finding the bed of zucchini. Clearly it was stolen by elves. The bed of patty pans had poor germination. I am thinking it is not too late

2. The weeds that were among the flowers, Swiss chard, cucumbers, peppers, yellow wax beans, onions, leeks, eggplants, swiss chard, winter squash have been asked kindly to get out.

3. a handful of sweet peppers harvested and will be used in the cooking club later this week. Onions will be also harvested for this.

4. garlic had some weeds but will be harvested real soon.

5. Potatoes were largely free of weeds.

6. The Mighty Assistant was handed a book on using a microwave flower press. I am expecting some cool things to emerge from this.

7. Lavender harvested, dead headed, cleaned up.

7. Yesterday I saw the director of admissions of the school standing with someone up a hill where my classroom is located. They waved. I waved back. They walked down to our veggie garden as my class was cleaning up. The visitor was the wife of a dear friend who passed away recently. I asked her if she had seen the Day Lilies which I had dug out of her garden and added to a bed of monotone tiger lilies at the school. She had. Here are some of Dr. Ed's loved lilies...

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Phlox emerging

I went out to take photos of the Phlox buds because I adore them and what caught my eye was stage between bud and flower. emergence. Tried to search out the label for this plant but could not find it, so the variety is a mystery. Below is a photo of the buds which I love, in focus...

tomorrow summer session starts, so the focus will go back to the school garden.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

I hope my students dig places like this...

well, yes, I do hope they will continue to dig into soil to create gardens, however...

Today my hometown started what will be a weekly Farmer's Market. So this is my desire. One day in the future, an ex-student of mine will come upon a farmers market. The student will remember the joy of eating fresh vegetables as a student at the Pathway School. He will wonder over and buy something and once again experience that pleasure.

Who knows, it may inspire the student to dig into the earth to grow some peppers, or maybe just go back and support those who are keeping small local farms alive and who then travel to someone else's hometown and give them a taste of the local soil.

A big thanks to all of those who made The Lansdale Farmers Market a reality.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

tagged and Perenyi shows up

I was asked to list 15 books that have lingered on in my being since I first read them and on my list, I only put one garden book... Green Thoughts: A Writer in The Garden by Eleanor Perenyi published in 1981.

much talk about mistakes lately (to weed or to wait to weed with students), so here are two quotes from her section Failures...

Sooner or later every gardener must face the fact that certain things are going to die on him. It is a temptation to be anthropomorphic about plants, to suspect that they do it to annoy. One knows, after all, that they lead lives of their own: plant the lily bulb in the center and watch it come up under a brick near the edge; pull out a sick little bush and throw it on the compost heap, and ten to one, it will obstinately revive. Usually, though, gardening failures, like airplane crashes, are the results of 'human error,' of not reading the directions or paying attention. ...

Nevertheless, not all failures are self-imposed, the result of ignorance, carelessness or inexperience. It takes a while to grasp that a garden is not a testing ground for character and to stop asking, what did I do wrong? Maybe nothing. ...

Any fans of Perenyi out there? If you have not read the book, I hope in some way I have inspired you to look for this wonderful book.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

a time to wait

not sure if that is one of those proverbs, but I am sure it could be and if not,
I am sure it is in many of the wisest writings found in libraries.

My crew of workers are enjoying some time at home. This is a strange time of the year.

We do the mad rush thing to get the garden planted and weeded and watered and mulched. Then we turn our backs when the end of June break comes along. The students will take note.."hey who is going to be here to care for the plants?"

I assure them that I will do my best to not have the plants die. Then I after graduation I got in my car to drive north to listen to jazz, witness nature, and be amazed by glass in the town of Corning. Before I left I set up babysitting duties with a friend who unfortunately does not get the time off from the school that us teachers get. As she has in the past, she took her job seriously.

Yesterday I went over to take my second look around the school since getting home from New York. The floating row covers have kept deer away, but the weeds are coming in nicely.

Now maybe in my younger days I would have taken on all those weeds, but I am wiser now and clearly older. So, I told them to enjoy their day in the sun. July 6th is not that far off. And as I saw on my summer schedule, I have many many helpers who will be coming back to whip the garden back into shape. I wish we could do both, have a vacation and keep gardening, however...

It is a time to wait (even if I feel a desire to go get rid of them weeds at this very moment).