Archive for May 2012

Wangari Excerpts

When I stopped by Wangari Gardens last week, I noticed a bunch of cool things happening in the garden.

This is the second time I've seen a lady bug on my wire mesh trellis at Wangari Gardens. I'm quite happy!

This orchard was planted two weeks ago behind the garden plots. In a few years, there will be tons of fruit! Mulberry, fig, Asian pear, and tons more.

This kiwi huge kiwi plant had been donated to Wangari in its first weeks. It'll be trained to grow over the fence.

There are several gardeners who really seem to know what they're doing. This gardener is definitely one of them.

She's growing soybean--the only soybean seedlings I've seen at Wangari so far!

I noticed this other garden plot weeks ago, when the cucumber seedlings had started flowering even though they were only an inch or two tall. I've seen them do that before in response to various stresses--low light, cold, overwatering. In this case, I'd assume cold and underwatering.

The plot has some interesting decoration using rock and wood chunks. I like its flow.

But what drew my attention the other day was the make-shift protection around some of the plants, like this styrofoam cup. Perhaps it's to protect against cold nights, or tomato cutworm?

And these empty gum containers, too! Bright blue in a sea of brown soil.

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Black Leaf

My black elephant ear is sending up a new leaf! I potted this baby up and stuck it in the back alleyway with some Hosta, Tricyrtis, and others. The Tetrapanax 'Steroidal Giant,' unfortunately, doesn't seem to be doing all that well. I might have kept it too moist before I found a real pot for it. I hope it roots and sends up new growth!

Here's the front of the new leaf. You can see the dark veins both on the front and the back, which I think is pretty awesome.

Here's the back of the new leaf. The petiole, too, is black--y'know, thus the name, black elephant ear.

I set up this blog post about a week ago to autopost today. I should have known that this leaf would get huge before today--it's about 1.5 feet from tip to bottom now, and the petiole is about 2 feet long.

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Getting Sexed Up

When my beau's assistant brought a Phalaenopsis to our dinner party the other week, I thought "Sweet, now I have two blooming phals that I can get it on with."

I teased out a pollen sac from the dinner-party orchid and inserted it into the New York gala orchid. I didn't think much of it after that, but a week or so ago, I was cleaning up some blooms that had fallen off the plant and noticed that one of the blooms had withered, but the ovary is swelling.

Here's the withering bloom that I pollinated.

And here's the expanding ovary/pedicel. You can kind of see how un-thick the other blooms' pedicels are.

So, with that encouragement, I cross-pollinated both orchids. Hopefully, in about five years after a bunch of flasking and growing seedlings, I'll have some awesome hybrids!


Landlordly Blooms

My landlord ripped up most of the plants in the yard and mulched it all the other week to prepare for some new landscaping. Some plants were left in place, however, and they're looking awesome!

Tradescantia virginiana

Peony in bloom


Sinningia defoliata Leaf

So exciting! My Sinningia defoliata is getting much larger. It looks like it has some interesting red colouration to it that it didn't have when I purchased the plant. There are tons of little growing points coming from the tuber.

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Growing Grapes

I rarely go to Mr. Yogato anymore--I planted a bunch of stuff that can take care of itself last year when I moved to Saudi Arabia. The spearmint is quite invasive, the herbs don't mind long dry periods, and the rest of it will either die or thrive. Natural selection in a public garden. I occasionally stop by to check things out, but I haven't watered or done much maintenance in more than a year.

When I popped by last week, however, I noticed a tomato seedling in the spring bulb garden, along with the traditional presence of a cigarette butt. I'm not sure how well this seedling will do here, but I'm very inclined to keep it--people respect tomato plants. Maybe they'll stop sitting on my expensive spring bulb garden collection?

The spearmint is taking over the main planting area--toward the top of the photo is a small patch with an Iris, a columbine, some strawberries, a lavender bush, a rosemary bush, and some volunteer Datura and broccoli. I give them another two years before the mint overtakes them and chokes them out--I will probably try to salvage some of them this fall.

In the window planter, right next to where the grape vine is planted, is a Heuchera 'Caramel' (left) and one of the Canna musifolias that overwintered. I don't think it gets enough water to be a sizable plant, but I'm looking forward to seeing how it grows this year!

The 'Red Flame' seedless grape vine is difficult to really get in a single photograph--this section is over the entrance to Mr. Yogato. The grape vine continues up the building, climbing on the severed Boston ivy that had grown on the building's face for years. The grapes are easily dozens and dozens of feet long and starting to branch out everywhere.

Here is, perhaps, a better view of how expansive the vine is. (Please ignore the two girls on a speaker-phone conference call with another girl talking about who's taking whom to some wedding this summer. I tried my hardest to.)

A close-up of the grape cluster. In just weeks, this will fill out and be deliciously edible!

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Monday Plot Post: Wangari And NSCG

My plot at Wangari is growing quite well--most of the transplants I put in the other week are still alive, and some of the seeds are coming up.

The peas are finally flowering and making delicious, juicy pods!

The zucchini is popping up.

And so are the cucumbers and pumpkins. This is cucumber, probably. Unfortunately, I didn't label the specific location of any of my cucumbers and pumpkins--at either plot. At Wangari, that's totally my bad; it's only slightly my bad at my other plot, however. I had placed packets in the places I wanted to sow the seeds and asked the beau to do it; I neglected to ask him to make labels when he did, so I don't remember what's where.

Over at my Newark Street garden plot, I finally met the last of my neighbours; they generously gave me a head of lettuce from their plot! It was delicious with cranberries, goat cheese, artichoke, and a strawberry/walnut vinaigrette.

In my plot, the molokhia I sowed a week ago is germinating.

The 'Nugget' hops are climbing up the trellis.

The 'Brown Turkey' fig cutting isn't doing amazingly, but hopefully it'll start shooting out some leaves soon!

Chard I sowed in mid-April finally decided to pop up during the rains we had last week.

The volunteer potato is getting much larger.

I'm in love with this rhubarb! I think it needs a larger pot--or, dare I say it, to be placed in the ground.

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Sinningia reitzii Awakens

I received this Sinningia reitzii tuber from the raffle at one of the Gesneriad Society chapter meetings over the winter. I don't remember when I picked it up, but I potted it sometime in March. I wasn't sure which way was "up," because I clearly potted it at the wrong time--before growth was showing. The plastic container, however, seemed to be bulging, so I knew something was going on. I ripped out the tuber and found a growing point on one of the sides--so I righted it, and now it has beautiful green fuzzy leaves with red veins! There's another growing point coming out of the tuber, as well, that you can't see in this photo, and more to come, I'd expect. It's quite a large tuber!

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Mother's Day Cactus

This Schlumbergera NOID bloomed for American Thanksgiving (not Canadian Thanksgiving, which is a month and a half earlier), almost-Valentine's Day (or perhaps Belated President's Day?), and now Mother's Day (this photo is from Tuesday). This plant doesn't know what holiday it's supposed to be celebrating! This plant will be even more beautiful when all the segments decide to bloom at the same time.


Blogger Plant Purchase

One of my favouritest-ever plant bloggers started offering plants for sale last year. In the spring, he put up a plant list; a few weeks ago, he opened it up for orders. Later in the season, new plants may become available.

It's not too far off the mark to say that Mr. Subjunctive at Plants are the Strangest People is one of my biggest plantaholism enablers. He blogs about cool plants; I buy plants from eBay or elsewhere. He makes a funny joke; I buy plants from eBay or elsewhere. He goes on vacation; I buy plants from eBay or elsewhere.

You see? It's really all his fault that I have so many plants. Not that I need much encouragement.

So, when he posted his plant-sale list this year, I was all over that. I purchased an Anthurium seedling mongrel that he grew from seed he got from his own plants, a red Cryptanthus, Eucharis x grandiflora, Furcraea foetida 'Medio-Picta,' Monstera deliciosa cuttings, Selenicereus chrysocardium, Syngonium wendlandii, and a gray Yucca guatemalensis to replace the one from him I had had for about a year before the USDA burned it.

Here's how the box was after I eagerly cut it open before thinking "I should document the unwrapping process." Yes, I smudged out the addresses on the label.

Opening the box to a professional-looking list of plants ordered made me feel insanely giddy, for some reason.

Finding the box full of bags and carefully packaged plants made me even more giddy. I know Mr. Subjunctive takes pains to ensure the safe arrival of the plants he sends--and he even has a "How to Pack Plants for Mailing" post that explains his process. I also know to check each bag in the box, because there might be a hidden plant or a plant part that could be propagated in one of them--in fact, I found a few chunks of Selenicereus chrysocardium in one of the bags. Granted, that was the bag wrapped around the potted plant, but still--if I weren't paying attention, I would have missed the opportunity to propagate two extra plants!

It took about an hour to unwrap the plants, pot some of the bare-root ones, and water the bunch. Most of these are staying indoors under lights for the moment, but I unwrapped them outside so that any dirt that was misplaced during shipment wouldn't end up on my living room floor. Because of the careful wrapping job Mr. Subjunctive did, all of the plants are in excellent shape and very little of the soil in the potted plants shifted around much. I had previously donated to PATSP via PayPal, so I got bonuses! Bonus plants pictured here are Ctenanthe burle-marxii and Philodendron hederaceum 'Brasil.'


Christmas-Acquired Christmas Cactus Gives Me A Gift

This what-I-assume-is-Schlumbergera NOID cutting came from the beau's mother's plant. While we were visiting her over the holidays, I noticed that a few stem segments had fallen off her main plant, so I swiped it up and took it home to root it.

It kind of sat around for a while--which I find to be a much more positive sign than rotting. It started rooting a few months ago, and in the past week or so, it decided to send up new growth! It's such a cute little thing. Unfortunately, I don't remember the colour of the flowers on the beau's mother's plant, but I'm sure I'll see it again before this tiny baby is ready to bloom.

And, yes, the segments are tiny tiny tiny! They're about one-third of an inch wide and half an inch long--even on the mother plant.


Synthetic Chemical Light Signals Trick Plants Into Proper Growth--Even In Pitch Black

Originally posted on Agritate, which is no longer active.

Link: Synthetic Chemical Light Signals Trick Plants Into Proper Growth--Even In Pitch Black

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Growing Seedlings

These seedlings come from seed shared with me by a plant blogger after I moved back to the US and had my garden confiscated from me by the USDA. They're Justicia scheidweileri (right two pots) and mixed Abutilon (left five pots). It took me quite some time to get around to sowing them, and even more time to pot them up individually. I have never grown either plant--but look how pretty J. scheidweileri can get with its awesome silver veins and pretty red flowers! And Abutilon are the houseplant member of the mallow family--they look like Hibiscus and hollyhocks to me, and large, robust flowers like that are always a favourite! A bonus is that I have no clue what the colours might be--they could be completely new!

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Flowering Cuttings

The few dozen Episcia cuttings I propagated a few weeks ago are not only growing well, they're flowering! These cuttings are for the local Gesneriad Society chapter's table at the Behnke's garden social in June. The sources of most of these cuttings are plant-blogger friends (one who sent back a cutting of Episcia 'Coco' that I had sent him, which then flowered, fertilized, fruited, and set seed that germinated and subsequently dried out and died--one is still growing, fortunately, but I feel horrible about the mass slaughter) and a friend from the local Gesneriad Society chapter. Episcia get unkempt looking if you don't chop them up and repot them every once in a while--it was a good opportunity to start growing things to share as well as do some much-needed maintenance on my plants!

This photo is from soon after potting the cuttings up--they have rooted and grown in the weeks since then!

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Monday Plot Post: NSCG

Yesterday, I went out to the garden plot at Newark Street Community Garden to do some maintenance and planting with the beau. We sowed a bunch of seed and planted tons of plants and seedlings that I started myself or purchased. I started listing what I have at the plot in sentence form, and it got a little messy; I then listed everything in a more friendly way, but it's intimidating me to look at it (or perhaps making me embarrassed at sharing my addiction so openly?), so I shoved it to the back of the post.

This stitched panorama is horrid, but it shows what most of the plot looks like right now after all the plants are in and watered. The photos below offer individual spotlights from the garden, starting from the side corner, circling around the back and side to the entryway, and jumping to the herb section near the trellis.

This isn't the best possible photo of the 'Sunshine Blue' blueberry bush I got at the Franciscan Monastery annual garden sale a week ago. Because the blueberry purchase I got in South Carolina quickly withered, I decided getting a better-established plant was worth the investment. This one already has blueberries developing! To its right, you can see the Eucalyptus I got from the Friends of the National Arboretum Garden Fair a few weeks ago, too.

I despaired that the rhubarb, asparagus, and horseradish I got from a random garden center near Winchester, Virginia, in March would never grow--they were dried husks, but damn cheap. The rhubarb kicked out, but the asparagus and horseradish just kind of sat around. I checked both of them yesterday, and I saw a few little spikes coming from the asparagus pot! The horseradish, however, had clearly be nonviable and/or overwatered--it had rotted. So I used its pot to pot up the Eucalyptus in the above photo.

The 'Nugget' hops are as vigorous as ever and starting to climb the trellis arch tunnel!

I accidentally broke off chayote's lead vine when I brought it to the garden weeks ago. But that's alright--now that it's in a huge container and in full sun, it's ready to go! During the time the beau and I were at the garden (about 11:30 AM to 3 PM), the second tendril on the right waved toward the trellis fencing and started wrapping around--it wasn't attached when we got to the garden, but it was secure when we left! That thing moves fast.

Although slower to get started than 'Nugget,' 'Teamaker' hops are growing as well. The rhizome had only just started sending up shoots when I planted it, so it had a bit more to travel before reaching the surface; 'Nugget' had a few extra weeks of sun because even though I planted both rhizomes at the same depth, it had already grown a bunch.

I sowed this corn about two and a half weeks ago; I sowed more yesterday for a continual harvest. I'm not a big corn eater, but if I'm growing it, I'll damn well eat it! I love making black bean soup with fresh steamed corn.

I don't know why, but having a tomato cage makes me feel more like a real gardener. I'm so frakkin' excited to have a garden! The tomato at the bottom is a black cherry tomato, which reminds me of my first weekend in Saudi Arabia, where I had my first-ever juicy delicious black cherry tomatoes. The well-maintained plot in the top half of the photo is my neighbour-gardener's plot, not mine--it's hard to see the fence between our plots, but my space stops at the layer of hay running through the middle of the photo.

I had black cherry tomato seeds that I grew myself--but all of my seedlings are slated to be shared at a give-away next weekend at a farmers' market for DC State Fair. So, I bought myself a starter plant from a farmers' market on Saturday. It's much larger than the ones I started myself, anyhow. I don't yet have a regular-size general-purpose tomato, nor Sungold, which I believe are both necessities. I will have to acquire these in the next week or so.

These peas are not as large as the ones at my plot at Wangari. But they were also planted a few weeks later. I really hope one of the gardens affords me some pea harvest--I love eating them!

In front of the peas, I noticed this popping up last week: it's a volunteer potato! A neighbour gardener said that I should remove it--potatoes don't seem to grow well in this garden, they're small, too much work to clean, and other reasons. They are all valid. But I am being stubborn and allowing it to grow just to see what happens.

Ever since I saw a cardamom plant in a fellow DC-area gardener's yard, I desired it so hard. It's a ginger relative, and I love ginger relatives. But saying "it" is pretty misleading, because "cardamom" actually could be a bunch of different plants. This one is Amomum NOID, but "cardamom" also includes Elettaria species. Rubbing the leaves gives a lemony scent; the seedpods are used in tons of different cuisines. Amomum is "black cardamom," whose seedpods are larger, darker, and stronger flavoured than Elettaria, or "green cardamom." I don't know what I plan to do with this plant other than protect it during the winter so it'll come back next year (and take a few offsets and pot them up as an insurance policy).

This is herb central, focused around the pre-existing rosemary bush. The rhubarb is an honorary herb. At the bottom is chamomile, at the top-middle is the lemon verbena, and there are some poppies and borage at the top left.

Came with the plot:
  • Rosemary
  • Volunteer potato
  • Narcissus
  • Lots of weeds
Sown mid-April:
  • Peas
  • Spinach
  • Various salad greens
Sown early May:
  • Various bush and pole beans
  • Corn
Planted early May:
  • Lemon verbena
Brought to garden in containers early May:
  • 'Red Latham' raspberry
  • 'Ebony King' blackberry
  • Asparagus
  • Horseradish (deceased: overwatering)
  • Ginger
  • Lemongrass
  • 'Brown Turkey' fig
  • 'Nugget' hops
  • 'Teamaker' hops
  • Chayote
  • Sweet potato
  • Dahlia
  • Rhubarb
  • Blueberry (deceased?: overwatering?)
  • 'Concord' grape (deceased?: overwatering?)
  • Strawberries (deceased: nonviable crowns? Pot now used as disposal area for spearmint weeded out of borders and beds.)
Sown 13 May:
  • 'White African' sorghum
  • Black sesame
  • Various bush beans
  • Corn
  • 'Red Ripper' cowpeas
  • Strawberry spinach
  • Molokhia
  • Amaranth
  • 'Sugar Pie' pumpkin
  • 'Marketmore' cucumber
  • 'Tasty Queen 10' Japanese cucumber
  • Zucchini
  • 'Koribo' squash
  • Butternut squash
  • 'Boston Marrow' squash
  • 'Uchiki Kuri' squash
  • 'Dr. Carolyn' tomato
  • 'Aubergine du Burkina Faso' eggplant
  • Litchi tomato
  • Various nasturtium
  • Woad
Planted 13 May:
  • Stevia
  • Poppies
  • Chamomile
  • Passiflora from the DC Tropics swap
  • Various basil
  • Larkspur
  • Columbine
  • Chives
  • Cilantro
  • Thyme
  • Oregano
  • Cardamom
  • 'Shishito' pepper
  • Borage
  • Jalapeno peppers
  • 'Explosive Ember' pepper
  • Mixed unknown hot peppers
  • 'Cowhorn' okra
  • Black cherry tomato
  • 'Kamo' eggplant
  • 'Sea Island Brown' cotton
  • Artichoke
  • 'Schronce's Deep Black' peanut
  • Huckleberry
  • Ground cherry
Brought to garden in containers 13 May:
  • 'Sunshine Blue' blueberry bush
  • Eucalyptus
  • Alpine strawberry
  • Pomegranate
  • Bay laurel
  • Purple fig
  • Lemon balm
Planning to bring to garden:
  • 'Ben Lear' cranberry
  • 'Koralle' lingonberry
  • Camellia sinensis (tea)
  • 'Concord' grape replacement
  • 'Ken's Red Hardy' kiwi female
  • 'Arbor-eat-um #7' kiwi female
  • 'Hardy Meader' kiwi male
  • 'Novak' dwarf banana
  • Some sort of regular-size tomato

Plants elsewhere:
  • Various beans
  • Peas
  • Spinach
  • Zucchini
  • 'Marketmore' cucumber
  • 'Sugar Pie' pumpkin
  • Sage
  • 'White African' sorghum
  • Black sesame
  • Beets
  • Various peppers
  • Parsely
  • Cutting celery
  • Bunching onions
  • Cuban oregano, Plectranthus amboinicus
  • Various basil
  • Fennel
  • Broccoli raab
  • Lemon thyme
  • French thyme
Mr. Yogato:
  • Spearmint
  • Lavender
  • Rosemary
  • Strawberry
  • Iris
  • Iris reticulata
  • 'Black Lily' Fritillaria camschatcensis
  • Various Crocus
  • Various tulips
  • Canna musifolia
  • Scilla siberica
  • Gladiolus
  • 'Caramel' Heuchera
  • 'Red Flame' seedless grape
  • Garlic
  • Volunteer broccoli and Datura



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