Showing posts with label Gardening-Outdoors. Show all posts

New Plant Inventory

I know this isn't a really sexy post, so here's a photo of Habranthus robustus flowers.



In preparing to move to Seattle, I culled my plant collection severely. The nigh-constant moves to new apartments (I left my beau in January 2015, a little more than a year after we moved to a new apartment) and the resultant plant stress and neglect were pretty helpful with that anyway, but I wanted to start my collection with a different focus in my new city. I have discovered a love of tuber/corm/etc. plants with a winter dormancy, such as Amorphophallus and Sinningia. These plants survive my neglect best, and they're just darn cool.

So I carefully unpotted and wrapped up the tubers/corms/etc. in newspaper and took a cutting of my Yucca guatemalensis from Mr. Subjunctive/Plants Are The Strangest People. I carefully packaged them for transport--and then somehow packed them in a box that was destined for the movers, instead of my luggage. Two weeks in a moving van is not what these plants wanted. Most of them were dead on arrival. A few survived (the little bulblets from the Hippeastrum seedlings I had grown, for example), and some are questionable. We'll see whether anything else survives. But I'm basically starting from scratch here in Seattle.

I put in a few orders from nurseries and bought some plants at local events. I've updated my plant inventory; you can find it in the navigation on the right, if you're ever curious in the future. I don't plan to expand the current collection much; I'm happy with what I have at the moment, considering the lack of sunlight I have available. I would have more, but my downstairs neighbor who threatens people with guns doesn't want me walking on the gravel on the side of the house because he doesn't want to have to keep checking to make sure it's not nefarious elements. ::shrugs:: I want to do it just to fuck with him, but it's not worth a hole in the chest.

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Backyard Garden: A Virtual Tour

Because I haven't updated about my own plants in a ridiculous amount of time, I thought I'd share an update about plants that used to be mine and are now thriving in someone else's garden.

Two years ago, when I vacated my plot at Newark Street Community Garden, I ended up giving a bunch of my fruit plants to a contractor I work with at the day job (we talk pickling, canning, and gardening a lot when she's in the office working for us). She picked up strawberry plants, a grape vine, blackberry and raspberry canes, rhubarb, and more from me--and they are super-happy to be living with her now.

This spring, she has sent me a couple series of photos; I've even been the lucky recipient of some of her bounty (she had very, very tart strawberries--I loved them!).

Here are the strawberries in May, growing next to the raspberries:


She's been having some issues with the raspberries--they are vigorous growers! I'm sure she'll get a wonderful harvest next year. They and the blackberries look really happy now, next to the grapes and strawberries.


Here is what the rest of her backyard garden looks like--tomatoes, dill, cucumbers, beans, radishes, squash, and so much more!

Perilla!

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Orbea variegata Blooms

I bought this two years ago in Berkeley, California, at Cactus Jungle. (The Plant List says it is, in fact, Orbea variegata, not Stapelia variegata. It has been languishing a little--poor light for most of the year (in the house), it's in the same pot I bought it in, and it keeps getting bumped so stems fall off.

But it has filled out significantly, and it's clearly happy where it is out front this summer, because it's blooming.

Orbea (Stapelia) variegata

And yes, it smells.

You have to stick your nose within about 8 inches of the blooms at the right time of day, but yes, it stinks. Taking a whiff any closer to the blooms is distinctly unpleasant.

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Amorphophallus Bombardment

Various Amorphophallus (several paeoniifolius from different sources, a NOID, and smaller ones under the canopy--plus some Ledebouria etc.)

Various Amorphophallus

Amorphophallus bulbifer with the barest hint of A. titanum in the back on the right

Amorphophallus bulbifer

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Sinningia canescens In Bloom

Sinningia canescens

I started this plant from seed in, say, late 2011 or early 2012. I'm not entirely sure the start date--but I know they were still only small seedlings when I sold most of them at the Mid-Atlantic Regional Gesneriad Show, Sale & Symposium in fall 2012.

I'm hoping it gets hairier as it ages, as that is one of the things that I like about this species. There's going to be some variation, of course, and this is only 2.5 years old at most, so it has plenty of time to put grow out its hair!

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Birthday Plant Grab

I go to the local Cactus & Succulent Society chapter's August plant sale every year to celebrate my birthday and buy some pretty wicked plants at dizzyingly low prices.

For example, this year, I nabbed 5 Gasteria species for a friend whose birthday is a few days before mine for about $10. The plants I picked up for myself were about $20 all told--and only because of a whopping $15 specimen of Deuterocohnia brevifolia. I only picked up four plants for myself (reasonable, right?).

Birthday plant grab

Spiky mound at top: Deuterocohnia brevifolia
Bottom right: Haworthia truncata
Bottom: Haworthia magnifica
Bottomish middle left: Ledebouria pauciflora

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Doritis Flowers

My horticulturalist friend stopped by a few weeks back with a gift of two Doritis in spike--one with pink and yellow flowers, one white and yellow flowers.

Doritis champorensis


They're the only orchids in the front yard this year. I love seeing them when my friend and I are chatting on the steps--he has to stop me from getting too wrapped up in the plants, though, or I'd completely lose track of our conversation.

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Amorphophallus pygmaeus 'Pewter Pan' In Bloom

I took this photo about a week ago. The tuber was delayed in breaking dormancy (could have been my fault) and was hidden among taller pots on the side wall out front, so I didn't really notice when the leaf finally came up. It's a short Amorphophallus just 6 inches tall, but it gets a nice dark leaf with a silvery look to it. When I noticed the leaf was growing I pulled it out--and found a flowerbud!

Amorphophallus pygmaeus 'Pewter Pan'

On Monday morning, I took this photo with my phone once the flower opened a bit.


If I get seed, I'm propagating like mad. I don't have other Amorphophallus in bloom right now, but maybe I'll get lucky?

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The New Yard

The beau and I moved to a new apartment last October. I don't believe I mentioned that. Surprisingly, most of my plants survived the winter indoors--I think it helped that I upgraded to T8 fluorescent fixtures and got a better case/misting system for the humidity-loving plants (although they are unhappy with me now). I've been really trying to cull the herd and focus on plants I can grow well and couldn't live without. I've been better about that, and about purchases--I make fewer purchases of plants I know won't work for me. It's taken a long time, but I'm starting to learn!

The new apartment is south-facing, so it gets more sun in some parts of the yard where I keep my plants. My landlord says she loves coming home and seeing these plants looking so great, so I'm happy they seem to like their new home.

I took these photos on a cloudy day last week, thus the poor lighting. Over the next little while, I'll share some snippets of what I'm growing from photos I took this past week. And hopefully after that, I'll have more new things to share (and the time to post them).

Front view


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Starting Seed

I'm starting seed for this year's gardening. I'll be growing in pots in the front yard this year, so I have to be a little more selective in what I grow. I'm only starting 50 little pots of seedlings right now; I sowed these seeds on 6 March 2014.



I sowed:

  • Cutting celery (2)
  • Cutting celery seed collected from my community garden plot last August (1)
  • Tiny Tim tomato (2)
  • Molokhia (2)
  • Shishito pepper (2)
  • Thai basil (2)
  • "Purple allium-looking thing" (1)
  • "Asian mint purple" (1)
  • Black Cherry tomato (2)
  • Tumbling Tom tomato (2)
  • Green cotton from Sheila (4 for me, 27 for sharing)

I'm planning also on perhaps cucumbers for pickling and some other herbs--I'm sure I'll run across a few additional plants to pick up in the spring.

As of 10 March 2014, many of the seeds have already germinated!

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Reminders Of Spring

It's been raining almost daily for the past several weeks, and although the temperatures are in the mid-80s to mid-90s every day, it feels like it's still spring--which is nice, because I feel like calendar-spring disappeared way too quickly for my liking.

So, what have I been up to that's kept me away from blogging for so long?

In September, I got a new full-time job (no more freelance reporting/part-time contract work! Although, feel free to check out the Agritate label to read what I wrote on a blog I started to focus on science and journalism--I imported most of those posts into this blog, and will likely continue reading articles and writing about them here when I start blogging again. I mean, I've been saving dozens of them to review and write about in the past several months, I've just never gotten around to it.). My start date at the new job coincided with the culmination of DC State Fair 2012, a regional plant show I was participating in, and a book proposal I was putting together. A month and a half later, I got a car.

DC State Fair went off really well, despite a few glitches.

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We got T-shirts last year! I'm here with chef Alli Sosna, who judged several of the vegetable and fruit contests.

I won a blue ribbon in the Novice class at the plant show.

Gloxinella lindeniana at Mid-Atlantic Regional Gesneriad Show, Sale, and Symposium
My Gloxinella lindeniana won me a blue ribbon at the first-ever Mid-Atlantic Regional Gesneriad Show, Sale, and Symposium.

I was also offered a contract for the book proposal, but realized all the time I currently don't have and decided to turn it down (I don't have a picture for that).

The car is great for weekend errands--but it also opens up a lot more possibility for weekend travel, to visit nearby family or just to get out of the city for a while. That takes a surprising chunk of time when we do get out and about.


My beau shot this photo, our first of the car, because our first-ever load was a bale of hay to use as mulch in the garden plot.

I've made my goal for 2013 to cut back on volunteering and other projects by the end of the year. That means I'm working to hand off DC State Fair to new leaders, refraining from taking on more leadership roles, and in general focusing on my own hobbies and life. It's been nice, but almost more difficult than volunteering all the time was!

Since making that my resolution over the winter, I've filled my time with new hobbies for some reason. I learned how to spin yarn, on supported spindles, drop spindles, and a wheel. You may have read about the yarn I made from my cotton and the silkworms I raised. But it's not like I stopped there.

Cleaning a Raw Fleece
I've purchased and washed three raw fleeces. This is the first, from a Finnsheep named Beatrice, laying out to dry after washing.

"Tuscan Sunset" Handspun Yarn
I've spun what I consider to be a lot of yarn. This, for example, is 465 yards of merino/yak 50/50 dyed in "Tuscan Sunset" colours--yellow-oranges, pink, purple, and red. It was a random-contest freebie, and a beautiful yarn. So beautiful, I had to knit a shawl with it (because what else do you do with such fine yarn?).

Grouchy Geisha at Sunset Shawl
From start to finish, this took me two weeks. I am addicted to knitting lace, now.

My First Dyed Braid
I've tried my hand at dyeing fiber myself (and learned a hell of a lot from that one botched job--one of the lessons being that even botched jobs can be beautiful when spun).


This is the start of spinning of my hand-dyed fiber. The colours are less muted than I thought they would be based on my inexperienced dyeing and the white patches that show through everywhere. It'll certainly be an interesting yarn when I'm through!

Textile Museum Celebration of Textiles
I participated in the Textile Museum's Celebration of Textiles in the spinners' area, where I helped kids learn how to spin with supported spindles and drop spindles. Plus, I got a few yards of cotton spun up on my tahkli!

But it's not like fiber arts have been the only thing I've been up to. I'm still all plant-oriented, too.

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I started a cotton trial plot at Wangari Gardens this year, to measure the fiber staple length of the 7 varieties stocked by Southern Exposure Seed Exchange. This photo is from a few weeks ago, when the cotton first germinated.

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I've been struggling to keep up with my community garden plot, where weeds dominate and my Concord grapes are fruiting.

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I went to several plant swaps this year.

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I've been to Al's Orchid Greenhouse a bunch of times, helping to spread epiphytic and other gesneriads throughout. This is a unifoliate Streptocarpus growing in moss on a cinderblock that holds up a display surface.

I've been busy. It's been a fun several months, but I feel like my blogging should be closer to the front burner than it is. (Right now, it feels more like it's cooled off and stuck in the fridge, not even on the back burner!) I keep delaying blogging because I no longer have time during my commute (I like to knit, and when I'm not knitting, I'm driving because I have to move the car for weekly street sweeping) and I want to revamp the look and feel of the blog. So it just sits here, languishing. But I'm making more of an effort to plan and write; for example, I kept telling myself I wanted to feature each and every one of the above in their own blog posts, as well as other events and topics. But let's be honest--I'll never find time to do all of it the way I want it to be, so snippets it is, and now I can move forward!

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