Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Parsley and Dill

Parsely and Dill

Parsely takes a long time to start, goes to seed the next year. It is a classic biennial.

I started it early last year, since it takes so long to sprout. It is easy for me to get fresh Tabuleh at the bakery on the corner, they make it fresh and use lots of parsley, not so much bulgher. I had best get to starting parsley this year. I could start it outside now, as April Fools Day is upon us.

Parsley is so high in vitamins A and D that I ought to use it in more soups and salads. I am confused about the flavor, the fresh herb is so mild. I wish they used it in Dal and Indian food, I don’t often think it appropriate to mix parsely with mustard and turmeric. I hereby declare that dill and parsley are a good addition to Dal, especially in spring.

I often make a dip out of chives and parsley and dill with yogurt or sour cream and a little salt. In summer, cucumbers must be added, sometimes peppers, and it is not then a dip, but a salad, alternately, use up the last of your chili powder with your cucumbers. I do not often use strong language like must; if you try this dip, or salad you will understand.

Dill plants itself around the garden. Dill is so nice, I don’t know why anyone would want coriander instead. Coriander might be grown in addition, I must see to it this year.

Posted 31 March 2009

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Living Wall Con't

Green Wall

Time to plant a green wall. I ordered Living Wall Outdoor Planting Grids (2) from Gardener’s Supply Co. I was stymied at first, I first saw the product on the Living Wall web sight. Then the catalog came with the grids inside a frame at more then double the cost I was planning on. Plus I didn’t know what to do with aoo that framing. Then I went to the web sight to order and the product was gone. These green wall grids have become a Gardener’s Supply Exclusive. I wasn’t going to pay over $100 for them. So when the product showed up in the catalog without the framing, I put out the cash, ordered two.

I’m planning on mounting the grids on the garage and growing lettuce that no ground hog will be able to reach. The grids can also move into the shade in summer, though the lettuce will go to seed come June when it is warm and I will have to replant greens, mache and New Zealand Spinach last through the summer months.

I did not order the planting medium from Gardeners Supply. For one thing, I read (don’t know where) that the plastic crystals that absorb water, contain Bisphenol A, or some other chemical that I don’t wish to put in my body. I would love to chase this data down, the internet is not quite transparent enough yet.

Moving along; what soil mix I will use. Three choices in additives to make the soil mix lighter and retain water are: Sphagnum moss, vermiculite, and peat moss. All three have pros and cons. I eliminated peat moss first because mining the bogs that have been there for centuries is not what I want to support.

I will try to purchase soil additives from a local nursery, at least see what they have. Compost has been my main soil for pots in the past, but compost is heavy. I will have to experiment and see what works. Water retention will become a big issue, I am sure, as the growing modules are small and we have little rain in the summer. Drip irrigation is done with plastic tubes (more weird science). I will want to grow lettuce in the shade.

On the web I have seen wires and shelving used on big buildings to make green walls. I have been playing around with cukerbits, squash and cukes, but have not found a deep enough container. I am still experimenting with this, the problem could be that the soil dries out in summer, I need to work on the drip system.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Window Sill Gardens

Lettuce Seeds

Some of my lettuce seeds sprouted, so I had to move them to the porch where they can get more light.

I ought to grow more mesclun. I know that the packaged organic stuff we get from California is grown with water from reservoirs that are silting up, transported with fossil fuels, and old. I have been lazy about growing my own, but I ought to.

I do grow stuff on the window sill all winter long, mostly geraniums and impatiens. I stuck a citrus seed of some sort in one of those pots (as I was cooking) last year. The citrus sprout is about a foot tall now and has it’s own pot. I am thinking about putting plants in pots with each other. Cactus gardens are mixed, why not other mixes?

Potatoes that sprouted in the cupboards over winter now occupy pots, along with philodendron and are green. Those potatoes might be delicious, instead of winding up in the compost.

It took a long time, but I am getting the idea of putting more than one plant my pots. Olive seeds and palms seeds and lettuce seeds that I collected in my travels are in pots all over my space. I do not know where it all will go, but I know it is silly not to put in lettuce seeds with the lot. It would be better to have lettuce on the sill with the geraniums in winter than geraniums alone.

Pots on the window sill as ecosystems. It is a stretch to think this way, the thought may fly.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Cleaning Beds

The sun was out and the warm days of garden cleaning up are upon us. The gardens in So Cal were dry, I liked the turtles in the pond. Every where I went I wondered where the water was coming from, having recently read Cadillac Desert.

Removing old leaves and branches, finding green things underneath, takes my mind off water projects in the west and disappearing rain forest and brings me back to my own little space. I have the gift of time this year, to do the job right. Star of Bethlehem (Ornithogalum umbellatum) doesn’t mind the leaf mulch, grows right through them. Googled, it looks like the S of B bulb is a native of the Middle East, edible, dried for long journeys, some people hate it because it becomes a pest in the garden, multiplying like crazy. It is not too intrusive for me, I can pull it where I don’t want it.

The very hardy, small, late fall, spready, mum I got at the perennial exchange is light green under the leaves.

I also grow a number of fever few (Or rather don’t pull them. I like to crumble the dry flowers where I want the seeds to grow the next year. They tend towards being biennial, though sometimes take one year to bloom) (Tanacetum umparthenium, also called Chrysanthemum parthenium and Martricaria parthenium. I don’t know why this plant has three names, but I suspect the ornamental Chrysanthemum industry has made the taxa favorable to themselves). My Mother’s old neighbor used to encourage the gathering of feverfew seeds to cull the single blooms and encourage the double flowers. The fashion of single blooms has returned. The blooms are white, good accents. People use the plant medicinally. (You can buy the dried plant in capsules that a lab has tested and found the amount of active ingredients. Testing seems prudent in this case, as it is a blood thinner).

I have a perennial geranium that survives here in Zone 5 (some say we live in zone 6 now). It is coming along as well, along with many little green things that I have yet to identify. I would make poetry about the green things coming up. Spring is a magical time. It is good to be filling my compost rings and bending and getting dirty again after the winter.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Winter Aconite- English Ivy

(Eranthis hyemalis) blooms in February and March. It is native to Southern Europe, but yellow blooms are very cheerful, so it has naturalized on the south side of the house and gives us all a treat with yellow flowers here in the North at the end of winter.

The seeds spread around of their own accord, I like to collect them before the leaves disappear in early summer and give them to people who have admired it.

The plant has chemical alcaloids in it, is used in Chinese medicine. It ought not to be ingested and so ought not to be grown around kids and dogs who dig. (Wikipedia says so) I do not understand why the blooms in Wikipedia's photo look like my Winter Aconite, but the picture of the seeds do not look like my seeds.

My first Winter Aconite plants came from my Mother’s garden. Now, after about 15 years, I have a yard wide circle. After the aconite is done, bulbs, Wild Ginger and Jack in the Pulpit and Wormwood grow in the same spot.

If I had allowed it, the English Ivy that trails up the brick would have taken over in that place.

Speaking of Ivy, I recently read about pulling the roots of Ivy and letting it dry before removing it from buildings so as not to hurt the brick work.