Posts tagged ‘gardening’

Sprouting Wormwood and An Interesting Pink Enigma

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It’s been an interesting couple of weeks in my little garden. I finally received my wormwood seeds a few weeks past, but I was reluctant to sow them until next Spring. The nursery I purchased my seeds from suggested I sow them next year, but I did a bit of research and discovered I could sow them now if I kept them indoors. I decided to give it a go, and it seems to be going pretty well so far. My seeds sprouted within a few days. I was quite surprised, but very happy nonetheless.

For those of you who don’t know, Wormwood, or Artemisia absinthium, is a herbaceous plant that is typically used as an insect repellent in the garden. When dried, its leaves are used to repel moths and other insects from indoors. Additionally, it is one of the ingredients used to create absinthe. I wouldn’t recommend trying to make your own absinthe, just to be safe.

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The tomatoes are still showering me with fruit. I am quite surprised. I don’t actually know if this is normal for this type of tomato, but I shall try to find out. My friend who gifted that plant to me must know more about it. Aside from not knowing the plant’s true  name, I am quite pleased with the results. Our wonky tomato plants have been quite successful.

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The lettuce and herbs keep getting larger and larger. The lavender is still running a bit behind, but it’s coming along. The lettuces and onions are growing strongly and very swiftly. Everyday I am stunned at their progress. We shall have a few winter lettuce beds and onions very shortly. I am keeping them all indoors for the winter. I only set them outside for about 30 minutes every day to get a bit of sun and breeze. I water them while they are outside as well. I then place them on a sunny windowsill in my kitchen the rest of the time. It has worked out quite well.

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This lovely character is my Perpetual Spinach. It was described to be as a very hardy plant that would withstand the winter months quite well. I shall have to see how it fares. From the looks of it, I think it is going to survive quite well.

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This little lovely is a mystery to me. It was gifted to me by my landlord on move in day. He is a fabulous chap that has an allotment of  his own. He heard that I loved greenery, and he gave me this as a housewarming present. How lovely of him! Funny thing is, I haven’t the slightest idea what it is. I should probably ask my neighbor, as he is a professional gardener. I suppose I just never really thought to ask. It is such a beautiful specimen, and I just kind of let it be. It seems to be doing quite well without much help from me. I shall unravel the enigma shortly, and post more about this lovely, pink mystery.

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September 11, 2009 at 11:12 am Leave a comment

Protecting The Future, One Seed At A Time

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As a new gardener, I’ve been quickly learning about different plant varieties I can grow, in what seasons they grow best and how to take each plant from seed to maturity. The first seeds in my new garden have sprouted and are well on their way to maturity. The layout of the garden has been planned, and seasonal, organic vegetable and fruit seeds have been chosen. Everything seems to be in order, or so I thought it was.

A fellow gardener and I were looking over my plans and plant choices when he noted I did not have enough biodiversity in my selections. I had evidently chosen plants that would increase pests in my plots, and I had none that would keep them away. Additionally, some of the plants I wanted to raise together for seasonal and ornamental reason would kill each other if left on their own for too long. This might sound like bad news, but this is why I asked him for help. I wanted to have the right information before I began planting my sprouts into the ground. Now I have a better understanding of what to plant, where to plant it and in what seasons I should start sowing.

After our conversation, I promised to plant a variety of seeds that would not only produce a tasty product, but would help protect my garden and the gardens around the neighborhood. I was able to source a fantastic nursery near my home that specializes in seeding heirloom vegetables and fruits. I found this curious as I did not know what they meant by heirloom. Evidently, an heirloom vegetable is a plant that was commonly grown during earlier years in human history, but is not commonly grown at present for one reason or another. I became fascinated by these vegetables and quickly learned as much as I could. I discovered that many heirloom vegetables are becoming extinct. I was quite appalling to me.

There are a vast number of wonderful and beautiful vegetable and fruit varieties I was blissfully unaware of until now. Knowing of them now is bittersweet as many of them are endangered. Right then I made a promise to myself, and vowed to grow a number of endangered varieties in my garden. One might suggest we simply let nature run it’s course, but I disagree. The more common vegetables and fruits are ones you see at the supermarket. These varieties were often selected because of their tolerance to pesticides, frost and drought. Nutritional value and flavor was usually a secondary concern if at all. I am certain there are exceptions, however, the homogenization of our horticultural world is only increasing the number of heirloom species that are becoming extinct ever year. I might be an in-experienced gardener, but common sense told me this probably isn’t good.

Cary Fowler, a biodiversity advocate and member of the Global Crop Diversity Trust, gave an excellent TED Talk on this issue. I certainly recommend giving his talk a listen. It is incredibly fascinating, and he highlights some very important arguments for maintaining the biodiversity in the Earth’s crops.

I would like to think I am doing my part by deciding to grow a number of heirloom vegetables along with more common varieties in my garden. I have great hopes and expectations for my plot as I have meticulously planned every detail. However, I do realize that the best gardens always come with time and dedication. It is going to be a long process, but I am very excited for the outcome. The most exciting part for me is knowing that I am aiding in the continued existence of endangered vegetables and fruits. That in itself, is all the drive I need to continue with this endeavor.

Video via TED Talks

Image by Carmen Dirica

September 3, 2009 at 12:23 pm Leave a comment

Tales from the Garden: The Seedlings Have Sprouted

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I have some excellent news to report. All of my seeds have started sprouting! I am incredibly excited. This is my first batch of autumn vegetables, and I am so proud. Now, lets hope I don’t muck it up. A few days ago, I took the image above, but this is what they look like today.

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The only plant I was a bit concerned about was the lavender. It didn’t seem to make any progress until today. This morning I noticed a small, green shoot hiding under the dirt. I was incredibly happy to see this. I’m really excited to get the lavender going. It was my favorite of all the seeds I planted.

On another note, the tomato is still going strong. My neighbors are having a few problems with their crop as they don’t seem to want to ripen. However, mine seem to be doing quite well. The plant might look a little wonky, but it sure is one resilient tomato maker. Here is a picture of a tomato blossom before it turns into the little green ball. I’d never seen this process before this year. It was very fascinating to watch the transformation.

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August 27, 2009 at 6:12 pm Leave a comment

Green Tomatoes and A Wonky Cucumber

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I’ve started sowing my autumn/winter garden with a little help from my neighbor, Ernest. He has been incredibly helpful with his 28 years of experience in the field. I am very lucky to have such a knowledgeable person right next door. Today, I planted lavender, mint, little gem lettuce, perpetual spinach and white Lisbon onion seeds. I really hope they germinate, but we will have to see.

On another note, my cherry tomatoes are as vibrant as ever. They aren’t turning red as quickly as they were in Brighton, but they are certainly giving me loads of fruit. I think I did a good job with this first plant as it is producing very sweet tomatoes every couple of days. I might be an inexperienced gardener, but I would have to say this particular plant has been quite successful.

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My lovely friend Jean gifted Dennis and I with a cucumber plant a few months ago, and I have very good news to report. The plant has given us one lovely, wonky cucumber. I really thought it was going to just wilt away, but it has grown quite a bit. It might be a little weird looking, but it is certainly more than I expected. Nevertheless, I have learned the proper method of caring for it, and next year I expect a better crop. I’m just glad we had the one cucumber as opposed to none at all. It has certainly given me hope.

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I will certainly keep everyone updated on the garden’s status. We just moved into our new flat, and our plants don’t have a stable location at the moment. I have the entire garden planned out, and I hope it turns out the way I envision it. Stay tuned…

August 21, 2009 at 2:26 pm Leave a comment

Interesting Move and Pathetic Tomatoes

Dennis and I finally moved flats this past weekend, and it has been quite the adventure. The movers where fantastic. I highly recommend them if you need a moving company in and around the Sussex area. They are called Smooth Movers. Anyhow, I am up to the ceiling in boxes right now, and we forgot to get the internet connected and phone switched over. We should be up and running again in a couple of days. I found this lovely internet cafe close to my new home, and while it is a bit expensive, it allows me to get on.

On a different note, my new neighbors are fantastic! The neighborhood is very friendly and quiet. I did notice that the row of houses we are attached to had some lovely flowers blooming all throughout the lawns. I come to find out that one of my new neighbors has been a professional gardener for 28 years. He helps everyone keep their gardens in perfect condition, and he offered to help me start my own fruit and veg garden. We did move my tomato plant from the other flat, but I thought it wasn’t going to make it. It looked droopy, and it started dropping it’s fruits prematurely. While I was away yesterday, he came over and gave it some of his special tomato food mixture. By the time I came back, the plant was vivid. I haven’t measured, but I swear my plant grew about 3 inches over night. My tomatoes might look better, but they are certainly pathetic in comparison to the rest of the gardeners. I certainly hope to learn how to grow them properly for next year.

Additionally, I discovered that sweet peas give you a nasty stomach ache if you touch the pods then swipe your hand over your mouth. FYI!

August 10, 2009 at 2:46 pm Leave a comment

Portable Garden Design By David Barry

Irish Designer David Barry developed The Eden Project which is a very creative green solution to urban gardening. The concept involves the use of portable gardening pods which allow the user to grow their own food. The pods can then be stored away after the growing season has passed.

I love this concept. It is an absolutely brilliant idea. Dennis and I live in a very small place, and we have been looking into ways of our own food. At the moment, it has been incredibly difficult. We managed to grow a tomato plant, and we are working on a cucumber plant. While we did have success, it was incredibly difficult to find space for them. Moving them around after they grew to be a certain size proved to be a problem as well. These portable garden pods would eliminate this issue.

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Images via David Barry

June 24, 2009 at 3:46 pm 1 comment


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