Monday, March 23, 2015

Blooms -n- Sprouts with a Heavy Dose of Passion

Welcome back friends to Wild Indigo where this week we're all about blooms -n- sprouts with a heavy dose of passion! The Celtic Gardens are buzzing with activity so this week we'll let the pictures tell the tale.

If you read last week's blog you'll remember our rosemary is in bloom.  This little guy ~ I've aptly named him Zeus ~ was having a hay day romping amongst the flowers as evidenced by the wad of pollen  on his face. Someone hand him a hanky ! Its uncommonly known that Zeus preferred rosemary pollen over milk & honey hands down. Way to raise 'em Melissa!


The Martha Washington Asparagus has made its second appearance in the Celtic Gardens. To date six of the ten originally planted crowns are showing promising signs of life. Since this Spring marks the first full year of their residence at the garden (they were planted late last Spring) I didn't know exactly when they'd start shooting up through the ground so I'm thrilled to see most are still thriving despite the exceptionally cold winter. The ground is warming up and maintaining a pleasing temperature for their liking. Yipee!!
 Golden Snow Pea germination

Now I've been told that bragging rights are in order for the Celtic Garden's Passion Vine, so we'll give botanical acclaim its due. Otherwise noted as an annual but obviously in these parts a perennial, mind you the growth you see is from one plant and one plant only.  It relishes full-time hard core Southern sun exposure. (hey where's the baby oil?) Not photographed is a sidewalk entrance way to the garden which may have provided some ambient heat. The car port overhang gives some frost protection and just enough, it appears, as it has withstood the coldest blast of arctic air we've seen in years AND still kept its greenery! Apart from giving it a good layer of mulch and watering it before heavy frost events, this passion vine deserves your applause for it has sustained itself with gusto. In case you've never seen its flower, check out the next picture. 

Passiflora Caerulea

Obviously this flower was photographed last summer. But she's a beauty and flaunting herself wildly without even blushing. (Vern call the cops! That naked lady is streaking the neighborhood again!) Funny how one plant can simultaneously infer innuendo and religious connotations! Now I'm not pulling a Charlie Hebdo here but I did find this commentary a noteworthy link.  PARENTAL WARNING:  a botanical dose of Holy Grail humor should be liberally applied here so don't tell me I didn't warn ya! Anyone casting judgment shall be flogged with a wet noodle! Personally I enjoyed learning more about how Passiflora Caerulea got its name, innuendos aside.
With that said, I do respectfully wish all observers out there a Happy Easter.  In doing so, consider this weeks Wild Indigo thought: what if Yeshua's life purpose was to awaken humanity from its slumber for us to remember that to abide in the vine means to live as we already are ~ Divine.

And as always, may happiness be like rays of sunshine in your mind, body and soul.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Spring has SPRUNG! Yipeeee!!!!

Shall love as the Bridal Wreath wither and die? Or remain ever constant and sure...

Welcome back to Wild Indigo where of course the big news this week, aside from spotting mischievous male pygmies today dressed in suspicious green attire touting auspicious pots of gold, is the Vernal Equinox which occurs in this part of the world March 20 at 6:45 PM EDT.  Warmer weather is making regularly scheduled appearances as of late which is a sure sign of good things yet to come. 

We had a nice rainfall event Saturday which coaxed more Bradford Pear trees to bloom as well as local magnolias. I love our town in the Springtime! Can't wait for the waif of wisteria to hit the air! Even my azaleas are waking up out of their winter slumber.  Thinking the rain may have germinated a few newly sowed seeds I surveyed the beds but there's no sign of germination as of yet. 

Meanwhile, I'm itchin to sow these lettuce seeds! According to the farmer's Almanac March 22-23 is the next best time to plant above ground plants so once again patience is in order.  In the meantime, let's conduct a little experiment. I've sown some seeds to grow starts. At the suggested lunar time, barring favorable weather conditions, I will also direct sow the same varieties and comparatively measure the growth rate.  Should be an interesting experiment to see how the plants measure up.  We'll see which plants grow to maturity faster, taking taste, color, appearance and marketability into consideration to see if lunar planting makes any real difference. Stay tuned!

Newly sown lettuce, cauliflower and chard. Winter Savoy (left) that was over wintered.

Now I didn't just go all ape sowing seeds all wily nilly and what not.  With my garden design in hand and a few catalogs for reference I considered how many square feet I had to work with and how many plants would fit that space as per my plan. By the way, Botanical Interests wins the official blue ribbon award for printing the most useful information per square inch on their seed packets hands down! At a glance I knew how many seeds would grow per SF which was a big time saver in planning, as opposed to looking up plants online and in Baker's Creek catalog which half the time didn't give me the detailed info I wanted.  Sometimes one must just make a judgement call and in this case I had to make several. Since I'm attempting to grow new varieties I don't know how big some of these plants will get.  But after all it's LETTUCE so how much space can .... well, again time will tell.  : )

Improv at its finest!

Obviously when you're growing plants in mass from seed you need a way to identify which plants are which. In my zeal I soon realized that I didn't have any popsicle sticks on hand! Looking around the shop an easy solution was found. How about re-purposing tags from last year's purchases? Voila! Problem solved. Notice the above picture.  They've been marked in pencil with a capital letter to their corresponding variety. Now I don't use anything fancy as far as soil goes. I'm using a mix of top soil and coconut fiber at a 3:1 ratio.  The soil seems to drain well and hopefully will retain enough water to keep the seeds moist. Into the cold frame they went and with these warm sunny days we should see germination soon.

View of the moon Sunday March 15th 7:42 am

After looking around the garden I spotted something else in bloom.  Now everywhere I've ever lived, whether in the North or South, I've always had a garden and it's always included rosemary.  I've raised rosemary everywhere I've ever lived but never had one bloom.  In just three short years this one has.  Originally purchased at Big Bloomers in Sanford, NC this big momma not only withstood a very cold winter and took a modest hit but is heralding in Spring with bells on! I expect she'll do just fine again this summer. Funny ~ I'm wondering if science has found a human gardening genome for I certainly have the trait.  Growing up Dad always planted a garden every summer. The tomatoes grew taller than me as a kid. These days peppers, onions, cilantro, chives, summer squash, dill and parsley are his staples. His Aunt had a big garden out in the country.  I still remember picking green beans and eating them raw. Mom grows beautiful flowers and as do I.  She has a green thumb for sure! Growing food, I'm finding, is a whole other thing altogether and certainly an adventure!

And with that said, in the poetic words of Jonathan Swift, May you live all the days of your life! Well said, sir!
And as always, may happiness be like rays of sunshine in your mind, body and soul.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

A Woman and her Schtick ~ Ruler, that is!

Greetings readers! Welcome back to Wild Indigo.  I'm vacillating over whether to call this blog Wild Indigo or Fayetteville Celtic Garden but for the time being we'll leave it as is and continue on. Hopefully we'll actually lay our hands on the real deal (plant that is) this spring, be it plant or grown from seed!

Now today is Tuesday and by now you've likely managed to reset the myriad of clocks in your home and office. Personally I relish waking up to the light of day at 6 am so now once again I find myself shunning these dark mornings. Will someone please tell me why we still move time to and fro? After all, today's farmers run tractors equipped with GPS! So as I re-establish my circadian rhythm I'll enjoy my longer evenings, perhaps with a cool beverage in hand, gearing up for star gazing and observing whatever else goes bump in the night.

We've had some down right balmy weather here in Da'Ville! I took some extended time off this past weekend and planted me some seeds - YAY! Yes the primal need for grimy phalanges has reached its climax. I've been bit by the warm-weather, spring-is-a-comin, gotta-dig-me-some-dirt bug! But not recklessly so. I've been advised not to rule out the possibility of ill-weather so I've taken heed and utilized a measure of restraint.  Besides Mother Nature has been about as unpredictable as a cantankerous woman so wise precautions have been employed. More about that in a minute.

Now there's many ways to skin a cat ~ can't believe I just wrote that considering I have more than my fair share in my care ~ but what I'm referring to here are the methodologies of planning a garden scheme and seed planting.

Square foot gardening (I'll refer to it as SFG) has become quite popular over the years. Mel Bbartholomew - the SFG guru - still has his site up and running though there aren't any recent updates. There's other useful means such as apps like this one where at the click of a mouse you can create your desired layout. Features like color coded crop rotation and helpful sowing reminders are neat options.

As far as planting dates are concerned average frost dates by region apply. Around these parts that magical date is April 15th. The danger of frost has passed by then and soil temps are ideally at optimum temperatures suitable for planting Spring crops. Set yourself up for success by reading your seed packets carefully to determine what your plant needs! Lettuce doesn't generally tolerate frost so wait a little longer before you plant to avoid disappointment.

According to the ancient practice of Lunar Planting, the moon can speed up germination rates thus influencing seed growth. For instance during a new moon gravitational force theoretically increases soil moisture, causing seeds to swell.  Read more about it here. Since 1818 the Farmers Almanac has doled out tried and true information based on lunar planting. The Farmer's Almanac recommends vegetables that bear above ground crops be planted during the light or waxing of the moon while below ground crops be planted beginning at the new moon until the moon is full. Here's the Farmers Almanac gardening link. So in the spirit of Wild Indigo, this Spring I'm attempting square foot gardening and moon phase gardening methods.

In SFG, one must consider the full grown size of each plant: larger plants need more space and visa versa. What appeals to me about this method, besides yield, is weed control. Mulching is standard weed control protocol and for good reason. Quality sourced mulch breaks down into highly desirable organic material so its a win win.  But with SFG full grown plants receive good air flow and leave little if any room for weeds to grow. This year in addition to mulching, incorporating SFG into the mix will be an interesting experiment.

For good measure

Yes kids, I got out ye 'ol trusted ruler.  I actually spaced the holes about 3" apart as per packet recommendations and used the rulers end to make said hole. Worked like a charm!

Rule of ThumbBeyond measure

Ground rules
Ground view. Morris Heading Collards lower left.

The Golden Rule
A little twine and the trellis will be ready

I can't tell you how exciting it was to be out planting - carrots, beets, collards, spinach and snow peas. Carrot seeds were sown twelve to a square foot, though sixteen is recommended but I wanted to be sure I had enough seeds for now and for later on. Now when it came to planting my cauliflower I ran into a snag that hopefully others can learn from. Note to self: Direct sowing of cauliflower is NOT recommended. So once I find or grow suitable starts they'll be added.  Once again, and I repeat, set yourself up for success by reading your seed packets carefully to determine what your plant needs! I put in two rows of beets (red and gold) and collards. (Morris Heading and Yellow varieties) I planted two collard seeds per SF so I'll have starts to transplant into my landscape later on.
That's it for this week friends! As for the Wild Indigo thought of the week: Projection makes perception. Light and joy and peace abides within me.

As always, may happiness be a ray of sunshine to your mind, body and soul!

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Seeds Seeds and More Seeds!

Institutions don't save seeds ~ human hearts do.

Yes its that magical time of year where cabin fever reaches a fever pitch and plans for the garden are at their prime! Welcome back to Wild Indigo where this week it's all about Marsha! Marsha! Marsha! - I mean Seeds! Seeds! Seeds! Now if you recall last week it was all about the aloe but they've agreed to take a back seat in lieu of timely information pertinent to every gardener from novice to botanical guru.  For its that time of year where we're putting our well laid plans and intentions for the Spring garden into motion. What I should've done was taken a picture of all of the seed catalogs that I've studied since December foundational to my strategy but I've already mentioned this in a previous post. So if you haven't done so already order your seed catalogs pronto!!  Now hold on to your seats as we dive into this weeks topic.

The introductory picture sets the stage: center stage is the The Master Seed List followed by Invoices at stage right and hovering above command central is the Theater of Operations Map. Now as many a gardener knows there's a certain mythical lure and sparkleitis appeal that sets in while gazing at the pretty pictures of seed catalogs.  Perhaps its the glossy pages, the colorful photographs, the crinkle of the paper or smell of the ink ~ who really knows. But beware of buyers remorse at the expense of your wallet when ordering seeds.  To avoid such demise, after a thorough filtering of list upon list, I finally pared down my fav picks into two categories: essentials and splurges. I limited the splurges and retained the latter, producing a colorful palette worthy of Monet!  (but some splurges are factored in 'cause girls just wanna have fun!)

Speaking of said list, here it is. 

The "A" List of Celtic Garden nominees!
These are the individuals nominated by the Academy.  However, when forming said list one must consider the obvious: where am I going to actually grow that plant in my garden? Am I in the right planting zone to support the optimal growing needs of this plant? What about sunlight exposure? How many days until germination? Remember young sky walker: don't be swayed by the spellbinding catalog ink! The more thought and preparation you "sow" the more success you'll reap!

The segway is just begging an entrance here so onto the next step in the proverbial Celtic Game of Thrones: The Staging Map. 

Its a good idea to take a 'snapshot' of your garden and put it to paper.  Keep a master copy for duplication and have at it! This is a glimpse of my Spring/Summer beds. I'm planning on spinning a few in the hopes of yielding several crops for harvest within weeks of one another. The goal is to have continual product to bring to market and for personal use. This is the first season I've laid out such intricate plans and the excitement to begin has reached epic proportions.  (enter 2001 A Space Oddesey timpani roll) Actually, completing this exercise prompted me for the very first time to create a "sowing and harvesting schedule" which I'll go into further detail about at a later date. Now mind you what the gardens of our dreams look like, especially on paper, and what they actually grow into will be two different scenarios. But for me the pleasure of building my dreams into existence is well worth the effort. :D

You don't have to be an accountant to be a great gardener but keeping good buying records just makes sense.

A creative check and balance system great for future reference!

For each company I place an order with, I attach my original seed list to the printed receipt creating a dual check and balance system. At delivery the order receipt - not the packing slip in case of an error - is used.  Each item is checked off making sure nothing slips between the cracks. Imagine the disappointment of realizing that you forgot to order that prized "Vulcan Blue" watermelon you know would be the envy of all your neighbors! Oh tragedy!! (woa - is there really such a thing? Nah ~ that's just my humble Spock tribute. RIP dear Leonard)

Get this: Southern Exposure Seed Exchange packages their seeds in recycled catalog pages!
Alas! All the planning and strategy begins its fruition as seeds begin filling up your mailbox.  Oh happy day!!! At times a bonus seed packet will magically appear in your order compliments of the company, adding to the thrill. (Bakers creek is notorious for such warm gestures) Botanical Interest ships their orders in a biodegradable box which becomes red wriggler Hotel California. Pictured here are just some of the seeds I've ordered. Considering the investment the goal is to cast the nets and make a profit. Let's keep our fingers crossed! What will be growing in your field of dreams this year? Remember Sustainable Neighbors would love to see YOU participate in our urban garden tour so start planning.

As for this weeks wild indigo application my observation is this: joy is found in courage. Now please excuse me then as I'm off to the mailbox to see if the paperboy's brought any good news. See you next week and until then may happiness be a ray of sunshine to your mind, body and soul.