September 3, 2010

'Tis the season for...fried green tomatoes!

August 29, 2010

A few summer memories


Rosa 'Tropicana'

Forgot the name of this one

Hibiscus moscheutos

Part of the garlic harvest

Dahlia 'Chat noir'

Stargazer Lily


Lilium 'Cancun'

A dew-covered plumbago

Dahlia 'Tommy Keith'

A garden friend

June 6, 2010

Some garden arthropods

Lately we've been finding some interesting creatures of the vertebra-less variety in various parts of the garden:

Some type of flat millipede I found walking across the lawn

A rare black purse-weaver (Sphodros niger)

I've had difficulty identifying this very large beetle. My best guesses are that it's some sort of long horn or blister beetle. If you know what it is, let me know!

May 27, 2010

Spruce Pesto: The Results

Finally a follow-up on my plans for the spruce tips: I chucked them in a food processor with some olive oil, parmesan cheese, lemon juice, pepper, and garlic.

And the result:

It's actually quite good, and quite local. Need some pesto in a pinch? There are plenty of Norway spruces in Syracuse. Just remember to collect when the new growth is bright green and tender.

May 4, 2010

Spruce Tips

It's the time of year to collect young, tender spruce tips. Actually, this is the first time I've tried this. You can eat them fresh (they have a somewhat strong lemony, piney taste) or make jelly out of them. Some people also brew spruce-flavored beer. I think I may try to make an experimental pesto sauce out of them.

By the way, the photo above is showing Norway spruce tips I collected from a tree in my backyard. My understanding is that just about any spruce tip is edible, and that white spruce may be the tastiest, but research anything collected outdoors first before eating it.

February 10, 2010

Tonight: Public Forum on Hydrofracking

I don't usually like to get political, that's not what this blog is about, but for this issue I am making an exception.

Central New York is known for its abundant sources of clean water, and this very important life-sustaining resource is in danger in Syracuse. The hydrofracking technique of natural gas extraction may very well be legalized in NYS, and if it is it will likely be implemented in Onondaga County and Cortland County within the Skaneateles Lake watershed. Why is that significant? Well, that is where Syracuse water comes from, unfiltered. If our water supply is polluted by any of the 100+ chemicals used in hydrofracking, it is permanent. Unpolluted water is not only necessary for gardening (in the least), but for human life itself, and it is nightmarish to think about what would happen to Syracuse if its water supply was tainted. I picture something like Love Canal times 100.

Tonight there will be a citizen's community forum on hydrofracking. The forum will take place at 7pm at Nottingham High School (3100 E. Genesee St., Syracuse, NY). Guests include:

Lee Macbeth, Syracuse Watershed Control Coordinator

Ken Lynch, Region 7 DEC Director

Dave Valesky, State Senator

Daniel Young, Regional Representative for Governor Paterson

Mark Dunau, Northeast Organic Farmers Association and Delaware County Farm Bureau

Local landowners who have signed leases

Please attend and let your concerns be heard. If you view Syracuse and Central New York as your home, as I and so many others do, then this is an excellent opportunity to protect your home.

February 8, 2010

Damn deer!

I just glanced out the window and my 'Kuro Delight' camellia has been totally defoliated by deer. I'm so bummed. I definitely did my research before buying these camellias, and they are supposed to be deer resistant. I guess "resistant" is the key word; hungry deer will apparently eat anything when the winter is winding down and food is scarce. They had two fat buds that I was really looking forward to seeing bloom. Sigh.

Anyway, here's something more uplifting: a sign of spring! The following photo was taken in the back garden on January 25 during that little warm spell when spring seemed right around the corner (it certainly doesn't now). Snowdrops never disappoint:

January 17, 2010

January robin

I actually heard a robin yesterday. Not singing, just calling. That might be the earliest I've ever heard one around here (robin not pictured).

January 15, 2010

Garden Blogger's Bloom Day: January 2010

All I can muster this month is a sad-looking kalanchoe. If I
had planned right I might have some miniature roses or something
else, oh well.

A melty day in January

I dread turning into one of those bloggers that disappears for months on end and then reappears with gusto, and then does the same thing all over again in an awful cycle of forget/over-compensate/forget. So I apologize for basically missing most of the fall blogging season (along with many garden blogger's bloom days) and I will certainly try to stay on top of updates, however minor they may be. Fall 2009 was a difficult season as several personal issues prevented me from really putting time and effort into blogging, one of which was a death in the family.

As I write I'm gazing out the back window at what I like to call a "melty" day; the snow is slushy, icicles are dripping, and little patches of dormant garden are peering out here and there. A "warm" day in Syracuse; about 37 degrees. January is an interesting month because it is almost always when a particular hardiness zone sees its winter low temperature, and being a gardener who likes to push the envelope when it comes to hardiness I usually spend January checking temps everyday and thinking about some of the "experiments" I have going on out back. Some of this winter's experiments include:

- an attempt at overwintering (yes, outside) a musa basjoo ("hardy" Japanese fiber banana)
- three Ackerman hybrid camellias, which are supposed to be hardy to a cold zone 6
- a hardy heirloom gladiola called 'Carolina Primrose', also hardy to zone 6
- on the edible front, overwintering some brassicas such as mammoth redrock cabbage, Jersey Wakefield cabbage, and of course kale in a coldframe

Here's basically what I did to protect the banana:

After cutting it down to about a foot, I built
a chicken wire cage around the pseudostem.

I filled the cage with pine straw that I collected from a
local park. There's also some dried Siberian iris leaves thrown
in for good measure. You could also use dead leaves, but pine
straw is generally better since it's less prone to fungal growth.

The finished product. This will *hopefully* protect the
banana enough to allow for its survival. In the spring, it
should grow back from the ground, or possibly the
remaining pseudostem if I'm lucky.

Here's one of the Ackerman camellias, 'Kuro Delight'. There
are two fat buds waiting for spring..I really hope this plant survives
the winter!

A bloom from this past November from another Ackerman
camellia, 'Ashton's Pride'. Right now this plant does not look
so good as the deer have been continuously browsing it, so
I'm a little worried.