July 27, 2010

“Eat the day lily in moderation as it is a mild laxative” says Delena Tull…

…in her book “Edible and Useful Plants of Texas and the Southwest: A Practical Guide”

“In the spring the crisp white tuberous swellings on the roots yield a delicious succulent vegetable. After scrubbing them, eat the raw, boil for 15 minutes, or bake them like potatoes. (…) You can even eat the large showy flowers of the day lily. Add the fresh petals to a salad. In China and Japan the flowers are dried ad stored for year-round use as a thickener for soups. The petals also add a delicate flavor to clear soups. Add the fresh, withered, or dries flowers to soup in the last few minutes of cooking.”

Hemerocallis fulva

Read more in the book

July 23, 2010

Pruning lavender for more flowers

“Prune lavender twice a year – in the summer right after blooming and in the spring before its starts to grow again” – I can’t say how many times I’ve heard and read this sentence again and again. Without real explanation and understanding why to do so, I used to follow the rule of early spring pruning only for preventing my precious lavender from becoming too leggy. So equipped with the tools when the snow have melted, I pruned my lavender back really hard.

After studying closely many wonderful pictures from lavender farms I realized that they prune it in different way – the shape of the shrub seems round and flowers appear on all sides of the lavender sphere. Also last spring when I visited Hampton Court gardens I studied closely the beds planted with lavender. Even in mid May, after such hard and long winter Europe suffered this year, almost naked lavender shrubs looked beautiful and well tended – shape made the difference.

The key to success of getting most of lavender shrub is to prune it lightly in the summer actually. After flowers turn brownish and they represent no value to visiting bees, you remove the flowers by clipping the flowering stems close to the hard wood, but then there is usually many other stems that grow – prune them all lightly – just the tips. This will give them a chance to a lot of new growth that will flower. Although some of them will flower again this year, majority will flower next summer. Whilst clipping your lavender try to get the slightly round shape – clip lower the side stems and higher mid stems. This will give more light to the middle stems which will produce more new side shots. With the time also your lavender shrubs will become wonderfully spherical.

This is how I pruned my potted lavender yesterday. It was time to prune it - I have watched a bee bumping fast with dissapointment from one flower to another, so it was a sign there is nothing more interesting there :)

July 20, 2010

More flowers - more fun! Propagate hydrangea

Hydrangea loves water - it roots even if you just stick the piece directly to water. You can do it too, because now is the time to propagate hydrangea macrophylla (mophead). 3 weeks ago I’ve cut a piece of fresh stem . Choose the stem that doesn’t send flowers this summer, just to prevent removing the flower. It’s always better to have flower and new hydrangea than new flower or new hydrangea – right? I’ve left the top pair of leaves, cut them by half to reduce the evaporation, place them in water and almost forgot about it. Very soon you will see first roots.

This time placing the cutting in the water was an experiment. I wanted to see the roots. Usually I just stick the cutting in the fresh potted soil, keep it in shaded place and make sure the soil is wet (I mean soggy wet) all the time. This method with Hydrangea macrophylla guarantees 99% success. I failed only once, when I tried to do it end of September, after obtaining exciting varieties.

I always propagate H. macrophylla in the summer, while propagating Hydrangea paniculata works best very in early spring, before vegetation starts.

Hydrangea macrophylla - Bigleaf Hydrangea - French Hydrangea - Lacecap Hydrangea - Mophead Hydrangea - Penny Mac - Hortensia

Sustainability Through the Consumption of Things Conserved

This is a guest post by Dan Grifen – Supporter of all things green and progressive. Dan is a web engineer in Upstate NY with a passion for political blogging in his free time. As of late, he has been enjoying writing about hot topics in conservation, sustainability, and the environment.

"In other environmental issues we tell people to stop something, reduce their impact, reduce their damage," - US Ecologist Gary Nabham.

Since the beginning of the green movement, there has been a rise in the number of organizations and businesses that are doing their part in the promotion of sustainability through conservation. As human beings, we're told to reduce our carbon footprint, consume less unhealthy foods, and spend less time in the shower! But let's take a minute to step back and look at this from a different perspective; one that Gary Nabham strongly suggests.

Gary Paul Nabham, phD., is a Arab-American writer/conservationist whose extensive farming work in the U.S./Mexico borderlands region has made him world renowned. Specifically speaking, Nabham is known for his work in biodiversity as an ethnobotanist. His uplifting messages and attitude towards life and culture has granted us access to multiple beneficial theories including his latest of eat what you conserve.
According to The United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organization, about three quarters of the genetic diversity of crops been vanishing over the last century and that a dozen species now gives 90% of the animal protein eaten globally. In accordance, just 4 crop species supply half of plant based calories in the human diet.
Nabham claims that by eating the fruits and vegetables that we are attempting to conserve/save, we're promoting the granular dissemination of various plant species. But this goes beyond what we typically buy in supermarkets, particularly because of price and abundance. We must remember to try new things and immerse ourselves in the very concept of diversity. Keep in mind- the benefits of splurging for that costly fruit/vegetable supremely outweigh the cons. Not only are you promoting biodiversity and further eliminating the needs of farmers to remove rare, less purchased crops off their agenda, but you're also effectively encouraging healthier lifestyles.

Agriculturist Marco Contiero mentioned that "biodiversity is an essential characteristic of any sustainable agricultural system, especially in the context of climate change."[1] With sustainable crop efforts being lead by the CGI (Clinton Global Initiative) and the IRRI (International Rice Research Institute) the duo plans to provide a more sustainable crop that can withstand natural disasters, avoiding food shortages like Haiti is experiencing. Contiero goes on to state "We need to ensure this is the basis for the future…" – This is exactly what Doug Band, the CGI, and the IRRI are doing by engaging in sustainability efforts.

So remember, next time you're in the supermarket picking out navel oranges or strawberries, turn your attention to something that's a bit more "out of season," or exotic in nature. The same goes for salads/salad ingredients; shop outside the norm, picking spices and vegetables that you wouldn't normally incorporate into your everyday diet. During such economic downtime it isn't always easy to maintain the same level of grocery shopping intrigue, but we must also not forget that in this sundry of foods we can find fun!

Further recommended reading Cultured Food for Life: How to Make and Serve Delicious Probiotic Foods for Better Health and Wellness

July 14, 2010

Summer garden flowers - GBBD July 2010

Calendula early in the morning...

Common chicory - beautiful plant - finally selfseeded in my garden. If you take close look at the flower - its so lovely - so what that it's a weed here? it will be cheerished plant in my garden...

Diane Hornibook - Erica vagans - the only Erica I know, that doesn't require acidic soil.

Now geraniums come... white... pink...

...and geranium at the pond...
Geranium Sue Krug...
Flowers of Hosta Sieboldiana Elegans...

Hydrangea macrophylla...

Hydrangea macrophylla Detschland (pink flower) and Hydrangea arborenscens Anabelle.
In my kitchen garden currently flowering: radishes (for seeds), zucchini and tomatoes...
Lavandula, Nymphea (water lily), achillea, Lythrum salicaria (purple loosestrife) and daylily Pink Damask.

Ligularia przewalskii...
Lilly.... unknown....

Lillies combo...

Lonicera periclymenum Serotina - very fragrant....
Monarda hybrida....

White pansies still alive, but soon to be replaced...

...maybe by Portulaca (moss-rose)... drought loving plant... with amazing flowers...
Rose Chopin - beautiful and healthy, unfortunately not fragrant....
Mary Rose....
The Pink Fairy....

...and at the end - refreshing view in the heat we have right now...

If you would like to know what flowers were blooming in my garden two years ago in July 2008 - have a look here.
This post contributes to Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day kindly hosted by Carol at May Dreams Garden

July 13, 2010

Lonicera caerulea var. kamtschatica - huge blue berries shrubs arrived!

Edible honeysuckle - Lonicera caerulea var. kamtschatica bears huge (!), blue berries (up to almost an inch long) and doesn't require acidic soil. Perfect for my edible garden :) I was worried at what condition the plants will arrive, because Poland is hit now with real heat. We have similar temperatures as Spain does right now (BTW congratulations of world championship!)

... it looks they seem to be in perfect condition. No planting now, no no! too hot. We wait until it cools down.

If you want to have berries on Lonicera kamtschatica, there is at least 2 varieties needed. There was promotion and 4 were in almost the price of 2, so I bought: Lonicera kamtschatica "Siniglaska", "Dlinnoplodna", "Woloschebnitza" and "Tschelabinka".
I am so happy to add this wonderful plant to my edible garden - it fruits when young, is very hardy and fruits already in May - late frost is not damaging the flowers.

If you would like to improve your garden to a beautiful paradise, let me help you to design it. We can work online. Contact me at ewamariasz [at] gmail [dot] com.

Happy Gardening!


July 9, 2010

Ultimate frog’s kingdom

This is the season for baby frogs – they are everywhere if you unexpectedly come to the frog’s kingdom. What else can you call a garden, where your every step is scaring froggies to jump away. Froggies half an inch size made laugh a lot last week, and made me felt sorry for every step I made. My friends garden is located in Masovian countryside, near the river. This wet meadow is ultimate frog’s kingdom.

July 3, 2010

Crocus from seeds - no instant gratification

July shows beauty of crocus seeds. This year, for the first time I've spotted how beautiful are crocus' open sheaths - almost symmetrical in shape, filled with little balls.
If you want a large number of these spring flowering beauties, you may grow them from seeds, however it will take 1 to 6 months to germinate and then it may take few years before they flower.

Are they the slowest bulb plant to get flowers from seeds?