Tuesday, April 29, 2014


the jerusalem artichoke that i found saturday has been joined by four more of the cohort we planted on the twelfth of the month...there are four more simmering in there and they will be up soon enough and that both pleases us and raises concerns...they are relentlessly invasive natives and the issue isn't getting them to grow, it is getting them under control..the first year's experience with them ( 2010 ) resulted in fourteen plants producing something around a thousand tubers that grew out from the plants in around a five food radius...it is impossible to find them all and every tuber spawns a new parent plant the next season...they will colonize anywhere so we will need to be attentive...you have to find them and uproot them..if you try to hoe them into submission you just have a bigger problem...like mickey hacking up brooms in fantasia only to find himself beset by myriad brooms, every piece of a tuber will spawn a new plant...seriously invasive critters and to be treated cautiously ( they are controllable...i removed them from the pgp last spring...one tuber at a time...took a few weeks )...they will be eight to ten feet tall with bright yellow blooms ( bottom photo...as if it weren't obvious ) and will produce crisp, sweet tubers from late august on...i am partial to them fried but they work well in casseroles or salads and are a fair substitute for potatoes in most dishes...we should have plenty to share.

potato population

potatoes have begun to put in a serious appearance in the garden and that's cool...the top photo is of one of five ollala spuds that have come up after wintering over in my basement...they were the only spuds that made it through the winter without the need for being replanted...( well...two are still in pots down there but the ones we planted in the garden represent seventy-five percent of last autumn's harvest...a good candidate for a winter keeping potato variety )...the middle two photos are of the recovery of the frost bitten russets...all these varieties are cold hardy..we planted some intermediate varieties last saturday and the warmth loving yukon golds will go in next month on planting day...the bottom photo is of a german butterball just about to get going on producing leaves...bet they're out next visit...i will call myself on that one a bit later in the week.

around the garden

there are four four by eight beds in the garden so far...two are planted ( mostly ) and we reckon on getting three more in before some official planting day as well as the last two boxes to move from the old garden...we were also giving some thought to doing some direct in-ground planting behind the boxes with shallower rooted plants...peas for instance..that will hopefully provide enough space for interested parties to participate this year...the recent rains can't have done anything but help the arborvitae ease its way into its new home...it looks fine and we have obtained some mulch to put down around the tree to help abate moisture loss...that or, perhaps, a stone mulch...either way it would serve a purpose...there are ten black tip wheat plants up and they will provide an ornamental accent to the garden as they mature and awn...finally there are multitudes of turnips up and running...very small seeds and obviously difficult for a clumsy gardener to control...there will be thinning.

Sunday, April 27, 2014


i didn't post this yesterday because i was ( and still am ) not clear on all the names and details ( read on...shakiyla has kindly jogged my memory and the details are now intact ) but i wanted to get it posted before it gets stale so will ( hopefully ) edit in all the pertinent details asap...the Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority on campus has donated an arborvitae tree to the community garden and we are grateful for the gift and the attention...we set out to plant it yesterday morning ( we were successful ) and in the top photo you can see cynthia starting the ball rolling by digging out the first shovelful of sod...shakiyla took over in the second photo and in a matter of minutes we had dug up a couple of hundred dollars more of otto's grass to make room for the tree...the third photo is of all four of the crew involved in the planting ( including the garden engineer...don't usually do selfies...and didn't this time...jimbo lane happened by and he was kind enough to take this photo for us...from left to right, cynthia, the engineer, shakiyla, and delia ) which was fairly complex with a lot of water and elimination of air pockets around the root ball...the tree will require watering on an "as needed" basis for the first year ( one wonders about what that means in freezing temperatures...more research ) ...basically when the first one to two inches of soil around the tree are dry...then the entire root system will need to be soaked...something of a time consuming process to ensure a thorough watering...after the first year that can be throttled back...afterwards C.U.R.E. director ellen szarleta stopped by to have a look at the new addition...it will do well i hope...we found a site that accents one of the corner boxes and which seemed to provide the drainage the tree needs...saturday was a productive day in the garden...new bed...new planting...the season is building...stay tuned.


top two, zea diploperennis, bottom two zea mexicana.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

plant poulation

the plant population in the community garden is growing as spring evolves...and there will be more forthcoming...the first jerusalem artichoke is up and running...a pale foreshadowing of the native behemoth to come...the community will learn to respect them before the season is through...the other three photos are, in order top to bottom, roja narino, juice valley and purple valley potatoes going in...there are ten black tip wheat plants up and numerous turnips...the season is just getting under way so the census will be expanding to include maize, beans, squash, cucumbers, and anything else anyone wants to plant...stay tuned...things are taking off.

bed 4

i got top the garden well before tree time and assembled another bed...this will be home to some cucumbers next month and there will be a few more beds so some others can express their idea of what's good to eat in the garden...a matter of about forty-three minutes to assemble since i purchased and " aggressive toothed " hand saw ( hand tools as much as possible beyond the cordless drill ) that cuts four by fours remarkably well...which saves some time and considerable effort...the garden has some expansion left this season...more as it crops up.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

campus gardens spring to life ( iuncg )

from a distance things seem pretty quiet in the community garden...this is illusory...there are indications of movement...both macro and micro ( we know which piques the gardener's interest more...but that's another post )...among other things the picnic table has arrived...the sign has too, but it is face down on a pallet so i left that out...a photo after it's up...there's movement of a smaller nature in the beds as well... i counted five of the twelve black tip wheat seeds i planted up and running and multiple turnips...meanwhile the garlic is moving through its season in robust fashion and we will have pungent, flavorful, and organic bulbs in a couple of months...still a bit early for the jerusalem artichokes and potatoes always take more time than i care to see before they make their season known..they tell me patience is a virtues and a few years of intensive gardening have left me better than i was before...still...need more green...may will be a busy ( and greener ) month.

campus gardens spring to life (TEOSINTE!)

there are three annual teosinte plants up in the pgp ( two are in the top two photos ) and i planted a few more plus i am hoping 9 but not expecting ) to see plants from the seeds generated by last year's growth...but a few, evenly spaced plants would be great...even more gratifying, the bottom two photos are of new growth on the stand of perennial teosinte ( zea diploperennis ) i planted in 2011...survived the reasonably harsh winter and returning for a fourth season in the garden...i was concerned about this plant's future and the sprouts are good news..i will be unmulching the second, newer stand this coming weekend...the newer stand tried to flower late last season and while i think it unlikely because of day length issues, if nothing else. i would like to see that come to fruition this year...flowering or not the maize ancestor is back again.

campus gardens spring to life (asparagus)

over in the pgp it looks like a boom year for asparagus...last tuesday there were ten spears up and i harvested two...today there are twelve, including new growth on the harvested plants...fresh...tender...juicy asparagus...i will be sharing.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

three beds = three sisters

spent a part of the afternoon installing a third four by eight foot raised bed along the back of the garden ( where i believe i have discovered additional parking ) to house the three sisters' guild we plan to begin planting later next month...i turned over the sod inside the bed and dumped a bit more than three hundred pounds of compost in there....mostly to hold the liner and block the sun from the uprooted sod so it expires and adds some organic matter to the bed...i also installed a worm tower and expanded the vent holes in the top to a quarter inch diameter to aerate the decomposing vegetable matter that will be going in there a bit better...that accomplished i watered the turnip bed and the black tip wheat to help germination along ( with water i hauled in...the tap proposed for the garden's hose is dry as a bone )...and it seems to be working...the robust garlic in the third photo has been joined by some turnip seedlings so the root crops are underway...there is more on the way as the planting season advances...there is good progress but still lots of work to be done...more as it comes up.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

puttering around the back yard

it's a holiday but no one is here yet so i have been meandering about the back yard doing some chores in a desultory fashion...i turned the compost bin and filled it again...it was a bit more moist than it should be so i added dry matter but no water...closed up to cook some more...hopefully the aeration and dry matter will set things right...the red pontiacs are ready to plant..so i planted a dozen in a sunny spot near the jerusalem artichoke bed...we'll see how long it stays sunny there...after that i went back into the trees to have another look at what i hope is shang...there are about a dozen prospects out there and my hopes are that it will be the "divine root"...we'll see about that too...i hear children at the door...more later.

puttering appendix

the wild potatoes in the basement are doing well...vining all over the place and, hopefully, producing tubers..out in the yard i have discovered some hairy vetch in the green manures that survived the rather harsh winter and are now bust feeding rhizobia and doing their bit to set nitrogen...center right in the third photo are a couple of the hundreds of teosinte seeds that have been distributed around last year's plants as the seed ears shattered...they are among the creeping charlie and i am a bit disappointed that i see no signs of germination anywhere...well...the weather is warming...there's still time.