Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Between the holidays

Here's some kale that I think survived the last good freeze. Seems like a few die each time it gets below 10˚F. I took the liberty if saturating the images.

So I have a few Russian kale survivors and a few lacinato kale survivors.

Doesn't that Russian kale look luscious? OK, I admit it's not that vibrant looking but the light has been so gray I couldn't resist.

It is growing on the driveway in a pocket that gets extra warmth I guess. I hope people walking by appreciate it's greenness. My street gets lots of foot traffic and people often stop to complement my crazy garden. I really try to give them something to smile about.

This lacinato kale is not as visible from the street. The leaves bent down are frost bit and dying. If I were thrifty I suppose I'd use them before they are inedible but I'm not.

I have definitely oversaturated this picture but what the heck?

I took a few pictures that show that my cilantro amazingly has survived several frosts but it's so small it's not worth picking, or posting.

And finally I have a picture of Sally the fat cat. She gave us an awful scare by turning yellow because she had gotten picky about her food and lost weight to rapidly, stressing her liver.

This meant a 3 day stay at the vet followed by us having to force-feed her for a week til she stabilized. Here she is strutting her stuff on the driveway.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Summer Garden

Sally sits on the stepping stone. She sits and stares as the carrots and radicchio sit before her.

Raindrops drip off the rosa bianca eggplant.

The porchmelon chose to grow on the porch wall. This is a good thing because otherwise I would have had to make some kind of sling.

This is a close up of an artichoke bloom. It's larger than lifesize but not by as much as you'd think.

Here is sungold cherry tomatoes co-mingling with scarlet runner beans.

I rather miss this.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Indoor Things

When you move things inside, you've got to look them over. I moved this small bay laurel tree inside a month or so ago and noticed just a couple weeks ago that it was just coated with scale.

Scale is the leech of the plant world. They attach themselves anywhere that they can suck the life out of your plant. In this instance they were on the stems and leaves.

If it is feasible, a q-tip dipped in rubbing alcohol is effective at removing them. The photo here shows my partially de-scaled bay laurel. This was a couple weeks ago.
Yesterday I found MORE scale on it, not as bad as the last time but I needed to descale it again. I am glad at this point that my tree is still quite small. I think I'm going to find a few more in a couple weeks. I sorta like KILLING these nasty creatures.

Next we have Abe the cat hanging out in his spot. I geririgged a shelf over a radiator so he could sit by the window in a warm spot. The plant hanger next to him has catnip growing in it, but it's always been anemic. The vines climbing up it are he shou wu. Behind him is some wheatgrass. I planted that because he had been eating my lemongrass and he does now seem to prefer the wheat. I do however need to trim it every once in a while, thus the dish there with freshly trimmed grass on top of various dead leaves I've pulled from other plants.

And finally my forced hyacinths. I just took them out of the refrigerator and after a week in the dark of the basement, I'll hang them in a window. I understand that it's a good idea to make a gradual transition from cold and dark to warm and light with hyacinths. Sometimes the blooms bust out of the bulb, splitting it, before the leaves come out. I've never had this experience, but I hear it's not pretty.

I found a picture of a prematurely blooming forced hyacinth. It's lovely but preferable to have the blooms a few inches above the bulb with well formed leaves below. Actually last year I did have one or 2 hyacyinths that did this. I was less careful last year to do a gradual transition. Maybe I won't have this problem this year.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Wintering my Artichokes

I hope to enjoy these plants for a while. The snow and freeze did not kill my plants but it's only December. It generally gets down 5-10 degrees Fahrenheit and even lower some winters. I think last winter was -5, but I'm trying to block that memory. Most artichokes might die below 15 so today I dug up 3 of my plants and put them in my cold room.

The remaining 4th, I covered with a large pot. The festive artichoke leaves surrounding the pot I trimmed from the plants. You'll notice that despite the several days of 20 degree weather that they are still looking alive. Today has been a balmy cloudy 50 degreeish day, typical of Pittsburgh. I am hoping that as these leaves look dead that they will mulch the air gaps that this pot did not seal. My understanding is that in challenging climates, heavy mulching keeps many artichokes alive in winters worse than here. This is my guinea pig plant.

If it survives it will probably be happier than the others because I haven't really disturbed its soil.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Summer Artichoke

I'm kinda obsessed with artichokes. Here it is almost winter and after looking at what's outside I decided I oughta look back at this past year because I took lots of pictures. So here's an artichoke that I think was eaten. You might noticed 2 smaller ones in the background.

I ordered 3 bareroot 'amethyst artichoke' plants. I would have preferred to wait until spring for that but I haven't seen many available. The pictures I have seen online of purple artichokes are so beautiful. I guess I tend to be drawn to cooler colors in general.

At any rate, when I get my plants, I'll have no choice but to store them for planting in the spring. I guess that there isn't much of an artichoke market in the north, at least not yet.