Thursday, October 21, 2010

Tapestry Greenhouses and more

Goodness, it's been about three weeks since I posted. Since that time we celebrated Samantha's birthday, I went to the Dominican Republic for a while, and then got to spend an afternoon with the Dalai Lama. All of these events were very enjoyable, but I'm not going to talk too much about that here.

On my way back to town on Wednesday I stopped at Tapestry Greenhouse & Nursery in Madison, GA to visit Chuck and Chris Stewart and pick up some fall garden transplants. Chuck and Chris, and their three dogs, run the operation and live on-site too. They had all my veggies ready and waiting, but I took some extra time to walk around and see how production was coming along.

They have lots of pansies and violas in production. Did you know that pansyies are just hybrid violas? Personally, I favor violas:-) They also had lots of perennial chrysanthemums. Now, I'm not normally one for mums. I could take them or leave them, well, just leave them really. But the ones they had were beautiful and I even ended up buying one.

I ventured into the greenhouses where they had lots of lettuces, rosemary, and some veggies getting started up. They also had a bunch of iris's.

The transplants I picked up, to have available for sale at the shop, are: collards, kale, cabbage, broccoli, broccoli rabb, spinach, cauliflower, and swiss chard.

Here is a slide show of my time there.

On the home-front things are developing very well, especially now that the nights have cooled consistently and the days are really pretty mild.

I wanted to post a picture of the HUGE wasp nest on my front porch. It's the size of my hand. There is one like it in every corner of my porch.

This is a Chinese 5 Pepper. I think they look like a decorated Christmas tree. It's a spicy pepper and they grew well for me.

I bought the raspberry plant at the McCorkle sale a few months ago. This is the 1 raspberry it has produced in my care. I was so excited and it was so delicious.

I have some root crops growing in the yard: radishes, carrots, and beets. I had to thin the radishes the other day. Last season I poo-pooed thinning out the plantings. And you know what I got - bubkis. So this season I went for the thinning strategy and within days I have been able to recognize the value in the practice. Not only do the radishes in the ground look huge and delicious within just 5 days, but I got a couple of days worth of radish greens out of it too. Goes great with tuna salad:-)

Last comment is about honey sales. Right now Mellow Mushroom pizzeria and New Life Natural Foods grocery store are carrying the honey that I am responsible for harvesting. How exciting is that? You can even find GCO listed on the Mellow menu. Here is a picture of the trunk-load of honey that I sent out around town last week. Yup, those are 5 gallon buckets of honey!

McCorkle Nurseries

Mellow Mushroom Pizza Bakers

New Life Natural Foods

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Smithsonian Greenhouses

This past week I had the very fortunate opportunity to tour the brand new, Congress-granted, Smithsonian Greenhouse complex. They were completed this last summer and greenhouse operations moved in July. The temperature and humidity of each house are computer regulated with ceiling bays responding as necessary. The plants however, are all cared for individually, by hand.

It is pansy season there - 4 houses filled with pansies. Then there are the Orchid houses, the Butterfly Garden house, the Interior plant/Tropicals houses, and the Propagation house. This will diversify more as spring rolls around. All the seeding for the victory and heritage garden are started at the greenhouse, and all the spring bedding plants are produced here too.

I am going to single out some pictures individually to make note of a few specifics I really enjoyed, and then there will be a whole slide-show at the end.

Being the organics buff that I am (:-) you can imagine my excitement to see the staff Horticulturists using beneficial predators to control pest populations. Here are some predatory beetles on orchids and predatory mite on some tropicals. The predatory mites are microscopic so it's going to looks like some leaves hanging on some other leaves, but really it's some fine nature in action.

The greenhouses manage all the Interior Plants used at Information Desks in Smithsonian buildings and then have a house of LARGE specimens that are available for rent for private Smithsonian events. I love the latter in particular because there is just something about large trees indoors that makes me feel right at home.

The last picture I am going to single out is a bit random, but exciting none-the-less. I was really excited to see this sign on the back of the bathroom stall door. Way to conserve some water Smithsonian!

Here is the rest of the slideshow. It includes pictures of the chocolate-smelling orchid and a sweet bonsai.

Many thanks to staff who showed me around and answered all my questions. I stayed for hours and would have stayed for longer but it was the end of the day:-)

Monday, September 27, 2010

Awestruck in Athens

I had a wonderful day in Athens today. Of course wonderful days in Athens are pretty easy to come by:-) It was a beautiful, rainy day.

After I got some school stuff out of the way I headed downtown to eat at my favorite Thai restaurant, Thai Spoon. The Garlic Pepper Chicken was as good as always. I had forgotten that I get a spring roll with this awesome carrot ginger sauce! YUM
Here, check out their menu.

By the end of lunch, the sun had come out and it was that fabulous, sunny with clouds breaking fresh puddles great feeling out. I walked to Walkers to grab a cup of tea. This is one of the tops coffee houses/pubs around.

Then it was back to South Campus, Miller Plant Science Building, at the UGA College of Environmental Sciences

I had an appointment to catch up with Dr. Smalley. I was getting very nostalgic being back in Miller - it had been a while. I got a good chuckle at noticing the new desks in the classrooms. They are so modern and a far cry from the archaic desks I sat in.

I love Dr. Smalley. He was my adviser and will be a friend of mine forever. He is a gifted horticulturist and teacher, and we always laugh alot chatting.
Make sure to check out the award winning documentary his son made, Darius Goes West.

Then I managed to catch Dr. Armitage which was a total surprise and sheer luck on my part. I hadn't seen him in years and it was nice to catch up. He is a Horticultural living legend.

Since the rain had passed I walked on over to the UGA Trial Gardens.

It is beautiful as always. I took lots and lots of pictures. There are so many awesome plants there. Since they built the new Pharmacy building they have added a whole new section to the garden (well, that is after they removed all the greenhouses to make room for the Pharmacy building, least they could do is leave a little are for plants), a Rose garden area. The roses looked amazing for only having been there for a few years (ie. they weren't there when I was a student).

It was hard for me to leave. That was until I found myself unknowingly standing in a fire ant pile while trying to capture a good shot.

The Trial Gardens are such a peaceful place and there are so many specimens on display. I am glad I was able to collect these photos to share. I've put them together in a slide show for you to enjoy.

As I was approaching town I could see the cloud line ahead and driving down Riverwatch Parkway it started to rain again. A full rainbow appeared just as I was reaching town. It was gorgeous. A great end to a great trip.

I've been so thankful for the perfect rain we have had the last two days. We really did need it.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Spider Might

Whoa, how could I forget? I found a Black Widow spider in a watering can at my house. This can hadn't been used for a while and I had stuck my hand in it to pull out some debris and a few spider webs. I went to get the hose to rinse it out and just as I was about to, a Black Widow crawled out from inside - from inside the watering can I had JUST STUCK MY HAND IN!
Well I wanted to get some pictures of it so I had to fool with and brush it back into the can. I tried to capture it while it was on the end of a stick I was holding, but I found it very hard to get a picture of a moving spider using one hand to steady the camera and the stick. So I had to squish the spider:-( Which probably was my intention all along, cause what was I to do, leave a Black Widow roaming in my yard. It had already spent the night in my car where I had left the watering can the previous night.

Here it is. Freaky! I had never seen one in person before. But I sure knew what it was the first moment I saw it.

It's Fall

Happy Fall everyone! I've had the shop door wide-open all week and I love listening to the sounds of the breeze and the cars much more than the AC rumbling. Granted it is still a bit hot out and some people might not be as comfortable with this as I am (for instance, my accountant who fainted here the other morning due to the heat), but I am loving it. There was a full moon the first night of this fall and it was beautiful.

So as you know from last time I am growing some beans at the house. They are doing okay. I mean I guess they are doing good, altho they did suffer a bit of sun-exposure burn the other day and I am a bit worried about this this afternoon since I have been gone all day and they haven't had a second watering. But I did ready the shade cloth this week and put it into action. I think after this week we should be in a bit better shape, but with the heat still going up to the mid-90's the plants really needed it. Let's thank The Giver cause it looks like we might get some rain soon. I'm excited about my radish and beet seedlings too!

Here are the beet sprouts. Barely as tall as my finger.

The radishes really jumped up in no time.

Here's some of the shade cloth in action. I'm using it on two of my beds at the house. I want to elevate it a bit. Haven't done that yet. It is helping.

To re-cap on Westobou. It was great this year. I am really sorry that I missed the Nina Simone Stage Production at Paine College, but I had a great time at Lou Ann Zimmerman's Whiskey Painting event and on the Canal Cruise with with Wynn's. They perform folk and bluegrass classics. Here are two good pics of the Wynn's in front of two of Augusta's historic landmarks, The Textile Mill and Enterprise Mill.

Here are some links to people and places I mentioned.

Henry Wynn

The Augusta Canal is great for a cruise or for biking next to it.

Enterprise Mill

The Textile Mill Oral History

Friday, September 17, 2010

Seasons change

Time for me to start moving a head with my fall garden. I may even be a bit late on this, but I think I'm pacing myself just fine. By and large, most of the field is way overgrown with weeds and cover crops. I am going to address those this weekend with a long afternoon of weed-whacking. For starters I decided to tackle the tomatoes (which were overgrown with Morning Glory Vine) and peppers. This was going to be a fairly easy task thanks in part to the landscape fabric used this summer. It really did it's job at keeping the weeds down. So it was just a matter of cutting all the plants down and hauling them off.



I left the okra because I think we will be able to get one or two more harvests off of it. Check out how tall it is! Must be 8 feet.

After I clear the remaining area I'll move the fabric to its new section and get ready to start planting. I've started at the house. We've got Red Russian and Lacinato Kale, and Champion Collards. They have sprouted up adorably:-)

This weekend I am going to start some cabbage, and seed beets, carrots, and radishes. All of these seeds come from High Mowing Organic Seed Company in Vermont. They have some real quality seeds. I am consistently impressed with germination rates and caliber of the plants.

I am trying out some late season beans from some seeds I got from Curtis. I know this is a risky endeavor, but I've got nothing to lose:-) So far they look great. Granted it's only been a week.

I want to mention the lovely time I had at the MCG Children's Medical Center ( the other day. Each month Artists' Row (one of the Boards that I sit on sponsors a craft event for the children in the hospital. I volunteered to spearhead the project for September. I took in a bunch of terra cotta pots and paint and we all had a blast. Here are two pics from the afternoon.

Lastly, this afternoon kicks off Arts in the Heart and the Westobou Festival. I still have the most vivid memories of the festival last year and am wondering where the year went:-) The crafts on display are always such a site, the music and dance performances very memorable, and it really puts the town in a tizzy of excitement!

Hope to see you there!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Friday and Saturday

This week flew by. I came back refreshed and motivated after a great trip to Mexico and it was a great busy week. Here are a few images from just the last two days.

First, here is a picture of the Full Share CSA box that went out this week. In it were: heirloom tomatoes, okra, cucumber, yellow squash, zucchini, peaches, mixed peppers, eggplant, and red leaf lettuce.

Here are the Cockscomb Celosia that I grew. These make me so happy. Last year I bought a bouquet of these for my mom as I was going to visit her at the beach in Delaware. I saved some of the seeds and grew them out this year. First pic is the huge harvest, and the second pic is what they were whittled down to in the end. They are so cool!

This morning was my first morning back at the Augusta Saturday Market in a LONG time. I think I had missed the past 5 weeks due to burn-out and travel. It was good to be back alto it was a pretty slow day. The lettuce from Aiken Hyrdroponics was the biggest hit!

Have a good weekend!