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!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

New Take on Nutsedge

It's been way too long since I posted. There have been some big changes in my life lately, one of which is that I am the new manager of Nutsedge Farm. So in honor of this development I thought I would update on the recent happenings.
The okra is growing like crazy - They are about 7 feet tall. I am so grateful because a lovely lady Sarah has agreed to do all the picking in exchange for half the crop. What a deal!
The tomatoes were a bunk crop but the peppers are going gang-busters. It's really about time to start pulling everything up and getting ready for fall planting. It's my intention to start come kale and collard seeds this weekend. I am ordering some garlic tomorrow and I;m excited for that cause the garlic did well last year. Question is just how much do I plant. I'm want to do a bunch of root crops but the weeds are so bad out there I am not sure I can keep up with them at Nutsedge. I guess planting them at the house might be an option, but still uncertain.
I am going to chat with Jenks and Tom about the farm this weekend. It really needs a large overhaul since large parts of it are overgrown from neglect (long story).
One crop that did do well for me was the flower Celosia - and how beautiful they are. I have given some thru the CSA and then plan to take some to the Farmer's Market this weekend. I'm glad I wrote that cause it helped me remember that I wanted to look at some other flower option for the fall while I am home this evening.
You might notice in the last pic the box of assorted produce. There are a small bunch of peas in the top right corner. These White Acres were grown as a cover crop but I decided to being some home and shell them - another first gardening experience for me. They were delicious.
I'll try and get a better picture of them when I am out there cutting on Friday.
Enjoy the show!

Friday, July 30, 2010

The South's Summer Treat

I'm finding that if you live in the South you love home-grown summer tomatoes. There really isn't a question about this. While not all people will eat them like apples standing over the sink, people in general take their tomatoes very seriously. I have had the fortunate opportunity the become friend with Reed who manages Brier Creek Farm and his lovely lady, Stacy, who handles sales of their gorgeous heirloom tomatoes.
I had heard thru the grapevine about the 1500 tomatoes plants in Burke County, and then lo-and-behold, come to find out that Stacy is the relative of a dear friend of mine. (I'm finding Augusta works like this far too often:-)
The first time I went over to pick up tomatoes, I walked into a house full of tomatoes - and this is not an exaggeration. The first picture below shows 1 room, only ONE, of the 4 that they have filled with boxes of tomatoes. For the last month or so I've been over every week picking up 100-130 lbs of tomatoes. I sell them thru my CSA and then at the Augusta Saturday Market. all my customers have been very pleased with their taste. Enjoy the pictures below and stop in to pick up some of your own.
Thanks Reed and Stacy, keep up the great growing!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Tahoe Time with my Best Friends

This was the best reunion ever. Not only did I get to spend a weekend with my oldest and dearest friends, Lake Tahoe in the summertime is INCREDIBLE. I recommend to everyone that they try and visit sometime. It was one of the most beautiful places I have ever been and the people were so nice. I had amazing experiences with nature everywhere I went. It was sunny the whole time but there was snow still covering the mountaintops.
We stayed on the west-side of the lake. Our house was awesome - it even had a green roof!!! The two pictures after the images of the house are our view from the house. We stayed in this valley, and the first afternoon, after we biked to Squaw Valley, I took a walk to the back of the valley and found myself totally alone among the mountains, creeks and wildflowers. It was just me and it was so peaceful. There were flowers in bloom everywhere. The yellow one's are called Muhly Ears. The leaves are soft and looked like donkey ears. There was also lots of wild larkspur and salvia. Later that evening I walked back with some of the girls and we got eaten alive by mosquitoes.
The next afternoon we drove to Emerald Bay. It was about a 45 minute hike down to the beach along a lovely cliff with towering pines. The lake really was emerald green with this cool island out in the middle. We hiked down to the beach and all got in and swam. It was pretty cold but not unbearable. There were these bright-blue birds with black frilly heads and lots of chipmunks everywhere. I'm not sure what kind of bird they are but there were lots of them. I got a good pic of one. Let me know if you know what it is.
I've included two pictures of the flowers that I cut and arranged at the house. The last pics in the slide show are of the 'street' flowers that were all around Tahoe City. Some of my most favorite flowers - peonies, poppies, columbines - just in planters all around town. There are columbines in every color imaginable!
The last night we were in town we went out for a bit. When we got home we looked up to the most beautiful sky. There were more stars than I had ever seen in my life. It was magical and truly AWEsome. The next morning I had a long conversation with a hummingbird that was resting in the tree just off our balcony. As I said before, nature was at her finest these three days in Tahoe.
For being at Lake Tahoe I didn't really get that many pictures of the lake:-) Anyone who knows me won't be surprised that I spent most my time looking at the flowers.
It was a really memorable weekend and I can't wait to did it again. I'm lucky to have such great friends and the opportunity to see them in such a great place. I wonder where we will end up next time........

Thursday, July 1, 2010

So exciting!

I canned for the first time. I am so excited about this. It was pretty easy altho I think I would like to have a pressure cooker. I used the big 'vat' that we use in part of the honey harvesting process to sterilize the jars and then process them. It worked well enough but I think I wasted energy.
I grew the beans, Paige grew the banana peppers and the dill, and Relinda grew the beets and the onions.
I canned dilly beans and banana peppers last night and then beets tonight. Yeah!!

Here are some of the arrangements that I've had at the house lately. The arrangements of Hydrangeas is from weeks ago. If you can believe it I still have two of these flower bunches left - it's been a month!!! The Dahlia Zinnia's are growing like crazy out back, same as the Sunflowers.

I love my Gladiola's:-) This is the most beautiful color. I love Gladiola's and this is my first one ever.

Friday, June 25, 2010

The first veggies from our garden

The other evening I harvested all the potatoes that were growing in our back yard. They look beautiful. I wish we would have had as much success at Nutsedge Farm as we did with the ones at the house, but it all comes down to soil. I grew two types at the house - Purple Peruvian and Peanut. I got a good 8-10 lbs. I'm going to use some of them to make a potato salad for the open house at the farm tomorrow. Some of the others I am going to throw in the crock pot with chicken and green beans.

Here's a picture of the Yellow Wax Beans that at the house. They grew abundantly. I wish I had staggered the planting by a week or so to prevent them from all coming in at the same time. Regardless, they taste good, and it is motivating me to try my hand at pickling/canning. I am, however, having a hard time getting my hand on some dill (I'm guessing I'm not the only one feeling the pickling mood these days). I kick myself for not having any growing.

We are growing some tomatoes. They are coming along okay. I have really slacked on staking them and there is clearly a calcium deficiency in our soil. We have harvested a few and they taste good. Last night I made a gazpacho with a mix of our tomatoes and others from East Georgia Produce, along with cucumbers and onions from Walker Farms, and shallots from Nutsedge. It was my first gazpacho and, altho the look on Brian's face was less than delighted when he learned this was our dinner, he cleaned his bowl!!

I have really struggled with my Tomatillos this season. I was stoked when my friend at Grove Creek Farm said she had Purple Tomatoillos - how cool. I had the grandest visions of growing a beautiful crop and selling them all to my most favorite taqueria , the Roosters Beak. No such luck. The crop has been decimated by squash bugs. I didn't spray, I probably should have, but instead I took the attitude that if they just stay on the Tomatillos then my other crops won't suffer from their devastation. Here is a picture of the baby squash bugs. I think they are so cute - and they make this 'pop' when you squish them:-)

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Garden City Flowers

The garden is really coming along out back. I cut these flowers this morning - it's zinnia's and basil.

The woes of beekeeping

It's almost time for our summer honey harvest. I was out checking on our dear little ones and I pissed off the wrong lady. She got in my hood and stung me in the eyelid!!! It didn't hurt but it took days for the swelling to go down.

Brian and I each have a good battle wound pic from our dealings with the hive. Not only was Brian getting stung in the head he was having an allergic reaction to the rye-grass too.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Summer Solstice Stroll/Augusta Photography Festival

The Augusta Photography Festival begins next Friday, June 11, with the kick-off event, Summer Solstice Stroll. It's been two years since they had this festival but I understand it was a great success and good fun last time. Garden City Organics is featuring the work of Richard Martin, a retired professor. This exhibit will display his photos of Georgia flowers and landscapes.

Here's a tiny preview of what we have on display -

His website address is

We would love you to join us on the 11th from 5-9pm. 11 other downtown businesses will be featuring photography exhibits as well.

Friday, May 28, 2010

The Shop Garden

We've expanded the garden behind the shop this year. Brian's apprentice, David Gianino, helped him install the new beds and get the plants planted. We used all the compost we had been generating over the last year, and check out all the worms that were helping in the process - YEAH WORMS! We are trialing two kinds of summer cover crops - the Sorghum/Sudan Grass is on the right and Buckwheat on the left. They are growing quickly. And the Lovely Nasturtiums are putting on lots of tasty flowers. More to come.....

Deema's Garden at Augusta Prep

Deema Elchoufi, a senior at Augusta Prep, has revived a neglected and over-grown garden on campus as her senior project. It's located down by the lower school. I'm really proud of her and flattered to have been her Off-Campus Advisor for this project. Here she is standing near some of the raised beds. She's also created and installed a sensory garden - so cool. Way to go Deema! I know Prep is going to miss you.

Stinkin' Smilax

I thought this was the coolest! It's Smilax, which is such a pest in the garden. I was tearing out big thorny limbs from the Cherry Laurel in our front yard and I found this guy holding on for dear life.

Flowers in My Yard

I have many more to come, but for starts here are two of my favorite flowers of this season so far. The Trillium was a gift last year and I honestly thought I had lost it this past winter. Imagine my excitement when I almost stepped on it this spring - it was in full bloom. The other is this unbelievable Hibiscus I just got the other day. That flower is as big as my face!

Inside the Shop

Here's the view of the shop as you come in the front door. You'll usually find me sitting in that spot hard at work on the computer.

An image of the varied fertilizers and amendments that we carry.


These are some of the tools that we carry. I'll get a good pictures of the Okatsune tools up in a bit. We keep those under lock.

Staghorn Ferns resting on the rain barrels.