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:-)