butterbeans, More gardening

Community Garden Plots

The one in front has a fire ant nest where those inherited day lilies are and about a dozen Henderson bush lima bean plants, as well as one okra, one tomato of forgotten variety, and one eggplant. I’ll be planting something here soon. Maybe more okra to go with the big butterbean harvest I hope to get from those towering bean poles in the background. I picked a double handful and hope to get enough extra to freeze for the winter. Lima beans don’t flower when it is very hot, and I got a late start on planting these. We finally had a break in the heat so I hope to get a good fall harvest.

(When I refer to butterbeans, I mean small lima beans, preferably green. Not the big brown mealy ones I’ve seen referred to as butterbeans, ugh. It’s a regional thing, I guess.)

Back Forty, coffee pot posts, critters, More gardening, Permaculture

Sunday morning coffee pot post

The garden is beginning to rot. So much rain! I weeded out a lot of ageratum and tomato plants that were done late Friday afternoon, and harvested basil for freezing in an ice cube tray yesterday. I found a few little potatoes in the planter. This yield was a bit disappointing but it was free, other than the bags of potting soil and compost I used. I will plant some more in it and see what happens.

So much of life now is a matter of wait and see what happens. I have always been a bit of a control freak, a trait that I have worked very hard to change for the last twenty years. Much of my art has changed as I have let go this and that “rule” or convention. My gardening is unconventional by most standards but controlled when you compare it to enthusiastic permaculturist standards.

Permaculture requires observation and reaction to the space and natural forces working within that space. My approach to the groundhog problem was to plant things that the groundhogs don’t like, such as alliums and smelly plants like peppermint and feverfew around the edges. They didn’t care for the ageratum either. Either it worked pretty well or somebody else took care of the problem. We’ve always had rabbits, but they don’t do that much damage.

I don’t think the high temperature got above 70 yesterday. That was how far the temps plunged with this last line of storms. It is still cool today so I am going to my UNCG garden plots and clean out the rest of the one that I am giving up. I will take some newspapers and a bag of good soil/compost to get the plot where I pulled out the cucumbers ready for fall planting. I hope that there will be some butterbeans ready to pick.

It doesn’t need to be said that everyone who is paying attention to the news is horrified right now. I haven’t taken a complete news break but I have avoided the hole. It helps to remember what I can and cannot control.

It is SO NICE to turn off the AC and hang out on the front porch with the cats again. I think that I will do that for a while first while I finish my coffee pot.

Why is my cat eating cobwebs? Seriously. I guess I will need to clean out here a bit too before Mr. Brilliant gets a spider bite in his mouth.

Back Forty, butterbeans, fiber art, Greensboro North Carolina, More gardening, Rebel stitching

Here we go again

(Note: I forgot to click Publish when I wrote this on Monday night.)

The week before fall semester classes begin is always a huge adjustment. It feels like going from 0 to 60 suddenly. Gone are the quiet days with few people on the hallway. Now I get to meet about 30 new people and do some public speaking. I’ve come to think of this as my “Sanity Box,” a little box of magic that I can take out during a lunch or other break and just hem squares or stitch them together. No major thought is going into this. Just doing.

A lot of veggies and figs have to be dealt with also. I am much better this year than I have been most Augusts. I attribute this to adding fish oil and vitamin D to my daily supplements. My therapist had suggested the fish oil, and I was vitamin D deficient for a long time. I feel better physically and mentally, although I still tire very quickly. The muggy heat doesn’t help. Yesterday evening I picked tomatoes, cucumbers, squash, eggplants, and figs, then cooked for a couple of hours. I still have a lot of cucumbers and figs to do something with. I don’t want to get out the canning equipment – it just seems like too much for too little, and I am not a huge pickle or jelly fan – but I don’t want them to go to waste. This weekend I put some cucumber slices in with my tomatoes and peppers in the electric dehydrator. They came out wispy and delicate, like soft thin leaves. I might experiment with this more. Sandy and I are planning a repeat of making fig newtons this weekend. Last year he made some good ones, but he baked them on the wrong kind of pan. The filling was great, though.

The butterbeans are overwhelming at the UNCG garden. Very tall and thickly planted. There was a lot of Japanese beetle damage at first but I outplanted them, I think. Hardly any beans, though. I think that the intense heat wave in July stopped them from flowering. I hope they will produce soon so I can get some bean in the freezer before a heavy frost happens. I pulled up most of the eggplants and the lemon cucumber vines. I was tired of them and the eggplants were buried by the bermuda grass and peppermint that I lost control of very early on. Once the Roma tomatoes and one zephyr squash plant are done, which should be before the end of the month, I am abandoning that plot. However, I do think that the grass and mint may have helped hold in moisture during the dry spell when I was traveling.

Sandy and I walked downtown on First Friday, heard music with friends on Saturday, and went to the Greensboro Science Center and out to dinner with a dear out-of-town friend on Sunday. So we had a busy social time. This poodle at Gate City Yarns agrees that Sandy is great and tried to lick him clean.

Lord, I just want to sleep and play in the studio. Daydreaming about going to Ireland. All the books I want to read. Weaving with cloth strips keeps nagging at me to come back to it. There are not enough hours in the day to do everything I want to do. How do people get bored at home?

Back Forty, More gardening, Permaculture

Back Forty Update

I have been absent from the blog lately. April seems so frantic at work that when I get home I want to read a book or garden or do something creative with my hands or just sit on the porch, where we have lost the wifi signal. I definitely don’t want to sit in front of a computer screen. I don’t even want to watch TV or movies, although we have been watching Outlander and American Gods this month.

Tomatoes and peppers and flowers are coming up in the greenhouse. I planted the leeks, onions, garlic, and chives last week. Bobbe gave me some walking onions and hardneck garlic so I will have three kinds of garlic and two kinds of onions.

April gardening

April gardening

I don’t usually get any fruits from my garden but I continue to try. The birds get all the blueberries as soon as they turn red (bush on left). We have to race the ants for the figs, but usually we are able to get some (bush on right). In between, I have planted a raspberry cane and two elderberry bushes. The seckel pear tree will probably get cut down this year, since it has some kind of disease and squirrels got all the pears before they were ripe anyway. If nothing else, I do feed the wildlife around here, even if it is unintentional.

For next year I am going to plant a lot more asparagus. I let this little bunch that survived the transfer from Wharton St. go to seed. The groundhogs don’t seem interested, so that means it gets a large space in next year’s plan.

Also in this photo: lots of foxgloves, feverfew, and peppermint. Again, this garden has been planned around what the groundhogs left alone last year. There are also evening primrose, one hollyhock, echinacea, and coreopsis.

April gardening

The pineberries that I transferred from Wharton St. last spring have gone stone cold crazy multiplying. There is some catnip on the corner that gets lots of visits from the neighborhood felines.

April gardening

As you can see in the background of these photos, lots of work is going on next door. They moved the garage back and closed it in, and now they are adding a room on the back of the house. We are going to put some of the many tomato seedlings, both volunteered and greenhouse raised, in the area next to the fence. I’m pretty sure that the neighbors nuked their side of the fence with herbicide so we will have to see how this goes.

April gardening

One good thing that came from the construction next door is that I was able to retrieve enough old bricks from their digging to build up my front hugelkultur bed another layer. Great, because the area in the front used to contain potted veggies and the ground beneath that is hard rubble. I planted a lot of mint in the most shallow layer. Chives went on the bottom too. They aren’t happy, but they will probably perk up. Just planted basil, borage, arnica, sunflowers, snapdragon, and milkweed seeds in the past couple of weeks. Some of these seeds were saved and I am just giving them a chance. My friend Anne gave me some clay balls with coriander and curry seeds embedded in them so they’re in there. This should look great by the time we get back from our vacation in May.

April gardening

The front shade garden is starting to look great! Funny story – a few weeks ago I overheard a friend of ours recommend someone to my husband who “would clean up all this and make it look real nice.” HA! I didn’t say anything.

April gardening

April gardening

Concentrating on the sunny side of the front garden now. Planted a eucalyptus here and a bunch of peppermint on the strip between my stone walk and the neighbor’s lawn on the other side of our house. This strip is actually on their kind of the property line. I plan to put potted pepper plants there too. I dug up a lot of the herbs from this side and transferred them to the hugelkultur bed, so it has room to grow.

April gardening

I leave you with this shot from their neighbor’s yard in the front. These bluebells were spared from the tilling and planting of their new grass, mainly because I don’t think that they know this strip is on their side of the line.

April gardening

At some point I may talk about something other than gardening, but I haven’t finished yet. I’ll leave it for later.

More gardening, Wonderfulness

Spring sprung: Flowers that multiply

Bloodroots are nearing the end of their blooming season. This is one that started with one clump of roots ages ago that I’ve divided and moved around. It multiplies beautifully and provides flowers at a time when little else blooms. They will grow in shade or sun.

This variegated solomon’s seal is perfect for this soggy spot where rainwater runs out of the gutter. A purchase of three plants about ten years ago now fills in an otherwise difficult shady wet spot in my front yard. The flower spikes and foliage is gorgeous. It is just now emerging from winter’s sleep.

Another successful planting from three perennial bulbs of grape hyacinth that I bought around ten years ago. It was getting stepped on and so I dug up the three clumps, divided the bulbs, and replanted along the sidewalk.

I’ve never been able to get a 100% positive ID on this flower, but you see it naturalized in many of the older yards around here, and it is my favorite sign of spring. I think that it is in the scilla family. One “natural” gardening website actually suggested eradicating it and said that she sprayed it with Roundup to no avail. Good for you, little squills. You show ’em who’s boss. (And NEVER EVER use Roundup, and don’t use the word “natural” if you do.) UPDATE: Identification made by Nancy in the comments: Ipheion uniflorum, AKA Spring starflower. Thank you!!!


All these are in the front garden that I’ve been developing over the past decade. Hellebores, hostas, foxgloves, and comfrey take up most of the rest of it.