Sunday, May 10, 2015

Who told April showers to come in May?!

Welcome back to another episode of Lost in the Farmer’s Market! Now I know some of you are wondering why there was no episode for the last two weeks and the simple answer is a combination of the lead up to finals and a unique situation at the headquarters that required heavy documentation. Finals are still going on but, the special situation has been photo documented and you get to see it here for your garden your entertainment and education. But first I have to say that the 4th annual Sustainable Garden Tour had a good sized crowd this year the weather cooperated and I’d like to personally thank everyone who offered a location for participating as tour sites. For those who attended the tour I’d like to thank you also for checking out and supporting some of the local bastions of sustainable practices. We’re hoping to offer the 5th annual tour in either late September or October so stay tuned for announcements on the Sustainable Neighbors site for more information.

             In terms of the City market things are progressing as normal, despite the somewhat unpredictable weather however you might have to look to find my booth now. In the last two weeks there’s been an acoustic schism between me and the folks up top. It was about thirteen to fourteen months ago that I started bringing a small speaker to the market every Saturday to play a random selection of jazz, blues, R&B and funk just to spice up the area. Part of the reason was that the music being played by the Transit museum over the loud speakers wasn’t really right for a city market atmosphere. The other reason was that I was so far down in the parking lot that the music offered came in as low and distorted so there had to be something to fill the void. So over the summer of 2014 I experimented with what the customers liked trying a number of genres and took requests as any good DJ should. The final result was a Jazz blend that met the tastes of a wider audience and offended none with a selection that keeps growing to this day. All was good, and I was set to add another clip of songs to the mix for the summer of 2015 until the market before last. I was approached by Mr. Daws about the market rule prohibiting “Competing music”. There was a short discussion and of course we had a problem.

            My music was not a problem for the last thirteen months, it certainly was still playing within the same volume range and there were no curse words or inappropriate terms in the music so what indeed was the problem? The Museum had been playing their own mix over the loudspeakers at a growing volume and had been given a few of music CD’s by a vendor or two.
The problem with that is that it means only a handful of individuals were picking the music, none of them were ever professional DJ’s and so the music mix was wrong, the beats didn’t match, the tempo and tone was often off and it still is not energetic enough to inspire a buying mood. But anyway, now it’s months later and suddenly my jazz selections were an issue for no good reason. It literally made no sense two weeks ago and it does not now. The smart thing for the Transportation Museum to do was to ask for say three to six songs from every vendor,  in MP3 format and then use something like winamp or an MP3 player to make a shuffled  playlist so everyone's songs get some play and no one can complain about the mix because everyone has skin in the game. One set of selections per vendor, a new set every six to twelve months. Each time you switch the songs must be different. I might add for the sake of record keeping it would probably be wise to keep formal song playlist records for the 6-12 month mix periods.

            Since I doubt the above fair solution will ever materialize, I do recommend that if you’re at the market, to bug the folks in charge about it or, that they allow vendors at the ends of the market space to play music under the following conditions:
1.      Music selected MUST be acceptable for a general audience. (ie no profanity, racial slurs, or themes that one would not want to expose young children to.)
2.      Eligible vendors must be positioned at the edge of the market layout map where their music does not interfere with the provided music due to distance.
3.      Eligible vendors must only use directional speakers and restrict volume to reasonable levels.
4.      Eligible vendors must submit monthly play lists to the museum staff for evaluation for quality standard checks.

But anyway that’s what I think of the current mess at the City Market, but wait this is a blog about gardening right? Well, lets get to that, first off are some pictures from the garden and then that project that I photo-documented.

Salvia officinalis - Common sage
 It's not common you see sage in full bloom in the warmer climates bit it seems that this one out at AME Mt Zion church is doing so. I chalk this up to a perfectly cold winter.

Rhododendron maximum - Great Rhododendron
As noted to visitors on the tour this is the site's only rhododendron, and after several years of clearing out competition and encroaching vines this one bloomed.

Pisum sativa var. saccharatum 'Snow Bird' - Snow Pea 'Snow Bird'
 The snow pea crop has surprisingly benefited from the irregular weather and is rapidly reaching the harvest stage.

The next part is where this post gets very interesting. Lat year I constructed a terrarium so I could bring some greenery into the house in a form where care and maintenance was reduced. The first two plants proved to be a 50-50 sort of success as one died and the other has gotten much larger. After uniting the dead plant with the compost pile and potting up the overgrown plant (an aralia) the pair were replaced by an aloe and a haworthia while two small succulents in 2" pots were also placed in the terrarium to mature. About six months later I noticed yellow-white nodules visible in the soil that seemed inter-connected and they were growing. I figured, it was soil based fungus and it posed no threat and indeed that assessment was accurate. As it turned out the nodules were a fungal colony that came in with the soil or the initial plant selections and it had expanded to grow throughout the soil substrate of the terrarium. Then the first of them began producing the fruiting structure we call a mushroom. I didn't quite catch all the phases of that on camera so when the second growth began to appear I paused LITFM updates until I caught the entire process on camera. For note the species of fungus is called the following and the pictures below document the life of a fungal fruiting body.

Leucocprinus binbaumii  aka Lepiota lutea - Houseplant Mushroom

This fungus is common in humid areas and often gets into potting soil mixtures, I cannot say if it is toxic so I do not advice making a snack of it but carefully handling one certainly will not cause any ill effects so at least it's not contact-toxic. The larger mushroom photographed took about four days  from emergence to collapse and that seems to be fairly consistent. All of this opens the door to wondering if one could propagate edible mushrooms in a terrarium at home intentionally and such may be the focus of a later LITFM.

But if your easily bored you can sum up the entire fungus group with the video below!
http://www.weebls-stuff.com/other-toons/video/shrooms.html

The end of the first 'bloom' -  05-03-2015 10:37pm

First 'bloom' sags after spore drop - 05-04-2015 2:23 PM
See the white patch on the rocks behind the mushroom, that is where the spoors drifted after release mostly.


Emergence of 2nd 'Bloom' - 05-07-2015 2:02 Pm

Elongation of 2nd 'Bloom' - 05-08-2015 6:22 PM

Growth of 2nd 'Bloom' - 05-09-2015 1:50AM

Elongation of 2nd 'Bloom' -05-09-2015 8:05 AM

Elongation of 2nd 'Bloom' -  05-09-2015 1:19 PM

Rapid growth of 2nd 'Bloom' - 05-09-2015 6:37 PM

Rapid growth of 2nd 'Bloom' - 05-09-2015 9:16 PM

Cap Expansion of 2nd 'Bloom' - 05-09-2015 11:09 PM

Cap Expansion of 2nd 'Bloom' - 05-10-2015 12:09 AM

Cap Expansion of 2nd 'Bloom' - 05-10-2015 12:26 AM

Cap Expansion of 2nd 'Bloom' - 05-10-2015 1:06 AM

Full Cap Expansion -  05-10-2015 8:51 AM

Collapse of 2nd 'Bloom' - 05-10-2015 1:30 PM
So how about that, you have now seen the entire fruiting cycle of the Houseplant Mushroom! The next time you see some strange mushrooms growing in a potted plant now you know what they likely are and don't have to worry about a thing. So that's it for this episode of Lost In The Farmers Market, See you next time!

Thursday, April 23, 2015

The Quickenin'



Welcome back to another springtime episode of Lost In The Farmer’s Market. This week’s post is dedicated to the best of spring, and that means lots of photos from the garden of things now in bloom. There is a reason behind the photo-heavy post, as next Sunday, is the 4th Annual Sustainable Neighbors Garden Tour and we have five locations with the test gardens being one of them. You can expect that the tour is going to be quite informative and certainly one heck of an experience for all who attend. It is a free-form tour so, with exception to the initial meeting point, you can visit all the other locations in whatever order you like.

Iris germanica - Unknown variety
I’ve told the story a few times, but for those who have not heard it, the property has several colonies of iris. Originally according to photographs they were all blue, but now they’ve become white or yellow with the majority being yellow. It’s not that I mind but they seem to have bloomed very early this year and so you all get a show sooner rather than later.

Iris germanica – Unknown variety
This white blooming iris was given to me as a small tuber and originally bloomed white with splotches of blue but seemingly has reverted to plain white. It may be a byproduct of soil pH or chemistry.


Salvia nemerosa ‘May Night’ – Garden Sage (Ornamental)
I bought a few of these some time back because they were on sale and stuck them in the mailbox bed in the hopes they would do really well and they have. I figure by the time of the tour they may be out of bloom so this is a sneak peek.


Artemesia absinthium – Wormwood
Visitors at the booth sometimes don’t believe me when I say the growth and performance of Artemesia is incredible in a neglected sunny spot. The key feature here is that central stem, it’s literally thicker than a man’s thumb after three years of growth and annual shearings’. These are the plants the small cuttings, seedlings and bagged packs of artemesia come from, just two plants, much like how all the rosemary comes from one really huge plant.

Aquelegia x hybrida – Columbine ‘ Barlow Doubles’
The establishment of a permanent stand of columbines in the shady section of the garden is one of the long-standing successes of the garden. These columbines were grown from seed, and just this one stand keeps returning amidst a section of the garden known for unusual variety. The thing that makes this significant is that in New Jersey columbines are everywhere and incredibly easy to grow. In North Carolina they need specific siting and care and it takes time to get a stand of them to establish. Much like with the lupines, you can expect a lot of 'duds' and false starts and then finally it's off to the races.

Sedum sp. – Sedum ‘Lemon Coral’
Supposedly this species of sedum is ‘annual’ and yet this cluster appears every year in the shady rock garden in the exact spot. They never bloom and they peek through the pine straw in April, nestled against the white granite rock they are easily missed by the unwary.



Admittedly, I’ve got a record of what these are somewhere, but they came with a pennington wild flower mix and between them, the monk’s hood (aconitum), the Evening Primrose (Primula biennis) and a few other things they just appear on the edge of the crescent garden with regularity. I like them, but unlike most of what’s in the crescent garden these guys are also untagged.

The production area aka “the racks”.
This is where plants that get sold at the market get sunned and acclimated to our weather. Admittedly this is not a new picture as things have changed since this was snapped about a month ago. But I figured I would show some of you who hear me refer to ‘the racks’ at the market what I meant.


With all that garden blooming photography handled now it’s time to talk about the City Market. The Fayetteville City Market is located on 325 Franklin Street in downtown Fayetteville. The market runs from 9:00 am to 1:00 pm on Saturdays and from 12:00pm to 4:00pm on Wednesday afternoons. The official opening of the market was last week and we’d love to see more of that find attendance. For note, the market is located on the grounds of the Fayetteville Transportation Museum so come on down and check it out. Below is this week’s plant list.

Southward Skies: A northern guide to southern Gardening
Southward Skies is a pocket-sized guide to gardening in the Carolina region. It will guide you through the process of having a productive garden in our region using a year-round format that matches the timing of what you should do and what time of the year you should do it. Unlike a lot of garden guides Southward is written in a way that can help even the most discouraged gardener to find success. Southward Skies has been tested by gardeners in other states ranging from as far south as Naples, Florida, as far north as Dorset, Vermont and as far west as Reno, Nevada. As a general guide you can’t lay hands on a better collection of tips, tricks and methods. A copy of this book costs $25.00 and we do take checks for this item, you can even have it signed. The EBook version costs $10.00 and is available through Amazon.



Herbs:
4x Basil, Holy – 4” pot ($3.00)
6x Basil, Sweet - 3.5” pot ($3.00)
4x Basil, Thai - 3.5” pot ($3.00)
4x Lavender, Lady Anne - 4” pot ($3.00)
4x Lavender, English – 4” Pot ($3.00)
1x Sage, Common - 3.5” pot ($3.00)
4x Rue - 3.5” pot ($3.00)
4x Oregano - 3.5” pot ($3.00)
4x Artemesia - 3.5” pot ($3.00)

Summer Vegetables:
6x Eggplant, Early Black Egg - 3.5” pot ($3.00)
6x Okra, Red Burgundy - 3.5” pot ($3.00)
2x Pepper, Ancho - 3.5” pot ($3.00)
2x Pepper, Bhut Jolokia, - 4” pot ($5.00)
2x Pepper, Flashpoint - 3.5” pot ($3.00)
4x Pepper, Sweet Banana - 3.5” pot ($3.00)
5x Tomato, Black Krim - 3.5” pot ($3.00)
5x Tomato, Brandywine - 3.5” pot ($3.00)
5x Tomato, Cherokee Purple – 4” pot ($3.00)
5x Tomato, Rainbow Cherry – 4” pot ($3.00)
5x Tomato, San Marzano – 4” pot ($3.00)
5x Tomato, Underground Railroad - 3.5” pot ($3.00)

Coming Soon:
Rosemary
Bloody Dock
Purselane, Golden
Purselane, Red
Aloe Vera
Fig, Negronne
Fig, LSU Gold
Fig, Ischia
Grape, Copper Muscadine
Milkweed, Orange


Friday, April 17, 2015

A Delightfully Soggy April



Welcome back to another episode of Lost In The Farmers Market. This week is a pretty important one because it marks two major events. The first event happens on Saturday and is the opening day of the Fayetteville City Market which is expected to be pretty big. At the end of this post I’ll have the first formal plant list for what is for sale at the booth on Saturday.  In addition to this the 4th annual Sustainable Neighbors Garden Tour is about two weeks away.  For those in the know, the Garden tour is a fine tradition started about two years ago that has grown into a twice-per year event. The spring tour draws the most visitors while the fall tour tends to be a more laid back educational event. As it stands we have five locations this year, If you opt to take the tour in order, they are the following;

1.      The Arsenal Bridge Gardens (Marsha Howe)
2.      The Food Bank Garden (Marsha Howe)
3.      The Celtic Gardens (Melissa Brady)
4.      [TBA]
5.      The Test Gardens (Thomas Clark)

The “To be announced” listing is there because the applicant hasn’t sent in his information yet, but the good news there is that it’s  none other than the Suburban Hermit of Fayetteville. You can hit up his blog here:

http://suburbanhermitoffayetteville.blogspot.com/

As if that’s not enough blogging action, the Celtic gardens now has a blog of its own and that’s over here:

http://hi-fayettevillecelticgarden.blogspot.com/

Whew, the number of residents in blog-land is steadily increasing not that it’s a bad thing! But you all ought to go over and take a gander. Perhaps this is a spoiler alert, but you might see some cool stuff early if you do.  Now I do have a few pictures this week to answer a question I commonly get at the booth on Saturdays. More often than not I get asked how big a mature size of a plant being sold is. All the gesturing and description of spread and height in inches or feet can’t do a photograph justice so I went out and snapped a few pictures of mature size winter and spring crops to better illustrate the point.

Parris Island Lettuce in a 12" pot, at harvest size.

Dino Kale, Collards, Savoy Cabbage, all also at harvest size in three gallon pots and 14" pots.

Japanese Red Giant Mustard plants, all ready to harvest.

What is this? Some super large bird's droppings?
This folks is a common spring sight; a slime mold, the high production bed has one emerge in it yearly. Slime molds are largely harmless but some find them unsightly. In the case of this one it emerged overnight where the citronella geranium was, and has an entire corner of the high production bed covered in what looks like giant bird crap.


I cut a section out to show the interior composition.
 It's been theorized that slim molds which are comprised of a mass of cells that posses a sort of simple intelligence as a communal organism of sorts. A article that explains this theory better can be found at the link below.

http://www.abc.net.au/science/news/stories/s189608.htm

Wild Lupine.
 This was one of the great experiments of 2015, I've always wanted lupine plants in the garden, but the seed  of the common Russel hybrids, and the Tutti frutti mix are terribly unreliable. Literally I had two successful plants out of hundreds of seeds. Worse yet lupines much like milk weed have very long taproots and absolutely hate being transplanted. I needed a Lupine species that either was sold mature or, had less finicky seed. When the seed catalogs came in for 2015, I found my objective in one, and ordered four ounces of 'wild lupine mix'. If you've never seen a lupine in bloom it's quite spectacular, as they bear tall spikes of pea-blossoms in shades of blue. I've seen reds, oranges yellow, white and pink as well as deep purples but, I'd take a stand of hardy lupines in blue that are reliable over all that any day of the week. These guys were sown in late February, and were up by mid March, Now they are at a stage where I can apply fertilizer and hopefully they can take over the bed they are in and grow alongside the four 'o clocks that are there.

With all that said, I have to mention the particulars of the Fayetteville City Market. The city market runs on Saturdays between the hours of 9:00 am and 1:00 pm and  Wednesdays roughly between 12:00 and 4:00pm. The market is located at 325 Franklin Street in the parking lot of the Fayetteville Transportation Museum. The Saturday market runs year round but this Saturday opens the official season.

Southward Skies: A northern guide to southern Gardening
Southward Skies is a pocket-sized guide to gardening in the Carolina region. It will guide you through the process of having a productive garden in our region using a year-round format that matches the timing of what you should do and what time of the year you should do it. Unlike a lot of garden guides Southward is written in a way that can help even the most discouraged gardener to find success. Southward Skies has been tested by gardeners in other states ranging from as far south as Naples, Florida, as far north as Dorset, Vermont and as far west as Reno, Nevada. As a general guide you can’t lay hands on a better collection of tips, tricks and methods. A copy of this book costs $25.00 and we do take checks for this item, you can even have it signed. The EBook version costs $10.00 and is available through Amazon.


Herbs:
4x Thai Basil - 3.5” pot ($3.00)
5x Sweet Basil - 3.5” pot ($3.00)
6x Lavender, Lady Anne - 3.5” pot ($3.00)
6x Sage, Common - 3.5” pot ($3.00)
6x Rue - 3.5” pot ($3.00)
3x Oregano - 3.5” pot ($3.00)
3x Artemesia - 3.5” pot ($3.00)

Spring Greens:
6x Lettuce, Parris Island - 3.5” pot ($2.00) ON SALE!
4x Radicchio - 3.5” pot ($2.00) ON SALE!

Summer Vegetables:
6x Eggplant, Early Black Egg - 3.5” pot ($3.00)
6x Okra, Red Burgundy - 3.5” pot ($3.00)
4x Pepper, Ancho - 3.5” pot ($3.00)
3x Pepper, Flashpoint - 3.5” pot ($3.00)
4x Pepper, Sweet Banana - 3.5” pot ($3.00)
6x Tomato, Black Krim - 3.5” pot ($3.00)
6x Tomato, Brandywine - 3.5” pot ($3.00)
5x Tomato, Traveler 76 - 3.5” pot ($3.00)
7x Tomato, Underground Railroad - 3.5” pot ($3.00)

Coming Soon:
Rosemary
Bloody Dock
Purselane, Golden
Purselane, Red
Aloe Vera
Fig, Negronne
Fig, LSU Gold
Fig, Ischia
Grape, Copper Muscadine
Milkweed, Orange

Needless to say, the season officially starts with a bang! That’s right, come on down to the farmer’s market this week and lay hands on the best GMO-Free, organic garden plants in the region. You never know what surprises are in store but you can check back here for your weekly dose of garden information and the plant list. See you in the field!