Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Here comes the rain again...no really.



Welcome back to another episode of Lost In The Farmers Market and indeed this is an early release episode due to it being sparklitis month. With that said I have to say that this month thus far has been complete insanity. As some of you might have seen I was out manning the table on Saturday when the weather mocked the weather forecast and did whatever the heck it wanted. Honestly this has to be the wettest August I’ve ever seen, and indeed on Saturday we received approximately 3.68” of rain on average and then on Sunday an additional 0.83” of rain fell bringing the weekend total to an average of 4.51”.
In short with weather like this I hope your irrigation systems have a weather sensor because if they don’t your just throwing money away. Keeping in mind I am knocking on wood right now; the forecast looks ok for Wednesday and is hovering at 20% chance of rain on Saturday. As with last weekend I fancied the odds on the weather but made sure to be prepared and, this week more so. Before anyone asks though yes, the Fayetteville Farmer’s market occurs even if it rains; we just might close up shop early is all.


Now that there is a big bowl of figgy fun!
However the unusual wet weather has some distinct advantages.  Some things in the garden do better in this weather and others just carry on as normal. Take for instance our first photo of the week. Tuesdays Fig harvest, this is a mix of White Ischia, Chicago Hardy and Brown Turkey type figs, with a total weight of three pounds two ounces all in one go. Literally weather like this can cause sudden and mass ripening in fig fruit that otherwise had done nothing the whole time for weeks. Most soft fruit do benefit from weather like this making this current situation at least not as bad despite the mosquitoes and the actual gloom.

With that said I do need to talk about a group of plants found at the table as part of Sparklitis month. I often get questions about what a Peperomia is and what one does with it. To start off the common nickname for Peperomia is Radiator Plant, though with over a thousand recognized members of the family the individual common names vary rather widely. Generally members of the species are considered to be epiphytes which means they grow in or with other plants in a non-parasitic way much like members of the Holiday cactus group (Schlumbergera). Due to this and their large tropical and sub-tropical distribution they prefer warm somewhat humid locations but do not tolerate frost or extreme periods of cold (ie 30-35 degrees Fahrenheit or less).
Peperomia obtusifolim varigata – Varigated Desert Privet

As noted above, the peperomia has a large number of members and is quite diverse in shapes forms and colors. Indeed the handful of specimens in the test garden collection are honestly the tip of the iceberg as far as the species goes. Most if not all members of the species feature succulent foliage and are considered to be perennials in their native habitats. In general cultivation Peperomias do not mind natural environmental humidity but do object to having constantly wet foliage. In the same way Peperomias also do not like to have constantly wet roots or soil and so their care is very similar to a Euphorbia, in that a lot of the care rules for cactus apply to the peperomia family. When it comes to exposure some species cannot be put out in full sun as they will suffer from leaf scorch where the morning dew collects. This is not the end all as some members of the family can withstand this if given a transition period. The one thing to remember is that with more exposure expect to have to water more frequently. In general it is wise to provide a peperomia with a potting soil that somewhat mimics the soils it might encounter in a tropical or sub-tropical region. Basically the soils should provide good drainage and be high in organic matter. My common mix for peperomias is a combination of tree bark fines, coco-fiber and sand with varied additives included such as vermiculite and perlite added.

Peperomia verticillata – Rotary Peperomia
As you can see in the above picture of a rotary peperomia the members of the species produce flower spikes rather than what we might expect a flower to be. The spikes are actually a mass of dozens to hundreds of miniature flowers. Basically the flowering structure is similar to that found on a Broadleaf Plantain (Plantago major) a common lawn “weed”. The flowering structure is also similar to that of a Calla Lily (Zantedeschia aethiopica) or the Peace Lily (Spahtiphyllum cochlearispathum) which is a common house plant. The critical biological difference is the lack of a showy bract to attract pollinators which for us would be the “flower petals” in the case of the calla or peace lily. Biologically the bract is there to draw the attention of pollinators to the less than showy actual flowers in the center. An incredibly common example of what a bract is can be found with the common Poinsettia (Poinsettia pulcherrima) who’s colored “petals” are actually modified leaves. It is likely that this form of flower came into being to counter insect pests that might eat part or the entire flower. Basically if you have a thousand flowers, and an insect only eats seven hundred and half the remainder produce seed, then not only do you carry your genetics onward but you don’t have to worry about competing with your offspring as much.


Peperomia orba – Teardrop Peperomia
Lastly, one has to ask, why I might carry these plants along with the aloes? Well, peperomias are a good starter plant for those not accustomed to succulents. Considering they are a foliage plant that produces very little leaf and flower litter and one can see growth in short order growing these guys is quite rewarding. I might add it is easy to take cuttings of a mature peperomia, and these guys do help cleanse the air inside one’s home. They also make a nice gift for that gardener for whom you’re stumped on what to get as a gift.

Ironically in contrast to last week’s early post this post is much shorter by a few pages simply because of the bad weather. It’s somewhat difficult to take good pictures in the field when the weather seems to be doing anything but being droughty. As you may know the Fayetteville Farmer’s Market occurs every Wednesday from 2:00 pm to 6:00 pm and on Saturdays from 9:00 am to 1:00 pm at the Fayetteville Transportation Museum. The museum is located at 325 Franklin Street in downtown Fayetteville and on the weekend parking enforcement takes the day off so there’s plenty of parking with no need to feed the meters. Without further delay here is this week’s plant list.


Southward Skies: A northern guide to southern Gardening
This is the second edition of my book, which was published using data compiled from several years of test garden operations. It’s written to aid gardeners of all skill levels in successful garden methods that are targeted for the south east but had proven to be a valued resource for gardens across the eastern coast. It’s certainly a good gift for that gardener you know or for yourself if you’d like to have a reliable field guide. The book costs $25.00 and we do take checks for this item, you can even have it signed.

Fruiting Shrubs
1x Fig, Chicago Hardy, 6” pot ($12.00)
1x Pomegranate, Dwarf, 6” pot ($12.00)

Herbs
4x Basil, Genovese, 3.5” pot ($3.00)
4x Artemesia, 3.5” pot ($3.00)
1x Fennel, Black, 7” pot ($5.00)
3x Rosemary, 3.5” pot ($3.00)
4x Toothache Plant 3.5” pot ($3.00)

Ornamental:
4x Baloon Flower, White 3.5” pot ($3.00)
4x Nicotina, Flowering Tobacco, 3.5” pot ($3.00)
4x Rudbeckia, Irish Eyes, 3.5” pot ($3.00)
4x Rudbeckia, Golden, 3.5” pot ($3.00)

House Plants:
2x Peperomia hybrid, Huntington BHG - 3.5” pot ($3.00)
2x Peperomia obtusifolia varigata, Desert Privet, 3.5” pot ($5.00)
2x Peperomia orba, Teardrop Peperomia, 3.5” pot ($5.00)
2x Aloe dorotheae,  Sunset Aloe - 4.0" pot (6.00)
1x Aloe deltoideodantes, Checkerboard Aloe - 4.0" pot ($6.00)
2x Aloe glauca, Blue Aloe - 4.0" pot ($6.00)
2x Aloe hybrid, 'Blizzard' Aloe - 4.0" pot ($6.00)
2x Aloe nobilis ‘Gator’, 3.5” pot ($5.00)
2x Aloe vera ‘Blue’, Blue Medicinal Aloe - 3.5” pot ($5.00)
2x Aloe x Gasteria, 'Night Sky' Aloe - 6.0" pot ($6.00)
2x Aloe vera x Gasteria verrucosa, 'Radiance Aloe' 4.0" pot ($8.00)

Coming Soon:
Black Dragon Haworthia
Silver Ridge Aloe
Rotary Peperomia
Assorted Rare Aloes
Assorted House Plants

This brings to a close another Episode of LITFM, which makes for the third episode of August with two more before we hit the start of the cool season. Also soon we will be revealing the results of the smart pot versus conventional pot trial so stay tuned  and lets all hope for more stable weather.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Its a Bird! Its a Plane! its an early Episode!


Welcome back to another episode of Lost In The Farmers Market or LITFM 10-10-10 for all you radio station enthusiasts out there. This week we’re going to break with the topic set for the month of August briefly to talk about the “sparklitis” outbreak in Fayetteville North Carolina. As you may know “Sparklitis” is a common affliction of those of the shopping persuasion, and there is no known cure. However by sating the “Sparklitis” urge with something completely exotic is just about the only way to cause the condition to go into remission. We at LITFM are working with both the CDC and USDA to distribute “Sparklitis” fighting items to slow the spread of this extremely communicable affliction. How we  at LITFM are involved in combating this affliction will be covered in the second half of this episode and keep in mind this is a Photo-heavy episode so mind your internet connections this episode will be like digital penicillin for the fighting of the “Sparklitis”.
The pros of August, suddenly all the peppers get that turbo-growth spurt and bam! peppers everywhere!

Now first off as you know it’s August and that poses its own set of problems and the first of such is the yearly cycle of larval critters. In late spring the cabbage moths are the problem, and in the dead heat of summer you get the good, bad and ugly. The good is that by now there’s no doubt the ladybug and praying mantises are out and about and chances are you’ve seen one or both. The test gardens have a very persistent population of leaf-footed bugs, and Wheel bugs both of which are aggressive predators of other insects. In terms of bad one could say that the larvae of the black swallow tail butterflies are a best in that they eat any and all members of the carrot family but prefer fennel and parsley. If you planted enough however there should be enough for both you and them and so it’s relative. As for the ugly you get what we have here in the picture below.

Exhibit A: Insidious insect invasion and subsequent sacking of solanum!
Fortunately I caught the culprit and detained him, he was entirely unrepentant about the damages caused and proceeded to defecate all over his cell. In fact this vile creature decided to try and ruin his mug shot by defecating several times as we tried to snap his picture.

Exhibit B: Caught in the act with stolen piece of Solanum, attempted to eat evidence before picture could be taken.
“What we’ve got here is failure to communicate, some men you just can’t reach so you get what we had here last week. Which is the way he wants it…well he gets it!”

Yes this is a Tomato horn worm and constitutes the “ugly” catergory as a whole for the tough month of August. This creature’s scientific name is Manduca quinquemaculata an it’s the larvae of the Five-spotted hawkmoth which explains their enormous size and how they just seem to appear. The adults of this species lay their eggs on the target plant at night and eggs take between two and eight days to hatch. As any gardener knows from there it’s just days before a tiny little caterpillar becomes something as big as a man’s thumb. This specimen was all that at 4” though when the picture was taken he was defensively curling up a little.

I might note that using black lights is an easy way to spot these critters at night but also scouting for suddenly stumpy stems is another way.  I spotted this one because I noticed a section of missing leaves. The tomato will absolutely recover and the perpetrator was put in “wet storage” That is immersed in 90% isopropyl rubbing alcohol for preservation. Why the stronger rubbing alcohol? It tends to keep the original colors of the preserve insect and there is very little suffering, though admittedly the suffering isn’t so much what I’m concerned with.

With that said this is the time of the year the hawkmoths are in flight so keep a close eye out for the horn worms as they will attack any member of the nightshade family. The plant targets of preference include Tomatoes, Peppers, Eggplant, Tobacco, Potatoes and moonflowers. The Larvae are vulnerable to any direct application insecticide and thus are easily picked off once spotted though it may be wise to do damage control checks as part of your routine to prevent incursions. But somehow I suspect your all waiting for the second half and so let’s get with the digital “sparklitis”

Peperomia obtusifolia ‘varigata’ – Variegated Desert Privet
The desert privets are the definitive poster child for the widely varied peperomia family and may be the most cultivated member of the family. The desert privet makes for an easy low-maintenance house plants that only require occasional water low amounts of fertilizer and as much light as you can provide. They do not tolerate temperatures below 30 degrees without protection but do prefer a soil with moderate organic matter that drains well. This variety is variegated which makes it good in use as a means to brighten up a corner near a window or as a temporary accent.

Peperomia hybrid - Huntington Hybrid Peperomia
The Huntington Hybrid peperomia is one of those odd plants that seems to have never made it into major cultivation. Perhaps it’s the fact that this one will keep growing straight up unless encouraged to branch by the pruning of its apical tip. Either way it is a bit more sensitive to constantly wet soil so it has to be treated more like a cactus in regards to watering needs. Otherwise it is a unique peperomia to add to a collection.

Peperomia verticilliata – Rotary Peperomia
The Rotary peperomia has been offered at the booth several times and this time we have used an image of what the mature plant looks like with time. In deed it produces little offsets like a aloe once mature allowing it to form a uniquely shaped semi-shrubby form with time. Honestly this one is a little more moisture sensitive than the desert privet but also a lot more responsive to fertilizers. Rotary is an odd plant for the gardener who has it all.

Aloe ‘Quicksilver’ x. ‘Rare Flare’ – Silver Ridge Aloe
They’re back for another go in the August market. I sold a number of these last year in 3” pots and they sold out but you folks wanted more and here they are in limited supply. Rare flare is more of a visual and texture plant but it does bloom when it reaches a certain size and those blooms are typical pink-red aloe blooms.  I can personally say I’ve seen humming birds go for the blooms on this plant and it is also fair to say this aloe requires little fuss even being able to survive for a while without irrigation.

Aloe vera x Gasteria verrucosa ‘Radiance’ – Radiance Gasteraloe
When I first encountered the mother plant these came from I said “What an Aloe!”  Indeed, this is an aloe hybrid that throws all the normal expectations of aloe out the window. Radiance prefers bright light as a house plant or partial-full sun as a summertime outdoor plant. The soil mix used with this one should contain decent organic matter but be able to drain rapidly to avoid root rot. I also should note that when watering this one care should be taken to avoid getting the crown wet. The best use for this plant is as an exotic accent since its lower parts and near the central crown of the plant are white or pale pink-green while the leaf tips are dark green and textured. This lighter coloration seems to fade towards the top like the bubbles in a fizzy beverage which adds additional appeal to the plant.

Aloe vera ‘ Blue’ – Blue Medicinal Aloe
Amazingly just when you thought medicinal aloe could not get any better, along comes ‘blue’ which is a more blue colored version of normal medicinal aloe. In use it is identical to the normal medicinal aloe except that in household cultivation it’s got a differing coloration.  The general rue with any aloe is to water only when dry and to avoid getting the plant’s crown wet to avoid incidences of root and crown rot. Blue fortunately is identical in care needs to plain medicinal aloe and with time it will get rather large and produce offsets.

Aloe nobilis ‘Gator’ – Gator Aloe
To clarify the name “Aloe nobilis” isn’t actually a recognized plant name yet. It seems it’s the generalized name for any cross between A. perfoliata (Mitre Aloe) and A. brevifolia (short leaved aloe). As far as aloes go this one is still medicinal but the leaves yield less gel but are more readily adapted to hot dry arid conditions and poor soils. As a house plant it stands out as an dark green alternative to a number of non-succulent house plants with similar grassy or strap-leaved foliage. The teeth along the leaves margins are fairly rigid though but not as deadly as a true cactus. I suspect the name gator came about due to the resemblance of the leaves to an alligator’s tail.

Aloe dorotheae – Sunset Aloe
Introduced last August at the booth in very limited numbers the Sunset Aloe makes its grand return for those of you who missed it. Sunset aloe is almost extinct in its native range because of over collecting; the locals use it in the same way we used Aloe vera. Unfortunately due to its slow growth rate sunset aloe is not the best choice for first aid treatment of burns however its ability to turn brilliant red-orange in bright sun is well worth it being used as a specimen potted plant in the summer garden and as a permanent item in your winter house plant collection.

Aloe deltoideodantes – Checkerboard Aloe
I introduced this plant to the area last year as part of Last August’s sale and it’s back. Due to a lack of a common name I nicknamed this aloe ‘checkerboard’ because the white patches on the leaves are almost perfectly square and appear in a semi-grid formation. As far as house plants go this aloe does not tolerate wet soil but will withstand neglect and some cold. I do recommend occasional fertilizer, repotting every few years and avoiding exposure to frost.

Aloe glauca – Blue Aloe
The A. glauca group are actually the true blue aloes and are not to be confused with the blue medicinal aloe which is A. barbadensis/vera. Although used commonly in skin softening and rejuvenating cosmetics blue aloe does have use in treating burns but has slightly differing effects than true medicinal aloe. As a house plant its care is identical to Aloe vera and it also can be put outside for the summer.

Aloe hybrid ‘Blizzard’
Blizzard is a hybrid of undetermined parentage that has striking white foliage with an attractive flower as the picture indicates. As noted in other entries Aloe flowers are attractive to humming birds and butterflies and it tends to occur in early to mid-summer. This aloe seems to tolerate more moisture than some but has no real cold tolerance. As a house plant I would treat it more like a cactus and water only as needed and cut back on fertilizer during the winter months, bright light is a must.

Aloe x Gasteria ‘Night Sky’
Night Sky is a striking aloe that seems to have some Gasteria parentage due to the textured and impossibly dark green leaves. No information searches have confirmed the parentage or the nature of if the variety is protected so we gave it the name Night sky due to its dark green-almost black leaves. Thus far it’s proven to not be tolerate of having constantly wet roots but otherwise seems to be temperature insensitive. I have not tested this plant’s frost tolerance however and presume it to be limited at about 25-30 degrees Fahrenheit. Even so this is a real show stopper especially if it were to be placed inside a light colored decorative vase or pot.

Haworthia coarcata ‘Black Dragon’ – Black Dragon Haworthia
The Haworthias are relatives of the aloe and Ox-Tongue families as such they are relatively easy to care for as far as succulents go.  I believe I bought the mother plant for this one at a Home Despot back around 2005 as part of a cactus and succulent display. It at the time was just an assorted succulent and it took some time to identify its precise species but then it threw a curveball. The mother plant exhibited a very dark green coloration that was almost black and its leaves showed a spiraling pattern with extremely rigid leaves that resembled scales. No other pictured member of the group featured this trait so, I ascertained it was a mutation and named it “Black dragon”.

Punica granatum ‘Nana’ – Dwarf Pomegranate
I did indeed hint these would be returning and guess what; here they come. In the august season just to increase the “sparklitis” effect I am happy to present dwarf pomegranates that are mature enough o produce fruit despite being in 6” pots. For note pomegranates are deciduous perennials in our climate and need full sun to do their best in the land scape. I recommend planting them in soil that is heavily enriched with composted manure or well-aged compost and then applying a 1-2” layer of mulch.


Ficus carica ‘Chicago Hardy’ – Chicago Hardy Fig
I told you these would return also and here they are in big 6” pots and like the pomegranates above they are 100% GMO free and organic! Figs are one of the most easily grown deciduous fruiting shrubs in the sustainable gardener’s arsenal. I might add this variety is the most cold tolerant fig you can buy and it forms the nicest shrub possible completely hiding whatever you want to hide during the warm seasons with ease.


I realize this has been a long post but we must move onto the closing, and in doing that I present the market materials list. As you may know the Fayetteville Farmer’s Market occurs every Wednesday from 2:00 pm to 6:00 pm and on Saturdays from 9:00 am to 1:00 pm at the Fayetteville Transportation Museum. The museum is located at 325 Franklin Street in downtown Fayetteville and on the weekend parking enforcement takes the day off so there’s plenty of parking with no need to feed the meters.  Moving right along here we have this week’s plant list.


Southward Skies: A northern guide to southern Gardening
This is the second edition of my book, which was published using data compiled from several years of test garden operations. It’s written to aid gardeners of all skill levels in successful garden methods that are targeted for the south east but had proven to be a valued resource for gardens across the eastern coast. It’s certainly a good gift for that gardener you know or for yourself if you’d like to have a reliable field guide. The book costs $25.00 and we do take checks for this item, you can even have it signed.

Fruiting Shrubs
2x Fig, Chicago Hardy, 6” pot ($12.00)
2x Pomegranate, Dwarf, 6” pot ($12.00)

Herbs
4x Basil, Genovese, 3.5” pot ($3.00)
4x Artemesia, 3.5” pot ($3.00)
1x Fennel, Black, 7” pot ($5.00)
1x Oregano, 3.5” pot ($3.00)
4x Rosemary, 3.5” pot ($3.00)
1x Sage, 3.5” pot ($3.00)
2x Thyme, 3.5” pot ($3.00)
4x Toothache Plant 3.5” pot ($3.00)

Ornamental:
4x Baloon Flower, White 3.5” pot ($3.00)
4x Nicotina, Flowering Tobacco, 3.5” pot ($3.00)
4x Rudbeckia, Irish Eyes, 3.5” pot ($3.00)
4x Rudbeckia, Golden, 3.5” pot ($3.00)

House Plants:
2x Peperomia hybrid, Huntington BHG - 3.5” pot ($3.00)
2x Peperomia obtusifolia, Varigated Desert Privet - 3.5” pot ($5.00)
1x Peperomia verticilliata, Rotary Peperomia - 6.0" pot (6.00)
2x Aloe dorotheae,  Sunset Aloe - 4.0" pot (6.00)
2x Aloe deltoideodantes, Checkerboard Aloe - 4.0" pot ($6.00)
2x Aloe glauca, Blue Aloe - 4.0" pot ($6.00)
2x Aloe hybrid, 'Blizzard' Aloe - 4.0" pot ($6.00)
2x Aloe nobilis ‘Gator’, 3.5” pot ($5.00)
2x Aloe vera ‘Blue’, Blue Medicinal Aloe - 3.5” pot ($5.00)
2x Aloe x Gasteria, 'Night Sky' Aloe - 6.0" pot ($6.00)
2x Aloe vera x Gasteria verrucosa, 'Radiance Aloe' 4.0" pot ($8.00)

Coming Soon:
Black Dragon Haworthia
Silver Ridge Aloe
Perennial Aloe (zones 7-11!!)
Heart-Leaf Philodendron


-And whatever other crazy stuff happens to have rooted at the HQ and looks really cool!

Also coming soon, Christmas cactus!

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Heeeres AUGUST!



Welcome back to another fine episode of Lost In the Farmers Market or LITFM for those of you into that acronym thing. Let’s face it, short hand terms are where it’s at these days and so this entire blog will be written in short hand starting right now.
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Yeah sorry no, we’re not that cruel to the readers here at LITFM. If we had actually posted an episode like that it’d probably sound like every can of alphabet soup in the soup aisle at the local supermarket had imploded. But yes this does cap off this week’s episode and if you’ll bear with us we will get right to how this acronym business relates to anything.

Since this is the last post of July 2014 it’s time to talk about the upcoming month in the view of one of the things gardeners most dread and that is the August Slump. That’s right, August starts tomorrow, and with it comes the issue of heat humidity and drought. I admit thus far the weather has been very erratic this year and yet you never know it may straighten up and drop some drought on us tomorrow.  With that in mind now is the time to consider applying fertilizers so when your plants stress out either from the weather or the depletion of nutrients in the soil from their active establishment you are ready.

The first thing to consider in this topic is the use of fertilizer. Obviously fertilizer is critical to gardening success but the type of fertilizer you use is literally half the battle. Now before you go out to bLowes or Home Despot and buy that box or jug of bonnie fertilizer or Miracle-blo* consider one thing before you buy it. How often does it say you should use it? Miracle-blo* often says you should use it every week or two weeks and depending on the product they’re peddling this year it may say to use it every time you water your plants. Now think about that, what kind of quality fertilizer needs to be applied every time you water your plants? The answer is that no quality fertilizer needs to be applied with that frequency, and the same can be said for any fertilizer that needs to be reapplied weekly.

The issue is this, water soluble fertilizers are even once applied still water soluble so after you apply miracle-blo* the next watering will wash out a portion of it. Rain will certainly wash away any residuals of your fertilizer application and then within a few precipitation events (natural or by your own hand) you are back where you were with a nutrient deficiency and nothing to show for all the extra work. In an ideal world, we would all have fantastic ever-fertile soil and this would not matter, but honestly the world isn’t ideal and often our soil has issues. So this leads to that acronym stuff and how it relates to the topic as a whole.

The most important step to getting better results in the garden is learning how to read the labels on fertilizer packages. Typically fertilizers unless produced to handle micro nutrients or unless they are formulated to handle only one nutrient or group of plants will often have what is called an ‘NPK’ number on the front label. NPK is short hand for Nitrogen, Phosphorous & Potassium, and the three major nutrients that your plants need. These three nutrients in the right measure barring a major micro nutrient problem are often enough to get a respectable result in the garden and so fertilizer companies make a big deal of them. Typically a bad of fertilizer will say something like 10-10-10 which represents the relative amounts of NPK present in the bag when used at the suggested application rates for the target plants. For note, if a soil test recommendation calls for 10-10-10 fertilizer you can apply 20-20-20 at a reduced amount (50% less) per square foot to get the 10-10-10 effect. Likewise you can double apply 10-10-10 over half the recommended area to get the same effect as 20-20-20.

Now it is fair to say that formulations vary greatly, often the specific plant targeted will break up that formulation, for instance a fertilizer aimed at improving the flowers of a given plant might be 12-55-6 (sta-green), or a vegetable fertilizer might be 2-5-3 (Jobes), a general organic fertilizer might be 5-1-1 (Alaska) or lastly a combo flower and veggie fertilizer might be 18-18-21 (Miracle-blo*). In short the formulations vary widely and the use of the fertilizer is marketed specifically to remove more cash from your wallet. The truth is that the plants don’t know the difference, and so buying liquid soluble fertilizers is somewhat inefficient.  It is actually wiser to buy a granular fertilizer with slow releasing effects to save money and in the long haul negate the problems that you face with your soil while you work to improve the soil.

Granular fertilizers or solid fertilizers typically come in bags that are range in weight from one to fifty pounds and are sometimes available for specific needs. For instance Espoma’s Holly-Tone is geared towards ericaceous plants that prefer acidic soils but then it is also a slow-release product that is organic, and adds to the soil. Take the reference above to Alaska Fish fertilizer. This is also an ORMI recommended product that uses organic residues to feed your plants, it is not a highly soluble mineral salt like most soluble fertilizers and it too encourages good soil biology and even has been found to encourage fungal activity in the soil. Another consideration is the use of a manure product such as Black Hen which is 2-3-2 and is basically a dried granular manure product with slow release characteristics.

This bring us back to the real core of the discussion,  you only need to apply fertilizer to compensate for  a soil that is not able to support what you wish to grow due to a nutrient or soil structure condition present at the time. Applying a soluble fertilizer based on mineral salts such as Miracle-Blo* only is putting a Band-Aid on the problem. In comparison a slow release organic-based fertilizer is a bit like applying a local anesthetic, stitches and a gauze wrap. The real fix is to improve the soil whole sale, with organic matter and avoiding nutrient depletion in the first place for which the metaphor might be routine checkups, early preventative surgery and clean living. But enough of that, lets take a peek at this week's pictures.

This weird fungus appeared in the crescent garden and continues to build shelve like growths. It's been there for about two months now and keeps getting bigger.


Amorphophallus sp. - Voodoo Lily
Ok I admit to not quite knowing what voodoo lily this is, it's one of three I bought at the same time and this si the first time it's returned in at least two years. The white Voodoo lily was pictured last week.



Oh Myyy!


Muscadinia rotundifolia 'Southern Home' - Muscadine Grapes, Black
 So two years after the muscadines are finally producing something, no complaints here.

Lycopersicon esculentum 'Amish' - Amish tomato


Punica granatum ' nana' - Dwarf Pomegranate

Amazingly the little Dwarf pomegranate is currently producing several fruits, I've snapped a shot of this plant in bloom in a prior post. I never expected it to bear fruit, at least when it goes up for sale all of you out there know you will get something out of it for sure!

Christmas cactus in 6" pots and a single Rotary peperomia plant cluster in a 6" pot, coming soon to the market!

With all the garden topics covered it is now time to talk about the Fayetteville Farmer’s Market. As you might have seen the weather is all set to not be so nice this weekend and I’ll personally play it as it comes, Friday is supposed to be far worse than Saturday and so on Saturday morning I’ll determine if I will go with merchandise or as moral support for the other farmers. With that said the market in some part goes on rain or shine on Wednesdays and Saturdays all 52 weeks of the year. The Wednesday market is from 2:00pm through 6:00pm and the Saturday market is between the hours of 9:00am and 1:00pm. The market is located in downtown Fayetteville in the front parking lot of the Fayetteville Transportation Museum at 325 Franklin Street. Should the weather been deemed nice enough the following is a list of what product will be coming to market


Southward Skies: A northern guide to southern Gardening
This is the second edition of my book, which was published using data compiled from several years of test garden operations. It’s written to aid gardeners of all skill levels in successful garden methods that are targeted for the south east but had proven to be a valued resource for gardens across the eastern coast. It’s certainly a good gift for that gardener you know or for yourself if you’d like to have a reliable field guide. The book costs $25.00 and we do take checks for this item, you can even have it signed.

On Sale: (3x for 5.00)
1x Pepper, Jalapeno, 3.5” pot ($2.00)
2x Pepper, Sweet Banana , 3.5” pot ($2.00)
2x Pepper, Carolina Wonder, 3.5” pot ($2.00)
1x Tomato, Brown Berry, 3.5” pot ($2.00)
2x Tomato, Martino’s Roma, 3.5” pot ($2.00)
1x Tomato, Rainbow Cherry Mix, 3.5” pot ($2.00)
1x Tomato, Red & Yellow Currant, 3.5” pot ($2.00)
3x Cucumber, Armenian, 3.5” pot ($2.00)
3x Cucumber, Poona Kheera, 3.5” pot ($2.00)
3x Horned Melon, 3.5” pot ($2.00)
3x Vine Peaches, 3.5” pot ($2.00)
2x Basil, Thai, 3.5” pot ($2.00)
2x Basil, Cinnamon, 3.5” pot ($2.00)
2x Basil, Red Rubin, 3.5” pot ($2.00)

-For note a number of the listed sale plants are appearing for their last time this Saturday so get ‘em now while you can because otherwise they will become one with the compost bin!

Herbs
4x Basil, Genovese, 3.5” pot ($3.00)
4x Artemesia, 3.5” pot ($3.00)
1x Fennel, Black, 7” pot ($5.00)
4x Lavender, Hidcote, 3.5” pot ($3.00)
1x Oregano, 3.5” pot ($3.00)
4x Rosemary, 3.5” pot ($3.00)
1x Sage, 3.5” pot ($3.00)
2x Thyme, 3.5” pot ($3.00)
4x Toothache Plant 3.5” pot ($3.00)

Ornamental:
4x Baloon Flower, White 3.5” pot ($3.00)
4x Nicotina, Flowering Tobacco, 3.5” pot ($3.00)
4x Rudbeckia, Irish Eyes, 3.5” pot ($3.00)
4x Rudbeckia, Golden, 3.5” pot ($3.00)

House Plants:
2x Peperomia, Huntington BHG, 3.5” pot ($3.00)

Coming Soon:
Assorted Aloes
Assorted Peperomia
Assorted Succulent house plants
Rotary Peperomia, 6” pot
Christmas Cactus, 6” pot
Dwarf Pomegranates 6” pot
Chicago Hardy Fig, 6” pot

And this wraps up another discussion on LITFM, your handy resource for demystifying the crazy corporate gibberish of the garden world. If you have any questions about this episode or the content within feel free to contact us via the blog or in person at the market. Thank you for reading and as always keep ‘em Growing!

* P.S. No that’s not a typo I actually call Miracle-gro that they honestly deserve that name for all their patent product dishonesty.