24 June 2010


If you look at my labels to the right, you will notice that onions and potatoes top the list. Part of the reason is that they are two cool season vegetables that can be grown twice a year. The photo is of the last of our potatoes I harvested this week. I planted them in mid-February and have been pulling them up for the past month. Apparently you can plant a fall crop of potatoes in mid-July for harvest in November, before it gets too cold. No one I know that grows potatoes has done that, but I think I'm going to have to try it out.
The problem with that is that feed stores only sell potatoes in February. I may call around for the heck of it, but I don't expect results. I could try planting some I bought from the store, but I feel like I might be wasting my time with those. They are usually treated so they won't sprout. I thought about planting some that I have already grown, but I'm not sure about those either. There are also problems with catalogs too - the cost of shipping whole potatoes is not worth it. I did find a catalog that sold potato eyes, and I kept it, hoping they would still sell them when it was time to plant a second crop, but I've misplaced it at the moment. It seemed really reasonable - the price was good and shipping wouldn't cost as much since it was only the eyes and not the whole potatoes. Hopefully in the next month I'll be able to locate potatoes suitable to plant for a fall harvest.

17 June 2010

Yucca Update

I wanted to post an update on the yucca that was flowering on my mail route. It wasn't chopped down immediately and was left alone long enough to flower. At that point I started doing research on pollinating yucca flowers.

It turns out that there is only one known pollinator - the yucca moth. These moths will fly around at night, gathering pollen from many flowers - they are very fragrant at night. When they are reproduce, they lay and egg in the stigma of the flower. Also, they seem to intentionally pollinate the flower, which will fruit and provide a food source for the developing moth. As the fruit matures, so does the moth, feeding off the seeds of the fruit. What it doesn't eat is left to grow into another yucca.
The page I found on hand pollinating yuccas, mimics the moth. Using a toothpick and a film canister, you collect pollen and insert it into the stigma, just like the moth. I practiced a little on my own flowering yucca, but without success. Before I had a chance at a serious attempt with the yuccas on my route, they were chopped down by the landscaping crew. Although I wasn't successful at it this time, I learned a lot about yuccas and their pollenation.

15 June 2010

Spider Lilies

The last couple of years I've been bugging my father-in-law to get me a few spider lilies (Hymenocallis caroliniana) whenever he goes kayaking. This was after he started bringing me plants that he had pulled up in the marsh. Being in a kayak, he couldn't exactly pull plants up by the roots, so most of the plants he got wouldn't survive. He got me a couple of cow lilies - the water lilies you see in farm ponds and in the wild - and they had roots, but I already had three water lilies at that point, so I really couldn't use it. When I told him that I would need the roots - bulb, tuber, etc, he decided he would take a shovel with him next time. That really wasn't realistic, and neither of us has mentioned spider lilies until recently.

One morning I when I was dropping Ella off at their house, he came out with a wilted spider lily to show me and said that he knew exactly where to find them now. I didn't think anymore about them until yesterday. That's when some lilies I had gotten in trade from a woman started blooming. I few bloomed last year, but I didn't remember exactly what they looked like. I had decided that they were a giant asiatic lily - Crinum asiaticum.

When the first one bloomed yesterday, I saw the distinct membrane connecting the narrow petals and I knew exactly what it was. I don't know if it's Hymenocalis caroliniana, but it's definitely in the same genus. The ones I have do well just planted in the yard, but obviously they can live in water as well.

06 June 2010

Stink Bugs!

I'm learning a lot about garden pests this year - I'm using these attacks on our garden as educational opportunities, and hopefully I'll be more prepared next year. First it was squash bugs - now it is stink bugs. Apparently they like beans - that's where I found them.

I haven't had a lot of luck with beans this year, but that's mostly my fault. I got a late start this year and my focus was on other vegetables. I also killed half of my beans with some overzealous use of roundup. I had a ton of weeds I was trying to get rid of close to my raised beds. I thought I did a good job of keeping it out of the garden, but obviously not. Half of my pole beans have died and now the other half are being attacked by stink bugs.

According to my master gardener training manual, stink bugs like beans, tomatoes and curcubits - cucumber, squash, zucchini, pumpkin and watermelon. Also they may damage sweet corn. According to the book, the best way to control them is with pesticides. My corn and tomatoes are planted close by - I'll have to keep an eye out for stink bugs on them.