IT WORKS! New Watermelon Test!

Hello everyone! I hope this post finds you all well. I went to Jay Wagler’s a few days ago since he grew a lot of watermelons as part of his business. We talked and laughed about the many ways people have to tell if watermelons are ripe. He laughed when I told him, “Yeah, but none of them work for ‘Black Diamond’. He said one of his neighbors grew ‘Black Diamond’ last year and he said they were really tough. He wasn’t sure, but he thought maybe he didn’t even get a ripe one. Then he gave me the way he used to tell if a watermelon is really ripe…

Making videos is kind of new for me so sometimes I forget what I intend to say. When he said to press down on the top of the watermelon, I asked him what if you press too hard. He got a laugh out of that but it is kind of like the scratch test. How hard do you scratch? The older a melon is the harder you have to scratch it, but it still leaves a mark. So, how hard do you press on a watermelon? Well, here’s the thing I forgot to mention since I had already found out the watermelon was ripe on Friday morning. This video was taken Friday evening and it didn’t make a sound then because it already did it that morning… The first two melons I pressed down on didn’t make a sound but the third one did. It didn’t hardly take any pressure at all. In fact, I was very surprised that I barely had to press down on it. I pushed harder on one because it didn’t make a sound, and when it did I think it was the inside of the rind that split instead of the flesh inside.

 

If you have grown watermelons before you may know I exaggerated somewhat when I sampled the melon and said how good it was. Truthfully, when you pick a watermelon and it has been in the hot sun all day it doesn’t taste all that great. That’s why when watermelon growers pick melons they let them sit in a cool place or in the shade so they will cool off. Once this watermelon was in the refrigerator overnight it was much sweeter.

‘Black Diamond’ is an heirloom variety with sweet pink flesh and is known for being called the king of the watermelons. At this moment I have to honestly say I have had much sweeter watermelons. This particular one weighed 26 pounds and I picked another one later that weighed 28. I gave half of this one to a friend and the bigger one to the neighbors across the street. The biggest one in the patch didn’t make a sound yet…

I made another video today to try and find one that would make the sound while recording. I walked around the entire patch pushing on melons and didn’t hear anything. It was very windy so maybe I just didn’t hear it. That would not be good because they may not do it the second time.

Linda, who has a blog titled “Life On A Colorado Farm”, said in a previous post’s comment how her grandfather taught her how to tell if a watermelon is ripe.“He taught me to hold the melon against my stomach and pat it. If the water sounds and feels like a rock skipping across a lake…the melon is good to eat!” Well, I couldn’t quite get that or even picture it in my head.  So, I asked her a little more about it . She replied, “Pick up the melon, try not to tear the vine, hold the melon close to your body on your stomach. Pat the melon sharply several times. If you can feel the water in the melon moving through the melon like ripples then it is ready to eat.” SO, I tried that with one of the ripe melons after I had picked it and you can actually feel the water in the melon vibrating… So, I guess I need to try that with one on the vine that isn’t ripe to see what it does. She said he taught her that trick when she was 8 or 9 and she is still using it. Linda has a great blog about her and her husband’s life on their Colorado farm (obviously). Thanks for the tip, Linda!

That’s it for this post! Until next time, be safe, stay positive, stay well and GET DIRTY if you can.

90 Days And 38 Pounds And Breaking Rules…

Hello everyone! I hope this post finds you well. So, how many rules can a ‘Black Diamond’ Watermelon break?

DAYS TO MATURITY

Hmmm… Information online says says “Black Diamond’s’ reach maturity from90-95 days. OK, so maybe I don’t know exactly when they came up but I know they were a few inches tall on June 7 because I have a photo to prove it…

SCRATCH TEST

Well, no one ever said how hard to scratch…

 

YELLOW/WHITE BELLY

Well… It has only been light green, and tonight it was kind of dark and I thought it was more yellow. One of the bigger melons like this one has a white belly, however, I know it isn’t as old as this one. The flower didn’t make a melon for a couple of weeks after the one here. Besides that, there are smaller melons with white and yellow bellies and they can’t possibly be ready.

DRIED TENDRILS

HA! Information online says when the tendrils are brown they are as ripe as they will get BUT… For some, including the ‘Black Diamond’, that could signal when they are beginning to ripen. The tendrils opposite the stems where the watermelons are attached have been brown for weeks and most of them have completely fallen off. One thing for sure, there is a lot of difference  and days between “ripe” and “beginning to ripen.”

WHAT ELSE?

A few days ago I was talking to this older guy at a store in town about the watermelons. He said, “Don’t you know how to tell if a watermelon is ripe?” I gave him a list and he gave me a rather disgusted look almost as if I were an idiot. He said, “When the end of it turns brown or black it is ripe.” He further said you can also tell by thumping on it. Well, for his information I have been thumping on watermelons all my life. Well, maybe not all my life… I had to learn how to walk first. OK, so maybe we can add that one to the rules.

THUMP TEST

Now, after watching everyone thump on watermelons since I was a kid, I always figured it was just the right thing to do. Tonight, I even thumped on the one that was rotting and it sounded like an old flat tire or maybe my stomach when I have eaten too much. Well, so did the one I just cut, and the bigger melons all sound like an old flat tire… When I actually get a ripe melon I will remember what it sounds like.

 

BLACK OR BROWN END

Wait until I see George! He will ask “Was it black?” I will say, “You said black OR brown. What if it is black and brown?”

SO, WHAT HAPPENED?

I call my friend with the scale again and asked if I could borrow it. She said, “You didn’t?” My reply was, “NO, but I am going to.” SO, I went out and did it and darn near dropped it on way to the water hydrant. I washed it off and my pants almost fell down by the time I got it inside the house. I put it on a towel and went to get the scales. For the life of me I can’t find my own. It’s amazing how things aren’t where they always were since my son was here. It has always been in the cabinet in the main bathroom… I know he used it before because I saw him do it… I would ask him what he did with it but he has been gone for a while and I haven’t heard from him in several weeks.

SO, I waited for 90 days. I have spent weeks of thumping, scratching, and checking the bottoms on several of the watermelons WAITING impatiently. Well, as you know, I wasn’t patient the first time. Last week I picked one that had a few holes in the bottom and was starting to rot. It weighed 23 pounds and wasn’t ripe either. Then, there was a smaller one whos stem turned brown and fell off. I cut it open and it wasn’t ripe… One small melon literally exploded and I saw another one tonight that had rotted. Both of those weighed maybe 10 pounds and had just somehow turned to yellow mush inside.

A lot of the vines are starting to die now because it is just that time. The vines and stems attached to the watermelons, besides that one, are still green even though there may be no leaves on the vines. With no leaves, many of the watermelons are turning yellow on top from the sun.

 

This particular melon has been a shiny dark green from the beginning while most of them have a bluish-green color with a chalky appearance. This one also has a lot of lumps…

SOOOO, what did it look like on the inside?

Hmmm… They always say practice makes perfect but I am not sure if this is progress or not. The one with the holes in the bottom was riper than this one… 38 pounds, almost 18″ long, and about 38″ around. Even though it isn’t ripe I had a few bites. It was sweet and juicy but definitely not quite there…

But, I will learn. By the time I get a ripe watermelon, I will know…  With the cool temps and rain we have been having off and on, I hope they don’t rot before they ripen.

I put the other watermelons on the porch before I took them to the chickens the next day. I found out butterflies like watermelon… Later on, I spotted a hummingbird taking interest but I never saw it eat.  Somehow a few very large holes appeared.

Well, that’s it for this one. Until next time, take care, be safe, stay positive, and do your best to GET DIRTY!

 

Going With The Flow?

Hmmm…

Hello everyone! I hope this post finds everyone well. We have had several days where it has been pretty hot. I had a little setback last Monday which put many things to a screeching halt and left me a little bewildered.

I had been working part-time but getting paid well. It required a lot of driving and for that, I was using a friend’s pickup. Well, last Monday I was traveling on a back road a was in an accident. I approached an intersection where there were no stop signs and weeds growing up so tall and right down to the road I couldn’t see if anything was coming on the left. I slowed down and proceeded only to be hit after about halfway through the intersection. The guy in the other vehicle had the same problem with not being able to see me. The road he was on had also been freshly graded which hampered his ability to stop. Luckily, we had both slowed down because of the intersection and not being able to see. He hit me in the driver’s side door. Since it is an extended cab, both doors were moved inward. I managed to get the door open but now it won’t latch. I guess I should have gotten out the other side instead of forcing it open, huh? Anyway, luckily there were no injuries and it could have been much worse if we had have been driving faster. Normally, there is hardly ever any traffic on the back roads but we both just happened to be there at the same time. So, I spent over a week getting dad’s 1996 Buick Century ready to drive, insured, and licensed. It runs well in town and you wouldn’t notice it had some issues on the highway. On rare occasions, I drove it out of town it would sputter and act crazy when picking up speed. So, I gave it new spark plugs and plug wires and now it runs much better… I hadn’t driven it for a while because I was using my friend’s pickup. I hadn’t been insured for a while which the old insurance company didn’t like very well. Not to mention the fact my license had been suspended for back child support, which I thought was straightened out with this new job. Unfortunately, to my surprise, it hadn’t been. Here I had been driving around with a suspended license. Fortunately, when the accident happened, we just exchanged insurance information and didn’t call the sheriff. When the insurance companies called neither one even asked about our driver’s license… One other reason I couldn’t get insurance with the old insurance company I had was that the driver of the other vehicle had insurance with them. I actually didn’t know my license was still suspended until I tried to get insurance. Anyway, I went to one insurance company to get the Buick insured and they wanted over $80 per month. I thought “HOLY CRAP!” Then, once I received the letter in the mail stating my license was good to go, I went to another insurance agency and they quoted me $156 for six months. WHEW! WHAT A DIFFERENCE! SOOOOO, it took me from Monday last week until Wednesday this week to get everything straightened out so I could get the Buick’s new license. Now I am told I will have to work out of the area and possibly stay at motels in order to continue working… Still only temporary… Finding a job at my age hasn’t been easy… I have not been “employed” for five years…

OK, so there are a lot of changes being made in so many areas. It makes one wonder what is going to happen next. A while back Facebook came out with a new version they wanted everyone to try out. I tried it out for a few minutes and didn’t like it so I switched back to the original. They have updated off an on over the years, but the basic “look” was barely changed and easily adapted to. Then last week, the popup covered almost the entire screen and it basically said we “had” to try it and get used to it because soon we would have no choice. So, I had no choice but to try it AGAIN. I basically only use Facebook to send messages to friends and family. At that time, I got on FB to message a friend but I couldn’t even find my friends list. After a few minutes of insanity, I found out how to switch back to the classic look. Last night, I again got on FB and the same darn popup was starring me right in the face AGAIN. You can’t just X out of it, you have to “try it”. Then, you have to go to your account settings to switch back to classic. I have been a FB member since 2007 and although changes have been made, it has always been similar and easy to navigate. I don’t use Messenger and I don’t have a cell phone.

Another website I use frequently changed their appearance but you could switch back to the old way. Then they asked why you switched back. They must have gotten a lot of bad reviews because now it is back to normal. They did make some good changes which is better for people using cell phones and tablets. Ummm, I only use a desktop computer (for now) and I don’t have a cell phone or tablet… Hmmm…

Now, I have been hearing a lot about WordPress bloggers having to use the new editor. When I started blogging again in 2017, everything had changed. I couldn’t find the old dashboard I was used to so I got on chat with support. They sent me a link so I could use the old version which I am still using even with this post. A few months I was prompted to try the “new block editor”. So, I did and after a few minutes, I deleted the post and went back to the old way. I understand updates have to be made for many reasons but when “seasoned” bloggers are used to writing and uploading photos a certain way we don’t like to change. It works perfectly fine the way it is. Now, if you want a little more pizzaz, you can choose from many themes. I have been blogging since 2009 and I have been using the same old way since I started. Updates have been made but they haven’t affected me at all. There have been moments I have had issues, but they have been because of my computer’s operating system updates. I had been using the Premium membership with WordPress for many years but then, because of a lack of funds, had to go back to the free WordPress. Fortunately, last week I was able to purchase the Personal membership. Nothing changed in appearance and everything is working the same as usual. It would have been the same even if I had purchased the Premium membership. The best thing is no ads on my blog now. The other thing is that I was using 93% of my space on the free membership which made me leery about adding a lot more pages and photos. I was told by support I could start seeing “things” disappear. Hmmm… SO, I upgraded and now I am using 46% of the space allowed. The reason I don’t like ads on my posts is because I have no control over where they are stuck. I checked before and they were randomly placed here and there interfering in the post. I didn’t like it but I couldn’t complain… Besides, with a free blog, I couldn’t chat with anyone to give my opinion. LOL!

I am confused somewhat why so many things are updating, upgrading, or whatever you want to call it. Why can’t they be made without changing the way sites look and work? Of course, we like new features that are helpful, but we don’t like having to deal with learning how to make things work. We all know barely anything lasts forever and has to e replaced like coffee pots, cars, lawnmowers, trimmers, clothes, etc. Sometimes we have to get newer computers because the old ones we have used for years are no longer upgradable. When we buy a new appliance we have no choice but to learn how to use it.

My 4 cup Mr. Coffee pot decided to die a few weeks ago. I went to get a new one and it was $17.00 at Wal-Mart. I paid less than $10 for the old one and I didn’t feel like paying $17 for a new one. SO, I got out the old percolator and used it for a while. When my son was here he had a nice fancy Keurig which I didn’t use. Oddly enough, he used my coffee pot more than the Kruig. Before he came here, he had lived with his mom for a while. I thought it was weird that he complained about her hiding her coffee pot in her bedroom so he couldn’t use it. He said, “why would I use her coffee pot when I have a Keurig?” Well, why did he use my coffee pot more than his Keurig? He is the one that even dug out the old percolator from the basement in the first place. He has been gone for a while, but I still had the old pot in the kitchen so I just started using it when the Mr. Coffee quit. Somewhere, the one we replaced it with is still here but I can’t find it… The coffee pot I used in Mississippi is also here somewhere but I can’t find it either… Maybe I got rid of them but can’t remember… I don’t think so… My memory is still fine. 🙂

ANYWAY, when was at Wal-Mart a few days ago I decided I could afford a new coffee pot. I still didn’t want to spend $17 for a 4-cup coffee pot nor did I want their cheaper Mainstays version. I don’t like cheaply made products and would rather do without than waste my money. I remember the days when I had an awesome Bunn coffee pot but I certainly didn’t want to spend that much for only a couple of cups of coffee per day. So, I looked around and there were less expensive Keurigs but I still didn’t want to pay $60 for a pot. SO, I opted for a less expensive Faberware that does the same thing. Well, that may have been a bit impractical because I paid more than a new Mr. Coffee would have cost me. I had a couple of pods laying around from somewhere that I tried out. Settings let you select either a 6, 8, 10, 12, or 14-ounce cup. You can also select if you are using a K-Cup or ground coffee and they have a gizmo for each one. I use a 12-ounce insulated cup for it to pour in and I think it would overflow if I selected 14-ounce. Then I add a little addictive creamer to an 8-ounce cup and pour my coffee into it. It is still a little strong but the creamer helps with that. This morning I used grounds and I will have to tweak that a little. It makes coffee stronger than the old pot and percolator, so I can actually use less coffee. This is not a complicated change and it works very well. I get my coffee in much less time.

I really want another cappuccino machine. I had one of those in Mississippi, too. The machine was in Suzanne’s stuff she had for the store, but I brought it home after she passed. A friend of mine there used to work in a coffee shop so he showed me how to use it. I wore it out after a few years… It was AWESOME!!! I had my own version of a white mocha latte.

Some things that upgrade I like. I like the new TV’s and I like new vehicles. I like the convenience and anything that helps us make our life better. I don’t like it when gadgets don’t work properly or fall apart. I always believed if you want something to last you have to pay the price. That I have done and basically do without until I can afford quality. I would love a new Ventrac with several attachments but that will have to wait until I get my lottery check.

COVID-19

My thoughts about COVID-19 are not that great. While I don’ think it is a joke like so many do around here.

Having to wear a mask when I was working was a pain in the neck but it was required. It itches, fogs up my glasses, and falls down when I talk. BUT, I think it is something necessary that should be done, especially in crowded places. I was in a larger community about 40 miles away one day and needed o go to Wal-Mart before I left. I decided not to go because that area had A LOT more positive cases than where I live or even where the Wal-Mart is I normally shop at. While working, I have stopped at a few convenience stores in different communities. Rural communities, where testing has not been done, seem to have a careless attitude toward the virus and no one wears masks except for store employees. In bigger communities, most customers are also wearing masks. Here in my home town, 99% of the people in stores and restaurants do not wear masks. While it is true we have only had maybe three people test positive it is likely because not many people have been tested. Supposedly, the clinic in town tests everyone that comes in and they have not reported any cases. The first case we had was an elderly lady that had been moved to the nursing home from another area. After a few days, she tested positive and was moved out. Another man tested positive after returning home from traveling. Another person, maybe his wife, also tested positive.

I watched a video on FB that is titled “THE FIRST COUNTRY TO WIN AGAINST COVID-19?” The guy was talking about Taiwan for the most part. Taiwan is a country with a population of 23,823,665 that has only tested 86,826 people. If they tested more I think they would have a different story. The United States has administered 79,472,486 tests and has a population of 331,309,290. Hmmm… I think someone screwed up when they decided to test so many people. It makes us look bad compared to countries like Taiwan. It was a good video, though, and shows the importance of wearing masks when in public. I think it is probably a good measure especially when you are around a lot of people not wearing them…

Now, I think we have all been pretty much exposed to the virus and a lot of us are positive or have antibodies indicating we had it and got over it. I had this weird cold or something that I mentioned a few posts ago. It is getting better now since my new supplements from Nature’s Sunshine arrived earlier this week. I stopped using nasal spray as soon as I started taking the pills. No cold/allergy medicine I had taken for three weeks helped one lick except to reduce the feverish feeling I would sometimes get. I started using the nasal spray in January because I was not allowed to take my elderberry supplements (because I was scheduled to have kidney stone surgery). The problem with cold medicine is that it took a while to feel better after taking it and then when it would wear off I wouldn’t feel so good again. With the supplements, I don’t have that rise and fall. My sinuses are now draining well and I am feeling better but it may take a while to feel as well as before. I didn’t go to the doctor for several reasons. One is that I am not a prescription drug taker. I know sometimes we have no choice or don’t think we do, but I am a believer in herbal and holistic medicine. Nature’s Sunshine has been a brand I have used for MANY years and I have always felt the difference when using their products. Many other brands I have tried don’t work that well.

I decided I would also try a vitamin supplement because I am getting, umm, older and I don’t always eat well. Even though the supplement has 500 mg of Vitamin C, I am still taking 500 mg from the bottle I had before.

You never know. Maybe I have COVID! What would happen if I got tested? Would I be quarantined? Sent to a facility somewhere? Who would take care of the chickens, cats, my plants, and the garden? What about the watermelons that are about to ripen? I have waited so long for a ripe one!

MY THOUGHTS ABOUT INCONVENIENT UPGRADES… 

The problem with upgrades is that we can’t get an upgrade ourselves. We should be able to own a gizmo we can step into or lay down on like a tanning bed. We get in and get out and look and feel 20-30 years younger. Not that I am old, or even feel old, I am just “looking” older. This is where I think god screwed up. Notice I use “g” instead of ‘G”. I know about the Sumerian tablets (etc.) and have a different opinion about our creation than what the bible teaches… Hmmm… And to think I am an elder at the church I attend…

HMMM… I JUST DELETED ABOUT 1,000 WORDS…

 THEN ANOTHER 1,000!

WELL, over the past four years I have done a lot of research and have my own opinion. One that I am not quite ready to share. I am quite sure my opinions and beliefs are the same as a lot of others but none of us want anyone else to know what we think. That is why we have so many issues on this planet. I have a lot to talk about but I am not sure how to go about it…

OK, I think I should wind this post up for now. I have several others in the works I can finish now before I get behind and they become old news…

I did get some new plants in the mail from a cactus and succulent farm I have to write about. Well, that was part of the deal I think even though it wasn’t directly stated. 🙂 Well, you know what I think about the industry’s misnaming of plants and their website is no exception. I will have to have some “rules” in place if I am going to help promote the company. The plants are great, though!

SO, until next time, be safe, stay positive, always be thankful, embrace life, stay well, and so on. GET DIRTY when you can and take a deep breath of fresh air!

 

 

Garden Update And Okra Leaf Removal (VIDEOS)

Okra ‘Jing Orange’ on Sunday, August 16, 2020.

Hello everyone! I hope this post finds you all well and you enjoyed your weekend. I have been wanting to do a few videos because I seem to get behind writing posts. I take a lot of photos and then don’t have time to write the post. This morning I took quite a few photos then I needed to finish mowing the yard. After that, I needed to work on the Okra and plant the second row of snap peas where the fava beans were earlier.

Okra ‘Jing Orange’ after pruning a few leaves.

I have planted several varieties of Okra since 2009 but this year I planted ‘Jing Orange’. I like experimenting and there are probably several hundred varieties of Okra. When I lived in Mississippi Okra was popular so I had no problems giving it away to friends and neighbors. Here it isn’t as popular so I freeze a lot of it. I like it steamed and fried but you can use it in a variety of recipes.

When I lived in Mississippi I became acquainted with an older gentleman by the name of Mr. Step. I forgot his first name… Anyway, I went to visit him one day in his HUGE garden and he was in his Okra patch with his pocket knife whacking off the leaves. He said, “You have to chop off the leaves to get “R” to em.” What he meant was they need good air circulation to produce well so you have to remove the big leaves. So, I have been doing that each year and they have done very well. Probably better than I needed.

I made a few videos about the okra, tomatoes, and watermelons but you can’t just upload to WordPress. SOOOOOO, so I created another YouTube channel. GEEZ!!! Of course, it is called The Belmont Rooster. 🙂 I actually need something a little different because it takes a VERY LONG TIME to upload a good-sized video. I just took the videos with my camera but I may need a video camera.

 

 

The first one is longer and it took HOURS to upload. I am pretty new to doing videos but we’ll see where this leads… There is some way you make the size of the videos smaller. Hmmm… That’s not quite what I want to say. You go to some settings and change the size somehow, kind of like when you change the size of photos so they will upload faster. I’ll figure it out somehow. 🙂

Well, I better close for now and think about going to bed…

Until next time, be safe and stay positive. I hope you have a great and blessed week. Get dirty if you can and take a big breath of fresh air.

Watermelon Wisdom (Just Kidding)

The watermelon patch on 7-20-20.

Hello everyone! I hope this post finds you all well. The past few weeks have been very busy and I finally finished picking the sweet corn a few days ago. I only had time to pick a 5-gallon bucket or so almost every night. I started this post on July 15 and just now had time to finish it. Sometimes time flies by and sometimes it just seems to drag. When it comes to watermelons the anticipation will drive you completely insane. I have taken 48 photos of the watermelons since June 7 which kept getting out of date for a post.

SO, today is the day I finish… Hmmm… I think I said that to myself several days in a row starting with last Sunday.

Gardening has its ups and downs and this year has been no exception between standing the sweet corn back up several times and the armyworms on the tomatoes. As always you deal with these problems and move forward. You learn that once you have picked the sweet corn you don’t have to worry about the wind anymore. You learn that the armyworm problem only lasts so long then their time has passed. The kale, well, it to had its pests and I think there were more than just what I knew about. The snap peas turned out to be snow peas which was a disappointment. I did get more and I planted about half of the seeds on August 1. The lady from the garden center assured me that the ones she planted turned out fine so I took her word for it (just like I expected snap peas in the first place). The tomatoes have done great and I had plenty to eat and give away. The sweet corn fooled me despite several issues and I was surprised to add 380 ears to the freezer. More than ever before and without help shucking it. It will last until the next harvest if I can stop eating 2-3 every night for dinner.

THEN, THERE ARE THE WATERMELONS just taking their sweet time enjoying life at a snails pace as if nothing else is going on in the world around them… 

Before I get too deep into this post I think I better be completely honest with you. Although my grandpa was one of the local watermelon kings in this area until his death at 83 in 1981, this is the first year for me. I did plant a few seeds in an area behind the chicken house in 2017 but that doesn’t count. I planted them in an open area and the deer or something ate some of the plants and they just fizzled out. During my childhood, I was around a lot of fresh fruit and vegetables that my grandparents and parents grew. Eating juicy, sweet, ripe watermelon with my grandpa was always a special treat. He got a lot of joy taking his vegetables to the Missouri State Fair and Calhoun Colt Show and won a lot of blue ribbons. Watermelons were one of his specialties and he saved seed from the best of many varieties every year. One year someone gave him seeds from a yellow-fleshed watermelon which he grew the following year. He didn’t like the flavor so he didn’t save any of their seed. The next year he wasn’t too happy to find out they had crossed with some of his prize melons and he still had several with yellow flesh…

Every year I get some pretty good watermelons but sometimes they are just so-so. I have always longed to relive those days as a kid with a mouth-watering, juicy, sweet watermelon. I mean, one that is just so AMAZING and dripping with juice, so sweet and flavorful you will remember it for a lifetime. So, I decided I was going to plant watermelons in 2020…

My grandpa planted several varieties every year. I remember Kleckley’s Sweet, Crimson Sweet, Charleston Gray, Black Diamond, Dixie Queen, some variety of Rattlesnake, and probably others I can’t remember. One of our favorites was always Black Diamond. Finding a Black Diamond these days is like pulling hen’s teeth so I decided that is what I would plant… Black Diamond…

WHEN TO PLANT WATERMELONS?

Watermelon ‘Black Diamond’ on June 7.

Some of the old-timers used to say to plant watermelons on the first day of May in your shirttail. Hmmm… What does “in your shirttail” mean anyway? I guess it means to get out of bed bright and early on May 1 and plant watermelons before you even have your first cup of coffee. You haven’t slept all night because you are thinking about getting up early to plant the watermelons. You get up, put your pants and shirt on, put on your boots, and go outside without tucking in your shirt. You may even go out in your boxer shorts but you have to put on a shirt or you aren’t following the rules.

Some of the “rules” say to plant 5 seeds per hill and thin to three plants after they come up, but you know how I don’t like to thin. I planted five seeds in five hills and if they all came up they were allowed to remain. There are a lot of ideas about planting melons and one site said to make hills five feet in diameter. Hmmm… Many people just plant them in rows “so many” feet apart and don’t bother with hilling. You can even buy plants from garden centers (and online) and transplant them. I opted to buy 25 seeds from a seller on Etsy and I planted them all. Ummm, most of them came up.

 

Watermelon ‘Black Diamond’ on 6-20-20.

COMPROMISING WITH BLACK DIAMOND FOR SPACE…

I knew from the start there may be an issue with space because Black Diamond is not a space-saving watermelon. One thing I want you to remember, so you can remind me later in the comments, is that Black Diamond watermelons take around 90 days (3 months) to ripen (after germination). They can grow to 50 pounds or more in optimum conditions and 75-80 pounds is not uncommon… I will talk about this more later on.

My garden, or the garden, is roughly around 3,000-3,500 square feet. I am not sure exactly. Anyway, there is roughly 55′ from one end of the rows to the other and I would say dad made the garden fairly square. That doesn’t count the distance around the rows to motivate the tiller and walk. In the beginning, I planned on four double rows of sweet corn divided in half for ‘Incredible’ and half ‘Peaches and Cream’. The row of tomatoes goes on the other side. I needed space for the row of kale and snap peas (which turned out to be snow peas). Then I had the ‘Jing Orange’ Okra to plant. I found the old ‘Broad Windsor’ Fava Beans which shared the row with the okra. SO, from the sweet corn to the row of fava beans and okra left roughly 16 feet for the watermelon vines to spread. SO, made five hills down the center of that 16′, allowing 10′ feet on each end plus walking space…

Then, a friend had issues with rabbits and deer eating his green beans, so I volunteered to pant a row of green beans. That left about 12′ for the watermelons… At first that seemed OK because the watermelons grew very slowly. Then, as the weather became warmer, they took off. I begin to wonder about my sanity. I figured when the watermelon vines got close to the other rows I could just turn them or MAYBE cut the vines and I could keep them from sprawling over the entire garden. Then I got to wondering about pruning…

What a cutie!

 

A side branch on 7-26-20.

HMMM… PRUNING WATERMELON VINES… 

I always remembered my grandpa telling me not to step on the watermelon vines because it would kill them. But I wondered… Could I prune them like tomatoes? So, I got online and read a little about it and watched several videos on YouTube. Normally, apparently, you start out pruning watermelons from the beginning, leaving a single vine and cut off all the side branches. Once one of the flowers on the vine produces fruit, you cut off the vine so it won’t grow past that point. That puts all the plant’s energy into producing that single watermelon. You can leave two if there is another one by the time you get around to it. Hmmm… OK, so I screwed up in the beginning by not watching the videos in the first place.

Pruning 1-2″ past the watermelon.

SO NOW WHAT?

By the time I started pruning my watermelon vines they had almost reached the rows on both sides. LUCKILY, the main vines had just started flowering when I began pruning and I could get somewhat inside the patch to remove the side branches. Now, you have to realize only 1 out of 7 flowers will be female and produce a melon. This kind of complicates things and I started looking at the flowers to see if there was a difference between male and female flowers.

Watermelon ‘Black Diamond’ flower…

They all looked the same to me, unlike zucchini, where you can tell fairly soon which is which. I was pruning watermelon vines every night as long as I could. It worked very well, actually, and it seemed like I was able to train the main vines not to go into the rows of beans and okra. Once the side branches started flowering I had to hurry to get them cut off so I wouldn’t see a melon. There were already several melons on many of the main vines but it also seemed like there were A LOT with no melons at all. I thought maybe I should remove all the vines with no melons but by that time that would have been ridiculous…

Vines produce side branches which produce side branches which produce side branches… Well, that could be a bit of an exaggeration but who really knows. Once the highway system of branches gets out of control you can’t dive in and start snipping.

As time went by, I could tell the newer side branches were flowering much sooner than the older vines started. That made it harder because if I saw a melon on a side branch I could not remove the whole thing. I just cut it off after the melon… Despie knowing those little melons may not make it to get ripe because of the “F” date sometime in October. This is a learning experience and it allows me to know just how long it takes to make a watermelon…

 

Watermelon vines growing up to he green beans on July 26, 2020.

After a week or so of pruning, I could no longer get inside the patch. The vines were growing so thick and there were even side branches sticking up everywhere in the center of the patch. I started concentrating on the perimeter of the patch and forgot about the middle. When I wanted to cut a vine, I would kind of pull it up to see where it was coming from and cut it off as far up as I could. Sometimes I was able to step inside the patch a little to get even farther.

The next thing I knew I had the issue with the armyworms on the tomatoes. That took time away from the watermelons for a few days until I got them under control. THEN, I started having to pick corn every evening. The watermelon vines started getting out of line BUT, the watermelons were getting bigger…

Baby frog…

As I work in the watermelons I see baby frog and toads. The leaves provide a lot of shade and even though it hadn’t rained for a while the soil under the leaves was still fairly damp. It was strange having worms on the tomatoes, kale having their pests, Asparagus Beetles on the asparagus, Corn Earworms and other bugs on the sweet corn but no critter issues with the watermelon vines…

SO, HOW DO YOU TELL WHEN A BLACK DIAMOND IS READY TO PICK?

WELL, it is kind of like this… They say patience is a virtue but sometimes it is a pain in the neck. Over the years I have heard many ways to tell when a watermelon is ripe. Some people thump on it and listen for a certain sound. I read once you can use a straw placed a certain way on the melon and if it rotates lengthwise (I think) it is ripe. Some say the belly has to be white or yellow. The advice I am getting online now is that the tendril opposite the stem the melon is fastened to has to be completely brown. At that point, the melon is supposedly as ripe as it will ever get.

Dried tendril on a ‘Black Diamond’ Watermelon on July 26… About 56 days after emergence and at least 34 days to maturity…

But, for Black Diamonds, it isn’t quite so easy…

1) TENDRIL TEST: The tendril being COMPLETELY BROWN may only indicate it is beginning to ripen.

 

The belly is supposed to be white or yellow…

2) BELLY COLOR: Yes, the belly has to be yellow or white. If not, it isn’t ready. This melon weighed probably around 25 pounds.

 

The scratch test…

3) THE SCRATCH TEST:  Watermelon rinds get harder as the melons mature. If you can scratch the surface easily, it isn’t ready.

ONE OF LIFE’S EMBARASSING MOMENTS…

WELL, I suppose everyone has a few of “those moments” when the waiting for something is over. Not that it should be over, but we get too anxious and we just can’t wait any longer. Watching those watermelons getting bigger and checking their tendrils, their bellies, and doing the scratch thing is exhausting for the mind. I had completely ignored the fact that they were planted around the last part of May…

Hmmm… On July 31…

I debated and debated. Waking up in the middle of the night thinking about that watermelon… The big one that isn’t ready and the other one whose tendrils are dried and has a white belly. So, on July 31, curiosity, anxiety, wanting a ripe melon got the best of me…

Scratch test… PASSED!

I did the scratch test and it passed. OK, so not really. I had trimmed my fingernails the night before and I didn’t scratch it all that hard because I really wanted it to pass the test. Out of camera view, I scratched it harder and it didn’t pass. Hmmm… What good is hiding the truth if you are going to admit to a lie?

 

Belly test… PASSED!

Before I cut the stem I checked the belly. If the belly was still been green I would have left it alone…

I took it to the house and washed it off. Then I looked for my scale. You know, I couldn’t find it anywhere. GEEZ! I messaged a friend and asked if she had a scale I could borrow. She asked what i needed I for and I told her it was a secret. She said I could borrow it so I went to get it and gave her some tomatoes… It weighed 23 pounds…

 

NOT FUNNY!!!

Well, I suppose I completely lost my senses. I completely forgot about the most important rule…

4) DAYS TO MATURITY…

This one is the hardest to remember but probably the most important… Instead of #4, it should be #1 (maybe it is #1, but im my mind it wasn’t). Even if your melon passes everything else but hasn’t gotten to the right number of days, you may very well be disappointed if you cut it open. There is a fifth rule but I forgot what it was. 🙂 Try to remember when your watermelons started coming up and count from there if you planted the seed in the ground. If you are transplanting them, you start from that date instead of when they started coming up. So, for me, My watermelons should start ripening around the first of September…

OH YEAH! #5… HARDNESS OR ROUGHNESS…

One of the biggest on August 4…

This watermelon weighs AT LEAST 40 pounds, or at least I think so. It was so big I had to move it around because the vines were beginning to cut into it. I moved it sideways to give it more room… Here it is on August 4 with September 1 being 90 days to maturity. I didn’t look at its belly but I put my hand under it to check the firmness. As you can see on the left of the photo, the tendril is NOT brown… The skin is getting rougher. Once I pick the first ripe melon successfully, I will have a better idea when the rest will be ripe. Practice makes perfect and PATIENCE is a virtue… HMMM…

There are MANY watermelons in the patch, one even larger than the one in the above photo. It’s hard to tell because Black Diamonds are noted for producing LOTS of big leaves and I can’t see what is in the middle of the patch. Sometimes I get a glimpse of one I hadn’t noticed before through the leaves.

Watermelon patch on August 4, 2020.

The patch looks pretty good in my opinion. It seems well mannered and I really didn’t have that much trouble getting the vines to stay confined to the area I needed them to be in. If I had have let them ramble, they would probably just about filled the garden by now.

I can hardly believe I finished this post… Now maybe I will do one about the sweet corn. Maybe I will just read your posts for a while…

Right now I am fighting a cold or something. Last week was strangely cool and I have been traveling on a lot of dusty back roads and talking with quite a few different people. Last Thursday my sinus started plugging up and I started feeling a cold coming on. I amped up the Vitamin C and Elderberry and also started taking Alka-Seltzer Plus. It hasn’t really helped that much… No headaches, no fever or anything just sinus congestion. I hate using the nasal spray but I have to breathe somehow.

Until next time, be safe and stay positive. Stay well and be thankful of your blessings.

Standing The Corn Up AGAIN…

Hello everyone! I hope this post finds you all well. In the last post I mentioned the storm. Well, it came and I made it to the house only getting a little wet. That was about 3:30. Then the wind picked up and we got a pretty good soaking. While it was raining and blowing I was thinking I would have to stand the corn back up. Since I cut the trees down in the old foundation I can see the garden from the porch. The first time I looked the corn seemed OK but the storm wasn’t over. Once the soil gets wet the corn is likely to blow over even though it is hilled more and the roots are bigger and stronger than before. Corn stalks blow over just like big trees. After the storm was almost over I looked out the door again. Well, it did look much better than before, but still, some blew over.

I know I mentioned it before, but the corn is planted in two sections each with four double rows. ‘Peaches and Cream’ in the first section and ‘Incredible’ in the second.

At 7:30, the rain was pretty much over and it was just barely sprinkling so I went to have a look. The worse part was the ‘Peaches and Cream’ in the same spot as before. This is where I found the moles had an old tunnel under the corn… There seems to be NO new mole activity in the garden because of the mole repeller (which I still need to write a post about).

 

The north side didn’t look too bad… This is the end of the rows of ‘Incredible. Some of the more spindly stalks still want to lean…

 

The ‘Incredible’ stood up much better and only part of it was leaning. There were a few stalks at the beginning of the ‘Incredible’ in the last row that blew over…  From this view, you are looking at the northeast corner of the corn, which is the end of the fourth row.

I am very thankful after four hours rain and wind it didn’t look much worse. The wind wasn’t so bad most of the time which was a good thing. I didn’t want to get right in and start standing it up because the corn was all wet and the soil was soaked. It wasn’t going to start curving during the night anway so I waited until the next morning…

 

Standing the corn back up after it is tall is not a job you can do with a hoe. I DID NOT take usethe tool I did the last time. I pretty much always work on my knees anyway and that little gizmo on the right is my tool of choice. It has to be the absolute handiest garden tool ever. You can hoe with it, make rows. cultivate, dig holes, and even give something a good whack. 🙂 I found this tool in Suzanne’s (Dr. Skinner) stuff when I was in Mississippi in 2008 and I have been using it every since. When I showed it to dad before he said he had one in the garage. I checked it is also from Publishers Clearing House which I have not used. The hand trowel is from Clarington Forge that I bought in 2009. I bought my first one like it from Smith and Hawkin in 1981 and used it until 2007 when I, ummm… (another story). Anyway, it was a Bulldog which was made at the Clarington Forge. At one point, the name was changed to Record, which was synonymous with Bulldog then the name the company started using was Clarington Forge. Now,  the company is using the name Bulldog again, but for Canada and the U.S., you will be prompted to use ClaringtonForge.com. I do miss my Bulldog spade, fork, and hoe which I mentioned before. Ummm, in the last post about standing up the corn I believe. LOL! Well, I need something with grit! Something that when you pick it up tells you it can handle anything… Just the name Bulldog says they are ready and capable. GEEZ! Maybe I need to be an affiliate!

 

This morning the corn in the third row didn’t miraculously stand back up and neither did any of the rest of it…

 

I was finished after an hour and now we are ready for the next time.

I know, I know, I said the next post would be about the watermelons but that was before the storm (which was in the forecast at the time). I kind of ignored the forecast on purpose because last week nothing happened… The clouds blew right over and we didn’t get a drop. So, I wasn’t sure and didn’t want to seem anxious for rain. I did take more photos of the watermelon patch which I will use on the next post. Hmmm… Maybe you aren’t going to trust that now. 🙂

Anyway, until next time, hopefully this evening or tomorrow, be safe, stay well, be positive and GET dirty somewhere in there.

 

 

 

Tomato Update and Worm Warfare!

The garden on 7-15-20.

Hello everyone! I hope this post finds you well. Well, it is mid-July and the normal summer excitement and issues are upon us. Rain is hit and miss and sometimes we get a little but mostly the clouds just blow over. The grass has slowed down and I was debating on mowing or not. I always keep the mower deck at 4″ and then when it is hot and dry sometimes I don’t mow it at all.

But, a few days ago a friend needed me to change the blades on her zero-turn mower so I did. I had her mow a little in the back yard behind the house and it did a great job. I told her I was going to mow on Wednesday because I didn’t have money for gas at the time. Then I decided maybe I wouldn’t mow because it really wasn’t that tall and wasn’t growing becauee of no rain. Tuesday morning, when I was still in bed sleeping, I heard a mower go by my bedroom window… I may have heard a mower earlier but thought it was the neighbors. She had come and mowed the entire yard (around 3 acres) before I even knew it. I am very thankful she did that. Even though she had it set at 4″ because I told her before that’s the height I cut it at, it still seemed very short. I am not complaining, though. Even though I installed new Gator blades on my mower, her 54″ zero turn did a tremendous job.

First, let me introduce the tomatoes then I will get on with the worms and other issues… ‘Rutgers’, ‘Goliath’, ‘Mortgage Lifter’ and ‘Cherokee Purple’. I will introduce them the way they are planted…

The BELMONT ROOSTER TOMATO TEST SCORE:

I rate tomato taste on a score of 1-10, 10 being the best. Of course, tomatoes from the grocery store and what you get on your hamburgers from fast food are 1-5. I worked at Sonic for a while and sometimes I would rate them a negative number. Almost makes me not want a tomato on my hamburger from any fast-food chain or any restaurant for that matter. The tomatoes I picked up from a grower last summer were really good. He sells them in large quantities to someone but he gave me and a good friend of mine what he couldn’t sell for some reason. I would easily rate them 8-9… I don’t consider what the tomato looks like when rating taste…

Tomato ‘Rutgers’

Tomato ‘Rutgers’ on 7-15-20.

‘Rutgers’ was one of the tomato varieties by dad grew when I was a kid along with ‘Super Sioux’. I remember those days of luscious, juicy, mouth-watering tomatoes, and every year it seems I try to relive those days. The first three plants in the row of 16 are the ‘Rutger’s. There were only three plants in the 4-pack… The plants have done very well, but are naturally somewhat smaller than most because they are determinate. I accidentally knocked one of the smaller fruit off

 

Tomato ‘Rutgers’ on 7-15-20.

‘Rutger’s was developed in 1934 by Rutger University’s New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station and the Campbell Soup Company’s research facility. It was the most popular variety in the world for many years. During its popular era, ‘Rutgers’ made up more than 60% of commercial tomato sales. Hunt’s and Heinz favored ‘Rutgers’ as well.

Sales plummeted in the 1960’s because the thin skin was not suitable for automated picking. Farmers needed tomatoes with thicker skin that would store longer and travel farther with less spoilage.

 

Tomato ‘Rutgers’ on 7-15-20.

‘Rutgers’ is a determinate type of a plant which means they usually have a large initial harvest with a few tomatoes during the rest of the season. Plants grow 4-5′ feet tall.

 

Tomato ‘Rutgers’ on 7-15-20.

Even though they are considered a “beefsteak” type, fruit only averages 7 oz. or so. I have eaten a few of these already and, while they have been pretty good, I was disappointed because they didn’t have that ‘OH MY GOODNESS! HOLY S–T” taste I was hoping for with the first tomato of the season. So, at this moment, I would have to rate the tase as a 7.

<<<<+>>>>

Tomato ‘Goliath’

Tomato ‘Goliath’ on 7-15-20.

The next four plants in the row are ‘Goliath’. I have grown these for several years and I like them for several reasons. The plants are very hardy and sturdy which they have to be for the abundance of large fruit they produce. ‘Goliath’ isn’t a new variety by no means as the original heirloom variety was introduced in the 1800’s. The indeterminate plants can grow 6-8′ tall and, in optimal conditions, can produce around 70 tomatoes per plant averaging 10-16 oz. and as much as 3 pounds.

 

Tomato ‘Goliath’ on 7-15-20.

Also, depending on which ‘Goliath’ you grow and the conditions, you can expect ripe fruit anywhere from 65-85 days.

 

Tomato ‘Goliath’ on 7-15-20.

Sometimes you begin to wonder if those HUGE tomatoes will ever start to ripen. But when they finally do, you will see they were worth the wait. I have had any this year yet, but if I remember correctly they are AWESOME!

 

Tomato ‘Goliath’ on 7-15-20.

The plants are very strong and have very long leaves that provide good leaf cover. I haven’t eaten any of these yet this year because none have ripened. Once I try one I will give it my score.

<<<<+>>>>

Tomato ‘Mortgage Lifter’

Tomato ‘Mortgage Lifter’ on 7-15-20.

Now for the ‘Mortgage Lifter’… I grew this variety when I was in Mississippi in 2009 and it seems like I grew them after that but there are no photos. So, maybe not. I have grown A LOT of different tomatoes mainly because there are so many to try. There are five of these because there was one extra in the 4-pack.

Although ‘Mortgage Lifter’ is said to have been developed by William Estler in 1922, he didn’t register the name until 1932. Some information suggests ‘Mortgage Lifter’ was developed by M.C. “Radiator Charlie” Byles, but he developed ‘Radiator Charlie’ and ‘Radiator Charlie’s Mortgage Lifter’. Not only that, there were several other cultivars with the name ‘Mortgage Lifter’ during the depression era but Estler’s and Byles’ cultivars were the most popular. Of course, the story goes that Radiator Charlie sold plants for $1 each in the 1940’s and was able to pay off his $6,000 mortgage in six years… 

 

Tomato ‘Mortgage Lifter’ on 7-15-20.

‘Mortgage Lifter’ is an heirloom that produces HUGE fruit up to 2 1/2 pounds or more. Fruit is produced on indeterminate plants that grow very tall, up to 9’. Tomatoes begin to ripen in 80-85 days and produce until “F”. 

 

Tomato ‘Mortgage Lifter’ on 7-15-20.

Hmmm… The plants are great as far as leaf cover goes but they aren’t as strong as ‘Goliath’.

 

Tomato ‘Mortgage Lifter’ on 7-15-20.

The biggest problem I am having with ‘Mortgage Lifter’ is the weight of these HUGE clusters of HUGE tomatoes. Even though the branches are well supported, the stems with the tomatoes are not supported and some have bent and even split…

 

Tomato ‘Mortgage Lifter’…

I ate one a few days ago that wasn’t quite at its peak flavor. Then I had another one that was a bid oddly shaped so I had to slice it weird. The flavor? What is the score? I would have to give this one a 9. Being a pink tomato, the flavor isn’t quite so robust so you don’t get that “AHHH, UMMM, OH THAT IS SO GOOD!” It was close, though.

<<<<+>>>>

Tomato ‘Cherokee Purple’

Tomato ‘Cherokee Purple” on 7-15-20.

The last four plants in the row are the ‘Cherokee Purple’. It is considered one of the “black” fruited tomatoes that are supposed to have a distinctive flavor. ‘Black Krim’ was the of this type I tried in 2017 so I thought I would give this one a try. There is quite a story about the ‘Cherokee Purple’ which you can read by clicking HERE. Southern Exposure Seed Exchange was the first to offer this variety in 1993.

‘Cherokee Purple’ is an indeterminate plant that grows to only 4-6′ tall. They produce 10-12 oz. beefsteak fruit that is a deep, dusky rose with a greenish hue toward the stem with a dark red interior.

 

Tomato ‘Cherokee Purple” on 7-15-20.

Hmmm… I had noticed an issue with the fruit on the ‘Cherokee Purple’ but I thought they were just splitting very bad. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the only problem…

 

Tomato ‘Cherokee Purple” on 7-15-20.

The leaves are very long and provide very good leaf cover and the plants have sturdy stems. I have noticed some heirloom tomatoes can produce some weirdly odd-looking fruit

 

Tomato ‘Cherokee Purple” on 7-15-20.

There is a lot of good-sized clusters of tomatoes at the bottom of the plants but that seems to be the way they all are this year.

 

Tomato ‘Cherokee Purple’ getting ready for a taste test on 7-19-20…

This one isn’t that big, but it did ripen on the vine…

 

Tomato ‘Cherokee Purple’ on 7-18-20.

Well, the bottom has a lot of cracks but I wonder what the inside is like?

 

Inside of the Tomato ‘Cherokee Purple’…

Well, information says the inside is dark red with green gel in the seed cavities. So, what does it taste like? I put a piece in my mouth and had that pause. My eyes closed and I got that ‘OH WOW!!! THAT IS AWESOME!” So many words to use but none could quite describe it. A very distinctive flavor but I can’t quite find the right word or words to describe it. Some people say black tomatoes have a smoky flavor but I really couldn’t find the smokiness… Kind of like wine tasters who can come up with an elaborate description of how a wine tastes. I can’t find those flavors either… The score? 9.75!

<<<<+>>>>

TOMATO ISSUES…

Everything was fine and wonderful with the tomatoes and they were looking great UNTIL I saw two holes on one of the ‘Rutgers’ on July 9. For the most, the only pests I have ever had on tomatoes were hornworms eating the leaves and occasionally I would have whiteflies. I didn’t have whiteflies until 2017 when I apparently brought them home from the greenhouse on the tomato plants I bought. Anyway, after I saw those first two holes I started looking around for the culprit. I found nothing…

THEN, ON JULY 14…

Spodoptera sp. (Armyworm species) on July 14, 2020.

I had been checking the tomatoes daily, sometimes twice a day, for hornworms and whatever I could find because you never know… Up until July 14, I had seen nothing except for an occasional hole since July 9. THEN I found this HUGE worm on one of the tomatoes at 12:12 PM on July 14…

 

Spodoptera sp. on July 14.

Of course, as you can tell, I took photos to put on iNaturalist… I had never seen these before on my Tomatoes or anywhere else so I had to find out what it was.

 

Then I found this tomato with a big hole in it…

 

Spodoptera sp., two of them, on July 14.

Then I found two huge worms, side by side, that were different colors! WHAT THE HECK!!! (I think I may have used a different word originally).

 

Spodoptera sp. on July 14.

One of them is mostly black while the other is mostly gray!

 

More holes and poop!

 

Whitefliies on a tomato leaf on July 14.

Then there were whiteflies. Whiteflies really don’t cause an issue for me and they usually appear when it gets hot and dry and there isn’t much breeze. I made sure I have a Neem Oil concoction on hand in case they get carried away. A few days later, when we were supposed to have rain, the wind picked up and it sprinkled a little. The next day, the whiteflies were completely gone. Of course, they came back…

Back to the worms…

 

Hmmm… Tomato Cherokee Purple’ on July 14.

Apparently, this was not just a cracking issue…

 

GEEZ! It was like an overnight disaster. Guerilla warfare! Rather worm warfare! The come in and eat then hide…

I uploaded the photos of the worms I took on iNaturaist to get an ID. Suggestions were the Spodoptera genus, Spodoptera ornithogalli (Yellow Striped Armyworm), and Trichordestra legitima (Striped Garden Caterpiller). The moths of these caterpillars look the same, according to the photos, but I have not seen any in person. I messaged a “caterpillar experts” on iNaturalist so he could check out the photos I uploaded. I had the black one listed as Spodoptera ornithogalli and he commented saying,

“One of the armyworms but I’m not great at telling them apart. These can be physically moved away from plants if they are being destructive. =)”….

I listed the grayer one as Trichordestra legitima and he didn’t make a comment but suggested it also as a member of the Spodoptera genus…

WELL, DOUBLE GEEZ! Apparently, there are quite a few species of both genera and they are variable as far as color goes. They cause the same issues, which is quite obvious… Some information about one or the other mentions the moth lays eggs, a lot of them, and covers them with scales… Hmmm…

 

I have not seen much evidence of eggs but I did find this weird thing on the 15th… Apparently, it was a newly hatched worm and left this behind… So, why didn’t I notice this before it hatched when I was checking for worms before? Hmmm… Because it wasn’t there…

 

Darn things!!!

 

Hmmm… Then I noticed these, ummm, eggs (?) around the stem of a tomato. There is nothing online to suggest whodunit… The moths DO NOT lay eggs around tomato stems… Sometimes other critters, like ants, move eggs and aphids to parts or plants they want to feed on but aren’t capable unless they get something else to do the work… Then they feed off of their secretions or juice…

I only found a few of the hornworms on one occasion, when I didn’t have the camera, and haven’t noticed any since. After picking off the larger armyworms on two occasions I have only found small ones on the leaves so no additional damage has been caused. Sometimes I check and find no worms at all. SO, hopefully, I have them in check now. WHEW! 🙂

 

Tomato ‘Mortgage Lifter’ on 7-15-20.

With the ‘Mortgage Lifter’, many of the tomatoes appear to be so heavy the stem starts to pull away from the fruit. This is a good place for the small armyworms, or whatever they are, to start feeding on the tomatoes. When they are very small they can’t chew a hole very well…

 

Tomato ‘Mortgage Lifter’ vine dying on July 17…

I noticed this issue with the ‘Mortgage Lifter’… Half of the plant was dying because…

 

Tomato ‘Mortgage Lifter’ on 7-15-20…

The weight of the vine split where the two branches join. SOOOOO, I learned a lesson and I am correcting the problem. When I tied the string at the post and wrapped it around the vine,  I then tied the other end in the center between the posts. As the fruit grew and the vine became heavier, the top string was pulled down causing the branch to break. The solution is to tighten the string wrapped around the vine and move it closer to the post. OH, and don’t use balers twine around the stems… I have been replacing some of the twine with strips of material where I have noticed the twine cutting into the stems. That has only been a problem with a few plants. Some people keep only one main stem and just tie it to the post which also eliminates this issue. You can use cages BUT you would certainly have to use one that is very sturdy… My neighbor in Mississippi tied his tomatoes to cattle panels…

 

Tomato ‘Mortgage Lifter’ cluster bending the stem…

Besides that one branch splitting, several clusters of ‘Mortgage Lifter’ are so heavy the stems bearing the fruit are also bending. As long as the stems don’t break I think it will be OK.

 

GEEZ!

I attempted to support one of the clusters and the stem broke…

 

Tomato ‘Mortgage Lifter’ nearly touching the ground…

I know it sounds like I am picking on the ‘Mortgage Lifter’ but I am just pointing out some of the issues I am having with the tomatoes (besides the worms). The cluster in the above photo is close to the ground and is so heavy it is almost touching the mulch. If it weren’t for the hay, it would be sitting on the ground soon.

SOOOO, the issue with the ‘Mortgage Lifter’ is that the vines and stems are not strong enough to support the weight of the fruit.

<<<<+>>>>

FRIEND OF FOE?

Coleomegilla maculata (Spotted Lady Beetle) on 7-16-20.

With all the different bugs and worms lurking about in the garden it makes you wonder who are friends or enemies. There are quite a few Lady Bugs which are also called Lady Bird Beetles. Well, pretty much everyone I know calls them Lady Bugs but I suppose they are technically supposed to be called Lady Bird Beetles… ANYWAY, I saw this strange beetle on a tomato that wasn’t one of them or quite like any other I had seen before. Before I decided to smash it or not, I thought I better get a photo and identify it. Luckily, it turned out to be a friend called Coleomegilla maculata commonly known as the Spotted Lady Beetle. There are over 6,000 species in the Lady Beetle family Coccinellidae found throughout most of the world… 

 

Coelostathma discopunctana (Batman Moth) ?, 7-18-20.

I found this tiny moth while scouting for worms on a tomato leaf on July 18. I didn’t have the camera so I went back to the house to get it… I was very curious about this tiny moth and wondered what damage its caterpillars might do. Unfortunately, even though I kind of have it identified, there isn’t much online about it. In fact, the photos of this species on iNaturalist show moths of many colors that are likely members of other genera and species… There ere several other suggestions, as far as what it could be, with all the same issues. Many photos of varied colored moths that look like the same as the photos of other species. So, whether it is a Coelostathma discopunctana (Batman Moth) for sure I have no clue… I have to say perhaps the species is variable but you know how I dislike using that word… Species in the bug world are like the plant world. Many species have been named that are synonymous with other species…

 

Murgantia histrionica (Harlequin Bug) on 7-18-20.

Then I found this critter on a kale leaf that sort of posed but seemed a little hesitant to be photographed. It was like it was unsure if I would kill it or leave it alone. I told it I wouldn’t kill him unless I knew for sure if he was a friend or foe. With that, he became even more nervous… Sorry, the photos are somewhat blurry. I think the bug was shaking. 🙂

 

Murgantia histrionica (Harlequin Bug) on 7-18-20.

It seemed to think I was getting a bit nosy and refused to show me his mouth. He turned around and decided it was time to leave. After I went to the house and uploaded the photo I found out it was the dreaded Harlequin Bug (Murgantia histrionica). OK, so I have heard of that one and although I have seen them before I didn’t know what they were. Now that I do for sure… I also found out they especially like cabbage, kale, and other brassicas. Hmmm… So, along with the worms, there are these. In the past few days the kale has been ripped to shreds and now not even the new leaves can be eaten…

During the day so many critters are hiding from the heat and various predators like birds and wasps. They come out at night when it is cooler and they can feed in a little more peace… It is no telling what all lurks around in the dark of night in the garden. Hmmm… Maybe I should go out at 2 AM with the flash lght. Maybe then I will see who is eating what and whom…

<<<<+>>>>

NEXT UP…

Hopefully, the next post will be about the watermelons. I have been working on it off and on for a few weeks but I get busy with this and that and the post gets delayed. I did harvest some of the ‘Incredible’ sweet corn, which I didn’t photograph. I picked about 50 ears and a few were really nice and the others just so so. Even though the silk was brown and appared ready, some of the cobs weren’t as plump as they could have been… Maybe I was just anxious… Anyway, I will try and wait a little longer for the next picking even though the silk is brown enough. Maybe the ears will get a little more plump. I know you are supposed to peel back some of the cover leaves (or whatever you call them) to check the kernels and milk, which I did on few earlier. But, then the bugs get inside which eat the corn. So, better I just “feel” before picking without being overly anxious…

OH, one more thing… Maybe two.

The Okra ‘Jing Orange’ has been budding for over a week and the plants have really taken off. They like it hot!

 

While I was finishing up this post I could hear it thundering. I took this photo when I went out to get a current photo of the Okra buds. I decided I would take ore feed and water to the chickens and by the time I got to the house, it was raining. THANK GOODNESS!!!

Until nest time, be safe, stay positive and well, always be thankful, and GET DIRTY and SWEAT!

What Is Lurking On My Kale?

Kale on 7-10-2020.

Hello everyone! I hope this post finds you well. The garden is doing GREAT and I must say the tomatoes are the best I have ever grown. I think I say that every time I write or talk about them. I harvested my first ripe tomato on July 13, which was a Rutgers. It was very good. 🙂 I still like the new way I am pruning and hanging them up and I also think the mulch has made a big difference. BUT, this post is about the kale so I better stop rambling. I started this post on July 7 and have updated the draft 18 times…

Once you start seeing the Small Cabbage White Butterflies flying around your kale, you know you will start seeing their larvae soon. This year I noticed three newcomers to the table… I a sure they have been here in the past but I didn’t see any. Depending on what time of the day it is, you may or may not see them, but you will see where they have been…

I did learn a new word while I was writing this post… Crucifers… In botany, it refers to plants whose flowers have four petals. I would have thought the information would say the worms in this post prefer members of the Brassicaceae Family, instead, they say they prefer crucifers. Hmmm… Well, that may be true because brassicas are apparently crucifers. I just never saw that word used before but I don’t get out much… 🙂

 

Pieris rapae (Cabbage White Butterfly) larvae.

Pieris rapae (Cabbage White Butterfly)

Interestingly enough, most of the butterflies in the garden are Pieris rapae also known as the Cabbage White. It is called other names such as Small Cabbage White, Cabbage Butterfly, or White Butterfly. It is a member of the white and yellows family Pieridae which consists of about 76 genera and 1,100 species mainly from tropical Africa and Asia. This species is found all across Europe, Asia, and North Africa. It was “accidentally” introduced into Quebec, Canada in the 1860’s and has now spread across North America… 

 

Pieris rapae (Cabbage White Butterfly) larvae.

Most of the worms I find are just sitting there doing nothing but I found this one munching away…

 

Trichoplusia ni (Cabbage Looper Moth) larvae.

Trichoplusia ni (Cabbage Looper Moth)

I have seen this worm for many years and I always thought it was the larvae of the Cabbage White Butterfly. BUT, I have learned the error of my thinking. Do you see the way it arches its back? That means it is a lopper similar to inchworms (which are in a different family). Thanks to INaturalist, I found out these critters are the larvae of Trichoplusia ni, commonly known as the Cabbage Looper Moth. I have not seen any of the adults in the garden, but I have seen similar looking moths elsewhere. These caterpillars are called loopers because they don’t have the same amount of legs (or prolegs) as most other caterpillars. They only have 2-3 pairs on the hind end instead of the normal 5 pairs. When they crawl, they clasp with their front legs then draw up the hind end then clasp with the hind legs (prolegs). Then they reach out and grab with their front legs again. This gait is called looping because it arches it back into a loop when crawling.

I thought it was funny how they could be lying flat on the underside of a leaf until I started looking at it and taking photos. Then they would arch their back like they were trying to scare me off.

One very interesting thing about the adult is that they are migratory and are found across North America and Eurasia. According to information, over 160 plants can serve as hosts for this species but “crucifers” are preferred

 

Evergestis rimosalis (Cross-Striped Cabbageworm Moth).

Evergestis rimosalis (Cross-Striped Cabbageworm Moth)

This is the first year I have seen this critter but it doesn’t mean they haven’t always been around. Certain times of the day you may see no worms of any kind anywhere. This colorful member of the family Crambidae inhabits most of the eastern portion of the United States and can be found on all types of brassicas. The adult is a brownish moth and I have not seen any of them in the garden… I kind of think they do most of the damage to the kale which leads me to believe they have been here before and I just didn’t notice them. I always wondered how could so few very small cabbage worms do so much damage now I know… 

 

Cuerna costalis (Lateral-Lined Sharpshooter).

Cuerna costalis (Lateral-Lined Sharpshooter)

This strange little critter is a member of the leafhopper family Cicadellidae with 26 species in the genus and is a North American native. I have seen a few of these on the kale although it is not necessarily on their menu. Although kale is not on the list, turnips, another member of the Brassicaceae family, is. I did see more on the okra today but I can’t tell what they are doing. They are odd critters for sure… They normally produce two generations per year and adults overwinter in grass and other dead plant material. 

In numbers, leafhoppers can cause serious damage in a variety of ways. Several species of this genus are believed to be vectors of a few plant diseases. C. costalis is thought to be a vector of Pierce’s Disease Virus of grapes (in Georgia).

 

Conocephalus strictus (Straight-Lanced Meadow Katydid).

Conocephalus strictus (Straight-Lanced Meadow Katydid)

I always thought this critter was some kind of grasshopper, but when I uploaded the image on iNaturalist it said it was a Straight-Lanced Meadow Katydid (Conocephalus strictus). Information says this species normally feeds on grass but here it is on the kale… I couldn’t get a good photo because this guy, or gal, was a bit photo shy and was about ready to jump. I wonder if it made that hole?

I see a lot of BIG katydids here that I haven’t photographed to get a positive ID. I thought a katydid was a katydid but apparently not… There are several species found worldwide that look a lot alike. 

 

Pieris rapae (Cabbage White Butterfly).

When I work in the garden in the early evening the butterflies and worms seem to be hiding. I was working in the watermelons when I spotted this Cabbage White Butterfly flying around the kale. SO, I ran to where it was to get a photo. It landed under a kale leaf then flew around a bit more but went back to the same spot. It did this several times before it finally decided to stay put. I guess this is where it will spend the night…

 

Crioceris duodecimpunctata (Spotted Asparagus Beetle) larvae.

Crioceris duodecimpunctata (Spotted Asparagus Beetle)

I have been noticing these strange varmints on the Asparagus. One day I stopped briefly to look at one and it appeared almost slug-like. I was busy so I went on about my business and it was happy about that. I couldn’t see where it was doing any damage. Then later when I had the camera and magnifying glass I had a closer look. I touched it and then it did something strange… It pooped. I took the best photo I could, but these guys are VERY SMALL. I uploaded the photo on iNaturalist and it suggested Crioceris duodecimpunctata commonly known as the Spotted Asparagus Beetle. I have no idea how to pronounce the scientific name because Dave’s Garden didn’t have a pronunciation for it. Maybe cry-OH-ser-is DOO-dec-im punct-ata. 🙂 I think I will call it Cryogenus dudepooper. I didn’t see any adults on the Asparagus, but Sunday afternoon I was walking in the yard and this small reddish-orange beetle with black spots landed on my hand. It said, “Are you looking for me?” I told him I wasn’t at the moment because I didn’t have the camera. I asked him if he was lost then he flew off. It was a male because the females are a different color.

According to what I read, the larvae of the Spotted Asparagus Beetle only feeds on the berries. Well, they are going to get hungry because there are no berries on the asparagus at the moment… A few plants are just now beginning to flower… Apparently, most are males that were too small to harvest. I have been getting a few nice spears all summer…

 

Jade wanted outside but I was a little reluctant to just let her out of the house when I was going to be in the garden. Jade is my son’s cat and he left her behind (and his tomcat) when he and Chris moved out. Jade has no claws so she stays in the house. So, since she wanted out, I carried her all the way to the garden (second time). She had loads of fun exploring and never ventured out of the garden. She seemed to like chasing the Cabbage White Butterflies so they couldn’t land…

I have some catching up to do. I seem to take photos every day but do nothing with them. I have to post about the watermelons and how and why I prune them. Then, today, which is not today by the time I get this post published, I found the tomatoes are under attack by THREE preditors… I noticed a few plants with whiteflies a couple of days ago which need to be sprayed with the neem oil. I hadn’t noticed any hornworms or any damage from them and I check pretty much every day.  I did notice a few tomatoes with small holes but I couldn’t find the culprit. THEN, this afternoon (Tuesday) I found a worm I had not seen before. Next thing I knew, I found several. Some were quite large and they were boring holes in the tomatoes and climbing inside… GEEZ! I did have my camera so I have photos. Then, a few hours later, I went back and found a few more as well as SEVERAL hornworms. That time I didn’t have the camera… What I want to know is how can there be no hornworms then they just suddenly appear? SO, I will be posting about the tomatoes as well.

SO, until next time, be safe and well, stay positive, be thankful, and GET DIRTY!

 

The Day After: A Miracle?

Sweet corn Thursday morning, July 2, 2020.

Hello everyone! I hope this post finds you well. I woke up Thursday morning and the sweet corn was standing up perfectly straight as if nothing had happened the night before… Was it a miracle? Did the garden elves stand it back up? Hmmm…

I finished this post late Thursday evening but I decided to save it as a draft until Friday morning after I checked it over again. At 12:30 Friday night (Saturday morning) I was wondering why no one had commented on this post. Then I thought, “DUH!” I forgot to click on publish when it was finished in the morning…

 

Sweet corn Wednesday morning, July 1, 2020.

For those of you who didn’t see it on the Wordless Wednesday post, the above photo is what I woke up to Wednesday morning. Sometime in the morning, maybe around 4-5 AM, I heard it thundering and then the wind picked up. Then it started pouring. The forecast had said 30% chance of rain, less than one-tenth of an inch with higher amounts possible during thunderstorms. When I heard the wind I thought, “the corn will blow over.” I hadn’ slept a wink hardly until it started raining but it put me to sleep. I got up, not telling when, made coffee, fed the cats, and checked the rain gauge. There was 2″. I didn’t look toward the garden because I really didn’t want to see it until I was more awake.

 

Sweet corn from the north side of the garden Wednesday morning, July 1, 2020.

I walked all around the garden and it wasn’t a very pretty sight. The row on this side had been hilled earlier but it looked like it hadn’t been hilled up at all. The row next to it had not been hilled yet.

 

Sweet corn on Wednesday, July 1, 2020.

The two rows closest to the fence had been hilled within the past week. Normally, it would have already been hilled up but some of the corn was still fairly small. Then we got a little rain a couple of times and it really shot up…

I commented to a few people in town about the corn blowing over and they said, of course, “It will stand back up.” OK, that may be true in some cases but not always. In the past, I have been very surprised that it has stood back up on its own but that was when it hadn’t blown over that much. It was more or less leaning a little but not severely blown over. I have grown corn enough over the years to know even if corn does stand back up it will not be perfectly straight like it was before it blew over. It will curve upward just like most other plants do and look weird… Who wants weird corn? I knew I needed to get in the there and straighten it back up before it started its curving, and trust me, it starts doing that sooner than you would expect. You can’t wait to see if it stands back up on its own for a few days… 

Garden soil flat as a pancake!

Apparently, it rained pretty hard because the beautifully tilled soil was now perfectly flat. Not a clod in sight. I had planted half a double row of green beans and planned on planting the other half on July 1. You might ask why I didn’t plant it all? Hmmm… I keep hearing my dad in my head about planting in the sign. I didn’t plant any of the garden in the sign as far as I know because I hadn’t checked an almanac or online. I did look before I planted the green beans and saw the next good day was July 1st. SO, I was planning on planting the other half in the sign to make a comparison… Well, I can’t very well plant the seed in the mud. I still have quite a few green beans in jars so I hadn’t planned on planting any. A friend had issues with rabbits and deer eating his so I told him I could plant a row in my garden… He happily agreed to that. I first planted old seed which started to expand then rotted… That was partly my fault, I think, but I am not going to talk about that. So, he bought new seed and I think every one has came up.

The watermelons, by the way, are ding great. I have pruned out a lot of the side branches but still have a lot to do. I have found a few tiny watermelons but mostly just a lot of flowers. Only one out of seven flowers will be female and bear fruit so you want to avoid trimming out any vines with flowers. Luckily, the side branches I removed had no flowers or very few. The vines get longer every day and it is amazing how fast they are growing. Not quite as fast as the sweet potatoes I grew a few years ago, though.

 

First furrow…

Some of the corn had blown over a couple of weeks earlier when we just had wind and no rain. I was able to get right in and stand it back up with no problem. This time, with 2″ of rain, I couldn’t just jump right in and do it. I also had other obligations in the afternoon so I waited until early evening to get started. By then the soil wasn’t quite as wet.

With so much corn blown over, I just started at the north end and piled dirt up next to the corn. When corn is short you can stand on one side of the row and use a hoe or something to pull the soil toward the corn from the other side. This row had been hilled up several weeks ago but I couldn’t tell it. It is a good thing the soil had been tilled recently so it was still fairly loose even though wet. I couldn’t get as much soil as I wanted on the corn because it was wet, heavy, and kept packing on the gizmo I was using. OK, I was using this strange-looking tool dad had bought from Publishers Clearing house with cultivator prongs on one side and a flat hoe-like deal on the other. It had an extendable handle that says Black and Decker. I had never used it before because I enjoy a sturdy hoe with a strong ash handle. GEEZ! (I miss my hoe I bought in the 1980’s I left behind when I, umm, left my ex-wife after 20 years… It was a Bulldog and I also left behind the Bulldog spade and fork… I wonder what became of them? I have a good idea…) ANYWAY…

 

Once I had the row hilled up on one side, I went back to the end of the row and one stalk at a time I carefully stood it up and reached through the corn to pull dirt from the other side. You have to pack it a little and push your fingers through the mud next to the roots to make sure there is soil around them.

I did make a discovery while standing the second row in the front section… I had been wondering why it hadn’t been doing as well as the rest and found a mole tunnel right under the corn… The corn in the second photo that is almost flat is where the mole tunnels were. Almost the whole length of the row. There are no moles in the garden now because the mole repeller is doing a great job keeping them out.

 

The corn that had been hilled up the last was much easier to stand back up. There was still plenty of soil and all I had to do was stand it back up as needed and firm the soil around the stalk. SO, it is a good idea to always hill your corn as often as necessary to keep a good supply of soil to use when it blows over…

I finished at 9:30 PM and I was very dirty and it was nearly dark…

 

I went out the next morning and the corn looked like it had not blown over at all. I couldn’t tell how it looked in the dark.

Now, I am ready for the next round of wind…

Until next time, be safe and say positive. Stay well and always be thankful. By the way…GET DIRTY!

Homo neglectus Part 2: The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly

Hello everyone! I hope this post finds you well. All is well here… Well, kind of. When I went to bed the weather forecast said there was a 30% chance of rain. It said “less than one-tenth of an inch possible with higher amounts during thunderstorms.” Well, early in the morning the wind started blowing and it started pouring. I thought, “GEEZ! The corn will blow over.” Then I went to sleep after not being able to sleep all night. Sure enough, it did as you can see from the Wordless Wednesday photo… Anyway, I started this Homo neglectus Part 2, so I will finish it then write about the sweet corn blowing over.

The original shade bed is doing well as always but the lilac bush next to it some trimming. To the left of this bed is a concrete slab where a metal storage shed was many years ago. The slab gets covered with weeds, Carolina Creeper, and small trees that come up in the cracks. It is a yearly task cleaning it off. I have an idea to tie some pallets together and make a compost pile on the slab…

 

The corner shade bed, as I call it, is looking great as well. The Hosta ‘Dancing Queen’ (left) is flowering but ‘Krossa Regal’ (right) hasn’t started. The Heuchera ‘Palace Purple’, in the front, is doing good and already flowered.

 

Ummm… I know it looks like a mess, but this newest addition to the shade garden is doing fine. It just needs some weeding. Being next to the old goldfish pool there is A LOT of mosquitos to deal with when weeding. Sometimes if I am very quiet it takes them a while to know I am there. 🙂

 

With the mole repeller in the garden, the moles have returned the area next to the shade bed and in the yard in front f the chicken house. GEEZ! When I was mowing I saw one of those dirt piles is not from a mole. It has a good-sized hole. DOUBLE GEEZ!

 

I have almost completely gotten rid of the poison ivy that was growing in and around the shade bed but this one still lingers.

 

As I was walking by the old bird feeder I noticed ther was some grass in it. Hmmm… It appears Mr. Wren thought a female might like a nest inside but so far no takers. He completely ignores the wren house and so does the females that come… A few years ago a female was screaming at me and she kept going to the wren house but would not go inside. Then she would come back to where I was and scream some more. So, I went to have a look and there was a HUGE paper wasp nest blocking the entry. I cleaned it out and moved the house to the eve on the north side of the chicken house. I moved it because it was hanging next to the bird feeder and was pretty low. Apparently, she didn’t like my decision. Instead, she made a nest somewhere behind the chicken house… I really like House Wrens and they are certainly entertaining.

Now, let’s go to the south side of the house… In the “other yard”… Where the house is…

Baptisia australis cv. ?.

The Baptisia australis cv. ‘?’ (Wild Blue Indigo, False Indigo) at the southwest corner flowered very well this year and now has seed pods. This is the one I bought a few years ago that was supposed to be ‘Lunar Eclipse’ that turned out not to be… It has grown A LOT and seems to keep getting bigger every year. Good thing I moved the Phlomis ‘Edward Bowles’ to the other corner… It is a hybrid, of course, so maybe a better caption would be Baptisia Hybrid cv. ‘?’. I AM SO CONFUSED!

 

South bed…

I am always a little embarrassed to show the south bed in this condition. So many of you have great looking flower beds and I wish my back yard and beds were so well kept. The Elephant Garlic has done very well this year but the wind had played havoc with them.

 

Celosia argentea ‘Cramer’s Amazon’ on 6-26-20, #714-8.

One of the main reasons I neglect the south bed so long is because I have to wait for the Celosia ‘Cramer’s Amazon’ seedlings to come up. I am not even going to write the species name because that will lead to venting. 🙂 I sent seeds to Raphael Goverts, Senior Content Editor of Kew (Royal Botanical Gardens-Kew, Plants of the World Online, ETC., ETC.) and was happy to see there are photos posted of them on Plants of the World Online. I am hoping whoever is in charge of plant names will start using infraspecific names (var., subsp. or whatever) instead of putting the many “types” in groups. Oh, crap. I still vented a bit…

 

Torilis arvensis/Torilis japonica (Hedge Parsley).

Someday I would like to be free of stick tights altogether. I do need better photos of the flowers, leaves, and stems of Torilis arvense (Common Hedge Parsley, Spreading Hedge Parsley, Field Hedge Parsley) or Torilis japonica (Common Hedge Parsley, Erect Hedge Parsley, Japanese Hedge Parsley) for correct ID. Not that it matters for such a pain in the neck to be correctly identified. Missouri Plants says Torilis arvensis is a synonym of Torilis japonica, and it may have been for a while. However, there is apparently an agreement they are separate and distinct species now… Most also seem to agree, depending on location probably, that Torilis arvensis is the most prevalent. SO, I suppose the ones here are likely T. arvensis… The problem with getting good photos is that I am always pulling them up. I did get some good photos for ID before they flowered from the pasture. They are actually a neat, ferny plant before they set seed… GEEZ!

 

Talinum paniculatum (Jewels of Opar).

There are usually LOADS of Talinum paniculatum (Jewels of Opar) seedlings to transplant along the front of the south bed but so far only this one came up. I didn’t even deadhead them last summer to keep hundreds of seedlings from coming up. I think the seeds are good for several years in the ground because I had them coming up in the old cast iron planter last yere where I didn’t have any plants for several years. Just think, with only one coming up this year, I could have lost it completely… These plants are another reason I don’t do anything with the south bed until its seedlings come up.

 

Phlomis ‘Edward Bowles’ on 6-26-20, #714-25.

The Phlomis ‘Edward Bowles’ is doing pretty good in its new location for the second year. It doesn’t seem to be mad at me anymore especially since I do try to keep the weeds from growing around it. It is one of my favorite perennials so it does get pampered for fear of losing it. I have had it since 2013…

 

Stachys byzantina (Lamb’s Ears) on 6-26-20, #714-34.

The Stachys byzantina (Lamb’s Ears) completely died ate last summer so I was happy to see it return a little farther from where it was. That was a good surprise. I guess it didn’t like it to close to the wall of the basement steps or perhaps it didn’t like the Elephant Garlic next to it…

 

Hmmm…

OK, I am sorry the roses look like this. I know well-kept roses are beautiful but I am just not a fan. I took care of the beds for a lady in Mississippi, including her roses, so it isn’t like I don’t know how to manage them. I just despise the thorns. Mom liked roses and these came from Publisher’s Clearing House. GEEZ!!! When they came in 2014 or 15, before I convinced dad to stop fooling with PCH, he wanted me to plant them along the right side of the basement steps. Before, I had a Zinnia bed here. SOOOO… Since mom and dad have passed, guess what is going to happen here? In the next few weeks you will find out. 🙂 I kind of rate roses up there with Poison Ivy, getting stuck, flat tires, molehills, Japanese Beetles, and dead batteries. I am sure there are a few others that are fighting for number one on the list or maybe at least a space in the top ten. The list does fluctuate depending on the time of the year…

 

Alocasia on 6-26-20, #714-1.

TRIPLE, MAYBE QUADRUPLE GEEZ! I needed to do a lot of work and replant/repot the Alocasia before taking them to the area next to the shade bed. I always put them on the concrete slab around the barrel that covers the old well. SO, when I brought them from the basement (where they overwinter) I put them on the back porch. I have only got five pots finished… There are a few on the front porch, too. You can’t tell from this photo, but one of the Alocasia ‘Calidora’ is already almost over 8′ tall (including the pot).

 

Zantedeschia elliottiana (Golden Calla Lily) on 6-26-20, #714-38.

HOLY CRAP! The Japanese Beetles didn’t bother the Calla on the back porch last year but they found it this year already. They love the roses next to the porch. They like the Zantedeschia elliottiana but do not bother the Zantedeschia aethiopica next to it. I have had the Zantedeschia elliottiana for several years but somehow lost several bulbs over the winter. It was AWESOME last year!

 

Zantedeschia aethiopica (the white Calla) on 6-26-20, #714-39.

The Zantedeschia aethiopica went dormant in January in the house but I was hoping it wouldn’t. This is the Calla the owner of Wildwood Greenhouse gave me last June that he grew from seed. He said he couldn’t get them to grow or do anything. The plants were healthy but kind of droopy. They just grew to a point then stopped. So, I brought this pot home and repotted it in Miracle Grow Potting Soil and it continued to just sit there. Then, low and behold, in August they kind of perked up and started growing. They kept growing and getting taller even after I brought them inside. Then I think in January they started going dormant… I managed to keep the bulbs from rotting and they came back up again… There are many species of Calla native to different parts of Africa. Some are winter dormant and some are summer dormant because of their rainy seasons. Then there are the hybrids…

When you buy a pot of Calla that is beautiful and flowering they have been growing in a controlled environment. Trying to overwinter them so they will come up and flower is a bit tricky. Zantedeschia aethiopica is a species from South Africa that “can be” evergreen in the wild if they get enough rain… They can also flower in the spring, summer, and fall… Zantedeschia aethiopica can also be used along ponds (fish pools) so it seems to do well in moist conditions. I am just learning about this plant and I do love Calla!

 

Lavender and Rosemary on 6-26-20, #714-18.

I bought a pot of Lavender and Rosemary way back in, ummm, maybe April but I neglected to put them in the ground somewhere. One of those impulse buys from Wal-Mart. They were fine until we had a hot dry spell and I was busy in the garden and didn’t get them watered… I wonder if I can take them back to Wal-Mart and say I need a refund because they died. 🙂

 

Back of the house on 6-26-20, #714-4.

OK, so I need to do some trimming… The Nepeta x faassenii ‘Walker’s Low’ (Catmint) is in the corner next to the AC. It is blooming up a storm right now and will do so all summer. The Malva neglecta (Common Mallow) has always been growing around the AC and along the foundation and is also now blooming. It thinks I like it so it does really good here. Hmmm… It’s basically a weed but I do suppose I like it for its lush foliage. The Persicaria virginiana (Virginia Knotweed) and Persicaria maculosa (Lady’s Thumb) also think I like it since I did a post about Persicaria last summer. GEEZ! I have news for them as well…

 

Canna bed.

I have to admit how I screwed up the Canna bed. The Cannas were getting so thick AGAIN it wasn’t funny. I decided not to mulch the bed last fall or even remove the old stalks after the “F”. I knew by doing that I may lose some of them but I thought that would be a good idea to thin them out. Unfortunately, now there are bare spots. What is weird, though, even without mulching the Colocasia esculenta survived the winter. Don’t ask me how that happened…

 

Colocasia ‘Distant Memory’ on 6-26-20, #714-10.

DOUBLE GEEZ! I managed to overwinter the Colocasia ‘Distant Memory’ rhizome and I knew it also had an offset. I kept the rhizomes separate over the winter but they kind of got mixed up when I got ready to plant them. So, I panted both the larger rhizome and what I thought was its offset together. Well, apparently the offset I planted was a Colocasia esculenta so now I have to dig it up and relocate it. Most of the photos on this post were taken on June 26 and I noticed today the Colocasia esculenta has GROWN A LOT since the above photo was taken. I need to move it ASAP!!!

 

Salvia coerulea ‘Black and Blue’ on 6-26-20, #714-29.

I was very surprised the Salvia coerulea ‘Black and Blue’ returned this spring because I have problems with perennials overwintering in this spot. The Conoclinum coelestinum (Hardy Ageratum) used to reseed here every year but apparently didn’t approve of me putting other plants here and fizzled out. There a couple of plants came up on the other side of the steps but I accidentally pulled one up. GEEZ!

 

Colocasia ‘Coffee Cups’ on 6-26-20, #714-9.

I attempted to overwinter the Colocasia ‘Coffee Cups’ from last year but was unsuccessful. I was glad Muddy Creek Greenhouse had more this spring.

 

Hosta ‘Empress Wu’ on 6-26-20, #714-15.

The Hosta ‘Empress Wu’ just keeps getting bigger. The clump is now 32″ tall x 60″ wide and the flower stem is 52″ tall. Not bad, huh? The Astilbe x arendsii ‘Fanal’ thinks I screwed up and planted it to close. Hmmm… It is right so I have to move it somewhat next spring. It doesn’t mind being planted next to royalty, but as with some of the elite, they can be a bit pushy.

 

Forsythia…

I couldn’t stand it anymore so I gave the Forsythia a good haircut. It went from an afro to a crew cut…

 

The north bed has been weird… I will get rid of those trees ASAP and dab the stems with Tordon so maybe they will stop coming up. I put four Colocasia esculenta rhizomes in the bed and only one has come up and did well. The others are STILL in the sprouting phase. That never happened before and they always do so great here. I still have several I haven’t planted so I think I will just line them all up here. GEEZ AGAIN!

Now that we had 2″ of rain, and maybe still more to come, I need to mow. The garden is to wet and I have to see how much of the corn stands back up on its own… I did a post in 2017 about corn standing back up and only had 13 views. The post was titled How Does Corn Stand Back Up. There were 7 views in 2018 and 185 in 2019. A few weeks ago I noticed the post was getting a lot of views so I checked and it has got 327 views so far in 2020, 207 in June alone. LOL! SO, I think I will write a new post about the corn since it blew over so bad… The reason I hilled up the corn apparently has nothing to do keeping it from falling over. There are multiple reasons… I will write a new post about the corn and maybe be a little more entertaining and explain the reason for hilling, removing the suckers, and so on. Last night I noticed there were aphids on the tassels of two stalks and, of course, the ants farming them. There were also Ladybugs feeding on the aphids. 🙂

So, until next time… Be safe, stay positive, stay well, and always be thankful. Take care and GET DIRTY!

Homo neglectus Part 1: The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly

Hello everyone! I hope this post finds you all doing very well and beginning to enjoy the heat of the summer. There are many ways we can enjoy the heat like under a shade tree, in front of or under a fan, or in a recliner in the AC. You don’t have to be outside in the heat to enjoy it. I find taking a nap under a ceiling fan in the afternoon a good idea. Then, I get up about 6 PM and go outside and work until about 9. By then a few mosquitos have found me so I go inside.

This may be a weird post showing the good, the bad, and the ugly. I am not going to sugar coat anything because with me, what you see is what you get. The flower beds have been neglected a little more than usual because I have been spending a lot of time in the garden. That is slowing down somewhat now because we haven’t had much rain to make the weeds and grass keep coming up. I can till and weed and just watch the garden grow. We did have 6/10″ on Friday and a little more Saturday so that will sure help. The forcast has 30-40% chance of rain every day all week. It says each day less than one-tenth of an inch with more possible during thunderstorms. Hmmm… Well, this time of the year, 30-40% means a very slight chance. It may thunder and lightning and the wind may blow but there may be no rain at all.

 

I have finished hilling most of the corn (I think I said that before). Not having to work in the garden has allowed me time for other projects… This past week I cut down the trees inside of the basement. They were getting so tall I couldn’t see the garden from the house. It looks much better now.

 

The front steps and old entryway were covered with grapevines and Carolina Creeper. I had been cutting down a few maples and white mulberry trees from the old entryway for several years. I bought a product Tordon RTU from the feed store I have been using on all the trees and grapevines I have been cutting down and it keeps them from coming back. I don’t like using chemicals but enough is enough…

 

When I cleaned out the Iris bed on the north side of the steps I found grapevines, Carolina Creeper, Smilax tamnoides, elm, redbud, and maple trees, and maybe a few other unnecessary intruders. Hard to imagine so much stuff in one small space.

 

Physostegia virginiana (Obedient Plant).

The southeast corner of the foundation is a BIG problem area and it always has been. When I lived here before this area was full of Bermuda Grass and used to grow all the way up to the top of the downspout. I dug it all up from the dining room to the corner of the back porch for a flower bed but the Bermuda Grass was very hard to control. I am still fighting it…

I thought this corner would be great for Obedient Plant (Physostegia virginiana) and it has worked very well here. It is a spreader and the colony gets bigger every year. I wanted it here but I don’t want it anywhere else and it softens the corner… The only problem with them is that their top leaves look like they are burnt or frostbit. I guess it is a common thing… I put one plant here in 2017 and it has spread very well but I wouldn’t want it in a flower bed.

 

Cylindropuntia imbricata (Tree Cholla), Phedimus spurius ‘John Creech’, Phedimus kamtschaticus ‘Variegata’, and Sempervivum ‘Killer’.

Hmmm… You can clearly see the Tree Cholla in this old cast iron planter (used to be part of a coal-burning furnace) but you have to look very close to see the Phedimus kamtschaticus ‘Variegata’ and Sempervivum ‘Killer’. The Phedimus spurius ‘John Creech’ is taking over so I need to remove it from the planter. It has its own area between the planter and the foundation…

 

Cylindropuntia imbricata (Tree Cholla).

The Tree Cholla is doing great and promises it won’t bite when I start removing the intruder. I have had this cactus since 2017 and I am always hoping for flowers. Maybe next year…

 

Phedimus kamtschaticus.

The Phedimus kamtschaticus (Orange or Russian Stonecrop) is doing great and always has since I put it here in 2016. I think finally (hopefully) “those in charge” have agreed to call it Phedimus kamtschaticus instead of Sedum kamtschaticum. Several Phedimus/Sedum species have been flopping around between the two for a long time. It used to stand up in a nice tidy clump but since it started flowering a few years ago it wants to sprawl leaving a hole in the middle. A few years ago, when it was a Sedum, the Missouri Botanical Garden had a page for both Sedum kamtschaticum and Sedum kamtschaticum var. ellacombianum. They said the latter was similar but had larger leaves. Since the Phedimus name is now accepted, the variety is now Phedumis ellacombeanus once again like it was named in 1995… Phedimus kamtschaticum is a native of Russia and Phedimus ellacombeanus is a native of Korea and Japan. It seemed this clump had larger leaves before it started sprawling so I wondered which it was. I am pretty sure it is Phedimus kamtschaticus now. Dave’s Garden still doesn’t have a pronunciation for Phedimus, but kamtschaticus is pronounced kam-SHAY-ti-kus. I guess we just have to redneck the Phedimus part which I do a lot of anyway. 🙂 Maybe FEED-ah-mus. How about FEED-A-mouse?

 

Echinacea purpurea cv. ? on 6-26-20, #714-12.

The Echinacea purpurea cv. ? (Purple Coneflower) is doing great. They have done so well I put a couple of clumps in the center of the bed at church. I have a clump in the southeast corner bed next to the house as well.

 

GEEZ! I cleaned off the ivy from what used to be an enclosed back porch, steps, and patio area. In the 1980’s I moved the Japanese Spirea from the front of the house to this area between the back porch and basement steps. When I returned in 2013 I saw it was still here and also in the front iris bed. I am not sure how many times I have cut trees out of this area not to mention the ivy… There was no ivy here in the 1980’s… I put the peony here a few years ago I dug up from next to my grandpa and grandma Miller’s tombstone. Now I have to remove this ivy and trees again. I already cut down several redbud trees…

Redbud trees are a pain when you cut them down. They keep growing and are hard to get rid of. I have one by the street I keep battling but the one behind the house never sprouted after I cut it down. According to the almanac, there are certain days that are best to do this and that. I wonder if sometimes I get the time right by accident. If that is true, it would be great to be able to cut the ivy out and not have it come back. 🙂 Hmmm… I am not going to count on that one…

 

The bed at the northeast corner of the old foundation has always been a favorite spot. Back in the early 1980’s this was where I made my first shade bed. With no house here now there is no shade. You can see it in this photo, but there were a lot of iris coming up along the north side of the foundation in 2013. Dad said he had been mowing them off for years and they just kept coming up. SO, I moved them to the corner of this bed and the colony has gotten HUGE now. He brought home some rhubarb and horseradish from a friend so I put them here as well. I have grown marigolds in this bed but a few years ago I moved the Rudbeckia fulgida ‘Goldsturm’/’Goldstrum’ from the north bed by the house to this location. They approved and have really spread. I haven’t gotten the old stems from last year all removed yet. Normally, there is also a big colony of native Rudbeckia hirta (?) in the front of this bed but late last summer they got some kind of mildew or something and didn’t return this year. I am not sure if they were Rudbeckia hirta or a different species of Black-Eyed/Brown-Eyed Susan. There are several species, varieties, and subspecies that are native to Missouri that I haven’t been able to tell apart. There are several in the south bed by the house that are a later flowering species that have no mildew issues.

 

As I was taking photos, I noticed Japanese Beetles were chewing (and mating) on the rhubarb. Yesterday I put a new attractant on one of the traps which is hanging next to the shade bed…

I will finish this post now and move on to Homo neglectus Part 2. But, before I go, I want to show you something…

 

Polystichum acrostichoides (Christmas Fern) on 6-26-20, #714-27.

I was cleaning out the smartweed in the north bed by the house a few days ago and ran across this fern. I think it is Polystichum acrostichoides also known as the Christmas Fern. It has never been here before so I was very surprised.

And one more thing… I think I made a new friend in the garden.

 

Anaxyrus americanus (American Toad).

After I took the photos for this post and part 2 and maybe 3, I went to work hilling up more of the sweet corn. I was on my hands and knees moving dirt with my hands when I felt something squishy. I guess I squeezed it too hard thinking it was a clod of dirt and it made a noise. It turned out to be a big fat toad.

 

I sat him on the dirt next to a stalk of corn and petted him and apologized for squeezing him. There are a lot of baby toads this year which is great. They eat a lot of bugs, spiders, and even slugs. The color of this guy is a bit strange for an Anaxyrus americanus or even the other similar species. They are supposed to be browner and have a light central stripe running down their back. I am going to have to pay closer attention… He had been sleeping under the soil where it was cool and damp so maybe his color had changed somewhat. Then I scared the crap out of him and he just sat there like he was in shock. 🙂

That is it for this Homo neglectus Part 1. I will get started on part 2 right away.

Until next time, be safe, stay positive, be thankful, and GET DIRTY!

June 22 Garden Update & Tomato Trellising

Hello everyone! I hope this post finds you well. The garden continues to do well and the sweet corn is still weird. We finally received 1 2/10″ of rain from Friday afternoon and overnight. I came back home Friday afternoon from helping a friend and it had been raining a little off and on. The rain gauge said 2/10″ of an inch at the time… I took a nap then went to the garden around 6:30 and saw a lot of the taller corn had blown over so I had to stand it back up. I had watered on Thursday so the ground was was fairly wet. While I was at it I removed the suckers from more of the corn and hilled it up pretty good as I went. During the night another storm came in and the wind blew a lot. I thought surely the corn would blow over again but it didn’t. There was a total of 1 2/10″ in the rain gauge.

OH, earlier in the week I bought a new hose because I couldn’t get inside the garden with the 150′ I had. I needed to water the smaller corn and what I had transplanted and I was using a watering can… Anyway, a friend told me he had a lot of extra hose so he gave me 100′. Then another friend also gave me 50′. All of it is very good heavy hose so I took back what I had bought. Now I have enough to get into the garden and replace the old hose that is about shot. I can use the old hose on the faucet behind the house or the last 50′ from a friend. Either way, I can definitely stop using the weird expanding hose dad bought from Publisher’s Clearing House.

 

I had already removed the suckers and hilled some of the corn but not all. The reason I hadn’t hilled it all yet was because some of the corn was still very small… As I mentioned in a previous post, the seeder did not plant very well the first time so I replanted what didn’t come up. Then the moles ate a lot of that even with the mole repeller in the center of the garden. SO, I replanted again and moved the mole gizmo between the two sections of corn. That time the moles didn’t seem to bother it. Maybe the mole repeller doesn’t work well in tilled soil… Hmmm…  Believe it or not, there is not that much difference in age between the tallest corn and she shortest. The first planting grew quickly and the last planting very slow because of lack of moisture.

Ummm… I know what dad would say… I didn’t get an almanac and plant by the sign. He always said if you plant in the sign it will grow whether it rains or not. I just don’t like it because the corn is next to the street where everyone can see it. 🙂

 

‘Incredible’ from the north side. I always like growing sweet corn probably because it is one of my favorite vegetables. But, as always, there are a few hiccups along the way by the time it is harvested. I knew there will be mole issues and wind that will blow it over (more than once or twice) because it always happens. Despite the issues, it is well worth it…

 

I usually don’t have to worry that much about suckers but this year has been terrible. I have never had corn sucker so much before. Half of the corn is ‘Incredible’ and the other half is ‘Peaches and Cream’. I have grown ‘Incredible for several years but this is the first time I have planted ‘Peaches and Cream’ unless it was MANY years ago (early 1980’s).

 

Now, that is the way it should all look… Well, perhaps the stalks are a little close together for the “experts” but if your soil is AWESOME I think it is OK to plant a little close. Sometimes 2-3 seeds came out together and they all came up and looked good. I have to choose which ones to thin out and sometimes I may leave two if they are big and growing well. Most of the time that happens one will be bigger than the other and the smaller one should be removed. Truthfully, our corn has been much closer without thinning or suckering and we had such a bumper crop it lasted me four years in the freezer.

From now on I am going to plant the corn without using the seeder. Even though information suggests to plant 2-3 seeds (per hill) 3-4 inches apart and then thin to one plant 10-12″ (or 8-10″). Experience is the best teacher and I think planting 2-3 seeds 2-4″ apart and thinning is a complete waste of seed and plants (and energy). BUT, you do need to remove the suckers from your corn. Suckers take energy from the main stalk that needs to be used to produce corn.

I was going to write a post about seeders but that time kind of past. Most seeders have the seed plate that fits vertically on the side of the hopper with a series of holes in it. There is a small cup that scoops up the seed and as the wheel turns it comes to a hole where the seed falls out. MOST all seeders available are exactly alike except one that I know of. Hoss Tools make one where the seed plate sits horizontally at the bottom of the hopper so the seed can’t fall out. They make wheel hoes and a variety of attachments that are very well made. They are a bit pricey but well worth the money if you have a lot of planting to do. They also offer other tools, garden seeds, supplies for drip irrigation, pest control, fertilizer, and food preservation.

 

The remaining two “clumps” of asparagus has done really well this year and expanded very nicely. I had a HUGE bed in Mississippi and brought all the crowns with me but most died out over a few years. GEEZ! I love asparagus!

 

The ‘Sugar Ann’ Snap Peas are doing very good and are beginning to flower.

 

The kale has really taken off this past week as well. I bought new seed from the Green Street Market in Clinton but I don’t know what kind I bought. I told the owner I wanted kale seed and she put a scoop or two on an envelope and didn’t write down what kind it was. I had leftover ‘Red Russian’ and ‘Dwarf Blue’ from 2017 so I mixed them all together. I later found a package of ‘Siberian’ from 2016 which I didn’t use…

 

The ‘Broad Windsor’ Fava Beans also started flowering this week and are looking great.

 

The ‘Black Diamond’ Watermelons have also taken off this past week. I gave them plenty of space but I know they will eventually take most of the garden. One year I planted white sweet potatoes and they took the garden. They were great though! I thought about ordering some bush sweet potatoes but I didn’t…

Now for the tomatoes…

I managed to get all the tomato plants mulched with old hay this past week. They are all doing GREAT. I experimented with my own version of trellising in 2017 so I did it again this year. I put a steel fence post next to each plant and run balers twine along the top of each post. You only have to tie it to the first and last post and wrap it around the others. Get it as tight as you can… Unless it is very (VERY) old it won’t break. I always use a level when I am setting the posts because a something that isn’t straight drives me NUTS. They used to call it being a perfectionist now they say it is OCD. LOL! If I had OCD I wouldn’t be living on a 40-acre farm.

People who enjoy growing their own tomatoes typically have their favorite cultivars and their own particular way of growing them. There is plenty of good advice online when it comes to growing tomatoes. Some people use Epsom Salt on their tomatoes for a variety of reasons and I thought I might try it. But, I found out Epsom Salt is magnesium and sulfur and unless your soil is deficient in those micronutrients it doesn’t really help. Some say it prevents blossom end rot but that isn’t true either. Too much magnesium inhibits the proper uptake of calcium and one cause of blossom end rot is the inability for the plants to absorb enough calcium. Another cause is fluctuations in soil moisture which is one reason I added the mulch…

 

It seems once the tomatoes form their first set of branches you have to be on your toes. This is where the plants fork out and form two branches. Once the two branches get big enough, I tie a piece of twine on the post for each branch.

Some information says you need to remove the suckers and leaves below this fork. I remove the suckers but leave the leaves until they turn yellow.

 

Once I tie the twine to post I wrap it loosely around the branch once or twice, depending on how long the branch is, then I tie the other end to the twine running along the top of the posts. I tie it as perfectly in the middle as I can very tight and overlap the two so they won’t move around. You will also need space for tying up secondary branches between the post and center knots… You don’t need to make the twine holding the branches very tight. In fact, it is a good idea if it is fairly loose. It will tighten up as the branches get heavy and you may even have to loosen it up a bit.

Normally, I use jute twine to tie the tomatoes and wrap the branches but I ran out… I need more but I keep forgetting. I ripped some material into strips to tie the stems to the steel post and it may be an option to use it instead of the twine to wrap the branches. Balers twine and string can cut into the branches so you need to use something softer and thicker. Just experiment and watch for whatever you are tying and wrapping with to make sure it doesn’t get to tight as stems get thicker.

If I see the balers twine causing harm I will replace it with strips of material. Hmmm… I could use different colors for each plant or maybe for each variety. Well, since I don’t have a privacy fence I think I better rethink that. Trellising the tomatoes like this already makes some people think I am a bit whacky.

 

This photo shows a second fork on this ‘Goliath’. This is not a sucker… I will tie another piece of twine to the post at this point, wrap it around the branch, then tie the other end between the knot and the post at the top.

 

I bent a couple of electric fence posts to use on the ends. It works but they move around a bit. 🙂

 

It seems no matter how much time you spend with your tomatoes removing small suckers, there are always a few that. I noticed while taking photos I had missed several like this one. GEEZ!

Typically you want to remove suckers that form above the leaf nodes when they are very small for several reasons. You can just pinch them off easily with your fingers. Some information online says once suckers get bigger than the size of a pencil, removing them can cause damage to the plant. Well, folks, I didn’t read that until this year so I have been removing them at any size. I have noticed in the past removing large suckers has effected some of the plants, kind of like a shock. Once fruit starts growing and it gets very hot, removing large suckers can also remove leaves that are providing shade for the tomatoes. If you leave large suckers, just pinch off after the first or second leaf. You can also just remove tips of larger suckers and leave the larger leaves for shade. The other problem with missing larger suckers is that they will, sooner or later, flower and then you won’t want to remove them. Best to do it before that happens so it won’t keep you awake at night. 🙂

It is always best to remove any leaves once they start turning yellow, especially lower leaves. Any leaves or suckers that have been removed need to be taken from the area for disease control.

Many people I know never remove suckers from their plants and use tomato cages. They get along just fine and have LOADS of NICE tomatoes. I was brought up staking and pruning and kind of sort of learned from my dad. If I remember, he used to prune and leave one single stem but as he got older he didn’t worry about it.

 

‘Rutgers’

This ‘Rutgers’ plant has a cluster of tomatoes where the plant is forking then lots of flower clusters in the upper portion of the branches. The other two have smaller tomatoes than this one. They are more open growing and haven’t had that many suckers to deal with. Rutgers is an OLD variety and my dad used to grow them when I was a kid. I have three of these because there were only three in the pack and they are all growing exactly the same.

 

‘Goliath’… Hmmm… With a big sucker… 

I have grown ‘Goliath’ several times and I always like them. The plants have plenty of leaf cover for shade and the leaves get very long. They seem to form secondary branches very quickly and they sucker A LOT!

 

A cluster of tomatoes on a ‘Goliath’.

They produce fairly large and tasty tomatoes.

 

Tomatoes on a ‘Mortgage Lifter’.

The ‘Mortgage Lifter’ plants grow similar to ‘Goliath’ and produce LOTS of good leaf cover. Right now, this ‘Mortgage Lifter’ has more  and larger tomatoes than any other plant. There are five of this variety because one cell had two plants. It makes up for the one missing from the ‘Rutgers’ pack. I have grown this variety several times and they have always done well.

 

‘Cherokee Purple’

There are four ‘Cherokee Purple’ on the north end of the row. They are doing very good although they are MUCH smaller in comparison to the other varieties. I have not grown this variety before but I did grow ‘Black Krim’ in 2017. Very interesting and dad didn’t like them…

 

‘Cherokee Purple’

I noticed I need to loosen this plant up a little because a couple of tomatoes are tight up against the post.

I was thinking about trying ‘Pineapple’ also but I decided 16 plants was enough. I will have plenty to eat, maybe can, and give away. I grew over 20 plants in 2017 but a lot of the tomatoes were weird. ‘Celebrity’ and ‘Goliath’ were the best and best looking in 2017 but I didn’t find any ‘Celebrity’ this year.

 

I got up one morning and when I fed the cats on the back porch I noticed “something” or “someone” had dug up two packs of the okra on the plan table. HMMM… I planted the seed in the packs instead of the garden so the moles would not eat the seed and then that happened! GEEZ! So, I had to put the plants that were dug up back in the packs. I asked the cats who did that and they didn’t seem to have a clue. I have my suspicions, though… I moved the okra to the bedroom window. I planted 20 seeds and 19 came up. On plant started being weird and after the disaster, there are two more that are iffy.

 

I was a little hesitant to move the okra to the garden because a few storms were in the forecast. I decided to just transplant a few Saturday evening to see how they would do but then went ahead and did them all.

 

I have noticed a few Japanese Beetles here and there but Saturday there were A LOT on this American Elm sprout along the north side of the house. I didn’t notice them on American Elm last year but they strip the Chinese Elms. Then Sunday I saw several on the asparagus in the garden. They didn’t appear to be eating it but they were hanging out for sure. I still hve the traps from last year so I better clean them out and add new attractant. There are few things I really don’t like, and Japanese Beetles are close to the top of the list.

Last Sunday, the 14th, I went on a walk to the back of the farm and took quite a few photos. I even identified a few new species again. Anyway, I have been working on that post all week when I had the time and wasn’t too tired to focus. It still isn’t ready and I think it will be too long.

Now I better stop or I won’t get this one finished.

Until next time, be safe, stay positive, be thankful, and GET DIRTY!

 

Sunday Update-Just Checking In

Hello everyone! I hope this post finds you well. We had another storm on June 5, a month to the day since the last one. Like before, this one did quite a bit of damage in town with trees and limbs falling. Then another one popped in the next night. I didn’t have any major issues in the yard like last time and I didn’t go to the back of the farm to see if there was any damage this time. The grass in the hayfield is getting so tall and thick it is hard to walk through. We have more rain and thunderstorms in the forecast beginning Monday night after 10 PM. We’ll see if the forecast is right… At least 2-3 more inches coming.

I managed to get the garden tilled and pretty much weeded before the rain came because I knew it would be a few days before I could get in it again. After a couple of 90° F days the top has dried out pretty well.

 

Hmmm… Everything has managed to come up and do pretty well except the sweet corn. I hadn’t planted a garden since 2017, so I had forgotten the issue with planting sweet corn with the seeder. You have to angle it slightly so the seed won’t fall out of the hole. SO, I had to replant a lot of seed. The second planting didn’t do well because the moles ate a lot of that seed even though I had ut the mole repeller in the middle of the garden right from the start. SO, I planted the third time and put the mole repeller between the two sections of corn. The third time I think it all came up. I also transplanted some of the seedlings. The other reason I don’t like planting corn with the seeder is because it plants the seed, what does get planted, to close together. I could never figure out why you should plant 2-3 seeds a few inches apart and thin to one plant 10-12 inches apart. Why not just plant one seed 10-12 inches apart so you don’t have to thin? I did that in Mississippi and it worked fine. Next time I am not planting corn with the seeder unless I am fortunate enough to buy a Hoss Seeder. That would be AWESOME!

 

The ‘Black Diamond’ Watermelon seedlings are doing well. I can hardly wait to sink my teeth into a ripe, red, sweet, juicy watermelon!

 

The east side of the garden is doing good. On the right of this photo is the ‘Broad Windsor’ Fava Beans. I bought the seed in 2017 but didn’t plant it. I decided I would plant some of the seed to see if they would come up. YEP… Every seed I planted came up. I left room in that row for the Okra seed. The center row, about half, I planted kale. I bought new seed from the Green Street Market in Clinton even though I had two other varieties from before. I decided I would mix all the seeds together. It came up pretty well but we had a rain afterward and I think some of the seed got covered too deeply. The other half of the row is ‘Sugar Ann’ Snap Peas. It came up pretty well and is doing very good. Then the tomatoes… ‘Rutgers’, ‘Goliath, ‘Mortgage Lifter’, and ‘Cherokee Purple’. There is still a little short grass between the tomatoes I didn’t have time to remove yet. I did manage to get them staked. I had spent every evening in the garden until I could see. Then it rained… I plan on mulching the tomatoes with old hay.

 

With the mole issues in the garden, I decided I would plant the okra in 4-packs. I have wanted to try ‘Jing Orange’ for several years but they was always sold out before. I found a seller on Ebay so I bought a package of 10 seeds. Hmmm… When I opened the package there were 20 seeds so, I planted all of them. All but one have come up or sprouted… You just never know…

 

Deutzia scabra on 6-7-20.

The Deutzia scabra is flowering full swing again. I cut it way back a couple of years ago and it is almost as tall as before. It was 14′ tall…

 

Hosta ‘Empress Wu’ on 6-7-20.

The Hosta ‘Empress Wu’ is STILL growing and now it has buds.

 

Amorphophallus sp. and Oxalis on 6-7-20, #708-1.

Hmmm… Last year I said I was going to remove and separate the two Amorphophallus in this pot and leave it for the Oxalis triangularis subsp. papilionaceae (False Shamrock). Well, as you can see that didn’t happen again (yet). Now there are a few Amporphallus offsets as well. A few springs ago 12 came up…

 

Amorphophallus sp. and Oxalis on 6-7-20, #708-2.

Hmmm… One of the Amorhphallus kids is going to be a joker. It said to take a photo of it with the flower to make you think it bloomed. I assured him my readers were smart enough not to fall for that…

 

Oxalis triangularis subsp. papilionaceae on 6-7-20, #708-11.

The Oxalis triangularis subsp. papilionaceae in this pot loves to bloom inside during the winter and outside in the summer. The salmon-pink flower is from the Oxalis tetraphylla.

 

Oxalis tetraphylla (Iron Cross) on 6-7-20, #708-10.

The Oxalis tetraphylla (Iron Cross) had a few flowers when I brought it home but they have just about fizzled out. It does have several new clusters, though. My other pot of Oxalis tetraphylla didn’t come up so I had to bring home another…

Well, that’s all I have to talk about for now. Until next time, have a great week. Be safe, well, stay positive, and always be thankful. Don’t forget to GET DIRTY!

Into The Wooly Woods

Hello everyone! I hope this post finds you well. Saturday afternoon I finished the planters at a friend’s house so I decided to go ahead and check the progress of some of the wildflowers in the woods. The above photo is where close to where I enter. To the left is kind of a small creek that starts from nowhere and goes toward the ditch along the highway. I enter the woods and head for the second creek which is to the right of the above photo. It is in the area between the two creeks where I spotted my first sighting of Arisaema dracontium (Green Dragon) and Arisaema tryphyllum (Jack-In-The-Pulpit) (which some are still flowering). There are a lot more Green Dragon’s here while there are more Jack-In-The-Pulpit on the other side of the creek. There are also LOADS of Mayapple (Podophyllum peltatum) throughout the woods.

 

The above photo is the creek I walk in but usually much farther down where there is still plenty of water. I wear my rubber boots and actually walk in the water. The creek is like a path but in some areas I have to crawl under or over fallen trees or vines. Further down from this spot is another creek than merges with it that goes around the hill. It is kind of hard to describe and I should have taken more photos. This creek also runs into the ditch that runs along the highway which then flows into the East Fork Tebo Creek. Close to the end there is a steep hill which I climb and crawl under the fence… Once on top of the hill, the woods become much more open with HUGE trees.

 

At the bottom of the hill is a fence with a pasture on the other side. I was standing next to the fence looking up the hill when I took this photo. When I first visited these woods on April 23, the underbrush hadn’t leafed out and what grass is in there was still very short. This gave the early spring wildflowers a chance to grow and bloom. It was much easier to navigate and see where I was going.

Now, you may ask why I am tromping around in the woods with all the underbrush now. Well, it is very simple… There are several plants in there I was hoping to keep an eye on BUT I am having some difficulty. Just like two plants that have vanished along the creek. After a big storm, the Dicentra cucullaria (Dutchman’s Breeches) and Cardamine concatenata (Cut-leaved Toothwort) completely vanished. On the third or fourth trip, I finally found ONE leaf of the Dicentra. It was involved in a mudslide, which I suspected, and was covered with mud and debris that ran down the hill during the storm. A few days later I decided to go back with my trowel and see if I could dig it up. It was no use because I couldn’t find the roots or bulbs. The Cardamine is next to a big tree but I have yet to find it the second time… I know it is in there somewhere because I have the photos. It is possible it was eaten by deer. You would think in all these woods there would be more than one Dutchman’s Breeches and Toothwort!!!

OK, I got kind of off-track… The reason I wanted to go into the woods in the above photo was to find two particular plants. Somehow, I managed not to post about them when I first saw them on May 10. One was flowering and one was not but both are worth searching for…

Triosteum perfoliatum (Perfoliate Tinker’s Weed) on 5-10-20, #697-51.

Now you may wonder what is so special about this plant I identified as Triosteum perfoliatum, commonly known as Perfoliate Tinker’s WeedFever Root, Wild Coffee, Feverwort, Common Horse Gentian,  and Late Horse Gentian. For those of you who are versed in botanical language, the species name “perfoliatum” or the common name “Perfoliate” should give you a hint… This species is a member of the Caprifoliaceae (Honeysuckle) Family.

 

Triosteum perfoliatum (Perfoliate Tinker’s Weed) on 5-10-20, #697-56.

The lower leaves on the plant kind of somehow merge together much in the way they do with Eupatorium perfoliatum (Common Boneset).

The genus name, Triosteum, is derived from Greek words tri, meaning ‘three’ and osteon, meaning ‘bone’, which together means “three bones” and refers to the 3 hard nutlets in the fruit which have bony ridges. The species name, perfoliatum, is derived from the Latin meaning ‘through the leaf’. The fruit can be dried and roasted and used as a coffee substitute.

 

Triosteum perfoliatum (Perfoliate Tinker’s Weed) on 5-10-20.

While the upper leaves haven’t quite merged they do have neat buds…

 

Triosteum perfoliatum (Perfoliate Tinker’s Weed) on 5-10-20.

Sessile clusters of 1-5 flowers emerge from the leaf axils. You can also see in the above photo that the stems are pubescent (hairy).

 

Triosteum perfoliatum (Perfoliate Tinker’s Weed) on 5-10-20.

The large leaves grow opposite one another and at a 90° angle from the previous set of leaves.

What is so weird is that I only found ONE of these. What is weirder, even though I know where I saw it, I could NOT find it again on May 23… This is NOT a small plant and you would think I could have found it. At least that is what I thought. I spent quite a while walking through the underbrush, up and down the hill, back and forth, starting over several times. Nothing…

Right next to this plant was a member of the Caryophyllaceae Family…

Silene stellata (Starry Campion) on 5-10-20.

While there are MANY wildflowers with long lance-shaped leaves, the Silene stellata, also known as Starry Campion and Widow’s Frill, is a little different. So, of course I had to take photos so I could make a proper ID.

 

Silene stellata (Starry Campion) on 5-10-20.

It has four sessile leaves per swollen node… Hmmm… That sounds awkward.

 

Silene stellata (Starry Campion) on 5-23-20.

I did find this plant again on the 23rd but not necessarily where I spotted it next to the Triosteum… There is A LOT of this species and they seemed to multiply before my eyes. Silene stellata is a perennial that populates by seed and also spreads at the base where it can send up multiple stems. I wanted to check on this species because it supposed to start flowering in May and continue through September. It will have really NEAT flowers. Unfortunately, no flowers yet… Did I mention the flowers will be really NEAT?

There are 883 species in the Silene genus found pretty much worldwide! Missouri Plants describes eight but I have only found one…

So, there I was tromping around in the woods, trying to remain upright, talking to myself or whoever would listen. No doubt there were a few gnomes and fairies watching over the woods. They are probably having some fun with me by moving plants so I can’t find them again. Maybe next time I will have to sit and meditate and ask for their help… Hmmm…

One other species I completely can’t find that are here by the hundreds is the Erythronium albidum (White Fawnlily). They are members of the same family as tulips and their leaves only grow to 6″ or so long. To find anything in the underbrush now it would have to be very tall, make a weird noise, slap me, or have flashing lights…

A group of such plants lit up to be noticed…

Sisyrinchium angustifolium (Narrow-Leaved Blue-Eyed Grass) on 5-23-20.

It never ceases to amaze me how many species are in some photos. There at least five in this photo but the flowers belong to Sisyrinchium angustifolium. Otherwise known as Narrow-Leaved Blue-Eyed Grass or Stout Blue-Eyed Grass. The pronunciation of the scientific name is sis-ee-RINK-ee-um an-gus-tee-FOH-lee-um but I have opted to call it sissy-wrench-um. Kind of reminds me of Happy on the CBS series Scorpion. She doesn’t have blue eyes but she is the mechanical genus on the series. ANYWAY… There are many species with grass-like leaves on the planet that turn out to have some pretty interesting flowers.

 

Sisyrinchium angustifolium (Narrow-Leaved Blue-Eyed Grass) on 5-23-20.

Sisyrinchium angustifolium is actually a member of the Iridaceae (Iris) Family with 204 species. This species readily self-seeds and you can see a fruit in the above photo. Missouri Plants lists three species which are quite similar. You have to pay attention to detail like how many inflorescences are on the ariel stems and whether they are stalked or unstalked, whether they are branched or unbranched, and whether they are subtended by two or more spathelike bracts. Hmmm… These are things you don’t know when you make your first encounter which is why you need to go back and check sometimes.

 

Sisyrinchium angustifolium (Narrow-Leaved Blue-Eyed Grass) on 5-23-20.

I am fairly certain this species is Sissywrenchum agustafolium… WHOOPS! I mean Sisyrinchium angustifolium.

 

Arisaema triphyllum (Jack-In-The-Pulpit) on 5-23-20.

After walking up the hill and through the woods and getting closer to the third creek that kind of goes around the west side (or maybe the north side). There are areas with mostly vegetation and not so much underbrush. I had to get a photo of this HUGE Arisaema triphyllum (Jack-In-The-Pulpit) growing among a vast colony of Persicaria virginiana (Virginia Jumpseed). To say there is a lot of Virginia Jumpseed in these woods would be a complete understatement…

I have to laugh a little every time I see a Jumpseed because I am reminded of my first encounter of a single plant growing under the steps by the back porch. I thought that plant was so neat at the time now there are probably 20 or so. Then last year when I was doing the post trying to find a good Jumpseed photo… I wound up finding a HUGE colony in the trees north of the chicken house that I didn’t even know were there.

 

Hypnum cupressiforme (Cypress-Leaved Plait-Moss) on 5-23-20.

After deciding to leave the woods, I crossed the fence kind of where the second and third creek merge. ANYWAY, this tree is next to the creek where it curves. I love moss so I had to take a photo. If you have ever tried to identify moss you will find it very complicated because there are so many species in multiple genera and several families that look so much alike. I noticed this moss was quite a bit different…

 

Hypnum cupressiforme (Cypress-Leaved Plait-Moss) on 5-23-20.

The close-up came out pretty good and it looks more like a shrub than moss. I uploaded the photo on iNaturalist and it said it was pretty sure it is Hypnum cupressiforme (Cypress-Leaved Plait-Moss). It gave a few other suggestions but thank goodness they were not a match.

Before I end this post I did make another discovery…

Nothoscordum bivalve (False Garlic, Crowpoison) on 5-23-20, #703-14.

I first saw this species growing in the wooded area across the highway from this set of woods on May 3. I don’t know that much about Allium species, but what I do know about any species of wild onion and garlic is that they have an odor. I have several in my yard I let grow for the heck of it. These plants have NO smell whatsoever. FINALLY, I decided to Google “false Allium with no odor” and came up with Nothoscordum bivalve commonly known as Crowpoison or False Garlic. Some websites say these plants are poison others say there is no proof this plant is toxic. Legend has it that the Cherokee Indians used this plant to make a poison to kill crows feeding on their corn. I don’t think I will be eating it…

For the record, I deleted a HUGE paragraph then wrote another then another and deleted them as well. I was venting…  After writing and rewriting, let me just say onions, garlic, and their relatives, including Nothoscordum are currently in the Amaryllidaceae Family and not Liliaceae or Alliaceae.

While walking through the woods I see a lot of familiar plants and many species I have never bothered to identify. Some are quite common weeds. There are LOADS of a species of Ranunculus which I think are probably R. sceleratus (Cursed Crowfoot) and they are in many photos I have taken of other plants. I will not start writing about the Ranunculus species or this post will be much longer and I need to finish it.

So, I will close for now and will not say I will do a post exclusively for the many Ranunculus species on the farm or a few in the woods. I did that with the Persicaria last year and it took several months to get the post finished…

I am not sure how often I can revisit the woods during the summer as the underbrush will continue to get worse. The mosquitos will be very bad and I already noticed several HUGE swarms along the creek.

Until next time, be safe, stay positive, stay well, and always be thankful.

Not A Silent Sunday-May 15 Update on the 17th

Hosta ‘Empress Wu’ on 5-15-20.

Hello everyone! I hope this post finds you well. I thought I would do an update about what is going on and growing. Friday afternoon I started pulling the chickweed out of the north bed, the south bed, and shade beds. I already did it in the bed behind the old foundation and corner bed but there is still plenty to be done… I have no “to-do list” because it changes with the weather.

I decided to walk around the house, go to the garden, then around the shade beds and take a few photos. The photos are in the way they were taken and not alphabetical order this time. The names of the plants are linked to take you to their page although they may not be updated with 2020 photos. I am a little behind but that’s OK since we are a continual work in progress…

The first photo is the Hosta ‘Empress Wu’. Information says it will reach maturity in five years and this will be its fourth summer. I haven’t measured it yet, but at maturity, the clump can grow to 4-5′ tall x 6-8′ wide. I moved it farther from the corner in 2018 to allow for that but I forgot something…

 

Astilbe x arendsii ‘Fanal’.

When I brought home the Astilbe x arendsii ‘Fanal’ in 2018 I planted it to close to the Hosta ‘Empress Wu’. The Astilbe has really spread out all by itself and I forgot to consider that as well. The other Astilbe, that I forgot to photograph, has always remained small and really should be moved. I would really like a bigger bed on the north side but I would have to build a bigger house.

 

Stellaria media (Chickweed).

I don’t know if you have to deal with Chickweed like I do, but I am beginning to despise the stuff… I know it is good for this and that but I could easily do without it. To make it worse, I just spread the seed when I pull it up. I can’t complain, though, because I guess it does protect the soil from erosion and other harder to pull weeds would be growing in its place. I could use a mulch to keep it from growing but that would also interfere with the…

 

Geranium sanguineum (Bloody Cranesbill).

The Geranium sanguineum is on the move this spring. It has all but died out on the left side of the bed but is trying to regain ground more in the center of the bed. The north bed is actually a little wet for it and I think that is one of its problems. Dad didn’t realize it needs more sun and better drainage when he moved it from the bed behind the old foundation. It is a survivor, though, as it has been here since I first bought it from Bluestone Perennials and put in the bed behind my grandparent’s old house in the early 1980’s (when I lived there). I moved in 1987 and my parents moved their new manufactured home here in 1996. Then, a few years later, the old house was torn down… Now that mom and dad have passed I am here by myself. Well, not actually by myself. I have the darn cats, chickens, and plants…

Now, going around the house to the front porch…

A few of the plants on the front porch.

Hmmm… I moved them outside then back in again since we had a frost warning on, um, whatever day it was. Now they are back outside again because they were beginning to give me dirty looks. With this many plants in temporary housing in the living room, I was worried they might start a mutiny or something. I had to start sleeping with one eye open. Anyway, most of them made it through the winter very well. There are a few exceptions but some even grew and flowered for the first time.

Now to the south bed…

Baptisia australis ? cv ?.

The Baptisia australis ‘whatever you call it’ is starting to flower and is looking really good. If you remember this is the plant I bought that was supposed to be ‘Lunar Eclipse’ a few years ago as a first-year plant. As you may know, they flower their second year so I didn’t know it was labeled wrong. Probably the person who put the label in the pot didn’t know either. Anyway, even though it isn’t a ‘Lunar Eclipse’ it is still a nice plant…

I haven’t taken any photos of the Iris yet…

 

Allium ampeloprasum var. ampeloprasum (Elephant Garlic).

The Elephant Garlic is doing great as always in several spots in the south bed. My neighbor gave me a start when I lived in Mississippi so I have been growing it for around ten years. I really enjoy the flowers and it is great for cooking as well.

 

Salvia x sylvestris ‘Mainacht’ on 5-15-20, #700-24.

The Salvia x sylvestris ‘Mainacht’ (‘May Night’) has been here in this spot since I planted it in 2014. The clump has barely gotten bigger for all these years. Then, when I was pulling up the Chickweed, I was surprised to see one had come up about 2 feet from the main clump. I have had some interesting conversations with this ‘Mainacht’, particularly about its size. I bought a large pot from the clearance rack at Lowe’s in 2012 when I was living at the mansion in Mississippi that was a much larger plant with larger leaves. This one, I bought at Lowe’s in 2014 when I moved back here and it has always been so much smaller. So, I question this plant about the issue and remind it that no matter what it is still AWESOME. The plant always tells me it is because of the Elephant Garlic invading its space and would like me to move it. I did remove the garlic once but I guess several bulbules were left behind because it continues to come up. I have said many times if some plants don’t like where they are they will move with or without your help… Apparently, ‘Mainacht’ has decided to take matters in its own hands and is showing me a thing or two. As you can tell, the new plant is much bigger and even already flowering. Hmmm…

I have grown MANY Salvia over the years and this one has survived where most of the others have failed. The Salvia nemorosa ‘New Dimensions Blue’ is barely hanging in there and I didn’t take its photo. Interestingly, it has the same issue with the Elephant Garlic in the other end of the bed.

I kind of upset the Phlomis ‘Edward Bowles’ because I didn’t take its photo this go around. I told him his photo has been taken more than any other perennial and right now he wasn’t doing anything exciting. I am also trying to encourage him to flower which would be well worth photographing…

So, let’s move around the corner to the back porch…

 

Most of the cactus collection on the back porch on 5-15-20, #700-4.

Most of the cactus collection are on this table on the back porch. There are a few on the front porch that seem to prefer less than full sun (at least for the moment). I only lost one cactus over the winter, the Echinopsis mirabilis, which flowered itself to death last summer. Man, that was AWESOME. If you missed it, click HERE for its page. I also lost the big Crassula tetragona (Miniature Pine Tree) so I brought home a new one from Wagler’s a few weeks ago. Strange how small they look in this photo.

On to the northeast corner bed by the steps kind of where we started. Hosta ‘Empress Wu’ is on the other side of the steps…

 

Salvia coerulea ‘Black and Blue’ on 5-15-20, #700-23.

Last spring I put three Salvia coerulea ‘Black and Blue’ in the northeast corner bed. They went berserk and I soon realized I only needed one. I was very surprised when they all three started coming up this spring because hardly anything I plant here ever comes up the second year. HMMM… I do not seem to have a page for this one…

Now, let’s head to “the other yard”.

Garden 2020.

I am thankful I was able to buy a new motor for dad’s old Troy Bilt tiller. The last time I had a garden was 2017. I didn’t plant one in 2018 because I canned plenty of green beans and froze a lot of sweet corn from 2017. I was going to plant a garden last year but when I started the tiller it threw a rod after about 15 minutes. It also needed new tires because they had dry rot pretty bad. One of them was so bad I had to take the air tank to the garden and keep airing the tire up. It was full of slime and it started oozing out and the tire would then cake with dirt. Dad got a kick out of it but I really didn’t think it was that funny at the time.

There is still plenty of jars of green beans so I didn’t plant any. I used to eat a lot of green beans but then I got burned out. Dad didn’t eat them either. The sweet corn in the freezer is almost gone now so I planted plenty… Four double rows about 50 feet long. I planted half Peaches and Cream bi-color and half Incredible. There are 16 tomato plants, kale (three varieties mixed together), Sugar Ann snap peas, Black Diamond watermelon, some old fava bean seeds (which I bought and didn’t plant in 2017). I still have to plant the okra but it needs to be warmer and stay that way with no rain in the forecast or the seeds will rot. I am going to try ‘Jing Orange’ this year. I like experimenting a lot, especially with okra and tomatoes. For tomatoes, I bought Goliath, Mortgage Lifter, Cherokee Purple, and Rutgers. There were no Celebrity which I had good luck with in 2017. When I was a kid dad always liked Rutgers then he switched to Beefsteak which I didn’t like. I prefer Goliath as a beefsteak type so far. I wanted some sweet pepper plants but I didn’t find any.

OH, I put the mole repeller in the middle of the garden because I have had issues with moles eating seed in the past. It did a wonderful job in the shade beds and kept the moles out, even within 40-60 feet all around it.

 

Dad and the Troy Built on April 23, 2015.

I had to include this photo of my dad next to the Troy Built Horse from April 23, 2015. He was 84 when I took the photo. He bought this Troy Built Horse new in 1978 after his brother bought one. He passed away in 2019 but his memories are still here. He would be very happy the tiller has a new motor, which is its third one, and two new tires.

I lost this pruner when I was working on the tomatoes in 2017. I knew where I lost it but I could never find it. Sometimes when you lose something you can’t find it no matter what. I finally had to stop looking and figured the Troy Built would find it eventually. Well, it did… After being without it all this time. This pruner was in Suzanne’s stuff in Mississippi and I found it in 2009. I really love it.

Now to the shade bed…

Hosta ‘Guacamole’.

Hosta has always been my favorite shade perennial and I started growing them in 1981 when I moved in my grandparent’s house after grandpa died in 1981. The Hosta ‘Guacamole’ is looking great. I brought this plant home in 2014 so this will be its 7th season.

The Iris you see behind the Hosta are some I had bought in the early 1980’s. Believe it or not, they have survived in this area even after being mowed off for MANY years. Since I came back in 2013 and started taking better care of them they have really multiplied.

 

Hosta ‘Sum and Substance’.

The Hosta ‘Sum and Substance’ was a bright addition to the shade bed in 2018 and is looking very good. This Hosta was developed in 1980 and there are at least 55 registered sports from Hosta ’Sum and Substance’ and 38 cultivars with it as a parent.

 

Hosta ‘Potomac Pride’.

The Hosta ‘Potomac Pride’ has always been a great performer and spreads very well. I bought it 2009, I think, while in Mississippi and brought it with me when I returned to the family farm in 2013. So, I have had this beauty as a companion for 12 seasons now… As usual, and for some strange reason, the deer sampled a few of its leaves again this spring. It is weird how they do that and never bother it or any other Hosta the rest of the summer…

Hosta ‘Potomac Pride’ was registered by Tony Avent of Plant Delights Nursery with the American Hosta Society in 1995. It was selected as AHS convention plant also in 1995. It is the offspring of Hosta ‘Blue Umbrellas’ as the pollen parent and Hosta yingeri ‘Treasure Island’ as the pod parent.

Across from Hosta ‘Potomac Pride’ is a small area next to grandma’s old goldfish pool. I put a brick sidewalk around the pool in 1981 which I partially removed to dig a spot for the ailing Hosta ‘Krossa Regal’ and the Heuchera ‘Palace Purple’ in 2017.

Hosta ‘Krossa Regal’.

Hosta ‘Krossa Regal’ has always been a favorite and I bought my first from Bluestone Perennials in 1981. This one is another Hosta I bought while iving at the mansion in Mississippi in 2009 and brought with me in 2013. We had some issues in 2016 so I moved it and it has done great since. This is an amazing cultivar that was registered in 1980 that has won numerous awards. It has over 23 registered sports. It’s most famous sport is Hosta ‘Regal Splendor’ which was registered in 1987 and became the American Hosta Growers Association Hosta of the Year in 2003.

 

Hosta ‘Dancing Queen’.

Put on your sunglasses because Hosta ‘Dancing Queen’ is a bright one! Even from a great distance, this Hosta stands out in the shade bed. I brought it home from Muddy Creek Greenhouse in 2017 and it was my first yellow/gold leaved Hosta. It is a 2005 introduction from Kent Terpening and Alttara Scheer. It is a cross between Hosta ’Split Personality’ as the seed parent and an unknown cultivar as the pollen parent.

 

Hosta ‘Blue Angel’.

Hmmm…. I had doubts this Hosta is actually Hosta ‘Blue Angel’ when I bought it from Mast’s Greenhouse in 2019 because that cultivar gets pretty good sized. This plant seemed to be a miniature because it has remained so small. When I was at Wagler’s a few weeks ago I noticed several pots labeled ‘Blue Angel’ which were also very small. I mentioned to Ruth I had bought this plant from Mast’s last year and it is so small compared to what ‘Ble Angel’ is supposed to be. She said when they bought the rhizomes the “Blue Angel’ were very small in comparison to the other cultivars. So, I suppose it is possible it is a Hosta ‘Blue Angel’ after all but it sure has some growing to do… Hosta ‘Blue Angel’ is supposed to eventually mature at 36″ tall x 48″ wide with 18″ x 12″ leaves… It certainly doesn’t look like photos online. Information online says it is one of the fastest growing of the blue Hosta and multiples more rapidly. Hmmm…

Also in 2017 I dug an area along the back of the goldfish pool and added several more Hosta Heuchera. Later I put some of the Iris from the other bed along the fish pool.

Hosta ‘Forbidden Fruit’.

Hosta ‘Forbidden Fruit’ is one of several Hosta I brought home when I made the second shade bed in this area in 2017. Hosta ‘Forbidden Fruit’ is a tetraploid form of Hosta ‘Orange Marmalade’ introduced by M. & J. Fransen with thicker leaves and wider margins. It was a weird grower at first but did very well in 2019.

 

Hosta ‘Abiqua Drinking Gourd’ on 5-15-20, #700-10.

If you are a Hosta collector you shouldn’t be without Hosta ‘Abiqua Drinking Gourd’. I really like its corrugated and severely puckered leaves which gives them the cup-shape. This cultivar originated by Dr. Charles Purtymun at Walden West Nursery in Oregon. He registered it in 1989 as a hybrid of H.‘Tokudama’ × H. ‘Sieboldiana’. Since its introduction, it has set the standard for all other cup-shaped Hosta.

 

Hosta ‘Whirlwind’ on 5-15-20, #700-20.

I found this Hosta ‘Whirlwind’ at Lowe’s in 2017 and have really enjoyed watching it grow. Its leaves are kind of twisted and they change color somewhat over the season. Not only did it win the AHS Benedict Garden Performance Medal in 2007, but it has also been given Royal Horticultural Societies Award of Garden Merit. Since its registration in 1989, 17 other Hosta cultivars have been registered from it.

 

Hosta ‘Red October’ on 5-15-20, #700-18.

I am very happy Hosta ‘Red October’ is once again doing so well. This is another Hosta I bought in 2009 while I was in Mississippi and brought with me in 2013. It was in the original bed where H. ‘Guacamole’ or ‘Sum and Substance’ are now. It had issues in the spring of 2018 and I found out moles had tunneled under it over the winter. I dug it up and moved two parts of it next to two elm trees then put them back together in 2019. Hopefully, it will do well in 2020.

This Hosta was introduced by Roy Herold in 1995, although I think it was discovered in 1988. It was registered by Kevin Walek on Mr. Herold’s behalf in 2009. It is regarded as one of the best red-stemmed Hosta available.

 

Hosta ‘Blue Mouse Ears’ on 5-15-20, #700-12.

The smallest of the Hosta in my collection is Hosta ‘Blue Mouse Ears’. It was my first and only (so far) miniature Hosta. Hosta ‘Bue Mouse Ears’ has at least 24 registered sports and 2 seedlings where it is one of the parents. It is believed that another 28 cultivars have been registered from its sports. It is a MULTIPLE award winner.

Now for the Heuchera

Heuchera ‘Palace Purple’.

Sadly, Heuchera ‘Palace Purple’ didn’t want its photo taken on the 15th because a lot of its leaves were missing. I think possibly I must have accidentally pulled them off when I was removing the chickweed. I decided I couldn’t do this post without a photo of it so I snuck up on it this morning and took a photo. Even though this photo was taken two days after the rest I put it in order where it should be (or would have been). I purchased Heuchera ‘Palace Purple’ from Lowe’s in the spring of 2014 and put it in front of the Hosta bed. It had issues during 2016 so I moved it to the newly dug bed with the Hosta ‘Krossa Regal’ and ‘Dancing Queen’ in 2017. I also had issues with H. ‘Southern Comfort’ which I also moved to the same area but it decided to completely fizzle out. When I first wrote the page for Heuchera ‘Palace Purple’ information online said it was the most popular Heuchera for 20 years straight… It was the Perennial Plant Association’s Perennial of the Year in 2007.

 

Heuchera ‘Obsidian’ on 5-15-20, #700-8.

I bought this Heuchera ‘Obsidian’ from Lowe’s in 2017. It was introduced from Terra Nova in 2004 and is considered the “black standard”. Some websites say it is the darkest of any black-leaved Heuchera and the color holds up without fading. Information says this cultivar grows 8-10″ tall with flower stems to 24″ but that hasn’t happened. It is a great performer, though, even during the Japanese Beetle invasion when the bed turns from shade to part sun.

 

Heuchera ‘Venus’ on 5-15-20, #700-9.

The Heuchera ‘Venus’ is definitely a show stopper and it knows it. It is a very vigorous grower despite the conditions and gets quite large. The flower stems also get very tall. It is a great overall specimen and I am glad I brought it home in 2017.

 

Heuchera ‘Lime Rickey’ on 5-15-20, #700-7.

Heuchera ‘Lime Ricky’ is an awesome looking with bright chartreuse-green and ruffled leaves. It is on the smaller side and even its flowers are very dainty. It seemed to struggle somewhat earlier but it appears to have snapped out of it. It doesn’t seem to care for bright light and doesn’t like it when the Japanese Beetles eat the leaves off of the Chinese Elm that shades it…

Well, that’s it for this post. I better stop anyway of this post will get much bigger. I feel like I have written a book already.

Until next time, be safe, stay positive, stay well, be thankful always, and GET DIRTY if you can.

 

 

 

Spit Bug?

Hello everyone! I hope this post finds you well. Have you ever wondered what that spit-looking stuff on grass and other plants are? Well, even as a kid I remembered seeing it and really never gave it much thought. I see it off and on and just thought it was weird. A few days ago I saw it on some grass and clover and curiosity got the best of me so I took a few photos. 

I uploaded the above photo on iNaturalist and it said “it was pretty sure” it was a species of Philaenus and showed a photo of an insect. The second and third choice were slime molds. Well, I thought at first it couldn’t be an insect so I checked out the slime molds. That just didn’t seem to be what it was either.

I went ahead and posted the photo as a class of Myxomycetes and a member commented, “have you considered spittlebugs?” and included a link. He also said, “If  you brush away some of the spittle it is usually easy to find the insect inside.” Another member said, “It’s not a slime mold. It’s called ‘cuckoo spit’ (in Australis).” 

So, I checked out the link for spittlebugs then went to see if I could find the bug.

I moved some of the spit around and didn’t see anything except for this yellowish speck which wasn’t an insect. So, I moved to another wad of spit…

 

Low and behold, there was a larvae of a spittlebug. That was really weird to find a little critter crawling around in spit…

Philaenus spumarius (Meadow Spittlebug)

I took a few photos and uploaded them on iNaturalist and it was identified as Philaenus spumarius which is the Meadow Spittlebug.

 

Philaenus spumarius (Meadow Spittlebug)

Wikipedia says it is the Meadow Froghopper or Meadow Spittlebug and it belongs to the family Aphrophoridae. The genus name, Philaenus, comes from the Greek word philein which means “love”. The species name, spumarius, comes from the Latin word puma which means “sparkling” from the foam nests. The name Philaenus spumarius is translated as “foam lover.” Hmmm…

The species originally comes from the Palaearctic ecozone. It was later introduced to North America and Canada. Apparently, it is important because it is a vector of Xyellia fastidiosa. Xyellia fastidiosa is a plant pathogen that causes several types of leaf scorches and other issues. So, this little critter is a valuable worker.

You can check out THIS LINK to Wikipedia to read more about the Philaenus spumarius. You just never know what is lurking around in the yard and pastures.

That’s it for this post. I have a few more posts in the works which I might be able to finish today. At least one…

Until next time, be safe and stay positive, stay well and always be thankful. I hope you are getting dirty!

 

Another Wildflower Update

Allium sp. ?

Hello everyone! I hope this post finds you well. We had a storm pass through on Monday that did some damage in town. A big tree was uprooted at the park and a smaller tree snapped off at the base. There were a lot of limbs at the park and throughout the town. The house I grew up in had damage when two trunks of the same tree fell on it. It was a tree with four trunks and I remember it as a kid. Not much damage in my own yard, though, just a big limb that fell from one of the maples in front of the house. I was surprised the old elms in the chicken yard didn’t have issues break but they went through the storm.

I went back to the woods on Sunday, May 3, to check on the progress of some of the wildflowers and there were three I couldn’t find… It was later in the afternoon so I was more selective where I looked and didn’t have time to find many new plants. Before I left I took a few photos here and a few when I returned. As usual, they are in alphabetical order and not as they were seen. 🙂 It is easier for me to upload photos and write captions and then write the post.

I took a few photos of what appeared to be a species of onion but there is no oniony scent. Wild Allium species fascinate me and there are MANY. It is very difficult to tell which species is which so I just label them Allium sp. Missouri Plants lists 7 species of Allium and Plants of the World Online a whopping 977.

<<<<(+)>>>>

Arisaema dracontium Green Dragon)

Arisaema dracontium (Green Dragon, Dragon Root)

air-uh-SEE-nuh  dray-KON-tee-um

I went back to the woods on May 3 and found the Arisaema dracontium starting to flower. I have seen photos online, but it is AWESOME in person. Not only does the plant only produce one leaf, but it also only produces one flower… I first posted about this species on April 26 which you can check out HERE.

 

Arisaema dracontium Green Dragon)

Whereas the other Arisaema species I have seen online have a hooded spathe, the Arisaema dracontium is much different. The base of the spathe circles the apex of the flowering stem. The stem can be anywhere from 6-12″ up to the apex. The spathe itself will be around 2″ long, glaucous and glabrous, and partially open.

 

Arisaema dracontium Green Dragon)

One of several good-sized colonies of Green Dragon in these woods.

 

Arisaema dracontium Green Dragon)

The spadix can grow from 6-12″ long or more, the lower 2″ enclosed in the spathe.

 

Arisaema dracontium Green Dragon)

Weird…

 

Arisaema dracontium Green Dragon)

Inside the spathe is where the male and female flowers are. In other words, the plants are monoecious with separate male and female flowers, but sometimes they are unisexual. The male flowers are above the female flowers and are both small and rather inconspicuous. Flowers last about a month and have a fungus-like scent that isn’t noticeable by humans…

<<<<(+)>>>>

Hesperis matronalis (Dame’s Rocket)

Hesperis matronalis (Dame’s Rocket)

HES-per-iss  mah-tro-NAH-lis

Hesperis matronalis is another plant with a mistaken identity. One evening toward the end of April I noticed what appeared to be a Phlox divaricata flowering in the area north of the chicken house where they have not been before. There is quite a large colony of them growing along the road up the street past the church which I also always assumed were Phlox. The Wild Blue Phlox (in the last post) grows abundantly in large colonies along highways and back roads in several areas. I decided to take photos of the plant and noticed right off it WAS NOT a Phlox divaricata. Hmmm…

 

Hesperis matronalis (Dame’s Rocket)

Phlox divaricata has flowers with five petals and this one only has four… They have a pleasant scent which gets stronger in the evening. Hesperis matronalis is a biennial or short-lived perennial that comes up and forms a rosette of leaves its first year and flowers the second.

 

Hesperis matronalis (Dame’s Rocket)

The other distinguishing feature for Hesperis matronalis is the leaves. Phlox leaves grow opposite one another on the stems and Hesperis leaves grow in an alternate fashion. The leaves have no petioles and darn near clasp the stems.

 

Hesperis matronalis (Dame’s Rocket) along the road on 5-8-20.

Hesperis matronalis is a native of many Eurasian countries and was apparently brought to North America in the 17th century. The USDA Plants Database shows its presence in most of North America now. Common names include Dame’s Rocket, Dame’s Violet, Sweet Rocket, and Wandering Lady. Many states have listed this species as a noxious weed and it is recommended not to move it or grow it under conditions that would involve danger of dissemination. Hmmm… Seed is available and wildflower mixes often contain its seeds which helped its spread in the first place.

You can read about the Phlox divaricata from a previous post by clicking HERE.

<<<<(+)>>>>

Koeleria macrantha (Prairie Junegrass)

Koeleria macrantha (Prairie Junegrass)

kee-LER-ree-uh  ma-KRAN-tha

Grass. It’s everywhere in one form or another sun or shade, wet areas or dry. Once in awhile I find a colony I hadn’t seen before which was the case on May 3 when I was exploring the woods. I spotted a colony growing in an open area between two wooded areas so I took a few photos so I could ID it using iNaturalist. It turns out to be Koeleria macrantha commonly known as Prairie Junegrass and Crested Hair-Grass. It is native to most of North America, Europe, and Eurasia.

 

Koeleria macrantha (Prairie Junegrass)

The grass is suitable for livestock and wildlife and even used in fire control. Its seed can be ground and boiled and used for porridge and ground as flour for making bread.

<<<<(+)>>>>

Laportea canadensis (Wood Nettle)

Laportea canadensis (Wood Nettle)

la-POR-tee-a  ka-na-DEN-sis

There is a lot of this growing in the woods and is easily identified as a nettle because of its stinging hairs on the stems. There are many nettle species and this one happens to be Laportea canadensis also known as Wood Nettle, Canadian Wood Nettle, and Kentucky Hemp (and probably others). They weren’t flowering when I observed them on May 3 but will be soon.

 

Laportea canadensis (Wood Nettle)

Plants produce both stinging and non-stinging hairs and can leave you with an unpleasant experience of you aren’t careful. They can cause burning and stinging of the skin and sometimes can leave barbs in your skin. Skin can turn red and blister which may last for several days…

<<<<(+)>>>>

Menispermum canadense (Moonseed)

Menispermum canadense (Moonseed)

men-see-SPER-mum  ka-na-DEN-see

First off, kind of ignore what the genus name looks like because that is NOT how you pronounce it.  It has nothing to do with mini sperm. Secondly, it is NOT a grapevine. It is Menispermum canadense commonly known as Moonseed. It flowers and bears grape-like fruit about the same time as grapes BUT these are poison. Three key differences help to tell them apart. 1) the fruit kind of has a rancid flavor, 2) the seeds are crescent-shaped instead or round like grape seeds, 3) vines have no tendrils while grapevines have forked tendrils.

Menispermum canadense (Moonseed)

The principle toxin is dauricine and can be fatal even though the Cherokee Indians used it for a laxative. HMMM… It makes you wonder if they thought they were grapes and, well, we know what happened… Somehow, they also used the plant as a gynecological and venereal aid. I am not making this up. It is on the Wikipedia page. Did you ever wonder how many Native Americans died figuring our what plants did what? I wonder if they experimented on captives from other tribes? The roots have also been used for skin diseases and to treat sores on the skin. 

<<<<(+)>>>>

Podophyllum peltatum (Mayapple)

To be quite honest I have never seen the fruit of a Mayapple until now. I suppose it is because I am looking for mushroom when they are flowering then pretty much forget about them after that. I did learn that the ripe fruit is the only part of the plant that isn’t poison. If the fruit isn’t ripe, it is also poison. So, what do I do? Wait until is it soft like a peach to try it? What about mushy like a persimmon? Remember from before I mentioned flowers are only produced from female plants, plants with two leaves instead of one. Fruit may be harder to find than female plants

<<<<(+)>>>>

Smilax tamnoides (Bristly Greenbriar)

Smilax tamnoides (Bristly Greenbriar)

SMIL-aks  tam-NOY-deez

Of all the plants in the woods I try to avoid for one reason or another, this one ranks #3. I try to avoid it so much that I pretty much refused to ID it until I ran across what I supposed was Smilax ecirrhata (Upright Carrion Flower) from the last post. Now, I am wondering if that plant was actually a deceptive Wild Yam… ANYWAY, there is absolutely no mistaking Smilax tamnoides commonly referred to as the Bristly Greenbriar, Hag Briar, and Sarsaparilla Plant.

Yes, this plant’s rhizomes are apparently where sarsaparilla comes from… YOU’VE GOT TO BE KIDDING!?!? You know what that is, right? The drink Sarsaparilla… Similar to root beer in flavor… Hmmm. I always thought it was spelled sasparilla. 🙂 

This plant is edible and young leaves, shoots, and tendrils can be added to salad…  DOUBLE HMMM...

Smilax tamnoides (Bristly Greenbriar)

Doing plant research has brought many smiles as many plants have evolved to survive. What people have used plants for is sometimes very interesting as well. This one is no exception… The thorns of this plant have been used as a “counter-irritant” by rubbing them on the skin to relieve localized pain… A tea made from the leaves and the stems has been used to treat rheumatism and for stomach issues… Wilted leaves can be used as a poultice for boils… A decoction made from crushed leaves has been used as a wash on ulcers (such as leg ulcers)… Tea from the roots is used to help expel afterbirth… TRIPLE HMMM… I could also mention testosterone and steroids but that has not been confirmed or denied.

We went from soft drinks and salad to being a counter-irritant, removing afterbirth, and the possibility of its roots containing testosterone or steroids. GOOD HEAVENS!!!

<<<<(+)>>>>

Valerianella radiata (Beaked Corn Salad)

Valerianella radiata (Beaked Corn Salad)

val-er-ee-ah-NEL-uh  rad-ee-AY-tuh

I have written about this species before but now their tiny flowers are open. I find this species interesting for several reasons. Their leaves are a very distinctive feature which you can see from a previous post HERE (since I haven’t gotten its page finished yet).

Valerianella radiata (Beaked Corn Salad)

Another interesting feature is that although the plants have a single stem, the flowering stems branch out far and wide making you think there are many plants than there really are.

<<<<(+)>>>>

Viola pubescens (Downy Yellow Violet)

Viola pubescens (Downy Yellow Violet)

vy-OH-la  pew-BES-senz

Of the four species of Viola present on the farm (and in other areas), I think the Viola pubescens is the most interesting. When not in flower they pretty much look the other species. One might wonder why it has the name “pubescens” as a species name or “downy” as a common name… Well, it has nothing to do with flowers or leaves…

Viola pubescens (Downy Yellow Violet)

I didn’t give much thought to the meaning of the names until I was in the woods on May 3 and saw this colony of Downy Yellow Violet looking a little strange. The yellow flowers had been replaced by fuzzy fruit…

Viola pubescens (Downy Yellow Violet) on 5-3-20, #695-64.

Now tell me… Why in the world would the Universe decide to give Viola pubescens fuzzy fruit? Plants of the World Online lists 620 species in the Viola genus found nearly worldwide and this one has… FUZZY FRUIT! I don’t know about you but I think that is amazing.

Well, that is it for this post. I need to go back to the woods periodically to check for flowers on plants I already identified that weren’t flowering at the time. Finding some of them may be a bit of a challenge.

I moved the potted plants (cactus, succulents, etc.) to the front and back porches a while back because they were screaming at me. Tonight there is a chance frost so I may have to move them all back inside again for a few days. The Alocasia are still in the basement and I haven’t planted the Colocasia rhizomes yet.

Until next time, be safe, stay well, and always be thankful.

 

A Few More Wildflower Identified From A New Location

Hello everyone! I hope this post finds you well. The photos on this post were taken on May 27th when I visited another set of woods the same friend’s farm. This section is across the highway and East Fork Tebo Creek runs through it. The day I was there it was more like a small river. There are a lot of creeks that only have water in them during the rainy season, but Tebo Creek is well known around here and I have seen it get out of hand in the past. The photo above is along the north boundary and the creek also runs along the east boundary. I walked along the creek in several areas and the photo above is narrower and calmer than most. As I approached the creek in this area I scared the crap out of a pair of ducks. Besides birds and a moth, I saw no other wildlife but there were signs.

Upon entering the property from the highway I had to walk in water. This is a fairly low area, lower than the highway. Some of the first plants I noticed was Lysimachia nummularia (Creeping Jenny) which I was surprised to see. I didn’t take any photos even though I thought about it several times. I thought it quite odd it was even there and didn’t expect to see it in the wild. Cultivars of this species are popular as groundcovers in flower beds and they make great plants for containers and hang over the sides. It has naturalized in these woods somehow and I saw it just about everywhere.

There area is a mixture pasture with two large wooded areas. I walked through the first set of woods along a boundary fence and was greeted by a very large colony of wildflowers I hadn’t seen before.

 

Collinsia verna (Blue-Eyed Mary).

Collinsia verna (Blue-Eyed Mary)

(kol-IN-see-uh VER-nuh)

This delightful species is known as Blue-Eyed Mary, Early Blue-Eyed Mary, and Chinese Houses (a name it shares with other members of the genus). It was named and described by Thomas Nuttall in 1817 and is found throughout the eastern portion of North America. The flowers are two-lipped with two white upper lobes, two blue lower lobes and a fifth lobe that is folded and concealed.

.

Collinsia verna (Blue-Eyed Mary).

The leaves in the center of the plant are clasping, broadly lanceolate, fairly pointed, have irregular margins to slightly toothed. Many plants had secondary flowers emerging from long petioles above the leaves (axils).

 

Collinsia verna (Blue-Eyed Mary).

The lower leaves seem to be sessile but not clasping with rounded tips and lack the “teeth” seen on the upper leaves. The leaves and stems are slightly pubescent (fuzzy).

 

Collinsia verna (Blue-Eyed Mary).

The lower petals of the flowers can either be blue or purplish and rarely white (I didn’t see any all-white flowers). Collinsia verna is one of those rare wildflowers that produces “true-blue” flowers. I read somewhere the flowers persist after it produces seed. I have a photo of what appears to be a seed or a bug in its throat… You can check out its own page but it isn’t finished yet. I went ahead and published the draft so you can see more photos if you want. CLICK HERE. There are other weird things this plant has done to adapt but I really need to sit down and read about it thoroughly.

<<<<(+)>>>>

Enemion biternatum (False Rue Anemone).

Enemion biternatum (False Rue Anemone)

As I was walking in the woods I spotted a few very small white flowers emerging from very small plants. There were very few of these but they seem to be hanging on as other plants could easily overtake them. Perhaps they come up and flower early then go dormant to avoid competition… Hmmm… Anyway, this plant also has a mistaken identity and also is also called Isopyrum biternatum (eye-so-PYE-rum by-TER-nat-um) on several websites and databases. One or the other is the listed synonym of the other and visa versa. Not that it matters, but at one time there were two Isoppyrum genera and one became a synonym of Hepatica.

Where was I. Oh, yeah! Enemion biternatum… It seems most wildflowers have some oddities and this one is no exception. Those little white petals aren’t petals. They are “petal-like” sepals. This species has NO petals or pedals so it isn’t going anywhere either.

 

Enemion biternatum (False Rue Anemone).

This dainty looking member of the Ranunculaceaeeeaaeea (Buttercup) Family has fibrous roots that sometimes produce small tubers. Its leaves grow in an alternate fashion, are ternately divided or trifoliate, and glabrous (hairless). The basal leaves have longer petioles (stems) than the upper leaves. Leaflets are broadly lanceolate to ovate, 2-3 lobed or parted, and sometimes have shallow notches at the tips. 

<<<<(+)>>>>

Glechoma hederacea (Ground Ivy).

Glechoma hederacea (Ground Ivy)

gle-KOH-muh  hed-er-AYE-see-uh

It seems a little odd for me to include this species in this post since I have written about it more than once. The reason I even took photos of it growing in the woods was that it seemed quite different than the overwhelming colony in the front yard. I first spotted it in the woods growing under a Multiflora Rose bush and even got under it to take these photos. Believe me, it was a perilous task. 🙂 After I took a multitude of photos and got out of the predicament I found myself in, I saw a lot more growing in the open than I hadn’t stumbled upon yet. The plants in the yard are very short while the plants in the woods were very tall and were flowering along the stem. I thought I had found another species of Glechoma BUT, apparently not.

 

Glechoma hederacea (Ground Ivy).

The other strange thing was the placement of the fowers. This photo shows, well kind of, the petioles of the flowers growing from the, um, axil of the leaves in the center of the plant. The flowers were all facing the same direction on all of the plants under the bush. It was just strange and interesting. In my yard, the flowers are growing from the top of the plants.

<<<<(+)>>>>

Ornithogalum umbellatum (Common Star of Bethlehem).

Ornithogalum umbellatum (Common Star of Bethlehem)

or-ni-THOG-al-um um-bell-AY-tum

This species is not new to me as there is a HUGE colony somewhere on the farm. Anyway, I have photos of them from May 1 of last year but no page for them yet. I haven’t made it that far down on the list. This is the Ornithogalum umbellatum also known as Star of Bethlehem, Common Star of Bethlehem, Eleven O-Clock Lady, Nap At Noon, Grass Lady, and Snowdrop… Ummm, the last one it shares with species of the Galanthus genus (of various clades) of the family Amaryllidaceae. Ornithogalum umbellatum happens to be in the Asparagaceae Family… It has very neat flowers with six red petals. OK, so they are white. I thought about saying a different color to see if you were paying attention then I thought how disappointed I would be if you didn’t notice.

 

Ornithogalum umbellatum (Common Star or Bethlehem).

In my opinion, the neatest thing is the underside of the petals… This plant is NOT native to America but they have naturalized quite well…

<<<<(+)>>>>

Smilax ecirrhata (Upright Carrion Flower).

Smilax ecirrhata (Upright Carrion Flower)

SMIL-aks  eh-sir-RAT-uh ?

I was walking in the woods minding my own business when this strange creature popped up and asked what I was doing there. I said, “What am I doing here? What are you doing here? Who are you anyway?” It stood up tall, spread its leaves and arrogantly said, “I have you to know I am Smilax ecirrhata and I am the only one in these woods and I am an Upright Carrion Flower! I am one of 262 species in the genus Smilax with is the ONLY genera in the Smilacaceae Family” “Well”, I said, “I am not so sure you are the only one in these woods, but you are the only one I have ran across. If you were the only one, how did you get here in the first place?” The plant looked at me with a big “?” on his face and couldn’t answer that question. Then I asked, ‘What a “Smilax ecirrhata anyway?” OH, I shouldn’t have asked that question because I thought the conversation would never end. He said he has a lot of dirty cousins that I may have met that are very territorial. He said I should be very careful around them because they aren’t as polite as he is.

From what I gleaned, Smilax ecirrhata is also known as the Upright Greenbrier that can grow to around 3 feet tall. The leaves grow in an alternate pattern from 1/2-2/3 from the base of the stem. It can grow up to 20 leaves that are broadly ovate, have prominent parallel veins, and have smooth margins. The largest leaves can reach 3-5″ long and up to 4″ wide. As the plants grow taller, the lower leaves fall off and become scale-like bracts. Sometimes tendrils are produced near the upper leaves.

 

Smilax ecirrhata (Carrion Plant).

From what I understand, umbels of flowers are produced from the lower bracts where the leaves have fallen off and sometimes from the middle leaves. The problem is these plants don’t flower every year and the plants are dioecious… Male and female flowers are produced on separate plants. SOOOOO… I need to scour the area I found this plant in to see if I can find more. They flower in late spring to early summer for only about 2 weeks… Ummmm… The flowers have an odor of decaying meat. It will be interesting to watch this plant since it grows upright and not as a vine… I feel it is a rare find.

As far as its dirty cousins? Have you have ever been in a wooded area and ran across vines with MASSIVE amounts of thorns, thin and larger thorns on the same vine, with ovate-lanceolate leaves? Well, they are a species of Smilax. I have them growing here on the farm in several areas and once in a while one will pop up in the yard or next to a tree. I have never bothered to identify them so I didn’t know what they were until I met Smilax ecirrhata… You just never know what you will learn.

 

There are several trees that had damage from Beavers although I didn’t notice any new activity.

It was great getting out in nature once again and meeting new wildflowers. This was supposed to be a Six on Saturday post but I didn’t get it finished in time. So, I removed the numbers and now I can add more photos. 🙂 Well, maybe I need to take new photos that are current for the next post.

This has been a busy week with many things wanting top priority. The grass is growing like crazy in the yard and I haven’t been able to work on several projects. I did get the garden tilled again and I am ready to start planting. 🙂

Until next time, take care, be safe, stay positive, and always be thankful!

 

Shhh… Is Anyone Looking?

Morchella esculenta (Yellow Morel) on… Hmmm…

Hello everyone. I hope this post finds you well. Ummm… A few days ago I went back to the location I was at in the previous post only on the other side of the highway. I did find a few more wildflower species which I will write about next. I did find one more White Morel suitable to bring home and one I left behind because it was very small. ANYWAY… When I came back home after being in the woods for about 3 hours, I went to the area by the chicken house to see if I could find any Morels there. None AGAIN! So out of curiosity, I went to the brushy area along the fence. I never find anything there but you never know. I stepped through an opening where a fence had once been YEARS AGO. Grandpa had another fenced-in area here about 40′ x 150′. Anyway, it is all grown up and full of Vinca minor, gooseberry bushes, grapevines, poison ivy and so on.  I walked to the corner, covered in Vinca, and HOLY CRAP there were two HUGE Yellow Morels (Morchella esculenta). I looked across the fence and there were more. Forget I said across the fence. I didn’t say I crossed the fence but there were 19 more and some were partly covered and entangled in the Vinca. Now you are probably wondering how I knew there were 19?

OK, so here I was in a bit of a situation. The area along the fence is an overgrown mess between this property and the church next door. No one was at the church but there are neighbors across the street and a trailer park across from the church. Plus people were driving by on the street. Any other time of the year I would have just walked around the fence with no problem whether or not anyone was watching. BUT, this was NOT just any time of the year. This time of the year if you see people walking in the woods or somewhere weird, like an overgrown fence row full of vines, thorns, poison ivy (you get the picture) you know why they are there. Not that anyone is going to be looking but you still get a little paranoid. You have to keep these spots a secret even though they are right out in the open. I mean, this is not a place in a secluded woods.

I checked the fence and it was not a good place to cross. So, I went down a little farther and found a spot I could squeeze through. So I went through the fence so I could “rescue” the Morels from the Vinca. That sounds much better, but we still need to keep it quiet.

Of the 21 I found, several were beyond saving and taking to dinner. Who would have thought in such a ridiculous spot there would have been Morels. In fact, if they had been White Morels (Morchella americana) it is likely I would never have sen them. For those of you who may not know what Vinca minor is… For one, it is (or has been) popular as a groundcover that has escaped and went haywire wherever it is allowed or unnoticed. I don’t remember my grandparents every having it but somehow it has managed to go flourish in this area (and a few others). They make long semi-woody vines that go everywhere and are evergreen. Somehow, these Yellow Morels managed to grow through the mess of vines even though some were pretty distorted.

The color of these was them crying out, “SAVE ME!” So, I did.

I didn’t take any photos of them the day I found them because I wasn’t thinking about taking photos. I was in a panic situation seeing them all tangled in the Vinca. I went back today to take these photos. I am sure you are thinking I went back to see if there were any new ones…

Morchella americana (White Morel) on 4-15-20.

The one in the above photo is the White Morel (Morchella americana) I found on April 15. It is pretty good sized for a White Morel and they are usually somewhat smaller. I have found larger, though, but normally White Morels usually grow to less than 4″. Information suggests the earlier ones are larger. In 2013, I photographed a HUGE one under a Chinese Elm in February. I took a photo with my cell phone and sent it to a few friends because no one would have ever believed it. That was shortly after I moved back here and had a cell phone… I couldn’t figure out how to get the photo on my computer so it is lost and gone forever.

White Morels from April 21, 2019. As you can tell, they aren’t that large.

I am no Morel hunting expert and definitely not a fungi guy. 🙂 GEEZ! ANYWAY, Morels are pretty easy to spot as long as they are there. I started hunting with my grandpa when I was a little kid so it has just become a spring thing to go mushroom hunting.

Over the years I have heard a lot of stories about Morels that may or may not be true. I always heard they just pop up the size they are when you find them. I am not sure about that but I have gone through areas and found none and then go back a few minutes later and found them. Like walking on the ground caused them to “pop” up.

Supposedly, different species prefer growing under different trees. In my experience, that really hasn’t mattered that much. They do have preferred conditions, but at times, that hasn’t mattered much either… One year I went hunting in the back of the farm along the creek several times and found none, like usual, and came back and found quite a few in the open in the back yard. They haven’t come up again in that spot. Many years ago I found several in the apple orchard. Never again… I heard you can take the water you clean them in and throw it out and they will come up here the next spring. That may happen if there are spores, but I think very fresh mushrooms aren’t likely to have spores. NOW, I did see spores in some of the older yellows I found. I threw them along the north side of the house. 🙂

Yep. Morels in the skillet in 2019.

There are more than one species of Morels and many people get them mixed up. That is because their seasons overlap somewhat and there are various shades of each. Even on iNaturalist with several identifiers, if you look through the photos uploaded from others you will see some are possibly misidentified. Many members upload photos and say “Morchella species” without claiming a species name. Of course, I had to use species names because I don’t know any better and want people to think I do. 🙂

Then we come to the subject of the False or RED Morel. A few years ago when I was in the woods along the creek I spotted this odd creature. It looked kind of like a Morel but then again it didn’t. It was sort of a dark reddish-brown and pretty good sized. It was, for lack of a better word, weird. I took a photo with my cell phone (this was 2013 when I had one) and then brought it to the house. I showed dad and his response was, “I don’t know about that. I wouldn’t eat it.” Dad never ate mushrooms of any kind that I am aware of… Not even on pizza. False Morels are considered poisonous but some have eaten them with no side effects. Probably they didn’t know at the time they were poisonous. Even if you don’t get sick and die, they apparently have a carcinogenic chemical… I recommend not trying them.

NICE! The bad thing was that I wasn’t alone. I had to share with four other people! This year I am alone and I did not have to share. 🙂

Back then I thought all Morels were the same. I didn’t know there were different species and barely had heard of the False Morel. So, I didn’t really investigate that weird mushroom. I took dad’s advice and threw it out the door. For the most part, Morels are hollow white the False Morels are not.

Morchella species are found in many countries and several species are endemic to more than one. In the past several years more study has been done. I have read more about them this past week because curiosity got the best of me. Below are just a few of the MANY sites online that provide a wealth of information. There are also plenty of YouTube videos.

Wikipedia

The Great Morel homepage and Morel varieties gallery

The Morchellaceae: True Morels and Verpas (MushroomExpert.Com

MushroomExpert’s homepage is quite exhausting…

iNaturalist

I think I will stop for now…

Until next time, be safe and stay positive. Stay well and always be thankful. Get as dirty as you can if the weather is nice.

 

15 New ID’s While Mushroom Hunting

Arisaema dracontium (Green Dragon) on 4-23-20, #690-2.

Hello everyone! I hope this post finds you all well. Thursday… What an afternoon! It had rained earlier and I was itching to go mushroom hunting for Morels. It had been cloudy but it started clearing off in the afternoon so I decided to go to try out the woods on a friend’s farm. Now, I would mention his name and the location but you know I have to be secretive in case I find the motherload. 🙂 ANYWAY, this section of wooded area has been untouched. I started out walking along the creek and for a while I was even walking in it (with rubber boots). I walked around for at least 2 hours and didn’t find a single Morel until I was ready to come home and then I only found one… Next to a tree along the road. I took my camera with me and it was a matter of minutes before I spotted the first colony of plants that stopped me dead in my tracks. It just so happens it is also the first of 14 new ID’s for the day in alphabetical order…

Arisaema dracontium (Green Dragon, Dragon Root)

air-uh-SEE-nuh  dray-KON-tee-um

Arisaema dracontium (Green Dragon) on 4-23-20, #690-3.

When I first laid eyes on this small group of plants I knew right away they were a species of Arum. It is unmistakable! A single leaf with a series of leaflets on top of a single petiole. I had never seen any of these in the wild, or hardly ever any type of Arum in the wild for that matter so I was very excited. As I walked around I saw several other small colonies on this one particular hillside. They haven’t started flowering yet so you can bet I will be keeping an eye on them. When I came home, I went to the iNaturalist website and identified this species as Arisaema dracontium also known as Green Dragon and Dragon Root. Information says they flower May through June…

Not far from where I found the Green Dragon, I was once again spellbound! The whole area was teeming with so many species of plants I was familiar with but then it happened… Right in front of my face was a sight I have longed to see…

<<<<(+)>>>>

Arisaema triphyllum (JACK-IN-THE-PULPIT)!!!!

air-uh-SEE-muh  try-FIL-um

Arisaema triphyllum (Jack-In-the-Pulpit) on 4-23-20, #690-7.

I knew what it was from photos I have seen before, but I had never met it before in person. I was walking along looking here and there searching for Morels and there it was… There were several plants but only one with a flower. It was so incredible to finally see a Jack-In-The-Pulpit in person. Arisaema triphyllum

 

Arisaema triphyllum (Jack-In-the-Pulpit) on 4-23-20, #690-9.

Ahhh. There’s Jack… The first two plants I photographed were the beginning of a very eventful afternoon. Later I found more Jack-In-The-Pulpits higher up on the hillside. Other common names include Bog Onion, Brown Dragon, and Indian Turnip.

<<<<(+)>>>>

Cardamine concatenata (Cut Leaved Toothwort)

kar-DAM-ih-nee  kon-kan-teh-NAH-tuh

Cardamine concatenata (Cut Leaved Toothwort) on 4-23-20, #690-18.

In the same area as the first two photos, I found this neat plant identified as Cardamine concatenata commonly known as Cut Leaved Toothwort and Crow’s Toes. At first glance, I thought it would be a species of Geranium because some of them have deeply lobed leaves. However, iNaturalist suggested differently and it was confirmed.

 

Cardamine concatenata (Cut Leaved Toothwort) on 4-23-20, #690-19.

Believe it or not, it is a member of the Brassicaceae Family and will flower soon (Mo. Plants says April-May). There are no buds yet but you have to admit the foliage is neat.

<<<<(+)>>>>

Carex albursina (White Bear Sedge)

KAR-eks  al-bur-SEE-nuh

Carex albursina (White Bear Sage) on 4-23-20, #690-22.

I found this interesting clump of grass in the same area that wasn’t familiar to me. There were several suggestions from iNaturalist and I double-checked them with Missouri Plants and came to the conclusion this could be Carex albursina commonly known as the White Bear Sedge (after White Bear Lake in Minnesota)or Blunt-Scaled Wood Sedge.

 

Carex albursina (White Bear Sage) on 4-23-20, #690-24.

It has super-long and broad leaves, more so that other Carex species, but the reddish-green stems are NOT 100% normal. Carex is a complicated lot with many sections. Carex albursina is in the Carex sect. Laxiflorae Section… In general, grasses can be complicated to ID. I will know more when it flowers…

<<<<(+)>>>>

Coprinellus micaceus (Mica Cup)

Coprinellus micaceus (Mica Cup) on 4-23-20, #690-32.

This cute little fungus with no pronunciation on Dave’s Garden is called Coprinellus micaceus. This species prefers growing on or near rotted wood and even grows underground. Common names include Mica Cap, Shiny Cap, and Glistening Inky Cap. Wikipedia says:

“A few hours after collection, the gills will begin to slowly dissolve into a black, inky, spore-laden liquid—an enzymatic process called autodigestion or deliquescence. The fruit bodies are edible before the gills blacken and dissolve, and cooking will stop the autodigestion process.”

AND…

“It is considered ideal for omelettes, and as a flavor for sauces, although it is “a very delicate species easily spoiled by overcooking”. The flavor is so delicate that it is easy to overpower and hide with almost anything. The fungus also appeals to fruit flies of the genus Drosophila, who frequently use the fruit bodies as hosts for larvae production.”

Coprinellus micaceus (Mica Cup) on 4-23-20, #690-31.

The cluster in the above photo was next the first group. Ummm, actually I attached them backward.

One other thing…

“A study of the mineral contents of various edible mushrooms found that C. micaceus contained the highest concentration of potassium in the 34 species tested, close to half a gram of potassium per kilogram of mushroom. Because the species can bioaccumulate detrimental heavy metals like lead and cadmium, it has been advised to restrict consumption of specimens collected from roadsides or other collection sites that may be exposed to or contain pollutants.”

Personally, I think I will stick to Morels…

<<<<(+)>>>>

Dicentra cucullaria (Dutchman’s Breeches)

dy-SEN-truh  kuk-yoo-LAIR-ee-uh

Dicentra cucullaria (Dutchman’s Breeches) on 4-23-20, #690-33.

You know, there are MANY wildflowers with similar leaves or a portion of their leaves look like the leaves of other species. Huh? If you were an ordinary person walking in the woods for some reason in the spring, you may completely overlook this wildflower and think it was the same as a weed growing in a fence row or along the house. BUT, since you are reading this you are an extraordinary person and not ordinary at all. So, if YOU were walking in the woods in the spring you wouldn’t just be there for exercise. You would be looking for Morels and wildflowers. 🙂 If you spotted this clump of leaves you would notice right off it was somewhat different and perhaps you would think they resemble the leaves of your Bleeding Heart. I knew this plant was not an ordinary weed so I took a bunch of photos to get a proper ID. There are no flowers so I used the drag-and-drop upload gizmo on iNaturalist. Sure enough, it turns out to be Dicentra cucullaria also known as Dutchman’s Breeches, Butterfly Banners, Kitten Breeches and White Hearts. Missouri Plants says they flower from March through May so I have to keep an eye on this colony. I think this species goes dormant after flowering but I will have to refresh my memory… Bleeding Heart species have been moved around a bit depending on dormancy issues…

Dicentra cucullaria depends on bumblebees for cross-pollination. In fact, its flowers have adapted specifically for bumblebees. Its seeds are kidney-shaped with a fleshy organ called an elaiosome which is a food for ants. Of course the ants gather the seed and take them home where they germinate. Pretty smart of nature, huh?

I found this interesting article on Dave’s Garden from Sharon Brown (2010) titled “Dutchman’s Breeches, A Comedy Of Errors”. It’s pretty good and will leave you smiling.

<<<<(+)>>>>

Erythronium albidum (White Fawnlily)

er-ih-THROH-nee-um  AL-bi-dum

Erythronium albidum (White Fawnlily) on 4-23-20, #690-39.

Hmmm… As I was walking through the woods there were LOTS of Claytonia virginica (Virginia Spring Beauty) with various shades of flowers. There were also these other leaves among them and even where there were no Claytonia. There are literally hundreds! At first, I thought they were the same only some didn’t have flowers. Then I got to thinking that couldn’t be right because Claytonia virginica leaves are narrower and they normally don’t grow like this. PLUS, these leaves had dark markings. SO, I took a few photos and used iNaturalist to figure out what they were. Sure enough, these leaves are from Erythronium albidum commonly known as the White Fawnlily. Other common names include Small White Fawnlily, Dogtooth Violet, White Dogtooth Violet, Trout Lily and White Trout Lily. It shares some of those names with MANY other Erythronium species. There were no flowers and Missouri Plants says they flower from March to May. HMMM… Again with March-May. This is the end of April already!

Oh yeah… They are closely related to tulips.

<<<<(+)>>>>

Phlox divaricata (Wild Blue Phlox)

floks  dy-vair-ih-KAY-tuh

Phlox divaricata (Wild Blue Phlox) on 4-23-20, #690-53.

Hmmm… There are A LOT of Phlox divaricata growing in MASSIVE colonies along several highways in the area. I had been wanting to stop and get some photos but usually hadn’t thought to bring the camera (even though I drive by them almost every day). I was happy to see quite a few of them on the hillside where I was exploring. Common names of this particular species include Wild Blue Phlox, Lousiana Blue, Woodland Phlox, and Wild Sweet William.

 

Phlox divaricata (Wild Blue Phlox) on 4-23-20, #690-55.

Phlox requires cross-pollination to produce seed. Because of their long, narrow corolla tubes only butterflies, moths, skippers, and long-tongued bees can pollinate their flowers.

<<<<(+)>>>>

Polygonatum biflorum (Smooth Solomon’s Seal)

po-lig-oh-NAY-tum  by-FLOR-um

Polygonatum biflorum (Smooth Solomon’s Seal) on 4-23-20, #690-72.

OH YES! I knew what this was even though I hadn’t seen any for MANY years. The Polygonatum biflorum is growing in several nice sized colonies on the hillside. Of course, there were no flowers but the Missouri Plants website assures me they will in May through June. At least it doesn’t say April through May. This species is commonly referred to as Smooth Solomon’s Seal, Small Soloman’s Seal, or just plain Soloman’s Seal

<<<<(+)>>>>

Symphyotrichum cordifolium (Blue Wood Aster)

sim-fy-oh-TRY-kum  kor-di-FOH-lee-um

Symphyotrichum cordifolium (Common Blue Wood Aster) on 4-23-20, #690-97.

Hmmm… I stumbled across this plant in a different area than the rest on this post. It was after I spotted the Morel that I decided to walk to another area. I took several photos of this small clump for ID then continued looking around a bit. Then, at the edge of the woods I found a larger specimen so I took a few more photos. I had not seen anything like this in my neck of the woods so I was very curious… Once back at home, with the help of iNaturalist, I found out is it was Symphyotrichum cordifolium commonly known as Common Blue Aster, Blue Wood Aster, and Heartleaf Aster.

Hmmm… I have one or more species of Symphyotrichum at home but this one was easily identifiable. There are so many species of this genus that look so much alike they are difficult.

 

Symphyotrichum cordifolium (Common Blue Wood Aster) on 4-23-20, #690-98.

The long, serrated, heart-shaped leaves aren’t found in many species of this genus and there is only one similar on the Missouri Plants website. The website lists 14 species native to Missouri but there could be more. This one flowers from August through November so I will have to be patient for flowers.

<<<<(+)>>>>

Tremella mesenterica (Witch’s Butter)

Tremella mesenterica (Witch’s Butter) on 4-23-20, #690-100.

I have seen this jelly fungus identified as Tremella mesenterica in the woods before but I hadn’t done a proper ID until now. Its common names include Witch’s Butter, Yellow Brain, Golden Jelly Fungus, and Yellow Trembler. It is actually a parasite that grows on the mycelia of crust fungus. It appears after a rain as a slimy glob but that turns into a thin film after it dries (which revives after another rain). Information says it is edible but bland and flavorless. It grows in many countries and is said to add “texture” to soups. I think I can live without it…

<<<<(+)>>>>

Urnula craterium (Devil’s Urn)

Urnula craterium (Devil’s Urn) on 4-23-20, #690-101.

Now, this is one I haven’t seen before… There were several colonies of this fungus identified as Urnula craterium growing on a south-facing hillside that wasn’t quite so shady. The Devil’s Urn actually grows on decaying Oak and other hardwood species. It is parasitic and produces a compound that inhibits the growth of other fungi.

 

Urnula craterium (Devil’s Urn) on 4-23-20, #690-103.

It had recently rained so I got this show of water inside the urn. Ummm, this species is also edible but has a tough texture. I will pass on this one, too…

I had a great adventure in these woods and I will revisit to see if I can take photos of “flowers” instead of just leaves and stems. No telling what I will find in the weeks and months ahead. One great thing about this set of woods was there was no trash anywhere. It was almost as if no one had even been there before. Some of you may have experienced some of these plants in your area, but they were the first for me and I am grateful for the experience

Hmmm… I don’t know if you have noticed, but there are Impatiens capensis (Jewel Weed) seedlings in several of the photos. They are coming up everywhere on this hillside and along the creek. It is a non-native invasive species that will threaten this amazing natural habitat within a few years.

After I returned home I went to the area north of the chicken house where I had found my first Morel of the season on April 15. There are a few wildflower species in the open area and among the trees I am keeping an eye on for future ID’s.

<<<<(+)>>>>

Geranium carolinianum (Carolina Crane’s Bill)

jer-AY-nee-um  kair-oh-lin-ee-AN-um

Geranium carolinianum (Carolina Crane’s Bill) on 4-23-20, #690-40.

A while back I found a single plant in the midst of a colony of yet to be identified species of Ranunculus south of the pond in the front pasture. While taking photos of Ranunculus abortivus behind the chicken house a few days ago I spotted this cluster to photograph. I have finally identified it as Geranium carolinianum also known as Carolina Crane’s Bill. Soon there will be flowers…

<<<<(+)>>>>

Ranunculus parviflorus (Stickseed Crowfoot)

ra-NUN-ku-lus  par-VEE-flor-us

Ranunculus parviflorus (Stickseed Crowfoot) on 4-23-20, #690-89.

AH HA! Finally I took some good photos of the Ranunculus parviflorus fora positive ID.  There are several Ranunculus species on the farm that can be tricky to ID. This one has distinctively different leaves. Its common names are Stickseed Crowfoot or Stickseed Buttercup. Sometimes it is referred to as Small-Flowered Buttercup but that name is more commonly used for Ranunculus abortivus. This species forms dense colonies or clumps while most species here don’t.

<<<<(+)>>>>

Valerianella radiata (Beaked Corn Salad)

val-er-ee-ah-NEL-uh  rad-ee-AY-tuh

Valerianella radiata (Beaked Corn Salad) on 4-23-20, #690-104.

I found this neat wildflower growing in a wide area north of the chicken house. It as some very interesting features and there was no mistaking it as Valerianella radiata commonly known as Beaked Corn Salad. Plants of the World Online is being weird with this one. It doesn’t list the species as accepted but if you type in the name is says it is a synonym of  V. woodsiana. That name isn’t listed on the Valerianella page either. Either they goofed or maybe they still aren’t sure… For now, I will stick with Valerianella radiata because that is the name the other sources I cross-reference with use. It is also the name iNaturalist suggested.

 

Valerianella radiata (Beaked Corn Salad) on 4-23-20, #690-108.

This species is considered a winter annual as it grows a rosette at that time of the year. In the spring it grows a tall stem up to 16″ tall Its interesting leaves grow in an opposite fashion and clasp the stems. The leaves are kind of oblong and fairly smooth with a few coarse teeth toward the base. Its stems are four-sided and have fine hairs.

 

Valerianella radiata (Beaked Corn Salad) on 4-23-20, #690-109.

The plants are dichotomously branched toward the upper part and terminate in small clusters of flowers.

April 23 was sure an eventful day. It took a while to go through all the photos I took, make positive ID’s, begin word documents to finish later, and write this post. I have added all the plant’s photos I took on their own pages (as drafts) to work on now…

I have now identified 217 species of wildflowers, fungi, birds, butterflies, etc. Basically, anything that will hold still for a good shot. All are uploaded on iNaturalist. This is a great site and there are members worldwide that contribute through observations they have made. Give it a shot.

OH, I saw a hummingbird for the first time on Friday so I filled the feeder on the front porch.

I guess I am finished with this post now. Until next time, be safe, stay well, stay positive, be thankful, and GET DIRTY!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Monster In The Yard-Rumex acetosella (Sheep Sorrel)

Rumex acetosella (Sheep Sorrel) on 4-15-20, #688-5.

Sheep Sorrel, Sour Weed, Red Sorrel

Rumex acetosella

ROO-meks  a-kee-TOE-sell-uh

Synonyms of Rumex acetosellaAcetosa acetosella (L.) Mill., Acetosa hastata Moench, Acetosa repens Gray, Acetosa sterilis Mill., Acetosella multifida subsp. tenuifolia (Wallr.) Kubát, Acetosella multifida subsp. vulgaris (Fourr.) Kubát, Acetosella vulgaris (W.D.J.Koch) Fourr., Acetosella vulgaris subsp. tenuifolia (Wallr.) P.D.Sell, Lapathum acetosella (L.) Scop., Lapathum arvense Lam., Pauladolfia acetosella (L.) Börner, Rumex acetosella var. tenuifolius Wallr., Rumex arvensis Dulac, Rumex falcarius Willd. ex Ledeb., Rumex fascilobus Klokov, Rumex tenuifolius (Wallr.) Á.Löve

Rumex acetosella L. is the correct and accepted scientific name for this species of Rumex. The genus and species were named and described as such by Carl von Linnaeus in the first edition of the first volume of Species Plantarum in 1753.

Accepted infraspecific names include Rumex acetosella subsp. acetoselloides (Balansa) Den Nijs, Rumex acetosella subsp. arenicola Y.Mäkinen ex Elven, and Rumex acetosella subsp. pyrenaicus (Pourr. ex Lapeyr.) Akeroyd. I think only the last one is found in the United States (in New York).

Plants of the World Online lists 195 species in the Rumex genus (as of 4-18-20 when I am updating this page. Rumex is a member of the Polygonaceae Family with a total of 55 genera. Those numbers could change periodically as updates are made.

Distribution map of Rumex acetosella from Plants of the World Online. Facilitated by the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Published on the Internet; http://www.plantsoftheworldonline.org/. Retrieved on April 18, 2020.

The above distribution map for Rumex acetosella is from Plants of the World Online. Areas in green are where the species is native and purple where it has been introduced. The map for North America on the USDA Plants Database is similar.

Rumex acetosella (Sheep Sorrel) on 4-15-20, #688-6.

Hello everyone! I hope this post finds you well. This post is similar, with some editing, to the pages I write. I am not sure how many pages there are now, over 500 maybe.  I found this good-sized colony of Rumex acetosella, or Sheep Sorrel, in the yard while I was mowing. I am sure it has been here for years but somehow I just now noticed them. A colony that big couldn’t just magically appear in one spring. 🙂 I didn’t know what it was at first and probably before I just thought it was smartweed because at a glance that’s what it looked like. But, since I have been doing a lot more wildflower ID, especially with the several Persicaria species in 2019, I knew this wasn’t any Persicaria. Besides, in April they are just beginning to come up. I went around most of the colony of whatever it was so I could take photos later and properly make an ID.

Rumex acetosella is a perennial plant that spreads by seed and long creeping rhizomes. It is a native of Eurasia and the British Isles.

 

Rumex acetosella (Sheep Sorrel) on 4-15-20, #688-7.

So, after taking a lot of photos I uploaded the first one on iNaturalist, entered my location, and within seconds I had the ID of this colony. It is just weird this plant is not growing anywhere else on the farm except this one location in the yard.

 

Rumex acetosella (Sheep Sorrel) on 4-15-20, #688-8.

Stems are upright or ascending and grow up to 18” tall and often branch out at the base. Each branch terminates with an inflorescence. Stems are ridged and hairless (glabrous) with a papery sheath (ocrea) at the nodes. Stems seem to be green at the bottom but reddish at the top and kind of streaked in the middle.

 

Rumex acetosella (Sheep Sorrel) on 4-15-20, #688-9.

The interesting leaves can be thin to slightly succulent, narrowly ovate, lanceolate-elliptic, lanceolate (lance-shaped), or oblong-obovate, usually with a pair of triangular spreading basal lobes.

 

Rumex acetosella (Sheep Sorrel) on 4-15-20, #688-10.

The basal leaves are somewhat larger and form a rosette but I need to take a closer look or maybe find plants somewhere I haven’t mowed. I didn’t notice any rosettes of larger leaves on my first observation of this colony BUT after looking at photos on Missouri Plants I think I have noticed them in other places. So many plants look a lot alike in the spring before they start flowering. Since I mowed this colony a few times I could have damaged the basal leaves.

 

Rumex acetosella (Sheep Sorrel) on 4-15-20, #688-11.

Flowers are born on long inflorescences with several racemes. It is like the entire upper half or more of the plant is an inflorescence. Flowers are staminate (having stamens but no pistols). None of the flowers were open when I took photos. Flowers are dioecious meaning plants produce all male or all female flowers and they are wind-pollinated. You can see in the above photo the leaves have cut by the mower.

 

Rumex acetosella (Sheep Sorrel) on 4-15-20, #688-12.

The above photo shows the papery sheaths on the stems where leaves and branches emerge. They become nearly translucent and raggy with age. Stems have ridges that seem to be red-tinged in the middle of the plant and more reddish at the top.

 

Rumex acetosella (Sheep Sorrel) on 4-15-20, #688-13.

The flowers are hairless I think, or mainly so. What appears to be hair in this photo are likely grass clippings.

 

Rumex acetosella (Sheep Sorrel) on 4-15-20, #688-14.

The above photo is a good example of an “obovate-lanceolate” type of a leaf. Even though the upper leaves are pretty small, you can see they are lance-shaped, broader in the center, taper to a point, and have interesting spreading basal lobed. Information says the basal lobes are triangular. Hmmm… Interesting how you can see a raised vein on each side of the midrib from the upper surface of the leaf otherwise it is very smooth. Even the leaf margins are smooth. This leaf was fairly thick and fleshy for its size.

 

Rumex acetosella (Sheep Sorrel) on 4-15-20, #688-15.

The underside of the leaf I was photographing shows a very prominent midrib and a few veins going toward the margins. The undersurface appears kind of powdery but I can’t remember the scientific name. Perhaps finely pubescent…

OH, the leaves have long petioles…

 

Rumex acetosella (Sheep Sorrel) on 4-15-20, #688-16.

Plants produce oxalic acid which gives it a sour flavor and tannins which contribute to its bitterness. It is used in cooking and in salads but should be used in moderation. The species name acetosella means “acid salts”. Handling the plant can also cause dermatitis in some people.

 

Rumex acetosella (Sheep Sorrel) on 4-15-20, #688-17.

Rumex acetosella is a problem species that grows in a variety of conditions but prefers acidic soil. It can become quite invasive. Information suggests the species contributes to hay fever due to its windborne pollen.

Normally, I allow plants to naturalize in certain areas, but perhaps this one I should think about eradicating. Information suggests it could be a problem and may be hard to get rid of.

I am going to keep my eye out for some larger rosettes and maybe I can find this plant elsewhere on the farm (ALTHOUGH, I am not sure I want to).

I visited the area along the creek at the back of the farm and FINALLY found the wild strawberries with the yellow flowers. I think Tony Tomeo and I discussed them earlier. They are Potentilla indica whose one common name is Indian Strawberry. There are no fruits yet which is OK because they aren’t really a strawberry and have a very blank taste. I lived in Springfield, MO one time and part of the yard was LOADED so I had a sample. It was a very disappointing experience. I also photographed Downy Yellow Violet, Viola pubescens, which was VERY exciting and will be posting photos later. I also got some good flower shots of Podophyllum peltatum (Mayapple). I also found a good-sized Morel next to the chickenhouse a few days ago. Hopefully, there will be more. There is something about Morels that just gives you a kick-start for spring. Highly motivational. 🙂

I hope you are all well as spring is well underway in my neck of the woods. It is almost time to move the potted plants outside and there WILL be a vegetable garden. 🙂 I put a new motor on the tiller and bought a couple of new tires so it is ready to go. The new gator blades on the bigger riding mower work great and the yard looks very good… What a relief!

That’s not all I have to say, but I think I better close for now. Until next time, be safe, stay well, stay positive and be thankful!

 

Wildflower Wednesday (Identified on 4-11-20)…

Chaerophyllum procumbens (Spreading Chervil) observed on 4-11-20, #686-8.

Hello everyone! I hope this post finds you all well and virus free. As I mentioned in the last Six On Saturday post, I went on a walk in the late afternoon and took another 138 photos. I always take multiple photos and it was windy so a lot of photos were kind of blurry. Plus, some of the flowers, as usual, were very tiny and didn’t cooperate well.

This post will be for newly identified plants only on April 11 except for one… It was a WOW moment and I am sure you will agree when you see it! It is not a newly identified plant but it definitely got my attention.

To date, I have identified 197 species of wildflowers mainly on this 38 acres. 🙂 T thought there were only around 130 but iNaturalist says I have listed 197 different species. I think I have Identified 10 or so already this spring but I am waiting for a few to flower before they count.

Chaerophyllum procumbens (Spreading Chervil) on 4-11-20, #686-11.

First off is Chaerophyllum procumbens (L.) Crantz (kee-roh-FIL-um pro-KUM-benz) commonly known as Spreading Chervil or Wild Chervil. It shares the latter name with Chaerophyllum tainturieri which is its twin. One of the only ways to tell the difference is by their seeds. Hmmm… Both species are Missouri natives are only found in North America. Plants of the World Online lists 70 species in the genus which are spread throughout much of the world. The species was named by Heinrich Johann Nepomuk von Crantz in 1767.

No doubt, most of you have encountered this Chervil in your yard, gardens, flower beds, on walks in the woods, or somewhere. Of course, it has been here for YEARS but I just now properly identified it… 🙂 Some species are edible and even used as a root crop. Chervil rings a bell for some reason. Oh yeah. CHERVIL! It is not the same plant you use in recipes. That is apparently Anthriscus cerefolium commonly known as Garden Chervil or French Parsley. They look very similar but are not native to the U.S. and not found in Missouri in the wild. Both are members of the Apiaceae Family with a total of 444 genera… Just in case you were wondering. I feel like a plant nerd. 🙂

<<<<(+)>>>>

Claytonia virginica (Virginia Spring Beauty) on 4-11-20, #686-15.

I found this cutie close to the fence near the swampy area in the back southeast section of the farm. It was a single solitary plant and the flower wasn’t open. I took several photos of it then walked about 12 feet away and found A LOT more… With open flowers.

Claytonia virginica (Virginia Spring Beauty) on 4-11-20, #686-25.

I identified this species as Claytonia virginica L. (klay-TOH-nee-uh vir-JIN-ih-kuh) also known as Virginia Spring Beauty. Both the genus and species were named by Carl von Linnaeus in 1753. This is the only plant I have identified in the Montiaceae Family which is known as the Miner’s Lettuce Family.

According to Wikipedia, the Iroquois used Claytonia virginica as a cold infusion or a decoction made of the powdered roots for children to treat convulsions. They also ate the roots because they believed they permanently prevented conception. The Iroquois and Algonquin people cooked their roots like potatoes. The leaves and stem are also edible… 

Claytonia virginica (Spring Beauty) on 4-11-20, #686-15.

Even though the leaves are edible you would starve because there are very few leaves, usually only one pair about halfway up the stem. Some stems didn’t even have basal leaves.

<<<<(+)>>>>

Viola bicolor (American Field Pansy) on 4-11-20, #686-73.

There are a lot of Viola sororia (Common Blue Violet) here and there on the farm but this IS NOT that plant. I found THIS PLANT close to where I previously stored hay at the edge of some trees close to the ditch that drains into the pond. GEEZ! I feel like I need to draw a good map and letter the locations. This Viola bicolor, and a few others, was happy swaying in the wind making it somewhat difficult to get a good shot. Its common name is American Field Pansy or Johnny Jump-Up. It doesn’t look like the Johnny Jump-Ups I have seen before. Hmmm… That would be Viola tricolor. Anyway, the species was named by Frederick Traugott Pursh in Flora Americae Septentrionalis in 1813. Strangely, Plants of the World Online doesn’t list this species as accepted or even as a synonym of another species. Maybe another email to Raphael Goverts is in order. POWO lists 620 species of Viola and are found nearly worldwide. Strange they would miss this one…

Viola bicolor (American Field Pansy) on 4-11-20, #686-76.

Their leaves are a lot different but while looking at the Missouri Plants website there are several different species of Viola found in Missouri with many different leaf types.

<<<<(+)>>>>

Viola missouriensis (Missouri Violet) on 4-13-20, #687-3.

Then, after I found the highlight of this post, I found a clump of another species of Viola in an area behind the chicken house. This is Viola missouriensis, commonly known as the Missouri Violet. You may also notice the date is different because I had re-take photos of this clump. The 11th was kind of windy and its photos didn’t come out the very best. Even so, it was still first identified on the 11th.

Viola missouriensis (Missouri violet) on 4-13-20, #687-4.

This species was named and described by Edward Lee Green in 1900. While various species of Viola can come in multiple shades of blues and violets, this one was different because…

Viola missouriensis (Missouri Violet) on 4-13-20, #687-5.

It has longer leaves. The normal violets around here have leaves that are approximately 3″ wide x 3″ long. The Viola missouriensis has leaves that are longer than they are wide otherwise it would be a different shade of Viola sororia. Several species are very similar, and like I said, all of them can have various shades of flowers. It is a breakthrough when you do find one that has something to distinguish them from the others besides the flowers.

<<<<(+)>>>>

Lamium purpureum (Deadnettle) on 4-11-20, #686-33.

IT’S AN ALBINO!

Tony, I realize you are excited about the Mulberry cuttings but in my neck of the woods finding a white Lamium purpureum tops Mulberrys any day. 🙂 Seeing the first one stopped me dead in my tracks!

Lamium purpureum (Deadnettle) on 4-11-20, #686-34.

There are THOUSANDS of Lamium purpureum here and countless hundreds of millions throughout the countryside. It was quite a moment finding several clumps with white flowers in this one area.

Lamium purpureum (Deadnettle) on 4-11-20, #686-35.

Even the leaves are a paler shade of green.

Observing and identifying new wildflower species has been very enjoyable. When I say “new”, they aren’t “NEW”, just new to me. They have been here all along I am just now noticing them. Without cows grazing in the pastures, there is no telling how many I will find. Finding plants that have weird flowers is also exciting, like the pink Achillea millefolium (Common Yarrow) and Daucus carota (Queen Anne’s Lace) last year on Kevin’s farm.

I think that is all for now. Until next time, be safe, stay positive, and always be thankful.

 

 

Blew it AGAIN… Six on Saturday? Are You Kidding?

Ajuga reptans ‘Chocolate Chips’ on 4-11-20.

Hello everyone! I hope this Sx On Saturday post finds you all doing well. I went outside to take photos for this post and came back inside with 34 photos. What can I say? One leads to another and this is not the time of the year for only six photos. Hmmm… My higher self says, “It is never time for only six photos for you.” I could say I tried but that wouldn’t be true. Perhaps I should post only six photos and save the rest for a Sunday post. That wouldn’t work though, because tomorrow is Silent Sunday and being silent is too hard. Enough blabbing…

I did narrow this post down to six after cheating and squeezing until I had a big surprise. Then I had to make a change…

#1) The Ajuga reptans ‘Chocolate Chips’ are starting to flower up a storm now. They are very happy rambling plants and it is their job to go anywhere they choose.

Ajuga reptans ‘Chocolate Chips’ close-up.

You know, I really hadn’t taken a close-up of their flowers until now. Interesting…

<<<<(+)>>>>

Hosta ‘Empress Wu’ on 4-11-20.

#2) Hosta ‘Empress Wu’ has really grown in the past few days. It has to grow fast to get so HUGE.

<<<<(+)>>>>

Mammillaria karwinskiana (Silver Arrows) on 4-11-20.

#3) Mammillaria karwinskiana (Silver Arrows) has been flowering AGAIN for several weeks. All the plants are wanting to get outside for the summer. I can hear them muttering behind my back and it is getting annoying…

<<<<(+)>>>>