April 18, 2010

Strawberries and Poisonberries

Last week's windstorm brought a windfall--literally; a falling spruce brought down a poplar, which was bad, but it gave me a harvest of buds for resin, which was good.  I had a lovely fragrant morning harvesting them, listening to the birds and the stirrings of spring.  I picked them until my fingers went numb and my shoulder spoke to me... The resin will go into salves and soap, and some just to be treasured for the delicious, wakening scent. 

The weather has been cooperative, neither a windstorm nor a snowstorm nor injury this week, and plant digging has finally begun again.  It looks like a good crop of Musk strawberries, and a few lucky customers will get to trial Cinnamon Strawberry 1.0... these are get of a clump of plants we discovered with fruit having decidedly cinnamon overtones.  Ask about them, they won't appear on the availability page.

Last fall's abrupt deepfreeze cost us a lot of things that we can usually winter in the greenhouse, so some plants will be in short supply this season, or off the list until next year.  This includes violets and primula, much to our sorrow. To try to fill these gaps, we've added more unusual fragrant annuals and snowbirds--including some scented geraniums and some dye plants.  Today I noticed the Pulsatilla are opening, as are the Hyacinths by the house, and the species tulips... I hope to have some for offer this autumn.

The Poisonberry vines (Schisandra chinensis) look to be coming along well, and as soon as they break dormancy, will be ready to ship.  If you haven't eaten these berries, you're missing out on a real treat.  Totally not poisonous, (this is a pet name for a berry with an unusual, assertive, tart flavor.) these are high in Vitamin C and redolent of citrus and conifer...rather like a lime juice/gin concoction.

I saved out a clump of violets and tomorrow I'll plant them at Mom's grave so she will always have flowers at her feet.

April 9, 2010

Lists of plants to attract and feed bees, birds and butterflies

It's that time of year when we are thinking about feeding the wild creatures that pollinate our plants and give us so much enjoyment in gardening, the bees and butterflies and birds.  I've updated the resource lists on the nursery site, but for handy reference here are some links to sites listing plants which attract various beneficials and lovelies to the garden. Remember that all will need more than one kind of food, water, and cover or safety. Butterflies in particular, with their two stages of life, need support and food plants for the caterpillar stage, and then nectar plants for their adult forms. Honey bees and other bees also need nectar and pollen plants, and the various types of bees are adapted for different shape and color flowers, as are birds.
"How to" reference page on our home site:

For honey and other types of bees:

by the season:

For birds, generally:
http://www.thegardenhelper.com/birdplants.html ---very detailed! including notes on plants for songbirds, etc.
For hummingbirds:

For butterflies:

April 4, 2010

Notes on Farming & the Economy

Organic Farming Opens a Way for Farmers to Return to Their Proper Role as Innovators and Stewards of the Land
"People yearn for greater authenticity and a genuine search for meaning and significance in life," said Hassebrook.  "They don't just want to accumulate things.  They are searching for community and meaningful relationships with people and with the land.  They are yearning for more access to nature."

The Center for Rural Affairs (CRA), located in Lyons, Neb., a town of 980, represents a set of values that reflect the best in rural people, he said:  fairness, widespread ownership, personal and social responsibility and stewardship of the land where it is preserved for the next generation.
From the 21st Annual Conference of the Midwest Organic & Sustainable Education Service (MOSES) held in La Crosse, Wisc.  http://www.commondreams.org/view/2010/04/03-0
On Job Creation—Local Fruits and Vegetables vs. Corn and Soybeans
It turns out that foods that are better for you may also be better for farmers and local job creation. A new study by the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture at Iowa State University found that expanding fruit and vegetable production in the upper Midwest could bring significantly more economic benefits than conventional corn and soybean production on the same acreage.

The study, by Iowa State Research Scientist Dave Swenson, looked at the potential for fruit and vegetable production in Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin. It identified 28 kinds of fruits and vegetables that farmers are able to grow in the region. Currently, much of the fruits and vegetables in the region come from other parts of the country or even outside the country.