Select Page

Planting Irish (?!) Seed Potatoes

Three weekends ago I planted 15 potatoes in our vegetable garden. I bought the seed potatoes at Paquesi’s Garden Center, and was drawn to these packages because they carried the “certified organic” label of the USDA. Never one to trust, I discovered that they are packed by Irish Eyes Garden Seeds. Here’s how I think: Irish? Potatoes? Starvation?

If you are strapped for space, experiment with growing potatoes in a container: http://info.irisheyesgardenseeds.com/index.php/grow-100-lb-of-potatoes-4sqft. This looks like a lot of work to me, but hey, it also promises to yield a bumper crop of spuds. And you could use the extra cash, right?

By the way, the varieties I planted are: Purple Majesty (purple fingerlings for soups and salads); Sangre Red (round, hot pink, good for roasting); and Yellow Finn (sweet buttery taste). Some “new potatoes” (yum!) should be ready in our garden by August, but by letting the vines die and not watering much, I read that harvests are more plentiful, later. I must also remember to hill them up every two weeks (OMG: I have to do this immediately–the plants are already “plants”!) and water the foliage with seawood fertilizer (I added cottonseed meal to the soil when planting). Go organic! Go Irish! Don’t starve! ##

 

Too Much Water and a Cold Snap

This morning’s simpering heat, combined with a brief uptick in the wind and quickly clouding dark skies, made it easy to think about the tornadoes that ripped across Oklahoma and Kansas yesterday. Sadly, more tornadoes, hail storms, and slow-moving thunderstorms (ie a lot of rain in one place), including some aimed near Joplin, Missouri and north to Minnesota, may occur today (Monday). Remember that the Chicago region [link to map] is already in a Federal Disaster Zone because of the devastating rain storms of April 18th, just a month ago. Lots of Chicagoans are still mopping up and cleaning out, unfortunately. [Here’s a link about how you can help and/or donate to Chicago flood clean-up efforts by the American Red Cross.]

Profuse blossoms on 2013 fruit trees

Profuse blossoms on 2013 fruit trees

There’s good news and bad news about the amazingly full blossoms you are noticing this year on crabapple trees and other fruit trees.

The good news is that after last year’s sustained cold damage to their blossoms (which killed the apple crop from IL to NY], the trees seemed to cope by becoming ultra-productive in flowering this year. Therefore, states like Michigan, which experienced 27 degrees on May 13th, had their blossoms badly damaged but will likely still have a bountiful fruit crop, although growers in a few local communities where it stayed cold for hours probably got wiped out. Along with fruit growers, other types of nursery crops took a hit. For example, today I went to buy some lemon thyme at Pasquesi’s Garden Center in Lake Bluff, IL, and was surprised that there was not one thyme plant of any kind to be found. Why? Because Pasquesi’s Michigan-based herb supplier had put its herbs outside and the frost burned them up. They have to start slips all over again. So please be patient, customers! P.S. Doesn’t it make you frantic and sad to visit Home Depot in April and see them putting basil and hibiscus, among other tender plants, outside just so that they can get killed by cold? ##

Hmmm, yes, but what should we do to help?

Here’s a link http://news.medill.northwestern.edu/chicago/news.aspx?id=221570 to an article in the Medill Journalism School website. I’m not sure we needed a gigantic study to know that black populations live where there are few trees. The article quotes a representative from Chicago’s Friends of the Parks and I have NO IDEA what that representative meant (if you figure it out, please comment). Anyway, this article makes me think that when nurseries donate trees to communities at the end of the summer season, perhaps instead of donating them to wealthier communities like the one I live in, they should donate them to tree-less communities. This makes me wonder how many nurseries donate trees at all, and where they are going. Does the IL Nurserymen’s Association know? If not, who does? If you are a nursery, do you donate? Do you have a nice story to tell us or a story about why you do not donate trees?##

The Garden Snoop’s Calendar: one more thing…

Oh, here’s another great event for you to attend. This is WONDERFUL because of the sponsors, Rich & Susan Eyre, who have a personal goal (already partially realized because of YOU gardeners!) of building 100 new hospitals in Bolivia. Buy hosta, build hospitals. Can’t improve on that idea! [BTW, if you have a personal charity that is in any way related to gardening or conservation, please tell me so all our readers can learn about it and help you achieve your dream! This website is about gardening and conservation, true, but it’s really about supporting each other’s passions.).

Hosta Sale and Fundraiser
Saturday June 8, 2013  9am-4pm
Rich’s Foxwillow Pines Nursery, Inc
11618 McConnell Road   Woodstock IL 60098
815-338-7442  
coniflora@richsfoxwillowpines.com
All proceeds benefit Heifer International and Mano a Mano International Partners. Cash or check only! (more…)

A Few News Briefs…

Having grown up in Weston, Connecticut, there are a few East Coast preferences that I will never shake. One is the New York Times. I read it assiduously. So from time to time I’ll post some news and/or links that gardeners, conservationists, environmentalists (yes there is a diff between conservationists and environmentalists), land use planners, and whoever else is reading this blog might be interested in. And please, comment or write a follow up article…this blog is not supposed to be just the Queen Bee sounding off. It is here to exchange information, questions, and great commentary (emphasis on “great”).

Here are some snippets:

  • Sally Jewell is the new 51st Secretary of the U.S. Department of the Interior. Who, you ask? Sally Jewell, 57 (young!) former CEO of REI, an outfitting store that is hard not to like. Jewell has no political experience, but she is a mountain climber so that bodes well for running an agency in Washington DC with 70,000 (!) employees, an $11B budget, and stewardship of 20% of the land in the U.S.. Why are you, a mere backyard gardener or landscape professional, interested in Interior? Because the US Fish and Wildlife Service in 2012 designated the country’s newest National Wildlife Refuge, called “Hackmatack”, in McHenry County and overlapping towards Lake Geneva, WI.. You are also interested because Interior administers the Endangered Species Act (thanks to Tricky Dick Nixon, 1973). Also, Interior regulates the private leasing of our national lands for oil wells and the like (pipelines). And it sells Duck Stamps (thanks to Herbert Hoover, 1929) to duck hunters, which raised $700 million for wetland conservation in 2013. Interior makes a difference in each of our lives.
  • Columbus, Indiana, is an “unlikely trove of midcentury modernism”. Oh, how I want to make a road trip here and see not only 70 examples of great architecture, but great landscape architecture. For example, you can tour the 1957 house designed by Eero Saarinaan and Kevin Roche [oooh, a fuchsia conversation pit!] but the gardens designed by landscape architect Dan Kiley. Alas, the Monet water lilies that was in this house was sold in 2008 for $40 million. Did any of you happen to purchase it?
  • A future post will cover the gardening impact of 400 ppm CO2 levels. We know we must plant trees and more trees, but should we be burying the dead ones instead of chipping, burning, or letting them lie on the ground to disintegrate? The latter options are ways to accelerate the release of more carbon. What do you think?

Anywho, this NYTimes article explains that average worldwide warming has now been proved to be 5 degrees, warmer over land (such as Chicago) and even higher at the Poles (15 degrees). Actually, a 2008 article about weeds loving CO2 (REQUIRED READING!) says that the average city condition NOW compared to the suburban temperature is exactly what is predicted worldwide…. This is what I know. There is no question that Santa is shaving his beard cause he’s too hot: the NYTimes reports that in 2010, only four ships carrying 110,000 tons of cargo made the northern passage between Asia and Europe. In 2012, 46 did, carrying 1.3 million tons. Less ice? Scary.##