Poisonous Plants (Wild Parsnip)

Wild Parsnip (via DNR)

Wild Parsnip (via DNR)

I had previously been aware of Giant Hogweed‘s dangers, and noted when it was reported in Wisconsin recently.  Certainly glad there was none of it around here, and then I found wild parsnip!  Same theme; different plant.

This strikes a little closer to home- literally.  I found a few plants in our yard, thankfully in an easy to access area from all sides.  I don’t recall hearing anything about the plant up until now, and I don’t remember seeing it growing anywhere from when I was a kid.  Other than the small patch of plants, it’s not close to our area that I’ve seen, but we don’t have to go far to see whole ditches and edges of fields full of it.  The DNR and local media have shared more information now that the plant is in bloom with the summer season.

It looks fairly innocent, almost like tall dill!- nothing that would suggest that precautions are needed to deal with this thing.  Mainly, my concern is for friends, family, and their kids who visit our place.  It seeds like crazy, and the sap causes burns on skin in conjunction with sunlight (cloudy weather doesn’t make it safer!)

I’ve taken precautions to eliminate this noxious greenery– unfortunately, I didn’t catch it sooner.  I’ve taken steps to kill the weeds at the roots, and dressed appropriately to remove and burn all the seedheads.  Thankfully, it all was still fairly green, so I think we got to it in time before seed dispersal.

I’m not sure how it traveled to our yard since there’s not much else close around.  Perhaps via creature travel… Watch out in your own outdoors and adventure safely to save yourself some trouble!

Sampling of Summer

Happy mid-summer from Wisconsin!  Now that we have an additional year in our new space, we’re starting to transform our yard with a variety of new plants as I’ve noted earlier.  It’s a slow, albeit rewarding, process for sure; there’s only so much we can do in a day/week/month, particularly when life and weather can intervene.  The pace also allows for some thoughtful reflection:  I know I’ve re-imagined our layout plan numerous times, but it will gradually fall into place.

We’ve been marveling at all the new flowers- some in the garden and some in the yard, and I wanted to share some Wisconsin summer with you wherever you are…

beans

 

 

 

 

 

 

Runner beans on a tomato cage- something has been snacking on them, unfortunately…

 

radish flowers

 

 

 

 

 

 

More from the garden- radish flowers

 

 

100_8073

 

 

 

 

 

 

Some Tristan strawberries-to-be (doing exuberantly well in a pot)

 

 

M (2)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Milkweed (We have been pleased to see more butterflies than Monarchs in our yard, as well!)

 

 

 

cactus

 

 

 

 

 

 

A prickly pear cactus flower (I somewhat recently found out that prickly pear cacti are native to Wisconsin!)

 

 

100_7962

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Non-floral color- a Wisconsin sunset.  Good night to all!

New for the Garden in 2015

pepper flower

I’ll be the first to admit it… I’m a tinkerer.  I can’t just leave well enough alone- whether it’s a recipe (even when I know it’s good!) or gardening, I always have to try a little something new.  Now that we’re getting our outdoor space settled and organized, there is some work (really, actually fun) to do! We were fortunate to get a lot of space for our yard, so there is plenty of room to experiment.

Last year, we put in our new garden and did a lot of yard adjustments.  While we did and will continue to fight the weeds back (organically) for the near future, I could no longer deny the glossy pages of the seed catalogs that beckoned with spring-y seductiveness all winter.  And don’t get me wrong, I buy local also, with the occasional detour for items that are fairly unique offerings.  Unfortunately, not everything is grown organic, but I figure that by doing things as organically as we can, we can mitigate that part somewhat.

Here are some of the new vegetables and plants we’re trying this year… More to come on the results!

Hops

I’ve started homebrewing, so a combination of a steady future supply of this essential ingredient and an abundance of fences make hops bines a perfect yard addition.  I’ve bought some locally and at beer fests, and I’ve seen collections in catalogs, but The Wine and Hop Shop had the most options and good quality, also.  (I think I have a few more varieties… and some wine grapes… in my future.)

Strawberries

Strawberry, Tristan (We liked the color of the flowers; they’re different!  And… strawberries.)

Pineberry, White Carolina  (Strawberries that taste like pineapple?  And we’re in a zone that can grow them?  Sign me up.)

Yellow Wonder Wild Strawberry (Another strawberry- another flavor.)

Attila Strawberry (I’m a fan of the productivity and flavor of alpine strawberries.  And these have runners!)

White Soul Alpine Strawberry (Strawberries… gotta collect them all!)

Vegetables

Potato, Blue  (These are just plain interesting.  Several catalogs have them, but I haven’t seen them in stores yet.  The story partially behind purchasing them is that my father and grandfather would argue over whether white or red potatoes, respectively, were better.  I guess I’m obligated to like blue ones best!)

BEIRA TRONCHUDA PKT (Maybe not a true kale, so my wife will be extra disappointed…not really.)

Scarlet Runner Bean  (The color of these, flowers and seeds, is just awesome.)

ORACH PURPLE PKT  (I can’t say I’ve ever had a salty leafy vegetable, but it will be a nice contrast in the garden and should be a healthy add-in to salads.)

‘Strawberry Spinach’ (Neither strawberries nor spinach- it should be good for salad.)

Santon Charentais Melon (I am a fan of melon varieties, especially the non-standard/rare ones.)

Tigger Asian Melon  (These will stand out in the garden for sure.)

Petit Gris de Rennes Melon (The melons I bought are all open-pollinated, so they will grow true from saving seeds- versus hybrids.)

Long Island Cheese Pumpkins (These are a recommended variety to use for pies.  I also like to make pumpkin risotto or pumpkin soup.)

Herbs

Shiso Green Perilla Aoshiso (I have red shiso/perilla.  It’s extremely easy to grow from seed and makes an attractive contrast plant with the leaves and flowers.  It has a wonderful aroma and appealing basil-like oil to the leaves and can be used as an herb for cooking.  Just be careful when it gets close to seeding or you may end up with them everywhere.  It didn’t do too poorly in a pot last year as long as I kept it watered.)

Garden Sorrel (It’s perennial, and can be used in salad.)

Grain/Seeds

Quinoa, Brightest Brilliant (Quinoa is not just trendy; it is truly healthy!)

India Red Popping Sorghum  (I thought this might be an alternative to growing popcorn along with sweet corn.  We’ll see how this grows and how it tastes.)

Emmer Wheat (Since I’m getting into brewing, it looked intriguing.  The note about the old variety sometimes being more palatable for those with gluten issues piqued my interest.)

Et Cetera
Passion Flower, Maypop (We think it has neat-looking flowers, and I’m a fan of anything edible- maximizing use and utility of space.  Oh, yes, and we still have lots of fences for vines.)

Lilac, Dwarf Josee Reblooming   (My wife adores lilacs; this one blooms for quite a while.)

Luffa Sponge, Packet  (I thought we’d give these a try to see if we could grow some sponges.  The biggest challenge will be the time to maturity.)

PEANUT JUMBO VIRGINIA (This is another item that might be a plant maturity stretch, but I’m willing to give it a go.  Not many catalogs had peanuts for sale.  The flowers are a nice accent in the garden.)

SILVER BELLS TM CHOCOLATE VINE
VIOLET CHOCOLATE VINE  (Not actually chocolate… they just smell like it!  The seed pods are tasty too!  At least one of each vine is needed.)

Apios Americana “Potato Bean/Groundnut”  (I’m still debating on which vendor I will use to get this, as it’s not offered in many catalogs I can find.  I discovered it via the linked blog.  This flowering native plant with edible parts looks well worthy of growing. Ahem… fences.)

Sunberry/Wonderberry  (An interesting find… appears to be an annual.)

Trees
Fir, Korean (Blue pine cones!  Blue pine cones!)

Redwood, Dawn (I was intrigued partly that this is an ‘older’ type of tree.  Not too long ago, I read that it was somewhat recently fairly rare.)

Phew!  It’s a lot of seeds and plants, but time and the season will tell what the garden and yard may provide.  As you may have noticed, I’m a fan of the rare and/or different.  And don’t worry, we’re still growing the classics, too.  What new plants are you trying this year?

Flight of the Bumblebee?

flowers in field

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We just purchased a house with some additional outdoor space, and we are reaping lots of color in our first growing season here!  I plan to add plenty to this blog about some of our gardening projects around the new place as we dream them up.

As I have been maintaining our greatly increased lawn space, I have been fortunate to notice more than a few bumblebees in the area.  As a gardener, this is definitely a major positiveHoneybees and bumblebees have been facing some tough times.  Colony collapse disorder is very real, but not fully understood yet (though there are some possibilities).  I don’t know that we currently plan to have a hive nearby or take a beekeeping class yet, but at the least, some of our field will stay as it is.  A few more native wildflowers may make an appearance, as well.

(The honey is a bonus!)

Insidious Invasives

Certain invasive plants and animals receive greater media and government attention (for good reason). In our part of Wisconsin, the Emerald Ash Borer has been one of these species.  Similarly, I recently came across a news clip about giant hogweed as an invasive plant in Michigan.  What I did not realize was the danger in even trying to get rid of it:

This plant is also on one of Wisconsin’s lists, which also include some aquatic and wetland plants.  Invasive species will vary by location, but the potential negative impacts are similar: native species can be affected.  Wisconsin has Administrative Code NR 40, (the invasive species rule) which “makes it illegal to possess, transport, transfer, or introduce certain invasive species in Wisconsin without a permit”.  The counterpoint to this is the benefit of researching, planting, and promoting native species.  As planting season has arrived/is arriving, take a few minutes and make yourself aware of your region’s invasive and native species.  Report any invasives you find.  It could save you and your neighbors some trouble.  And watch out for the giant hogweed!

Some additional national resources:

http://www.invasivespeciesinfo.gov/index.shtml

http://www.invasivespecies.gov/index.html

 

 

Guerilla Gardening, or “Plant some sh!t”! -Ron Finley

I enjoy this video clip for a number of reasons- first, because I love gardening, of course…  Ron Finley makes some wonderful statistics-backed points about what can be done with vacant and underutilized land to help fight the food desert phenomenon.   I won’t spoil the video for you, but he speaks about the prevalence of vacant lots and even how yards can be utilized for greater benefit.  Ron, however, had a similar problem as others have had when attempting to garden outside of the (planter) box.  Now, I semi-understand why there is the push to keep grassy, standardized lawns so that properties look pleasant, but I find it much easier to sympathize with the gardeners when the clearly conspicuous gardens are 1) more useful for food purposes and 2) well-kept.  All of the examples I have ever seen in the news for similar reasons have been gardens that were well cared for.  Just imagine how much food we could produce if lawns in the cities were converted.  Regardless of climate, quite a bit more food could be locally (and cheaply!) produced via fruit trees and plants and other vegetable plants.  I try to garden with a little extra space and in a few extra pots, but ideally, I would like a larger garden.  This is not to say that urban gardening is not without a few concerns, such as the quality of the soil.  However, the larger point in this whole narrative is that if each of us was able to plant even a bit more food locally, it could have quite a few positive ripple effects.  “Plant some sh!t!”

“The Sistine Chapel… of Green Tomato”

Chow Ciao logo

Chef Fabio has a quick and tasty way to enjoy green tomatoes.  This may be the only way I’ll get to enjoy tomatoes from our garden, as just about the time they are ripe, they are gone! (e.g. my wife has eaten them right off the vine, or the vexing planting zone 5 phenomenon also known as the “tomato monster”)  We always plant quite a few plants in our limited space to maximize tomato production.

These stuffed green tomatoes were making me hungry!

Recipe