30 November 2014

Tending To The Tender Snacks

Root crops and I just don't mix well. Carrots are one of the first creatures (they are supposed to be easy) that I tried growing, year after year, without much success. They ended up dry, splitting, deformed runts. After a few years of adding sand to my garden soil more appropriate for clay pottery than gardening, the results were no better.

Then, I discovered compost and organic material, and thought to try that to improve the soil density. Building upon last year's carrot success, I gave it another shot this year with the Tendersnax hybrid purchased a year or two ago. The results are truly amazing considering I ignored the carrots this year.

They suffered with a low germination rate, being seed that was two years old. And, they suffered through a few mini-droughts of my own doing, neglect, and the overgrowth of a white nicotiana jungle. After garden cleanup this fall, there they were; green and happy after the subfreezing temperatures last week. Two were split lengthwise, and a slug was chewing its way through a third for its Thanksgiving dinner, but most were in great shape. This was the first year I have had any hint of beasties bothering carrots, but then, I haven't had any carrots to speak of to bother.

These will make a great side dish in my annual holiday dinner in a few weeks. And I believe I found a good carrot compatible with my garden: Tendersnax.

03 November 2014

Last Gasp Before Winter

Most of the garden has fallen asleep before winter arrives, but some defiant plants refuse to give up. Acidanthera, members of the glad, family look as lush and healthy as a summer day. They continue to flower, albeit with fewer blooms than in summer.

The pineapple sage (Salvia elegans) is in its glory at this time. It waits until just before frost to throw out its red threads against its chartreuse foliage. This year the plant really took off after a severe winter that I thought would have killed it off like its neighbor the rosemary. Now, every day brings new branches tipped with new flower buds. I wonder what this would look like after one more frost-free month.

The tricolor ornamental peppers Garda did not grow as large as last year when it was in a pot on the raised deck. Even though this year in ground, it received a little more sun. I am thinking the rich soil in the pot gave the plants there a boost. These peppers are a favorite of mine with their circus colors. Fruit starts out a light cream color, then turns purple, then turns orange, then turns red. Yes, they are edible and incredibly hot.

Zinnias never give up. Even if all their leaves have turned crispy brown in the crisp autumn temperatures, they want to keep on blooming. The free zinnia seed mix curiously have only the red ones going strong. Pinks, purples, and yellows died out.

The Mexican Zinnias (Zinnia agustifolia) are very slow to start themselves, reseeding year after year -- the zinnia that keeps on giving. I got my money's worth when I got these several years ago. Once they get growing, there is no stopping. Throughout the summer they thrive on the heat, producing balls of oranges, yellows, and whites. And in the fall, they also seem to love the cooler weather as much as the late pollinators love them. I usually let them spring up wherever they want, especially along a walkways to soften the edge.

The overnight lows are flirting with freezing, but these friends are holding out until the end after their comrades gave up.