Kale is covered in Aphids, so what’s good about that…

So… the kale is getting older, a bit past it’s prime.  I’ve been dehydrating it as I have had time, and pulverizing the dehydrated kale to use in soups and stews over the fall and winter.

Whenever I have kale leaves that are not of ‘human food quality’ these go to the chickens.  They go wild for kale.  It’s like ice cream!  What could be  better than kale for the chickens?  Chickens love bugs!  lots of bugs.  Kale covered in aphids is like the hot chocolate fudge on a really good vanilla ice cream.


Aphids – For years I have considered aphids a pest that diminished my harvest and damaged my plants.  I guess it’s true, ‘one mans trash is another’s treasure.   Those pesky aphids are an incredible taste sensation, so it seems!

Making good use of aphids….

Yet another reason why everyone should have a few chickens!  😉


Crocosmia Solfatare – My Favorite Crocosmia

Yes,   I know, they are all my favorites, but they really are at different times and stages in the developement of the gardens.

Several years ago a great gardening friend gave me some starts of his plant.  I have always liked crocosmia.  They will continue to bloom late summer into fall.   ‘Lucifer‘, ‘George Davidson’, and ‘Emily McKenzie’ all reside in our gardens, but ‘solfatare’ is different.   This plant won the RHS Award of Garden Merit, 1993.

Crocosmia ‘Solfatare

It was very slow to get going.  Solfatare is unique among crocosmias.  It’s foliage is an unusual bronze green.  The flower buds are an apricot yellow, the open flowers are a sulphur yellow.  It grows in a tidy clump, shorter than many of the others.  It doesn’t get heavy and fall flat on its face, looking very messy like a lot of the others do.  It’s a stand out in our garden because  of the interesting foliage color.  It would really be amazing in a mass planting in a border.  Like the other crocosmias, the blooms attract hummingbirds.

This photo of the flowers, was much better than ones that I took, so I am including a link to the website from which it came.  http://rainyside.com/plant_gallery/prennials/CrocosmiaSolfatare.html

(photo from rainyside.com)

What does this plant need to thrive?

Light: Full sun to light shade.

Hardiness: Sunset zones: 4-24.
USDA zones: 6-9.
Heat zones: 9-6.

Mature size:   Height: 24-28 inches(60-70 cm).

Flowering period:  July through September

Soil requirements:  fertile, humus-rich, well-drained soil.

Water requirements:  moderate

Even after reading through all the care ‘requirements’ I have to say that in our garden,  I planted it in a fairly sunny spot and haven’t worried about it since.  I quietly and slowly grows with little fuss.

Bonus:  These are a great cut flower.

If I wanted to fuss with it, maybe when I retire, I could remove the spent blooms and the faded foliage in the fall.  The only special treatment it’s received in our garden is admiration for being so self-sufficient.

Where to get it:  I would start searching online in the spring.  I’ve not seen it commonly around the nurseries.

I hope I’ve inspired you to add this rare and unique crocosmia to your yard.

What do you need to grow this plant?   It helps to be patient!

Daylilies – A Favorite of Mine

I’ve been collecting plants for about 25 years.

Daylilies have been a favorite, starting almost 30 years ago when I was pouring through seed catalogs and found seeds for some tetraploid varieties.  I started seeds and that was that.  The deal was sealed, I’ve been collecting ever since.  I took pieces from those first plants and moved them to ourhomeinthewoods with us, where they still grow.

My mother in laws neighbor was very active in the daylily associations and developed many of her own, before she passed away.  I was lucky enough to have been able to buy some from her, about 10 years ago and they are some of the most special and most beautiful in the garden.  Her standards were very high,  I just knew what I liked.   ‘Condilla’ is one of my favorites.  Thanks Margaret,  your daylilies live on in many gardens, rest in peace.

We have over 50 different varieties, maybe more and at least 500 in our yard.  It makes quite a show in the summer.  We have the variegated striped foliage daylily, one of the tallest, at almost 6 feet, ‘notify ground crew’ and one of the smallest.  They are almost all finishing blooming now with only a few lingerers slowly preparing for fall.

Daylilies are an easy to grow perennial.  Rather than spending words here… I will refer you to http://www.daylilies.org/AHSFAQsNew.html.  There you can get all your questions answered, but I will share a few of my photos with you.

Maybe daylilies will become a favorite of yours too.



Self sufficient…. not this year.

Well, it’s almost the end of August and it’s our first season vegetable gardening at our home in the woods. It’s time to access how things are going and to look toward fall.  As I write this, I’m sitting in my garden chair looking out over the garden. I had expected to be sitting in this chair looking out over the bounty that we had planted and filling our vegetable basket daily. Things haven’t quite turned out as I planned.

In light of so many people suffering through terrible droughts this year, I feel kinda bad even mentioning our weather this year, but in the spirit of ‘information’ about (or excuses for) crop failures, it has to be mentioned. The pacific northwest has been exceptionally wet and cloudy this ‘summer’. We have barely had to water at all.

Crops….. Well let’s just say that we won’t be any more ‘self sufficient’ this year, unless we develop a taste for nothing but kale chips or dehydrated kale. That doesn’t seem too likely, but In the true spirit of a gardener, I’m already planning for next season.

Fruit trees: this is the first year for the them. We expected little or nothing, and got only a little more than nothing.

The Honeycrisp apple tree has one apple, but that one apple really looks great!

The ‘North Pole’ columnar apple tree has several on it.

The 2 dwarf pears trees have nothing on them.

Three espaliers ( multiple varieties of apples, pears and Asian pears) have nothing on them. Maybe next year..

We had a great strawberry crop. Plenty to eat, not enough to put any up. Delicious!

Raspberries: the ones we bought from Raintree nursery look great, the ones we bought from our local nursery died. There are a few berries on them, they are dellicious. The leaves are looking a bit anemic, so we put down an organic fertilizer.

Blackberries: 4 thornless Apache
Slow but starting to take root. No fruit. Next year…..

Blueberries: 20 plants, 5 varieties. They have produced lightly and are very tasty. The plants are strong, healthy and growing. We are putting coffee grounds and steerco around them. Again, we’re looking forward to next year. Lucky with live two miles from a blueberry farm.

Tomatoes, well, that’s another disappointment, but no surprise. There are 5 plants, about 6 tomatoes and they are all under 2″ diameters and a beautiful shade of orange – green.

The corn looks the same as it did when I put it in in June, some is producing silks at only 1 foot tall. Those aren’t working out as planned either.

Squashes, melons, and cucumbers are all ridiculously small. I don’t expect much from them, but we have about 4 more weeks, maybe we’ll get a few.

Lettuce; some was good, especially the ‘flashy troutback’. Others bolted while very small. We don’t know why.

Beets, radishes, pac choy all bolted while very small.

Peas – small crop but very good. I left some of them too long and they got bitter so I’m saving them to seed next year.

Swiss chard: bunny ate them.

Green beans: 1st planting – deformed and small because a bunny nibbled the tops. 2nd planting – small harvest, 3rd planting – hope to get a few more before fall.

Carrots: very slow and very small. I’m holding out a little hope.

Kale: Growing like crazy in a shady damp spot. Starting to harvest and dehydrate.

Onions: all sorts. Some ok, some rotted because it’s been so wet.

Leeks & garlic: Doing ok, not great.

Herbs: are taking root and doing well.

That’s the update.
So good, some not so good. Lots of hope for next year.

I just planted for fall….. We’ll see…..

Hope your gardens are producing adundently!


Elk – An Awesome Yard Pest


You know it doesn’t matter how many times we see them in the yard. I’m always mesmerized when I see them. They are huge, majestic and awesome, then reality slowly sets in. When I realize that they have eaten all but two leaves of a beautiful hosta, the awesomeness of the elk turns to awfullness! As soon as I take a few photos, one of us is outside chasing it out of the yard. More often than not they will end up heading toward the neighbors property. Elk are big animals and do a lot of damage. I collect hostas, we have several hundred and even with that many, I will notice any that are damaged. They eat the hostas as well as many other plants, while walking across the lawn the create big divets in the sod, and adding insult to injury… they leave rather large elk droppings.

I would be perfectly happy to watch them in someone elses yard from now on. I haven’t tried it myself, but I understand they can be pretty good eating! Better watch out elk! I’ve got hunter friends that would love to come over! 😉

These photos were taken through the double glass of the kitchen window and from about 50 feet away, with a i-phone.



Caterpillars be warned!

You know, if its not one thing…it’s another. Our garden is constantly under siege. It is protected adequately against deer, elk and rabbits. Today I went out to pick some kale for dinner. There, in all it’s glory is a caterpillar, just one caterpillar. My mind first travels to the cute little caterpillar songs I listen to with our granddaughter. They’re not so bad, in fact they’re interesting, even kind of cute. Then I notice how much damage one evil little caterpillar can do to the only really successful crop currently growing in the food garden. The very same food garden that was that going to launch us toward self sufficiency, well maybe not this year.

I immediately dispatched that caterpillar and looked for evidence of it’s friends and family. I didn’t find anything, but I will be keeping a watchful eye. The bad leaf isn’t a total loss. It was a treat that delighted the chickens. Caterpillars be warned! I’m looking for you.

Caterpillar update:  I went out again to pick kale.  Eagle eyed and looking for the furry predators.  OMG, I found 3 more. All different kinds colors and sizes.  The war is on!