Garden fresh conversation

Posted on August 11th, 2009 – 11:32 AM
By Connie Nelson

The Greengirls have migrated to a new server. Come join the conversation at www.startribune.com/blogs/greengirls.

Greengirls are on the move

Posted on August 7th, 2009 – 11:05 AM
By Connie Nelson

The Greengirls blog has migrated to a new server. If you have Greengirls on your RSS feed, you’ll have update it with the current url.  And if you want to contribute to the growing conversation, you’ll have to register with StarTribune.com. Please take a minute to register. It’s quick, painless and helps us cut down on spam.

So, come on with us. The season is far from over and we want to hear how your tomatoes are coming along, if you’re taking your beans to the fair, how you Endless Summer is blooming and how you’re dealing with aphids, powdery mildew and the neighbor who always snitches a handful of your raspberries.  We’re at startribune.com/greengirls.  

Impatiens for water

Posted on August 6th, 2009 – 10:38 AM
By Connie Nelson

I’ve got a big ol’ pot of impatiens by the front door. When they’re dry, they communicate very clearly: They wilt. I water.  

I was riding my bike the other day, when I noticed a whole bunch of dried leaves in the gutter. It took me a minute to realize that IT’S NOT FALL YET. It’s too early to have dried leaves in the gutter. They’re supposed to be green and on the trees. The trees are telling us something we may have overlooked: it’s really dry.

In the metro area, so far we’ve had the 6th driest summer and the 15th coolest summer since 1871. The lower temps were a good thing. They’ve kept the soil from heating up and the plants from drying out so quickly. But they may have masked the problem a bit, especially for trees.  When it’s cool, I don’t think about watering as much as I do when it’s hot. And, even when it’s hot,  I hardly ever think about watering my trees. Maybe that’s because my trees aren’t as demonstrative as my impatiens. Many trees don’t even show signs of drought stress until they’re in a bad way.  Losing leaves in early August means that at least some trees are in a bad way. 

So (you know what I’m going to say) do water your trees, even mature ones. Unless we get some rain, set a sprinkler under the drip line and run it for about a half hour a week. Or snake a soaker hose under your tree. Or water with a regular hose. Just water. At least every once in a while.

 I’m not a natural born waterer. I have to be reminded. I’m glad my impatiens live up to their name, get tired of waiting for me and just demand water. Wish my other plants were as pushy.

How do you water? Do you have a watering schedule? Or do you wait to water until you think your plants need it? How do your plants tell you they’re thirsty? 

Aloha from 10,000 feet above sea level

Posted on August 5th, 2009 – 11:14 AM
By Jaime Chismar

You can take the greengirl out of the garden, but you can’t take the garden out of the greengirl.

Our honeymoon was no exception. I was scoping out the plants the minute our plain landed in Maui. “Hey, is that a sugar cane fields Do you think these palm trees native? Can creeping charlie survive here?”

Since I started gardening, I’ve changed how I travel. I still adore a kitschy tourist trap, but I also have this irresistible urge to explore local microclimates and their unique flora and fauna. Maui has many, including a desolate volcanic crater 10,000 feet above sea level.

If you can imagine a trip to paradise with a detour through Mars, you can imagine Maui’s Mt. Haleakala.

maui01.jpg

On the slopes lives a unique plant, the Silversword. This gorgeous silver pompom can live over 50 years, but flowers only once in its life and dies soon after it blooms. The one below was almost three feet in diameter. (Note: You can see a receipt stuck in its leaves for scale.)

maui03.jpg

It is absolutely striking to see its silver leaves against the red and black volcanic rock, but don’t look for this plant at Bachman’s anytime soon. In the 1920′s, silverswords were on the brink of extinction. Now the plant is strictly monitored and protected by the U.S. government. Through conservation efforts, the silversword has been reclassified as a threatened species. You can read more about it here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Haleakala_Silversword

Silverswords are members of the Asteraceae family. If you are growing asters or sunflowers in your garden, you are growing a relative of this beauty. Take a peak at the flower in bloom and you’ll instantly recognize the petal formation: http://gohawaii.about.com/od/hawaiianflowersandtrees/ig/Silversword-Photos/silversword_022.htm.

So how far would you travel to see a rare plant? Does you inner plant nerd come out on vacations, too?

In time for tomatoes

Posted on August 4th, 2009 – 8:09 AM
By Robyn Dochterman

While Jaime was away on her honeymoon, I spent some time of my own away. No exotic flora and fauna for me though. I went to Chicago to take classes in chocolate.

It was lots of work and great fun, and I sat on the plane on the way home wondering if my tomatoes would be ripe when I got to the garden. I guess you can take the (Green)girl out of the garden, but not the garden out of the girl. Come to think of it, every time I travel, I find myself making a mental list of what I’ll likely miss in the veggie plot before I book.

I was delighted to see the tomatoes were indeed ripe and ready to go. Three different varieties, in fact. Now I’m preparing to make salsa, and after that, pasta sauce.

So, what’s the report from your garden? What’s ripening? What’s not?

And, what’s your fav salsa recipe?