Monday, May 22, 2017

Summertime Adventure

Anyone who has been reading this blog for very long may have been wondering when I would get around to telling what I've planted in my garden this year. Usually, I spend most of January and February all in a tizzy over seed catalogs, trying to decide what new crops will go into the garden in spring.

This year, I tried not to look too closely at the seed catalogs that arrived in my mailbox, because I knew that I would be away from home for much of the summer. Reading them could have caused a bit of mental conflict!

My food-garden right now has a lot of herbs in it, the big strawberry patch, garlic and shallots planted in early winter, a few lettuces (unless a neighbor has eaten them)
Plenty of strawberries in the yard this year!

View from where I am writing today.

Container gardens: Not many veggies, mostly herbs and flowers.

Wonderful place not far outside of town!
and flowers for the local pollinators. There are no summer crops in the garden because I am in Italy!

I left an assortment of college students in charge of the house and the lawn-mowing, and the only plants they are tending are two houseplants and the big container/planter by the front door.

When I get home, I can start thinking about the fall garden (and a whole lot of weeding, I expect). It has been weird, though, to not plant any vegetables. I have grown vegetables in my yard in NW Georgia every summer since 1991.

I am looking forward, while I am in Italy, to learning more about gardening here. On a walk outside the city walls this weekend I found a large garden center, and even though my Italian language skills are sketchy and the English language skills of the people at the garden center are only a little better, we managed to communicate well enough.

The garden center features many annual and perennial flowers, but I also saw trays of vegetable transplants and pots of herbs. I will be going back again in the next few weeks to see/learn more.

Already I have seen that anyone with even as little open ground as a 5x10 foot patch is growing at least an olive tree. Larger spaces often include other fruits. I've seen quite a few cherry trees (sweet cherries, that don't do well in the humid Southeastern US), a few other fruit trees, and outside the walls of the town and in parks, there are umbrella pines that produce big pine nuts that are good to eat. It is great to find that so many people grow at least a little food!

The center of the hilltop town I am in, Montepulciano, is very paved, which accounts for the large number of container gardens, but farther down the sloped sides of the town there is more unpaved space, and some homes that have little yards. One yard that I saw on Friday includes a chicken coop, some fencing around a planting of tomatoes, a couple of olive trees, and a peach or apricot.

On another walk, I found the local biodynamic farm, Fattoria San Martino. I am hoping to make an official visit soon, complete with lunch reservation, and I will be reporting back on what I learn there.

Hope that all your gardens are doing well! If garden problems crop up, though, please feel welcome to ask about them through the comments link of this blog.


Thursday, May 4, 2017

Supporting Pollinators

Without pollinators, our meals would be a lot less interesting. Fruit and vegetable options, in particular, would be much more limited, and some of those that provide flavor to almost every dinner would be gone from the table. (Unless I am the only one who cooks with carrots and onions pretty much every day?)

One way I have chosen to support pollinators, besides gardening organically and avoiding the use of even organic pesticides, is to participate in a group called Monarchs Across Georgia. Even though the group focuses on one special insect, the practices it advocates help a whole lot more pollinators than just Monarch Butterflies.

On Saturday, May 13, the group will be selling native plants that support pollinators at the Wildlife and Rain Garden in Marietta. Naturally, native milkweeds, food of Monarch caterpillars, will be featured. The sale is in conjunction with the Annual Garden Tour of the Master Gardener Volunteers of Cobb County. Buying tickets for the tour is not a requirement for stopping by the Wildlife and Rain Garden to buy some milkweed, but the tour is always great. For information about the tour, see the website of the Cobb Master Gardeners.

Plant sale details:

Cobb County Rain and Wildlife Garden
Saturday, May 13, 2017
10am - 5pm
Cobb County Water System's Wildlife & Rain Garden
662 S Cobb Dr, Marietta, GA 30060

Also, be sure to save the date for a screening of "Flight of the Butterflies". This film shows the annual journey of the millions of Monarch Butterflies, telling how the mystery of where these butterflies go each fall was solved. Reservations for the movie can be made through the Events page of Monarchs Across Georgia.  If you missed the chance to buy native milkweeds in May, there is another chance at this event, in the theater foyer after the showing. 

Details here:

Saturday, June 17, 2017
11am to 12:15pm
Midtown Art Cinema
931 Monroe Drive NE, Atlanta, GA 30808

The movie will be shown  in celebration of National Pollinator Week. Your price of admission is a donation to the Environmental Education Alliance of Georgia. Seating is limited.

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