Sunday, December 14, 2014

2014: Agave Collection

This year could definitely be the year of the Agave. I tripled my collection! I really am getting into these guys, although they are very pointy and can be a pain to repot. 
 This is Agave americana. Yep, the Century Plant that blooms rarely and can get huge. I hope that mine will flourish and someday get to be one of those huge ones.
 This one is called Agave shawii. It is very spiny! The spines are kind of a reddish brown color.
 This is a closeup of the leaves on my Agave striata. These hurt a lot when they poke you! I've accidentally done it a few times and wow, these are sharp.
 This is what the whole Agave striata looks like. It's a fairly small plant right now but it has been making lots of new leaves.
 This is a closeup of some Agave stricta var. rubra that I have grown from seed. They are just a little over a year old now. The plant in the foreground is showing off the red color very nicely.
 Here's the entire pot of Agave stricta. Next month I'm going to repot them nicely because they're sprawling around a bit and looking silly.
 This is Agave titanopsis. Its spines are brown as opposed to the rest of the leaves. It's not as sharp and pokey as some of these other species I have.
And lastly, this is Agave victoriae-reginae var. compacta. As you can see, it has made lots of pups but they don't have the white coloring yet that the main plant does. This is a really pretty Agave which is what attracted me to it in the first place.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

2014: Adromischus Collection

Since it's the end of the year, I thought it would be a good idea to photograph all of my indoor plants to see their progress over the past year and to properly catalogue them. So the next series of posts will be focused on my indoor collection. My plan is to group them by genus; if I only have one plant in a genus I'll either post it alone or with a group of similar plants. This post is about Adromischus.
 This is Adromischus cristatus. The leaves feel kind of puffy, like little pillows. This plant flowered shortly after I bought it, and you can see that it is making a pup on one side.
 This is Adromischus mariane. It is mottled brown and grey for the most part. It also flowered profusely this year, and then started growing new leaves, which are greener. It has kind of gotten floppier as it has grown.
 I know this is an Adromischus but I have forgotten the species. It also flowered once this year.
This is the very first Adromischus I bought, and I have also forgotten its species name. It has never flowered for me. However, it has grown quite a lot since I bought it and is continuously making new leaves. It's currently in a pot with a sedum hybrid but I will probably move it into its own pot soon.

Monday, December 8, 2014

How to Make Ground Cherry Jam

Ground cherries were a new plant for me this year. I only had one plant and it flourished, so next year I will aim for more. I saved my harvest all season to make jam. Here's how I did it!
 This is what my harvested ground cherries looked like, still in their husks. The husks dry and get papery. Ideally they will all be a yellowish color, but I grabbed my last harvest when it started to freeze, so a few of them stayed green.
 The first thing to do is husk them all. I got about a cup of ground cherries from this harvest. Just enough to make some jam, but this is why I'll grow more next year. The yellow ones are the most ripe but the green ones taste fine too, at least I think so!
 Next I boiled the ground cherries with 1/4 cup of water, 1/8 cup of lemon juice, and 1/3 of a box of pectin. Once the ground cherries started to burst, I mashed them as well as I could and then added 3/4 cup of sugar and stirred it all together. It starts to gel pretty quickly.
 Once it's all gelling, I poured it into this freezer safe container. It's about a half pint, I think. Doesn't that look tasty?
There it is, all golden and tasty! I froze this and will be able to use it all winter. It's perfect for getting that tomato taste in an easy to use jam!

Monday, November 17, 2014

Winter is officially here

Well it snowed here last weekend, so winter is definitely here. My outdoor garden is completely done. For now I am restricted to only indoor gardening. There isn't a whole lot going on, so here are some random pictures of some of my indoor plants.

These are some of my most recent cactus acquisitions. There's a Rebutia, a Mammillaria, a Ferocactus, and a few others. Next time I'll post some of my Agave and Aloe species and my indoor light set up for my larger plants that I just put up.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

I keep buying succulents

I'm actually a few succulent posts behind! I just keep buying them. Succulents are my favorite kind of plants-I can grow them year round indoors and there are so many kinds. Lots of them are just plain weird and I love weird plants. 
 So this guy is a weird Adromischus that I found. I think the tag says it's an Adromischus mariane. I thought it was just interesting because it's brown and white. It makes little white-yellow flowers.
 This is my first Ferocactus! Ferocactus macrodiscus. I think Ferocactus is such a cool genus because they all look like they can kick your butt. I bought this one because of the red and yellow spines.
 This is an Aeonium arboreum. Hopefully you can see the reddish tinges on the leaves. Those appeared after living under grow lights for a little while! I like Aeoniums and I'm hoping to get a Swartzkopf eventually.
 Here's another crazy Adromischus-this one is A. cristata. I obviously bought it for the cristate puffy leaves. It's very soft to the touch too. It has been flowering as well recently and makes tiny little white flowers.
Here's my second Agave. This is Agave striata. I just liked it for some reason. I'm starting to get into Agaves so expect to see more!

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Huernia zebrina flower

I've had this Huernia zebrina for quite some time now, but it had never flowered. Other stapeliads I have flower like crazy, so I was worried that maybe I was doing something wrong. But last week I was pleasantly surprised by this beautiful flower on my H. zebrina! It's obvious why it's called the Lifesaver plant-that red center looks just like a red Lifesaver candy. This flower is so strange; it feels very smooth and almost like it's fake. But it's quite real. I was so happy to see this beauty finally flower!

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Later Garden Updates

Hello everyone, sorry for the hiatus. I've been dealing with some busy grad school stuff and some personal health issues. So I'll be getting back to blogging regularly here. Here are some photos from late in August of my outdoor garden. Starting off, here's my chamomile below. It's gotten quite big. I'm very pleased that it's bloomed because last year I got nothing. 
Next up is a growing ear of Sacred Eagle corn. I took this picture because I thought the red streaks on the leaves surrounding the growing cob looked cool. This is my first year growing corn so even one ear is awesome for me. 
 These are some Nasturtium leaves. They taste kind of peppery. They're supposed to flower but mine haven't yet and I don't know if they will. But they taste good anyway. 
 These are dwarf Teddy Bear sunflowers. They're getting ready to open here. 
 This is a close-up shot of Astrantia blooms. My Astrantia has bloomed twice this year!
 Here's the same bloom a little further back so you can see the whole bloom spike. I guess Astrantia are hard to propagate from seed, so I don't know if I'll get to have this guy for more than a year, but it is very pretty. 

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Updates in the garden

Things are happening in my garden! It's been a long dry stretch after all of the rain we had earlier in the summer. Luckily it's rained all day today and we're supposed to get more tomorrow. It certainly makes my job easier because I don't have to water! I took some pictures earlier this week of some interesting garden developments. 
 This is my chamomile plant in bloom! Last year, I started seeds way too late, and then the plant got downy mildew, and I never got flowers. The flower petals are actually what you harvest for tea. This picture is of the first blooms but they are popping up all over the place so I will have an actual harvest this year!
 This is the dwarf amaranth mix that I started from seed. They are taking forever to get going, but you can finally see the colors of the leaves. I don't know if I will get any harvest from these. If it gets too cold for them, I'll bring them inside and see if I can keep them going under grow lights.
 I had tried corn this year for the first time, without many expectations. But I found both tassels and ear silks on my Sacred Eagle plants! So I've hand pollinated and hoping for the best. If I get even one ear from my corn this year I will be very pleased. I knew it was risky to grow in containers but I wanted to try.
 I just wanted to show a close-up of a ground cherry here. My ground cherry plant went crazy and is loaded with these guys and is constantly flowering. You can see a flower on the right side of the photo. Once the husks start to turn yellow, I pick them because they're about to fall off and I don't want the chipmunks getting them. My plan is to make ground cherry jam!
And this is my first Cherokee Purple tomato. It looks a bit darker in person. I am really looking forward to trying this guy. I'm pleased that growing indeterminate varieties in containers seems to be working for me, because prior to this season I had only tried determinate varieties.
Well, that's the update so far! I bought a pressure canner so I am going to try canning tomatoes soon. Hopefully it goes well and I don't blow up my kitchen!

Monday, July 28, 2014

First Harvest of 2014

Here are some pictures of my first harvest! It's not much yet. Most of my tomatoes are still on the vine and green, and my bush beans are just starting to produce. My ground cherry has fruit but none of them are ripe either. So my first harvest consists of some basil and a couple of tomatoes. I actually have harvested some lemon balm now, which apparently I can use in herbal teas. I also have more basil to harvest. I'm drying the current batch but I think I'll try freezing the next batch. 
 Here is the basil! From top left, going clockwise: Sweet basil, Crimson King basil, Christmas basil, and Dark Opal basil. I love how basil smells when I harvest it; the spice gets all over my hands and it is delicious.
These are the first two tomatoes of the season. They are Purple Bumblebee. It's a cherry variety. After this I got a couple of Violet Jaspers which look similar but are grape tomatoes. They taste alright, pretty sour but much better than anything in the grocery store. 
Right now there's a Cherokee Purple that is starting to ripen on the vine. I am really looking forward to trying it. Many gardeners online love Cherokee Purples, and I hope it tastes good! I really like growing traditional Cherokee varieties too, since it's another link to my culture. 
On a similar note, my Cherokee Sacred Eagle corn has tassels and silks!! I have been hand pollinating so I really really hope that I get some corn! I will be so happy if my experiment in growing corn in pots works. 

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Garden Bits and Bobs

I've spent the past week on vacation so not a lot has gone on in my garden. We've had a lot of rain in the past month which for the most part has been good for the garden. Everything is growing fairly well. My cockscomb and amaranth are still growing very slowly but I'm hoping they will take off soon. My Chinese Lantern are also behind, but that's because they were sown late. A lot of my tomatoes are getting ready to ripen or growing, so I'm excited. They will be delicious! It's also time for me to harvest some of my basil.
Here's a nice picture of my impatiens! They have been attracting butterflies. I saw an enormous orange butterfly on them last week. I'd never seen that kind of butterfly before. I think it was a Tawny Emperor but it flew away before I could get a photo so I'm not positive.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014


This lovely picture is the very first bloom from my Love-In-A-Mist!!! This year is the first year I've grown it, and I grew it from seed. A bunch of them are getting ready to bloom so hopefully I will get more colours on the other blooms. I was so excited to see this beauty when I got home from work! These flowers are old-fashioned and beautiful. I will definitely be keeping them in my garden from now on!