Category Archives: Plants

I am ready….

I am ready to plant the Spring garden! I have bags of garden soil to jumpstart the plants and freshen up last year’s soil.

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We have a threat of below freezing temperatures over the next few nights and I am waiting until the weekend to actually plant cabbage, collards, and the seeds of lettuce and arugula.

Daffodils are blooming, though. They can survive the light frost.

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My young buckeye trees are budding! They should survive the light frost unharmed, too.

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The garden centers are ready and I am excited with the beautiful plants such as this tropical geranium or Pelargonium. I might have to plant a few of these!

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And large clumps of fragrant hyacinths are beautiful!

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Every morning someone wakes me up at dawn. It begins with quiet whimpering and wining. Then a paw or two under the door.

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If he has to really, really go out immediately he will bark a few times!

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Look at all that gray hair! He is now middle-aged. My sweet old man!

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Filed under Design, General Gardening, Gus, Plants, Seasonal Maintenance, seeds, soul improvement, Vegetables

Collecting ginkgo nuts.

The Ginkgo tree (Ginkgo biloba) has an unusual history. It is considered a living fossil as it has been found in fossils over 250 million years old. It was once thought to be extinct until a few small populations were discovered in China. The leaves are fan-shaped and deciduous. They become a bright gold color before falling in Autumn. A common nickname is Maidenhair Tree because the leaves resemble the Maidenhair Fern. The trees are dioecious with separate sexes so the trees are either male or female. There are a few cultivars with unusual shaped leaves. They grow up to 75 feet with large trunks.

Botanically the ginkgo is in its own group amoung seed producing (spermatophytesspermatophytes) plants because it has not been decided if it should be in the conifer (cone-bearing) group or in the angiosperm (flowering plant) group.

Near NC State University there are two very old  and large ginkgo trees in an old apartment complex. One is a large female which produces tons of fruit. The nut in the fruits are highly valued in Asia. They are usually roasted and the traditional way to roast the nut in China is to let the fruit rot then roast the nut.

I also wanted to collect the fruit to plant them along the back fence line and allow a forest of ginkgo trees to developed. They only grow a few inches a year so it would be decades before I see anything. The fruit has a strong musky fragrance and usually only male trees are planted for the beautiful Fall yellow leaves. There are weeping forms and forms with unusual shaped leave. It can take 20 years to fruit from seed so maybe in my old age I will see a fruiting tree in my yard?

Below is the fruit I collected from the Snow Street trees. They were covering the ground but you could not smell anything fragrance unless you held them up to you nose. Culturally, females trees are usually not planted because the flesh of the fruit is supose to be unpleasant and messy.

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Inside the musky and pungent flesh is a white nut which looks like a pistachio.

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The flesh is green just like a pistachio. The flavor is somewhat nut like and reminds me of a pine nut. The fruit and the nut contains chemicals (urushiol) which may cause those sensitive to break out or have some skin irritation. It’s a good idea to wash your hands after handling them and to not touch your eyes or other mucus membranes before washing your hands to prevent irritation.

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The nuts are mildly toxic and are usually roasted or boiled.

To boil: cover with water and boil for about 10 minutes with about a tablespoon of salt. Crack the thin shell by placing the flat side of a knife on the nut then hitting it with your palm like you do garlic.

To roast:  in a frying pan, add a tablespoon of vegetable oil, and then the nuts and a teaspoon of salt. Cook over medium-high heat until the shells split. Remove from heat and let cool enough to handle. Remove the shells and the paper-like outer skin.

There are selected clones available from nurseries developed for heavy nut production along with all the male clones with unusal upright, weeping, and horizontal growth patterns.

xxx

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Filed under Plants

Weekends….and Four-O-Clocks.

Weekend mornings at the coffee shop are busy with older adults which is in marked contrast to weekdays. The NCSU college students are all still sleeping.

The adults are discussing sports, politics, and trying to boast about the accomplishments of their children. Its funny… but I digress.

I like to people watch and catch up with those I only see there on such mornings and, of course, enjoy my iced mocha latte. I have always found the older adult’s viewpoint interesting for their different and varying experiences. The retired professors, especially, seemed opinionated.

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Its that time of the year when seeds are ripening in the garden and its time to collect and store them for next year or plant them around the garden.

The Four-o-clocks reliably produce small, black, hard seeds which germinate easily. Its early enough in the season they may germinate and produce a nice plant to survive over the winter. Otherwise, they would drop near the parent plant and produce large colonies.

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Four-o-Clocks are named after their habit of opening late in the evening and closing the next morning. They come in a range of colors from white, to hot pink, and pastel shades. There are a few species with long trumpets or fuzzy leaves.

Here in Central North Carolina they are perennial.

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They are very easy to grow and relatively pest free. I remember my grandmother in Beaufort, North Carolina always having a patch of them on the side of her house.

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Filed under General Gardening, Plants