Wednesday, October 21, 2009

The Cheapie Gardener Scores Again!

If there is one thing I love more than plants, it's great plants at little or no cost.  When you drag home plants the way I do, eventually you have to become agile at either budgeting your plant shopping or concocting fabulous excuses for the newcomers in pots crowding the patio, waiting to be planted.  So I'm quickly sharing a tip that you need to make use of while garden centers are still moving plants. 

Check the left-over perennial inventory!

Now you and I both know that by this time in the season, the Big Box stores' garden centers are a mess of dying annuals that need to be composted, not sold.... but hidden amongst them are often some Really Nice Perennials that have simply gone out of bloom.  Your average gardener won't buy  plants that don't have blossoms, so the poor off-season perennials sit and wait ... and wait... until they have been marked down so far that the only recourse is the dumpster out back.  Forget the expiring annuals - wade in and find the off-in-the-corner shelves where the perennials, often quite healthy, are being price whacked with a desperation that makes Haynes furniture ads look tasteful.

Last month, I scored a perfect flat of 6" asian lilies, ready for fall planting, with a price tag of Buy One, Get Six Free.  I mean, really.  Today the take was six lovely Gaura plants, three white and three pink, that are going to grace the back edge of two planting beds and delight the butterflies all next summer .... cost? Buy One, Get Two Free.  Woot!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Big Harvest from Tiny Potato Garden!

Hurray!  I finally harvested the 'tater' crop from my container planting of Desiree potatoes. I have no idea why someone would give a lowly potato such a romantic name but these are gourmet potatoes worthy of desire.  The starter spuds were ordered and planted late, so this was a very late harvest for potatoes in eastern Virginia. The lovely, white-flowered vines finally died back in October so I dug in (literally) and grabbed the potatoes from the roots of the vines.

What a remarkably easy way to grow and harvest potatoes!  I will have to expound more on container growing potatoes in the spring when everyone's ready to plant.  Sure beats trying to grow taters in our clay soil without heavy equipment that the farmers use.

Eight pounds of lovely pink potatoes from one great big planter.  Yes, they really do have a delicate pink skin but are cream colored inside.  Perhaps the blushing color led to the heroine-worthy name?  They make stunning mashed potatoes - I can attest to this from some surface tubers I snatched and ate earlier this month!

My seed potatoes came from Seeds of Change, if you want to check out their many varieties of potatoes and plan for spring, just click here:   Seed of Change Potato Page.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Finally, Back to the Blog!

For those of you who've written to inquire gently whether I'd been strangled by weeds, overcome with humidity, ground in the processor making gallons of pesto, or just off running amok in the glorious fall weather, Thank You for your kind thoughts and, yes, I'm back and, no, it was none of those things. 

I've been working hard with a dedicated team of volunteers as part of a group called Buy Fresh Buy Local Hampton Roads.  A long, awkward moniker for a useful initiative.  Buy Fresh Buy Local Hampton Roads (hereafter to be referred to as BFBLHR, shorter but really no more fun to type) is dedicated to connecting Hampton Roads residents to the many small farms, ranchers, fisherfolks, beekeepers, herbalists and all of the wealth of folks around our cities who are busy growing, harvesting, grazing and creating wonderful things for you to eat and use.

Dozens of farms and food-related businesses signed on as partners and supporters during the first few months and, with a great deal of effort, the volunteers were able to pull together the very first publication, the Fall/Holiday 2009 Food Guide which is now available.    You can view the guide online by clicking   BFBLHR Fall/Holiday 2009 Food Guide

Want to know more about why buying local makes a difference?  Visit the Useful Gardens Webpage: Buy Fresh Buy Local