Adventures of a Transplated Gardener- Ginny Stibolt

Ginny Stibolt with her mulch pile.  Typical!

Ginny's Garden Log


The main purpose of this log was to expand on the gardening adventures that Ginny wrote about in her Adventures of a Transplanted Gardener columns, but now she writes at The GreenGardeningMatters blog.

Current postings and other posts to Ginny's Garden Log Meadow page 

This is the Sixth postings page (9/16/07 - 1/1/08): Topics include: new year salad, end of year, poinsettias, say no to poisons, Lucia Robson, palmettos, purselane, podcast links, beggarticks, peppers, hornworms

Greens and herbs gathered on New Year's Day!  Photo by Stibolt

1/1/08 Happy New Year to all!  

We celebrated New Year's Day quietly and had a very nice pear salad with greens and herbs harvested from our winter garden.  We're scheduled to get our first frost tonight, so I picked all the basil, because it will be gone tomorrow, but all the other greens will be good all winter.  I love Florida!

<<  Clockwise starting next to the salt & pepper, basil. Swiss chard, onion greens, mixed greens (some bright green and some reddish lettuces), wild garlic greens, and rosemary. 

My pear salad is a sweet & sour combination.  We love it.  Here's the approximate recipe: (I create individual salads in bowls and the volume depends upon your appetite, but this is our main course.  Quantities are for two big salads.)

Dressing: 1/3 c. whole cranberry sauce, 1 c. plain nonfat yogurt, 1/4 c. grated parmesan cheese, 1 t. horse radish, 2 tbl. mayonnaise, 1 t. dill weed, and freshly ground pepper to taste.  Mix it all together.

Salad:  (Laid in the bowls in approximately this order.) 2c. chopped greens, 1/2c diced celery, 1/2 crown finely chopped broccoli, 1/4 c. chopped onion, 4 stalks chopped onion greens, 4 stalks chopped wild garlic greens, 1 t. chopped rosemary, 2 tbl. chopped fresh basil, 1 chopped pear, 1/2 c. shredded cheeses (both cheddar and pepper jack), 1/3 c raisins, 1/3 c. roasted sunflower seeds.  (Dried cranberries and walnuts make this salad even better, but I didn't have any this time around.)  Garnish with dill, parmesan cheese, and freshly ground pepper to taste. 

Hdrilla will provide good humus around these newly planted spleenworts.  Photo by Stibolt.

12/15/07 This last week, warm days provided an opportunity to hop in the lake and haul out a good quantity of hydrilla.  The community has brought in sterile grass carp that eat hydrilla, but there is so much of it, that our taking out the biomass will give the carp a head start.  I used some of it to add organic matter around these newly planted ebony spleenworts.  I then covered the hydrilla with leaves.  This is an area that used to be totally covered with invasive wedelia.  This will be much better. (Update: I discovered that these ferns are the invasive tuberous sward ferns, so while I gave them a good start with the hydrilla as mulch, I've pulled them all out and have been letting Mother Nature plant what she wants in the area.)

I also had about five wheelbarrow loads to add to a new compost pile that I'd planned to combine with dead leaves from the yard and other yard waste.  I thought my old compost pile was ready so I dug out some and mixed it with sandy soil to use a top dressing on the lawn.  It wasn't quite ready (It contained too many recognizable parts.), so I only treated one section of the yard.   To give the rest of the compost pile some more time, my husband and I dug it all out, started with a layer of dead leaves, and then alternated layers of almost finished compost and thin layers of hydrilla.  This turning and adding of easily decomposed green matter, will heat the pile back up for a while.   We also created a whole new larger pile with alternating layers of dead leaves, yard waste, hydrilla, and soil.   I'll top dress the rest of the lawn in February--that should be enough time for the pile to work.  At that time, I'll also move the new pile to the space assigned for the oldest pile.  Here's the link to my podcast on compost:
podcast Composting leaves and to my composting article.

My podcast, which tallies some of the successes and failures in the gardens this year, was posted yesterday.  Here's the link:  podcast End of year gardening. And then there's the myth of the Christmas pickle: podcast Christmas pickle.

11/27/07 As I was driving along route 17 just north of Green Cove Springs yesterday, I almost stopped at an animal clinic.  In big letters, they had posted, "Poinsettias are poisonous to your pets."  This is an old myth that has been disproved many times over with credible university-sponsored studies.  

So I'm doing my part to bust this old wives tale by posting my latest article, "Poinsettias are NOT Poisonous" and here is a link to my poinsettia podcast podcast Poinsettias Did you know that the highly branched, dwarf traits of our most popular cultivars is caused by a virus?    

I've made my annual poinsettia purchase and have transplanted two small pots into each of the hanging pots on our front porch.

11/7/07 In the business section of yesterday's Times Union, an article on an insecticide misting system set me off.  The article I wrote in reaction, Just Say No to Poisons is more of a rant than my "normal" Transplanted Gardener Adventures, but I feel better.   I'll step down from my soapbox now.

Yesterday, I cleared out another bunch of basil to make room for some parsley.  I'd soaked the seeds overnight, because these seeds normally take so long to germinate that my mother used say, "Parsley seeds go to hell and back before sprouting.   I gave a large bouquet of basil to a neighbor and made another batch of pesto to freeze and I also froze some of the better basil leaves for soup and salads throughout the winter.  

Lucia Robson And Ginny Stibolt on The Dove in St. Mary's City, MD.

11/2/07 When I shared the palmettos article with my dear friend Lucia St. Clair Robson, she sent me this answer:
 " ...but what I like about palmettos is the fact that their fronds are wonderful for weaving.  When I was a kid I learned to make three dimensional woven birds from them.   Also the Seminoles use the woven brown fibers around their bases to make the bodies and faces of their souvenir dolls." 

Lucia wrote about Osceola, the Seminoles' battles with various US armies, and Florida in general in her novel, Light a Distant Fire.  When I first read it years ago, Florida seemed strange and forbidding to me; who knew that I would end up here?  Lucia was raised in south Florida and certainly had the background knowledge to write this book.  

Palmettos grace Ginny's front yard. Photo by Stibolt

10/30/07 Palmettos in the Landscape is my latest article.  Nothing says tropical like a palmetto or a palm in the landscape.  See what I've unearthed for you on palms...

<< These palmettos make a bold statement in our front yard.  I guess the real question is: do I ever sit down in our lovely rocking chairs to enjoy them?  The answer is not all that often, but I can see the palmettos from here in my office.  

Notice the tan fertile fronds of my cinnamon ferns (Osmunda cinnamomea) in the foreground?  I was really surprised that first fall when we moved here to see fertile fronds in the fall and then again in spring.  In the Mid-Atlantic and in New England the cinnamon ferns only do this in the spring.  Here's a link to the article I wrote on ferns.

Yellow purselane in decorates Ginny's geranium pot.  Photo by Stibolt.

10/19/07 When is a weed not a weed??  When the volunteers in the pot of resting geraniums provide their own show.  Purselane (Portulaca oleracea) is one of those herbs brought from Europe, and there are native species, too.  It has an extensive root system and fleshy stems and leaves which means that it can out compete most other plants.  Pulling out its roots from my vegetable gardens is a never ending task.  Now I find that this plant has more omega-3 fatty acids than any other plant tested and its rich in vitamins A, C, & E.  So maybe when I pull it out of my beds, I'll sneak it into the salad to add some tang.  

Ginny records a podcast with Cherri Pitzer at the Times Union in Jacksonville.

10/11/07 Yesterday I recorded four more podcasts and as promised here are some of the links for more information.  For the first podcast on too much rain, here are the links: rain gardens, & rain barrels.  

For the second and third podcasts on butterflies and butterfly gardens, here are some links: 
The Florida Native Plant Society's website lists native plants by county and whether they are butterfly garden plants--either nectar or larval.  
The members of the Association of Florida Native Plant Nurseries specialize in supplying native plants:
University of Florida Extension Service's wildlife website has detailed information about creating habitat: (I'll write a column on butterfly gardens at the beginning of spring.)

For the fourth podcast on Integrated Pest Management, here's where you can learn more about Integrated Pest Management: University of Florida's IPM website: 

Today, since it hasn't rained in three whole days (!), I planted some of my fall/winter seeds.  I planted spinach, lettuce, chives, and red onion seeds.  Tomorrow, I'll continue with Brussels sprouts and Swiss chard.  In order to make room for the chives in my herb garden I had to hack away a good amount of basil--there's still plenty left for use through the fall.  I gave away more than half of the harvest basil to neighbors, but this afternoon, I'll use the rest of it to make some pesto to freeze.  I think I'll try freezing some the of the leaves, too.  

A trio of polk-dot wasp moths gather on the beggarticks.  Photo by Stibolt.

10/4/07 We've had a lot(!) of rain recently--a couple of days ago we had 4.25 inches in 24 hours and it still hasn't stopped.  We're not in a flood zone, but the sogginess has interrupted the gardening routine.  I have seeds to plant in our fall/winter garden, but until the rain stops they are sitting here on my desk reminding me that the season is slippin' away... 

Meanwhile, I wrote an article on one plant that has enjoyed the dry summer and the wet fall, the beggarticks.  You find out more about them here: No Need to Beg for Beggarticks.  I also enjoyed finding out more about the polka-dot wasp moth.  It really is a moth, but it looks more like a wasp with its wicked iridescent gunmetal blue body with white dots and with the last couple of segments on the abdomen a brilliant red.    

Burpee's Big Daddy peppers.  Beautiful and tasty.

9/29/07 We were out of town for a few weeks and came home to a peck of peppers to pick.  These beauties are Burpee's Big Daddy sweet peppers.  Very sweet and flavorful.  Because of their narrow shape, these peppers are great for garnish--just cut a series of thin circles for salads and on top of a cold soup.  Delicious and beautiful.  

Here's an approximate recipe for the cold onion and potato soup that I garnished with these peppers:  (You may have noticed, I'm not much for exact recipes; it's always an approximation and that way I'm constantly surprised.)

Cream of onion and potato soup garished with peppers and green onions.

Brown in olive oil: 2 medium onions, diced, a 4-oz can of mushrooms, and 1/2 cup diced celery.  Add 2 cups chicken stock and 5 cups of water.  Add 1/3 cup barley, 1 cup (1/2 crown) finely chopped broccoli.  Bring to boil and simmer until barley has softened--about 30 minutes.  Stir in potato flakes to thicken and remove from heat.  Stir in one jar of roasted garlic Alfredo sauce and 1 cup of plain yogurt.  Garnish with a dollop of yogurt, circles of peppers, chopped green onion, dill weed, and freshly ground pepper.

Oh yes, while we were away, the weeds had a party with all the rain we received.  A weeder's work is never done.

9/16/07 The fourth podcast was posted this week.  Here is the link to my talk about container gardening and one of the longest-running gardening myths ever.  Listen to hear what it is. 

Two hornworms.  The green one has been infested by parasitoid wasp larvae.  Photos by Stibolt.

This week, I also want to thank Jim Tuttle for details about my hornworms:
"All three larvae (including the green one) are of the same species of hawkmoth (Sphingidae) Eumorpha fasciatus. It is probably the most variable species when it comes to caterpillar forms. In your area of Florida, if it is a hawkmoth larva and it is on any of the Ludwigia species, then it is Eumorpha fasciatus.

While the caterpillars of most hawkmoth species have horns on their behinds in all five instars (hence the common caterpillar name of hornworm), the various Eumorpha species have a long horn during the first four instars but lose it in the last (5th) stage.
(See My original column: "What's Been Eating My Bushy Seedbox?")

James Tuttle wrote "Hawk Moths of North America"  - due out at the end of 2007.  Go to this website for more information:  (I found this information on the Butterfly Digest website.)

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Ginny Stibolt 2004-2011


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