It’s time again to spread the cosmos love around. They’re everywhere right now.
Yet again I am charmed. I blew three Polaroids on cosmos the other day. That’s more than 6 bucks spent admiring a flower that can self-seed into a thin sliver of cracked concrete.
Worth every penny, I’d say.
See also: Orange cosmos (Cosmos sulphureus)
Botanical Interests sent me a packet of ‘Zeolights’ calendula back in January and this is the result. I chose this variety for the peachy/pink tones underneath the petals.
Over the last few years, I’ve expanded into several interesting calendula varieties including: ‘Antares Flashback’ and ‘Triangle Flashback’. While they lack the medicinal properties of regular ole calendula officinalis, they are still tasty as an unusual addition to salads and rice dishes.
I traveled to Rhode Island a few weeks ago on what was a whirlwind 24 hour (including transport time) trip to shoot a food gardening segment for the show Cultivating Life. I’ll tell you about that some other time. They had ducks!
However, what I would like to tell you about today were the planters I saw sitting outside of Coastal Roasters in Tiverton, Rhode Island when we stopped so that I could be properly caffeinated with real coffee (I am a terrible coffee snob) before braving six hours in an airport that reminds me of the movie Logan’s Run. Because that’s the only Logan I know, and The Carousel is not the mental image I prefer to have before flying. Sure, we’re all just going to step onto this “plane”, defy gravity by flying high in the sky and land safely at our destination. RIGHT.
Except that I clearly lived to tell so back to the planters. They were mulched with FRESH kelp, from the sea. In fact, the coffee shop sat next to the water with a view of a small, pebble beach. I could see kelp while I sipped my coffee. Just sitting there. This is the kind of little detail about traveling to new places that I get abnormally excited about. One does not have to buy (as I do yearly) a bag of dried kelp or liquid kelp concentrate that has been shipped from some unknown place. No, one can just step outside and scoop up a handful for plants that are growing within a few feet. Here was the view:
And here is the container with a thick layer of nutrient-rich, fresh kelp laid on top of the soil as mulch:
Please forgive my terrible photo. This was taken with my crappy point and shoot digital and it does not read contrast well. The blown out white thing is a crab shell. Also a pretty good fertilizer! And somewhat decorative too.
It’s pretty, don’t you think? I have never seen such colourful kelp! The stuff I get in a bag is always the same uniformly-coloured grey/green.
Kelp makes a great mulch and plant fertilizer. Here’s why:
- It’s loaded with potassium and a bunch of other trace minerals. Potassium is a container gardener’s friend since it is an overall plant stress reliever, and container plants generally tend to experience more stress than in-ground gardens.
- It’s got plant growth hormones in it that can help your plants grow stronger.
- Kelp breaks down into the soil very quickly, conditioning the soil, improving texture, and fertilizing all at once. Yes please.
- It does not carry weed seeds, unlike hay (and sometimes straw when it is mislabeled. Boo).
- It does not share diseases with land plants that could be spread to your garden.
I’d suggest rinsing off the salt and salty sand before adding it to your garden but a lot of seaside gardeners say they don’t bother and their plants are fine. I’d also recommend not taking too much from any one area since there are lots of critters that depend on the seaweed that washes onto the shore for their food and shelter.
Hey Toronto! Withrow Park Farmers’ Market is holding an Edible Container Garden Show/Contest this Saturday, August 8, 2009. The event goes from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
I’m going to be a judge so see you there!
Details from the Toronto Balconies Bloom website:
“Bring one to three containers in which you’ve planted edibles for show and tell! Containers of any kind are eligible, as long as at least 50% of the plant material is edible (either the whole plant or parts of it). What to grow is only limited by your imagination: grow a mini herb garden in a shoe, or an edible flower garden in an old car tire. If you can get it to the show without the use of a truck and a crane, the size is up to you.”
Please send your RSVP about entering the show to firstname.lastname@example.org [I've been told that entries will be accepted right up to the start of the show.]
Every year I go a little nuts growing large crops of onions such as ‘Egyptian Walking’ over at my community garden plot.
Onions grow easily in the ground, but they tend to take up a lot of space in containers. In the past I have grown smaller, bunching onions in pots as a way to have the odd onion on hand without wasting the kind of space that could be dedicated to coveted crops like tomatoes and basil. I like onions well enough, but nothing, not even a batch of slowly caramelized onions is coming between my mouth and a caprese salad.
Speaking of which, I made my first caprese salad of the season last night.
But I’m always on the lookout for something different to try, just in case. In the early spring I nabbed a pack ‘Mini Purplette’ onion seeds with the promise that I would have bulbous, miniature yet mature red onions come late summer. [I got mine from Urban Harvest however, Seeds of Change has them in the U.S.]
And sure enough, this afternoon I reached my hand into the soil of a medium-sized pot and discovered several round, golf ball sized red onions.
I’m very pleased with them and plan to grow more next year. I grew mine in fairly deep containers (about 10″) but am absolutely certain they would size up well in a window box. In fact, I would like to see that — several little onion tops neatly lined up in a row.
Or not. Because really, who am I kidding? My gardens are anything but neat.