Oh man. I don’t know what to make of the level of paranoia we’ve reached about the recent spinach/ecoli outbreak that has compelled Epic Roots, grower and distributor of mache to go this far in disassociating their product from the maligned leafy vegetable. First the pulp news casts featuring headlines asking, “Is organic food a safer choice?” and now this. All the more reason I suppose, to grow your own.
Related: Grow a Crate o’ Mache
I know that this cute little product has made the rounds in the design and gardening world so I know I’m probably not showing you anything new. I have been resisting the charm of the Eggling since I first heard of them because I generally do not support this kind of product no matter how cute. My reasons for blacklisting such products are simple: they aren’t appropriate vessels for growing healthy plants and as a thrifty gardener I am inherently against promoting excessive gardening product purchases. I mean, why buy a fancy porcelain egg meant to look like a real egg when you can just use a real egg — at no additional charge! Gardening for the first time can be a bit daunting. I am all about reducing some of that pressure in any way possible. And inevitably the eventual demise of what began as a fun try at growing something leads to the new gardener’s assertion that they just don’t have a green thumb. And so they give up.
So I generally stay away from promoting this kind of product or buying one for myself. Because even though I know how the story will end, I am a designer at heart and I can’t help but be drawn in by pretty things anymore than the next person. So cute! And simple! And pretty!
However, my spouse just came back from a short work trip to Southern California (no jealousy here) and surprised me with a thyme Eggling as a treat. He knew I would never buy one for myself and thought it might make an interesting experiment for the site. He’s heard me talk publicly about gardening enough (and read the book) to know that if anything was going to endure the hardships of such a small space it would be thyme. I’m very proud. Sigh.
I know it’s unfair of me to judge without personal experience so I plan to give this little one a go and will post updates here as they occur. In the meantime I am eager to hear about your experiences with this product. Please add your comments below.
p.s In an effort to light a fire under my ass I’ve elected to participate in NaBloPoMo here on YGG. There are plenty of day-to-day gardening experiences that I could be sharing here but many topics slide and become outdated before I get a chance to write.
I am finally accepting the fact that winter is coming and I had better enjoy fall (despite all of this horrible rain) while it lasts. One of the gifts gardening has given me is the ability to look at the landscape and plant life around me with new eyes. I started to look with a new perspective as a way to better understand my plants and their needs. I have found that closely observing a plant growing in the wild has lead to really “getting” something that was formerly unclear or missing in my care of a specific plant. And watching the way the plants grow and spread in different conditions has inspired me to rethink the way I design and plan a garden. But over time I also found that a little bit of knowledge can turn a landscape that was formerly dull, overlooked, and taken for granted into something fascinating and full of wonder. Those tiny observations seem to create a domino effect to learn more. I should add that photography has only added to that because as my way of seeing has changed, so has my approach to documenting what I see changed.
It may seem cheesy — y’all aren’t going to laugh at me right(?) — but I have fallen in love with the grassland, beach, and marsh areas on The Toronto Islands and have taken to documenting the changes that occur there with the seasons. It’s fascinating to see how the plants differ growing in such sandy soil. I like the stark, vertical direction of the landscape. Plants seem to grow up rather than overtly puffy or outward. I am slowly learning the identities of some of the previously unknown plants. I took the majority of these pictures on a beautiful Fall day a couple of weekends ago. If you know the name of a plant or disagree with my identification please post.
Panic Grass (Panicum virgatum) aka Switch Grass
I believe this is the same plant, taken last year.
Bullrush (Typha latifolia) aka Common Cattail
It seems like they’ve been revitalizing this beach area. Further up the hill there are several native wildflower species that I don’t recall previously.
Mullein (Verbascum thapsus). One of my favourite local herb plants used for throat conditions and coughs. It is also a beautiful and very structural plant that looks great in the winter. A few have grown as volunteers in my street garden and I have let them go since they also do very well in drought conditions.
Milkweed (Asclepias syriaca) They grow all over one particular section of the beach, putting out their fluffy seeds at this time of year and then remaining as clusters of sculptural shells. I had pickled, immature milkweed pods a few years ago and they were very tasty.
Goldenrod (Solidago) These also grow on the beach among the milkweed. They are very short and tiny in comparison to the goldenrod that pops up wild in my street garden.
Famous for candy-sweet cobalt blue blooms that resemble tidy clusters of pint-sized grapes, muscari is a versatile, carefree spring bloom. Pack a punch and plant bulbs in eye-catching “rivers” or clustered together in problem areas under trees and in rock gardens. This hardy bulb will even survive in the toxic soil beneath black walnut trees!
Muscari stay in bloom for weeks and multiply effortlessly. Grow white muscari (Muscari botryoides ‘Album’) to use in a spring wedding bouquet or slip a handful of wispy M. comosum ‘Plumosum’ into a vintage medicine bottle. Or better yet, grow my personal favourite M. latifolium whose elongated, bi-colored flower spikes have a dark blue base that ascends to a light blue/lavender top.
With fall bulb planting season in full swing, I couldn’t help posting this little blurb I wrote for the April 2006 issue of Budget Living Magazine that never was. I just love the pretty little delicate blooms of muscari. I have a tendency towards the tiny little bulb plants that naturalize on their own. There is a garden I pass regularly on my travels that is really just a little teeny patch underneath a magnolia tree that comes to life in the spring with an assortment of small flowering bulbs, arranged very carefully for maximum impact as the garden cycles from one flower and is replaced by another. I literally find myself stalking that little garden every spring and was relieved to finally meet one of the owners last year and lay to rest any fears about my weekly presence crouched down with an assortment of cameras in front of their house. They have video surveillance in front!
I made a discovery while turning the compost heap at my community garden last week. It turns out that someone had stashed away all the ingredients needed to turn our pathetic pile into a reasonable bin — someone just had to make it. And so using what I had on hand: a shovel, a ball of jute, bricks, broken pieces of concrete, and muscle power, I managed to cobble together a solid compost bin.
Our craptastic former compost heap.
Having done it wrong many times, and yet having had it turn out right regardless, I can tell you that it does not take a degree in soil-ology to make compost. We have the standard City issue black bins at the garden but never use them. I have TRIED to get those suckers to do something but they just fall apart and drive me nuts. Everyone has become afraid to go near them since a fellow plot member was attacked by a swarm of hornets living in the base of an inactive bin. On the other hand our crappy Pile O’ Stuff with Plastic Cover has been putting out the black gold with little effort. Putting sides up around the pile means we can continue to make easy compost — and more of it! I can’t tell you how giddy that makes me! I walked away from that completed bin dirty, sweaty, with cuts on my hands and punching the air victoriously.
All of that green sitting on top of the pile in this photo is lemon balm that I cut back. Our communal “Herb Garden” has quickly evolved into a “Lemon Balm and Friends Garden.” I’ve decided that the new common name for lemon balm should be lemon BOMB considering it’s highly invasive nature. I really love this herb as it is a gentle, lemony remedy for an upset tummy, but I am fairly certain that our garden has produced more than enough to treat the upset tummies of me, you, and everyone we know.
Here’s the pile after I moved the straw I had purchased for mulch beside it. That is the most beautiful crappy thing I have ever made. Sigh.