Monthly Archives: May 2012

RICE IN THE NORTHEAST, GARDEN GATES


Here I am swimming in seedlings and small, potted plants sitting on shelves or the ground in the greenhouse, on my picnic table, and on the terrace. Each plant is waiting for the right time to be planted outdoors or to be moved to a bigger pot. So why would I add to the crowd by planting something as absurd as rice? Because rice tastes good and might be fun to grow.

Interest in commercial and home rice cultivation has been on the rise here in the northeast, as attested to by last year’s Second Annual Northeast Rice Conference, held in  — of all places! — Vermont. No paddies in the works here; I’m parting ways with most of my fellow growers in planning to grow rice under dryland conditions. Growing rice in flooded fields is a useful way to snuff out …

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Gardenias, Good books, and Spring Freeze


If I might brag a bit . . . It’s been just over a couple of years that, in the same breath and on these very pages, I bemoaned the loss and decided to again take up the challenge of growing gardenia. I purchased a new one, with which I now claim success. My plant is bushy with lush, glossy green leaves, nine creamy white blossoms are fully open, and buds foreshadowing more are on the way. Fragrance from each blossom is heavenly sweet.
Gardenia is a temperamental plant, ready to be attacked by scale insects, ready to drop its flower buds, and ready to let its leaves yellow and drop. For the scale insects, I sprayed the plants weekly at the end of last summer with a “horticultural oil” spray before cold weather creeping onwards ushered the plant indoors. …

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A Reel Mower, Potting Soils

Coming out of the gate of the warmest and driest winter in decades, weather this spring has been a roller coaster ride. March had a spate of sunny days in the 70s, then temperatures plummeted to the low 20s, then the dry spell was ended with some rain, and recently temperatures have continued on the seasonably cool and cold side. Lawngrass has enjoyed the weather, and during one of the recent calms I finally got the opportunity to roll out the lawnmower.

The opportunity!? Mowing the lawn isn’t usually one of my favorite pastimes but this spring I was anxious to try out my new lawnmower. No need to clean and tighten the sparkplug, check the gas and oil, and pray for  the roar of exploding gasoline (within the engine) with this new mower. It’s a push mower, “push” as …

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Ramps, Colonial Williamsburg

A friend of a friend who was helping me turn compost stopped by the farmden and presented me with a fistful of greenery. Ramps. Although I’ve known of ramps and ramp festivals  for years, the plant never appealed to me. I foolishly figured it was one of those edibles whose main appeal was their wildness rather than their flavor.

But ramps right in your face demand attention, so I cooked and ate them that evening. The flavor was delicious, yes, onion-y but not with an overpowering aroma that’s often advertised as oozing from the bodies of attendees at ramps festivals; and they were sweet. As I have done with many other wild edibles — blueberries, pawpaws, and persimmons, to name a few — I right away wanted to cultivate ramps, both for the challenge and to have them available close …

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