you say potato, I say volunteer

Look at this! Karl mentioned that he saw something growing in the compost bin when he dumped grass clippings the other day, and lo and behold, it’s a potato!

volunteer potato plant in the compost bin

I suppose it makes sense – when you plant potatoes, you just cut them up and put them in the dirt, and I’m sure I must have thrown a piece of potato in the bin. As soon as I get some more soil to fill in the bed where I like to grow taters, I’ll transplant this. Have you ever found something growing in your compost bin?



I returned from ALA to find that the veg gardens are growing by leaps and bounds! So are the weeds, of course, and this morning I spent some time listening to podcasts of Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me and clearing out of a bunch of those.

back yard

fence-side bed

I was thrilled to find cucumbers and squash:

early russian cucumber

baby pam squash

buttercup squash

There are also some green tomatoes, which I didn’t manage to take any photos of. I ripped out the remaining pea vines and gave up on the beans (I planted some seeds left over from last year, and they never got any taller than about eight inches).

main veg bed

I’ve also got garlic and lettuce and potatoes that are ready to go or will be soon. Hooray for growing your own food!

Finally, look how cute Logan is:

Logan on the back patio


More photos on Flickr.


good bugs

After finding aphids on my potato blossoms, I decided to order some ladybugs and praying mantis eggs to try to keep some of the pesty insects at bay. They arrived today!

ladybug and praying mantis egg unboxing

They were left on the doorstep, so they definitely experienced some not-cool temperatures, but everything inside seemed okay.

ladybug unboxing

ladybug unboxing

ladybug unboxing

ladybug unboxing

ladybugs on the potatoes

ladybugs on the hyssop

There were a LOT of ladybugs in that bag! They quickly grabbed onto the potatoes, hyssop, and plenty of other plants in the veg beds. Hopefully they’ll hang out in the area and not stray too far. One little lady found the aphids right away!


Hopefully she (or he) ate a big ol’ post-travel meal.

Then I unpacked the mantis eggs, which were slightly less exciting but still kind of neat.

praying mantis eggs

praying mantis eggs

They sure don’t look like much at this point, but hopefully they’ll hatch and make a home in the garden.

More photos at Flickr.


did I leave the gas on?

No, I’m a fucking squirrel.

squirrel eating a maple tree whirligig in the front yard

This little guy was hanging out on the front garden today, eating maple tree whirligigs. I say, eat up! Just go poo somewhere else so the seeds don’t take – we already have an army of seedlings growing out there.

Life’s been really busy the past couple weeks! I haven’t posted nearly as much as I’d planned to, so here’s to catching up.

The common mullen that I’ve let go next to the front door has gotten huge and is starting to flower:

common mullen

common mullen

I realize that mullen is generally thought of as a weed, but it’s helping keep the yucky yucca at bay (not entirely, of course, but somewhat) and I was kind of curious to see how big it might get. From what I’ve read online, it is a biennial, so it’ll die after it blooms this year anyway. Apparently if you crush the leaves, you can use the sap to treat insect bites. I haven’t tried that yet.

This week I came home from work one day to find that the twelve purple leaf plum hedge shrubs I planted had been pulled out of the ground and were scattered on the neighbor’s driveway. I suspect, though the adult neighbor denies it, that their evil spawn did it. They leave him unattended all the time and the whole family seems to be lacking in the smarts department. I would not put it past them to lie to my face. Anyway, I soaked the roots and replanted them. Hopefully they’ll still survive.

purple leaf plum hedge along the side of the house

In happier news, a bunch of the things I planted from seed up front are sprouting! We’ve got black hollyhock:

black hollyhock

(thanks to Charli for those seeds!), a large area where I mixed several kinds of seeds – white swan echinacea, creeping baby’s breath, a white flower mixture (thanks to Charli for all three of those!) and purple dark opal basil:

mixed seeds: white swan echinacea, dark opal basil, creeping baby's breath, white flower mixture



and bee’s friend:

bee's friend

The edibles I planted up front are also sprouting. I’ve got alternating red velvet lettuce:

red velvet lettuce

and mammoth red rock cabbage along the front walkway:

mammoth red rock cabbage

I also planted some Sunberry seeds along the neighbor’s driveway, but I haven’t seen any evidence of them sprouting yet. We’ll see.

So those are today’s photos. On to older ones. Last weekend K hung the bat house on the side of the garage – it only took us a year to actually put it up!

bat house

We painted it black last year, so hopefully it will get nice and toasty and attract plenty of bats. We hung it high (it’s actually over a window – which K repaired the screen in before hanging the house – he was able to insert some 2×4 pieces into the window cavity so we had a nice solid place to mount it), which bats will apparently be attracted to as well. Our neighbors have about six hundred bird baths and other surfaces in which they allow water to stand so it would be awesome to have some bats in the ‘hood to eat up all the mosquitoes that breed next door.

Lots of the veggies in the back garden are growing like mad, which you can check out on Flickr. I’m mildly concerned that something is snacking on some of my potato leaves

is something eating my potato leaves?

Ants, maybe? There’s not a lot of damage yet, but if anyone has any tips, I’d love to hear them.

In totally non-garden-related news, we’re doing a kind of neat project for the summer at the ‘brary. Our theme for summer reading is Get Creative @ Your Library, and staff members can volunteer to create something which will then be raffled off to patrons who participate in summer reading. I decided to make a Grumpasaurus, who I have dubbed Grumpasaurus II: Electric Grumpaloo


I made him a little bigger than the original Grumpasaurus, who still lives in my office:


I tried to make G II a little less sinister-looking than the original, and I also played around with his spikes a little, making them bigger at the top. Hopefully someone will want him!

more photos at Flickr


veggie seeds

I’ve been working on what I want to plant in the veggie beds this year. For some of these, I need to narrow it down – if you’ve tried any of these or have other recommendations, I’d love to hear them.


Blue Lake Snap Bush Bean (Phaseolus vulgaris) : 15-18″ : 55-60 days
blue lake snap bush bean
from Seeds of Change, Baker Creek

Gold Rush Bush Bean (Phaselous vulgaris) : 16-20″ : 50-55 days
gold rush bush bean
from Seeds of Change

Haricot Vert “Maxibel” Snap Bush Bean (Phaseolus vulgaris) : 20-24″ : 50-55 days
haricot vert maxibel
from Seeds of Change

Roc D’Or Yellow Wax Bean (Phaseolus vugaris) : 16-20″ : 55-60 days
roc d'or
from Seeds of Change

Royalty Purple Podded Snap Bush Bean (Phaseolus vulgaris) : 12-20″ : 50-55 days
royalty purple
from Seed Savers, Seeds of Change, Baker Creek

Envy Soya/Soybean [Edamame] : 80 days
envy soya
from Seed Savers, Baker Creek


Calabrese (Brassica oleracea) : 18-28″ : 2-6″ head : 60-90 days
from Seed Savers, Seeds of Change, Baker Creek

Romanesco Italia : 75-100 days
from Seed Savers, Baker Creek


Farao F-1 Cabbage (Brassica oleracea var. capitata) : 2.5-3.5 lb : 60-65 days
Farao F-1 Cabbage
from Seeds of Change

Red Express Cabbage : (Brassica oleracea var. capitata) : 2-4 lb : 60-70 days
from Seeds of Change

Early Jersey Wakefield : 2 lb : 70 days
early jersey
from Seed Savers, Baker Creek


Japanese Imperial Long (Daucus carota var. sativus) : 10-24″ : 90-100 days
Japanese Imperial Long Carrot
from Seeds of Change

Oxheart (Daucus carota var. sativus) : 4-5″ : 65-75 days
from Seed Savers, Seeds of Change

St. Valery : 10-12″ : 70 days
st valery
from Seed Savers, Baker Creek


French Dinant (Apium graveolens) : 12-18″ : 85-110 days
from Seeds of Change

Tendercrisp (Apium graveloens)
from Baker Creek


Sugar Pearl F-1 Sweet Corn (Zea mays) : 6-7′ : 70-75 days
sugar pearl sweet corn
from Seeds of Change

True Gold Sweet Corn (Zea mays) : 6′ : 70-80 days
true gold sweet corn
from Seeds of Change, Baker Creek


Mideast Prolific (Cucumis sativus) : 5-7″ : 50-60 days
mideast prolific
from Seeds of Change

Early Russian (Cucumis sativus): 55 days
early russian
from Baker Creek


Maruba Santoh (Brassica Rapa) : 18″
Maruba Santoh
from Seeds of Change

New York Head (Lactuca sativa) : 10-12″ : 3-4lbs : 80-85 days
New York head
from Seeds of Change

Red Iceberg (Lactuca sativa) : 8-10″ : 60-65 days
red iceberg
from Seed Savers, Seeds of Change

Barcarole (Lactuca sativa) : 10-12″ : 70-75 days
from Seeds of Change

Iceberg Lettuce (Lactuca sativa)
from Baker Creek

Rouge Grenobloise (Lactuca sativa)
from Baker Creek


Blenheim Orange Muskmelon (Cucumis melo) : 2 lbs : 80-90 days
Blenheim Orange
from Seeds of Change

Charentais Cantaloupe (Cucumis melo) : 1.5-2.5 lbs : 80-90 days
from Seed Savers, Seeds of Change, Baker Creek

Sugar Baby Watermelon (Citrullus lanatus) : 10-20 lbs : 60-65 days
sugar baby
from Seeds of Change, Baker Creek

Sierra Gold Melon (Cucumis melo) : 3lb : 85 days
from Baker Creek


Sugar Snap (Pisum sativum) : 4-5′ : 60-70 days
sugar snap
from Seeds of Change, Baker Creek

Golden Sweet Pea (Pisum sativum) : 6′ vines
golden sweet
from Seed Savers, Baker Creek


Sweet Yankee Bell Pepper (Capsicum annuum) : 18-24″ : 75-85 days
sweet yankee bell pepper
from Seeds of Change

Jalapeno (Capsicum annuum) : 24-30″ : 65-75 days
from Seeds of Change

Numex Conquistador (Capsicum annuum) : 18-24″ : 70-80 days
numex conquistador
from Seeds of Change

Peruvian Purple (Capiscum frutescens) : 16-24″ : 85-95 days
peruvian purple
from Seeds of Change

Paprika Alma (Capiscum frutescens) : 16-24″ : 75-85 days
from Seed Savers, Seeds of Change

Purple Beauty Bell (Capiscum frutescens) : 18-24″ : 70-80 days
Purple Beauty
from Seed Savers, Seeds of Change, Baker Creek

Red Belgian (Capsicum annum)
red belgian
from Baker Creek


Desiree potato (Solanum tuberosum) : 95-100 days
desiree potato
from Seed Savers, Seeds of Change

Banana potato (Solanum tuberosum) : 95-100 days
banana potato
from Seeds of Change


Bloomsdale (Raphanus bipinnatus) : 16″ : 50-55 days
from Seed Savers, Seeds of Change, Baker Creek

Squash and Pumpkins

Black Beauty Zucchini (Cucurbita pepo) : 5-8″ : 50-55 days
black beauty zucchini
from Seed Savers, Seeds of Change, Baker Creek

Buttercup (Cucurbita maxima) : 3-5lbs : 95-105 days
from Seed Savers, Seeds of Change, Baker Creek

Jack-O-Lite (Cucurbita pepo) : 8-15 lbs : 90 days
from Seeds of Change


Evening Sun (Helianthus annuus) : 4-6″ flowers : 6-10′ : 95-105 days
evening sun
from Seed Savers, Seeds of Change, Baker Creek

Tarahumara White Shelled (Helianthus annuus) : 7-10′ : 85-100 days
from Seed Savers, Seeds of Change, Baker Creek


Chadwick Cherry Tomato (Lycopersicon esculentum) : 1.5 oz : 80-90 days
from Seeds of Change, Baker Creek

Black Krim Slicing Tomtato (Lycopersicon esculentum) : 10-12 oz : 85-90 days
black krim
from Seed Savers, Seeds of Change, Baker Creek