Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Niki Jabbour's VEGGIE GARDEN REMIX - Win One!


One of the best things about gardening is that there is an unlimited choice of things to grow. We tend to grow those things that we love, year after year, but it's always fun to try something new, too.

In 2008, I grew a lot of purple veggies. This
is Phaseolus vulgaris 'Purple Queen'.
One year, I decided to grow purple veggies. Researching what vegetables came in purple, I was surprised to find out how many there were. I already knew about eggplant and cabbage, of course, but there was also sweet corn, okra, potatoes, “green” beans, carrots, kohlrabi, lettuce, and several others.

Seeds were purchased and planted, and my purple vegetable garden was born.

When I would talk about my purple veggie garden, the number one question I got was, “Do the purple ones taste the same as the regular colored ones?” And the answer was yes. There was no discernible difference, other than slight variations you would expect from one cultivar to another, independent of color.

Besides being fun to do, I learned something along the way. Those purple beans magically turned green when they were cooked! We called them our magic beans.

For all of you adventurous gardeners, there's a new book that will have you salivating at all the wonderful and quirky choices available for growing. Niki Jabbour, star of growing year round, even though she lives in Nova Scotia, and author of bestselling The Year Round Vegetable Gardener, has written a fun new book – Niki Jabbour's Veggie Garden Remix.


http://amzn.to/2ClZ6Fh


This book is like looking at a catalog of 224 choices of a wide variety of edibles that you may not have thought about growing or may not have even known existed! But better than a plant catalog, Niki shares growing tips, plant origins, how and when to plant and harvest, different ways to use them, and a host of other information.

If your vegetable garden has become a little ho-hum, or you've lost a little enthusiasm for gardening in general, Niki's book can jump start it all again. How can you get bored growing things with names like 'Poona Kheera' (cucumber) and 'Orange Jelly' (turnip). I'm not a turnip fan, but ORANGE JELLY!

A carrot in parentheses!

I can think of no better way to begin this year's garden than flipping through this book and making a list of seeds that will elevate my veggie-growing space to stellar star status. It's like how I used to go through the Sears Christmas catalog the day it came and I made a list of all the toys I wanted. That was such fun, too.

We've been doing the Blue Apron thing for over a year now, and we've been introduced to some foods that we might otherwise not have known about. We found new foods to love, including some you'll find in Niki's book.



Win a copy of Veggie Garden Remix!

http://amzn.to/2CmqhQr

I was sent a complimentary copy of Niki's book and you could win a copy of your own! 

Just comment on this blog post by midnight, EST, on Sunday, February 25, 2018. One random commentor will get a copy of Niki Jabbour's Veggie Garden Remix sent to them from her publisher, Storey Books. Be sure to indicate how you'd like for me to contact you, in case you're the winner.



Good luck!

________________________________



Niki Jabbour is the award-winning author of Niki Jabbours Veggie Garden Remix, The Year-Round Vegetable Gardener, and Groundbreaking Food Gardens. Her work is found in Fine Gardening, Garden Making, Birds & Blooms, Horticulture, and other publications, and she speaks widely on food gardening at events and shows across North America. She is the host and creator of The Weekend Gardener radio show. She lives in Halifax, Nova Scotia, and is online at nikijabbour.com.




Monday, January 22, 2018

Listen to the Sounds of Monarch Butterfly Wings in the Cerro Pelon Reserve in Mexico!


I just learned of a project that allows you to hear sounds in various locations around the world. Called Locus Sonus, it is a French-based research network that focuses on the relationship between sound and space. It had its beginnings in 2005, and works in cooperation with several research labs throughout the world, including the School of the Art Institute (SAIC) in Chicago.

While I don't entirely understand their goal or purpose, what I do know is that they set up listening devices using open mics in places in order to capture their soundscape. Mainly an artistic endeavor, it relies on technology and science to operate.

Why am I interested in this? Because one of the locations where a microphone is located is in the Cerro Pelon monarch butterfly sanctuary in Michoacán, Mexico. By tuning in to this particular channel, you can hear the sounds of monarch butterfly wings, birds chirping, and wind through the trees in the location where the monarch butterflies were first found in their wintering location in 1975.


Click on graphic to enlarge soundmap. To go to the site, click here.


The listening map is located here and you can find the Cerro Pelon mic in Mexico and click on it. You'll want to have your sound turned up to its maximum level in order to hear the low level sounds.

The listening equipment is solar powered, so there will be times when no sound is being transmitted (at night, for example, which will be indicated by the darkened areas on the map) and the volume may vary. It's very new, so there will be times when equipment adjustments are being made. During those times, the microphone may not appear on the map. Check back later. It will be worth it!


Taking it all in at Sierra Chincua sanctuary, March 3rd, 2017.


Having been in a couple of the monarch sanctuaries myself, I can confirm that yes, it's very subtle, very quiet, which is the beauty in it, especially when you're in its midst. Just as in the actual location, you will not hear loud anything streaming through the microphone and you might be underwhelmed by what you hear. But make no mistake, you can hear those delicate wing flutters.


When the sun is out, the monarchs can be seen fluttering about, like
these, in El Rosario sanctuary on March 2nd, 2017.


Because the monarchs are much more active on sunny days, this will affect what you hear when listening in. If it's cloudy or rainy, you won't hear the sounds of butterfly wings, because the monarchs will be clustered together on the trees with very few, if any, flying around. So if you don't hear them at first try, go back and give it a listen on different days at different times. I got lucky and heard the wing flutters the first time I tuned in. 🦋

Enjoy!

Saturday, January 20, 2018

How the Lifesaver Plant Got Its Name


Winter is a time when most of my houseplants get the most love they're ever going to get. That's because if I want to keep these plants - mostly tropicals - they have to live in the house with us during the winter and I generally pay more attention to those things that share my living space. We're in Zone 5b here and it gets way too cold for them to stay outside year round.

These begonias do well in the bright shade of the pergola, but need to
go inside for the winter.

One day, in the summer of 2016, I went nursery hopping with my good friend, Shelley, and while I showed some restraint as we visited various places, only buying what I needed for a photo shoot for a trade industry magazine article I was doing, I found something I couldn't live without. It only cost a few dollars, but we all know that when it comes to plants, cost often has little to do with our buying decisions.

I'd heard about the lifesaver plant many years ago and had seen photos of it - such a cactus-y looking thing with surreal candy blooms. I wondered if those flowers (I felt funny even calling them that) really looked as plasticky in real life.



But now here it was, right in front of me, and oh boy, yeah. It really did look like its photos. So I bought it. In the time since that day, it has taken turns growing in the house, in the conservatory, and outside during the summer. It seems to be a happy camper no matter where it is. You've got to love a plant like that.




Here are the growing stats:

Common name: Lifesaver plant
Botanical name: Huernia zebrina
Plant type: Succulent
Zone: 10
Light: Full sun
Water: Let dry thoroughly between watering, then soak. Tolerates neglectful watering.
Height: Under 6 inches 
Bloom time: Intermittent


FUN FACT: Huernia zebrina belongs to the same family as milkweed -  Apocynaceae. But no, monarch butterflies don't use it as a host plant. 😉




http://amzn.to/2EYfttk


For ideas on how to use houseplants that coordinate with your personal style and decor, see my first book, co-authored with Jenny Peterson: Indoor Plant Decor: The Design Stylebook For Houseplants. (2013, St. Lynn's Press)





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