Adventures of a Transplated Gardener- Ginny Stibolt

Ginny Stibolt with with a pile of mulch.  Typical!

Ginny's Garden Log

The main purpose of this log was to expand on the gardening adventures that Ginny wrote about in her Adventures of a Transplanted Gardener columns, but now she writes at The GreenGardeningMatters blog.

Current postings and other posts to Ginny's Garden Log Meadow page 

This is the Third postings page (12/21/05 - 7/11/06): Topics on this page include: Meadow ManagementTomatoes, Pond, Monocots, Garden Detective, Reducing more lawn, Backyard Habitat, Water Hyacinths, Lawn dispute.


Gray Hairstreak butterfly on a stinking fleabane.  Photo by Stibolt.

7/11/06: A Meadow Update

So after two years of not mowing the front area that's now a meadow, how's it doing?  Very well, thank you.  I've posted an article on the state of the front meadow and how we maintain it: Managing a Natural Meadow. Also I have a supplemental meadow webpage that I'll continue to update. 

<<  I'd been struggling to identify which species of fleabane (Pluchea spp) was growing out in the meadow.  I thought last year that it was the tall white fleabane (Pluchea longifolia) but the leaves didn't have stems (petioles).  The only choice left was stinking fleabane or camphorweed (Pluchea foetida), but it has only a slight odor.  (Maybe it stinks when it's dried .)

The other day I watched this cute little gray hairstreak butterfly that sat for hours on the stinking fleabane.  It rotated its wings back and forth so the little tails with the white knobs looked like the antennae and with its orange eye-spot on the wings, predators may be confused about which end is which.   I learned that these butterflies lay their eggs right in the flowers, so maybe that's what was happening.  After watching for a while, a wasp landed on the same inflorescence.  The wasp was twice as long as the hairstreak, but the little butterfly didn't move from its task--whether it was nectar gathering or egg laying.  I posted a photo of the wasp and butterfly in my meadow article.  

I hope you have a meadow with interesting flora and fauna to enjoy and as I said in my article, "When can you say that about a manicured lawn, unless there are golfers upon it?"  

7/7/06: More podcasts...

We're finally getting some rain here, so the gardens are happy and the rain barrels are filling up.  Okay, so I changed my mind on the subjects.  I won't predict what the next group of podcasts might cover.  

6/20/06: Too many Tomatoes!!

We love tomatoes and you know that, whether the calendar agrees or not, when you start giving away tomatoes, summer is here!  We're growing three varieties this year and so far we've had more success than last.  I guess all that horse manure and compost might have had something to do with our abundance. 

Read my column: Tomatoes are for Summer.  I hope your summer abundance includes tomatoes, too.  

06/11/06: Podcasts on Jacksonville.com!!

Early last week, I finally recorded four interviews at Jacksonville's Times Union newspaper building.  I'd been invited to do this several months ago, but it didn't happen for one reason or another until now.  And now they want me to come in again ASAP to record some more interviews.  Okay.  I can do that.  I think I'll talk about: 1) managing the pond or other water features,  2)the nutrient cycle or what makes the rivers and ponds turn green and why is it bad, 3) meadow management, and 4) backyard/schoolyard habitats. 

Do you have any subjects that you'd like to see covered in my columns or podcast??  

Hundred of tadpoles gather at the edge of Ginny's pond. Photo by Stibolt

5/30/06: Hundreds of black tadpoles >>
gather at the edges of our pond.

They are some of our Pond Pleasures

In my latest article I've written about the regular gathering of the muck to keep our pond healthier.  I also provided a simplified version of the nutrient cycle and some of the causes of algal blooms and dead-zones.  

Last summer the St. Johns River, a wide river and estuary that flows north up to Jacksonville, suffered a severe algal bloom.  They called it "The River of Green" and the St. Johns Water Management District produced a documentary covering all its problems. 

In the St. Johns there are so many sources of external nutrients including, waste treatment plants and urban runoff rich with fertilizers, herbicides, and poisons.  It's shocking, even with the proof of too many nutrients when the river ran bright green last summer, that regulations have been eased and not tightened.

HIdden Ginger Lily--a surprise.  Photo by Stibolt

4/30/90

This interesting flower had me going for more than a year!!

Read my latest installment and see what I learned about this beauty and take a tour of some other intriguing monocots  on our lot.

 

Yellow lily-grass sprouted with the weeds...  Photo by Stibolt

This cute little wildflower looks like a  half-sized >>
blue-eyed grass and guess what, it is a blue-eyed grass, only it's yellow. (Sisyrinchium rosulatum)  That why botanists use scientific names.    It sprouted with all the weeds in the area waiting for soil amendments for our vegetable garden.  

See my article on being a  spring detective... 

 

A Lawn Orchid pops up from an un-mowed winter lawn. - photo by Stibolt

4/6/06: Planting tomatoes, free mulch, and more lawn removal

Well, we've planted the tomatoes and peppers in the ground over the last couple of days after bringing in the horse manure from our neighbor and mixing it with soil.   I'll keep you informed.

The rest of my gardening time has been further reduction of lawn both in the back yard and front and planting and transplanting ferns and seedlings into these spaces.  The tree guys from the power company have been trimming back powerline-threatening tree branches in our neighborhood.  We asked for a load of their shredded mulch--we'll be using it to re-mulch the paths in the meadows and other places where lawn has been removed.  The price was right, too.   

<< Lawn Orchids (Zeuxine strateumatica) reward those of us who don't mow all winter. These little beauties have sprouted up in our lawn.  We don't water or mow our lawn during the cool (and some pretty warm days) of northern Florida's winter.   I've also seen lawn orchids growing in roadside ditches and vacant lots.   Those people who water, and mow their lawns throughout the winter will never see this cute orchid with its fat yellow tongues.  Too bad for them!


3/8/06: Backyard Habitat certification:

Yes, there's been a gap since I last posted an entry here. (See below for the reason.)  Anyway, I've posted my next article on the certification of our backyard as habitat by The National Wildlife Federation.  Working on this project reminded me of reaching the last lecture of a college course.  It summed up all the lectures throughout the semester.   I urge you to join in in celebration of National Wildlife Week and Earth Day in April.  Even better, if you're involved with a school, a youth group, a church, community, or other organization that has property to manage, you can make a real difference in in the environment, but especially in our water quality. 

Ginny and a giant Agave in the chisos Mountains in Big Bend National Park. Photo by Avery

The reason:  My husband and I took a trek to the Big Bend National Park in SW Texas.  On the way, we camped at Galveston Island State Park to watch for migratory birds.  Then we stopped at Lake Armistad Recreational Area before driving across south Texas to the park.  We camped first in the low area (only 2,000 feet elevation) near the Rio Grande where you could have easily waded across the river to Mexico.  We soaked in the 105-degree water of the hot springs right next to the river.  Then we drove up to the Chisos Mountains into the basin.  It was warmer up there at more than 6,000 ft elevation because of the hot winds blowing up from the desert.  One morning we walked down to a place called The Window: it looks out from the mountains to the desert far below.  It was a fabulous view, but you wouldn't want to be there if it rained, because this is the drainage for the whole basin and the rocky surfaces are polished to a bright sheen from the fast-moving water.  This was the top of a waterfall.  There are isolated species of plants and animals here like a small white tailed deer.  I had fun trying to identify the plants and animals in this very different environment.   

You know, the agaves in Florida just don't look like this. >>


1/9/06: Removing Water Hyacinths from the lake was on my winter to-do list:

Water Hyacinths, an invasive alien needs to be removed whenever possible.  Photo by Avery.

On two warm days last week, I jumped into the muck in the finger of Lake Asbury next to our lot to remove the Water Hyacinths (Eichhornia crassipes) that had collected there.  I found out that these invasives are rich in nutrients and much of the organic liquid fertilizer used in professional greenhouses is made from hyacinth slurry.  So I'll use these plants to enrich my vegetable plot and the general compost mixture.  My own free supply! (Compost article)

In addition to hyacinths, our lake harbors other aliens such as hydrilla (Hydrilla verticillata) which is being treated by herbicides that have yet to work.  As you can see by the algal cover, the lake also has a problem with too many nutrients.   I'm going to take a more active role in managing the lake, because in an enclosed environment like this spring-fed lake, there's hope for noticeable change when surrounding residents work together.

I've posted an article with the rest of my gardening resolutions for 2006.  What are your resolutions?  Or what's on your to-do list for the year?  I'll post your answers here.


12/21/05: A sorry situation:"83-old woman loses everything because she won't mow her lawn."
Here's the link:  http://www.sun-sentinel.com/business/realestate/sfl-psiegel06dec06,0,943165.story?coll=sfla-busrealestate-headlines (Sorry the link is no longer active.)

You know how I feel about lawns and I'm sure there are at least two sides to this story, but this is a sad situation where a dispute over mowing a lawn resulted in $1.8 million in fines.  The village officials in Tequesta, FL have lost sight of what's really important.  I repeat my plea to gardeners everywhere: Please, please get involved in any action that will reduce lawns for the sake of the environment.  Lawns and how they are managed are not good for water quality and lawns reduce the diversity of wildlife.  In case you missed it, here's my article on lawns

Okay I'll get off my soapbox now.  Have a wonderful Christmas and a garden-filled New Year.

(Update: in 2009 The Florida-friendly law was passed and signed by the governor, which would have prevented this situation.  It may, in fact, be the very situation that stimulated the legislators into enacting this law.)

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Ginny Stibolt 2004-2011

 

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