Pollination Stations!

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The gardens have been left to their own devices this summer, as I take time to travel with family. When I left, most of the flowering plants were just starting to form buds. Now, the whole place is an explosion of color. My hope that the diversity of new flowers would attract a variety of pollinator species like bees and humming birds. I think my plan is working, because I’ve seen many little zipping blurs chirping around the lavender and sage, while the sound of humming insects has raved up, and bumble bees crash around in the foxglove and asters.

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This year the wildflower seeds exploded, yielding so many new flower species, and the pollinators have responded en-mass.

The Cascadia Hops are off the hook, as expected, but next winter, they will need to be dug up and transplanted to better locations where their experiential growth is more appreciated. Right now, these fantastic vines are trying to overtake everything they reach. Including all my other vegetable plants in the front garden.

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Most of the front garden has become bolted lettuce (meaning the hot sun sent them from sweet leafed salad mix to bitter seeding out towers of inedible vegetation) but that’s ok, we’ll use the seed for next fall’s batch and have salad all the way through winter, a second year of using Leafhopper’s own seed! The corn is barely six inches high, and I have my doubts about getting any kind of crop out of it this year. The snap peas are happy, and trellising nicely along the cloche. My one asparagus is leafing out, which means we might get more shoots next year if the root crown can grow a bit more. All of the radishes bolted, as they tend to do, but that gives us a lot of succulent radish pods to enjoy and pickle for next winter. I think I actually like the pods better than the radish root, and will plan on allowing them to bolt from now on. Anyone else find this to be a better way to utilize radish?

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I did buy and plant a few potted plants, like pansies, which have edible flowers. I’m enjoying the diverse color and hoping some make it through the winter for another year of food and brightness in the garden. The rock-star of the garden this year is strawberries. Though they are small, being of a more wild variety, the fruit is extra sweet and keep putting out new little red nubs of delicious.

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Yarrow, borage (bee butter), and blueberry grace the east garden beds, along with onion and wormwood. There is a rather productive trellis of snap peas also going strong. These beds have very marginal soil, so I’m happy to see things establishing in them for the coming years. I need to get some comfrey in there for chop and drop fertility. Here’s a Wikipedia breakdown of their benefit to a garden:

“Comfrey is a particularly valuable source of fertility to the organic gardener. It is very deep rooted and acts as a dynamic accumulator, mining a host of nutrients from the soil. These are then made available through its fast-growing leaves (up to 1.8–2.3 kilograms (4.0–5.1 lb) per plant per cut) which, lacking fibers, quickly break down to a thick black liquid. There is also no risk of nitrogen robbery when comfrey is dug into the soil as the C:N ratio of the leaves is lower than that of well-rotted compost. Comfrey is an excellent source of potassium, an essential plant nutrient needed for flower, seed and fruit production. Its leaves contain 2–3 times more potassium than farmyard manure, mined from deep in the subsoil, tapping into reserves that would not normally be available to plants.” [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comfrey]

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This log bed is wonderful, with tropaeolum (nasturtium), and a mix of small wild flowers. These little hidden islands are fun to cultivate, and I have not been watering them very much, so the output from the soil is productive, without a lot of work on my part. A lot of these flowers can be eaten too, and I made a nice colorful salad last night for a friend and myself which was mostly flowers and peas. Yummy!

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This parting shot is a newcomer to Leafhopper Farm, and some might say, an unwelcome one. Dipsacus (Teasel) is very invasive and prolific. These seeds are rogue, but I did spread some on another part of the land, and will make sure this year to cut them before they seed. This plant was such a mystery when it first popped up, and I was reluctant to pull it early in springtime until I identified it. Until the recent flower buds began to appear, I thought it was a thistle. Now I know I’ve got Dipsacus fullonum, a naturalized species that was used in the textile industry to raise the nap on fabrics. Wool was the most common fiber utilized in this process.

The teasel flowers will minister nectar and later provide seeds to our American Goldfinches. Dipsacus is part of the Honeysuckle family, and will continue to show up at Leafhopper Farm in many forms.

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