Wednesday, July 27, 2011

My Camera Has a Food Setting--- Who Knew?

Summer dinners are so wonderful, tonight's is probably top of the list.  We had veggies from the Uptown Greenwood Farmer's Market, Parisi Farms.   A gift from one of my world travelers was a nice Italian olive oil that begged for some dipping bread was on the menu.  

Dinner was ready as soon as the bread was done.  I found a great dipping bread recipe online.  I have a large variety of herbs on the deck, so we were set!

Becca made some Ratatouille with the fresh veggies and more herbs.  Included in the dish was zucchini, yellow squash, white eggplant, thin purple eggplant, a red pepper that is in the banana pepper family, onion and garlic...and of course tomatoes! Recipe from Smitten Kitchen-- super blog!
Isn't it pretty?

 The Ratatouille was served on Couscous with a dollop of goat cheese on top.....oh man!!!

An additional side dish was Braised Celery with Parmesan Cheese.....hadn't had it in ages!

Chicken breasts lightly marinated in Italian dressing.

 Doesn't this plate just glow???? 
 Some very nice olive oil from Sorrento Italy. 
And some bread to dip it in!

Dinner's ready, come and sit!

Hope you all are enjoying the bounty of summer's harvest.  Me?  I am binding my time until it is time for the homemade chocolate chip cookies.... :-D

©Copyright 2011 Janet. All rights reserved. Content created by Janet for The Queen of Seaford. words and photos by Janet,The Queen of Seaford.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Poison Ivy with A Twist

This spring I had posted some fun plants I had found in my wooded area, mentioning I would not go into the little ravine to retrieve them because of the poison ivy.  It was suggested  I do a posting about poison ivy, Toxicodendron radicans.
Leaves of three, let it be....

We have a good deal of poison ivy in our woods.  The little saying above makes it clear...three leaves.  The leaves are irregularly toothed.  The leaves can be very small or very large. Next to the poison ivy is Virginia Creeper, Parthenocissus quinquefolia, a five leafed vine.  When Virginia Creeper is small, sometimes only three leaves are present....easy to confuse the two. 

The leaves are glossy on top and lighter color on the underside.  It is a woody stemmed vine. When it climbs up a tree the vine stem has hairy roots all along the stem-- easy to identify.  It can take the shape of a shrub or climb a tree or be a ground cover.  It is a tricky plant. 
 The photo below was taken by a former neighbor from Seaford.  She found a great specimen in flower.  You can see the woody stem and the shiny leaves. 
 I am including a number of photos of poison ivy because the leaves are so irregularly toothed, one might think it is a different plant.   This follow photo, while a bit fuzzy, shows how large the leaves can be.  Next to it are the leaves of a Sweetgum, Liquidambar styraciflua. 

Notice how little the toothed ridges are on the one below.
In many of the pictures you can see a bit of red.  In the fall the poison ivy turns brilliantly red.  It is quite pretty.  
Poison ivy is of concern to those of us in the gardening world because it contains the toxic oil called urushiol.  For many of us it causes blistering rashes.  The oil can remain for a long time on the skin as well as our clothes and shoes!  Urushiol can be found in other plants in the Cashew family, Anacardiaceae, of which poison ivy is a member.  I am sure you know of a few others....poison sumac and poison oak.  Listed below are a few great web links for all three.  Poison oak is very similar in appearance to poison ivy, but it has a velvety  pubescence on the stems. 
Duke photos for ID of poison sumac
Duke photos for ID of poison ivy
Duke photos for ID of poison oak

These three plants are not the only toxic urushiol laden plants.  Cotinus, smoke trees are included in the family.  Cashews of course and pistachios are also in this family.  Roasting the nuts makes the nuts edible, no problem. 

But, here is the twist.....Mangoes are also in this family.  The urushiol is in the peel and into the flesh about 5mm deep.  How did I come across this information?? 

Check out these lips..... they look like they are collagen filled movie star lips, until you see all the water blisters. 

 This is as wide as she could smile........
We did a Google search for allergies...thinking she might be allergic to a new lip balm or to her own saliva.  Finally the search led us to this posting...
Food that destroyed my face--- where the blogger said she had eaten a mango.  What??!!? Yes, darling daughter had eaten a couple mangoes in the last few days-- the last one she ate over the sink, eating it out of the peel.   BINGO!  Then we found this website--Food for Thought  more information about mangoes.  Who knew?  And yes, she is severely allergic to poison ivy.
Well, a trip to the urgent care clinic to get some prednisone and more antihistamines made for a great start to her visit to South Carolina!
So, as you go out into the garden be on the lookout for poison ivy.  And when you are in the market, keep your eyes open for those scary mangoes!

©Copyright 2011 Janet. All rights reserved. Content created by Janet for The Queen of Seaford. words and photos by Janet,The Queen of Seaford.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Tobacco Hornworm

I wanted to bring you an article written by one of my fellow Master Gardeners in South Carolina.  After reading Daricia's article about the Hornworms in her Charlotte Garden, I thought Ann's article would be a good companion to the other posting. 
The following article originally appeared in our MG newsletter. 

Tobacco Hornworm

By Ann Barklow
I often think of myself as an amateur research scientist when I am in the garden. When I see anything moving, I move in closer for inspection. For my research, I am never far from my 10X hand lens, laptop computer or iPhone, and camera.
Today I spotted a tobacco hornworm. I found it on my tomato plants and for obvious reasons; I was tempted to call it a tomato hornworm. You can distinguish the two by their markings. The tobacco hornworm has straight white lines like a cigarette pictured below and the tomato hornworm has “V” line markings like “vine” ripened tomatoes.

Tobacco Hornworm

If you have these large invaders in your garden in South Carolina it is most likely the tobacco hornworm. Tobacco, tomatoes, potatoes, eggplant and peppers are all in the Solanaceae family and tobacco hornworms will feed on all of them but seems to prefer tomatoes in my garden. Of course I’m not growing tobacco so I can’t speak to that.
The name hornworm can confuse you too. They do have a horn but they are a caterpillar not a worm because they are the larva of a moth. Worms are in the same form all their life where caterpillars are a stage of butterfly or moth.
The reason I spotted the hornworm was because it was covered with delicate cocoons. This was thrilling because these cocoons meant that Braconid wasps were in my garden. These parasitic wasps are only 1/10 to 1/4 inches long and are one of the most important beneficial insects that prey on aphids and caterpillars. It is one of the reasons I plant yarrow in my garden because I know they love the nectar from the flowers.

Braconid Wasp

These predators first insert their eggs in the caterpillar. These eggs hatch and the larvae begin feeding on the caterpillar’s organs causing its death. When the larvae finish, they cut their way out and spin these lovely cocoons where they pupate and turn into a wasp again and cut their way out of the cocoons. You can see their little escape hatches in the picture below. Notice the frass (insect poop) on the end under the horn. These droppings fall on the leaves below and are one of the easier ways to notice if you have hornworms since the caterpillars blend in so well. I often look for the frass and then follow up the plant and find the hornworm.

Tobacco Hornworm with Braconid Cocoons

Of course once you see one of these caterpillars you can probably find a half a dozen or more. As I looked more closely I found three more covered in cocoons and three that had no signs of attack and were eating fast and furiously. I debated for the afternoon if I should leave the ones eating so they would be available for an appetizer for newly hatched wasps but watching my plants get devoured was not easy. I have 6 very robust plants with an abundance of tomatoes and can take a bit of eating but if you only have a small patio tomato these culprits can eat it in one day! I am a big believer in biological control but sometimes it is too slow for my liking.

I decided to remove the three apparently healthy caterpillars but just in case they had wasp larvae in their bellies I placed them out into the forest a good distance from my tomato plants in hopes the wasps can complete their cycle.

This experience reminds me to continue to monitor my garden closely every day and research the critters living there. Search carefully and be sure to check undersides of leaves of your crops. If you see bugs, eggs or frass don’t ignore it. Find out what it is before it does severe damage. This can prevent a lot of discouragement and disappointment in gardening. Some of the insects you find may be beneficial like the cocoons I found. If we’re lucky nature will keep everything in balance with just a little help from us.

Thanks Ann! 

©Copyright 2011 Janet. All rights reserved. Content created by Janet for The Queen of Seaford. words and photos by Janet,The Queen of Seaford.

Monday, July 11, 2011

We Are All A Fickle Lot, Aren't We?

Who among us hasn't gone from plant to plant over the growing season, claiming each new encounter a 'favorite' plant?   I am as guilty as the next guy.  My newest favorite plant is Clethra alnifolia 'Vanilla Spice'.  Last fall I bought 5 small shrubs ----this spring I could only find four.  No the yard isn't that big...think some-bunny ate one of them. 
 The four that remain are in full bloom  right now.  It is a versatile shrub....native, likes sun to part shade.  It can handle moist soil or a drier location.   The fragrance is amazing!  The evening breeze carries its perfume across the garden.  I love it!  The bees love it.  The hummingbirds love it.  The deer leave it alone (at least according to the literature).  Like I said, one of mine disappeared.  Maybe it was just in a really dry part of the yard and died??  Who knows. 
 This beauty will grow to about six feet tall, though right now they are about two feet tall now.  I have given them plenty of room to grow and be all they can be.   The foliage is dark green and gives a colorful show in the fall. 
 Vanilla Spice is one of a few cultivars of this native.  I had originally wanted 'Ruby Spice' which has pinkish red blooms.  I was able to find the five Clethra last fall and decided to give the Vanilla Spice a try.  I do like the punch of white blooms in the garden.  It really stands out.   White or pink, what really has me loving this shrub is the fragrance.  Its common name?  Summersweet! And it sure is!
Do you have a new plant you have fallen for?  Like I said, we are fickle, I admit it, so---will be sharing some other 'new' favorites in the weeks to come.  Tell me your new favs!

©Copyright 2011 Janet. All rights reserved. Content created by Janet for The Queen of Seaford. words and photos by Janet,The Queen of Seaford.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Haallllllllllloooooowww, Happy 4th of July!

Anyone there?  Just stopped by to say Happy 4th!

Now that we have that out of the way---- new mystery flower.  Not sure when it started blooming, but it is in my wild area near the water.  Pretty pink.  Anyone have any ideas?  I did look through my wildflower book, to no avail.

 I love pretty finds in the garden!
Have a safe and happy holiday!

Update-- Freda and Daricia are wonderful... the ID for my pretty little flower is- Swamp Marsh Pink or Sabatia angularis.  thanks ladies. 

©Copyright 2011 Janet. All rights reserved. Content created by Janet for The Queen of Seaford. words and photos by Janet,The Queen of Seaford.