ONE WEEK UNTIL THE 7TH ANNUAL WISTERIA SOIREE – Saturday 25 MARCH, 12:00 noon

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Posted by Gordon | Posted in News | Posted on 18-03-2017

THIS WILL BE THE LAST POST BEFORE THE SOIREE so the next time we talk will be at the gathering and I hope to see many of you here.  We have a lot of members who will not make it because they live in Australia, Africa, England, France, or in other distant locations and across America but a lot of us live in or close to Beaufort and I hope you will make the effort to attend as we always have a very pleasant afternoon together.    Your GPS will bring you here or at least to the line of balloons that will lead you to 70 QUIET COVE WAY. 

You will have to bring a chair, your drink of choice (I will have soda, water and ice), a little something for the food table and most importantly, insect repellent.   This year I am serving  Shrimp Jambalaya as a change from Frogmore Stew.  I guarantee that you will like it as my brother-in-law is coming down from Shelby, NC to make it.  (Glenda and I escaped Hurricane Matthew and went to Shelby where we sampled his Jambalaya – very good).

The weather is forecast to be bright and sunny and in the 70s so it should be a great afternoon and evening.

As for the results of this weeks “March freeze”, the citrus bloom survived so there should be a sent of orange blossoms in the air and the promise of a great citrus crop this fall.  Unfortunately, the Wisteria bloom came early and will be in its decline for the soiree but it did survive the freeze (31 degrees) .  I can’t say the same for the 30 plus 5 inch tomato seedlings.  They are  difficult to locate after withering and falling into the hay mulch.  I will just have to re-plant.  That is what I get for trying to get an early start.  The rest of the garden (except for the tender new leaves on the fig hedge) will show little damage.

OUR GARDEN

OUR GARDEN

 

SEE YOU NEXT SATURDAY.

GORDON

 

GO TO WWW.SEAISLANDGARDEN.COM

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Posted by Gordon | Posted in News | Posted on 07-03-2017

I AM GETTING REPORTS THAT IF YOU LOOK AT THE SEAISLANDGARDEN POST FROM THE EMAIL YOU RECEIVE ANNOUNCING A NEW POST THAT YOU MAY NOT BE ABLE TO READ THE VERSION BECAUSE OF THE BACKGROUND.  YOU WILL NOT SEE THAT PROBLEM IF YOU GO TO THE WEBSITE AT WWW.SEAISLANDGARDEN.COM WHERE THE POST IS SEEN CLEARLY AND CAN BE READ.

GORDON

NINETEEN DAYS TO GO UNTIL THE ANNUAL WISTERIA SOIREE.

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Posted by Gordon | Posted in News | Posted on 06-03-2017

THE BEGINNING OF THE WISTERIA BLOOM

THE BEGINNING OF THE WISTERIA BLOOM

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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An early spring means an early bloom.  I set the date for the annual wisteria soiree for the last Saturday in March as that was the average date where the peak of the bloom occurred during the previous 7 years.  This would allow everyone to put the date on their calendars and plan ahead.  Well, the best laid plans and all that… we have an early bloom this year and the wisteria may be a memory when the soiree date arrives.  But we don’t need the wisteria bloom to have a successful soiree.  Although, it is nice to sit under the arbor with our wine and shrimp as the blossoms fall onto our plates but we are often so involved in conversation that we don’t even notice.

This year we have a treat. Glenda’s brother, Ed, will be coming with his wife and he will be cooking a fantastic shrimp dish that he served when we escaped to his home in Shelby, NC to avoid Hurricane Matthew.  It is a real treat and beats another Frogmore Stew.

I am adding many of the images I captured in the garden this afternoon to demonstrate how early Spring is this year.

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There are more but I think this is enough.

I really want to urge everyone to attend the soiree and to call me at 843-524-9649 or email me at seaislandman@islc.net and RSVP so I know I have enough for everyone to eat.

Remember that you have to bring your drink (unless it is water or a soft drink as I will have them here along with ice, paper plates and utensils.  Please bring a side to add to the eats.  You will need insect spray and a chair.  If it is stormy, come anyway as we have a large shed to keep dry under.  If you need directions, please call or email me for directions.  I am easy to find.

WE HAVE A WONDERFUL TIME AND THE MORE THE MERRIER. 

Gordon

A FEBRUARY SPRING!

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Posted by Gordon | Posted in News | Posted on 26-02-2017

POMEGRANATE SPOUTS

POMEGRANATE SPOUTS

GENERAL COMMENT:

A winter with only two light frost means a hot summer with lots of insects, especially the biting kind, and a huge citrus crop.  This is my kind of winter.  I can ware long sleeves to ward off the mosquitoes and midges and I can choose the time of day I work in the garden to avoid the heat and in return, I can pick oranges, tangerines, grapefruit, Myers Lemons, limes, kumquats, mandarins and navels from November to March.   Add to this the fresh produce we get from the vegetable garden during the entire year and one could say Eden is located on Lady’s Island, SC.  One can augment his diet, if he wishes, with the fish, crabs, mussels, oysters and shrimp pulled from the Coosaw River just 200 feet from the garden.  Makes me wonder why I go to work every day… Oh yea, taxes, insurance, medical bills and prescriptions, and home repairs to mention just a few reasons.

Today was not a work day.  It was a day in paradise.  I worked for several hours in the garden where I mulched  beds and serviced the watering systems in preparation for the summer heat.  When the temperature reached 82 degrees (remember, this is February), I decided to sit down and enjoy the day.  And what a day it was.  As I sat in the mottled shade of the old live oak trees, the honey sweet smell of orange blossoms wafted around me reminding me that there were still a few oranges to pick.

ORANGE BLOSSOMS AND ORANGES

ORANGE BLOSSOMS AND ORANGES

The sound of the bees on the blossoms made me aware of the other sounds (Not my honeybees as all five of my hives were destroyed by Hurricane Matthew in October.  The winds blew each of the double brood boxes with two supers over and then proceeded to pound the bees and wax/honey so that when I was allowed to return to the island nine days later, there was little evidence of any life in the hives.) .   Above the pulsing tenor of one of my high rise sprinklers, I heard the wonderful sounds of spring.  Blue Jays in the distance, a Red-tailed Hawk above.  Tufted Titmice, house finches and sparrows , doves, a crow – then more.  A Yellow-throated Warbler, sings across the garden while what I thought first was a Mocking Bird but turned out to be a Brown Thrasher mocking the sounds of the Chickadee and another unidentified warbler.  The ratatat sounds of a sapsucker mingled with that of the nuthatch and a distant cry of the Pileated Woodpecker.  This cacophony of sounds overlapping themselves and then a sudden break in the chorus only to start again.  Meanwhile the chickens and their rooster have to start a raucous exchange which overpowers everything for a couple minutes.  My favorite sound of the afternoon was the spring call of the Northern Cardinal as he staked out his territory for his breeding efforts.  What a pure spring melody.

KATHY WITH THE GARDEN GUEST

KATHY WITH THE GARDEN GUEST

Later, several of my garden partners came by.  Davis and Kathy brought a new couple over that are interested in joining our group.  They were very pleasant and the wife, Nancy, got busy with Kathy planting peas.  More on them in the next post.  Nancy’s 90 year old father was visiting and came along for the visit.  He was very bright and enjoyed seeing the garden.

DAVIS BRINGS IN THE TANGERINE SUPPORTS

DAVIS BRINGS IN THE TANGERINE SUPPORTS

 

CHRIS SAMPLES A SOUR KUMQUAT

CHRIS SAMPLES A SOUR KUMQUAT

Chris brought her partner, Joan, over to look at the barn as she may bring her horse over to board with Glenda’s two horses.  They brought a friend that will add a third stall to the barn.  Chris and Joan live next door so this arrangement will be very convenient.

 

GARDEN FACTS:

We have produced various greens this winter faster than we can harvest them.  Mustard, Kale, rape, collards, lettuce and turnips.  These make wonderful cooked vegetables but there is only so much we can eat.  the oak-leaf lettuce is eaten raw as a single head can be cut and served as a personal salad.  Extremely good but now the butter crunch is starting to grow to give it some competition.

MUSTARD GREENS

MUSTARD GREENS

 

RAPE

RAPE

We decided to not pull the sweet pepper plants up but to cut them back and see if we could get them to rejuvenate themselves.   I think it is working.  We have sprouts along the stems and if all goes well we will have big pepper plants well ahead of any that we plant from sets.  Three or four locations of several varieties of peas have begun to sprout.  I am erecting the climbing nets.  These peas are not the shelling kind, they are the “never get to the kitchen” type.  Best eaten straight off the vine by the picker.  Broccoli sets are in and more to come as are the Pac Choi, carrots, Swiss Chard and radish.   The blue berries are beginning to bloom and the blackberries are starting to grow their cane as the fig hedge is showing signs of bud swelling.  I love it when everything starts to come together.    I have dug the holes, mulched and inserted the tomato cages but the tomato sets are still in the greenhouse still too small to put out.  I am planting only Rutgers and Cherokee purple this year.  I will probably through in a couple Roma later from purchased sets.

KATHY MULCHES THE REST OF THE BLUEBERRIES

KATHY MULCHES THE REST OF THE BLUEBERRIES

 

OUR OLD FRIEND - THE MYSTERY GREEN REAPPEARS

OUR OLD FRIEND – THE MYSTERY GREEN REAPPEARS

 

AWAITING THE TOMATOES

AWAITING THE TOMATOES

 

SWEET PEPPER REJUVINATION

SWEET PEPPER REJUVENATION

 

BLUEBERRY BLOOMS

BLUEBERRY BLOOMS

 

THE GARDEN

THE GARDEN

THE ANNUAL WISTERIA SOIREE IS AROUND THE CORNER SO STAY TUNED.

I have standardized the date for the Wisteria Soiree to the last Saturday in March so that people can put it on their calendars.  In the past I tried to coordinate it with the peak of the wisteria bloom but realized that it was not necessary to hit the peak weekend.  All are invited to our garden for the afternoon and into the evening.  Arrival should be about noon and it will go until everyone leaves.  It is rain or shine as we have a large shed to stand under if necessary.  Bring a chair for yourself along with your beverage of choice.  Beer and wine are often brought.  We provide the soda and water along with the ice and Frogmore Stew.  Please bring a side dish or for the non shrimp eaters, something that you can eat.  Bug spray has often been a good thing to add to your list.  We usually have 40 or 50 to attend but I ask that you RSVP to my email (seaislandman@islc.net) so that I have enough shrimp.  I guarantee a wonderful afternoon with many very interesting people and the sights of our garden.  You may have to email me for directions to the garden.  I don’t publish them here for obvious reasons but an email will get you here.  I should post at least one more entry here before the end of March. You are encouraged to bring a guest – just let me know the count.

 

I love Spring!

Gordon at the Sea Island Garden.

 

SPRING IS AROUND THE CORNER

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Posted by Gordon | Posted in News | Posted on 10-02-2017

I wonder if that is correctly stated since Winter never got here.  Today was 65 degrees (2/10/2017) which is very indicative of our winter weather this year.  We have had a two day Winter…We still have the rest of February and all of March but I would not be surprised if we don’t get a good freeze.  That will be great for our citrus trees and the hoped for heavy production but it doesn’t bode well for the heat of the Summer.  Global Warming is starting to make itself very apparent.  I have noticed the movement in the high tide mark into the high ground and its affect on the oaks growing close to the marsh edge.  Our garden is 300 feet from the salt marsh and on a rise so we will not have to move it for years but if we get the expected rise that is projected (20+ feet), my kids may have to look for higher ground.

As I reported in the last blog, I planted several green crops in addition to the ornamental kale.  All have done very well and exceed our ability to consume.  The oak-leaved lettuce is the mildest and the favorite but the others (rape, turnips, mixed greens, collards and mustard) make a great cooked vegetable.  I planted six sweet potato slips last year in a spare space in one of the beds.  I ignored them and did not even take the time to harvest the tubers.  Last month, after the vines had died back, I noticed several large basketball sized mounds in the bed.  After removing and cleaning the potatoes, I was astounded at their size.  I kept them to grow slips from this spring as I knew they would be tough and stringy.  My son, Cam, however, took one of them and laid it on the grate over an outdoor cooking fire along with a large sirloin stake.  When he cut it open and added butter, we learned that it was one of the better sweet potatoes we had ever eaten.  So much for the sweet potato slips.

Regular peas are in and we will put some edible pod sugar peas in this week.  I have started the tomatoes (from seed) in the greenhouse.  I am growing Rutgers as the main crop as they are hybrids with great resistance to most of the problems here and are the tomato of choice for local home gardeners.  We all like some of the heirloom varieties and I will grow a few of them  but the bulk (75 to 100 plants) will be Rutgers.

The plan for the rest of the garden will be the regular plantings with a preference for heat tolerant varieties.  I will post what we plant as we put the starts in.  I am assuming that by mid June, the heat will start to gum up the pollen and slow most of our production.  This coincides with the “killer” heat of the summer which drives the gardeners into the house.

The Brown Turkey Figs (which are very heat tolerant) are doing well in the hedge rows and should start to produce an acceptable volume of figs this summer and increase in yield each year.  I have introduced 5 new Myer’s lemons, taken from root cuttings, into the garden which gives us 9 trees.  The Myer’s lemon sprouts true whether from root cuttings, rootings or seeds as they are not a grafted variety.  I also added two new lime trees (different varieties) as well as 10 new kumquat seedlings and two Loquat (Enobotrya japonica) or Japanese Nedlar.

Loquat

Loquat

These trees are found all over Beaufort and kids and birds are often seen eating the “Chinese plums”.   I find that one needs to acquire a taste for the fruit but once achieved, they are very good.  Their medicinal uses include flavoring for cough syrups and use to ward off various colds and virus.

Several years ago, I purchased an unknown variety of orange which I planted along with several other odd and often sour varieties.  This tree attained a height of 14 plus feet in three years and produced four dozen fruit for the first time this year.  I was excited and once the fruit turned a bright orange, I picked one.  There is no describing the horrible  smell and taste of this orange.  I can’t believe it was commercially propagated.  The taste was not sour but to say it was nauseating is to understate the case.  This tree will be removed from the garden and another plant will take its place.  It is too bad as the tree had a good habit and grew fast and promised to bare a lot of fruit.

I have wanted for years to grow good table and wine grapes but success in doing so has alluded me because there is a virus that grows in the vessels of the grape vine (in the South) that plugs the vessels and kills the table and wine grape varieties here.  The only grapes that do well in Beaufort are the slip grapes like the scuppernong and muscadines.  I have learned of a new breakthrough in the breeding of a table grape with a muscadime that solves this problem (the RazzMatazz grape).  Last year the one year old plants sold for $100 each.  Too much for our pockets but the price has dropped to $50 a plant this year so I bit the bullet and ordered one.  If it proves to grow as described, I will root a group of runners and start a small arbor or trellis.

Razzmatazz Grape

Razzmatazz Grape

We have been very unhappy with the production we have gotten from our thornless blackberries.  The first year was a fair crop but we expected it to improve as the cain and root crowns became bigger.  That has not happened.  I have since learned that the average volume in reality is a quart per plant.  That is not what we were led to believe.  We have over 50 plants under bird netting and seldom get more that three pickings of a gallon each harvest.  I have researched and found a thornless variety that is said to produce ten times the average yield.  The crowns cost $20 each but again, it they are what is reported, I can root additional plants and expand the blackberry patch.  I don’t believe this variety has the resistance to many of the pest of the blackberry nor is the berry as sweet and large as the other varieties and the seeds are said to be larger than most but if the production volume is 10 times that of the others – that is a lot of blackberry pies and cobblers.

Doyels Blackberry

Doyles Blackberry

Last but not least of our new plantings is the Goji Berry.  I have ordered one plant to see how well it does here.  It is a current health food rage but is said to have a unique and likable flavor so we are trying it.

Goji Berry

Goji Berry

 

I WANT TO REMIND EVERYONE THAT WE ARE PLANNING TO HOST THE WISTERIA SOIREE ON THE LAST SATURDAY IN MARCH SO PUT THE DATE ON YOUR CALENDAR AND STAY TUNED FOR MORE DETAILS.

 

GORDON

HAPPY NEW YEAR – 2017

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Posted by Gordon | Posted in News | Posted on 01-01-2017

As a younger man, I can remember wondering whether I would make it to the change of the century – 2000.  Well, I think I have done a pretty good job of hanging in here and credit my good fortune on working hard, especially in the garden, and eating many of my fruits and vegetables without the poisons so attractively presented to us in the grocery stores.

UPDATE

I am looking forward to another good year in the garden as I have Davis and Kathy and my son, Cam, to help an old man get the work done.   We have had some setbacks this year via the weather.  It started with an unbearably hot summer which ran me into the house and this fall we were visited by hurricane Matthew.  Luckily, we had no damage done to the garden but the surrounding acreage suffered.  We lost 40 large Live Oaks from the frontage along the marshes of the Coosaw River as well as two Laurel Oaks that fell across the garden shed.  There were an additional 60+  oaks of various type that went down in the maritime forest around the ten acres we use as our homestead.  We will leave these forest oaks where they fell to serve as nurse trees for the forest regrowth but we will continue to cut and remove the debris along the salt marsh and drive.  It took us a day to cut our way back into the property and it will be a good year before we remove all the evidence of our losses close to the house.  The surprising thing is that our environment still looks like a dense forest.

DRIVEWAY BLOCKAGE TO HOUSE

DRIVEWAY BLOCKAGE TO HOUSE

The jest of this is that we have a lot with which to become preoccupied before we can “play” in the garden.

I must report that we lost five langstroth, double brood box hives.  Matthew’s winds (120 mph) or the small tornados that it spawned turned the hives over and destroyed the bees and comb.  We have one active hive in one of the new top bar hives I have built.  These hives are screwed to the supporting tables which have their legs buried in the ground so they will not turn over.   This spring I will order four more queens and bees to populate the other four top bar hives.  I had planned to place the langstroth colonies into the top bar hives this spring but Matthew changed that plan.

DOWNED OAKS BY HOUSE

DOWNED OAKS BY HOUSE

DRIVE ALONG MARSH FRONT

DRIVE ALONG MARSH FRONT

SHED DAMAGE

SHED DAMAGE

 

THE GARDEN

We did get six raised beds planted with a variety of green crops which are growing well and will produce heavy crops this spring. I have already harvested some small turnips and greens to add to a mutton stew (very good by the way). It is always a joy to go to the garden in mid winter and find bell and banana peppers still on the plants.  If we don’t get a frost, the plants will become large pepper plants this spring and summer and give us more than we can consume.  Our citrus crop is light this year but we can certainly claim that we had one.  Here it is January first and we have not eaten all the oranges, grapefruit, tangerines, Myers lemons and navels not to mention the large group of bananas growing on one of the two year old trees next to the house.  There are some short term benefits to our warming weather.  I even have four pineapple plants doing very well in the garden. These should produce pineapples that are better than anything you can find in the grocery store and then we can plant the tops and get more plants while the original plants start to bear a new crop.

Unfortunately, the artichokes (globe) did not make it through the summer.  I will not plant them in the tall raised beds as they dry out too much.  This spring I will place them is a low raised bed and mulch them heavily.   The hay bale tomato bed grew wonderful tomato plants but the crop was moderate to disappointing.  I’m glad I planted 40 plants in the regular raised beds as they exceeded expectations.  I had thought I could use the decomposing hay bales as mulch this spring but they have disappeared into the soil.  We have a very healthy population of earth worms.  I have filled out the blue berry bed (went to south Georgia and picked up some special high production hybrids which I can’t remember the variety name) as well as filled in a few spaces in the fig hedge.  I have to purchase 12 thornless blackberry vines this spring as we had some plants that did not get through the summer heat.

I went to Lowes in October and found that they had one of their 8 foot rolling trays loaded with plants at a discount price (all 10 layers for ten dollars)  so I filled the trays with dianthus (120 plants) and 800 ornamental kale.  I had learned that ornamental kale was edible like regular kale but it was a little tougher and required longer cooking.  I decided that I would grow a large crop of it and use it as a winter and spring cooking green.  Well, I can only say that the garden looks like rows of colorful “flowering” kale.  I decided to cut a couple heads and try them.  They are not tough nor do they have a stronger flavor that regular kale.  I took the heads, which are loose unlike like cabbage and cut them up with scissors and cooked them for an hour in water.  I then drained the water off and cut in a half stick of butter and three crumbled slices of bacon and seasoned with salt and pepper.  Fantastic cooked green side dish.  Rachael Ray has a great Portuguese Kale Soup recipe on line which I am going to try next (google it for details).    This is a grand discovery as you might be able to find the starter plants at an affordable price in a local store after the planting time draws near to its end.  I had often wondered if you could eat the ornamental but did not know if it was safe to harvest from an old flower bed due to any poisons that may have been put on the plant.  Getting the rejected  starter plants is a safe way to go.  You can always buy the kale seed and star them yourself if you can’t find them cheap somewhere.

I will keep you posted on our planting progress.

GORDON

 

MERRY CHRISTMAS FROM THE SEAISLANDGARDEN

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Posted by Gordon | Posted in News | Posted on 24-12-2016

 

Merry Christmas to all my Facebook and garden blog friends. I am putting this on both my Facebook pages because I don’t know the difference between them. At any rate, I have decided to send my Christmas card this year via Facebook as well as my garden blog as I think it will get to everyone to which I usually mail cards – plus some. The postage to mail out several hundred Christmas cards was getting prohibitive so I will move up to the 21 century and try it this way this year. If you want a physical card, I understand you can copy the attached image and hang it on your mantle.

It has been an interesting year. Glenda has had some health issues but things are under control and we are looking forward to a great 2017. As we are all now healthy we have a lot for which to be thankful. We are delighted that both Andi and Cam have joined us here in the forest with their families allowing us to watch our grand kids grow up. Keegan is 15 and Katie is 9 which makes me too old to remember. It has been a joy. WE ALL WANT TO WISH EVERY ONE OF YOU A VERY MERRY CHRISTMAS AND A GREAT 2017.

I will update all on our garden soon but I have to get through the holidays and plant the winter and spring garden.

Gordon

MERRY CHRISTMAS