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Castor Bean Plant

October 3rd, 2009

This year I planted a few castor beans seeds. 3 of them germinated and one or two of them were eaten by chipmunks, which I presume died shortly after eating them since they’re very poisonous. Castor bean plants and beans/seeds are poisonous, so you may wonder why I’m growing them. I’ve read that they’re a great way to deter moles and gophers from invading your gardens, and since I had a mole problem in the back garden I decided I’d try a castor plant to see how it worked.
It seemed to do a decent job, I noticed moles in the spring and early summer, but when the castor bean got large I haven’t noticed as many. I’d say it a great way to combat moles, not only do you not have little moles tunneling through your garden, you get a very large striking plant in the garden.
My castor plant is probably 8-9 feet tall and the leaves are huge, I decided this was the bean stalk that Jack must have climbed in the nursery rhyme. It’s starting to bloom, I’m not sure if it will produce any beans since it’s getting pretty close to the end of the season.
I’ll definitely be planting castor plants again next year. I’ve seen a few purple castor beans in some other local gardens and they bloomed much earlier than mine and are much shorter, I may try to find those next year since they must have a shorter growing season.

Do you have any poisonous plants in your gardens? Or any plants that are supposed to help with rodent control?

Volunteer Marigolds

September 24th, 2009

I have these volunteer marigolds that grew up in the same spot I had some planted last year. They’re just starting to bloom prolifically and they’re so nice. I’m not a huge fan of marigolds, but they’re so pretty this time of year, they really look nice with all the fall colors that are starting to appear.
As you can see these are growing in a raised bed that I have a makeshift fence around since I have my late beans planted in this bed. I know the deer and the groundhogs would love nothing more than tender bean plants, so I have some chicken wire panels leaned up around it to protect my bean harvest.
When it comes to colors of flowers, I’m much more of a pink/white/purple lover. I’m really happy that my ‘Endless Summer’ Hydrangea is blooming now, despite being mauled by deer this past winter. I was thinking I wouldn’t see any color from it at all.

What colors of flowers are your favorite?

Joe Pye Weed

September 9th, 2009

I particularly love Joe Pye weed. It’s such a lovely plant, so tall and commanding in the garden and along the edges of the roads. My mom has a particularly nice patch growing in her beneficial flowerbed. Our soil is a little too dry around here, but I think I’m going to try to start some from seed next spring and see if I can get some growing. I’ll have to amend the soil and keep it watered to keep it at it’s best. Perhaps a rain garden would be a great thing to add to the gardens here at Chiot’s Run.
I particularly want to add this plant to my garden because the bees and the butterflies love it. My mom’s is always buzzing with activity.

What’s your favorite weed, I mean wildflower?

Benefical Plants: Queen Anne’s Lace

August 12th, 2009

I always love the season of Queen Anne’s Lace. It really is such a lovely wild flower (or weed). It’s like a snowflake in the middle of summer (particularly from underneath).
Queen Anne’s Lace was one of my grandma’s favorite flowers. I remember her always commenting on how much she loved it (perhaps that’s why her crocheted doilies always looked like it).
We seem to be having a bumper crop of them this year, and I don’t mind! Sometimes in order to not see something as a weed all you have to do is look at it closely and find something beautiful.
It is a very beneficial plant, even though many people classify it as an invasive weed. Queen Anne’s Lace provides beneficial nectar to insects during this dry part of the summer when they don’t have many options. Caterpillars of the Eastern Black Swallowtail butterfly eat the leaves, bees and other insects drink the nectar, and predatory insects, such as the Green Lacewing, come to Queen Anne’s Lace to attack prey, such as aphids.

Can you appreciate the beauty and benefits of a weed?

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This is a daily journal of my efforts to cultivate a more simple life, through local eating, gardening and so many other things. We used to live in a small suburban neighborhood Ohio but just recently moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine.