Monday, June 29, 2009

Food glorious food!

Our garden is doing well. I haven't had much of a chance to walk around at look at our neighbor's yards for other plants lately since Moira insists on walking her ownself, so I'm slowing down on pictures for this project.
Raspberries
81. Raspberries
Already knew: Raspberries are tasty and delicious. They grow on canes, like the Salmonberries they are related to. They are much sweeter though, and usually red when ripe, although I've seen golden raspberries. (usually at Walker's work, those seem to come predominantly from California, but that may just be that most produce comes from California right now.) The canes and under sides of leaves have prickles on them when immature, but they seem to lose them when they start fruiting, which is nice. The leaves are similar to blackberry leaves in shape. You know they are ripe when they pull easily off the stem, leaving the leaves and little center pip behind. This is true of all berries. Raspberries are very vigorous once established and can take over the area surrounding where they are planted.
Recently learned: There are actually blue raspberries (Rubus leucodermis), I always thought that was just a perversion by the Slurpee industrial complex. I wonder what they taste like. Rasberries like sun and lots of water, with good drainage. They are traditionally planted in the winter. The little thing that holds the berry onto the plant is called a torus (that's the part that should be left behind). Do not plant raspberries where potatoes, tomatoes, peppers, eggplants or bulbs, unless you have thoroughly fumigated the soil, as those crops host a disease that stays in the soil a number of years and that can kill Raspberries.
Wild strawberries
82. Wild Strawberries
Already knew: Wild strawberries are tiny and terribly fragile. The only thing you can really do with them is eat them immediately after picking them, because even holding on to them for a few minutes will cause them to fall apart in your hand. They are exceptionally sweet and delicious though, so it's worth the trouble. They look exactly like commercially grown Strawberry plants, only smaller. Strawberries are a shrub and will propagate themselves if you don't manage to eat all the berries off them, which you likely won't since birds and slugs love eat them too, bot don't tend to finish the whole berry. They like shade and leaf litter compost.
Recently learned: Strawberries are a member of the rose family. The part we eat is not actually the fruit of the plant, which is technically the seeds. The fleshy part doesn't actually come from the ovaries, so it's considered a false fruit. This variety is also called European, Alpine or Woodland Strawberry. It propagates by runner and by seed. Archeological evidence suggests that humans have been eating this kind of Strawbery since the stone age.
Hybrid Tea Rose
83. Hybrid Tea Rose
Already knew: The Hybrid Tea Rose is a crossbreed of Tea roses and a climbing variety. They have been specifically bred to have long stems with few prickles leading to a single bloom, for the floral industry. They tend to be less fragrant then other versions, but with very pretty blooms. Roses have been wildly popular for most of recorded history, and there was a complicated system of meaning behind different colors of roses that reached it's peak in the Victorian era, but the remnants of that system show up every year on Valentine's Day. To keep your rose happiest, you should treat it like a weed and violently whack it back every year after it's finished blooming. We didn't do that last year, and now this one is very sad looking. It's about 6 feet tall, and had 3 blooms at it's peak of flowering. It's also got a bunch of dead branches. Most roses sold nowadays are new cultivars grafted onto the base of Rosa Multiflora, a particularly hardy variety, and since the grafts frequently fail if they aren't taken care of properly, many of them revert back to the base root. You will also sometimes end up with two kinds of roses growing off the one bush for the same reason.
Recently learned: The information I can find about Hybrid Tea Roses that I don't already know is mind numbingly boring. I will save you and not repeat any of it.
Lettuce
84. Lettuce
Already knew: Lettuce is a plant where we eat the leaves. If you let it get to flower, you've let it go too long, and it will no longer be tasty. This is the lettuce before our little period of rain, and they have about tripled in size. We should be eating it every day to catch up. Eating green leafy things is a great way to get phytochemicals, and the sooner you eat lettuce after you pick it, the better it will be for you. Lettuce is a fragile plant, and if it has started to get mushy even a little, you cannot eat any of the leaf, unlike, say carrots, where you can just chop of the bad bits. It is also too fragile to do well when cooked, so it is usually eaten raw. There are about 5 varieties of lettuce in this picture, but I don't know the names.
Recently learned: Lettuce is a member of the same family as sunflowers and daisies. Dry conditions can cause it to flower (also called bolting) early. Lettuce was considered an aphrodisiac in Ancient Egypt. Ancient Greeks thought it aided sleep. It is an easy plant to grow from seed, even for beginners.
Trellis Rose
85. Trellis Rose
Already knew: Much of what I said about Roses in general when I was talking about the Hybrid Tea Rose also applies to this rose. The main difference is this one can be easily trained to climb up a trellis or wall or what have you. It's also more fragrant then the Hybrid Tea. The edible part of a rose is called a Rose Hip. Once all the petals fall off, what's left is a vaguely oval, usually red fruit with a frill around the top. Dried you can make tea, beads, jams and jellies. You can also make oil and syrup from Rose hips.
Recently learned: This is a climbing variety of a modern rose. "Old" roses have fewer petals. Most climbing roses grow to be 8'-20' and repeat bloom throughout the summer.

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