Six on Saturday

Once again, I am privileged to join the Propagator and his merry minions for another Six.

1. Biological knotweed control (Aphalara itadori). As previously mentioned, our neighbor is involved professionally in the restoration of wild spaces in Southern Oregon through the removal of invasive plants and reintroduction of native species that have been outcompeted by Himalayan blackberry, vinca, etc. As you may recall, he helped us with the riparian area of our lot, which is coming along nicely, despite what borders on neglect on my part. Anyway, said neighbor recently gave us the opportunity to serve as a test site for the release of a biological control of invasive knotweed, which thrives along the banks of our stream and many other waterways in the northwest, shading out native plants that would better prevent erosion and serve a host of other ecological functions that the knotweed cannot. So, these friends were released Tuesday and we are on the lookout for signs of defoliation in our unwelcome knotweed grove. See for more details.

2. Companion planting in the vegetable beds. I am a lazy and incompetent vegetable gardener. My intentions are almost good, but the outcomes achieved through apathy and forgetfulness are far from impressive. Whether this is due to insufficient water, shallow beds, shortchanging the vegetables on fertilizer, etc., it’s hard to say. In brief, the lackluster harvest could be explained by a swarm of variables that I have no particular inclination to sort through. This year, after rearranging my beds to take greater advantage of the sun and topping them off with nutrient-rich soil amendments, I once again launched into a poorly planned season of vegetable husbandry. So far, a few plants (red romaine and kale) have exceeded my expectations, though they are still, by any reasonably proficient vegetable gardener’ standards, dwarfs of their kind. In a flush of fresh enthusiasm, I added (for the first time ever!) marigolds and calendula, interplanted at festive intervals. I am sorry to say that I left the new companion flowers to their own devices for a day or two, trusting to the recent light rains to help them settle in, only to find all droopy and some downright collapsed. Following my ministrations yesterday, the marigolds are again putting on a respectable simulacrum of cheerfulness, while the calendula continue to protest their mistreatment, stems sprawling on the ground, leaves a flattened and grayish shadow of their former selves. Ah, well.

Onions, tomatoes, brussel sprouts, kale, marigold, calendula.

3. Pollinator Project native plant sale acquisitions. So many wonderful species that I’ve been waiting for an opportunity to get my hands on. Highlights for me are sulphur flowered buckwheat, baresteam buckwheat, bear grass, 2 more madrone seedlings, and California pipevine. The pipevine in particular is an exciting find – an exotic looking native that is also the sole host plant of blue swallowtail butterflies, also known as pipevine swallowtails. According to my research, this vine prefers shade or partial shade, and I am thinking of trying it under the large trees that surround the balcony at the back of my house.

4. New growth on opuntia. As previously described, these opuntia paddles were collected (with permission) from the ground where they had been dropped by a large cactus. They were carried home without adequate hand and arm protection, then planted in a ceramic pot and left to root over winter. When I decided to plant my rusty remains of mining equipment up with desert plants, I relocated the paddles, now well rooted, into the top tier of the planter. Now they are sending forth promising looking buds that I hope will become new paddles during the course of the summer. Note the clutch of succulent cuttings thriving in the protected wedge of soil between the paddles.

5. New growth on madrone. Revisiting another past posting regarding my stressed madrone transplants. These were “rescued” from a construction site by my neighbor and generously donated to brighten the banks of the stream that runs through our lot. Unfortunately, they did not prosper, despite semi-regular watering and dousing with myccorhizae. Eventually, the dried remains were uprooted and composted. Madrones are notoriously difficult to transplant. These suffered a great deal of root damage when dug up. They had reportedly been growing in the shade in heavy clay soil. They were planted in part-shade in sandy loam. Imagine my delight when I observed that the madrone that I acquired as a seedling from one of the native plant sales up north has not only not died, but is putting on significant new growth!

6. Newly blooming.


16 thoughts on “Six on Saturday

  1. You’re doing the right thing with the companion planting, the marigolds and calendulas are favourite foods for hoverflies, the larvae of which are voracious aphid eaters, so at least that’s one less problem to worry about in the veg patch. How gratifying to see the Madrone flourishing, given how tricky they are. The dogwood looks fabulous.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Oh, calendulas will pretty much withstand anything! Now, you will never have to replant them… ever. I deadhead until they slow down, then let the last ones go to seed. Marigolds I’m not so fond of, and my first plants always get eating the first night out. I have some perennials in the corners of my vegetable beds. Coreopsis, knautia, both draw the pollinators by the swarm!

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    • It is heartening to hear that the calendulas will come back next year, given the rocky start with them this year. I have an herb garden planted on one side of the vegetable beds and a large perennial area on the other side, so hopefully there will be plenty of options to attract parasitoids and predators that will keep aphids and other unwelcome visitors in check.


  3. Really interested in the biological knotweed control, we have a significant problem here in the SW of the UK. I’m similar with vegetables, I start off with much verve and enthusiasm and then I’m distracted and ……. well you know the rest. Must try harder! Perhaps in my new garden. Lovely set of flowering plants and loving your native species.

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  4. The Opuntias look absolutely fantastic. I have one which is allegedly hardy which I’ve been growing from seed. It has come through two winters and sub-zero temperatures and survived, but I have kept it in the greenhouse to stay dry. I don’t think it will ever thrive like yours though!

    How exciting to be on the cutting edge of weed control! I’ll be interested to hear how you get on.

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  5. Your opuntia installation is handsome, and I very much like the way you place the other succulents. I have looked up Madrone, not being familiar with it and there seem to be several different plants answering to that name. Is yours related to the strawberry tree?

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  6. Like other SOSers I love the paddles, very striking. The calendula will definitely survive and will seed everywhere, which will look fantastic, but then they may overwhelm! I am ruthlessly ridding myself of seedlings on the veg path this year. I’m trying again with onions after several poor years – probably failure to water adequately on my part!

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