AR Flower & Garden Show

Check out this Nepenthes!A bunch of friends and I attended the Arkansas Flower & Garden Show this past weekend. It was my second time at the expo. Last year I won the Garden Show scholarship, which also came with two tickets. This year some of my good friends won scholarships, and one of them brought me along as her +1. We all had a blast!

It was a very different experience for me after a year of hort classes and work/volunteering. I was able to recognize more of the plants, and gain more out of it overall due to having knowledge about what I was looking at. It also helped that my friends are total plant nerds like me. The conversation was nonstop and we ended up spending the entire afternoon on the show floor sans lunch break. We sat in on a beekeeping workshop and I bought some honey and drank a yummy honey shake :D

Bromeliaceae Tillandsia sp (I think)My favorite vendor was in the back corner selling “air plants,” which are plants in the bromeliad family that absorb nutrients/water diffused in the air through the leaf tissue instead of through roots. Spanish moss (Tillandsia usneoides) falls under this family.

Their value added containers were really cool, but since I am on a student budget I opted to purchase just the plants alone and make my own terrarium. I used an empty fish bowl from my beta that died last month (RIP Jasper) and some gravel I purchased from a pet store. This was my first terrarium, and I was pretty happy with it. I ended up giving it to a friend who is great with houseplants. My apartment is really dark, and I didn’t want my new little friends to die of darkness. Anyhoo here’s what the finished product looked like.

It's just a terrarium LOL

Bloody Salvagers!

The university is tearing down some old houses on campus. For frugal gardeners, demolition sites can be a goldmine of non-living elements that we use to balance and highlight greenery: Rocks, pieces of wood, old window frames. Today we found some nicely worn  bricks!

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The plan is to use these to make a path through the herb garden. The forewoman at the site was glad that we were salvaging. She said that our recycling efforts would help accrue points for LEED certification. We hauled over 200 bricks total and tomorrow my arms are going to be SO noodley.

New Public Gardening Job

I started a new job last week doing grounds maintenance for my school’s display garden. I’m so stoked!

January is a really slow time in any garden, so my first task was simple leaf pickup. The lady training me showed me how we picked up leaves in the beds and stuff them into bags – easy enough. But since it was my first task ever, I was chomping at the bit to be impressive and turned my performance up to 11. First, I focused my chi until I crackled with pizzaz. Then, I held her gaze as my arms became a blur, wet leaves piling up in the bag. “Like this?!” She just stared, mesmerized by my leaf-picking-up prowess. The wind from the action made her hair blow all over the place, and by the time I was done she was BALD.

I totally filled up two bags.

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Keep weedy leaves out of the good compost pile.

Since the leaves came from weedy beds, we set them aside so that they could be taken to the big messy campus pile. The compost pile pictured here is kept nice and clean.

Winter Break

I just wrapped up a hectic semester! No more 4.0, but I’m still happy with my grades. The scholarship guru in my department says that I’ll still be competitive for money next year, which is my biggest motivation for getting high marks.

I’ve been volunteering at a local city park greenhouse. They don’t need me again until January, but here’s a shot I took of our plants all tucked in for winter.

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Also, I’m writing this post from my phone. If it works out, I should be able to blog more consistently – even when things get busy again. I don’t have internet at home due to it’s expensive, so I’ll have to wait until I’m on campus tomorrow to see how this entry turns out. I hope it does, because I look forward to blogging on to go!

Tomatoes

Last Saturday I finally made myself walk, instead of drive, to the farmer’s market. It’ was a 45 minute walk in triple digit heat, so I brought a water bottle to keep hydrated and put on lots of sunblock. And of course a backpack to put produce in, since I don’t need to add any more plastic bags to the horde under my kitchen sink. My town is hilly so I got a pretty sweet workout.

I’m broke as hell right now with tuition and all, but since I volunteer a lot with farmers and community gardens, my fridge is always stocked with fresh locally grown produce. In this way, I save a lot of money and only spend about $10 a week at the market to supplement my cache with what I can’t get for free. On this particular day I got extra strong garlic, some of the butteriest eggplant I’ve ever had, and a pint of brown cherry tomatoes that I’m absolutely in love with. I eat a lot of caprese salads, so over the years I’ve gotten super picky about my tomatoes.

Tomatoes from the farmer’s market, basil from the campus community garden.

Here’s how they looked shortly before I devoured the whole batch. They’re actually kind of green in the middle, but totally ripe. Redness is a sort of grocery store ripeness indicator that goes out the window once you get out of the air conditioning and into the farm community. In fact, Bradley county pink tomatoes are on my “to eat” list. They’re a light red (not actually pink) color and therefore don’t sell well – but apparently they’re super delicious. One of my neighbors at my new apartment (ya I moved again) has a family farm in southern Arkansas, so I made him promise to bring me some pink tomatoes.