All posts by jane

WTF – Black Bindweed

I feel this garden season has been packed with plant identification. In no way am I complaining about this. Plant identification is a pretty enjoyable game to me. When a fellow gardener was telling me about a swift-growing vine with heart-shaped leaves in her home garden, I fought the urge to immediately hiss “bindweed” (Convolvulus arvensis). The weed is from the Morning Glory (Convolvulaceae) family and is a complete terror on the Lot. I agreed to make a visit to help with some pruning, so I pretty much had to find out if I was right or not.

Analyzing the Offender

When I arrived and was able to meet the vine in person, I realized it wasn’t bindweed. I would recognize my Nemesis anywhere, in any growing zone, and this wasn’t it. Yes, the vine was eating the porch alive and the leaves were heart-shaped. However, I immediately noticed what looked like white seed heads in large clusters all along the vine… not a trait of the bindweed we deal with on the Lot.

Black Bindweed covering Lantern

There aren’t many weedy vines in our state, so I started going through some weed ID sites looking for the vine that would be going to seed at this time of the season. Eventually I found a site for a project at the University of Michigan: Burnham, R.J. (2008-2014). “CLIMBERS: Censusing Lianas in Mesic Biomes of Eastern RegionS.” (September 6, 2017).  And that is where I found the name of the plant I was looking for: Black Bindweed (Fallopia convolvulus) of the Buckwheat (Polygonaceae) family.

Up Close and Personal

When ID’ing a plant, there are a lot of clues one can pick up by taking a thorough look at the specimen. Parts of the black bindweed helping me to ID it were:

  • alternate, simple, heart shaped leaves
  • vine, twining from right to left
  • glabrous (free from hair) ocrea (sheath around the stem)
  • roots are non-rhizomatous
  • branching of vine located more near base of plant
  • papery calyx (sepals of the flower)
  • flower understated with no petals

Black Bindweed on Railing

Evicting the Weed

I struggled to find a control method for black bindweed. It’s an  aggressive, annual weed introduced from Eurasia. The plant spreads by prolific reseeding. The seeds themselves are enclosed by a hard shell and can be viable for more than a single season in the soil. In fact, this was the reason my gardener friend inquired about the plant. She said though a crazy climber, the plant was kind of pretty (which it was). But then she saw all the flowers (future seeds) and thought “Oh sh*t.” Yeah, we’ve all done that before.

What we do have on our side when removing this vine is the fibrous root system and the small area of a home garden. Though fairly deep, the roots aren’t a rubbery, rhizomatous system that takes off underground like a berserker gopher. The plant was removed and burned. Next season, the gardener has to keep an eye open in the spring for any new seedlings and pull as needed.

Garden Bloggers Fling 2017

Garden Bloggers Fling 2017 BadgeSince 2014, excluding last year, I’ve been extremely fortunate enough to attend an annual get-together of garden bloggers from across the U.S. and from as far away as the UK and Spain. What started out as a modest gathering of gardeners in Austin during 2008, has grown into an amazing multiple day event known as the Garden Bloggers Fling. This year the Fling took place in the capital region, including all types of gardens from Maryland, Virginia, and of course Washington D.C.

It’s hard for me to describe the excitement and enthusiasm I feel leading up to and during the Fling. Speaking of it afterward to family and friends results in an odd combination of me wildly gesturing while giving myself goosebumps. Their polite nods and eventual glazed eyes only confirms something I’ve suspected since my first Fling. If you are a gardener on a Garden Blogger Fling, you are with your Tribe.

Garden Blog Flingers Group Photo
Photo by Wendy Niemi Kremer

I’m naturally more of an introvert. I enjoy being around people, but it often leaves me completely drained of energy. Also, I can be a bit anxious around those I don’t know. In no other situation have I felt so comfortable and happy in the company of people I may have just met for the first time. Our shared love of gardening links us all together over those days of the Fling.

Having attended a few Flings now, I’m beginning to see familiar faces of garden bloggers I met during previous years. There is often a lot of laughter and silliness, both of which I heartily approve. This year our knowledge of irises and craft beer was tested with a game called Beer, Iris, or Both. Though a craft beer fan, I was terrible at this game!

Flingers playing game at table

We explored many gardens of all shapes and sizes together. Excited chatter and “ooo’s and ahh’s” were quite common. At times all I’d have to do is point at a stunning display and a Flinger next to me would nod, mouthing the words “I know!” I had no fear of judgement when I asked fellow Flingers to identify any plants unknown to me. I was happy to return the favor.

Gardeners in the Woods

We were able to take breaks from the heat and share some delicious meals together. One day even brought a lunch and tasting at a winery.

Gardeners at Buffet

Armed with cameras of all sizes, we’d do our best to capture the garden we were visiting. Viewing the different unique styles and creative approaches to the gardens was inspiring. Everyone knew what it meant to get that one, last photo before getting back to the bus!

Gardener Photographing Plants

By the close of the Fling, everyone is exhausted. We’d spent three spectacular days galavanting about in hort heaven together. I usually am able to sail through on an adrenaline high and then crash on returning home.

Gardener in Hammock

Just as rewarding as the exploration of the gardens was getting to know and learn from all the garden bloggers. Heralding from different USDA growing zones, we have different plant palettes from which to work. Everyone has great stories of her or his adventures in gardening to share. We may have different areas of horticulture that interest us, but goodness we all like to grow plants. And who else but a fellow gardener will completely understand why you’d haul two banana trees onto the bus with you after visiting a nursery?

I hope the stars align and I am able to attend next year’s Fling in Austin! It’s in the planner. I already am excited to reunite with those garden bloggers I just left several days ago. Also, I can’t wait to chat with those I have yet to meet.

Veggies 8.0

Like last year, the cool season crops are going in later than I’d like this season. We had been away on vacation and returned to beautiful Spring weather. After a hectic week catching up on work and a Saturday planting 3 beds for a school veggie garden volunteer project, I was finally able to focus on our own vegetable garden last night. I sketched up a cool season layout with the exciting addition of Edamame!

Then today it rained, and rained, and is still raining. Determined with a mild dash of stubbornness, this gardener put on a rain coat and proceeded to plant. However, when the carrot seeds were sticking to my cold, wet, muddy fingers, I decided to head back indoors for a bit. Instead I thought I’d log what is going in for the cool season crops this year.

2017 Spring Cool Crop Lineup

Planted May 30 despite multiple trips between rain showers to the back garden!

  • Pea Snap Cascadia (Pisum sativum) – supposed to have self-supporting 30″ vine (58 days)
  • Radish Easter Egg Blend (Raphanus sativus) – multiple colors (30 days)
  • Lettuce Gourmet Blend – blend of Prizeleaf, Royal Oak Leaf, Salad Bowl, Red Salad Bowl, and Ashley lettuces (45 days)
  • Carrots Carnival Blend (Daucus carota sativus) – multiple colors of carrots, can also be harvested early for baby carrots (65-75 days)
  • Spinach Baby’s Leaf Hybrid – harvest early for salads or later for cooking (30-40 days)
  • Arugula Rocket Salad Roquette (Eruca sativa) – salad, sandwiches, or pizza (30-45 days)
  • Onion Bunching / Scallion White Lisbon (Allium cepa) – do not thin if narrow scallions desired (60 days)
  • Edamame Butterbean (Glycine max) – edible green soybeans. technically a warm season crop, but our season is so short I’m going to take a chance and sow now. (90 days)