Visiting the Sarah P. Duke Gardens in Durham

Last Saturday was a hot one! I know it’s not officially summer yet, but this heat and humidity is a REAL doozie. The kids and I met up with one of my high school friends and her kids at Duke Gardens for a snack picnic and adventuring. While we didn’t see much of the gardens (toting a double stroller is doable, but not amazing on some of the gravel paths), we got to see my two favorite sections… the Japanese gardens and the main terrace gardens. Oh, and we also saw koi fish and ducks. For kids, THE most important part of the whole shebang.

Growing up in central NC, I’ve been to Duke Gardens more times than I can count. It’s a great picnic spot, with plenty of room for frisbee games, lounging, and just taking in beautiful scenery. Highly recommend it if you’re in the Durham area. Just be sure to check the basketball schedule, because traffic can be a bear if you go during a home game.

The thing I love most about visiting local gardens is that I can get an idea of what is “grow-able” here. We’re technically in Zone 7, but Duke Gardens (and other professional gardens) do a great job displaying how the right nook or cranny can allow you to swing a plant that maybe only grows in Zones 8+ or 6-. 

It also gives me an opportunity to see what sorts of plants look good together without having to buy them all myself to experiment with at home (though I’m certainly NOT against that :-P). Often, seed packets and nursery plants give you a brief glimpse of what a plant looks like… for instance when it’s in bloom. But nothing beats seeing the foliage, the growing conditions, the height/width, the scent, and all the other tangible characteristics in person. 

Like I said, not a ton of pictures from this visit thanks to having to prevent children from swimming with the koi fish, but I hope to go back soon and will add to this album when I do!

 

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Visiting the JC Raulston Arboretum in Raleigh

After a long bout of being stuck at home with sick kids, Jonah and I finally got a chance to go out on a date on Thursday! We visited the JC Raulston Arboretum in Raleigh. This garden is one of my favorites! There’s such a wide variety of things to see there. They have SO MANY different garden zones:

  • Rooftop Terrace
  • Asian Valley
  • Butterfly Garden
  • Color Trial Garden (for testing new annuals and tender perennials)
  • Elms
  • Roses
  • Geophytes (bulbs/corms/tubers/rhizomes)
  • Japanese Garden (My FAVORITE!)
  • White Garden
  • Lath House (shade garden)
  • Mixed border
  • Model Gardens
  • Paradise Garden
  • Perennial Border
  • Scree Garden
  • Southall Memorial Garden
  • Winter Garden
  • Xeric Garden

Check out some of the photos below for a virtual tour (hover over the photos for descriptions)! I highly recommend a stop if you’re in the Raleigh area. Since they are affiliated with NC State University, they always have fun programs, classes, and educational opportunities going on for all ages. Jonah and I joked that there must be a rule that academic lectures must include a pun… our favorite from their list this month was “Plant Parenthood: From Planting to Pest Management” (insert groan/eye roll here). You can see a full list of upcoming events on their site. I hope you’ll pay them a visit when you’re in town!  

 

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NC Planting Calendar & What to Plant This Week

For those of you who are growing in NC (zone 7B), this planting calendar from NC State Extension is the bomb dot com. I’ve printed mine out to keep with my seed packets for a quick reference on what to plant and when.

Based on the calendar, here’s what you can start planting this week!

Sow outdoors:

  • Arugula
  • Carrots
  • Cilantro
  • Lettuce – wave 1
  • Green onions
  • Peas
  • Radishes
  • Rutabaga
  • Turnips

Sow indoors for later transplant:

  • Eggplant
  • Peppers

Get out there and plant those spring crops! Happy planting!

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Seed Starting 2022

As I write this, I’m sitting on my couch, surrounded by seeds, garden books, a vomit-inducing amount of kids toys, while watching “Gardener’s World” on Amazon Prime. 

Hi from the wasteland!

Can I just say the Brits really know their gardening? Monty Don is my garden hero, and if you haven’t read his book, “The Complete Gardener“, you should. It’s chock full of great gardening info and beautiful pictures – pretty much his gift to all mankind.

The King himself, Sir Monty Don.

Why isn’t it spring yet???

This is the time of year for daydreaming, planning, and watching/reading all about gardening. It’s also the time of year for starting your first seeds! 

I’ve got the bug, so I rearranged all my seed packets and started my first four seeds – Chinese String Eggplant. Here are the steps for starting your seeds indoors:

Determine if you ACTUALLY need to start your seeds indoors. 

    • Rule of thumb is to start brassicas (cauliflower, broccoli, brussels sprouts) and anything in the nightshade family (tomatoes, eggplants, peppers) indoors. Why?
      • 1) brassicas are frost hardy, but they’ll bolt once it warms up, so you want to give them a head start indoors to optimize your short growing window before the heat gets here
      • 2) nightshades are slow to grow and they’re frost tender. If you wait until after the last frost to sow outdoors, they’ll do just fine, but you won’t get a harvest until much later
    • You can check this nifty list for more recommendations on what should be direct sown vs. started indoors.

Sort your seeds by sowing date and mark your calendar.

  • First, know your last frost date. Here in Zone 7B, it’s April 15th. You can do a quick google search for this by your zip code.
    • Look at seed packets for sowing dates (i.e. 8 weeks before last frost). Do a google search to determine what date that equates to in your zone. Then mark your calendar and sort your seeds accordingly!

Google tells me that 12 weeks before April 15th is January 21st. Because I **cannot** count. Also, tea boxes make great seed packet storage.

Make your seed-starting mix.

    • I use coconut coir with perlite mixed in. Nothing scientific here, just make it so that there are some specks of the perlite in there. The coir holds moisture and the perlite prevents compaction and keeps everything light and fluffy.
    • Pro tip: get your coconut coir in small bricks. Chiseling into a rock hard, 10 lb slab is NOT fun.
    • NOTE: You don’t need compost or anything with nutrition in it yet… seeds have enough energy in them to carry them along until they start making true leaves. Once you see true leaves, you can add a little dusting of compost on top.

One pound block of coconut coir, rehydrated + itty bitty bit of perlite + old nursery pot (scrubbed clean)

      • Mix it real good
    • Get your seed starting mix damp like a wet sponge, fill up a container that has drainage (old nursery pots, yogurt cups with holes in the bottom, etc), put your seeds on top, and dust with more of your mix. Since you’ve pre-dampened the mix, you don’t need to water.

Itty bitty eggplant seeds

Here are the seeds.

Rather than poking the seeds down into the mix, lightly dust some mix over top.

Label and Put your plants in a clear bin (AKA mini greenhouse).

  • Keep the lid on to encourage germination. Most seeds don’t  need light until after they’ve germinated, so as long as it’s relatively warm, you’re good for now.

The Germination Station

Check your seeds for germination. 

  • Once they’ve germinated, take them out of the bin and give them lots of good, strong light (grow light or shop light with broad spectrum output). Water them as needed (bottom watering – submerging the container in a tray of water- is best to prevent fungal problems)

January brings a lot of cold and icky-ness, but I hope this has brought you a little ray of sunshine. Spring will be here soon!

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Seed Comparison Shopping

I was raised by a shopaholic mom. No joke. We would drive all the way from our house in Cary to as far as Greensboro just to get a deal. It was pretty fun as a pre-teen… my sister and mom and I would make a day of it and go all day on a Saturday. Our poor dad probably needed to eat an entire bottle of Tums when he heard mom say we were going shopping. I’m glad I never had to see those bills :-/.

Even though I’ve slowed down a bit now that I’m paying the bills myself, the thrill of the hunt runs strong in our family. Put my sister, mom, and I in a TJ Maxx and we can do some serious damage, unearthing amazing finds hidden in racks and behind throw rugs for dirt cheap. 

So, when it comes to buying seeds, it should come as no surprise that momma didn’t raise no fool. I look for the deals y’all. 

I am going to go big or go home this year in the garden, and a cut flower bed is GOING TO HAPPEN. See? I already laid out the bed shape! 

New L-shaped flower bed is happening!

Here are some thoughts as you’re doing your seed shopping:

Consider Free Seeds First

  • Did you know your local library *probably* has free seeds? They do! At our library, we can get up to 4 packets of free seeds from the “seed library” per season. They may not be the sexiest varieties, but hey, they’re free!
  • Also, ask other gardeners if they’d like to split seed packets or have any old seeds they didn’t like or don’t want to plant. 
  • Sometimes seed companies will give you a free packet of seeds if you spend over X amount of dollars with them. It’s a crap shoot, but you might get something for free. At Baker Creek, you get a free packet for every $35 you spend on seeds.
  • Now is a great time to look for free seeds in nature/your garden/public gardens! Spent seed heads may still have seeds in them at this time of year (my fennel certainly does!). If you know what grew there, it might be worth taking a gamble. 

Consider Unit Price

I’m finding that sunflower seeds are cheaper from Seed Saver’s Exchange. Though the price per packet is a bit higher, each packet contains more seeds. Take these identical varieties of Torch Sunflower from Seed Saver’s Exchange and Baker Creek, for example:

Torch Sunflower from Seed Saver's Exchange

VERSUS…

Initially the Baker Creek one looks like the better deal because it’s cheaper per pack. But look at the fine print… you’re only getting 35 seeds. Seed Saver’s Exchange gives you almost triple that amount for only slightly more money. Let’s so some math…yes, math.

$3.75/100 seeds = $0.04 per seed @ Seed Saver’s Exchange. Whereas $3.00/35 seeds = $0.09 per seed @ Baker Creek.

Math Memes | Memes

Now, does that price difference really matter all that much? No, it’s not a huge deal if you’re only buying a few seed packets. But me? I’m about to buy A LOT of seeds and sow A LOT of seeds at once (see shopping cart – Lord help me).

I’m not done here… this will get whittled down (likely by Jonah)

Jim Carrey The Mask - Imgflip

Please. This is my cry for help!!!

Generally speaking, I’d rather buy a greater quantity of seeds AND Fewer varieties than A Smaller QUANTITY of seeds AND MORE varieties.

Why? Because it’s better to plant SWATHS of plants than a bunch of individual plants.

Frankly, an individual plant looks kind of dumb all on its own, and it’s also more likely to get overlooked by pollinators and YOU, the gardener. Give it a friend! Or maybe 10 friends! When it comes to something like sunflowers, it’s also good to hedge your bets with more seeds because birds, squirrels, bunnies, and e’erybody else WILL go to town munching those newly planted seeds and seedlings. When you plant more of the same, you can afford to lose some to predation and bad weather

An exception to shopping by the unit price rule would be if you’re buying something kind of experimental. Like you aren’t sure it’s going to work in your zone or you’re not sure if you’ll love it or not. In that case, get the cheaper seed packet, even if there are fewer seeds. That way, you’re not wasting seeds if you decide not to grow it in future years and you’re not out a lot of money on seeds you hate.

Consider Varieties Available

Baker Creek and Johnny’s have WAY more varieties to choose from, so if you’re looking for a specific color or growth habit (i.e. for containers), you’re more likely to find it there than SSE. Take Hollyhocks, for example:

Baker Creek’s options don’t wow me… they don’t offer a packet that has a mix of colors:

But I’d LOVE the Outhouse variety from SSE for the combo of colors:

 

Consider Shipping Costs

Unless you’re buying seeds in person, rather than online, that is. Free shipping covers a multitude of sins. If you only want a few seed packs and the company does not offer free shipping, it might be best to find them at a local nursery instead.

Consider Hybrids

These will cost you a pretty penny, but they might be worth it for some plants. For instance, I’m pretty sure I’m not going to grow zucchini or yellow squash ever again (squash bugs and squash vine borers have gotten them almost every year), but if I did, I would DEFINITELY pay for an F1 that is resistant to powdery mildew and that pests might not like as much.

Hybrid vigor is a thing (hybrids produce more than open pollinated), but any seeds you save won’t be like the parent plant.

Here’s an example comparing zucchini varieties (not exactly apples to apples, since it’s different companies, but you get the picture):

An F1 from Johnny’s:

VERSUS

An open-pollinated from SSE:

I hope these tips help as you’re thinking about seeds for this year! For more on this subject, check out my entries from last year. Happy shopping!

 

Where to Start? Nursery Transplants vs Direct Sowing vs Indoor Seed Starting

All About Seeds – Part 1! Deciphering Seed Packets

All About Seeds – Part 2! Seed Lingo Decoded

All About Seeds – Part 3! Selecting Varieties for Planting

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2022 Goals: Carpe(t) Diem?

It’s that time of year again… time to evaluate how I did on my goals from the past year and make plans for the year ahead!

So how did I fare in 2021? SURVEY SAYS…. Meh.

2021 Goals revisited

As a reminder, here are my goals from last year (with updates in blue):

Verse: Philippians 4:8

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. 

I didn’t quite memorize this verbatim, but I have the gist of it in my head. This verse turned out to be very fitting for me this year. Over the past few years, I’ve been having a tough time with my mental health. Thanks to encouragement from friends and family, I finally did something about it and sought out therapy and medication to treat my depression. I am so thankful for the gift of a better state of mind and working towards wholeness and health. This was the biggest win of 2021 for me. Hooray! Thank you Jesus!

Personal Goals

Reading the Bible with Rabbi Jesus: How a Jewish Perspective Can Transform  Your Understanding: Tverberg, Lois: 9780801017155: Amazon.com: Books

        • These books made me think (because injustice is so angering, but these women overcame)

      • Prayer & kid journals daily – Yes! I did this! Now starting on year two of my journaling 🙂
      • Phone free mornings & offline day – Nope. But I have a new strategy for this year!
      • Daily one on one quiet time with God – Meh. Not really. I’d like to do better at this in 2022.
      • Less meat – For the most part, yes. I’ve subbed in beans for meat in a lot of dishes this year and I’ve been doing better at buying better quality meat when we do partake (certified humane, organic when possible).
      • Be fully present at meals – I’ve been doing somewhat better, but again need to do better at this in 2022.

Family Goals

      • Read a parenting book together – Technically we did this! It was a book about potty training (“Oh Crap! Potty Training”) and we listened to it as an audiobook, but I’m counting it!
      • Gave me the kick in the pants I needed to start potty training our oldest.

      • Visit more state parks/hiking – We did hike a fair amount, but didn’t make it to any new parks. We’ve enjoyed exploring our local parks a lot this year, though!
      • Hiking with friends at Horton Grove Nature Preserve

      • Farmers market once a month (post-COVID) – We still aren’t living in a post-COVID world, but I have been able to do this since getting vaccinated. I want to continue doing this in 2022.
        • Doing some apple variety reconnaissance at the state farmer’s market in November

Financial Goals

      • Open college accounts for baby 2 – We did this!
      • Save towards down payment – Yes! By automating our savings from our checking account to our house account, we were able to sock away a significant amount!
      • Dollar Dollar Bill Yall GIFs | Tenor

2022 Goals

This year’s theme is going to be Carpe(t?) Diem! The year of carpet (we need to get floor redone BADLY) and the year of seizing the day. This means not putting things off, taking full advantage of opportunities, praising God for all He has done, is doing, and will do, and living fully

Scripture for the Year: Psalm 150

Praise the Lord.a]

Praise God in his sanctuary;
    praise him in his mighty heavens.
Praise him for his acts of power;
    praise him for his surpassing greatness.
Praise him with the sounding of the trumpet,
    praise him with the harp and lyre,
praise him with timbrel and dancing,
    praise him with the strings and pipe,
praise him with the clash of cymbals,
    praise him with resounding cymbals.

Let everything that has breath praise the Lord.

Praise the Lord.

Personal Goals

  • Snacking after dinner no more than 3x/wk
    • My appetite is non-stop (maybe from nursing a baby?), but I’d like to have better self-control
  • Post on this blog 2x/mo
  • No phone in bedroom (to avoid endless scrolling and promote reading/better sleep habits)

Family Goals 

  • 1000 hrs outside in one year (we started this in November and are just 5 hours away from our first 100!). I’d love to have you join us! 
  • Carpet diem – new flooring in our house
  • Trips to Glacier National Park, Michigan (to visit my grandmother – we missed her 90th birthday last year), and a romantic weekend for me and Jonah without kids
  • Grinnell Peak reflects in the calm waters of Swiftcurrent Lake on a beautiful sunrise at Many Glacier

    Glacier National Park – I want to go to there!

 

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That time I straight up broke my shovel…

I broke a shovel today! I don’t know whether to be angry or somewhat proud of myself for exerting that much force.

RIP shovel!

Im Not Even Mad GIFs | Tenor

I’ve been doing battle with some horrible holly bushes next to our house for the past year. Actually, scratch that, since we moved here. The people who lived in this house before us made some very interesting gardening choices. And by interesting, I mean ridiculous. Like planting a fig tree six feet from the house (it touches the house and has to be pruned every single year), a giant crape myrtle 5 feet from the house (same problem), filling a bed with pebbles WITHOUT lining it with weed blocking fabric first (weed city), and most insanely of all, planting approximately a dozen holly bushes around the house, pretty much right on top of each other.

A well manicured holly is fine, and the berries are great for the birds in wintertime, but seriously these people must have been blissfully ignorant of the plant tags when they planted everything. Like didn’t care about plant spacing AT ALL. I could go on and on about the weirdness around here, but I’ll save you the headache. Let’s just leave it at I’ve been re-designing and correcting their poor choices since Jonah and I got married and I moved in.

This spring (because pregnancy hormones are real), I finally had it with the hollies and decided that I needed to renovate the garden bed next to our garage door since it’s pretty visible from the street. After hacking them to the ground as an attempt to kill them earlier this year, yesterday I started the undertaking of removing the root balls to really put the nail in the coffin.

HOLY COW. Talk about physical labor! The first root ball was maybe 30ish pounds and took me about an hour to get out. The second one ended up being 60 pounds (easily), and even with the help of an awesome new tool I tried – a mattock – I still broke our shovel.

Mattock – part axe, part digger, part awesome.

Needless to say, I was seriously channeling my inner Rosie the Riveter (and I will also be taking some ibuprofen soon):

Massive holly root balls – gnarly!

Rosie the Riveter We Can Do it Poster

The new plan for that bed will be a purple butterfly bush in the center (I had one pop up in our backyard that I’m going to transplant), some coral-hued mums in a semi-circle in front of the butterfly bush, and some pansies (also corals/reds) and dusty millers in front of that. I hope to get that done tomorrow and will post pictures once it’s done!

Little butterfly bush I’m going to transplant (on the right)

 

Craters left behind by the massive root balls

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Raleigh Farmer’s Market

In my quest to visit a bunch of our local farmer’s markets, I took a trip to the BIG Raleigh Farmer’s Market (AKA the State Farmer’s Market). 

Talk about huge, this is THE market to go to if you need ANYTHING. They have it all! In addition to the typical fruits and veggies, they have dedicated buildings for dry goods, refrigerated items, crafts, pottery and garden/home furnishings, a coffee shop and even a restaurant! 

My good friend Melody (also the design genius who helped create the logo and color scheme for this website) and I took a trip to this market with the kids back in July. Here are a few pictures from our outing to give you an idea of what the market has to offer!

General thoughts and impressions of this market:

  • HUGE selection. You can truly replace you weekly grocery shopping with going to this market. They’ve got it all – meats, dairy, dry goods, produce, soaps, etc.
  • I noticed this market seems to have less of a focus on organic products. I didn’t see any signage advertising organic.
  • BUSY. Take my advice and go on a weekday during peak season (summer). Saturdays are extremely busy. I assume it’s a little better on weekends in the fall/winter.
  • Since it’s open every day, it’s convenient to drop by and get what I need anytime I need it. It’s true more vendors come to the market on Saturdays, there’s still a great selection any day of the week you go!
  • Can be overwhelming, since there’s a huge selection. Come with a list of what you need (but be prepared for a few impulse purchases, too!)

I love this market! While it’s a bit of a drive from my house, it’s definitely worth it to get specialty items, like handmade soaps and dry goods!

 

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SoDu Farmer’s Market

SoDu Farmer's Market

This year, since I’m not growing as much food as I normally would in our garden, I’ve been trying out different farmer’s markets in the area. Can I just say, I love farmer’s markets?! Let me count the ways!

  1. Supporting local growers and producers keeps resources here and promotes the local economy.
  2. By supporting local, I can also avoid shipping costs and reduce my carbon footprint.
  3. Avoiding excess packaging is better for the earth. I can bring my own bag to the market and buy loose veggies and fruits instead of items wrapped in plastic wrap. Less trash is a win in my book!
  4. I can choose to support organic and sustainable farmers who are committed to preserving the land and local ecosystems. Plus I don’t have to worry about anything sprayed on my food.
  5. I can meet the people who grow my food and hear their stories, get great ideas for recipes, get gardening tips, and learn about other community resources (places that do U-pick, local artisans, etc).
  6. I get to try varieties I can’t find in the grocery store.
  7. This is helping me meet one of my annual goals!

This week, I checked out a small farmer’s market that was new to me – the South Durham (or SoDu) Farmer’s Market. I must be living under a rock, because I just found out about this market and it’s just up the road from us! 

This market is a hidden gem! I love that it’s a small market, parking is easy peasey, and it still has everything I could possible need – baked goods, seafood, handmade soaps, ciders, cheeses, meats, and produce. They even have a homemade pasta vendor! It’s held in a parking lot that also contains a DMV license plate office, which I ironically had to visit just a few weeks ago. Let’s just say, I’d much rather be shopping than waiting in line at the DMV.

 

Is it just me or do you ever feel intimidated by farmer’s markets? I frequently get flustered and overwhelmed by all the variety and abundance around me and often just end up purchasing whatever catches my eye. Usually, that means I come home with whatever vegetables or fruits are front and center in the displays.

What I really enjoyed about this farmer’s market was that many of the vendors had chalkboards out front with a list of their offerings. That gave me a better idea of what was for sale and lessened the pressure/feeling guilted into buying something just because I approached a booth. This week, I challenged myself to get something other than fruits and vegetables, so here’s what I got. I was super pleased!

 

Lion’s Mane Mushrooms from Haw River Mushrooms

Lions Mane Mushroom

Lions Mane Mushroom (picture from https://ramblecreekfarm.com/store/product/lions-mane-mushroom-fresh)

I know what you’re thinking… that mushroom looks alien. That’s what I thought, too! At the suggestion of their super friendly employee, Fran, I tried these because she said they taste like crab meat. Jonah is a huge crab cake fan but hates mushrooms, so I did the ol’ switcheroo to see if he could tell the difference. Guess what? He couldn’t! I used this recipe from Aubrey’s Kitchen and they turned out great! Also, I had a lovely conversation with Fran about her time living in Washington state and found out that we have a mutual love of Mt. Ranier National Park.

Chopped Lion's Mane Mushroom

Chopped up it doesn’t look so bad, does it?

 

Peaches fromKen Chappell’s Peaches and Apples

Hallelujer! Fresh peach season is here. There’s really no point in eating peaches out of season. These are so delicious and perfectly ripe right now.

Hallelujer Madea

Peaches

 

“Field of Creams” Goat Cheese fromProdigal Farm

I love the mission of this local goat dairy. They really treat their animals well. They have a punchcard program for $10 of free cheese once you get 10 punches (one punch for every $10 spent). For this dairy lover, that’s a pretty great deal. Plus, I give them extra points for creativity in naming their cheeses!

"Field of Creams" Goat Cheese from Prodigal Farm

“Field of Creams” Goat Cheese from Prodigal Farm

Field of Dreams Meme - if you build it the memes will come.

 

Pastries fromNinth Street Bakery

Ummm, I didn’t get pictures of these because Jonah, the kids, and I demolished them! We really enjoy this great, local bakery. This time, we got two cinnamon rolls, a morning bun, and a bear claw. YUM! Here’s a drool-worthy picture of them from their website. 

Cinnamon Rolls from Ninth Street Bakery

Cinnamon Rolls from Ninth Street Bakery

I really enjoyed my visit to the SoDu Farmer’s Market and plan to go back soon to get some seafood, eggs, and meat! Do you have a recommendation of other farmer’s markets I should try? Drop it below in the comments so I can visit and report back.

SoDu Farmer's Market

SoDu Farmer’s Market is located at Greenwood Commons Shopping Center: 5410 NC-55, Durham, NC 27713. Open 8am-12pm every Saturday, year round.

 

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Weedling vs. Seedling – How to Tell the Difference

There comes a point in every gardener’s life when he or she is faced with one of life’s toughest questions: “Is that a weed or something I planted and forgot about?”

I forgot what i forgot - Dory | Meme Generator

If you’re like me, that question comes up more times than you care to admit. 

Spring is a tough season for plant identification because there are a lot of tiny plants growing and you usually only have a few seed leaves to base your ID on. But today, we’re going to attempt to sort out what’s a weed and what’s a seed.

 

The Importance of Weedling vs. Seedling Identification

I’ve heard it said that a weed is just a plant out of place. Before you bust out the Round-Up on what you think might be a weed, think about what role that weed might be performing for you in your home landscape. 

Weeds can be beautiful, functional, and do many of the things that purposely sown plants do. For instance, they can attract pollinators with their blooms, mine nutrients trapped in deeper levels of the soil (tap roots of dandelions), and sometimes even be eaten!

Henbit

Henbit – A beautiful, flowering weed! (Source: Wikipedia)

 

Weeds only become problematic when they are invasive, out-compete the things we intend to grow, or have a noxious or negative attribute (poisonous, attract pests, ugly). 

Giant Hogweed

Giant Hogweed – phototoxic (its sap prevents skin from being able to protect itself from sunlight, resulting in scarring and skin inflammation). Ironically, a member of the same family of plants as Carrots and Queen Anne’s Lace (Source: NY Times)

If a plant’s negative attributes outweigh the positive, I’m all for getting rid of it! In fact, if a plant is harmful to children or pets or can be easily confused with an edible plant, it’s best to get it out of there as early as possible so the weed doesn’t bear seed and breed a whole new generation of weeds. That’s where weedling vs. seedling identification comes in.

 

Questions to Ask

Here are a few things you can ask as you’re trying to determine if something is a weedling or seedling:

  1. LOCATION: Do you remember or have a record (planting diagram) of planting something in this space? Is it coming up in a uniform pattern (i.e. you spaced them 2 inches apart, etc) or is it random? Unless you scattered your seeds or a heavy rain washed the seeds away, random patterns usually indicate a weed.
  2. TIMING: When did you plant your seeds? How long is the germination period for those seeds? Germination typically takes a few days to a few weeks for things we intentionally plant. If it’s outside of that window, it could be a weed.
  3. SPREAD: How contained is this plant? Does it seem to be spreading? Choking out other plants? Those are usually signs that a plant is a weed.
  4. IDENTIFIABLE PLANT PARTS: Are there any true leaves on the plant? Is it flowering? Producing seeds? The larger a plant grows, the easier it is to identify.

 

Resources for Weedling vs. Seedling IDs

These days, it’s pretty easy to hop online and figure out what’s a weed and what’s a seed. 

My go-to resource is our State Extension’s website. One of the best pages I’ve found in their plethora of weed-related content is this one on turf weeds, since a lot of the weeds I encounter are probably blowing in from our lawn or other lawns in our neighborhood. Just like intentional plantings, weeds vary by location, so if you’re outside of North Carolina, check your own state’s extension website for what’s endemic to your area. 

There are also plant ID apps available. A friend just recommended LeafSnap to me, but I haven’t given it a good test run yet. I’ll report back in a future post once I’ve had time to review it.

LeafSnap

Your neighbors who garden are also a great resource, since they’re likely dealing with the same things you are. Everyone has that one neighbor who loves to complain about their crabgrass!

Another resource, though less convenient and accessible, are reference gardening books from your local library.

 

Examples

Let’s look at some weedling and seedling pictures from my garden to get a feel for what’s what!

 

ChickweedSwiss ChardLambs QuartersField Milk Thistle - Field Sow ThistleBeansRutabagaRedrooted PigweedTomato SeedlingBroadleaf Plantain & MaplePokeweedCorn

 

Have you been able to identify weeds and seeds in your garden this year? What are some of your favorite tips/tricks/apps for weedling vs. seedling IDs? I’d love to hear what has worked best for you – share in the comments below!

 

Coming up:

Sunday: 2021 Goal Check-In

Next Wednesday: Garden Update – The Bolt & The Beautiful

 

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