Thursday, November 17, 2016

Beneficial Insects Love Irises!

Purple Iris, 2006, my Hoopa Garden.

Irises make an important contribution to the garden environment by attracting a variety of predatory ground beetles. The larva of these beetles live in the soil, where they consume slug eggs and slug larva.  

Dutch Iris, 2015, from Growing Together Community Gardens.

The key to putting ground beetle attracting Irises to work for you most effectively, is to plant just a few each of a large variety of Irises that bloom at different times, and spread them around the garden.  The longer you can keep the adult ground beetles happy, the more likely they will be to lay eggs in your soil.  Ground beetles also prefer soil rich in organic matter, with strategically placed sections of rotten limbs or other untreated wood, to use as daytime shelter and nursery areas for egg laying.  

Learn more about developing healthy organic matter rich soil and attracting beneficial insects by clicking on the 'labels' found directly under the share option buttons found beneath this post. 


Text and photos copyright 2016, Harvest McCampbell. Please feel free to use the buttons below to share.  All other rights reserved.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Red Veined Sorrel

Red Veined Sorrel is easy, beautiful, and edible too!

This showy sorrel is often grown as an ornamental, however it is totally edible cooked or raw. The younger leaves are tender, and in certain seasons they are choice; however it is always wise to give them the taste test if you are hoping to use the lovely leaves in a salad, because they have a tendency to become strong flavored and slightly bitter. Simmering or braising does tenderize them and sweeten them up. In addition to using them in salads and as a garnish, they are great added to soups and as part of the mix in an old fashioned 'mess of greens.'

Red Veined Sorrel from Growing Together Community Gardens.

Red Veined Sorrel is easy to grow and plants and seeds are often available at nurseries, garden centers, and through mail order catalogs and on-line sellers. They are offered under a number of different names, including red sorrel, blood sorrel, and unicorn plant.  Once established they will return each year and their clumps will slowly increase in size and they can be divided to share with friends or to get them established in a few spots in the garden.

When you notice that they start shooting up tall stems, you will want to cut them back to the ground. They are vigorous self sowers and those tall stems are getting ready to make thousands of seeds!  A few of these striking plants are often welcome in the garden, but thousands are definitely too many!


This post started out as a photo description on Growing Together Community Gardens' page, where I have gardened for the last 3 years, and where I have been the coordinator for the past 2 years.


Copyright, 2016, Harvest McCampbell.  Please feel free to share using the buttons below.  All other rights reserved.