Saturday, August 31, 2013

When Cilantro becomes Coriander

For some reason, I always associate Coriandrum sativum; the green leafy portion of the herb as cilantro and its dried seed as coriander. Yet, essentially they are interchangeable. I used this association to come up with my blog entry title. Hope it doesn't confuse folks.
It's late August and I've basically run out of usable foliage for fresh leaf harvesting off my cilantro plant. Here you can see it has bolted and started to produce seeds.
Wish my photo was better, but I love their larger 4 petals flowers fanned over a smaller star shaped florets.

Once the flowers wither, these plump seeds arrive. I plan leaving them on the stems to dry so I can collect some for re-seeding next year and some for the kitchen.

In desperation, I've used this ferny dill bolting foliage in cooking. It's just as tasty as the parsley shaped leaves. When it bolts like this, unfortunately there isn't much to go round.

I used to compost my cilantro once it bolts, but I've seen bees and butterflies enjoy the white flowers and I can't wait to harvest organic seed and use them in some Asian meals. Going to let them dry and harden them on the plant and enjoy harvesting the seeds in October...

...Well, it's now October and here are the seeds:

Perhaps not the largest, and highest volume, but enough to seed for a crop next year and enough for a meal or two.
Have a look at my previous post on Cilantro/Coriander.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Ontario Cicada - Homoptera: Cicadidae

Sitting and relaxing in my backyard after work, I heard the typical summer day call coming from the trees. Cicada's singing their summer song.

To some it's annoying, to me, it always reaffirms summers end and warm evenings in my garden space. The male Cicada's shrill, (as it's known) is quite loud and you usually only hear it on hot humid days like today.

Coincidentally, this fella (not sure if it's male or female) was sitting in my garden - tucked in and perched on my Vinca ground-cover.
A Cicada's life cycle is quite remarkable. Some species of Cicada live up to 17 years. This Ontario Cicada however, only lives 4-5 years. Most of their life is spent under ground. Once adults mate, the female lays her eggs in the twigs and small branches of trees. They make puncture holes in the tissue and bark of the tree, laying about 15-20 eggs at a time. Once the eggs hatch, the young nymphs fall to the ground and then dig down into the soil. Staying close to the trees roots, they make a casing - or cell like structure and feed by sucking the sap of the tree roots. This stage takes about 4 years until the nymphs are full grown. Once mature, they come out of the soil, crawl up a twiggy area of a trees trunk, or branch and fixate themselves tightly to begin their journey into the adult stage.

The Cicada's exoskeleton skin cracks down the backside of the full grown nymph Cicada and the adult emerges and squeezes through the old skin. Here I found its shed skin on the trunk of a Green Ash tree.

Close up.

Their size in relation to my hand.
Once their wings dry and harden, they begin to fly. Males sing to attract other females to start the whole process over again.

What a joy to be able to see and photograph one so close. It was a good sport and let me get right in its face. :)

A favourite food for birds, gardeners don't really have to worry about these guys. If their numbers were to over populate, sometimes their feeding and egg laying damage is noticeable. It's best to let birds and other animals have their fill of these amazing creatures.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Plant Profile: Clematis - For Shade: Clematis virginiana

I miss having the larger flowering clematis vines that I love. In my shaded nook, I've been so tempted to plant some. Instead, I opted to find a "native" clematis (known to tolerate moderate shade). This one has delicate white flowers; called Clematis virginiana - Virgin's Bower Clematis.
Virgin's Bower Clematis (Clematis virginiana)

About a third of the vine is covered with these star flowers and I am quite happy with the result.

In the autumn, these flowers will turn into whispy, silky seed heads - adding more interest to the garden.

Planted two years ago, I'm now able to enjoy flowers in nearly complete shade. This is more than I expected. Last year, leafy and leggy growth dominated the entire corner of my fence, with no bloom. This past spring, I cut back the vine hard - to 2 feet. Removing over 2/3rds its mass. I trained it here and there, so its growth was spread evenly and then cut again in early June - tipping back the long leafy stems to a more manageable length.

In full sun and with rich soil, this clematis grows wild. It's known to be invasive. In my situation, it's quite manageable and happily situated. Even the neighbour enjoys the stems poking through to their side. 

Next, I will attempt to grow some spring flowering Alpina varieties of clematis. See how they fair.

Wednesday, August 07, 2013

Poplar Petiole Gall Aphid

Normally, when I walk by this Poplar Tree, I see its leaves shimmering and fluttering in the wind. Today, I saw leaves rather weighed down and stunted in size compared to the ones way higher in the tree canopy.

On closer examination I saw these:
These growths are galls. Masses of plant tissue that grow over nesting insects. I wasn't sure if it was an aphid or mite which caused this. Turns out it's an aphid. 

Unfortunately, this tree has other issues - some dying branches and peeling bark. The leaves show a bit of stress with perhaps a form of rust. These galls won't kill off the tree, but certainly don't help matters.
The best info I could find on this aphid is on Manitoba's Agriculture Food and Rural Initiatives site.
There you'll find the contents inside the gall and the aphid's life cycle. Well done, MAF&RI!

Thursday, August 01, 2013

Photo of the Month - August 2013: Cornus kousa chinensis

Now this photo ain't the greatest. The flower of this Cornus kousa chinensis however, has linked, or fused petals. Reminding me of a dove. Thought I'd share it. I think it's soooo beautiful.
Cornus kousa chinensis

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