Today I traveled to Decorah, Iowa to check out the Heritage Farm seed saving exchange. This place has one of the largest collections of open-pollinated heirloom varieties for home gardeners like myself. It is an 890 acre farm with beautiful gardens and orchards.There are several different gardens to stroll through. The preservation gardens is where seeds are regenerated and grown to provide a refeshed seed supply. These gardens are designed to prevent cross-pollination and mantain genetic purity. The trial gardens are used to plant a sample of the seeds they receive from a grower to determine germination rate and genetic purity. These gardens serve as a system of checks and balances. Several other gardens like Diane’s Garden and the Seed Saving Garden are also open for public strolls. My favorite garden is the exchange garden. Each year, hundreds of SSE members share their seeds with others by listing them in the yearbook.
Besides the gardens, the farm also has a historic apple orchard and heritage breeds of livestock. The historic apple orchard features 550 different varieties of apples. The farm is one of two major breeding sites for Ancient White Park Cattle in the US. This breed is known for its well-marbles meat, efficient grazing and easy calving. Also, Gloucestershire Old Spots Pigs are used in the orchards to clean up windfalls and this reduces pests.
Of course one can not visit the farm without picking up some seeds. I am excited about the Heritage Farm Poppy and I look forward to having this beautiful poppy growing in my garden. I also picked up a package of historic pansies mix. Unfortunately the original pansies introduced in the 1800s by the Vilmorin Company of Paris no longer exist, but seedman Kees Sahin of the Netherlands kept a collection of 13000 violas in the Netherlands. This mix was assembled by him and closely resembles the original “Bambini Mixture” from Vilmorin. I also picked up a sweet pea perinnial called Everlasting which I plan to have growing on the fence in my songbird garden. For vegetables I picked up the Chioggia beet seeds. This is a pre-1840 Italian heirloom beet introduced in the US before 1865. It has alternating red and white concentric rings that resemble little bull’s-eyes.
Tonight I will be planting herbs and peppers of every variety you can think of as they were giving away their leftover plants. What a great day at the farm!
On Saturday, I drove to the Galena Territories to witness the Galena Balloon Races. I had never been to a balloon race so I was very excited to see how the balloons rose in the air and the multitude of colors and designs on these geometric objects. I was not disappointed. The day was beautiful and I had a lovely, shaded knoll to sit on as I watched these giants ascend into the air. I have posted a complete album of the balloons on the Quiet Walker Lodge Facebook page. It was a great event for a great cause!
Here at Quiet Walker Lodge we are always concerned about healthy food. A friend of mine shared with me the EWG’s 2011 Shopper’s guide to pesticides in produce. I was shocked to find that apples have the highest amount of pesticide contamination of all the fruits and vegetables. The dirty dozen with the most pesticides include celery at number two followed by strawberries, peaches, spinach, nectarines, grapes, sweet bell peppers, potatoes, blueberries, lettuce and kale.
This beautiful Luna moth was attached to a wooden post on the deck. Last summer my husband saw one with a 4 inch wing span. The Luna moth is one of the largest moths in North America. The pale green wings have either pink or yellow margins on them. The Northern moths and the Southern individuals born in the summer have the yellow margins.
The adult Luna moths are very strong fliers. When they first exit the cocoon it takes them up to two hours to get their wings. They have to pump bodily fluids to their wings and wait about 2 hours before they are able to fly. Like a typical silk moth, the adult Luna moth has no mouth and does not feed. They only live for about 1 week in the adult form and during this time their sole purpose is to find a mate. Mating will take place after midnight and the eggs will be laid the following evening. The eggs will hatch in about a week and the caterpillars will go through about five in-stars before they create their cocoon and start the whole cycle over.
“Iowa Lodging at Quiet Walker Lodge Bed and Breakfast, a Country Inn and Dubuque area bed and breakfast located near Dubuque, Iowa”
“Iowa Lodging at Quiet Walker Lodge Bed and Breakfast, a Country Inn and Dubuque area bed and breakfast located near Dubuque, Iowa” /> I use to be fond of racoons with their cute faces and petite feet. But ever since I moved to a place that has them I realize what a pain they are to have around. They eat the robin’s eggs and poop everywhere. They are notorious for getting into garbage bins and tearing up plants.
However, it is hard for me to shoot Old Jack. Maybe it is the look he gives me every time he raids the bird feeder or the curiosity he has about the cats looking at him through the window. I know….he is a raccoon. You need to shoot him. Well I think I will wait for the neighbor to let out his dogs and let nature take its course. In the meantime I am off to the store to get more bird food!
“Iowa Lodging at Quiet Walker Lodge Bed and Breakfast, a Country Inn and Dubuque area bed and breakfast located near Dubuque, Iowa” />I enjoyed my 60th birthday this past Wednesday by going to Madison, Wisconsin. I ate at a fabulous place called Muramoto. The shushi was some of the best I have ever had and the plum wine was excellent. Prices were reasonable for lunch and I would highly recommend this place if you are ever in the mood for some good sushi.
Besides lunch, I toured the Olbrich botantical gardens and saw three plants that I am hoping to get for my garden. The Persian Pearl Tulip and Checkered Fritillary were two of my favorite ones. For a shaded area, the Lenten roses were great bushes for accent color. I am sure the gardens change with the seasons and I am looking forward to going back in July to see the summer colors.
“Iowa Lodging at Quiet Walker Lodge Bed and Breakfast, a Country Inn and Dubuque area bed and breakfast located near Dubuque, Iowa” />I went to the Antler auction this weekend and picked up a nice box of antlers to use for my baskets. So today I got creative and made a basket using all natural stuff. It is 82 here in Iowa and the trees and plants just do not know what to do. The normal is about 46! Amazing….
Sometimes God blesses us with the most awesome sign of his presence. This morning I woke up to this beautiful landscape outside my front windows. As much as I complain about plowing, shoveling, driving and freezing in this winter, I am reminded of just how beautiful it can be.