Archive for July, 2010

Ornamental Millet

 ‘Limelight' ornamental millet

Ornamental millet ‘Limelight', in a bed with peppers (at right) and Verbena bonariensis. That's the tomato patch in the background.

Not long ago, I found and wrote a brief post about an amazing millet bug – amazing in that it was huge, gorgeous, and something I’d never seen before.

I was hoping somebody would recognize it. So far no luck. Also, at least so far, no one who shares my appreciation of its beauty. Commenters have been silent, but e-mails and conversations with friends have reminded me that for many people, bug = disgusting.

Too bad. Some insects are just plain creepy – earwigs come at once to mind – but a lot of them are drop down gorgeous, however disgusting their behavior.

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Maine Crab and Lobster (Mushroom) Cakes – with Cilantro Nectarine Mayonnaise

crab cake with lobster mushroom

Maine crab and lobster mushrooms inside that crunchy crust

At the risk of jinxing things I have to say this is shaping up as a boffo mushroom year (in Midcoast Maine, anyway.) We haven’t had much chance to go out, but when we do we are finding things, including lobster mushrooms, which seem to be unusually abundant.

I am of the school that feels they get their name from their brilliant color. To me, the flavor is meaty, not fishy. But others claim they also taste faintly crustaceanlike. This isn’t as farfetched as it sounds; mushroom cell walls are primarily composed of chitin, the same material that makes crab and lobster shells.

Either way, they have a great affinity for Maine crabmeat, one of the world’s greatest seafoods.

cut crab and lobster mushroom cake

Those bright red bits are the mushroom

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Eric’s Pet Plant: Copper Beech ( Fagus sylvatica ‘Atropururea’)

full grown copper beech

One of the copper beeches at Yale, showing the classic bronze-red color and classic full crown.

One of the great things about having Eric with us is that his pet plants are not usually the same as my pet plants, so we all get a different viewpoint (and set of growing hints). But this time around he’s making love to one of my favorite trees.

One of my favorite tree genera, actually, since I don’t think I ever met a beech I didn’t like.

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Too-Hot Tomatoes and Peppers = Blossom Drop

flower of brandyine tomato

Will these Brandywine blossoms make it to tomatohood if the weather stays hot hot hot?

Our friend Melinda writes:

“It’s been my understanding that when it’s too hot for a sustained period (including high overnight temps–like around 80), that many veggie plants drop their flowers before they fruit (e.g., tomatoes, peppers, squash, etc.). Is that true in your experience?”

Yes, but less often than you might think – or fear, given the ongoing heat wave. High night temperatures sterilize pollen and flowers that are not pollinated fall from the plant. But the window for this kind of blossom drop is comparatively narrow.

Pollen forms before the flower opens, but not that long before, and after the flower opens it must  be pollinated within a day or two (over the course of a single morning, in the case of squash), no matter what else is going on.

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Amazing Millet Bug

stink bug on millet

The iridescent green of the head is also in stripes at the joints, so the side view shows a string of jeweled beads

Anybody recognize this creature on the Limelight millet?

First pass at google confirms the likelihood that it is as it appears to be, some kind of stinkbug; they seem to be major pests on millet. But none of the common green and brown ones are anywhere near this large – it’s about an inch long.

Dial “M” for millet, right? It was the only one I saw but I fear it has friends and relatives nearby.

Maine Blueberry Hazelnut Oatmeal Cookies

hazelnut blueberry oatmeal cookies

The picnic classic, downeast edition

Usually, when I give a party, I prepare the food. But at our recent garden soiree for the Maine Farmland Trust, these cookies were my only contribution. (Food luminary Nancy Jenkins, an ardent Trust supporter, did all the rest, leaving me free to obsess about weeding.)

Because we wanted to showcase raw materials that come – or could come – from Maine,  the cookies were made from Maine-grown oats. Local eggs. Butter was my regular butter, Kate’s. The blueberries… well, of course

straw on garden path

The upper path is empty of people because everyone kept on going (the party was in the lower garden).

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