Sunday, March 28, 2010

New This Year from Show-Me Nurseries!

Note: I know I've already done a piece on garden catalogs but there is one very special catalog that always shows up around this time each year, and I couldn't resist including some of the highlights here. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

For a gardener, one of the most exciting times of the year is when the first garden catalogues start showing up in the mail. Everybody has their old favorites, standbys they order every year without fail; it might be a special tomato your mother grew or a poppy that is now inextricably associated with a place or a time dear to your heart.

But the we plant freaks also look forward to the new and unusual, and when it comes to the unusual, no mail-order catalog tops Show-Me Nurseries. Aptly named for the skeptical nature of native Missourans, you'll have to see their collection to believe it!

New this spring from
P.O. Box 12345
Homily, MO 01011

HARDY MANGO - "Nanook"
This unexpected genetic break from the common mango strains produced a tree that can be grown as far north as zone 4 with no visible damage. Evergreen, this tree stays lush and beautiful to 5F, showing slight cold damage at -10 and below. Fruit ripens in February, and is comparable to the best tropical cultivars, though tends to be tough at temperatures below 20 degrees.


MANGO "Nanook" - 2' trees, $30.00

BLUE RASPBERRY (Rubus dubia)
Ever long to grow the same blue raspberry that supplies the flavor for cotton candy, popsicles, and blue Jell-o? This was a gardener's impossible dream until recently, as this plant grew only in the volcanic soils in wind-swept Tierra del Fuego, and was gathered from the mat-forming plants by the local Indians. Now an upright less finicky form is available, though it will not flourish in areas with hot summers.

True Blue!
Ooooo! It's Bluuue!

BLUE RASPBERRY (Rubus dubia) - 5 canes for $40.00. Supply limited.

*Show-Me Exclusive* POPCORN ON THE COB!
We have long wanted to offer this unusual variety of popcorn but could not obtain stock until this year. "Early Wonder" popcorn is the only variety of popcorn known that actually pops on the plant. This corn grows normally until the ears mature, and then, when the weather gets hot, *watch out!!* The first day over 90 degrees will cause the kernels to pop right in the husk. You have to add
the salt and butter though. Great conversation piece.

Yummm! Do I Smell Popcorn?
Hey! Is that popcorn I smell?

Popcorn "EARLY WONDER" - $5.00 per packet. Shipped in cold storage.

"HOLY TLAQUEPAQUE" Hot Pepper (Capsicum horridulum)
This is positively the hottest pepper we have ever seen or heard of. Thin green peppers cause severe blistering with mere skin contact, and eating just one can render the most seasoned pepper-eaters unable to speak or even swallow for several days, let alone pronounce their name to emergency room physicians. This is not an ornamental pepper - growth tends to be rangy and tall, with sparse pale leaves. To tell the truth, we couldn't say what you would do with this pepper. But they sure are hot.


PEPPER "HOLY TLAQUEPAQUE" - .50 per packet.

ANT TREE - Myrmecodia
An unusual plant with a swollen, stubby trunk from which the flowers and fruit grow directly. Your friends will want to bend down and take a closer look, but imagine their surprise when they find themselves covered with vicious stinging ants! Great conversation starter. The tree is not difficult to grow or propragate, but we must ask a higher price because the queen ants are so difficult to smuggle past the agricultural agents at the border.

Come closerrr!

ANT TREE - $70.00 EA. (Ant cultures shipped separately)

Another scientific breakthrough, this bean is a laboratory cross between a fava bean and a garbanzo. Both delicious and heavy bearing, this amazing bean has another hidden quality – hidden that is, until you eat them: They produce enough gas to cook the next pot of beans. It requires a bit of timing to get it just right, and you won’t want to eat these if you’ve got a date that night, but they might just be a partial solution to the energy crisis. Have dinner, then hook up the special collection tank when you go to bed (please send personal measurements for the proper fit) and at the very least you’ll be able to make your breakfast with no extra tax on the environment.

Not for the faint of heart.
Not for the faint hearted.

PERUVIAN WONDER BEAN – 1 packet (30 seeds) - $12.00

New Plant Collection Offers:

Barrier Garden

This is a collection of all the most beautiful and unusual plants with stinging or irritating hairs, some possibly fatal. Includes 5 varieties of nettle, including the famous "creeping nettle" of Venezuela, which spreads quickly by underground runners, Devil's Club from the Pacific Northwest, a beautiful shrub-small tree covered with irritating spines, several species of Loasa, and of course, the famous Australian Stinging Tree, a brush of which can make a grown man writhe in pain for several months. Plant this collection instead of an electric fence to keep plant thieves away from your prized items. Victims are a good source of extra nitrogen too!

I'm fertilizing my garden!
I'm fertilizing my garden!


New Roses collection:

The biggest and gaudiest of the new hybrid tea roses, many with no irritating fragrance to mask your own perfume, natural scent, or barbecue smoke. Some of these varieties combine up to five colors in one bloom. A few examples:

"LIBERACE" - This old rather forgotten variety throws up candelabra-like spikes of large shining blooms of green, red, and hot pink, with crystalline sparkling spots.

"ROSEANNE" - A white and red striped *big* fully double rose which does have a slight scent of old beer.

"SCREAMING QUEEN" - Lavender and magenta of course, with red flecks and lots of other colors too. Developed from a seedling of "Liberace," this rose has an interesting scent, somewhere between "Obsession" and "Aramis."

“JANET JACKSON” – Selected from a large lot of seedlings that showed promise but began to exhibit breaks as they matured, this trouble-free double rose that maintained its original color will just keep on performing in your garden!

"MADONNA" - Tall thin plants with black shiny leather-like blooms. Oddly pointed pistils protrude far beyond the rest of the floral parts. Will hybridize with anything.

“SARAH PALIN” – It’s been years since we’ve offered anything new so we decided to go ahead and introduce this one, even though it’s not quite stabilized. Pretty if in an unimaginative sort of way; it will go well with your plaster moose and other garden ornaments. Blooms tend to shatter when the weather gets hot.

For the Perennial Border:

Arabian Night Flower – Euphorbia flor-achrista
A rarity from the desert near Jeddah, this plant’s bloom is the stuff of legends. Don’t be mislead by the name – it doesn’t bloom every night, just one the 1001st night. The flower emerges on a slender delicate stem, and when its filmy green half-inch petals open the garden is flooded with the heady scent of camel breath. Gazing upon this flower in bloom is said to ensure a sensible arranged marriage to a heterosexual husband.

Bishkek Cheeseberry – Ahmedovskia pordoides
You have visual beauty and scent in your garden; now you can also add sound with this attractive groundcover from the mountain meadows of Kyrgyzstan, the “whoopee cushion of the plant world.” Technically not a berry but rather an inflated silique, the seedpods that follow the attractive clusters of pink flowers are full of (unfortunately scentless) gas that bursts forth with exuberant “raspberries” when ripe, propelling the seeds to a distance of up to three meters. The plant is also receiving much attention from the medical community due to a compound found in its leaves which show a very promising ability to change the color of dandruff.

Mousetrap Orchid – Mysodolos cyanarchidia Another oddity from Central Asia, this high-country orchid has a strategy similar to the famous bee orchids of the Mediterranean. Opening at the peak of Tadjikistani field mouse mating season, the flowers have a shape and scent that cause the hormone-addled male mice to mistake them for a female Tadjikistani field mouse. The little fellow mounts the flower but his genitalia trigger an amazingly adapted clamp at the end of the column to close tightly around his scrotum. The hapless mouse hangs there until the female flowers open in the morning, at which point the clamp releases its grip but not without attaching a pair of pollen sacks to his foreskin. Now desperate for release, the mouse immediately forgets the pain of the night before and, full of hope, has frantic, passionate sex with the female flower, which dumps him as soon as he has performed his function. When your friends see this plant, bedecked at dusk with ten or more writhing male mice, your garden will be the talk of the neighborhood!

To Order

We have no formal order form. Write your order on the back of a cereal boxtop (any brand will do), and send it to us by car, courier, or carrier pigeon. All orders must be received by April 1, 2010. Send no payment until order is shipped. Show-Me Nurseries does not accept credit cards, traveller's checks or money orders. Don't send cash through the mail! It's dangerous and we don't accept it anyway. And stop whining.

Waiting for April 1 is so last year!
Thanks to my house mate Yasin for being a good sport, and to my friend Shakir for his PhotoShop wizardry!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

This Year's Seeds - Bu Yılın Tohumları

(İngilizceyi bilmeyen okurların anlayışına sığınarak Türkçe çevirinin eksikliği için özür dilerim! Son haftalarda öyle yoğunum ki İngilizce tarafını ihmal etmemek için çabalıyorum...yine de ihmal ettim...biraz zamanım olunca en azından özetleyeceğim!)

My profligacy in the seed department is coming home to roost. I always go overboard, but gardening here is still pretty experimental, and besides the tried-and-true, there are things I'm not at all sure will survive or not. Then there's always a bit of overkill on flower seeds - you buy a pack of 100 seeds and maybe really only want three or four of what you're planting...


Winter squash "Triamble" (C. maxima, a gray three-lobed one that keeps forever), "Seminole" (C. moschata, vining with rock-hard fruits that are reportedly delicious), "Table Queen" (C. pepo, the best acorn variety out there), "Pennsylvania Dutch" (C. moschata, an ancestor to the modern butternut, but strongly recurved) and "Bungkang" (C. moschata, with deeply furrowed dark green skin, from SE Asia). How on earth did I end up with 5 winter squash varieties? God help me. I might have to farm one out to a friend with several acres...I kind of wanted to grow "Futtsu" again this year too...
Korean Radish "Tae Baek"
Thai Basil "Thai Magic"
Tah Tsoi (Trying this for the first time at the suggestion of a friend who loves it.)
Rainbow Chard (A long-time favorite vegetable)
Cardoon (Also qualifies as an ornamental in my book)
Amaranth "Oscar Blanco" (a very tall one, up to 12 feet, pink, that is both ornamental and edible)
Sugar Snap Peas (Mine almost never make it to the kitchen...I end up snacking on them in the garden.)
Red Orach (Also ornamental but it tastes great)
Flatleaf Parsley (In Turkey parsley is a vegetable, not just a garnish!)
Coriander (Cilantro - almost completely unknown here.)
Oxheart tomatoes (Ordered them for friends last year and they loved them.)
"Pink Ponderosa" Tomato (free gift from Baker Creek)
Molokheiya (A leafy vegetable popular in Egypt and Cyprus)


Tall Snapdragons
"Balcony Mix" Petunias (old-time fragrant lavender variety)
"Aztec Sweet" Nicotiana
Nicotiana glutinosa (Pink bell-shaped one, sounded intriguing!)
Tithonia "Mexican Torch"
Sweet Four O'Clock (Mirabilis longiflora - long white flowers with red centers and very fragrant)
Asclepias tuberosa "Gay Butterflies"
Matthiola bicornis ("Evening Scented Stock) - everyone should grow this!
Salvia patens (Wonderful low-spreading salvia with huge clear blue flowers)
Nepeta nervosa (we'll see if it survives the neighborhood cats...)
Nectaroscordum siculum (Great onion relative with downward-hanging red and white flowers; the leaves smell absolutely foul when crushed)
Melittis melissophyllum (Bastard balm)
Impatiens balfourii
Hesperis matronalis (I've tried twice already to get this going here and it hasn't come up, but I'm trying again. It was one of my favorite plants in my Seattle garden; there's nothing quite like the smell of it at night!)
Decaisnea fargesii (A bizarre plant with steely blue pods full of snotty pulp that is marginally edible. I'm hoping my neighbor will think it's as wonderful as or better the Ailanthus tree she allows to grow...)
Canna speciosa (A hardy one from the Himalayas with blue-purple flowers. Cannas are remarkably easy from seed, as long as you nick the seedcoat and soak them overnight first. If they swell, you nicked it far enough, otherwise try again. Then they come up like zinnias!)

Oh - and then there are the sweet peas and Korean runner beans sent to me by a seed-trading friend in Washington, an odd little Mexican cucurbit that's good for stuffing and keeps down cholesterol sent by a new friend in Iowa, and Solanum quitoense and Bitter melon, as well as a start of another cholesterol-reducing plant, Moluccan Spinach (Gynura divaricata) sent by a correspondent from North Carolina. It's growing great in a pot now. I'm looking forward to seeing what it does in the long run, it's in the same genus as "Purple Passion Plant," the fuzzy purple houseplant with the foul-smelling orange flowers. This one isn't fuzzy (it probably wouldn't be too palatable if it were) but it's definitely purple! And a jar of assorted morning glories from my friend Rabia in New Mexico, I can't wait! Thanks to everyone for sharing!

My seed sources this year were Chiltern Seeds, Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds and Evergreen Seeds. I've always had great luck with the first two; it's my first time ordering from Evergreen.

AND - to help me deal with all this, this year I happened to find something I'd been looking for unsuccessfully in garden centers here for years: Seed flats! I found them in Eminönü, but not in the gardening area (that would be too logical). Directly across the parking lot from the cheese and meat shops along the side of the Spice Market, about half way between Kahve Dünyası and the road, is a shop that sells all sorts of plastic items - little ziplock bags, garbage bags, you name it. And 3 different sizes of seed flats. They also sell what we called "jiffy bags" back home - the black cheap bags that nurseries use to raise plants in. Good to know!