Mark Griffin

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since Aug 15, 2018
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Piedmont, North Carolina - 7b/8a
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Recent posts by Mark Griffin

They are evergreen, slow growing and easy to propagate by cuttings.  In a pot it will stay relatively small but if it gets too big you can always prune it, hang the branches to dry and pluck the leaves and save for cooking.  I've heard they are only hardy to zone 9 but I have never gotten more than some light damage down in the mid teens so I don't bother protecting it anymore.  I bought mine at a local nursery 10-12 years ago, just a little 6-8 inch stick with a few leaves.  It's about 3 or 4 feet tall now and not very bushy, but I use bay leaves a lot in the kitchen.  It is in a pot and doesn't seem to be bothered when I forget to water it for long stretches in the summer.  I'm considering planting it in the ground since winters aren't as cold around here as they used to be.  I'm pretty sure where you are a bay tree would need little to no protection once established.  Also, I've never had issues with anything eating, or even nibbling, it.  If you like to cook with bay leaves, it is worth searching out, fresh leaves are far superior to dried.
1 week ago
You are in a lot different climate than me, but the first thing that comes to mind is alliums.  I plant garlic and onions in the fall for late spring harvest.  It is only a few days before they begin to sprout, and I also inevitably find other garlic and onions sprouting around previously planted beds that had somehow escaped harvest.  This is not true for the chives, both common and garlic, though, that I have in my garden.

And maybe not really what you had in mind but annuals that are better in cool weather also begin sprouting in the fall in my garden.  I always get cilantro, mustard, lettuce and borage volunteers in the fall, sometimes other things depending on what has gone to seed.  Last year there was a very productive spinach volunteer that showed up mid fall and powered through the winter.  Though it may be the temps, there may also be a light aspect to it as well. I know cilantro is day length sensitive, so maybe the seeds have this trait. These volunteers will usually grow a bit into December then just hang around until early February before taking off.
1 month ago
I don't see that variety on the inventory list, but this is a good source for heritage apple varieties for anyone else interested.  The owner is very helpful and knowledgeable and may be able to provide some info.  The site does say they specialize in Southern (US) varieties though. Good luck!
1 month ago
In the southeast, Wax Myrtle is quite often used for this sort of hedging.  It is evergreen, grows about 10-20 feet, takes pruning well but will also sucker a bit so it can make a thick hedge in the right spot and left to its own devices.  Its berries can be used in candle making and have a nice fresh scent.  It is also fixes nitrogen (though I think this might be debatable?). It has some medicinal uses as well.

I have a few wax myrtles in my nascent food hedge, but another evergreen I was thinking about adding is loquat.  This should survive in zone 8 but I don't know that it will flower and fruit at colder temps.  It is a very attractive shrub with large shiny dark green leaves growing to the 10-20ft range.  It might not take pruning quite as well, or so I've read.

1 month ago
These guys have some interesting citrus varieties that would probably work.  They are in zone 8 and could probably give you some guidance on what would work for you.  Never ordered from them but I have heard good things.

3 months ago
I got Jalapeño 'M' from Burpee this year.  Not sure why I picked it, I think because nothing was in stock anywhere when I got around to ordering. This is the description from the website and on the seed pack-

"Dark green, medium-hot, thick-walled peppers 3" long, 1" wide, with rounded tips."

What actually grew are pale yellow (almost white), a little smaller than described and I'd say they are pointy rather than rounded. The certainly do not look like the pictures on the website.  Fortunately, they taste like jalapeños and are appropriately spicy.

So interested to see what others have to say.  Figured it was a mix up somewhere but not much to do about it when the plants are in the ground and producing so I never followed up with them or asked around about it .  I don't get much from Burpee anyway but this makes me lose a little faith in them.

4 months ago
I'm no expert, but I can offer a few observations from growing yarrow the last couple of years.  It spreads, but it's not terribly aggressive.  Growing among other plants it seems to kind of weave around and find spots where it can get some sun.  Given its own sunny spot it'll get pretty bushy.  It doesn't necessarily need a lot of sun, but I have put it in a couple of locations where it just faded away and I assume that is from lack of sun.  It puts out a lot of flowers over mid - late summer here in NC.  Bees like it, but also potter wasps and tachnid flies frequent it.  Deer and rabbits nibble it occasionally but rarely do much damage.  I've heard it can be mixed into a lawn and when mowed it will stay pretty close to the ground and spread out.  I haven't tried that but from its growth patterns that seems likely.  These two pictures were taken a week or two ago.  Both these spots get 5 or 6 hours of sun in the summer and are pretty dry, being on mild slopes of sandy loam.  Obviously the bushy one has plenty of room and is making the most of it.  The other low to the ground yarrow is growing under some guara that has been trimmed back but is pretty bushy in the summer.  All the yarrow in my yard stays relatively green through the winter but doesn't grow when it's cold. I haven't really noticed much self seeding, but it could be happening, just not excessively. I planted my yarrow from seed 3 years ago and have dug up bits of plants and moved them around some.  They seem to be fine with the rough treatment. Hope that helps!

bushy yarrow

yarrow growing under other plants

11 months ago
I hope somebody else will chime in because I'm not an expert, I don't know what variety of peaches I have (compost volunteers) and this is the first year they have flowered.  I can tell you that they were in full flower here in a mild zone 7b winter about 4 weeks ago.  So maybe your Contender thinks it is in 6ish? This pic from 2/24

11 months ago
Bird's eye view -

Looking a little drab here in mid-March, but I have high hopes for this coming season!

11 months ago
Tame? I don't know. Read 'The Bear' by William Faulkner, set in about that spot.  As someone who grew up in the rural South it really rings true.  For some reason, I get the feeling that Mississippi hasn't changed much since he wrote it.
1 year ago