blueberry blooms, chard, and iris buds

You may recall from previous posts that last year the little blueberry bush provided a grand total of nine plump, sweet berries. As you can see from these pictures, there are plenty of beautiful flowers this year – I’d say around 120 at least, on the whole plant.

While it is likely that not all of these flowers will set fruit, it definitely seems like the estimate of 20 berries for this year was a bit on the low side. This is exciting news for sure!

UPDATE: The berries came in and it looks like a bumper crop!

Another happy ecogarden citizen is this brightly colored Swiss chard plant, growing more and more rapidly as the weather warms up. Look at those gorgeous red veins!

Since this is an ecogarden, no plant is alone. Surrounding the chard plant are scarlet pimpernel (see the tiny orange flowers?), white flowering sorrel (in the dark background) and an abundance of other fun stuff. The chard’s leaves won’t be quite as huge as they might be on a commercial farm (because of sharing nutrients with the neighbors), but the flavor of any harvested leaves will no doubt be excellent.

You may also recall that the shade-handicapped stand of bearded iris has recently been bloom-free for three years.

Now that the big magnolia tree is gone, the iris plants are already looking much healthier in the sun. In fact, there are now gigantic, fat flower buds poking up.

On the whole, things are looking very happy in the ecosystem garden. However, like any growing, human-managed garden, it needs some work now and then.

As you may be able to see in the last picture, it is about time to do another thinning.

The little winter cress (low, fuzzy looking brownish stuff just left of the path) is now in the last stages of seeding. It’s time to pull it out (gently!) before the property owner comes around and complains about the “weeds” in the garden.

There are also some mature dandelion plants ready to be harvested, just to the right of the irises, at the base of the blueberry bush (which is nearly impossible to see in this picture). You might see their reddish flower stems, now topped by seed heads that have lost most of the fluffy seeds. The dandelion roots are edible and full of great vitamins, well worth digging up. Naturally, when I pull them out I will use appropriate tools and try to disturb the soil ecosystem as little as possible.

There are also many patches of sorrel (four different kinds!) that need serious reduction before they take over the whole space. The sorrels are also edible and delicious, if a bit tangy.

In addition, there are radishes, chickweed, lambs quarter, plantain, lemon balm, mint, green peas, and several other edible herbs ready to be harvested. Looks like a nice salad is coming tonight.

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