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Monthly Archives: June 2012

When the pea pod dries, it unzips itself, revealing the light green peas. The ones shown here will be allowed to drop to the ground naturally, maybe to sprout or maybe to serve as food for some lucky critter.

Just a few inches away, a different kind of seed ripens. This nasturtium seed will dry into a hard, wrinkled sphere, but in this green stage it is moist inside, and quite edible. They taste great pickled, similar to capers (here’s a recipe).

Here’s a previous post featuring a gorgeous nasturtium flower.

Also known as Jersey cudweed, this noble little plant (Helichrysum luteoalbum) (Wikipedia) has some of the most interesting flowers in the garden. Not at all showy, it nevertheless manages to attract its own collection of pollinators, including tiny solitary bees, black beetles, and even tinier flies.

The flowers are borne on a tall stem from a base with several stems. The leaves are slightly fuzzy, a water-saving adaptation often seen in plants that may grow in hot, sunny places. After the flowers finish blooming, the whole central part of the flower drops off (taking the seeds with it) leaving behind the “everlasting” part, that actually looks more like a flower than the flowers themselves.

In my garden the everlasting cudweed usually only shows up in the container gardens, where the soil may sometimes dry out. That’s what they like!

This loudly vocal, perky blue jay has been regularly visiting the eco-compost pile, eating hearty on the black soldier flies, worms, sowbugs, earwigs, centipedes, and lots of other critters thriving there. Like blue jays in general, this one is just about completely unafraid of me. I can walk around freely, even talk to it or imitate its own calls, and it just looks at me. I thought about offering it a peanut, but it already has enough to eat.

The only time I ever saw a bird dismantle a paper wasp nest and eat all of the wasps and their young, it was a blue jay.

Our feathered friend on the compost is just about one year old, one of two offspring hatched by an older pair of blue jays that visited frequently last summer. Looks like the whole family has been enjoying the harvest!

You may remember the blueberry flowers earlier this year. They are now berries, and it looks like a bumper crop from this still-young bush. Already these plump beauties are starting to show some purple-blue color!

UPDATE: the first ripe blueberries!

While the blueberries have been ripening, a sturdy escarole plant has sprung up right nearby. Its curly-leaved flower stalks punch up through the blueberry stems and the leaves of the neighboring bearded iris clump.

The blue flowers look like chicory, which makes sense because escarole is Chicorium endivia, closely related to the roadside plant whose roots contain many flavorful substances:

Do you see the lady beetle peeking out just below the flower?

Chicory, endive, frisée, escarole, all very close relatives, all edible in various ways, all wonderful to have in the garden. But where did the seed come from for this escarole plant? It remains a happy mystery.

Do you remember the happy springtime raspberry bush? It has grown quite a lot, and now there are berries – but as anticipated, they are less than impressive.

Above is shown the very best stem of berries on the bush. It has three small berries, the largest of which has a mighty seven drupelets. Still, they are a pretty red color and the very tiny drupelets actually do taste like raspberry.

Most of the berries look more like the somewhat pathetic specimen at right, with two whole drupelets. Why are the berries so small? Very likely this bush is a hybrid between two commercial plants, whose genes got reassorted during the cross. Such hybrids rarely turn out to be of much edible value, whether the plant in question is a raspberry, radish, or rutabaga.

It is because of this quality hit from hybrid plants that heirloom seeds are so important for use in ecosystem farming. Heirlooms, if properly cultivated and pollinated, provide steady quality through many generations. Because of this long-term consistency, heirloom crops and other plants can also be more easily selected for new, better traits, which are easier to spot against the steady gene line.

UPDATE: A blast from the past and a more current photo.

Meanwhile, not far away something more impressive is growing. Remember the first blackberry flower? Now it and its sisters are growing into some very respectable looking berries:

The red color of this gorgeous specimen is intermediate between the hard, green berries and the luscious, ripe black ones. Most of the 50 or so blackberries on the canes still look more like the younger ones below, posing next to the rain gauge with leaves glowing in the sun:

Berries from previous years on these canes were delicious. This year’s crop is even larger! The size of the crop is especially interesting, considering that the canes are growing out of this container, featuring a carpet of moss and sedum, blackberry canes coming up at the right, and a happy carrot going to seed on the left:

So far, One Green Stone has been a fascinating experiment. What kind of blog would it become?

Looking at early posts, there was a kind of casting about for topics. What should I write about? There was a tendency to sort of splash it out there in different ways, trying out different voices.

Lately things have settled and a few distinct flows have emerged. Now it seems appropriate to create several more focused streams, to honor the distinctness of the different flows.

Two new blogs split out now, leaving One Green Stone leaner and cleaner with a more precise focus. Off-topic posts will be disappearing, either moved to one of the other blogs or simply vanished.

The first new blog is called “clear display.” The name arises from the wonderful sharings of the excellent Jim Wray, whose tweets and writings reveal the deep truth of the nondual Clear Aware Display that is our experience of Reality. The new blog is primarily visual, featuring photography, Photoshop art, algorithmic metaflowers, and contributed works. It uses the beautiful Nishita theme which features 1024-wide images. Subscribe to clear display if you’d like to see more of this beautiful art as it is published.

The second new blog is called “empty witness.” Here you will find articles and comments about the world, my life, and life in general. Subscribe to empty witness if you’ve enjoyed or valued the commentaries in past months about world events, Al Jazeera, modern prophets, friendly aliens, nondual Being, and paleo lifestyle.

This blog you are reading (One Green Stone) will center around ecology, and especially the art of eco-gardening, with various excursions into weather, science, or other interests. It will continue to be a celebration of beautiful Earthly nature and life forms.

It is delightful to feel the enthusiasm and interest that people are showing around these projects. Thank you for your support, and double special thanks to all enthusiastic eco-garden clients.

There are estimated to be more than 200,000 different species of flies, midges, gnats, and mosquitos in the world, but only about half of them are known and described. All belong to the order Diptera (Wikipedia article), whose name means “two winged.” The only insect order with more species is the beetles.

There are many species of green bottle flies (Wikipedia) that look very similar. All belong to the family Calliphoridae (Wikipedia), also known as blowflies. That family contains roughly 1,100 species. It is a huge, complex family whose internal relationships are disputed. Some entomologists think there may be several separate lineages in the family, from different origins.

Like many blue or green animal colors in nature, the shiny luster of these flies comes from light diffraction through tiny structures in the surface of their body, not from any kind of pigment. As a result, the color can change depending on the angle of the light. Blue jays, peacocks, and Morpho butterflies also get their blue and green colors from diffraction of light.

Blowflies in general, and green bottles in particular, are incredibly sensitive to the smell of dead flesh. They are often the first insects to arrive when an animal dies. Forensic entomologists can estimate the time of death of an animal or human by looking at the life stages of blowfly maggots and other insect larvae within the body.

The little beauty shown here bopped around the garden for almost an hour while I was photographing all sorts of stuff. I kept finding it basking in the sun. The rock must have been especially warm, because it hung out there for a long time.

How curious and strange, that this beautiful green-gold work of art spent its early life completely surrounded by a dead animal’s rotting body.

Not long after our green friend flew away, a different beauty showed up. This syrphid fly (flower fly / hover fly) was uncharacteristically just sitting there among the Bacopa flowers. Usually they are seen hovering almost in place, or darting from one flower to another.

The family Syrphidae (Wikipedia) has even more species than the Calliphoridae, numbering more than 6,000. Most of the adults eat pollen or drink nectar. The larvae have more varied food – some of them are valuable predators, eating aphids and other small insects found on plants.

Two flies, just hanging out in the sun. Who wants to fly around when you can just soak up some rays on a nice green leaf or rock?

Here’s another post about interesting flies.