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The Broadleaf Batavian Escarole Blooms
|| 5/30/2011 || 4:01 pm || + Render A Comment || ||

While this broadleaf escarole was mostly devoured by aphids earlier this Spring, it survived long enough to bloom. The flowers look nearly identical to chicory.




Poor Cucumber Flower
|| 5/28/2011 || 3:52 pm || + Render A Comment || ||

I want to take this cucumber plant outside and put it into the ground, but all of the other cucumber seedlings I germinated this year have been killed by birds, mammals, and insects…. Poor cucumber flower, you will get pollinated soon enough.


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The Aphid Invasion of the Escarole
|| 5/22/2011 || 9:14 pm || + Render A Comment || ||

For the last month my broadleaf escarole plant (an Endive, or type of Chicory) on my balcony has been invaded by tiny insects. Mostly aphids, I believe. I opted to not use any pesticides or neem oil to remove the infestation simply to see what damage such pests can do to the quasi-everlasting plant.


The Aphid Invasion of the Escarole

The Aphid Invasion of the Escarole

The Aphid Invasion of the Escarole

The Aphid Invasion of the Escarole


Photographs of Pink Green Bean Flowers, Basil, and Smokey Bronze Fennel
|| 5/14/2011 || 10:23 pm || + Render A Comment || ||

Tonight I took some more photographs of the “VIP” (very important plants) that I’m growing in my bedroom. I look forward to planting these outdoors later this month.


Close-up Photograph of the pink Green Bean Flower
Close-up Photograph of the pink Green Bean Flower


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Blooming Pink Chives & the Air Conditioner
|| 5/9/2011 || 10:34 pm || + Render A Comment || ||

Blooming Pink Chives and the Air Conditioner - close up and far away

I’ve become a big fan of the perennial pink chives (Allium schoenoprasum) that I started growing a few years ago. I’m going to save these flowers to harvest their seed for next year’s garden.


Related Gardening Entries:

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Water droplets on green bean leaves
|| 4/29/2011 || 1:25 pm || + Render A Comment || ||

Photograph of water droplets on my green bean plant

Photograph of water droplets on my green bean plant

Some of the plants for this year’s garden I’ve been growing in my bedroom. I’ve dubbed these plants the VIPs, which stands for “Very Important Plants.” The close-up photographs above show how water droplets on the leaves beautifully reflect light. If you look closely, you can see the coil of the compact fluorescent light bulb reflected in the droplet.



Photographs of a Ladybug in the garden
|| 4/25/2011 || 12:05 pm || + Render A Comment || ||

Photograph of a Lady Bug in the garden

Photograph of a Lady Bug in the garden

Photograph of a Lady Bug in the garden

I spotted this little ladybug crawling through the Rose of Sharon bush the other day. I wish there were more ladybugs so they’d eat all the aphids I know will be coming to the garden later this year.



Photographs of pink chive buds
|| 4/22/2011 || 11:54 am || + Render A Comment || ||

Photograph of pink chive buds in my backyard

Photograph of pink chive buds in my backyard

About three years ago I planted these chives and every year since I’ve been either harvesting these pink chive buds & adding them to salads (they taste like an onion) or I’ve let them get pollinated, then wait a couple weeks, and harvested their tiny black seeds in order to grow more chives. I’ve read that they’ve been used throughout history as a means to naturally prevent bugs from eating different plants in the garden. In practice, however, I haven’t seem chives be very effective combating the aphids.



You know it’s spring when daffodils begin to bloom
|| 4/12/2011 || 11:47 am || + Render A Comment || ||

Photograph of daffodils in my backyard

Photograph of daffodils in my backyard

These daffodils were planted a long time ago and I’m thankful they bloom every spring :-)



Springtime photographs of sedum telephium ‘Autumn Joy’
|| 4/6/2011 || 3:27 pm || + Render A Comment || ||

Springtime Photographs of Sedum telephium - Autumn JoyLast years growth with this year’s new growth.

Springtime Photographs of Sedum telephium - Autumn Joy

Springtime Photographs of Sedum telephium - Autumn Joy

Springtime Photographs of Sedum telephium - Autumn Joy
The leaves trap small droplets of water.



Empty Planters (not for long)
|| 4/2/2011 || 3:15 pm || + Render A Comment || ||

Boring picture of a tray of black planters that have not been filled with soil

Soon there will be a garden…



Photographs of the 2011 Indoor Germination Station
|| 3/31/2011 || 3:07 pm || + Render A Comment || ||

I can truthfully say that I use the internet to grow my vegetables! For the last few years I’ve been using the passive heat from my cable modem & router to germinate my seeds. It’s pretty simple to do: find a leak-proof plastic container, throw in some dirt, add seeds of what you want to grow, add some (but not too much) water, and then place it on your cable modem or internet router. Seeds do not need light to grow, rather they need heat and moisture to germinate. By using the passive heat from the cable modem & router, I can grow just about anything…

Photograph of the 2011 Garden Germination Station

This year I decided to scale up my efforts,
Photograph of the 2011 Garden Germination Station

and added a couple lights and some reflective aluminum foil.
Photograph of the 2011 Garden Germination Station

Within a month most seeds will sprout and will then be transplanted into larger containers outside…



Basil Sprouts
|| 3/26/2011 || 2:59 pm || 1 Comment Rendered || ||

Photograph of baby sweet basil sprouts growing in soil in a plastic container

Using last year’s seeds I was able to quickly germinate this year’s supply of sweet basil.



Agent Orange? A chemical defoliant used on my neighbor’s backyard
|| 3/23/2011 || 2:43 pm || + Render A Comment || ||

The photograph below shows why I maintain a container garden:

Photograph of an orange colored chemical defoliant used on my neighbors backyard

Every year my next door neighbor puts some type of chemical defoliant over his backyard so he doesn’t have to mow his lawn. I sincerely wish he didn’t….



Baby Potato
|| 3/19/2011 || 2:53 pm || + Render A Comment || ||

Photograph of a small potato dug up from my garden

Last fall I planted some potatoes to see if they would grow and sure enough a few did. I think this one looks like Venus of Willendorf.



YouTube Video Showing Where George Washington Grew Hemp at Mount Vernon
|| 7/4/2010 || 12:01 pm || + Render A Comment || ||


[ Watch On YouTube ]

In May I had the opportunity to participate in first annual Hemp History Week. From printing up an old newspaper article showing how hemp was used in the Civil War to taking a field trip to George Washington’s farms in Mount Vernon, Virginia, I had a great time learning about America’s historical use of hemp.

In the video above, I make a cameo at the beginning and later in the video the editor included a map of Mount Vernon from the Library of Congress that I submitted for inclusion in the video. The map nicely corresponds to the map shown during the interview at Mount Vernon.

When we arrived at Mount Vernon, the staff had prepared copies of a statement concerning George Washington’s cultivation of hemp at Mount Vernon. Below is a transcription of the document:



Hemp Production and Use at Mount Vernon

Throughout his lifetime, George Washington cultivated hemp at Mount Vernon for industrial uses. The fibers from hemp held excellent properties for the making of rope and sail canvas, which was a major industry in the age of sailing ships. In addition, hemp fibers could be spun into thread for clothing or, as indicated in Mount Vernon records, for use in repairing the large seine fishing nets that Washington used in his fishing operation along the Potomac.

At one point in the 1760’s Washington considered whether hemp would be a more lucrative cash crop than tobacco but determined that wheat would be a better alternative. During the period when he was considering hemp, he wrote to his agents in England in the hope of determining the costs involved in production and shipping.

In September 1765 he wrote:

“In order thereto you woud do me a singular favour in advising of the general price one might expect for good Hemp in your Port watered and prepared according to Act of Parliament, with an estimate of the freight, and all other incident charges pr. Tonn that I may form some idea of the profits resulting from the growth.” (Fitzpatrick, The Writings of George Washington v. 2, September 20, 1765, George Washington to Robert Cary & Company, p. 430-431)

The Act of Parliament that Washington mentions in his letter to Robery Cary & Company, was enacted to promote hemp production in the American Colonies. In 1767, he did sell some of his Mount Vernon-grown hemp, gaining an income from the bounty that Parliament had laid on the crop.

Hemp Background and History:
“Hemp, Cannabis sativa, a plant originally from central Asia, was cultivated with, and sometimes in place of flax, because its stem fibers are similar to those of flax. Hemp seeds, like those of flax, can be used to extract an oil used in paints, varnishes, and soaps. By the seventeenth century, Russia, Latvia, and other countries around the Baltic Sea were major producers of hemp, and it was from this area that Britain obtained its supply, a situation which left the English vulnerable during periods of military hostilities. Hemp made into rope was vital to navies worldwide. Hemp was also used to make a coarse linen cloth as well as sacking, and other rough materials.” (Colonial American Fiber Crops, Charles Leach, from The National Colonial Farm research Report No. 20. the Accokeek Foundation, Inc. p. 3-4)

Although George Washington’s initial interest in hemp was to determine if it could be a viable cash crop, he proceeded to cultivate it just to meet the needs of his own plantation. Hemp was used at Mount Vernon for rope, thread for sewing sacks, canvas, and for repairing the seine nets used at the fisheries.

Washington’s diaries and farm reports indicate that hemp was cultivated at all his 5 farms, (Mansion House, River Farm, Dogue Run Farm, Muddy Hole Farm, & Union Farm.) In February 1794, Washington wrote to his farm manager, William Pearce, “…I am very glad to hear that the Gardener has saved so much of the St. Foin seed, and that of the India Hemp… Let the ground be well prepared and the See (St. Foin) be sown in April. The Hemp may be sown anywhere. (Fitzpatrick, The Writings of George Washington, v. 33, George Washington to William Pearce, February 24, 1794, p. 279.)

It must be noted that industrial hemp, Cannabis sativa, — the kind that Washington grew– is not the same strain of the plant as Cannabis sativa indica which is used as a drug (marijuana). Cannabis sativa (industrial use hemp) contains less than 0.3% tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), and therefore has no physical or psychological effects. Cannabis sativa indica grown for marijuana can contain 6% to 20% THC.

Therefore, there is no truth to the statement that George Washington was growing marijuana. His hemp crop was strictly the industrial strain needed for the production of rope, thread, canvas, and other industrial applications.



YouTube Videos, Photos, and Newspaper Articles About American Farmers and Businessmen Planting Hemp Seeds at the DEA Headquarters in Arlington, Virginia
|| 10/25/2009 || 1:36 pm || + Render A Comment || ||


[Watch on YouTube]

On October 13th, 2009, I was invited to document this demonstration at the DEA Headquarters in Arlington, Virginia. You can spot me in the YouTube video above in the beginning. I am wearing a black jacket and hat with a rose on it.


This story starts back in 2007 when farmers Wayne Hauge and David C. Monson attempted to obtain permits from the Drug Enforcement Administration to grow industrial hemp [well actually the story goes back further!]. Their respective state governments had granted the farmers licenses to grow the plant, but since the DEA still considers the non-psychoactive industrial hemp plant to be marijuana, they have refused to grant the farmers permits. Faced with no other legal option, they decided it was time to stage a direct action on the grounds of the DEA Headquarters to help push public opinion towards changing the outdated laws. A week later the Department of Justice officially clarified it’s stance on medical marijuana, but has not yet addressed industrial hemp farming. Below are two articles about the demonstration with photographs that I took that eventful morning:

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Growing a Jaloro plant on my back deck – Part Five [The Second Harvest]
|| 9/28/2009 || 4:47 pm || + Render A Comment || ||

Photographs of my Jaloro plant with multi-colored peppers

This set of pictures is the final part of the series showing my Jaloro plant. As you can see from the previous entries (below), this Jaloro plant has been quite bountiful this summer. I germinated the seed indoors sometime in February which allowed the plant to grow larger than it would have under normal outdoor growing conditions. In all, even with the spider mite infestation, this plant has yielded over 80 beautifully colored peppers. I have saved many of the seeds and I hope to grow this plant again next year.

View the rest of the photos:

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The Scourge of this Summer’s Garden: Spider Mites
|| 9/25/2009 || 4:43 pm || 1 Comment Rendered || ||

I first noticed the green bean plants in my backyard starting die but didn’t realize that it was a pest. I simply thought the plant was receiving too much sunlight and not enough water. As the leaves wilted on the green bean plant, I sincerely wondered if the ground might have been contaminated by some foreign chemical. On my 3rd floor deck, where I was already growing my Basil plant and my Jaloro pepper plant, I decided to plant some of the seeds harvested from first green bean plant in my backyard. About a month later the green bean plant was showing the same discoloration on the leaves. Again, I didn’t think much of it. I simply thought the green bean plant was not suited to either this climate or the soil I was using. I continued to let the green bean plant grow and the rest of the leaves slowly wilted. Then I noticed that my Jaloro plant was showing discoloration on the leaves. As a pepper plant, I knew it was designed to receive ample sunlight, and the discoloration raised the final flag. I decided to turn the leaf over, squint my eyes, and there they were, spider mites.

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Photographs from Park(ing) Day DC 2009
|| 9/21/2009 || 11:05 pm || + Render A Comment || ||

Photograph from Parking Day DC 2009

Last Friday I attended the first celebration of Park(ing) Day in Washington, DC. Originally conceived & celebrated in 2005 by the artist/activism group ReBar in San Francisco, the concept behind Park(ing) Day is quite simple: reclaim urban space normally taken by cars by taking over different parking spaces for the day and turning them into temporary parks.

Organized by the contributors of the blogs ReadysetDC & F1RSTNR, the original concept for last week’s inaugural Park(ing) Day DC involved four locations around Washington, DC, but at the last minute the DC Department of Transportation threw up some large impediments that made the day’s planned celebration nearly impossible to execute. According to one of the organizers, among the various obstacles that DCDOT came up with was that they wanted the organizers to have large concrete jersey barriers to prevent cars from plowing through the temporary park (really?!).

After hearing about this issue, I mentioned the old direct action maxim: it’s easy to beg for forgiveness, then to beg for permission. As in, if the organizers would have just gone ahead and setup their temporary park(ing) spots and let the police and DCDOT deal with the matter in real-time, they could have ‘begged for forgiveness’ and made a scene in the process. The other way around, being lawful citizens that is, involves going to the DCDOT asking for permission (aka permits) and if the authority isn’t too keen on the concept (which it appears they weren’t) they can make it impossible to undertake.

Thus result was more of a Park(ing) Lot Day than a Park(ing) Day, but that didn’t stop the fun that was had by all the participants. The day’s savior was the owner of the local business Garden District, who currently owns a vacant lot at the corner of 14th & S streets, and allowed the Park(ing) Day organizers to set up there. The organizers drove out to Virginia and picked up 1,500 pounds of sod and laid it down over the asphalt and created their own temporary urban park, which ended up being much larger than a parking space would have been! They also sourced some plants, furniture, books, 3D chalk, christmas lights, and even a badminton set; all of which made the lot more of a corner park for people to hang out at.

Photograph from Parking Day DC 2009

I arrived around 3pm and hung out with everyone, took a few photos (above & below) and even made a couple new friends. Around 5:30pm I left and went to a friend’s house to get equipment for the show at the Black Cat later in the evening. And after setting up for the show, I went back to the Park(ing) [Lot] and helped them cleanup park. In all, I had a great time. Next year, however, I am aiming for having a park in the central business district. Check the other photographs I took:

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Nikolas Schiller is a second-class American citizen living in America's last colony, Washington, DC. This blog is my on-line repository of what I have created or found on-line since May of 2004. If you have any questions or comments, please contact:

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