GBBD April 15, 2014

2014
04.16

GBBD
April 2014

Lots of blooms here in Southeast, MO USA
The wind and rain have taken their toll on the daffodils and tulips. Still, I have gazillions. And as delicate as they look, they have taken this cold wet weather and still stand proud.

The show stopper is the Doubletake Scarlet Storm Quince. Just came out last year. I bought two. The survived the winter. The head gardener came through and cut the other one, off at the ground.

Doubletake Scarlet Storm Quince

Doubletake Scarlet Storm Quince

Still, I love this flower. It is such a clear red and lasts longer than most spring blooms.

Bigger than most and so bright. I think this is Carlton

Bigger than most and so bright. I think this is Carlton

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These sweet flowers kind of wide the waves of wind. For some reason, they just make me happy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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This is a little smaller, but also taller.There are usually two blooms on each stem.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Poets daffodil.

Poets daffodil. N. poeticus recurvus, PHEASANT’S EYE

The wind blew the peach blossoms of the tree pretty quick and I was not fast enough with the camera. So, I am sorry that I couldn’t share all those pink peach blossoms.

Magmolia.I always wanted to live somewhere that I could have magnolias and pine trees. So, now I do!

Magmolia.I always wanted to live somewhere that I could have magnolias and pine trees. So, now I do!

Yesterday. I ran out to take this photo. I am glad I did. There are probably half the blooms this morning.

this is infront of the porch. You can see these when you walking  on the next street over..

this is in front of the porch. You can see these when you walking on the next street over. The while ones are “Thalia.” They have two blooms per stem also. And they are fragrant.

The tulips are scarce this year. Was it the severe cold or is it just too early?

And finally, one more time for the quince. The crowd goes wild!  It is a small shrub and could fit into most any sunny garden.

Quince.

Quince.

 

Early tomatoes

2014
04.10

Garden Now

Stupice  (Solanum lycopersicum)

Still surviving. No growing, But still alive. photo: Patsy Bell Hobson

Still surviving. No growing, But still alive. photo: Patsy Bell Hobson

There are dozens of  little seedlings thriving under the grow lights. Pepper, eggplant, and tomato plants are just a few inches tall here at the Hobson Estate.

Outside, the weather is swinging from cold to cool. It should be at least a month before I plant tomatoes outdoors in containers or in the garden.  I’ve done something that I would never recommend that you do.

Because I started tomatoes from seed, there are more future tomato plants under the grow-lights than the garden can hold.

I planted two tomato plants outside. No kidding. One on April 6 and one  on April 8.  I planted them deep. Deep being relative when it is a plant only 5 inches tall.

I put a quart canning jar over the tomato plant. Perhaps this will work as a mini greenhouse. It will protect the tomato starter plant from colder night-time temps.

It looks like I have planted canning jars in the garden. If only I could talk those tomatoes into canning themselves, I think I could  get a book deal or, at least, a pretty good spot on the TV shopping channel.

Stupice tomatoes are  a small, early producer of red two-inch fruits. Dwarf indeterminate; in the garden it may grow to as much as 5′, in containers the plant will be shorter. Staking is optional.

From the former Czechoslovakia, these compact plants have potato leaf foliage. They are loaded with clusters of 2” fruits. Expect tomatoes 60 days from transplant. Or, in my case, I hope, less than 60 days after the soil as warmed.

 University of Missouri Extension recommends A family interested in having only fresh fruit should plant three to five plants per person. If enough fruit is wanted for processing, then five to 10 plants per person should be planted.

To get best results with only a few plants and minimal trouble, purchase plants from a local greenhouse or nursery at the proper planting time.

Photo from Renee's Garden

Photo from Renee’s Garden

When is the soil warm enough?

Soil is at least 60 degrees in the daytime and at least 50 degrees at night. Tomato plants will not grow until the weather gets warm.

If this little tomato lives, it will be a delightful surprise. Gardeners are always full of surprises.

This little Stupice tomato plant is in a large container, in full sun, Zone 6, SE Missouri.

I bought these seed from Renee’s Garden. They were planted under the grow light March 13, 2013. It was transplanted into the garden container April 6, and another Stupice  tomato plant was planted April 8, 2014.

If we have a freeze, the plants will curl up and die. That is OK, I have plenty more Stupice tomato plants inside thriving under the grow lights. I will plant them when I am supposed to, more than one month later an Mid to late May.

p.s.

five days later , the Stupice tomato plants are thriving and have outgrown their quart jar solariums. So it looks like we will have a week of windy days above 60°. So, I’ll forge ahead with planting the container tomatoes.

Take advantage of the decent weather whenever you can. Garden at every opportunity, because you never know when the next beautiful day is coming. This summer may turn into a scorcher, getting so hot the tomato plants won’t set fruit.

Or, for example, put off mowing one more day, tomorrow and the rest of the week it will be downpours. You will need to cut and bale the grass at your next opportunity.

Wish me luck. I am planting tomatoes a month earlier than I ever have.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Get ready for gardening season

2014
03.19
potato bloom

These potato flowers are such delicate little lavender flowers. Photo: Patsy Bell Hobson

Gardeners Get In Shape

Getting in shape for the rigors of the upcoming garden season will prevent muscle strain and other injuries. I am neither a physical therapist nor a fitness trainer, but this works for me:

Start now so you can begin your fitness program slowly. Three days a week will yield results.

potato plants Strengthening arm and shoulder muscles: begin by standing outside on a level surface, and with a 5-lb. potato sack in each hand… extend your arms straight out to your sides and hold them there as long as you can.

After a few weeks, move up to 10-lb. potato sacks and then 50-lb. potato sacks, and finally get to where you can lift a 100 lb. potato sack in each hand and hold your arms straight for more than a full minute.

Next…start putting a few potatoes in the sacks, but be careful not to overdo.

dig potatoes

Dumping the soil out of the potato planter and discovering the potatoes is a lot easier than digging. Photo: Patsy Bell Hobson

Snail Nail

2014
03.10
coffee and cream

Caffeine will kill snails and slugs.
Photo Patsy Bell Hobson

The USDA Agricultural Research Service (ARS) has seen promising results using 1 and 2 percent caffeine solutions to kill snails and slugs. Research showed the 2-percent caffeine solution more effective than metaldehyde, a common pesticide used to control slugs and snails.

Instant coffee is about 0.05 percent caffeine. Normal brewed coffee is a little stronger. The coffee I make is defiantly strong enough to kill a slug. Though I have no idea where you find coffee cups that small.

cranberry relish

2014
03.01

Thanksgiving day table was loaded with all the traditional fare. At each place setting was a mini vase filled tiny red roses. I never normally have roses for the table this late in the Fall. But this summer I brought home some miniature roses and tiny vases at each place setting.

cranberry relish

1 medium orange
12 oz. package fresh or frozen cranberries
1 cup good quality honey
½ cup water
2 apples, cored, not peeled and finely chopped

Zest the whole orange, then juice and remove the seeds. Bring all ingredients to a boil in a large covered sauce pan. Reduce heat and continue boiling for about 10 minutes. Cranberries will pop open. Remove from heat. Refrigerate. Mixture will thicken as it continues to cool. Serve cold.

4′x8′ Community Garden in Owasso, Oklahoma

2014
02.14
TomatoOrganicStupice02

Organic Tomato “Heirloom Stupice” photo: Renee’s Garden

“I’m looking for some bush type cucumbers and green beans. My community garden is small and last year my cucumbers took over. This year I want to start with multiple color potatoes and Bush green beans.  

Question: best place to buy? Where to look? Best tomato plants? My tomatoes last year were way to big.  Looking for the old fashion bush type plants that produce without getting six feet tall.”

The 4×8 raised bed can produce a lot more food than you imagine. Because the cost of shipping and handling can be more costly than the seed you ordered, I’m sticking mainly with one seed company.

First, here are my suggestions for the crops you said you want to grow.

  • Potatoes – Try these small patch potatoes from Renee’s Garden. If you are ordering onion starts or seed potatoes, do it very soon for best choice. Renee’s Garden
  • Bush green beans – Seeds you can find locally at big box store or garden center. Plant a few seed every 2 or 3 weeks for a continuous supply of fresh green beans. Don’t plant them all at once unless you are planning to can or freeze green beans.

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    Mascotte dwarf plants, 6″ long, thin green beans. Photo: Patsy Bell Hobson

Mascotte – dwarf, 16-18″ tall plants. Continuous yield of crisp, medium green skinny, stringless 6″ long beans. 50 days. New. AAS Winner. Harris Seed or Jung Seed

Blue Lake – long time home gardeners have probably grown this old favorite. 6 -6 1/2” pods mature early and all at once. 58 days. Heirloom. Renee’s Garden, Harris Seed, Jung Seed

  • Tomatoes – Plants you might find locally at big box store or garden center. Space plants 2 feet apart

Celebrity - Compact plants produce heavy yields of medium sized tomatoes on disease-resistant plants. 75 Days. AAS Winner.

Jet Star - An indeterminate, 4′ – 5′ tall plants produce big yields of low acid, bright red 8 – 9 ounce fruits. 72 days. Heirloom.

  • Cucumber – Consider adding a trellis for long straight cucumbers that take up little ground space. Or grow bush cucumbers.

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    Cucumbers photo: Renee’s Garden.

“Bush Slicer” – disease resistant, dwarf bushes, produce 6 to 8″ long fruits. Keep picked for continued production of tender, crisp, sweet fruit. Cut cucumbers – do not twist fruits from plants. Renee’s Garden

 

More suggestions for a small space gardens.

You will have room for more vegetables by choosing the plants ment for small space or container gardens.

  • Squash – bush type varieties of summer squash are easier to see, watching for size.

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    Container grown zucchini is easy to pick. Check every other day to keep squash size in control. photo: Renee’s Garden.

“Astia” zucchini - French bush variety perfect for small space gardens. Non-rambling, early bearing and productive. Renee’s Garden

  • Turnips – Plant in both spring and fall.

“Mikado” turnips, Japanese baby globe-shaped roots with white flesh and mild flavor. Nutritious tops make fine cooked greens.  Renee’s Garden

Before you plant these seed, there is plenty of time to plant lettuce, spinach radishes, green onions in the space where tomatoes and peppers will be planted after the ground is warmed enough, 50° F.

Also, you can plant peas, bush snow peas or spring peas.

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Companion plant Italian basil near tomato plants. photo: Patsy Bell Hobson

Add Herbs. Buy a few starter herb plants to tuck into empty spaces. 2 or 3 parsley, 1 basil, 1 dill.

When your tomatoes are in full production, use the tomatoes and parsley to make Tabouli. Add dill to vinegar and marinate cucumbers. Sprinkle torn basil leaves over tomato slices or stir into tomato sauce.

 

The Owasso Community Garden consists of 34 – 4 x 8 raised bed gardens, 15 of which are American Disabilities Act beds, located south of the Community Center in Owasso, Oklahoma. Facebook

I am starting container grown tomatoes from seed.

My small space tomato choices:

Stupice – richly flavored fruits on 5′ vines. Great tasting 2” fruits and perfect for container growing or small space gardens. From the Czech Republic, pronounced ”Stu petes”. (Stupice may win the neighborhood first tomato contest.)

tomato-superbush3

Super Bush. photo: Renee’s Garden

  Super Bush – Continuous producer of 5 ounce   fruits on 3 foot tall plants. Good choice for containers and small gardens. Hybrid, disease resistant. 

Both tomato varieties are from Renee’s Garden

← This is the photo that convinced me to grow Super Bush.

 

BUILD A BED

Use concrete blocks to build a raised bed. Quick, easy, lasts forever. Grow a theme garden. This one is a spaghetti sauce garden.

A 4′ x 4′ raised bed is big enough to grow enough produce to make fresh spaghetti sauce and freeze or can a few jars for winter.

Build a spaghetti sauce theme garden in a 4′ x 4′ concrete block raised bed.

 

Becky’s Flowers

2014
02.10

Sunflowers! Becky, they remind me of you. Sunflowers make me happy.

Here’s to sunny days!  True, the sunflowers aren’t even planted yet. But they will be.

sunflower-musicbox_5001-1

Musicbox 2 1/2′

 

I’ll be taking pictures of all of them when they bloom. I grow them for the birds (goldfinches) but the squirrels get their share.

Some are pollen free, so they are not messy and make wonderful bouquets. They are top-heavy sunflowers, so they seem to like heavy glass pitchers or old crocks as flower vase.

 

valentine

Valentine 4-5′

You’ve seen a lot of different sunflowers in my garden. I can never have too many sunflowers.

Anyway, Becky, these sunflowers make people happy and I think that is one of the reasons they remind me of you.

 

snackseed

Snack seed 6-8′

The birds and the squirrels get all the Snack Seed sunflowers. Sometimes, if I can get out there before that trashy little squirrel tears them up, I’ll cut a few seed heads to dry. In the winter, the birds flock to these seed treats.

When I was on my knees weeding, last summer, I heard voices. But we couldn’t see each other.” Jean, look! That‘s  a red sunflower!   (She was pointing at the Chocolate Cherry .)

 

Sun Samba

Sun Samba

 

These mixed sunflowers are just like planting surprises. You never know exactly will come up, but you know you are going to like them no matter what.

 

Chocolate Cherry 6-8

Chocolate Cherry 6-8

 

sunzilla

Sunzilla 10-16

 

The neighbors, a couple of houses down, thanked me for growing those long tall Sunzillas. “We sit on the porch every afternoon and it looks those sunflowers are smiling at us.”

 

Oh, and the red sunflowers? Well, when I stood up, I think I scared the crap out of my visitors. One made a little yelp.  And they grabbed each other.   “We didn’t know anyone was here!” she screamed at me. “WE ARE SORRY!”

“Well, you are always welcome in my gardens,” I said.

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*Becky Funke is in a hospital that does not allow flowers in the rooms. So, not to be deterred, I’ll send them on Pinterest. You can stop by her CaringBridge site to leave well wishes and get updates. Her family keeps the site up to date.

 All of the sunflower seeds are from Renee’s Garden  The sunflowers have beautiful photos and planting/care guides online at Renee’s GardenOn Facebook.

Herb Vinegars

2014
02.05

Make extra for gifts

Buy this at the store and it could cost you $20. Make it at home for pennies. Plus, your custom blend always tastes better.

Finally! It’s time to fill you salad bowl with home-grown greens. I love those little bitty butter lettuces, so tender and perfect. Place the whole head of butter lettuce in each salad bowl. Get a jump on spring with this selection of lettuces.

tarragon Begin adding layers of flavor in your herb vinegar by adding more herbs as they each become plentiful. Start with a good vinegar. If it doesn’t taste good now, it won’t get any better with the addition of herbs. Stock up on your own blends of herb vinegar.

Tarragon vinegar is a popular herb vinegar and so easy to make. Start with a white wine vinegar. Only two items are required: tarragon and vinegar. More instructions are here: Make Tarragon Vinegar

Tarragon is a low growing, disorderly bright green herb. It likes full sun, well-drained soil. Adding compost in the summer and leaf mulch in the winter is all the care, this little herb needs.

Once it is well established, you have a bonus in the garden traders plant exchange. You must have a starter plant, it does not grow from seed. Rarely does it bloom, but the seeds are sterile.

Fines herbes

Fines Herbes – parsley, tarragon, chervil, chives. A beautiful herb combination for a container garden near the kitchen door. photo by Patsy Bell Hobson.

Tarragon, (Artemisia dracunculus

You must have tarragon or you can’t make Béarnaise sauce, channel Julia Child, or cook like a French chef. Buy a starter plant. It’s lovely and fragrant. Say hi to Julia for me.

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Becky’s Flowers*

2014
01.01

Aztec Nicotiana

Delivered January 1, 2014
Aztec Nicotiana

Aztec Nicotiana flowers dance in the wind, scenting the area. Photo by Patsy Bell Hobson

These lovely flowers wave in the breeze scenting the pergola seating area with the heady scent to jasmine. When you come visit, we will sit under the pergola and enjoy all the scented white flowers.

This garden area is designed as a night garden showcasing white flowers like white Bougainvillea and this Aztec Nicotiana.

Aztec Nicotiana  Photo by Patsy Bell Hobson.

Aztec Nicotiana Photo by Patsy Bell Hobson.

This is the first time that I grew Nicolina. The jasmine fragrance is light, never overbearing. It was the start of the containers, crowding out the shy flowers and taking center stage.
Aztec Nicotiana is so named because the Aztecs considered the plant sacred and medicinal.

Hummingbirds, butterflies and bees love this plant. This flower is a good choice to plant near vegetable gardens because it attracts so many pollinators.

It's a shame that these flowers are so short lived. there are plenty of them, blooming right through summer. Photo by Patsy Bell Hobson.

It’s a shame that these flowers are so short-lived. There are plenty of them, blooming right through summer. Photo by Patsy Bell Hobson.

 

 

Becky, I’m sending these flowers in a tall, clear cylindrical vase to accent the height and grace of this flower.

*Becky Funke is in a hospital that does not allow flowers in the rooms. So, not to be deterred, I’ll send them on Pinterest. You can stop by her CaringBridge site to leave well wishes and get updates. Her 3 daughters, keep the site up to date.

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Bees Make the Best Pets by Jack Mingo -review

2013
12.22

Bees Make the Best Pets by Jack Mingo – All the Buzz about Being Resilient, Collaborative, Industrious, Generous, and Sweet – Straight from the Hive.

Paperback, 176 pages
Published October 1st 2013 by “Conari Press”

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A honey bee flies up to 15 mph and its wings beat 200 times per second. photo by Patsy Bell Hobson

The memory jogger “A pint’s a pound the world around” may help you out in culinary school, but a pint of honey weighs 1 pound, 6 ounces. The book oozes with bee facts and trivia like this.

If you are looking for protection from marauding elephants in your garden, curious about the color and quality of the highly touted local honey, or are curious about the role of bees in the Civil War, buy this book.

Winter is a good time for reading bee guides, brushing up on beekeeping knowledge and skills.

Winter is a good time for reading bee guides, brushing up on beekeeping knowledge and skills.

Bees Make the Best Pets, is an entertaining read. Perfect for a winter read, while gardeners wait to get into the spring garden. Your cabin fever and desire to get back in the garden is, by the way, no greater than that of the honey bees.

The author started out simply as wanting one simple observation hive. But keeping bees is likely to became a bigger project than you might anticipate. Bees demand more time, space and money than you might think.

If you are thinking about raising bees, ever wondered if it would make your great garden even better, or are looking increase your own revenue stream, read this book first.

Looking at bee keeping as a natural step toward sustainable living, Bees Make the Best Pets can teach you a lot about raising bees. It is a sweet introduction to raising bees.

Raising bees may prove to be a boost for garden productivity. Or, consider bee keeping as a fun hobby. Bees do make good pets and this book is a gentle introduction to the world of back yard bee keeping.

I’ve always flirted with the idea of raising bees. This paperback book is light introduction to the art of keeping bees. It will load you up on bee humor and trivia, guaranteeing your success at happy hours and tea parties.

Thankfully, this book is not a tedious accounting of the business of beekeeping. There are plenty of good manuals and how-to handbooks for that. Jack Mingo’s book is a fun and sweet introduction to raising bees.

Future honey beekeepers, gardeners, readers looking for a light and humorous winter read, will like this book.

Jack Mingo published over 20 books, including Random Kinds of Factness (Conari, 2005. He is an author specializing in offbeat trivia books. Mingo keeps six hives, and half a million bees, in his California Bay Area back yard.

I received a complimentary copy of this book for review.

Bee and Honey triviaIMG_4050

  • It takes around 25,000 trips between the hive and the flowers to produce a pound of honey.
  • A pound of honey contains the essence of about 2 million flowers.
  • The color of honey ranges from white through golden to dark brown. Usually the darker the color the stronger the flavor.
  • Most harmful bacteria cannot live in honey, making honey one of the safest foods.
  • Bees been producing honey from flowering plants for 10-20 million years.
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