Wishbone Flower (Torenia hybrid)

Plant something new.

Wishbone Flower

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Torenia or Wishbone Flower, Catalina® Pink

Wishbone Flower as container plant

I grew the Midnight Blue variety. It looks so fragile, but it can really take the heat. This is a self-cleaning plant, which means no deadheading.

In the shady bed on the patio, it had room to spread out and filled in the space with continuous blooms and bright green leaves. I grew another color the next year.

The Catalina® Pink is a nonstop bloomer that gets afternoon shade on the front porch. It does best when consistently moist and well-drained. Hummers love it.

It’s growing with more sun, shaded only in the late afternoon. Growing bushy and full, Torenia is about 12″ tall and fills the 12″ self-watering container. Generously mulch this plant to help with consistent moisture.

Adaptable annuals

I like the wide range of ways I can use Torenias. In a hanging basket, Summer Wave® Large Blue Wishbone Flower seems to be a hummingbird favorite.

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Wishbone Flower fills the hanging basket with Summer Wave® Large Blue blooms.

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Wishbone flowers are more upright where there is more sun and less water.

Wishbone flowers have had no disease or insect problems in my gardens. They can take heat and more sun than I thought. Morning sun and afternoon shade are ideal.

Wishbone Flower (Torenia hybrid)

This plant is so much more versatile than I imagined. It was planted in shade, and in part shade – part sun. The low growing annual spreads out along the sidewalk, as a beautiful ground cover and splash of color that could compliment an endless variety of gardenscapes.

I like shopping at Independent Garden Centers. Money spent locally tends to stay local. The folks that work at the non-chain garden centers and nurseries know what they are talking about. Big box stores also have wishbone flowers.

This was a trial plant from Proven Winners. The Proven Winners website has a handy garden center locator. Just type in your zip code and it will find the closest local garden centers.

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Pollinators and hummers love this plant.

Get Local will help you find the information you need. I especially like their plant recipes. For example, I’m looking for red, white and blue plant combos. Just click on “patriotic” for lots of beautiful plant combinations.

Blooming summer til frost

I learned what a valuable landscape plant this is when I visited the Overland Park Arboretum & Botanical Gardens.

Wishbone Flower (Torenia hybrid)

Overland Park Arboretum & Botanical Gardens

A leader of environmentally sound community development, the Arboretum is an educational, recreational and cultural resource for the Kansas City region. It offers homeowners, landscapers and arborists an opportunity to view and evaluate a wide variety of hybrid trees and shrubs, native to this area.
8909 W. 179 St.
Overland Park, KS 66013
913-685-3604

Wishbone Flower Catalina® Grape-O-Licious

Wishbone Flower Catalina® Grape-O-Licious

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Garden beer bread

Made from scratch and better than the mix. Add Cheddar, onions, peppers for color and flavor.

While you have a garden bounty, make two loaves and freeze one for later.

beer bread

I make this beer bread using the peppers and onions from my garden.

charred peppers

Make this recipe your own. Use your favorite cheese, whatever beer you like and any pepper combo that suites your palette.

Garden Beer Bread

by Patsy Bell Hobson

Makes one loaf.
Preheat oven to 375-degrees.

beer bread3 cups flour
1 Tablespoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1/3 cup sugar
½ cup shredded cheese
½ cup chopped peppers
½ cup chopped onion
1 (12 ounce) bottle of beer, minus one swig
3 Tablespoons butter, melted

Whisk together in a large bowl, flour , baking powder, salt and sugar. Add cheese peppers and onion. Pour in the bottle of beer.
Using a wooden spoon, mix until the dough forms. Don’t over mix. Dough will have lumps.

Pour dough into a heavily buttered large loaf pan. The dough will be wet.

Melt butter, pour over loaf.

Bake for 50 – 60 minutes, until top is golden brown. Or, until toothpick comes out clean from center.

Let it cool 10 minutes and then turn the bread out on a wire rack. Try to let it cool before devouring.

garlic and onionsChefs notes

  • cheese – Choose your favorite cheese or combination of cheese to make ½ cup.
  • peppers – Combine chopped mild and hot peppers to suit your taste. (Bell peppers and a jalapeno for example.)
  • onions – Your choice of sweet or hot onions. I include a green onion or chives for color and flavor.

You will want to eat this bread still hot from the oven. It’s good that way, but it will crumble and fall apart. To slice and serve, wait for 30 minutes (or, until completely cool).

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Today’s Harvest Basket

Today's Harvest Basket

Three squash: light green Clarimore, Golden Dawn yellow and dark green, almost black, Raven zucchini.

“Pot of Gold” Chard, 3 kinds of zucchini, Chinese cabbage.

 

Soon to be Green Rice, Zucchini cake, and Chinese chicken salad.

 

  • Chard, sweet, mild

This deep green chard with golden stems, is tender and never bitter. Plus, it is beautiful. I’m a chard fan and prefer it to kale. A favorite chard recipe is green rice. It is easy to double the recipe, make two casseroles and freeze one for fall.

Substitute chard for spinach in any recipe. Many versions of this old classic are on the internet. I’ve made many versions of what I call Green Rice Casserole.

Spinach-Rice Casserole inspired by the Moosewood Cookbook by Mollie Katzen. Serves 4 – 6

4 cups cooked rice (white or brown)
2 cups raw, chopped chard
1 or 2 cloves minced garlic
3 tablespoons butter (or, coconut oil)
4 beaten eggs
1 cup milk (or almond milk or, soy milk)
1 1/2 cups grated cheddar
1/4 cup chopped mixed fresh herbs like parsley, chervil, basil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 cup chopped walnuts

Saute’ onions and garlic, in butter (or oil). When onions are soft, add spinach or chard or kale and salt. Cook 2 minutes. (Or use drained, frozen chopped spinach, thawed)

Combine the onion mixture with the  rice, eggs, milk, cheese, herbs, nutmeg,  and chopped nuts. Spread into a sprayed casserole.

Bake, covered, 25 minutes at 350 degrees F. Uncover and bake 10 more minutes.

This is Container Chard, “Pot of Gold,” an exclusive from Renee’s Garden Seed. Chard is packed with vitamins A, C, and K, as well as magnesium, potassium, and iron.

  • Ah, Zucchini!

Zucchini, I’ve discovered, is much easy to keep at reasonable sizes if you growIMG_1357 container varieties. Look for specially bred zucchini plants designed container growing. Tender, small squash are perfect for lightly grilling or roasting.

Thin skinned, baby zucchini are tasty eaten raw. Perfect to include in a fresh Pasta Primavera.

  • Chinese Cabbage

Nappa Chinese CabbageChinese Cabbage will be a main ingredient in Chinese chicken salad, Kim Chee, cole slaw. Thanks to the milder summer weather and plenty of rain, I still have a couple for cabbages to harvest. It’s very unusual to have these plants so late in the season.

7/13

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Today’s Harvest Basket

Zucchini and cucumbers, plus fresh dill

The July zucchini explosion is here

Three kinds of zucchini - I know - what was I thinking?

Three kinds of zucchini – I know – what was I thinking?

At last, I picked cucumbers today, three long, thin-skinned English cucumbers. They are my favorites English Cucumber, “Chelsea Prize”, which is an exclusive from Renee’s Garden Seed.

Cucumber season is never long enough. When the little cucumbers finally arrive in a couple of weeks, I’ll make a few pickles. But, these slender, sweet fleshed Chelsea Prize cukes are best for fresh eating.

Visit Zucchini Everything on Pinterest or try this simple cake to use up a big zucchini.

One recipe makes three cakes zucchini, carrot or apple  Yes,  the recipe really calls for 4 cups of zucchini (!), carrots, or apples. It is a beautiful cake with flecks of both zucchini and carrots.

While I have plenty of zucchini and carrots, I’ll make a couple of these cakes to freeze.

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Today’s Harvest Basket

Saturn or donut peaches

Today's harvest basket 6/30
It’s been a race to get my share of the peaches. There is a ruthless gang of squirrels who snag the peaches. I just wish they would leave a few more in my reach. This years heavy crop of peaches are about 2-21/2″ in diameter.

Also called flat peach,  it has a mild, sweet flavor. I’d call them lunchbox peaches or pocket peaches. Seems like kids would love these as much as they do the little Clementines or zipper oranges.

This little tasty peach originates from China circa 1869, and was  introduced by Rutgers and Stark Bro’s in the 1990s. Disease-resistant to bacterial leafspot. Self-pollinating.

My favorite peach preserve recipe:

Peaches and champagne preserves

 

Today’s Harvest Basket

Early summer harvest

Red and white onions, hard neck garlic, two varieties of zucchini, Chinese cabbage.
6/22

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Napa or Nappa cabbage (Brassica rapa subsp. pekinensis or Brassica rapa Pekinensis Group) is a type of Chinese cabbage. In the kitchen, cabbage becomes Kim Chi, slaw, stir-fries and Chinese chicken salad.

I pulled up the garlic today. It is probably half the harvest of last year and the bulbs are a lot smaller. My guess is that the garlic bulbs just didn’t get enough water. It is Chesnok Red Hardneck Garlic.IMG_0717

How to grow and harvest organic garlic

Chesnok Red is the best baking garlic. Not a hot garlic, Chesnok is easy peel and will keep for about 6 months.  To stretch the harvest, I roast garlic and freeze it in little cubes. Also, I pickle small jars of peeled bulbs to use later in the year.

The big bonus to growing your own garlic, is that I have plenty of garlic on hand for salsa, spaghetti sauce, dill pickles, soup and pesto.

pickled garlic

How to store and use homegrown garlic and onions

It’s Garlic Scape Season

lavender, leeks, clantro, scapes

Herb bouquet with garlic scapes, lavender, leeks, cilantro flowers.

One springtime meal that I always look forward to is garlic scape pesto tossed into on a big ol’ bowl of pasta.

Only hard necked  garlic bulbs produce these tall flower spikes. For years I grew soft neck, not to be bothered by the need to cut off the scapes. When I read Tomatoes, Garlic, Basil by Doug Oster, I discovered garlic scape pesto.

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Garlic scapes are green stems and unopened flower buds of hard-neck garlic varieties.

Scapes have a mild garlic flavor and a slight sweetness, which makes them a prized addition in the kitchen. You can find them in the early summer at farmers’ markets. If you grow your own garlic, trim the scapes off before their flowers open. This forces the plant to focus on bulb.

The best way to keep scapes is to make garlic scape pesto and freeze. I freeze pesto in small 1/2 cup containers.

Garlic Scape Pesto

Garlic Scape Pesto

makes about 2 cups

  • Ingredients

10-12 garlic scapes
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Salt and Pepper to taste

  • Instructions

Rinse scapes in cold water, then roughly chop into half-inch pieces.

Process the scapes and chopped walnuts into the food processor. Blend for 30 seconds. Scrape down sides of bowl. Blend for 30 seconds, or until a fairly smooth texture is achieved.

With the machine running, slowly add olive oil, and process until thoroughly incorporated, about 20 seconds.  Add the Parmesan cheese, salt, and pepper, and blend for another 5 seconds. Taste and adjust more salt and pepper.

Garlic scapes are available once a year for only a couple of weeks.  Make batches of pesto while scapes are in season.  Freeze in air-tight containers.

 

Pickled Garlic Scapes

Adapted from the “Dilly Beans” recipe from the Ball Blue Book® Guide to Preserving

Makes approximately 1 pint

Ingredients
1 bunch garlic scapes  (about 10 – 12)
2 tablespoons pickling salt
1 cup vinegar (white wine vinegar or cider vinegar)
1 cup water

fresh herb sprigs (optional)

 

Instructions

Combine salt, vinegar and water in sauce pot and bring to a boil. Keep hot.

Clean and trim garlic scapes , cut to 4 ½-inch lengths or coil scapes. Pack  into clean, sterilized one-pint jar until full. Add sprigs of fresh herbs (optional).

Fill packed jar with vinegar. Remove air bubbles with a chop stick. Cover, allow to cool, and refrigerate. Wait at least 24 hours to develop flavors.

Try one of the coiled picked garlic scapes on a steak sandwich. When the scapes are gone, mix the vinegar with olive oil for a garlicky vinaigrette.

Suggested herbs: dill, oregano or thyme.

 

 

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‘Sugar Shack’ Buttonbush

Buttonbush Cephalanthus occidentalis

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Buttonbush adds a new, fragrant and unusual flowering shrub to the home garden.

‘Sugar Shack’ is a buttonbush that is a show off shrub from summer through fall. Buttonbush Cephalanthus occidentalis is a native pollinator plant.

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Lovely, unusual pincushion flower attracts butterflies.

White fragrant spherical flower heads are eye-catching and attract butterflies. Buttonbush is deciduous shrub with rounded habit. In its second year in my garden, it is about 5′ tall.

Sweet white flowers appear as spherical flower heads in mid-summer. Flower heads look like a pincushion and are very attractive to bees and butterflies.
Flower heads mature into hard, red colored, spherical fruits and stay attractive from late summer through the winter.

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A new fragrant perennial. Buttonbush Cephalanthus occidentalis

Plants will tolerate wet sites and excess moisture. Sugar Shack may also be grown in patio containers. Plants bloom on new wood so pruning is best done in early spring.

This is a Proven Winners plant that was sent to me for trial. I’m using this shrub as an anchor plant that provides a background for colorful annuals. The leaves are a full deep green, perfect to show off these unusual creamy white flowers.

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Wordless Wednesday

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And so it begins

Zucchini season

It's Zucchini season

It’s Zucchini season

Be prepared for the summer squash explosion. My Pinterest has amazing zucchini recipes.

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Zucchini, courgette, summer squash

Find the best zucchini cake recipe on Zucchini Everything at Pinterest. And you have to try the Zuni Cafe zucchini pickles.

If you make just one zucchini recipe, Zucchini Cake with Crunchy Lemon Glaze by David Lebovitz is a must. Can you believe, this guy has to BUY zucchini to make this cake?  See Zucchini Everything

lemon glazed zucchini cake

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