Wordless Wednesday

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A rainbow of Zinnias

It’s a good zinnia growing year.

Zinnias, Zinnia elegans are the star of the summer flower show. For filler and contrast, try adding herbs, or coleus. It doesn’t always have to be leather leaf ferns or baby’s breath.

Red and gold zinnias with coleus in an antique watering can.

Red and gold zinnias with coleus in an antique watering can.

Summer-long blooms bring butterflies and pollinators to the garden. Zinnias meant “thoughts of an absent friend.” in the Victorian language of flowers.

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Zinnias and Russian sage. Cutting Zinnia, “Hot Crayon Colors” ↑ 

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Zinnias and mini marigolds. ↑ →

“Signet Starfire” marigolds. grown from seed. Little yellow and orange dwarf single marigolds keeps blooming until frost.

Shades of red:

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Red and white zinnias with coleus make a simple bouquet.

Zinnias and coleus.↑

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Zinnias and Nicotiana. ↑

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Zinnia and Coleus. ↑

Zinnias were named 1763 by Linnaeus in honor of Johann Zinn, a German professor of botany and medicine.

Pinks and lavender:

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Zinnias and coleus. ↑ Cutting Zinnia, “Berry Basket”

These crayon colored flowers are long-stemmed cutting flowers with long-lasting blooms.

To extend the life of cut flower blooms by trimming off the bottom of the stem, every few days. Replace the water with fresh every 4 days.

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Zinnias and basil. Cutting Zinnia, “Berry Basket” ↑

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Zinnias with oregano and basil. Cutting Zinnia, “Bling Bling.” These lovely cut flowers are bigger and brighter every year. Disease resistance has much improved through the years.

Pink zinnias and Queen Ann's lace.

Pink zinnias and Queen Ann’s lace.

If it’s been awhile since you’ve included zinnias in your garden, take another look. Zinnias are disease resistant rebloomers that will keep you in flowers until frost.

You might also like:

IMG_3335I got all the zinnias in this post from Renee’s Garden.

Wordless Wednesday

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Todays harvest basket 7/9/15

Todays harvest basket

July 9, 2015

zucchini, cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, green beans

zucchini, cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, green beans

Zucchini is coming on daily. So far, picking squash when it is 6 or 7″ long, is working. I see a chocolate zucchini cake in our future…

Green beans  are in a small patch we must collect a few pickings for a meal. In a couple of days, cucumber production will explode. For now, there are enough cucumbers for fresh eating.

There are plenty of Sun Gold cherry tomatoes for salad every day. The few red slicer tomatoes from My Garden Post were used for the first BLT of the season.

Summer harvest of onions and garlic.

Summer harvest of onions and garlic.

Read about the garlic and onions curing in the shade on the porch. Its garlic season

Best tomato plants for containers

is all about the first juicy red tomatoes of the season. Those early  full-sized tomatoes were grown on two foot tall plants!

Bush 506. First full size tomato to ripen, 5-oz.

Bush 506. First full size tomato to ripen, 5-oz.

 

 

A first look at ‘Perfect Storm’ hibiscus

New introduction: ‘Perfect Storm’ hardy hibiscus

Summerific® 'Perfect Storm' - Rose Mallow – Hibiscus

Summerific® ‘Perfect Storm’ – Rose Mallow – Hibiscus

I’m excited about a new container perennial on my deck. ‘Perfect Storm’ is a hardy hibiscus with giant white flowers and a bright red center. These big, bright blooms are the star of the show.

Summerific® hibiscus has huge, 7-8” wide, white flowers with a bright red eye that radiates out the veins, with the petals edged with pink.

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Summer Storm looks like a bigger version of the new ‘Perfect Storm.’

I’m also growing the dark foliage of ‘Summer Storm’ Hibiscus, but it gets too big for a small garden space (decks, patios). So, ‘Perfect Storm’ keeps the dark foliage and shrinks it down. ‘Perfect Storm’ makes a great container plant or fits in a small garden space.

Only 3 feet tall, ‘Perfect Storm’ has huge, 7-8” wide, white flowers with a bright red eye that radiates out the veins, and petals edged with pink. Expect blooms from late summer into early fall. 

This is a trial plant, sent to me by Proven Winners. It will be available in garden centers next spring. I’ll be talking more about Summerific® ‘Perfect Storm’ – Rose Mallow – Hibiscus after it has had a longer trial in my zone 6, Southeast Missouri, USA garden.

It’s fresh garlic season

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Isn’t this pretty? Chesnok Red Garlic spread out to dry, or cure before trimming stalks.

Garlic bulbs just lifted from the garden.

The garlic bulbs are dug up, but there is much more to do to preserve the harvest. Handle freshly dug garlic gently. Bulbs can easily bruise.

Cure Garlic

Spread out bulbs away from direct sun with good air circulation. Allow the roots and entire stalk to dry, turning brown. The bulbs are ready to clean up and store.

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After a week, braid bulbs while stalks are still flexible. Braid garlic before the stems are too dry and brittle.

Cut the stalks about an inch above the garlic bulb. Clip off the roots. Carefully wipe off the dirt with a soft brush or cloth.  Try not to remove many layers of skin.

This year I grew two kinds of garlic, Chesnok Red Garlic and California Early Garlic.

With long, warm fall at planting time, I could have waited until November, instead of planting cloves in October.

The long, cold rainy spring is also part of the reason I had a smaller harvest of garlic.

  • Herb bouquet with garlic scapes.

    Herb bouquet with garlic scapes.

    Learn more about growing organic garlic, onions and shallots.

 

 

 

 

  • Summer harvest of onions and garlic.

    Summer harvest of onions and garlic.

    Herb Bouquets include garlic scapes.

 

 

 

 

 

Try these garlic varieties

Chesnok Red Garlic

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The purple-striped hardneck has large and easy-to-peel cloves. I’m growing it because Chesnok Red is a good baking and a good storing garlic. (4 – 6 weeks.)

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Garlic scape pesto.

The garlic scapes of the hardneck garlic makes for a secondary harvest. Use scapes for vinegar, stir fry, pesto. Expect about 15 garlic bulbs per pound and approximately 9 or 10 cloves per bulb.

These garlic bulbs grew smaller than the California Early Garlic. Chesnok wins awards as an excellent baker. I’ll be using those smaller bulbs to make creamy roasted garlic.

 

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Cut these artful garlic scapes to grow bigger garlic bulbs.

 

California Early Garlic

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California garlic is one of the earliest to harvest in my region 6, Southeast Missouri garden.

The California Early Garlic was harvested two weeks earlier. The bulbs are big and white. For the past three years, I have success growing this popular American garlic.

These California Early Garlic bulbs are mild enough to be used raw in recipes or fresh pickles. This is not a hot garlic. It’s a good choice for mild garlic flavor, not heat.

Known as a long keeper, California Early Garlic is a softneck garlic, good for braiding. I like the mild flavor and large cloves. There are about 12 garlic bulbs per pound and 10-16 cloves per bulb.

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Bake whole garlic bulbs wrapped in foil with a few drop of olive oil.

Best tomato plants for containers

Perfect for My Garden Post

Choose dwarf tomato plants

I am having big juicy tomato success on My Garden Post. These are the tomatoes that I am growing.

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The best choice for My Garden Post are plants that are less than 2 feet tall.

Determinate tomato varieties grow to a limited hight and usually do not  need staking and caging.

Choose dwarf or bush type tomato plants. Look for plants bred for containers.

Extended release or slow release fertilizer applied when potting the plant will be one less thing to worry about.

Two foot tall tomato plants

Bush 506. First full size tomato to ripen, 5-oz.

Bush 506. First full size tomato to ripen, 5-oz.

  • Bush 506 Container Tomato plants are less than 24″ tall. The thick stemmed plants easily support the 8 ounce fruits. These container grown tomatoes are early producers. The Tasteful Garden advertises tomatoes in only 62 days. It was the first regular sized tomato to ripen in my zone 6 garden.

I bought Bush 506 as a plant from The Tasteful Garden

 

New Big Dwarf heirloom tomato. The heaviest producer of full size tomatoes so far.

New Big Dwarf heirloom tomato. The heaviest producer of full size tomatoes so far.

  • New Big Dwarf Heirloom tomato is not really new. An heirloom first introduced in 1915, tastes like the old-fashioned beefsteak. The plant is only 2 feet tall but the fruits are full-sized 8-12 oz. Expect early tomatoes in about 60 days.

I bought the New Big Dwarf tomato as a plant from The Tasteful Garden

 

 Oliver’s choice:

  • Bush Steak Tomato is an easy-to-find small tomato plant or grow it from seed.

“I often recommend the Bush Steak tomato and suggests planting in the large planters. The Bush Steak Tomato matures at 20 inches in height, and produce a medium size tomato in large numbers,” says Oliver J Gardner, Director of Sales and Marketing, My Garden Post.

 

Endless sweet cherry tomatoes

Cherry tomatoes nonstop until frost

Cherry tomatoes nonstop until frost

  • Litt’l Bites Container Cherry Tomato – keep this early producer well watered and fed for tons of sweet cherry tomatoes all summer long. A compact, lush plant that is perfect for My Garden Post or hanging baskets. Litt’l Bites grows 20 inches wide and 12 inches tall.

Grown from seed. Exclusive. Renee’s Garden

photo by Renee's Garden

Litt’l Bites Container Cherry Tomato photo by Renee’s Garden

 

Learn more about My Garden Post here.

double_drip_with_caption__64178.1409012731.1280.1280My container grown tomatoes benefit from the easy-to-set-up and use My Garden Post irrigation system. It’s the best system I’ve used on the deck or patio. Adjust the timer to accommodate the season; longer daily watering when it is the hottest.

 

Sneaky Zucchini

They’re baaack….

I’m growing three different kinds of zucchini. Before you ask why, let me just say I love zucchini. To me, it would be like growing only one kind of tomato.

As production picks up, I get creative. Chocolate zucchini cake is a favorite. Details and the recipe are on my Hub Pages.

Soon, there will be days when I wonder why I planted so much. What was I thinking? Well, it’s a test. Which is the best, the earliest, most squash bug resistant, is attractive, has the longest shelf life and, most important: best tasting.

Recipe for zucchini pickles is on my Pinterest page

Recipe for zucchini pickles is on my Pinterest page

Most of my recipes are gathered on Pinterest: Zucchini Everything – Zucchini, courgette, summer squash
baby zucchini

Baby Clarimore zucchini

Zucchini belongs to the species Cucurbita pepo. The yellow variety is slightly sweeter. The round, “Eight Ball” or “Ronde de Nice” are bred for stuffing.

Clarimore is a pale green and slightly speckled. It has an almost creamy texture. Like most summer squash, no need to peel these fresh, young vegetables.

Dark green (almost black) Raven  and Golden Dawn yellow zucchini and  are the long, straight varieties we most often see when we think of zucchini.

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Pick zucchini at it’s best, 6″ to 8″ long.

I like Green Tiger, a European hybrid is named for its light-colored stripes. It has a mild and sweet flavor with a tender crunch. Green Tigers slightly nutty flavor is good cooked or raw in recipes. Not as straight and cylindrical as other zucchini and is best when served small.

 

Too many zucchini?

Zucchini prevention tips

To control heavy production, early risers can pick the flowers

Raven zucchini. Zukes are sometimes sold in farmers markets with the blossom still attached to baby zucchini.

Raven zucchini. Zukes are sometimes sold in farmers markets with the blossom still attached to baby zucchini.

for stuffed zucchini blossoms. Pick them in the early morning (or at night) when the flowers are closed. The closed blossom makes the perfect vessel for stuffing.

Try Pan Fried Squash Blossoms stuffed with ricotta, herbs and lemon. Most recipes call for deep-frying a stuffed, tempura batter coated flower. Always remove the stamen to prevent bitterness.

 

 

More blog posts about summer squash:

 

Herb bouquets

Include herbs in the Flower and vegetable garden

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Keep a herb bouquet in the kitchen

Trimming herbs will tidy the garden and provide fragrant culinary inspiration in the kitchen. Keep a herb bouquet in the kitchen to inspire using fresh herbs in cooking. A handy sprig of fresh oregano may be just what the tomato sauce needs.

Clip or trim herbs to encourage, healthy, bushy growth. For example, a basil plant will produce more leaves if kept trimmed. Learn more about the importance of Pinching terminal buds for better plant growth.

Herbs and flowers by PBH

Cutting herbs (cilantro) and flowers like zinnias will encourage production. Plants continue to grow, trying to bloom and make seed. to seed will extend the growing season. Herbs and flowers by PBH

Herbs add greenery and fill a bouquet to colorful blooms. A handy supply of herbs in the garden will always brighten any bouquet. Replace filler like baby’s breath and leather leaf ferns with your own home-grown herbs.

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A hummingbird and bees were drawn into admire this bouquet on the patio.

A herb bouquet on the kitchen counter will inspire you to use more fresh herbs. Often, cut herbs will last longer than a floral bouquet.

Later, the lavender will flavor lemonade. The garlic scapes and cilantro will be added to salsa.

Garlic scapes.

Garlic scapes.

 

 

 

 

 

You can never have too much basil.

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Chopped fresh basil and oregano boost the flavor, turning any dish into gourmet fare.

Plant enough to use fresh, to preserve as pesto and in herb vinegar. Keep a pot on the patio or right outside the kitchen door. Read more about basil: Seed starting, growing and storing Basil

Basil flavor is best when fresh. If you keep basil cuttings in a kitchen bouquet, don’t be surprised in the stems form roots.

Discard the rooted stems and use only the leaves in cooking. (Or, plant the rooted cuttings.)

A variety of basil cuttings.

Gather basil cuttings before the first frost to extend the fresh basil for a couple of more weeks.

Keeping basil pinched or cut back will produce more leaves. Keeping a glass or jar of those cuttings in the kitchen makes it much more likely that you will use the herbs at their best.

Wordless Wednesday

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Garlic scape bouquet.

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