Archive for January, 2011

3 for Thursday Roses


2011
01.27

Three for Thursday, sponsored by Cindy at My Corner of Katy

Dick Clark roses

Crown Princess Margareta Climbing ® (Auswinter) David Austin

coral double rose named “Show Boat" StoryBook Roses

Read about these little Coral doubles at http://hubpages.com/hub/Story-Book-Roses

Go to  StoryBook Roses or To Order Storybook Roses™, call 1(800) 770-2777

A Garden Lovers Valentine


2011
01.23

These are the kind of flowers a gardener loves to get:

Shirley poppies are a fragrant heirloom

Valentine’s Day Special at Renee’s Garden 20% off through Feb. 14 on selected “lover-ly”  flowers  that are sure to win the heart of that Special Someone.

I, of course, went a little nuts ordering Shirley Poppies, “Falling in Love” (Papaver rhocas) because I think you can never have too many poppies. There are other selections in this sale, including a fragrant heirloom sweet pea.

Most new or inexperienced gardeners wait too long before they plant poppies. In my zone 6 garden, I will sow poppies in Feb or March. I direct sow these teeny, tiny seed in the garden two months before  tomatoes.

http://www.reneesgarden.com

Oh, attention sweethearts everywhere: though it is a loving gesture, the purchase of flower seeds does not let one off the hook for chocolate.

See you in Renee’s Community Garden.

Curly or Flat Leaf Parsley – which is better?


2011
01.21

Parsley

From Herb Combanion Blog

A Kitchen Garden essential

reseeded parsley

Volunteer parsley and chives are up and growing before other herbs.

I’m already thinking about spring. It’s time to order seeds and think about what I will grow in my home garden. One seed I know I will be ordering is parsley. Parsley seed is best started indoors and then planted in the herb garden. Although it is very slow to germinate, don’t give up; don’t be discouraged!

I grow both the curly and flat-leaved variety. They can be interchanged in most any recipe. However, dedicated Italian cooks will swear that flat-leaf parsley (or Italian parsley) is the very best.

Really, I use whichever is available (or which plants need a trim). When curley parsly leaves are small or young, they are milder and sweeter; the full parsley flavor comes as the plant matures. Its flavor intensifies even more after it is chopped for recipes.

1-6-2011-parsley stew
I use my La Chamba pottery to serve Braised Beef and Short Ribs with Parsley.
Photo by Patsy Bell Hobson

Parsley is an excellent source of vitamins A and C. In fact, a glass of parsley juice would have as much vitamin C as a glass of orange juice. Now, I’m not advocating that you give up your glass of morning sunshine—the idea is probably not a trend setter—but it might help you feel virtuous about eating your garnish.

Fresh herbs add sparkle to any recipe

If this is your first try at growing herbs from seed, don’t give up. Start seeds indoors to get a head start.

When you eventually transplant your parsley, also scatter a few seeds near the plant. The plant will serve as a marker to remind you when the seed does come up.

In addition to the volunteer parsley that comes up earlier than anything I sow, I am starting Italian ‘Gigante’ parsley from seed. I have always had great success with seed I order from Renee’s Garden. Find additional help and encouragement on the Renee’s website. There are some very creative and original recipes there too.

Spinach, Spring Green


2011
01.21

Herb Companion Blog

IN THE HERB GARDEN

Spinach Seeds for Your Spring Garden

Grow spinach this year for fresh salad greens. Photo by faria! Courtesy Flickr

I am growing a vegetable I used to hate: If your introduction to spinach was from a can

of that salty gray-green plant matter, you understand. Not even Popeye could change my mind.

In 2006, an Escherichia coli bacterium (E. coli) outbreak in spinach was followed by more food contamination incidents. In 2007 a company recalled bags of its spinach after finding salmonella during testing. And in 2010, spinach potentially contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes was recalled. Seed sales tell us that record numbers of people are purchasing vegetable seeds. More and more, we want to know where our food comes from. Food contamination is rarely a problem if the food comes from our own backyard. You can supplement a lot of family meals by growing spring greens, like spinach, beets, turnips and lettuce.

I’m growing spinach (Spinacia oleracea ‘Bloomsdale Long-Standing’) this spring. In fact, those first few leaves of these glossy greens never made it to the kitchen last year. I ate them in the garden. (They were that good.) A fan of heirlooms or not, this is a good spring greens choice that has been around for more than 100 years.

Bloomsdale heirloom spinach, a home garden favorite for over 100 years

For this cool-season crop, save a few seeds from your spring planting and sow again for a fall crop. Expect a heavy, continuous yield of thick-textured, glossy dark green leaves. If you grow lettuce, you can grow spinach; its soil and light requirements are similar. Greens are a cool-season crop that love full or partial sun. Put a few radishes in with the spinach to serve as row markers. Gardening Tip: Try a couple of spinach varieties to possibly extend the season and see which one grows best for you. It might not be the same choice every year.

‘Bloomsdale Long Standing’ spinach is slow-growing, slow to bolt and has better-than-average heat and drought resistance. It will usually grow a week or two longer than other spinach varieties. It grows more upright than most spinach, keeping the leaves cleaner or less gritty.

Try This: Let your kids or grandkids help you plant a container of salad greens. Spinach, served fresh in salads or cooked in quiches and souffles, is a delightfully different thing than canned spinach. It supplies vitamins A, C and the B-complex, calcium, and proteins. Try this easy Spinach Souffle Recipe from Burpee.

spinach quiche by Pille - Nami-nami Courtesy Flickr

If chives are up, use it in your spinach salad. I suggest that you use spikey chive leaves instead of green onions, or break apart blossoms and sprinkle the flower petals on the salad.

You can buy spinach seed, Spinacia oleracea ‘Bloomsdale Long-Standing’ from many seed sources. Mine is from Burpee Seed and I have always had good luck with their seeds.

What is Your Garden Zone?


2011
01.14

Marigolds bring pollinators to your garden

I am in Zone 6 and the Average Last Frost: 04/15, Tax Deadline Day.

If I can, I’ll try to get in the garden even earlier and plant peas and potatoes on St Patricks Day.
The really smart thing to do is wait until May Day, 5/1 to plant plants.

I plant marigolds everywhere in the flower garden, with the vegetables and in the herb garden

Last Frost Dates

Zone 1: June1 – June 30
Zone 2: May 1 – May 31
Zone 3: May 1 – May31
Zone 4: May 1 – May31
Zone 5: March 30 – April30
Zone 6: March 30 – April30
Zone 7: March 30 – April30
Zone 8: February 28 – March 30
Zone 9: January 30 – February 28
Zone 10: January 1 – January 31
Zone 11 Frost Free Year Round

 

 

http://www.burpee.com

Burpee has some very helpful information for new and experienced gardeners.
Burpee Growing Zone Information Burpee Growing Calendar by zip code
US National Arboretum “Web Version” of the USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map

Marigolds are butterfly magnets

I think the line between 6a and 6b goes right through my garden. Depending on the luck I’m having at the time, my answer could be different to the question, which zone do you live in, 6a or 6b?”

Appliances Unplugged


2011
01.11

This is a no brainer. Appliance makers should jump on this.

Appliances with electric cords

Which high-end appliance do you think I would choose, if my choice is between a slow cooker (or mixer, blender, box fan, table lamp, etc.) with a long, unmanageable, trip hazard of electrical cord, or an appliance with a retractable cord?

retactable cord on the rice cooker.

A quick fix.

Stray dogs and Christmas Cactus


2011
01.10

I have whined and complained sufficiently that Jules no longer brings home stray dogs or abandoned cats. He does however bring home sad and ugly plants. He went to the grocery store the other day and brought home this Christmas Cactus. “It was only a buck,” he said.

An abandoned plant just fell in Jules grocery cart.

Rebloom Christmas Cactus

After your Christmas cactus blooms, prune it to encourage the plant to branch out.

Christmas Cactus is a tropical type cactus that is not as drought tolerent as the name implies. Keep the plant in a well-lit location away from drafts, heat vents, fireplaces or other sources of dry, hot air. Fertilize April to October.

A succulant like Christmas Cactus holds lots of water in the leaves and can tolerate dry soil better than wet soil. When the soil is dry to the touch, thoroughly water. Do not leave the plant in standing water. Well-drained soil is a must. Root rot from too much water kills most houseplants.

In the summer I will take the cactus outside in a shady place. Keep out of direct sun or the leaves will burn. Gradually get the cactus plant used living indoors by bringing it in for longer periods each day.

I will water the Christmas cactus, fretilze it, and probably repot it.

The naturally longer nights and cool temperatures in late summer will encourage flower development.

Rebloom Christmas Cactus for the holidays with long uninterrupted dark periods beginning in mid-October. Store your Christmas Cactus in an unused closet, a basment or a garage where the plant gets uninterupted dark periods. Give it only occasional water. Ignore your cactus for about six or eight weeks or, until buds start forming.

Christmas cactus will also bloom if they are subjected to cool temperatures beginning in early November. Ideal temps are 50 to 55 degrees Fahrenheit at night. Bring into bright indirect light when buds begin to form.  It is about this time of the year when Jules reclaims his plant.

Propagate

Pinch off sections of each stem or cut with a sharp knife. You can root new plants from the pinched sections in damp vermiculite. Give all these cutting to guests who gushed over how beautiful your Christmas Cactus was this Christmas.

To transplant your Christmas Cactus you will need to use a potting mix for succulents. Buy potting mix or make your own succulent potting mix with two parts plain potting soil and one part clean vermiculite. Select a pot that is the next size bigger. The need som now potting soul but not a lot of room.

All the neighbor ladies will admire his plant and his growing skills. And he will share little cuttings in vermiculite with the ladies. He will get hugs. And they will tell me how lucky I am.

Then he gets another hug and may be a big red hat kiss, plus a pat on the back.

And I will chase after half the ladies who forgot to get the Christmas cutting.

Flat Leaf or Curly Parsley – which is best?


2011
01.06

Herb Companion Blog

Parsley for Your Spring Garden

by Patsy Bell Hobson

I’m already thinking about spring. It’s time to order seeds and think about what I will grow in my home garden. One seed I know I will be ordering is parsley. Parsley seed is best started indoors and then planted in the herb garden. Although it is very slow to germinate, don’t give up. Don’t be discouraged!

I grow both the curly and flat-leaved variety. They can be interchanged in most any recipe. However, dedicated Italian cooks will swear that flat-leaf parsley (or Italian parsley) is the very best.

Really, I use whichever is available (or which plants need a trim). When curley parsly leaves are small or young, they are milder and sweeter; the full parsley flavor comes as the plant matures. Its flavor intensifies even more after it is chopped for recipes.

1-6-2011-parsley stew
La Chambra pottery to serve Braised Beef Short Ribs with Parsley.
Photo by Patsy Bell Hobson

Parsley is an excellent source of vitamins A and C. In fact, a glass of parsley juice would have as much vitamin C as a glass of orange juice. Now, I’m not advocating that you give up your glass of morning sunshine—the idea is probably not a trend setter—but it might help you feel virtuous about eating your garnish.

If this is your first try at growing herbs from seed, don’t give up. Start seeds indoors to get a head start. When you eventually transplant your parsley, also scatter a few seeds near the plant. The plant will serve as a marker to remind you when the seed does come up.

curly parsley

Volunteer seeds are always the first up in the garden. These curly leaf parsley will go into the first spring greens garden salad.

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