Monthly Archives: February 2011

La Chamba Cookware

Handmade the same way for 700 years.

La Chamba cookware is handmade in Columbia from clay that contains mica which allows it to withstand heat. It can be used in the oven, microwave and on the stove top. I didn’t believe that, so I tried it myself.

ham and beans with fresh cilantro added before serving

I like this cookware because it’s pretty enough to go from the stove to the able as servingware. That keeps food hot and moist longer.


There are no toxins in the La Chamba because no glazes are used (the pieces are hand-burnished) and there is no lead in the clay. Care is easy: a quick soak and wipe down with a sponge is all that is needed.

New to me, La Chamba‘s origins can be traced back at least 700 years to the vases and pitchers found in pre-Columbian archaeological sites. It is still made in the traditional manner, by families in the village of La Chamba, on the banks of the Magdalena River in Central Colombia.

It’s not cheap, but it is beautiful and handmade. So, I plan to add a piece now and then to my collection.

La Chamba email

vegetable soup in La Chamba

Winter food at my house is a lot of slow cooked soups and stews. It’s rare that I serve a meal with out herbs.

Build A Butterfly Garden

Invite butterflies to live their full lifecycle in your garden. Provide host plants for laying eggs and for caterpillar food.

Butterflies lay eggs that hatch in 3-6 days. A caterpillar pupates in 3-4 weeks then in 9-14 days, a new butterfly emerges.

1. Locate your butterfly garden in full sun. Butterflies need sun to warm their bodies to fly.
2. Plant butterfly-attracting flowers that have strong scents and bright colors.
3. Include plants in your garden for butterflies lay their eggs and for emerging caterpillars to eat.

Bright colors and fragrance attract butterflies.

Select native plants and they will attract local butterflies. Watching a butterfly emerge from a chrysalis is reward enough for all the chewed leaves missing in the garden.

Puddling –

By sipping moisture from mud puddles, butterflies take in salts and minerals from the soil. This behavior is called puddling, and is mostly seen in male butterflies. Placing stones in the garden, or shallow bowls filled with sand and water are perfect for puddling.

Herbs attract butterflies and caterpillars.

K State Says Bug Off

K-State Study Takes No Static From Bugs

uninvited guest

For years, master gardeners have claimed that placing Bounce® original brand fabric softener dryer sheets into the pockets of clothing repels mosquitoes. A new two year study from the researchers at KSU suggests there may be some truth to claims that by tucking a Bounce® sheet in your pocket keeps the insects from bugging you.

Some gardeners have been using Bounce® for years, but experiments by researchers at Kansas State University and the University of Illinois revealed scientific evidence that support the claims of gardeners. Raymond Cloyd, professor, K-State’s Department of Entomology, decided to follow up on the claims of gardeners that Bounce® sheets repel insects.

“Being a scientist, I didn’t just shrug it off,” he said. “I thought about it, cogitated on it and decided to test this out quantitatively.” Bounce® fabric softener dryer sheets either directly or indirectly repel adult fungus gnats in the laboratory.

In the rearch discussion “It is interesting to note that the citrosa plant (Pelargonium citrosum ‘Van Leenii’), which is said to repel mosquitoes, contains 6.8% linalool (Matsuda et al., 1996). Citronellol [3, 7-dimethyloct-6-en-1-al (C10H18O)] is a monoterpene found in many plants, including rose geranium, citronella, European pennyroyal, and lemon balm.”

If the scientist or herbalist in you wants to know more, Read the research at Bounce® Fabric Softener Dryer Sheets Repel Fungus Gnat by Raymond A. Cloyd

‘Ruby Frost’ Coreopsis

Look for this plant

Repete bloomer great for the butter fly garden

This fringed hybrid tickseed is a scarlet color with white edges. It is a survivor of last years dreadful record breaking heat. It loves full sun and is hardy in zones 6-9. This is not your normal sunny yellow tickseed. The plant wizards at Terra Nova have exploded the Coreopsis color pallet with major breakthrough colors.

Really, if a plant can make it in my gardens, it definitely thrives on neglect. All these long bloomers got from me was water and a rare light feeding. Deadhead old flowers and you will be rewarded with repeated blooms all summer.

Break through color in coreopsis

I’ll be looking for Coreopsis ‘Ruby Frost’ again this year. It was a bright spot in a full sun raised bed sorrounding the patio. Bees and butterflies love it. Go to the Terra Nova site to find the closest retailer. Terra Nova has a bright selection of Coreopsis, and some real standout Heucheras.

Terra Nova are the creators of the Echinacea ‘Tomato Soup’ and Echinacea ‘Now Cheesier’. Don’t even get me started on coneflowers – these breeders have raised the bar on Echineacea.

Bee and butterfly magnet, Ruby Frost

What is Succession Planting?

Stretch your garden harvest by planting the same crop ten days later, and then again in ten more days.

lettuce and spinach will be suceeded by pepper plants

Another method is to replace one crop with another. For example, I’ll plant spinach in the early spring. As the weather gets warmer, I’ll plant green beans where the spinach was. I’ll plant half the row, and then, ten days later, I’ll finish planting the row with more green beans. Later, I’ll plant turnips in the row that grew green beans.

This method of gardening maximises your garden space. Even a tiny garden or big container can be used in this way.

Early peas will be replaced with green beans

Renee’s Garden has one of the most productive guides to using and reusing your garden space.

Renee’s Kitchen Garden Design Plans designed to maximize space.

Renee’s FAQs site gives you an organic gardeners short and sweet answer, not a science lecture. Her site is especially helpful on ferilizing and storing seed.

Zoning In

Find your plant hardiness zone. Use this guide to buy plants and learn when to sow seeds. I think the line between 6a and 6b runs right through my front yard. Depending on the investment – how much money I spend on the tree or plant –  I go back and forth, my answer could be different on any given day. I live in zone 6a. Or is it  6b?

US National Arboretum “Web Version” of the USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map

Diamond Frost® Euphorbia

Look for this plant

I’ll be looking for Diamond Frost® Euphorbia again this year.

Diamond Frost® Euphorbia was a cloud of airy white flowers all summer. Heat and drought tolerant, this is a low maintenance plant that looked good all season. No fussy pruning, pinching or deadheading.

Diamond Frost Euphorbia

My only contribution to this hanging basket was water. This plant is self cleaning, takes full sun or part sun and looks good in any combination. Last year I planted this as a filler in a basket. This year, I will plant it solo to take the starring role hanging from the pergola.

I’ll be looking for Diamond Frost again this year. It was a stellar performer all summer.  Proven Winners are easy to find in our area. It was my pleasure to trial this plant for Proven Winners last summer. This euphorbia got a lot of compliments last year. 

Gardeners in the Kitchen

I always order several lettuces and spring greens

A good place to start your garden seed order is by leafing through your favorite cookbooks. Renee Shepherd’s cookbooks showcase the best of garden fresh cuisine. Who better to write a cookbook than the person who grows a bountiful vegetable garden?

Renee’s Garden has two cookbooks, “Recipes From A Kitchen Garden” and “More Recipes From A Kitchen Garden.” My cookbooks are tabbed, with penciled notes in the margins and dog-eared. These two very affordable cookbooks ($12.95) have a few food splashes and the occasional sticky fingerprint.

Horseradish is the herb of the year 2011. I’ve ordered ”

Both Cookbooks will inspire you to grow more veggies from seed.

Tricolor Bush” beans and the skinny French “haricot vert,” that are bright green beans “Rolande. I am predicting that Chilled Green Beans with Creamy Horseradish Dressing and Green beans with Basil-Walnut Vinaigrette are going to be garden party and alfresco dining hits.

Best of all, these two dishes are make-ahead recipes that will develop flavor while chilling in the fridge. These two recipes are in the first cookbook, Recipes from a Kitchen Garden.

As an herb gardener, I love that Renee’s cookbooks incorporate edible flowers and fresh herbs in many of the recipes. With these cookbooks, you will enjoy fresh recipe ideas all season.

baby romaines

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