Archive for July, 2011

U CAN® Watering System


2011
07.30

U Can is pretty, easy to carry and just the right size.

It’s hard to impress me when it comes to watering cans. I have my favorites in different sizes for different uses. After years of gardening, I have some definate preferences when it comes to watering cans.

I like the new 2 gallon U CAN. I like it’s ergonomic design and generous water capacity.

U CAN has a sprinkler head storage post. That’s sure handy for me because I tend to misplace the rose or sprinkler heads on watering cans. I’ll use the glove jam to keep my bandanna handy.

There is handy fertilizer storage and measuring spoon. That’s great for my hanging baskets and containers on the patio which get fertilizer every week.

Though not a deciding factor in buying a watering can, I like the dial fertilizer tracker and the built in measuring spoon.  It’s a little thing that makes this watering can a keeper.

I keep this watering can handy, it stays on my patio gardens near the containers.

I like that U CAN is made in the USA with recycled plastic.

The hand grips are comfortable and perfectly placed.

U CAN lists these advantages in the translucent plastic watering can:

  •  fertilizer storage chamber,
  • built-in measuring cup and spoon,
  • fertilizing reminder dial,
  • glove jam to store your gloves,
  • sprinkler head storage post.

The U CAN 2 gallon watering can is ergonomically designed with rubber hand grips and a textured handle for easy lifting, carrying and pouring. A perfect gift for gardeners, you can buy U CAN online or at these garden centers.

Time for Four o’clocks


2011
07.28

Many people have memories of four-o’clocks in their family garden. These beautiful flowers have been popular plants for generations.

photo Renees Garden

Four-o’clocks (Mirabilas jalapa) self seed. Often you can find them still growing in a long-abandoned garden spot. It’s an old Southern tradition to plant them near the front door. These jasmine-scented flowers will greet your guests.

In South America, where these flowers originated, four-o’clocks are used as a dye. The root is used medicinally and is said to be a hallucinogen. In herbal medicine, parts of the plant may be used for diuretic, purgative or vulnerary (wound-healing) purposes. I can’t speak for any of these herbal or medicinal uses—I have only enjoyed the flowers and their fragrance.

I’ve also read that the flowers are used in food coloring. The leaves may be cooked and eaten as well, but only as an emergency food. An edible crimson dye is obtained from the flowers to color cakes and jellies.

7-26-2011-four o'clocks
Four-o’clocks are also also known as the ‘Marvel of Peru’.
Photo courtesy
Renee’s Garden

Four-o’clock ‘Broken Colors’ are a special variety with starry, 2-inch blossoms that are beautifully splashed with showy, contrasting colors. Their delicio7-26-2011-renee's garden four o'clocksus jasmine fragrance floats on summer breezes. These flowers are both easy to grow and reliable. You can find the seeds on Renee’s Garden’s website for $2.79 a packet.

Before planting, soak the seeds in water overnight to speed the sprouting. These flowers are trouble-free, love full sun and have only moderate watering requirements.

Your four-o’clock flowers probably won’t bloom at exactly 4 p.m. Mine bloom at about 6 o’clock. The blooming time depends on your time zone and the plants’ exposure, but whenever it blooms it will stay consistent. You can count on your flowers to bloom at the same time every day. However, if it is cloudy or rainy, it may throw their solar clock askew.

Zucchini Heaven


2011
07.25

Zucchini Cake with Crunchy Lemon Glaze Recipe by David Lebovitz adapted from Dolce Italiano: Desserts from the Babbo Kitchen by Gina DePalma.

Zucchini Cake with Crunchy Lemon Glaze photo PBH

And of course, I made some changes too. Adapting David Lebovitz’ recipe, I changed the nuts to Black Walnuts, a sustainable product grown in Cape Girardeau, Missouri USA.

  • Replace: 1 cup (135g) almonds, pecans, or walnuts, with ½ cup of Black Walnuts.
  • Reduce: vanilla extract by half. Use only 1 teaspoon of vanilla
  • Add: zest of 1 lemon. Stir zest into the cake batter with grated zucchini.

I won’t rewrite the recipe here. Davids recipe is well written and beautifuly explained. His blog is fabulous. Go To: Zucchini Cake with Crunchy Lemon Glaze While this cake is baking, check out his website. (Key Words: Chocolate, Paris, need I say more?)

My version of the Crunchy Lemon Glaze:

  • Juice of 1 freshly squeezed lemon
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup (140g) powdered (confectioner’s) sugar (start with ¾ cup, add more powdered sugar if desired.) I think any fresh squeezed citrus juice and zest would be good.

More zucchini Recipes

Speedy Zucchini
1 cooler or ice chest
1 floppy garden hat
1 pair of big dark sunglasses

Directions:
Fill the cooler with zucchini. Drive around till you find an unattended pickup. Put the zucchini in the truck bed. Or, if it is too heavy to lift, check to see if the passnger door is unlocked. Check to see if there is a dog in the cab. (actually do this before you open the passenger door.) Quickly leave the scene, but not so fast as to call attention to the back seat full of coolers.

Or, wrap the big zucchini in swaddling clothes, leave it at the door step of a church (not yours – someone might recognize you.) or a hospital or day care. Run. Hide. You may want to stick around and watch this.

Revisit Black Walnuts
This native tree is grown by Martin Walnut Tree Farm this will change your mind about Black Walnuts. These nuts are mild flavored. Not the over powering flavor of days gone by. Call 573-243-3210 (ask for Mike) .

Buy very mild flavored black walnuts at the Jackson and Cape Farmers Markets-Tuesday night in Jackson and Thursday afternoon in Cape. Or buy walnuts by calling Mike at 573-450-6701. Email mike@martinwalnuttreefarm.com to have the walnuts shipped.

These new black walnuts are a developing market, so these are really bargain prices. When word gets out, I am sure the price will increase. Buy some, keep them in the freezer until you are ready to use them.

Cost: The cost is $5.00 for an 8 oz. bag, $10.00 for a 1 Lb. bag (plus shipping if needed.)

If you want to invest in your children’s future, Mike sells these amazing walnut trees.

How to stop bugs from eating my garden


2011
07.23

I started a giant pot of herbs from seed. No sooner had the herb seedlings ememerged, than a bug began feasting on them.

Usually, herbs don’t have insect problems. The grown basil plants, just 10 feet away, were not bothered. I used Insectisidal Soap and two days later, there was new growth. I lightly sprayed insecticidal soap again, just in case new eggs should hatch. Safer Soap, is a contact killer, so I lightly sprayed insecticidal soap again, just in case new eggs should hatch. I’ll keep an eye on this pot for two reasons.

Basil

Italian basil seedlings. photo by PBH

It’s hot hot hot and plants in containers are very vulnerable drought. And I want to keep an eye on the container to stay ahead of any reinfestation.

A curious note: the lemon basil growing in the sale pot, was never subjected to insect damage. Safer has a FaceBook page.

A First Look at Superbells, Calibrachoa


2011
07.21
Superbells Grape Punch

Superbells Grape Punch, a Calibrachoa hybrid introduced by Proven Winners is attracting hummingbirds. Photo PBH

I couldn’t wait to tell you about this little petunia-like flower because the humming birds and I have already decided this is a perfect plant for my patio. It’s continuous color with no added work.

I’ll blog about Superbells Grape Punch, a Calibrachoa hybrid, after it withstands our dry, hot, humid August in Southeast Missouri. (zone 6) It is supposed to look good through fall, until that first hard frost.

Calibrachoa hybrid, summer-long little fade proof purple trumpets. photo: PBH

Last summer, I told you about my patio Containers – Calibrachoa and Coleus  and Look For This Plant Superbells® Coralberry Punch Calibrachoa, so, I am familiar Calibrachoa.

It is my honor to trial Superbells® Grape Punch, for Proven Winners this summer. Read more about this annual after the trial.

Zucchini. Stuff it.


2011
07.19

I just saw my neighbor run inside and turn out the lights. It was quite a site. She is 90 and I had no idea she could move that fast. I think she saw me coming over with a basket of zucchini. I was going to leave it on her doorstep but I was afraid she would trip over it and fall down. In my head I hear, “You killed my mom with zucchini!”

Tatume - a Mexican variety favored in Texas, Raven - a traditional variety, and Clarimore, a Mediterranean squash.

So when Jules came home from work, he asked what’s for supper.

“zucchini casserole and zucchini slaw with pickled zucchini!” I said.

But we had toasted zucchini bread for breakfast, Jules whined.

“with zucchini jam!,” I reminded him.

Well, what’s for desert? he said.
“My famous and delicious chocolate zucchini cake!”

I was thinking that if I sounded excited about it (hence the exclaimtion marks) he would be excited about eating our fresh from the garden bounty.

Tommorrow, lets go out to dinner, he said.

“I can’t! I can’t leave the zucchini that long. They will be two feet long by the time we come back.”

Last night, he put his foot down when he came into the kitchen and saw me with a recipe for making zucchini wine. (We went out to dinner.)

This is the first year I can remember having too much zucchini. Usually the squash bugs and squash vine borers attack the plants well before the zucchini get into peak production.

Clairimore is a Mediterranean squash, a nutty flavorful variety with pale green skin.

We have a house rule, if it’s too big for one person to carry into the kitchen,  just roll it over to the compost pile.

Does Ripley’s Believe it or Not! have a zucchini record? If so, I think I have a contender.

Here are some real suggestions on how to manage your harvest.

Too Much Zucchini? Tips for Preserving from MissouiFamilies.org

Local Cook suggests “Hide it in desserts, such as Zucchini Brownies. Chocolate, like cheese, makes everything taste better! This brownie looks good enough to eat.

There’s an app for that
Just go to the iTunes store or Android marketplace or search for “Produce Converter”

You can’t go wrong with a Julia Child recipe. Julia Child’s Grated Zucchini Sauteed in Butter and Shallots From Food.com

My bountiful harvest is from seed I got at  Renee’s Garden. She just posted Zucchini pancakes recipe AND a photo contest.

Garden Bloggers Bloom Day July 2011


2011
07.15
Lily

Greeting guests at the front door.

Black tea with lemon mint

Black tea with lemon mint

“Mosquito is out,
it’s the end of the day;
she’s humming and hunting
her evening away.
Who knows why such hunger
arrives on such wings
at sundown? I guess
it’s the nature of things.”
-  N. M. Boedecker, Midsummer Night Itch

Welcome! Thanks for stopping by. Join me on the patio for tea with mint. or lemon balm.

Orange Day Lily

So many of my esteemed fellow garden bloggers have names on every flower. Not me. I am clueless about the lovely lillies. Some were here when I moved in this house, some were gifts or I found them in a sale bin.

Lily

Standing alone, flowers about five inches across, plant about six feet tall, this gangly lily begs for a new home.

My house is 170 years old. There are lots of things growing on this little acre that I haven’t identified.

There is a big black snake living in the North East corner. I think we’ve never had a problem with mice because of that big snake. He is not in the picture because he lives in the Poison Ivy Patch.

I think next bloom day, I’ll have sunflowers to share. There are lots of pollinators (like honey bees) this year. I am not seeing many ladybugs and I sure could use some bungry ladybugs.

There is a killer black cat next door that kills the song birds that I feed and invite into my garden. Yes, it poops in my garden and spends a lot of time in my garage and on my patio. Every day.

Raddish Flowers

Raddish with seed pods and flowers

Have you ever seen raddish flowers? I let a few go to seed, just so I could see the whole life cycle of the annual that is alsways in my spring garden.

Inspired by the words of Elizabeth Lawrence, “We can have flowers nearly every month of the year,” Carol of May Dreams Gardens started Garden Bloggers Bloom Day. On the 15th of every month, garden bloggers from all over the world publish what is currently blooming in their gardens.

I call these the house lillies because there are a lot of them and they came with the house.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Small blooms, but the flowers just keep on coming for days

 

in the front yard, along the front porch, several spiky lilies want to be in a better designed garden spoce.

Double your tomato production


2011
07.04

Try cloning tomatoes

tomato stem

Clip tomato branch. Remove flowers to encourage root growth.

To extend the tomato season, consider cloning your favorite tomato plants. The new plant will produce tomatoes just like it’s parent.

Here in the heartland, zone 6 we are about half way through the summer growing season. I think I have about two and a half months left before our first frost.

If you haven’t planted tomatoes yet, ask a gardening friend for a cutting of their tastiest plants. As I stake my tomatoes, I zometimes break off unruly stems that won’t be supported by my tomato stakes.

Carbon

This heirloom started out as a cutting. The plant produced as heavily as the parent plant.

Put that broken tomato plant branch, or cutting directly in the ground at least six or eight inches deep. Place a stake beside the stem. The big tomato stake or cage will stand as guardian over your little cloned tomato plant. Since this new plant has no roots yet, you MUST keep the soil well watered. At first, the cutting or broken branch that you stuck in the ground, will be limp. Don’t give up. Keep watering the planted stem at least twice a day. Shading your cutting will reduce the stress as your new tomato plant starts making roots.

Cloning plants will get you tomatoes faster than starting from seed at mid season. It is too late to start tomatoes from seed.

I broke off a branch of a Carbon tomato plant about a month ago. The black heirloom tomato plant is named Carbon and I am happy to have more of these large, rich tasty tomatoes.

Starting warm season plants midsummer, means that fruits will be developing during the cooler, end of summer weather. Be prepared to cover or protect the heat loving tomato plants during cool nights.

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