Archive for the ‘Gardening’ Category
I have been scouring the internet for new recipes lately. There are so many new plants in my garden this year that I don’t even know what to do with 1/3 of them! Today I came across this recipe for Sparkling Lavender Lemonade at the website All Things Lavender.
It does not appear to be an active blog (her last post was last August from the looks of it), but there are several great sounding recipes that use lavender. This is one of them!
The lavender is infused in water and honey as though you are making a tea. After the mixture is cool you stir in a cup of lemon juice and 2 cups of sparkling water. I served the drink on ice.
Tea is probably my least favorite drink. Ever. I also don’t particularly care for sweetening things with honey. My husband, on the other hand, loves tea. Several of my garden plantings were solely for the purpose of making him fresh tea. He already tried lemon balm tea from the garden, which he said was like drinking a fresh cup of Pine Sol. Guess that wasn’t a success.
This drink, however, was delicious. The man of the house said he liked it, but he didn’t down the drink, as he usually does with food and beverage he really enjoys. I thought it was fantastic though! It was even better since I made it after sitting through another day of 90 degree temperatures in my house. That’s right, the AC system has still not been replaced. As a matter of fact, it is after nine o’clock at night and the guys are STILL in the attic working. I don’t foresee any cool air in my future this evening. :(
I am really looking forward to making this drink to have when friends come by and sit in my garden with me. It is a perfect spring or summer sweet spritzer. The only change I will probably make is to add less honey. I don’t think it needed the entire cup that the recipe called for. Next time, and there will definitely be a next time, I will only add 1/2 a cup and see how that does.
Today I am having a new HVAC system installed so I decided to take a break from the indoors projects and move outside. The rain finally subsided for a day and should be returning soon. I am taking advantage of this and getting a few things done in the garden boxes:
This is what my garden boxes looked like on April 29, 2013 after I sowed the seeds (24 days ago):
The garden is doing great! Only a handful of the plants are store bought. Over 2/3 of everything in those boxes was grown from seeds. I am so excited at how successful it looks so far.
Each day I spend about 5 minutes pulling out the little weeds and it has really paid off. With all the rain we have been having, I have only had to water a handful of times. My star performers from seeds so far are my squash, snap peas, chard, bush and pole beans, and radishes. My spinach, all different lettuce, carrots and marigolds also look fantastic.
My peas and beans are doing so well it was time to wrap some twine around the poles that will be used to trellis them. This is not a difficult process, and not necessarily cost effective (though not expensive either). You could easily buy a premade trellis, but they look exactly the way I wanted them to. The only concern I have right now is that the trellises will be too small. As I said, the peas and beans are really taking off. I fear they are going to outgrow their little home in their barrels!
Do It Yourself Pole Bean Trellis (makes one)
You will need:
- 5 – Five foot long bamboo poles (or desired number and length to suit your needs)
- Roll of twine
Place the poles equally distant in a circle in the ground. I sunk my poles about 10 inches. Gather the poles together at the top. Using the twine, knot the poles together with a lashing knot. Cut twine. Starting at the base of the pole teepee you have created, wrap the twine around the circle of poles, tying a knot around each pole as you go. Keep the twine taught as you move around the circle. Repeat as many levels of twine as necessary to support your plants.
I meant it when I said I am getting my backyard ready as soon as possible! This morning we went out and bought the materials for our garden boxes. I purchased enough material for 4 – 4’x8’ garden boxes: 36 cedar fence pickets, 2“ screws, and 1” screws. Easy as that!
I L-O-V-E this website. I have always had an interest in building things and I was trying to convince my husband I could build new kitchen cabinets. That was an interesting conversation! Not too long after, my cousin started posting pictures of these AMAZING, BEAUTIFUL items she was building – beds, dressers, all sorts of things! How in the world was she doing this??? She gave me a helpful “things you must have” list and pointed me to Ana White’s website and I haven’t looked back since.
I don’t even have anything funny to report about this build. I still have three more boxes to go though, so we’ll see. The first was really easy, but a little slow-going since I had to adjust the plans to my measurements. The boards are already cut for the other boxes so I am expecting to finish them during the baby girl’s nap time tomorrow. It is SO exciting! We are going to have so much space to grow some terrific veggies this year!
Here is the cut list I used to make one 4’ x 8’ box:
Using 9 boards, Cut List:
- 4 – 1×6 Fence Pickets @ 71 3/4″ (Side Panels, I trimmed the dog ear off)
- 8 – 1×2 Fence Pickets @ 11″ (Corner Posts)
- 4 – 1×6 Fence Pickets @ 46 3/4″ (End Panels)
- 2 – 1×2 Fence Pickets @ 71 3/4″ (Top Trim, I used the non-dog-eared ones from the center of the cuts)
- 2 – 1×2 Fence Pickets @ 48″ (Top Trim, Ends)
I did as she suggested in the plans and ripped down one of the boards to get the trim pieces (so instead of 1x2s, they are actually 1 x 1 1/4). I was able to cut one 48” trim and two 11” trims out of one 1×1 1/4. So all the trim pieces came from one board. I have several leftover 24” 1×6 boards from cutting the short sides (48” boards). I am going to use these to make some smaller, taller planter boxes. Yay!
Oh Pinterest…how do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I fought Pinterest when I first heard about it because the last thing I needed was another piece of social media in my life. I finally joined after a friend sang the praises of bookmarking crafts and recipes without having to book them on her web browser. I love being able to pin craft ideas, recipes, and more and when I am looking for it later I don’t have to dig through thousands of links that are totally unorganized. All the ideas are neatly organized in Pinterest. Not only has it been helpful as a bookmarking tool, I have come across some great ideas I might not have found otherwise. Since joining Pinterest, I have made laundry detergent, dishwashing detergent, vanilla and a number of other things (posts to come soon about each of those!). If you are on Pinterest, follow me!
On to the discussion at hand! A few weeks ago, I came across this picture of several green onions in a drinking glass. The pin said that next time you use a green onion, save the white ends, submerge them in water and place in a sunny spot. Green onions will begin to grow almost immediately.
I love green onion and it is the one thing that did well in my garden this year. It was so nice to cut a piece of green onion off to use in cooking, on a baked potato and more whenever I wanted. When we had one of our only cold snaps, they died and I had to start buying green onion again. Though it isn’t very expensive, I almost always throw half of it away.
Until now! Three days ago, I stuck a few pieces of the white part of the green onion in a glass on my kitchen window. Yesterday, I had fresh green onion on my baked potato!
I am not great at planning ahead. I am a “spur of the moment, it needs to be done, so let’s take care of it now” sort of girl. For days I have been thinking of how I need to run to the grocery store and pick up a sweet little bouquet of flowers. Today is my daughter’s dance recital and heaven forbid you be the mom that shows up without flowers for her little star! Not to mention, she totally deserves them!
Of course, this weekend dad and brother are out of town so it is just me and my dancer. How am I supposed to go buy her flowers? I have been thinking and thinking and the opportunity just never arose. I figured today I would just drop her with a neighbor and run out really quick. Then it dawned on me:
Uh, MARISSA you have a ton of beautiful flowers growing in the backyard. Surely some of them are ready to be picked?! ABSOLUTELY!
I LOVE being able to walk out of my back door and pick flowers for a gorgeous bouquet! Do you think she’ll like it? Beats a bouquet of carnations any day, huh?
So, this morning while she slept I ran out back and clipped the following from my garden: canna flowers, tigerlilies, zinnia, one of the large canna leaves (very tropical looking) and one of my ground covers for the white-ish gray accent. I am not sure what the ground cover is. It is somewhat soft like lamb’s ear. So let me know if you know what that stuff is!
I also didn’t have the other main item to making this bouquet work…cellophane. Instead, I found the most water resistant wrapping paper on hand (with no markings on the back of it). I cut it into a triangle and laid the prepared bouquet on top of it. Then I wrapped the paper around the bouquet so it would be inside out and taped it to secure it. Of course, as I am typing this, I am thinking to myself how I should have just cut some parchment paper and it would have done just as well.
I don’t have any pictures with it, but I am also going to tie a 2 inch wide ribbon around the bouquet for the last finishing touch. I think she will think it is the most beautiful, special bouquet ever. I am so proud of my ballerina!
Today I would like to share with you my FAVORITE plant in my garden.
If you remember, the last time I posted about my garden, I was in the early planning stages. I had not even bought my seeds yet. I was hoping to post a weekly or bi-weekly writing as my garden grew, but that darn job I went and got, totally took up my extra time! :)
Before I start talking about my favorite vegetable, a reminder…all of my plants were started from seeds (all but one – I went out and bought some thyme because my seeds never grew. I don’t think my dill is going to take either, so I might have to buy one of those as well). I have had great luck growing from seeds in this yard and it seems silly to waste money on plants that are already growing.
Seed growing is not as hard as you think it is!!! I did directly sow several of the seeds inside before the last frost was “supposed” to hit. It was annoying trying to keeping them in the sunlight because of the way our windows are set up, but other than that, the seedlings inside did not take any fantastic amount of work. Instead of spending money on all sorts of growing supplies, I planted my seedlings in used cardboard egg cartons, which are biodegradable (my kindergartener was learning ALL about recycling so this was a great “reusing” learning opportunity too!). Here are my little K’s pumpkins as they started to grow!!!
So around mid-April it was time to transplant the indoor sows as well as get the “direct” sowings into the ground, which I did. By the end of May my garden looked like this:
Not an excellent picture, right? There are mostly just a bunch of seedlings spaced at the suggested intervals (per the seed packets). The greenery towards the top of the picture are our radishes – which have done AMAZING. We have easily picked over 100 radishes to date! You can also see the mesclun, which I have since relocted.
Well, this is what my garden looks like now, and it is SO fun to take care of it on a daily basis!
Same exact plot as above, but stuff is actually growing! SO COOL!!!
But I did start this entire post with the statement:
Today I would like to share with you my FAVORITE plant in my garden.
So, what is my favorite plant so far?!?! MESCLUN!!! Mesclun is basically the fancy shmancy spring mix of salad you buy in the grocery store. It is growing SO WELL and we are able to eat a full fresh salad out of the garden every evening! I simply go out to pick my lettuce,
spin it in my new salad spinner (which was TOTALLY worth the $30 I spent on it!),
and add whatever fun ingredients we feel like adding that day.
It is terrific…AND healthy…AND all natural! If you have a garden and have never tried it, I highly reccomend planting some mesclun or some other clippable lettuce mix in your garden.
I cannot wait for all the tomatoes, peppers, etc, to come to fruition so I can add those to the salad!
It is summer, and the living is easy — 99° here at 6 pm on June 4 — after an absolutely beautiful spring, I think we’re going to have a Long. Hot. Summer. We made the first of our annual visits to A & N Blueberry Farm early Friday morning to pick blueberries (I got 10.5 pounds and Jen got around 7… pretty sure we’re going to have to squeeze in another trip!). They also had some other fresh produce for sale and I picked up some of Sarah’s delicious blueberry jam (because I don’t can), cucumbers and a nice big zucchini … I already have some yellow squash in the fridge, so just might have to make some zucchini bread later this week.
I don’t can, did you catch that above? I love the idea of canning and once helped my friend, Jenny K. (Jen’s namesake!), can about 400 pounds of tomatoes (we washed them in the bathtub). My sister-in-law, Rhonda D., is the canning queen — I love visiting when the pantry is full of homemade grape jelly, corn, tomatoes and other yummy treats from their garden. So, since I don’t can, I freeze and refrigerate! I bought these cucumbers specifically to make some EASY refrigerator pickles.
7 cups cucumbers (number of cucumbers needed depends on how big they are — I used 4 today)
2 Tbsp. salt
2 cups sugar
1 cup cider vinegar
1 tsp. celery seeds
Thinly slice cucumbers — or thickly slice, up to you! I prefer a thinner slice. Place in a colander and sprinkle cucumber slices with salt. Let stand at least 2 hours.
Meanwhile, combine the sugar, vinegar and celery seeds. Let stand until the sugar completely dissolves, stirring occasionally.
Rinse the cucumber slices and drain well. Put the cucumber slices in a large canning jar—my original recipe from about 30 years ago says “or a mayonnaise jar” … can you even buy mayo in a jar these days?? Really cram the cucumber slices in tightly. I finally had an opportunity to use this cute jar that Jen made for our annual holiday cookie exchange!
Pour the vinegar mixture over the top.
And, refrigerate. Done!
Now, try to wait 24-48 hours before snacking on these tasty morsels. Won’t kill you if you don’t wait, but they are better the longer they sit in the cider-sugar solution. I’m not sure if these ever have an “expiration” date … I’ve kept them in the fridge for weeks and they’ve been just fine.
It is that time of year again…the sun is shining a little longer, the days are a little warmer, and the birds are starting to chirp. My green thumb is a-itching and I am ready to start my garden planning. So early, some of you ask? It isn’t even daylight savings time yet!
I am relatively new to the gardening world (I feel like I say that a lot on this blog for my various “worlds”). At least to the “do it properly” gardening world. I have, for many years now, planted herbs and flowers, and vegetables. However, I basically stuck some seeds in the ground with Miracle Grow soil and hoped for the best. I spent minimal time tending to the plants and took whatever they decided to bring to fruition. Last year, I spent a little more time working in the garden and the results were amazing! I had squash plants, peppers, basil and chives that went CRAZY! Below are some of my peppers as they were growing last year.
We literally did not know what to do with the high yield of yellow squash we had. Four of us could have each eaten one with dinner for months! This has inspired me now to put a even a little bit more time into it this year, and see what happens. I would love to eat fresh herbs and vegetables out of the garden every night instead of buying them from the store.
So, back to the timing issue I was talking about earlier. The first thing I have learned, (well, already knew it, but never really cared) is that when and where you plant your seeds (I don’t buy plants) matters a great deal to the size and yield of your plant life. For summer veggies you have to plant a certain number of weeks before the last frost. I know, right? How are you supposed to know when the last frost is before it happens??? If you live in a state like Virginia, as I do, then you have a fantastic website you can check to see the estimated last frost of the season based on your area. The University of Virginia Climatology Office has published a website to look up such information. You can look at the table for your area, choose the lowest temperature your plants are likely to tolerate, and the table will give you the likelihood of the temperature being that low after a certain date. If you want to take a higher risk, plant earlier. If you want to be safe, choose the lower likelihood of cold temperatures.
There is also another easier way to check things if you are going to purchase seed packets from a company like Burpee. At there website you can search for the seed packets (and plants) that they sell. Once on the page of a particular plant, if you select the “growing info” tab on the lower right, it will tell you when to plant your seeds (and whether indoor or out) and when to transplant them.
For instance, if I want to plant Burpee’s Cherries Jubilee Tomatoes I can search them on the website, click the Growing Info tab, put in my zip code, and the chart will show me that I should plant them indoors in mid April and transplant them outside in late May.
Since all the sowing and transplanting takes planning, I am getting ready early! I also have more ideas for my garden that I thought I would be able to share with you today. However, I have kept you long enough already so I will let you get back to your world and you can return for my gardening ideas another time.
Good luck with your garden blueprints!