Herb Harvest 2020

I’ve always enjoyed picking herbs from my garden. But I typically just pick what I need for mmmmm for culinary use. I’ve been harvesting more herbs this to dry and save for medicinal and beauty uses this year.

Scroll on to see what’s been in my herb basket this year.

Sage, Calendula, and one big Mullein leaf.
Basil!
Mint and Catmint
Spearmint
Cilantro
Roses!
I lay my rose petals between two paper towels to air dry.
Pretty little Calendula flowers. I air dry these the same way I do the rose petals.

Summer Bouquets 2020

I’ve always had a hard time cutting flowers from my garden. I just never seem to want to ruin their beauty by taking them from their natural state.

I’ve been experimenting this year though, and I’ve found which flowers last well as a cut flower and which ones don’t. Some, like Zinnias even put on more blooms when you cut them.

Here’s a summary of my summer bouquets.

Black-Eyed Susan, Echinacea, Red Phlox
Echinacea, Salmon Zinnia, Polar Bear Zinnia, Coreopsis Cherry Blast
Echinacea Hot Coral, Zinnia Polar Bear, Salmon Zinnia, Coreopsis Zagreb
Echinacea Baja Burgundy, Coreopsis Zagreb, Coreopsis Cherry Blast, Salvia
Rose Quietness
Hydrangeas

Long-Lasting Cut Flowers: Zinnia, Coreopsis, Salvia, Cosmos. Hydrangeas can be long lasting as well if you wait to cut them when they are beginning to feel papery on the stem.

Flowers that Fade Quickly: Echinacea, Black-Eyed Susan.

Save those SEEDS!

Do you have organic produce coming in? Fall is upon us. Don’t forget to save seeds from some of your produce for use next year. Squash, and tomatoes are great to save seeds from, and it’s pretty easy.

Here’s how….

Saving Seeds:

Scrape those seeds off the cutting board as you chop those tomatoes. They all tend to squirt out anyway. Be sure to slice different varieties separately from each other, so as not to mix seeds.

Scrape them all into a bowl and cover with a little bit of water.

Let them soak overnight to help loosen some of the gel around them.

Then rinse well with water straining them through a sieve.

Spread out on the back of a paper plate labeled with the name of the plant. Set it in a warm place to dry.

Once dry, store in a labeled (name and year), paper envelope for the next growing season.

Squash is a great plant for saving seeds too. Use the same steps outlined above.

Happy gardening! May your harvest be bountiful! ❤️

My Fall Harvest – Seeds!

Most people see fall as a time to rake the leaves and put the garden to bed. But, I’ve come to enjoy fall as one of the most exciting times in the garden. It’s when you’ll find me snipping dead flower heads off and sorting seeds. I save them for the following year if I need to fill in plants, or enjoy giving them away to friends. Don’t overlook this harvest. Just think of the yield you could have in the year ahead from one tomato seed. The multiplication values are amazing when you stop to consider the number of seeds can be produced my one simple seed in one growing season. Save your seeds and share them with friends!

Rose Campion seeds

These little brown paper envelopes are great for seed sorting and sharing.

The flower heads on Rose Campion produces a prolific amount of seeds.

Rose Campion flower head.

Crush between your finger and the seeds just pour out.

See the white little cone shaped things? Those are the seeds.

Echinacea hides her seeds among all these prickles.

You’re looking to save the white, not the black spiny parts.

Lavender

Crush the lavender flowers and the seeds just fall out.

Dehydrating Tomatoes

I decided to take the advice of my friend Carolyn Thomas at Homesteading Family and dehydrate some of my end of the season tomatoes. It was fun and easy.

We’re still getting the last of the ripe tomatoes off our cherry tomato plants. Since this is about the only vegetable that I seem to be able to grow prolifically, sometimes we don’t eat them up fast enough. Enter my dehydrator.

I simply sliced them in half, and seasoned them with a bit of salt, pepper, granulated garlic, oregano, and savory. You could use any seasonings you like.

Lay them out on the dehydrator tray and dehydrate at a temp below 150 degrees until they are crisp.

If you have a few that are past the point of saving, then squirt out the seeds into a bowl, cover with water for a day or two to loosen all the gel, and then lay out on a paper plate to dry for the next year’s growing season.

Fall Flowers – 2019

A gallery of my fall blooms from this year.

A volunteer chrysanthemum by my mailbox. Isn’t it beautiful?

Sedum Autumn Joy

Purple Dome Aster

Chrysanthemum Daisy Rose – a very reliable bloomer.

Aster Bluebird

Aster Purple Dome again.

Red Impatiens in the pot, Coreopsis Moonbeam, Coreposis Zagreb, and Purple Dome Aster all still blooming away.

Another volunteer chrysanthemum

Chrysanthemum Daisy Rose again.

Echinacea Cheyenne Spirit sending up some late fall blooms.

Chrysanthemum Whippoorwill

Chrysanthemum Grandchild

Daisy Rose in all her brilliance.

The volunteer chrysanthemum all opened up and exploding with blooms.

My Garden – Late Summer 2019

Some of my best blooms this summer! Hope to do even better next year. I’ve already got my next years garden planned out and order with plants arriving for fall planting.

My Garden – Late May 2018

Here’s what has popped up in the last couple of weeks and what I’ve planted in the last few days. We’ve had a rainy week, so I took advantage of it to plant my annuals and the last of my perennials for the year.

For annuals this year, I chose mixed green begonias, lavender vinca, white alyssum, and mixed impatiens.

In the perennial category, I added a few chrysanthemums, gaillardia, daylilies, ajuga, more lamium, and my new recent favorite, several varieties of agastache.

New to bloom since I posted last are perennial geranium, iris, more azaleas, honeysuckle (which I forgot to take a picture of), and the peony is so close to blooming.

So, let’s get on with the pictures.

Red azalea – such a bright, beautiful color in the front flower bed. (Also pictured, tulip foliage, iris and chrysathemum daisy rose.)

Shocking Pink Azalea – my favorite azalea color I think.

Purple azalea. My grandmother grew azaleas this color in her front yard.

Light pink azalea.

A new baby azalea to match the large shocking pink on the other side of the flower bed.

Flower box outside our front window. Pink begonias and white alyssum.

Pink begonias, white alyssum, lavender vinca on the bottom.

Annual lavender vinca.

Our pansies and orange impatiens grown from seed. They were hard to start so I’m pretty proud that they grew.

Bushel basket filled with a white begonia, white alyssum, and three mini chyrsanthemums from Trader Joe’s, one which we overwintered.

Red geraniums and white alyssum.

Begonias green basil, and purple basil in the large pot. Two lavender vincas in the little one.

Annuals – red begonias, white alyssum. Perennial – aster coming up in the center of the pot. I transplanted the aster out of the flower bed last fall.

Red pot includes annual begonia and white alyssum. Perennials pictured from behind the red pot moving clockwise are iris, Echinacea Tomato Soup, Agastache Summer Glow, salvia, fading muscari, lamb’s ears, Daylily Holiday Song, Chrysanthemum Daisy Red. In the center of the bed are Coreopsis Moonbeam, Chrysanthemum Mickey, Agastache Rosie Posie.

Annuals – begonias and white alyssum.

Pictured clockwise from the mailbox are iris, red azalea, Echinacea Pow-wow, lantana, fading muscari, lamb’s ears, wooly yarrow, Sedum Pachyclados, white alyssum, lavender vinca, lavender, rudibeckia, Agastache Champange. In the pot are begonias and white alyssum. In the center of the bed are red perennial salvia, begonias, chrysanthemum daisy pink, and annual lavender vinca.

Iris.

Perennial geranium.

The peony is so close to bloom.

Clockwise from top: Echinacea Mama Mia, Agastache Rosie Posie, Liatris, Gaillidaria Arizona Sun, Chrysanthemum Daisy Red. Pictured on the left side are the edges of the peony leaves.

The big clump is Black-Eyed Susan, peas and tomatoes along the side, and minature roses in the front.

Begonias, lavender vinca, white alyssum, and on the far right a sprig of transplanted Chrysanthemum Rose Grenadine.

Excuse the mess, we’re preparing to build a sandbox for the kids. Along the edges I’ve planted Ajuga Burgundy Glow and Ajuga Bronze Beauty as a ground cover to fill in the dirt under this shade tree.

Clockwise from top left: Pulmonaria Dark Vader, Astible Plumila, Tricyrtis Tojen, Ajuga Burgundy Glow (bottom right), Impatiens, and Fern (center of bed). Two other ferns and cyclamen are planted in this bed too but haven’t woken up yet.

From right to left: Daffodil foliage, Helleborous Pink Frost, Lamium White Nancy and Hostas across the front mixed with annual Impatiens. Far right is Lamium Orchid Frost. In the back are Spanish Bluebells and Bleeding Heart.

Hosta, Lamium and Impatiens.

Clockwise from bottom left: Phlox Amazing Grace, Rose Quietness, Cosmos and Carnation seedlings, Sweet William Cherry Jolt, Yellow Sedum, Lavender Vinca. Center: Sedum Firecracker, Sedum Autumn Joy.

Annual basket I received as a gift full of petunias and verbena.

Purple pansies.

Our pansy and orange impatiens seedlings with our little spring bird decoration and a sweet little girl for cuteness.

My Garden – Early May 2018

Our new House has a few flower beds, so I’ve spent the last couple of years reading, experimenting, and learning about gardening. I hope to compose a few upcoming blog posts highlighting some of the things I’ve learned, mistakes I’ve made, what’s worked and what hasn’t, etc. But until then here’s some pictures of what’s growing in my garden (zone 6b) so far for Spring 2018.

Lamb’s Ears

Daffodils.

Tulips.

Hellebore Pink Frost.

Ajuga Burgundy Glow.

Plumonaria Dark Vader.

Rose Wild Ginger.

Forsythia.

Red Tulip.

Red Tulips and Peony srouts in the background.

Vinca Minor. Evergreen perennial Periwinkle.

More Periwinkle.

Overwintered red Geranium.

Overwintered pink Geranium.

Red Tulip and Muscari or Grape Hyacyinth.

Mixed Tulips with perennials coming up around them.

Phlox Blue.

Purple Tulips with an Azalea that is about to burst.

Phlox Amazing Grace.

Lettuce.

Radishes and spinach seedlings.

Tulip Pretty Princess.

Bleeding Heart.

Crabapple.

Yellow and red Tulips.

Cherry blossoms!

Bright pink Azalea.

 

How to keep happy houseplants

I’ve always had houseplants. But I’m pleased to say that I now have houseplants that are happy. I’ve never had good light for them any of the places we’ve lived. So I’m thankful that I have plenty of windows with good light.

Scroll through the photos below to see what make some of my current favorites happy.

My Tulips and Muscari started popping up in January so I brought them in for some winter blooms.

This was my Grandmother’s Angel Wing Begonia. I’ve had it for at least 12 years and it’s never bloomed once. Imagine my excitement when it bloomed this year. I’m so glad that it’s happy in this east window with the early morning light.


These are my beautiful geraniums that I brought in for the winter. Their blooms are so cheerful. I’m wintering the rest in the chilly attic until it’s warm enough to put them back outside.

This is one of my newest plants. I love the variegated foliage. I need to learn more about it. I can’t wait to get to know it better.

I love these primroses paired with the variegated leaves. I added my baby spider plants in the center for vertical interest. I think this basket turned out so cute. I can’t wait to put it outside when it gets warmer and see how it does.

Pretty primroses. I tried these last year and they all died. I think I waited too long to set them out. Hoping for better results this year.


These are my orchids. My sister gave me most of these. I’ve found they like this shaded south facing window best.


My violets. My grandmother gave me my first violet. These are my favorite plants and the easiest ones to care for. All they want is steady diffused light and not to have wet roots. Mine are blooming happily in this north facing window. I’m so glad they love this spot. They are so nice to look at in my kitchen window while I’m doing dishes.


Such beautiful blooms.


Rubbish to Riches: Adventures in Composting

Rubbish to Riches: Adventures in Composting

I’m embarking on a new adventure this week. I set up my first compost bin. Living in a condo and then NYC apartments, I’ve never really had the space. Now, I still don’t have much space which is why I haven’t set one up sooner. When I think of composting, I think of the huge open compost pile my parents had in Texas or people using huge industrial sized garbage cans to store their compos. Then it hit me this week – why couldn’t I use a storage tub? I googled it and found several posts of people who had done that very thing. I had an empty tub in the basement. So, I set it up this morning in about an hour.

First, I drilled holes in the bottom and all around my tub.

Next I covered the bottom with some shredded newspaper and then added all the dried out dirt from my old flower pots. I poured in a couple of cups of water and then stirred my scraps – broccoli stems, old cilantro, coffee grounds, tea leaves, banana peels, dryer fuzz and dried leaves. You want to keep it moist but not wet. If too welt it will rot and stink. If too dry nothing will decompose. I hope I can keep the right balance.

I found this nice 1-gallon, stainless steel compost bin to keep in my kitchen. I’ve looked at them before and never wanted to put out the money. This one was $11 on Amazon so I figured it was worth the risk. It had a charcoal filter in the lid to keep the smells in for when I can’t get my scraps outside right away.


I set the compost bin on the shady side of the house just outside the kitchen door. I figure I’ll be more likely to keep my indoor bin emptied regularly with it nearby. I set it up on bricks to help with air circulation and I put a tray under it to catch any liquid and use as “compost tea” on my plants.


The fact that all these things that I would normally throw out will hopefully result in rich, fertile soil is amazing to me. I’m excited! Let the adventure begin.

Itching for Spring

I saw these plants at the grocery store. They were on sale, and I felt sorry for them, so home they came. I got my spring fix planting them last weekend planting them in a big planter. They are waiting patiently in front of my living room window for the day that they can out out on the front porch. We have to wait for the 14 inches of snow to melt first though. 🙂

Aren’t they pretty? Is it spring yet?