Composting Page

Check out my new composting page! See it up there, next to the 'Home' button? Look for another page to be published sometime next week.


Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day

Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day was started by Carol of May Dreams Gardens. To see more blooms, visit her blog.

This past week, I have been on vacation with my family. My photos for this Bloom Day are of the house we stayed in, and some of the lovely flower beds. Please let me know if any of my flower ID's are wrong.

The house we stayed in in Gordonville PA. and a window box.

 Pink Geraniums


More Impatiens

 A rosebush

 Closeup of a rose bloom

 This butterfly was flying around. I haven't had time to look up what kind it is. Can anyone help me out?

 My assistant. She'd been hanging around since we arrived.
 There were a lot of Black-Eyed Susans

 The front garden

 Closeup of the pink flowers - Petunias I think

I spotted this kitty under the Japanese Maple in the front garden. S/he was too skittish to be petted, though.

Happy Bloom Day!!!

Blog Posts V

Blog Posts of the Week: a semi-regularly published collection of my favorite blog posts from the past week. (Or however long it's been since the last time I posted my favorite blog posts.) In this case, it has been approximately a month.

Polar Bear Parsley Seed
From The Veggie-Patch Re-imagined. I'm going to try and get my parsley to do this. I'm getting tired of having to buy more every year.  I do actually have a plant inside that I overwintered, maybe if I put it outside it will flower for me.(Photo note: Somehow I've managed to not take any pictures of Parsley for the last few years. Here's one from 2007)

Potatoes in a Barrel - The Harvest
This is my first year attempting to grow onions. I hope that next year will be my first year growing potatoes. I just need a barrel of some sort...This post is from Our Little Acre.

Garden Patch Grow Box  and  How to Collect Black-Eyed Susan Vine Seeds
These posts are both from Mr. Brown Thumb. He has been trying this grow box, and I am very impressed with the results.The other post, about collecting Thunbergia seeds is very helpful. My Mom loves Black-Eyed Susan Vines, and I have attempted to grow them for her for several years. This year, when I planted the starts, I found what I thought was a self-sown vine. Let's just say that I need to work on my weed identification skills. Now that the Thunbergia has been freed of the weed, Mom and I hope to see some blooms soon.

You Might Be a Gardening Geek: Blogging Edition
Yes, I am most certainly a Gardening Geek. Carol from May Dreams Gardens has an ongoing series of You Might be a Gardening Geek: posts. Here's a link to more Garden Geek posts.

Thursday Dose of Cute: Oh Gee, It's a Boy
Susan at Farmgirl Fare has the cutest baby animal pictures (and grown animals, too). This one is the newest donkey on their farm.(Photo Note: I met this cute kitty on vacation.)

There ain't no flies on us...
The Crafty Gardener shares a tip for keeping away flies. This seems to be a very old rick for keeping away flies. Crafty Gardener has not tried it yet, and would like to hear from anyone who has tried it.

My Soon-to-Be New Garden Table
A Study in Contrasts proves that trash picking really does pay. My Mom did this years ago; she made a table cloth for it, and it was a great little side table for our park bench.

The Perfect Pantry has a new feature called Market to Pantry.(The link will take you the a page with all the posts tagged Market to Pantry) These are pictures from Lydia's blog readers of their favorite place to shop for food. Market to Pantry is currently posted every other Saturday, alternating with Other People's Pantry's.

Red Hibiscus
I think Hibiscus are my favorite plant-I-can't-grow-in-zone-6. Actually, I don't think that's entirely true. I probably could if I were willing to drag it in and out of the house, find a place in the house for it etc. That is too much fussing for me. I will continue to enjoy other peoples' pictures. This post is from My Iowa Garden. (Clip Art from here.)

I hope you enjoy these posts. Stay tuned - I may actually manage a Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day Post!


Mosquito Repellent

Have you seen the commercials for Off!'s new mosquito repellent? I have to admit, I was rather skeptical. My Mom got a coupon, and I gave it a try. I've only used it twice, but didn't get a single bite either time. I should pause her to explain that I am a mosquito magnet. Other people say it's because of my sweet personality. Whatever the reason, bites swell up to the size of a quarter, and only an ice cube on my bare skin relieves the initial itch/swelling. While spray-on repellents work, I inevitably miss a spot that the mosquitoes find. Plus, I'm sure that spray-on repellent's aren't very healthy for my skin.

Back to the Clip On - the first time I used it was on a bike ride around 8 PM. I was amazed when I got back to have no bites. Instead of clipping it to my clothes where I was worried about it falling off, I clipped it to a cable on my bike.

The second time I used it was this past Sunday, the Fourth of July. My pastor and his wife invited me, and some other folks, over for a cookout; later we went to see the town fireworks display. I was outside for a good 3+ hours. One of the girls who joined us got a couple of bites, but I was bite free!

The other bonus for me is that there is no discernible scent. So, go look for a coupon, and get yourself one...or two...or buy them for the whole family!
*Off! has not asked me to blog about their product, nor am I receiving any compensation for blogging about it.*


Blog Posts IV

You would think that with no job, I'd be keeping up with my blogging. Obviously that has not been the case. Here are the latest blog posts that I've enjoyed and want to share.

Benefit with vermicompost from your own wormery!
If I put a vermicomposter on my Christmas list, do you think I might get one? This post at Garden Desk shows a side-by-side comparison of peas, half composted, half un-composted. (Is 'un-composted' a word?)

How to Water Small Seeds and Seedlings
Have you ever watered your seedlings, then realized that your watering can (or kitchen glass) has flattened your precious seedlings? Mr. Brown Thumb has the perfect solution!

Fruit Brushetta
The pictures in this post at Rosemary's Blog Spot look absolutely delicious! The fruit possibilities are endless!

Are Vegetables Underused?
From The Veggie Patch Re-imagined, this was an interesting read. The post talks about parts of plants that you might not think of using, such as squash blossoms, garlic scapes, and various leaves.

Deluxe Grow Box Self-Watering Planter
Mr. Brown Thumb had previously made his own from scratch self-watering planters. He wanted to see how they compared to the real thing, and received a Grow Box from Clean Air Gardening to review. Check out his post to see the results!

You Know You're a Cheap Gardener When...
Posts like this one, from In the Garden Online, make me smile. Not so much because I find them funny, but because I've done some of those things myself. It's nice to know I'm not alone in my...cheapness.

How to Reuse Mesh Produce Bags in the Garden
This post is also from In the Garden Online, and might save some money! I use one to store garlic, and it has worked very well. I will be trying some of the other ideas as well.

Rose of Many Colors
A lovely rose collage at My Iowa Garden.


Lemon Basil Pesto

This is my herb pot. I couldn't fit all the herbs into my herb garden, so there are a few pots of herbs in the front garden. This picture was taken after planting on 6-10-10; the pot has a Creeping Rosemary, Lemon Basil, Genovese Basil, and Italian Parsley. At some point last week I realized that the Lemon Basil was trying to flower, and the parsley wasn't very far behind. My Mom never quite knows what to do with the more unique herbs that I grow, so the catch-all solution seems to be pesto.

This is what I started with; mostly Lemon Basil, a little Genovese Basil, and 4 or 5 sprigs of Parsley. After removing all the stems and bug-eaten leaves, I had approximately 2 cups of leaves. My parents just got a food processor, so I thought I'd give it a whirl. It did a pretty good job, but if you like smooth pesto, I'd recommend doing a larger quantity. I prefer slightly chunky pesto, and the texture is nearly perfect for me. Normally, I chop everything by hand, then put a little at a time into our 2 cup food processor. The flavor is good though. I've heard that making the heat from food processor blades can generate enough heat to wilt the basil and cause pesto to lose a lot of flavour.
The recipe I use can be found here. I only use this recipe for quantities, though. I completely change the directions. Here's what I do:
  1. If I remember, I toast the pine nuts lightly.  My how-to link seems to have vanished, but basically you just throw them in a small fry pan over medium heat. Keep them moving so they don't burn. They should be toasted in under 10 minutes, if I remember right. They will give off a sweet aroma, and start to brown. Just don't over-toast (burn) them! 
  2. Next wash the Basil (or other herb/green) and remove all the stems. This is the fun, messy part. Start chopping! Chop into the tiniest bits possible. 
  3. Chop your garlic. Or use a garlic press. I prefer chopping - I learned this from watching the Food Network - sprinkle a little salt on your garlic (about 1/4-1/2 teaspoon) then start chopping/smooshing with knife that has a wide blade. The salt helps break the garlic down, and I think it draws more flavor out of the garlic. It doesn't have to be minuscule since it will be processed further in the next step.
  4. In your food processor, combine the pine nuts, cheese, garlic, and enough oil to make a thick paste. At this point, you want to get the pine nuts and garlic to the size you want them to be in your finished pesto. 
  5. Alternately add more oil and basil leaves. Because the processor I usually use only holds two cups, I have to add about 1/3 cup of leaves at a time. Don't run the processor for long amounts of time, just pulse until things break down. Once all the basil is in, you can run it for a bit longer, just until the desired consistency is reached. 
  6. Enjoy your pesto, or freeze it. I freeze mine in saran-lined ice cube trays. Once the 'pesto cubes' are frozen, I just slide them right out and store them in a freezer safe zip top bag. Be sure to label your bag!

I have also made Radish Leaf Pesto, Zucchini Pesto (best slathered on chicken!), Garlic Scape Pesto, and Cilantro Pesto. I'm not sure where I got the Cilantro Pest recipe from - I may have used this one and simply substituted Cilantro for Basil. Googling produces many yummy-looking recipes as well.


Blog Posts of the Week III

There are about two to three weeks of blog post links today. After my last BPOTW post, I didn't read blogs for approximately two weeks. You see, my little sister got married, and preparing for her wedding was much more important than blogging! I spent the past week or so trying to catch up on garden blogs; I just finished and have several posts to share.

Lincoln Star Clematis
First up is some Clematis. I get slightly jealous when I see other gardener's clematis. I have two plants. One normally blooms profusely; the other puts out foliage, and at 2-3 feet high dies back without blooming. This year it's a different story for another post. Anyway, Rosemary's Blog Spot has some lovely Clematis.

Clematis in Bloom
My Iowa Garden also has some very pretty Clematis.
(The picture is of my Clematis blooming last year.)

You Might be a Gardening Geek: Photography Edition
Carol at May Dreams Gardens posted a new edition of You Might be a Gardening Geek...This time it's the photography edition. I apparently do not qualify as a Gardening Geek when it comes to photography - I got one point.

Squirrels Viewpoint
The last qualification in Carol's post was about standing on a ladder to take a bird's (or squirrel's) eye view photo of your garden beds. In this post at Greenbow, all the pictures were taken from a ladder. I really like the effect. But don't worry, I won't be climbing any ladders any time soon. I may climb a chair or two, though.

Kitchen Garden How To: The Best Way to Store Parsley (and Other Herbs like Basil)
Susan at In My Kitchen Garden posted about the best way to store fresh herbs. Since I finally have an herb garden, this was a very helpful post.
(The picture is a sneak peak of the herb garden - I'm planning to post about it soon!)

Internet Book Tour With Chris McLaughlin: The Complete Idiot's Guide to Composting
A book review by Our Little Acre. While I don't consider myself a Complete Idiot (or Dummy) I find most Idiot's and Dummy's guides to be very helpful. There is only one copy in the local library system, and it won't place a hold for me. I sense a trip to the library to talk with a librarian coming up very soon.

Blueberries Turning Blue
This post from The Well-Read Gardener reminds me that I really need to get out and put bird netting over my berries. I kind of forgot about the berry canes last year; the birds got them, anyway. The blueberries, on the other hand, were doing very well; then one day they were all gone. This year I hope to be able to enjoy some blueberries!

Now that all the excitement of the wedding is over, I'm going to try really hard to get back to blogging regularly about my gardens!


Blog Posts of the Week II

All the recipes this week are salad recipes, and can be found on my other blog, Sarah's Simple Stitches.

Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day May 2010
Garden Blogger's Bloom Day was this week. I tried participating for a while, but could never remember to take pictures and get them posted. Now I just enjoy other bloggers' photos. GBBD is hosted by Carol at May Dreams Gardens. You can find other bloggers' gardens by scrolling down to the comments section on Carol's post.

The Seed Keeper Kit - A Review
Have you ever seen something and immediately knew it was perfect for ______ (fill in the blank)? Our Little Acre declares this to be the perfect seed organizer. I keep my seeds in this oversized (for seeds) box where the aren't really organized at all. The herbs, flowers and veggie seeds are kind of divided, but that's as far as organization went. Guess what's on my Christmas list this year? The Seed Keeper Kit is available online here.

You Might be a Gardening Geek: Rainy Day Edition
Every so often Carol of May Dreams Gardens posts about habits and attitudes that might prove that you are a  "Gardening Geek". Click on the 'gardening geek' label at the bottom of the post to see more "You Might be a Gardening Geek" posts.

Do it Yourself Kitchen Garden Inspiration: Build an Amish Cold Frame
This would most likely solve my cold frame problems (which I never did get around to blogging about). This post is from In My Kitchen Garden. Maybe I could sweet talk my Grandpa into helping me make one...

Tuesday Dose of Cute: Meeting Marta
This post is from Farmgirl Fare, sister blog to In my Kitchen Garden. It's lambing season, and the cuteness factor on this blog always goes up by about 110% during lambing season.

I hope you enjoy these posts as much as I did!


Blog Posts of the Week I

Google Reader tells me that I have 108 blog subscriptions. If I were to check into Google Reader every day and read all the posts, there would be somewhere between 20 and 40 posts to read every day. However, I have a bad habit of not reading blogs or just reading select blogs until the number of unread posts gets around 500+. To help solve this problem, I'm starting a Blog Posts of the Week feature on my blog. I will feature the posts that were most helpful, most amusing, might be helpful someday, the recipes that sound delicious, and anything else that catches my fancy.

A Cute Animation to Watch
This one is filed under cute/made me smile. The Crafty Gardener blogged about an animation that her son-in-law made for a competition.

Bay-Friendly Garden Tour Highlights: Edible Kitchen Garden
As The Inadvertent Gardener says, this garden is brilliant and perfect! I dream of someday having a kitchen garden. This dream includes a kitchen with a door that opens out onto a patio right next to the kitchen garden. For now I am making due with my little herb garden beside the shed. It is closer to the house than my veggie garden, which is nice when making pizza sauce - you just dash out with some scissors a get a bunch of whatever you need. I also love the idea of using wooden utensils as plant markers.

How to Divide and Repot Your Cymbidiums. (Or Anything Worth Doing is Worth Doing Wrong)
This post at The Gardeners Anonymous Blog could be useful, if I ever get a Cymbidium. Currently the probability of getting one is Highly Unlikely, but you never know. The author describes how she finally divided her Cymbidiums after a few years of neglect. After noting that she divided hers all wrong, she explains the proper method of dividing Cymbidiums.

Shrimp and Feta Orzo
I am not sure I would enjoy this dish, but it intrigues me. If I ever make, the recipe will probably be altered a bit. Posted by An Herbal Bedfellow.

There are a lot of blog posts being composed in my head right now. My Sis's wedding is making me a little crazy, so you may not see them for a while. In the meantime I will try to keep up with the Blog Posts of the Week.


Bulbs 2010

Every year I try to take progressive pictures of my 'Bulb Garden'. It's not strictly bulbs, there are a few Rose Campion plants, and last year saw the addition of some Leopard's Bane and Iris.

3-21-10 A few Crocuses and Snowdrops; nothing spectacular. I think I will need to buy some more of both this fall.

4-11-10 The Hyacinths were on their way out at this point, but you get an idea of how they looked.
4-28-10 The Tulips and Leopard's Bane are blooming.

Closeup of Leopard's Bane

You may have noticed that although the pictures are taken from the same spot, the hues are different. I always have difficulties photographing this garden. I've been experimenting with different features on my camera, but have yet to find the perfect combination that shows the flower colors and foliage accurately.


Moving Chives

Last fall, Mom and I finally got some Iris and Hostas out of their "temporary" (they've been in there since we moved in 2005) bed, and turned the bed into an herb garden. This garden is right against our shed, and in the shadow of the house. This will give the bed part sun. A couple of weeks ago I moved the chives out of my veggie garden, and put them in the herb garden. I have some other herbs in pots, but I want to wait a few weeks before putting them in the ground.

I couldn't believe the size of the roots! See all the rocks on the wood ledge? They all came out of the hole I dug for the chives.


Gardenscape 2010

As we have been doing for several years, my Grandma and I went to the Gardenscape show in March. I was concerned about a) forgetting my camera, and b) the camera batteries dying halfway through the show. I removed the batteries from my camera, and grabbed a couple extra batteries, and put them in my battery charger. Guess what? I remembered the camera! However, the battery charger was still plugged into the wall at home. I took a few pictures with the camera in my cell phone. They're not great, but they're better than nothing.

 I'm 95% sure that this is an African Primrose.
 Flowering Pear in the Bonsai exhibit.
 I always take pictures of water features...
 The frog was rotating....why I don't know. I think it may have been part of a water feature....
 This display was about herbs and veggies. I liked the way the herbs were arranged in this picture.
 Gerbera Dasies. My sister's favorite.
 More Gerbera Daisies.

This garden had interesting things on birdhouses in place of pegs. This one was actually a fountain.

The garden show wasn't quite as interesting this year. Hopefully next year will be better. I did enjoy getting to spend an afternoon with my Grandma, though! 


Giving My Blog a Makeover

Nearly every week I think to myself 'I should really do something with my garden blog.' Sometimes I take pictures of plants and think 'I should really post these on my blog.' However, for all that thinking about blogging, it never seems to actually happen. A couple of weeks ago Blogger sent me an email about their new template designer. I thought that just might be what I need to get this blog going again. I've never been completely happy with the way this blog looks. I have always had a picture in my head of how I want it to look, but could never find a template. I tried to create a template, but the HTML didn't quite click for me. Someday I'll take a class in web design and design my dream blog.

 Today I spent most of the afternoon re-designing this blog. I'm happy with it, it's not perfect, but it works. Please let me know if you find any broken links, or something isn't loading properly, or the colors are too hard to read.

 If you're looking for my tag cloud, it's below the posts. The posts are limited to 3, but I may make it 2 if it makes the page too long. Blogroll, Archives, Followers, and a few other things are now in the footer. I've added the page list feature, and am planning to make a few pages. Someday.