Garden

Sitting in my kitchen potager with my little “less than helpful” helper!

 

Gardening for me is therapeutic, zen for body and soul. Something about getting dirty and working the earth. Planting, growth and reaping the rewards or lack thereof,  I’ve had those too!  I’d like to share with you my garden adventures here. Building stone walls, putting in new flower gardens and tending to my kitchen potager. I’ll share my tips on gardening and welcome your feedback as well.

 

An alternative to the wreath for door decor

I found this great basket in a bike shop – it is meant to hang over the handlebars and carry whatever.  I decided to fill it with seasonal colors and hang it from my side entrance.  I think it makes an nice alternative to the traditional wreath!

Spring Cleaning Pavers and Bricks

Brick and pavered walkways and patios will eventually grow moss between them, especially in areas that don’t get a lot of sun.  There are many ways to deal with this unsightly growth.  I’ve tried a few.  Naturally there is the power washer, but unless handled carefully, can cause more damage than good, plus you may have to re-apply the poly-sand that gets washed out.  If you have excessive moss growth the power washer is the best way to get rid of it and start over with a clean slate.  For yearly maintenance, I have tried salt.  Yes, just plain white table salt poured directly onto the moss.  It takes a little time, but it will kill it, plus there is the added benefit that it is eco friendly.  Bleach mixed with water sprayed on the moss will also work, it has to be sprayed on and allowed to sit for a day or so before rinsing, but be careful because it can be slippery when wet.  This year I am using a new product, Wet and Forget”.  It is also sprayed directly onto the pavers.  It will slowly turn the moss and/or algae brown and it will eventually break down the moss entirely avoiding picking out the unsightly brown moss usually left behind.  As I mentioned earlier, if you have a serious condition, I would recommend power washing first, then any of the other treatments for yearly maintenance.  If you’d like to try “Wet and Forget” just click on my post title and you will find a convenient link to the product.

Fresh Lemons – Indoors!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I purchased this little lemon “tree” a few years ago.  Truthfully it was just a little plant, but I was intrigued as to whether it would actually produce lemons or not.  It always flowered and the scent was intoxicating, but didn’t really produce anything that grew larger than a marble then fell off.  Nonetheless, it continued to grow and I was just happy with the flowers.  It spends all summer outside and comes in around late fall.  Then I move it to a very sunny location.  This year I received a bumper crop of lemons!  It is so satisfying to pluck them for use in the kitchen.  I noted that as the lemons were growing and ripening the plant was shedding almost all of it’s leaves.  It is nearly bare.  I am assuming that as the lemons grow all the energy is going into fruit production and as the lemons are harvested, then it will grow new leaves as I can see the buds forming already.  It really is a great fuss-proof plant and one I highly recommend trying.  I am going to try to force it into a small tree – I’ll keep you posted.

 

 

 

Drying Herbs

Growing herbs is such a simple and satisfying garden addition.  Most grow easily in containers and it is always nice to be able to just snip them fresh to add to summer cooking.  However, many are also perennials and have to be replanted each year.  As summer draws to a close, my herbs are usually lush and full.  It seems a waste to let them fade away in the cold.  This year I tried my hand at drying them.  Just cut bunches and tie with string or twist ties.  Tie tightly as they will shrink as they dry.  Don’t make the bunches too large, they need air to circulate to dry evenly.  Hang them in a dry place.  You can cover them loosely with plastic to keep dust off, but do not close them up in the bag.  In a few weeks you should have nicely dried bunches.

I snipped the dried leaves onto a plate and put them in this handy little fresh herb grinder.  Now I can enjoy that fresh herb taste beyond the growing season.

Too Many Tomatoes?

It seems as soon as we’ve planted that final tomato plant in the spring, we can’t wait to reap the rewards!  Then, like magic, they all seem to come at once.  Despite all the fabulous recipes, after awhile we all get a little tomato overdose.  My solution – I freeze them for use later during the fall and winter months.  Just wash thoroughly, you can cut out the ‘stem’ if you choose, but it is not necessary.  Place them in plastic bags and off into the freezer they go.  They are great for making sauces, soups, chili, or any recipe that calls for crushed tomatoes and they couldn’t be any fresher.

Garden Accents

Having points of interest in your landscape and gardens adds visual appeal and also a little bit of mystery.  Something that makes you want to look closer, or see what is around the corner.  A few years ago, I found a pile of rock pieces that were builder cast-offs.  I felt that they should be put to some use, so I started stacking and this is my result!  The pillar is approximately 4′ tall and at the edge of the woods.  It truly adds a bit of the look of a long abandoned garden.

Hollyhocks and Spiny Bears Breech

A year ago, I purchased Hollyhock seeds envisioning the beautiful flowers you see above anchoring a garden here and there.  I have always admired them growing wildly against the sides of a barn or randomly bordering a beautiful farm house.  So I planted and much to my dismay ended up with just low growing large leaves……so much for that.  Well imagine my surprise when they just appeared in the spring and turned into these towering blooms!  I don’t know too much about Hollyhocks, but I knew they were bi-annuals, meaning they come back every other year by self seeding.  I don’t know what the magic was here, since I didn’t have blooms last year, but I will be collecting the seeds from the spend blooms and replanting again.

We have had plenty of rain this summer, and as a result, many of my perennials are thriving!  Spiny Bears Breech is a plant I admired in a friends garden years ago.  They are not a common plant you would find your local nursery, but if you can find them they are true show-offs for your garden and the blooms will last for weeks!  They will continue to get bigger every year and can become a little invasive.  Plant them in full sun.

Gardens along the Rhine

A gorgeous rose garden at the base of a castle along the Rhine river in Germany

I recently returned from a trip along the wine region of the Rhine river.  The gardens were spectacular.  This rose garden was captivating.  Note the mix of colors and perennials and the use of ‘climbing’ structures.  Ideas that could easily be used as inspiration here.

Honeysuckle Vine

My honeysuckle vine is in full bloom and the smell is intoxicating!  If you are looking for a strong and quick climber this is the plant for you.  Much less fickle than clematis and is very hardy winter-wise.  Mine climbs close to the kitchen door and the smell actually perfumes the house when the door is open.  As an added bonus, the hummingbirds flock to it and are so much fun to watch.

Summer!

Summer has finally arrived (almost) here on the east coast.  I’ve added a new feature to my gardens – the darling garden shed shown above.  I’ve pined over it for years and finally committed to it last fall.  I’m busy making a small garden to the right of the shed with perennials and low bushes.  I haven’t had too much luck with roses, but am going to try some shrub varieties as well.  My kitchen potager has been planted with several varieties of tomatoes, better boy, early girl, super sonic and an heirloom variety as well as cherry tomatoes, peas, beets and mixed herbs for cooking.  I love this time in the early stages of summer.  Planting with the hopes of seeing great results later in the season.