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.

 

Cutting back spirea

Spirea is a versatile bush, and comes in so many varieties.  They are very hardy and can really add great color to the garden.  I have spirea planted alongside my driveway where the snow plow always pushes the piles – so youcan imagine anything planted there has to be able to take a beating.  In comes Spirea!  I cut them back to the ground each fall and each year they come back (after that mountain of snow has melted) bigger, more beautiful and very full.  Without cutting back you will eventually be left with a very woody unshaply bush.  So get out there and hack those spirea to the ground (also makes for easier fall clean-up).

The beauty of firebush

Just had to show some of the spectacular color of my firebush borders this fall.  This is one of my favorite shrubs.  They come in many varieties, from dwarf to some that grow quite large. The leaf size also varies with the different types out there.  Regardless, they put on quite a show and add huge impact to the garden for fall color.

Ready the beds for winter

The growing season has definitely ended.  I am still harvesting the last of my tomatoes, some of which will become fried green tomatoes.  I have, however finished the cherry tomatoes and have gotten that bed prepared for the winter.  After pulling up the plants, I like to turn over the soil.  Be sure to pull out any root clusters so that the soil is easily loosed. I then top the bed with a good layer of compost.  This helps to replenish any nutrients that have been stripped from the soil.  Rake it out a bit and say so long until next spring!

Flavored Oils

Here is something I love to do with my abundant summer herbs.  I save (or you can purchase) decorative bottles, fill them with fresh herb combinations and extra virgin olive oil.  By the time the holidays roll around you have delicious seasoned oils to give as gifts.  Attach some raffia and a cardboard tag and you have a wonderful gift from your garden.

Here are some ideas for seasonings –

Rosemary, Thyme, Winter Savory (some of the more hardy herb varieties).

Pepper corns (plain or colorful), garlic cloves, juniper berries

Bay leaves, or any dried herb works well also.

Harvest has begun

These beautiful beets were grown from seed.  They truly are very easy to grow and wow, look at the rewards!  These will probably end up on the grill.  Just slice, brush with olive oil, salt and pepper and grill until tender.  The tomatoes are coming in just as quickly.  I will be posting more tomato recipes and other ways to use them as well.

Growing grapes

A few years back I decided to plant some grapes.  I found the variety that grows best for my area, the Concord grape.  I’ve gone at this very experimentally since I’ve never grown grapes.  Seems easy enough……I thought.  I “planted” poles into the ground in a cement/stone mixture, added wires both at the top and bottom as well as diagonally for the plants to attach to as they grow.  Then I also attached a heavy gauge cable coming off the end poles secured into the ground with long galvanized nails (purchased at any hardware store, they are at least 10″ long).  This gives the poles added support as the grape vines grow and add extra weight to the structure.  Now the growing part.  I’ve had ups and downs.  Some have been plagued by insects and birds.  I did try another variety, the Canadice grape and had marginal success.  The Concord seems the most prolific in its growth and grape production.  I am still dealing with spots which can be caused by a variety of conditions ie: excess moisture, soil conditions and fungus.  I’m also still learning about the pruning process which should be done in March or April depending on your area. So in retrospect, growing grapes is a little more difficult than I expected, but regardless of my crop, they add a little bit of wine country charm to the yard and yes, my little hens love lounging under the vines as well!

Arranging fresh cut flowers

In a previous post, I mention a quote by Anne Morrow Lindburgh (Decor). Beautiful. Anyway, I was reminded of it when my daughter came in with some fresh cuttings from the gardens to arrange for the dinner table. Simple, beautiful and resourceful all at the same time, not to mention the little touch of thoughtfulness for all to enjoy.

The latest on my little hens

Well as you can see, my brood is getting bigger. They are now just about two months old. I’m so obviously a novice at this, that I was talking to someone the other day knowledgeable about chickens and found out I won’t have eggs for at least 6 months! Oh well, at least they are entertaining. They travel around like a little gang and get into just as much trouble. Did I mention that they have a real affinity for my mulch?!  My daughter has named them and swears she can tell them apart – Penelope, Flossie, Bep, May, Squirt and Miss C. Stay tuned………

My first egg!  There it was neatly sitting in a corner of the coop.  My hens are laying and we couldn’t be more excited.  Finally – fresh eggs!

My Kitchen Potager

I wanted to share with you one of my favorite spaces around my home.  The kitchen potager.  This is directly off my kitchen, so I can conveniently step outside and grab some fresh herbs or whatever is ripe at the time!  This is a walled-in garden so it is safe from garden thieves – you know, the “wild” variety!  It is not excessively large, but just a few raised beds.  I grow the simple most-used items such as tomatoes, various varieties of peppers, eggplant, cherry tomatoes, some beets, various herbs and of course some flowers for my visual enjoyment.  There is a small bubbling fountain and of course a bird house (I always have to have one!).

I love enjoying some down-time in the late afternoon in the potager, and as you can see above, so does our little rex rabbit – Coco.

Spring in the gardens

The vegetable garden is planted and my flower beds are flourishing.  The wisteria I planted 5 years ago is finally in full bloom, and the fragrance is heavenly!  Wisteria will react very positively to much pruning.  I cut back the long shoots continuously throughout the summer and it looks as though my efforts have paid off!