Sunday, August 2, 2009

The Goldfish Pond

The garden goldfish pond.

Not actually a part of the garden, but I do have water lillies here for the first time, and behind the pretty Greek lady is Russian sage, some ground cover and perennial grasses.

The three big guys here have been with us for many years, and spend the winter in their aquarium in the family room.

Every year we have several visitors to the pond, but this big guy is one of the biggest we've had.
The fish don't seem to mind him at all!

Friday, July 31, 2009

I Have Squash!

No matter how many seasons that I garden, it is always a miracle to me when one day I walk out to the garden and find that the squash blossoms have turned into actual squash, almost overnight.
Noting grows faster than squash and this year the croook neck and acorn squash are coming on strong in spite of the dry, cool weather.

Also this year, I am really encouraged by the fact that I have watermelon, something that has always given me problems in the past. But, the proof is in the pudding, or the melon, as it were. So, we will see how tasty they are.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

The Vegetable Garden

Even with the less than desirable conditions that we have had this year in Ohio, it seems like it doesn't take long for the garden to sprout up. Of course this may require daily watering. The green beans are in blossom and beginning to produce, the potato plants are starting to die off and I really need to dig some of the new potatoes.
Zucchini and cucumbers amaze me every year with the rapid way that they can go from blossom to huge almost overnight. And, while the pepper plants are not nearly as tall as they have been in years past, they are full of peppers.

While it is tempting for me to see just what monster zucchini I can produce, I know that it's the young and smaller ones that are the most tender and easiest to work with. I also discovered, after the first year that I grew them, that you don't need 20 zucchini plants. They are prolific producers! The older and bigger they get, the larger the seed area in the center and the harder they become. We use ours to make zucchini bread, sliced for salads, sliced, battered, seasoned and pan-fried, or used in stir fried recipes. So, unless you are going for the prize biggest veggie category at the county fair, it's not a good idea to let them get too big.
Cucumbers are another one that can get away from you in a hurry. Of course they are wonderful in salads and for sandwiches and cucumber and onions. There are also a lot of fairly simple pickle recipes out there. My favorite are freezer pickles, made with cucumbers, onions, celery seed, (sometimes some pepper rings), vinegar and sugar. Packed into containers and frozen, they last for months and are especially good when eaten half frozen and crunchy!
July- The Best Time For Perennials

Mid-summer is the time around here when perennials are at there peak. I wish that they lasted until frost, but unfortunately, most of them don't. These, old fashioned garden phlox are the descendants of one plant which I have separated through the years into around twenty different areas around the property. These are one of the few perennial flowers which, usually, last well into the fall. You can buy these in various shades of pink, red, white and purple, but I have noticed that through the years the ones I have periodically change into various colors on their own. The only problem that I have with these is that they develop a fungus or disease of some sort on the stem and leaves that often turns them brown. I read somewhere that this is a result of too little water as opposed to too much, however it doesn't seem to affect the flowering.

Echinacea or Purple Cone flowers and Shasta Daisies are two more of my favorites. The Shasta Daisies will last for quite a long time, and are very hardy. They will also bloom again if you dead-head them by snipping off the dead blooms.
Muti-floral Yarrow is a nice change from the usual yellow yarrow that I grew for years. It lasts a long time in mid summer, but gets very tall and needs to be staked. It multiplies rapidly and is very easy to devide and transplant.

Autumn Sedum needs very little watering since it has thick stems of a succulent. The flower heads will eventually turn pink and white. These can be dried, and make really nice arrangements.
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Thursday, July 2, 2009

Raspberry Time

It is definitely raspberry time in Ohio. Many years ago, I started out with two black raspberry bushes that I dig up from my gr. grandmother's abandoned farm, brought them home, and stuck them in the ground without much preparation or thought. They did pretty well.
Years later, I transplanted them, twice, and now, over twenty years later, they are still producing and multiplying. They will produce new small plants every year, either from seeds, scattered by the birds or the wind, or from the shoots that reach the ground and form a new plant.
You have to keep an eye on them, because every day more ripen, and the birds like them too.
While a lot of people have various species of insects that tend to find raspberry bushes, so far, I haven't had any problems. It is a good idea though to wash them carefully and check for any little critters.
Black raspberries, (rubus occidentalis), are native to the eastern part of the U.S. There is another species that is native to states in the west. Obviously these tasty little fruits were a real treat to pioneer families.
They are easy to freeze, but so far, every one I have picked has gone into muffins, cake, and on cereal.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009


Friday, June 19, 2009

Concord Grapes
A True American Original

My grape arbors belonged to my grandfather, and since we live where my grandparents lived,
we inherited them. I do not have any statistics on how long grape vines can exist, but our are well over 90 years old, since my grandfather moved them here in the twenties.

The Concord grape was first developed in Concord, Massachusetts in 1849 by Ephraim Wales Bull. It is said that he tested over 20,000 seedlings before he came up with the Concord grape. Later, this same grape was made even more famous by Dr. Thomas Bramwell Welch, the founder of the famous grape juice company.

These have alw
ays been a favorite around here for juice, jam, jelly, and my grandmother's fabulous grape pie.
What they are not, is your everyday eating grape. We like them, but most people prefer the seedless varieties.
Since our arbors are so old, we decided to take starts from them this year and propagate some new vines. These are relatively easy to get going, either from cutting off young sections and dipping the cut end in rooting hormone powder before planting them directly in the soil, or using the rooting gel as we did this year.

Pick a young tender shoot

Cut at leaf node

Put cutting through hole in plastic cover of rooting gel pot

It will take a couple of weeks, normally, to see some roots beginning to form. After they do, you can either plant them outside in a protected area, or in large pots until they get larger and stronger. These vines need to be planted eventually near some supports, fences, wire and posts, ect., to allow the vines to travel.

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Friday, June 12, 2009

Perennials and Annuals

We've had a really cool and wet spring in Ohio, and the perennials love it. This is one of my favorite times of the year, when I get to see my old flower and herb friends emerge once again. It is, however, when I am forced to decide how to thin out the crowd, transplant some of them, and give others away. For anyone new to perennial flowers, and want to plant some, for heavens sake, find a friend who is thinning theirs and ask for a start. They will be glad to help you out. I started out with one small bleeding heart plant, and now have huge plants in four other areas. Last year I separated one autumn sedum and now have six more. Favorite perennials I have growing, some of which have been there for over twenty years, include, coreopsis, shasta daisies, gloriosa daisies, autumn sedum, coral bells, foxglove, purple coneflower, lamb's ear, yarrow, daylillies, old fashioned garden phlox and many more that I have to look up on my garden chart. I realized, sadly, that the winter took the lavender, the columbine and the gaillardia this year, and I had to replant them.

This is also the time when I remember that I should never have planted any form of ground cover near the flower beds. Snow-on-the-Mountain is a great plant. It is green and white, flowers with white flowers on long stalks in the spring, and is a prolific grower and spreader-(virtually impossible to kill). However, it should only be planted on some slope or field or small unmowable area where nothing else is growing. Every year I spend at least two or three days pulling it out of the flowerbed, where it will take over and cover everything else.

This year I vowed to rely more and more on perennials and less on annuals, but, once again, I went to the garden center and came home with seven flats of petunias, salvias, geraniums, celosias, impatiens, marigolds, coleus, ect. ect. I have to admit, that mid to late summer, when most of the perennials are done blooming, I will be glad that I planted these. Two of my favorite annuals for their beautiful foliage are flowering kale and cabbage. These make a really great accent plant amid the blooms. Also, this year I planted more Sweet William seeds, and Cosmos, which, although not really perennials, will reseed themselves and go on for years and years.
Something that I noticed a few years ago, and a lot of people probably already know, is that dusty miller, if not pulled up in the fall, will usually come back in the spring, as will several other typically annual plants. This makes it even more difficult to decide what to pull up in the fall!

While I have never had a lot of luck with bulb plants, other than my tulips, crocus and hyacinth, I did plant some gladiolus.
So, even though the flower beds are overflowing, I need to stay away from the garden centers now when the big sales begin. I know I won't!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

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Collards and Kale

Most of my experience with cabbage and kale in the past few years has been with the ornamental variety, which I love to add among the perennials and annuals in the flower beds. These long lasting plants not only add a variety of leaf shapes and colors, they last well into the late fall. However, you can't eat them.

Branching out a little this year and growing some old favorites and some things that I never tried. My first crop of leaf lettuce is growing nicely, because it likes the cool, wet weather we've been having. I am starting a second crop of Gourmet Greens Mixture from Ferry-Morse. This mix includes Arugula, Green curled endive, Red kale, Red romaine, Parris Island, Salad bowl, and Lolla Rossa. You can never have too many greens.

This brings me to the next subject- collards. Southern gardeners will be appalled that I have never grown these. In fact, I am pretty new to collards, but recently found that I love them. ( I fixed my first batch with bacon and onions). The bonus with collards is that they are one of the highest veggies in nutrients and vitamins.

I am planting Georgia Southern (Creole) collards, and, according to what I have read, they should do very well even in our cool seasons. I was amazed that collards can be blanched and frozen, which I will be trying later on. Collards, being a member of the cabbage family, however, are subject to pests, so this will be something to keep an eye on.