• Last spring my garden is alive after along winter sleep. Plenty of work to be done. Planted many vegetable seedlings grown in the greenhouse. Lettuce, carrot (sowed direct into the ground), collard, kale, Swiss chard, corn, pumpkin, potato, beet, summer squash, tomato and leek. The garden is doing great. Just yesterday I harvested several zuccinni. Right away I made zuccinni chocolate cake. It is always a joy to be able to harvest from your own garden and cook with the vegetable that you grow yourself. Gardening is an excellent exercise for body and mind. Regardless how big or small your garden is.
    Thank you for coming by.

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My father’s orchid collection

Orchid, exotic flower from the Far East.  Exquisite, dainty, fragile, simply gorgeous.  My late father an orchid enthusiast had well over 100+ plants in his collection.  As I am the photographer of the family I captured these beauty every time I am in his garden.

Caring orchid in the tropic which is their environment is easy but in another part of the world they need a lot of pampering.  More important humidity, warm temperature, no soil needed just add bark in their container.  In the wild orchid grows latched on to trees, they absorbed food through their leaves.

I remember as a child growing up in the tropic, when my mother needed vanilla she would go to the garden and harvested the slender dark bean.  Fresh vanilla has a strong distinctive taste.  So delicious taste better than those bottled vanilla extract.   These photos taken all with film Canon SLR  macro lens.  Enjoy these exotic photos of Orchid the jungle Queen.

 

Tiger Orchid

 

Cymbidium

Cymbidium

 

Catleya

Catleya

 

Pink orchid

Pink orchid

 

 

Wild orchid

 

 

 

Summer Gardening Tips

Mid-summer my garden still thriving in spite of the heat.  Usually in the month of August here in the McKenzie valley, Oregon warm not overly hot without humidity.  Since late spring when all seedlings are in the ground, I have been faithfully weeding, watering, and fertilizing to keep them healthy until harvest day.

Next summer, if you want to keep your garden growing and being able to harvest a bountiful vegetables from your garden, you might want to consider this.

In addition using well-known water wise techniques such as drip irrigation and mulching, try grouping your vegetables according to their water needs when you plant them.  That way you can vary their amount of water you give different plants of your garden.  In general try giving your crops no more water than they need, rather than as much as they can withstand.

Mulching the plants is also beneficial suppressing the weeds and keep the moisture in.  Use chemical free grass clippings this is important because you do not want toxic substance in your vegetables.  They also can kill your plants.    Compost as well as shredded leaves are good for mulching and an added benefit for the vegetables.

To fertilize  I use a combination or compost tea and 2 tablespoons of fish powder per gallon diluted with water.  I make my own compost tea, you can get them in the nursery, but, do ask how they make their compost.  You do not want to feed your plants with unknown ingredients.

Happy gardening………

Happy Halloween

At this time of the month there are plenty of pumpkin to choose from.  Pumpkin is a member of the Cucurbita family, large trailing vine with heart-shaped leaves.  They are in reality a winter squash.

Pumpkin are high in vitamin A, B, and C, iron, phosphorous and potassium.

About 99 percent of the pumpkins sold in the grocery store are used as jack-o-lanterns.  These large, deep orange color pumpkin is a variety called Connecticut Field are stringy to eat and high water content.   They are not good  for eating, suitable for carving only.

Smaller size pumpkin called “pie” or sweet varieties have sweeter flesh that is less watery making these the best for eating. 

My favorite sweet pumpkin for eating are winter luxury and New England Pie.  Winter luxury will grow 5-7 pounds, it has a unique netted skin, dense and sweet tasting.  New England Pie, will grow 4- 6 pounds, dry, stringless and relatively starchy.

The best temperature range is 50F to 55F with relatively low humidity, storing in high humidity will rot the pumpkins.  Store away from light in area with good ventilation.

To keep your home-grown pumpkins or store-bought, cut them into slices pieces or large chunks and microwaved, boiled baked in oven or steamed.  Puree cooked pumpkin meat, freezes well, and can be kept frozen up to one year.    Place one cup portions in ridged freezer containers leaving 1/2 inch of head space, or use freezer bags.  With this method I am able to use in recipes until next pumpkin harvesting 

The most prominent Halloween symbol is of course the carved pumpkin with lit candle inside.  This is an Iris tradition of carving a lantern, which goes back centuries.  These lantern usually carved from a potatoes or turnips. The pumpkin carving was first associated with Halloween in North America, where pumpkin was more readily available, much larger and easier to carve. 

For delicious Halloween treat……

ROASTED PUMPKIN SEEDS

Roasted pumpkin seeds, also know as “pepitas” are wonderful nutritious snack.

Cut the pumpkin, scrape the seeds and put them in colander to rinse.  Remove any pulp, strings, (this can be tedious) and dry throughly.  Put seeds in a large bowl, add a few drops of live oil ( I like extra virgin).  Spread on cookie sheet line with parchment paper.  Roast in the oven at 375F until seeds are golden brown color.  Keep an eye on them, and move them around occasionally to ensure even roasting.  cool completely and store in air tight container.

Interesting Pumpkin Facts

Pumpkins are grown on six of the seven continents, and they range in size from less than a pound to over 1000 pounds

Pumpkins were once thought to be beneficial for treating snakebites and for removing freckles.  They are typically 90 percent water !

Morton, Illinois, USA, is the self-proclaimed “Pumpkin Capital of the World” where Nestle USA/Libby will process 2.4 million cases of pumpkin between August and October !

Happy Halloween and have a save one…….

Autumn Harvest and October Gardening Calendar

Autumn Harvest

Late August through October is my hectic time in  the garden.  Harvesting every other day before frost arrive.  From the garden, juicy tomatoes, carrot, pumpkins, digging the potatoes, kale, mustard, chard, etc.  The orchard, apples, pears, plums, strawberries, raspberries and last month blueberries.

So far this year has been excellent, over abundance of everything.  That is good for my hard work.  (smile broadly)

October is the month to start preparing the garden for winter and next year planting.

  • Spade or till available organic matter such as tree leaves, into the empty spaces in the vegetable garden.
  • Mass plantings of one type or color of spring bulbs masses a more effective display than mixing them.  I’ve place an order for next hear bulbs.  Waiting with excitement.
  • Scrape loose bark from trunks, forks and main limbs of apple trees to eliminate sites where insects could winter.
  • Save seeds from vegetable and flower garden.  I have gathered cosmos and marigold.
  • Plant evergreens now and winter rains will do the watering.
  • Dig and divide rhubab (should be done about every four years).
  • Rake and destroy disease infested leaves. apple, cherry and rose., etc.
  • Harvest squash and pumpkins.  Store in dry area 55F. to 60F.
  • Dig and store potatoes in a cool, dry and dark location so they don’t turn green,
  • Clean and oil gardening tools, coat with handles with raw linseed oil to prevent cracking.
  • Mulching around azaleas, rhododendrons and roses will keep weeds from invading and will protect the roots that are close to the surface from severe cold.
  • Correct any drainage problems in the yard before the winter rains begin.
  • Devide crowded perennials.
  • Harvest sunflower heads and hang them in a warm dry area to dry the seeds.
  • Shake off dead rose petals, allowing hips to form.  Plants will then wind down and go dormant.
  • Early October begin manipulating light to force Christmas cactus to bloom in late December,
  • Store garden supplies, fertilizers in safe, dry place out of reach of children.
  • Ripen green tomatoes indoor.
  • Clean and paint greenhouses and cold frames for plant storage and winter growth.

 Happy Ggardening……

 

For the compost and vegetable garden

 

 

Abundance Berries in Your Garden, Freeze it

If you have  an abundance berries from your garden here is a few good way to preserve for winter consumption. Strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries and gooseberries the lesser known berries in America is suitable for freezing.

Such great tasting berries, blueberries and strawberries are rich in antioxidants.  Some berries, including raspberries and blackberries also contribute a good amount of fiber to your diet, which helps lower your risk of developing heart disease and certain cancer.  So adding berries to your diet is a wonderful idea.  Berries average about 25 calories and zero grams of fat.

Berries, when frozen properly, can be stored in the freezer for up to 9 months. Freezing your own berries is far less expensive than purchasing berries from the store every time you make a berry smoothie or berry treat.  

Frozen Strawberries

1. Gently was the fresh berries. If you are freezing blueberries, don’t wash them before hand because it will toughen the skins. Instead, wash the thawed blueberries before using.

2. Pat the berries dry with a paper towel.

3. Arrange the berries in a single layer on a baking sheet.

4. Place the baking sheet in the freezer until the berries are firm. This will help to prevent the berries from sticking together in a big clump.

5. Once the berries are firm, remove them from the freezer and transfer the frozen berries to a freezer-weight resealable plastic bag.

6. Place the bag of berries in the freezer and store for up to 9 months.

A delicious recipe perfect for lazy summer.

Strawberry Smoothie

3 cups milk

1 lb strawberries

4 generously piled tablespoons vanilla ice cream

1/4 cup sugar or more to taste

1 teaspoon vanilla

6 tablespoons whipped cream

Blend first five ingredients in blender.  Pour onto tall glass.  Top with generous whipped cream and one or two whole strawberries.

Serving 4

Note:  you can substitute milk for soy or coconut milk.

Enjoy !

Photo Gallery of a Cherry-Plum Tree

When we discovered two small trees behind our workshop, pondering what variety are they.  Looking closely we thought it must be wild trees, as there so many growing on our property.  We, then, decided to let it grow and see what will develop  from these two trees.    Several years later, the trees have grown tall and bushy.  In the spring they produced magnificent white blossoms where bees enjoy visiting.  When the blossoms fade away tiny green fruit start to appear.   Gradually the fruit take its shape similar to cherry in size,  appearance characteristic of a plum as well as the taste.

I discovered after a thorough research it is a cherry-plum or in Latin Prunus Cerasifera,  also known Myrobalan Plum.   A deciduous tree belongs to the rose family (Rosaceae) will grow from 15 to 25 feet,   also great for screening.  Blossom start in February or early March depending where you live and last for three weeks.  Cherry-plum  tree prefer full sun or partial shade  such as ours.  The fruit is good for making jam or jelly as well as eating fresh.  Fruit mature in late summer.   The seeds dispersed by wild life, hence, a few of cherry-plum saplings growing around the property.  I dug them out, potted, share with friends.

Enjoy these photos of the cherry-plum trees growing in my property.

Happy gardening ……..

Unripe cherry-plum

Butterfly Garden

Butterfly with its dainty wings fluttering in the air.  Hopping from flower to flower feasting on sweet nectar.  Swallowtails, monarchs enjoying their leisure time in the  garden.  It is indeed a joy to see these beautiful creature in the garden. To keep them visiting often,  install a fountain, small pond or bird bath this would benefit the butterfly to linger a little longer.   Butterflies visit both fragrant and scentles flowers including white.  They seem to prefer small flowers or florets that are arranged flat, round or elongated clusters.  Appreciated, too, is a shelter afforded by tall hedge, sturdy wall, or a butterfly house.

Also,  growing these flowers in your garden will surely attract these gentle creature.

Daylily (Hemerocallis), prefer sun or partial shade.  Need fertile and well-drained soil.   Watch for trips which brown and disfigure the buds control them with soap spray.

Delightful lilac (Syringa), I love the sweet scent of this flower and butterfly seem to enjoy it too.    Lilac need full sun, good fertile soil and drainage.  Prune immediately after bloom by removing oldest stem.

lavender (Lavandula angustifolia). prefer fertile soil, well-drained, blooms in the summer.  Aromatic gray foliage.  Prune immediately after bloom to keep plants compact and neat.

Pansy (viola) prefer light shade, moist soil, plant no more than 6′ apart.  These flower looks pretty in hanging basket.

Snapdragon (Antirrhinum), prefer sun, sandy, humus rich soil, pinch plants when they are 3-4 inches tall for more bloom.

Sedum, “autumn joy”, flower in late summer or early fall.  Grows in full sun and in well-drained soil.  Wet soils especially in winter will cause rot at the crown, pest free, but watch out for deer, they will nibble on the tender crown.  Division is necessary to maintain good flowering.

Black-Eyed Susan (Rudbeckia Hirta), start seeds indoor or by young plants.  Grow in full sum or partial shade in average soil, well-drained or dry soil.  Plants usually survive winter, depending where you live.  Self-sow freely.  Long blooming and trouble-free.

Cosmos,  annual,  (cosmos bifintus and cosmos sulphureus), sow seeds indoors for early bloom, sow outdoors when soil warm or buy young plants.  Grow in full sun.  Don’t over fertilize soil, you will get more foliage than flower.  Tall variety need support.  Remove faded flowers for further blooming.  Put cut flowers in deep water to prevent wilting.

Marigold,  annual, sow seeds indoors 6 week in advance or directly sow outdoors after weather warms.  Plant in full sun in average soil.  Remove faded blooms for more flowering.  Good cut flowers.

Zinnia, (zinnia elegant hybrid), sow seeds indoors 4-6 week, or sow outdoors after last spring frost.  Grows best in warm weather in full sun, and in well fertilized soil.  Keep faded bloom picked for more flowering.  In cool, humid weather can be subject to powdery molds.

Butterfly House

 

Colorful Butterflies

Happy Gardening !