• 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.
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Mustard Greens and a recipe

 

 

Mustard greens a botanical family from Brassicaceae, a staple in my garden.  Packed with vitamin A and C are very good source of folic acid.  Plus, they are rich in calcium.  This nutritious vegetable also contain chemicals called indoles that may protect against breast and colon cancers as well as heart healthy antioxidants.

Green Wave Mustard, (Brassica Juncea) is my favorite, with a hint of horseradish or wasabi.  Use tender leaves for salad, stir fries or steaming.  It may also be place into a blender and blended with fruit juices for a nutritious drink.  It makes excellent addition to soups.

Broad green leaves with ruffle edge.  Slow to bolt (seed).  The mustardy taste mellows when cooked.  It will come back when cut.   They survived winter under row cover here in Pacific Northwest.  In spring they will blossoms then go to seed.   Birds,  especially Chickadee enjoys their seeds.

Here is a  recipe using mustard greens.  shredded cooked chicken or canned beans make nice additions to this substantial soup.

ITALIAN GREENS, TOMATO & PASTA SOUP

2 tablespoons olive oil

1cup frozen chopped onions

1 teaspoon minced garlic

2  14 1/2-ounce cans fat-free chicken or vegetable broth

1  14 1/2-ounce can diced tomatoes with juice

2 cups fresh mustard greens, coarsely chopped or frozen, or one 10-ounce box frozen leaf or chopped spinach

1/2 cup small pasta shape, such as orzo, tiny bow ties or tiny shells

1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

In a large pot, heat oil over medium high heat.  Add onions and garlic and stir until the onions begin to color, about 4 minutes.

  Add broth, tomatoes, mustard greens or spinach, pasta, red pepper flakes and black pepper.  Bring the soup to a simmer and cook until the pasta is tender, about 6 minutes.  Serve sprinkled with cheese.

Prep. time 8 minutes   Cooking time 15 minutes   Makes 4 servings

183 calories per serving

Enjoy !

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

June Garden Calendar

First week spray for codling moth and scab in apple and pear trees.  Continue use of pheromone traps for insect pest detection.

If you have had problem with apple maggot insect, try coating three or four red balls with Tanglefoot (a sticky product like glue) and hanging them on the tree

Plant insectary plants to attract beneficial insects to your garden.

Learn to identify beneficial insects such as ground beetles, rove beetles, ladybugs and their larvae, lacewings and their larvae, minute pirate bugs, syrphid or flower flies, spiders and wasps.

Apply fertilizer to lawn.

When mowing never cut more than one-third of the grass-blade length.  If the grass is three inches long mow off one inch.

Control adult root weevils in rhododendrons, azaleas, primroses and other ornamentals.  Use beneficial nematodes if soil temperature is above 55F.

Remove seed pods after blooms have dropped from rhododendrons, and azaleas after blooming.

Prune lilacs, forsythia, rhododendrons, and azaleas after blooming.  Control garden weeds by pulling , hoeing, or mulching.

Sow the seeds of green beans, sweet corn and squash (summer and winter) directly into the vegetable garden,

Plant starts of tomatoes, peppers and eggplants.

Sow seeds of Zinnia,cosmos, sunflowers directly into the garden.

Plant cucumber around the middle of the month.  Cool temperature cause bitterness.

Continue to bait for slugs and snails especially around new plants.

Cut rhubab.  Cease harvesting when stalks begin to get spindly.  Trim off seed stalks.

Harvest ripe vegetables.  Thin future squash and pumpkin crops by cutting off blossoms.

Use netting to protect blueberry plants from robins and other birds who like the berries.

Trim watersprouts or suckers from the trunks of fruit trees.

To attract hummingbirds to the flower garden plant crocosmia, nasturtium, Salvia and penstemon.

Happy gardening !

Dividing Irises

This year I need to divide my irises.  They have grown too dense so dividing them is very important.  Among perennial ornamentals, irises are easy to grow favorites with many flower gardeners.  Although easy to maintain, iris clumps do need some extra attention every few years for best performance.  Divide iris clumps every 3 or 4 years.  The original iris plant or rhizome expands puts out new shoots and gradually becomes so crowded that it runs out of room and nutrients.  By dividing the clump, each iris plant or rhizome with attached foliage can be replanted by itself, thus increasing the beauty of the yard as well as giving the iris new life.

Yellow Bearded Iris

 

 When dividing, cut sections apart with a sharp knife.  Each portion saved should have a section of fleshy root (the rhizome) with either a strong bud or fan of leaves.  Discard all but the most healthy sections.  Before replanting, set the rhizomes in a shaded place for a few hours to dry the cut surfaces.  A bulb dust can be used to protect the cut sections from decay.

Replant the sections into fertile, well-drained soil.  Plant the rhizomes with the attached roots spread over a mound in the planting hole.  Make the top of the planted rhizome even with ground level or slightly lower.  Fill and soak dirt in and around the roots. Keep the newly planted rhizomes watered regularly through the hottest part of the summer.  Also, feeding the iris with a small amount of low nitrogen complete fertilizer in late summer to help develop buds for next spring.  Organic gardeners can use blood meal or well composted manures.

Happy Gardening !

 

Dutch Iris

 

Bearded Iris

 

Buying Seeds by Mail

By November through the end of December seed catalogs arrived in my mailbox.   I usually put them aside until I am ready to look at leisurely. 

Seed catalogs is like a magical place to visit.  Some are cleverly written, some show beautiful picture, while others offer gardening information and recipes. 

Seed companies realize how winter can make our life miserable.   So they mail us their magical catalogs to a frustrated gardener like me to peruse in their vast treasure troves.   Dreaming how our garden will look like in the summer.  

Today seeds pricing seem to be a little high.   Although if one search around, there are catalogs offering reasonable price with good quality seeds.  For me who enjoy gardening buying seeds by mail is still the best way.  They offer much more variety than buying plants from the nursery.

General catalogs offer a mixed bags of annuals, perennials, vegetables, herbs and standbys such as corn, tomatoes, lettuce, marigolds, cosmos and sunflowers.  Compare prices carefully not all seed packets price are the same. 

I found certain company are more generous than others.  Some packets stuffed generously, while others mighty stingy.  When I opened the seed packet,  looked inside  “gosh is that all”  what a disappointment.  In spite of this I still buy seeds by mail.  They are prompt with shipping, hardly any back order.  I suggest  order early so you will not have any out of stock items.    

The joy of seeing one’s own work flourish in those growing trays and seeing them thrive in the garden, to me is an achievement.

Nichols Garden     in Albany, Oregon offering herbs, heirloom, vegetable seeds.

Territorial Seed     in Cottage Grove, Oregon, offering variety of seeds and gardening supply.

Pine Tree       in New Gloucester, ME  offering variety of seeds, vegetables, flowers and gardening supply.

Turtle Tree  a biodynamic seed initiative in Copake, NY flower, vegetable and herb seeds.

Fedco  in Waterville, ME  flower, herb, vegetable and gardening supply.

Johnny’s Selected Seeds Wainslow, Maine, flower, herb, vegetable and gardening supply.

Vermont Bean Seed Randolph, WI, vegetable, flower, and gardening supply.

Happy Gardening !

Winter Wonders

The Orchard looking west.

Strolling through the snow-covered garden with camera in hand ready to capture the beauty mother nature has created. 

 Looking around the garden,  discarded snow-covered logs stacked like a sentinel under a bare maple tree.  Frozen branches beckoning to be admired.  Tree moss swaying precariously on a tree branch.  Ice particles frozen on a birch dainty limbs.  The orchard desolate waiting for spring to arrive.  Snow is everywhere, even the pond behind the house is frozen.   Serenity is in the air,  waiting for a miracle to happen.   Indeed, an  enchanting winter wonders .

Copyright Images”

Frozen hazelnut catkins and spider web.

 

Frosted English ivy

 

Snow covered old logs

 
 

Frosted maple leave on a piece of wood

 

Frozen tree moss

 

Snow covered frozen pond

 

Frosted Indian plum blossoms

 

Japanese dwarf pine

 

Frozen birch trees

 

Into the snow......