• 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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Rosemary and Thyme

 

 
Rosemary (Rosemarinus officinalis), my favorite herb.  I added to chicken, pork, fish, soups, stocks, and sauces.  Also, it gives the home a wonderful aromatic scent.  Simply clip off small leaves and place them in a potpourri container and brew for a fresh outdoors scent or cut stems and use in floral arrangement.  In the bathroom, I used it for a soothing and aromatic bath, tie on herb bouquet (rosemary, and lavender) to the faucet with a string, water will pour over the sprigs as it fills the tub.  Lavender will calm the mind, rosemary a light astringent stimulate and  rejuvenate.  The sprig will last for about two weeks.
The rosemary in my herb garden is the Tuscan Blue variety.  Rigid upright branches to 6 feet tall grow directly from base of plant.  Leaves are rich green above, grayish underneath.  Flowers blue violet 1/4 to 1/2 inch bloom in winter and spring.  I notice that the flower attract birds and bees.  Plant in a sunny location, endures poor soil, but good drainage is a must.  I fertilize every spring with compost tea and prune lightly in the fall.

Ancient time England rosemary were wound around church pillars and branches were placed on altars.  I wonder if they still do in this modern day?  Another folklore I read, a sprig placed under the pillow would repel evil spirits and bad dreams.  Dried rosemary was laid in the bed linen to insure faithfulness.  Whether this is true or not it remain to be seen.

 
Thyme (Thymus) another wonderful herb. Excellent for meat, stuffings, soups, and shellfish.  foliage usually heavily scented.  Attract bees.  Grow in full sun to light shade in well-drained soil.  I prune in fall  to encourage growth.  You can also propagate from cuttings taken early in the summer. 
 
This herb plant started from seed,  slow to germinate,  I thought it will never make it.  Now it has grown large and sturdy.  A common variety Thymus Vulgaris,  shrubby perennial  6-12 inch high narrow to oval, fragrant.  Tiny lilac flower in dense whorls, June and July.  Good container plant.
Bouquet Garni:  2 sprigs parsley, 2 sprigs thyme, 1 rib celery, 1 sprig marjoram, 1 dried bay leaf, and 1 sprig rosemary.  Cut the celery into two equal pieces about 2 1/2 inch length, and place the herbs between them.  When tied securely, this makes a firm little bundle of aromatics.  Good for stocks and soups. 
Herbes de Provence: 
3 tablespoons dried marjoram
1 tablespoon dried rosemary
3 tablespoons dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon dried sage
3 tablespoons dried savory
1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
                                                                     1 teaspoon dried basil
Combine all ingredients.  Mix well and spoon into small jar.
Makes 3/4 cup

Happy gardening…..

 
 
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Gardening Book

If you want to try your hand in composting, read this informative book:  Let It Rot, the gardener’s guide to composting by Stu Campbell.   I enjoy reading this book, plenty of good information,  there is even illustration through all the pages.  Easy to understand, write in plain English not too scientific.  There is a chapter about what commonly use materials for compost and many other useful information.  A useful book all about compost.  From the back of the book, This is the classic guide to turning household waste into gardener’s gold!  Since 1975m Let It Rot  has helped countless gardeners recycle waste materials such as kitchen garbage, grass clippings, and ashes to create useful soil-nourishing compost.

ISBN# 978-1-58017-023-9

Night Blooming Cereus

I inherited this beautiful plant from the previous owner.  It did not bloom for several years.  I repotted and give it some tender loving care, finally my hard work paid off.  Since then it has been giving me joy over the year with its delightful fragrance and flowers.

Latin name Epiphyllum Oxypetalum (night blooming Cereus).  Bloom only once late at night, stay open until morning.  The fragrance would lingered for awhile.  A magnificent creation by nature leaves us in awe by this wonderful Epiphyllum.  A member of orchid cactus family, it needs period of dryness and cool time temperature in the winter to ensure summer bloom.

Happy Gardening…….
 

March Gardening Calendar

  

When spring arrived there are plenty of chores to be done outdoors.  Here are the list of what to do.

  • Plant cool season crops, peas, lettuce, cabbage, onions, kale, chard, if conditions permit
  • Devide hosta, daylilies,  mums and peonies in late March
  • Fertilize rhubab with manure or a complete fertilizer.
  • Fertilize evergreen shrubs and trees.
  • Drench crowns of raspberry plants with nematodes to control raspberry cane borer.
  • Plant berry crops, strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, blackberries.
  • Prune gooseberries and currants; fertilize with manure or a complete fertilizer.
  • Spray trees and shrubs for webworms, leafrollers, if present.
  • Spray to control leaf and twin fungus diseases in sycamore, hawthorne and willow trees.
  • Take geraniums, begonias, dahlias, gladiolus from storage.
  • Keep tuberous begonias indoors
  • Prune spring flowering shrubs after blossoms fade.
  • Fertilize rhododendrons, camellias, azaleas with acid type fertilizer.
  • Spread compost over garden and landscape areas.Best time of year to thatch and renovate lawns.
  • Plant vegetable garden carefully for spring, summer and fall eating and preservation.
  • Protect new plant growth from slugs.  Use bait or traps.

TOMATO SEEDS

These are tomato seeds I used every year.  Most are oganic.

 Cosmonaut Volkov – OG. Heirloom, 72-75 days.  Indeterminate, needs staking.  Mature early in the season.  Very tasty , round red fruit weigh up to 1 pound each.  A wonderful tomato.  Named after the famous Russian cosmonaut Vladislav Volkov.

 Brandywine OG.  Heirloom 85 to 90 days.  Indeterminate.  An old Amish dating back to 1885,  I have been growing these variety for many years.  It has never failed me.  Good flavor.  A potato leaf variety with large red slightly flatened fruit.

Heinz OG.  68 days.  Determinate, a bush type plant.  Heavy yealds, early, sweet taste not tart like some other paste tomatoes.  Ripens all 2 1/2 -3 oz fruits before frost.

SEED STARTING

 

Growing your own seeds is fun and easy.   I have been sowing my seeds in the greenhouse for many years.  Timing is critical for success.  Soon I will be sowing peas in a reusable polystyrene trays with  individualized pyramid-shaped cells which virtually  eliminate transplant shock.   I have been using this type of tray for several years.  You may find the trays here http://www.groworganic.com/ , those mushroom containers, milk carton, tofu containers, yogurt/pudding cups,  they are all perfect for seeds starting.  First you need to clean the containers with a solution of 9 parts of water and 1 part of  chlorine bleach, followed by thorough rinse with water.  The picture on the left is the polystyrene tray where I sow garden pea seeds.

Need to remember too, peppers, eggplants, tomatoes are slow germinating.  You want this to start early, especially when summer is short in your area.  I sowed tomato seeds in March, peppers a little bit early in January.   The peppers have germinated well,  I spray them with chamomile tea to prevent damping off a fungus type disease.  Broccoli and cauliflower sowed in the greenhouse as well as herb seeds later this month.  The rest such as summer squash, pumpkins, lettuce, collard, kale,  carrots all directly sowed in the garden.
Use sterile soiless seed starting mixes.  Either you make them yourself or store-bought. Do not use garden soil as this contains weed seed, harbor diseases and tend to be muddy, hard and reducing germination and root growth.  Seed-starting mix containing sphagnum, vermiculite, limestone, and gypsum.

Read the seed packet for instructions and carefully determine when you have to start sowing, and  tinning the seedlings.  Germination can vary from few days to several weeks.  This depending on what variety of seeds you are sowing.  With my experience, you need to sow the seed thinly, over crowding will produce weak seedlings.  Into medium barely cover seed with starting soil and gently press into mixture.

Label and date each variety as you work.  This is important, if not you will forget which variety of seed you sowed.  Water lightly with a spray bottle.  Keep the soil moist as this important for gemination.  Then cover flats with clear plastic and keep out of direct sunlight. 

Remember to remove cover for an hour or two everyday to provide air circulation.  Most seeds germinate well between 70-75F.  I used heating cable that is buried under soil and the containers or flats I rest on it.  It worked well as long as you keep the heating cable on all the time.  Don’t forget to remove covers once 50 to 70% germinated.  Remove flats or containers from heat to prevent seedlings grow thin and leggy.

Place seedlings in a bright, sunny window or if you are lucky a greenhouse.  If you do not have adequate light use artificial light 12 to 14 hours each day.  I used plant fluorescent light in the green house after dusk.  I keep checking the seedlings for fungus disease.  This is their crucial time.  Seedlings require little fertilizer.  As they mature apply your favorite fertilizer


It is so much easier to thin seedling when they are larger. generally 1-2″ tall.  Thinning is necessary to prevent crowding.

Before transplanting in the garden, acclimate the seedlings outdoors 1to 2 weeks,  this is called hardening off.  Select spot out of direct sunlight and away from wind.  If nights are still cold bring them inside.  After several days, provide 3 to 4 hours direct morning or afternoon sun.  Gradually increase daily exposure to sunlight.

Move young plants to garden for transplanting preferably on cloudy day or late afternoon to minimize transplanting shock.   Set out hardy plants after heavy frost has passed.  Set out sensitive plants once night-time above 58F.  I covered sensitive plants with a sheet when the forecast called for low temperature.

Happy Gardening