• 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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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………

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 !

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 !

Building a Greenhouse

My husband and I have been discussing to build a greenhouse for along time.  Since we moved to Oregon several years ago finally our greenhouse is a reality. 

We decided to convert the carport when the roof collapsed by the sheer weight of heavy snow.  It is unusual to get snow in this area, if we do have, only lasted for a few weeks.  We hired a contractor/handyman to build our greenhouse.

The greenhouse all wood construction, beams, panels, and posts.  Glass windows and the roof a corrugated fiberglass provide ample light.  A regular greenhouse without bells and whistles.  No heating except for the growing box with heating coils where I have my seeds flats for germination.  It will stay there until ready to transplant outdoor in the spring.

Construction in progress

Greenhouses comes in many shapes and sizes.  Ours is 10 by 20 sq.ft.,  hight from top center of the roof to the ground approximately 25 feet.  The foundation is concrete slab remainder from the carport.  Built from scratched, it is  a sizeable greenhouse, similar to a small cabin in the woods.

When building  a greenhouse you need to consider many things.  Finding a suitable space on your property.  Obstructions such as buildings that will block light or trees.  Building codes, size of the greenhouse and the amount of money you want to spend.  You have to consider your possible options carefully.  If building a greenhouse from scratch is not an option, you can consider  prefab greenhouse that come in many sizes from small to large or in between. 

The finished greenhouse

Having a greenhouse has some benefit too.  You can start your seeds for early start in the garden or exotic plants that need to be  indoor most off the time.   The greenhouse have given me much pleasure over the years and gardening is more enjoyable.

Snow covered greenhouse

“Treat the earth well. It wasn’t given to you by your parents.  It was loaned to you by your children. ”    – Kenyan proverb-

Happy gardening ! 

 

                                  

 

Harvesting Peas

Several days ago, finally, harvesting day at the pea patch.  The pea plants are robust with lots of pea pods hanging on the vine ready to be harvested. 

Thanks to the cool, wet weather which peas thrive on made this summer a bumper crop.  Peas need to be harvested early, if not, it will be tough with bitter-tasting.  Especially when temperature start to reach in the 80’s and beyond.  Peas could not tolerate heat eventually they quit producing peas, then the plants began to  turn brown.   So  keep harvesting while they are at their best.

Green Arrow is my preference in shelling peas.  Sweet with pea taste,  just wonderful,  also easy to shell.  A prolific producer with 10 to 12 peas in the pod.  Green peas have been known to have nutrition value that is good for you.  Vitamins A, B, C, protein, carbohydrates, calcium, iron,  phosphorous, potassium.  Sprinkle fresh peas on salad, steamed, mashed or mix with other ingredients, anyway you use them they are good for you.

A recipe I have used for a long time.  Delicious with home-baked rolls.

 

CREAMY GREEN PEA SOUP

Remove the peas from the freezer just before starting the soup so that when you are ready to process them, as the stock simmers, they will be only partially thawed.  To preserve its delicate flavor and color, this soup is best served immediately.

4 tablespoons unsalted butter

8 medium shallots (about 5 ounces), minced

(about 1 cup) or 1 medium leek, white and light green parts chopped fine (about 1 1/3 cups)

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

3 1/2 cups canned low sodium chicken broth

1  1/2 pounds frozen peas (about 4  1/2 cups), partially thawed at room temperature for 10 minutes (see note above)

12 small leaves  lettuce,  (about 3 ounces) leaves washed and dried

1/2 cup heavy cream

salt and ground black pepper

Heat butter in large saucepan over low heat until foaming;  add shallots leeks and cook, covered until softened, 8 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add flour and cook, stirring constantly, until throughly combined, about 30 seconds.  Stirring constantly, gradually add chicken broth.  Increase heat to high and bring to boil, reduce heat to medium low and simmer 3 to 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, in workbowl of food processor fitted with steel blade, process partially thawed peas until coarsely chopped, about 20 seconds.  Add peas and lettuce to simmering broth.  Increase heat to medium high, cover and return to simmer, simmer 3 minutes.  Uncover, reduce heat to medium low, and continue to simmer 2 minutes longer.

Working in 2 batches, puree soup in food processor until smooth; strain into large bowl.  Rinse out and wipe saucepan;  return puree mixture to saucepan and stir in cream.  Heat mixture over low heat until hot, about 3 minutes.  Season to taste with salt and pepper, serve immediately.

Serving 4 to 6   Makes about 6  1/2 cups

Enjoy !

Recipe source:  The Cook Magazine