• 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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Grow Herbs Indoors For Fresh Flavors

Since there is less gardening to do outside at this time of year, there is more time for growing herbs inside.  Most herbs that grows outdoors can be grown indoors on the kitchen window sills where you can harvest as you need it.

In late fall fragrant herbs can be started from seed or by dividing a perennial from an outdoor garden.  As long as they get at least five hours of direct daylight per day in a room that stays at 60 to 70 degrees F. Many herbs will do fine indoors.

Annuals such as basil, coriander (cilantro), dill, summer savory, and perennials including catnip, chamomile, chives, lavender, marjoram, oregano, rosemary, sage and thyme, can started from seeds indoors in the fall or winter.

To start herbs from seed, plant seeds directly into containers in loose, well-drained soil.  A mixture of coarse sand, peat moss and loam works well.  Place seeds on soil surface and cover with soil about twice the depth of the diameter of the seeds.  Keep in a 65 to 70 degrees F.  room temperature.

Water each pot gently, daily, preferably with a spray bottle of water.  Cover with a wet paper towel until the seeds germinate, to prevent mold or fungus infections.  Remove the wet paper for a couple of hours and expose them to fresh air.

Once herb seeds sprout, put them in a cooler area  with indirect light.  Turn the containers daily to keep them growing straight.  When the seedlings have two sets of leaves, thin them to about one and one-half inches apart or transplant them into their final home.  Dill with a taproot, does not transplant well.  Fertilize lightly with a well balance fertilizer.

 

TOMATO SOUP WITH FRESH HERBS

Delicious soup bursting with flavor.

1 tablespoon olive oil

3/4 cup chopped onion

2 cloves garlic, chopped

1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano or basil

1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme or 1/4 teaspoon dried

5 cups diced fresh tomatoes (2 pounds)

1 1/2 cups low-sodium vegetable broth

2 1/4 tablespoons tomato paste

2 teaspoon sugar

Fresh herb sprigs for garnish

In large saucepan, heat oil over medium heat.  Add onion, garlic, oregano or basil and thyme and cook, stirring often, until onion begins to soften, about 5 minutes.  Add tomatoes and cook, stirring occasionally, 5 minutes.  Stir in broth, tomato paste and sugar.  Season to taste with salt and freshly ground pepper.

Bring soup to a boil.  Reduce heat, simmer uncovered, 15 minutes.  Process soup in food processor until smooth.

Ladle into serving bowls and garnish with fresh herbs.

4 servings

Calories 137

Enjoy !

Rosemary and Thyme

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 !

Cherry Plum Tree

Because of a long wet spring,  the cherry-plum trees did not produce as many fruit this year.  a disappointment for me, no jam and chutney to make.   

In the early part of spring the trees were covered with beautiful white blossoms.  So I assumed there will be plenty of fruit.  Well, not at all because lack of bees to pollinate the blossoms.  I discovered, the bees only come by when is warm and sunny.  Sometime, though,  cloudy days the bees will pollinate.  But is seldom happen.

The above image is a cherry-plum fruit.  Fruit size similar to cherry, appearance of a plum including the interior, pit similar to cherry.  The fruit has a plum taste.  Botanical name is Prunus Cerasifera also known as Myrobalan plum.  Latin name Rosaceae.

Cherry – Plum tree in full bloom, the flowers attract bees and when standing near the tree the sound of bees buzzing is awesome. Cerasifera in Latin name means “bearing cherry like fruits”

Happy Gardening…….

Gardening Calendar In The Month Of June

Woo hoo, finally the rain stopped.  I thought spring will never leave Oregon and today is the first day of summer.  The long-range forecast is for good weather, so I will take the opportunity to do some yard work.  More transplanting vegetable seedlings,  pruning the flower shrubs, mowing the lawn, etc.  I found by following a to do list is quite helpful.  Here it is…..

  • Apply fertilizer to lawns
  • Control 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 rhododendron, azaleas.
  • Prune lilacs, forsythia, rhododendrons, and azaleas after blooming.
  • Use an inch or two of organic mulches or sawdust or composted leaves to conserve soil moisture.
  • Pick ripe strawberries regularly to avoid fruit rotting diseases.
  • Control garden weeds by pulling, hoeing or mulching.
  • Thin apples, pears, and peaches when fruit is as big around as nickle.  Expect normal June drop of fruit not pollinated.
  • Late this month, began to monitor for late blight on tomatoes.
  • If  indicated, spray cherries at a weekly intervals for fruit fly.
  • Move houseplants outside for cleaning, grooming, repotting and summer growth.
  • Make sure raised beds receive enough water for plants to stay free of drought stress.
  • Learn to identify beneficial insects such as, ladybugs, ground beetles, rove beetles, spiders and wasps.
  • Blossoms on squash and cucumbers begin to drop, nothing to worry about.

Happy Gardening

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