August 16, 2008
If you are looking for a cool collectible, this is it. These are beautiful blue fall-blooming crocus bulbs with stamens of saffron, the world's most expensive spice. Available from Amazon for $8.99 for ten bulbs. A very unusual and unique gift would be a tiny box of your own home-grown saffron. You could also give small containers of other dried herbs from your garden, such as dill, oregano, mint and thyme. Or a red-themed gift of saffron, strawberry jam and tomato sauce all from your own backyard!
August 14, 2008
Even though everything in the garden and yard is crying for more attention, it's time to think about ordering bulbs for fall planting. Don't wait until all the good stuff is gone. The bulbs can sit around in the basement for a few weeks where it's dark and cool until you have time to plant them. Most companies don't mail them out until planting time in your area, anyway. The key thing is to get the order in.
Here is a great mix of blue and purple tulips from Hirt's Gardens available through Amazon. Blue is one of the most unusual and highly sought after flower colors and these are gorgeous. They would look great amid crowds of yellow daffodils.
July 21, 2008
Alright, maybe it's just a nugget of gold. What?? You say it's a flake if we're lucky?! Well, dear reader, you may have a point. And if you are in the Midwest or are from the Midwest, no doubt you are doubled over laughing with tears streaming out of your eyes. AHHH HA! HA! HA! I can hear it now. You are correct to laugh but we are also correct to plant. If we get one small loaf of bread out of this patch of crappy dirt with the 5.2 soil test, our experiment will be hailed as a success and we will have learned a little bit about this plant, Wheat, upon which we depend so much for food. This picture is of the wheat patch (Spring Wheat available at Johnny's Seeds) a few weeks ago before it was weeded. Indeed, it is planted in rows for easy weeding just like the ancient Chinese did, although next year we'll hand-broadcast the seed in one big square. We've since finished weeding 2/3 of it and have been bothered by the fact that we haven't had time or energy to finish. It would look so good to see the neat rows of wheat, seedheads waving in the soft breeze. And what a conversation piece! Alas, after surveying the rest of the gardens and seeing some unstaked tomato plants heavy with green fruit, we've concluded that the wheat will survive the weeds. Not only will the wheat survive, but you can put animals out to graze it for a few weeks after it is 6" or so high and it will still have time to produce new seedheads by fall. (This fact was proven to us by the local deer who ate the wheat down to 3". It has now grown back and all the plants have seedheads on them.) The tomato plants, on the other hand, need attention now and their fruit will rot on the ground if they are not staked. To put it in more modern terms, time management is the key from now until frost. As hard as it is to do, forget the cosmetic look of the garden and focus on a well rounded harvest. Any extra energy can be spent gearing up for the August canning & jamming marathon.
July 20, 2008
If you want to attract butterflies and bees to your garden, plant Asclepias tuberosa 'Gay Butterflies'. This heat and drought tolerant perennial works great alone or in a mixed bed for colorful blossoms from early summer through frost. The flowers are strong shades of red, orange and yellow and It stands only 2' tall so it won't take over like some other summer bloomers. Also great as a cut flower. On sale at Park Seed for $8.95.
July 2, 2008
Easy to grow and easy to eat, better tasting than pretzels and better for you, these soybeans are a mainstay in our garden every year. The seeds sprout quickly and mature early into deep green plants 2' - 2 1/2' high. Be sure to protect from rabbits, deer and woodchucks with fencing or a sprinkler scarecrow. Boil pods for 3-4 minutes in salted water and salt lightly. Serve at cocktail hour. The pods break apart easily in your fingers revealing 3-4 delicious beans. Eat the beans and save the pods for the chickens. These seeds are a bargain at $3.35! Think of how many bags of pretzels you would have to buy to equal the amount of food these seeds will grow.