Thursday, December 22, 2011

Oh the weather outside is frightful, but the seed catalogs are so delightful!

Is it me or does it seem like they came earlier this year? I think I remember getting them in the cold dole-drums of January last year.  I’ll be honest though, the weather here in Southern Virginia hasn’t been too terribly frightful, in fact…I picked my last 5 habanero peppers last Friday before pruning the plant back and covering it up for the winter, “hoping” with fingers crossed it’ll over winter (anyone out there ever over wintered a habanero plant before, this was just such a great producer I’d love to keep it around)

I digress…

I think for a gardener, nothing is a better present than sitting down with a cup of tea and flipping through the seed catalogs just dreaming of what you’ll plant next year…

I’m going to try and get my act together this winter and go into spring with a plan…a bona fide, grow from seed, propagate from cuttings, plan! 

So what about you? Are you already receiving your catalogs? Are they earmarked, and tagged with post-its yet?

Are there any new seeds you’ve decided to try this year?

I'll be spending some time during the next few days off going through these and marking them up... here are the ones I have so far. Any I'm missing you'd recommend?? 

I hope you all have a wonderful Holiday Season!! 

Southern Exposure Seed Exchange: I love the illustrations in this one.
I'd love to frame some of the artwork
High Mowing Organic Seeds: This is a new one for me this year!

Seed Savers Exchange:  The first Seed Catalog I ever got and probably still my favorite

Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds: The pictures in this one are
 just amazing

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Missing Gardener has been found....

Well color me embarrassed.  I have no clue how it got from July to December but it did....  I'm so sorry I have been MIA....

Well I'm starting my 2012 New Years resolution early. I will be back to updating this blog on a regular basis. Check back later this week for a brand new post...I promise.

I hope you all had a WONDERFUL harvest season and are having a magical Holiday Season!

See you soon!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Lime and Chili Herb Grilled Chicken

So I've been wanting to try my Lime Thyme in a chicken marinade for a while.... I'm not sure what took me so long, but I finally found some time this weekend....

I threw together this marinade from a few ingredients I had lying around from my garden in addition to the lime thyme... I was a little skeptical at first, but was pleasantly surprised by the final result

Ingredients for Marinade
This made enough marinade for two chicken breasts, it may cover more, but two was all I had

3 Limes
2 Chili Peppers (I used 1 jalapeno an 1 red chili pepper from the garden) sliced
4 Crushed Garlic cloves
3 Tbsp Olive Oils
Herbs (any would work)
     - Several Sprigs of Lime Thyme
     - Tarragon
     - Rosemary
1 Scallion thinly sliced  (I threw that in after the picture was taken)

1. Juice 3 Limes into a bow
2. Add in sliced chili peppers, sliced scallions and crushed garlic
3. Add olive oil
4. Pour Marinade over chicken in a ziploc bag
5. Add fresh herbs whole into the bag as well
6. Seal bag and marinate overnight in the refrigerator
7. Once your grill is hot, pull out the chicken and top with a pinch of salt and pepper
8. Grill over high heat for 3 min/side
9. Put chicken off to the side or lower heat for 10 min (I did it on a charcoal grill and just put it to the side)
10. Let it rest, and enjoy :)

Final Product

I really was pleasantly surprised by the flavor and juiciness of the chicken!

Maybe next weekend I'll have to try something different with the herbs...

Hope you're having a great weekend!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Giddy as a Little Girl

So I just had to share, I'm as giddy as a little school girl meeting her favorite star...

On a whim I sent an email to my favorite author Chester Aaron, who I've mentioned before wrote my favorite book (which my copy is extremely well worn) "Garlic is Life"  I thanked him for being such an inspiration for getting me to put some garlic in the ground and I sent him pics of newly harvested bulbs

Today he emailed me back the nicest email.

It was just such a nice thing, I wanted to share with everyone. If you are looking for a good and humorous  garden novel, please check this book out!

Thanks for letting me indulge...


Monday, July 4, 2011

1st Garlic Harvest

Wanted to wish everyone a Happy 4th of July!! I hope you're enjoying your weekend! I am excited to get to watch Fireworks over the York River tonight.

As great as I think the fireworks will be, I have to admit, the highlight of my weekend is my 1st garlic harvest! I'm sure many of you will understand that feeling having planted a seed months ago and watching it grow and then harvesting. These garlics were even transported from Atlanta to Virginia late this winter.  Hardy little guys!

This is my first year growing garlic, so it was a lot of trial and error for sure. I watched a few YouTube videos (what did we do before those) and read a lot, to learn these few tips that I would have never thought

1. When the garlic scapes start to loop around, cut them off. This allows the plant to put its energy into the bulb not producing the flower. PS, they taste and smell AMAZING to, you can use them like you do scallions

2. About 2 weeks before you plan on harvesting, stop watering (what?!?!)... apparently it helps harden the bulb. I gotta admit, this one was hard for me. I kept throwing just a little bit on because we've had temps in the 100s. I don't know if it made a difference, but it didn't seem to hurt

3. Watch the leaves of the plant to know when its ready. When it looks like it starting to die, and the leaves start turning brown when only the top 4-5 leaves are green its ready.

So this was a strange plant to harvest for a newbie, but the result was pure joy!!!

I'm leaving the other two in a few more days to see if they get a little bigger.

1st bulb of Siberian Garlic 

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Plant Rescue

I've recently discovered a great way to add some color to my yard for a fraction of the costs! Does anyone else out there "plant rescue"? Our local Lowes seems to be quick to throw perfectly good plants and flowers into the clearance bins. (Not that I'm complaining)

This all started for me a few weeks ago, when I found a pretty sad looking pink geranium normally $9.99 in the clearance rack for only $2.00!! I took a closer look at it, and it had good bones if you will, they had just neglected to care for the dying leaves and flower heads. So I scooped it up, took it home and its doing wonderfully in my yard.

Checked again yesterday, and they had a bunch of planters which retailed for $20.00 with three large red geraniums in them. Truthfully, they didn't look much worse than the ones they were selling for the $20.00, but these were marked down to $3.50!!

This is what it looked like when I got it, like I said, truthfully not that bad.

And with no joke only 5 min of pruning it looked like this

So there is my little tip for you today, run don't walk to your local Lowes or Home Depot "clearance" garden section and see what you can pick up... it'll save you a bundle!

Friday, June 24, 2011

What to do with too many jalapenos?

So if I had to recommend a jalapeno plant, it would be this "Mucho Nacho" plant I've got this year, its a huge producer, but in order to help keep it producing, I have a plethora of jalapenos I've picked :)

So one of my new favorite things to do with them is make popcorn. Ever had jalapeno popcorn? Yum!!

2 1/2 Tbsp Olive Oil (gives it a buttery/nutty flavor throughout)
1 jalapeno sliced
3/4 cup popcorn

1. Heat up the olive oil in a large bottomed pan (I used my stock pot on Med-High heat)
2. Put the sliced jalapeno's in once its hot
3. Cook the jalapenos until they're close to crispy
4. Add the popcorn and start shaking
5. Keep shaking every few seconds to keep the kernels from sticking to the bottom and burning
6. Keep on the heat and shaking until there is about 1 sec between popping
7. Remove from heat and pour into a heat proof bowl
8. Toss with melted butter (optional) and salt
9 Voila! Yummy japaloeno popcorn with your freshly grown jalapenos :)

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Impulse Seed/Plant buys

So what is a gardener stuck in a hotel on business during the most perfect spring/summer week yet to do?? Impulse seed and plant shop online of course :)

I went a little crazy on eBay this week buying as unique seeds and plants as I could find. Luckily I stuck mostly to seeds, they're much cheaper :)

So the results of my shopping spree

- Dragons Blood Sedum (seeds)
- Queen Red/Lime Zinnia (seeds)
- Za'atar (seeds)
- Wasabi (seeds)
- Pear Mint (plant)

Okay I admit the Wasabi might be a bit of a stretch, but I am always up for a challenge and love growing unique things :)

So is it just me, or does anyone else do impulse seed/plant shopping?? :)

Glad to be heading back to my garden tomorrow, luckily I have a great neighbor keeping it watered while I'm gone :)

Friday, June 10, 2011

1st Harvest of the Season

I know it isn't much, but I harvested my first Jalapeno of the season!! :)  This Jalapeno plant I picked up this year from the Master Gardeners of Richmond is AMAZING! I think its called (or at least its what they called it) Mucho Nacho Jalapeno. They said it was a large producer, and they weren't kidding!! There has got to be at least 15 Jalapeno's growing on it right now!

1st Jalapeno of the season!

Needless to say I'm looking forward to many a great salsa's as more mature....

What have you harvested so far?? What are you anticipating the most??

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Community Gardens!!!!

I'm back!! Sorry for the hiatus! But I'm very excited to be back, and to be sharing my new community garden with you.

The neighborhood I live in recently voted to turn what is supposed to be a hotel site into some community gardens. Needless to say I jumped on the chance to get a plot! So I paid my $25 and they gave me my very own rented 5' x 10' piece of land

New garden plot! :)

Its a little late in the season to do seed planting, so I bought a few tomato, pepper, cucumber and watermelon plants today just to get it started.  I'm looking forward to it getting started...

Any thoughts on something fun and new to plant? I'd love to do some dwarf popcorn but i'm just not sure if there is enough room....

Its a little sparse right now....

I'm really excited to grow this summer crop.... but I really can't wait to use it in the fall to plant garlic :)

How are your spring/summer gardens going?

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Update on the Birds

Well, I got my computer back, thank goodness!!!! :) I will start posting the ideas I've had while the computer was sick...

But i wanted to get you the bird updates.. they have left the nest. The last one flew away on Friday. I can't lie, I was sad to see them go... I am very happy all 5 grew up and were able to fly away, but sad they're gone. Here are the last few photos of them

They were so cute when they opened their eyes.

It seemed a bit cramped in the nest...I mean I love my sisters, but I am not sure I'd want to be THAT close to them :)

They are a few days old here 

I got dive bombed by daddy bird trying to get a few of these pictures, he was very protective ;) 

Sadly, the last photo of the birdies, they flew off the next day

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Computer in ICU

Just wanted to check in and let you know I haven't abandoned ship. My trusty sidekick computer is currently in the Apple ICU having a new graphics card installed. I should be back late this week and have lots to share about the birds & most exciting of all the brand new community garden plots going in across the street from me!!

I hope you have a wonderful week in the garden in the meantime!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Can You Ever Have Too Much Thyme?

I was recently at the Colonial Farmers Market and ran across some Golden Lime Thyme (say it out-loud, its kind of fun). How could I resist, it smelled amazing and I had never seen it before! So I am now growing "Lime Thyme" (Thymus x. citriodorus sp) in my garden!

Golden Lime Thyme
This got me wondering about Thyme, a very commonly used herb. How many different types are there? How many are used for culinary purposes? I thought I'd share a few little interesting facts that I found

There are over 350 species of thyme....who knew? Increasing this number are the various hybrids as well. Thyme as obvious culinary uses, but it is also used for medicinal purposes and even edible landscaping as ground cover or shrubs. When looking for culinary thyme there are two families to focus on for the best flavor

T. vulgaris:  Common Thyme
              * Grows to about 12-18" tall,  can be used as a shrub
              * Common Thyme will have gnarled woody stems
              * Dark Green or Grey-Green Leaves
    A few plants in this category are:
              * English Thyme
              * English Wedgwood Thyme
              * French Thyme

English Thyme at the Nursery 
T. x citriodours:  Lemon Thyme
               * Grows 10-12" tall 
               * Bright Green Lemon scented leaves 

Cutting of Lime Thyme 

Make sure to plant any thyme in freely draining soil and full sun. They are often hardy and can over winter as long as temperatures don't drop below 14F. They should also be protected from high chilly winds. 

So the best part of growing any new herb is using it in the kitchen.... I am thinking I am going to try and make a citrus chicken marinate or citrus lime vinaigrette.... so stayed tuned for a recipe or two (hopefully)

Do you have a favorite type of Thyme? How many different types do you grow?? 


Wednesday, April 27, 2011

More Visitors

So I don't usually post two back to back picture posts only, but I hope you'll bear with me...this one was just too adorable not to share!

I went to go take down a hanging basket on my front porch because it died in the last round of storms and I found this little surprise. I had seen a bird fly out of there once, but had no idea...

Robins Nest in my front porch hanging basket

I found this!! I immediately hung it back up and dead flowers or not, its staying there until the little robins are born and fly away! Mama flew back to the nest while I was outside. My neighbor told me she saw the Mama huddled up there during the storms that blew through and was swinging in the wind... I'm hoping to hear 5 little birds soon!!

Mama bird sitting vigil

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Garden Visitor

Not too often do I encounter "critters" in my container garden. I had a visitor this afternoon....

A Little Garden Visitor....

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Rosemary Balsamic London Broil

So I am not sure if this technically counts as a garden post....but I did use Rosemary from my garden so I'm gonna go for it ;)

This weekend, I got a great deal on a London Broil at the grocery store. This was my first attempt at a London Broil, I can say I WILL be doing this again!

1. Pick about 2-3 Sprigs of fresh rosemary from your garden (see I told you it was sort of garden related) :)

Rosemary from my garden

2.  Whisk together

1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
2tbsp olive oil
4-6 cloves crushed garlic

Place London broil in a re-sealable plastic bag and pour vinegar and oil mixture over it

Place 2-3 sprigs of fresh rosemary in the bag as well

Seal and place in the refrigerator over night

Marinating London Broil

3. Turn the broiler onto high & place marinated steak on a broil pan

4. Salt the steak to taste

5. Pat fresh ground pepper onto both sides of the steak to form a crust

Pat the ground pepper into the steak to form a crust

6. Place the steak about 8" under the broiler and broil on each side for about 8 minutes. I like my steak medium to medium well, adjust the time for doneness

Rosemary Balsamic London Broil


Sunday, April 10, 2011

Tarragon 101

Buyer be informed this spring! When you're at the local garden store or nursery I want to make sure you go in armed with knowledge about what I think may be one of those most mis-labeled herbs.

There are several plants that can be and are labeled "Tarragon." You'll want to be familiar with a few tidbits of information to determine exactly which of these plants you're buying.

FRENCH TARRAGON (Artemisia dracunculus) 

This is considered by most to be the "genuine" culinary herb and is most likely the Tarragon plant you're hoping to plant in you're garden.

It is a perennial herb which grows in partial sun and requires well drained soil. The reason French Tarragon is hard to find and often substituted for is because it very rarely goes to seed. The most common way of growing new Tarragon plant is through propagation from cuttings in the spring.   The plant has woody stems with thin blue-green leaves

The best way to determine if the plant is french tarragon is through a taste test. Take a leaf off the Tarragon plant and taste it. If it is genuine French Tarragon it will have an anise flavor and a strong "tongue numbing" effect.

My young French Tarragon plant from a local farm 

RUSSIAN TARRAGON (Artemisa Dracunculoides) 

The largest impostor to French Tarragon is Russian Tarragon. It is in the same family as French Tarragon so this is why it is often substituted. Russian Tarragon CAN be grown from seed. So if you're looking at a seed catalog and it lists Tarragon, you can bet the $2  the seed packet costs that it is Russian Tarragon.

If you're at the nursery doing the taste test, Russian tarragon will have similar anise flavor but it will be much more subtle and the "tongue numbing" effect will be minimal.


When searching for Tarragon plants you may also encounter plants labeled as Spanish, Winter, Texas or Mexican Tarragon. These are all the same plant in the Marigold family. The plant is also often used as a substitute for French Tarragon, it grows better in humid climates.  However, it lacks the "bite" of French Tarragon

So the morale of this story is "Buyer be Informed" Make sure you're buying what you are paying for. All of these plants are wonderful to grow and use,  just make sure you're getting what you're hoping for.

Do you have any favorite uses or recipes for Tarragon?

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Thoughts of Tarragon

So in order to keep my mind of the impending government shutdown and not knowing how long I will be out of work, I've been working on a post regarding my favorite herb: Tarragon!

I'm almost done and will post here shortly, I will explore all of the different types of tarragon (french, russian, spanish...) and provide tips for identifying impostors  at the local garden store

Before I post, is there anything you've been wondering about tarragon you'd like answered?

Monday, April 4, 2011

Win some Colonial Seeds!

I feel bad that I've been absent for over a week, 1st week of a new job keeps you busy I guess. But no excuses...

As a thank you for sticking with me and reading my ramblings I'd like to offer a little contest

The weather here in the Colonial Triangle has been crazy to say the least....snow and sleet one day and 87 degrees the next, what few plants I do have going are getting confused...not to mention the 40mph winds on my young plants. I think I'll be waiting a few more weeks before planting much more, just to be safe.

So in the absence of my own garden I went to Colonial Williamsburg this weekend to visit theirs! (If I didn't have to dress up like the 1800s I might consider a second job there, its a wonderful place.)

Here are a few pictures of it! I'll go back often and I'm sure as the season goes on the garden will change!

Ok ok, onto the contest ....

Leave a comment with a topic you'd like me to tackle, it can be anything remotely related to gardening. The 1st person to leave a topic suggestion (hey its the first contest so we'll go with the first comment) will win two (1 herb or veggies & 1 flower) packets of Colonial Seeds. These seeds have been descended from the original gardens in Williamsburg

Have fun and I look forward to your topics!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Container Gardening Magazines

Walked down to Barnes & Noble this morning to get the paper and decided to check out the gardening magazines. It was snowing this morning and my hydroponic gardens are still packed away so it might be the only gardening fix I get today ;)

I had a conversation a while ago about magazines specifically published about container gardening. The consensus was that there isn't one dedicated to container gardening. Today I found two special issues however and thought I'd share them with you

Southern Living Container Gardening special issue 

Southern Living is running a special issue all on container gardening. Garden Gate also has a special issue out as well

Garden Gate Container Gardening special issue 

I flipped through them, but haven't gotten a chance to read them (back to the unpacking thing). I'll read them this weekend and give you my thoughts and let you know if its worth your money... but I wanted to get them out there in case you're looking for a garden read this week.... 

Saturday, March 26, 2011

The Great Garlic Transport Part 2: The Transport & Transplant

I didn't want to leave my garlic back in Georgia when I moved to Virginia this week, so I decided to take 3 of the 6 cloves with me. I would have taken all six, but it was really a matter of space.... there is not much room in a Mini to begin with, add in 2 cats, and get the picture.

So my plan was to dig up around the bulb trying to include as much of the dirt it was growing in & place it in a large ziploc bag. I had hoped this would help reduce shock.

Garlic bulbs in ziploc bags 6 days after digging up
I misted the bags and sealed them up. I had fully intended to replant them immediately but the move got in the way, as usually happens. I just got to re-potting them today.

Re-potted garlic after six days
They look a little weak, and just to challenge my poor garlic a little more....they're calling for snow tomorrow morning. Coming for 80 degrees in Atlanta, spending 6 days in transport and then possible snow... I just hope its not too much for the garlic...

We'll just have to wait and see

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The Great Garlic Transport: The Beginning

The "Stinking Rose" it might possibly be my favorite fresh ingredient to have on hand!

Have you ever grown your own garlic? Just taken an extra clove from your dinner and stuck it in the ground to see what happens?

If you're even slightly inclined to do this, you MUST READ "Garlic Is Life" by Chester Aaron

Life is Garlic by Chester Aaron
Chester is a former teacher and has written several other books before becoming a serious garlic grower at 65. He currently grows over 93 different types of garlic in Northern California. Who knew there were 93 different types of garlic?!?!?!  This book is like sitting down with an old friend with a glass of wine (and probably some wonderful food with lots of garlic) and just talking for hours about gardening, garlic and life!

So I finally took the plunge this fall and planted several cloves of Siberian Purple Striped Garlic I purchased from Filaree Garlic Farms in Washington State (Filaree Garlic Farms) in the large pot outside that holds my rose bush

Siberian Purple Striped Garlic 
** Interesting:  Garlic and Roses are companion plants. Garlic is known to repel aphids and other pests. So plant a few cloves around your favorite rose bushes and you'll get double benefits, healthy roses and delicious home grown garlic! 

Above is what my garlic "crop" looks like. Out of six planted cloves, I have 5 healthy scapes (the green portion of the bulb that grows up out of the soil is called a scape). The sixth one is barely hanging on....

So here comes the challenge a nomadic urban gardener faces... how do you move your crops hundreds of miles in your small "mini" car????

Plan: Dig up around the bulbs, taking a lot of the dirt with it, and placing it in a large zip lock bag, keeping the scapes exposed.... then I will replant immediately!

The Outcome: Stay tuned to find out how the Great Garlic Transport turns out.....

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Vanilla Sunday - Atlanta Botanical Gardens

I had what my boyfriend likes to call a "bing" moment... where he can see the light bulb turn on in my head. I thought I knew where vanilla came from, the vanilla bean. What I guess I had never though about was where that bean came from. I also knew there was a vanilla orchid, but it never occurred to me the two might be related.... so thanks to my favorite place here in Atlanta, the Atlanta Botanical Gardens, I learned that vanilla comes from an Orchid...don't I feel silly now. 

One of the advantages of being an "urban" gardener is the proximity to everything the city has to offer... in Atlanta that means the Botanical Gardens.  They what I will miss most about this city.  Once a year they have an "Orchid" exhibit. It is absolutely breathtaking. I do think last years was a bit more extravagant, but none the less still an amazing exhibit.

Even the containers in the garden
are beautiful to look at
Since my own garden is in transition and getting ready for the move (more on that later this week) I thought a little tour through the Orchid Exhibit might be nice.  I'm still working on getting pictures into the layout....please bear with me :-)

Entrance to the Botanical Gardens

Lovely fountain with the Atlanta Skyline
in the background

The Tulips are beginning to bloom 

There were hundreds of orchids through
out the entire conservatory

Orchid in front of a fountain

View of the garden with the skyline