Sunday, September 30, 2012

The Leaves Are Changing Early

The Leaves are turning colors early this year. We've had beautiful sunny days and cold nights lately.  That's a sure recipe for colored leaves. Yesterday my husband and I went to one of our favorite places to picnic. We sat at a picnic table along the edge of the pond at Hardy Dam in Newaygo County.  We enjoyed watching the boats and  just smelling the fresh pine air. It was a very relaxing few hours.  Nice!
I just want to soak it all up before Old Man Winter rears his head.

You might also like to visit my cooking blogs at An Herbal Bedfellow and my restaurant reviews at Grabbin' A Bite

Monday, September 24, 2012

Overwintering Rosemary and Geraniums

Each Fall I decide I am going to overwinter some plants, but each year I get caught with an early freeze and lose them before I have a chance to bring them indoors. This year I was able to beat the weather and attend to my rosemary and geraniums before the frost.

I've tried often to continue growing rosemary indoors but I just couldn't keep it going.  Rosemary is fussy.  It doesn't like to be overwatered  but it does need quite a bit of humidity in a dry house which is heated with a furnace throughout the winter. In this house I have a walkout basement and the lower level is not heated; but the temperatures stays at 58 degrees all winter long.  It has proven to be the perfect location for my plants.  I was able to keep my Boston fern going  all last year and through the summer.  It is huge now.  So I am hoping for the same results with the rosemary plant.

I heard there was a frost warning last week, so I quickly dug it up and potted it.  I left it in the pot throughout the day under the deck  and then brought it in in the evening.  I immediately watered it well and misted it thoroughly.  The next day it seemed a little dry so I misted again.  So far it looks really nice, but it is a long season and I'll have to keep a close eye on it.

The geraniums are handled quite differently.  I have previously tried to save the whole plant indoors, but again, no success.  So I am trying something more drastic.  Again I was able to get to them before the frost. They were still blooming so this part was difficult for me.  I pulled them from their pots, washed off the dirt from the roots really well.  I left them outside for a few hours to dry off a little, bare roots exposed.  then I cut them back to about half.  Left behind, on the ground were the beautiful pink blooms -- so sad!  Then I brought them inside, tied them with string and hung them upside down in the basement.  They need a semi dark place, and they also need to be allowed to dry out.  When you noticed they might be shriveling, mist real well and let dry again.  Continue this cycle, watching them all winter long and you might be able to re-pot outside and start fresh next spring. I might seem quite fussy, but it will save a few dollars in the spring.

You might also like to visit my cooking blogs at An Herbal Bedfellow and my restaurant reviews at Grabbin' A Bite

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Square Foot Gardening Update - September

Overall, I'd say our first year with square foot gardening was a success.  There are few things I would have done differently and now is the time to make notes in my log book for next year.
The cucumbers and tomatoes worked well on a vertical support. We only planted one variety of tomatoes on one vertical.  Next year. I want to try different varieties that will be ready for harvest at different times so I don't have to figure out what to do with them all at once.  I am plan on canning some tomatoes, spaghetti sauce, and maybe some salsa.  This year I made salsa but froze it.
We decided we didn't care for the pole beans so we'll go back to bush beans next year, and add yellow cut beans to some of the squares.
Corn was not suitable to our small amount of space and so the Farmer's Market will have our business there.
The broccoli, cabbage, and lettuce were all attacked by a host of bugs.  Since went all organic, it was new to us to try to figure out how to handle it.  We used Safer Brand sprays but as soon as the rain came we had to spray over and over again. It was frustrating.
Carrots and green onions were a success, but although we had radishes, there were not enough to bother with. So at this point we are undecided about those.
Watermelon and gourds were lots of fun to grow  but need plenty of space; I didn't feel these were suitable for the square foot garden.
I plant to sit down today with my graphs and charts and plan for next spring.  I'm sure there will be some revisions, since  my husband plans to make two more 4x4 squares, and a long strip or two , maybe 4x8s,  far away from the garden for the muskmelon, summer squash, and zucchini.
The watermelon will be away from the garden, also, so there won't be any more entanglements.
Those are my notes for 2012.  Looking for to spring, 2013.
"Gardening is a way of showing that you believe in tomorrow."  (unknown)

You might also like to visit my cooking blogs at An Herbal Bedfellow and my restaurant reviews at Grabbin' A Bite

Monday, September 17, 2012

Loda Lake Wildflower Sanctuary, Newaygo County, MI

Each year, in late summer or early fall, our family has decided it's time to hike the woods. I think it's a little cooler then and not as wet as spring.  I love being in the woods, so it was a real treat to be able to move a little farther north at the edge of the Manistee National Forest. Last year my husband and I, along with our little Shih Tzu, took a nature walk in Loda Lake Wildflower Sanctuary. I was positive I had posted about it, but after an extensive search, found nothing.  So here is my photo tour.  Smell the leaves and wet moss, hear the crickets and tree frogs, and listen to the cicadas singing in the trees. Enjoy.

You might also like to visit my cooking blogs at An Herbal Bedfellow and my restaurant reviews at Grabbin' A Bite

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Freezing and Preserving Your Fresh Herbs

My gardening time has come to a close.  But there are a few things left undone that need attention.  I still have a few tomatoes ripening on the vine, but after last night's temperature drop, that could be the end of it.  Some herbs are still doing nicely;  there's a little time left to save some for future use.

I have done my usual drying, by hanging bundles upside down, but I'd like to have some fresh herbs throughout the winter also, so this morning after the dew burned off, I picked parsley, basil, rosemary, oregano, chives, and mint.

After a quick wash and drain on a paper towel, I chopped them and placed them into my ice cube trays.
 Let me take a minute to say, I have a new refrigerator with an ice cube maker. I had totally forgotten that I no longer had ice cube trays, until I wanted to use them.  So yesterday I was off to the dollar store, when I decided to stop at a yard sale. And much to my surprise, the owner was selling a group of 6 trays for only $.50!  Now that was what I call serendipity!

So, back to the project -- after placing approximately 1 tablespoon of the herbs in the sections, loosely packed, just fill your trays with water and freeze. I like to pour the water in gently with a measuring cup that has a spout.

  Remove the frozen cubes and place in a freezer bag.  Be sure to keep the different frozen herbs in separate bags and mark and date clearly.  Then the next time you are making soup or stew, etc. on a frosty fall or winter day, just pop a frozen herb ice cube into the hot pot.  Fresh herbs, off-season, already chopped and measured, with  no muss, no fuss. Now, that's what I call easy.
I love growing my own herbs!

You might also like to visit my cooking blog at An Herbal Bedfellow.