Recipes

A Gardener’s Plan for Winter

A Gardener’s Plan for Winter

Here I sit inside on a gray almost-winter day, grateful for a rest from cleaning up the garden, reflecting on a gorgeous fall season and already making plans for an amazing spring. While I love my fall blooming Camellias, I have to admit that the divas of my fall garden are the Asters and Japanese maples.  Year after year, they never disappoint. They hold their own among the screaming colors of our North Carolina fall foliage. On October 30 our first hard freeze was forecast - 15 degrees in Summerfield - and every flower in the garden was destined to become mush.  I could not bear the thought,...

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Blueberries, Events & more

Blueberries, Events & more

Fall is starting to show its colors and is sure to be a beautiful one!  Even now in the garden I am picking up falling Chestnuts (OK, it’s really Jim) and watching my Japanese Persimmons as they ripen to the perfect shade of orange. My American Persimmons are attracting a lot of attention too.  These two babies didn’t seem to mind posing for me so long as they could find sweet mushy persimmons upon which to dine. Japanese-American chestnut trees are bread to be resistant to the chestnut blight that devastated our huge American chestnuts in the early 1900s.  If you want Chestnuts,...

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How Dirt makes You Happy

How Dirt makes You Happy

I first read the research in 2007’s Discover Magazine:  “Is Dirt the New Prozac?” http://discovermagazine.com/2007/jul/raw-data-is-dirt-the-new-prozac   Then here it was again in 2014: “Antidepressant Microbes In Soil: How Dirt Makes You Happy” http://www.gardeningknowhow.com/garden-how-to/soil-fertilizers/antidepressant-microbes-soil.htm This goes in the category of “You can’t make this stuff up”.  The story reads:  Did you know that there’s a natural antidepressant in soil? It’s true. Mycobacterium vaccae is the substance under study and has, indeed, been found...

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Overachiever

Overachiever

Can I just say it? From graduating high school at age 16 to retiring from my sales career at age 48, I have always been in a hurry to “get it done”.  This is not necessarily a good thing, as other things seem to be overlooked as my projects get underway.  So it has been this year as my writing has fallen short.  Nevertheless, this year’s projects have been fun and rewarding (photos below) and I hope you may find some inspiration in them too. A new wall as a backdrop to the cutting garden.  It totally brightened up a dark gloomy wall of Leyland cypress!   A new garden...

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Yummy Winter Greens

Yummy Winter Greens

It is my time to say goodbye to the Christmas cookies, get back on the treadmill and back to Jazzercise.  It is not as bad as it sounds really.  I enjoy grazing on all the green stuff from the garden!  I am also committed to staying strong so I can pursue my passion for as long as possible.  There is no denying that gardening takes a LOT of energy! So I headed out to the garden this afternoon in pursuit of leafy greens. It is truly amazing what is still looking good after yesterday’s 10 degree low here in Summerfield, NC.  Check out the beautiful COLLARDS and KALE!   The Kale was actually...

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Oatmeal Hockey Pucks

Oatmeal Hockey Pucks

In the midst of our cold, dreary March, I spent a glorious day at the JC Ralston Arboretum in Raleigh attending the Association of Specialty Cut Flower Growers annual conference. Can you guess what these gorgeous flowers are?  Would you believe it is a bouquet of tulips?!  Most growers tie them closed at early stages of cutting so they do not open so much, but I think they are stunning in this wide-open bouquet!  Perhaps even more amazing is how they still close up at night. The designer used bare vines to hold the flower heads in place. Save some of your prunings from grape vines, wisteria,...

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SOUP – It’s what’s for Dinner

Caldo Verde I really tried to be good.  But alas, even my “fat pants” are tight.   I’m back on the treadmill now, and back in my garden soon.  Veggies could save me.  Fortunately, delicious hot soup is on my “get healthy again” plan and I have one of my favorite recipes for you below. I picked the last of the lettuce and arugula from my garden today for salads with zingier flavors that the grocery varieties. My collards are sweeter than ever and growing strong - perfect with New Year’s black eyed peas!   Did you know it’s the sugar in collard leaves that keeps...

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Moroccan Vegetable Stew

Moroccan Vegetable Stew

  Just back yesterday from a short vacation at Ocean Isle, I ran out to the garden to pick everything that might suffer from the cold. Here are the last of the zinnias, with beautiful sprays of white Boltonia and Salvia leucantha (the velvet sage) and even a few hydrangeas with fresh pink blooms. I came in with arugula, collards, bok choi, peppers, one ripe Japanese persimmon :-) and 2 dozen eggplant!  Eggplant is fun to share because it is so beautiful, but most people don't know quite what to do with it.  And it can turn into an unhealthy meal in a hurry if you resort to frying...

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OMG, Harvest Time! … and my favorite Cucumber Soup.

OMG, Harvest Time!  … and my favorite Cucumber Soup.

It is sooo satisfying to see all that I have planted and nurtured giving back brilliant flowers and luscious edibles! I have harvested about 7 bushels of plums, a half bushel of apples (so far), 3 gallons of blueberries, 60 lbs of kubocha squash, and an untotaled mother lode of cucumbers, patty pan squash, potatoes, carrots, onions, garlic, beets and eggplant. Many vegetables will store for months in the refrigerator or just a dark air-conditioned space; blueberries can be frozen.  Then I make pickles and jam.  Where can you buy sweet habanero pickles? Or Shiro yellow plum & apricot...

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Chocolate Squash

Chocolate Squash

Many thanks to all of you who came out for the last 2 Edible Landscaping classes.  I cannot tell you enough how much I enjoy having you here!  Due to popular demand, I am posting the Orange Scented Chocolate Zuccini Cake recipe.  This is one of many wonderful “garden” recipes from “The Cultivating Cook” cookbook published by the Guilford County Extension Master Gardeners.  (The cost is only $6 and you can call the Extension office at 375-5876 to see if they still have it in stock.)  Here’s how to make it… 2 cups unbleached flour 1 tsp baking soda 1 tsp baking powder ½...

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