Edible Gardening

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!

Green wall_10Green wall.smaller

 

A new garden bed … because I fell in love with the pale conifer and  stone bird bath and they required a new home! (These are still baby plants waiting to become fabulous.)

Stone bird bath_14Stone bird bath.smaller

 

New boardwalks in a newly cleared forest. Note that you can now see the lake in the background, the beautiful deep ravines, and the masses of native Christmas ferns and running cedar.

Boardwalk_20Boardwalk.smaller

 

A second raised bed with stone wall … added in full in SUN for growing more cut flowers!  The tall stalks are ornamental broom corn for fall arrangements.

stone beds 2_13stone beds 2.smaller

 

A new garden sculpture, designed by artist Steve Cote,  to greet visitors at my cutting garden. (Note the outstretching hand offering a daisy, and the caption below that read “Here”.)  Click here for Other Sculptures by Steve Cote  919-548-0303.

Julius portrait_11Julius portrait.smaller

Entrance to Cutting Garden_19Entrance to Cutting Garden.smaller

 

New metal deck railings … to improve the view and foil the carpenter bees!

Deck railing_18Deck railing.smaller

 

And, a new, brighter, more functional kitchen thanks to my fabulous builder Kevin Jones Design Build LLC.  Here is the before picture…

Kitchen before_17Kitchen before.smaller

And NOW the new improved kitchen!

Kitchen redone_16Kitchen redone.smaller

We have done our part to grow the economy this year, but so happy with the results!

Enough of that…   I have much news to share with you!

First, Mark your Calendar for some Fun Events!

  • August 6th & 9th, 9am-noon, My Garden Happy! Cut Flower Workshop.  Registration is $50 for this 3 hour workshop. You will learn about reliable perennials & annuals, which are deer proof, heat/cold tolerant, disease resistant, long blooming, and long-lived. You may also see which are magnets for butterflies and hummingbirds, and of course, which ones make the best cut flowers.  I will provide instruction on putting together arrangements like the professionals do, with flowers and foliage from your own garden!  You will bring home fresh cut flower arrangements. Call me to register! 336-644-6072.
  • Saturday, August 16, 9 AM – 12 noon, National Honey Bee Day Fun Family Event, Guilford County Cooperative Extension – Extension Demonstration Garden, 3309 Burlington Rd., Greensboro.  For more information call: 336.641.2400
    • Guided tours showcasing plants that attract bees
    • Beekeepers hosting honey tasting and honey sales
    • Children’s Story Book time and activities
  • Thursday, Sept 11th, 8:30-4pm, the Guilford County Extension Master Gardener Volunteers are sponsoring their 13th Annual Gardening Gala & Seminar.  With great speakers all day, register ASAP before it is sold out!   Gala Full brochure 2014
  • At the Paul J. Ciener Botanical Garden in Kernersville:
    Sept 18, 6-9pm, “An Evening in Tuscany” cooking demonstration with Lee Newlin.
    October 4, 8am-1pm, The Annual Plant Sale, plus guest Pearl Fryar gives a lecture and demonstration on creating topiaries at 2-5pm.

What to do in the garden now:

While my need for daily hand watering has subsided for the moment,  my new obstacle is a wild turkey and her brood who have chosen my garden has their grocery & excavation ground (they are rotilling!)  I am gladly accepting tips for repelling wild turkeys!

If the heat, bugs and disease are stressing your vegetable gardens, now is the time for some preventive measures!  Squash, cucumbers, & melons all start getting powdery mildew and slipping into decline. I treat fungus & mildew with a spray of 1 part milk (any kind) to 3 parts water, plus 1 teaspoon of baking soda per quart of water.  This is more than an “old wives tale”!  The protein in the milk and the alkaline pH of the baking soda work to knock back mildew. Copper fungicides also work and are considered acceptable organics as long as they are not over used (copper can build up in your soil.)

Cucumber beetles, squash bugs and stink bugs all spread fungal and bacterial disease so it is essential to get them under control as well. My choice is Sevin (Carbaryl), Pyrethrin or Serenade, the latter 2 being organic and OMRI listed. Spray in the evening just before dark to minimize contact with beneficial insects.

If your plants are struggling, check your soil pH.   I filled my new flower bed in April with 3 yards of top soil mix, only to find that my seedlings were slowly dying. The NCSU soil test showed a pH of 4.6!  Even acid-loving blueberries would have hated it!  Fast-acting “Sol-u-lime” and several pounds of fireplace ashes helped me get it up closer to the ideal 6.5.  They raised the pH much faster than the 3-6 months required for conventional pelletized lime to break down.  It is 2 months later and my flower bed is growing beautifully.

If you want a healthier garden – whether you are growing vegetables, flowers, shrubs or grass- there is no substitute for making your own compost and giving up chemical fertilizers. I have fewer bugs and disease, and in fact the healthiest garden ever since using my compost as fertilizer. Nine cucumber seeds have produced over 100 pounds of cucumbers, and the vines are still strong and producing abundantly!  My tomatoes are the best ever.

There is no point bragging about summer squash because I’m sure you all have loads of it!  It may be a good time to share Jim’s favorite way to eat squash – disguised in a yummy casserole that tastes similar to corn pudding.   First, here is a great step-by-step guide for how to prepare zucchini or yellow squash to freeze or to use for fritters or breads – or my baked squash!   http://www.agardenforthehouse.com/2012/07/how-i-freeze-zucchini/  (You will find other handy cooking and gardening ideas here too!)

Baked Summer Squash

  • 2 ½ lb summer squash shredded & salted, and reduced to 1¼ to 1 ½ lbs
  • with the water squeezed out
  • 1 small onion, finely shredded
  • 1 pkg of Jiffy corn muffin mix (or other brand of your choice)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1 can corn, drained
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3 Tbsp sugar
  • Sprinkle of nutmeg

Combine all ingredients. Pour into a shallow greased baking dish (a 9”x13” or 10” round works well). Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.  This is equally good reheated the next day.

Happy gardening & Happy dining!

Ellen

6 Comments on Overachiever

  • Cheryl English says:
    July 27, 2014 at 11:04 am

    Thanks so much for including me in your blogs. Your new kitchen is beautiful!! I miss coming to your classes sooo much. Hope to see you at some of the events.

    Reply

    • admin says:
      July 28, 2014 at 9:12 pm

      Cheryl,
      Great to hear from you! Come back to class. I am always learning new things to share. The NC A&T farm just started an organic trial program last October. I toured the farm this week & happy to say they are starting to implement all the things we talked about in my Soils class! I’ll be keeping in touch with them to see what’s new.
      Ellen

      Reply

  • Sandy says:
    July 28, 2014 at 6:14 pm

    Hey Ellen,
    Everything looks wonderful!! You are indeed an overachiever! Ha!
    Love the new wall, bed, railing… but especially the kitchen! Woo! Woo!
    Can’t wait to see you… maybe by summer’s end. Love & Kisses!

    Reply

    • admin says:
      July 28, 2014 at 9:08 pm

      Sandy,
      You know gardeners are always doing something new. It would be great to share photos of everyone’s garden. You are all so creative! If people will email me I can post their garden photos on my blog.
      Love & hugs,
      Ellen

      Reply

  • Carla says:
    July 29, 2014 at 12:51 pm

    Ellen, Just LOVE your blog. Always full of great info and pics. Your garden projects look fantastic as does that new kitchen. Thanks so much for the inspiration.
    Hugadoodles,
    Carla

    Reply

    • admin says:
      July 30, 2014 at 2:11 am

      Thank you Carla! I cannot wait to see your NEW garden. The first year always demands a lot of patience & faith!

      Reply

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