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Saturday, April 2, 2022

PARSLEY FOUR WAYS

        


     I love Parsley... and so do my butterflies and bees.  If I have to share this tasty herb I will need to have a large supply. I grow both Flat Leaf Parsley(Petroselinium crispum neopolitanum) and Curly Parsley a(Petroselinum crispum). I feel the Flat Leaf is more favorable for cooking but the butterflies don't seem to care. Black Swallowtail larva will devour either. So please plant both. 

    Because of the desire to grow multiples of this herb, this year I am growing  Parsley using four different methods. It will be interesting to see which method is the winner. 

    1. Reseeding

The first method is the easiest.  I have had good luck with my parsley reseeding and coming back year after year.  It is a taproot biannual so I allow the older plant to go to seed and I have successfully ended up with new starts of this great herb.  Often times the plant is tougher the second year, so I usually try to focus on using the new young plants and allowing my garden friends to munch away on the rest.  

    2. Winter Sowing

This method has proven very effective with both varieties of parsley.  I have done winter sowing for over four years and have come to enjoy the ease of this method. Please refer back to my previous blog for a step by step guide for Winer Sowing. 

                                                      

    3.  Starting seed in the seed starting flat with a dome under lights and in the greenhouse.

Most people get Flowers or candy for Valentines Day, but not me. I was thrilled to get a growing station from Garden Supply. The adjustable lights and shelves really adds to the effectiveness of starting seeds. I still have to use my home made station since I have a seed addiction. One can never start enough seeds. 


I started several trays of both flat leaf and curly parsley. Since the seeds are tough, I poured very hot water over them and then let them soak about 24 hours before putting them in the seed trays. Then I painted them according to the directions on the package. Most seeds packets have very valuable growing and germination information on the packet. So read and reread. I use a seed starting mix in the trays. I purchased the trays as I love the drainage of the seed insert in the outside tray. I have used lots of different vehicles to germinate seeds, some worked better than others  A most important necessity is good drainage. I have killed many seedlings by drowning. 


I covered them with domes and placed them on the warming seed mats under the lights. I made sure they never dried completely out by gently watering. In less than two weeks the first leafs popped out of the soil. Then I removed the domes over the trays.  I put one tray in the heated greenhouse and the other on the old growing station. So far so good.


   

    4.  Starting the seed in the garden and in pots outside. 

Lastly I soaked the remaining seeds in hot water for 24 hours then planted the seeds in the existing gardens and in a pot outside. Since I did this about 2 weeks ago, the seeds have gone through a freeze/thaw cycle and so they should germinate and grow.  Time will tell... 



I will you let you know how these parsley seeds progress. I am sure I will have a bountiful crop of parsley. 

More than enough for all.    


 


 






Monday, March 14, 2022

Mother is taking over the Greenhouse

      

      



                    For over 25 years my mother planned her perfect retirement house. It was on land in Brown County Indiana that my parents had acquired. The goal was to allow their family of six kids land where they could run wild, swim, ride horses and learn about nature. 

                    Some of my mom's favorite times in this special  house were spent in her small greenhouse off the kitchen.  She loved growing basil, parsley and her beloved red geraniums. Flash forward over 30 years later I am living there and enjoying the same pleasure. 

                    So when I saw a Mother of Thousand (Kalanchoe Daigremontiana) AKA: Alligator Plant, or Mexican Hat Plant. I knew that the plant needed a spot in my Mother's greenhouse. In reality I believe the plant is Mother of Millions (Kalanchoe Delagoensis)  AKA Devil's Backbone or Chandelier Plant. 


                Looks harmless right?  Succulents do great in the greenhouse. I had read this plant grows   rapidly and requires a minimum amount of care. I also was quite fascinated by the little babies hanging to the mother's leaves. So win-win, correct? 


        Well now...two year later I have thousands, if not millions of this plant popping up everywhere. I must admit I do love the tall spikes with a beautiful cluster of red blooms. They add a pop of color and height which I enjoy in the dead of winter. But they go to seed as well and spread babies all over the greenhouse. 


            Currently the babies are sprouting up all over and in every available space in the greenhouse.  I will have to eradicate some of the plants. Taking Mom's advice "too much of a good thing often is not a good thing", I will remove some of the Mothers!                            







Tuesday, January 25, 2022

What now after the Beauty Fades?


These amazing blooms keep me so happy during the winter season. I must be totally honest that I really hate the gray dark days of January and February in Indiana. 

So winter blooms and my greenhouse keep me alive and my hands in the dirt. 

I definitely went down a rabbit hole with Amaryllis this year. In addition to the five I had last year and overwintered, I purchased way too many. I am so easily influenced by my friends on the podcast "The Gardenangelists"  every time they mentioned a different Amaryllis I was on it! But it was fun.

So many of my friends have expressed that they did not want to spend the money on plants that only bloomed once and then were gone. However, this is not the case with these beautiful bulbs.

I do love poinsettias but I have never successfully carried these guys through to the next season. I could not resist this planter but we will see how long it stays cool! But I do not buy a lot of poinsettias.

But back to Amaryllis ....this is what I do to try and save the bulb and have it bloom again next year. 

After the blooms have faded I cut the flowering stalks to an inch or two about the bulb. Do not cut the leaves, leave them intact. 


I then try within the next couple weeks to transplant the plant to a slightly larger pot. All the research I have read recommends keeping the original soil around the bulb. 

Water enough to keep them alive and happy, then when the weather warms up and all danger of frost has pasted I move the pot outside to a semi-shaded location. 

Late Sumer:

This is the hard part for me, to remember to discontinue watering and fertilizing and allow the foliage to wither. This is easiest for me if I bring the pots up on the screen-in porch.

Fall:

Bring the pots back indoors and cut off the withered leaves. If they need repotting this is the time. 

They need to be stored now in a cool dark place for 6-8 weeks. I put them on the porch and try to ignore them, very hard. 

After the resting period I bring them out into a sunny spot and thenVoila!!! Now they sit in the sunshine and come alive. Some are  much slower to show life than others.




But it is ok because these will be blooming by Valentines Day!  Mine did not bloom until after Christmas But you know it was a blessing, my daughter and her husband and our amazing two grand babies had just left to go back to India. I was very blue but then the blooms came it was a gift. 





These bulbs are a Christmas Gift... 






                     


Monday, January 17, 2022

Winter Sowing

 


        Initially I learned about the Winter Sowing Technique for starting seeds on a podcast over four years ago. The hosts were homesteaders in Texas. 

They were great gardeners and propagated most of their seedlings using this method. A quick Google search provided me with much needed additional information including the definition that follows:  "Winter Sowing is a method by which seeds are sown into containers that act like mini greenhouses. These seed vehicles are then located outside, experience the chill of winter and eventually germinate in the spring."  It is a phrase that was first coined by Trudy Davidoff. You can read more about her ideas at www.wintersowing.org.

    I have found that this method helps me start seeds that need that cold chill to germinate. Since I am now planting a lot of native wildflower areas, many of the plants that I want multiples of thrive with this treatment. It is perfect for me. I use more traditional methods of starting seeds for the other plants I want to grow.

    I feel that the best advice for this method of seed starting would be to BE PREPARED!

#1 This method will provide you with a mass of seedlings that will need to be divided and transplanted. 

#2 Seeds that need the cold stratification work best. I am very selective which seeds I pick for this method. Some seeds are better started by more traditional methods. 

#3 This method has been amazing for the perennials that I want to plant in mass for the bees and butterflies. 


    I collect all of the containers during the summer.  I have come to the conclusion that the best containers are the salad and berry containers. They require the least amount of alteration and are the we easiest to use. 

    I also purchase any seeds on sale at the end of the year that are just want I am looking for to plant in my wildflower gardens. 

    Now is the time to plant the seeds. I prepare each container with good drainage holes. This is so important because nothing will sabotage the process quicker than poor drainage. 

    Then I fill each container with a good seed starting mixture and plant each one. Water carefully and then they are placed outside into their winter greenhouse. 

    Labeling is such a big issue. So this year I have it nailed. I took physical notes and also used my I phone to label each container. I hope this works better as this is the biggest issue with this method. 

    I will watch these containers all throughout the rain, snow, sleet and hail. February, March, April and May, it is so exciting to see the babies emerge. 

    So stay tuned and I will show you the results. 

Here are the seeds I am starting this time..

Showy Golden Rod( Solidago specious)

Lavender Hyssop 

Triple Curly Parsley 

Big Italian Parsley 

Rosemary 

Butterfly Weed

Tarragon

Lavender Munstead

Lavender Lady

Snap Dragons

Chives

Lupines 







Thursday, October 7, 2021

A Honey of a Pan and with a BUZZ WORTHY Recipe

 


I was given this great pan by my dear cousin Susie who came to to visit me a couple months ago. 

She is a big fan of our Stoner Honey. Yes that is my maiden name and many members of the Stoner Family are beekeepers.  Check it out wwwStonerHoney.com or on instagram as Stoner Honey. 

The pan was manufactured by Nordic Wear and is part of the Cast Bakewear Collection. 

I love the pan and sincerely appreciate Susies' thoughtful gift. 


I recently tried the recipe that was on the pan's packaging. It was very tasty and really was so impressive looking. I have had several request to share the recipe so here it is..


HONEY LEMON PULL-APARTS


SET OVEN TO 325 F. GREASE PAN AND FLOUR OR USE BAKING SPRAY.  SET ASIDE AND IN A SEPARATE BOWL COMBINE  3 CUPS BAKING FLOUR, 1 1/2 TSP BAKING POWDER, 1 TSP BAKING SODA, 1/4 TSP SALT. SET ASIDE

IN A LARGE BOWL,  BEAT 1 CUP BUTTER AND 1 1/2 CUPS SUGAR ON LOW SPEED UNIT WELL BLENDED THEN CONTINUE TO BEAT ON MEDIUM SPEED UNITL LIGHT AND FLUFFY. ADD 4 LARGE EGGS AND BEAT UNTIL WELL BLENDED. THEN ADD THE FLOUR MIXTURE,  1 CUP SOUR CREAM AND 2TBSP LEMON RIND; BLEND ON SLOW SPEED 1 MINUTE, SCRAPING THE BOWL OFTEN. THEN BEAT ADDITIONAL 2 MINUTES UNTIL WELL BLENDED. 

SPOON INTO THE PREPARED PAN AND BAKE FOR 45 TO 55 MINUTES UNTIL A TOOTHPICK  INSERTED COMES OUT CLEAN. COOL 10 MINUTES IN THE PAN.

GLAZE ( OR THE BEST PART)

IN A SMALL SAUCEPAN COMBINE 3Tbsp HONEY, 1/2 CUP SUGAR AND 2 Tbsp LEMON JUICE. HEAT OVER MEDIUM HEAT UNITL THE GLAZE IS WARM 

INVERT THE CAKE AND BRUSH WITHT HE HONEY GLAZE. 


So I have some ideas to amp up this cake.... I might use some honey in the actual batter. I would use more glaze and just maybe try some Limonchello in the glaze.  I will post back on these thoughts when I use this great recipe again. Thanks to www.nordicware.com for sharing this recipe. ENJOY! 



Thursday, August 5, 2021

Mountain Mint Mania

          




            Gardening in Brown County Indiana is certainly proving to be different than my previous 30 plus years of gardening in Kentucky.  However I am slowly adjusting to the challenge and learning to watch and listen to the wild life around me. Nature is supplying me with the clues for what to grow and she lets me know when I have committed errors (sometimes not so gently). 

            In Kentucky, I planted and researched what to plant for my bees, butterflies and other pollinators. On these 165 untouched acres Nature blesses me with the gift of so many natives and then begs me to put my resources into attacking the non-native invasive growth. The more invasive plants I remove the more wildflower gifts emerge. 

            A perfect example has been the abundance of Hoary Mountain Mint (Pycnanthemum incanum) on all the back trails.  We even have nicknamed one trail Mountain Mint Alley as the perfumed beauty lines the trail as it winds through the woods and open spaces. Its abundance in the woods certainly indicates that it is deer resistant. 



            What amazes me the most about this beautiful herb, is the diversity of wildlife that seems to swarm to this plant. It is covered with a wide variety all things pollinating from several different Swallowtail Butterflies to many varieties of native bees, honey bees, bumble bees, to various other butterflies. It seems not one blossom goes to waste. 

            I am fascinated with how the plant becomes tipped with a white hue on the upper leaves, as if a gentle snow fall or frost has glazed the plant. It seems in the wild to grow about 3 to 6 feet tall and has a terminal flower as it's hat.  The flower is a very tight cluster of pinkish to lavender hints inside. So fitting since the genus name is derived from the Greek word for "dense and flower".  The blooms seem to last about 6 weeks. Most of my colonies thrive in sun to part shade, right along the edge of the woods. 

        I love to brush up against the leaves or crush one or two in my palm, as it smells of mint or bee balm. It is sometimes referred to as Wild Basil Mint. I would love to use the leaves to make a tea. I sure it would have me buzzing!

              





  

  I have added this to my meadows, where it behaves and does not seem to aggressively take over but this luscious wildflower's happy place seem to be in masses along the wood's edges. It is a true beauty of the woods and a friend to so many pollinators. 

Thursday, April 29, 2021

 

Dodging the Frost Bullet


Last week Mother Nature played a cruel but not an unusual trick on gardeners. After being unseasonably warm for several days, the temperture dropped way down in to the mid-20’s for two nights in a row. Of course, the Old Fashion Lilacs were opening that seems to be when we are always hit with a surprising bit of cold. That is one reason why I have switched to growing Korean Lilacs and later blooming varieties. 




I have learned many very expensive lessons in my 40 plus years of gardening, but #1 is not to plant out any thing too early. It is always so tempting when the stores are full of beautiful spring annuals and the weather has been teasingly warm. But after “freezing “ so many new plants I finally caught on …do not try to fool Mother Nature. 


So here is the plan I try to stick too…


#1 I do fulfill the urge to plant early some spring color by filling my pots with beautiful pansies, violas, snapdragons, dianthus and other cold tolerant spring beauties. * See list at the end of the blog.  


#2 I plant early spring veggies in grow pots close to the house. This area warms up so quickly and is a great microclimate. My husband and I really enjoy the fresh greens after a long cold winter and they are cold hearted customers. 


#3 As I am in the process of developing new spaces and gardens, I am trying to stick to planting natives. It seems like perhaps they have a built in timer that resets with adverse  weather. 


#4 If a frost has covered my plants within an area that I can easily spray, I will get up before sunrise and spray the frost off. 


#5 Lastly, I will cover my plants. This has become an exercise know as showing the neighbors my wide variety of  bed sheets. Please use sheets not plastic !  I prop the sheets up inside and put the cover all the way to the ground to hopefully trap some of the warmth in the ground. 


I pushed my luck last week and did not do any of the above and I won. Most of the plantings  were close to the house and survived. I believe the blanket of snow helped insulate the plants the first night and then we had a cloud cover that kept the temps a little higher the next day. The only victims were my Nasturtiums and they probably should not have been out side anyway. Since I have not been gardening here long, I had not planted out strawberries or any tender fruit. 


I can’t say we are past the possibility of getting a drop below 30 degrees, after all I was in a zone warmer in Kentucky and did not plant out until after Derby Day. (Traditionally the first Saturday in May)  I believe I am Zone 6A here in Southern Indiana. 


So I am erring on the side of caution.  May 15th is the magic date I am focusing on as my safe day to plant outside.  Until then I will make full use of my screened -in porch and my small greenhouse.  May 15th is by the way my dad’s birthday so I will take that as a sign from above. 


Here are images from the front porch.....AKA the survivors of the Freeze. 








* Some Cold Tolerant Annuals I trust for Early Planting: 




Snapdragons, Pansies, Violas, Calendulas, Sweet Peas, Larkspur, Dianthus, Sweet alyssum and Forget me nots, 


I also really enjoy some of the early Spring Ephemerals such as Virginia Bluebells, Celandine Wood poppies, Brunneras, Money Plant, Hellebores and the many wild flowers. 






















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