Monday, December 4, 2023



        It should come as no surprise that of all the plants I grow, basil is by far and away my favorite. I love everything about this herb from its interesting history to the versatility of its culinary uses. 

    However, since we moved to the lake, I have struggled to have a significant basil harvest. In Kentucky, I simply scattered seeds and voila basil seedlings everywhere. So the first growing season in Brown County I followed the same pattern. Sadly I barely had enough to make a batch of my famed Opal Basil Vinegar. Also I had no success with different varieties. 

    The second growing season, I once again did direct sowing with the seeds but in grow pots. I also amended the herb bed with compost and better soil. However, I experienced the same sad result in the herb bed but did achieve a better harvest in the grow pots. But still I was not able to have the diversity and quantity that I so desperately yearned to accomplish. 

    This last season, I went down a different road. For the first time in my 50 years of going basil, I started all my basil inside under my grow  lights.  Since Basil is one of the last herbs or flowers to go in the garden, I was able to space out the timing so I had plenty of open spots on the seed trays (Basil can not go in the garden until the night time temps stay above 50 degrees). Starting basil inside was totally new for me. I will continue to do a bit of direct sowing of basil but the majority of my basil plants will be started inside.  

    Bingo! Summer Growing Season 2023 was a very successful Basil Season.  In addition to starting the seeds inside, here are a few of the other factors I believe upped my game. 

#1 Brown County Indiana is about 1/2 to a zone colder than my gardens were in Shelbyville KY.  Basil is so finicky. It is super sensitive to temps; not only day and night temps, but also soil temp and wind speed. I think in the past two years, I was rushing to plant the seeds too early and they never adjusted. I was more patient this year. 

#2 The condition of the soil in the garden was very poor. I have worked hard to remedy this situation and planting more in raised beds and containers also became valuable tools.  

#3 I tried several new stronger varieties and was amazed. (You can teach an old dog new tricks)  I am in the process of ordering seeds for the next years growing season. This year I am trying very hard to be mindful of what I order. I tend to get so excited with each new arriving catalogue and order and reorder.  I am trying hard to order smart vs emotional binge seed ordering. New basil varieties are a particular weakness for this gardener. 

Ok... which basil varieties were the most successful. Therefore making the list for 2024.  Here we go!  

  #1 In all categories is Everleaf Emerald Towers (Ocimum basilicum)

This is the best basil I have ever grown. The seedling transplanted easily, and quickly. It shot up into a tower of close, glossy, emerald green, smallish leaves. It had no mildew whatsoever, and no blooms until the very last couple weeks of the growing season. It provided me an endless supply of leaves for salads, fresh tomato dishes to pesto. The more I cut, the more it grew. I purchased the seed from Botanical Interests. 

In the same large container, I grew my #2 favorite. They were a beautiful combo. Pesto Perpetuo (Ocimum basilicum citriodorum).The variegated leaves (cream and light green) made for stunning contrast in the container. It never bloomed and provided me with a wonderful collection of leaves. They added an interesting color contrast to salads.

#3 BasilBecky has a love affair with purple basil. I make a beautiful Herb Vinegar out of the leaves and dry the foliage and blooms for arrangements. I found that Basil 'Red Rubin' and Basil 'Dark Opal' kept the dark purplish red color best in my garden. I also plant some basil that has hints of the purple in it, like 'Cinnamon' basil or 'Sweet Thai' basil to have a blended contrast. I did try 'Blue Spice' basil but was not over whelmed and will probably not go that direction again.

#4 Traditionally I always plant a row of the 'Bush Spicy Globe' for several reasons. Firstly, I love the small leaves. They can be picked and used for example in a caprese salad without chopping.  The plants make a very impressive border as they turn in to a unique round ball shape and remain short. I did try Basil 'Purple ball' loving the idea that I could alternate the 'Spicy globe' and 'Purple ball', however I did not have good luck with the 'Purple ball'.  I love the thought of it so I will try again. 

#5 Of course, I will always have Basil 'Genovese' or some version of large leaf basil handy. I had one whole birdie metal planter full this year. Yummy basil always at my fingertips. 

    Lastly, but by far one of my favorites is 'African Blue Basil'.  I have had this beauty in my garden for about 5 years. The thing is you can not start this plant by seed and it is hard to find. So I started taking cuttings a couple years ago from a mail order plant I purchased early in the spring and the results were excellent. I even had enough to share. 

   Although I do not eat this plant, I am enamored by its beauty and value. It has a special place in my pollinator garden and is allowed to pretty much bloom freely during the summer.  It is absolutely stunning in the garden and attracts so, so many pollinators. In fact it is hard to cut because I have to dodge all the bees. 

    So there you go. I am not sure that this helps me take some varieties off next years list. But it helps me organize my thoughts and perhaps focus in and avoid falling in the seed ordering pit as all of the tempting catalogues start arriving daily in my mailbox. 

Wednesday, November 15, 2023

Gardening In Brown County ...Loving the Difference

Three growing seasons are now under my belt at our house in 
Brown County. Has it been a challenge? Yes indeed and I am ready to share differences. I have not listed them in any particular order because all of these "differences" have been at times overwhelming. However, coming up with the solutions has been educational and fun. This blog will be a brief synopsis of the last couple years realizations. My intentions are to actively share more details about my new gardening life, horticultural knowledge and adventures. So keep checking my instagram and blog for gardening, nature, travel and adventures. 

         However, for now here are a few of the basic differences

#1 Lack of areas with full sunshine. When you live in the woods, any patch of sunshine becomes a potential garden spot. Obviously my mom had the same issue so she designed gardens beds behind the house that maximized the backyard sunshine. I am reviving these beds, but the process has been slow. Sorry Mom, the apple mint that has been growing for 60 years has got to go. 

        One solution for the search for sunshine has been using the amazing back deck. The space is wide, goes  all around the back of the house and faces south with sunshine and warmth even on winter days. This great area has been taken over by Grow Pots, and various other large vessels with some success. I am slowly learning the ins and outs of container gardening. However I still have been able to grow enough fresh veggies and herbs for us to enjoy without a big vegetable garden.

#2 The pressure from critters has been staggering. Deer, turkey and raccoons all find my attempts to grow anything green  nothing but a yummy daily feast. We love the wildlife and put out corn for the deer and turkeys and feed the birds, but we have had to employ many different  humane tactics to control the population who are driven to eat and destroy.

#3 Invasive species such as Stilt Grass, Oriental Bittersweet, Burning Bush, Autumn Olive, Russian Olive, brambles and Apple Mint have had their way on this land for over 60 years. The more we clear the more natives pop up. For example after clearing briars in an area we discovered a large patch of trillium. Future blogs will focus on this subject.

#4 Wildflower Meadows that I envisioned all over this property have been a struggle. I keep working, reading and studying and someday I will have native meadows where possible. 

        Increasingly along this journey, I have learned that I need to listen to the land and nature. I have discovered the amazing world of starting all my plants by seed. Podcast have become my best friends and teachers as well as gardening groups and zoom seminars.  I now have more garden books than ever and I cherish my growth plus the  reinvigorated enthusiasm that it has birthed.  

         My small little greenhouse built by my mom  has opened  many new avenues of growth. It is currently packed with herbs, plants to save and starts. My two seed starting stations have further sparked my seed starting obsession. (They were great Valentines gifts)

        The most important take away and my mantra for the future is that I am a smarter, wiser and more gentle gardener. My love for nature has been reinforced by the understanding that I am now gardening for the pollinators, the bugs, native bees, birds, butterflies and nature. I am letting nature guide me and no longer trying to change my environment to fit my gardening wishes but allowing the native habitat to show me what it needs. 

        All of this has made me very happy. I will forever hold dear the  love, memories, friends and blessings from my gardening life in Kentucky.  It was over 30 years of positive gardening life with great friends. 

        But I am content and ready to write, explore and share this new chapter in my gardening life. Please join me in this journey. I appreciate all of my garden buddies and friends. Thank you for helping me come to this peaceful journey  

Friday, November 3, 2023

Thursday, January 26, 2023



      Who does not love a very tasty herb that hangs around most of the winter.  That is one of the reasons this yummy and cute perennial is always in my garden. 

    Salad Burnet(Sanguisorba minor) makes a great border to any garden. The plants develop in a rosette pattern. They seem to emerge like an opening flower and can become a good sized plant. Approximately 8 to 12 inches across. They are very interesting plants.  

    As the young leaves emerge the leaves are oval with serrated edges. They have a very distinct cucumber taste. These leaves are a very good substitute for individuals who have a problem digesting cucumbers. 

     I love using the young leaves in salads and cold dips and fillers for Cherry tomatoes. Here is one of my absolute go to recipes for an herbal dip/ filler/ spread. 

    Blend together 1 package of softened cream cheese and either 1/4 white wine or sour cream or mayo. I prefer the sour cream or mayo. My daughter has used greek yogurt and loves it. Then add 4TBLS Burnett leaves chopped fine. Plus 2TBLS Chives or Garlic Chives. Then season with 1teas salt and pepper. In order to add some texture, I sometimes add some chopped lettuce.  Depending on what is in the garden I might add other herbs but prefer not to mask the cucumber flavor. 

I have stuffed this into tomatoes, celery, mushrooms, or just for a dip for veggies and crackers. It is always a big hit

        As the plant matures it sends up a stalk that can grow up to 1 foot in height. At the top it shots out a pinkish blossom.  These are totally edible and color and texture to salads. But by far my favorite use for these blooms is to make an herbal vinegar. 

    I infuse the blossoms in a white wine vinegar and let them be for a week or more. The vinegar turns an eye catching rosy pink. So yummy in vinaigrettes. It is a true show off in my line up of homemade Vinegars.
    My hope is that you will give this little known herb a try. What could be better than a perennial that is easy to grow( I start this one from seed using winter sowing), green almost all year long, and so tasty. WIN WIN WIN!!

Saturday, January 21, 2023

Time to Winter Sow


         I love this method of sowing seeds. I first learned about it about 5 years ago and I have never looked back.  So far I have only done the traditional way but after listening to Joe the Gardener, I am going to try a different but similar way using Native Perennials. Stay tuned for information on that adventure...coming soon. More seeds are ordered.

    For a step by step detail on winter sowing, just type in Winter Sowing in my search bar on this blog site and all three blogs will pop up!!  Please do this before doing method of sowing seeds 

    This year I have started with parsley (both flat and curly),violas, and Angelica. I love having tons of parsley not only for my swallowtail caterpillars to munch on but also for me to use.  More to be sowed.

    My mom and I always planted tons of pansies and violas. You know it was the Tri Delta and Theta in us, we could not help it. I am doing Violas three that for another blog. 
    I can not encourage you to try this effortless and rewarding method of sowing seeds. Remember it does best for me when you use perennials and seeds that require cold stratification. 


Monday, November 7, 2022

Flitting Around Butterfly World


When traveling I always research the area for interesting gardens or nature sites to explore and visit. Butterfly World caught my eye by advertising that it had over 20,000 butterflies.  I was also drawn in because it boasted about having a large collection of native pollinator plants, botanical gardens, aviaries as well as a bug museum.

I must say I really enjoyed the experience. The areas for the butterflies were clean and full of healthy plants everyone seemed to be happy.  There were limited staff and guides around to provide info and answer questions but I would have enjoyed more signage for butterfly and plant identification.

The museum had excellent idenification  displays of all the butterflies and insects. So a tremendous amount of interesting and valuable facts could be gleaned from the displays. 

The site is within a city park (Tradewinds Park-South) so there were playgrounds and other rec facilities for families. The actual "world" has a small cafe, a fun swinging bridge, and several other attractions that make for a fun outing. 

As usual I loved perusing the gift shop for interesting books and gifts.
I always seem to have success finding something that I need? 

Because I love vertical gardens and vining beauties I very much enjoyed the vine maze. It hosted many native finds and excellent growing information. 
 Due to the recent storms in Florida, the aviaries were not very active. They had some interesting birds but not as many as advertised. 

Particularly if you have never been to a Butterfly Enclosure you should seek one out to visit. It is quite overwhelming to have these beauties flitting so close and personal. 


Saturday, April 2, 2022



     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.    




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