Thursday, December 31, 2009
Here are a few for 2010...
1. We are tackling chickens! Mom has an elaborately beautiful coop plan she is going to tackle (turrets and all), one big enough to house enough chickens for both organic eggs and meat. I will be taking on a much smaller version; one that will hold up to 4 chickens (just for eggs...I don't know if I am ready to slaughter yet...gulp...)
2. We, believe it or not, have technology goals (this one makes me laugh...as we are not technology lovers). Mom is going to get a new phone (with all the bells and wistles), she is going to learn how to use it in and out. I, on the other hand, am beginning to work on Andrew's new website. I have never designed a website before, so this will be a challenge, but I have wonderful people willing to help if I get stuck, and I know what my end goal is!
3. I want to learn to cook more ethnic food! My family and husband love trying foods from all over the world, so my goal is to add a few more recipes to my repetoire that reflect many different areas (Thailand, Japan, France, China, India, Mexico, Spain, etc.)! If any of you have great ethnic recipes, please do pass them on! I would love it! (I am also going to make my own butter, even if it only gets accomplished once! It only takes 15 minutes people! Did you know that!?)
4. I am going to learn to sew. I can do BASIC pillows, curtains tablecloths and napkins, but I am going to try to sew clothes... this should be interesting. Luckily, my mom is an ace. I hope she is prepared for lots of sewing emergency phone calls.
I could go on and on with things that we want to learn and do. I hope you, as well, have fun plans to look forward to in 2010, but first and foremost, we want to wish our wonderful readers a blessed and beautiful New Year!!!
Saturday, December 19, 2009
I usually start off with already established herb plants that I plant outside and therefore can't use in the winter, or I have them in pots and forget to bring them in before the frost finishes them off. This time, I am going to do it from seed (yes, I know it's December)! I am using things I already had laying around (for the most part); a pot, some good potting mix, and a spray bottle for watering (create your own spray bottle by puncturing a plastic water bottle about 10 times with a sewing needle in a small circular pattern near the neck of the bottle-the water squeezes out at the perfect rate. I came up with this when I figured out I had started using my only spray bottle for floor cleaner). The seed and a grow light (I chose a 150 watt incandescent Agrosun Dayspot Grow Bulb) were the only things I had to gather .
A few herbs that I wanted to make sure I have around are rosemary, basil, parsley, chives and cilantro (having oregano and thyme wouldn't hurt either!). I haven't started rosemary from seed before, but all the others are a cinch! Plant them in the pot as you would sow them in the ground, keep the grow bulb on during the day, keep them constantly damp until they germinate (*imporant! if they dry out they will not germinate! just remember to water before work and before you go to bed), then follow a regular watering schedule once they get a little growth on them. You will have fresh herbs in no time!
I can't wait until I am biting into a peice of bruschetta made with tomatoes (preserved from this summer's garden) and a mound of fresh basil straight from my own windowsill! YUM!
Wednesday, December 16, 2009
* Gather up the bulbs of your choice
* Put them in cold storage (a cool garage, cellar, refrigerator) for 8-12 weeks depending on the type of bulb you chose (some require 8 weeks, some require 10-12).
* Take out of cold storage in the early spring (after required chill time). Pot bulbs the depth indicated on bulb tag in good potting soil (I use Miracle Grow potting mix). You can use any size, shape, color of container you want!
* Keep evenly moist, don't let dry out completely but make sure not to give them too much water or it will rot the bulb.
* Put out on front porch when out of danger of freezing temperatures.
* There is one other way to do it, but it may just be slightly more touchy depending on what kind of conditions you have at your house. You can plant bulbs in pots now, keep them outside under covered patio, awning, etc.(to keep them protected from hard frost), but you must make sure to keep the roots damp, but not overly wet, just as with all potted plants this time of year. This would require watering every couple weeks or so. I tend to go with option #1 because it doesn't require me going out when it's freezing cold to water my plants!
That's it!!! Simple isn't it?
Here is some picture inspiration to get the juices flowing!
Saturday, December 12, 2009
Almond stuffed Dates wrapped with Prosciutto
-One pouch pitted dates
-One package prosciutto
-One bag of slivered almonds
Toast almonds, in oven set on broil, just until lightly browned. Keep a CLOSE watch, they burn easily. When cooled off enough to handle, put an almond inside each date. Wrap dates with thin strips of prosciutto. Put wrapped dates in a heated skillet. Cook until prosciutto shrinks slightly around dates. Remove and enjoy!!! (Equally as wonderful served hot or at room temperature!)
Wednesday, December 9, 2009
Friday, December 4, 2009
The paperwhite narcissus is a popular bulb for indoor forcing in the winter months. Unlike most other daffodils, paperwhites do not require a cold period. They are simply planted in pots with soil, or even more commonly, in dishes or bowls with gravel, marbles or other decorative material. With a little water, they rapidly form roots, grow leaves and shoots. The white,fragrant flowers usually open up within 2-3 weeks of planting.
A common problem with paperwhites, however, is that they often grow too tall and fall over.
There is a simple and effective way to reduce stem and leaf growth of paperwhites. The "secret" is using dilute solutions of alcohol. Properly used, the result is paperwhites that are 1/3 to 1/2 shorter, with equal sized flowers that last as long as normal.
WHAT TO DO
Place your bulbs in stones, gravel, marbles, glass beads, etc., as usual. Add water as you normally would, then wait about 1 week until roots are growing and the shoot is green and growing about 1-2" above the top of the bulb. At this point, pour off the water and replace it with solution of 4 to 6% alcohol, made from just about any "hard" liquor. You can do the calculations to figure the dilution but, as an example, to get a 5% solution from a 40% distilled spirit (e.g., gin, vodka, whiskey, rum, tequila), you add 1 part of the alcohol to 7 parts of water. This is an 8-fold dilution yielding 5% alcohol.
Then, simply use this solution, instead of water, for further watering of your bulbs. It's as simple as that!
The result will be a plant that is shorter, but with flowers, just as large, fragrant, and long-lasting as usual. The plant will be nicely proportioned and won't need support stakes, wires, or other gizmos to keep it upright.
A FEW OTHER THOUGHTS
*Do not use beer or wine, as the sugars in them will cause major problems with the plants.
*If you do not have alcohol in the house, rubbing alcohol (isopropyl alcohol) works just as well. A dilution of 1 part rubbing alcohol to 10 or 11 parts water is appropriate.
WHY DOES THIS WORK?
It is simply "water stress", where the alcohol makes it more difficult for the plant to absorb water. the plant suffers a slight lack of water, enough to reduce leaf and stem growth, but not enough to affect flower size or flower longevity.
Saturday, November 28, 2009
Something useful: I usually end up cutting a few branches off the bottom of the tree to make plenty of room for presents- Use the extra greens for decorating tops of tables or shelves!
I still have a few things on my list to prepare for the holiday season... put up the tree (of course!), gather greens to make garland, bring home poinsettias, send out Christmas cards, buy ingredients for holiday treats, and I can't forget to mention the clove plugged oranges (lovely to set among garland, or even stacked in a pretty bowl on your counter). Did I mention shopping??? I cannot boast about being ahead in that respect...
Monday, November 23, 2009
The holiday cacti were originally forest cacti, growing at elevations between 3300 to 5600 feet above sea level in the Organ Mountains north of Rio de Janeiro in southeast Brazil, South America. They are called Flor de maio (May Flower) in Brazil.
Many modern holiday cactus cultivars are hybrids, first bred about 150 years ago in England.
Our Christmas cacti do best when kept in bright/indirect sunlight. We keep them on a 10-day watering schedule: water every 10 days, fertilizing (with Schultz Cactus fertilizer) every other time watered. They like to dry out inbetween waterings. To figure out the best spot and watering schedule for your cacti it will be a bit of trial and error. Cacti kept in an area where they get a draft and more light may need watering more than every 10 days, and cacti kept in spots with less light and little air circulation may not need watering as often as every 10 days. I have found that the most important thing is consistency. Figure out your watering/fertilizing schedule and stick to it.
Some say that Christmas cacti need a bit of a cold snap (6-8 wks. at 50-57 degrees Farenheit) in order to bloom. I have not found this to be the case. As long as the cacti get consistent care, they have always bloomed on time for me!
When the time comes to repot your Chritmas cactus, be sure not to upset the roots too much and use a good quality cactus soil (they like a sandier soil which allows for better drainage).
I have propagated a lot of houseplants, but have never tried Christmas cactus. So, this morning I looked up precisely how to do it and tried it out! I will let you know how it goes!
This is the info I found: Holiday cacti can be propagated quite easily by removing a single segment and plant it a quarter of its length deep in a pot filled with slightly sandy soil (it also helps to put some kind of rooting hormone on the base of the cutting). Place the pot in a well lit area (but not direct sunlight) and keep the soil moist. The cutting should begin showing signs of growth after two or three weeks.
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
Wednesday, November 11, 2009
So take a good look in your garden...
What do you see???
What you see now, is what you will be looking at for the next few months. Are you happy with the winter interest in your garden? The winter garden can be equally as beautiful as all other seasons if planted just right! Personally, I am going to make a last-ditch effort to get a few more evergreens into my landscape (at least within eye-shot of my windows!). I want to be able to enjoy my garden all the way to the last drop- whether working in it or looking at it covered in snow from my windows!
Happy fall planting!
P.S. Time to have your sprinklers blown out if you haven't had it done yet! All hoses are coiled up and stored away for the winter as well! Bring on the snow!!!
Thursday, November 5, 2009
Isn't that cute!? Used back in the Colonial days in America and was also a popular Christmas decoration during the Victorian era in England. It is the predecessor of the tradition of hanging mistletoe, and it symbolizes everlasting good luck. Young women who were caught under the decoration had to pay the price and give the gentleman who caught her there a kiss. Couples that kissed beneath the ball would stay together for the year and maybe even marry.
Who could resist the charm of this little ivy bird cage???
Sunday, November 1, 2009
Echinacea and Goldenseal are both immune boosters and natural antibiotics. If taken at the onset of a cold, they will hep prevent further symptoms. Commonly taken by pill or oil. (Do not take Goldenseal if you are pregnant).
Red Clover blossoms steaped and used as a tea, has expectorant and anti-inflammatory properties and is effective in relieving colds and dry, unproductive coughs.
Chamomile tea is used to reduce the duration of allergy attacks and also as a calming agent. Gather leaves and steap in hot water. Strain and enjoy!
Willow bark is used to treat pain, headache, fever and athritis.
Parsley seeds can be used to make tea for the treatment of arthritis and rheumatism.
The most memorable for me was when our kitchen morphed into a distillery. We all got a good laugh at the quantities of fir bark and vodka that ended up there. But from it was churned out a fir bark sore throat remedy that we still use to this day. (I still wonder which ingredient actually does the curing!)
Another was an alder bark salve that became very popular among my brother's college roomates. With boys you inevitably get some kind of gross fungus, in this case it was Athletes Foot. The alder bark salve was the only thing that quickly worked to clear it up! It was in high demand! We use it for all sorts of different skin issues: chapped lips, dry nose from the constant blowing of it during a cold, dry skin, etc.
My mother has always been interested and drawn to all things natural. She made a friend, Darcy Williamson, in McCall, Idaho who has a book out 'Healing Plants of the Rocky Mountains' (available in our store). It has been an invaluable volume in our library.
It's not that we never used modern medicine, but when you can gather from nature and see it working you can't help but love it! If any of you would like information about any specific health issue or herb, please leave a comment and we will post follow-ups!
Sunday, October 25, 2009
Freshening pots, windowboxes and anything else that is summer weary is such a satisfying thing to do. I know that most people are tired of gardening this time of year and don't really want to think about going out and working yet again but the rewards are well worth it. When you are sitting in your cozy house with a cup of tea, looking out at the pansy faces peering through the window it can't help but put a smile on your face.
"Even if something is left undone, everyone must take time to
sit still and watch the leaves turn." ~Elizabeth Lawrence
Monday, October 19, 2009
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
Cattails are pretty to look at and they dry wonderfully. Cut them with long stems and tie in bunches to set around your patio or by your front door; cut shorter bouquets to set on your table or anywhere else you have a flat surface (think about your bathrooms too! Make every room special for fall!) Take a drive in the country- there are cattails everywhere!
Gourds, Pumpkins, and really any kind of produce can be used for table centerpieces or can be set anywhere to give a little color and interest. Remember to think outside the box! You can paint, marble, stack, mix n' match, hang, etc. with these! Use whatever produce looks the prettiest at the farm stand! (Hint: A little olive oil shines up produce beautifully if you are wanting to display it!)
Houseplants are always my go-to decoration. They are there for you all year round, and there are some beautiful varieties available. Come see our sun room-it is always filled with good options for your home. We have plants that do well in low-light situations, plants that love a sunny window, and all those in between.
Don't forget about cornstalks! They are perfect to gather in bunches and place by your front doorstep. Cornstalks can usually be found at your local farm stand, or from a friendly farmer (Don't be afraid to ask!)
Indian corn contains all the colors of fall, and can be used wherever you like. Whether placed among gourds and pumpkins on your table or doorstep or gathered in a unique bouquet in the center of your table, it is sure to catch eyes!
Most of all, pick things that are pretty to YOU, there are no set ways to go about creating and decorating your home... and have fun!
~Laura & Susan
Sunday, October 11, 2009
Saturday, October 10, 2009
Tomatoes and oregano make it Italian; wine and tarragon make it French. Sour cream makes it Russian; lemon and cinnamon make it Greek. Soy sauce makes it Chinese; garlic makes it good. [Anthelme Brillat-Savarin]
Friday, October 9, 2009
-Changing over our summer pots to showcase beautiful mums, asters, kale and pansies (kale and pansies are pretty all the way through the cold months of winter by the way).
Have to get back out in the nursery! More later!!!