Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Year!

The start of this new year brings with it the start of some pretty cool stuff! We have started a new monthly newsletter (which we are very excited about)! It will have more gardening information, tips, advice, reminders, random (and funny) information, gardening quips and more! Check out January's Newsletter HERE! (I will be posting the current month's newsletter on this blog and on our website, but if you would like it to come right to your e-mail inbox please sign up here!)

2011 also brings new projects to beautify Ontario! Check out the new Adopt-a-Pot community project HERE. I am working toward a 2011-2012 launch!

Our 2011 seminar schedule will be published very soon, so be watching for it! We have some fun ideas in the works for you! (Thank you to everyone who made the 2010 seminars a great success!)

I can't tell you how much I am looking forward to this next gardening season-winter is tough on gardeners! I have big plans for my garden- do you? It's a great time to start thinking and planning!

I hope everyone has a Happy New Year, and as always... Happy Gardening!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Spinning away winter

What are you doing keeping yourself busy with this winter? I hope to have more time to spin during these cold months. About twelve years ago I learned to spin fiber and have been hooked ever since. Gandhi said that if people would spend one hour a day spinning there would be world peace and I am sure that he was right. It is the most relaxing, meditative thing to do. Even non-spinners sit staring at the wheel of the spinning wheel as it goes around and around, almost putting them into a trance-like state. I enjoy knitting with my handspun but most of the time the skein of yarn is my finished product. If I knit something with it that is just an extra finished product. It is always amusing to me when many of my spinning friends have a plan for their fiber, from start to finish. How am I to know if a fiber feels like a scarf or a sweater or a pair of socks until I am finished spinning it?

As far as knitting goes...I enjoy small projects. By the time I am done with one sock I am ready to move on to another project, not finish the second sock. Surely there has to be other knitters with the same attitude? Children's clothes are for me. They are small, almost always soft, and cute. What isn't cute in miniature? My children, two of them married and one in college still, often ask me who I am knitting the baby clothes for, like I am trying to hint at having grandchildren. But I just smile and say that they are for baby shower presents or just the right baby that happens to enter my life. They don't buy it!

That is just one of the many things that I hope to do this winter. I hope that you have projects that you are looking forward to doing on cold, winter days and evenings. Life is too short not to have joy and peace added to the daily grind.

Friday, December 10, 2010

12 Shopping Days of Christmas

We are having big sales starting tomorrow, leading up until Christmas! Every day, for the last 12 shopping days up until Christmas we will be putting a different item on sale. Once the item goes on sale, it will remain that way until Christmas! Watch the video below to check out the items that will be on sale!

Original Video - More videos at TinyPic

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Spring fever already! It's going to make for a long winter...

I have to admit that tonight, while sitting in my chair looking out the window at black nothingness, I am already starting to itch for spring... I know, it's just a bit early to be thinking that way (we aren't even done with Thanksgiving!), but I can't help it! Being busy outside in the dirt is just part of me! I already have plants in mind for specific areas in my garden, and plans cooking away for a new trellis system for roses to climb up and block out some ugly vinyl fencing (vinly fencing is a whole other soap box I will not make you suffer through...for now anyway :) Back to the garden....I finished up hauling out a huge pile of garden clippings out of the yard, filled the bird feeder, emptied some pots and threw away some of my fall decor. The wind was frigid! It felt like it was blowing right through my many layer of clothes sending me right to the store to buy some good winter boots. I loved every minute of it though, and wished I had more out there I could work on! This year, instead of leaving quite a bit of my clean up for spring, I cleaned out all that I could. While it doesn't make much difference to the plant's growth whether or not you cut them back in the late fall or early spring, it does lessen the likelyhood of insect pests harboring over until spring, and I really hope to get my aphid and mite population down (I had to spray and spray and spray this year!)

This fall, I decided to take the production part of my garden out. Yes... it doesn't seem quite right...working at a seed store and didn't feel quite right either. My rationale: I have such a tiny yard and, late's face it, vegetable gardens, no matter how many pretty raised beds and bamboo teepees you have, still look untidy and wild. Because this part of my garden is emphasized by a boxwood hedge from the rest of my yard, it is the first thing you see when you go into the yard. My solution: everything out + a big fountain plopped right in the middle + formal French garden surrounding it = much needed structure and beauty! The rest of my beds are of a more wild nature, English cottage style, so my yard cried out for some definite structure and a focal point. I think this garden will do the trick! For now, until Aaron and I buy a bigger peice of land, I will be regularly visiting our local produce stand (and my parents garden!)

Now, for the important info I wanted to share tonight....

We only have one seminar left this season! This one falls this Saturday (November 27th and 10am). We are looking forward to teaching you how to make REAL garland and wreaths for your home! We have yummy snacks planned, and even decided to kick it up a notch and make you a latte or mocha to sip on while you work away! (There will be a small fee for those who want to make and take home their own wreaths and garlands, but feel free to attend to just watch the demonstration too for no fee!)

Have a wonderful and happy Thanksgiving!


Monday, October 25, 2010

Holiday Open House

I can't believe it is this time of year again! In just a matter of days we will begin decking the halls in preparation for our annual Holiday Open House!

As long as I can remember, the Open House has been one of my favorite events of the year. Even though I haven't always worked here full time, I always enjoyed the days when I got to come help decorate. Every year has been different. A different inspiration. A different set of ideas. That is what makes the Open House so much fun!This two day event is filled with holiday treats, good music, beautiful decor and, best of all, fellowship with our wonderful customers and friends! Please stop by, sip on a latte made just for you, and browse the many unique gifts and inspirational ideas for your home!

I might be a tad premature in saying this, but what the heck, 
Happy Holidays! :)


Wednesday, October 20, 2010


     I thought I would fill you in on a new project that's currently in the works! 

I am calling it.... 
'Adopt-a-Pot, A City Beautification Project'

What it is: 24 large, concrete pots will be placed on the corner of every block from both sides of Idaho Ave to both sides of 5th Ave (street that runs by Belly Buster).
How it works: After the pots are placed, businesses or individuals can then 'Adopt-a-Pot', which means they pay a one-season-extremely-reasonable-fee that includes me going down and planting them up for every season with seasonal interest plants. (I am really excited about doing that part!)
The project's goal and message: is to bring some vibrant color and warmth to our downtown area. 'We aim to inspire growth, new ideas and a spirit of community pride!'
Benefit of adopting a pot: you will be contributing to the beauty and warmth of your city. The adoptee's name will appear on a plaque attached to the specific pot they adopted.'s so easy and affordable!
Future plans for Adopt-a-Pot: are to place pots on the corner of every intersection running down Idaho Ave and SW 4th Ave, so that the entire trip through Ontario will be a treat!

     I think Ontario has a crazy amount of potential to be a charming city, we just need to dig in and get started area by area! My mom, Susan, has already made great efforts to start, block-by-block, sprucing up our town (have you seen the new landscaping running alongside Belly Buster on 5th Ave???), and I feel that I need to start getting involved as well (thanks to the support from both of my parents with this project in particular!) I think that projects like these inspire and are infectious!  It's amazing the effect just a few plants can have!
    I have visited with the city, and they have been extremely helpful and encouraging so far! I am hoping for spring to be the launch for Adopt-a-Pot! I just wanted to fill you in so you can be thinking about it!
    I meet again with the City Council next Thursday, Wish me luck!


Here is an example of the pot I hope you will see next spring! 
They will definitely make a statement at 33"high x 35"wide (and 480 lbs unplanted!)

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Fall's beautiful colors

Do you know of a tree somewhere that has beautiful fall foliage right now??? If you do, go cut a big bouquet of it's fall colored leaves and put them on your table (TODAY!). A bouquet need not consist of blooming things. Use branches (bare or with leaves) and grass with pretty seed heads. Enjoy fall to it's fullest! We like to scatter nature all around our homes. A big bouquet of brightly colored leaves surrounded by a few small pumpkins and squash makes for an easy, cheap, beautiful centerpiece! 
Look around and be inspired.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Autumn season!

What a great time of year! Don't you just love when the scorching weather begins to wane, the trees start to show their outstanding colors, and you begin to just smell that familiar smell in the air? Fall is upon us! I am busy keeping up on deadheading, cutting back, and simply enjoying what the garden has to offer right now. The colors, seed heads, and shapes all become newly inspirational to me. This is when the girls in my family get into the foraging mood! We jump in the car (lattes and pruners in tow) and scout out cattails, wheat, neat looking grasses....heck, even unusual, gnarled pieces of wood! The prettiest autumn decorations are right outside your doorstep! We also love to not only eat pumpkins and squash, but to decorate with them as well! In our October seminar we will be sharing a bunch of neat ideas on how you can easily incorporate pumpkins, squash and gourds into your fall decor (okay...and some yummy recipes too!)

Mark the date on your calendars! 

There is nothing better to get you in the mood for the season then being inspired by the season's harvest!  

Monday, September 13, 2010

Garden Life

I don't know about you guys, but I have a TON of big spiders in my yard! Maybe I just wasn't observant last year, but it seems like there are far more this year. They are really good to have around, so I leave them alone, but I always feel like something is crawling on me when I am working in my garden! (The things we put up with to work in the dirt! :)

The mother of all garden spiders (it's backside is the size of a cherry tomato)
(This one happened to set up camp right around my raspberries and right over a nice sized crop of weeds-which means there are plenty of unpicked raspberries and big weeds! I will be leaving them alone until this guy decides to vacate the premises!)


Tuesday, August 31, 2010

September Seminar

We had such a great time at August's 'Fabulous Fall Containers' seminar and we hope you did too!

Before you know it, September's seminar will be upon us! Be sure to mark this one in your calendars (Saturday, September 25th at 10am!) We will have lots of good ideas on how you can pep up your beds in preparation for winter!

Friday, August 27, 2010

August Seminar!

I just wanted to make sure everyone knew about tomorrow's seminar... because it's going to be a good one! I personally love fall, and am always ready and waiting for the change of season! We have some REALLY GREAT IDEAS lined up for you (as well as some basil themed snacks)! 
Hope to see you there!

Friday, August 20, 2010

Garden Foibles...Air Conditioner or Swamp Cooler...You decide!

During these hot, dog days of summer, I thank God and all of my lucky stars for our air conditioner. It hums away all day long keeping our home cool and cozy. It is absolutely wonderful to walk into your home (after several hours of garden chores in scorching heat) and instantly feel that blessed, artificially cooled air.

Times were not always like this.

We used to use a swamp cooler (for those of you not familiar with the inner workings of a swamp cooler, here's how they work: you simply plumb water to this big ugly box, which is usually situated outside a window or your home, the water runs through the padding on the inner walls of the ugly box which provides cooler air that the large 'squirrel cage' fan inside blows into your house). Our swamp cooler did a fantastic job of cooling in a hurry, but you had to put up the the wobbling of your chin and cheeks, and even the pinning back of your ears. But, it was cheap, and since I am cheap myself, I always voted cheap. I even invented an irrigation system to flood irrigate perennials and shrubs with the run-off water from our swamp cooler. Water runs out the bottom of the cooler through a PVC pipe (also ugly). I could direct the water wherever I wanted it to go. All I had to do was lay out more ugly white PVC pipe. This sytem of watering worked great for us for several years. It also helped justify keeping the swamp cooler, which, remeber, is a CHEAP way to cool your home.

As Susan and I were out weeding in the garden one afternoon, we noticed the sound of splattering water. We followed our ears right to, you guessed it, the swamp cooler. Water was filling up the box and spilling out all of it's sides, making a muddy mess! I quickly ran and shut off the water. Susan mentioned that it does not require a brain surgeon to realize that a pipe was plugged. I knew she was likely right, so I told her that I would explore all of my connections while she finished the weeding. So off she went. I started at the furthest point and worked my way back towards the swamp cooler, checking each 20' section for clogs. Finally, I found the plugged pipe (I wish I would have started at the swamp cooler, because the clog was in the first 20' section of pipe, but, at least I had found the problem).

The way she tells it, Susan says that she could hardly believe her eyes when, as she walked around the row of grapes to see me down on my hands and knees, with my lips locked around a 1 1/4" PVC pipe, blowing for all I was worth. After about 60 seconds of this, I had to stop and clear my head. Once my dizzy head cleared, it came to me. I could rig-up a PVC fitting over the end of the pipe, attach a reducer into the fitting so I could then screw the end of the water hose into it. Once accomplished, I turned the hose on and waited for the water pressure to push the clog on thru the pipe. And waited....and waited.....and nothing. Then I got a really bright idea. I went in the house and grabbed a bottle of clorox. I poured about 1/2 gallon into the pipe, hooked the hose back on and turned it on. Nothing. I asked Susan if she would go to the swamp cooler and check the open end of the pipe, and I would open the hose valve on full-bore. After a minute or two of listening and peaking into the pipe she said she could hear a hissing sound. I asked if she would look in and see if anything was trying to work its way out. Just as she looked in....BOOM! Water, clorox and the clog, all at once, blew all over her face and entire front of her shirt....

What can one say in a moment like this???

I can't remember exactly what I said. I think I mumbled something about how glad I was that the clog was fixed, and that I loved her new bleached out T-shirt...and maybe something about going to shop for an air conditioner.

Happy Irrigating!


Saturday, July 31, 2010

Garden planning

Even though it's so darn hot outside, we still have lots going on! We have been working to bring in wonderful new things, which is giving me a much needed energy boost and inspiration which is harder to find in the dog days of summer.

I find this a great time of year to begin thinking and planning for those areas of my yard that I haven't started yet or need to improve on (we all have them!). As the cool months approach I want to have projects ready to go! My next project is to start in on my front yard which hasn't been touched, save one maple tree, since we moved in last May. Our back and side yards have seen a lot of attention, but the front yard needs some major help!

The plan is to pull up all the flowerbed edging and rock mulch, lift more than half of the sod out, and plant it up! This spot gets the intense afternoon and evening sun, so I will be sticking with sun lovers like lavender, evergreens, grasses, boxwoods, and the like. This area will be a lot less maintenance then the back and side yards for two reasons... #1. I won't have to work out there a lot when the sun is raging down  and #2. I prefer to work in the privacy of my back yard!

We get asked a lot whether or not you can plant during these hot summer and autumn months. I believe it is a common misconception that you can't. It really is a great time to plant- you just have to make sure to keep it moist! Just think that those plants are better off in the ground, rather than in thin black plastic pots!

I just wanted to let you in on our next sale...since you, too, might be planning for your own projects...

Let's all think 'autumn' together... maybe that will bring some cooler temps! :)

Friday, July 23, 2010

Water Drippers

What do gardeners do in the dead of winter? We dream of new projects...thoughts of horticultural prosperity.

My idea came one January evening this past winter. Susan immediately perked up when I told her I had an idea (likely getting primed to defend our acreage from another of my endeavours). She listened, with that knowing smile on her face, as I explained that I would like to move all our garden vine crops down to the orchard. The orchard consists of an assortment of fruit trees on about 1/4 acre. The ground slopes slightly, but at the top there is a level area about 8' wide, 300' long before the slope begins. Perfect. A place to accomodate pumpkins, squash, melons, cucumbers, etc. Susan retreated back to her book after I shared my idea, but spoke out from behind it's pages, "If you really want to grow crops down there, then have at it!" I bet she was hoping that I would forget all about my new found idea come spring, but I didn't.

Spring, having finally arrived, enabled me to conquer this area. I used a gas powered weed-eater to knock down all of the old vegetation. About every 6 feet, I knocked everything down to bare soil in a 4' square. Seeds were then planted in the middle of every square and hot caps followed (to create their own mini-greenhouse). Susan, watching from the top of the hill in one of her perennial gardens, asked me how I was going to water the new garden. 'Simple', I said, 'I will just drag a hose down and water them by hand.' Susan's idea outweighed mine though- a simple line of drip hose- much easier and less time-consuming.

Great idea, so, off to the local supply store I went. I told the clerk, Mr. Pipe, we shall call him, that I needed several hundred feet of tubing which had pre-drilled holes in it. "Oh you mean the black stuff", he said. Sounded good to me. Of course, after I got the pipe home, layed it out perfectly over the newly planted seeds, hooked it up to the hose and turned it on, nothing happened....nothing. Upon closer examination, I realized there were no holes in the tubing... it was solid walled. Back to town I go. When I re-explained myself to Mr. Pipe, he exclaimed, "Oh, you want the brown pipe, not the black one. The brown pipe has holes in it." this point it was hard to tell who was more confused or at fault: Mr. Pipe, or yours truly. Mr Pipe's next suggestion was that I buy 1/4" tubing. I could attach this 1/4" tubing to my already there solid walled black pipe and run them to the seeds, with emitters attached to the ends. Okay. I bought the parts I needed to poke into the existing black pipe, and ran the 1/4" tubing to the seeds. The emitters were hooked in next, then the moment of truth...

I walked the line to admire the drippers as they gently soaked the newly planted seeds. Everything looked great until I realized about half the drippers stopped dripping. I replaced as many emitters as I had parts for, then BACK into town (the third time if you are counting), to visit Mr. Pipe. When I explained the problem, he informed me that when you punch into the main tube, small flakes of plastic can float around inside the tube until they get lodged in the emitters. He further mentioned that I should open the main tube at each end and flush it out. With new emitters and a newly flushed out main tube, our new irrigation system seems to work. As the season wears on, I periodically change plugged drippers.

It seems to me that it wouold have been much easier to water this new garden by hand. Or simply to have started with the right type of drip hose to begin with...the brown one!


Saturday, June 26, 2010

Garden Musings From My Chair

      When planning new areas in our landscape, I have learned to take a back seat. This is as it should be when working with Susan (my lovely wife). I do, however, slip in (or sneak) a favorite perennial or shrub of my own. Ususally, it simply just does not work out. She tells me so up front, but always puts up with my follies, for this I appreciate her patience.
      Now back to our project at hand. With my trusty digging shovel in tow, we began. Susan's new rose garden design called for 24 holes to be dug. The plants are in 5 gallon containers, so holes to be dug are not huge, but moderate in size. First hole...first stroke with my shovel...and THUNK! It felt like I hit a piece of concrete! This will be a long afternoon... What I actually hit was a very large (about 12 in. diameter) root from a huge poplar tree close by. Time to re-tool. I now reapproach the hole to be dug with my chainsaw in hand. After ruining 2 chains, I finally achieved success and removed the huge chunk of root.
      It's time to start digging again, but alas, beneath this root was a mess of criss-crossing smaller roots. These were removed with my grubbing hoe and axe. Hole #1, finally being dug, it's time to move on. The next 23 holes were mush easier with a few remaining root-clogged exceptions. Susan worked right alongside me and planted all of her new beauties. Job finished!
     When strolling through the yard each evening, I now look at this newly created area and think to myself...'Susan, you've done it again. Great job. Another beautiful garden for us all to enjoy. Thank you!'


Next time: Water drippers and naughty cows!

These were roses used in the creation of the new rose garden...

Crown Princess Margarita
Jude the Obscure
Ambridge Rose

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Saturday Seminar!

Don't forget!

We have a wonderful seminar planned for THIS Saturday, at 10am!!!

All you ever wanted to know about Roses and Perennials! 
(Including a rose enhanced treat for you to sample!)

You don't want to miss it!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Straight from the garden


To be quite honest, I thought they were going to be a different color when I planted them (a smoky salmon color). Well, they came up fire engine red...which doesn't exactly fit in with the color palette in my backyard. They look prettier on my counter then in my border! I am okay with that! :)

Also from the garden...

Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp 
(courtesy of Williams Sonoma Baking Cookbook)

One of the best ways I have had these two foods paired. A simple, sweet & tart crisp. A crumbly, brown-sugar crust. 

Unadulterated flavor. 

You should definitely try this one. 

The recipe:

6 medium stalks rhubarb, cut into 1/2 in. pieces
2 c. strawberries, hulled and halved lengthwise
1/2 c. sugar

1 c. flour
1/2 c. old-fashioned rolled oats
1/3 c. sugar
1/3 c. brown sugar
1/2 t. cinnamon
1/4 t. salt
1/2 c. unsalted butter, melted

Preheat oven to 350. For filling, stir together ingredients and pour into baking dish.

For topping, mix all ingredients into melted butter. Crumble mixture over top of filling.

Bake for 35-40 minutes. Let cool for 10 minutes and serve. (To reheat place in 250 degree oven for 15 minutes. It can be made and stored at room temp for up to 2 days!)



Sunday, May 30, 2010

Two thoughts today...

#1    As I drive around, I really enjoy looking around at what other people do with there front entryways. Mostly in the way of pots. Pots fascinate me. You can have such fun with them. First of all, and best of all, they are not permanent, so you can experiment with different colors, textures, and plants you have never tried before. Second, they can be used practically as well. For those of you who live in apartments, you can have a pot garden, as I once did, growing anything ranging from herbs, onions, peas, tomatoes, even potatoes! What I don't understand is why so many always tend toward the same exact plants in the same exact pots. There is nothing wrong with it, nothing at all, but so much fun is missed! Try a spike instead of a fountain grass. Try a perennial grass instead of an annual, which in doing allows you to add a pretty perennial to the garden at the end of the season. Use an evergreen for a formal feel, or giant blooming geraniums or hibiscus for a fun colorful splash! Don't be afraid to think outside the box when it comes to your pots! Experiment! Learn! And have fun with them!

#2      I am so thankful that I have parents with an enormous garden filled with beautiful plants that I can take starts from. They don't have to be big, fluffy, full grown plants...just one little start will do. I read about gardeners of old who were constantly exchanging plant starts with one another, forming little clubs that meet and exchange every so often. What has happened to that? and wouldn't that be fun?

Well, those were just a couple thoughts I wanted to share on this Memorial Day weekend! I hope you all are enjoying the fantastic weather out in your gardens! As for me, I have some starts to go plant!

(Mountain Blue & Comfrey, two of the many starts that I am planting!)

P.S. We have decided to keep the store open tomorrow (Memorial Day) from 10am-5pm. Come see us!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Next Seminar!

Don't miss this seminar! Lots of good info AND we are planning to make some wonderful rose-enhanced treats!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Gardens in full swing!

Walking out into the garden is a completely different experience now then it was just a few weeks ago. The gallons of root stimulator I used last season and early this spring are definitely paying off. My tansy is almost double it's normal size! (no joke!) My garden space is definitely beginning to fill up! My favorite new plants are a 'Glowing Embers' Japanese Maple and a Giant Weeping Norway Spruce.

I love the formality and graceful habit of this specimen. Iseli Nursery is where we get a lot of our wonderful specimen evergreens and trees. I am always excited when we gets loads in from them! Check them out HERE

Here is the 'Glowing Embers' Japanese Maple. I like this variety because it can tolerate a bit more sun then some of the red, bold-leaved varieties. It has beautiful bright green foliage and reddish-brown bark throughout the growing season and the foliage turns a bright "glowing-orange" in the fall. A fairly large tree as well (20'x24'). Can't wait to see this one in the fall!

The vegetable garden is in full swing as well. My peas are almost ready for eating, and my chickens have really enjoyed the fresh greens (and my ornamental sweet peas...grr...) I tried out a few different varieties of greens this year. My stand by varieties are red romaine, freckles, buttercrunch and giant nobel spinach. The new picks this year were red raddichio, gala mache and corn salad (which I have yet to try). They all look pretty lined up in my raised beds. Even in a vegetable garden we are always trying to design it out to mix the best colors and textures. (Doesn't your produce taste better when you are able to go out in your own garden and see how pretty it all looks together before picking it??? I think it improves the flavor and experience!)  I have a drift of silvery-blue leeks backing a lazy row of red cabbage, and giant red mustard backing my green cabbage. You must think about planting bolder things next to feathery things (green onions next to my raddichio or red romaine next to a row of garlic.) And don't forget your herbs! I love to plant herbs out in the garden or flower beds (other than mint...a mistake I will never make again as it creeps everywhere and threathens to choke out some of my other beloved plants. All mints are banned to pots on the patio.) I definitely have an affinity for kitchen gardens.

Update on my potato growing project: I planted my first layer of potatoes in a giant peat pot (for lack of space); when the plants were up, full and green, I dumped more soil on top of them and planted my second layer! We'll see how this goes... Red Pontiac will make up the bottom layers (as they are a longer day potato) and Yukon Golds will be the top layers.  So far, so good!

I hope all of you are enjoying your gardens as much as I am mine! Try to enjoy these more mild days as much as possible before the onslaught of summer heat hits!


Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Next Seminar!

Just a heads up! Our next seminar will be here in a couple short weeks! 

Be prepared to taste a selection of wonderful food!

Thank you to all of you who have made our first seminars a success! We really appreciate it!

Friday, April 23, 2010

Spring Has Sprung

"It may be hard for an egg to turn into a bird: it would be a jolly sight harder for it to learn to fly while remaining an egg.  We are like eggs at present.  And you cannot go on indefinitely being just an ordinary, decent egg.  We must be hatched or go bad." 

Spring is one of my favorite seasons.  Life is emerging from every tree, perennial, and animal.  But, the sounds of the awakening birds are what I love most.  From the very crack of daybreak there is birdsong coming from every direction.  It is what gets me moving in the mornings.  They are always on time, never late.  They know when I should be up and preparing for my day with a hot cup of coffee.  It's hard to 'wake up on the wrong side of the bed' when you hear the beautiful chorus of a variety of birds blending together perfectly.
When I got to work this morning I decided that our birdcage needed to be cleaned out and given a spring look.  So I got the vacuum, hot soapy water, fresh newspaper, fresh straw and started in on it.  It really is not too bad to clean because it is easy to get inside of it.  I did don a wide-brimmed hat to protect my hair.........just in case of, you know what!
While I was cleaning, Robyn and I discovered that one of the finches was nesting on a sweet, little, white egg.  What a lovely surprise!  So now the count down is on.  I have discovered that it takes about three weeks for a finch egg to hatch.  If it doesn't hatch then we will have to remove it so the finch will stop nesting on it.  I will definately keep you all posted.

~Take Joy, Susan 

Thursday, April 15, 2010

New Recipe

I just tried out a new recipe that we all loved, so I thought I would share!
(It's easy and you don't need a lot of fancy ingredients!)

Basil Lime Fizz
2 T. basil syrup
2 T. lime juice
Chilled sparkling water or club soda

Pour the syrup and lime juice into the bottom of a 12- oz. tumbler. Fill the glass about 2/3 full with ice. Pour the sparkling water as you stir with a spoon.

Basil Syrup
(3/4 cup)
1 and 1/2 cups basil leaves
1/2 sugar
1/2 cup water
1/8 t. baking soda

First blanch the basil leaves. Plunge them into a small pot of rapidly boiling water for 10 seconds, then drain and plunge them into a small bowl of ice water. Drain again and gently squeeze the excess water from the leaves.

Puree the blanched basil in a blender with the sugar, water, and baking soda until you have a dark green liquid, about 30 seconds. Pour the syrup through a fine strainer, stirring with the back of a spoon to help push it through. Keeps for 2-3 days in refrigerator.

(Recipe, thanks to Jerry Traunfeld's 'The Herbal Kitchen'...a brilliant herbal cookbook)

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Chicken Adventures

Well, we did it. We are official chicken farmers! Our goal for 2010 was to put together some kind of chicken coop at each of our homes (mom converted her current barn to house her chickens and I built a small coop for my house in town). 

Tuesday was the day. We had everything checked off our lists: straw, nesting boxes, roosts, heat lamps, the right food, etc. We were ready. Early in the morning mom went and picked up her hens (6 were given to her from family friends who have had great success chicken farming) and a rooster was given to her from a good customer at the store (the most beautiful rooster you ever will see I might add).  I went and picked up two silkies and a cochin bantam (the cochin ended up going straight back- which is another story in and of itself). 

We have had such fun just sitting and watching our chickens! Mom's hens lay several eggs a day (mine haven't laid a single one yet...)

A couple added bonuses: When I clean the droppings out of the coop everyday, I scatter them around the garden. Perfect amendment! They also clean up leftovers from dinner or veggies that have passed their peak, thus eliminating our food waste. 

I am sure there will be more chicken updates to come!

My coop:                   

and Mom's coop (the outdoor part):

Mom's chickens:

And mine (try to hold back the laughter...everyone laughs when I show them my chickens!):

Patty & Darla :)

(they were very uncooperative when I tried to get a good picture! Maybe next time!)

Monday, March 22, 2010

Raised Beds and Spring Busyness!

Raised beds are a great thing. If you don't have them, you should think about it! They make vegetable gardening easier (less weeds and bending) and they allow you to control the soil and create the most hospitable bed for raising your veggies. There are many shapes and styles available in all different types of materials with varying price ranges. I personally prefer raised beds that aren't too tall and are made out of natural materials so they blend in with the rest of the garden. I made mine out of 2x10s screwed together in the corners. They are anchored in the ground with 1x2(ish) wood stakes driven into the ground (best way to do it is to screw the stakes to the built beds AFTER they have been driven into the ground.) Super simple, not expensive, and good looking! I have been having fun planting them up this spring! I have heard of people using all different types of things to construct raised beds: hay bales, scrap wood, metal siding, even tires. I would love to hear if any of you have any other ideas!

Here are a few of the things that have been keeping me busy, 
and a reminder about stuff you should do as well!

-Start your spring crops
-Prep potato beds, it's almost time to plant them!
-Plant asparagus, berries, grapes, rhubarb, etc.
-Do any clean up in your garden and flower beds left from last season
-Weed beds
-Apply systemic to insect prone trees (birch, willow, etc.)
-Edge your grass
-Fertilize your grass (it's almost time to put down crabgrass preventer as well)
-Start watering your grass
-and plant, plant, PLANT! Now is a perfect time for both you and your plants, less stress and heat for both parties involved!

Happy Spring to you all!



Saturday, March 13, 2010

Be Patient With The Wind

This is the time of year that I dread the most...............the windy time!!  I have to be outside the majority of the day to set the nursery up and to do the many tasks that are before me.  This means that I have to be out there come rain or shine, wind or snow, and once in awhile a beautiful spring day.  These beautiful spring days are what keep me going.  We have had a fairly mild winter and spring so I should not complain but I still do when the wind is blowing me sideways!
This morning at 8:00am I am out watering the trees and wondering what I am doing out in a hurricane wind storm.  But, then I look at the trees and berries and all the beautiful plants and they remind me that they need the wind.  Yes, that's right, need the wind.  They need it to grow strong.  If any living plant does not ever have a breeze blowing against its structure then it becomes a weak, wimpy plant. One that always needs your attention.  So I carry on...........trying to remind myself that 'this too shall pass'.

                                                                                      Take Joy, Susan

Please join us, March 20th, 10:00am, for our first seminar of the year. 
An expanded version of last year's
'Growing an abundant Harvest'!
We will be discussing your garden...from
the soil up!  We will address soil types,
amendments, weed and pest control,
abundant gardens in small spaces,
unusual vegetables and plant selection!

Our seminars are for everyone, from the novice to the expert.  They are free of charge. We provide refreshments, and fellowship.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

A Must Read

'Down the Garden Path' by Beverley Nichols is an absolute must read for all you gardeners out there! 

Beverley Nichols is a brilliant, English writer of garden books from the early 1900s. This is not just an ordinary garden book that tells you what plant should be planted where, but it's a collection of funny, personal stories about Beverly's own garden. A story of his first real garden and his entertaining journey through it. We gardeners share a certain sort of humor that no other 'non-gardener' would understand. I know this as I put this statement to the test- I(gardener) try to share some passages  from this book with my husband (non-gardener) which have me dying with laughter and he just returns a  somewhat blank stare back at me. I don't understand how he doesn't see the humor and he wonders what in the world I thought was so funny...There you go, a perfect example. 

An excerpt:

       "Until you actually own a garden, you cannot know the joy. You may say 'oh yes, I love a garden.' But what do you really mean by that? You mean that you like to wander through rows of hollyhocks, swathed in tulle...(you, not the hollyhocks), and that you like to drink lemonade under a tree with a nice young man who will shortly pick you a large bunch of roses. You hope he will take the thorns off,  and that there will be no earwigs in them, because if you found an earwig on the rug in the car you would die with horror. (So should I). You like walking out onto a terrace and looking up at a wall that is covered with the pale, tipsy plumes of walk under arches of orange blossom, thinking the prettiest thoughts...and you may even stoop down to pick a bunch of pansies, if they match your frock. You like these things, yes.

       But you do not like groveling on the earth in search of a peculiarly nauseating slug that has been eating those pansies. You do not like putting a trowel under that slug, hoping that it will not suddenly burst or produce fearful slime, and tipping the slug with gratified horror into a basket. You do not like bending down for hours to pull up hateful little weeds that break off above the root...(not groundsel, because groundsel is a lovely weed to pull up). ..but small docks and wretched things like that. You do not like these things, for one reason and one reason only...because you do not own the garden. All gardeners will know what I mean."

...and you gardeners out there, like me, will know exactly what he means! Gardening is a love/hate relationship at times. It's a trial in nerves and patience. It is dirty and insect infested at times. But it is also rewarding, beautiful, therapeutic, a creative outlet and so many other things that outweigh the 'trying times' by far! I am so happy all you gardeners out there understand!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Time to spray fruit trees!

Yesterday was Michael and my day off.  We awoke to a beautiful, sunny day and knew that we would spend it outside.  We have about two acres of gardens.......not for the faint of heart!  We began by cleaning out the vegetable garden and tilling in several amendments to our raised beds.  The raspberries needed to be pruned to the ground and raked out.  Michael dug two of our grapes out, opening a pathway a little larger so you could at least walk through that area in August without taking your loppers with you!
We, also, have a small orchard that needs attended to this time of year.  We have apples, cherries, peaches, plums, necterines, and a pear.  The following is what we do to them to assure a good long as the weather cooperates and the blooms don't freeze.

This spraying schedule works for all fruit trees with a pit with the exception of apricots.  Spraying apricots can stunt their fruits.

We try to grow our produce organically at home so the copper or lime follow these organic principles.  Once in awhile we have to bring in the big guns and treat something that is not responding to organics but for the most part we will dig out the offender and destroy it.

I hope that this gives you a little information on keeping fruit trees.  If you need any help at all just let us know and we would be happy to walk you through it.

Blessings, Susan

Monday, February 15, 2010

Spring Beauty

Aren't you loving the spring weather? Despite the few days of rain here and there, I have been enjoying this beautiful, rather warm spring. I am able to get out in my garden more and more as the days go by and I am soaking in every minute. Working in the plant world, I am always so surprised by how fast each season goes by. Doesn't it feel like we were just harvesting our pumpkins?

Each season has it's own beauty. Something that makes it uniquely it's own. The stark, awakening beauty of spring makes the abundance of summer and fall all the more attractive, but I can't help but fall in love every time I see a bulb bravely peek it's head out of the cold soil brightening our outlooks. It feels like I begin to awake as my garden does.

I worked in my garden yesterday and saw so many things that excited me! I can't help but share!

My beautiful witch hazel!
(We have several varieties in full bloom down at the store,
you should come by just for a spring color cheer up!)

A fragrant white hyacinth

Did you know heucheras were an evergreen?

Bergenias are evergreen too...

Love my boxwoods!

Red Twig Dogwood is a winter favorite.

and of course...tulips!

One of my indoor beauties...Basil.
(started mid-December from seed)

Go out in your garden with a critical eye...figure out where you would like more spring color! There is no time like the present to make your garden (and life) more beautiful!