Congratulations Jim Wales, Julie N., Sandy Masingillo, Cindy Menn and Martha Wilson! Ya'll are the winners of the Weed or Wildflower Giveaway. Check you inbox for an email!
Thank you so much to everyone who submitted a comment. What a great response! We've got another giveaway coming in Monday's newsletter so be sure you're subscribed.
Grape Hyacinth (Muscari armeniacum) is a spring flowering bulb that will easily naturalize. In Arkansas the blooms pop up in lawns along with wild violets, henbit and spring starflower. It's said that a weed is just a plant growing in the wrong place. So what do you think about grape hyacinths? Weed or wildflower? Tell me your thoughts in the comments section below for a chance to win one of my Bulb Garden decks.
So tell me is this a weed or a wildflower?
*Winners are selected by P. Allen Smith and his staff based on the content of the comment.
We've got lots of giveaways coming this year. If you don't win today, check back for more opportunities! To give everyone a chance contest winners are limited to one win every 3 months.
The Farmer's Almanac had it right when they predicted a mild winter for Arkansas. We've only had a handful of nights below freezing and just one dusting of snow. That's quite a difference from last year's numerous winter storms.
This year's more peaceful weather gives me more opportunities to be outdoors enjoying the quiet beauty in the garden.
One downside to living on a farm is I track in a lot of dirt. Everything in my house collects dust; I mean everything including my houseplants. Aside from looking grungy, a dirty plant can't breathe because the pores in the leaves clog up. The solution is simple; give them a bath.
For small to medium plants you can just wash the leaves by wiping with a sponge or cloth soaked in lukewarm water. Add a little soap if the dust is really encrusted, but make sure you rinse it off. You can also wash houseplants at the sink. Hold your hands over the top of the pot to keep the soil in, and gently wash the foliage.
Or how about a shower? You can put large plants in the shower, but be easy with the water pressure. You don’t want to damage the leaves.
Now these techniques don't apply to all plants. Plants with fuzzy leaves like African violets resent having water on their foliage. Use a dry brush to remove the dust.
Now remember whenever you are using these techniques involving soap, be sure you get it all rinsed off.
The next time you're giving your plants a little TLC; don't forget to give them a bath.
I had the pleasure of meeting Helen Yoest at the blogger conference held at the Garden Home Retreat last spring. Helen is a garden writer and speaker through her business Gardening with Confidence ™ and also serves on the board of advisors for the JC Raulston Arboretum.
You can follow Helen on Twitter @HelenYoest and her Facebook friend's page, Helen Yoest or Gardening With Confidence ™ Facebook Like Page and catch up with Helen via her blog at www.gardeningwithconfidence.com
In this guest blog post she shares the beauty of her North Carolina garden in fall and inspires us to take a look at what's going on in our own autumn landscapes.
It seems everyone is a gardener in the spring, many of us continue into the summer, but only a few add flowers for the fall. Yet the fall is the perfect time to be in the garden
With the dog days of summer behind us, October opens with cooler air and less humidity creating a fresh scent and a sense of excitement. The source of this excitement may be for no reason other than it being bearable enough to be outside once again.
Indeed, October, and throughout the fall, is an ideal time to plan and plant new garden beds to ready oneself for the next year. The fall is also an ideal time to enjoy what the months have to offer.
The fall is also more than just flowers. There is color from foliage, there is scent, textures, and fruit and berries. With our area's late frost date, we often find our gardens providing interest and intrigue well into November.
Flowers, Foliage, Fruit
Summer color can be extended into the fall with Asters, Anemones, Eupatoriums, Helianthus, Salvias, and Sedums. There's also beautyberry, fothergilla, and golden rod.
Gingers are releasing scent to waft the thinner air, with flirty flowers causing reason to stare. Roses are regaling, hardy Begonia beguiling, Amsonia amazing. The ripened figs become a destination for one of nature's most delicious delicacies.
Color, Scent, Texture
Reds dominate. Yellows generate. Purples empower. Grasses sway, with flags as flowers. Crepe Myrtle's bark shed creating unique texture and mottling. The Maples mission is fulfilled as the last red leaf falls to the ground and yellow Gingko leaves make mass merriment.
The seed heads of Black-eyed Susans add texture and interest to the garden long after the birds finished them off.
The butterflies and hummingbirds are also busy in the fall garden as they ready themselves for a long journey south. The flowers of perennial Chrysanthemums such as 'Sheffield Pink' make the most perfect landing pad for a butterfly.
Hummingbirds pause mid-air to sip nectar from a Canna. Monarchs are grateful to find nectar still rich. Finches steady themselves as they feed on seeds. The box turtle moseys around the tomatoes eating what the birds or deer knocked to the ground.
Autumn was made for sitting on the patio to watch in wonder. Fall gardening does not need to be all about what needs to be done for the future. It can also be about what is available now. In the wise words of garden writer Elizabeth Lawrence, "Even if something is left undone, everyone must take time to sit still and watch the leaves turn."
Enjoy your garden this fall and all the falls to come. As you plan and plant, include fall peaking selections in your choices.
I'd like to introduce you to Jean Ann Van Krevelen, author and edible gardener extraordinaire. I met her at the Independent Garden Center Show in Chicago when she and co-host Amanda interviewed me for their podcast "Good Enough Gardening." She gave me a copy of her book, Grocery Gardening, and it's a must for both the garden shed and the kitchen. Whether the topic is planting, purchasing or preparing it's one of those books that will have you saying, "I can do that." I highly recommend it for both gardeners and non-gardeners alike.
I have long espoused the virtues of growing and cooking kale…frankly, I am nuts about this particular vegetable. First of all, it is insanely easy to grow...just sow the seeds in late winter and as soon as the ground warms a bit, little green sprouts will emerge. If you have cool damp springs, you likely won't have to do much else. In other areas, keep fairly well watered to produce tender greens. In all regions, the plant benefits from soil that's been amended with compost and a bit of fish emulsion fertilizer once a month or so.
Unfortunately, many people aren't sure how to prepare kale. I suspect it is due to the sense that it should be cooked like a traditional "green". And while kale can be prepared this way, it is far more versatile than tradition might dictate. Personally, I like to think of it as the ultimate "sneaky vegetable". Its flavor is so mild that it adapts to almost any recipe. I have used it in pasta dishes, meatloaf, meatballs, shepherd's pie...the possibilities are endless.
To get your creative juices flowing, here's one of my favorite kale recipes.
Asparagus and Kale Pasta
This dish is a great way to use two seasonal ingredients together. Combine it with a handful of asparagus and a big can of chopped tomatoes and this dish is absolutely full of nutrition.
- 1 lb ground hamburger
- 1/2 lb kale, stems removed and leaves chopped
- 1 12 oz can of diced tomatoes
- 3 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1 medium yellow onion, diced
- 1/2 cup grated Parmesan
- Splash of half and half (optional)
- 1 tbs fennel seeds, 1 tbsp oregano, 1 tbsp basil, 1 tsp rosemary, 1 tsp thyme, and 2 bay leaves
- pinch of red pepper flakes
- generous amounts of flaky salt and freshly ground pepper
- 1 package of conchiglie pasta
Brown hamburger and onions in skillet. Drain some of the excess fat leaving enough to prevent burning, omit draining if meat is lean. Add spices and herbs, salt and pepper, sauté for a few minutes. Add tomatoes and garlic. Let simmer to combine flavors and reduce liquid from tomatoes.
Start a pot of water to boil. Add conchiglie pasta and cook according to directions on package. Conchiglie is also known as shell pasta and is great for this recipe. Since this isn't a really sauce-y pasta dish, the cupped shape of the pasta will grab up the bits of veggies and meat really well. To blanch the kale, add to the boiling pasta for the last 2 minutes of cooking. Drain.
In the last couple of minutes of cooking, add half and half and cheese. The Parmesan and half and half create a lovely pink sauce. Add pasta and kale to sauce. Toss to combine and let stand for a minute or two to allow the pasta to soak up the fantastic flavors. Serve.
Here's a puzzler for you. How do you control pests and diseases on edibles without making the plants inedible? Last spring Mallory Hynes with Garden Safe joined me at the Garden Home at Moss Mountain Farm to talk with a group of garden bloggers about the topic. I found her demonstration very interesting and thought you might too, so I asked her to write a guest blog post.
Garden Safe® Brand was thrilled to be invited to participate in P. Allen Smith's inaugural Garden2Blog event April 26th & 27th at Allen's Garden Home Retreat – and what an event it was! We toured gardens around Little Rock, participated in workshops with other Garden Home partners, enjoyed wonderful food and conversation and even survived a looming tornado. We enjoyed learning from Allen, the other partners and bloggers and loved being able to share our knowledge of effective alternatives for garden pest control.
On the second day, the bloggers bravely battled the elements and met us (in their bright orange ponchos) in Allen's vegetable garden for the Garden Safe Scavenger Hunt. The bloggers helped the Garden Home Retreat's chef, Brian Kelley, prepare his Sliced Orange Salad for that night's dinner by collecting lettuce, peas, carrots, onions, garlic chives and leeks. But first, they sprayed them with Garden Safe Fruit & Vegetable Insect Killer RTU – safe to use on vegetables up to day of harvest – to kill any unwanted pests. Allen even sprayed a carrot and took a big bite! Everyone had a great time speeding through the garden to collect their goodies, with the fastest four winning gift cards to use in the gift shop – taking home many great books, kitchen décor and garden gadgets.
Our Garden Safe Fruit & Vegetable Insect Killer – made with pyrethrin, a botanical extract of the chrysanthemum flower that affects the nervous system of many insects and kills them on contact in all stages of growth, including eggs – isn't the only product we have that's certified for organic gardening and safe to use on edibles up to the day of harvest. We also have many products safe for use on edibles that are also OMRI Listed, meaning they are certified for organic gardening by the Organic Materials Review Institute (OMRI) as meeting the USDA National Organic Program's requirements for organic production, process and handling. These include:
- Fungicide3 and Neem Oil: 3-in-1 fungicides, insecticides and miticides, that are made from neem oil extract, a organic botanical extract from the neem tree that repels insects from treated leaves and stems and suffocates many small, soft-bodied insects on contact
- Insecticidal Soap: Made from potassium salts of fatty acids, plant-derived fatty acids that damage the cell membranes of many soft bodied insects, killing them on contact, this soap breaks down into potassium, which is used by plants, and fatty acids, which are metabolized by soil microbes
- Slug and Snail Bait: Derived from Iron Phosphate, a phosphate of iron that occurs naturally in the soil, this bait is not effected by temperature or wetness, can be used in greenhouses and around pets & wildlife
We at Garden Safe know that gardeners want effective pest and disease control products to help nurture their fruits and vegetables, along with the peace of mind that comes with gardening responsibly. And we are proud to provide products that allow them to ensure that their harvests are as healthy as possible. Better Plants, Better Planet.®