Category: garden

Gardening Journal – Seed Savers Exchange

My seed orders are in! Each Christmas my sister is so kind to send us a gift certificate to Seed Savers Exchange. I love to see what’s new each year and order seeds that we couldn’t source locally. (This post is not sponsored by Seed Savers Exchange. I simply enjoy their products and I think you might too!)

We’re long-time customers of Seed Savers Exchange and have been very pleased with the selection and quality of their seeds. I’ve never interacted with customer service, because the orders have always been accurately fulfilled.

I love that SSE shares the history behind the seeds. To think that some of these seeds were handed down within families for generations or tucked away and forgotten for decades!

Delaway Kale – We buy a ton of organic kale and use it in salads and soups all year long. I chose this variety because it is a fall crop with relatively smooth leaves. (I don’t enjoy the texture of curly kale; it’s like munching on a Brillo pad) As a bonus, this kale has an Irish provenance.

Bouquet Dill – We use dill when it is in season and freeze it for use in salads and dips, especially tzatziki.

Diamond Eggplant – I haven’t grown eggplant in several years, but I love it studded with garlic and roasted or in my favorite roasted eggplant dip.

Sea Shells Cosmos Mix – I chose this because it’s pretty! These little sun-lovers tolerate poor soil and drought. I’ve never grown cosmos before, but I have a few bare areas of the yard to beautify.

Petite Yellow Watermelon – This little icebox variety is just right for a family of two. Watermelon is our go-to summertime dessert, we just can’t get enough.

Red Velvet Lettuce – Let’s get real, I chose this for it’s bold color. How pretty will this be on the plate?!

Winter Density Lettuce – Cold tolerant, slow to bolt, imported from England; what’s not to love?

Parris Island Cos Lettuce – In addition to kale, we go through a ton of romaine around here. I’m interested to see if this variety will tolerate a little late spring heat.

Glass Gem Corn – So, my sister Anna bullied me into buying this seed. Just kidding, she said I should give it a try. And I figured, why not? Mark has experience growing corn, although we’ve never dried it for popping. We’ll give it a whirl. Gardening is one giant experiment, right?

Disclosure: In addition to occasional sponsored posts, Arthurized Home uses clickable affiliate links. That means that I may receive a small commission from sales at no extra charge to you. As always, my opinion is 100% my own, and I only recommend things that I truly love or use myself. Thank you for patronizing the brands that support Arthurized Home!

Copyright 2019-2020 © Arthurized Home – All Rights Reserved. This post is the original content of Arthurized Home. If you’re reading this on another site, it’s unArthurized.

Eradicating Japanese Stiltgrass – The Saga Continues

This past October at Go Outside Festival, I spoke with two lovely, master gardeners about our little (okay, massive) Japanese Stiltgrass invasion. They each used two different methods of controlling stiltgrass in their own gardens.

One of the ladies used a pre-emergent herbicide. This product creates a barrier in the soil to prevent stiltgrass seed from germinating. In our U.S. planting zone (7), you apply the herbicide in late December and again in early April. There are two options, granular and a liquid concentrate. The granular is broadcast and needs moisture to activate. The liquid is diluted with water and sprayed on.

Once the product is dry, it’s safe for pets and people to re-enter the area. (But I probably would wait a few extra days just to be safe.) Always use common sense and do your homework before trying a new product in your landscape.

While Prodiamine controls chickweed, dandelions and other common weeds, the master gardeners assured me this product will not kill turf grasses and other desirable plants. If you apply the herbicide in spring, wait until fall to put down grass seed.

A patch of Japanese Stiltgrass in our woods.

The other master gardener is using the time-tested method of hard work and vigilance to remove her stiltgrass. She was not comfortable with using an herbicide, so she is hand-pulling this invasive weed. She admitted to having a much smaller property, and scourge of stiltgrass than the first lady.

The pre-emergent gives me pause. I really don’t like the idea of using it on our property, but I also don’t see how we’ll get rid of the stiltgrass without it. I think for now we’ll stick to weed-eating the wide swaths of stiltgrass in our woods, and hand-pulling it from our banks and lawn. My back aches just thinking about that; but I have to remind myself how truly terrible this stuff is.

In happier news, I present to you the best gardening gloves ever! Seriously, these are so good. My mother-in-law gave these to me about 15 years ago, and they finally developed a hole after years of heavy use. The perfect gift for the gardener in your life. If that’s you, treat yourself!

I’ll leave you with a pretty picture, because all those brown weeds are just depressing. Spring is right around the corner!

Disclosure: In addition to occasional sponsored posts, Arthurized Home uses clickable affiliate links. That means that I may receive a small commission from sales at no extra charge to you. As always, my opinion is 100% my own, and I only recommend things that I truly love or use myself. Thank you for patronizing the brands that support Arthurized Home!

Copyright 2019-2020 © Arthurized Home – All Rights Reserved. This post is the original content of Arthurized Home. If you’re reading this on another site, it’s unArthurized.

Gardening Journal – Cold Stratification

With Christmas in the rear-view mirror, I’d just as soon go straight to spring and gardening season. Since that won’t happen, I’ll busy myself with a few garden tasks while the snow flies.

This year I’m planting a few types of seeds that benefit from cold stratification. In a nutshell, stratification is subjecting the seeds to cold, moist conditions in order to mimic winter dormancy. This softens up the hard seed coat and when warm temperatures arrive, it signals the seed to open and grow. Some seeds will not germinate (or will germinate very poorly) without it.

Depending on the seed, it could need anywhere from 1-3 months of stratification; this information will be printed on the seed packet. I’m experimenting with two varieties of lavender because it is a good companion plant for nearly everything else in the garden.

I’m also planting milkweed to draw pollinators to the yard. My father-in-law (affectionately known as Pa Kettle) planted milkweed for my mother-in-law so she could collect monarch caterpillars and watch them transform. Each fall, her front porch and dining room table were filled with butterfly cages. She was the cutest little mad scientist! Her middle school students enjoyed watching the process and learning about the life cycle of monarch butterflies.

This is my first attempt at cold stratification, and I’ve read that you can use either peat moss or sand. Being a more-is-more girl, I decided to try each, plus a 1:1 mixture of peat and sand. The process is the same regardless of the medium.

Some articles suggested sterilizing the planting medium so I placed my peat and sand into the oven on the lowest setting for a few hours.

Prepare plastic bags or other containers by writing the seed name and date for removal from cold stratification on the bag.

Now for the fun part! Mix a little water into the peat or sand until you can form it into a ball. The medium should be thoroughly but only slightly dampened. You should not be able to squeeze water out of the mixture. Excess moisture could cause the seeds to mildew or rot.

Mix the seeds into the medium and place into the prepared bags. Pop the bags into the lowest part of your refrigerator and you’re done!

I’ll check on mine occasionally to make sure they haven’t germinated. If some seeds do sprout, I will transfer them to planting trays and keep them in a warm, sunny spot until I can plant them outside.

Have you had any success with cold stratification? Do you have any tips to share? I’m all ears!

Disclosure: In addition to occasional sponsored posts, Arthurized Home uses clickable affiliate links. That means that I may receive a small commission from sales at no extra charge to you. As always, my opinion is 100% my own, and I only recommend things that I truly love or use myself. Thank you for patronizing the brands that support Arthurized Home!

Copyright 2019-2020 © Arthurized Home – All Rights Reserved. This post is the original content of Arthurized Home. If you’re reading this on another site, it’s unArthurized.

Planting Garlic in the Herb Garden – A Final Task Before Winter

I meant to pre-order my garlic bulbs back in July, and it slipped my mind. Oops. Fortunately, we were able to get some of the last supply from Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Company. (Thanks, Anna!) We ordered Russian Red garlic and the bulbs arrived in perfect condition. Russian Red is a pungent, hard-neck variety, with large cloves. It’s a good keeper.

Planting garlic is super easy. Divide the bulb into individual cloves, by removing the papery outer layer(s). Leave the final layer of paper on each clove. How pretty are the colors on these cloves?!

Dig holes to a depth of 3″ – 4″, spaced about 6″ apart. If you’ve got a dibbler, now is the time to put it to work! Place each clove into a hole with the root end facing down and the pointed end facing up.

Without disturbing the clove, carefully smooth the soil over and fill in the hole. Harvest a few more shards of tile and glass, and a couple of rusty nails while you’re at it.

We placed a few inches of mulch over the garlic to help insulate them throughout the winter. And that’s it. Now tap your fingers impatiently and wait for spring!

Disclosure: In addition to occasional sponsored posts, Arthurized Home uses clickable affiliate links. That means that I may receive a small commission from sales at no extra charge to you. As always, my opinion is 100% my own, and I only recommend things that I truly love or use myself. Thank you for patronizing the brands that support Arthurized Home!

Copyright 2019-2020 © Arthurized Home – All Rights Reserved. This post is the original content of Arthurized Home. If you’re reading this on another site, it’s unArthurized.

Easy Care Plants – Sedums

Years ago when our area was going through a drought, we started researching xeriscaping, and buying drought-tolerant plants. One of the plants we purchased was an ‘Autumn Joy’ sedum. We love these plants for their end-of-summer enthusiasm. In August, just when most other garden flowers are looking a little bedraggled, mounding sedums spring into bloom.

‘Autumn Joy’ sedum

Sedums are non-native perennials, great for hot, sunny rock gardens and dry slopes; they store up water in their succulent type leaves. While they love full sun, they’ll tolerate a little shade. They grow just fine in average to poor soil as long as it is well-drained. Give them sunshine and dry feet and they will be happy.

Plant them in the spring after the threat of frost has passed. Water daily for the first few weeks, then as needed during dry spells. Once established, they truly are low maintenance. Except for cutting armloads of blooms to enjoy in bouquets, there is no need to trim them back at any time. Leave the entire plant for winter interest in the garden. Sedums die back to the ground over the winter. In the spring, simply gather up the dried stems and toss them on the compost pile.

Sedums in spring. I think they look like little Brussels sprouts!

I have three different varieties of sedums in my garden. The Autumn Joy and pale lavender sedums are mounding varieties and grow to about 18 inches tall.

Sedums are an important food source for pollinators, because there are fewer floral options in late summer and into early fall. While they are rabbit resistant, deer will nibble on them from time to time. Free-loaders.

Oh, deer.

The yellow variety was a gift, but I believe it’s a ‘Kamtschaticum‘. This semi-evergreen ground cover blooms in late spring, much earlier than the mounding varieties. Once it’s finished blooming, you’re left with a carpet of glossy, green leaves. Even though it has a spreading habit, it’s easily controlled. Kamtschaticum is tough as nails and thrives in the harshest conditions. I’ve had this variety in a hanging basket on the garage for several years and it rains seeds down into the gravel below. Now I have a nice patch of sedums growing underneath in my hot, dry, gravel driveway!

Sedum is easy to root in water. Simply take a cutting, strip off any leaves below the water line, place in water in a clear container. I like to use small mason jars or good ol’ drinking glasses. Keep an eye on the water level and replenish as needed. It may take several weeks before you see roots. Either transfer to a pot when long roots form, or transplant directly to the garden in early fall.

These purple sedums are pass-along plants from my brother’s wedding; all rooted in water.

Our neighbor, Ronnie propagated sedums by snipping off a stem, dipping the cut end in rooting hormone and planting it directly into the ground. He had a fairly good success rate with this method.

Established sedums should be divided in spring every three to five years. Dig up the plant and slice the root system into sections using a clean, sharp knife. Replant immediately without letting the divisions dry out.

Whether you enjoy them in your flower beds or bring them inside in bouquets of cut flowers, sedums are sure to charm you. Have you planted these beauties in your garden?

To shop the post:
‘Autumn Joy’ Sedum / ‘Brilliant’ Purple Sedum / Yellow ‘Kamtschaticum’ Sedum / Mud Gloves – my favorite gloves for gardening / Kate Spade Larabee Dot Creamer – NLA, but there are some available in other colors on eBay

Disclosure: In addition to occasional sponsored posts, Arthurized Home uses clickable affiliate links. That means that I may receive a small commission from sales at no extra charge to you. As always, my opinion is 100% my own, and I only recommend things that I truly love or use myself. Thank you for patronizing the brands that support Arthurized Home!

Copyright 2019-2020 © Arthurized Home – All Rights Reserved. This post is the original content of Arthurized Home. If you’re reading this on another site, it’s unArthurized.

Easy Care Plants – Solomon’s Seal

Second only to rhododendrons, Solomon’s Seal is a favorite of Mark’s. I’m not sure where he first learned about them, but suddenly he *had* to find some for the shade garden at our prior house.

Rabbit Trail: After we’d gardened for a few years at that fixer-upper, our property tax assessment increased dramatically. I appealed it with the City, because most of the real improvements were done away from the prying eyes of the assessor. When they returned the final determination, she said the increase was due to the “park-like setting” of our side yard. All that expense and back-breaking labor, just so we could pay higher taxes!
Oh, well. We enjoyed the park.

When we moved to Arthurized Home, we brought about 8 divisions with us. Those transplants have multiplied to become hundreds, and we’ve divided them into several beds throughout our property. Division is best done in spring or fall, leaving several rhizomes on each piece. If you want value for money, these are a sure thing.

There are several different varieties of this native plant. Ours is variegated fragrant Solomon’s Seal and grows to about two feet tall. I love the painterly brush strokes on the leaf tips!

Solomon’s Seal is a relative of lily-of-the-valley; and in the spring, has similar white bell-shaped blooms along the stem. There is no need to deadhead the blooms. They dry and fall off the plant on their own.

Once established, this woodland plant is practically maintenance free. Solomon’s Seal likes rich soil in moist shade, but will tolerate a little sun in cooler climes. Planted in full sun, they will burn, like hosta. You can amend poor soil with compost, and use mulch or leaf litter to insulate the plants while they take root. These plants are drought tolerant once established, and as an added bonus, deer resistant. *insert Madea shouting Hallelujer!*

They’re very hardy and don’t seem to be susceptible to pests or fungal disease. We’ve heard that slug like ’em, but haven’t seen any evidence of that in our garden. Solomon’s Seal will even grow at the base of our oak tree where little else will.

See the brown leaves below?

Those mean that summer is winding down and cooler temps are on the way. Sad, I know.

Over the winter, Solomon’s Seal dies back all the way to the ground. But don’t you worry your pretty little head about that. He’ll be back in the spring, poking his pointy noggin out of the ground before you know it!

Solomon’s Seal make attractive container plants on shady porches and patios.

For more reading on Solomon’s Seal:
https://www.bhg.com/gardening/plant-dictionary/perennial/solomons-seal/

Shop the post: Solomon’s Seal
My favorite gardening gloves: Mud Gloves

Disclosure: In addition to occasional sponsored posts, Arthurized Home uses clickable affiliate links. That means that I may receive a small commission from sales at no extra charge to you. As always, my opinion is 100% my own, and I only recommend things that I truly love or use myself. Thank you for patronizing the brands that support Arthurized Home!

Copyright 2019-2020 © Arthurized Home – All Rights Reserved. This post is the original content of Arthurized Home. If you’re reading this on another site, it’s unArthurized.

Drying Coriander Seeds

I mentioned in the mid-summer garden update that I turned my head for a minute and the cilantro bolted. Yep. That happened.

Did you know that the herb cilantro refers to the leaves of the plant, and coriander, the seed, is a spice? Cool, huh? She’s one hardworking plant.

I’m harvesting and drying the coriander seeds this week. Once the plant has started to turn brown, snip off the seed heads. Since I’ve never done this before, I’m not sure how brown is brown enough. Half of the plants are still green.

Allow the seed heads to dry fully. I’ve read that you can harvest the seed heads directly into a paper bag for drying, but I’m experimenting with drying them on the window screens that I used to dehydrate the basil. Which worked beautifully, by the way.

We run our dehumidifier in the basement constantly, so that area should work well for drying any plant. Once dry, the seeds will fall, and can be collected and stored in a sealed container.

I’m not sure if I can get one more crop of cilantro out of the herb bed before frost, but I’m going to try. Regardless, I’ll save this seed to plant in the spring.

For more reading on cilantro/coriander:
https://www.almanac.com/plant/coriander-and-cilantro

Disclosure: In addition to occasional sponsored posts, Arthurized Home uses clickable affiliate links. That means that I may receive a small commission from sales at no extra charge to you. As always, my opinion is 100% my own, and I only recommend things that I truly love or use myself. Thank you for patronizing the brands that support Arthurized Home!

Copyright 2019-2020 © Arthurized Home – All Rights Reserved. This post is the original content of Arthurized Home. If you’re reading this on another site, it’s unArthurized.

A Gardening Public Service Announcement

Last year we noticed small patches of a short, feathery plant pop up on our property. Having no idea what it was, we decided to wait until spring to see if it flowered. We’ve had several pleasant surprises in the yard by taking a wait-and-see approach.

Bad idea.

Spectacularly so.

This year, easily 20% of our property is covered in this grass. It’s running amok throughout the yard, but especially in woodland areas. It’s not persnickety about growing conditions though, and proving that by boldly marching out into the gravel driveway. So far, we’ve found it in every planting bed except the herb garden.

Thanks to a Facebook post by the Virginia Native Plant Society, we now have an ID of our little scourge. It’s Japanese Stiltgrass, and it seems to have no redeeming qualities. This grass is incredibly invasive, chokes out native plants, and offers no benefit to wildlife. This jerk plant actually changes the chemistry of the soil, stunting the growth of competing plants!

Wut.

The dried plant first came to the U.S. as packing material one hundred years ago. In Tennessee, the seed found it’s way into the soil, and spread from there. Japanese Stiltgrass can be found as far north as New York, south to Florida, west to the Mississippi River and even into Texas.

One plant can produce up to 1,000 seeds. Because the seed travels by water, animals, humans, and even vehicles, they spread like wildfire. Speaking of which, the grass dies back in the winter and blankets the forest floor with a dense mat of dry stems and leaves; fuel for forest fires.

Small patches are easy to pull by hand; use a weed-eater or mower for large sections of this mess. It’s best to mow or weed-eat in August or early September before the grass flowers and sets seeds. This is the perfect time of year to work on getting rid of it. Cut the plant all the way to the ground if possible. We haven’t gone the grass-selective herbicide route just yet, but we will if mowing doesn’t control this invasion.

We still have work to do on the hill above the rhododendrons.

For more reading on Japanese Stiltgrass, go here: http://blueridgeprism.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/06/Japanese-Stiltgrass-SAR-5-27-17-VDOF-w-BOX-FINAL.pdf?fbclid=IwAR1fGYAQPSLRRIZxFBzKNfNGlBcBFMBzLXWeKYWgVKdvCw_T1HMbSDv72f4

https://content.ces.ncsu.edu/japanese-stiltgrass-identification-and-management

We’ll have to remain vigilant for years until we are sure it’s all gone. If that doesn’t work, we’re getting a goat. They seem to be the only animals that will eat it.

Disclosure: In addition to occasional sponsored posts, Arthurized Home uses clickable affiliate links. That means that I may receive a small commission from sales at no extra charge to you. As always, my opinion is 100% my own, and I only recommend things that I truly love or use myself. Thank you for patronizing the brands that support Arthurized Home!

Copyright 2019-2020 © Arthurized Home – All Rights Reserved. This post is the original content of Arthurized Home. If you’re reading this on another site, it’s unArthurized.

A Mid-Summer Garden Update

As summer declines, and we careen toward Pumpkin Spice Latte Season; things have calmed down a little in the garden. I’m taking a break from weeding to share some of our successes and failures this year.

Clearance Perennials: This has been hit-or-miss. We haven’t had 100% success, but I’m still happy with them. The coreopsis are full, vibrant and blooming. Their leaves remind me of baby spinach! The speedwell and balloon flowers are doing well. The daisies are a puzzle. They’ve turned brown and dried up, but some of them have new growth in the center of the plant. I’m going to leave them in the garden to see if they will rebound.

Dwarf coreopsis. A tiny ray of sunshine.
The speedwell is looking fantastic!
Balloon flower
Sad little Shasta daisy. I’m pulling for you, little guy!

Experimental Deer Fence: It’s safe to say this is no longer an experiment. We have had zero break-ins of the deer variety. In the evenings, Mark and I have watched the deer eating fallen apples all around the herb garden, but steering clear of it. All of the fishing line is intact, and I haven’t glued the knots or hooks. While the fence is keeping deer out, a smaller critter has been nibbling away at several of the plants. We think it’s probably a rabbit. It has topped off the lilies, the hosta in the blue planter and snipped off a few stems from the balloon flower. Where’s Elmer Fudd when you need him?

Wascally wabbit!

Ground Cover: The liriope looks great. It’s lush, dark green and the plugs have filled in. We’ll continue working on the two banks when it’s cool enough to transplant more plugs.

Hydrangea Layers: About a week after I cut them from the mother plant, the baby layers started to show signs of stress. The leaves wilted and some turned brown and started to rot. I decided not to transplant them and let them establish awhile longer. They’ve rebounded, and should be ready for transplant in the spring.

PJM Rhododendrons: These little dudes are doing just fine. They have recovered nicely from their trauma and are thriving with no new damage.

Succession Planting: Succession planting has been a resounding success! Wandering out to the herb garden and snipping fresh herbs for dinner is one of my favorite activities. We’ve dried and frozen some of the basil. Many of our summer salads are punctuated with parsley or mint. I’m letting some of the cilantro go to seed in hopes that it will self-seed in the spring.

Lime basil and Purple basil. Note the Purple basil escapee outside of the border!
Thai basil. Yes, I know I should pinch the flowers off, but they’re so pretty!
Cilantro gone to seed.
The thyme is filling in thickly.

Here’s a puzzle for you: This random weed(?) appeared next to the speedwell. We have no idea what it is. My gut instinct is to pull it and move on with my life; hubby thinks it’s not a weed and we should leave it alone and see what happens. It’s about 12″ tall and smooth, like one enormous blade of grass. Thoughts?

How about you? Have you learned any gardening tips and tricks? What’s working in your garden this summer?

Disclosure: In addition to occasional sponsored posts, Arthurized Home uses clickable affiliate links. That means that I may receive a small commission from sales at no extra charge to you. As always, my opinion is 100% my own, and I only recommend things that I truly love or use myself. Thank you for patronizing the brands that support Arthurized Home!

Copyright 2019-2020 © Arthurized Home – All Rights Reserved. This post is the original content of Arthurized Home. If you’re reading this on another site, it’s unArthurized.

Preserving Fresh Basil -Trial and Error, and More Trial

Last weekend I harvested our first large batch of basil. Because there is no way we can use this much fresh basil in a timely fashion, I decided to try my hand at preserving it. The first method I’m using is to simply dehydrate it.

I don’t have a fancy schmancy dehydrator, but it’s been blisteringly hot and sunny here lately, so I decided to put the weather to good use. I washed the basil really well and picked it off the stem. Mind-numbing work, right there.

Then, using freshly scrubbed window screens, I simply laid the leaves in a single layer and topped it with another screen to keep bugs out. My plan was to leave this in the sun for a few hours and collect my dried leaves, crush them and store them in an airtight glass jar.

Mother Nature had other plans. While Mark and I were spreading the basil on the screen, we heard thunder rumbling in the distance.

Within a few minutes, we were moving the basil onto our covered porch and scrambling for cover ourselves. Not to worry, we figured we’d just wait until the storm rolled through and put the basil back out when the sunshine returned.

Guess what didn’t come back for three days? Yep. My solar basil dehydrator is kaput. We’re trying to salvage this batch by drying it in the basement where we run a dehumidifier 24/7. We’ll see if this works. Gardening (like life) is all one giant experiment, right?

For the second preserving method, I’m freezing a small batch of clean, destemmed and blanched purple basil in olive oil. The blanching process goes like this: Dip the basil into boiling water for two seconds (yes, two!), and transfer it immediately into an ice bath. I used a large, mesh strainer as my scoop for this process.

After blanching the basil, I chopped it finely in the food processor and spooned it into ice cube trays. Add a splash of olive oil to cover, and into the freezer it goes. Once the cubes were frozen solid, I popped them out of the tray and into a freezer bag. These basil cubes are perfect for adding to soups, sauces and homemade salad dressings.

I’m planning to experiment with oven drying fresh herbs later in the growing season. But while it’s hotter than blue blazes in Virginia, I’ll do nearly anything to avoid heating up the house.

If you have a favorite method for preserving herbs, leave a comment. I’d love to hear about it!

Disclosure: In addition to occasional sponsored posts, Arthurized Home uses clickable affiliate links. That means that I may receive a small commission from sales at no extra charge to you. As always, my opinion is 100% my own, and I only recommend things that I truly love or use myself. Thank you for patronizing the brands that support Arthurized Home!

Copyright 2019-2020 © Arthurized Home – All Rights Reserved. This post is the original content of Arthurized Home. If you’re reading this on another site, it’s unArthurized.