Category: garden

Gardening Journal – Seed Saving with Pa Kettle

Friday night we brought dinner to my father-in-law (whom I affectionately call Pa Kettle) and after dinner we took a stroll in his garden. This stroll is a nightly routine and better entertainment than most comedy clubs. The kale has gone to seed, so he showed me how he dries the seeds for planting in the fall. His process is quite simple.

Break a stem off from the kale plant and strip the seed pods from it. Be sure to swing your open pocket knife around and gesture wildly while telling stories. Ideally, no one should lose an eyeball while collecting seeds, but as he says “you just don’t never know about things”.

Place the pods in a paper bag (best for breathability) and close the bag. Hang the bag in a cool, dry place until the pods become brown and papery. If you don’t have a cool, dry place for seed saving, just hang them in the dark, damp garage. This method has worked for him for decades.

Gently break the pods open to release the seeds. The seeds should be dark in color. When opening the pods, compete to see who gets the most. Winner gets bragging rights until next season. Your seeds are ready for planting.

This method works for most any “salad” seeds. Pa Kettle also saves cress seeds using this approach.

Cress seed pods

Now, go walk around the garden and admire everything else that is growing.

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.

Fresh Grass for Easter Baskets – An Easy Gardening Project

Note: This post was written in the days before social distancing was a thing. If you need potting soil or grass seed, and stores are closed in your area, call a neighbor or friend to see if they have some to loan/give. They’ll likely be happy to leave it outside their home for pick up. (Grow an extra to fill with treats as a ‘thank you’?)

A plastic bowl or food storage container will work as a substitute basket liner. Make sure it is several inches deep, and does not have drainage holes.

My siblings are some of the cleverest people I know. Each one is a creative, whether an artist, writer, maker, cook, or all of the above. Six years ago, my sister Allie was here with her family for Easter. When we woke up on Easter morning, our baskets contained fresh grass and of course the Easter Bunny had filled them with goodies. I’ve wanted to try this ever since, and it will soon be time to gather supplies and get to planting!

If you’d like to try this, sow the seed 2-3 weeks before Easter. If planting rye seed, two weeks should be plenty of lead time.

Here’s what you’ll need:
Easter baskets
Plastic liners sized to your baskets – I used (2) 8 inch, deep saucers
Potting Soil
Grass Seed – Rye seed is best, it germinates quickly.
Spray bottle with ‘mist’ setting

One of my baskets is slightly smaller and shorter than the other, so I trimmed the lip of the liner to fit the basket.

Place a generous layer of potting soil in the basket liner. Sprinkle an even, heavy layer of grass seed on top of the soil. Maintaining thorough seed coverage, gently scratch the seed into the surface of the soil. Spray with water to soak the seed. Place the liners in a sunny area of your home and mist the seed heavily every day.

Keep the top layer of the soil moist, but not soaking wet. Once the grass sprouts, mist it daily until it grows to the desired height. The picture below is one week of growth. Yes, it really is neon green!

I was amazed at how quickly this grew! In less than two weeks, my grass was looking like troll hair, so I gave it a home job haircut. Because of the quick payoff, this is a really satisfying project to do with kids; and I’m sure the Easter Bunny will appreciate the #soextra effort.

Be sure the Easter Bunny does not water the grass before filling the baskets on Easter morning. It’ll be fine for a day or two without water.

I have it on good authority that when E.B. needs to prop tall items in the basket, she pokes bamboo skewers behind them and secures using clear tape. (Yes, Easter Bunny is female, and we know this because she never forgets a holiday!)

No Easter baskets at your house? No worries. I’ll post some other (zero calorie) ways to use fresh grass in your spring decor.

Quack!

I hope you give this little gardening project a try! If you do, I’d love to hear about it in the comments or via email at:
arthurized dot home at gmail dot com.

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 Update and Starting Lavender from Seed

Last week I popped these babies out of the fridge to plant them, and was surprised to see that one of the lavender varieties sprouted in the bag and grew over an inch in one week! Time to get them out of plastic and into the oven.

Of the four varieties of seed that I cold stratified, only the Hidcote lavender sprouted, and prolifically so. There were 15 visible sprouts in the bag of sand, 27 in the sand/peat moss mixture and just 4 sprouts in the peat moss.

I carefully transplanted them into this seed starting mix. Because this tray is perforated into smaller six packs, I planted like seeds in each section and am removing sections from the oven as the seeds sprout and their care needs change.

A week later, several of my lavender sprouts withered and died. I have 28 seedlings left. I’m struggling to find the right balance of moisture, light and warmth for these tiny guys. Any lavender experts out there? Help a girl out? If I can get a dozen sturdy lavender plants from this batch, I’ll call it a success. Fingers crossed!

The Munstead lavender and both varieties of milkweed have sprouted and are growing well. It’s too early to tell how they will do, but for now they’re all looking strong.

Pa Kettle thinks I’m crazy for tending milkweed because it’s little more than a roadside weed here in SW Virginia. He mows it in his yard and tills it under in his garden. I’m hoping the milkweed attracts pollinators, especially monarch butterflies to our yard.

That’s what is growing in my oven, on the stove and all over the kitchen! Have you started any seedlings yet?

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 and Half-Baked Seed Starting

With snow(!) in the forecast today, I’m sure we haven’t seen the last of Old Man Winter just yet. But signs of life are springing up all over the yard. My spring bulbs have sprouted, the daffodils and hydrangeas are budding out and the chives are up, and being nibbled on by some wascally wabbit.

Most surprisingly, the garlic has gone from zero to long shoots seemingly overnight! Bare soil one day, bursting with new growth the next. Amazing!

The herb garden is in need of a good weeding session and some fresh mulch.

The experimental deer fence has kept the deer out of the herb garden for about 8 months now, so I’m calling it a resounding success. I think I’ll string the entire yard with fishing line!

Can you believe that we’ve been able to snip fresh parsley all winter long? What a hardy plant!

Years ago, my sister Sarah shared her method for germinating seeds and I’ve used it successfully a few times since then. I’m trying it out again this year. I don’t have grow lights, warming mats and big, sunny south-facing windows for seed starting. But I do have an electric oven.

Pro tip: If you are planting multiple varieties in the same tray, plant seeds that take roughly the same length of time to germinate.

Here’s how this works:

Asparagus seeds soaking in water for 24 hours.

Fill trays with seed starting mix and plant seeds according to the package directions. Lightly moisten the soil, and pop the clear plastic covers on. Put a big ol’ note over your oven controls that says “DON’T TURN THE OVEN ON!”

Place the trays in the oven and turn on the oven light. Check on your seeds everyday and mist the soil with water as needed. You should soon see signs of life. Once the seedlings have sprouted, leave the oven light on and prop the door open for a few days. Next, move the trays to a bright, warm spot in your home and continue caring for them until they have grown enough to harden off outdoors or transplant into the garden.

I’m pleased with how this is working so far. I have my first lavender seedling after just 36 hours in the oven.

Happy planting!
Can you feel it? Spring is on the way!

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 – Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds

With snow in the forecast, I’m doing a little garden planning and researching new varieties of plants. I’ll re-visit some trusty, old favorites and try a few that will be a bit of a stretch for this gardener. Thanks to a Christmas gift card from my sister, Anna, here’s what I ordered from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds. (I’m not in partnership with them, I just like their products and think you will too!)

I’ve ordered from BCHS for several years now and have always been pleased with the quality of their seeds and the accuracy of order fulfillment. I can’t speak to their customer service response, because I haven’t needed them for any reason. Having said that, they seem to go above and beyond. Even the shipping materials are attractive and they included a fun surprise with my order.

Genovese Basil – This Italian classic has large leaves, perfect for summer salads, pasta sauces and pesto. It’s great for use in monsters, too.

Thai Holy Basil “Kaprao” – Tulsi tea is a favorite, so I’ll try my hand at dehydrating the leaves for caffeine free herbal tea. Holy Basil plant is insect repellent as well.

Marvelous Mix Mint – Can’t have enough of this! Mint attracts beneficial insects and repels pests. We like to add mint to cold drinks in the summer, and use it in salads like Ina’s tabbouleh. (I substitute quinoa for the bulghur wheat to make this gluten free.)

Yes, mint has a reputation for spreading aggressively, but we plant it in areas of the yard where it can run and we contain it by mowing.

Broad Leaf Sage – I’ve never grown sage before, but we like it dried in savory dishes like Turkey Herb Stuffing-Style Riced Cauliflower.

Milkweed – Pollinators love this stuff and we have a low area of the yard where this can self-seed and spread. My mother-in-law grew milkweed to attract monarch butterflies to her yard. These seeds are currently chillin’ in the fridge.

Giant of Italy Parsley – This herb is my absolute favorite, we use it in soups, salads, and as a garnish on chicken and fish dishes. Despite being an annual, it’s frost hardy. This picture was taken in mid-January, the last of the harvest.

Mary Washington Asparagus – I’m going where gardeners fear to tread with this one. I have no experience growing asparagus, and we don’t have the rich soil for it, but I’m going to give it the old college try. I’ll amend our Virginia clay soil with loads of compost and manure. Note to self: Choose the right spot for this plant, it could grow for 20 years there.

Gypsy Sunshine Marigold – While I don’t enjoy the scent of marigolds, they are almost universally beneficial companion plants. We’ll intersperse these beauties throughout the garden and herb garden.

Munstead Strain Lavender – Ditto on the lavender. I don’t care for the scent, but it’s a solid companion plant, pretty to look at and tasty to eat.

Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds sent a pack of surprise seeds with my order – Dark Purple Opal Basil. The packaging features a fetching hipster dude wearing a basil fascinator tucked behind his right ear. If I’m not mistaken, that means he’s available and approachable. I’ll leave that to you, single ladies.

I’m excited to try this variety, and I have no doubt this basil will grow beautifully in the herb garden.

I can’t wait to get my hands in the dirt. Now, it’s your turn! What are you looking forward to planting this year?

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 – 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?

What are you planting this year?

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.