Tag: gardening

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 – 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.

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.

Easy Care Plants – Coleus

In an effort to stretch my gardening dollar as far as possible, I like to plant easy care perennials; those garden work-horses that will return year after year.

Also, I hate planting annuals. I have no patience for a plant that will grow for one year and then die off. Kiss it goodbye. I’d rather save the time and effort, plant the $50 bill and be done with it. (Our porch is in deep shade and I make an exception for annuals there.) However….

Coleus are tender perennials so they behave like annuals in Virginia. After one summer in the sunshine, they are done. Sadly, I can’t overwinter them because our house has few sunny windows in which to grow plants. (And I need those windows for blog photography!) These plants are showy and worth every penny. They are ridiculously simple to care for. Plunk them in the ground in a sunny spot, water regularly and admire them.
It’s just that easy!

While my taste in flowers tends toward ‘cottage garden’; these beauties are a punch of abstract art. The Andy Warhol of perennials, if you will. They provide edgy contrast to my restrained daisies and lavender. Give them a try! I think you’ll like them!

For more reading on coleus, go here:
https://www.finegardening.com/article/sizing-up-coleus
I’ll have to hunt down that ‘Candy Store’ variety. Those colors are amazing!

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.

Rescuing Clearance Rack Perennials

While shopping for deer fence T-posts, I happened upon several racks of clearance perennials marked down to $1 each. Of course I loaded up my cart! Some of the blooms were ready for deadheading, but the leaves looked fresh and healthy. I figured these underdogs were worth a chance.

Perennial flowers are fantastic because you do the work of planting once, and are rewarded with year after year of blooms. Given the right growing conditions, most perennials are easy care, requiring only deadheading and occasional dividing.

We purchased these for the herb garden, because that is the sunniest area of our property. They range in height from 6″ to just over 2′ tall, so they shouldn’t shade other sun loving plants nearby.

Thinking about their mature size, bloom time and relation to neighboring plants, I placed them around the garden. I like to arrange them in irregular shaped, odd numbered groupings of 3, 5 or 7 of the same plant. This gives the garden visual ‘flow’ and is more appealing than planting in straight rows, as you would in a vegetable garden.

Here’s what we planted:

Balloon Flowers – one blue, one white
I’ve wanted to try balloon flowers forever. These deer resistant plants are whimsical and fun. They both had tags showing blue flowers, so the white one was a surprise!

Poppy
This one is a mystery plant only because I misplaced the tag. Oops! I seem to recall that it is an orange variety.

Darling Daisy™ Shasta Daisy
Daisies were my husband’s great aunt Ruth’s favorite flower, so I remember her fondly when I see these. This variety is fairly compact, growing to just 12″ tall. I deadhead these about once a week, and they are blooming their little hearts out.

Dwarf Coreopsis
We picked up nine of these, and I’m hoping they will provide a sea of golden blooms. They grow to 12″ tall, and bloom from spring through fall.

Giles Van Hees Speedwell – These tiny flowers bloom in summer. They seem a little finicky and we’ve already lost two of the five that we purchased. (R.I.P., little guys) I’m holding my breath that the remaining three will settle into the garden nicely.

Little Women Daylily – I’m not sure where we are in the bloom cycle, but I suspect that we’re done for the year. I bought three of these for their unusual, peach color which will pair nicely with the nearby lavender.

Hopefully our plants will be happy here, and provide some interest to the garden. They’ve already drawn the attention of neighborhood butterflies, so we think the bees will find them soon as well.

How about you? Do you take pity on the clearance rack plants, and take them home?

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.