My Passion for Gardening

My passion for gardening began long ago when I was young.   Memories of planning and planting a garden still ring fresh in my mind – my garden at the back end of the yard I grew up in, the garden in my first home, the HUGE garden in our second home and all my garden adventures since.   The last few years I have been experimenting more with different varieties and different methods not only out of my own curiousity but it seems more and more people are realizing the importance of gardening in our daily lives.   Harvesting food for our table, sharing with others our plentiful bounty and teaching others the knowledge we acquire along the way are real benefits that can motivate us to learn more and do more!   There are also the unspoken benefits of the satisfaction we find in carrying on as our ancestors did by learning basic survival skills such as planting that one seed and harvesting a crop of lettuce throughout the spring season or canning up our tomatoes and relishing in the garden taste during those long winter months.

With the whirlwind of activity and pressures of our society the basics of simple gardening are almost forgotten.   Even at times the gardening world themselves put on the pressure to have the best looking tomato or the best weedfree garden on the block.   It can be intimidating at times especially for those who have never gardened before since seeds don’t always sprout as we hoped and plants don’t always produce as we planned.   There is no competition in growing your own garden – what works for one may not for another, what brings a smile and peace to you may not be the same for your neighbor.

My passion for gardening is an inner drive that brings me contentment and a closer understanding of the works of  Mother Nature and all her wonders.

This past garden season I participated in the GROW project created by MrBrownThumb which connected garden bloggers across the country by comparing their growing progress with the same planted seed – the Nasturtium.   It was very interesting and enabled us to visit different places and meet other gardeners.   As a spinoff, I suggested that gardeners not only grow but also cook what they grow and share that with each other and others across the internet.   With that idea in mind I set up a blog and named it Garden Dish, a Flickr group to share pictures and a group at MixingBowl where we can easily add recipes to share.

Although I set up all this a few months back, I was working on the Garden Dish blog recently trying to find the WordPress theme that would make this an easy interactive project for all of us.   The current theme follows the Twitter pattern and may or may not work (inserting links was confusing).   Feel free to add something to any of the above sites; recipes, pictures, links.

Any and all suggestions on a theme or an easy way to share our recipes created from the garden?

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Time to Start Planning your 2011 Garden

It’s never too early to start planning your garden for next year!   Now is the ideal time since you have fresh in your mind what worked well and what you want to plant more of!   I am a big fan of record keeping so I can remember what worked from year to year.   It’s amazing how easily it is to forget those tiny details from the summer before, so as I write my notes from this past season, I start my new list for next year!   As I plan I also am keeping in mind the newest project which initially I called “GROW to Eat” after the GROW project I participated in this past season and  have decided to rename to “Garden Dish”.   Reason being…there is a Twitter name Grow to Eat and I don’t want to confuse them with this new undertaking I am starting.   So Garden Dish it is!!!   I created a blog and posted a brief explanation so folks can subscribe to the blog and keep updated on the progress of Garden Dish, ask questions (new gardeners and old gardeners), share planting ideas and pass the word around to everyone to come join the fun!

I mentioned the GROW project and last week when I was down south the Nasturtium was still growing in the container on the deck!   Seeds had formed and these can be saved for planting next year.   The first time I grew Nasturtium I had no idea what the seed was – it’s huge actually and there are not too many plants that seed like this (at least ones I have grown)!

I decided to start my Recipe Box at the Mixing Bowl and added the famous “Garlic Cake” recipe!!!   Make sure to check it out and if you love garlic, you will have to bake up a cake …. it will definitely be the talk of your next party!!!

 “I’m growing Nasturtium “Spitfire” for the GROW project. Thanks, to Renee’s Garden for the seeds.” 

GROW to Eat

The GROW project hosted by MrBrownThumb has reached its final post and a huge thank you goes out to him for all his work in coordinating this online blogging event.   Thank YOU!    Renee’s Seeds was the sponsor and graciously donated the Spitfire Nasturtium seeds to all participants.    A Thank You goes out to them as well and of course to ALL the participants!   It was a little tough staying connected for me since my summer location did not have internet connection, but I must say I did post religiously every month about the GROW project progress and the seeds.   I felt it was my duty and enjoyed it very much!   Next year there will be internet access SO I will have an easier time staying connected.  (no excuses…except if it goes down way out there in country neverland) 🙂

I made a suggestion to MrBrownThumb for next year.  It started with his comment about the Nasturtium and Beans and you can see the exchange here.  (under the Comments)    So with his endorsement I came up with the name “GROW to Eat” and the idea behind it will be to grow food (or flowers) and create a recipe or dish to eat with what we grow.   Following the same schedule as the GROW project we all make a post on our blogs and share.   I do have a website page which can be used as the anchor and a blog linky used so everyone can go from blog to blog each month.

I know folks start planning their gardens for next year soon and keeping in mind this next GROW project will help set up our gardens so we can GROW to Eat and share!

Here is the website page and I will update it with this project information.  Of course since I love tweeting, I will be sending out some tweets at @RunningGarlic!

Thank you again to MrBrownThumb and Renee’s Seeds and all the folks who joined in!

 “I’m growing Nasturtium “Spitfire” for the GROW project. Thanks, to Renee’s Garden for the seeds.”  

Garden Wrap-up

Fall is upon us and the summer gardening season has pretty much ended – a few tomato and pepper plants remain, but most have been removed.   It came on suddenly, hot in the 90s very early in the season and the temperatures reached heat indexes of over 100 – now all the sudden it’s Chilly!   The cooler weather is welcome and fall colors have to be some of the most spectacular of the year; just hoping those cold snowy days don’t arrive too soon!

The Nasturtium flowers continue to grow and bloom in the container on the deck and I am sure they will flourish up until a frost covers the ground.

These flowers were planted as a team GROW project with many other gardeners across the country and all documented their progress throughout the summer months.   “I’m growing Nasturtium “Spitfire” for the GROW project. Thanks, to Renee’s Garden for the seeds.”  

I also planted and just recently harvested TriColor Bush Beans also received from Renee’s Garden and I will be blanching and freezing these later this afternoon.

 TriColor Bush Beans – yellow, purple, green

I have some mini pumpkin gourds I will be working on this week and these were actually from last year’s harvest.   My mini gourds this year didn’t take off like I had hoped so I only have a few and they will have to dry before I can work on them.   The larger gourds are still out in the field and they were doing great until the 115 degree weather hit and I was not there to water them – they suffered, but I will have some gourds regardless.

 Mini pumpkin gourds setting in the sun to dry after I washed and scrubbed them getting ready to decorate.  

I want to Thank everyone that entered the Garlic Giveaway and we did announce the winner last week … this will be the last week the garlic is listed for sale in the shop; then it’s Garlic Planting Time!!!     

Thanks again and Happy Fall!

Tough Summer for Gardening!

Now that the summer months are almost over I have to say it was tough and HOT!   I did very well maintaining all the gardens even during the 110 degree span, but I lost control when I had to leave for several weeks and the temperature actually soared to 115 degrees (heat index)!!   If I had known the weather would get hotter I would have scheduled my back and forth trips differently, but as we all know… the weather can be unpredictable and this year was extremely hot here – very unusual!   So today I arrived back up north here and the WIND is whipping around like crazy ….. unreal!

I am very surprised the Nasturtium in the huge pot on the deck survived and since it was cooler this past weekend it is actually blooming and thriving.   I bet it prefers the cooler temperatures – I know I do!

The various peppers finally took off and I was able to harvest some –

Nothing like fresh salsa with your own homegrown jalapeno peppers!   The tabasco peppers are still tiny and this is the first year I grew them.   I am excited for their final harvest.

 Tabasco peppers growing

I did have a little fun with the camera and took some neat pictures which I will have to add to my Flickr account ….

Make sure to check out the Garlic Giveaway and leave a comment for a chance to win some great garlic!   Last but not least the Sunflowers were looking Glorious!!!

“I’m growing Nasturtium “Spitfire” for the GROW project. Thanks, to Renee’s Garden for the seeds.”

Artist drawing and pickling seeds – Nasturtium

Just returned from several weeks down south and the weather was HOT – heat indexes reached 110 on several days and it looks like the week ahead will be the same!   We were lucky enough to receive rain each week so the plants did survive!   I canned up some pickles and the tomatoes were ripening up quite nicely.   The Nasturtium on the deck in the big pot had several more blooms and my nephew who is quite the artist found it a wonderful image to draw …… he had no idea the plant was a member of the GROW project and drew a remarkable sketch one day!

I WAS impressed …….. beautiful job Josh!!!

The Nasturtium which were planted next to the pea plants are thriving  now among the Jacob’s Cattle bean which replaced the peas.

I came across a very interesting recipe using the seeds from the flower!!!

Pickled nasturtium seeds – used as a substitute for capers.  Pick the seeds on a dry day while they are still green.  Steep in brine made from 1/2 cup of salt to 1 quart of water for 24 hours.  Remove and dry the seeds, then pack into small jars.  Make a strong spiced vinegar to fill the jars, using white wine vinegar and salt and a selection from tarragon leaves, mace, nutmeg, shallots, garlic, peppercorns and horseradish slices.  Pour the hot vinegar into the jars, then seal and leave for about a month.  After opening the jar, use up the contents quickly!   Enjoy!!!

“I’m growing Nasturtium “Spitfire” for the GROW project, thanks to ReneesGarden.com for the seeds.”

First blooms of the season

My most recent trip down south was exciting with all the new blooms we were able to witness – I hope they can all survive the heat the next few months!   It did cool off somewhat and rain before we left so that was encouraging.   The nasturtium flower seeds that were direct seeded sent out a bloom well before the transplants in the deck pot (which I found interesting, since the transplants had a head start).

 Direct seeded in the ground

Climbing Nasturtium Spitfire Bloom

Beautiful deep orange color !!

The largest pot contains the nasturtium flowers I had transplanted and as of this picture there were no blooms yet – but about a week later , one did appear … yay!!!

I also planted Container Cucumber from Renee’s Gardens and they were doing Great – we even had our first baby cucumber!

Container cucumber

Some other firsts I was able to capture on film –

 First tomato

 First bottle gourd

 First watermelon

 

First zucchini flowers

“I’m growing Nasturtium “Spitfire” for the GROW project, thanks to ReneesGarden.com for the seeds.”