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SHE is going to plant a Garden!

SHE is my daughter!

She is away at college and plans to continue going through the summer.   During our phone conversation she tells me she is going to plant a garden!   Beside the fact that I managed not to faint, I wasn’t sure I heard her right.   She feels she will be bored after classes and work and needs something to do …. so she figures a garden will be a good project.   She has a yard (and there’s really not grass, and the soil is “not sure”, and she likes tomatoes and watermelon).

So I am to email her instructions how to garden.

I offered to send her seeds since I have plenty, but she said “nah, isn’t it just as easy to just get them at the store”      me:  “but I have good seeds”

nevermind … we will just go with it

I am told to just email instructions later today.

Dear Daughter:

Since your gardening season will start earlier than ours here, make sure to pick up seeds the next time you are out.   I will make sure to save you some of the seedlings I have growing under the lights and you can add them to your garden (if you want).    You will need a shovel or hoe to break up the dirt in the area you plan on growing your garden.  I don’t think bunnies will eat tomato plants or watermelon unless they are different down there.  You probably don’t know your last frost date there … can you google it?  This is somewhat important since the little sprouts will die if hit with a cold frost and you will have to start over again.

Ok… read the instructions on the back of the seed pack.  You can start the seeds indoors but you will need pots (which you can make on your own with newspaper – if you do this, I will send you a link).   Otherwise, take the seeds from the packette and put into the ground spaced as stated on the package.   Both tomatoes and watermelon will GROW so allow plenty of space.  The tomato plants will need some support which you can also make on your own with large sticks and string.   As the season moves along, you want to make sure to keep the weeds under control – pull them when they are small since it will be easier at that time.   What is a weed you ask?   Well,  just remember where you planted  your seeds (mark the spots with a stick or something) and anything that grows elsewhere is a weed and pull it out.

Keep the plants watered but don’t over water since this can be not good – they just need enough to grow….like a good drink every once in a while.   You will get the hang of it.   Just call me or better yet send me pictures if you have a question.   I want to SEE pictures anyways……I am excited for you and sad I can’t be there to show you how to do this.   I am betting that you are going to have some Awesome tomatoes and watermelon (heck, probably even better than the ones I plan to grow).   Keep me posted!

Love always, Mom

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My Gardening List for 2011

I finally started work on my Gardening List for the coming 2011 season.   Although I have notes and little reminders here and there, it’s time to pull it all together and get organized.

In previous years I have included my list on the above tab “Gardening” and will continue this year.   My biggest challenge when planning for the coming season is the fact that I am torn between two homes which are a travel distance of 5 hours apart.   I have learned over the past few years that you really have to be on location when gardening and if you are gone for several days in a row, you need to have someone look after all your plants.   This little tip hit hard last summer when I was gone for 2 weeks and the weather scorched out at 115 degrees and did a number on every little and big plant I had growing.   It was a painful experience and still very clear in my thoughts.   So as I look through my seeds, I have to first decide where I will be spending most of my time and if I do leave; will the plants survive.

The garlic was planted October, 2010 – 500 bulbs here up North and about 300 down South.   They are sleeping well underneath the huge layer of snow right now and will wake up as Spring approaches.   Mid-July I will be harvesting all the garlic and then it will cure (dry out) for about a month.   The 5 varieties growing this year are Chet’s Italian, Inchelium Red, Chrysalis Purple, Persian Star and Chesnok Red.

This year I intend to grow more Sunflowers.   They have always amazed me and I find them such a daunting yet graceful (in their own way) flower.   I have my seeds all ready and waiting the exciting season ahead … Chocolate Cherry Sunflower, Junior (good for containers), Cinnamon Sun, Autumn Beauty and I am trying the Edible Snack Seed Sunflower also.

I will be working on “the list” today and although I have my updated version posted, I still have to decide what to plant where and most importantly … Where am I going to be?

Will it be Munchie Monday or Menu Monday … that is the question!   The poll is still open for your vote !   Make sure to have your recipe ready for Monday … when the fun begins!!

Transplanting Peppers and Free Seeds!

Last week I promised Free Seeds to those who would like them.   All you have to do is send your name and address to mailbox@therunninggarlic.com and I will send them along to you.   The three flower seeds are pictured below and I will also be planting more in my own gardens this year.   The Coneflower is a perennial and will return each year while the two Marigold flowers are annual and the seed needs to be replanted each year.   The seeds are very easy to save so you will have these flower types for many years to come.   I have to limit my mailing of seeds to the United States since there are custom restrictions with sending seeds to certain parts of the world.

Coneflower – Echinacea purple

Mr. Majestic Marigold

Guardian Marigold with a Praying Mantis.   This praying mantis is about 4″ in length and he was one of the neatest bugs I have ever seen!

I transplanted some of my pepper plants last night to give the roots more room to spread out.   The key with transplanting is to be careful with handling the roots; try not to crush them.   I grab the plant by the upper half near the leaves … gently and repot.

Make sure to label all your pots.   It’s easy to forget at this point and then in a few months you will be guessing what you planted!

The pepper plants I have started are – Alma Paprika, Long Cayenne, Red Mini, Tam Jalapeno and Marconi.   The only one that seems to be having trouble starting is the Jalapeno … not sure why, but started another set of seeds last night.   I think I may need another sweet pepper or two.   I will be starting my tomato seeds real soon also … Amish Paste which are good for canning, Cherokee Purple which are absolutely delicious and Sungold – a first this year!

Starting Seeds Indoors …Free seeds

 There is nothing quite like the feeling that fills your every cell when you spot those first seeds starting to sprout.   The excitement just wants to burst from your insides as you stare in amazement at the little green stems pushing their way out from underneath the dark black soil.

The journey that lies ahead for these tiny sprouts of green is nothing short of a miracle.   From tiny seed to fresh juicy vegetables and colorful blooming flowers in a matter of months …… a lifetime for most garden plants. 

These are my pepper seedlings which I started back in December.   Rather early to start seeds indoors for the coming season, but I have found peppers grow at a slower rate than other plants.   This year I want to transplant some big ole pepper plants into the ground!   That way I will be able to harvest peppers earlier than in the past … which was late summer.   I may need to transplant these into bigger pots before they find their final home in the outdoor garden.   I have attempted to start tomatoes earlier and they tend to get leggy and unmanageable so it’s best to wait on them for a few more weeks.

Back in November I also started some herb seeds indoors and they are doing great!   I plan to harvest some this week.   I am fortunate to have a nice setup of wire shelving racks with grow lights that supply constant heat and light for my little growing garden.   I do water at least every other day since the air in the house is very dry.

Can you name the types of herbs in the three pictures above?   Three common every day herbs ….   During the winter months I go through my saved seeds every few weeks and decide if there’s something I can start planting.   Since I have accumulated quite a number of flower seeds this past season (I am obsessed with saving seeds), I decided to send some along to you!   So watch for next week’s Tuesday post and how you can receive your free seeds.   It will be easy so don’t worry.

I also like to send a Thank You to Renee’s Gardens for the recent Media Kit they sent along with a packet of  Mesclun seeds (which I might just start any day now).  Thank You!

Also take a look at P. Allen Smith’s plant suggestions.   If you are new to gardening or looking for Spring ideas, bookmark his site which is filled with helpful ideas.

Happy Gardening Thoughts!!

Fall Colors in Full Swing and New Linky!

The yellow, orange and red leaves are definitely making a statement this fall and it seemed like it happened overnight!  

Now with these high winds we have been experiencing the last 2 days the leaves are flying all over … we will have quite a lot of leaves to mulch up and add to the compost and layer over the gardens.   All of the garlic has been planted for the 2011 harvest – 5 different varieties this year.   Two softnecks Chet’s Italian and Inchelium Red and three hardneck Chrysalis Purple, Chesnok Red and Persian Star.   The hardneck have a larger clove and are easier to work with but the storing time is not as long as the softnecks.

Here is a picture of the famous Garlic Cake I had posted about previously.   It was quite involved to make and has a rather unique taste – you can definitely taste the garlic!   I will share the recipe once I add it to a recipe site since the format for recipes is all laid out and posting on the blog doesn’t flow as well.   I may join another recipe site I spotted “Just a Pinch” and see how user friendly they are.   If anyone has experience and a preference in regard to recipe sites, please do share!   I did take some awesome pictures of the roasted garlic and that is the flavor of the cake … a deep smokey flavor.

I also planted some Ginseng seed I received from Seed Savers Exchange.   I had ordered them last year and recently received them since they ship for fall planting.   I did order a book on ginseng planting and will be reading up on it – since we have quite a few acres of forest I figured it would be an ideal plant to grow.   I  have heard that ginseng farming is popular down south in our area – wild ginseng grows and the market price is quite hefty.   It will be interesting to see how successful I am with this – it takes several years and the root is what gets harvested.

I decided to use Sarge as my mascot or avatar for promoting the Linkys I create on my website.   He looks so content and cute!   A linky is a tool that enables many people to share something from different sites all in one area.   This newest linky I set up allows readers to click on different pictures and go to various shops on the internet.   If you create something handmade and it fits the theme I create (Party Items this month), by all means feel free to add your listing.   The holiday season is upon us and the fun has just begun!!!

Garlic Cake and Free Friendship Seeds!

I was hoping for an occassion to bake this Garlic Cake and I made sure I have all the ingredients.    The only problem is if I make it now I will be the only one eating it and I really don’t think that’s a good idea – maybe I could freeze most of it …hmmmm.   It probably won’t be until next week that I make it so stay tuned if you would like to know how it turns out!    I found the recipe in this Garlic Cookbook by Linda & Fred Griffith –

Make sure to stop by and retweet this post I created at my other blog – first 10 to retweet will receive Free Friendship Seeds and a Hello Card!   What Fun!  

I have also been working on improving my website and just added a new page last night called Add Listings.   Some great great listings have been added so far and I hope to keep this idea going well into the holiday season and beyond.   What do you think?

I can’t forget to show you these guys – remember, those pumpkin gourds I had drying out?  Well, I painted up a few and have them smiling away being ohhh so happy!

Happy Fall !!!

Garlic Scapes

This year I decided to harvest the garlic scapes from the hard garlic growing in the garden.   Some folks do this and others don’t – last year I didn’t and all the garlic harvested seemed quite large to me.   This year by cutting the scapes (the curly stalks that hard garlic grow) I am giving the bulb in the ground an even better chance of growing larger – the growing energy is directed towards the bulb and not the stalk or scape.   So now I have all these Garlic Scapes

and browsing through the blogs participating in the GROW project I spotted this perfectly timed post by Colleen at In the Garden online  and spent the day yesterday making Garlic Scape Pesto and canning up 6 pints of pickled scapes.   The pickled scapes will make a great addition to my Father’s Day gift since my Dad loves garlic and the garlic bulbs are not ready yet to harvest.

I cut the scapes to fit the pint size jars (I made 6 pints) and added the hot brine along with some red pepper flakes and dried oregano.   To make the liquid brine you heat up 3 cups of vinegar, 5 cups of water and 1/4 cup of kosher salt.   Then you use the hot water canning method and cook 45 minutes.   They need to set for 2 weeks before eating to allow the flavors to blend.

I also made the Garlic Scape Pesto and it is totally addicting – I am thinking even better than a Basil Pesto ……. really good!   I modified the recipe a bit.   I cut up 1 cup of scapes and added them along with 1/3 cup of walnuts to the blender.   Blended a while and added 1/2 cup olive oil and lastly about 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese.

 So very delicious!!!   Thank you Colleen for your timely post – I am enjoying my Garlic Scapes to the max!

I recently returned once again from the trip down south and my mailbox was full of wonderful treasures …. 2 new magazines I have subscribed to;  Runner’s World and PaperCrafts.   I have decided I now have to purchase the Provocraft Gypsy to go along with my Cricut simply because of all this back and forth traveling.   The Gypsy will allow me to travel and create without lugging the Cricut machine each trip….how exciting is that!

Renee’s Garden once again floored me with their promptness and generosity.   I received the media kit with my Nasturtium seeds and decided to send for the 18 free packages of seeds they offered.   I received them all within a few days and am overjoyed with all these wonderful new possibilities to add to the gardens down south.

Happy Gardening!!!