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!!

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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.” 

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!!!

22 Days till Spring

Encouraging!  Even though we still have quite a bit of snow on the ground signs of spring are starting to appear! 

The sun is shining brightly outside and I received my Nasturtium “Spitfire” seeds from Renee’s Garden yesterday in the mail.   These are the seeds I am planting and posting about each month for the Grow project along with many other garden bloggers.  It will be very interesting to compare notes with everyone from all over the country!

I have been a fan of Renee’s Garden for some time now.  It started the year I received the kitchen garden cookbooks as a birthday gift (from my cousin Renee ironically) along with a beautiful selection of seeds that I planted that year.  Seeds, gardening books, cookbooks are absolutely fantastic gifts for the gardening person …… they will love you forever!

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

I have also secured my ticket to the Chicago Flower and Garden Show this year and I am totally excited!  The schedule of events and vendors looks fantastic and of course, I will share all my photos here.  The ideas that can be developed from the displays is truly remarkable and I definitely need some sound ideas for our place down south….much, much landscaping and gardening and planting to be done!

Going through all my records and charts I am starting to put together for this growing season, I decided I would like to create a nice Garden Journal and once again this may be something I make for The Great Garden Giveaway gift also!  I will be going to the local Joann’s craft store tomorrow to watch several demos on the Cricut machine (a scrapbooking marvel) and will decide if I want to invest in one.  I have been researching on the Cricut message boards and there is alot of information and members there.  If I do purchase I may have a pre-giveaway giveaway to celebrate …..Stay tuned!!!

Connection Failed …

What a way to start the day!  Reading the message splashed across the computer screen again and again “Connection Failed”. 

No, no it can’t be. Let me reboot – hang on.  “Connection Failed” it wasn’t going away – it was serious!   I was in no mood and the disbelief along with frustration was slowly creeping through my every cell.  Why was there no warning?  NOW what was I suppose to do? 

Hoping it was the weather or a technical glitch somewhere I continued to check (every 15 minutes or was it 10?).   No luck… “Connection Failed”.  Finally making the call to the service provider feeling with certainty all they needed to do was flip a switch and my online status would be jolted back into action.   Nope, no such luck!   I would have to wait until the next day for a technician to arrive and scope out the problem.    OMG!!!!  A whole day looking at “Connection Failed”. 

So .. it was time to escape from this self inflicted misery and take a nice walk!   Taking those first breaths of cold fresh air was refreshing and cleared my thoughts.  Trudging along the snow packed trail I asked myself – What do I really need the internet for?   I mean really need the internet for?   As I pondered this question a country song came to mind (the singer and song name escapes me) he sang of times in his childhood when drinking from the garden hose not bottled water was normal and other reflections that brought memories of my own childhood to mind.   No internet and we all got along just fine.   Thinking more on this – My grandparents have no want or need for the internet, they nod in agreement when the conversation turns to the worldwide web, but they could care less.   My parents have the internet installed and use it on occasion … gentle reminders to check their email for new pictures of the kids is more of a curiosity for them than a need.   Myself, I am caught in the middle.  I could go either way with the internet.   I feel I most definitely need it in my daily life, but when I leave for a week or two and do not have internet hookup I survive and don’t miss it a bit!

On the other hand my kids, the newest generation, need the internet.  They entered high school at a time when a household computer was becoming the norm and chatting with their friends was social fun and how they stayed connected. Now in college they rely on the internet and as my son stated recently he searches “everything”.  The internet has replaced asking questions to teachers and even parents.   It’s easier to do a search and find numerous answers to your query with a few clicks on the computer.

As I continued to reflect I thought … Same goes for future generations and gardening – will they ask questions and seek out hands on experience?  Will they grow and harvest their own food?   Will they understand the survival of the seed?   Most importantly – will they be inspired enough to plant those seeds or will they merely make a few clicks on the computer and read about it?

Times will continue to change and change dramatically. Amongst all that change, we must insure that future generations know how to plant those seeds….for our future’s sake.

Online Gardening Fun!

I have worked out most of the details for The Great Garden Giveaway which is set to take place in a little over 2 months from now.  This will allow us time to tell all our garden friends, family and co-workers.  It will also give us time to decide on the gift we plan to give away!  Running the event for 2 weeks ending on Earth Day (when we will announce our winner) works well since once the gardening season is in full swing most of us will be outdoors digging in the dirt!

Make sure to check out the details and the About page and send a tweet if you use Twitter announcing the event.  There is a subscribe box you can sign up to receive updates when a new post is added to the blog so make sure to do that.  If anyone has suggestions, don’t hesitate to share them with me.

I have also signed up to participate in another fun project sponsored by Renee’s Garden.  Project GROW is a communal seed project for garden bloggers across the US.  We will receive Nasturtium “Spitfire” seeds from Renee’s to plant and we report monthly on our blogs on the growing progress.  Check out the link GROW if you are interested and make sure to watch my blog here to see my Nasturtium flower seeds grow!

One more fun garden activity …. One Seed Chicago which is another neat project.  This one is limited to folks in the Chicagoland area and we can vote on our favorite seed between 3 choices….Bee balm, Nodding Onion and Purple Coneflower.  Once the votes are tallied and the winner determined, all the participants will receive the winning seed to plant in their gardens!

Now if the snow would stop falling and the temperature turn upward to about 70 degrees I would be one happy gardener!!!