Roses – Of Course
How to grow roses
Peaches Ripening on Tree
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Darwin Tulips
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Roses, Corn & Peaches
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Under the Grape Arbor
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My Garden Journal
Jan. 28 - Filled the bird feeders and shoveled snow. Lots and lots of snow.
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Bird Feeders & Roses
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Heaven on Earth Rose
Chives, Sage & Roses
Corn & Peach Trees
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Day Lilies
Cut Zinnias
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Potted Snapdragons
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Posts Tagged ‘garden nursery’

Gardening Perks


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Yellow lilies in front yard

An unexpected thing I enjoy about our garden is getting to talk to so many people as they pass by, some strolling, some on bikes and many in cars. We live on a corner just off Main Street in our little town of about 40,000 and so it feels like we live in Mayberry, with so many friendly people. Anyway, one day a man walking his dog stopped to talk and was telling me how much he appreciated me putting the names by the plants so passersby could know what they were. I told him I hadn’t thought about the people passing by, I was just trying to remember the names of plants and what was planted where.

I moved out here to the West almost 3 years ago and even though I’d gardened for such a long time in the south (zones 7 & 8), there were so many plants out here (zone 5b/6a and elevation ca.5000′) that I’d never heard of and didn’t recognize. Really, there were very few of the ones I was use to growing that would grow out here. So if you think you have to know a lot to be a gardener, then I’m living proof that you don’t. I started reading a lot, I now have 154 gardening books (I just counted out of curiosity), almost all second hand. I like to be able to look up anything I need to know about. I do use the internet a lot but I get a lot of help from books.

Back to the names on the plants…I use metal wire stakes with a metal plate to write on. They work great for helping me to remember the plant name and to mark the spot where it’s planted so in the spring when I’m looking for places to put new plants I’ll know that place is reserved for something that will be coming up soon.

When I have spaces to fill I like to plant annuals that have plenty of blooms to use and share, like Cosmos and Zinnias, which can grow quite tall if they’re happy. Last year I had a profusion of blooms along the sidewalk outside the picket fence on the South side  of our yard (our house faces West) and large areas covered in blooms inside the fence.I try to get everyone to come and cut bouquets from the zinnias and cosmos because it encourages more blooms and it makes people happy.

One afternoon as I was sitting on a little stool weeding by the front sidewalk a little girl, about 8 years old, came riding by on her bike and stopped to talk. She gave me one of my favorite compliments when she said, “Your yard looks like a flower forest.”

How could I not like that?

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Cosmos by sidewalk on south side of house

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Lavender and daisies in front yard by grape vines.

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by Eliza Osborn

Herbs I’ve Grown and Loved


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Growing favorite herbs in the herb garden for cooking

I started growing herbs when my Aunt Pearl, who lives in Georgia and is also a gardener, gave me a large pot planted with herbs. I’ve been growing them ever since. I like to mix them in among other perennials, although I have had beds with just herbs in them. Herbs are so easy to grow and since you need to keep pinching them back to make the plant fuller and to prevent blooming, you have plenty to use in cooking and you’ll have plenty to share, since it really is good for the plant to get pinched back. In most cases it would be hard to use that much of any herb. When I prune them back I put the clippings I’m not going to use in a basket on my kitchen counter. The smell is wonderful.

Put the ones you are planning on using in a glass with water in the fridge and they will stay fresh until  you need them. When using fresh herbs in recipes you’ll need to use a larger amount (about 2-3 times as much) because measurements are usually for dried herbs, which have much less volume. Fresh herbs make such a difference in foods. For example, potato salad is a whole different dish when prepared with fresh oregano, thyme, parsley and chives. The flavors are so fresh and wonderful.

Some can be grown from seeds and some can’t. Some can be dried and used, some frozen. If you’re interested in planting herbs, now is a good time for planting the hardy ones. Depending on where you live, Rosemary is iffy, and basil surely can’t take the cold but most others are pretty hardy. I’ll talk more about herbs later, but for now you really should consider herbs for your garden. You’ll fall in love.

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by Eliza Osborn



How To Start a Garden

hyssop, sedum, phlox and rhubarb

2011 - Agastache, Sedum, Phlox and Rhubarb

This question comes up a lot and I think the best place to start a garden is not with a shovel and dirt but with pencil and paper.

Gardening is a growing interest and a lot of people, even though they want to garden, just don’t know how to get started. Even a small bed can produce a great amount of flowers or vegetables.
Here is a link to an article I’d written that might be of some help. Check it out.

before deck was built

2009 - Newly planted Agastache and sedum


potted plum tree and flowers by back door

2011 - Deck with potted plum tree and flowers.


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by Eliza Osborn

Raised Bed Gardening

raised bed gardening

Newly built raised beds between peach trees and deck (click to enlarge)

If you haven’t discovered raised bed gardening yet, then listen up.

There are some real advantages to gardening in raised beds, especially if you have poor soil or a lot of tree roots etc. Raised beds don’t get walked on, so they don’t get all packed down. Weeds aren’t a problem either. Plus, as you get older, it’s nice not to have to bend over so far.

You’ll need a place in your yard that gets plenty of sun and is pretty level. If possible the bed should run north and south so that the sun can get on both sides equally. That is the ideal, but all of ours run east and west and do fine.

Raised beds can be built out of bricks, blocks, cement or lumber. Lumber is the most common material used, with cedar or redwood being the best because it will last longer. If you live in an arid climate, you can even use pine. If you use lumber, then you have a choice of just nailing the box together or using metal corners that you just slip the lumber into and screw it together. We have both kinds and both work great.

You have to decide how big you’ll make the beds. If  you make them 4′ wide then you’ll be able to reach the center from both sides. You can make them as long as you like, keeping in mind the lengths that lumber comes in will save you some money. We have 16′ x 4′ beds with one cross board in the middle. So it looks like two 8′ x 4′ beds attached end to end. You can make square beds or any size you need that will fit on your available space. You’ll also want to make the beds at least 3′ apart if you’re making more than one bed. This allows you working space in between them. Also, you need to consider how deep you want it to be. Boards come in 6″, 8″, 10″, 12″. Realize that the deeper the bed the more growing medium you’ll need. Plants usually need at least 6″, but we have ours at 8″. Also the roots can go past the mixture and into the soil.

growing vegetables in raised beds

Raised bed between peach trees and deck in July

To fill a raised bed, don’t use garden soil. There are a few things to use in the planting mixture and you can create your own mixture from these ingredients.

These ingredients are:

Peat moss, sawdust (not wood shavings), sand, Perlite and/or Vermiculite, compost, dry fertilizer (in even numbers, i.e.8-8-8 or 10-10-10). Mix it all really well either before you put it into the bed or layer it and mix it well in the bed. Level it off and don’t mound it up in the center. Water it really well to moisten the peat and perlite/vermiculite.

You’ll be able to grow a lot more plants in this rich, well drained mixture than you’d be able to in the ground. Earthworms love these beds and multiply really fast and make the mixture even more fertile.

You can build your raised beds in the fall for very early spring planting. Another something to look forward to after a long, cold winter.


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Raised garden beds in December.

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Raised beds in in front of grape vines on fence in August

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by Eliza Osborn

If You Feed Them, They Will Come – How To Attract Birds To Your Garden

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One of 10 birdfeeders in the garden.

Of course I love being in our garden, enjoying the relaxing atmosphere and watching the breezes moving through the branches and the flowers. One of the things I enjoy most about being in the garden though, is watching and listening to the birds.

The first year we were so busy landscaping and planting that we didn’t spend any effort attracting birds to our yard. Last year we began  putting out a variety of feeders to see what birds would actually show up.

The finches and hummingbirds took a few weeks before they discovered our feeders, than they began coming in droves. The regular feeders, we filled with combinations of seeds, millet nuts etc. We learned right away that birds are picky and they are messy. They’ll fling unwanted seeds out of the way to get to their favorites. As it turns out, the seeds tossed to the ground attract the ground feeders, which means a bigger variety of birds in your yard.

There is some expenses involved, with the feeders, and the food to fill them, but there are some very good reasons for attracting as many birds to your yard as possible.

The top, number 1, most  important reason to go to the trouble and expense, is because birds eat bugs, larvae, caterpillars, you know, the pests that are eating the garden. If you feed the birds all during the year they will associate your yard with food. As your garden begins to come up and grow, just cut back on the amount of food you put in the feeders and they’ll turn their hungry, little eyes on the garden pests nearby. As the garden is finishing up, increase the food again. They’ll stick around to pick off any insect eggs they can find and gobble up anything hatching out as well.

Another good reason, is because the birds are so entertaining to watch, and so pleasant to listen to, as they sing or chatter away or even as they’re scolding each other. The community of birds you share your garden with, makes the garden come alive.

Some worry about feeding the birds and then stopping suddenly to go out of town etc. They worry that the birds will come to depend on them and they will suffer if they quit putting feed out. I’m sure the birds will still find food if the feeders are not filled. They will have to work a little harder for their food, but they’ll find food.

Check out this great site for more information.

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by Eliza Osborn

Tending the Berry Patch


berry patch in small garden

Berry patch in side small garden in early summer 2011

I’ll tell you what I’ve learned about strawberry plants since I’ve moved to zone 6. They can be about as fast growing and invasive as Kudzu, you know, the vine that ate the south. When we bought this place there was a sickly little strawberry patch about 2’x2′ and the plants were pitiful, since they were in heavy shade all day.

I designed a little berry patch with strawberries growing low and blackberries on a little trellis (which they quickly outgrew). It is about 10’x8′ and gets sun most of the day. It had a wooden border from  4’x4′ posts left over from building the grape arbor and the deck.

Well…in no time at all they had jumped that border and were headed cross country. I cut them way back, but that only slowed them down for a couple of weeks. Now I know that I have to be vigilant about chopping runners off before they can make it to the border. They do have really good berries, but not as many of them as I would think they would with such prolific plants. I wish I knew what kind they were. Any suggestions would be welcomed.

I learned recently that after strawberries quit bearing, the leaves and runners should all be cut off, being careful not to injure the new growth. Maybe that is part of my problem, I haven’t been pruning them back like that and they just got too rambunctious. They’ve been pruned back now and we’ll see if they’ve been tamed a little.

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by Eliza Osborn



Grasshoppers In the Garden

Early this spring I noticed a lot of tiny little grasshoppers but I wasn’t worried about them because I figured they were so tiny that they couldn’t do much damage. Well, those little buggers grew up and turned into big, fat, hungry grasshoppers that are everywhere this year. We haven’t been plagued with them before, so I don’t know much about dealing with them, but I will learn before next year. I’ll pass along whatever I can find out about these pests and how to control them.

Here is a link to a video I made of one of our fat little pest sitting on an Autumn Joy sedum. Obviously he is too fat and lazy to move so I can get up close and personal with him.

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by Eliza Osborn


Winter Comes Early Around Here

I can’t believe that we got snow this week, the mountains behind our house are beautiful and white already. We had snow on our deck and I almost slipped down in the slushy, slippery stuff. Won’t be in the garden any time soon it looks like.

My daughter, her husband and five children, are coming here for a visit. They were driving across Wyoming last night and there was so much snow on the road they had to get off and stay in a motel for the night. So close, yet so far away. They’re already on the road this morning but the snow is still coming down.

Let’s see, we had snow Memorial weekend, and then on Oct. 6. Wow, 4 months between snows. It’s a wonder we can grow anything here!

I’ll add a photo of the mountains if the clouds lift enough. Hope it’s bright and sunny where you are.

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by Eliza Osborn

The Rhubarb Outgrew It’s Bed

Rhubarb before it outgrew it's place in the perennial bed.

Never having grown Rhubarb before, I hadn’t realized how big they actually get. Not only did I plant 1 in the wrong place, I put 2 in there, side by side. This is one of those mistakes I was talking about that you can learn from and not repeat.

The bed was plenty large enough when I put the two of them in there, but as I began to add other plants, and they began to grow, well, those giant leaves started trying to shade all the other plants around it. So…it has to go. I’ll find a sunny spot on the south, side yard and when the weather is cool enough, I’ll transplant those large Rhubarb plants.

Here is a video of the Rhubarb and the bed it’s in now.

As I move it I’ll post videos of that process.

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by Eliza Osborn

A Clematis I Highly Recommend

I have planted clematis all over the garden because they can co-mingle with other climbing plants and not be invasive or intrusive. One of the clematis has out performed all the others. The Reiman Clematis has been in continuous bloom since it started blooming early in the summer. It has grown more than any of the others and it has a beautiful blue/violet color. I’m so glad I have two of them. As they grow and cover the gate and arbor I’ll post pics or videos.

I’m sure in time the other clematis in the garden will began to perform, but if you want one that will be beautiful from the very start, try a Reiman.

Check out this video of the Reiman Clematis on the gate attached to our grape arbor.

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by Eliza Osborn

Fun In the Kitchen

picked tomatoes ready to be canned

Ripe tomatoes ready for bottling.

Even though most of our tomatoes are still green, we have friends with more tomatoes than they could handle and so they shared with us. So…guess what we did today. We’ll have some tomatoes to enjoy this long, cold winter.

We have had such warm, sunny weather for so long and today it has changed dramatically. The rain has come in and the cold weather is upon us and it has turned quite chilly. It  really serves as a reminder that we will have to do something with our green tomatoes. I will be frying some, but that is way to many fried green tomatoes. The seasons are so different here, I’m not use to waiting all summer for fresh tomatoes. By the time they finally start ripening, the cold weather is already threatening. Maybe a greenhouse would help out, get them started a lot earlier at least.

If you have the same problem of cold weather getting your tomatoes before they ripen, check out an earlier blog (Sparing Tomatoes) dealing with that little problem.

garden tomatoes bottled

Bottled tomatoes waiting to be labeled and put away.


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by Eliza Osborn

Tarragon…of Course – With Video

Herb - Tarragon

French Tarragon

Have you considered growing herbs? Herbs can make a beautiful perennial bed or be mixed in among other plants.

You know there are different kinds of herbs, not all are for cooking. Some are medicinal and some just smell good and are for potpourri. Some, the all-stars, are all three, culinary, medicinal and aromatic.

Since Tarragon is my favorite herb I’ll just touch on it today, but there are so many wonderful herbs to use in your garden and almost all of them are perennial, unfortunately basil isn’t one of these.

Tarragon is a beautiful plant on its own, and I’m talking about French Tarragon here not Russian T. which  has little flavor nor aroma or Mexican T. which is a little weedy with little flavor.When you cut it to use the plant becomes bushier as you can see from the photo above. The stems that have been cut are about to send out several stems each. French T. will get 2′-3′ tall, in warmer climates than here, and has long slender leaves of a beautiful green. It may have blooms late in the fall but rarely sets seeds. So it is propagated by cuttings or divisions.

It smells wonderful, like anise or licorice.

The best thing about it though is the taste. you can put the leaves in a cruet or bottle and add hot vinegar, cork it or cap it and in a few weeks you’ll have an amazing vinegar to use on salads or with fish etc. It can also be used to flavor meats, sauces, vegetables, eggs etc.

My favorite way to use it is in making tea. Hot or iced, they are both delicious. To make the tea just pull a hand full of leaves, rinse and chop them. Put in a teapot or use a 2 cup glass measuring cup (fancy) and pour almost boiling water over them. Let them steep for 3-5 minutes. Not too long though as it can get bitter. To make iced tea I just add more leaves so when diluted with the ice it will be just right.

Now for the medicinal…tarragon tea is a mild diuretic. In other words it makes you go, so I guess that makes it perfect to drink with salty foods. Mixed with chamomile it will help induce sleep.

No wonder I love Tarragon so much. When I moved from the South to the West it was the only plant I dug up to bring with me. Even though it is my favorite, I will talk about others soon.

I just mention the herbs because, like other perennials, now is the time to plant some.

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by Eliza Osborn

Video Update to Past Post – Gather Those Seeds While Ye May

This is the time of year to gather seeds for next year. I’ve added a video to the post: “Gather Those Seeds While Ye May” that might be helpful.

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by Eliza Osborn

Garden Pathways

growing herbs and roses by the pathway.

Pathway between the grape arbor and the herb/flower beds

In our yard we have a sidewalk that is all the way around the house, up next to the house. Since we live on a corner, we have a public sidewalk that goes across the front and down the south side of our property. (See the diagram below) There are connecting sidewalks in the front and on each side. That leaves a lot of area for flower beds. Flower beds that  couldn’t be accessed if there weren’t pathways winding through the garden. Besides for convenience, garden paths are appealing, drawing you into the garden. If I could use any material I wanted for the pathways, I would use old, reclaimed paving bricks. I’d have tiny little plants growing between them and beautiful green moss growing on them.

In the real world though, we’ve found something that is within our budget and looks pretty good. We use wood chips spread pretty deeply (4-6″). They began to break down a bit and we’ve even had to add more, here and there. The older they get, the better they look. They do a pretty good job of holding down the weeds and they aren’t bad to walk on.

Okay, where do we get these chips? When we began work on the yard in 2009, we had 3 huge trees removed. The guys cutting them down ran all of the limbs that they could, through the chipper. We had quite a few to use, which was great. The next year we noticed there were a couple of spots that needed more chips. We saw a tree trimming crew in the neighborhood and stopped and asked if we could have the chips. Sure, because they were going to have to take them to the city dump and pay to deposit them there. A win/win situation. Keep your eyes out for crews cutting down trees or trimming trees and direct them to your yard.

garden path beside grape arbor and herb beds

Garden path from driveway along grape arbor to peach trees.

Another thing that would work, would be pine straw. Until it breaks down a little, it could be a little slippery, but if you have access to lots of pine straw it would really be  put to good use. Plus, pine straw smells so good. I love that about it. Smells like you’re in the woods.

You could even use grass, if  you don’t mind mowing it. If you already have a lawn and would like to have more bedding space to grow things, then mark the pathways and remove the rest of the sod to prepare the beds for planting. If you did this it might be best to edge the pathway with something to prevent the grass from growing into the beds. We’ve used large rocks because here in the mountains, that’s what we have access to. I’ve also used old railroad ties or Monkey Grass (Loriope). Both of those work great.

There are so many possibilities, but the idea is to provide a place to stroll through the garden. If you have room for it, along the path would be a really good place for a park bench. Let your imagination run wild as you plan your garden paths.


yard design for landscaping

Our landscaping plan for pathways and beds - the green areas are flower beds (Click to enlarge)















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by Eliza Osborn

10-10-10 or 0-14-0 or 40-5-5 – Which Fertilizer To Use?

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65-15-15 OR 10-10-10 Which fertilizer to use?

Ever wonder what those numbers on fertilizers mean? It can be very confusing to know which fertilizer to use because you have to know what your plants need and you have to know what the fertilizer provides. It’s not all that mysterious if you just know a few basic facts.

The 1st number is Nitrogen – Nitrogen feeds the leaves, promoting rapid growth and gives the leaves their green color.

The 2nd number is Phosphorus – Phosphorus promotes healthy, vigorous roots. This is important because the moisture and nutrients are taken up in the plant through the roots, so the more the better. Right?

The 3rd number is Potassium – Potassium helps with the overall health of the plant, allowing the plant to produce more blooms and higher quality fruit and seeds.

See, mystery solved. 🙂

It is important though to know what your plants need. If in doubt, go for balanced numbers. Generally speaking, the higher the numbers in a balanced formula, the less fertilizer you’ll need to use.

For grasses, high nitrogen is favorable because it keeps it green and growing. On fruit and vegetable bearing plants though, high nitrogen means a strong foliage production at the expense of the fruit and vegetables. I once had gorgeous zucchini plants that didn’t bloom and fruit. I’d used the wrong fertilizer, one where the nitrogen number was much higher than the other two.

So when it comes to fertilizers, numbers matter.

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by Eliza Osborn

Shady Spaces in the Garden


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Hosta bed with 6 varieties of Hostas

Like a lot of others, we have a yard that has a combination of very sunny to very shady areas. The sunny areas are easy because so many plants do so well and have to have full days of sunshine. The challenge is finding plants that not only will tolerate the shade but will thrive and bloom in it.

Some shade loving plants are Astilbe, Ferns, Hydrangeas, Japanese Anemones, Bleeding Hearts, Rhododendrons, Pulmonaria, Lamium, Hostas and Japanese Maples. Then there are annuals like Tuberous Begonias and Impatiens that bloom in the shade. All of these plants are wonderful and we have almost all of them in our garden but I’m going to just focus on Hostas and their big, leathery leaves. Hosta foliage ranges from amazing blues through some of the most beautiful greens, all the way to yellow/green. Grown mostly for their beautiful foliage, they also bloom on tall stalks, some even have fragrant blooms.

Hostas vary in size from very large to pretty small so there is one for about any space available in the shady garden. A lot of people love these plants, but so do snails and slugs. The pests are easy to spot and pick off or just  put out bait for them. Left alone though, they can turn hosta leaves into Swiss cheese.

Hostas like a moist (not wet), well drained soil and can take a few hours of sun, (morning being better than afternoon).

We have about 12 different varieties in our garden but my 2 favorites are Blue Angel, which is a giant, blue hosta, and Guacamole, which is a bright, beautiful shade of green and works well in darker areas to brighten them up.

Now is the time to plant hostas so they will be all ready to come up in the spring. Like any perennials, they will continue to get bigger and bigger and more beautiful each year.

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by Eliza Osborn

Aromatic Garden Article

I’d written about the aromatic garden before but for a little more information you might want to check out an article I’d had published recently.

You can see it at:

Eliza Osborn, Basic Author

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by Eliza Osborn

Asparagus – A Perennial Vegetable


Asparagus Bed

Asparagus plants with the berries on them are female (not good) and if you remove the berries, the roots will get stronger, which means more shoots in the spring. The berries hold seeds, and if you want to try and grow asparagus from seed, then save some of them. Because you have to wait 3-4 years to began harvesting asparagus, it’s just faster to buy 1-2 year old plants. All-male plants are best because you get about 3 times the yield since no energy goes to producing seeds.

This asparagus pictured above was planted in 2009 and we cut a few this year for a couple of weeks only. We hope to really began harvesting next spring. By the end of the summer this asparagus bed had made it to the top of the 6′ fence.

Besides being a long lived perennial vegetable (coming back year after year) it is beautiful, with feathery leaves and a rich shade of green. It does like moist, well drained soil, that’s why you see the (rubber) garden hose there. I usually keep it drizzling water and just move it around in the bed from day to day. Make sure the soil isn’t soggy though, as asparagus doesn’t like to keep it’s feet wet.

So if you live in zones 3-8 why not try an asparagus bed?

small garden bed with asparagus

After cutting for 2 weeks, the asparagus is growing. May 2011


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by Eliza Osborn

Growing Rosemary

growing herbs, rosemary

Potted Rosemary

Rosemary is one of those wonderful smelling herbs that is also beautiful and so useful in the kitchen when cooking with fresh herbs. Isn’t it great to know that Rosemary is extremely easy to grow? It is an evergreen, perennial plant that needs plenty of sunshine, 6-8 hours a day, well drained soil and don’t let it get cold, as in 35′ or less. That’s why mine is in a pot, because it has to come in for the winter. I prune it back in the autumn, a few weeks before bringing it in, so that  it doesn’t take up so much room in the house. When it does come inside, it needs to have as much light as possible, and don’t over water it. It’s a Mediterranean plant and likes it a little on the dry side.  If, however, you live where you can plant it into the ground (zone 10-11), then it can become a pretty good sized shrub.

It can be pruned but doesn’t need to be. It responds very well to pruning though and can even be used in a topiary. You can prune it just to shape it or to keep it within a certain size and that can be done pretty much any time. The bits that are pruned off can be dried and used for seasoning in cooking. Also, just handling Rosemary makes your hands smell oh, so good.

To use in cooking, either strip the leaves off the woody stem and put into recipes, or put a whole sprig in and remove it later. Rosemary has a strong flavor so it doesn’t take much to use as seasoning. It’s really good used to season olive oil or vinegar. The flavor also works well with other herbs such as , chives, oregano, garlic, parsley, sage and thyme. So experiment with it and see how you like it.

Why don’t you add Rosemary to the list of  the herbs you should be growing.

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by Eliza Osborn

Feeding Plants For Success

I’ve recently heard about a new concept in fertilizing and it sounds exciting. There is a company making liquid fertilizer that contains some rich substance which is rare and found in very few places. This substance, leonardia… or something like that. It works inside the plants and helps them to take up nutrients faster and more efficiently.That means less fertilizer is needed, which is great, because fertilizers can get expensive.

Anyway, I’m excited about all I’ve heard and wish I could try some. Unfortunately, it isn’t sold retail and is only sold in huge quantities to the agricultural community, here and in other countries. I’ve heard there are amazing results from it though. I’ve used fertilizers before and not only does it take a lot for all of our plants, but I worry about how much to use and am I burning the plants, not to mention the residue left in the soil.

I’m checking further into it because I want my plants to be as healthy and robust as possible. I want them to thrive!

I’ll post any info I get about this product.

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by Eliza Osborn

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