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Jan. 28 - Filled the bird feeders and shoveled snow. Lots and lots of snow.
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Posts Tagged ‘herbs’

A Cottage Garden May Be Just Right For You…But Don’t Plan a Cottage Garden

If you like a lot of different kinds of plants…

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Asian Lilies, Delphiniums and Hollyhocks

If you like a lot of flowers blooming…

If you don’t want to worry about strict, formal lines and forms…

If you want your garden to feel natural, like it all happened on its own…

If you like using vintage pieces in your garden…

If you like the idea of plants seeding themselves or multiplying on their own…

If you want a garden that make you want to just hang out and relax in…

Maybe a Cottage Garden is just for you.

A cottage garden is loosely planned, and heavily planted. I think that most gardeners are a lot like me when it comes to plants. It seems that I’m a plant-aholic. I can’t seem to ever have too many. Even when I’m sure that I’ve maxed out the space available, I can always squeeze in one more specimen I’ve found.

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2011 - perennial bed beside deck

Plants that bloom, smell good and re-seed or spread will eventually find a way into my garden. The great thing about having such a variety of plants is that most of them bloom, but not at the same time. So I have something blooming somewhere all during the growing season. If you have all the same plants then the blooms are all done with at the same time.

I did lay out a plan of the yard but only loosely designated a certain area for “flower bed” or “berry patch”. I paid attention to the height of the plants, so they would all fit together nicely, and to the sun and water requirements. It’s also a good idea to pay attention to the bloom time but I didn’t really do that, and most of the time I was lucky. The blooms for any season, spring through fall, are spread around the whole yard pretty evenly.

If you follow the planting guides on most seed packets or plant instructions, your garden will look good eventually. While the plants are growing and reaching their full potential, there can be a lot of empty space to fill. It can either be filled with annuals for a year or two…or three, or with mulch. I like to plant things much closer than the instructions say because I like a very full garden. If the plants get a little crowded, it’s okay. If they ever get too crowded, I divide and move some or share with friends.

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Loosestrife and roses by garden gate

I like blooms. I love having flowers in the house, so I plant plenty so that I can cut plenty to use and to share. Try some of the cottage garden favorites like hollyhocks, foxglove, phlox, daisies, roses (of course), peonies or lilies.

It doesn’t take a lot of room to have a cottage garden either. A tiny plot by the back door will do. How about a 3′ border down the side of your lawn? I’d rather have the 3′ lawn and the rest in flowers, but that’s just me.

Mix in some vegetable plants along the way. Tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, basil, squash and many other beautiful vegetable plants will fit right into a cottage garden.

Formal gardens are pretty but they don’t draw me in and make me feel as happy as I feel when I’m in my (slightly messy) cottage garden.

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Agastache, Sedum, Phlox, Roses and Rhubarb

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Phlox, Echinacea or purple coneflower by birdbath

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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 untilĀ  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 Grow Basil Through The Winter

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Potted Basil

I’ve just had a question come up about basil and if it will make it through the winter. Well that is a ‘yes’ and ‘no’ kind of deal.

Unless you live in the tropics, it won’t survive the winter outside. The first cold snap will turn it black. But…

bring it into your warm cozy home and it will do very well IF it has enough sunlight. Since all you need is a few leaves to flavor most dishes, this could be a great move on your part, to have basil at your finger tips all winter. Keeping it pinched back will keep it from getting too leggy and you’ll have basil to use. If it tends to keep getting leggy that is a very good indication it needs more light.

If you can get it through the winter then you will have a head start next spring because the roots will be ready to take off and grow and you’ll have mature basil much faster. Just a note about basil (and most other culinary herbs), keep the tops pinched out as it will make the plant fuller and keep it from blooming. You don’t want it to bloom but if it does just pinch them off.

Even if you have basil in a large planter you can still transplant it into a smaller container to bring in. If you plan to do that then go ahead and cut it back by about 1/3 so it will have time to recover before you transplant it. Be sure to get as many of the roots as possible as it will make it much easier for the plant to survive. Water it during the winter but be careful not to over-water. That is probably the number one cause of houseplants not thriving or not even living.

So give it a try, it will surely die outside in the cold, so what have you got to lose?

If you are unable to bring your basil in and want to harvest it before the cold gets it, here is a really good way to preserve that basil flavor in a way that will be convenient all during the year. You can make a large batch of pesto and freeze it in small (or tiny) ice cube trays. Then pop them out of the trays and put in zip bags and store in the freezer to use all winter long. Use it in salad dressings, on toasted French bread, or on cooked pasta. It’s a great way to enjoy your basil for a long time.

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by Eliza Osborn

Getting From There To Here – Landscape Gardens and How to Garden

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2011 - Path beside grape arbor with herb bed on right.

I thought I might go ahead and post a picture of the yard now so you won’t think we’re subjecting the neighbors to the eyesore of yesteryear. With a garden design and using the right garden plants, the landscape gardens were created. We used compost, earthworms and some fertilizer in the beds go grow the perennials, herbs, annuals and fruit trees. The raised beds have a special mix in them that we’ll discuss in later posts. Learning how to garden is fun and worth the effort as you create areas to relax in.

In future posts we’ll talk about garden design, landscaping, growing flowers (perennials and annuals), growing vegetables in raised beds, growing fruits and herbs and how to do it all on a budget. We’ll talk about fertilizers and soil and how to care for it.

Please come back often to see what’s going on in the garden.

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2011 - perennial bed beside deck

 

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by Eliza Osborn

Our Garden Gate
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