Saturday, July 31, 2010

Late July

We dodged another bullet. We‘ve been lucky this year. With all the severe storms we've had, here we've gotten only rain and some wind, but not enough to cause damage. Our neighbors lost a large limb from a willow tree. We‘re very open here, and windy, but our trees are mostly far enough away from the house. And the greenhouses have held up well. Well built (thanks John.)

Lucy's been doing bunny training. We have a few small and medium sized bunnies from at least two litters. They‘re young enough so they°re not too fearful of other animals and humans yet.

When we see them out walking, we put Lucy on the leash and let her get close enough to "encourage" them into the brush, but not close enough to get them. They seem to be learning. Last week, three of them scattered when they saw her coming. She goes out and looks for them in the areas where they hang out. It's a fun game for her.

I've been going through the gardens every couple weeks and doing a big cutting back. I deadhead both annual and perennial flowers, to promote longer blooming. I remove flowers from basil plants to delay seed promotion. And I cut back perennials hare after they bloom. This encourages new growth. It neatens up the plants and promotes re-bloom on some perennials - like hyssop, Jupiter's beard, catmint and salvia. Don't forget to let seed heads develop on biennials (like foxglove and sweet william) and annuals that you want to reseed - like dill. If you want to save seed from plants like snaps and calendula, deadhead them now to encourage more blooms, and let seed heads develop at the end of the season before frost.

This is a great time to trim and shape lavender plants if they are sprawly or unshapely. Cut back by about 30-40%, remove too long or branches with minimum foliage and cut off spent flower stalks.

Lots of harvesting once things revived with the rain- mints, basils, calendula petals (great for lotions, salves for skin irritations,) lemon verbena and lemon balm, marjoram, oregano, parsley. Also drying annual statice with its beautiful and long lasting colors celosia and lemon mint for wreaths and arrangements.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Watering Tips and Pretty Combos

A lot of plants are suffering from the heat and dryness. Luckily, most herbs are pretty tough. Most culinary, Mediterranean herbs are drought tolerant once established. Lavender, thyme, sage, rosemary and savory like hot weather and will tolerate drought. Established perennial herbs like oregano and tarragon should weather these conditions too.

If you're going to water, concentrate on annuals like basil and perennials like mint that like more moisture. Of course, it's difficult to duplicate a soaking rain when you water. Soaker hoses work well. If you're watering with a hose, make sure to water in early morning or late evening. During the heat of the day, you'll lose water to evaporation.

Some pretty plant combinations I've been admiring throughout the season -

Pink Coneflower and Russian Sage - classic combination, pretty pastel colors and contrasting textures.

Butterfly Bush & Day lilies - dark purple "Black Knight" butterfly bush and lemon yellow day lilies, opposites on the color wheel.

Blue Hyssop and White Coneflower - classic blue & white color scheme. Fine texture vs. coarse texture.

Gray Santolina & Rye - this is all about foliage - shiny, bright, fine textured santolina and the bluish-green foliage of rue

Pink perennial Poppies and Blue Flax - big, showy poppies with a blue-black center and the needle-like foliage and sky blue blooms of blue flax.

Our plant sale is on-going. If you have an empty spot i your yard or are anxious to try a new plant, stop by. We have a good selection at great prices. Free basil with every purchase while supply lasts!

Believe it or not, I'm thinking of next spring! I'm potting plants to provide perennial divisions for next spring.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Hot Summer Recipes

It's hot - very, very hot. When you work outside, hot weather can be a pain. I will say on those days when it was hot, but not humid, it wasn't too bad. So it really is the humidity! All I can do in this weather, is to work outside in the morning and retreat inside for the afternoon.

Lucy's hot weather routine - get up early (farmer's hours,) go for a walk and play a little, then expend the minimum amount of energy necessary for the rest of the day. This involves sleeping a lot. In the evening, play a little more and then go to sleep.

It's too hot to think, but here are a couple cool recipes for the dog days:

Black Bean Fiesta Salad

1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 C. cooked corn
1 small red pepper, diced
1/4 C. chopped onion
3/4 C. cubed mozzarella
1 medium tomato, chopped

Mix ingredients. Combine dressing ingredients and pour over salad. Chill 2 hours or overnight.

3 T. light olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1-1/2 T. wine vinegar
2 t. fresh basil, chopped
1 t. fresh savory, chopped

We serve lavender lemonade at our spring open house and it's always a hit. Wonderfully refreshing on a hot day.

Lavender Lemonade

Place 2 t. dried lavender flowers in a teapot or tea ball. Heat 2 C. water and add to teapot. Cover and let steep 5 minutes. Cool. When mixing lemonade concentrate, replace one can of water with lavender tea. Chill.

For a gourmet touch, fill ice cube trays half full and freeze. Place borage flowers on top of frozen cubes. Add water to fill tray and freeze. The cubes make a pretty addition to the lemonade or other cool summer drinks.