Friday, November 15, 2013

First Frost

Be on the lookout for the fall-winter edition of our newsletter which will be coming out soon.  Included are lots of herbal gifts for your holiday shopping, a yummy recipe (one of John's favorites,) and plant and craft articles.  Also, info on our holiday open house which will be held December 6 & 7.

The first frost wiped out all the basil in the gardens (always the first to go) along with some of the annuals.  The more cold-tolerant or half-hardy annuals survived until the recent hard freeze.  Before the frost, I gathered a large bunch of stems from our Greek columnar basil.  This is a very upright variety, with excellent flavor and long stems full of foliage.  I keep it in a vase with water on the kitchen counter and harvest the leaves as needed for cooking.  Since basil is in the mint family, most varieties root easily in water.  So some stems will develop roots and I can pot them up if I want some plants to go throughout the winter.

Speaking of plants for the winter, we now have a few varieties of potted culinary herbs available.  We will have them up until Christmas.  If you want some herbs for the kitchen windowsill this winter, the holiday season is the time to get them.  Usually, a few people stop during the winter months, looking for plants.  However, we do not heat the greenhouse during the winter, because of the expense.  We start them up again usually in March as we prepare for the spring season.

I was wondering about our greenhouse toad residents.  With the warm weather in October, I didn't see them in the regular spot, the back corner, where they dig themselves into the dirt to hibernate for the winter.  But, at least one has returned with the colder weather setting in.  I saw one out of the dirt - they often dig out on sunny days when the greenhouse gets quite warm.  So I know at least one is still there, although there are several holes dug in the dirt, so there may be a pair there.  I guess I'll find out for sure next spring.  It sure is easy living for a toad, compared to surviving outside for 3-4 months.

Last of the Garden - Late October

(Written around Oct 20, 2013)

I’ve been making a conscious effort to enjoy and appreciate all that remains in the garden before the season ends with the first frost, which may come tonight or almost certainly, this week.  Today I ate a couple red blossoms from my pineapple sage plant.  Very nicely sweet, although not pineapple flavor in the flowers to my taste.  The profusion zinnias are still clouds of color.  Fall anemones are still blooming, along with some perennial salvia, lavender, cockscomb and celosia, late roses, nasturtiums, sedum, marigolds and love-lies-bleeding.  That’s a lot for late October.  I let my basil plants flower at the end, when I’m done harvesting.  Both cinnamon and purple varieties look particularly pretty with their pink blooms.

Annual vines look spectacular at the end of the season.  Hyacinth bean vine is loaded with its shiny, purple pods.  Last year, due to weather vagaries, I didn’t save any seed/  This year, I’ve been able to save plenty.  Another beauty is mina or firecracker vine.  We plant two on an obelisk in our entrance bed.  It is absolutely covered with sprays of red, orange and yellow flowers.  I’ve saved these seeds, but they don’t seem to germinate very well, not as well as the seeds I purchase.

I’ve had a few people ask for small pots of culinary herbs.  We have a small selection - about a half dozen varieties - for sale during the holiday season.  They[‘re usually ready about mid-November.  That gives you something green and herby to get you through the winter months until spring rolls around again.

I’ve been very busy working in the shop, getting it all spruced up.  I have been working on some holiday items, but I’m not putting them out until after Halloween.  Also working on the fall newsletter which comes out in November.

After we clean up the gardens, the last big chore is burying all the stock plants in the vegetable garden to overwinter.  Then I know the growing season is done.