Monthly Archives: February 2013

Home Gardening in the U.S.

One of the blogs I follow linked to this infographic:

I think the most interesting information is that the expected return on investment for an average garden is $530 per year. That’s pretty impressive! Of course, the $70 spent per household on the garden will vary, and does not likely include all the expenses involved in starting a new garden. But $70 for an established garden seems reasonable.

New Page for Garden Plans

I know that a number of you either follow this blog through Google Reader, Twitter, email subscription, or some other method and so you don’t see when I make changes to the blog proper. I do want to make you aware of a new addition to the blog this year that we hope to use throughout the Demo Garden.

Garden PlansI have added a new “static” page to the blog. I have the page of sample garden plans and the archive of the Lunch in the Garden recipes. (News about that page coming in a few weeks!) As you can see in the screenshot above, I have added a “Yearly Garden Plans” page. I realized that it would be helpful to be able to go to one page and access all the posts about the various bed plans. This way if you want to go back and see our plans for the Asian Garden in 2010, you can get there in 2 clicks without having to search through the archives.

On the 2013 page, I have a picture of the overview plans and then links to each of the posts with the detailed bed plans. I haven’t decided yet if I’m going to create a stand-alone sub-page for each part of the garden or if I am just going to add links to the larger 2013 page when I write blog posts about each garden throughout the summer. THEN, the plan is to include QR codes to the page(s) on signage in the garden. So not only will you be able to visit the blog to see what we’re up to in the Demo Garden, you will be able to visit the Demo Garden and then check the blog to get more information about what you are seeing!

2013 Garden Plans: Herbs

This picture is from a couple years ago before the renovation. This mature thyme plant was in full bloom! I miss the herb garden area, so I’m excited that we are going to have some mass plantings of herbs in a few different locations this year.

As I wrote in an earlier post, a section of Bed 1 will be basils. (The rest is tomatoes.) We will also be planting thyme as an under-planting in Bed 7, where our grape trellis will be. The grape will start small, so the thyme will take up the rest of the space to start with. We still have a bunch of perennial herbs in Bed 8, and then we are also going to do the big Smart Pot and a few smaller pots with herbs this summer.

Bed 1: Basils

  • Thai Siam Queen
  • Red Genovese
  • Minimum
  • Corsican
  • Red Large Leaf Lettuce
  • Pistou

Each of the 4′ square areas will have 3 varieties. The Thai and Corsican basils will be in the center. Then the two red basils will be planted around them. (Interestingly, we found 3 or 4 different catalogs advertising the “New” red Genovese basil, but each one had a different name for it. Same picture though…) Then the Minimum and Pistou basils will be along the edges. The ‘Minimum’ variety is supposed to have a more trailing habit, like thyme. That should be a different look for a basil!

Bed 7: Thymes

  • English
  • French
  • Caraway
  • Summer
  • Spicy Orange
  • Lemon
  • Variegated Lemon
  • Rose-Scented
  • Nutmeg

We will be planting a grape at some point in the little triangular bed, once the trellis is in place. However, it won’t be using much space to start with, so we are going to have some thyme planted underneath and around the grape. A number of the varieties are your usual suspects – English, French, Lemon, Summer. The ‘Spicy Orange’ will be something a little different. (Usually we end up with the ‘Orange Balsam’ variety.) We also have 3 fairly unique varieties – Caraway, Nutmeg, and Rose-Scented. Basically, these are all thymes that have a strong scent or flavor of another herb or spice rather than just a variation on the regular thyme scent and flavor. It should be fun to have all of them in the garden!

Other Herbs for Containers:

  • Sweet Aztec
  • ‘Candy’ Stevia
  • Ginger Mint
  • Tri-color Sage
  • Pineapple Sage
  • Lemon Verbena
  • Cinnamon Basil
  • Apple Scented Geranium
  • Bronze Fennel
  • Dill
  • Summer Savory
  • French Tarragon
  • Anise Hyssop
  • Red Rubin Basil
  • Spicy Globe Basil
  • Cardinal Basil

A few of these herbs will be replacing plants that didn’t make it through the winter in the perennial herb garden. The rest will be going into containers. We haven’t really done herbs in containers in the last 5 years, and they should do well because they don’t love tons of water. Our containers can get pretty dry during the heat of the summer.

That’s it for herbs this year! We still have a few miscellaneous areas to cover on planning, and then we will be getting ready to start seeds!

Herb Infused Sweets for your Sweetie!

Valentines Day is a week away.  Recently, I came across this unique candy recipe with rosemary.  This herb-infused brittle might be one way to sweeten my sweetie for this romantic day!  Enjoy! Denise

Walnut Rosemary Brittle with Sea Salt

1 cup of sugar

1/3 cup of water

pinch of cream of tartar

1 cup of walnut halves

2/4 teaspoon of dried rosemary

Sea Salt Crystals

1. In a medium pot, combine sugar, water and cream of tartar.  Stir over medium heat until sugar is dissolved.  Cover the pot and let it boil approximately 5 minutes undisturbed.  Remove lid and examine color of the molten sugar.  When the mixture turns amber, quickly add walnuts and rosemary, gently stirring to incorporate.

2. Pour brittle onto a silicone baking sheet (Silpat) or buttered cookie sheet.  Spread candy thin with a buttered spatula to achieve glass-like texture.  Top with a light sprinkle of sea salt crystals while candy is still warm.

***Remember it is OK to enjoy specials treats from time to time, just do so in moderation!

2013 Garden Plans: Vertical & Eggplant Garden

We decided not to do a full bed of “vertical” gardening this year, so we are going Bed 4 with half vertical gardening and half eggplant trial. We are going to have some fun trying eggplant recipes this year! (Or something like that…)

Vertical & Eggplant GardenSo the first part of this bed will be the vegetable arbor stretched over the the Kids’ Snack Garden with a tomato and a cucumber planted.

Then we will have 2 of the cattle panel trellises we’ve used in the past. We are going to be growing 2 watermelons, a honeydew, and an Asian melon.

Both of the watermelons are personal-sized, and the yellow fleshed one (‘Yellow Mini Tiger’) is seedless. This will be something different for us, because to grow a seedless watermelon you need to plant the variety seeds and a pollinator seed. The seed packet will have 10 regular seeds and 1 pollinator. So we will have to make sure we have the right plants growing to get the melons!

The other two melons are kind of interesting too. The ‘Snow Leopard’ honeydew has white and green streaked skin and a white interior. The Asian melon is an interesting variety as well. I don’t quite know how to describe it…the fruit is oblong with yellow and white stripes. The flesh white and fairly delicately flavored.

Then there’s all that eggplant. Yum. Err…not so much. (If you’ve ever been to one of my classes on eggplant you know that I find it to be a beautiful plant, just not very tasty. And breading and frying it doesn’t count.) Since we are going to have so many varieties this year, we almost have to try a number of recipes just to see if I can find some way to fix eggplant that is tolerable to eat. Anyway, varieties!

‘Clara’ is a white, Italian type (traditional size and shape) and ‘Traviata’ is a dark purple/black Italian type. ‘Millionaire,’ ‘Orient Charm,’ and ‘Green Goddess’ are all long, skinny, Japanese types. ‘Millionaire’ is dark purple, ‘Orient Charm’ is lavender, and ‘Green Goddess’ is, well, green. ‘Calliope’ is purple and white striped, and it is smaller. It can be harvested for “baby” eggplant (2″ x 1.5″) or mature size (3-4″ x 2.5″). ‘Rosa Bianca’ is an Italian heirloom that is white with a pink-lavender blush. It is a little more round and ruffled in shape.

You can leave links for eggplant recipes in the comments! I’m sure this will be an ongoing story this year. And I hope to have lots of GORGEOUS photos to show from this garden. (The plants, not the food. The food mostly looks like grey mush.)