Saturday, July 18, 2020

Judy's Chick Peas and Squash

Judy’s Chickpeas and Squash

 

Microwave

3 large squash, sliced

1 onion chopped-may also add 1 green bell pepper diced.

1 tsp turmeric

Salt

1 tsp Italian seasoning

1 tbs. teriyaki sauce

Add no water- the squash has enough.

Cover with plastic wrap

Microwave until tender, stirring as needed- about 20 minutes. I stir about every 5 minutes.

Drain 1 can chickpeas (garbanzo beans) and add to squash.

Microwave another 5 minutes.

May top with shredded cheese.

Serves 6 or 2 meals.


Savory? Not just a descriptive term.




When you think of the term savory, you probably think of a warm thick stew or some really nice dish that is full of rich warm flavors. Well, I am here to tell ya, it is not just a descriptive term. Savory is actually an herb. It is a very attractive woody, upright plant that is so aromatically pleasing to the senses that you may grow it for that reason only. 
Savory is best used for meats or stews and makes a wonderful addition to any bean dish. Chopped leaves can be sauteed with butter or olive oil to release its flavor prior to adding it to your dishes. Or it can be dried to use as a rub for meat. 
Savory is a key ingredient in what is known as a french blend. This mixture includes Marjoram, Rosemary, Thyme, and Oregano along with Savory make this a perfect blend for your french cuisine and can be used with olive oil for a seasoned oil for bread dipping. 
The ancient Romans believed it had mysterious powers and even made love potions from its leaves. They believed in it so much that the monasteries banned it for fear that their monks would fall victim to its spell. 

Friday, July 17, 2020

Grow the Flora, Attract the Fauna




We spend a lot of time filling bird feeders and trying to find the right combination to bring in the most beautiful and the rarest species. When the reality is, our natural surroundings will bring in a lot more than any feeder ever will. Understanding the plants that surround us naturally is the first step toward making a home for wildlife. 

Robin Hatchlings

A lot of times we pull up the perennial plants or cut them back to the ground as soon as they start to lose their foliage and look as though they are waiting at death's door. However, if we can discipline ourselves to look past the unsightly twigs and remnants of beauty that once was, we can begin to see the beauty that is attracted to the unattractive. Birds! Leaving our perennial gardens intact through the winter gives our winter avian residents a food source. When we cut down what's left at the end of the growing season we are denying the birds a fulfilling meal and we deny ourselves the pleasure of watching them engage their survival instincts and do the things they were created to do in the way that is natural to them.  


                                                                                                  Coneflower and black-eyed Susans have very sturdy stalks and can withstand some snow and ice. Just imagine for a moment that you are a bird. Overnight your world has been blanketed by snow and ice.
Black-eyed Susan
 Finding food can be a challenge. But if we leave our perennial stalks standing, they provide a food source that stands above the wintery weather and can make the snowy winter days a lot easier on the little birds.
 Maybe you could plan to make a garden in the back yard for the sole purpose of feeding the birds and wildlife through the winter. Choose flowers and shrubs that offer berries and seeds throughout the winter.
Asters, Black-eyed Susans, and coneflower all offer nutrition for the birds that overwinter in our area. 
Joe pie weed offers a source of food but also adds the luxury of warmth. Birds will use the "fluff" that comes with the seeding process to line their nests in the winter. 

Gaultheria not only is a beautiful little plant but it is also evergreen and produces beautiful red berries that feed birds and squirrels. 
A buttonbush is a great option if you are looking to attract butterflies and birds. While in bloom the butterflies and other various nectar loving creatures will visit often. When the blooms begin to seed, birds will gather for the feast. 
Beautyberry is a native and attracts insects while in bloom. These insects help to provide a source of food for the seasonal birds and its berries help provide food for the ones that are year-round residents. 
If you are looking for a centerpiece for your fauna food bed why not consider a styrax tree. they are 6 to 12 feet tall at maturity so that makes them perfect for a focal point. They have small white bell-shaped flowers that attract many different kinds of nectar loving pollinators. This, in turn, will attract the birds of summer. Then the blooms give way to many seeds that birds enjoy through the fall and winter.
There are others that you can plant for you and the birds to enjoy such as blueberry, blackberry, mulberry, and raspberry. Just plan to plant more than one so you will have enough to share with our feathered friends.
 
The possibilities are endless. Most perennials offer something in every season. the key to success is to be patient and let nature do what it was created to do. Think about it, you plant to repel bugs, you plant to attract hummingbirds and butterflies why not plant to feed the birds of winter? Did you ever stop to think about how they survive the winter? It isn't easy I'm sure but we can share our blessings and make it a little easier. All those seeds that you pour into a feeder had to come from plants somewhere. Why not grow those plants and provide your feathered friends with some natural order. Birds are used to fending for themselves and by providing feeders we deny them the experience they need to survive. So many of the seed mixes that are available commercially are not native blends. It can be confusing to the birds as they are not accustomed to some of the varieties within those mixes. We think we are doing them a favor when in reality we may be making survival harder than it has to be. 
Think natural. Think native!
For more information on when to feed, how to feed, and why or why not to feed, Visit the Audobon website.

Wednesday, July 15, 2020

Native Shrubs for Curb-Appeal




Native shrubs are often over-looked when we think about curb appeal. However, by choosing to plant natives you are ensuring that your plantings will grow to their personal best, and will tend to be a bit less stress and worry. 
There seems to be a growing trend toward native planting. People are veering toward naturalization more so than the perfectly manicured specimen plantings of the past. 
People are also looking to plant more edibles. Native edibles are even better.

Lindera
Lindera
Lindera is a member of the laurel family. It is native to the eastern U.S and north as far as Ontario.
It is commonly known as spicewood, spicebush, and Benjamin bush. These shrubs are very aromatic and produce berries in the fall that the birds enjoy. Native Americans used the dried fruits from these plants as a spice for cooking. The fruit has a somewhat peppery taste and smell.




Sweet Shrub
Sweet Shrub
Calycanthus enjoys full sun to partial shade and well-drained soil. They grow best in neutral to slightly acidic soil and only need to be watered in times of drought. Sweet Shrub is also known as Bubby bush, Bubby rose, Sweet Bubby, as well as Carolina allspice. 
Calycanthus can be used as a foundation planting but they can grow rather large so keep that in mind. Sweetshrub can grow 6 to 10 ft tall and wide. Their dark green foliage and very fragrant wine-colored blooms can send out a very sweet spicy aroma wafting in the breeze

                                      Carolina Jessamine
Carolina Jessamine
Carolina Jasmine is a common name for Carolina Jessamine. This is a woody vine with golden yellow trumpet-shaped blooms. It can be trained to posts or trellises or if left to grow on the ground it makes a beautiful mounding ground cover.
Photo credit :
Carolina jessamine (Gelsemium sempervirens) is South Carolina’s state flower.
Karen Russ, ©2007 HGIC, Clemson Extension


Elderberry
Elderberry

Elderberry has been around for a very long time. Most people used to believe them to be poisonous. That is not entirely true. While the plant does have some toxicity, you can rid the fruit of any possible toxins simply by cooking them. Elderberry, when used properly has a variety of health benefits. However, even though you can purchase manufactured derivatives of the elderberry plant, natural is always better


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              PawPaw
Paw-Paw
PawPaw is a small deciduous fruit tree that is native to 25 states. It will produce a small to medium-size fruit that has a soft texture and tastes somewhat tropical. For ages, the paw-paw has been used to treat and even cure some gastrointestinal issues and even prevent renal failure. It may take 5 to 8 years for trees to produce fruit when started from seed. If they are grafted from cuttings then you may see fruit in as little as 3 years.




Witch hazel

Witch Hazel
Witch hazel is a large deciduous shrub/tree. It has yellow fringed blooms from September to December and sometimes longer depending on the severity of the winter, usually appearing after it has dropped its golden fall foliage. These shrubs can grow rather large. Topping out at 20 to 30 feet with a comparable spread makes them the king of all native shrubs. These shrubs can be used in rain gardens or to create a tall hedgerow. Bear in mind witch hazel is not very drought tolerant. Frequent watering may be needed when we experience prolonged periods with no rain. 


Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Native Perennials for Lasting Beauty

Gaillardia
Gaillardia, also known as blanket flower, is a beautiful and bright addition to any perennial garden. Native to the US, blanket flowers are low maintenance and tolerate poor soil as long as it is well-drained. They will please the eye with bright yellow to red blooms with brown to deep red centers. Blanket flowers are a very good choice if you are planning a pollinator garden as they attract bees and butterflies of many varieties. Gaillardia can be sensitive to rich soil and over-fertilization. So be mindful not to fertilize these gorgeous bloomers too often. They will grow best in full sun and tolerate heat very well. If you are planting from seed your blanket flower will most likely bloom in its second year. However, if you purchase plants from a local garden center you will see blooms likely on the plant when purchased or shortly thereafter.




Coneflower
Echinacea or coneflower as it is commonly known is not only a beautiful native perennial, it has also been used as an herbal remedy for generations. The purple coneflower was used by the plains Indians and early settlers for internal illnesses such as the common cold or upset stomach. External wounds were often treated with salves made from the plant. Teas made with the leaves and petals have been thought to boost the immune system and fight off viral infections as well. It is thought to have anti-inflammatory properties as well.  While science has studied these claims for many years their findings have been less than impressive. In spite of this, many still depend on its healing power in the form of supplements added to their daily diet. However, you should discuss it with your doctor before taking any herbal derivative as it may interfere with any other drugs you may be taking.
If you decide to add a coneflower to your perennial or pollinator garden you will not be disappointed with the results. With big beautiful flowers, they will have the bees, butterflies, and birds visiting you often. They will grow best in full sun with well-drained soil. Fertilize lightly.


Blackeyed-Susan
Rudbeckia or blackeyed Susans are found all over the United States. They brighten the sides of many back roads across the map. You can plant them from seed or buy them from your local garden center. Not only are they native, but they also attract a variety of pollinators in the summer and birds in the fall and winter as they produce seed. These plants are tough. They will grow in poor soil and are drought tolerant. They love full sun but will tolerate some shade. If you take time to deadhead these beauties. you will encourage more blooms to develop and help to build a sturdier, more compact plant. If your area is prone to visits from local wildlife such as deer and rabbits, you may want to think about planting some repellent plants such as rosemary or lavender nearby to keep them from feasting on your blackeyed Susans.

Yarrow
 What's not to love about this stunning native? Yarrow is a hardy plant that withstands a lot of adverse conditions from poor soil to drought but what it doesn't like is shade. Plant this lovely perennial in full sun but be mindful of your spacing as yarrow can become invasive. Give it plenty of room to grow. If it has to battle for the territory it will undoubtedly win. Early Native Americans used this plant medicinally for the treatment of mental disturbances such as depression and anxiety. There have been some studies that have suggested, though not proven, that yarrow can offer some help for ADHD. However, do not take any herbal derivative prior to speaking to your doctor. Yarrow is also an excellent choice if your goal is to attract pollinators. Butterflies and bees will flock to your garden to visit these beauties daily.




Coreopsis

Coreopsis or tickseed as it is commonly referred to is a tall delicate looking flower that grows well in the moderate climates of zones 6 through 8. It isn't delicate as it has been spotted growing in traffic islands in the heat.
If you pinch off spent blooms often you will encourage new blooms throughout the summer. If you cut the plants back by one third about halfway through the summer it will generate new blooms late summer into early fall. 
Tickseed is named such because of the resemblance of its seeds to ticks. The seeds are a favorite of the goldfinch in the fall and winter and the flowers are a favorite of many pollinators throughout the summer. 
These gorgeous summer bloomers love poor well-drained soil and are still surprisingly drought tolerant once established.
Mulch well in the winter and say hello again in the spring. 


















Zucchini Lasagna

Zucchini Lasagna

2 medium zucchini sliced thin lengthwise ( I use a mandolin to slice)
1 jar of your favorite pasta sauce
1 lb ground beef 
1 small onion (chopped)
1 bell pepper (chopped)
1 tsp minced garlic
1 cup Ricotta cheese
2 cups mozzarella cheese grated or sliced

Brown ground beef and add onion and green pepper. Cook until veggies are tender. Add minced garlic and let simmer for 3 minutes.

In a 9 x 11" baking dish put 3 Tbs of the pasta sauce in the bottom and spread evenly.
Add a layer of zucchini slices.
Spread the ground beef mixture.
Add a layer of pasta sauce.
Add a layer of mozzarella.
Add another layer of zucchini.
Spread all of the ricotta cheese as evenly as you can (can be warmed in the microwave to help spread).
Add a layer of mozzarella.
Add a layer of pasta sauce.
Add a layer of zucchini.
Add a generous layer of pasta sauce and the rest of the mozzarella.

Bake at 350 until the cheese is golden and zucchini is tender.

Monday, June 29, 2020

July's To-Do List in the Garden


Things to do in the Garden in JULY



Check plants and treat for insects or disease.

July presents us with the perfect time to give our gardens a proper check-up.  First, you probably want to rid the area of weeds. Weeds will compete and ultimately win the competition for space, water, and nutrients. If you keep the weeds to a minimum, your vegetable plants can give you their maximum. Weeds also harbor insects that will attack your crops. Check the plants closely. Look at everything. Start at the base of the plant and look for signs of disease or damage caused by insects. Be sure to check the underside of leaves and the areas where leaf and stem meet. If you see anything out of the ordinary now is the time to treat the problem and rid the plant of the stressors.

Plant for late harvest
You can still do some planting in July to continue the harvest into the fall. Squash, cucumbers, cilantro, basil, and dill will still grow fast enough to produce a harvest before frost. A late crop of tomatoes may still be planted in early July. If you have extra tomatoes, chop them and freeze for sauces and soups later. If you are growing for the goal of preserving, you may want to plant successive crops two to four weeks apart to keep the bounty coming. This will allow you time to prepare each crop for preserving without being overwhelmed. Likewise, if you are planting just for consumption, planting in succession will keep fresh veggies coming to the table for you and your family well into the fall.

Fertilize your heat-loving plants

You should have fertilized your plants when you planted them. Now is the time to do it again. Replenishing the ground with nutrients can help your plants make it through the hottest part of the summer without all the stress. If you use a slow-release fertilizer you likely won't have to do it again this season. But, if you prefer to use a water-soluble fertilizer such as Miracle-Gro, you may want to do it about every week.

Plan Your fall veggies.

On the really hot days, you may want to stay inside and put some thought into planning your cool weather crops. It is still a bit early to plant as most cool weather crops do not grow well in the heat of summer. Hence, their cool weather classification. If you are like me, making a plan is the easy part. Executing it is when the real work begins. Now is the perfect time to do some research and plan what, when, and where you want your cool crops to go.

Last, but not least, you may want to keep a journal of your garden journey if you are new to the gardening scene. Write down what you have planted, where it is, how it is doing along the way, and how many you planted of each.
Make a note of any pruning or fertilizing you do as well as the varieties that you planted. If something didn't work so well this year, make a note of that too and do something different for next year. Once you get something that works, make a note of that as well so that you can repeat it in the following years. It is also good practice to make note of the weather, maybe not daily but at least weekly so that you can use that as a reference tool for the future. A rain gauge is cheap and helps you track the actual rainfall.

Gardening is not complicated. However, there is a science to it for sure. If you are a novice, you will learn from your mistakes. If you are a seasoned pro you have learned from your mistakes and will continue to make new ones. There is no way to have a perfect plan. Sometimes you will get it right, and sometimes everything goes wrong. We cannot control every aspect but we can do our best to put all the pieces into play that your plants will need to grow successfully. When mother nature gives you drought, you water, water, water. Watering should be done in the morning to afternoon. Be careful not to water in late day so plants won't stay wet all night, which causes disease. Always be sure there is no hot water in the water hose when you water. When she gives you rain, you pray, pray, pray. No matter how it turns out, enjoy the journey and the challenges. After all, that is what it is all about.