Saturday, July 18, 2020

Judy's Chick Peas and Squash

Judy’s Chickpeas and Squash



3 large squash, sliced

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

1 tsp turmeric


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 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 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 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.