Wednesday, July 1, 2015

A little tour in the garden and a mint syrup recipe

 The garden is growing so much, we had our first eggplants, tomatoes, raspberries, and black currants. The plants grow fast and every week there is a new plant we could use in our cooking or to preserve. 
It's a question of good timing and make time for it. 
I wanted to give you a little tour of the garden. The flowers, it's such a delight to smell the roses, honeysuckle, and lilies. I feel I am becoming more and more of a flower collector. 
I like that we grow vegetables and fruits and have flowers in such a small space. It is a challenge to make space for all of the plants, we need to be creative. 

The hollihocks are doing so good, I brought the seeds from France, they come from my parents yard. 

The honeysuckle. ( See I am really in the city ) 


Some kale, we do eat a lot of it...

First beets are almost ready !

A potted tomato on top of the chicken coop.


And so much mint !

We dry some of the mint but this year I made some mint syrup !
Here is the recipe.

Mint Syrup Recipe 

- 4 big bowls of mint leaves washed 
- 4 cups of water
- 4 cups of sugar 

In a large bowl add the fresh mint leaves, add the boiling water over the leaves and cover for 24 hours.
Filter the liquid you obtained, add the sugar and cook in a large sauce pan for an hour. ( on high first then on low )
Let the syrup cool and store in a bottle.
Keep it in your fridge. 

Enjoy your syrup in a cocktail, or just with sparkling water ( or not ) and a lot of ice. 
It's very sweet so you really just need a little bit, it's fresh and delicious on a hot summer day! 

Friday, June 26, 2015

Pedestals and plinths in the garden

As promised, I am here to talk about my love for pedestals and plinths in the garden. Adding just a few of these to your landscape can add character, height, structure, texture and originality.

I find a variety of heights in any scene, both indoor and out, is very pleasing to the eye. Giving a pot or planter, a lantern or concrete statue a little lift up to a place all of it's own can make a dramatic difference in a garden vignette.

Many of the plinths in my garden were foraged or found. It's fun to think outside of the box and make pedestals out of something you already have.  Search around your garage or shed and you will be sure to give a new life to something that's been laying around or even broken. Upside down pots, a log or stump, a broken birdbath all make lovely little perches to showcase your favorite things.

Create a cluster of plinths in all different shapes and sizes or showcase something big and bold to make a statement in the garden.

Below you will find some of my favorites.
A cluster of plants by my back door sit on various pedestals such as upside down pots, stumps and logs offering a variety of height and texture.

 A frog friend perches on top of a broken terra-cotta pot back by our grill.

 A pot of succulents sits upon a foraged tree stump on the patio.

 A bird feeder turned candle holder placed atop an upside down faux bois planter.

 A sailboat sun dial afloat in a birdbath.

 A frog birdbath nestled inside a concrete plinth next to our rabbit hutch.

 A toadstool atop a freshly cut stump greets everyone onto the patio.

 A hand me down urn on top of a concrete plinth against our chimney gives this shady area some height and bright color.

A trash picked broken birdbath stand turned upside down creates a platform for a fairy house made by Chris.

A cluster of larger pots softens a corner of the patio  The larger pot behind sits upon a three legged tree stump while the smaller pot in front sits upon an upside down planter.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

scorching summer

Last Monday I returned from a week's vacation in coastal Maine, where the highs never crossed 80 and the evenings required the wool sweaters and socks I'd long ago put away in Memphis.  Before we left, my sugar snap peas were in full swing- I had to harvest from my galvanized tub garden every day to keep up with them.  When we got back, the blistering temperatures had fried the poor plants and they were brown and crispy. The chickens, at least, got to enjoy the last of spring's peas.

I had prepared for the second round of crops in my tubs by pinching some of the tiny yellow currant tomatoes that grow in the church garden that hosts my acupuncture clinic and rooting the cuttings.  I've watched these plants for a few years- they are vigorous (and vigorously reseed), disease resistant, and more importantly, delicious!

 I keep this old brown snuff jar on my window sill, filled with herbs and other cuttings.  I have a few of them and have successfully water-rooted lavender, rosemary, basil, and angel-wing begonias.  During the summer, I keep my CSA's basil in these jars and they usually root within a few days, too!  Tomatoes root so easily that I knew they'd do well, and these tomatoes were ready to be planted in about two weeks (with them were some lavender that dried out while we were gone, and some thai basil that I put out in my front garden.
Early one morning last week I added a top layer of compost to my newly-cleared tubs, pulled out my eggshell bowl to add to the bottom of the planting holes, and popped those baby tomatoes into their new tub.  It was very very hot last week, so I made sure to give my plants some afternoon shade with old sheets draped over the bamboo teepees, and watered them twice daily.  This week they seem more settled in and only need every-other-day watering.  I hope that these tomatoes will produce into November!

If you live in a climate like mine, hot now, with a long growing season, you might consider rooting some tomatoes now and planting in late July and August to get a fall crop!

Friday, June 19, 2015

A Little Tour Around the Garden and Patio

 It's been a celebratory weekend  as we have enjoyed hosting a few outdoor parties with friends and family.

As you can see we have the beginnings of a new back porch! Chris has been working hard but it's not quite finished. I'll be sure to share more on our new space soon but for now thought I would give you a little tour around the garden and patio.

 Chris made a beautiful table for the patio, perfect for snacks, a cold glass of something and card games. It's made from a slab of Kentucky Coffee Tree which he milled himself.

 The Yarrow is in full bloom and the kale growing along the chicken run is so healthy and happy!

 The last of the Kohlrabi growing in pots. It's too pretty to harvest!

 It has been a beautiful year for hydrangeas.

 The 'Sun Gold' cherry tomatoes growing along the sidewalk are beginning to ripen.

 A mixture of Santolina, Black Eyed Susan, Sensitive Fern, Shasta Daisy and Cherry Tomatoes growing in harmony.

 The Trumpet Vine on top of the chicken coop is in full bloom.

 The pear tree has been pinched back and soon will need to be propped!

 I bought a little string of lanterns this weekend to brighten up the patio in the evenings.

 A little cluster of potted plants of all different heights by my back door. I'll be posting about plinths and pedestals in the garden next week.

 A view from our (in progress) back porch.

A succulent garden atop my rain barrel.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Borage pesto

Our borage is doing so well, our friends Kelly and Austin gave us a couple plants and they came back spreading a lot of mini ones around... We keep only a couple plants. I love the true blue flowers and the plant (leaves and flowers) is edible. 
You can eat the leaves in a salad or dried in herbal teas. 
The feel of the leaves is a little prickly so I don't use it in salads but here is a great way to use it, in pesto !

Borage pesto

You will need :
-2 cups fresh borage leaves, mixed with kale leaves.
-1/2 cup freshly grated grana padano or Parmesan-Reggiano cheese (about 2 ounces)
-1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
-1/3 cup chopped almonds (can sub chopped walnuts)
-3 garlic cloves, minced.
-Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.

Mix the ingredients in a food processor ( except the cheese ) together until creamy. 
( add more olive oil if needed )  
Add the cheese when the pesto is well mixed. 

Enjoy !

Monday, June 8, 2015

My Vegetable Garden

We are fortunate enough to have some space dedicated just for a kitchen garden.  It's about 20 feet by 20 feet, but I'd like to expand it over the next several years.  Over the years we've lived here, I've grown many, many different vegetables in this little spot.  But with two young boys to keep me busy, the last couple years I've wittled down what I grow here to a couple handfuls of our favorite vegetables.

The view of the vegetable patch as you enter the back yard.  That's our garage on the north side of the garden.

 We have a few different varieties of pumpkins, always a favorite for me and my boys!

This started as a few small strawberry starts last year.  With a little compost, they are going bananas right now!

 We all love kale, spinach, lettuce and swiss chard.  We have a few varieties growing here.

Mixed in with the leafy greens, we have broccoli and cauliflower, my boys LOVE both!  I always let a few things go to seed and use the seeds for the next year's garden. I also love seeing where the wind carries the seeds when volunteer plants start showing up around the garden in early Spring.

This is my second year growing potatoes vertically.  It's been a great space saver using this technique.

My whole family loves carrots!  It's fun for all of us to walk outside and pull out a carrot for a snack.  I grow them year round, they overwinter really well in my yard.  I got a bit of a late start planting them this year, but they are coming in just fine.

 Our three year old is only one who doesn't like tomatoes.  My favorite variety are the sungolds, they taste like candy!

This ugly shed came with the house.  As ugly as it is, it sure comes in handy for storage.  I'd LOVE to replace it at some point with a cute little wood shed/ studio/ chicken coop.  This little guy here though, he won't let me have chickens yet :-(.

I planted this sage bush as a tiny little thing many years ago.  It has completely outgrown and taken over this space.  I may need to transplant it this fall.  The blooms are at their peak, I may make some strawberry sage blossom jam this week.

I try to rotate crops every couple years and keep incompatible varieties away from each other.  But for the adjustments I need to make and haven't yet, a healthy amount of compost at least once a year keeps everything happy.

If you live in the Seattle area, you should try to stop by Sorticulture this weekend.  It's my favorite garden festival!  Happy Monday, Friends!