Everyday Gardeners

Plant. Grow. Live.

April 2013

The following is a guest blog post from Bren Haas – blogger at BG Garden. 

Growing your own veggies in the spring and summer makes it easy to prepare quick meals so you can stay outdoors and enjoy your garden.  This colorful Veggie Melody dish is one of my favorites because you can basically harvest and throw on the grill to compliment your favorite meat.

Growing Tip: When I was a kid you could always find yummy asparagus in the ditch down the country road we lived on. Fresh picked spears are way more tasty then those purchased in stores. This early veggie is rich in B vitamins, vitamin C, calcium, and iron. When growing your own asparagus in your home garden it takes a few years for the plant to get established.

Ingredients: 

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 large peeled and cut into 1” pieces of yam
  • 1 large peeled and sliced turnip
  • 1 cup of baby carrots
  • 1 bunch of asparagus cut into 1”pieces
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon of salt

 

Directions: 

  • Prepare fresh veggies by washing and slicing.
  • Toss bowl with olive oil.
  • Add mix to favorite grill steamer adding garlic and salt before placing on 400*F grill.
  • Grill with lid shut for 30 minutes or until veggies are tender.

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Bren Haas started her blogging ( http://www.bggarden.com)  career 5 years ago as a way to share her hidden garden out in the country. Even though her kids are now teenagers she remains busy raising them and adding landscaped gardens filled with veggies,herbs, shrubs and perennials to their 16 acres of Ohio property. For the past 3 years Bren has been growing year-round in her 10’x12’ home greenhouse and recently started raising fish with her husband in the structure as well.  Be sure to check out #gardenchat (http://www.connect-share-grow.com ) network if you would like to connect with other garden enthusiasts were Bren is the administrator of this huge Twitter based network.


The following is a guest blog post from Bren Haas – blogger at BG Garden. 

My mother-in-law use to have the most amazing rhubarb patch when I first met my husband just out the back door. She raised 13 kids in that home and I’m sure it was no mistake that this patch was located where it was being a beautiful leafy grower that can take just about anything kids can throw at it! The beautiful tall leaves of the plant with red stalks totally captivated me.  I still remember my first slice of her rhubarb and strawberry pie and was thrilled to able to bake my own as a newly wed.  Today I enjoy growing my own strawberries and rhubarb in the spring and early summer months here in Ohio and have made this recipe one of my family’s favorite anytime of the year.

Growing Tip: There are many different varieties of strawberries available today that allow most anyone to grow their own berries. Try growing berries in raised beds or containers because the plant does not like to sit in water. I recommend  growing containers I recommend Sequoia strawberry plants because they are easy growing and the yield is large!

Ingredients

Crust:

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 sticks of unsalted butter (cold)
  • 2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 teaspoon sugar
  • 8-10 tablespoons of ice water

Directions (for crust)

  • Add flour, sugar and salt in a food processor pulsing to mix.
  • Slice cold butter into 1” pieces adding to processor and pulse about 10 times. The ingredients should be clumpy and not too dry.
  • Add ice water slowly, pulsing until mixture. The mix should be clumped together and stick but not too wet. If the mixture is not holding together you will have to add more water.
  • Add a dusting of flour to a clean surface.
  • Divide dough ball in half.
  • Roll dough into circle shape to fit your 9” pie pan.
  • Be careful not to over kneed the dough or it will make the crust tough.  You should have clumps of butter in the dough which will make the baked crust flaky.
  • Wrap each rolled out dough circle in a plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour.

Pie Filling

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups chopped fresh red rhubarb
  • 3 cups de-stemmed and cut strawberries
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 tablespoons butter, cubed small
  • 1 egg white beaten with 1 teaspoon water

Directions for Filling:

  • Mix the rhubarb, strawberries, sugar, flour, zest and juice of lemon and vanilla.
  • Remove dough from refrigerator and carefully fit in 9” pie plate.
  • Pour filling into the crust filled pie plate.
  • Roll out the second dough and top the filled pie plate.
  • Pinch top and bottom of dough rounds firmly together trimming excess dough with kitchen shears.
  • Be sure to score (cut a few holes) in the top of the pie so steam from the cooking pie can escape.
  • Bake at 425 degrees F for 15 minutes. Decrease temperature to 375 degrees F and bake for an additional 50 minutes, or until the filling starts bubbling.
  • Cool before serving

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Bren Haas started her blogging ( http://www.bggarden.com)  career 5 years ago as a way to share her hidden garden out in the country. Even though her kids are now teenagers she remains busy raising them and adding landscaped gardens filled with veggies,herbs, shrubs and perennials to their 16 acres of Ohio property. For the past 3 years Bren has been growing year-round in her 10’x12’ home greenhouse and recently started raising fish with her husband in the structure as well.  Be sure to check out #gardenchat (http://www.connect-share-grow.com ) network if you would like to connect with other garden enthusiasts were Bren is the administrator of this huge Twitter based network.


The following is a guest blog post from Bren Haas – blogger at BG Garden. 

This is one of my family’s favorite quick dishes to prepare in spring and autumn.  It is quick meal and super fun to add a few mushrooms that were hunted in our woods here in Ohio. Not all mushrooms are edible so be sure to check species information.  I recommend and trust the OSU  Extension website.
 

Ingredients
6 oz wild mixed mushrooms (morels, shiitake, porcini and portobello are my favorite)
4 tablespoons olive oil infused with red pepper
2 clove garlic, finely chopped
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 lemon, juiced
8 oz of prepared linguine pasta
3 oz of fresh grated Parmesan
fresh parsley

Directions
Be sure to clean wild mushrooms by brushing off any dirt  using a pastry brush or dabbing with a clean towel.

Mushrooms should be sliced thinly.

Add infused olive oil into a very hot skillet carefully add finely chopped garlic.

Add the mushrooms to the skillet and let fry fast being sure to toss the mix once or twice. Let mushroom and garlic fry fast, tossing once or twice for about 5-10 minutes.

Add pepper and squeeze fresh lemon juice.

In another skillet add prepared pasta and 3 tablespoons of chicken broth.

Remove pasta once it is hot.

In your favorite serving dish add warm pasta, mushrooms, with the Parmesan and parsley.

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Bren Haas started her blogging ( http://www.bggarden.com)  career 5 years ago as a way to share her hidden garden out in the country. Even though her kids are now teenagers she remains busy raising them and adding landscaped gardens filled with veggies,herbs, shrubs and perennials to their 16 acres of Ohio property. For the past 3 years Bren has been growing year-round in her 10’x12’ home greenhouse and recently started raising fish with her husband in the structure as well.  Be sure to check out #gardenchat (http://www.connect-share-grow.com ) network if you would like to connect with other garden enthusiasts were Bren is the administrator of this huge Twitter based network.

 

 

 


When these blooms fall to the ground, put down your weed preventer.

This is the lone forsythia bush in my yard. Of course, the bright yellow blooms are an awesome, welcome sight in spring for gardeners hungry to get their hands dirty. But I have it there for another reason: it’s a “phenological indicator”. That’s what the geeks say, instead of just calling it a biological clock. It’s long been understood that plants and animals react in predictable ways to warmth, and you can use that fact to help time various gardening activities. In this case, you can use forsythia to time your weed preventer applications for lawns. Crabgrass seeds germinate just about the time forsythia blooms drop from the plant. And you need the weed preventer on the ground before the seeds begin to grow. Many other garden pests can be timed this way too. Check with your local cooperative extension office or master gardener program. They often can tell you when pests typically are active. Just take a look around your garden at those times, and make note of what’s in bloom. Chances are, that will serve as a good guide to when you should apply a controls.
The real reason this is so helpful is that you rarely see pests until it’s too late to control them (or control them easily). Once a borer is inside your cucumber vine, it’s too late. Once weed seeds have germinated, weed preventers are ineffective. So timing is everything.


The following is a guest blog post from Kylee Baumle – blogger at Our Little Acre. 

 

There are plants that we’re all familiar with, maybe too familiar, and though we can’t quite imagine the gardening world without them, we don’t always consider them for our own gardens. You know the ones – petunias, geraniums, red salvia, begonias, marigolds.  I call them “grandma flowers.”

These are omnipresent in garden centers, grocery stores, hardware stores, big box stores, and just about anywhere bedding plants are sold. And though we often dismiss them, that doesn’t mean we should.  After all, they’re reliable and easy, which is likely how they ended up in Everyone’s Garden.

Shrubs have their own familiar versions – forsythias, pussy willows, lilacs.  Wait!  Lilacs? Long a favorite of gardeners, they might fall into this labeling as an old-fashioned shrub – and they are – but that’s no reason to dismiss them from your landscape.


Though it’s hard to beat the fragrance of a good old-fashioned lilac (it’s why people placed them near entrances to their homes), old and new varieties of Syringa have that familiar scent as well as interesting colors and forms.

Popular cultivars include:

  • Syringa vulgaris ‘Betsy Ross’  A U.S. National Arboretum introduction, with a height of 8-10’ and spread of 8-10’, it has white flowers.
  • Syringa ‘Declaration’  Another U.S, National Arboretum introduction, this early deep reddish-purple bloomer will reach a height of 6-8’ tall and a spread of 5-6’.
  • Syringa vulgaris ‘Wedgewood Blue’  With a mature height of 8-10’ and a spread of 6-8’, this clear blue single has disease-resistant foliage.
  • Syringa vulgaris ‘Yankee Doodle’ This deep, dark purple flowering cultivar is a larger shrub, topping out at 8-15’ in height and a spread of 6-12’.

    Syringa vulgaris ‘Sensation’

    Syringa vulgaris ‘Sensation’

  • Syringa vulgaris ‘Sensation’  A favorite in recent years, due to its picoteed edging on dark purple petals, this heavy bloomer has a mature height of 10-15’ and a spread of 6-10’.
  • Syringa patula Sweet Treat™ Smaller, at just 3’ by 3’, Sweet Treat™ is perfect for use as a specimen planting and more heat tolerant than some.
  • Syringa vulgaris ‘Prairie Petite’ This introduction from the University of Nebraska has all the characteristics of an old-fashioned lilac, in a small size, growing just 3-5’ in height.

    Syringa Bloomerang®

  • Syringa Bloomerang® Dark Purple  Second in the Bloomerang® series of reblooming lilacs, this relatively compact shrub can reach a height of 5-6’ with a spread of 4-5’.  It blooms heavily in deep purple in spring, and continues less vigorously until frost.
  • Syringa Scent and Scensibility™  Another compact lilac, growing to a mature size of 3’ tall and 2-5’ around, its pink blooms are fragrant and appear intermittently throughout the season, though not as frequently as the Bloomerang® series.
  • Syringa vulgaris ‘Agincourt Beauty’  Considered by many to be one of the best deep purple varieties, this highly fragrant large-floret lilac can grow to a height of 10-12’ with a spread of 8-10’.
  • Syringa patula ‘Miss Kim’  A well-known compact variety used as a specimen planting, ‘Miss Kim’ blooms late and is known for its beautiful fall foliage color. It can reach a mature size of 6-7’ in height and 5-6’ wide. Easily grown on a standard.
  • Syringa x. prestoniae ‘Miss Canada’ A popular pink-blooming variety, this lilac is extremely versatile, being very hardy but tolerating warmer climates better than most. It also exhibits beautiful fall color and can be trained into small tree form. Mature height is 6-9’ with a spread of 5-8‘.

Cutleaf foliage

Lilacs require siting in full sun and good air flow around them for maximum blooms and healthiest foliage.  Unless size restriction becomes necessary, pruning is generally discouraged for best flower production and form, so be sure to take each specific cultivar’s potential size into account when planting.  It’s recommended to feed lilacs in early spring and again in early fall with an all-purpose plant food.

Lilacs do best in alkaline soil, but some are not as sensitive to pH. Each cultivar has specific hardiness ratings, of course, but most lilacs will do well in Zones 3-7. Be sure also to check out the less common varieties like the cutleaf lilac (Syringa x. laciniata), which has fern-like foliage.

No matter which lilacs you choose, their sweet spring fragrance is sure to evoke a pleasant memory and that’s as good a reason to grow them as any.  Grandma knew.

 

 

 

 

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Kylee Baumle gardens in Zone 5b northwest Ohio and is author of Indoor Plant Décor: The Design Stylebook for Houseplants (St. Lynn’s Press, 2013).  You can find her on her blog, Our Little Acre.
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Our friend and contributing editor Debra Lee Baldwin dropped by for a visit here at our headquarters in Des Moines last week. Debra is nothing if not passionate about succulents and she thoughtfully brought me this sweet little succulent boutonniere that she made for me.

Debra has a new book on succulents coming out any day now called Succulents Simplified (Timber Press), in which she demystifies these popular low-water beauties. Debra’s previous books include Designing with Succulents and Succulent Container Gardens. We discussed upcoming stories for Country Gardens and I gave her and Mark Schneider (the new Executive Director of the Iowa Arboretum) a tour of the Better Homes and Gardens Test Garden, our Test Kitchen, and photo studios, before we enjoyed a delicious lunch at the Des Moines Arts Center with our editorial apprentice Kelsey Schirm and former CG editorial intern Kelly Norris, who is now the horticulture manager for the Greater Des Moines Botanical Center.

What could be better than spending a rainy day over a bowl of hot soup with green-hearted friends in a building designed by Eliel Saarinen surrounded with artwork by Edward Hopper, Georgia O’Keefe, and John Singer Sargent?

Learn more about the best succulent plants for your home.


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