I hope all of you have had a wonderful summer so far. This August, I've been harvesting and eating from the garden. After years of doing it, I'm still thrilled when my meals are entirely from my garden.
I had a wonderful event here last Thursday. My friend and neighbor Chef Nadine made a fabulous meal for around 50 guests. It was called Under the Roxbury Sun. Thanks to everyone that came. Chef Nadine out did herself and thank god there were leftovers. Special thanks to Philip for the fantasic wine selection, Alex the sous chef and for my husband Rob on the drum grill. There will be one more harvest event this Fall, October 3rd. Mark it on your calendar! More information to come.
August also brought me back to Chicago for the Independent Garden Center Show. I loved seeing the Mahoney Family that run Mahoney's Garden Center. Their garden centers have such a wide variety of fantastic plants. They are the go to place for me when I need something special. I also saw Jon Pinkus, Leslie, and Niki from North Haven Gardens in Dallas Texas. Their garden center is a resource for gardeners who want to do things organically and with little impact on the environment. The staff is like a family and they are incredibally knowledgeable. I also bumped into Maggie from Thayer Nurseries. A great resource in our community with an eye on design. I can always find things to complete my garden.
I also met some people who have inspired me and taught me alot about gardening along the way. Of course Mel Bartholomew was there. We recently made some new videos together that I can't wait to show you. I'll give you a little hint on what we did...Mel planted a garden with me! I also met Rebecca from Rebecca's Garden in the flesh William Moss of Rally Round the House, as well as Justin Cave from Ground Breakers, Shirley Bovshow from Garden Police and last but not least, Shawna Coronado, the Casual Gardener and Joe Gardener from Garden Smart (This month's cover guy). Of course I have video which I will release in an up coming email blast.
Joe Gardener: The Twenty-Five Dollar Victory Garden Episode #1
This is the first video where I reveal what I've done so far. Just got my video camera, so come along for the ride as I document my efforts to feed my family of four, all summer, from my home vegetable garden on a total budget of twenty-five dollars! Can I do it? Just watch these videos to find out!
Package bees, are honey bees purchased by the pound. These bees come from Georgia and the queen is an Italian. I had a complete loss of my honey bees when it suddenly warmed up in PA during winter months. One February day, temps went to the 60's and workers flew out... the temperature suddenly dropped, preventing their return. The bees remaining in the hive were not able to maintain adequate heat and could not reach the stored honey. These package bees are replacements for those lost bees. Backyard honey bee yards have declined 12% in the last 10 years. My studies involve the use of "survivor" colonies, bees that make it without the use of chemical treatments. By continuing with stock from survivor colonies, we will, in theory, end up with naturally resistent honey bees. If you're interested in reading about our environment as impacted by synthetic chemical treatments, I recommend a book published back in 1959 titled Silent Spring. She could have written that very book today, regarding the honey bee.
My home office shredder gets used a lot! I shred everything and derive great pleasure from doing so. If you think that sounds a little odd, just know that my kids argue over who gets to shred the next stack.
The point is so much that makes its way into our homes in the form of paper is fair game for the shredder. As long as there is junk mail, schoolwork, bills or anything else printed, there will always be and endless source of compostable material from inside the house. And while we're having some good clean family fun reducing unwanted paper to confetti, I am creating a wonderful carbon-rich addition for the compost pile and ultimately the best soil amendment in the world!
With the help of a good shredder, you can make great composting ingredients quickly and easily and finally put those papers in their proper place! Shredders are readily available today from many sources; drug stores, office supply stores and the big warehouse clubs all sell them. I use a high quality, home office version that I purchased for about $150. It can take about 15 sheets at a time, cuts paper into confetti and handles a large volume, all without removing a single staple or paperclip. It can even cut through CDs, DVDs and credit cards. However, knowing that everything I shred is destined for the compost pile, I don't include these.
As with most things in life, you get what you pay for, and so it is with shredders too. I've had the small and inexpensive trash can size in the past but to me, they're more trouble than they're worth. The small cans fill up too quickly for all the trash I have. On my current model, I even enjoy hauling out the container of confetti paper to dump into the compost pile. It's quite attractive actually. In short order, all the different colors from the confetti are soon reduced to the same unrecognizable common denominator of finished compost.
Even if someday we do actually become a 'paperless' society, I can't imagine junk mail ever going away. And as long as there is junk mail, there will an endless source of compostable material from inside the house...meaning there will always be an endless source! Besides the true pleasure I get in reducing these offensive mailings to confetti, I must say, I am amazed at how quickly that volume of paper adds up, not to mention that for much of my life, I was contributing so much unnecessary waste to the landfill.
Now, with the affordability of quality shredders for the home, I encourage you to get one and start using it right away, especially since there's not much else going on the compost pile this time of year. Although the extra compost you'll make is the direct benefit, keeping all that paper out of the landfill is a simple and significant way to do something good for our planet too.
Garden Girl TV Video Links New Release Square Foot Gardening: How to Install Drip Irrigation
The key to my success in the vegetable garden this year has been my new drip irrigation system. In this video I install one in my raised beds. Please watch the video and rate and comment. Then go to dripworks.com and start planning your water saving drip irrigation system.
Hi Patti, We as a family, watch your you-tube videos and enjoy them tremendously, we took to heart some of the techniques you have shown and I thought I would share some of the results in progress! In this photo you'll see two raised bed gardens. each has a small variety of squash, one houses some potatoes and the other some tomatoes. I have these beds set up all over the garden with trellis like supports located in the center of each bed, running the length. I can access the center of each bed from each of the long sides, and the trellis as well.
Keep up the great work, and happy gardening! Melissa and Family
The Best little Horehound in Texas.... by Dana Wright Marrubium vulgare Lamiaceae
Many will probably remember the days of a most popular candy. Old fashioned horehound candy and with autumn fast upon us, it is also time to start thinking about the dreaded coughs and colds that inevitably come with the colder time of the year. Sipping on warm herbal infusions does a lot for the symptoms, if not the soul, when one is in the deepest cavity of misery but there is more that can be done by the frugal self sustaining home gardener. Horehound has been used since early Egyptian times for bronchial afflictions and coughs and even today is popular in over-the-counter cough medicines. A single cup of horehound tea can have profound impacts on accumulated mucus in the respiratory passages, reducing phlegm and easing the gloom of illness. Use for bronchitis, flu, colds, and sinus infections. Have a sweetener on hand, horehound has a bitter taste!
Not only is it useful for coughs but it is also an attractive plant with densely clustered small, white, pleasantly fragrant flowers that bloom during the summer and downy grayish foliage which is the part harvested. It has been used as a grasshopper repellant with some success for as long as it has been used as a cold remedy. Another benefit is that it is a good companion to tomatoes and peppers attracting beneficial wasps and flies to the garden.
Sow seeds about 1/8 of an inch deep, either in containers or in ground, in spring after all danger of frost as past in full sun, soil temps should be holding at around 50 degrees. The seeds need warm weather to germinate. It is hardy to zone 4 and it is not terribly picky about soil as long as it is not too heavy or too wet. It does well in dry rocky areas, needing only 12 inches of water per year to survive. If you have a place in your garden where nothing else will grow, horehound can probably make it and thrive. It will reach about 2 to 3 feet as a full grown plant so one plant will be enough for a family to use. Horehound will bloom in the second year, once you see the flowers, cut them before they have a chance to dry and go to seed to keep the population of this herb in check as it is member of the mint family so it does have a tendency to seed readily and it will take over if you're not watching!
With all herbs, it is important to be safe. Horehound can adversely affect someone with heart conditions, low blood pressure, or anyone taking any type of insulin because horehound can lower blood sugar levels. Never take horehound while pregnant or nursing.
Horehound Drops published on alt.folklore.herbs 1995 4 ounces of fresh horehound leaves 1/2 tsp crushed aniseed, 3 crushed cardamon seed 2 1/2 c of water, simmer this for 20 minutes then strain Dissolve 2 cups of sugar, 1 1/2 c of brown sugar in the tea liquid. Boil until reaches hard crack stage pour into oiled try. Score when partially cooled. These can be wrapped in wax paper and then dropped in a zip lock. They will store for a long time but mine have never lasted long enough for me to test the length of time they will keep. This is a pretty easy thing to do especially if you've ever made your own candy before. It takes a little time but the effort is worth it. Horehound Cough Syrup from: Rodale's Illustrated Encyclopedia Of Herbs 1 ounce fresh horehound 1 pint boiling water
Add herb to boiling water. Steep for 10 minutes. Strain well, you don't want particles left in the liquid. Measure the remaining liquid and then add to that twice the amount of honey. Mix well and bottle. To soothe cough, take 1 teaspoon 4 times a day.
The Remarkable and Necessary Honey Bee by Frederick J. Dunn
Consider owning and managing your own Apiary Rearing your own colony of bees a.k.a. Apis Mellifera Domestic Honey Bee
About four years ago... I became keenly aware, that my property in northwestern Pennsylvania was absolutely void of honey bees. Dandelions as far as the eye could see in the spring sunshine, and not a single buzzing honey bee! I soon became familiar with the term CCD or Colony Collapse Disorder...
At that very moment I resolved to bring in my own bees and manage them... what better way to learn about their order? I sought out experts via the Department of Agriculture and soon was on my first field trip, camera in hand, with the Bee Inspector.
I quickly located and procured my bee keeping supplies... a complete beginner bee keeping setup. There are several sources for equipment, but I honed my search down to a company called Betterbee, Inc. On the advice of the bee inspector, I decided to start several hives/colonies so I would be able to make comparisons as to their general health and progress. A complete 10 frame starter kit $259.95 plus shipping, completely assembled, but un-painted. I was so excited! Bee helmet, veil, gloves, smoker, pierco frames... telescoping cover, screen base with landing platform. And of course I special ordered my white bee keeper jumper with a special zipper around the neck to accommodate the veil. I was so excited when our UPS driver delivered the kit and hives.
I located my hive bodies on a southern exposure, out of strong wind and in a spot that would receive shade in summer and sun in winter... you may see a video of my hive set up at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F33-fbeammU in this video short, I show the hives and how to install package bees which may be purchased via the U.S. Mail. Once you are properly set up, equipment wise, you'll have to procure honey bees. I recommend joining a bee keeper association, I belong to the NW PA Bee Keeper's Association. This way you will become aware of issues with honey bees in your area and which type of domesticated honey bee will be most hearty in your climate. Expect to shell out $85.00 for 3 pounds of honey bees and a queen. This is enough to get a single colony going. You may purchase package bees... honey bees sold by the pound and shipped with a mated queen of your choice. Or, you may purchase nucs, (nucleus bees), which are honey bees purchased with their drawn comb and brood, this is the quickest start for a colony. Nucs are generally picked up and not shipped through the mail.
If you have a worker colony and want a specific type of queen bee, you may order her separately via overnight mail. I have purchased queens via overnight mail before and they came in a Fedex envelope.. the delivery guy couldn't believe what he had been carrying. I was happy to introduce him to the queens as I had to open the package to verify live delivery. Worker bees are also inside the queen cage, as they must attend the queen during her transit. Always something new at Fred's Fine Fowl.. he gets a laugh out of me.
Next month, I'll write about honey and how I go about collecting it from the hives. Here are some other sources for honey bees and supplies: www.dadant.com www.beeweaver.com www.beesource.com I recommend that you look for survivor colonies... those which make it without medications and synthetic disease controls.
Hi, I thought I would send photos of the raised garden I did this year. Although I live on 5 acres, I love having this right outside my kitchen door. I was very much inspired by your videos and e-zine. I planted 7 tomato plants, 6 cucumber plants, 3 zucchini, 1 Roma Grape tomato and 6 bell pepper plants. Mary
Making A Difference In The Life of a Child With a Garden
by Shawna Lee Coronado
Indeed, this type of energy is the type of energy we want our children to have instead of caffeine- or sugar-generated. It is longer lasting, healthier, and stimulates lasting memories. Bottom line; gardening and being outdoors in nature is fun and makes kids and adults alike feel happy. Testimony to this claim is the sunflower garden adventure my youngest daughter and I had together. One afternoon I dumped a handful of sunflower seeds in my hand and said, "Will you look at that!" "What?" said my youngest, leaning low to my hand so she could get a close-up view of the seeds. "That!" I smile, "This is a sunflower!" "MOMMMMM, it is not, it's too little!" she answered incredulously. "It will be in a few months," I said. "Let's go outside and plant them." We got our old shoes on, grabbed a shovel, some popsicle sticks, and a watering can and headed out behind the fence. Grinning, my girl and I set about digging up the ground. We laughed with each other and she asked a lot of questions about how little seeds can grow. Of course, half way through she found a few worms and I lost my digging mate, but she gained much from that experience as she sat and played on the sidewalk with the worms while I finished digging. Finally she came and helped me plant the little seeds in the ground, placing a popsicle stick next to each seed so we would know where to water in the coming weeks. Every other day or so we would get out in nature and spend some time talking about those seeds. We always had smiles on our face when we went out to water the little babies. Our experience together, being out in nature, was awesome for both of us. One lazy summer day, my little one came screaming into the house, grabbed me by the hand, and dragged me tooth and nail out to the sunflowers shouting I had to see something. When we got out to the garden, the flowers towered over twelve feet high; their heads enormous. Neither of us could believe how big they were. "I can't believe it!" she said. "Pretty big aren't they?" I replied. "HUUUGGGEE Mom! They're just HUGE! Bigger'n Dad! Bigger'n a tree! I think they might be bigger'n our garage! And this big, giant flower came from our little-bitty seed, right?" "Right!" "The worms are in the ground around the seeds, so they helped too, right?" "Right!" "Let's get the camera!"
There we were out in nature, gardening, laughing, taking photos of the biggest darned flowers we had ever seen. Neighbors from our community were walking by and hugging their congratulations with us on the marvelous accomplishment of those glorious flowers. I remember every day we watered and the great feeling it gave both of us to be outside together. I remember seeing the sunflower grow inch by inch every day of the summer. And I remember the joy in the heart of my little girl when she realized how nature works together and how we helped it along. I cannot wait to do it again next year. This is the gift we should be giving every child - the gift of understanding the connection between good health, community, and the natural world. Remember that life is what you make it - make it about being out in nature with your children!
Shawna Lee Coronado is an author, locally syndicated newspaper columnist, energetic speaker, and environmental and health correspondent. As a greening expert, she is focused on teaching and living a green lifestyle.
Our garden is three years old this fall and just getting started. Our garden is a testament to our travels and experiences. A large number of our specimens are in containers. Containers have allowed us to maintain our collection across the country and "easily" move our plants from home to home. They have provided instant interest in a new space and allowed us to gradually claim a space as our own.
Containers can be quickly rearranged for a different impact, or moved to better intercept the changing light of the season. They are a sustainable way to create a new bed and you can easily see if a plant will do well under proposed conditions before actually sinking it into the ground. This is how you will find any young garden: in a constant state of growth and movement. The garden will never be "done." There is always a new vegetable that could use fertilizer or a plant needing a bigger pot. These essential activities give life and motion to an ever changing garden. Gardening connects us to the natural world and inspires imagination.
The best ideas for container combinations come by sitting in the garden and appreciating plant beauty. Most perennials are in smaller containers waiting for a future home, so I can quickly see how the 3 or so plants would look next to each other before actually planting. Containers tend to look stunning when they have a unifying theme to bring the plants together. It can be as simple as color or leaf shape, or as complex as you like. Choosing plants with similar watering and fertilizing needs helps overall long-term health of the container. Herbs that like it dry do not pair well with plants that like it moist. High quality potting soil helps reduce watering and provides plants with nutrients and support. Fertilizer is not always needed, but can help many plants reach their fullest potential.
One of my favorite containers planted last year was in a broken pot (top half sheared off), with a Kousa Dogwood (Cornus kousa), Toad Lily (Tricyrtis 'Sinonome'), and Japanese Forest Grass (Hakonechloa 'Aureola'). The unifying theme was different shades of green and long, thin leaves. Different sized plants create a tiered effect in the container. "Spillers, fillers, and thrillers" has been a mantra at many independent garden centers. Don't have excess plants just sitting around to inspire you? Head into your closest independent garden center. Independents tend to have amazing displays to inspire you, plus they tend to have great staff who really know their stuff and give free advice!