Choosing The Best Tool For The Job
I’ve collected a lot of garden tools over the years. Some I have purchased. Some my dad left to me when he passed away. Some have even been given to me as gifts. I do find myself using the same tools over and over again. There are a lot of choices available, and if you are a beginning gardener, the choices can seem overwhelming. Exactly how many types of pruners do I need?
I am going to give you 4 tips on how to choose the best and most useful tools, save you some money, plus give you a free bonus, so you know exactly what to get to make gardening easy and fun.
The Right Tool for the Job: Standing in front of the garden tools display at a nursery or big box store can be confusing and overwhelming. There are numerous varieties of shovels, rakes, and hoes. Before you buy any tools, take stock of what tools you might…
I remember the first time I ate a salad with herbs in it. Amidst all of the typical lettucey (not really a word, but I am going for it anyway) flavors was something deeper yet familiar. Dill! And Italian parsley! OMG – There are herbs in this salad!! I would never look at a salad the same way again. Fresh mint and oregano and basil were itching to get into my salad bowl, so I went to the market and bought a bunch of those little plastic boxes of fresh herbs. Some TV chef said, snip the ends and put them in a glass of water in the refrigerator, so I did what I was told. I snipped off some mint and sprinkled on some watermelon, and then promptly forgot about the herbs.
A couple of days later, I wanted to use my fresh herb bundle in some chicken salad. I opened the fridge only to be disappointed. The herbs were now droopy and well, icky looking, and not so fresh. What a waste of $10! That’s when I decided to invest a bit of time into growing my own. Fresh herbs are one of the easiest edibles for the…
Tagged with: basil
, culinary herbs
, culinary mint
, edible garden
, farmers' market
, garden care
, herb garden
, indoor garden
Confession time…When I was little, say 10 years old, my neighborhood friends and I would grab a pair of scissors to wander our neighborhood and steal prune flowers here and there from the beautiful gardens to give to our moms. We always told our moms that we cut the flowers the flowers from our friends’ yards, and our moms thought we were such generous and thoughtful children.
While I certainly don’t condone stealing your neighbors’ flowers, this little foray into the ‘dark side’ started a love of floral arrangements and flower gardens, and I am especially fond those that have that have that loose, gathered from the garden, inspired by Dutch master painters feel.
A reader asked me recently what are the best flowers to grow in a cutting garden. There are dozens of flowers that work well in floral arrangements – I mean you could dedicate your whole garden to roses! I thought I would help you out here and give you a list of 10 of my favorite flowers that are fairly easy to grow and look beautiful both in the garden as well as in the vase.
Choose flowers that have stiffer stems, have long lasting…
Today we tackle aphids, and planting strawberries and blueberries.
Bugs on my roses! Q: My roses are starting to bud, and I can’t wait to see them bloom, but now the buds are covered with tiny bugs. What are they, and how to I get rid of them?
A: I am afraid your roses have aphids on them. The tender buds are these insects’ favorite treats, and if left untreated, they will suck the life out of the buds. These soft bodied insects are usually pale green or brown and will suck the sap from almost any plant. There are several non-chemical/less toxic methods to controlling them.
A good blast with a hose will easily knock them off the plants. Do this in the early morning so the leaves will have time to dry. You will need to repeat this often. Lady bugs LOVE to eat aphids. Most nursery centers sell little containers of lady bugs. Sprinkle them on the affected plants at dusk (so they don’t fly away), and let them enjoy the buffet. Be warned though, the containers hold hundreds of lady bugs, so if you have a small yard, share some with a neighbor. Insecticidal soap spray.…
Tagged with: aphids
, edible garden
, garden pests
, patio garden
, rose garden
, soil pH
, strawberry pot
Happy New Year, garden friends! I don’t really do New Year’s Eve as I can barely stay awake past 10:00PM, but I do love champagne. I also hate new year’s resolutions. What I love about this time of the year is the sense of new beginnings, new and actionable goals, and the knowledge that what we plant and nurture now will sprout and grow and provide us with the sustenance we need throughout the year.
As I write this, it is 55 degrees and blustery in Los Angeles, so it feels like winter. Yes, I know it’s 20 below where you live and snowing. I used to live in Syracuse, NY, so I remember what real winter is. I am thinking about my garden. It suffered a bit of neglect in 2014, but we did put in a dedicated chicken yard, and we removed the 2 dead trees from the front yard, and the roses did really well in spite of the drought. I am also writing down my garden goals for 2015:
1. Plant more perennials along my front fence. I really don’t have time to keep planting annuals every couple of months, and now that the two trees…
I think it’s finally fall in Los Angeles. The Liquid Amber trees are starting to turn a brilliant red. The nights and early mornings (the dog wakes me up at 5:30am!) are cool. Daytime is warm and dry, and if you’re very still in the afternoon, you can feel just the tiniest bit of chill in the wind. Fall is very subtle here, but it is also the time when the garden starts to wake up again after the summer’s oppressive heat. The roses are starting to bloom again and my herb garden is starting to recover. It is time to plant again!
I have 5 4′ x 4′ raised beds in my backyard garden and assorted containers in the front. I’d love to rip out what is left of my lawn in front and add some metal feed trough beds and a pomegranate tree. The husband is still holding on to his love of lawn although I am not sure why since it’s pretty brown and more weeds than actual grass. Like shoes that mysteriously ‘appear’ in my closet, I am sure the beds will start to increase.
What tree, honey? Oh, the pomegranate! Don’t you remember how much…
Tagged with: container garden
, container gardening
, cover crops
, edible flowers
, herb garden
, organic gardens
, pomegranate tree
, raised bed garden
, urban farm
, vegetable garden
If you had to think of one herb that has been used since ancient times and is probably the most popular scent in a dizzying array of bath and body products from shampoo to soap to lotion, it would be lavender. If you had to come up with a flower that epitomized the Provence region of France, the cottage gardens of England, and even the drought tolerant native gardens of California, it would be lavender. However, name a culinary herb off the top of your head, and lavender probably won’t make the list, which is too bad because lavender can bring a lovely floral herbaceous flavor to so many dishes (and cocktails, of course).
The history of lavender goes back more than 2500 years. Ancient Egyptians used lavender in their mummification processes. The Roman word lavender most likely comes from the Latin verb lavare, which means ‘to wash’ or livendulo, which means ‘bluish’. They used lavender for bathing, cooking, healing, and for scenting the air. In Christian history, lavender has been used as a ward against evil. It is mentioned in the Bible as spikenard, with which Mary anoints the feet of the baby Jesus causing the air to be…
Tagged with: cooking with lavender
, culinary herbs
, dried lavender
, drought tolerant
, essential oils
, flower fields
, growing lavender
, lavender flowers
, lavender shampoo
, lavender soap
, medicinal herbs
When I was in my late teens, I went on a backpacking trip in Northern California. The weather was warm, and I clearly remember being on a hike near a reservoir. At some point in the hike, I slipped down a small slope that was covered with wild cilantro. At that point in my life, I would have rather fallen into a pit of poison oak because I hated the smell of cilantro so much. Flash forward way too many years to count and even more culinary adventures, and I can proudly say that I actually like cilantro!
And so I tread carefully into cilantro land this week as I know there will be many haters. Did you know there is actually an I Hate Cilantro blog as well as a Facebook group with over 3000 members dedicated to haters of cilantro? Even Julia Child hated the herb! Apparently, there is scientific evidence to indicate that cilantro hating may be genetic (oh, good, something else to blame your parents on). I’m not sure what turned the tide for me. All I can say is that I hated the stuff and now I think it is a culinary necessity…
I picked dill as the herb of the week, so what would work with dill in a cocktail? I kept thinking of dill pickles, and thought why not? If you can have a dirty martini with olive brine, you could have a dill martini with dill pickle juice. The vodka is smooth, the pickle brine adds some pucker, and the dill adds a bit of freshness. Garnish with a pickle slice and serve it up chilled with a corned beef or Reuben sandwich, and you’re all set! Cheers!
2 oz. vodka (I used Skyy Vodka)
1 0z. dill pickle juice
splash dry vermouth
sprig of fresh dill
garnish: a pickle slice and sprig of fresh dill
Muddle dill in the bottom of a cocktail shaker. Add ice, vodka, pickle juice, and vermouth. Shake until well chilled. Strain into a martini glass and garnish with the pickle slice and fresh dill.
Please sip responsibly.
Tagged with: cocktail garden
, corned beef
, dill pickles
, entertaining at home
, herb garden
, herbal cocktail
, Reuben sandwich
, Skyy vodka
The word dill means to soothe, and this herb of Mediterranean and southwestern Asian origin has been used as a medicinal herb as far back as ancient Egypt to calm upset stomachs and soothe fussy, colicky babies. The first reference to dill as a culinary herb came in 3000 B.C.E. when the Babylonians grew dill in their gardens. Dill also has minor role in the Christian Bible in Matthew 23:23, although in the King James Version, the word dill is translated (or mis-translated) to ‘anise’. It is also mentioned in the Jewish Talmud. In Medieval times, dill was thought to protect people from witchcraft, to make love potions more powerful, and as a good luck charm to bless a wedding. As a medicinal herb, dill is high in calcium and has antioxidant and antibacterial properties. As a culinary herb, dill is used all over the world. Common culinary uses include dill with salmon (or gravlax) in Sweden, dill in rice in the Middle East, dill pickles (of course!) in Germany, and dill in stuffed grape leave (dolmas) in Greece.
Dill’s horticultural name is Anethum graveolens. It is a member of the Apiaceae family, which includes carrots, fennel, cilantro, Queen Anne’s…