Putting the container garden to bed & more!

Some of my container garden is going to try to overwinter in our apartment again–

My evergreen will be kept on our deck and wrapped in a wool blanket to protect its root ball. This has proved to be a very successful way for me to keep my evergreen tree alive. I’m hoping the ornamental grass, which I think is Variegated Japanese Sedge ( unfortunately I threw away the care instructions/plant ID), will survive too. Most of the birds I’ve been feeding have migrated south for the winter. The last time I saw a hummingbird at the feeder was the first week of October. The Orioles left first and then the finches followed. I set out peanuts and other assorted nuts for about a month and the nuthatches, several chickadees, and some tufted titmouse were able to get their winter stores set up. Now they too are gone and I’ve stopped feeding until sometime early spring when a few early birds will arrive back in this area.

What’s next in gardening?

Well, I planted a packet of tulips and narcissus and those along with my hens and chicks will be overwintering in the garage–insulated with newspaper and burlap. I’ve also got three boxes of paperwhites to start sometime around the holidays.

I lost the battle with my first fiddle leaf fig because it wasn’t properly draining. Truthfully I think it was dead when I bought it as the leaves were quite pale green. This past Saturday I was in a local greenhouse discussing my luck or lack of with a local gardener concerning fiddle leaf figs. She had one that isn’t doing great but isn’t dead yet either and she gave it to me to see what I could do with it. I’m hoping to nurse this one back to full health. I’m learning every day new things about plants and flowers that I will gladly share as time goes by.

The cute blue, orange and green solar lights are something my husband picked up at Shopko when they went on sale for $5.00 and we love them. They definitely brightened up our deck all summer long.

Here is what my container garden looks like today–

Until next spring this post concludes container gardening 2018. Happy fall and winter everyone.

Looking forward to future posts, I will be posting about taking care of fiddle leaf figs, fall food storing, fall/winter food recipes, and at least one post soon on supplements I’ve been using for low-iron, seasonal depression, and also chewable vitamins and are they doing anything for me?

Advertisements

My Top Five Essential Oils –and why?

What are essential oils?

A-essential oils are compounds extracted/obtained from plants via distillation.

What is distillation?

A- distillation is the action of purifying something through heating and cooling or the extraction of the essential meaning or most important aspects of something.

I’ve been using essential oils for a very long time. I bought my first essential oil a long time before essential oils became a billion-dollar business. My first essential oil was rose oil and I used to use it diluted partially with water as a face mist. My second essential oil was orange blossom oil and I used to steam it and/or put it and a bit of water in a pot on the stove and call it aromatherapy. The year was 1985 and I was experimenting with plants and oils and aromatherapy. Both of these oils worked wonders. To this day I still use them the same way I used them 33 years ago only now instead of steaming them or boiling them in water,  I use them in diffusers.

Time and money constraints keep me from buying every single oil I hear someone rave about. I don’t have the time to look into every recommendation or use, and I don’t have the money to waste trying every single oil to see if it works for me like it worked for someone else. That said there are five essential oils that I have used for a long time and would never be without. They are–

  1. Lavender essential oil- my husband uses this to fall into a deeper sleep at night and by using it and falling into a deeper sleep he is better rested and snores way less.
  2. Copaiba- helps me to manage pain caused by arthritis.
  3. Frankincense- Frank loves the skin and I use Frank on my skin.
  4. Lemon Balm- I use Lemon balm to help me manage PMS, inflammation, and upset stomach.
  5. Bergamot- this oil is so good–smells wonderful and mixed with mandarin orange is the perfect cologne.

**I use fractionated coconut oil as a base to apply all the essential oils listed above to my skin**

Recipes for my five favorite oils:

I put 10-15 drops of lavender in a roller ball and fill with coconut carrier oil. I roll this oil on my husband’s big toe (underside) every night and roll a bit on his pillow an hour before bed.

I mix bergamot with orange oil and use as a cologne. I put 10 drops of bergamot with 10 drops of mandarin orange oil in a roller ball and fill the rest of roller ball with coconut carrier oil.

I use copaiba and fractionated coconut oil in a roller ball and massage this mixture into my feet. I use 2-4 drops of copaiba and the rest fractionated coconut oil in a roller ball.

I use frankincense on my skin. I put 10 drops of frankincense in a roller ball and fill the rest with coconut oil and use on my face, neck, and hands. I also use frank on cuts and burns. Lavender is good for burns as well.

Recently I purchased a Lemon Balm hydrosol online from someone I follow and buy tomato seeds from (yougrowgirl on Instagram). I use lemon balm to help me manage PMS, tummy issues, and inflammation. With the hydrosol (yougrowgirl handcrafts her herb waters herself) I can add to water, or spray on the area of skin that has issues. So as far as Lemon Balm goes I am going to continue to buy it in hydrosol form vs. oil from here on out. I love that the hydrosol I purchased is user-friendly and so pure smelling that it’s unreal. The benefits I get from using it seems to come faster using the hydrosol vs. the essential oil.

Disclaimer- everyone that uses and sells oils or knows someone that does has a different opinion about them and may or may not use them differently than I do. In the section, prior to the recipes, I listed what my five favorite oils are used for in my family. You may or may not have the same experience as I do. I’ve been using these five oils and the rose and orange oil for a long time.  Aside from these oils, I do not use any other essential oils. I purchase my oils from a couple of companies online finding good quality oils at both companies.  Please consult your physician before trying anything new.

2018 Container Gardening- Week Nine

So this week things have stayed pretty much the same in my container garden. Missing are both Walmart non-smelling
geraniums. Not only did they not smell like geraniums, they basically bloomed once and died. I have since visited a nursery and purchased a new geranium plant along with a new petunia plant plus more Purple Cow composting soil. My husband and I live in an apartment complex for now. We are hoping by this time next year to be moving. A few years ago maintenance came around and planted shrubs etc. near everyone’s front door. I am assuming they felt that the tenant should thereafter be responsible for all care and maintenance of said shrubs and plants. Well, the soil these plants were planted in was all wrong, not to mention the kinds of plants planted, and the fact they were hastily put in and during one of the hottest days of the year. For over a year I watered an entire courtyard near our door and four plants right next to our front door. I also fertilized all the plants that were around our unit. Unfortunately, most could not be saved–mostly due to the fact of the soil they were planted in, they were planted shallow, they were planted late fall during a heat wave, and then come spring the area was sprayed by them with a toxic weedeater. This spring nearly everything was dead so we decided to go out and buy hostas at our own expense. I thought hostas would do well near our front door and they still might. However, the spot near our front door gets extreme heat in the afternoon and shade in the am. Hostas need warm sun in the am and shade in the afternoon. This information did not deter us, instead, we went ahead and dug holes, filled them with Purple Cow composting soil, and planted the hostas. Today I made a sunshade for both plants and will cover with said sun shade for part of every afternoon. Keeping fingers crossed. My lavender is doing well since being cut back, and so is my rosemary. Our tree is still recovering, the lime coleus continues to flower and is about 2.5 ft tall, and I have a total of 14 green tomatoes waiting to ripen. How’s your garden doing?

2018 Container Gardening–Week Seven

I’m thrilled to say my nasturtium flowered this week, just as I’d basically given up. One thing that I know I did wrong with it was that I fertilized it, and I’ve now read fertilizing it probably made the plant want to produce more leaves vs. flowers. I had an abundance of leaves so this pearl of wisdom made sense to me.

Temperatures this week were in the mid-eighties and I was able to harvest two more pear tomatoes. One of my non-smelling geraniums bit the dust so I replaced it with a lovely pot of petunias I found on clearance. Next up I am anticipating the ripening of half a dozen tomatoes on my two patio tomato plants.

2018 Container Gardening – Week Two

We are slowly pulling the container garden of 2018 together. I am trying to savor every moment of the month of May. Earlier this year I found myself looking forward to May and realized I am always hurrying every spring along to summer. When in fact, I don’t really like summer. Why? Hot weather, bugs, and high a/c bills to name just a few reasons summer can be kind of frustrating. Because of it, I’ve realized that spring has probably been my favorite season for many years. So, back to the container garden. I went a bit over budget buying the lavender topiary, but I could not resist. I tried and tried to find red geraniums and finally had to settle on bigger plants already planted in containers. I really wanted to find some 6″ geranium plants and fill pots with individual ones and place them along the edge of our deck. This past Saturday hubby set my french cart up and I put it to use right away getting some of the sun lovers up off the deck floor. Weather-wise it has been cloudy here for days and days–the lavender, believe it or not, seem to love this. Though I know the lavender to love the sun. I’ve included a picture of an evergreen tree we have had on our deck for a few years. We bought two of these about four years ago. The second winter both turned completely brown and dropped all of their needles. So, I went to work trying to coax them back alive. I shook them until all their dead needles fell, sprayed them with warm water, watered well, even replanted and fertilized them. Needless to say one of them wasn’t coming back. For the last two years, I have completely babied the one that seemed to have survived, even though two winters ago he turned extremely brown again and appeared dead. All of last year I continued trying to help him survive and alas all new growth–he is doing fabulous! I wish I could say the same for my beloved tomatoes–one of my worries again this year are my wilting tomatoes. The sun hits the deck at 3pm and by 5pm, whether I’ve watered them or not, they are extremely wilted. I’m going to need to look into sun shades for them. We are happy again to host our favorite birds on the deck for yet another season. Currently, I am feeding twice a day–male and female finches, male and female Baltimore Orioles, and our much-loved hummingbirds. I’m also setting out peanuts and sunflower seeds for the nuthatches, woodpeckers, and I guess, though I’m not a fan of them, red-winged blackbirds!

Until next time–

2018 Container Gardening– Week One

My budget this year is tight and my container garden will be smaller than years past. There are two reasons for this- 1) the first one is the lack of space/wt. that our deck can hold is limited. Every year there is just too much out there and it takes weeks to clean it all up. 2) we plan on moving from this apartment by next spring so right now we are organizing, and downsizing everything in our life in preparation. I have $80.00 in my budget to buy plants for my container garden. We are in zone 4 and overnight lows are in the 50’s.

So far I have a container filled with Hens and Chicks that I got early for Mother’s Day ($12.96 Walmart), two tomatoes plants (local nursery $8.00 ea), one pepper plant ($2.00) one heirloom tomato ($3.00), one cherry tomato ($2.00), one coleus ($4.99), three ranunculus ($10.00) one lavender plant ($5.99), and one prairie grass perennial ($8.99) –all bought at Home Depot. Soon I will buy some red geraniums and all the money I have budgeted will be spent.

Right now I am taking things I have started inside, that I had seeds, dirt, and containers for, and planting them outside in soil–like my nasturtiums and some sugar snap peas soon. I’m also getting everything cleaned up on the deck and welcoming back the hummingbirds, orioles, and finches to the feeders.  I’m not sure if I’ve shared this before but I am in love with Floret Flower Farm. I asked for Cut Flower Garden by Erin Benzakein last fall for my birthday, and for Christmas, I asked for the Cut Flower Garden Monthly Planner. I ordered both from her website and couldn’t have asked for an easier transaction. My items arrived quickly and well packed(with a free postcard) both times. For Mother’s Day I asked for the gardening notebooks (these are almost full-size notebooks, not the little notebooks one often sees) and they also arrived quickly and in time for Mother’s Day. I love love love all the pretty pictures and information Erin so freely gives. I have attended several of her online gardening tutorials.

insta-editor.com (10)

insta-editor.com (14)

insta-editor.com (16)

IMG_9224

insta-editor.com (15)

Container Gardening Week– #7













Week 7 has been a busy week- suckers to pluck off of tomato plants growing fast and the first of the potato bugs.  Even in a small garden, there is work and diligence needed. I was shocked to see a potato bug–we’re two stories up?  So at this time, I have removed two of them and the leaves they were sitting on in case that is where they laid their eggs.  I have a total of 40 tomatoes on three tomato plants at this time. I purchased my potting soil, tomato gro and fertilizer from Purple Cow Organics and I never ever want to plant another garden if I can’t plant it using these products. Wow, what a difference organic soil and organic fertilizer make!

Right now I am mounding dirt around my potato plants because tubers will only grow in dirt that is around 65 degrees. So it is a must to keep the soil and pot and plant cool. The opposite is needed for tomatoes to turn red. They need hot 75 to 85-degree heat both on the plants and in the soil. Last year I stopped watering my plants for two to three days at a time and all my tomatoes ripened. Tomatoes will keep ripening even when the plant looks half dead.

Our week started out with a trip to the Seed Savers Exchange in Decorah, Iowa. This was a trip we had planned for a couple of years and we really enjoyed seeing the Seed Savers Exchange gardens, fields and visitors center. We stopped at a few other favorite places in Decorah and then made our way back to Wisconsin. Of course, we had to stop at Bauer’s Marketplace in La Crescent, MN because they were having their buy one pot get one pot of flowers or herbs free. We purchased 6 large guinea impatiens and 4 geraniums and paid just over $20.00 for all. Fabulous deal and they had fresh asparagus to boot.

Everything in our container garden has grown double in size in less than two weeks. Plants we thought were going to die haven’t and plants we re-potted from Walmart potting soil, which had fungus gnats in it, are doing way better than we thought. Our garden looks great this year! I’ve harvested two small bouquets of lavender, more to come, and of course we had over a dozen salads from the lettuce. I also crushed the chocolate mint after I dried it and made tea from it. Best tea ever. I will share the recipe next time.  A little over a week ago I planted pumpkins and zinnias which are both up and doing well. My next project is to make some homemade salve or lotion using my lemon thyme. I am hoping for good results and I will share pictures here if successful. That’s all for this week–until next time be well.

Lavender & Summer Berry Salad

lavender

Here’s a recipe for a  refreshing salad that my family really enjoyed this past weekend-

Lavender Infused Berry Salad

  • 2 tbsp A L Olivier Infused Olive Oil
  • 1 tsp Pure Raw Honey ( I use Y.S. Eco Bee)
  • 1 tsp balsamic vinegar ( I use MiaBella)
  • 1 cup fresh strawberries- quartered
  • 1/2 cup fresh blueberries
  • 1/2 cup fresh raspberries
  • 1/2 cup fresh blackberries
  • garnish with fresh mint leaves-optional

Add all berries to a large bowl. Add the oil, honey, and vinegar to a small bowl. Whisk together until completely combined. Pour the dressing over the berries and toss to coat.  Refrigerate. This salad is best eaten the first day. It can be refrigerated another day or two depending on the ripeness of your berries.

I hope all my readers/followers are enjoying the last weeks of summer like my family is. Even though the season went fast goals my family and I talked about last spring were accomplished. Yes, some maybe not on their deadline, or very close to it, but others in the time we expected. Going into the fall we are ready for whatever it hands us. I know the need for me to volunteer will come a bit more often once school is back in session. Also during the holidays-peak time, when the need is the greatest. I’ve got my plan written down on how I will handle the extra responsibility of it.  I cannot say it enough if you love people and love helping people- volunteer. The reward is definitely in the act of giving of yourself and it doesn’t cost you a dime.

My container garden on the deck has dwindled down to cucumbers, two producing tomato plants, and mini pumpkins.

Until the next time we meet -stay well.

Lavender

IMG_0423

I’m growing lavender! This statement makes me so happy. Literally, I grin from ear to ear mainly because I’ve spent so much money buying other people’s lavender. I’ve accomplished growing quite a lot of lavender, from seed, in containers on my deck. It hasn’t been easy, but it’s very rewarding.

The lavender I planted is called Munstead lavender- a perennial herb. I learned all about growing lavender for cooking from Renee. Her website is here and is filled with a lot of important information about growing culinary lavender. Here is another wonderful website that explains the differences between culinary and ornamental lavenders.

The first thing I made with a few of my flowers was lavender ice cream.

54eaeed4e3eed_-_ice-cream-recipes-peach-ice-cream-0610-de

Can I tell you that eating lavender ice cream really relaxes you and it’s best eaten shortly before bed.
Summer is sure flying by for me. I sat looking at my lists for things to accomplish this summer, on Monday, and quickly checked off the following things-finished 80% of Christmas shopping by July 31st-check, lost the 30# that’s been hanging on forever- check, vacation-check, remodeling with friends- check, camping in a cabin- check, biking- check (WI and MN), Ikea and MOA-check twice, Lake Harriet picnic-check (besides our bike trip and occasional trips to Ikea we hadn’t been in MN for so long) graduate from university-check, preserve peaches, raspberries and strawberries and so much more- check, edit two chapters of my book-check, submit at least three writing assignments-check, research relocate-check, keep up both blogs weekly-check. Oh and yes- clean clean clean. I did spring cleaning and I currently fall cleaning. So I truly needed something as relaxing and soothing as lavender ice cream at the end of my busy days.

Lemon Lavender Scones

lemon lavender scone

It’s hard to decide what I love more, rosemary or lavender. I grow them both here inside and outside of my home all year round. I buy rosemary in the spring and plant it in containers on my deck and harvest throughout the year. I make lavender sachets with the lavender I grow. For cooking and baking, I buy culinary lavender throughout the year, using it whenever I make lavender ice cream. Every slow roasting chicken we make fills the air with fragrant rosemary. Honestly, I love them both.

When I sat down to plan my Easter menu I decided to try something new for Easter breakfast, Lemon Lavender Scones. I’m pretty excited to make them as I’ve never eaten a scone before.  Our Easter Sunday will be a quick and delicious breakfast of scones, hard-boiled eggs, and juice then church and back home to work on the dinner meal which will be served midday. We’ve invited four friends who did not otherwise have plans and I’ll be serving- Ham with a honey and brown sugar glaze, homemade scalloped potatoes, green beans with vinaigrette, roasted carrots (Ina Garten’s recipe), homemade rolls and New York Style Cheesecake. After the meal, there will be cards, crosswords, and board games for all.

I’m so looking forward to spring planting, I’ve got all my seeds started and the tomatoes and carrots are already sprouting. Along with getting our container gardens going my husband and I are looking forward to getting back to biking, something we do all summer long. Until next time, have a great weekend. Happy Easter to those that celebrate the holiday.

Source