Monday, January 5, 2015

Happy New Year - in the new green house!

I don't make new year's resolutions, but I do have plans to blog on a more regular basis. This blog helps me remember what happened in the days, months and years gone by. This past year has been a very hectic one. Several months are a blur and I don't have regular blog posts to look back on to recall what was happening in 2014. Fortunately, I have taken many pictures that tell most of the story and remind me how fortunate and grateful we are. 

Last year we built a greenhouse that is attached to the house. My intentions were to blog about the greenhouse as it evolved, but you will simply have watch for future posts. 

We broke ground in mid-May and although John did much of the work we had several others participating in the construction and completion. Since we also added a master bedroom next to the greenhouse, progress was slower than expected. Nonetheless, the greenhouse was ready for the drop in temperature in late October. 

I will fill you in on many of the construction details with pictures of the progress in another post. John is proud of his surplus windows that were sandblasted and then primed and painted red by my sister Jenny. Stay tuned for more about how this all came to be such a work of art, thanks to John.

We celebrated a Christmas Eve dinner in the greenhouse this year. John seems to think this is a 'special event center', but soon it will be filled with seed starts and the party room will be no more. 

Below you can see a few things that are currently growing in the greenhouse. 

Rosemary - propagated from plants in the garden

Sage - propagated from plants in the garden



Napa Cabbage

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Saturday Seed Saving ~ Part 1

It is a cool, rainy day and the last day of day-light-saving time here in Idaho. Although I have done some research on saving seeds, I spent the morning online, studying how to save the seeds from my basil and zinnia plants. Next I will tackle the nasturtiums. The cool weather and mild frost took out the basil about a week ago and the zinnias are slowly turning that monochrome color that tells me that it is time to harvest seeds for next year's flower bounty. Today, I've started by harvesting the flower heads - where future new life resides. 

As you can see, these basil plants are done for the year. They started going to seed in August, when the bushes were crowned with dainty white flowers and buzzing with honey and bumble bees. They are now brown, and some would say ugly, but I can still smell the sweet aroma of basil as I cut off the seed heads. 

You can almost see where the seeds are hiding in this picture - deep inside where the white blossoms used to be. The plants have started to dry out, making the seeds easier to harvest.

These plants were damp, due to a slight drizzle this morning, so I laid them out on a rack so they could dry completely before I start harvesting the seeds. There are hundreds of tiny black basil seeds hiding in this tray of flower tops. In a few days they will be dry and easy to harvest.  

Zinnia seeds, on the other hand, are easier to see and to harvest. The flowers no longer have the vibrant color of summer, but they have a different kind of beauty and contain the seeds for next year’s crop. At the end of each petal is a seeds. I’ll show you how to get to the seed in 'Saving Seeds ~ Part 2.  

Harvesting Zinnia seeds is best done when they are really dry. Therefore, I laid the flower heads out on the racks I use for my seedlings. The overhead lights will hopefully accelerate the drying.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Lemongrass propagation

I bought a small pot of lemongrass this past spring from a local nursery. It didn't look very healthy so I never dreamed it would grow so fast and be so beautiful. I has put all of my perennial grasses to shame. 

Lemongrass grows in dense clumps in tropical or subtropical climates. Therefore if I leave this out in the garden, the freezing Idaho winter will kill it for sure. It is not a perennial in zone 6. 

I’ve decided to propagate this wonderful grass by dividing the root clump. This turned into quite the a chore last Saturday. I was hoping to be able to cut out a section of the plant to put in a pot. 

I had to dig up the whole plant in order to separate it, but I was able to divide it into five pots. I plan to put these in the greenhouse once the weather changes. I was able to save a number of stalks with roots to start new plants. I certainly have more than I need and will share with friends and family. 

The fresh stalks and leaves have a clean lemon-like odor because they contain an essential oil, which is also present in lemon peel. If you have never used or smelled lemongrass, find a recipe and pick some up from your local Asian market. 

Lemongrass has long been used as a flavoring in Asian style cooking and also has many health benefits. When added to recipes, the citrus-like flavor of the lemongrass herb powder or dried leaf adds a unique element to the meal. Though lemongrass is more widely known for its use as tea, it may be added to curries, beef, fish, poultry, seafood and soups.