February 24, 2009

Butterfly weed (or the things we do for love)

I wouldn't say that I didn't like to garden until recent years, it's just that the thought never occurred to me. However, in 2002 we were blessed with our first house and a lot of yard space to fill in. We fought to have a lush lawn but the weeds were stronger than the grass seed and our poor soil. However, with some soil amendments and a few raised beds, a pair of gardeners were born. My husband has a farm background, patience and a green thumb so he has done well. I possess none of the above and yet have managed to help a few plants begin their new life. In general I stick with plants I like that I have had success growing. Occasionally I will try something new. However, if I haven't done well with growing something, I'm not eager to try it again. The exception will occur this year. My husband enjoys butterflies and would like to have butterfly weed growing. Our previous two attempts have failed. However, I am trying to put together a butterfly garden for him so we will see if the third time is a charm. As we are getting more plants that butterflies are attracted to, I'm beginning to enjoy watching them too. Stop by our garden this summer and see how the butterfly weed is growing. Perhaps you will find us in our lawn chairs by the wild blue lupine hoping to spot a Karner blue butterfly!

February 18, 2009

A little bit of everything...

Winter weather started with a roar this past year. We were hit with both cold and snow early on. However, lately the weather has been mild and the landscape was getting to be a bit grey. This morning's snow was perfect for perking things up. It would have been great for building a snowman or a snowball fight but I settled for getting out and taking pictures.

I have checked over my seed starting supplies and inventory of perennials that will arrive in a couple months. I can't think of a variety I need but that probably won't keep me from ordering something else. I am especially eager to try growing strawberries and to grow another variety of raspberries this year. The black currants should be producing well for the first time. I would love to see some elderberries but that might be too much to ask for. Hopefully we will soon be growing enough fruit for wine and fresh eating. Speaking of wine, what do you do when you are given over 10 pounds of ripe bananas? Yes, banana wine of course. We started it yesterday and the aroma is wonderful. I just added the yeast. It is always fun to see the fermentation start which should happen in a day or so. So what does one serve banana wine with?

February 8, 2009

Seed inventory and more dreaming of spring

Gardeners in warmer zones may be starting seeds indoors soon. I'm still just dreaming of spring. Today I'm enjoying a good cup of coffee and looking over my seeds in front of a warm fire. We already have a nice selection of vegetable, herb and flower seeds ready to start under the lights in our basement. We are especially looking forward to trying a watermelon from seeds saved from a variety my father-in-law grew this past year. Our favorite plants have been from seeds shared by friends and family. Those seeds bring forth special memories and wonderful plants. Just when I think there can't be another type of seed I need this spring, I always come up with "just one more" plant I would like to try. I still would like to find a winter squash to add to this year's garden. Any suggestions?

February 1, 2009

Home-made Root Beer

Ok, this post isn't exactly about gardening but it does include one of our favorite garden memories from last year. It was a hot late August day and we had just finished tending to our gardens including harvesting beans, carrots, tomatoes, greens, potatoes, dill and basal for dinner. We sat down on the bench after starting a fire (picture the fire-pit scene from my previous post without the snow and surrounded by lush gardens) and cracked open a frosty home-made root beer. Add a the sounds of songbirds and few hummingbirds zipping past. It was great.

The root beer: We think that nothing is better on a hot summer day than home-made root beer. We make ours from extract, sugar, yeast and water. There are probably a few good extracts available but we like Shank's. It takes about 10 days to make but is worth the wait.

Quick root beer: Sometimes we either want to avoid the sugar or don't want to wait to brew our own. The quick version we like is to mix sparkling water (or club soda) with root beer extract and stevia. Chill and drink. It is pretty good for a quick sugar free treat. One hint, don't add everything right to the bottle unless you want to create your own mini volcano (and a bit of a mess).

Real root beer: I have only tried this once and so far haven't acquired a taste for it. The version I tried included sassafras, licorice, wintergreen leaves, vanilla and yeast. I'm still looking for a recipe I like for "real" root beer.

I can't wait for summer.

Thanks for visiting!