Archive for Herb Gardening

Time for Collecting Seeds and Preserving Blooms

Look closely at your plants, many will have seed pods that you can dry and save for next year. This begonia has really strikingly pretty ones in a teardrop shape.

Look closely at your plants. Many will have seed pods that you can dry and save for next year. This begonia has strikingly pretty ones in a teardrop shape.

 

Hi, friends — happy fall! I’m sorry I have not posted for a while. I’ve been busy finishing up projects, and glad to say that I have completed many. The ten new storm windows are installed, and the new flooring in my basement finished, too. Now I can get back to my favorite thing — gardening! I was asked to write a post on how I collect seeds and keep plants for the next year, and I am happy to do just that.

 

There are many plants that I’m saving this year by collecting their seeds and berries.

After collecting pods, let them dry out. Break them open and pop the seeds out. Save for Spring planting.

After collecting pods, let them dry out. Break them open and pop the seeds out. Save for spring planting.

I like to store my seeds in recycled glass jars. I glue silica packs to the inside of the lid to keep moisture at bay.

I store my seeds in recycled glass jars. I glue silica packs to the inside of the lid to keep moisture at bay.

The pretty Hyacinth bean vine produced literally hundreds of pods this year. The best way to save these is simply to pick them and let the pods dry out. The pods break open quite easily then, and I just store the seeds in a glass jar until next spring. Here’s a preserving tip that you might not know: Glue a silica pack on the inside of jar lids — it will absorb any excess moisture from accumulating inside the jar. I save the silica packs from old shoe boxes and other shipping boxes that come with them inside, so it’s a great reuse for them.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Many bushes in the garden will drop berries that will sprout in the Spring. Transplant the seedlings from these to a safe spot in the garden, and you will be amazed at how quickly these volunteers will grow into great new plants.

Many bushes will drop berries that will sprout in the spring. Transplant the seedlings to a safe spot in the garden, and you will be amazed at how quickly these volunteers will grow into great new plants.

Many plants in the garden, such as the nandina, holly bushes, pyracantha and liriope, have berries that I just let fall into the garden. In the spring I cull the best sprouts from these to start new plants. It’s amazing how quickly they grow into beautiful plants all on their own with hardly any effort.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Many of the annual flowers that I grow in the garden produce seeds. If you check the soil in the areas that you have planted with annuals, you will see volunteers sprout up regularly. I do this every year with the vinca that is planted by the driveway. Even the gorgeous heirloom begonias that I grow in pots will self-seed. It’s always a good idea to save some of the seed just in case they don’t return. It’s easy to find the seeds. They will either be in little pods or form inside the flowers.

I love how many varieties of vinca are now growing in my garden. Many annuals will drop seed throughout the Summer, and if the soil is not distrubed too much you will have many new sprouts in the Spring. I like to keep the strongest of the new sprouts and clear the rest.

Many annuals will drop seed throughout the summer, and if the soil is not disturbed too much you will have many new sprouts in the spring. I like to keep the strongest of the new sprouts and clear the rest. Each year I like to grow a different color vinca. It’s fun to see the blend of colors from previous years, growing up through the current year’s plants.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Some of the more tender herbs and plants are easily propagated by taking cuttings that you can root in water then plant indoors to save over the winter months. Begonias and basil are two of my favorites.

Some of the more tender herbs and plants are easily propagated by taking cuttings that you can root in water then plant indoors to save over the winter months. Begonias and basil are two of my favorites.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Another way of saving begonias, ivy and many herbs (such as basil) is by pinching off a few branches and rooting them in water. In just a few weeks you will have enough roots to sustain a fresh plant that you can keep indoors over the winter months, and plant outside once spring comes. The same can be done with many of the hardy herbs, like chives, oregano and thyme that grow in a clump. Just divide a small clump (2″ or so), and plant to create a wonderful indoor planter that you can pick and enjoy for cooking all winter.

 

 

 

This is a huge bundle of liatris from the garden that I hung to dry and then arranged in a clay pot. I have many of these on top of the cabinets in my mud room.

This is a huge bundle of liatris that I hung to dry and then arranged in a clay pot. I have many of these on top of the cabinets in my mud room.

I hang lots of the flowers from the garden from peg racks to let them dry, and store them there until they make their way into a flower arrangement. It adds color, and I love having a reminder of Summer all Winter long. Here I have yarrow, oregano, pussy willow, bay leaves, lavendar and many others. Easy to do!

I hang lots of the flowers from the garden from peg racks to let them dry, and store them there until they make their way into a flower arrangement or wreath. It adds color, and I love having a reminder of summer all winter long. Here I have yarrow, oregano, pussy willow, bay leaves and many others. Even hummingbird vine that I twist into wreath bases. Easy to do, and it’s fun to be able to make things for gifts that you grow yourself!

 

There are some herbs and perennials that I cut and dry to enjoy all winter in bundles and arrangements through out the house. These will stay pretty — sometimes for years — if they are out of direct sun. I regularly dry the liatris, yarrow and even oregano when it’s flowering. I like to hang it in bundles from peg racks in the mud room to add a little color.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There are other perennials like the blackberry lily that I let dry and the seeds will easily shake off into a paper bag. Those will be saved in a jar as well for springtime planting.

Some perennials produce very decorative seeds after flowering, like these blackberry lily. Once the stems start to fade, I cut and dry them. It's easy to shake the seeds off into a paperbag and save them for next year's planting.

Some perennials produce very decorative seeds after flowering, like these blackberry lily. Once the stems start to fade, I cut and dry them. It’s easy to shake the seeds off into a paper bag and save them for next year’s planting.

Happy Fall Gardening Everyone!

Happy Fall Gardening Everyone!

 

I hope that you will try a few of these in your own garden. Seeds are like coins in a piggy bank. It’s always fun to have some “Gardener’s Gold,” and don’t forget to share your bounty with other gardeners — a jar of seeds for a Christmas gift is always fun and welcome!

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January 3rd – Is It Winter or Spring?

There is still a lot of new growth on many plants that would normally have gone dormant by now.

There is still a lot of new growth on many plants that would normally have gone dormant by now.

Well, it’s January 3rd and I’m already gardening! You know I can’t stay away from it for more than a few days.

We have had such a warm start to winter. Even when it has gotten cold overnight, the days are pleasant — so pleasant that here in the mid-Atlantic region, we have daffodils sprouting and cherry blossom trees flowering. Although it’s warm now, we will pay for it in February and March, according to the weather people. A classic El Niño with ice storms to come, so until then, I am getting as much done as I can and enjoying every minute in the garden!

I was a lucky gardener and received some fun gardening-oriented gifts for Christmas, too. A really nice gardening seat and tool tote, a pointsettia, a rosemary topiary and some beautiful allium bulbs. These were such thoughtful gifts! I spent this weekend planting the allium bulbs. Normally one would not do that this time of year, but because our temperatures have remained in the range you would expect an October day to be (between 50-70 degrees), I went ahead and got them planted. I just know they will be gorgeous this spring!

The pointsettia doubled in size this last month, and is loving the east exposure.

The pointsettia doubled in size this last month and is loving the east exposure.

I also finished getting the roses ready for winter. They were still blooming until just this week! The last of the leaves dropped, so I scooped them all up. Its a good practice to always do that, as the leaves can harbor diseases which can cause black spot on the next year’s growth if left on the soil below the plant. Better safe than sorry, so I collect them. I had a little bit of it on my older roses this last summer and tried something new: a spray of half water/ half spoiled milk, and much to my surprise, it worked! I removed the affected leaves, sprayed, and within a couple of weeks new growth had sprouted showing no signs of the black spot. Remember this for next year in case you see any. I love it when there are simple home remedies that work! And have no harsh chemicals, either.

Rosemary is a fantastic plant to have inside over winter, the scent is wonderful, it cleans the air and you can cook with it . How great is that!

Rosemary is a fantastic plant to have inside over winter, the scent is wonderful, it cleans the air, and you can cook with it. How great is that!

Inside the house, I re-potted my rosemary topiary and lightly watered the pointsettia. They both really don’t need much water this time of year, and both like bright light. I have the perfect east facing window that I keep the pointsettia next to, and in previous years this has proven to be just the right exposure. It even kept color long into March. I love to have the rosemary in my kitchen, and can’t resist brushing by it to release the wonderful scent. I often use it in cooking, and it is just so pretty, too! These are also natural air fresheners.

Looking forward to seeing what kind of weather tomorrow brings, but I’m hoping to get back out there in the garden. Hope to see you!

My Edible Garden

Nasturshems are not only pretty, but in a salad they impart a radish flavor. Many other flowers are also edible- pansy, lavander, even squash and chive blossoms.

Nasturtiums are not only pretty, but in a salad they impart a radish flavor. Many other flowers are also edible: pansy, lavender, even squash and chive blossoms.

I love all things vintage. I was getting my daily fix online of wonderful vintage calendars and seed packages and want to share this beautiful one with edible flowers. I love to grow nasturtiums, pansy, even chive blossoms to add to salads for some flair as well as flavor.

This summer I have once again planted some veggies. I try each year, but usually they are enjoyed by my family of chipmunks before we can get to them. But, it’s still fun to watch the produce grow.

This season I have a pumpkin patch that Linus would be proud to sit in and wait for the great pumpkin to rise. It has taken over about 20 feet of garden space, with giant leaves and golden flowers that look quite magical, if I do say so myself. So far, I have only one pumpkin that has survived, but I have high hopes for many more! I have sprinkled red pepper into the soil surrounding it to act as a deterrent to my little garden buddies, and fingers crossed it will continue to work.

I also have jalapeno peppers which are looking beautiful and in the past have done exceptionally well. No need to add anything to the soil around them. I’m guessing the chipmunks aren’t fans of Mexican food — LOL!

I was saddened this spring to see my prized fig tree was not sprouting new leaves and that many of the branches had withered and died. I cut it back severely, and gave it a boost of slow release food anyway. In mid-June, just as I was on my way to dig it up, I was surprised to see that there was life! Miraculously, it has come back looking healthier than ever.  It changed my opinion on when to toss plants with winter damage. I encourage gardeners to wait a year before tossing. Hopefully, you will be pleasantly surprised like I was.

Here are some photos of what’s looking good here in my little corner. What’s growing best for you this summer? I’d love to hear!

My pumpkin- only about the size of a grapefruit right now, but hopefully will get to be giant!

My pumpkin — only about the size of a grapefruit now, but hopefully it will grow to be a giant!

If you have problems with wildlife eating your produce give jalapenos a try. I have never had a single one bothered.

If you have problems with wildlife eating your produce give jalapenos a try. I have never had a single one bothered.

Don't be too quick to toss out plants with winter kill. My fig has come back to health, although, about 2 months later than normal!

Don’t be too quick to toss out plants with winter kill. My fig has come back to health — although, about two months later than normal!

I like to bring some of my most used pots of herbs (mint and basil) up close to the kitchen door- very convenient!

I like to bring some of my most used pots of herbs (mint and basil) up close to the kitchen door — very convenient!

 

Herb Gardens

A couple of decades ago I was so inspired while looking at a cookbook that I set out to create my own herb garden. I lived in a tiny 200 year old house where space was at a premium. It didn’t hold me back, though. I started my herb garden in pots on a baker’s rack, next to my kitchen door. I tried many new herbs in different ways. I was hooked! Herbs quickly became my favorite thing to grow.

Whenever possible, use brick for paths. They radiate heat back into the planting areas.

Through the years, at each new house, I have always planted an herb garden. Here in the Northern Virginia area we are known to have awful soil and intensely hot summers, usually accompanied by a drought. Herbs love this, so many are very well-suited to our region.

 

Of all my gardens – ever – without a doubt my favorite was my herb garden at my last house. I was lucky to have extra bricks left over from when the house was built, and a sloping, west-facing area, not very suitable to growing much of anything but herbs. Laying out the design, I made sure to leave plenty of walk paths, so that each section could be accessed easily. The overall size was about 25′ x 20′, and it had 8 planting beds. After preparing all the soil, I planted at least 20 varieties of herbs and kept two beds for starting perennials and vegetables.

Although many of the veggies were eaten by wildlife, they usually left the herbs alone. It was a fantastic place to be. The scent of the herbs on a hot afternoon after a rain was intoxicating. It was also one of the most beautiful areas in the entire yard. Always one that drew notice, as well as being totally practical!

My Williamsburg Style Herb Garden

There are many perennial herbs that provide the basis for my garden – oregano, chives, sage, rosemary, lemon balm, and mint are a few, and I always plant basil, cilantro and catnip each year. Which herbs will you have in your garden?