Garden Planning is Key

AlmanacPlanning a garden is a laudable endeavor, but a daunting one to me. Perhaps if I ever take a landscaping course I will not feel as intimidated by the process. I have to be honest and share that laying things out on paper makes me feel not as free to create as I imagine.

If this resonates with you — take heart. Our Herbal Treasures of Hickory Hollow Garden was officially established in 1998, and I still haven’t graphed everything out section-by-section.

Except for designing the ‘bones’ of the basic garden because we were preparing the site from scratch, I could never bring myself to draw in and identify each nook and cranny of the space. Perhaps this is the very reason you will likely never see a neatly clipped and meticulously-trimmed hedge row in our Herbal Treasures’ garden. This may seem an astonishing admission from a Visual-type person, but it is true.

That said, ‘planning’ your garden does not have to involve drawing yours out to scale, with plant graphics plotted strategically on your careful sketch. For a successful garden another type of planning will help to ensure a garden hopefully more closely matching the one you imagine:

1) Determine location: amount of sun and or shade, space available, type of soil and lay out; accessibility to water source.

2) Plant selection is key: read about plants you are interested in and determine if they are possible for you to grow in your Hardiness Zone. This can be heartbreaking, but it won’t break the bank quite as easily, for your investment!

3) Consider use of the garden: 

Cutting flowers?

Growing vegetables?

For entertaining?

Do you have pets and/or children?   

 

The fun part is in finding the plants you would like to add to your garden. A great variety of them are now available at garden centers everywhere, and there are specialty catalogs and websites that offer more exotic, unusual or often more difficult to find plants to fill that niche.

Another reason I have not sketched out our garden is that it is a work in progress. It has changed radically in at least 3 different phases throughout it’s existence. I think if I were to draw it out, I would feel like “that was it,” and we are not there, yet.

 

Enjoy the process — happy ‘planning’ — most of all, happy planting!

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A Garden Joy: Fresh Daffodils on Our Table

daffodilbqt-09SpringThyme Delights from our Herbal Treasures’ garden!

“Gorgeous SpringThyme Day: Bradford Pear blossoms swirl like snow in warm breezes, Forsythia bloom & house scented w/Daffodils from My Garden…” @BeckyCortino

Daffodils seem to herald spring, to me. Cut flowers pictured are from a special collection I was blessed to receive as a Garden Writer, from Brent and Becky’s Bulbs.

The varieties in the 10-pound 100-bulb assortment I listed; see the list by clicking on the linked text here

Out of this very simple (cut-out of the garden and put-them-in-a-vase) arrangement, I was able to ID these varieties:

N. Dutch Master (traditional)
N. Ice Follies

…N. Ice Follies is a new variety for us this year, and is most interesting. You may be able to make out a slight color variation of the center, which occurs as the flower matures.

Find Herbal Treasures’ Facebook Fan Page, by clicking on this link

Herbs Through the Bible, and the Ages… and at Eastertide

 

ht-herbs-of-the-bible1Herbs of the Bible: Home Study Course Available

As a reader of this blog, you already well know that herbs are a passion of mine and I have studied their many facets since 1980. In my study, I became interested in the history and use of herbs through the ages.

During the last 10 years, I learned about their interesting history, tradition and symbolism, as well as many ways to use them. In this process, I discovered many others are also interested in learning more about them. It has been a thrill to teach Herbs of the Bible Workshops, in addition to writing about them for the last 10 years.

As a result of my learning, teaching and writing process, I have designed and produced an “Herbs Through the Bible and the Ages… and at Eastertide” online home study course:

http://snipurl.com/dmu3h

Biblical references give us a key to tracing the fascinating existence and use of herbs throughout time. Though impossible to recount all herbal history in a single volume as in this audiobook presentation, recounting historical significance points out that the relevancy of herbs in everyday life still remains true today. Shown through hand-picked plant selections and insights shared, Herbs of the Bible is based upon self-directed herbal study that began in 1980, faithfully presented since 2000.

The running time of the audio portion of this online self-paced home study course is over 1 hour, divided into 6 topical segments, including:

Introduction to Herbs through the Bible and Ages, Veracity of Plant Identification, and Herbal Use since Time Began

Selected Plant References to Familiar Plants

Lingering Questions Answered About the First Garden – the Garden of Eden… and was That Really an Apple Eve gave Adam?

Herbal References Related to Passover, Jesus’ Crucifixion, Christmas and Our Gardens Today

Suggested Plant Selections for a Bible Garden, and Creating Your Own Bible Garden

About the Fascinating Passion Flower

…and at Eastertide – 3 Downloadable EBooks:

Easter Herbal EBook: Including Spring Decorating Ideas and Coloring Easter Eggs Naturally with Ingredients You Already Have at Home

Easter Cookies EBook: Recipe and Story for a Hands-on Family Activity, in a Lovely Colorful Devotional

Herbal Treasures Springthyme Recipes EBook:
Featuring Herbed Egg Recipes, Brunch and Holiday Recipes, Menu Ideas with Herbalicious Outrageously ‘Springthyme’ Flavors and Ingredients that are sure to spark your imagination and ever-so gently wake up everyone’s taste buds after the long winter’s nap! Tried-and-true fresh and herbal flavors steep the very uniquely-delicious recipes in this herby EBook, to inspire Good Friday through Easter Brunch, Family Dinner and Desserts!

http://snipurl.com/dmu3h

***

Based on research, study and presentations given to groups since 2000, also included in this program are downloadable up-to-date resource materials:

Guide to Scripture Gardens You Can Visit Online & In-Person — Worldwide

Herbs of the Bible Recipes EBook

Other Herbs and Plants of the Bible

Resources for Further Study

More…

Update: Spring Bulbs Planted – Now Appearing!

ht-daff-0309As the second snow melted, much to our surprise, green tops and shoots of emerging daffodils were beginning to appear!

Within just a few days, some of the initial results of our late-fall bulb-planting began to become apparent.

If you read this blog very often, you may recall my sharing about receiving a surprise shipment of bulbs from our Garden Writer Friends Brent and Becky’s Bulbs

What a welcome sight!

We’ll keep you posted on the varieties and results of planting this special collection…

Considerations for Planning Your Garden, Part 2

Garden guyOnce you have determined the vegetables and herbs you would like to grow, take a bit of time to research what and which variety grows best in your area. You will find particular varieties of many vegetables are preferred over others in specific regions for the fact that they grow best there. This is great info to tap into, to better ensure your successfully-producing garden!

Where to go to get this valuable information, before you dig trowel into the ground?

As a Master Gardener Volunteer Graduate (MGVG), I can speak from first-hand experience and highly recommend the resources available and freely offered through the many local Cooperative Extension Offices. To locate the office nearest you, click here on this link

Your local Cooperative Extension Office can provide you with a list of preferred varieties that have been proven to grow best in your area. This saves you time and money! It’s fun to experiment of course — a lot of times we do that in the garden, but if you want to put food on the table the “tried and true” is best.

As the MGVG that I am, also I recommend having a soil test done through the Cooperative Extension Office. All supplies and information are available through them. Januray-February are the optimal months to have your soil sample to them for teating. This allows ample time for the process, and so you can prepare your garden spot, amending the soil as indicated by the test, for best results.

Considerations for Planning Your Garden, Part 1

Garden guy“Planning” your garden is key, in having a successful growing season.

This includes:

* Know what you would like to grow

* What and what variety grows well in your area

* The growing conditions your garden will provide, once amended

Have you been studying the many seed and plant catalogs, now arriving nearly daily? The choices are astounding. In my 10 years of our Herbal Treasures Garden, I am observing increasing variety and greater numbers of seeds and plants available. This is a very exciting time to be a gardener!

At the same time, the possibilities and choices are staggering, and can actually serve as an obstacle to getting started, if a gardener is not careful.

Make preliminary preference-based choices on what you believe you and your family will most likely eat, and probably completely consume.

As previously discussed, some vegetables yield greater quantities. This reminds me of tomatoes and zucchini. If you are looking for greater yield (as in a larger family), this may be a consideration for you, as well.

Some vegetables are more difficult to grow. If you have limited time, space and inclination, perhaps growing your own corn would not be advisable. However, with the price of tomatoes and the relative ease of growing them, they might be a worthwhile addition to your garden

Of course this being the Herbal Treasures website, I would remiss if I did not include copious amounts of herbs on the list! They will add life and spark up any veggie dish you make.

Seeds Sales are Skyrocketing for the Growing Season

Garden guyIn a recent post, I shared with our Garden friends that I was surprised to see seeds already available. It seemed so early — and my thought was confirmed by the store that in fact, this was the case.

We’ve discussed that many folks are planning to grow their own vegetable and herbs this season, as a means of offsetting foods costs with the economic downturn we have been experiencing. Food safety issues have also been consumer concerns.

If you plan to join the many planting a great garden this year, begin planning it now and get your seeds. Some pre-prep is required before you actually get those seeds or seedlings in the ground, after the last frost.

According to industry experts, seeds sales are up 30-40% over 2007. Last year vegetable seeds outsold flower seeds for the first time in ages, and seed companies are projecting this to be the case again this year.

One might pause to wonder with all of the sweat equity involved, if gardening to feed the family is truly worth it. Some vegetables may yield more and be easier to grow — such as tomatoes, versus corn.

It is estimated that the average cost-benefit ratio of home-grown vegetables is 1 to 25, according to a study by the W. Atlee Burpee Co.,  each gardening dollar invested in the effort has the possibility of producing $25 worth of vegetables.

My first piece of advice is to decide what you want to grow and survey your garden site to make sure it is suitable. Soil testing is recommended, and can be done through your Cooperative Extension Office.

When you determine what it is you want to grow, order or buy your seeds now. Even as the seed companies are bracing themselves for increased sales, ordering early better ensures getting the varieties you want.

Veggie and Herbs Seeds Sales are G-R-O-W-I-N-G

HT Kit With the not-so-lovely economy, many folks are turning to growing their own   vegetables and herbs. It is a cost-cutting measure, but it also provides many other benefits as well.

* Because the transport from your garden to your table is a much shorter distance and time span from harvest to serving time, the nutrient value is much higher.

* Working in the garden brings us closer to the earth, and is a great therapy. This sets our focus upon other things, if even for just a while.

* Gardening is an activity that offers great satisfaction personally, for the family or other participants.

* In gardening, we are reminded that we cannot control all things, but we can strive to maintain a productive garden.

SO many lessons learned in the garden!

More Signs of Spring: Seed & Plant Catalogs

calendula

Yes, even when they begin arriving in October (earliest I’ve ever received them — beginning in 2008), I know seed and plant catalogs are true ‘signs of spring.’ They harken my attention to the fact that no matter if the weather outside is frightful, the ensuing springtime will be delightful. They beckon me to begin thinking about what my garden plans will be for the fast-approaching season, for as we all know it will be here before we know it!

Seed and plant catalogs can be an excellent educational tool that don’t really require a great deal of intense study — but do peruse to your heart’s content, of course. Teeming with descriptives as to what to expect from the particular plant, growing specifications and requirements. The beautiful color photos to show the reader what a mature plant will look like — in ideal growing conditions, of course.

A really great seed or plant catalog will inspire ideas for using or enjoying the grown plant and perhaps recipes, as applicable. For the most part, these catalogs are written to be enjoyed by gardeners of all levels of experience — from beginner to the most experienced.

In recent years, many exciting plant developments have been made in the horticulture world. ne very interesting such advance is the disease-resistant elm tree. By reviewing seed and plant catalogs, a gardener can not only make plans for the approaching growing season, they can remain updated on the most recent developments and choose new and improved varieties of old-time favorites.

Have you been receiving plant and seed catalogs?

What are some of your favorite catalogs?

Please leave a comment about your favorites… let’s share and discuss the most interesting catalogs we’ve been receiving — and enjoying!

Anticipation for Spring!

tulip-blk-parrot

Around Thanksgiving a luscious assortment of bulbs arrived, that has all of us anticipating their appearance this spring!

It is a special Black-and-White collection of tulips and narcissus:

N. Misty Glen

N. Bridal Crown

N. Ice Wings

T. Pasionnale

T. Weisse Berliner

T. Silverstream

T. Black Parrot

T. Black Hero

Leucojum aestivum

This precious shipment was 10 pounds of 100 bulbs in total! With our fairly mild weather at the time of receiving them, we got them planted easily, scheduling planting segments around our appreciated rain showers.

While I can hardly wait to see the results of our planting efforts, I have to share with you I most look forward to seeing the Black Parrot Tulip!  If you click on the linked text or picture of this gorgeous tulip (above), you can read more about it.

Upon receipt and inspection, I must say they are the nicest bulbs I think I have ever planted in our Herbal Treasures’ Garden! They were much larger that the bulbs you might buy at many of the national garden centers and big box stores. I have purchased them at these outlets many times before, myself. While shipping of spring bulbs has ceased, you can peruse, anticipate, order and plant for summer — and fall, 2009!

This was a very special surprise gift from my friends at Brent and Becky’s Bulbs

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