Snow in the Garden — Again!?

snow-0905Unbelieveably enough, we received a second coating of snow in our Herbal Treasures garden this season, and this time it was about 3-inches!

Of course all of the school children were delighted, because in addition to it being deep enough to really have some fun with, the abundance of it resulted in school closings. 

To our delight, the snow remained for several days, so we could all enjoy it… I can never resist capturing Snow Days in our garden!

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Snow in the Garden

snow-0907We enjoyed a light blanket of snow in the Herbal Treasures garden recently.

Snow provides insulation as well as moisture for the garden.

This one disappeared by late afternoon, but it was pretty in the morning and early part of the day…

Herbal Treasures Featured WordPress Blog

Gar Path  We received a cool surprise in our email today! 

Herbal Treasures’ blog was featured by WordPress — check it out

Winterizing the Herb Garden

Christmas Candle Winterizing the Herb Garden

A few hours tidying up a garden at season’s end saves a lot of unnecessary hard work for the spring, when you are anxious to plant and till some new soil! As the weather has been so unseasonably warm in many parts, if you have not yet attended to some of these chores, it’s not too late!

Prune and shape – artemisia, marjoram, oregano, lavender, thyme – don’t cut back severely, but light pruning after frost is fine. Cut off spent flower stems and dead limbs throughout the garden. Avoid severe pruning late in the fall, as winter hardiness is reduced until the cuts have healed. Woody plants should not be severely pruned within 4 – 6 weeks of the first severe freeze.

Pull up annuals and tender perennials you do not plan to over winter, placing them into your composting pile. Remove dead, damaged or diseased plants, to lessen the spread of disease to other plants in your garden now, or next growing season. This minimizes over wintering insects and disease problems.

Prior to first frost: Pull tropicals, scented geraniums, other plants you may wish to pot and over winter. (Tender perennials are best potted up in the late summer.) Cuttings might be taken to root, rather than trying to pot up and keep a well established tender perennial, or if you should lose it during the winter, trying to over winter it.

Clean up garden beds, by raking and removing leaves and trash. Transplant “orphan” herb plants you may discover along the way, to a better spot, or mark with a plant stake. Let the beds remain clean and clear for a week or so. Many insect pests and some weeds seeds are destroyed when exposed to the sun and to chilly nights.

“Pull the covers up”, by spreading 1-2″ of compost or topsoil over the garden beds; then top with loose organic mulch, which acts like a blanket. Woodchips or sawdust should not be used, as they absorb the nitrogen, necessary for plants to grow. Winter mulching helps to maintain a uniform soil temperature around the plant’s root system, while providing protection against heaving caused by the freezing and thawing of soil.

Flat, heavy stones may be used to “mulch” around lavender plants, to help keep the soil from heaving, in areas where winter is more severe. Leaves, straw or a simple cut pine bough placed around French tarragon, germander, Roman chamomile, silver and lemon thyme, winter savory, large lavender or sage plants, help provide protection. In areas of large amounts of snow or ice, teepees of twigs, sticks or bamboo may be constructed, and the leaves or straw mounded within for greater plant protection.

Rewrite or replace plant markers, as you go…

Cared for properly, many herbs (and other perennial plants!) will thrive in your garden for seasons to come! Enjoy!!!

TIP: Use clippings to make an Advent Wreath and other seasonal decor!

Gardener’s Glossary

Book Stack Gardener’s Glossary – Hardy:

Able to withstand year-round climatic conditions, including cold, without protection.

Source: The American Horticultural Society Encyclopedia of Gardening, DK Publishing, New York, New York, 1993.

NOTE: We discussed the importance of this in this post

Fall is a Time of Renewal

Fall Apple Bskt  Although in the latter portion of the year, fall has always seemed to be a time of renewal to me. It is a time of starting anew — a new school year, a new project, completion of the summer’s many responsibilities and chores, or looking ahead to a busy, new fall schedule.

Fall also seems to be a festive time of the year to me. The weather generally cools a bit initially, the days turn golden, and the colorful leaves make for a bright, happy time to celebrate!

Fall brings with it many traditions we anticipate and share…

Two Family Favorite Fall Recipes:

***Hot Spiced Cider***

Warm 1 gallon of fresh apple cider in a large pot, over medium heat.  

Thinly slice 1 orange and 1 lemon, and add slices to the warming cider.

Add 6 broken cinnamon sticks and a handful of whole cloves in the pot.

Cover, reducing heat to low. Simmer, allowing flavors to blend about 20-30 minutes.

Serve in pretty mugs. (Aromatherapy in a mug — and in the kitchen!)

***Roasted Pumpkin Seeds***

Cut a lid out of your chosen pumpkin. Use a spoon to scoop out the seeds and stringy pulp.

Rinse the seeds, removing the strings and pulp from them. Soak them for about 30 minutes in 2 cups of water with 1 teaspoon of salt added.

Remove the seeds from the salty solution and let them dry on clean papertowels.

Spread a single layer of pumpkin seeds on an oiled baking sheet. Sprinkle them with garlic salt, onion salt and chili pepper — or your favorite blend!

Bake 10-15 minutes in a 350-degreeF oven, until the seeds begin to lightly brown. Stir the seeds occasionally throughout the baking time.

Garden Ideas for Fall Fun

Fall Punkins and Gourds The frost is very nearly on the pumpkin, here-! This makes us wonder `what kind of winter?!’ (Many have actually seen snow, so you can relate, in wonder!)

Speaking of frost, why not plant a container of cool season plants for fall decor?

It’s interesting to mix them up a bit! Some plant selection ideas: Kale (Brassica oleracea L.), Mustard Greens (Florida Broadleaf), Collard Greens (Vates), Swiss Chard (Fordhook Giant ), and add a few cold or frost-tolerant pansies for color!

Ornamental Cabbage (Brassica oleraca), also known as ornamental or flowering kale, add good color to the fall garden or to containers. The leaves can serve as a garnish or edible underlay on salad platters!

How about a pot of Houseleek, Hen and Chicks (Sempervivum spp.)?

….whatever you do plant, be sure not to plant in a clay container, as they tend to break in the cold weather, and you’ll have a mess.

Still, busy in the Herbal Treasures Garden… and lots to share with you!

Drought-proof Your Garden by Design

Garden guy Drought-proofing your garden before the imposed need arises is a long-term step in sustainability that protects your investment of time and money in its design and establishment.

We experienced a major drought in our area this season! During our 14 years of living here, we have had droughts, but the southeast was hit so hard this year, the effect was further intensified. For the first time, watering restrictions were mandated in our area.

Fortunately, along with a major garden redesign early in the season, the majority of the plants added to our gardens this year were hardy perennials carefully selected to handle the heat and less watering-intensive.  We didn’t know there would be a drought, but planned a sustainable garden design. 

This is an important factor to keep in mind when designing or establishing a garden.

Also — remember that watering continues through the fall, as well.

Here are a series of articles on how to adapt your garden over the longterm to the normal, recurrent fluctuations in moisture through rain or snow, from Brooklyn Botanic Garden

The Old Farmer’s Almanac

Almanac The Farmer’s Almanac is  an annual publication that has been distributed since 1818. Generations of American families trust in its well-known long-range weather predictions as well as invaluable information on gardening, cooking, fishing, and more, presented in a style that informs and delights, while educating!

What and *How* the Old Farmer’s Almanac Predicts

For generations, a recognized source of wisdom, seasonal advice, weather prediction…

Including:

The Art, Science and Accident of Weather Prediction

The Old Farmer’s Almanac Weather Center

And Our AB-so-lute Personal Fav – “The Truth About the `Wooly Worm'”!

See our Herbal Treasures’ Book Nook for our Recommended Reads: Old Farmer’s Almanac and informational books written by the Old Farmer’s Alamanc. Also for kids!