Thursday, April 30, 2009

Asparagus Time

We live just about 30 minutes from the National Asparagus Capital, Shelby, Michigan. The National Asparagus Festival is held every year in mid-June. In this celebration of all things asparagus, you can bet there are a lot of tasty asparagus recipes, the crowning of the Asparagus Queen, and all the fun activities for the weekend.

It is not real easy to grow your own asparagus, but if you want to try, read the information provided in the link below, How to Plant Asparagus. It is very tempting to want to get a crop off the first year, but wait so you can enjoy a bountiful crop the next spring and the next and the next.

How to Plant Asparagus

The fern-like foliage is so pretty that it makes a great addition to fresh cut flower bouquets. The plant also adds a soft, beautiful touch to your landscaping. But, for me, the best use of asparagus is as a food that is tasty and nutritious. Below is a link to ways of preparing asparagus and lots of fun information from the Utah State University.

Fun Ideas for preparing asparagus and even a word game.

Sunday, April 26, 2009


Kids and gardening go hand in hand. Our grandsons' excitement about planting the garden is contagious. It is fun to share all the steps of planting the seeds, watching them "pop up", and transplanting them to the garden. The lessons learned from working in a garden are ones that are remembered for a lifetime.

Saturday, April 25, 2009


The rhubarb has broken through to herald one of the first gardening signs of spring. The forsythias are in full bloom as well as the daffs. Even the yellow dots of dandelions are springing up. Did you ever notice all these yellow plants appear, in Michigan anyway, about the same time? I wonder if that is a coincidence that the bright yellow flowers warm our hearts at the same time the bright yellow sun warms our earth.

If you have always wanted to have a rhubarb patch the following link will lead you to an excellent easy-to-understand article on creating your own.

Rhubarb is a perennial that practically takes care of itself. Once you establish the patch, you will enjoy this tasty springtime treat every year.

My husband cherishes his rhubarb...even raw! But it is better stewed....I cut it up into one inch pieces and place it in a pot and cook it. It will cook down without adding water. Then I stir in the sugar once it is stewed. What recipes do you have for using rhubarb?

Thursday, April 23, 2009


In this day of money-saving ideas, it just makes sense to start seeds for your garden rather than buying the plant set. A package of seeds will cost under $2.00 for about 20 seeds. A tomato plant in a 4 inch pot may set you back $3.00.

Germinate Seeds in Great Soil
Again I am preaching on the importance of soil or growing medium to germinate your seeds. Plant them in a flat, a paper cup, a plastic box that held a salad, or whatever you choose, but do not, do not, fill those containers with dirt from your garden. The delicate roots don't need to compete with rocks and sand and clay to grow. Make it easy for them to snuggle into a nice comfy home of sterile soil. This will make a stronger plant that will be able to transplant nicely when it is grown from a baby to a teen ager.

Timing Seeds to be Ready to Transplant
Read the back of the seed packet to see how many days it will take until you can enjoy that delicious vegetable. Then you must calculate backwards when the weather will allow you to set the seedlings outdoors. Figure from that point the date to plant the seed inside to grow it to transplant size. Some folks get the urge to plant and start their seedlings so early that soon they have a huge plant that needs to be transplanted but the weather is not favorable for growing. So especially be careful when figuring tomato and pepper plant seedlings.

Choose a light area to begin your seeds whether a bright window, grow light, cold frame, or greenhouse. If you see that the plants are growing tall and stringy, then you definitely need more light. Yellowing leaves is usually a result of keeping the soil too dry or too wet. Always, always feel the soil before watering.

Cold Frames and Greenhouses
Cold frames can be constructed as simply as a box with an old window on top of it. Just be sure that you have a way of propping open the top so that the plants won't bake in the spring sunshine.

Greenhouse kits are available in every size, but I can assure you that once you get into raising plants in the greenhouse, you will soon outgrow that greenhouse. It's just a law of nature, I think. Check out the photos here of the greenhouse that my husband constructed this year. It is made of pvc pipe which is inserted into a larger sleeve in the ground. After the plants have been transferred to the garden, he will take down the greenhouse and put it away until next spring. He put two sheets of poly on the house with a small fan to inflate the layers. This helps to keep the cold out and the warm in, and the poly is tight and not blown about in a wind. If you have questions about the construction, please contact me.

Best of luck in seed starting, germination, and transplanting. I bet you can't wait to sink your teeth into those delicious tomatoes, peppers, or your favorite vegetables.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009


Earth Day is all about taking care of our Earth. Isn't that what all of us gardeners are doing? Whether you are gardening an acre full of vegetables, a small, sunny patch, or have tubs of veggies on your deck or patio, you are helping. Gardeners enrich the soil adding nutrients by composting which saves garbage build-up. Growing vegetables cuts down on the enormous fuel consumption needed to move food from miles away to our grocery stores. Even buying locally at farm markets and farms helps reduce this wasteful practice of energy.

If you haven't read Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver, please do. It is eye-opening information about our food supply and waste of energy. It is also a journal of her family's adventure in growing their own food or buying locally. Her narrative of the year's experiment in planting and harvesting, new recipes, and "laying by" their foodstuffs is written in a humorous and informative way.

As gardeners we recognize Earth Day everyday, not just one day out of the year.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Don't Forget the Soil

Soil is an important component in growing plants that flourish into food producing assets. We all grew up knowing that plants need sun, water, and food. But, I bet your first grade teacher didn't mention that soil, the growing medium, is important so the plant's roots can dig down to establish a path for food.

Take Soil Samples

Autumn is the time to till up the soil, especially clay, so the winter freezes and thaws can help break it up allowing better seed germination in the spring. If you didn't take soil samples to your extension service in the fall, do it now. With a trowel, dig about six inches deep into the soil. You can either place each sample from the different areas of your garden in a separate bag or combine the soils for one test. The University Extension Service will send you a report that includes a list of nutrients to add next spring before you begin planting. The test will also determine the pH factor of the soil and recommend steps for making it more alkaline or acidic.

Amending the Soil

Adding manure or compost makes a richer medium for growing plants. Composting is a collection of decayed kitchen scraps and leaves. When added to the soil this organic matter puts nutrients into the soil. Spring is a great time to rototill this natural additive into the ground without having to maneuver around growing plants.

Another healthy addition to your garden is earthworms. They help aereate the ground and the castings are rich in nutrients for fertilizing the plants. (One morning a few weeks ago, my husband told me at breakfast he had just ordered 2000 worms for worm farming this year. I about fell off my chair at this news as he had not mentioned a word of it to me. Needless to say, we now have 2000 of the dear creatures living in a Rubbermaid tub feasting on shredded newspaper, kitchen scraps and coffee grounds. Currently they are residing in our guest bedroom---but don't tell the guests..LOL. When it warms up in Michigan, the worms will be relegated to the out of doors. Yes, you can be sure you will be hearing more about this new experiment.

Gardeners and Hope

Something new and different is always expected every year with my gardener husband. I have noticed that every gardener is filled with hope and anticipation with what the garden will bring each year. No matter how great or how terrible was last year's harvest, every spring he vows that this will be the best season ever. And this spring, like every other spring, I always think so too.

I am so glad that you are coming along with us on our gardening journey this year. Best wishes to you all for a productive and satisfying gardening season.