Archive for Plant Suggestions

Lady Jane is Always the First to Bloom

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I always summer my Amaryllis bulbs in the garden and rest them for a couple of months in the fall.  I bring them up into the sunlight in late January to have some beauty in the cold days of winter.  I’ve had Lady Jane at least 20 years.  Happy Spring!!  [Click here for a link for full instructions that I posted earlier.]

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Spaghetti Squash: A Garden Thug with Tasty Possibilities

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Here it is in the fullness of its growth. It spread from its bed to the right and smothered the asparagus. Vines that went through the fence and got outside were swiftly nipped off by deer or who knows, it might have come in the house!

I like to try a new vegetable every year but I was an innocent when I decided to try out spaghetti squash, having no idea it would be so aggressive.  The squash themselves average about a foot long.  The vines on the other hand easily spread 20 feet.  They are a winter squash type and are ripe when they turn yellow and the skin is no longer tender.  I planted two hills and got about 25 squash.

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The ripe squash

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I get an inescapable mental image when I see them like this and understand if you do too.  Ignore that. To begin, you need to cut them in half and bake them at 400º until you can pierce the skin with a sharp knife.  If you cut them crosswise you get longer strands. I found it easier to take the seeds out before baking them but it can be done afterwards as well.

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Pull at the strands with a fork and separate them as you go along.

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This is the palette from which we can create our dishes.  I tried using it as I would angel hair pasta but I found that it got lost in heavy sauces such as marinara or Bolognese.

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It worked very well in place of pasta sheets for a cheese lasagna.  I layered it about an inch thick and pressed it down gently with a spatula.  (above: lasagna plated, below, lasagna in the pan).

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Here it is with the classic “Aio e Oio.” It makes an excellent side dish, here with maple glazed salmon filet and caramelized Brussels sprouts.

I found it really works well with lighter sauces.  I sauteed it to dry it out some then made the sauce and added the squash, turning it in the sauce until all strands were coated.  Aio e Oio (Roman garlic, olive oil and red hot chili pepper with parsley) is wonderful.  I also tried it with a sauce of olive oil, lemon zest, lemon juice and basil and that was terrific as well.  Be sure to salt it as you saute it as it is very bland all by itself.

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Combating Squash Vine Borer Without Pesticides

Cover the stem with soil and the plant will send down a new root system.

Cover the stem with soil and the plant will send down a new root system.  (Please ignore the weeds.  The tall pale green plants are dill which I’ve let grow for the Swallowtail butterflies)

Believe me, I’ve tied all the remedies (except chemicals) to combat this pest:  the pantyhose sleeve, the tinfoil barrier, self pollinating plants under a row cover… I’ve probed the hole with a paper clip to kill the larvae.  Nothing really worked.  Last summer I realized my squash was sending down roots along the stems.  Once the borer got in and the plant was dying, I covered the dying stem with soil and kept it watered well.  The plant revived.  This summer I have again had success with this strategy and new squash have begun to grow,  I think the season for the squash vine borer, a type of sesiid moth (Melittia cucurbitae) is over, so maybe I’ll have squash until fall.  I do need more as I haven’t had a chance to make my hot dog pickle relish yet!

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Planting an Orchid Keiki (Baby)

Here's what the flower of the Mother plant looks like.

Here’s what the flower of the Mother plant looks like.

We had a blessed event in our house when one of my orchids formed a Keiki (Hawaiian for “baby”).  I have been watching it develop over the past year and have decided to separate it from its mother and plant it today.  I bought the mother plant at Venamy Orchids about four years ago when my friend Mary took me there for a breath of spring.  It’s a Phaelenopsis named “P. Maysang Angel’s Heart” and is white with pink spots.  I give the steps I took to remove and plant it with the pictures below.  Wish it luck out on its own.

The Keiki is at the center.  It has two healthy-looking roots with lovely active tips.

The Keiki is at the center. It has two healthy-looking roots with lovely active tips.

Using sterilized clippers, I cut the stem the Keiki was on down about an inch.

Using sterilized clippers, I cut the stem the Keiki was on down about an inch.

I wanted to make sure it was well hydrated so I set in in a dish of water for about five minutes (just the roots, not the leaf junctions).

I wanted to make sure it was well hydrated so I set in in a dish of water for about five minutes (just the roots, not the leaf junctions).

And here it is, nestled into an empty space in its mother's slat basket.  I put a support stick in to keep it straight.

And here it is, nestled into an empty space in its mother’s slat basket. I put a support stick in to keep it straight.

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When and How to Harvest and Store Your Garlic

There will be no Vampires at our house!

There will be no Vampires at our house!

I have taken all your great suggestions to heart and tried to incorporate them into my new video.  The most often voiced suggestion was that you wanted to see my face, so here goes…(it is what it is!)  Our videography is a little shaky and I look like the proverbial “deer in the headlights,” but the information is valid.  [Maybe I should have changed out of my gardening clothes?]  Here it is:

 

 

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Garlic Storage Results

It’s the end of March and I thought I’d check and see how my garlic fared over the winter.  I keep the bulbs in a vegetable storage drawer in a cabinet under the kitchen counter which is on an outside wall.  The space is dark, not too well ventilated and the temperature this morning in the drawer was 60ºF.  I don’t split off the cloves until I need them.  Last July I harvested four varieties, two that were noted for good winter storage (Unadilla Double Coil and Russian Blend ) and two others where that trait wasn’t mentioned (Music and Nirvana Weird ).  I grow only Rocambole (stiff neck or hard stem) types now, as I’ve decided that the soft neck German types do not do well under my garden conditions.

Past experience has taught me that Music starts to deteriorate early so all that has already been used.  Of the remaining types, all three still had many plump, firm cloves although all three varieties also showed some signs of sprouting.  If you find a clove of yours has sprouted, I recommend slitting the clove down the back and easing out the sprout as I find the sprout to be bitter, whereas the rest of the clove is still flavorful.  Here are my results below:

I love this one because it has double coiled scapes and I get lots of garlic scape pesto from it, but some deterioration is evident.  I'll use this variety next.

I love this one because it has double coiled scapes and I get lots of garlic scape pesto from it, but some deterioration is evident. I’ll use this variety next.

The cloves are still plump on this one but it does have significant sprouting.  I can cut out the sprouts and use it, so it will be fine for a while longer but I'll use this after the Double Coil is finished.

The cloves are still plump on this one but it does have significant sprouting. I can cut out the sprouts and use it, so it will be fine for a while longer but I’ll use this after the Double Coil is finished.

This is the best one.  The large cloves are still plump and firm and the sprouting is minimal.  Next fall I'll plant more of this.

This is the best one. The large cloves are still plump and firm and the sprouting is minimal. Next fall I’ll plant more of this.

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More on Hyacinth Forcing

Once the buds get to this stage, move them to a cool place with indirect light.

Once the buds get to this stage, move them to a cool place with indirect light.

As an addendum to my last post, I want to add these additional hints.  My bulbs were in the bright, sunny windowsill for a week and the buds have risen so they show in the leaf cluster.  If I leave them in the warmth and sunshine, they will get leggy and the weight of the flower will make them flop over.  I now move them to the window in front of the kitchen sink.  There they will be cool as this window gets no direct sunlight and is on the north side of the house.  The bonus is that I can see them close up when I am working at the sink.

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