Monday, October 16, 2017

How to puree a pumpkin

The garden is wrapping up and one of the last harvests of the year is pumpkins! I originally grew pumpkins for both decorations and jack o' lanterns but sadly most didn't grow large enough for carving. (thanks to the deer that snacked on my garden, ugh!) I planted Connecticut field pumpkins. They are an heirloom variety that can be used for cooking but can still get quite large.

make pumpkin puree

I wanted to grow this variety for it's versatility. I was hopeful that one pack of seeds would provide me with both baking and Halloween pumpkins plus some large ones to use for chicken feed. Hopefully next year! For this season though, I ended up with lots of small to medium sized pumpkins. 

I was pretty excited to make pumpkin puree from my own pumpkins. I've made pumpkin puree before, but it was from a store bought pumpkin labeled 'pie pumpkins'. With the dozens of pumpkin varieties out there I somehow thought those would be different, better...sweeter. The good news is, they're not! My pumpkin puree turned out exactly the same as when I use a specific 'pie pumpkin'.

Monday, October 9, 2017

How to plant garlic

As October marches on one of my favorite fall activities is quickly approaching. Garlic planting! This is our seventh year with Garlic (Allium sativum) and we're very excited to try some new varieties!  I think planting garlic is one of my favorite gardening activities because it's like one last hurrah of planting for an ending season.

I like to plant both hard neck and soft neck varieties. Even though I try to keep them separated, I always seem to get them mixed together. When they are growing side by side it's easy to tell which is which as they grow. The hard neck varieties will get scapes. I cut the scapes off after they start to curl and saute them in butter, they're so yummy! If you don't cut the scapes off, the bulbs don't grow as big...and I love some big garlic bulbs!

planting fall garlic

But wait....I just skipped way far ahead on you. Lets get back to the planting first! In order to grow garlic, you need to start with a head of garlic. I order organic seed garlic online, but many stores and plant nurseries carry it. I order mine online so I can choose different varieties each year. Locally I only have a few options, though the organic farms near me do have an interesting selection.

I've read that some people have luck with grocery store garlic, but it's never worked for me. There's also a possibility that it's been treated with pesticides or a growth inhibitor so if you want to try growing garlic from the store, make sure it is organic!

Monday, October 2, 2017

Landscaping DIY for under $20

The area under my front porch has been the messiest spot in the yard since we moved here. The guy that built this house did many things quite oddly and this is one of them. The base of the stairs seems rather large and just sort of ends. Random concrete stepping stones and large rocks were all chucked under there. The dirt was uneven to the point that if you were to walk under there, you'd trip constantly. I don't think grass was ever planted under there as it was a tangle of weeds amid bare spots.

The size, shape and slope of the area made it awkward to cut with the mower. Even when it was all trimmed up with the weed wacker, it just always looked sloppy. Finally I got sick of it and decided to get it fixed. First I talked to a landscaper that wanted almost $200 to redo the area. Apparently the fact that the house was built into a hill on one side made it more difficult.

Rock garden DIY

After I stopped laughing, I started planning. I don't really have any experience with landscaping though, so there was no telling how this new garden project was going to turn out! I mean, I can replant garden beds but putting them in completely was going to be a new adventure! Plus this bed was going to be the special home to a night blooming plant. My friend Jenny had been fascinated by the fact that some flowers bloom at night. Like morning glories, but backwards. She died a few years back and I had been trying to grow night blooming flowers ever since. This year was the first year I succeeded. I had 2 of these plants that needed a home, so I had to get this right!

Between planning and finish, this new garden bed project took several turns. I knew I needed to completely remove all the grass and weeds under the porch and replace it with something weed resistant. I decided a weed barrier was necessary and thought mulch would look nice. The husband shot that down with a few snarky comments about wood chips and termites near a wood sided house. *sigh*

Friday, September 22, 2017

11 Medicinal plants you can grow indoors

Fall is officially here and that means that gardening is coming to a halt for the year. I've been spending a lot of time preserving my fresh veggies and herbs for the winter. I use herbs in so many different things that I just can't be without them! I've dehydrated and stored almost all of my herbs from the garden, except for a few.

While I'm really glad I can dehydrate herbs to store them, I would much prefer to use fresh herbs. I use herbs in medicinal teas for basically anything that ails me. From headaches to sleeplessness, I turn to herbs before store bought medicines so it's important I have them on hand.

indoor herbs

Luckily there are some herbs that do really well indoors in pots. I don't have very sunny windows and even I can get most of these to flourish in winter! Lets get to the list of plants I grow indoors in winter and their uses, and I'll add some growing instructions below that!
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