More Garden Junque: Wonderful Windows

I love this time of year. As each day grows warmer and brighter with the suns rays shining down upon me, I feel those butterflies well up in my stomach. I’m enjoying the time that I can spend outside cleaning my flower beds, dividing my plants and mulching my gardens. March and April were quite difficult to take for us gardeners, at least for us in the Thumb of Michigan. I really can’t complain though… after all, I have my greenhouse where it’s summer everyday.

Well, lets move on with more garden junque- that is sure to cure the faint of heart! I’ve seen lots of great ideas on windows lately and have been able to get lots of great photos. You can see lots of them on For Dragonflies And Me Facebook page at
https://www.facebook.com/pages/For-Dragonflies-And-Me/550000798362651 . Please take a trip over there and LIKE & SHARE my page with all your gardening friends.

Here are some nifty ideas on how to re-purpose old windows:

Here I have an old paned window on the side of my potting shed.

Here I have an old paned window on the side of my potting shed.

*Simply hang a window on a porch wasll or the side of a potting shed to give the illusion of a window. I like to put grapevine or bittersweet over the window, cascading down on one side to give it a warm and homey feel.

This window is on the wall of my front porch over an old table.

This window is on the wall of my front porch over an old table.

*Paint a picture on the glass of a window.

*Make a coat rack! This photo is actually a French door… but there just a bunch of windows, right!

This is actually a French door.

This is actually a French door.

*Use a window for the back of a potting table.

Cute back to a potting table

Cute back to a potting table

*Create an organizer.

window pane organizer

*Window pane mini greenhouse. I’ve shown this idea before, but thought it was worth sharing again.

This is my mini window green house. It's so happy!

This is my mini window green house. It’s so happy!

These are only a few of the many ideas. If you have some ideas that you’d like to share, please go to Dragonflies Facebook and post your photo there. I’d love to see them.

Happy Day Friends,
Jean

Easy Rose and Coleus Topiary’s, Garden ‘Junque’ Decor, Potting Shed Door Organizer, Yummy Asparagus Bread

Keep your eyes posted for
cute bird cages to adorn your
porch or patio!
It’s easy to stay organized… read on for more nifty
ideas on potting shed organization!

Right now garage & rummage sales are around every bend along with estate sales!  I don’t always have time to go to these because I am typically at market on Saturdays and by the time we are on the way home, the last thing I feel like doing is ‘saleing’.  Thrift shopping is another story though… I know I will find just about whatever I want at the ones we drive past in the city on our way home.  But good garden junque is not so easy to find this way.  Antique shoppes, flea markets and sales are better shopping opportunity for this kind of stuff.  I love to add elements into my beds that give a feeling of invitation… cool old chairs, stools and benches say ‘come on in for a stay!’, tin pails and buckets add height and dimension in the flower beds; ladders and bird cages can be incorporated as well!  I love to get lost in my flower beds and just relax… weed, water and rest… gardening, what could anyone want more?

Topiary’s are very charming and can easily be made with many different plants.  Use large pots for them and be sure to put at least 3 inches of pea stone on the bottom of pot before adding your potting mix.  Here are a few ideas, have fun!
*Coleus- choose a single stemmed coleus; pinch out all the side growth until the stem reaches a height of about 12 to 18 inches; you will need to stake the stem to keep it straight and for extra support.  Once the plant reaches the desired height, begin to pinch back the top; when each of the two branches develops four leaves, pinch their tips.  Continue pinching the tips that form from the top branches after their four leaves develop.  The main stem will get very woody and square.  Fertilize and continue pinching out all blooms that may form. 
*Rose- to make a rose tree you will need a rather large pot~ choose a plant at least 2′ to 3′ in height that has an upright, centered ‘leader’ cane that you will be able to stake as the ‘trunk’; once selected you will need to cut all the other canes off before planting the rose.  Strip all the leaves & stems off the bottom 2/3’s leaving about 12″ of leaves & stems at top .  This will be the ‘rose ball’ on top.  As the leaves form keep cutting and shaping your top, meanwhile continually stripping any new growth on the bottom of the trunk.
Other plants to try~  Peonies and Bright Yellow Sweet Broom- (very similar in appearance as Forsythia)- follow same instructions as rose.
Good luck & have fun!

Garden Junque is so fun to incorporate in your gardens and it adds character and charm for very little.  I love to thrift shop and garage sale~ as they say, ‘one person’s trash is another persons treasure’.
*I got both my garden bikes this way.  Every garden needs at least one! Put a cute basket on the handle bars and plant some pretty trailing plants!
*Old tin pails & buckets... geraniums like nothing more!
*Enamel Ware… do I need say anything else?
*Cool old chairs  to put potted plants on and surround with Shasta daisies!
*One very cool thing to keep your eyes open for are bird cages, especially free standing ones~ table tops are cute too, but the height of free standing cages adds structure to your flower bed and an artsy touch.  I plant morning glories at the bottom to grow up the cage and then put potted sweet potato vine or nasturtiums inside the cage- two or three.  (see photo)  
*If you can find some neat old wooden ladders, put one of these in the background of a flower bed and put clay pots with petunias on each step~ or whatever suits your fancy.
… the ideas are endless!

I am all about organization, whether it be in the house, green house or the potting shed… everything has it’s place so put everything back in it’s place!  A really easy way to utilize the door of the potting shed is to be able to hang stuff on it! There are lots of great ways to do this. (see photo)
*Attach a piece of left over lattice to the inside of the door, get some ‘S’ hooks and hang more often used garden tools on it~ easy and accessible.
*Purchase a clear plastic shoe organizer and hang; you can keep packs of nails & screws, garden tags or stakes, twine, seed packets, hand tools or anything else you may have that can fit into those nifty little pockets!
*Peg board is a wonderful thing.  You can use this on the door and the walls.  Hooks come in every shape & size imaginable to hang whatever you need.  

Here is a great way to get those family members who aren’t so fond of asparagus to get the nutritional benefits from it.  This is a great variation to Zucchini bread!
Yummy Asparagus Bread

3 eggs from Garden Gate, beaten
1 cup safflower oil or similar
1 2/3 cup raw organic sugar
1 cup brown sugar, packed
2 tsp. vanilla extract
3/4 pound asparagus, grated
3 cup bread flour
1/4 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 cup chopped walnuts, optional

1. Whisk together eggs, oil, sugar’s and vanilla; add asparagus; mix lightly.
2. In a separate bowl, whisk remaining ingredients except the nuts, if using; add flour mixture to liquid mixture; stir to blend; stir in nuts now if using; divide mixture equally between 2 lightly greased 9″x5″ loaf pans.
3. Bake at 325 degrees for one hour, or until a toothpick comes out of center clean.

Happy Day,
Jean

Rhubarb & Asparagus Growing Tips & Yummy Spring-Thyme Asparagus

Spring, asparagus, rhubarb, gardening, organizing, spring cleaning… these are all things that start happening about now in most homes.  I get this fuzzy feeling inside when the air turns warm and it gets that ‘spring’ smell… the trees start adding leaves… the grass greens and the ground feels squishy under your bare feet… this need to clean rushes ahead of me and I just want everything inside to feel like outside.  Rebirth and spring seem to go hand and hand… I love the way everything comes to life and the death and nothingness of winter fades behind and the re-juvination starts exploding all around me.  I get a rush every time I go outside and walk… and I also see all the work that needs done, the repairs, the weeding and so on.  But you know what, it’s OK because it’s spring and it just feels good!

Lets look at some of the yummy stuff popping up in the gardens and the great ways to use them. I am sure most of as children remember the rhubarb and asparagus patches and if you didn’t, then now is the perfect time to start your own and create wonderful, happy traditions in your own back yards. 
Growing Asparagus and Rhubarb are one of the easiest and most rewarding things you can grow. They will live for years serving you up fresh wholesome goodness every spring with very little care. When compared to orchards and some other wonderful, yet very labor intensive crops, these two are a breeze!  Here a few simple and easy care instructions that will pay off hundred fold for you in the years to come.
Asparagus~
*If you are starting a new patch please come see me at market where I offer 2 year old crowns and I will be happy to give you these instructions first hand. 
*If you have the option you should make all attempts at purchasing all male asparagus crowns- such as Jersey Giant or Jersey Knight.  These are all male cultivers and will offer you many more stalks of that great green stuff!
*A good guild is to plant about 25 roots per person in your household. This will give you enough to feast on and even some to freeze later.  You will need a square per root, the crowns multiply year after year and you will end up with a very nice patch that will serve you faithfully for 15 to 20 years.
*You should start with at least two year old crowns and then you can harvest on the third year.
*Use earth or sea salt each spring and sprinkle as you would your food around the plot.  This kills weeds by taking moisture and the asparagus thrives on the sodium.
*Mulch in the spring and again in the fall- mulching your plants is crucial!  Mulch with compost, straw or grass clippings in the spring; it should be any where from 4 to 6 inches in depth. It will prevent weeds from taking over the area and it helps retain moisture through the season.  Each Fall add a good cover of about 4 inches of well rotted manure and then cover with a mulch to be about 6 inches in depth.
The crowns will gladly grow up through and provide you with a bountiful crop spring after spring.  DO NOT use sawdust or bark, asparagus likes a near neutral soil level.
Rhubarb~
*Is well suited to cool climates and loves to be fed!  Each fall mulch around the base of plants with about 4-6 inches of composted manure.  Rhubarb is a heavy feeder and needs this to produce heavily.
*In the spring & fall mulch around the plants with about 6 inches of straw or grass clippings. This helps hold back the weeds and maintains moisture.
*Never cut your stalks with a knife, rather grab hold of the stalk close to the ground and carefully pull the stem out. Cutting will make the plant stem ‘bleed’ and this will make rot a more likely problem. 
*For a heavier and longer harvest, cut the flower stalks as soon as you notice them forming.  Allowing the plant to go to bloom, will tell the plant the harvest is over and make fewer stalks.
*Never harvest more than two thirds of the stalks.
*You can start harvesting stalks when stalks are about 1 to 11/2 feet tall.  Trim off the leaves which are not an edible part of the plant.  The leaves contain high levels of ‘Oxalic Acid’ and is toxic to animals and humans.

Yummy Spring Asparagus

This dish goes a long way accompaning your favorite grilled chicken or fish dish!  Let your taste buds savor the fresh spring taste, the earthy goodness that flows out of this spring treat that never seems to last long enough.

1 pound bunch of asparagus from The Garden Gate Farm, trimmed
1 Tbsp. butter
1 Tbsp. olive oil
2 tsp. fresh Thyme from Garden Gate
1/2 tsp. earth or sea salt

In a large iron skillet on medium heat put butter, oil, salt and thyme in, saute for 1 minute; add aspargus and saute until crisp-tender- about 10-12 minutes depending on how you like it.
Serve with your meat dish and enjoy this spring time treat while it lasts.

Happy Day,
Jean