How-to Overwinter & Propagate Your Geraniums

“Flowers always make people better, happier, and more helpful; they are sunshine, food, and medicine for the soul.” Luther Burbank

I recently posted on how-to save your canna’s & I thought now is the perfect time to talk about overwintering your geraniums. As the nights grow colder and frosts are right around the corner, it’s time to bring in your geraniums if you plan to overwinter them. In my post about canna’s I mentioned how much my grandmother loved them, well she was equally as passionate about her red geraniums!

I know so many of my readers are gardeners, so I thought this would be the perfect time to share this great bit of information! I use all of these methods myself and have had great success with them. Let’s get ready for old man winter and keep as many of our beautiful blossoms as possible!

If you missed my post on saving your canna’s, here’s the link for easy reference: https://fordragonfliesandme.com/2022/10/08/how-to-preserve-your-canna-rhizomes/

1. Bring your potted geraniums inside to enjoy all winter long!
This is by far the easiest way, however depending on how many you have and how large the containers are you may need to utilize a few other methods for some. Care for your plants as you would outside with respect to sunshine & watering.

One of my porch pots with several plants in it including a beautiful salmon colored geranium.

Hard pruning your plants will give them an upper hand from the stress of coming indoors. Cut back at least one third of the plant, however you can try to keep any stems with buds. When cutting them back, be sure to cut at the swollen part of the stem, called the ‘node’. This will stimulate growth on your plant!

Pro Tip: Before you bring in your potted geraniums, be sure to carefully snip off any dead or decaying blossom heads & leaves. Also be sure to check for any hiding insects on the bottom of the leaves, in the blossom heads, and around the dirt. I recommend cutting the plant back & then using an insecticidal soap spray a few days prior to bringing them in. I use Garden Safe Insecticidal Soap.

2. Store your geraniums using the Bare Root method! This method is also super easy. Here’s the skinny on how-to:

  1. The first step is to cut back your geranium. You will want to use sharp garden shears and cut the plant 6” above the soil line. DON’T throw the plant away, you can use it for stem cuttings! Hold on for that info coming. 
  2. Once your plant is cut back, remove any excess leaves carefully plucking off from the stem as closely as possible. Next, take a hand trowel and carefully dig straight down around the base of the stem, about 5” away, sliding down on each side- think North, South, East & West; gently lift the plant out of the pot or ground.

3. Once you’ve carefully dug up the plant, gently shake off any dirt clumps clinging to the roots.

4. The final step is to store the bare roots in either a thick paper bag or cardboard box. Keep them in a dark, cool, dry space that stays between 50 to 60 degrees. Check them once a month for any mold. If mold is found, carefully cut off the area and place in a clean bag or box. 

Pro Tip: Be sure to tag your bare root stems by color. You can simply write the color & variety on the outside of the paper bag or box. Store the same colors together unless you only have one.

Pro Tip: Removing any excess leaves will help prevent mold from growing on your roots.

3. Take cuttings from your plants & rooting them in water! Taking cuttings & rooting is very easy and can be done right in your kitchen! This is a great solution for small spaces, or if you just want more plants! Here’s how!

  1. Be sure to take green stems that are not woody or old, and at least 4 to 6 inches in length. 
  2. Be sure to remove any flower stems & buds. 
  3. Leave 2 to 3 leaves at the top of the stem. 

4. Take a sharp pair of kitchen shears or a scalpel and carefully cut just below the swollen part of the stem called the ‘node’ on an angle. Cutting at this part of the stem will stimulate root growth. This is the opposite of what you want to do to encourage new stem growth on the plant.

Place cut side down in fresh water covering about 2 to 3 inches of the stem. I recommend giving the stems fresh water every 1 to 2 days. 

Pro Tip: If you want to use rooting hormone you certainly can, but I don’t feel it is necessary. I’ve used this method for years with great success!

Generally it takes about 3 to 6 weeks for a cutting to root in water. Keep the cuttings in a sunny window with an average temperature of 65 to 75 degrees. Once you see roots sprouting, you can plant your new geranium. Place them in fresh potting soil in any container you may have. Just be sure they have proper drainage & don’t overwater! 

Pro Tip: If you are using the bare root method,  you can use the tops of the plants you cut back. If you intend to do this, be sure you have some totes of weather to place the cut tops stems in while you are working. Keep them in water until you are ready to start this method.

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Happy Day,
Jean

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Creating Creative Containers

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Summer time is filled with fun days for our family and opportunities for new garden projects. We just finished our patio and now to move on. The project at hand is a new fish pond… I’m so excited. Neil has a few ideas about redoing the grill station of the patio and putting in a built in grill and counter. I think it’s a great idea and can’t wait to get at it.

For gardeners there is always that next project… that ‘gotta’ try idea… a new garden element to experiment with. Gardening is not for the faint of heart, that’s for sure. Planters are one way for gardener’s to express their creativity. I know for me, I love to find a new bucket or crate to incorporate into my gardens. Sometimes my husband Neil gives me a look as if to say, “Another one? Where is that gonna go?” Well, I’ve never been at a lack for location 😉

It’s not too late in the season to start thinking about creating containers for your garden. As a matter of fact, there’s no wrong time. I personally switch my planters up seasonally… and now so can you. Many nurseries are clearing out their stock at big discounts. Now’s the time to get the bargains.

Here are some fun idea’s to get you motivated on these hot summer days. Please be sure to stop by For Dragonflies And Me Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/pages/For-Dragonflies-And-Me/550000798362651 . I regularly post pictures of my gardens, other ideas, more recipes and great links to other wonderful and informative sites. Be sure to give a LIKE AND SHARE! Thanks in advance.

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Here are two of my old antique planters! These are a real find. The black one was actually found at a junk yard!

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My antique double wash tubs are filled with pink petunias over in our patio.

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This is a metal planter that I picked up at a craft store. This year I filled it will potting soil, screwed it to the tree in our patio’s hosta bed and planted it! Just adds a bit of interest and draws your eyes up.

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Little metal buckets are screwed to the top of our patios buffet. There are holes punched into the bottom of the buckets to allow for drainage.

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A while back I posted the how to’s on planting this antique egg basket. I decided to put it on one of my garden chairs at our back door. Such a happy ‘hello’ to my friends and family!

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One of my favorite planters… an antique wooden tool box. I have a few of these, this one sets in the herb section of my Potager… parsley grows in her every year!

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Wrought iron planters on our patio’s privacy wall. I took old burlap bags to line them and then planted them up. The burlap helps take away the ‘formalness’ of the planters.

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I picked up this wire rooster planter several years ago at a craft store. I lined it with moss and planted a geranium in her. It rests upon the table in our breakfast patio.

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This planter got a fresh coat of paint this spring to match the other aqua accents I painted. It greets all who enter in through the front arbor and is something to enjoy when taking a break in the patio.

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Another one of my antique wooden tool boxes. This one sets on one of the tables on our front porch. I potted up petunias and geraniums in small terra cotta pots and rested them inside.

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Another wooden treasure on my front porch. I am always on the look out for old wooden crates to use as planters.

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Wash tubs are a great planter! Just be sure to puncture holes on the bottom to allow for proper drainage.

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Buckets planted with hosta’s in my back entry. I will replant these hosta’s into the garden this fall and replace them with mums!

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I am forever on the look our for antique planters. I scored two of these several years ago at an auction- seven bucks each- and them being green was just the cherry on top! I line them with moss or burlap and then purchase large hanging baskets and transplant them into these planters.

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More buckets… these have been on the side of my potting shed for several years. Each year I plant geraniums in them. Buckets are so much fun!

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Enamel ware buckets make great planters… again, you do need to puncture holes for drainage. If this is too hard for you, just put your plants in another plastic pot that you can set in the bucket; remove when you need to water, and then put it back in!

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Well, this doesn’t even touch all the different planter ideas that are out there. The one I want to try is using an old dresser. I’ve seen this a lot lately… just gotta find the right piece, because I already know where it’s gonna go!

Have fun and use your imagination.
Happy gardening,
Jean

Raised Bed Gardening

Raised Bed Gardening, Plant Container Ideas, Yummy Savory Garden Cornmeal Pancakes and more…
         

“We do not see nature with our eyes, but with our understandings and our hearts.”  William Hazlitt
This year I  put in a new raised bed garden over by our barn hill that will be specifically for Neil’s sausages!  I am so excited about growing and drying all the herbs. Raised beds are such an easy way to go for anyone, especially if you don’t have a large area.   If you want to have a no fuss, no muss garden try raised beds, they require very little maintenance and can grow almost everything! 


Raised Bed tips on how to make & grow!
*The lumber you use should be at least 10″ high or higher if you want it. Although for proper root growth this is the minimum. 
*Do NOT use old rail road ties, no matter how many you get for free- they contain a poison called Creosote that will leach out into your soil, be taken up by the roots of your plants, nourish the plant and you get all the by-product in the fruit that it bears when YOU eat it! Yuck!  Stay away from treated lumber for the same reasons.  (this pertains only to those who want to grow organically!)
*Your raised beds can be as long as you want them to be, but the best width is 4′ wide.  With this width you can easily ‘reach’ in from both sides.  You never want to ‘step in’ your RB, this compacts the soil, which makes proper root growth more difficult.  My farms RB’s are either 4’x4′ or 4’x8′, these work best for me.
*Find a sunny location in your yard and decide how many you would like, or should I say how many would fit!  I would not have a stitch of grass if I didn’t have boys that need ‘play space’!
*Fill your box with from the bottom up with a mixture of well rotted manure, compost, old grass clippings, hay or straw and top with a rich, loamy soil. 
*After you have your box filled with all the plants you want to grow, put a layer of newspaper (NOT colored print sections) about 3-4 sections thick between your plants, top with a layer of grass clippings or straw to act as a mulch. You will have virtually NO weeding!
*Water thoroughly and enjoy your hard work! 
For a very concise book on Raised Bed gardening I always recommend ‘Lasagna Gardening’ by Patricia Lanza.  I also recommend companion planting with all your growing ventures. I use Louise Riotte’s, ‘Carrots Love Tomatoes’.  Both these books will give you a great start to your gardening ventures.
Other nifty ideas for plant containers:
1.  Old galvanized chicken feeder or waterers, tin buckets, watering cans, old metal double burner caners (see picture) enamel ware anything… be sure to put drainage holes on the bottom- unless there it is well rusted and has time worn ones, even better!
2.  Wheel barrow’s or old wagons can be found at any flea market or garage sale.  You can either put the plant pots directly in the containers or fill em’ with dirt and direct plant.  Either way, totally adorable!
3.  Barrels or metal wash tubs are great as well.  I have a old half barrel at my back door with a bleeding heart in it.  When it is in full bloom it is simply stunning. 
4. Old drawers, crates or even an old wooden trough (yes I have had one).  These work great in your garden’s to add depth and interest.  You can plant anything in them. 
The idea’s are endless, if it has a hole to put dirt in you can plant it, just depends on your taste!  The key to successful container gardening is proper drainage.
*One more tip- to save on dirt when filling very large containers, recycle packing peanuts, old broken Terra cotta pots, small plastic pots, etc.  Put these in the bottom of your container until about half filled, then pour on the dirt!  They will also be much lighter if you need to move them!
       

Here’s a yummy recipe using Taylor’s Cornmeal Pancake Mix!
Taylor’s Savory Garden Cornmeal Pancakes
1 Pkg. Taylor’s Bake Shoppe Cornmeal Pancake Mix – follow instructions and add to batter:
1 cup niblet corn, drained                                                            

1/4 cup diced bell pepper (any color 1/2 cup diced red onion                               
 1 small peeled & shredded carrot, from Willow Ridge Farm
1/2 tsp Taco Seasoning

1/4 oil
       

1. Stir together all ingredients except oil. 
2. Heat oil in a frying pan over medium-high heat.  Drop batter by 1/3 cupfuls into hot oil.  Cook 3-4 minutes on each side until golden brown.
Garnish with fresh chopped Cilantro, sour cream Salsa !
Happy Day,
Jean


       

Kitchen Tips & Tricks, Cute Curtain Tie Back, Herb Garden Spritzer & Citrus Raspberry Tea






Yummy & refreshing Herb Garden Spritzer… see recipe below!



Really cute curtain tie back… see how to below!

I spend a lot of time in the kitchen especially in the summer when we are busy with all the canning & freezing we do around our home.  I love to can as you will learn more this summer through my blogs I am sure!  Right now I am excited with spring and all the bounty she holds… rhubarb, asparagus, fresh greens, spinach, fresh garden tea… oh spring is delicious.  But I think all the seasons can be, especially with the season extensions that we have now with hoop houses and heated green houses at our farm.  With our Winter CSA they allow for fresh stuff all year!  Today I am kitchen mode so here are some fun ideas, tips, decorating ideas and yummy drinks to read about! Have a great day and wonderful weekend!

Handy Kitchen Tips…
“Food should be prepared with butter and love.” Swedish Proverb
*If you are in need of a Cake Stand simply use an inverted bowl and a pretty plate set on top! Presto- cake plate!
*To make colored sugar for decorating cupcakes or whatever simply start with 1 cup of sugar in a zip lock bag, add 2-3 drops of food coloring, knead the bag of sugar until completely blended; lay out evenly on cookie sheet and let air dry before putting in air tight container.
*Chocolate Cut Outs are easy to make and add an elegance to your desserts.  Simply spread melted chocolate thinly on a sheet of wax paper and chill until nearly set.  Cut out whatever shapes you would like using cookie cutters, chill again, then gently peel off.  Store flat in plastic freezer containers if you have extra!
*If you soak your wooden kabob skewers in water for about 20-30 minutes before you are ready to grill they won’t burn and your goodies won’t stick!
*Don’t open your oven door when baking especially, it drops the temp down almost 25 degrees every time- not good for those cakes & brownies!
*When you make hard boiled eggs, have a bowl with ice cubes in water ready to put them in; leave set for 1 minutes and watch the peals come right off!
*Don’t have an icing piper- no problem, use a one gallon plastic bag, put icing in bag, twist top as to push down towards one corner of bag; snip off a tiny bit of corner and there ya go- pipe away!
*Use a muffin pan to put your baked potatoes in- stand them up and bake as normal!
*Need to soften butter fast and don’t want to use a microwave~ shred the butter with a cheese grater, it will thaw faster!
*Your lettuce won’t brown if you tear it with your hands instead of cutting with a knife.
*Cut your bacon into 1 inch bites before frying if you are going to add it to a salad or other dish that calls for crumbled bacon- no more burnt fingers because of impatience 🙂 !
*Use a veggie peeler to make chocolate or cheese curls- so slick and fast!
*Use cookie cutters to cut cheese into fun shapes for your appetizer tray!
*Cut the center out of mini melons or even pineapple halves to serve your yummy fruit dips; use hollowed out bread rounds to serve veggie dips in- place in center of serving plate and put veggies all around.
*Need a lot of ice for a punch bowl~ use a muffin tin to make jumbo size ice cubes that won’t melt as quick. To make them extra special, boil water first and then add viola blossoms and freeze.  Boiled water freezes clear. 
*Use blue Mason can jars, small vases or pitchers to stand pretzels for dipping in, cuter & clever!
*When making muffins use an old fashioned ice cream scoop, they will all be the same size. To ensure they have nice round tops, only grease the tin half way up where the batter will stop.
*When getting ready to start a kitchen project, make sure you have all ingredients before you start!
*For faster, easier clean up start your project with a clean sink of hot soapy water, and wash as you go! No big mess at the end!
*Substitute apple, orange or pineapple juice for the water in cake mixes- adds a nice flavor!
 
Cute Curtain Tie Back & Napkin Rings
See attached photo’s!
Here is a super cute idea for your kitchen or dining room curtains.  To make this nifty tie back, simply drill a small hole approximately one inch in from the end of the fork’s handle.  Hold the utensil face up, then use pliers to bend the prongs back toward the handle, making sure to form a rounded C shape rather than a V.  Finish by screwing the tie back into your window molding.

Brighten up your table for entertaining with these floral napkin rings. Buy faux roses in your favorite hues at a crafts store, then sew them, singly or in pairs, onto regular hair elastics with a few stitches.

To fit standard dinner napkins, cut a bandanna into 6- by 9-inch strips. Fold each strip in thirds lengthwise, then fold in thirds width wise. Sew a button on one end, about 1 inch from the edge. (Choose any colorful loose buttons you may have on hand; they don’t need to match.) Then cut a corresponding buttonhole on the opposite end of the strip.

Here are samples of the home made napkin rings described above!  Be creative and change them up to suit your decor and taste!

Here are a couple recipes for refreshing drinks… a nice change from the usual!
Citrus Raspberry TeaMy two favorite flavors of teas are raspberry and any citrus… When Taylor threw this concoction together it was an instant hit for the whole family… a bite of citrus with the earthy goodness of raspberry.

4 cups water
6 Raspberry Tea Bags
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 12oz can each frozen Orange Juice AND Lemonade concentrate, thawed
10 cups cold water
ice

1. Bring the 4 cups of water to a boil in pot; remove from heat and add the teabags; steep overnight or for at least 8-10 hours; discard the teabags.
2 Pour into a large pitcher; add remaining ingredients.
Serve cold and be refreshed!

Herb Garden Spritzer
A refreshing drink for those hot summer days that are on the way.

1 bottle (750-ml)of Sparkling White Grape Juice
1 cup Real Lemon juice
2 cups Lemon Lime soda
1 1/2 cup raw organic sugar, divided
5 Tbsp. lemon zest
2 cups lemon thyme leaves (2 bunches)
Ice
1 1/2 liters tonic water

1. In a large pot, bring first 3 ingredients and 1 cup of sugar to a boil; add lemon zest; reduce heat to medium low and let simmer for 5 minutes until sugar is completely dissolved.
2. Remove the pot from heat; add 1 cup/bunch of thyme leaves and steep for 15 minutes (let set).
3. While mixture is still hot, add a few more thyme sprigs plus 1/2 cup sugar.
4. Set a 2 quart container in a bowl and fell bowl halfway with the ice.  Strain the mixture into a container; place bowl in freezer and add water to cover ice; chill until cold and mixture is slushy, about 8-9 hours.
5. Divide among glasses, then top off with the tonic water, add ice if desired; garnish with thyme sprigs.

Happy Day,
Jean

Choosing Annuals, Keep Flowers Blooming, Mud Room Coat Racks & Yummy Breakfast Bake

The nursery & garden centers are a tempting place to go right now for us gardeners.  As we drive past we can see the happy pansies that we just know want to come home with us, shrubs that we are sure we would have just the right spot for beckon us to take them, that beautiful flowering American Red Bud would go just perfect over in the side yard… yes we gardeners are like the pet lovers that just want to give that one last kitty or puppy a nice home, we too think just one more… Well, thankfully plants are a bit easier to maintain and provide for, so on goes the reasoning away! That’s OK though, pet lovers and gardener’s alike love what they love and we know what makes us happy.  Right now I am busy planning our farms new Sausage Raised Bed Garden.  The boys and I just put twenty new 4×8 beds in the side yard and this will be where we plant all the herbs, peppers and fennel that will go into Neil’s sausage blends.  It is very exciting to know that Lord willing this fall I will be harvesting all these wonderful things that will tease ‘your’ taste buds in the coming seasons.  I love gardening!

I would like to take a couple days and discuss the options and decisions that effect us when choosing between annuals & perennials.  Today we will discuss Annuals. The time for us to start making these decisions is steadily creeping up on us~ the choices of annuals will soon bombard us. We should be choosing a variety of flowering ornamental’s.  Many bulbs provide early spring color, while perennials change the garden’s look from week to week.  Annuals are steady performers, adding color and filling in while hardy plants mature; because they last only one season, annuals also let you experiment with different schemes, year after year.  Each year we are exposed to several new varieties and colors of petunias, marigolds, salvia’s and such… which do we choose?  For me it is kind of easy… I know I like pinks & purples.  My garden’s are primarily in this color range with a few splashes of yellow, red and orange from nasturtiums, marigolds and canna’s.  But otherwise I stick to what I know I like~ pinks & purples.
Here are a few tips to help you when choosing annuals:
*Thinking Through Annuals:
~Annuals will give you lots of spectacular color through the season with repeat blooming.
~Annuals will grow for only one season, but some such as sweet alyssum, pansies, snapdragons and bachelor buttons will reseed prolifically!
~Annuals do a wonderful job filling in between newly planted perennials that need some time to mature. 
~Most annuals prefer a sunny location, with a few exceptions that like shade- impatiens, coleus, begonias and pansies will tolerate.
~They like containers and will be faithful bloomers as you are faithful in dead heading and watering.
~You can keep some through the winter by potting them up in containers and bringing them indoors.  If you have a green house or four season sun room, you can enjoy your beloved bloomers for a bit longer.  Some better bets include begonias, coleus, impatiens, and geraniums. 
Here are a few suggestions on types of annuals:
Tender Types: Ageratum, begonia, celosia, cleome, coleus, geranium, impatiens, marigold, morning glory, salvia, sunflower, vinca and zinnia.  These need to be sown or transplanted about two weeks or more after the last spring frost, when the soil is warm.  These annuals will not survive if touched by a frost.
Half-hardy Types: Bachelor button, calendula, cosmos, lobelia, nasturtium, petunia, phlox, annual poppy, snapdragon, verbena.  These should be sown indoors and planted outside at about the time of your last spring frost date.  These prefer cool growing conditions and can tolerate light frost.
Hardy Types:  Dianthus, larkspur, pansy, sweet alyssum, sweet pea.  These can be directly sown in the ground whenever the soil can be worked or set out seedlings in early spring.  These tolerate cold weather and hard freezes.

Keep Them Blooming!  As much as we gardener’s hate to cut off those pretty flowers, it really is the best thing you can do for blooming bedding flowers. Snip off every bloom as you set the plants into your beds or containers.  This ‘thoughtful’ pinching reminds the plants that they should get back to the business of growing roots and stems, which will result in many more blossoms over a much longer time.

Coat Racks~ Most of us have a back entry or mud room where we come in to take our outdoor gear off.  Here is a really cute & easy project to make hanging up those duds more special.
Materials you will need:
*A board, an old piece of barn wood or something else you like, just so long as it is tall enough to hold your seed packets.
*Enough empty seed packets to cover the length of the board you have chosen.
*Wood glue.
*Modge-podge glue.
*optional- paint.
*Coat hooks.
~Take the board you have chosen and if you are going to paint it, do so now; allow to draw thoroughly.  If you want a rustic look, lightly sand paper off the edges and the center to add a distressed look; be sure to clean off all dust.
~Tack the seed packets on with a bit of the wood glue, just to temporarily hold; Apply the modge-podge over the seed packets to glue on the board- follow package instructions; allow to draw according to instructions.
~Once the glue is totally dry, put the coat hooks on as desired; hang up on the wall of your choice and enjoy your pretty project!

Breakfast Bake
Breakfast is the start of the day, so why not start off on the right foot with a hearty meal to get you rolling.  Here is a yummy recipe using Garden Gates Breakfast Sausage!

1 baguette, torn into bite size pieces
1 lb. package of Garden Gate’s bulk Breakfast Sausage, cooked and drained
10 eggs from Garden Gate, beaten
2 cups milk
1 cup fresh spinach, washed and torn into bite size pieces
salt & pepper to taste
1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese

1.  Arrange the broken bread pieces on a lightly greased 9×13 baking dish; top with cooked sausage.
2. In a bowl, beat eggs; add milk, salt, pepper and spinach, mix; pour over bread & sausage.
3. Sprinkle cheese over top of mixture.
4. Bake uncovered at 350 degrees for about 30-40 minutes, or until golden and eggs are set.

Happy Day,
Jean

Containers for Planting



I love to set up old, chipped paint chairs in and around my gardens.
 This one sits just outside of the kitchen garden.
A pot filled with happy pansies rests on top and an old rusty tin bucket sits beside… both ready to welcome
garden walkers!







This is an old fashioned double burner canner, or ‘water bather’!
I picked this beauty up at a junk yard when Neil was looking for a part! 
You never know where you’ll find good garden junque!
Once again pansies say hello to all who travel through the gardens.

This is one of my favorite planters- it’s an old, rusty metal toolbox!
I plant pink geraniums in it every year…
You can see where I used an old barrel in the background as a planter as well!

Have fun and be sure to read my blog below for lots more great Container Gardening ideas!

Happy Day,
Jean