Cottage Garden How-to: Best plants & a few other tips!

“Love is like a beautiful flower which I may not touch, but whose fragrance makes the garden a place of delight just the same.” –Helen Keller

My favorite style of gardening is by far the beautiful and free flowing cottage type! Although I do prefer some semblance of organization, I embrace the free flow of the cottage garden… as long as she stays in the lines LOL!

Cottage gardens are calm, relaxing, and functional for any gardener… in my opinion!

Be sure to keep posted for next weeks garden how-to: Shakespeare Garden Design!

The artist is the creator of beautiful things. To reveal art and conceal the artist is art’s aim. The critic is he who can translate into another manner or a new material his impression of beautiful things.”

Cottage Flowers

Certain flowers provide balance & fit the scheme of things best.
I love cottage garden flowers with their happy, free spirit. It’s as if they call out to their garden mother or father and lavish love to them through their beautiful blossoms.

Pro Tip: Some cottage type flowers include: Hollyhocks, Delphiniums, Foxglove, Bleeding Heart, Climbing Roses, Peony, Phlox, Lavender, Bee’s Balm, Zinnias, Lilacs, and of course one of my personal favorite, Lupines. 

I used to have a children’s story book called, The Lupine Lady by Barbara Cooney I used to love to read it to my children. It was just a happy book that I would recommend to anyone! 

Just like specific flowers fit best in a cottage garden, so do certain garden elements. For instance a white picket fence is a must have!


Here are few other unique garden junque items I love to use!

  • Stepping stones or slate slabs make a beautiful meandering path in any garden. 
  • Old wooden posts. 
  • Arbors and pergolas.  
  • Cool old mailboxes placed in a flower bed are absolutely adorable. 
  • Old galvanized buckets, wash tubs, and watering cans also make great art pieces in a bed. 
  • Use an old step ladder to be home to cute little terra cotta pots filled with beautiful posies!
  • I have an antique lightning rod in one of my raised beds that always strikes up a conversation with guests!
  • Bird baths.
  • Stone creatures, word signs, or other garden plaques.
  • Glass gazing balls.

The list could go on and on… let me know what you like to include in your gardens in the comments below!

If you would like to see more great ideas on other garden junque you can include in your gardens, check out my blog posts More Garden Junque Ideas: Garden Bikes and Yummy Fresh Chive Topper and more at More Garden Junque: Delightful Doors and Yummy Spinach Pie.

If you enjoyed this blog & bonus recipes, please LIKE, Follow & of course Share! Let me know what you think,  I love your feedback! 

Added bonus tip: To find recipes like the ones you’ll find in my posts, you can go to my blog at www.fordragonfliesandme.com to purchase my original cookbook, Lovingly Seasoned Eats and Treats. The cookbook has almost 1000 recipes on almost 500 pages! Check out the Cookbook Testimonials while you’re there!

If you aren’t following me on Facebook go on over & give it a like & follow me for daily tips & tricks for the home and garden! https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100049613212778

Happy Day,

Jean

Copyright Policy

All text and images on this site are copyright of For Dragonflies And Me. Unless otherwise noted, you may not use this content without written permission.

What is a Community Supported Agriculture & How do I find one?

Ol’ man Simon, planted a diamond. Grew hisself a garden the likes of none. Sprouts all growin’ comin’ up glowin’ Fruit of jewels all shinin’ in the sun. Colors of the rainbow. See the sun and the rain grow sapphires and rubies on ivory vines, Grapes of jade, just ripenin’ in the shade, just ready for the squeezin’ into green jade wine.” -Shel Silverstein

As many of you may remember, my past life as an Organic Farmer was filled with busy days in the greenhouses, gardens, and with the animals. There is part of me that misses it all… yet there is another part of me that is simply grateful for the experience and lessons it taught me.

One of the things I loved most about my farm was our Community Supported Agriculture program AKA CSA. This is the time of year that many people begin looking for a CSA program for next year. That may seem strange to some… thinking about getting next summer’s produce, but from a farmer’s point of view, now’s the time.

I thought now would be a great time to share some tips on choosing a CSA, and what to look for when hunting down the perfect farm for you!

Many seed, greenhouse supply and agricultural companies offer substantial discounts to farmers for getting their orders in before the end of the year. This can mean substantial savings to farmers, especially beginning farmers. Not only that, but meat and dairy producers are looking at feed costs and amounts of livestock needed for the following season.

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Most farmers plan & place seed orders by the end of November. Plans for ordering next year’s Thanksgiving turkeys are being thought out right now as well. How many meat birds and laying hens will be needed to supply the demand the following year. Quantities of feed they’ll need to secure for their livestock is also a consideration. These are all important factors being considered by farmers as I write this. 

1. Types of CSA’s. Determine what you’re looking for before you go on the hunt. This will allow you to do custom Google searches. Here are a few of the more common types you may consider when starting your search.

There are many types of CSA’s including the typical veggies but some farms have what are referred to ‘add-on’s’. These can include fruit, flower, egg, meat, milk & dairy, and even coffee! Our farm offered a Spring, Summer, and Winter share with all of the above options with the exception of coffee.

2. Questions you will need to consider when deciding on the perfect CSA program for you. Does the farm meet your individual/family needs?

  1. Do you want organic products or is that not relevant to you? Does Organic certification make a difference?
    Pro Tip: My personal note here is, that it is important to know your farmer/producer. Organic certification is not geared to small, family run farms and can be very cost prohibitive to them.
  2. Do you want home delivery? Do you want to pick up at your local farmers market?
  3. What are all the delivery options?
  4. Does the potential farm have multiple share size options to fit your individual/family size? For example: full or half share, senior or single options.
  5. Do you want to participate in a work share program if that’s an opportunity? This would entail doing labor on the farm or market location in exchange for the food or discount off the share.

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6. Do you want to help support a small-family run farm, or a large multi-member farm?
7. Does the farm allow installment, accept credit card, offer discounts for full pay or an early bird discount?
8. How many share members does the potential farm allow each season? When is the cut off date? 9. Does the farm have a web site to view their products, farm photo’s, etc.?
10. Does it have a Facebook page where members can communicate between each other and their farmers?
11. Are you picky eaters? Do you cook? Do you ‘want’ to cook?

12. Does the farm have ‘customizable’ share options? Will you be able to swap out things you don’t care for?
13. Is it a pre-pack (shares packed and ready for pick up) or a U-Pack (You get to choose between specific items for your share)?
14. Does the potential farm have an on site farm stand?
15. Does the farm allow for visits? does it have a ‘field day’ where members are invited to attend?

With regards to this last item, I’d like to defend some farmers stand on this… being I was a farmer for almost 15 years.
Farmer’s have families and lives outside of their business life and it’s not always convenient to have people ‘popping’ in. I always suggested to the ‘curious’ potential members if they allowed their clients or customers to just pop into their homes unannounced? Suddenly the reality of the request became a little bit more realistic.  Most farmers aren’t trying to ‘hide’ anything, it’s simply a matter of privacy and having a life of their own. Also, many people don’t understand the dangers on a farm, especially around equipment and with children.  Additional insurance is required when allowing people to come onto the farm. So please don’t judge a farmer harshly just because they don’t offer ‘unannounced pop-ins’.

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3. Sources to find CSA programs. Here are a few reliable sources to begin your research.

http://www.localharvest.org/csa/

http://www.localdirt.com/

http://www.ecovian.com/csa

http://www.nal.usda.gov/afsic/pubs/csa/csa.shtml

If you have the opportunity to visit the potential farm/er at a local farmers market they participate in, I suggest you go early in the morning. Most members try to pick up their shares earlier and this would give you an opportunity to see how the farmers relate to their members. You’d also have the chance to talk to other members, which the farmers usually love. The members will be able to give you an actual ‘review’ of how they like the share and the farm/er.  You would be able to see the produce available and the additional things they offer, like meat, eggs, flowers, etc.

Finding a Community Supported Agriculture program that will fit your families or individual needs can be a challenge, but if you go on the hunt prepared and understanding what you’re looking for, it won’t be so daunting.

If you enjoyed this blog , please LIKE, Follow, Share & leave me a comment! I love your feedback!

If you aren’t following me on Facebook, go on over & give a LIKE & Follow me for daily tips & tricks for your home & garden! https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100049613212778

Happy Day,
Jean

Copyright Policy

All text and images on this site are copyright of For Dragonflies And Me. Unless otherwise noted, you may not use this content without written permission.

Spring Jobs ‘To Do List’, Plan a Plant Exchange, Successful Plant Division and Yummy Chicken Paprika!

 
I took this photo last spring of the front garden. You can see the rows of
Aspragus well into it’s late stage. The bottom left corner is a part of
one of my Rhubarb rows.

For me and I believe many others, Spring holds a promise for newness of life! It’s when I look out and dream of new flower beds, anticipate the coming springs first crops of asparagus and rhubarb…savoring the memory of their here today, gone tomorrow presence. I scan the yard and think of all the jobs that I will have to get done as soon as nicer weather affords me time in my personal Eden. I anxiously await the first buds to pop on the lilacs… those small, brave tulips and daffodils, reaching up out of a cold, hard ground to the warming sunshine ready to burst forth into simple beauty! I love to meander out to my potting shed and start cleaning out and reorganizing…strolling through The Potager scanning for baby lettuces sprouting from scattered seeds… imagining the bounty and longing for my quiet time that I am able only to have in my gardens. If you are an avid If this is your first year or the beginning of one more of many, lets look to those promises and plan on a great new gardening year!  Enjoy friends!

This was my ‘new’ garden last year! It is our farms “Sausage Garden”. This
is where we grow the herbs for our sasuage blends.  Like I said… I dream of
new gardens!

Be sure to check out my new Facebook page for extra recipes, links, photo’s and more.  http://www.facebook.com/pages/For-Dragonflies-And-Me/550000798362651?skip_nax_wizard=true

Most of my readers know that I love anything to do with organization and List Making. I could never do without lists… grocery, housework, to-do, seed inventories or packing for trips (not that I take many, LOL). Lists make our lives easier, especially for forgetful folks like me! Today we’ll focus on Spring Garden Jobs. Here is my personal list for you to save and print out if/when you would like. You have my permission to use and share it with friends for personal use. LIST IS LOCATED AT THE BOTTOM OF THIS POST.


Keep a journal!  A journal can be your best friend if you let it. Document all the changes you make, take photographs of major projects, renovations and specific growth of particular plants that you want to watch mature over years, like trees.  I stand my children beside a newly planted tree and take a photo every year. It is amazing to see how much they both grow and change!
I also go over to see what plants will need to be split, pitched and replaced if died over the winter and what spots need to be filled in.  Keeping these detailed notes also allows me to remember who may have given a particular plant along with the who, what and when; no more guessing on age or variety. It also gives you the ability to see what worked and didn’t. I know as a busy wife, mother, farmer, market vendor and manger, I could never remember everything that I change, plant or didn’t like/work. 


Here are a couple really good site’s to check out for gardening info!
Gardening Tips and Tricks  http://www.facebook.com/GardeningTipsAndTricks?ref=stream
Weekend Gardener at   http://www.weekendgardener.net/do-list.htm
Seeds Of The Month Club  http://www.facebook.com/SeedsOfTheMonthClub?ref=stream
 
Be sure to keep posted, coming up in my next post I will touch on DRAWING UP YOUR GARDEN PLAN!
 
Planning a Plant Exchange is a great way to share all those ‘splits’ you will end up with this Spring after cleaning up your beds. I know for myself, I can hardly pitch a plant, it just seems mean! A plant exchange is not only rewarding and fun, it’s a great money saver in the long run As most of you know I also love to entertain… I don’t get to do it as often as I would like, but when I do I try to make it special for my guests! I gave all the How-To’s last year on hosting a Plant Exchange (XXXXX), so today I thought I’d focus on some info on types of plants that transplant well.  I have also added tips on division and transplanting. 

Helpful tips to prepare for the Plant Exchange:
  (Taken and adapted from Country Gardens Magazine, Spring 2006, pg. 55-57).
How to divide, care for and prepare your transplants for the exchange:
*The best time to divide a plant is shortly after it emerges in spring.
*Try to divide the plants as close to the plant exchange date/time as possible.
*Loosen the soil around the plants perimeter and then use a sharp spade or knife to cut through the roots to divide.  Be sure to keep a large root clump with the plant to ensure successful transplanting.
*Put your divisions in practical, temporary containers: paper cups, disposable aluminum muffin cups, tin cans, plastic containers, plastic plant pots/ terra-cotta pots or any other container you have handy. Just be sure to add drainage holes to water tight containers. 
*Give a tag/label with each division including: name/variety of plant, sun/shade requirements, mature plant size- height and diameter, water/soil requirements, zone hardiness, perennial or annual. A nice description for ‘new’ gardeners will be so appreciated.
*Make sure to plant/water as soon as possible once you have the plants in their new location.
 
How to harvest seedlings:
*Be sure that the seedlings are at least 3-5 inches tall with at least 2 sets of true leaves.
*Get all the plants roots.
*Replant the seedling into a small container with appropriate drainage holes and gently water immediately.

 
 
Red Oak Leaf lettuce seedling in one of the raised beds along side spinach.

 

 

Plants that divide easily and transplant well include:
*Hosta’s
*Day Lilies
*Bleeding Heart
*Peony
*Bee’s Balm (Monarda)
*Black Eye Susan, Shasta Daisy’s and any Coneflowers
*Columbine
*Sedum
*perennial Geraniums
*Hellianthus
*Purple Bellflower
*any early blooming bulbs that have bloomed and died back at least half way- Snow Drops, Crocus, Daffodils, Tulips
~I always say, if in doubt, do without… so if you are not sure about one of your plants, ASK! Or look up in a good garden guild any special tricks that certain plants may have before you divide if you are not sure.
 
I took this photo of my Bistro Garden two years ago in mid Spring when all the hosta’s were fully open. In the back you can see my front arbor, which is now completely covered by a Sweet Autumn Clematis… see photo of it on my Dragonfly Facebook  http://www.facebook.com/pages/For-Dragonflies-And-Me/550000798362651?skip_nax_wizard=true
Here is the same location but taken last year in early summer. Notice the arbor now covered in Clematis… she is stunning when in full bloom… and oh the aroma she gives off. This is an example of  taking shots of the same location but at different times and years can give you. 

Last summer I bought a yellow climbing rose bush to give to my son as a token of ‘our friendship” He planted it and then I took the phot of him and it… in a few years it will cascade and cover this side of the picket beside the front arbor.

 

This is a very favorite recipe in our home. It was Neil’s mothers recipe that she had made and over the years I have adjusted it a bit to serve our large family. It is super yummy and worth the efforts in making!

Chicken Paprika

1 Whole Chicken, cut into pieces with or without skin/bones
1/2 cup Safflower Oil
1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 large onion, diced
8 cups water
2 Tbsp. Paprika
1 tsp. sea salt
1 tsp. pepper
1 cup sour cream
1 bag Spaetzel dumpling noodles

1. Put flour in a large bowl; coat each piece of chicken and place in a large skillet with hot oil, reserve left over flour; fry chicken pieces in hot oil until browned all all sides; remove chicken to plate.  Put remaining flour and diced onions in pan and cook for about 2-3 minutes.
2. Add to skillet and onions: water, paprika, salt and pepper and cooked chicken; cover and simmer for 1 hour.  The water will thicken as it cooks. Stir occasionally.
3. While chicken is simmering, cook Spaetzel dumpling noodles according to package directions so they will be ready when chicken/gravy are done; about 1/2 hour before.
4. When chicken is done, remove from gravy into a bowl; cover to keep warm; add sour cream to gravy and blend in until dissolved.
5. When dumplings are done put them in a bowl and ladle 1/2 of the gravy over top and the rest over the chicken. 
Serve immediately.

Happy Day,
Jean


Spring Garden Job To Do List, by Jean Smith        
May be copied and used for personal use only.
Date Task     Comleted Y N Notes    
  Front Porch/Patio Areas          
sweep/ blow/ rake
put out furniture
repot planters/ window boxes
repairs if any- make note is so
touch up painting- pots
furniture
structures
correct any patio stones
new project
new project
new project
  Flower Bed Clean/Prep          
clean any debres left over
check for dead plants
remove and replace
make note of what
amend soil/add fertilizer
make note of what
Divide plants
make note of what
Plant  trees
shrubs
list what & when
Direct seed any spring flowering annuals
Forget me not
dianthus
English daisy
sweet William
viola
Transplant  before leaf buds open
roses
shrubs
ornamental trees
Fertilize Peonies when 2-3 inches tall
Divide and transfer any flowering bulbs after they have died back and divide flowering bulbs after they have died back
Clean ponds/fountains/water featues
repairs- make notes
other
other
other
Date Task     Comleted Y N Notes    
  Vegetable Garden/ Raised Beds          
amend soil
make note of what
make note of when
clean any debris 
plant spring crops when soil is ready
EARLY peas greens spinach chard
radishes lettuce kale parsley
LATE potatoes carrots
onions beets
check trelises/ posts/ fences
repair raised beds if loose
add soil if needed
  Potting Shed/ Storage Shed           
General Tidy after winter
sweep out
re-organize pots/ labels
repair any tools that need
oil/ sharpen tools
inventory items:
dirt
seeds
flats/trays/pots
ferilizer/herbicides/
insecticides
labels/ 
other
other
other
check hoses/sprinklers
make a list of what you need as you go
check mower- plugs
sharpen blades/replc.
check tiller(s)
have supply of gas/oil for machines
other
other
other
other
  Pruning/ Propogation            
evergreen shrubs before growthj re growth
spring flowering shrubs after flowering
propagate deciduous shrubs
forsythia
winter jasmine
Date Task     Comleted Y N Notes    
  Weed/Pest Control            
make sure debris is cleaned up to avoid snails and slugs
as soon as roses start to leaf out, dust with an organic powder
repeat once a month all summer!
watch for Tent Worms in your trees, webs in trees
as soon as visiable, spray with organic spray
****use burn technique*** please research this before you do it.
on sidewalks
driveways

 

garden