Podcast with Tim Travis, Owner of Goldner Walsh Garden & Home~ How to incorporate pollinator gardens & natural habits into your yard!

Join Jean & Tim as they connect for their Spring Garden Talk.

This month Tim & Jean will be discussing the importance of creating natural habitats and pollinator gardens. Learn the importance of incorporating native plants to your area specifically along with specific pollinator plants.

To watch this episode, tune into my YouTube Channel

To learn more about Goldner Walsh Garden & Home check them out here:
https://goldnerwalsh.com/
https://www.facebook.com/GoldnerWalsh/
https://www.instagram.com/goldnerwalsh/   

Join Jean each week as she chats it up about  gardening, cooking, organizational tips & tricks, chatting about healthy lifestyles, and of course having conversations with incredible entrepreneurs!

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 & Instagram, go on over & give a LIKE & Follow me for daily tips & tricks for your home & garden!

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 

Gardening 101 ~How-to Plant Raspberries and Care For Them!

“Maybe a person’s time would be as well spent raising food as raising money to buy food.“ ― Frank A Clark

Over the years I have grown just about everything possible for my growing zone with the exception of fruit trees. I’ve had an apple tree, but I dare not say I am an expert in this field of horticulture. 

My specialty has always been heirloom varieties of fruits and vegetables, with a focus on tomatoes and lettuces.

I often talk about my childhood and growing up with my grandmother and mother in the kitchen and our gardens. They are very fond memories that I truly love to share. We always had a beautiful, well kept little vegetable garden in our backyard, which included both raspberries and strawberries. My grandmother never grew blueberries though. She said they took up too much space. Space she didn’t have to give up.

I have personally grown all of these delicious fruits and today I’m going to touch on raspberries. If you missed last week’s blog post on How-to Grow Grapes & Care for Them, check that out as well!

If you are looking to add some delicious and nutritious berries to your garden, then look no further than raspberries! These juicy, sweet berries are easier to grow and care for than you may think that many home gardeners enjoy in their gardens.

In today’s blog post, I will walk you through all the tips & tricks you’ll need to know about planting raspberries, from choosing the right variety and caring for your new berry bushes. We’ll cover all the basics, including when and where to plant, how to space your plants, and what kind of soil and nutrients your raspberries will need to thrive. So whether you’re a novice or die hard gardener, read on to learn how to grow your own delicious raspberries and enjoy fresh, sweet berries all summer long!

Let’s get planting those raspberries!

What Variety of Raspberry Should I Choose?

Before you start planting raspberries, it’s important to choose the right variety for your garden. There are two main types of raspberries: summer-bearing and everbearing. Summer-bearing raspberries produce one large crop in early summer, while everbearing raspberries produce a smaller crop in early summer and a second, smaller crop in fall.

When choosing a raspberry variety, consider your climate and growing conditions. Some varieties do better in certain areas than others. For example, some varieties of raspberries are more cold-hardy than others and can withstand harsh winter conditions. Other varieties are more resistant to certain pests and diseases.

Here are some popular raspberry varieties to consider:

Heritage: A popular variety of everbearing raspberries that produces sweet, juicy berries. Heritage raspberries are hardy and disease-resistant, making them a good choice for gardeners in colder climates.

Caroline: Another popular everbearing variety, Caroline raspberries are known for their large, firm berries and disease resistance.

Tulameen: A popular summer-bearing raspberry variety, Tulameen raspberries are known for their large, sweet berries and high yield.

When and where do I  plant my raspberries?

Raspberries should be planted in early spring or fall, when the soil is cool and moist. Planting in the heat of summer can stress the plants and make it harder for them to establish roots. When choosing a location for your raspberry bushes, look for a spot that gets at least six hours of sun per day and has well-draining soil.

It’s also important to choose a location that is free from competing plants and weeds. Raspberries can be quite aggressive and will quickly spread and take over an area if not properly maintained.

Planting raspberries – Step by Step Guide

Once you’ve chosen your raspberry variety and prepared your soil, it’s time to plant your bushes.

Here’s a step-by-step guide to planting raspberries:

  1. Dig a hole that is slightly larger than the root ball of your raspberry plant.
  2. Place the plant in the hole and backfill with soil, making sure the crown of the plant is level with the soil surface.
  3. Tamp down the soil around the plant to remove any air pockets.
  4. Water the plant thoroughly after planting.

When planting raspberries, it’s important to space your plants properly. Raspberries should be spaced about 2-3 feet apart in rows that are 6-8 feet apart. This will give your plant

Pruning raspberry plants

Proper pruning is essential for healthy raspberry plants and good fruit production. Raspberries should be pruned twice per year: once in late winter or early spring, and again after harvest.

In late winter or early spring, prune out any dead, damaged, or diseased canes. Then, thin out any weak or spindly canes, leaving only the strongest, healthiest canes.

After harvest, prune out all of the canes that produced fruit. These canes will not produce fruit again and should be removed to make room for new growth.

Pruning raspberry plants properly is essential!

Proper pruning is essential for healthy raspberry plants and good fruit production. Raspberries should be pruned twice per year: once in late winter or early spring, and again after harvest.

In late winter or early spring, prune out any dead, damaged, or diseased canes. Then, thin out any weak or spindly canes, leaving only the strongest, healthiest canes.

After harvest, prune out all of the canes that produced fruit. These canes will not produce fruit again and should be removed to make room for new growth.

Harvesting and storing raspberries

Raspberries are ready to harvest when they are fully colored and easily detach from the plant. Harvest your raspberries in the morning, when they are cool and dry, to help prevent bruising.

Raspberries are best eaten fresh but can also be frozen or canned for later use. To freeze raspberries, simply wash and dry them, then spread them out on a baking sheet and freeze until solid. Once frozen, transfer to an airtight container or freezer bag.

Common mistakes to avoid in raspberry planting and care

When planting and caring for raspberries, there are a few common mistakes to avoid:

  1. Planting too close together: Raspberries need plenty of room to grow and should be spaced at least 2-3 feet apart.
  2. Over-fertilizing: While raspberries do need regular fertilization, too much fertilizer can lead to excessive growth and weak canes. 
  3. Pruning at the wrong time: Pruning at the wrong time of year can harm your raspberry plants and reduce fruit production.
  4. Neglecting pest and disease control: Ignoring signs of pests or disease can quickly lead to a larger problem that is harder to control.

Stayed tuned for next weeks blog post on how to plant and care for blueberries!

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 & Instagram go on over & give a LIKE & Follow me for daily tips & tricks for your home & garden! 

Added bonus: You can go to my blog at http://www.fordragonfliesandme.com to purchase my original cookbook, Lovingly Seasoned Eats and Treats in either a spiral bound soft cover OR NEW, a Downloadable PDF version. The cookbook has almost 1000 recipes on almost 500 pages! Check out the Cookbook Testimonials while you’re there!

Until next time remember to,
Eat fresh, shop local & have a 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.

What Are The Benefits to Incorporating a School Garden?

“Change the food in the schools and we can influence how children think. Change the curriculum and teach them how to garden and how to cook and we can show that growing food and cooking and eating together give lasting richness, meaning, and beauty to our lives.” ― Alice Waters

If you have been following me for any length of time, you know I am an advocate for kids in the garden. Over the years, you’ve watched my children grow in my gardens helping to build new raised beds, harvesting the crops, and finally helping prepare the fruits of our labors in the kitchen. 

I believe every school in the country should have a school garden in order to teach our children where food comes from. I will be discussing in upcoming blogs how to incorporate kids in the garden, as well as the anonymity of food in our culture today. This is the main reason why I think it is crucial to incorporate school gardens!’

Thankfully, school gardens have become increasingly popular in recent years, and for good reason. Incorporating a garden into a school’s curriculum can have a range of benefits for students, teachers, and the wider community. 

In today’s blog post, I am going to provide you with the many benefits of incorporating a school garden and why it’s a worthwhile investment for any educational institution.

Now let’s look at the many benefits school gardens can have!

Let’s Look at the Academic Benefits of School Gardens!

School gardens have the ability to provide a hands-on and engaging way for students to learn about science, math, and other subjects. For example, students can learn about the life cycle of plants, the importance of pollination, and the role of soil nutrients in plant growth. They can also use math skills to measure the growth of plants and calculate the amount of water and fertilizer needed. 

School gardens also provide an opportunity to help students develop critical thinking skills as they problem-solve and make decisions about garden design, plant selection, and pest management.

Besides enhancing academic learning, school gardens can also foster teamwork, leadership, and communication skills. Students can work in groups to plan and plant the garden, share responsibilities for watering and weeding, and harvest the produce. They can also take on leadership roles by leading garden tours, organizing fundraising events, and teaching younger students about gardening. Through these activities, students can develop a sense of responsibility, confidence, and teamwork.

What are Some of the Potential Health Benefits of School Gardens?

School gardens can promote healthy eating habits and improve overall health. When kids can  grow their own fruits and vegetables, they now have the opportunity to learn about the nutritional value of different foods and develop a taste for fresh, healthy produce. They can also learn about the benefits of eating a variety of fruits and vegetables and the importance of balanced diets.

School gardens can help address issues of food insecurity and promote healthy eating habits among students and their families. The produce grown in the garden can be used in school meals or donated to local food banks, providing fresh and nutritious food to those in need. By involving families in the garden project, schools can also encourage parents and caregivers to incorporate healthy foods into their own meals.

And let’s face it… kids are more likely to try something they decided to grow!

What are Some of the Potential Environmental Benefits of School Gardens?

School gardens can promote environmental awareness and encourage sustainable practices. By learning about the importance of soil health, water conservation, and biodiversity, students can develop a sense of stewardship for the environment. They can also learn about the impact of human activities on the environment and ways to reduce their ecological footprint.

Moreover, school gardens can provide habitat for wildlife and attract pollinators such as bees and butterflies. By planting native species and avoiding the use of pesticides and herbicides, school gardens can help support local ecosystems and promote biodiversity.

This is another opportunity to teach kids about the benefits of organic gardening and incorporating companion planting, rather than using harmful chemicals.

Can the Local Community Benefit From School Gardens?

The answer to this question is a responding YES! School gardens have the ability to serve as a valuable resource for the wider community. By donating produce to local food banks or hosting community events such as farmers’ markets or garden tours, schools can help promote healthy eating habits and support local food systems. 

They can also serve as a gathering place for community members, fostering social connections and community involvement.

School gardens can also provide opportunities for intergenerational learning and mentorship. By involving older adults or community members with gardening experience, schools can create meaningful connections between generations and promote lifelong learning.

That Sounds Great! Now, How can I Help Start a School Garden in my Community?

Starting a school garden can seem daunting, but with the right resources and support, it can be a rewarding and successful project. Here are some steps to get started:

Get support from school administrators, teachers, and parents. Starting a school garden requires buy-in from all stakeholders, as well as support for funding and maintenance.

Find a suitable location for the garden. Look for a sunny, well-drained area with access to water and close to the school. Ensure that the site is safe and accessible for students.

Develop a garden plan. Consider the garden’s size, layout, and design, as well as the types of plants to grow. Involve students in the planning process to ensure that the garden reflects their interests and needs.

Secure funding and resources. Look for grants, donations, or partnerships with local organizations or businesses to support the garden’s development and maintenance.

Involve students in the garden project. Encourage students to take ownership of the garden by involving them in the planning, planting, and maintenance. Provide opportunities for leadership and teamwork.

Integrate the garden into the curriculum. Use the garden as a teaching tool to support academic learning and promote healthy lifestyles.

We Have Our School Garden! Now, How Do We  Maintain It?

Maintaining a school garden requires ongoing care and attention. Here are some tips to keep the garden healthy and productive:

Develop a maintenance plan. Create a schedule for watering, weeding, fertilizing, and pest management. Involve students in the maintenance activities to ensure that they take ownership of the garden.

Provide ongoing support and training for teachers and volunteers. Ensure that they have the knowledge and skills to maintain the garden and address any issues that may arise.

Use sustainable practices. Avoid the use of pesticides and herbicides, and use organic methods for weed and pest control. Compost garden waste to improve soil health.

Involve the wider community. Encourage families and community members to volunteer in the garden and participate in events such as harvest festivals or farmers’ markets.

What are Some Curriculum Ideas for School Gardens?

School gardens can be integrated into a range of subjects and learning activities. Here are some curriculum ideas for school gardens:

Science: Learn about plant growth, soil health, and the life cycle of plants.

Math: Use the garden to teach measurement, geometry, and data analysis.

Language arts: Write garden journals, poetry, or stories about the garden.

Social studies: Learn about the history of agriculture, food systems, and cultural traditions related to gardening.

Art: Use the garden as inspiration for art projects such as painting, sculpture, or photography.

Nutrition: Learn about the nutritional value of different fruits and vegetables, and use the garden to prepare healthy meals and snacks.

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 & Instagram go on over & give a LIKE & Follow me for daily tips & tricks for your home & garden! 

Added bonus: You can go to my blog at http://www.fordragonfliesandme.com to purchase my original cookbook, Lovingly Seasoned Eats and Treats in either a spiral bound soft cover OR NEW, a Downloadable PDF version. The cookbook has almost 1000 recipes on almost 500 pages! Check out the Cookbook Testimonials while you’re there!

Until next time remember to,
Eat fresh, shop local & have a 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.

Gardening 101 Day 15: How-to Host a Spring Perennial Plant Swap with 9 Simple Steps!

“Everything that slows us down and forces patience, everything that sets us back into the slow circles of nature, is a help. Gardening is an instrument of grace. ” May Sarton

Spring holds a promise for the newness of life! It’s when I look out and dream of new flower beds & anticipate the first crops springing up out of winter’s cold ground. As I scan the yard and realize all the work needing to be done at my new home, I admit… it can feel a bit overwhelming sometimes. Thankfully I have Dave & the boys, and we will get at it as soon as the nicer weather affords us the opportunity. I can’t wait to be able to spend time in my personal Eden. 

Now I want to get into today’s topic! Have you ever hosted a plant swap or exchange? Maybe you’ve participated in a local community? I have hosted my own, as well as organized several for the City I worked for. 

Hosting a spring or fall perennial plant swap is a great way to share and acquire new plants for your garden. It can be a fun and social event for you & your friends and family, or for your community.

Here are some tips & tricks and for my steps to help you plan and host a successful perennial plant swap.

Here’s my easy 9 Step how-to host a spring perennial plant swap!

Choose a date & time!

Plan the date and location of your plant swap. Spring is the perfect time to host a plant swap, as many plants are starting to grow and flourish. Choose a date that is convenient for your community, and find a location that is easily accessible and has plenty of space for attendees to set up their plants.

When choosing the date, take into consideration when most of your perennials are starting to pop out of the ground. You want them to be at least 6 to 12 inches high so they are mature enough to handle the transplant, but not too mature to go into a hard shock with transplant.

Mid to the end of April is an ideal time for a spring swap, and mid to the end of September is great for a fall swap. More on that coming 🙂

Let people know what’s going on… ADVERTISE!

Advertising your plant swap is essential for optimal attendance. The more people that know about your event, the more successful it will be, it’s that simple.

Posting in community or garden groups on social media is a great way to spread the word. If you have a budget advertising in your local newspapers is another great resource. Posting fliers on community bulletin boards also help to spread the word.

Utilizing an automated email platform such as MailChimp or Constant Contact is also a great way to promote your event if you have an email list from previous events.

PRO TIP: If you don’t have a budget, reach out to your local greenhouse and nursery, or even your hometown newspaper to sponsor the event. Offer them a spot to market their company at the event. Partnering with local businesses is a win win for everyone!

Set up a way for attendees to register!

Setting up a registration process is a great way for you the organizer to have an idea on how many people could potentially be attending your plant swap. It will also allow you to send out reminders.

Setting up a Facebook event is a great way to to do this. Another platform is Eventbrite is another great option.

Provide ideas on what to bring to swap!

Create a simple Q&A sheet for people on how and what attendees should bring, as well as how to prepare their transplants. I’ve share a list below you can feel free to use.

You want your plant swap to have a good selection of plants for attendees to choose from, so encourage people to bring a variety of perennials, including different types, sizes, and colors.

Perennial herbs are another great option for attendees to bring!

What about transplant containers?

I often save some of the pots I purchase my plants in each year for this very reason. You should advise your attendees to put the divisions in practical, temporary containers. These can include plastic or paper cups, tin cans, plastic containers such as the ones that salad mixes or cherry tomatoes come in, plastic plant pots/ terra-cotta pots or any other container you have handy. Just be sure to add drainage holes to water tight containers. 

What plant is this? It’s all in the details!

One of the key things you will need to inform your attendees to do is to clearly identify the plants they are bringing. The plant information including care, size, and whether they prefer sun or shade, and any other pertinent growing conditions required is very important.

Encourage all attendees to provide information cards or handouts for each plant they bring to swap.

Make it fun… invite a guest speaker, specialty vendors, local garden clubs, etc.!

You can create a fun and social atmosphere by incorporating some local groups including garden clubs & Master Gardeners. You can even host an informative garden talk!

Inviting specialty vendors can also add value for attendees! This can also add revenue to your event by charging vendors a small participation fee. A plant swap is a great opportunity for people to connect with others who share their passion for gardening. Encourage attendees to share their gardening experiences, tips and tricks, and to make new friends.

Uggg… what about the leftovers?

There will always be left over plants. You should have a plan on how to distribute them. Sadly, there will be some plants that don’t find a home. In order to ensure those plants don’t go to waste, be sure to advise all attendees what to do with them.

You can have the attendees who brought them be responsible to take them back You can also have a free pile where they are placed, and then other people who may not have wanted to trade for them, will want to take them for free. You can also make arrangements with a local school or community garden, or ask attendees to take them home with them.

Connections matter!

If this is a community event, you will want to be sure to have an email sign up sheet at your registration table.

This will allow you to follow up with attendees and thank them for their participation. Sending a thank you email to all attendees will help in enticing them for future events.

You can also create a Google Form survey to all of the attendees requesting feedback on the event. For example asking them what they enjoyed, and what they would like to see at future events.

It also provides you the opportunity to invite them to future events you may be hosting for the community.

Here are some additional helpful tips on 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 the seedlings are at least 6-12 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.

Plants that divide easily and transplant well include:

*Hosta’s

*Day Lilies

*Bleeding Heart

*Peony

*Bee’s Balm (Monarda)

*Black Eye Susan, Shasta Daisies and any Coneflowers

*Columbine

*Sedum

*perennial Geraniums

*Helianthus

*Purple Bellflower

*any early blooming bulbs that have bloomed and died back at least half way- Snow Drops, Crocus, Daffodils, Tulips

PRO TIP: 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.

Hosting a spring perennial plant swap can be a fun and rewarding experience for both you and your community. By following these steps, you can ensure that your event is well-planned, well-attended, and enjoyable for all.

I certainly hope you are encouraged to garden. Even if you start with only two or three of these things, that’s a great start! 

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 or Instagram, go on over & give a LIKE & Follow me for daily tips & tricks for your home & garden!

Until next time friends, eat fresh, shop local, & have a happy day,
Jean

Gardening 101 Day 12: Easy 5 Step How-to Plan Your Spring Garden

“It’s raining but the tulips are still managing to poke their green shoots out of the mud, a promise that spring is coming, and so is the sun. I suppose I owe it to them to at least keep my head up until then.”
~Quote adapted from one by Writers Block

Only 25 days until my beloved spring returns. The new life I long for along with all her secret promises will soon come up out of the ground. And this year, they are secrets. As you all know Dave, the boys, & I moved into our home this past December, so many of the flower beds were well into their winter sleep.

Of course I can identify most of the bushes, shrubs, and plants but I’m sure there will be many ‘spring’ surprises popping up out of their winter slumber. The one thing I am so excited about is the magnolia tree in our backyard right off our deck. I have always dreamed of having one, but they are such a slow growing tree, so I never planted one. 

With spring comes new life… but presently life is dormant, still, and cold. 

Winter is filled with dreams and anticipations of planning new garden projects. I am incredibly excited for what I am planning here in our new yard! I am very excited to share the whole process with all of you here, and of course on my social media platforms and at my NEW YouTube channel!

I am actually going to spread this topic into 2 parts. Today I’ll go over my easy 5-step how-to plan your spring garden. In Part 2, I will show you how to diagram it out!

Spring is one of new beginnings… fresh hopes… dreams of what will be…

The dream I’m ever longing after is feeling the dirt once again along with the warmth of the sun.

I thought with all this dreaming we’d look at something all of us die-hard gardeners are doing… planning our gardens.

Here is my Easy 5 Step How-to Plan Your Spring Garden tips to get you started in the right direction.

Gather your seed catalogs!

Gather all your seed catalogs, sticky notes, a pen and high-lighter along with a notepad.  Once you’ve decided on the amount of space you have in your garden you’ll know what you need and the quantities.

 Be sure to check out my YouTube video on How-to Place Your First Seed Order!

What do you want to grow?

Decide on the varieties that you want to grow.  The best way to do this is to plot out some time when you can sit and peruse your catalogs. Read variety descriptions carefully to determine light, soil, moisture and spacing requirements.

Draw your garden design out !

I always draw out my gardens so I have a visual to see. You don’t have to get as detailed as mine… I just enjoy the whole planning aspect.  You can use graph paper or a piece of notebook paper. Be sure to think about your space and its limitations.

I’m going to go into great detail in Part 2 of this topic blog. So keep posted for more on this!

Determine available space.

When planning your garden you need to keep in mind space limitations and each plant’s growing habits. For example, a tomato plant should have three square feet for proper growth and maturation. 

Think about your aisle ways when planning this. If your isles are two feet wide, then plan your tomato row with three feet and then two on both sides.

You’ll need a total of 7 feet minimum for a row of tomatoes.  Look at the plant descriptions in the catalogs.

Soil testing is a good idea.

I advise, especially for first time gardeners, to test your soil. You can buy a simple soil test at most garden centers or take your sample into an agency that offers this service.

You will have better success if you know what your soil may be lacking. It could be something as simple as calcium/lime or copper.

Although there are many other aspects to getting your garden plan done, these are the basics to get you on your way! Keep posted for Part 2 coming in a just a few days!

I certainly hope you are encouraged to grow your own food. Even if you start with only two or three of these things, that’s a great start! 

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 or Instagram, go on over & give a LIKE & Follow me for daily tips & tricks for your home & garden!Until next time friends, eat fresh, shop local, & have a happy day,
Jean

Garden Open House: Plus my homemade ranch dressing and fresh garden tea recipes

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It’s been a secret dream of mine… to have a garden open house that is.

We moved into our farmhouse seven years ago. It was an abandoned foreclosed home with most of the windows busted out and an interior that said a lot about the previous owners- nothing good! We looked at the house for the first time in the middle of winter, little did I know there wouldn’t be a garden to find.

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As for trees and shrubs, there was one very large and beautiful maple tree and an apple tree in the back yard, a nice hedge of antique hyrangeas on the side of the house and a couple lilac bushes. Not bad for some, but not near what my heart desired.

Breakfast Patio8 emailver

I’ve shared the creation of all the gardens here in my blogs except the patio. Unfortunately, I didn’t take any pictures of the first two years labor. It was a big job and being busy with the other things in our life, it ended up taking three years… we finished just last month!

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Peonies and Russian sage blooming in my gardens right now...

Peonies and Russian sage blooming in my gardens right now…

Over the years my garden’s have evolved as have I… my likes and my tastes have grown and are depicted in my cottage style gardens. I love simply being in them… breathing the aromas that surround me… listening to the wind whisper through the leaves… watching the hummingbirds busily work. My gardens are simply my sanctuary.

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So, an open house… now that will be an undertaking I’m sure. I’ve read about and attended several… and secretly dreamed, “Some day… some day I can share my gardens…”

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So when will I say that the time has arrived? I don’t know… so I think I’ll just create a plan of action right here with all of you and maybe a Pinterest board of my dreams, LOL- you can follow me there too at For Dragonflies And Me @ Pinterest.

Lets start with the INVITATION… garden themed of course. I plan on using vintage prints of botanicals with some pretty ribbons. You’ll need to decide who you are planning to invite: will it be just close friends and family? neighbors? What about your Facebook, Twitter, Blog followers and whatever other social media sites/groups you may be involved with? You can send out a formal invitation using snail mail and/or via email/FB/Twitter, etc.
Host A Cookie Exchange Luncheon, Making The Invitation and Some Yummy Cookie Recipes!

Have a Guest Book ready for the guests to sign. I plan on using a pretty garden style notebook/journal like this one.
[caption id="attachment_1649" align="alignnone" width="225"]Garden themed journal can be used as a guest book

A ‘Thank You Gift’ is a special touch that your guests will appreciate. I make blank stationary photo-greeting cards with many of my photographs to sell at market. These are a useful and beautiful gift that your guest will appreciate.
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When you’re guests arrive, have a cute chalk board set up on an easel to ‘Welcome’ and direct them.
[caption id="attachment_1647" align="alignnone" width="180"]Photo credit to Mary Jane's Farm Photo credit to Mary Jane’s Farm

Creating the MENU is next and the time of year should determine what will be on it. If you have your own garden, try to use things that you’ve grown. This is the menu and photo’s from one of my recent get-to-gethers.
~Watermelon bowl with mixed fruit served on a green Depression glass cake plate.
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~Artisan goat cheese served in antique tea cups with garden themed spreaders served on platter with several varieties of crackers on an elevated platter.
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~Fresh garden salad served on pretty platter with dressings served in mini cream pitchers and matching bowl served on a platter as well.
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~Fresh home made Garden Tea served in my bee hive drink jug
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I made tags stating the flavors of each dressing and goat cheese and attatched it to the handle of cups and pitchers.
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Put utensils separately in Terra cotta pots along with napkins in a slightly larger one. Place all these in a fabric lined long handled basket along with throw away trays.
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The Table should be as special as the menu…
~Use a quilt for the table cloth. If you plan on having several small tables, use a mix of cute sheets or table clothes overlaid with pretty linens. This is one of my favorite quilts to use. It can be used for spring, summer or fall!
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A pretty centerpiece is the final touch for the table…and don’t forget candles. Here I’ve placed two scented jar candles in Terra cotta pots to go along with the theme.
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~Bouquets should be made with whatever is blooming in your gardens…
Peonies in blue mason jars are beautiful and such an elegant contrast
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Hosta leaves are timeless and will last for weeks in the vase…mix different varieties of height and colors for interest.
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~Having a few welcoming area’s for guests to sit and visit is always a nice touch…
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Room for two in the grill station.
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Three old metal chairs around a cozy fire bowl in the patio
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Our patio table complete with a high chair 😉
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Neil built this swing frame beside our fire pit. It’s more child friendly than adult… Seating for six around the fire…very cozy in our over sized chairs. I typically use cute sheets or table clothes as seat covers.

Here are my home made Ranch Dressing and Garden Tea Recipes… enjoy friends

Ranch Dressing
2 cups Mayonnaise DO NOT exchange for Miracle Whip or Salad Dressing!!!!
2 cups milk
2 Tbsp. dry parsley or 1/2 cup fresh, chopped finely
2 cloves fresh garlic, minced
1 Tbsp. onion powder
1/2 Tbsp. sea salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
1/4 tsp. paprika

Combine mayo and milk; whisk together until smooth. Add remaining ingredients and refridgerate for at least an hour so flavors can blend.
*Note: It will thicken, but if you want it a bit thicker add 1 Tbsp. of mayo at a time until desired consistency; if too thick do the same, but with milk.

Fresh Garden Tea Concentrate
8 cups water
4 cups raw organic sugar
6 cups tea leaves
mint tea

Bring water and sugar to a hard boil for 5 minutes; add tea leaves and remove from heat. Cover and let steep 5 to 8 hours.

TO MAKE: combine 1 part tea concentrate to 2 parts cold water.
You can freeze the concentrate for up to a year, so if you have lots of tea growing, you can enjoy this all year long.

So, now we have a plan of action… just need to get all the projects done!
This is a photo of my Potager or Kitchen Garden... follow the link for an easy how-to!
Happy Day,
Jean

Garden Parties: How To Host A Party Garden Style

The sun is rising right now, its rays glimmering in the puddles… the breeze feels cool and gentle… the air is filled with an earthy scent from the rains we’ve enjoyed… the robins and Baltimore orioles are saying good morning to whoever is blessed enough to be listening. Sitting In the gardens this time of day is so relaxing and free, it almost makes me feel guilty to have this little piece of Heaven right here under my feet.

My breakfast patio is one of my quiet spaces...

My breakfast patio is one of my quiet spaces…


I’m sitting in my breakfast patio writing this right now while everyone else is still sleeping. There’s a male Ruby Throated Hummingbird sitting on my clothesline… he seems to be enjoying the quiet morning along with me.

All my life we had a garden and it’s a part of who I am, what I feel, what I love. My life would be so empty without it. I love sharing my gardens with friends and loved ones, entertaining and making them feel at home. There were two main reasons why we created the patio: the first of course was for my family to have a special place to fellowship and have our meals and the second was to entertain.

A cozy space is an inviting place to have friends and family

A cozy space is an inviting place to have friends and family

Here are some Garden Party idea’s and tips…

*Garden Themed Invitations. Use a 4 x 5 1/2 piece of card stock. Pick up some 10 for $1 seed packs and use the seed pack for the ‘picture’. Use a rubber stamp with ‘party info’ on the back. Not just cute, but practical.
You can also take photos of flowers, garden junque or garden scenes, crop them down and use them for the front of your invitation.

Here is a photo I took that I put on the front of a blank card. 'Your Invited' rubber stamp and pack of seeds!

Here is a photo I took that I put on the front of a blank card. ‘Your Invited’ rubber stamp and pack of seeds!

*Decorating the table and buffet will speak loudly when done right! Here are some super cute ideas!
~Use pretty floral sheets or plain white that drape to the floor with quilts laid diagonally over for table clothes.
~Use 3 clay pots of the same size to hold forks, spoons and knives in. Tie a piece of raffia around the rim with a bow to make it even cutter.
~Use baskets lined with floral napkins to hold napkins & breads.
~Mason jars make the cutest drinking vessels, especially if they are blue! Not to mention flower vases and candle holders.
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~A hodge podge of old plates and platters are a great way to serve your sandwiches, cheese & crackers & appetizers.
~Use an old galvanized wash tub filled to the top with ice and put bottled water, juice or pop in for guests.
~An old pickle crock thoroughly cleaned makes a spectacular punch bowl.
~Print the menu out on card stock and lay over each guests plate.

*The Menu! Your theme is garden, so plan according.
~Sandwiches can be very special! I like to make mini sandwiches but cutting the sandwich into quarters. First I trim off the crust; make your sandwich and then cut into diagonally so you have four triangles. I like to use chicken, egg and tuna salad for my fillings along with a yummy cucumber filling. Go to my Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/pages/For-Dragonflies-And-Me/550000798362651 for the recipe! Be sure to LIKE AND SHARE while you’re there, please and thanks!

~Watermelons aren’t just yummy, they can be beautiful centerpieces as well. Most of us have seen how melons can be cut to represent a handled basket, hollowed out and then filled with a beautiful and delicious fruit salad. The long oval shaped melons work best.
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*Punch is the funnest drink for a party! Try making ‘real’ lemonade! It is very simple- use 3 parts water to 1 part lemon juice, add 1 cup of sugar for every 4 cups of liquid! Cut lemon’s and limes in slices and let them swirl around to make it extra special. If you have a ‘color’ theme to your party, add a few drops of food coloring to make your lemonade your color! You can use any large container to hold your punch! Use jelly jars for your glasses with umbrella straws!
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*Of course the Cake! Check out this Teapot cake tutorial- this really makes an impression! A little time consuming, but worth the effort! http://www.flickr.com/photos/popocreation/3669618629/in/photostream/

*Garden themed craft projects are a fun way to send your guests home with a gift. Try making Posy Pots! Here is what you will need! Organic Potting mix, 1 Quart Zip Lock baggies, Sunflower or Marigold seeds, pretty card stock , tulle, raffia, and a small clay pot. Fill the baggie with enough potting mix to fill the pot then place filled bag inside the pot. Take the card stock and make a small packet to put 2-3 seeds in, seal. Place seed packet on top of dirt bag in pot. Gather tulle around the outside of the pot, and tie with raffia. Cut out a 4″ x 4″ piece of card stock for a gift tag and using a rubber stamp or sticker of the type of flower seed you chose, place it on the square, punch a hole in the corner, write planting instructions on back and attach to raffia bow. Such fun for everyone!
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The ideas of course are only limited by your imagination… so have fun, host a party and let your creativity shine!

Don’t forget to take a trip over to For Dragonflies And Me Facebook page for this yummy Cucumber ‘Herb Garden’ Sandwiches!
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Happy Day,
Jean

Bringing Children In The Garden & Yummy Veggies On The Grill!

“Any garden demands as much of its maker as he has to give.  but I do not need to tell you, if you are a gardener, that no other undertaking will give as great a return for the amount of effort put into it.”  Elizabeth Lawrence, 1904-1985, Gardening For Love.
I absolutely cherish the moments that I get to be in the garden with our children.  It is quality time that I feel will make a lasting impression on their lives and hopefully create memories for them of special moments with mom teaching them about how God makes all this great stuff happen!  I love to see them planting seeds, transplanting a tomato plant in the garden, tilling up the good earth and feeling that soft, rich soil squish between their toes!  My children love to feel that they have their own little space in the garden, to grow the things that interest them, to experiment and to harvest what they tended.  It can be a challenge sometimes to include them.  It is often just easier to do it ourselves and just getting it done.  It will usually add on some minutes, well maybe even hours, with the little helpers involved! But what memories you will make, what happiness will beam in their eyes when they pull out that carrot from the seed ‘they’ planted. That smile, that gleam in the eye is worth more than all the saved minutes of just doing it our self.  I love everything about gardening… yes even the back wrenching weeding & hoeing, the sun burnt back of my neck and the stiff arms… I love gardening!  
Here are some fun ideas to incorporate your children into your gardening ‘thyme’ 🙂 !
Gardening With Your Children~ 

*Be sure to have child size tools for the little folks. You can purchase such items at just about any store that sells gardening supplies.  Make them responsible for their tools- to put them back, keep them clean, and be careful when using. Add a name plaque where their tools belong in the potting shed or garage, make them feel special.
*Keeping them interested is another challenge, especially with the ones that aren’t that interested.  Allow them to choose what they would like to grow.  Some suggestions would be giant sunflowers, pumpkins, decorative gourds or root crops. Radishes and lettuce are quick growers and can be ‘encouraging’ to the one that needs a little boost in interest. They are also available in multiple colors and sizes and can really encourage interest.   If you choose a root crop I would suggest using some fun Heirloom things.  Carrots for instance offer a multitude of shapes and colors, from Cosmic Purple to Lunar White and every shade of orange in between.  Potatoes are also a fun crop.  You can purchase red, white and even blue potatoes.  Watch their eyes light up when they dig those potatoes. 
*If you don’t have a spot for a garden, let them Container Garden.  You can use anything~ some fun things for the little people would be a wagon planted with some pansies, an old shoe with some Hen’s & Chicks or any type of pot. They can plant herbs, flowers or veggies.  Go back to my blog on Container Gardens in the archives to get more great ideas.
*Also in the archives you will find the blog with the Sunflower House so your child/ren can create a secret room or play house. 
*Plant a cucumber plant; once the plant starts to form flowers it will not take long for it to start changing into a cucumber; once the cucumber is still small enough to fit into the hole of a 20oz. or so plastic bottle, carefully insert the cucumber into the hole.  Make sure the bottle is clear; once the cucumber ‘fills’ the bottle, pluck it off the plant and carefully cut the bottle off! Presto, a bottle shaped cucumber.  This would work with many types of veggies, try out a few and use different containers to make multiple shapes.
*If you grow a pumpkin plant, once the pumpkin is about 6 inches across, carefully scratch the child’s name and a silly face into the skin being careful not to puncture.  Over time as it grows, the drawing will grow right along with it!
*With a stick, trace the child’s name into the soil in a planting area; sprinkle lettuce, radish or carrot seed in the name. Watch it grow! 
*Be sure to take tons of pictures of your child in the garden and even photograph the planting, growing and harvesting process so those precious memories will not be forgotten.

Veggies On The Grill

As I have mentioned often, we love to grill and it is grilling season.  I will probably be giving lots of grill time recipe’s so if you don’t have a grill, now’s the time to get one!

4-6 large red skin potatoes from The Garden Gate Farm, washed & cut into chunks with skins on
1 yellow onion from Garden Gate, cut into slivers
1 clove of garlic from Garden Gate, minced
1 cup spinach leaves from Garden Gate, washed & trimmed into bite size pieces
1 cup of Heirloom Cherry Tomatoes from Garden Gate
1 medium yellow squash from Garden Gate, sliced 1/4 inch thick
1 tsp. Matt’s Mix Seasoning Salt
1/4 cup fresh Thyme from The Garden Gate
2 Tbsp. Olive Oil
3 Tbsp. butter, diced
piece of foil wrap large enough to hold all ingredients and be folded over and sealed on top and sides.

1. In foil place all veggies; sprinkle evenly over top with seasoning and herb; drizzle Olive oil over top; put dobs of butter evenly dispersed over all.
2. Fold over the foil across the top and sides so it doesn’t leak.
3. Place on top rack of grill and let cook about 45minutes to an hour. 

This goes great with any type of meat, so grill some awesome T-bones from Garden Gate to go along with it, and let your taste buds be taken to an all new level!

Happy Day,
Jean
 

‘Guinea Pig’ Meals, Seed Packet Magnets, Sheets for Tablecloths & Springtime Salad, Salad Dressings and Homemade Croutons!

“Flowers always make people better, happier, and more helpful; They are sunshine, food, and medicine to the soul.”
Luther Burbank
Meals are important at our house~ they are a time where we all sit together and talk about the days events, big news, mishaps or anything else that happens to pop up.  Meal times can get a bit on the noisy side, but they are special together times that everyone gets to give their two cents worth.  Last night at the supper table, Taylor said she wanted to do ‘Guinea Pig’ Suppers every night next week~ Neil said, ‘no way’; Kyle said, ‘yeah, cool’; Ethan said, ‘uh-uh’; I said, ‘OK, but I have to say yes first before anything is approved’; Neil said, ‘That sounds better’; and then my sweet little 10 year old Ryan said, ‘Where are we going to get the guinea pig meat?’, quite seriously.  So you may be saying, what is a guinea pig meal?  Well they are fun & easy. All you do is try a new recipe that you think looks good that you have never tried, really not that scary.  Anyway, I thought that this was cute!

*The other day I was at a friends house and they gave me a tour of their new ‘little’ greenhouse. It was cute- her daughter had saved several of her seed packets to keep for a handy reference.  I saw them as something much different- cute Fridge Magnets for home & gifts of course! I am sure most of us gardeners are guilty of buying that ‘extra’ pack of seed just because of the package, the photo of the flower, herb or veggie- “Oh,” we say, “I have to have that …..” .  We all love a pretty picture- as they say, ‘a picture says a thousands words’…  So often I purchase a seed packet just because of the package.  Seed companies would be smart if they all put more energy into the packaging!  I have already used them as name cards at a tea party, pasted on the front of a homemade card and to make Fridge Magnets.  It is so easy and they are the cutest gift to quick throw into a card you are going to send someone! Here’s how~ You will need a laminator or self laminating sheets, a roll of self sticking magnet and of course your empty seed packets.  Simply laminate the pack and then stick on the magnet! So cute, so simple and so fast!

*Some people collect shoes, purses, books, I collect table clothes.  No matter what thrift shop I go to, the first place I hit is the linens department; I stand back and look down the rack so I can pick out the fabrics that catch my eyes~ plaids and floral’s are always first on my list.  After I find a few things it’s off to the sheets~ yes the sheets!  Sheets make wonderful outdoor entertaining table clothes; they cover picnic tables beautifully!  I also have used quilts for a unique touch on a special occasion! Be creative, it’s your table!

Everyone loves the first yummy things out of the garden in spring, lettuces, greens, spinach, radishes, scallions and the list can go on & on.  Here is a variation to the everyday salad using some of Garden Gates awesome Bacon, lettuces, greens and radishes!

Garden Gate Farms Special Springtime Salad

1 bag mixed Greens from Garden Gate Farm, about a pound
1 bag baby lettuces from Garden Gate Farm, about a pound
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1/2 cup dried Cranberries or cherries or mix of both
1 bunch Radishes from Garden Gate, washed, trimmed and thinly sliced
1/2 pound Garden Gate Bacon, crisply cooked & crumbled
1/ pound blue cheese or feta cheese (without juice), crumbled
Poppy Seed Salad Dressing- see recipe below
Homemade Croutons- see recipe below

1. Wash & snip greens & lettuces into bite size pieces; arrange in a large salad bowl or on a large serving platter.
2. Layer each of the remaining ingredients, except dressing, on top of  lettuce/greens.
3. Serve with dressing on side.
This is a large batch and will feed 12 to 15 hungry folks! 

Yummy Poppy Seed Dressing

1/2 cup raw organic sugar
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. mustard
1/3 cup real lemon juice
1 tsp. grated red onion
3.4 cup Olive Oil
1 Tbsp. poppy seed
1/8 tsp. pepper

Combine all ingredients and mix well.  Refrigerate and serve chilled.

Homemade Croutons

1/4 cup butter
1 Tbsp. minced fresh garlic
1/4 tsp. each salt & pepper
1/3 cup grated Fresh Parmesan cheese
6 slices french or sour dough bread, day old is fine,  crusts trimmed* (don’t throw away)

1. Melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat.  Cook until butter foams;  Add garlic and cook about 1 minute; add bread cubes and toss to coat with butter. 
2. Season with salt & pepper.  Transfer to a baking sheet and bake at 375 degrees fro about 15 minutes, tossing once in between, until lightly golden.
3.  Remove from oven and sprinkle with cheese and toss until cheese melts. 
Makes about 4-6 cups.
*Don’t throw away those crusts- put them in a freezer zip lock bag or freezer plastic container and freeze for up to 3 months.  Use them for your next batch of homemade dressing!

Happy Day, 
Jean 

More Garden Themes, Beautiful Ice Cubes, Two Super Meatless Sandwich’s!

“Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap, but by the seeds that you plant.” Robert Louis Stevenson

More Garden Themes, Beautiful Ice Cubes, Two Super Meatless Sandwich’s!

Today was magnificent! The sun was shining and the warmth it gave was strength for the soul.  We worked outside all day~ Neil cleaned out the very messy garage; Taylor washed all the windows in & out; I got flower & raised beds cleaned up with some help, my front porch swept & tidied up and my potting shed all cleaned out~ that was a job.  It seems every fall when ‘stuff’ is getting picked up and put away, it all goes into ‘my’ shed!  Kyle was helping me and he very innocently say’s, “You do this every spring mom.” I’m like, no kidding!  But that’s OK, I love getting in there and finding all the ‘clearance’ garden stuff I stashed away last fall in anticipation for the next summer. After school Kyle and Ethan were outside with Evan helping him fill his bird feeders~ they are so sweet to their baby brother! It paid off, Evan’s boo~jays were there shortly after.  As I was meandering through the flower beds and cleaning, of course I am thinking what needs to be replaced, added and thinned out.  Gardening is a job, but when it is your passion it is so worth while.  Today is going to be the last for ideas on Garden Themes, so I thought we would end with a few I was saving for last. 

Many people think flowers are just for looking at, cutting for arrangements or giving as gifts~ have you ever thought about eating some?  Edible flower’s are much more common in the many gardening magazines the last few years. I love to include pansies and nasturtiums in my salads, they don’t just add beauty but they really are yummy~ Nasturtiums add a ‘peppery’ flavor. Here are a more edibles, try planting them in your kitchen garden, in pots or in your veggie garden. Especially nasturtiums, they should go with your tomato plants!
*All herbs of course, scented geraniums, viola, violets, pansies, nasturtiums, dandelion petals & leafs, hibiscus, johnny jump ups, rose petals, snapdragons, day lily and calendula petals.  There are many more and if you are interested in finding more out on edible plants, a good book is, “Edible Wild Plants~ A North American Field Guide, by Thomas S. Elias & Peter A. Dikeman.   As with all plants, be sure to read about them before ingesting because some need to be had in moderation and some do not go well with certain medications.

*Tea Gardens are always fun simply because of what you can plan with them, who doesn’t love a Tea Party? Creating a Tea Garden is very special, it is beautiful and practical.  Here are some easy to grow plants that make superb teas and blends.
*Lemon Balm, Raspberry leaves, Mints including but not limited to: Spearmint, Pineapple, Apple, Balsam, Orange, Peppermint; Sage, Rose & Chamomile.  This is a very small list but some of the most common to give you a start.

*Beautiful Ice Cubes~ If you are having some friends over or are planning any type of party here is a very easy yet elegant idea to spruce up your beverages. First boil enough water to fill 4 ice cube trays. After the water is boiled pour into ice cube trays and drop in 2 Johnny Jump Up’s or Viola’s into each insert. Freeze. Pop out when ready to use and hear the ‘ahhs’. The boiling of water makes it so the water is crystal clear.

We don’t always need meat on our sandwiches, despite what my husband thinks 🙂 !  Some days you just want it light & simple. Here are two yummy treats that are sure to please!
Farm Fresh eggs are a farmer’s market delight, especially when you get them from The Garden Gate!

Egg Salad on Sour Dough

4 eggs from Garden Gate, hard boiled, peeled and chopped
1/4 cup red onion from Garden Gate, finely chopped
1/2 cup mayonnaise, divided
1 tsp salt
1/2 stick butter, softened
1 loaf of Sour Dough Bread

1.  Using a fork, mash eggs, stir in onion, seasoning and 1/2 the mayo.
2. Cut the loaf in slices, about 8 will do.  Cut the crust* off.  Spread the butter evenly on 4 of the slices and the remaining mayo on the other 4 slices. 
3.  Spoon on egg mixture evenly between 4 slices; top with other.
What to do with radishes other than throw them on a salad or dip in salt and crunch!  Radishes have more uses than that. Here is a fun treat to change things up.  Serve with your favorite soup and a fresh fruit salad, Superb!
Spicy Radish Sandwiches
10 radishes from Garden Gate, washed, trimmed and thinly slice
4 Tbsp. butter, softened
3 Tbsp. fresh chives from Garden Gate, chopped and divided
1 Tbsp. toasted sesame seed
3/4 tsp. fresh ginger, peeled and grated
1/4 tsp. olive oil
1/4 tsp. each salt & pepper                                                                                                                      1 baguette, sliced 1/4 inch thick

1. Mix butter, 2 Tbsp. of the chives, sesame seed, ginger and oil in a bowl. Sprinkle with salt & pepper. 
2. Spread mixture over one side of each baguette slice.  Top with radishes, overlapping slightly.  Sprinkle with remaining chives.
Yum!

Happy Day,
Jean