Kitchen Gardens: How-to tips and ideas on how to create your own

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NEW POST!
Follow this link to read my NEW article on kitchen gardens at Farm to Table, Field to Plate.

Happy Day,
Jean

http://outdoorsexperiencejournal.wordpress.com/2013/10/17/kitchen-gardens-tips-and-ideas-on-how-to-create-your-own/

A Dreamy Garden, Rhubarb Harvest Tips, Rhubarb Pie Recipe

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Gardening stirs up a passion in me like no other. I often find myself thinking about a new project or a dream I have in the middle of doing something not garden related at all.

It seems that we gardener’s tend to do that…

I live in my mind’s garden dreaming of what I imagine will be.

Projects.

Projects seem to line my mind’s eye… and now Facebook page!

I imagine my entire property a sprawling garden…
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I imagine our beautiful old barn a sought after B&B… a retreat for the weary and heavy laden
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I imagine beautiful garden’s abounding…
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I imagine our back field filled with raised beds overflowing with veggies, herbs and flowers…
…that will feed our guests… and my family
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I imagine gardeners and gardener-wanna-be’s coming to take classes where I and other’s teach…
…teaching how to love your gardens… how to let them be for you… how to live in them…

I imagine my life with nothing to do but garden… and of course writing about and sharing it… with all of you.
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I imagine a place where people will want to come for farm to table dinner events…
I imagine harvesting the good food right from the gardens…preparing… and serving to those guests.
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Do you have a dreamy garden? What will it take to get there?

Well, some of my dreams are unreachable… at this point, but I have them… I cherish them and I won’t let them go, no matter what. My gardens are my souls sincerest desire…

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I’ve been able to create some of my dream gardens here at The Garden Gate Farm.
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Most recently we are working on a fish pond that will be connected to the rose garden. Don’t stop dreaming… no matter what you do, don’t stop.

So lets talk about springs first fruit here in Michigan, rhubarb. Yes, I said rhubarb. Yes you can still harvest and enjoy it.

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Here are a few do’s and don’ts for a full season of enjoying springs gardens first love!
*After you’re regular spring harvest, let your plants go to seed. This is when the plant shoots up the flower stalks.

*Once all the flower stalks have fully seeded out, you can harvest lightly again.
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*The most important thing to keep in mind when harvesting rhubarb is to always leave at least 1/3 of the stalks on the plant. NEVER fully strip the plants stalks- at anytime of year.

…and now… drum roll please…
Taylor’s Homemade Rhubarb Pie (of course all my ingredients are Organic 🙂

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit

1 9″ unbaked pie crust
2 cups rhubarb, cut into 1 inch chunks
2 eggs, beaten
1 Tbsp. butter, softened
1 Tbsp. white flour
1 cup sugar

1. In a large bowl, combine all ingredients until rhubarb is completely coated.
2. Pour into unbaked pie crust and bake for 45 minutes or until rhubarb is soft.

Serve with some homemade vanilla ice cream… enjoy friends!

I recently posted my first video on For Dragonflies And Me Facebook page. I gave a short demonstration on how to properly harvest rhubarb. Stop by and check it out! Hope to see you there!
Here’s the direct link to the video. https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=184040798434306

Happy Day,
Jean

Designing A Potager

Here I am harvesting basil

Here I am harvesting basil

I’ve always tried to encourage others to plant something… anything. The thrill that you get from placing the seed or the little seedling into the pleasant earth… then waiting and watching for the first signs of life to come springing up out of the soft ground… then suddenly one morning there it is… a tiny sprout or the first blossom on your tomato plant. As you patiently await the first signs of fruit… then the ripening… then the harvest.

As you stand there holding your pleasant reward, staring at it and re-thinking the whole process and the time and tender care that it took to get this into your hand.

Garlic I just harvested

Garlic I just harvested

…when you eat that first thing you’ve grown… you’ll close your eyes and savor the taste, taking in the flavor and enjoying it like no other thing you’ve ever eaten.

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…a new respect you’ll have for the seed and the dirt… a new passion will be stirred up in you.

I love gardening…

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Some may think that starting a garden is a difficult task, but not so. A garden is like anything else. You’ll need to do a bit of research and planning; you’ll need to think over what you’d like to grow and the amount of space that you have available. I have five acres, and if I could, other than the house and outbuildings, it would all be gardens… just an expanse of gardens.

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Unfortunately my dreams are bigger than my reach…

Potager’s or more commonly known today as Kitchen Gardens were historically a mainstay for many families. My heart and soul are simply thrilled with the resurgence of home gardening and canning over the last decade. I love to hear about all the urban gardens, the thrill in the voices of my market friends as they tell me what they’re harvesting out of their little home gardens… especially when it’s from the plants they purchased from me earlier in the year.

Kitchen garden

Kitchen garden

The definition of this French word, potagère is simply vegetable garden and is properly pronounced: “por-ta-jj”, giving credit to the French who inspired this style of ornamental kitchen garden’s.

The potager is most similar to the traditional English cottage garden but is mainly based on vegetables and other edible plants and herbs, often incorporating some cut flower plants for the household.

Historically plants were chosen for their form, color and taste, with seasonality and continuity of fresh vegetables for the household in mind and were typically low maintenance and closely planted. This is very similar to raised bed gardening (another blog ;-))

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What you include in your potager is all about you and your family. What you like and love, although I do suggest trying at least one new thing each year…I do!

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Veggies~ This is a matter of personal prefference. We like to include one zuchinni, four hills of potatoes, two pepper plants, several lettuces, spinach, kale and chard, two tomato plants- one Roma and one salad type, short rows of carrots, onions and garlic. I also like to include a cucumber that I typically grow up on a trellis.

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Herbs: We use lots of fresh herbs in our cooking. I wanted to incorporate an herb section in our potager. Herbs have a tendency to ‘get out of hand’, so all my herbs are in containers of sorts.
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Here is a photo of part of my herb section.
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My perennials include- sage, oregano, chives, sorrel, thyme, and biennial parsley. Calendula reseeds itself each year and I plant purple, lemon and Genovese type basil each year.

Flowers- try edibles: I grow nasturtiums and day lilies in my potager, along with marigolds along side the tomatoes. I also have several other perennials incorporated simply for beautification. The potager is beside the pergola which has several sweet autumn clematis and climbing roses along its side. I also have some hosta’s, a white bleeding heart, Astilbe and bee’s balm .
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I believe, as the gardeners of old that all three… vegetables, herbs and flowers all belong balanced together in a potager.

No matter what you decide to grow, make your garden’s a reflection of your soul… a passionate place that you can escape to from all the cares of life… a meditative place to commune with the almighty One…

Happy day,
Jean

More Garden Junque: Charming Chairs

I’ve been busy in the gardens, fields and green houses with all the duties that our farms market and CSA demands of me. But now I can happily and thankfully say that what needed to be done is done! What a splendid feeling that is! My gardens have that full, lush look that cool spring days and frequent rains allow… summers heat hasn’t yet exasperated them… or me.

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I left all of you off with garden junque topics, so without further adieu, lets move on to one of my favorites… garden chairs.

Putting an established hanging basket in a pot, nestled in the seat of a chair!

Putting an established hanging basket in a pot, nestled in the seat of a chair!

I love to have instant WOW in my garden’s with my larger pots. What I do is purchase large established hanging baskets and then plant them in my patio pots… I think they call that ‘instant gardener gratification’! Here I planted one in a really cool old galvanized milk pail and then set it in the seat hole of the chair.

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Here I simply placed a planter with a potted geranium on top of a freshly painted chair.

A simple iron chair resting in the garden

A simple iron chair resting in the garden

You don’t always have to add a potted plant to a chair. Here I’ve used an ornate iron folding chair and simply placed it in the midst of the soon to be blooming Russian sage.

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Here is a rooster planter that I put another potted geranium and set in the midst of my front garden.

Here are some idea’s I’ve discovered along the way! Enjoy friends!

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Well, I hope this gives you lots of inspiration to get in your gardens… enjoy friends!
Be sure to stop by Dragonflies Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/pages/For-Dragonflies-And-Me/550000798362651?ref=stream if you haven’t and give a Like & Share!

See you soon!
Jean

More Garden Junque Ideas: Garden Bikes and Yummy Fresh Chive Topper

“All winter long, I envision what beautiful blooms I’ll have…I can even smell them, their scents as wonderful as in my mother’s garden.” – Author Unknown

Now you’ve had a little peek into my heart… this quote is the essence of my soul… it’s what I long for all winter. I don’t think I could have said it more eloquently then this if I’d thought on it all day. When I gaze out the windows and longingly look at my gardens it makes me feel anxious… this yearning rises up in me, and no matter how hard I try to put it at bay, it knows what it wants. The touch and feel of the dirt in my hands… the rainbow of colors feeding my visual senses… the aromas wafting in the gentle breeze as I rock on my front porch… spring and her promises.

My front porch in early spring a few years back... I can't wait to sit a spell.

My front porch in early spring a few years back… I can’t wait to sit a spell.

I woke up to rain drops pattering on our steel roof… ‘more rain’, I thought. It’s been raining for five straight days with a little break here and there, it rained most of last week as well. Don’t get me wrong this isn’t a complaint… just a fact. Although blue skies definitely make me and most others feel lots more cheery, we need the rain. The robins are happily splashing about in the puddles and gobbling up the worms as they come up for air from their water logged burrows. Although the sparrows look a bit tired of it ;-)….

I thought it would be fun to do a series on ‘Garden Junque’ with a special focus on several items that cottage garden lovers adore. Today lets look at ‘Garden Bikes’.

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Bikes aren’t just for riding anymore… we love old, funky, big seated bikes and even cute, rusty tricycles. Leaning on a potting shed or picket fence… propped in a garden bed with a basket of cascading petunias, happy are we who have one.

What do you do with them once I find one? Well here’s a few tips:

*Where do I find a garden bike? The best places to go are antique shops and outdoor flea markets. Estate and garage sales are always hit and miss, but worth a try. Watch for auctions and of course check on line- Craigs List http://www.craigslist.com and eBay.

What a stunning display of petunias on a neat little shed.

What a stunning display of petunias on a neat little shed.

*What kind of bike do I look for? Well you want something old, not a new ten speed or dirt bike. It has to have character that can only come with age. Look for old tricycles and bikes. Big seats and baskets are a real find.

*Where do I put my new bike? Your imagination is the only limit you have, but here are some ideas: lean on a tree, potting shed or picket fence. Prop in a garden- to secure, use a step in T-post pounded into the ground and then lean on that.

Beautiful display of a bike rested on a tree

Beautiful display of a bike rested on a tree

*The paints all chipped, what should I do? Decide if the distressed look is what you’re going after or do you want a bright, eye catching color. If that’s your choice by some spray paint and doll it up.

Perfect paint job... personally I like a little bit of rust!

Perfect paint job… personally I like a little bit of rust!

*Should I put any plants on or around it? Absolutely! If it’s in a garden, use short plants all around the bike so it flows with naturally in the space, rather than sticking out or being lost. Attach a basket, properly lined with a cocoa fiber or moss and plant with petunias or pansies on the handlebars. If it has a rack for one over the back tire to secure one on and plant up as well!

Nice example of using a burlap bag to plant in.

Nice example of using a burlap bag to plant in.

Please go to my blog at http://www.fordragonfliesandme.wordpress.com to see lots of inspirations…

Some of our herbs are starting to come though and tempt us… here’s a yummy recipe to use on the last of your root storage potatoes!
Fresh Chive Topper
Use on baked potato, scramble eggs or anything else you like Sour Cream on!

Blend all ingredients:
1 c or 8oz container Sour Cream
1/4 c shredded cheddar or Colby cheese
2 tbsp melted butter
2 tbsp fresh chopped chives

Happy Day,
Jean

Kitchen Gardens

Check out my new post at The Detroit News, The Good Life blog… follow this link and please like it!

This is a photo of my Potager or Kitchen Garden... follow the link for an easy how-to!

This is a photo of my Potager or Kitchen Garden… follow the link for an easy how-to!

http://blogs.detroitnews.com/thegoodlife/2013/03/28/kitchen-gardens-grow-yummy-veggies-right-outside-your-back-door/

Happy day,
Jean

My Potting Shed

All through the long winter, I dream of my garden. On the first day of spring, I dig my fingers deep into the soft earth. I can feel its energy, and my spirits soar.” ~Helen Hayes

This photo was taken of me with my potting shed shortly after we had it all done... I was so happy- I finally had the perfect spot to put my garden bike!

This photo was taken of me with my potting shed shortly after we had it all done… I was so happy- I finally had the perfect spot to put my garden bike!

If ever a quote expressed my hearts deepest yearning, this would be as close to perfect as I can imagine. The days are promising to grow warmer, so my heart languishes and pines more earnestly for them… Yes, all to soon…. all too soon there will be that earthy smell I love… the trees will begin to bud and then finally burst forth into heavenly blooms and wispy leaves. Spring… come and fill this dead winter world with awe and inspire me.

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I’ve got big plans this year that include repainting my potting shed along with a new bed to wrap around it. A lovely, cheerful aqua blue with white trim will give her an all new look… a more cottage look. Currently the back has several antique garden tools, a shelf and a french door on it (see photo). I am planning on making a bed around one side wrapping around the back. My cut flower raised bed garden is on the other side… so excited to finish that up this year. I’m going to plant two different pink climbing roses at each corner around back. The beds will be planted up primarily with perennials from what I split off my other plants this spring. I’m dreaming of my antique white hydrangea, purple cone flowers, Shasta daisies and pink peonies with several purple bell flowers dancing around them. Of course there will be lavenders, creeping phlox and thyme cascading over the rock border. Dreams… oh waiting for them to come to fruition is such a lesson in patience for me. I will share lots of ‘in progress’ photo’s with all of you, along with all the other projects that are on my list this year! Next post: making your spring garden ‘to-do’ list!

Today’s post is going to be a little bit different… I’m going to tell you the story of how my potting shed came to be.

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The story of my potting shed is quite interesting… at least to me. About six years ago a lady I knew was getting rid of there mini-barn because they were planning on purchasing a larger new one. She went on to explain that they were going to tear it down and burn it. I couldn’t believe it… I thought, “What’s wrong with it?”… so then I asked. Well, they wanted something bigger, there wasn’t really anything wrong with it. “Why?”, she asked, “You want it?” DO I WANT IT! Of course I wanted it! Soooo, as I was driving home elated as a purring cat, I started thinking about how we’d get this 8’x10′ mini-barn home…. hmm, well surely Neil would figure it out, after all, it was free! Dreaming all the way home, I just couldn’t believe it… I was finally going to have a potting shed!

When Neil got home that evening I told him the exciting news and of course, he wasn’t quite as excited and he was thinking more along the lines of a ‘mini-barn’ to store the yard tools, mower and tillers…. and hey, it was free. Neil figured out what we needed to get it home and made arrangements with a friend to help and borrow their skid steer and trailer. Overjoyed is an understatement as to how I felt.

Once the ‘building’ arrived, they put it over on a concrete slab that’s located beside our vegetable garden… perfect ‘temporary’ spot I told him… he didn’t get what I meant, but shrugged it off. I’m sure he was thinking, “Temporary nothing, I’m never moving that beast again.”

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Two years later with tow straps and chains wrapped around it, my potting shed was being dragged across and down the driveway to her ‘permanent’ location… so I thought. Neil stopped for a moment to check something and the strap fell off. He told our daughter, then just thirteen, to get in the truck and when he said to go, lightly give it a bit of gas to tighten it up and move forward s-l-o-w-l-y. There wasn’t much further to go, and it ‘should’ have been fine. Well, Taylor being a bit nervous accidentally put the truck into reverse… In the meantime, Neil was standing between the truck and shed… he later told me he thought for some reason it would be smarter to move out from between and then suddenly… Rrrummmmm! SMASH!!!! right into the front corner of the potting shed. She knocked the frame right off its skid! I was inside… not watching, but I heard the smash and went to the window and looked… oh to my dismay! Neil was ready to burn it in the driveway (remember, we live in the country). Of course I wasn’t about to allow that to happen! Being the optimist I am, I said it would be fine, lets finish taking it to the spot and access the damages and what repairs would need to be made. So, Neil calmed down and took care of it….

After some tucks and band-aids, we resided the outside, put a new floor and walls on the inside- all with boards that Neil milled on our sawmill- it was a whole new building… my Potting Shed! Now it was time to paint the inside and out and then decorate it…

And today, I have a beautiful potting shed that adorns my yard. The sad part to this story is I didn’t take any photos of it before we fixed it up! I had recently been diagnosed with Hypothyroidism and had been quite sick before they found out what was wrong with me… shortly after I had a baby… so no photos. This is a perfect example of why I always encourage my readers to take photos and document your projects. I am so disappointed that I don’t have before and after photos.

In my next post I will show photos of other potting sheds to give you more inspiration!
Please be sure to visit Dragonflies Facebook page for additional daily photos, links and insprirations that can only be seen there…

Also, check out my weekly post at The Detroit News, The Good Life blog… I post the links on my Facebook page… here is a link to view… these are exclusive post! Be sure to LIKE it!
http://blogs.detroitnews.com/thegoodlife/2013/03/21/starting-seeds-and-homemade-potting-mix-recipe/

Happy Day,
Jean
http://www.facebook.com/pages/For-Dragonflies-And-Me/550000798362651?ref=stream
http://www.wreninthewillow.wordpress.com
http://www.facebook.com/pages/Wren-In-The-Willow/137572243072292?ref=hl

Inspiring Photos of Trellis’, Arbors and Pergolas

I mentioned in the last entry that I would post some extra photos of other pergolas, arbors and trellis’…. so as promised here is more inspiration for all my Dragonfly friends. Please share with all your gardening friends! And if you haven’t been over to Dragonflies Facebook, please take a moment to go visit, LIKE and SHARE with your friends for additional daily inspirations, poems, quotes and lots more photos…

This photo is a page we ripped out of a magazine! For several years I have been trying to imagine what I can do with the front part of our farmhouse. It is two stories of white brick with several windows, but the white brick is what ‘hurts’ me… not that I don’t like the white brick… I just don’t do ‘bare’ space well. Even when I scrapbook, I gotta get beyond the bare spots! So anyway, Taylor found this and it was exactly what I’d been dreaming of unknowingly… inspiration, that’s what this is all about!

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I love this look (above phote)… it is a beautiful example of cottage style in your garden as well as living art on a wall as I mentioned in my previous post.

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The above photo is a nice example of a freestanding trellis. These are extremely easy to make and are beautiful with sweet pea or morning glories climbing over them.

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In my last post I talked about creating an ‘invisible’ effect using green baler twine… the photo above is something along those lines, but with white. Very cute in a garden!

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This is a good example of something that would fit into a more formal garden… note the boxwood hedges. Quite lovely!

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This wooden arbor is simple yet elegant (Above photo). This next arbor is quite neat!

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I have never in all my life seen anything as amazing as this pergola… I think we’ll stop here because I’m starting to covet… LOL!

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***These last 3 photos were taken off Gardening Tips And Tricks Facebook page… great site… check em’ out at http://www.facebook.com/GardeningTipsAndTricks

Hope you enjoyed this photo show as much as I enjoyed putting it together… lots of inspiration for all of us… keep posted for my next post on Potting Sheds!

Happy Day,
Jean