2011

Auld Lang What?

It seems like only recently that people were trying to break the habit of referring to the year as oh-something-
08, 09 and not only did I hear numerous 0-10′s I heard a few 0-11′s. :-)

bakers creek 2011 calender

goodbye '0-11

But here we stand again ready to close out what is done and start anew.

With that in mind, I thought I’d share with you a few of my favorite things.
Now don’t get excited, I’m not Oprah-
my gift to you is only readable, not tangible.

So if you were to ask me-
“Hey GJ- what’s your favorite…”

Seed Catalog

Johnny’s Seeds.
Although there are some gorgeous catalogs out there, and others with the most fab selections and pics- Johnny’s has it all. What I like the most is that they tell you everything you need to grow each veggie, as well as giving you the botanical name. How will you know if your squashes might cross pollinate if you don’t know who’s related to whom?
Is it an heirloom or open-pollinated variety of seed? Yeppers- they answer questions like that too.
I keep my catalogs and use them for reference all year long.

Order one, you’ll see what I mean.
To top it off, they have great customer service, but we’re talking catalogs here… I digress.

johnnys seeds 2011 catalog

a very well read catalog

Plant to Grow

I was actually asked this by Your Garden Show after placing in the Top 25 Fabulous Food Gardens.
Tough question to answer.
Trying to narrow it down I thought- what’s the easiest to plant…no, what stores the best…no, and so on.

Then it hit me- what attracts the most pollinators to my garden? (without which I would not have many of the veggies I do).

Sunflowers. That’s my favorite- and not only do the bees go mad for them, they look great, and you can roast and eat the seeds.
Win x 3.

bees and sunflower

how many bees do you sees?

Soil Amendment

This may be one for argument amongst gardeners, but what I have had the best success with so far is composted mushroom soil.
Note that I have not tried worm castings yet, and I will be this spring; but the load of mushroom soil I got led to a fabulous garden for me and all I had to do was shovel.
Also note that my garden is huge and was in terrible need of help.

Gardening Blog

Seriously- how could you ask me that?
Oh wait, I guess I’m asking me that.

There are sooo many great gardening blogs out there! Here’s a few I like.

I do tend to favor edible gardening blogs, though I also like a few on ‘food for the soul’ gardening.

If really pressed to choose- I’d pink the one that I read that is completely different than the rest.
Mad Bioneer.

This is a very intellectual take on gardening, and I like that a lot.
It reminds me of my days in college, both as a youth and again as an adult-
and how much better my brain felt when it was being challenged.

It’s like Zumba for your Gray Mass.

This topic was posted on Gardening (in real life) and a few more questions were asked by my Facebook Friends (love you guys!):

Heather: season for planting?

What a great question -I know I would never have thought of it!
I’d have to pick Spring, even though it’s not my favorite weather to be out in- cool and damp…
but after waiting all late fall and long winter to get my hands dirty, the enjoyment is that much more.
It’s the main reason I grow peas.

Amber: Dish to make prepared with fresh produce?

Yikes!

Crick Pot Veggie Lasagna – would be my favorite dish because it uses darn near any veggie and is so easy to make.

Soup would be my favorite general category, because there are so many wonderful ways to eat homegrown veggies all year round.

Janet: ‎Irish fiddle tune?
:-D
A little off topic, but I’d pick (pun intended) Whiskey Before Breakfast – the first tune I learned to play fast.

Beth: versatile broad bean?

What kind of Bean?
To be honest I had never heard of a broad bean before… so the conversation went like this:

Gardening (in real life): OMGoodness Beth! What’s a Broad Bean? Seriously, like a Fava? I’m feeling bean illiterate.

Beth: Then that’s a good research question for you and a new plant for your garden next summer!! Broad beans are like Limas and Favas and OH SO YUMMY drenched in butter!

Gardening (in real life): Now I need to order me some Broad Bean Seeds- all I’ve ever grown were some Limas, that I was the only one that ate! Yay I love growing stuff that nobody else eats :-D

bean seeds pkts

move over boys company's 'acomin

So…how would you answer the question of favorite things?

Wikipedia Auld Lang Syne

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Categories: FAQs, Jonesen'

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How to Grow – Basil

homegrown herbs

The best herb jars.

When posed the question:
“If you could only grow two herbs, which would you choose?”

More than 20 herbs were listed, overwhelmingly Basil was mentioned.
We would have to agree, and thing of it more as a veggie than an herb.

homegrown herbs

Fine Leaf Basil

The most commonly grown variety is the Large Leaf, AKA Italian Basil.
This is what is usually used for Pesto Sauce.
There are many other types, including flavors like Lemon and Cinnamon, as well as Thai and other Asian Basil plants.

fresh basil

Italian Large Leaf Basil

Basil seeds can take a long time to germinate, be patient.
You can grow it indoors or out (after frost), most types are container friendly.
Planting is easy, just give them a few inches between plants, more for the taller varieties.
I generally direct seed in between my rows of tomatoes, this helps cut down on weeds.
Yay!
Pinching back the tops of the plants will make them get bushier and produce more.

Use fresh until you see it start to produce flowers, also known as bolting- at this point the plant won’t be growing any more leaves and will lose that lush, healthy look.
Now’s the time to harvest.

pesto sauce

green gold

We would always make a lot of Pesto Sauce, and dry the rest of the leaves, until a first generation Italian woman told me drying Basil was for amateurs.
“The real way to store it is to freeze the leaves, then you just break off what you need.”

So if you were wondering why the first picture doesn’t have a jar marked Basil-
now you know.

Botanical Name: Ocimun basilicum
Days to maturity: 60-80
Yield: One bushy plant per seed.
Spacing: 8″
Harvest: As needed but before the frost.
Buon appetito
How to Make Pesto Sauce
Pesto Quesadilla
Pesto-Spinach Pizza
Pesto Cheese Bread

Categories: Herbs, How to Grow

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Saving the World pt. 2

“What’s the simplest thing a person can do to make the world better?” I asked STW,
“Do one small thing each day” was her answer.

She went on to explain that a person needs to start small and go from there.
I’d agree- even just smiling at another person or saying “Good morning” may have a ripple effect.
The more you do little things like that, the more they’ll come naturally to you.

laughing gnome

happiness is contagious

Now I know many of you are already there- I don’t think you could be a pessimistic person and be reading these posts.
So I’d add that there’s another easy way to change the world by doing so right where you live-
and that’s to buy local whenever possible.

It really is easier than you might think-
start small by just looking at tags and boxes to see where what you buy is made.
After a while, it becomes a habit- and soon you’ll find that you know a lot of it already, especially when it comes to grocery products.

locally made honey

bringing home this little guy helps my neighbors

You might be wondering how buying flour or tea bags that are made closer to your home can help save the world.
The answer is that it helps by improving the economy in your part of the world, which improves the lives of your family and neighbors.

The reverse is also true-
when you buy cheap imported products your money leaves the country and so do jobs.
I know that’s oversimplifying things, but I said I was going to keep this easy to do.

Basically what I’m saying is that you can save the world if you start by living your life consciously- being aware that you can, with a few simple words, make someone’s day better; and by taking a few seconds to be aware of where what you consume comes from.

I have some specific ways you can help and I’ll be sharing those soon.
In the meantime- Have a Great Day! :-)

(see- don’t you feel a little happier?)
Laughter is Contagious
More on Buying Locally

Categories: Keeping up with the Joneses, You are What You Eat

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Saving the World pt.1

gardening jones' vision board

I see three angels.

My youngest recently came home from her first semester in college.
As soon as we were done unloading the car, off she went to work…
of course, by the end of the day, she was so exhausted she just slept.

Now the next day she was off, and like any red-blooded American kid she relaxed by playing video games and reading for fun.

Then she did what any teenage kid would after working so hard at school the last few months and having 4 weeks off before classes resume- she opened a textbook she purchased for next semester, and began to study.

As I watched her I realized something.
You see, it was just two years ago she suggested I write this blog-
“You can teach people how to garden” she said, “you can help them if you share what you know.”

At the time I gave her the fictitious name -you do know these aren’t our real names, right? :-P
-of SaveTheWorld, descriptive of her attempt, like many enthusiastic young adults, to fix all the problems in the world, both large and small.

She started lending me books and sending me links about Slave Chocolate and Factory Farming.
She showed by her example a better way to live-
~don’t just buy a pair of shoes because they are trendy, buy a pair that donates a pair to a child in need
~get the water bottle that helps build wells in underprivileged countries
~flip over that box and see where the product is made before you purchase it

She changed the way I look at things, and because of that-
she also has changed the lives of the over 38,000 people who have been to this blog in 2011.

If you have learned anything here,
then she has changed your life too.

The reason I’m posting this is to show how easily one person can make a difference.
Now I know you are busy, so in pt. 2 I’ll show you even easier ways you can Save the World, too.

If one girl can make a difference, certainly if we do it together, there will be real change.

Tom’s Shoes
The Water Project Shop

Categories: Keeping up with the Joneses, You are What You Eat

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Real Gardening Women:

gardening gloves

gloves are for kids

Don’t wear gloves

“Need help loading that, Ma’am?” … are you serious?

Have muscles

Don’t have ‘Honey Do’ lists
…well, maybe short ones

japanese beetles

not in my garden you don't

Are not afraid of bugs

Can do at least some of the ‘grunt’ work, if not all

Have their own Tool Shed

pitchfork

and know how to use tools

Don’t mind the word ‘hoe’

Wear rubber boots

Know a Real Gardening Woman?

How would you finish the line: Real Gardening Women…

Categories: Addiction

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Five Cheese Stuffed Onions

homegrown onions

homegrown is best

My daughter-in law brought wonderful Stuffed Onions to our Thanksgiving table this year, and I’ve been thinking about them since.
I had never heard of stuffing onions, though it make sense (and I love onions!)
Not sure how to go about making them, I looked online and found numerous recipes.
Still…

stuffing onions

hollow out your onions

Now today we’re going to pick up SaveTheWorld from college for winter break- Yay!!!
And she’s going to want a home cooked meal for a change, but by the time we get home nobody is going to feel like cooking.
So last night I prepped a Crock Pot Veggie Lasagna that we can just turn it on while we unload the car, and hug- a lot.

While I was making the filling I thought, hmmm…

I have to tell you here that our onions mostly did not get very big last summer, the cold and wet weather just stunted them.
And of course, the bigger onions always get used first.
So what I had to work with would be perfect for an appetizer.

stuffing onions

ready and waiting

I used the small side of a melon-baller to hollow them out, you can use a spoon or whatever works for you.
Chop the pieces of onion that you removed and then sauteed them with some fresh garlic.
You can also chopped some black olives, but chop them smaller that the picture shows.

cheese filling

cheese and olives

Combine Ricotta, Mozzarella, Cheddar and Cottage Cheeses (or choose your favorites) with some bread crumbs and a eggs. I added a little dill, you could choose basil or marjoram instead.
Add in the olives, garlic and onions.

Stuff the filling into each onion and prop them up as best you can, I used foil to hold them together.
Filling a pan would also do the trick.
Lining the pan with foil makes for an easier clean-up too.

Top with some Parmesan cheese and bake in a preheated moderate oven (350F) until the cheese begins to brown and bubble.

stuffed onions

ready for the oven

These little ones took about 25 minutes, that may vary depending on the size of your onions.
I was thinking a little red and green chopped peppers would be a nice colorful, and flavorful, touch.

stuffed onions

mmmmm!

The smallest ones were perfect for a bite size, and it got me to thinking…
I’m kid of glad now these onions grew small, next year I think I pick some early so just for stuffing.

If you like onions:
Red Onion Marmalade
Honeyed Red Onions

Categories: Recipes

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The Right Stuff

This post is inspired by a recent discussion that took place in the Facebook group Gardenaholics Anonymous.

in the garden

real gardeners show their plants

Unlike many other similar groups, this one is not about photos- it is really about helping other gardeners.

We got to talking about all the misinformation that is out in the media.
Older gardeners, like many of us there, know the difference between a spade and a hoe- and we know when someone is faking it.

Now of course, anyone can make a mistake, I certainly have.

But I don’t make a lot, for two reasons:

1. I’ve walked the walk first, I don’t write about anything I haven’t actually done.
2. To be sure, I always double check that my info is correct before I post it.

That’s how I know how much bull manure is out there.
Even worse, some people just rewrite and re-post the wrong information they find, because they don’t even know it IS wrong.

homegrown veggies

homegrown or farmers market?

I was recently interviewed for the site Your Garden Show and was asked this question:

What’s your best tip for new gardeners?

“Don’t be scared. You put a bean seed in some soil, give it water and sun and you get beans. Growing your own food is that simple. There are people out there who like to make it sound complicated, but really it isn’t. That’s why I started to blog about it. I want all gardeners, especially new gardeners, to know that anyone can grow food. The best way to learn how is to talk to someone who does it. Just ask, gardeners are a friendly bunch and more than willing to share what they know, and probably a few plants and seeds along the way.”

That’s my advice to every gardener- just because you see a video on youtube, or read an article online- that doesn’t mean it’s right.
Find another source- if you have a written source, ask in a gardening group, or ask a neighbor- better yet, ask another gardener what works for them.

Here’s just one blatant example of misinformation.
How To (not) Grow Corn
If you were to follow this advice, you wouldn’t get ANY ears of corn.

And BTW- corn is a grain, more on that coming soon.

Here’s my video, just so you won’t have the wrong info stuck in your head:
How to Grow Corn

I have found the most accurate sources of information to be anything published by a State Cooperative Extension and Cornell University.

Other than that, take what you find on the internet with a ‘grain’ of salt- you might just find better information on the seed packet.

Categories: Addiction, FAQs, Gardening

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Cross-Pollination, pt. 2 “Why?”

baby corn on the stalk

wind pollinated

The down side of cross pollination is that it effects the seeds of your veggies.
If you don’t save seeds, then you need only concern yourself with 3 veggies:
1. Corn
2. Peppers
and to a lesser extent
3. Shell Beans

What you see and eat on an ear of corn is the seeds.
If you were to let them dry, you could plant them next season.
But that’s a different post.

If you are growing different varieties of corn, say maybe one for popcorn, another as an Autumn ornamental and a third to eat fresh- these could actually cross-pollinate and mess with your mind.
As well as your meals.

Similarly, Hot and Sweet Peppers, although they are self-pollinators, can cross pollinate.
When you eat a hot pepper- what’s the hot part? The seeds.
If your hots mess with your sweets it can make for some interesting meals as well.
Been there.

Likewise Shell Beans might cross-pollinate, but unless you are a connoisseur of said bean, I can’t see that it would matter…they’re all good.

bees and sunflower

pollinators

If you are into saving seeds, you have much more to consider.
For example, if you are planting an heirloom tomato and another type, heirloom or not- they could cross pollinate.
The resulting seed would not be true.

hand pollinating squash pumpkin flower

get the pollen from the male flower

The most common cross pollination problems I’ve seen has been amongst the squashes.
They’re notorious!

In these, at least- it won’t affect the fruit you get, but it can affect the seeds.

“OMGardening Goodness- What can I do?!?!”
Relax, it’s easy.

If you’re not into saving seeds, just separate the corn, pepper and shell bean varieties from each other.
They could still cross-pollinate, but it’s less likely.

If you are into saving seeds:

-For wind pollinators- separate them by as much space as you can. Cover the plant that you wish to save the seed from with a paper bag, thus keeping the pollen within a small area and sheltering the female from foreign pollen.
-For self-pollinators, likewise. Remember, you only need seed from one or a two veggies to save for the next year.
-For insect pollinators it’s a whole different story. Unless you are the only gardener for many’s a mile, you’ll need to take specific precautions to save seed that’s true. Fortunately, this isn’t that hard to do.

hand pollinating squash pumpkin flower

get that pollen in there

Choose the female flower(s) you want to save the fruit from.
Hand pollinate it from a male flower’s pollen (my friend Maureen referred to the act as ‘empowering’) as soon as it opens.
Cover this with a mesh bag to keep any insects out while the fruit forms.
Once it starts to develop, you can remove the bag, but be sure to mark that fruit (a loose twist tie on the stem work) so you’ll know whose seeds to save.
If the fruit doesn’t form, or falls off- your attempt was unsuccessful.
Try again.

So that’s the scoop on cross-pollination.
If your Zucchini or Cucumber you planted looks funky this year, unless you saved the seeds from last year- it probably isn’t cross pollination.

Just blame it on the weather.

You can find Part 1 here.

Categories: FAQs, Gardening

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Cross-Pollination, pt. 1 “How?”

snow pea

up close and personal with your veggies

This may be more information than you want, but it makes for lively conversation at parties. :-)

Pollination refers to the transfer of pollen from the male reproductive part of a flower to the female reproductive part of a flower.

Cross-pollination refers to the transfer of pollen from the flower of one plant to a flower of another plant.
This could be your two zucchinis growing side by side, or your spaghetti squash and the pumpkin in a nearby bed.

Now you may be thinking, “Wow! I guess I must be really lucky my whole garden hasn’t just run amuck cross pollinating everything!”
Not just luck, nature.

You see, the plants have to be related first- a tomato cannot cross pollinate with a green bean.
Though I’ve seen many a green tomato and have enjoyed eating red beans- but they’re not cross pollinated, don’t worry.

“Then which veggies will cross pollinate?” <–see, I can read your mind.

Let me first explain how different veggies reproduce.

pea flower
this pea flower has already self pollinated

-Some veggies self-pollinate. This means that the pollen remains on the flower. Tomatoes, for example, have male and female reproductive parts in every flower that are designed in such a way as to make it difficult for the pollen from any other flower to get in by accident. But not impossible.

Other self-pollinating veggies include: tomato’s relatives- eggplant and peppers, and many legumes such as beans and peas. I also understand lettuce does.

squash flowers

male and female squash flowers

-Some kinds of veggies are wind-pollinated, meaning simply that the pollen is carried from the male to the female by wind. The best example of this is corn, when the pollen falls from the tassels above to the silks below. Other wind-pollinated veggies include spinach, beets and chard.

-Pretty much everything else is pollinated by insects.

“So why does this matter and what can I do about it?”
Wow, you are full of questions today aren’t you!

bean flower

the beauty of nature

Let’s just let this information set a spell.
Come back tomorrow and I’ll answer your last question.
Read Part 2 here.

Categories: FAQs, Gardening

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Pole Beans Vs. Bush Beans

bean flower

beauty at a higher level

When planning your garden, whether to grow pole beans or bush beans is more often a decision that’s based on what variety of beans you want.

If you are looking for a basic table green bean, then you have to make a decision.

beans seed packets

good to grow up

Pole beans will generally yield more veggie per space they use.
You can buy numerous types of supports, use your own fence or trellis, or hand make a simple teepee style to grow your beans up.

I’ve also seen some wonderful lean-to’s, a simple square wooden frame with screening attached.
When used at an angle with support, lettuce will grow well underneath and benefit from the shade the frame offers.

beans seed packets

more choices

Other than green beans, the variety of bean will determine the growing method.
Yard-long beans are a fun to grow pole bean.

bean seed packets

and let's not forget

In the Jones’ garden you’ll find more shell beans planted than anything else.
These are typically bush beans, but they do produce well for the amount of space they take.
Since they dry on the plant, they are easy to harvest and store.

beans seed drying

drying shell beans

However, in an effort to waste no space- if you look behind the asparagus growing by the fence, I’ll bet you’ll see some type of pole bean growing up.

What’s your favorite bean to grow?

Categories: Beans, Gardening

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