26 June 2012, by gj
Whatever part of the world you garden is in, that’s a good place to be.
Here’s what is happening in the northeastern gardens this time of year.
the leaning tower of peas-a
Well, here’s what is happening in ours anyway.
the last of the lettuce, for now
Some nice breakfast radishes are delightful on crusty bread with either butter or coconut spread.
what's for tea, Mum?
Don’t you just love unexpected surprises?
Mother Nature adds her touch.
It won’t be long now…
here come the cukes
What new veggie are you trying?
first time for favas
Eat those bad bugs!
(But leave the good ones alone.)
hard garden workers
Can you see the tiny white flowers?
It’s soo exciting!
I see cranberries come fall
A little dried lavender and chamomile tucked neatly into a pillow helps with sleep problems.
sweet dreams are made of these
I found this unusual abnormality the other day.
It was exciting!
our first set of twins
Less exciting and more plain weird when the second set showed up.
really? another set?
Now that is one popular female zucchini!
at least there's one girl
Have you seen this infestation in your garden?
and I thought the bunnies were bad
The highlight of the gardening season.
now we're talking
Uh oh- Time for some housework!
as long as we know when to come in
Categories: jonesen', keeping up with the joneses
20 March 2012, by gj
Today is the first day of Spring, and as such I have some pictures from my yard to share with you.
There’s also a story I want to tell.
of course the weeds are happy
You see, my youngest child SaveTheWorld was born on the last full day of Winter;
which means, that she starts out every new year of her life stepping into Spring.
At least I like to think of it that way.
And although we gave her an early birthday party when she was home recently on spring break, and I did send her a ‘birthday party in a box’ to celebrate with her friends- I felt sad that she was away from home on her birthday and we could not share a hug.
who us? plotting an escape?
Now it was only just before she started college last fall that we discovered she and I had the same favorite poet- e.e. cummings-
somehow the subject had never come up.
If he is new to you, he can be difficult to read, but oh so enjoyable.
He uses words in unconventional ways that give them more meaning, he rarely used capital letters (only for great emphasis) and did what he wanted with punctuation.
So yesterday, on her birthday- I looked to see if by some chance there was a video recording of one of his poems.
Then I found it- a poem I remember from my college days -and it is not only perfect-
it is himself, reciting the poem.
I did send it to her yesterday, and it made me feel closer to her- knowing that she would enjoy it as much as I did the first time I read it.
the first of the spring veggies
I was also then declared ‘the best Mother eevvveeerrrr!‘
It is just a short video- but it is e.e. cummings describing Spring.
So in honor of her birthday, and in celebration of Spring- I’m posting it for you, too.
Because the best gifts of all are shared.
the wonderousness of nature
Click on the title to go the the video- and here are the words:
i thank You God for most this amazing
i thank You God for most this amazing
day:for the leaping greenly spirits of trees
and a blue true dream of sky; and for everything
which is natural which is infinite which is yes
(i who have died am alive again today,
and this is the sun’s birthday; this is the birth
day of life and of love and wings: and of the gay
great happening illimitably earth)
how should tasting touching hearing seeing
breathing any–lifted from the no
of all nothing–human merely being
doubt unimaginable You?
(now the ears of my ears awake and
now the eyes of my eyes are opened)
e.e. cummings (1894-1962)
Categories: jonesen', special posts
2 March 2012, by gj
If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you may have noticed that I’m a bit of a seed junkie.
I can’t walk past a seed rack without at least looking.
seed rack seeds
And it isn’t the least bit unusual at this time of year to find seed packets in my pockets, car or wallet.
whats in your wallet?
Okay- maybe more than just ‘a bit’ of a junkie.
But when I do buy seeds, I organize them well on my spare room wall.
my personal seed racks
So I was quite surprised when I was looking for some seeds I bought from Seed Savers Exchange on an end-of-the-year clearance last fall, and 3 packets were not there.
Just to be sure I didn’t leave them somewhere else, I looked- in my shoe boxes that hold the large bags of seeds I sometimes buy, and the seeds I’ve saved.
In the envelope the order came in.
So I sent them an email to let them know I did not receive my entire order, and they promptly sent me the 3 packages- this year’s seeds, too- not the end of season ones- along with an apology.
Great customer service!
and one more
A few weeks later, as I stood on the bed putting my latest treasures into the seed racks, I happened to look down and I saw them- they had somehow slipped down beside the bed and were on the floor.
Let me tell you- I felt lower than my lowest earthworm.
I quickly sent them another email, apologizing profusely and asking to be billed for the additional seeds.
Let me just note here that they only know me by my real name, not as Gardening Jones.
So they wrote me back, saying not to worry about it- we all make mistakes; and to keep the seeds or give them away.
So that’s what I’m doing right now-
Just leave a comment on this post and on Monday morning I will let the online randomizer choose who will win the Watermelon and Hot Pepper Seeds.
As for the Sorghum (which is weird anyway) I’m going to plant those seeds. If all goes well, I will be giving away a colorful handmade Broom or Wreath come fall.
NOTE 3/5/12: the winner by online randomizer was wanderingsuz!
Thanks all again for commenting- you’re too funny!
Categories: addiction, gardening people, places & things, jonesen'
10 January 2012, by gj
Not being able to play in the dirt is the worst torture for an avid gardener.
I’m sure many of you are in withdrawal and understand what I’m talking about.
Part of the way we survive the long winters is by reading seed catalogs and books, planning our gardens, and getting ready for that magic moment when we can start seeds indoors.
Part of my survival is also volunteering as a Master Gardener.
This time of year the most I can do is write and help edit our newsletter.
Here is a little piece I put in the most recent edition.
As long as I’ve been gardening, I can never remember which seeds to start when.
I have an idea, don’t get me wrong- but I often find myself looking up the times just in case.
celery seedlings under lights 2011
So here’s my gift to help you through the remaining part of winter:
Copy and paste the list below, print it out and post it in a convenient spot.
Add dates if you’d like.
And know that every time you look at it longingly, you are not alone-
and a little closer to Spring.
Seed Starting Times
Broccoli, Cabbage, Cauliflower, Kohlrabi: 4-6 weeks before transplanting outdoors. Cole crops prefer cooler temps; plant out early spring or fall.
Brussel Sprouts: 6-8 weeks before planting outdoors. Need about 120 days to grow, taste better after a few frosts.
Eggplant: 8 weeks before planting outdoors. Transplant after all danger of frost is past.
Leeks: 10-12 weeks before planting outdoors. Transplant after all danger of frost is past.
Lettuce: 3-4 weeks before planting outdoors. Can handle some colder temperatures.
Melons: 4 weeks or less before planting outdoors. Do not like the cold at all.
Peppers, Sweet & Hot: 8 weeks before planting outdoors. Transplant after all danger of frost is past.
Pumpkins, Winter Squash: 3 weeks before planting outdoors. Can handle cooler temperatures in the fall, but transplant after danger of frost.
Tomatoes: 6 weeks before planting outdoors. Transplant after all danger of frost is past.
I can't wait!
If you really need a gardening ‘fix’- just gently rub a tomato leaf and smell the scent.
Mmmm…smells like summer.
If you need further support, join our FB gardening group.
More on starting seeds.
Categories: addiction, faq's, jonesen'
1 January 2012, by gj
12 months of gardening
New Year’s Resolutions are an odd thing when you come to think of it.
Just because we are starting a new calender, many people decide to make (often undo-able) changes in their lives.
Not this gardener- although I do make changes on my birthdays-
I see that as the real start to a new year.
So instead of resolutions, let’s exchange New Plans for 2012.
Our front garden consisted mostly of ground covers and perennials, and had become rather overgrown.
Until recently when it was leveled in order to add a front porch to the house.
The result is that 2012 will see the front veggie garden I’ve wanted for so long.
our tabla rasa
I also decided to pare down the amount of seeds I have on hand, thereby saving some time when deciding what to plant.
With that in mind I gave away quite a lot of seeds last month.
okay so it may not look pared down
Every year I like to try some new plants, do you?
In 2012 our gardens will see for the very first time:
1. Fava (Broad) Beans
2. Sorghum, in the form of Broom Corn
3. Moon and Stars Watermelon
It probably won’t stop there, so if you have any suggestions…
Now that I am older and my kids are mostly away, I find I have more time and veggies to give back to our community.
In 2012 I will be a part of the opening of our first local Farm Market.
And even better, I will be ‘on call’ for the local emergency food bank-
ready to add some fresh veggies to the goods available to whomever needs a hand.
more veggies to share
Will you be making any changes to your garden this year?
Happy New Year to all from The Jones’-
May your gardens be the best you’ve ever seen, may all aspects of your life grow and prosper-
and when the end of 2012 rolls along, may we all be sad to see it end.
Categories: addiction, jonesen', special posts
1 November 2011, by gj
There are many ways to share the seeds you collect, as well as extras of the ones you buy.
a few notes may be all that is needed
If I find there are many more seeds in a packet then I can use, I usually photocopy the seed packet with the growing conditions on it, take out what I need and place in a clean old seed packet, then share what remains in the original packaging with a friend.
You can also just jot down a few notes, as this packet of pepper seeds in a coin envelope shows- especially if you know the gardener is pretty experienced.
When I’m giving them as a gift, I like to pretty-up my packets.
There are many ways to do this-here’s one idea that’s good if you’re giving out a few, or many.
I bought a box of coin envelopes at Staples that are 3 3/8 x 6 inches tall.
the perfect size now
I know these are too long, but I really like the width being the same as most seed packets.
I also bought some Avery Shipping labels 3 1/3 x 4 inches, 6 labels per page.
Since each label is designed individually, you can add the names of your friends, a greeting, or whatever you like to it.
Using a template I downloaded from the Avery site for free, I added pictures and descriptions of the seeds to the labels.
I first folded the back of the envelope to match the typical seed packet size. Next I attached the label to the front of the envelope, overlapping the sides enough to hold down the folded back.
attach the front label
Then I added the seeds and sealed.
tacking that fold
the most important step
The back label was attached last. Because I’m a stickler for perfection, I did trim the back labels so they would be just the right size.
a simple description
Now if you know the gardener is an experienced one, you can add a recipe instead of growing instructions, or a garden quote or joke.
Just remember to have the name of the seed and the year.
You could even label a packet “Magic Beans” or “Mystery Squash” which would be fun, tho you may want to indicate whether the beans are pole or bush, and the squash summer or winter.
pick of the crop
If you’re wondering why these seed packets are labeled Mandolin’s Picks- it’s because I’ve been enjoying giving away the Timber Press books every first Friday of the month so much, that I decided when they are gone I’m going to give away seeds instead.
So I asked Mandolin, of all the seeds I saved- what would he ‘pick’.
“Pick?” he said, with his version of an Irish accent, “Well then, let’s see what I would pick.”
And in typical musician fashion, he pulled a mandolin pick from his pocket and started using it to point at the seeds he’d suggest. “I’d pick this one, and this one…and oh yes, I’d pick this one for sure.”
He’s so cute when he thinks he’s being funny.
Seed Acquisition pt. 1
A very creative yet simpler way to share seeds.
Categories: gifts from the garden, jonesen'
16 October 2011, by gj
Fall or Autumn?
These two words, although referring to the same season, have different meanings to me.
Fall seems so negative.
As a newbie gardener, I always thought of Fall as the end.
Once the garlic gets planted, it’s all over until May.
Now I know that after the frost I can still check on the parsnips and scorzonera, make horseradish, and savor some cabbages; gardeners in the northeast can continue to harvest carrots until the ground freezes, and enjoy kale even if they have to brush some snow away,
So I prefer to think of this time of year as Autumn.
Colorful landscapes, crisp breezes, hot chocolate and warm jammies.
Just the right time for homemade soups and bread.
Time to enjoy the beauty of the trees and the anticipation of next year’s gardens.
And when I feel the need to experience summer again, there’s always some strawberry jam on the shelf.
autumn in the northeast
Categories: addiction, jonesen'
26 August 2011, by gj
for when you're feeling rosey
When this site reached 10,000 readers last Earth Day, I was thrilled and shocked.
To double it- that is, to have another 10,000 unique and lovely people stop by during the next 4 months, is beyond my wildest dreams.
You see, you are the ones that are dong this.
There’s no ‘advertising’ or ‘marketing’ budget- but there’s something much better- there’s y’all.
Other than a few ads that Facebook and Google were gracious enough to let me trial for free, this has been mostly by word of mouth.
I couldn’t be happier!
or when you're feeling blue
So, in order to celebrate, I’m going to give you something back.
I’ve been playing with stone tiles since last winter, hand-stamping them and then using my oil and watercolor pencils to finish.
I am just starting to sell them on my website, as a way to help me pay for what has now become a blogging-about-gardening addiction.
So I’m going to give away two sets of coasters.
The winners get to pick their 4 favorites to customize their very own set- unique like each of you are.
More pictures here on the website.
Here’s all you need to do:
For one custom set of 4:
Just leave a comment here. Say anything- where you’re from, how long you’ve been gardening- whatever you like.
If this is your first time, I’ll just need to ‘approve’ it and then it will show up.
Comment as much as you like, but only one will count for this random drawing.
even times you're feeling cocky
For the second set of 4:
Get your friends involved.
Share this link with your friends, suggest they leave a comment- which enters them into the contest for the first set.
PLUS- Ask them to mention you in that comment (first name, and first initial of your last name.)
As in, ‘Patty H. told me about your blog’.
This will give you another chance to win.
For the second set, every time a different friend mentions your name, you get another entry.
So, you get a shot when you comment, and another shot for every friend that comments with your name mentioned.
I'll be here for you!
‘Cause that’s what friends are for.
This contest is open to everyone, just enter by midnight EST on August 31, 2011.
Good luck- and Thanks Sooooo Much! for stopping by
How to Make Decroative Tiles
Categories: jonesen', special posts
23 August 2011, by gj
too many tomatoes, not enough time
The last thing a veggie garden should be is stressful.
That being said, having a large garden designed to grow enough food to be preserved, can become just that.
Especially if you’re new to gardening.
Some veggies aren’t going to wait until you are ready- until the housework is done or the kids are taken care of, or until you get some vacation time or the grass is mowed…
When a whole bunch of tomatoes are ripe there’s nothing much you can do about it-
or is there?
I was picking a lot of ripe romas late Sunday evening, too late to start a batch of salsa, simmer it long enough and have it canned- since I had to be up early for work the next day.
That’s when I thought of the title for this post,
and decided to share some tricks you can use to deal with your harvest- on your own terms.
do part of the job now
Tomatoes- freeze ‘em.
I don’t peel mine anyway, so I just cut into chunks, toss them into a bag and freeze.
This way, I can make marinara or salsa when I’m good and ready.
I’ll also have cut tomatoes on hand to add to chili come fall.
You can do the same with cherry tomatoes- cut them in half and freeze for chili or soups.
Peppers- Hot and Sweet can easily be frozen, too. No blanching needed.
I chop mine and freeze them, again ready for salsa making when the time is right.
Say, like a nice wintery day in November.
Peppers-hot for making hot sauce- place them in a jar in the fridge and cover with vinegar.
This is great especially if you are only getting a few peppers at a time, you can wait to make the sauce when you are ready.
Cucumbers- Similarly, you can cut them up and place in a jar with a pickling brine in it. You can even just keep them this way or can them up when you have time. Likewise beans, though you’ll most likely want to add some other flavors before pickling.
Onions- it’s important to get them out of the ground when they are ready, but after that there’s no rush.
Leave them to dry on a screen for a few weeks, then store in the fridge.
If you’re chopping onions anyway, chop extra; bag and freeze.
Cabbage- get it out of the garden, too; overripe cabbage can split.
It stores well, so no bother after that.
Carrots- can stay in the ground until it freezes, no rush.
Potatoes-also ok in the ground, but they can become hard to find (like onions).
Just pick and take them inside, you’ll be surprised how long they last.
If you do have a lot, lucky you!
When baking or making mashed taters, double the recipe and freeze half; keep them frozen until you run out of fresh.
It’s a great way to finish out the winter.
Corn- gets bad if left on the stalk too long; if you’re boiling some to eat, blanche a few of the extra and freeze while you’re at it.
That’s right, frozen corn on the cob- how’s that for an off season treat!
Zucchini- every gardener’s mistake. You’re on your own here.
My best suggestion is to plant less and eat them small.
Even better, plant an heirloom- the flavor is outstanding.
salsa on hold
People will ask me where I find the time, with a family and a full time job plus all my maniac hobbies, to have such a huge garden and preserve food.
I just smile and say- ‘Oh, I have a few tricks.’
What have you got up your sleave?
Categories: how to store, jonesen', other
26 June 2011, by gj
some of my tools
I was helping Mandolin and his sisters yesterday, getting their Dad’s house ready to be placed on the market.
Among the tasks I did was to clean up the fireplace (no Cinderella jokes, my sisters-in-law are wonderful.)
The fireplace screen was bolted in but broken- I was able to remove one bolt by hand but the other was in tight.
Mandolin showed me The Socket Wrench- whoa Nellie did this thing work great!
“Man Tools” he responded to my enthusiasm, with his characteristic accent… “Tools for Men-Real Men.”
Fast forward to today- me making Feta Cheese, and then canning homegrown strawberries in syrup.
STW comes home from work and we decide, since she wants to learn how to bake this summer, we’d make (she’d make, I’d assist as needed) scratch biscuits (after all, we need to sample those strawberries before we ‘force’ them on anyone).
I was putting the biscuits that remained away as the chimes rang on my dishwasher to signal the completed cycle (yes, it plays a merry little tune- it’s just that cute) when I noticed the sink.
tools I'll share
‘Woman Tools’ I thought, ‘Tools for Women- Real Women.’
and more tools
and decided to ask for a Socket Wrench for Christmas this year.
(Recipes for everything to follow, I promise!)