Many Things to Celebrate

bees and sunflower

Better together.

Dear Gardening Friends,

Since we began posting late in the fall of 2009, we have had many occasions to celebrate-

A graduation, weddings, beginnings at college, the birth of our grandson.

We also have had the wonderful experience to get to connect with many like minded gardeners both seasoned and new, professionals in the field, wonderful entrepreneurs who love gardening, garden writers, and all around fantastic people whom we are happy everyday to be linked to.

By answering questions and listening/reading what others say, we have learned a great deal, and our gardens show it.
That gift is also priceless.

Our friendly group Gardenaholics Anonymous is fast approaching 3000 members, and if you look to the right you will see this blog is about to break 200,000 wonderful people who took the time to stop by.

Even our personal page on Facebook stays just shy of that ominous 5000 mark and the new page past 1400.

So this post is a Big Grin Thank You! to all of you for being a part of our lives, even if our only connection is through the written word- we are still connected.

Very soon this site will reach the Quarter Million mark.
Can you believe it?
If you had suggested that might happen 4 years ago, we would have laughed so hard we probably would have gotten the hiccups.
Or worse. :-)

So as another Thank You! we are planning something (Shhh!!! It is a surprise!)
For now, we just want you to know how much y’all mean to us, and we hope we have helped you in someway because you sure have made a great difference to us!

Namaste and Happy Harvesting!


Categories: Addiction, jonesen'



How To Get Your Garden Organized

It is wonderful every year to get things just a little more organized and free up some wasted time that is better spent gardening.

Here are a few ideas we have found to help:

The garden notebook keeps growing.

The garden notebook keeps growing.

  • A garden notebook can keep a lot of the information from previous years as well as what is collected throughout the year for the upcoming season. Include a flash-drive for what you find online.
  • Likewise a clipboard can not only keep you planting maps handy, it is an easy way to hold seed packets that are slated to go out to the garden for planting. Just use the clip to keep them safe from spilling or blowing away.
  • A potting table allows for an area to organize your supply of soils, amendments and fertilizers.
Right at our fingertips.

Right at our fingertips.

  • We use a free seed rack from the local farm & garden store to keep seeds organized. This year the stash has been reduced from 3 racks to one, to further simplify garden planning and seed ordering.
Oh... there you are!

Oh… there you are!

One thing that eludes us is keeping track of tools.
It is as if the small ones intentionally hide, and the larger ones are like chameleons blending into their surroundings.

  • Here is a solution we are going to use this upcoming spring: Use duct tape, now also called ‘duck’ tape or paint to brightly color the handles on your tools, making them easier to find. We have in the past used the wonderful idea of adding an old mailbox to your garden area to hold tools.
    We did learn to be careful it is mounted level or pointing towards the ground, otherwise rain water can get in.
    Some lessons are always learned the hard way.

What tips do you have for staying organized?

Categories: gardening, jonesen', saving money & time, techniques


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8 New Plants for the Jones’ 2014 Garden

Ready to go.

Ready to go.

Many gardeners have already either ordered their seeds for the upcoming year, or at least made tentative plans.

Although we are still in the planning stage, there are a few things we expect know we will be adding in this year:

1. Sugar beets
Concerns about our food supply combined with our efforts to be more self-sufficient have led us to look at growing sugar. White sugar beets have a higher sugar content than regular red beets, and can be dried and ground into a powdered sweetener.
This should be interesting fun fun fun!

2. Tomatillos
Our daughter in law and son gave us some of the abundant crop of these green beauties last summer, and we were hooked. The salsa verde that resulted is both a treat to the eyes as well as a wonderful topping to many dishes.
Now we want need more from our own garden.

3. Salsify
Scorzonera, or ‘black salsify, is a delightful root veggie that we have grown in the past, but we have never planted salsify.
We’re thinking a side-by-side taste comparison would be a great way to find the difference between the two a neat way to spend an afternoon in the kitchen.

Prepping for 2014

Prepping for 2014.

4. Parsley root
Up until a few weeks ago, we didn’t even know this existed.
Just think of the possibilities of a parsley-flavored root veggie.
This time next year we are looking forward to trying a recipe few lot of recipes out.

5. Bitter melon
This is a veggie we had heard of, but never grew. The bitterness is mild and lends itself well to oriental dishes, which we love eat almost daily.
Do we see a ‘fun in the kitchen’ theme here?

6. ‘Lunchbox’ sweet peppers
The plan here is to stuff these as they ripen and toss in the freezer for a quick winter snack or side dish.
No need to blanch, how easy is that?
If the crop is really abundant, we might absolutely will try some pickled as well.
If it is good enough for Peter Piper, hey, it works for us too.

7. Strawberry spinach
This unusual veggie caught our attention in Baker Creek’s seed catalog.
If your spinach is going to bolt anyway, it may as well produce bright red edible berries.
The catalog describes the flavor as bland, but we’re thinking it should would be a delight conversation piece in a tossed salad.

8. Amaranth
Technically, this is not new to our garden as we did grow both yellow and red a number of years ago.
Unfortunately, we didn’t know you can eat the grain it produces.
We just tasted that recently and it had wonderful flavor, not to mention lovely on the plate.
It is considered a highly nutritious ‘pseudo-grain’ and will be a good one to grow for our health another food we can play with in the kitchen.

Is it ever enough?

Is it ever enough?

Of course we may very well end up with other veggies we haven’t planned on, as there is always something new out there to find.
And isn’t that just a part of the wonderful hobby habit called Gardening?

Categories: gardening, jonesen'


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The Good, The Bad, and The Say-What?

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.

snow or sugar peas

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?

fava beans

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!

cranberry blooming

I see cranberries come fall

A little dried lavender and chamomile tucked neatly into a pillow helps with sleep problems.
Really really.


sweet dreams are made of these

I found this unusual abnormality the other day.
It was exciting!

twin male zucchini

our first set of twins

Less exciting and more plain weird when the second set showed up.

zucchini twins

really? another set?

Now that is one popular female zucchini!

female zucchini flower

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!

garden poetry

as long as we know when to come in

Categories: jonesen', Keeping up with the Joneses



i thank You God

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.

spring chickens

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.

spring parsnips

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.

spring lilies

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



Good Seed

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.

seeds from the store

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.

seed junkie

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.

seed organization

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.

seed savers exchange

organic seeds

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!

seed savers exchange

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'



Antsy in the Pantsy

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.

purple and green cabbage seedlings


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

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.

baby tomato plants

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.
Even more.

Categories: Addiction, faq's, jonesen'



A Year to Grow

old farmers almanac

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.

tabla rasa

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.

seed racks

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.

new garden plans

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



Seed Acquisition pt. 2 -Sharing

There are many ways to share the seeds you collect, as well as extras of the ones you buy.

sharing seeds

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.

turning coin envelopes into seed packets

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.

turning coin envelopes into seed packets

attach the front label

Then I added the seeds and sealed.

the front label holds the back fold down

tacking that fold

saving seeds

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.

avery labels make it easy

a simple description

make your own seed packets

all set

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.

homemade seed packets

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.
Saving Seeds

Categories: gifts from the garden, jonesen'



A Sunday Drive

Fall or Autumn?

decorative grasses in 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.

autumn in northeast usa

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,

autumn in northeast usa

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.

autumn in northeast usa

Time to enjoy the beauty of the trees and the anticipation of next year’s gardens.

an autumn garden

an autumn garden

an autumn garden

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'


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Everything here is original (unless otherwise noted) and has legal copyright 2014 by Gardening Jones (tm), and cannot be re-posted or reproduced without permission. Any re-posting of information, photographs, and/or recipes is considered theft and subject to prosecution.

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