category: gardening

Posted by in gardening

planting kitchen herbs

{chamomile}

there’s just nothing like using freshly picked herbs in the kitchen.  i cherish them dearly and they make our dishes so delectable, savory and often times more beautifully presented. most culinary herbs are easy to grow indoors and make it easy to pick from your own mini herb garden year round!  you can plant them in individual pots, or in one container easy to move around.  most herbs are easily germinated from seed but are often very affordable as starters at your local hardware store or nursery.

planting kitchen herbs

{sneak peek from sfgirlbybay}

best herbs for the kitchen:

basil: sweet, fragrant leaves that are commonly used in sauces, pesto, salads and italian dishes.  an easy grower that produces in the summer and fall and needs maximum sunlight.

chives: a member of the onion family; best used in potatoes, salads and on fish.

dill: used in many asian and mediterranean dishes, dill has aromatic fern like scrumptious tops.

mint: fresh and clean herb, best used in drinks, salads and sweet dishes.

oregano: often used in italian dishes, tomato sauces and on veggies.  easy to grow with many health benefits.

parsley: usually used uncooked and as a garnish; has a very mild flavor.

rosemary: woody and fragrant, best used on potatoes, bread or vegetables (my favorite!).

sage: has a slightly peppery flavor, often used in meats or in italian dishes.

thyme: a basic ingredient in numerous cuisines, an essential and aromatic herb to grow.

planting kitchen herbs

{::herbs::}

growing tips: most herbs prefer sunny locations, either outside or in a south facing window. make sure the bottom of your pot or planting area has a drainage hole, as herbs prefer well drained soil. make sure that each herb has a depth 7-9 inches for root growth. consider keeping invasive herbs such as mint, lemon balm and peppermint growing separately so as not to overcrowd the others.

kitchen herbs

here’s my latest project and how i made my mini kitchen herb garden! i ran across this old tool box on a vintage hunt recently, and couldn’t wait to get home and plant it up.

kitchen herbs

after drilling a few holes in the bottom for proper drainage, i filled her with good organic potting soil and planted my sage, rosemary, basil, oregano and dill. i also added an aloe plant, a cactus and a succulent at the end, just to spruce it up  a bit.

kitchen herbs

i think this is my all time favorite garden project! i love the tool box because i can easily move into the sunshine, and then indoors for the winter.  happy planting!

simple living

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vertical gardens

July 6, 2010

Posted by in gardening

my jaw dropped when i ran across these vertical gardens over on flora grubb, what a beautiful take on wall art!

vertical garden

vertical garden

vertical garden

vertical garden

vertical garden

i immediately started thinking about how i could implement this idea somehow.  any thoughts? my favorites are the ones made with different succulents, though this last one made with airplants is funky stunning as well!

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Posted by in gardening

today i had the pleasure of guest posting for jen over on indie fixx! you all know that i’m a garden junkie, so in addition to the garden post i did for indie fixx, i’m including even more for you below!

garden goodies with indie fixx

clockwise :: lavender bag with hen print, large vintage oil can, snail garden planter, garden tools coasters, yee haw farmers market flower cards, flower brooch, herbs

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so, in my new yard where i’m having unknown this and that’s pop up all over the place, i discovered that i pretty much have mint and lemon balm running out my ears.  i was chatting with caroline the other day about garden do’s and don’ts and happen to mention just how much mint i had, and just how much i didn’t know what to do with it!  per her advice, i’ve discovered my new favorite drink: a garden mint and lemon balm refresher.

garden mint and lemon balm refrehser

it’s delicious, it’s easy and it’s straight from the garden.  ingredients:

a squeeze of one lemon

1 tbls of honey

3-4 mint and/or lemon balm leaves

crush the leaves in the bottom of your glass with the ice to help release their yummy flavors, then add the lemon juice, honey and water (add a little sugar if you prefer sweeter).  stir until the honey dissolves and enjoy!

seriously y’all, this is one delectable drink.

to top things off, i walked up to our old house the other day (my sis still lives there) and visited my long forgotten (and long not-watered) square foot garden from last year. to my glorious surprise, my strawberry plant from last year not only was producing, but it had multiplied.  big time.

i’m pretty sure nothing could have made me any happier!  seeing (and devouring) these most beautiful sweet and perfect strawberries, made my day- maybe even my summer.  needless to say, my sister’s going to be seeing a lot more of me.

{photos: bonnie forkner}

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Hello!  How are you all this week?  Did you know that Memorial Day weekend is one of the biggest gardening weekends of the year?  Garden centers are going to be stocked with the freshest and biggest selection of plants in preparation for the gardening madness that they are expecting.  So here is a little tip – if you plan on buying plants for this weekend, visit your local independent garden center on Thursday or Friday morning to get the best selection.  I’ve been haunting my local garden center all week – this year we are inundated with last minute requests for potted containers to decorate homes for Memorial Day.  So I’ve been spending lots of time playing with different color and plant combinations and making some fun containers.

Last week I was asked how I grow such abundant herb containers and I wanted to share one of the Ladybug secrets – we make our own potting soil.   We are not fans of peat moss as a gardening agent, and almost all commercial potting soils  use it as a primary ingredient.  Peat moss is troublesome for several reasons – it is a rapidly depleting natural resource that is slow to renew and we are not fans of this environmental cost.  It is also very finicky and once it dries out it is very difficult to re-wet.  If you have ever added lots of peat moss to your soil and then felt like you could never water your plants enough then chances are the peat dried out in the soil and created an impenetrable barrier to moisture.  In our experience with clients, peat moss based potting soils are one of the leading causes of container plants failing.  With any type of gardening, always pay attention to the soil you are inviting your plants to live in.

Here is our recipe for potting soil for container annuals and herbs.

We use our homemade compost and buy the rest of the ingredients.  Perlite and vermiculite are added to improve drainage and coconut coir is an excellent substitute for peat.  You can find the bricks of coconut coir in many garden centers, or check your local hydroponic shop – they will most certainly have it.  The most time consuming part of this is waiting for the coconut coir brick to reconstitute.  If I know I am making a bunch of potting soil I’ll start soaking the coconut coir the night before to be ready to go in the morning.  Each brick reconstitutes to about 2 gallons of dry material.

Then you simply add the rest of the ingredients. The ratio depends on what you are planting in the soil.  I tend to use equal parts coconut coir and compost mixed with a third of the amount of vermiculite, perlite and worm castings.   If I am potting succulents I use very little compost.  Otherwise this is a good starting point.  The point is to just try it out and see how your plants respond.  This was a messy process…so I could not take photos of the mixing.  Just get in there and get your hands dirty and mix all the ingredients together!  Make sure to crumble up any bits of coconut coir and you are good to go!

I planted  up my Thai basil with the potting soil I made today.  I have to take full blame for the spindly little seedlings in the photos.  I know they will fill up and create huge basil plants, but don’t they look so gawky!

I also potted up some more salad greens around my dill…as the season heats up and the lettuces bolt, the dill will fill the entire container.  I’ll then remove the lettuce and enjoy the dill!

I wanted to end this week’s post with a quick camera phone shot of a bouquet I created from my flower garden. As I was heading over to give this to a dear friend who is not feeling well I was struck with gratitude for the bounty of life and garden.  I remembered planting the peony bulbs years ago and being so excited to one day be able to harvest armfuls of peonies to give away and enjoy.  That day has finally arrived and it reminded me, again, why I love to garden.

Gardening is hope and looking to the future while tending to the present. It is care taking and nurturing and knowing that what you put in comes back.  It is also fleeting and cyclical and filled with the knowledge that as you enjoy this moment, it is coming to an end.  But it is also knowing that after the peonies come the hydrangeas.  Happy gardening dear ones…may your blooms be bountiful and your bounty be nourishing!

Caroline Finnegan owns Ladybug Landscaping, a full service organic landscaping company. based in CT. She is a NOFA accredited landcare professional and when not designing gardens can be found rearranging her furniture or out at a flea market finding new goodies. She almost always has dirt under her nails.


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as we’re all making ourselves at home in our new space, the timing for my pin it forward post couldn’t be more perfect!  pin it forward comes from victoria over at sfgirlbybay and is a great way of connecting hundreds of bloggers!  she teamed up with my favorite new web tool, pinterest, to bring this times theme of ‘what home means to me’.  how perfect!  if someone asked me what going home to roost was about, i think i’d pretty much sum it up by saying, ‘it’s about what home means to me’.  melissa passed the torch to me in her post yesterday and i’m pinning it forward to sam over at good measure for tomorrow! so without further adieu, this is what my home (and appropriately, blog) means to me!

the biggest thing that home means to me, is living in the mountains.  if fact, that’s exactly why i went home to roost.  i was tired of living in a big city while i went to school, and new it was seriously time for me to go home to roost.  so i journeyed back to my favorite place on earth, the smoky mountains.  yes, it’s a small town and i have to drive an hour to get to target (3 hours to get to trader joes) but how could i give up all this beauty?  all these pics were taken from around my area, and i couldn’t live without seeing the beauty that surrounds me.  the mountains, lakes and all the wildlife gives me inspiration and spirit (as long as i’m viewing the bears from behind the safety of my car windows!).

pins from: rod the rabid rodent, deb campbell, mharoldsewell, abennett23, a selfmade view

the second thing that makes my home is cozy comfy places to curl up to nap, read, blog, or sip tea.  i’m a serious lover of all things comfortable, and for a place to feel like home, it’s got to be cozy, soft and warm.

pins from: the little green, dede p., sfgirlbybay, ivy style33, bonnieforkner

something i’ve learned (rather recently) is that there is nothing that makes my home feel more home-y than having fresh flowers around.  there’s something about bringing the beauty from the outside in.  if i’m stressed, tired or having brain farts and writing blocks- all i have to do is go pick some flowers and arrange them in a vase to start feeling rejuvenated!

pins from: carrie m. becker, yoshiko314, bonnieforkner, *mayxxx*, ara133 photography, a creative mint

my home wouldn’t be home if i didn’t have a healthy mix of old and new.  i love putting some found item from a thrift store beside a brand new ikea lamp.  i love the dimension created by mixing textures and eras, and have an interesting nostalgia for a time i never lived in!  bringing old items in and around helps my home have a story, and how fun it is to think about what different items have seen or been through!

pins from: bonnieforkner, solveig flittiglisene, gloryof 80s, bricolagelife

finally, what is a home without a little bit of homesteading?  i’ll always remember the first tomato i ate from my garden, and the first egg i found laid by my hens (i ran around the yard screaming, while i held it up in the air).  eating from the land (or from a front porch potted basil plant) brings home a little closer to the heart.  i like to think that even if the whole world stopped around me, david and i could still go on at our tiny home, eating eggs and picking apples.

pins from: bonnieforkner, honey & jam photography, the bear foot shaman

so there you have it!  that’s what home means to me.  what does it mean to you? you can view all my pinboards (with more photo details) on pinterest. you can also find out more about the pin it forward project here.

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Edible Garden Rethink

May 20, 2010

Hello!  How are you doing?  Are your thumbs green yet?  Have you begun to harvest from your garden? Can you believe it is past the middle of May!  I’m in a bit of shock as to how fast time is flying by.  It’s almost time for me to plant my tomatoes and basil though…yay!  I’m also planting even more kale…because I love it so!

kale&tomatoes

This past week did not allow for a great deal of personal gardening time.  Between client meetings and sourcing plants I also took two afternoons to travel up to Brimfield and browse through the goodies.

So I’m scrambling to create gardens for my vegetable plants this year.  After the sawdust fiasco I decided some of the garden would be planted in straw bales, and that the herbs I use most would be potted up and placed by the kitchen door.  The straw bales are being conditioned and planted this week, and I have begun the process of making more space for containers.  I bought two matching plant stands at Brimfield and I’ve placed a wooden plank between them to create a raised shelf for parsley and chives to grow behind the huge Endless Summer Hydrangea.

chives

I’ve placed the mint buckets by the back door – lots of rambunctious plants in those, I tell you!  I have planted mint in garden beds, and I love it as a groundcover underneath large established shrubs.  But the best is to keep it corralled in a large, not too deep, container.  These old wash buckets are ideal.  I drilled holes in the bottom before planting them up.   We have several varieties of mint, and I will be planting more – these are the ones that overwintered well without any special attention or fuss…

3mints

I had planned a rather large vegetable garden and was looking forward to trying a bunch of new vegetables.  But that does not seem to be in the cards this year, and after some time to readjust I’ve decided I’m really happy about it.  I am guilty of overextending myself in my own garden.  I underestimate the amount of time and energy tending a large vegetable garden requires, and I usually end up feeling very stressed out and overwhelmed by the end of the season.  Last year I ate one tomato out of three different tomato plants.  The rest were eaten by the local chipmunks.  I had hit the proverbial wall, and even going to look at the tomatoes was too much.  Yes, there was a lot going on in my life besides that vegetable garden, but last week I was remembering how much I resented my vegetable plants at the end of the season and decided to embrace the less is more mantra. Plus, we have signed up for our local CSA and are going to be swimming in vegetables during harvest time.  This year only my absolute favorites are making the cut.

sweetmarj

I have started the plant selection process with the herbs I am planning on growing.  I visited Gilbertie’s Herbs in Westport, CT for ideas and today I sat down with their catalog and created my herb plant order.  Basically I am buying a whole bunch of basil….Cinnamon Basil, Thai Basil, Sweet Basil, Peruvian Basil and Spicy Globe Basil.  I’ll probably impulse buy a couple more…yeah, I love basil!  I will be planting different corianders, oreganos and dill, as well as herba buena and epazote.

I already have a large sage plant, tarragon and bronze fennel growing in what I am turning into an herb garden with one tomato plant.  This small garden is behind the garage and I used to grow my cut flowers here.  I will still have some blooms in this area, but it will primarily be herbs.

herb garden

As far as vegetable plants go, I will be planting 6 tomatoes, more salad greens and radish (I have already been harvesting these, but they are not photogenic at the moment…), several varieties of kale, beets, beans and possibly a watermelon.  This is still a lot of garden, I’m not kidding myself, but it is about a third of what I had originally planned.

I guess the lesson learned for me is that I do not have to do everything I think I want to do.  That spending at least 6 hours a week tending to only the vegetable garden is too much for me to ask of myself…especially since I work with plants, and some days they are the last thing I want to think about when the work day is done.  I do not have to be the one with the coolest varieties of things nobody has ever heard of.  I would rather be the one with a happy belly and lots of time to share the bounty with my friends and loved ones.

Have you ever let your enthusiasm get the better of you when it comes to your garden?  Do you have any tales to tell or any lessons learned to share?  How are your gardens doing? I’m all ears!!!

Caroline Finnegan owns Ladybug Landscaping, a full service organic landscaping company. based in CT. She is a NOFA accredited landcare professional and when not designing gardens can be found rearranging her furniture or out at a flea market finding new goodies. She almost always has dirt under her nails.


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would you like to take a walk in the yard with me?  i was out with my camera yesterday, and found lots of goodies to share with you!  i don’t even know what some of the blooms are (like these first ones) but they make me exited none the less. there are splashes of pink, purple and orange all around the yard!

i saved my favorites for last. :)  the first one is of some baby birds we have residing in our birdhouse, they are so big!  and this bottom one is from our resident robin.  she’s laid the prettiest blue eggs i’ve ever seen!  they are in the perfect place for me to take pictures of (without disturbing her or the nest) so hopefully, i’ll be able to track their progress with you!

you can see the full set of garden pics in my beautiful blooms album on flickr!

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