Category Archives: Basil

GARDENING FOR GOOD

This summer I’ve been dividing my gardening days

Between two gardens.

It’s the first summer that Faith Farm

Has been an all volunteer effort.

It was a leap of faith.

What a fun

And rewarding leap.

We started the season with a plan

Put together by my fellow gardeners

Jim & Michael.

It’s an ambitious three season plan

Since we have a 9 month growing season.

We started harvesting lettuce

In March.

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And we haven’t stopped.

200 lbs of lettuce

120 lbs of gorgeous carrots

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More basil than all of Italy

and almost 900 lbs of cucumbers.

Wow what a year.

We have literally grown well over a ton of vegetables.

All of this done by a dedicated group

Of volunteers.

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Including a few Master Gardeners.

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Twice a week they harvest this bounty

And take it to Loaves & Fishes

Where it is then given

To our hungry neighbors.

Several times a year

Jim offers  gardening classes

To the L & F clients.

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And every so often

We have a Saturday work day

To catch up on the big jobs.

Yesterday was one of those work days.

We had an ambitious list

OK…we had an impossible list.

Thanks to a few new volunteers

We got most of the big jobs done.

Morning glories pulled off the fence

Before they set seed.

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Bolted basil pulled, dried and ground into mulch.

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Ground pecan hulls put on the paths.

And soil added to beds.

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Then there was the shed.

Michael spent the morning organizing it.

Thank goodness.

These are not glamorous gardening jobs

But they are essential.

And feel good to have done.

Along the way we made a few new friends

Loaves & Fishes board member Randi

Brought her family.

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Including her son

Who got to meet Charlotte

Our resident Orb Spinner Spider

She’s been “hanging” around

Since July.

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He also found caterpillars and praying mantis.

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It’s always a good day when you can introduce

A child to the wonders of nature.

And do a little

Gardening for Good.

Gail

 

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Basil, Bugs, Carrots, Children in the Garden, Community Garden, Compost, Cucumbers, Fall Vegetables, Garden Planning, Gardening Friends, Herbs, late summer garden, Lettuce, Morning Glories, Nature, Orb Spider, Uncategorized, Vegetables

THE BASIL RITUAL

There’s a rhythm about fall that seems to be well, common.

At least among my friends.

With our first freeze predicted for Halloween

I began cutting basil on Thursday

And again on Friday.

Buckets of basil.

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I always plant too much

Which means I have basil to spare

For months on end.

I use it during the growing season.

But by October it’s giant and going to seed everywhere.

Yet I feel that none of it can go to waste.

I either have to dry it

Or make pesto

Or find it a home.

Pesto is my first plan of attack.

So on Friday

When the weather men were issuing their threatening forecast.

My sister Ann called and said.

“So I’m guessing you’re making pesto.”

And I was.

She’s in the same place I am.

With way too much basil.

But she has the advantage of being able to feed her extra.

To her bunnies.

I on the other hand

Do not have hungry bunnies living at my house.

So when a friend dropped by with  a cape for Coco to wear for Halloween.

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She was rewarded with bonus basil.

Others who dropped by were also given the chance

But most declined.

I thought of bagging it up in little bags and giving it out

To the 400+ kids who came trick or treating.

But there might be potential for misunderstanding there!

I’ve now made 3 batches of regular pesto

3 C. packed fresh basil leaves

1/3 C. grated parmesan cheese

6 cloves chopped garlic

6 T toasted Pine nuts

4 T olive oil

Put all ingredients into food processor.

Pulse till well chopped but not a puree.

Spray ice-cube tray with non-stick cooking spray.

Freeze.  Then store cubes in plastic bag.

It’s about a tablespoon or 2 of pesto.

And a couple of roasted red pepper and sun-dried tomato pesto.

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3 medium red bell peppers 0r 1 jar .

12 sun-dried tomatoes – soaked and drained

1 clove garlic chopped

3 T roasted pine nuts.

a handful of fresh basil leaves.

A handful of fresh Italian parsley

Juice of 1 lemon

2 T grated parmesan cheese.

Prepare like basil pesto

I’ve also been roasting and freezing the last of the ripe tomatoes.

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All of which is giving our house

A rather Italian aroma.

Now…what to do with all those

Peppers and green tomatoes.

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And in the end

It didn’t even freeze!

Gail

The other fall ritual I love

Is sharing plants with friends

Kay and Tori came by on Saturday morning.

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To dig the last of the ferns.

New plans for this area

Come spring.

 

 

 

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Filed under Basil, Fall Vegetables, Gardening Friends, Green Tomatoes, Herbs, Peppers, Pesto, Pettit Basset Griffon Vendeen, Tomato, Uncategorized, Vegetables

PREPARING FOR THE INEVITABLE

This is the time of the year

When we know what’s coming

Whether we want it or not.

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Sometime in the next few weeks

It will freeze

Mother Nature will play with us a bit first.

A few “light frosts”

Will take out those heat loving friends.

Basil is usually the first to go.

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Followed by annuals of all kinds.

Then finally will come the dreaded

“KILLING FROST”.

There are many years where I am ready for a freeze.

But most years it’s a sad day for me.

So I’ve learned over the years

To do a little October preparation

For the inevitable November freeze.

I’m not a great indoor gardener.

I don’t have tons of plants that I care for in the winter.

But I do try to have a good supply of herbs

Basil and rosemary to be specific.

Awhile back I planted my winter basil pots.

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They have been sunning in my south office window

Last spring when I way overbought Rosemary Arp

Because it’s supposed to be hardy here.

I put a few in two small pots

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Which will soon join the basil upstairs.

Today I decided to save a few of the plants

In my big patio pots

So I potted up the variegated Swedish Ivy

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And the Plumbago.

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Then I put the potted plants back in their giant pots

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When the freezing west wind blows

All I have to do is pick up the pots

And take them to the garden house.

I’ve done this for years with the Foxtail Ferns.

They spend their entire summer in their winter pots

Buried in the patio pots.

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It saves me time on a cold November afternoon.

And it saves my back a bit.

Now if I can just find the time to turn all that basil

Into pesto

I’ll be ready for the cold days to come.

This year I have something new to fill those days.

Did I mention I have two new grandchildren???

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Gail

 

 

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Filed under Basil, Fall, Foxtail Fern, Garden House, Grandchildren, Plumbago, Variegate Swedish Ivy

A STATE OF HORTICULTURAL CONFUSION

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This is the time of year that really messes with my head.

On Friday it was cold

And wet

And windy.

Frost and freeze warnings

Running through our part of the state.

But…it’s only mid October.

We should have at least 2 more weeks before a freeze

Maybe as long as a month.

So do I believe the forecast.

Drag all those ferns inside

Depriving them of a few more weeks

Of open air and sunshine.

Because once they are in

They are in.

Too heavy to lug back and forth.

Or do I just cover them for the night.

I opted for the later

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And got lucky.

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But basil is a different story

It begins to pout at anything below 50 degrees.

So I cut it all

And put it in the sink

Awaiting the energy to make it into pesto.

The red pesto is done.

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But the green is more labor intensive.

So here we are on Sunday night.

Still with a sink full of basil.

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Maybe tonight.

But it’s the front yard

That truly suffers from

Horticultural Confusion!

You’ll notice I haven’t written much about Hydrangea this summer

That’s because after not 1 or 2

But 4 freezes stretching to the very last day of April

My Hydrangea have bloomed very little this year.

Until now.

So as the mums, which line the front of the hydrangea bed,

Are budding and blooming.

So are the Hydrangea.

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Thankfully for the most part they are in the same color family

So it seems to work.

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Then there’s the true front yard mystery.

Lettuce.

Growing along the grassy edge

Of the new bed John created

On the front landing.

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Lettuce!

I’ve never planted it here.

The closest would be the pot on the landing

But how did it jump so far?

And that my friends is what I love about gardening.

The mystery.

No need for answers

Just revel in the mystery.

Gail

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Filed under Basil, Boxwood, container gardening, Fall, Ferns, Gardening, Hydrangea, Lettuce, Timing, Uncategorized

IT’S HERE

It arrived over the weekend.

A bit later than the lunar calendar

But you could feel it in the air

Cool

Crisp

Fall

I love this time of year.

Beginning in August

We can hear the high school band

Practicing each morning

Soon after

It’s the sound of the Friday night football crowd.

Shortly after that

The whistle of the train in the park

Is silenced.

It’s the seasonal rhythm

Of the sounds of my backyard.

The change of season

Is also happening

In my garden.

Monarch butterflies

Stop for nectar

On their way home for the winter.

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Others flitter about.

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The roses give us another burst of bloom.

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Praying mantis appear

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Along with some of spring’s lady bugs.

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Dahlias are glorious in this weather.

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And we all know what happens to cockscomb in the fall.

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Basil is reaching for the sky

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Which means it’s pesto making time.

Peppers finally begin to come on

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And speaking of obstinate vegetables

Tomatoes are happy!

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So am I.

Hope you have a happy fall week.

Gail

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Filed under Basil, Bugs, Butterflies, cockscomb, Dahlias, Fall, Fall Vegetables, Herbs, Lady Bugs, Peppers, roses, Uncategorized, Vegetables

SHARING SEASON

Gardeners are known for sharing.

They love to share

Information

Plants

Flowers

Seeds

Cuttings

And, of course, the bounty of their gardens.

Zucchini comes to mind.

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For me it’s all of the above

But mostly flowers.

I have long contended that flowers

“Are food for the soul”.

That we need flowers

Just like we need food.

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I think this goes back to college

And John.

When we first began dating

He brought me flowers several times a week

For months on end.

The most spectacular was that first spring.

He brought me an enormous bouquet

Of Iris.

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Years later I realized that florists don’t sell that kind of Iris.

You know them – German Bearded Iris.

The kind that grow in little old ladies gardens

In college towns.

I’m not sure she intended to share!

His choice of vases was most unique.

A plastic pumpkin

Left from Halloween.

Simply had to marry the guy after that!

And so in the ensuing 40+ years

I’ve made it a point to make bouquets

And spread them around.

I’m pleased to say that Elliott and Kristina

Are carrying on the same tradition.

Kristina rarely leaves home for an evening with friends.

Without a bouquet in tow.

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And she always has fresh flowers throughout their home

When we come to visit.

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I must confess here that this year my bouquets are going

Not to individuals so much

As to places.

On Saturday I pluck whatever is happy

For church on Sunday.

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Then during the week

Loaves & Fishes gets a bouquet.

A cheerful greeting for the volunteers

And clients who come in need of help feeding their families.

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Now all of this is well and good.

Lovely really

But it doesn’t hold a candle to the real pros

When it comes to sharing from your garden.

Those of you who focus on vegetables

Leave the rest of us in the shade.

Just this week

Kelly came by with a basket of green beans.

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Yum!

Earlier in the week the Koehns

Brought tons of cucumbers and squash of all sorts

To Loaves & Fishes.

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Mitch brought squash, too

Ann gave her weekly supply of basil

And assorted veggies.

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Then yesterday the fun and lively members of the Freed family

Called at the end of the Farmers Market

To donate what was left to Loaves & Fishes

I met them there.

Their 4 sons, daughter and her friend

Unloaded hundreds of pounds of freshly picked produce

Watermelon

Cantaloupe

Peppers

Eggplant

Squash

After working at their produce stand all morning.

They loved the cooler.

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What a great family

Working together

Laughing

Sharing

Those are lucky kids.

I know

I come from the same kind of family

And it has painted my life

With sharing.

Gail

Early 1950's

Early 1950’s

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Filed under Basil, Bouquets, Farmer's Market, Flower Arrangements, Gardening Friends, Herbs, Iris, Uncategorized, Vegetables

DAYS OF GRACE

 

We are having some splendid days this fall.

Granted, a few days are warmer than usual.

But overall this is one of the reasons

I love life on the Great Plains.

Indian Summer.

The cool crisp days

Filled with sunshine

And hope.

 

Many here are putting in fall vegetable gardens.

Our summers have gotten a little “toasty” for tomatoes.

So now we often get as many if not more in the fall than summer.

That has certainly been the case at my house.

Because I have ridiculously over committed myself this fall

I’m finding little to no time to spend in my garden.

I have managed to get some transplanting done.

Ferns, Hostas and Hydrangeas have all been relocated

To a happier home – hopefully.

I’ve pulled fallen plants out of the ground where they block my path.

Beyond that I’m afraid time in the garden just isn’t happening.

These are the days that my garden teaches me grace.

That unrelenting giving that God and gardens are known for.

It’s as if they are saying to me

You can ignore my but…

I’m still here.

I’m not going anywhere.

I will be here for you

When you take a minute to slow down

And let me in.

I’m not only here

I have much to give

To teach you

And to share.

Gail

 

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Filed under Basil, Bouquets, cockscomb, Dahlias, Fall, Fall Vegetables, Gardening, Tomato, Uncategorized

PESTO TIME

Last weekend while I was far away.

We came very near to an unseasonably early freeze.

Which can only mean one thing.

Time to get serious about making basil pesto!

Every year I think I’ll get to it all along the way.

Instead I just go into the garden

And cut the basil that I need.

Then late in the season

I pick an afternoon

And make pesto.

That yummy herb paste

That can be used in well…everything.

My habit it to make several batches.

Freeze them in ice-cube trays.

Then place the frozen cubes in a freezer bag.

Whenever you need a bit of basil flavor

It’s right there – ready to go.

I’ve also been known to open up the bag

On a particularly frigid winter day.

And breath deeply.

The smell of fresh basil will take you back

To the heat of summer.

My preferred location!

I use the recipe of a family friend, Liz.

Whose daughter, Mary, is also a friend of mine.

Liz’s Basil Pesto

3 C. packed fresh Basil leaves

1/3 C. grated fresh Parmesan Cheese

3 cloves Garlic

6 T. Toasted Pine nuts

4 – 6 T Olive Oil

Juice of 1/2 Lemon – keeps it bright green!

Pulse 1st 4 ingredients in food processor or blender.

Pulse and scrape sides until well chopped.

How smooth or chunky is a matter of personal taste.

I like chunky.

Then slowly add olive oil.

Stir in Lemon juice.

Freeze in ice-cube trays sprayed with non-stick cooking oil.

When completely frozen remove from tray to freezer bag.

There you have it.

Summer in a bag.

I grow Basil everywhere.

In the ground.

In pots outside.

In pots inside.

Never want to be without the stuff!

About a month ago I started my indoor pots.

The plants are only a few inches tall now

But by the time the outside basil freezes

The inside basil should be well on its way.

Happy in the south-facing window

Of my toasty warm 2nd floor office.

I’ll also bring in the pot I had upstairs last winter

Which has loved being outside all summer.

I wonder how long a basil plant can live.

We are about to find out!

Hope you are enjoying these cooler days.

Gail

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Filed under Basil, container gardening, Herbs, late summer garden, Pesto

BULB PLANTING TIME

It’s the time of the year when I begin my frost dance.

Or should I say “threat” of frost dance.

You know the routine.

The first few nights you just throw a sheet or towel over a few tender plants

Then you drag most of the ferns in to the warmth.

After a few more sunny days

It happens again.

Freeze warnings

You begin to take them seriously.

You start picking things.

Almost ripe tomatoes

Not quite mature peppers.

Then the freeze frenzy really sets in.

One cold windy morning you yank every green tomato off the vine.

Cut cockscomb to the ground.

 Whack away at armloads of roses and zinnias

Dig up baby basil plants for your winter supply.

Then lie in wait for mother nature to kill everything you’ve nurtured all year.

After several nights of freeze warnings

It finally happens.

The first hard freeze.

The killing freeze.

With the end of one season

Another begins.

So now it’s time to plant…….

Spring Flowering Bulbs!!!

Even though I won’t actually plant my bulbs till later in the month.

I thought I’d send along this primer.

Here’s what I know about planting bulbs.

As with all of gardening the health and size of the bulb will determine the quality of bloom.

So look for big bulbs that are firm.

Make sure there is no mold present

Soft moldy bulbs will only turn into compost not flowers.

Tulip bulbs should still have their brown “skin” attached.

We talked about bulbs a bit in August in two prior blogs.

Planning Time and Planting Hope

So lets cover how to plant all this stuff.

First – find a gardening friend

Make a pact to help each other plant bulbs.

This friend may be a spouse, a child, a sibling, a neighbor

Or if you’re lucky you have a Megan.

Megan has helped me plant bulbs for well…

I don’t remember how long.

We use the “lasagna” method. 

It saves labor

And makes for glorious blasts of color.

Which means you never….never….never

Plant in rows.

Instead if you want to line an edge

Dig a series of oval holes.

Good sized holes

Because you will put a minimum 7 daffodils and 11 tulips in each hole

Dig the hole 6 ” –  8″ deep.

Mix in a little Bone Meal

Place the daffodils pointy end up

(That is very important !)

Make sure they don’t touch – or they will rot!

Use odd numbers 7 – 9 – 11.

Cover with a few inches of soil

Add a bit more Bone Meal

Then place Tulips

Again pointy end up.

To get a good show use at least 11 tulips or more.

Then repeat soil and Bone Meal

Top off with Dutch Iris.

Then refill to ground level.

Actually a little higher since it will settle when you water it all in.

And do water it all in

The water will fill up the air pockets in the soil

This will keep it from freezing when it’s first planted.

If you’re really energetic or inspired you can cover it all with pansies.

Now….that’s a blast of spring!

We do a series of these “lasagna Holes” on each side of the path

Leading to my garden house.

This forms a full border that doesn’t look contrived.

You’ll notice that the biggest bulbs need to be buried the deepest.

So you plant from large to small bulbs with this method.

Lilies can be planted 3 – 5 to a hole

Or…you can dig a winding trench

Place the bulbs in a zig zag pattern along the trench.

I generally don’t plant anything else with them.

So…that’s pretty much how we do it here.

It’s a tried and true method you may want to try.

Or not.

After all gardening is personal.

We learn from each other.

We adapt to our own garden.

We create.

We wait.

Gail

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Filed under Basil, cockscomb, Daffodils, Dutch Iris, Ferns, Garden House, Gardening, Gardening Friends, Grape Hyacinths, Green Tomatoes, Oriental Lilies, Peppers, roses, Spring Flowering Bulbs, Tomato, tulips, Uncategorized, Zinnia

PUTTERING

On a glorious October Saturday afternoon

Much of the country is glued to college football.

Which if fine

For them

But not me

I can’t bring myself to sit still

The garden calls

No screams for me to come and play

It’s puttering season

I love to putter

Spending the day in the garden with no real agenda.

I begin to re-arrange things in my mind.

In the back perennial bed there will be some changes come spring.

Moving the dahlias to more sunshine will displace that Aloha rose.

I’ve found a new home for it.

But that means that I need to find a place for 2 veronica spicata plants.

I have plenty

More than enough

So I think they will move to the farm

They’ll like life with Pat and Ann

They are always looking for plants that attract bees.

This is the one.

There is a sage plant gone completely awry.

Gay thinks she would like it for her herb area.

And since she’s a much better cook than I

Off it goes.

I still have another giant one left.

OK that leaves the Stella d’Ora

(sorry can’t seem to find a picture of them)

These are a terrific plant

Their golden blooms appear along with the purple of larkspur

God is such a great gardener.

But they get lost later on in the season

So I think I’ll move them to the front of the bed.

I’ll likely divide them when I move them

So some of them, too, may take up life in the country

Well that should make a nice open home for the Aloha rose.

It gets pretty big so it needs space.

Once the dahlias are moved

I’ll have more room for Hydrangeas.

Believe I’ve mentioned this before.

There are a few new varieties I want to try

But I’m thinking I’ll try taking some cuttings from the Endless Summer Hydrangeas in the front.

I know

I’m terrible at taking cuttings.

But I keep trying

What is there to lose.

And so much to gain.

Finally figuring out a way to vastly increase the plants in my garden.

Being able to make babies to share with friends.

And something to watch over in the winter.

I just hate it when my fingernails get clean when it gets cold.

Another thing it’s time to do is plant basil.

I know

Cold is on the way

And it’s a warm weather herb.

Not if you plant a pot or two or dozen

For your use indoors this winter.

My winter basil plan is to plant several small pots

Over a period of several weeks.

Plant a couple at first

Then a few weeks later plant another one

Keep going till your sunniest window sill if filled.

If you really get going

You can plant some now for Christmas gifts.

There’s nothing like the smell of fresh basil when there is snow on the ground.

It’s also time to start moving things inside.

I carry over the Foxtail Ferns from the deck

There’s a secret to this.

They aren’t really planted in the clay pots.

I’ve planted them in large plastic pots

And put the pot inside the clay ones

Filling in around the edge with soil.

So, instead of digging them up each fall.

I simply pull up the plastic pots

Put them in the wheel barrow

And off they go to the garden house.

It’s also time to pick all the tomatoes and peppers that are ripe or nearly ripe.

Then the next question – green tomatoes.

Take a chance that they will somehow ripen

Or pick them green

Anyone have any good green tomato recipes?

I’ve got more green than I had ripe ones this year!!!

Happy puttering.

Gail

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Filed under Basil, Fall, Garden Planning, Gardening;Perennials, Green Tomatoes, Hydrangea, Larkspur, late summer garden, Peppers, TRANSPLANTING, Veronica Spicata