Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Internet Resources for Gardeners

Plant identification, help with plant problems, and a great deal of gardening information can be found at the UBC Botantical Gardens Forums.  I have had many unknown-to-me plants identified by the members there and received a great deal of helpful advice.

Everything from gardening ideas, success stories, and advice can be found at the Garden Web forums.  Topics are well organized and plentiful.  I find it can be time consuming to search information in this forum because many topics can be quite long. That may also be due to my tendency to wander off topic when I find something that interests me.

The gardening section at The Old Farmer's Almanac contains a wealth of information easily accessed and understood.  I often refer to the planting dates (you can input your postal code or zip code and it will return information specific for your growing area) and even seed starting dates for your area. I find moon planting interesting, but I'm not sure if there's really anything to it.  My father planted 'by the moon' and was quite the successful gardener; but I can't say that the two are truly connected.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Old gardens, new gardens and resolutions

Three years ago we moved and I left behind the gardens I'd worked so hard to build.  It was a difficult, but necessary move.  In return visits I see the new owners have dug up or mowed over the 40 hostas and bed full of ajuga I'd planted.  I got a hernia planting that particular side yard.  Trees and bushes have been left to sprawl and the rock garden looks like a weed bed as it hasn't been tended at all.  It's a painful thing to see.  I know they are no longer mine, but all that work and effort has truly become a waste.

Because of that, I've taken a different approach to my gardening.  It is entirely for my enjoyment and more utilitarian than in past.  I know that we will not be at this location forever, either, so I'm not expending a great deal of efforts on permanent gardens.  Instead, I'm using more planters and the beds are full of annuals.  They can easily be seeded with grass once we're done here.

I like planters because they are portable, I control the growing medium (instead of the soil controlling me as is often the case with difficult soils), I can manipulate the light they receive easily, and one planter is more easily remedied than a bed full of disease or pests.

I've been avidly reading Question and Planter.com  for tips and suggestions and finding that I seem to hoarde the knowledge I've gained over the past 30 years to myself.  It isn't intentional.  I often do not realize that some of what i know is not common knowledge. Not everyone grew up with a landscaping father who taught his kids as much of what he knew as he possibly could over the years.

I'm not making promises as I'm fairly busy, but I am going to try to post more frequently and share information that I find invaluable even if I think it is common.

Are you planning next years' gardens yet?

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

More Zucchini! More Zucchini Recipes!

Zucchini, just right for sauteing.

It's a single hill of bush-type zucchini and took over the entire row by the end of the season,
and crowded onto the next row, too.  The rows are 6' across.  

This is the first year I've grown zucchini.  It's always so cheap at the farmer's market -- they're nearly giving the stuff away.  The plant looked lovely in the greenhouse this spring and I had an empty row in my garden, so I figured why not.  It's a fairly fuss-free plant without many issues.  Powdery mildew attempted to get a start thanks to the weather and whatever bugs dragged it in on their feet, but we halted that.  It's so simple to grow, I'm saving seeds for next year.

I promised more recipes, and here is another:

Zucchini-Pumpkin-Raisin Quickbread

  • 1/2 c vegetable oil
  • 1 cup sugar (I mix 1/2 cup brown and 1/2 cup white/splenda)
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 cups shredded zucchini
  • 1 cup solid-pack pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling)
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 cup raisins 
  1. Mix first 2 ingredients in large bowl.  
  2. Add eggs and vanilla, mix well. 
  3. Add zucchini and pumpkin, mix well.
  4. In a separate bowl, mix remaining dry ingredients.  
  5. Add dry ingredients to large bowl and mix until just combined. 
  6. Stir in raisins. Pour mixture into a single large loaf pan or four small loaf pans.    
  7. Bake at 350 for 1 hour (large loaf pan) or 30 minutes for 4 small loaf pans.  Cool in pans for 15 minutes, then remove to wire rack to cool completely before slicing.  
Remember that extra large zucchini in my last post?  I've only used half of it so far.  

Monday, August 22, 2011

What to Do with the Fruits of the Harvest

Yes, that is a very large zucchini. More than a foot long and about 6" diameter at its widest point.   While we like a bit of young (small) zucchini sauteed with other vegetables, the whole family loves when I use the larger ones for baking.  

My husband didn't think he'd like zucchini bread so I developed the following recipe to suit his tastes.  It's always a hit.  I make several loaves, slice them and freeze the slices to add to lunchboxes throughout the year.  

Spiced Zucchini Raisin Quick Bread

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 3/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup sugar (I use splenda and I've often reduced this to 1/2 cup without any complaints)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 cups shredded zucchini (you can add up to 3 cups without distorting the flavour or texture.  It just gets more moist! Leave the peels on when you shred it.)
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 1/2 cup milk

  1. Sift the first 6 ingredients together in a bowl.  
  2. Mix the next 5 ingredients in a separate, large bowl.  
  3. Add the dry ingredients to the large bowl slowly, alternating with the milk until fully mixed.
  4. Stir in the zucchini and raisins. Pour into one large or four small loaf pans.
  5. Bake in a 350 oven for 30 minutes (four small loaf pans) or one hour (a single, large loaf pan.) 
  6. Cool for 10 minutes in the pans, then remove from pans to wire rack to cool completely before slicing. 

I'll be posting more recipes in the coming days.  Afterall, what do we garden for if not to enjoy the fruits of our labours?  

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