Friday, December 27, 2013

Still Time to Plant Spring Bulbs!

After the buying, cooking, wrapping, eating, merry, enjoying family and friends, here again it's time for gardening! Regardless of what's your favorite medium, bulbs, bushes, veggies or fruit, now is the time to layer up, endure the colder weather and use those extra calories in the yard or garden to insure healthy spring flowers and crops.

If  you missed planting spring bulbs this past fall, there's still time to plant them for blooms in late March through April, now. Remove any dead growth, break up hard dirt with a regular garden hoe in beds or along walkways. 
Add new soil (I like the kinds with fertilizer added, most do now) and spread with a rake as seen in the prior picture. All that's left is to plant the bulbs or plants in the finely hoed soil.

Add any garden ornaments you like. As seen above, mine is terracotta lady planter. For years, she hung on my breezeway wall until the back was cracked.

I love the foxgloves blooming in this bed every spring (2013). But I planted yellow tulips in this bed a few days ago for extra spring color!

If you thought it was too late to plant spring bulbs for 2014, it's not here in the south.....

Just do it!

 Until Next Time...........

Happy Gardening 2013!

Posted by Wilma Smith

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

A Winter Garden -- Very Healthy

Growing a winter garden is not hard. Cooler weather plants like cabbage (seen above), collards, broccoli, bok choy and sugar snap peas enjoy the winter temperatures. The key is to insure these plants establish roots between September and November. Planting them in early fall is a must (late August or September).

Cabbage is full of anti-aging properties for skin and hair, vitamins c, a, d, including calcium, iron, sulfur, and magnesium,  plus this veggie is easy to prepare in a number of ways. Steam it, saute it, boil it with bacon or other meats, and one of my favorites use it raw in slaw or a salad.

I like growing winter plants for a number of reasons, antioxidants, vitamins and especially, virtually no insects growing in the garden this time of year.

South of the Mason Dixon Line, no doubt collards are a southern favorite, along with black-eyed peas and cornbread on New Year's Day. But did you know, collards are filled with vitamins C and K, plus antiviral, antibacterial and anticancer properties?

Luckily, in southern climates collards can be harvested, as soon as enough leaves make a meal (like other greens). Unlike mustard and chard, don't cut them to the ground because once the central bud is removed the collard plants won't grow, regardless of the care.


Bok Choy is not a southern favorite winter plant to grow but like any green it's full of healthy benefits. It will re-seed itself regardless of lying fallow in the hot weather just let it bloom and seed itself. The tender leaves and stems make a great addition to any salad or veggie drink with fruit. 

Broccoli has all the health benefits of every winter garden plant we grow in our garden. But I admit broccoli is my favorite because everyone in my family loves this recipe I make on Thanksgiving and Christmas and share at our table on both holidays. Using fresh organic broccoli out of our garden makes the dish better but frozen is fine.

Whether fresh or frozen broccoli, it's a good recipe for a family get together anytime:

32 oz. broccoli (fresh or frozen)
1 1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 cans mushroom soup
1 large block sharp cheddar cheese
4 eggs
Townhouse Crackers
butter or margarine
spices to taste (salt, pepper, garlic powder)

Steam or boil broccoli (adding salt) until tender, drain. In a large bowl mix, broccoli, mayo, soup, eggs, 1/3 block of shredded cheese and spices. Spray large casserole dish and place ingredients evenly. Shred more cheese and sprinkle on top. Crush one pack of crackers and sprinkle over cheese. Melt butter or margarine and spoon over crackers.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees, cook 30 to 40 minutes or until crackers are browned.
Makes 20 to 25 servings, just half ingredients for smaller number guests.

Hope y'all enjoy and Merry Christmas!!

Until next time......

Happy Gardening 2013!

Posted by Wilma Smith

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Use Imagination to Make a Holiday Wreath

Deberah and I were in charge of the presentation at the November 25th, Crossroads Garden Club meeting. Our subject was "Making Holiday Decorations," we both made table and door decorations for the holidays using live plants from our yards and herb garden.

I made this wreath (seen above) from two types of holly plants that grow in my yard. Maintenance for both is practically zero, except for trimming. Benefits include year round green and best of all in winter, red berries when most plants in the yard add little or no color.

There are approximately, six hundred varieties of plants in the holly family, some date back to ancient times used in pagan rituals. Maybe, this is where using holly for our holidays started?

Regardless, I just used a little imagination to make my holly wreath. 

The first step for making the wreath was to harvest the plants. I made sure each limb selected was full of berries.

Second, I gathered and organized materials and tools. For live woody plants such as holly, pine, and cedar, I like a straw wreath, as it holds moisture (wreath made for outdoors) and has a sturdier base than styrofoam. I also used floral picks, floral tape and floral wire (used to make the hanger), plus a glue gun to finish off the project. Needle nose pliers are a must when making live wreaths, or sprays with floral wire, add ribbons and bows to that list. I only used materials from previous holiday projects for this wreath making the price very cheap.

I covered the wreath with metallic paper ribbon using hot glue to secure it to the straw wreath.

Then I began to build the wreath with longer holly branches made from floral picks, wrapping the wire around the plant then wrapping with floral tape (as seen above) around the stems and pick. I make a hole in the straw wreath with a tool (pick or screwdriver) then inserted the pick. Continue with the longer pieces all around the base.

Continue to build the wreath the same way, except shorten the length of the stems as you fill in the wreath toward the inside.

Once the wreath appears full use the glue gun to fill in any spaces with greenery or berries (no picks needed).

You can make a similar wreath for the holidays, regardless of the evergreen plants in your yard or garden, you choose. Just use similar methods. Most evergreen plants will last 30 to 45 days outside before shedding, even longer, if misted with water regularly.

Just use your "Imagination" to make an inexpensive wreath or spray.

Until Next Time......

Happy Gardening 2013!

Posted by Wilma Smith