Archive | February 2013

Preparing Your Garden for Christmas

christmas picture

I know, we just had Christmas but it’s never too soon to start planning what gifts you’d like to give in December.  It’s hard to find presents that both fit your budget and suit your friends’ and relatives’ tastes. Homemade gifts are always welcome because they are unique and come from your hands and heart.

If you plan to give gifts from your garden, you may need to plan and get your seeds now.  But what could come from the garden that would be suitable for Christmas?

Luffa:  These gourds make great sponges for use in the shower. They require a long growing season, so you’d need to start them early.

Salsa:  It’s fun to try different recipes and ingredients. For a change, I want to grow tomatillos for salsa this year.

Relishes:  There are so many different types using cucumbers, or zucchini, or green tomatoes. A relish variety pack would make a great gift.

Pickles: Sweet or dill, homemade pickles are loved.

Canned Tomatoes:  It sounds like a strange gift, but a can of home-grown tomatoes in the middle of winter is a real blessing whether it’s used in soup, chili, or eaten right out of the jar.  It’s a taste of summer during the “bleak mid-winter.”  tomato jar

Zucchini or pumpkin bread: These can be baked in the late summer and frozen for later.

Painted gourds: The possibilities with gourds are endless.

Roasted pumpkin seeds: Fun snacks to eat while watching bowl games.

Sunflower seeds: They can be snacks for people or for the birds.

Jams and jellies: They are always a favorite.

This is such a short list of the Christmas gift possibilities, but hopefully it will provide a few ideas when you order your seeds in the next few weeks. With a little planning, your garden gifts will be a hit at the Holidays.  Don’t be surprised if your friends and family return your glass jars with a note requesting a refill.

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A Tussie Mussie for My Valentine

Tussie Mussie

A tussie mussie?  Isn’t that one of those drinks with an umbrella in it?  Actually…no. A tussie mussie is a flower arrangement where the flowers are selected for the meanings they convey.  The flowers may be fresh, silk, or dried and are most usually small, handheld bouquets, although they can also be table arrangements.  Resources which list the meanings of flowers are plentiful.  Here are a few common flowers and their meanings:

Red Poppy      Pleasure

Lilac                First love

Rose                Love, simplicity, happinessred rose 7/2011

Cosmos           Harmony, peace

Zinna               Friendship

Marigold         Pain and grief

Mint                Suspicion

Sweet Peas      Safe travel

Yellow tulip    Hopeless love

Since not all resources agree as to the meaning of various flowers, most tussie mussies contain a card explaining the significance of each flower in the arrangement.   After all, you don’t want your loved one to think that yellow tulip means pain and grief!

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Phil Says…

                                                                                       Seney Wildlife Refuge, Michigan

According to Punxsutawney Phil, we won’t have to wait six weeks for spring to arrive.  I know that’s not Phil in the picture, but a photograph of Squirrelly Shirley is the closest I have to that of a groundhog.

Will you be ready when spring appears?  I’m reviewing my garden journal from last year to see how I need to prepare.  This month I will be:

  • Ordering Seeds
  • Buying seed starter soil
  • Buying peat pots
  • Collecting yogurt containers to put peat pots of seedlings in
  • Diagramming my vegetable and flower gardens to plan where to plant seeds, plants, and bushes
  • Applying dormant spray to fruit trees and bushes (mid-Feb)
  • Pruning grape vines (end of Feb)

Jan 2013 snow

It may be cold and snowy now, but soon it will be time to fire up the tillers and sharpen the hoes.  Right, Phil?