Spice for the Impatient Gardener

My gardener’s heart knows that to every seed there is a season before it fruits.
But there are times when I crave a fresh dose of greens and can’t want to wait for a harvest from the garden.
Sprouts  are fresh spice for any time of year. They are low in fat, filled with vitamins, minerals, protein and are ready to eat in about a week.
I grab a big pinch of them and eat them as a snack. You can also toss them in scrambled eggs, use in place of lettuce on sandwiches, add to salads and wraps, and garnish the top of hot soup just before serving.
 sproutsSprouting seeds-
Alfalfa is the most common, but there are many that add unique flavors and textures. 
Broccoli: a nice radish-like bite of flavor.
Chia: a bit of a tang, but much like alfalfa sprouts in texture and flavor.
Clover: similar in flavor to alfalfa sprouts.
Fenugreek: a mild curry-like flavor, exotic flavor,
yummy in chicken wraps.
Lentils: a bit of peppery flavor
Mung Bean: the texture is nice a crispy. Pea-like flavor.
Radish: much like the flavor of the vegetable, it will spice up any dish.
Sunflower: a nutty flavor, yummy on a hot cup of tomato soup! 
 
How-to:
Use a clean glass canning jar with a sprout screen as the lid.
Clean, and rinse jar to clean well.
Add  about 1 1/2 teaspoons of seeds to the jar
sproutjoyPlace a fine mesh screen on top of jar and tighten metal ring to hold in place.
Partially fill the jar with warm (not hot) water and swirl around to clean seeds; pour out water. Refill with warm water and soak overnight.
After overnight soak, pour out water and place jar at a slight angle (a counter top dish drainer works well for this) to allow remaining water to run out.  Turn jar to spread seed over the inside of the jar. Rinse sprouts daily, up to 2 or 3 times, with cool fresh water-allowing the jar to rest tilted to drain out excess water. Turn jar to spread seeds on the inside of the jar.  As they get larger,  thicken and green up, place sprouts  in indirect light. Repeat  rinsing until the sprouts are lush and ready to eat,  rinse well and drain before placing in the refrigerator. Keep finished sprouts refrigerated and use within a week.
Remember:
-Rinse often
-Don’t over seed, give them room to breathe.
-Keep moist,-not wet.
-Sprout at room temperature- keep fresh ready-to-eat ones  in the fridge.
-Sprout with joy!
 
Resources for seeds and supplies:
http://www.mountainroseherbs.com
www.sproutpeople.org
http://www.botanicalinterests.com

 

Falling

Daylight hours begin to slip away hardly noticed,
The days are warm and sunny while nights have a season changing chill,
There is a feel to the air as the breeze blows through an open window,
The signs are here that we are falling into another season.

 


Autumn has two faces.

One side shows a fire of colors that weave through the hillside and the garden naturally senses that it is time to slow down. Gardeners are ready for the slower pace too.

The other side of fall is looking forward to the renewal of next spring. Bulbs are planted and compost is topped in empty planting spaces to nourish growth for the return of longer days. Fresh toppings of compost cover soil that worked hard over the summer.

 
Inspirations for the fall garden
Cool garden tasks
The time is now to accomplish postponed jobs.  Dig out under achievers in the garden and be a bit ruthless if needed. Replace them with those impulse plants purchases sitting by the potting bench awaiting a home.

Get limey to be less sour
In history, it is said that farmers literally tasted the soil. They described soil as “sour” when the pH is too low, “bitter” when the pH is too high and “sweet” when the pH is “just right” for good crop growth. Hmmm, I’ll take a soil test instead. Fall is a good time to add lime to lawn areas. Lime will improve the availability of essential plant nutrients as the PH is adjusted a bit sweeter.

Bulbs, bulbs and more bulbs
Plant spring-flowering bulbs in abundance to make a statement. Daffodils and tulips selectively chosen for dramatic color blends or in monochromatic plantings scream for attention. Never buy just a small bag of bulbs for planting think of it like an abundant flower bouquet. If you aren’t willing to plant 50 to 100 bulbs in a cluster, then don’t bother, unless they are specialty bulbs like lilies.

 

Love those hips
Roses that produce lovely hips look especially jewel-like in the fall. Rugosa roses like the varieties ‘Hansa’ and ‘Buffalo Gal’ have large round hips.The blue-leaved rose, Rosa glauca (Rosa rubrifolia) is not known for exceptional flowers but the rose hips more than make up for them. The large arching branches (up to 8 feet) on this plant hang lower late in the season from the abundance. The hips cling on through the winter.

Gather for the future
Collect seeds from annual flowers. Look for the Papery bracts and pods of poppies, cosmos, Bachelor buttons, marigolds and Love in a mist (Nigella).

Enjoy the slower pace of the fall to catch up and breathe in the sweet autumn air..

Garden Resolutions

I don’t make New Year’s resolutions. I really tend to think about how I can better something… in manageable chunks. Not a one liner that sets me up for discouragement.  

For all gardeners, hope springs eternal and thinking about what we want to do in the garden feeds that hope that continually filters through the seasons to come. As we begin the new year, think more  new inspirations rather than resolutions. Inspire to learn, do and create something new in the garden. Odds are it will be much more rewarding than dieting!

 Take a Class:  In the garden, learning never stops. Take a class on a garden subject that you have always wanted to learn. Resources are bountiful in the pacific northwest. Join me for some upcoming seminars at the Tacoma Home and Garden Show the last week in January, (www.otshows.com)  January 26th, 2012 at noon: Landscaping with Herbs, Many herbs are overlooked for their texture and beauty that create fragrant hedges, mixed borders, container gardens and more. All sizes and styles of gardens come into play. Just imagine a French Provençal style garden with the purple haze of lavender or a Mediterranean garden with fragrant rosemary. Herb varieties can bring classic style and take the center stage in many designs.  January 27th, 2012 at noon: Garden Design DIY, A beginners guide and creative approach to designing a garden. Practical tips to get the process going successfully. Don’t just create a landscape; plant a garden with texture, dimension and longevity. Make it yours. Easy ideas to incorporate the practical aspects to create the garden you have always dreamed of. Shortcuts to designing by using photographs and many more insider tips. January 28th at 3 pm: Garden Borders from Dull to DramaHow-to tips and ideas for editing existing mixed garden borders; easy ways to re-invent without having to completely re-do. Learn tricks of the trade and create fabulous mixed borders. Peel back the layers of plantings; discover what is missing and where to add puddles and pockets of color and texture and drama! Photos inspirations and step-by-step instruction to become your own designer.

Go Organic: Learn to tolerate a few weeds and nibbled leaves. Be good to the environment and use organic means of controlling pests and problems. Start with natural lawn care. It can be the biggest water hog and chemical demanding part of the garden. Learn how and practice management of an environmentally friendly yard. The experts are at Seattle Tilth! (www.seattletilth.org)

Take a Garden Tour: Visit gardens like Lakewold (www.lakewoldgardens.org ) or the Chase Garden (www.chasegarden.org)  for inspiration of classic designs.  Join the Northwest Perennial Alliance (www.northwestperennialalliance.org) and receive their open gardens book. This is an opportunity when local gardeners open their private spaces. Take notes and pictures, it is one of the best learning opportunities to see what grows well in this area and enjoy the peak season of gardens.

Plant Vegetables: Imagine tomatoes fresh off the vine and leaf lettuces from the garden. This season, find a sunny spot and plant some vegetables to enjoy what the garden can give back to you.  Hit the seed racks this spring for lots of variety. Here is a short list of some of my favorite “go-to” suppliers  Ed Hume Seeds (www.humeseeds.com) , Renee’s Garden (www.reneesgarden.com) and Territorial Seeds (www.territorialseed.com)

Plant Natives: In garden designing, I see more and more homeowners looking to eliminate native areas…such a shame. Many natives are desirable plants that are beautiful in landscape design, either as a backdrop to more “cultured” plantings,  mingled in mixed beds and borders or creating a “finished edge” to the beginning of natural woodlands.  Take time to learn more about natives and plant them. Local nursery with lots of info: Woodbrook Nursery (www.woodbrooknativeplantnursery.com)

Keep a garden calendar or journal: It can be as simple as an ordinary calendar. Write down something every day about the garden, it can be regarding the weather, a new bird sighting, the day something bloomed and any tasks done. It will be a valuable tool for seasons to come. Indulge in a new journal with the beautiful artistry of Jill Bliss (www.jillbliss.com)

Compost: Compost, Compost…every garden should have a compost bin! Basic compost info from Creative Gardener FYI makeyourowncompost

Mulch more, Weed less: Put your garden on a good organic mulch diet,  the reward will be healthy garden soil. Mulch at least 3 to 4 inches to control weeds too. More from Creative Gardener FYI in defense of weeds2

Teach a child the Wonders of Gardening: whether your own, a grandchild, or volunteering at school, there is real joy in working with children in the garden. Seeing the simple act of planting through a child’s eyes will renew your viewpoint as well.

Visit the garden show: The perfect way to spend a February day is the Northwest Flower and Garden show in Seattle.(www.gardenshow.com).  Nurseries have tickets on sale now…steal ideas from the gardens, shop the amazing booths and make your garden beautiful. Plan your weekend at the show and come and visit me Saturday February 11th on the DIY stage for one of my favorite subjects:  Herbs!! The top multi-purpose herbs to grow in your garden this year.

Think Design: “The plain hard work that goes into an unplanned and non-descript garden might just as well go into a planned one.” (Summer 1953, George Avery Jr. the Brooklyn Botanic Garden). The garden design studio is moving to Tacoma!  Join me for design sessions in my new space starting in February. Bring your photos and ideas and we will create! The new space will also include vintage garden books for sale from my amassed collection, herbs and favorite perennials,  plus garden findings. It’s “All About the Garden”. Stay tuned for more information.