Thursday, July 9, 2009
Wednesday, July 8, 2009
Today I have more great gardening questions from reader's.
Will Snapdragons really reseed themselves? I live in California where the winters are incredibly mild so many annuals do reseed themselves. Should I just let the plant go or should I pull off those little pods that you say are full of seeds and then plant those? ~Jacqui near Monterey
Snapdragons really do reseed, and should where you are too if you let the seedpods form--which are the little pods--or you can collect the pods when they start turning brown and dry them in a basket, then plant them. Don't put the green pods in anything sealed or plastic because they will mold. What I do is snip off the pods til at least the end of August and then I leave them alone to dry on the plant and reseed. I do this because each plant will basically stop blooming if you don't cut off the seedpods, and snapdragons will bloom right up until cold weather, so I deadhead them until the end of summer. The only thing negative I can say about letting them reseed is that they pop up all over and the colors are always a surprise. I don't mind though because they are so easy to thin out where I don't want them.
Could you tell me why my Hydrangea bush never seems to make flowers. It flowered the first year and that was it. ~Rosie
There are a few things that could be causing this. One thing that could have happened was that you had a late frost and it damaged the buds development. The growth should come from the old wood--if your bush has bare branches, and the growth is coming up from the roots only--there has most likely been winter damage.
Pruning at the wrong time can hinder blossoms too. Only prune your hydrangea BEFORE the end of July. No later or you may be cutting off the next springs buds.
Make sure your hydrangea has 4-6 hours of sun--not too much shade. Do not give it fertilizer high in nitrogen either.
I must mention that sometimes we are given, or buy, a plant from the florist section of a store, and it MAY not be appropriate for your zone. When buying plants it's better to buy from where they can tell you the zone requirements. Try the things I mentioned and hopefully your hydrangea will bloom next year!
I bought monkshood, but have since learned just how toxic it is and want to remove it from my garden--safely. Do you have any ideas? ~Rebecca M.
It is highly toxic, but removing it really shouldn't be a problem. Wear gloves and dig it out, then dispose of it in the garbage. All parts of the plant contain the poison Aconitine, which is toxic to humans and animals. The root is especially poisonous. Oddly, when dried, some animals can eat it safely, and it's been used in herbal medicine as well. Wearing gloves when digging it out should be all you need to do.
On OFL we have tomato harvest tips and recipes:
Tuesday, July 7, 2009
One drinks tea. During the Victorian era, the term to take tea was used by the lower classes and considered a vulgar expression by the upper classes.
2. Why is the shape of a teapot different from a coffee or chocolate pot?
The teapot is designed with a lower rounded body to insure the tea leaves have the proper room for expansion during the infusion process. The lower placement of the spout on the vessel allows for the tea to be poured without interfering with the leaves.
3. What is the correct placement of the teapot on the table?
The spout of the teapot and the tea kettle faces the hostess or pourer.
4. Are tea urns used for brewing or infusing tea?
No. Tea urns were designed to heat and hold hot water for larger quantities of water. Their function was the same as a tea kettle.Ideally, one would dispense the hot water from the urn into the teapot. "Bring the pot to the Kettle, not the kettle to the pot."
5. How does a teacup differ from a coffee or chocolate cup?
Traditionally a cup equals four ounces. However, the time of day and the beverage served will dictate the proper size of the service piece. Except for demitasse cups, which are served half full, all other cups are served three quarters full. A teacup is 3 1/4" to 3 3/4" in diameter and 2" to 2 1/2" in height. the companion saucer ranges from 5 1/4" to 5 5/8" across. A teacup is shallow and wider than a coffee or chocolate cup, giving the beverage a chance to temper before drinking.
6. What is a moustache cup?
A moustache cup is a nineteenth century variation of the teacup created in England by Harvey Adams. It is designed with a slit ledge projecting from the front side of the rim, allowing the tea to flow through while a gentleman's moustache remains dry resting on the top lip.
7. Why in older pictures of tea settings are spoons placed across the top of a teacup?
Tea was very expensive during the early years of its popularity. As such,the actual tea wares were small in size. There was no room for a teaspoon to rest on the saucer. A guest rested their teaspoon on top of their teacup as an indication they had had sufficient tea. This was a signal to the hostess to stop pouring tea. Today, to indicate the same signal, due to the larger size of the teacup and saucer, the proper placement of the spoon would be across the top of your saucer, not the cup.
8. What is a tea plate?
Native to England and Europe, tea plates were customized to hold a teacup without a saucer.The plate was embedded with a shallow well to secure the teacup. The foods and tea were served together on one plate. When one is using separate tea service pieces the customary size today is either a salad/dessert plate of seven to eight inches or a bread and butter plate of six to seven inches.
9. Where does the expression "not my cup of tea" come from?
To refer to one as "not my cup of tea" derives from the fifteenth century Japanese Teaism. "No tea to him." As one "insusceptible to the seriocomic interests of the personal drama." It is used to describe those one does not care for.
10. How is a traditional English trifle made?
Ruth Darley's advice, whether made from scratch or not, for an easy and quick English trifle recipe. Preferably set in a large footed bowl, alternate layers of the following ingredients: sponge or pound cake moistened with Sherry, egg custard or pudding, sliced strawberries, whipped cream and slivered almonds, repeat layers until bowl is filled. Fruit juice may be substituted for Sherry. Custard and pudding flavors may be changed to taste as well as seasonal berries.
11. When drinking tea does one lift the teacup and saucer or just the teacup?
If one is seated at a table, the proper manner to drink tea is to raise the teacup only,placing it back into the saucer in between sips.
If you are at a buffet tea, hold the tea saucer in your lap with your left hand and hold the tea cup in your right hand. When not in use, place the tea cup back in the tea saucer and hold in your lap.
In either event, never wave or hold your tea cup in the air.
12. What are the proper protocols for wearing gloves at an afternoon tea?
The protocols for wearing gloves are the same, whether one is attending an afternoon tea or any other event where foods and beverages are served.
While gloves are often highly designed with decorations and adornments, their sole purpose is to cover and protect ones hands from the elements.
When greeting another, remove the glove from the right hand, place the removed glove in your left hand and shake hands skin to skin.
It is improper to dine with ones gloves on. Remove your gloves before sitting down to dine. The exception is for long, formal gloves with buttons at the wrist. It is acceptable to unbutton, remove ones fingers and hands and fold back, to the wrist ,the lower portion of the glove without removing the upper portion from your arm. If the gloves have no wrist buttons, the gloves should be removed in their entirety before dining.
Wishing you happy Tea Travels! (TM)
More of Ellen's Articles:
Planning a Tea Menu
A Spring Tea Menu
Tea and Silver
Tea at the Holidays
Understanding Tea Time Service
The Afternoon Tea Gown
The History of Chocolate
A Summer Rose Tea
Etiquette Faux Pas
Sunday, July 5, 2009
I don't know about where you live but our weather has been crazy! We had several days of high humidity last week where it was close to 100 F., then it cooled off and barely made it into the 60's. I had to watch my beds carefully where I'd sowed seeds because even with some rain, they dried out quickly. If you have areas of your landscape that are in full sun and in wide open spaces they made need to be watered more often in windy, dry weather, but more sheltered areas, especially in partial shade, can often be left alone.
Even in the north you can still sow seeds of vegetables that will have time to grow, such as beans, cucumbers, squash, carrots, radishes, and greens. You'll want to look for vegetables, herbs, flowers etc that will mature in 60 days or less. Keep the seeds watered well as per the instructions on the seed packets. It's especially important when the days are hot and windy.
From the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension office: *Cutting flowers is best done with sharp shears or a knife which will help avoid injury to the growing plant. A slanting cut will expose a larger absorbing surface to water and will prevent the base of the stem from resting on the bottom of the vase. It is best to carry a bucket of water to the garden for collecting flowers, rather than a cutting basket.
This time of year we mainly stay concerned about our plants in the garden, but shrubs also need care. If you receive less than an inch of rain in a two week period and the temperatures have passed 85 degrees, then they probably need a drink. It's better to water deeply, which will encourage roots to grow deep. It's healthier for the shrub. Using a sprinkler you can set out a rain gauge or a tin can and water until you have 2-3 inches of water collected.
OFL has tips on controlling those pesky Japanese Beetles: