Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Reader's Questions: Transplanting and Bulbs

In the garden, Autumn is, indeed the crowning glory of the year, bringing us the fruition of months of thought and care and toil. And at no season, safe perhaps in Daffodil time, do we get such superb colour effects as from August to November. ~Rose G. Kingsley

Today I have some more garden questions and answers. I hope you find them helpful!

I have black eyed susan and daisy plants coming up that I don't think are going to have enough time to bloom before the weather starts turning. Can you tell me if these same plants will come up next year or do I need to start new plants from seeds. If they will come up next year when would be a good time to transplant them somewhere else? ~Linda

Black-eyed Susans are biennial, which means they live for two years, blooming during the second year. They form SO many seed heads that they should reseed and you will have new plants and will always have more than you'll need. In the spring you can dig around the roots and plant in a new spot if you wish. Later you'll have more plants, and you can move those in the spring or fall also.

You didn't say which type of daisy you were growing, but Shasta Daisy is the most popular. It's a perennial, and grows much like the Black-eyed Susans. Next year they should bloom for you. If you need to move them you can do that now. They will multiply and in a couple years you'll have more. Just dig them up and carefully divide the clumps, and plant where you want them to grow. Always keep transplants well watered and if possible move them on a day where it's not scorching hot.

Can you do anything with the seed pods that form on Calla Lilies after the blossoms are done? They look like little bulbs, are they plantable?

As a general rule you cut off the seed pods of calla lily and cannas so more energy can go into the tubers/bulbs than the seed pod. IF you want to try germinating and growing them from seed, then leave it on the stem until it becomes large and turns a yellowish shade. Pick the pods, and separate them. If you squeeze the pods the seed is inside them. Rinse them off and plant the seeds in pots. Starting them indoors is best, and the germination may take quite a long time. If you are in a tropical climate you could try doing this in the outside soil.

How do I store raw cabbage after thinly slicing for a salad (before dressing, etc. is added). ~Louanne

First, slice the cabbage as close to using it as possible. Store it in a plastic bag in the refrigerator for 2-3 days. To prevent it from discoloring you can sprinkle it with lemon juice-- just sprinkle and shake the bag.

More tips on cabbage harvest and storage plus recipes!

Monday, August 31, 2009

Fall Garden Tips: Planning for Spring

There is only one real deprivation, I decided this morning, and that is not to be able to give one's gifts to those one loves most. ~May Sarton

Autumn is bulb time and besides working your soil, planting at the correct depth for each is one of the most important things you can do for a good spring bloom. There is one other important detail though: plant the bulb with the "tip" facing up. If you look at each bulb you can tell that one end is more flattened. That is where the roots grow from-- the other end is where the flower stem will sprout from in the spring. When you purchase bulbs they all come with planting directions, but as a general rule you should plant them about 2 1/2 times the length of the bulb. If your soil is sandy or very loose you can go deeper.

A general guideline for planting common bulbs is:
Hyacinths: 6-8 inches
Tulips: 4-6 inches
Daffodils: 3-4 inches
Crocus: 1-2 inches

Usually it's best to plant bulbs when the temperatures fall below 60 degrees. That varies depending on where you live, so some of you have more time for your planning. When choosing places to plant your bulbs consider that when they pop up the trees will not have their leaves and the perennials won't be out yet, which means some normally shady spots will be sunny. Most bulbs like some afternoon shade and a fertile soil that is well drained.

Don't plant your bulbs next to a heated basement or wall where they will be warmer than normal. This could mess with the timing on the blooms. Cover the bulbs with a 2-3 inch layer of mulch such as wood chips, bark or peat moss. Remove this in late winter or early spring.

I've had the best success with daffodils for a couple of reasons: rodents don't like them and they can adapt to most soils. The only time I've had them not do well are when the soil was super dry AND next to tree roots. Otherwise they grow and multiply with ease.

We have tips on growing crocus, which is also an easy to grow bulb:


Sunday, August 30, 2009

A Garden Hodge Podge

My idea of gardening is to discover something wild in my wood and weed around it with the utmost care until it has a chance to grow and spread. ~Margaret Bourke-White

I have a special garden themed post today with garden tips from Old Fashioned Living visitors. I love learning new things from our readers!

You can freeze your excess of tomatoes very simply by taking the core out of the ripe tomatoes, placing in freezer bags and putting them in the freezer. When you need them put into a sink full of very cold water, give them a few seconds and the skins will come right off. Place in a pot on the stove and let thaw on low heat and you are ready for whatever tomato dish you wish to make. I grow a lot of tomatoes so I can freeze them and they last through the winter. I have been doing this for years without a problem. Just don't forget to core them. ~Joyce

If your broccoli does bolt (goes to flower), you've still got a crop to harvest! The small bright-yellow flowers have a very mild broccoli flavor, and while you may balk at serving them as a crudités at your next party, they make a great TV time treat. Cut the flower clusters off the plant, leaving 2"-3" of the thin stem (you want them bite-sized, with a "handle"). Don't worry if some of the buds haven't opened; it's all good. From here, treat them as you would the raw green florets: give them a quick rinse and serve them with a side of salad dressing (I like ranch or bleu cheese) or chip dip thinned with a bit of milk (the flower clusters are too delicate for thick dips -- they come apart and you're left fishing little yellow flowers out of the onion dip). Couldn't be easier!

The cabbage moth larvae which are found on broccoli are also edible. My husband and I are interested in wild edibles and alternative food sources from cultures around the world, and during our last broccoli harvest, we came up with a handful of the tiny white segmented grubs. We fished them out of the blanching water and threw them in a skillet with a bit of olive oil and some Cajun seasoning. The flavor was quite good and the consistency was that of tiny little Cheetos. However, as open-minded as I am, I still couldn't get past the fact that I was eating bugs. It was fun to try...once. ~Susan (I might just take your word on it as far as the grubs are concerned! Brenda)

My mother always soaks her eggplant slices in buttermilk for about an hour before frying them. She says she soaks them to take out the bitter taste and it must work because they taste wonderful. She takes them straight out of the buttermilk and flours them using the buttermilk to make the flour stick. ~Laura

I grind my basil with half lemon juice and half olive oil to make my pesto. I add garlic and Parmesan, but no nuts at this time. Then I freeze it in ice cube trays. When it is frozen, I pop the cubes out and put them into a Ziploc bag. When I want pesto on veggies or pasta or bread, I take out a cube or two and thaw it. I have also put cubes in pasta sauce in place of dried basil. The lemon juice adds an extra kick in place of salt. ~Cheryl

On OFL we have tips bringing your plants indoors for the cold weather: