Thursday, May 31, 2012

June Gardening Tips

We are heading into prime garden season in June and July, when it's important to keep up on maintaining flower, vegetable and herb gardens. A week or two of neglect can make all the difference in a garden. Below are some reminders and tips for the month of June.

-It's time to start deadheading. I know this is a dreaded chore for many gardeners, but make it part of your routine as you take morning or evening walks. Pinch off the finished blooms of annuals and perennials as you walk around your flower beds. It makes a huge difference!

-Weeds never take a rest, especially this time of year. The best time to weed is after a rain, but like with deadheading, make it a routine and it won't get out of control.

-Shrubs that have bloomed already such as spirea, viburnum, lilac and forsythia can now be pruned now, and should be done as soon as possible.

-Blossom-end rot on tomatoes, peppers, squash and watermelons is often a problem this time of year. It's important to keep the soil watered on a regular basis- not letting it become too dry or too wet. It's always better to water on a schedule for a longer period of time rather than a quick watering that doesn't go deep enough. Also, avoid working up the soil near the plants. Weed by hand, and carefully.

-Rhubarb can be harvested through June, but watch for flower stalks as they appear, snipping them off the plant.

-Peonies should be trimmed of the dead blooms when they are finished. Leave the foliage alone, only cutting out the flower stems and dead flowers.

-Cutworms can ruin seedlings and transplants very quickly. You can protect melons, tomatoes and cucumbers by placing a cardboard collar around the base of the plant. Use the rolls from toilet paper or paper towel when empty for an inexpensive solution. Cut the roll so it's stuck into the soil 1-2 inches and 2-3 inches above the soil. Cut the roll on one side lengthwise, then slip it around the stem of the plants.

-June is the month to plant dahlias, gladiola and canna bulbs. All three need a fertile, well drained soil in a location with full sun.

-Sow seeds for cucumbers, pumpkins, squash, zinnia, morning glory and basil. If you are in Zone 3-5 you may have been waiting until it was frost free, and we should be safe at this point.

On OFL we have instructions for a self fertilizing container garden:


Sunday, May 27, 2012

Summer Grilling Recipes

I think we can consider it Summer, even though our morning temperatures are still dipping a bit here in Michigan. We've already grilled a lot with charcoal and gas this year, and I love meals that are cooked on the grill. Below I have some recipes for fish, beef and chicken plus vegetables. The grilled onions are good with just about anything, but especially the burgers. Brew a jar of iced tea, and enjoy!

Grilled Herb Chicken

2 1/2 - 3 lb. chicken pieces
3/4 c. vegetable oil
3/4 c. lemon juice
2 tsp. seasoned salt
2 tsp. ground paprika
2 tsp. dried basil
2 tsp. dried thyme
1/2 tsp. garlic powder

 Place chicken in a container with a lid. Combine remaining ingredients, whisking together, and pour over the chicken. Cover the container and marinate in the refrigerator several hours or overnight. Grill the chicken over prepared coals, or gas grill medium heat until the chicken tests done.  Probably about ten minutes per side if using boneless chicken pieces, longer if the bone is in. Baste with marinade, and turn often.

Lemon Dill Grilled Fish

1 1/2 lb. firm fish fillets (perch, tilapia, cod etc.)
1/2 c. butter
1 tbsp. chopped parsley
1 tbsp. minced, fresh dill
2 tbsp. lemon juice
2 tsp. salt
ground black pepper to taste

Cover the grill grate with aluminum foil. Place fillets on the foil over moderate heat. Combine the rest of the ingredients and brush on the fish. Continue to brush it as it cooks. Cook the fish about 4-5 inches from heat for 8-10 minutes, turning and cooking for the same amount of time or until the fish flakes easily with a fork.

Greek Style Burgers

1 1/2 pounds ground beef, lamb or pork *see note
1/4 c. minced onion
1 tsp. dried oregano
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
4 to 6 pita breads, split
1 c. shredded lettuce
1 tomato, chopped
2 green onions, chopped

Cucumber Sauce:
1/2 cup Greek style yogurt, plain
1/4 cup cucumber, chopped
1/4 tsp. dried dill, or 1 tsp. minced fresh dill

Mix together the items for sauce and set aside. Combine the ground meat, onion, oregano, salt and pepper. Form into patties.  Grill until meat is no longer pink inside.  Serve on the pita bread with lettuce, tomato, green onion and the cucumber sauce.  

Notes: Lamb is the traditional meat used in Greek dishes, but any combination of ground meat works well. 

Grilled Vidalia Onion

Large Vidalia onion
3 tablespoons Italian dressing
1 tsp. butter
ground black pepper

Peel onion and slice fairly thin. Place in the center of a piece of foil big enough to wrap the onion. Drizzle with the Italian dressing, add the butter in the center. Sprinkle with pepper and wrap tightly. Place on a hot grill and cook for approximately 20-30 minutes over medium heat.  Remove from heat, cool slightly and open foil. Serve with meat.

Marinated Grilled Chuck Steak

1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup oil
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
1/2 tsp. thyme
1/2 tsp. oregano
1/2 tsp. rosemary
1 clove garlic, peeled and minced
2 1/2 lbs. chuck steak, 1/2 inch thick

Combine all ingredients except steak. Place the meat in a plastic or glass container, and pour over the marinade. Cover and chill for 3 hours in refrigerator, turning several times. Drain. Broil steak on grill over hot coals or medium heat. Cook about 15 minutes on each side, or less, depending on how done you like it. Makes about 4 servings.

Grilled Parmesan Potatoes

4 large potatoes, peeled, cut into thick strips
1 medium onion, sliced very thinly
4 tbsp. butter, cut into pieces
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
Grated Parmesan cheese

Season the potatoes with garlic, salt and pepper. Add the minced onions, stirring. Place the potatoes on a large piece of heavy-duty aluminum foil. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Dot with butter. Seal the foil around potatoes, adding more if necessary. Place on the grill over medium heat. Cook 35 minutes, turning several times.

On OFL we have tips for backyard grilling: