Secrets of Successful CLEMATIS PRUNING

Are you wondering whether you should prune your clematis plants in Spring?

There is a ton of information on the internet to tell you when and how to prune your clematis for best flowering and encouraging full growth. One can spend hours reading about all the different types and the pruning recommendations. By the end of the day, however, spring pruning boils down to this:

If it blooms before June, don’t prune.

Blooming Clematis

You can spring-prune your autumn clematis and other late summer blooming clematis by cutting them down to about 1/3. That will remove ratty, left-over foliage and promote fuller growth and flowers for this season.

Don’t have any clematis? They are carefree plants that will climb up on most any support and attract pollinators while looking spectacular at the same time.

Click here to see our clematis – great varieties and prices – guaranteed!

3 HUMMINGBIRDS Secrets You Never Knew

hummingbird in flight
Hummingbird in Flight

1. Hummingbirds are migratory and will start their journeys north very soon. In our region, we usually see the first hummers towards the middle of March. To make our location more attractive as a potential permanent home, it’s time to ramp up our feeding stations. No one likes wet and diluted food or to get soaked while dining, neither do the Hummers.

2. There are 15 types of hummingbirds in North America. Their favorite food is nectar, be it from the flowers in your garden or from a special feeder. Cleanliness is very important, select a feeder size that is either emptied every 3 to 4 days or empty and replace the sugar solution yourself to keep the nectar fresh.

3. Most urban gardens are not naturally rich in nesting material supplies. No longer do chickens run wild and leave behind assortments of feathers, nor are there fluffs of cotton or animal hair stuck to bushes and trees. Encourage the travelers to stay in your garden by providing some natural replacements for hard to find nesting materials.
Your efforts can be as simple as tucking your pets brushings into the bushes here and there.

Nectar Recipe
Please skip the food coloring! Some research suggests this addition is not a healthy choice for birds. Choose feeders with prominent colors or hang out some of last years Christmas bows near your nectar feeders instead.

Combine 1 part white sugar to 4 parts water. Bring to slow boil for 2 minutes. Cool before pouring into feeder. Excess may be stored in the refrigerator.

Hummingbirds favorite plant in our garden: Penstemon!

Dividing Hosta in 3 EASY Steps

Star of the Shade Garden – Hosta

With these nice warm days, I know I have been itching to do some gardening. Maybe you feel the same way? Don’t fall into the trap of putting out your summer veggies just yet. Instead, divide your hosta. Once the soil is is beginning to warm up a little, it’s a great time to divide hosta.

Dividing hosta, according to my reading, is a big job and can be super intimidating.Dig 18 inches from the plant, then wash the roots so that you can see what you are doing. Then there is something about the crowns…I’ll admit, I quit reading at that point…

Maybe you’ve separated hostas like that before, however, they will be quite happy if you just go and do the EASY 1-2-3 method.

  • Dig in a circle around each plant, beginning about two inches from the base and pry them up using a shovel and possibly brute strength
  • Turn them over and chop them into sections with an ax
  • Put the sections into their new locations and tuck them in, then water well

And here’s some advice from my friend Dava:
“It’s better to try things and take risks in the garden than to be paralyzed by the fear you will hurt your plants. You may kill a few, but, more likely, you will end up with a beautiful garden that brings you hours of enjoyment.”


So go and get those hosta separated, you may even have extra to share with friends and neighbors!


Come and check out our selection of beautiful hosta, light green, huge, tiny, patterned leaves….there’s always just one more I have to add every spring.

Daylily Dividing in 3 Easy Steps

Too many Daylilies.  Said nobody.  Ever.

Probably the most known and common method of propagation is digging up the root ball and dividing the rhizomes. This can be done most anytime the plant is not in bloom. Ok, I admit, I have dug and divided them while in bloom but I can’t think of any reputable garden source that recommends this method! Generally, most sources suggest tackling this task in fall or early spring.
daylily divisions
1. Dig up the clump

2. Divide by pulling or cutting apart the root ball

3. Trim as needed, replant or share.

Another, lesser known, method is to harvest the proliferations. After the daylilies have finished blooming and before the stalks turn completely brown, it’s a good time time to check the scapes for proliferations. Cut any you find with about 2 inches of stalk remaining and pot them up. Don’t have any pots around? Put the ‘baby’ in a glass of water. Be sure to label them so you’ll know “who’s who” in the spring.
Keep them in a sunny window for the winter before transplanting them back into the garden come spring. This proliferation will be an identical twin to the parent plant.
Daylily ProliferationsIn just a little time, you have increased your supply of lovely daylilies for your own garden or as gifts to your family and friends.

Belle’s Best Rhubarb Pie

Rhubarb Pie

Rhubarb Pie

Rhubarb Pie: The combination of cake base, tart rhubarb filling and sweet topping is irresistible.  I bake mine in a springform pan and it is always gone in no time.

  • Wash and cut 6-8 stalks of rhubarb into bite-size pieces.
  • Mix 5 egg yolks with 1 package Vanilla Pudding Mix (the type that needs to be cooked) and pour over the rhubarb. Stir until well coated and set aside.
  • Make Meringue. Beat 5 egg whites until peaks form, add in 3/4 cup sugar while continuing to beat the mixture. Set aside.
  • Make Cake base:
    1 stick butter – softened
    1/2 cup sugar
    1 egg
    2 cups flour
    Mix the sugar and butter with a wooden spoon until it stops crunching. Add the egg and then the flour. Use your hands and mix the crumbly dough until it sticks together. Grease your springform and spread dough across the bottom, poke a few holes into it with a fork. Spread 1 tablespoon breadcrumbs on top, I shake the pan a bit to distribute the crumbs evenly. Pour the rhubarb mixture in and spread out evenly. Bake at 350F for 30 minutes. Remove from oven, spread the Meringue on top and bake 8-12 minutes longer until top is lightly browned.
    Remove from oven, let cool a bit and enjoy. Refrigerate leftovers – if you have any…

Ingredients List:
6 eggs
2 cups flour
1 stick butter
1 1/4 cup sugar
1 package vanilla sauce mix
1 tablespoon breadcrumbs

Makes 12 serving with ~265 calories each

Nutrition label

Nutrition label

Add rhubarb to your garden, it’s a carefree plant in all but the hottest climates.

Three ways to support your local farm without spending a dime

Thank you for supporting your local farms, farmers markets, and local businesses, that is an incredible expression of love and support.

While shopping is always appreciated, there are other ways to help your local store that don’t require spending money.

  1. Share posts from your local farm on Facebook and Instagram–This small act takes no time at all but it does make an impact. If you share the posts you love or find inspiring, your gardening friends will too! You’ll be helping the farm reach a new audience and giving your friends a new source of fun.
  2. Teach your friends and family to garden/can/cook with local products–Not only do you get to share the love of gardening, you also get to spend some fun quality time with your loved ones. Spreading the excitement about plants and local grown produce is good for your soul and good for keeping your favorite farm at the market.
  3. Tag your local farm on Facebook/Instagram/Twitter–Just adding a link to the store where you bought the produce or got help from in your social media posts will help your local farm reach a new group of gardening lovers.
    Did you just make a delicious dish? Have some lovely blooms in your garden? Tag your farm in the picture you post on Facebook or Instagram!

    Spring Market Booth

Valentine’s Plantable Seed Paper Hearts DIY

I saw the video on how to make your own seed paper hearts on facebook and just had to try it out right away.
cover food processor with a towel
Once i dug through the baking closet to find my heart shape cookie cutters and through the paper closet for red paper, I was on my way.  Fast forward and here is my tutorial so that you won’t have to clean up your cabinets and kitchen like i did (or maybe your blender/food processor seals better!)

seeds added to paper mushUse 1 cup of paper pieces to 1 cup of warm water, let sit for a minute or two inside food processor.  Then cover food processor with towel and pulse until there is mush.
Add about a teaspoon each of 4-5 different types of seeds and blend them into the mush, I used a fork.  A smaller amount Creating the heartof seeds will go a long way, I was way too generous with my first batch.

Use a screen or a piece of cheesecloth as base, add a tablespoon of mush, then press down firmly.  Wait about 30 seconds or so and pull up the cookie cutter.

Paper Seed Heart

Let dry naturally for about 12 hours and the paper hearts are ready. Glue to cards and/or attach to chopsticks and insert into a plant.

Click here for my printable pdf gift card #1. I sometimes run a glue stick around the edge of the printed heart and sprinkle a little glitter on the gold colored background. Click here to download card #2, same inside.

foldable card

Card #1

foldable instruction sheet

Card #2

Delicious Recipes with Sicilian Serpent Squash – Soup or Curry

Fresh Sicilian Serpentine SquashMaybe you have seen this amazing vegetable at a Farmer’s Market or maybe you even grow it yourself in your garden?  It has many different names such as serpent zucchini, italian squash, serpent of Sicily, zucchetta, calabash, and other names. They can be usedSelf-Healed end of a sicilian serpent squash like zucchini or summer squash, taste great, stay fresh for 2 weeks without refrigeration, and their most amazing feature is that they self-heal.   Just cut off as much as you want to use and leave the remaining portion out on your kitchen counter.  In no time, the end will dry and seal in the moisture and freshness of the left-over portion. when ready to use more, cut off another piece and discard the dried end.

So don’t hesitate, grab one and take it home.  Here’s my favorite EASY recipe that’s a hit at our table every time.  Add a different liquid and spice to make it either a soup or a curry (great over rice and pasta).

Serves 4
1 tablespoon of olive oil, heat
2 onions, chopped, add and cook until soft
1/2 of a serpent squash, peeled and cut into bite size pieces, add and stir
1 large package sliced button mushrooms, add and stir

For soup: add 2 chicken or vegetable flavor cubes and 2-3 cups water.  Simmer for 15 minutes.  Freezes and reheats well.
For curry: add 3 tablespoons curry powder and 2-3 cups milk. Simmer for 15 minutes. Serve over pasta or with rice.  Freezes and reheats well.

Thin Bearded Iris Easily in 3 Steps

How to thin an iris clumpYou know it’s time to divide and thin your iris when the clumps are crowded and the blooms are declining in numbers. There are many opinions on the best time of year for tackling this task and this mostly depends on where you live.  As long as there are a good 4 weeks before the first freeze and you are able to provide adequate moisture, the iris will thank you with prolific blooms next spring.  So go ahead and get started.

1. Lift the iris out of the ground.  I prefer to use a garden fork, lift the whole clump, shake of the soil, and transfer the clumps to a wheelbarrow, one variety at a time.

2. Sort and trim. Toss all ‘mothers’ and tiny rhizomes. Keep only healthy looking plants and cut back  foliage and roots.

3. Replant.  If desired or needed, amend the soil for good drainage, then plant and water the iris in well. I recommend planting with the rhizome set into the ground and covered. If you live in a hot and wet climate, you may want to plant them a bit more shallow for better drainage.

Homemade Satsuma Citrus Orange Marmalade Recipe

Homemade Satsuma Marmalade

Just as the taste of a homegrown tomato cannot compare to the grocery store version, so too is it with homemade marmalade where the flavor pops on your tongue.

Satsuma Marmalade

Satsuma Marmalade

This recipe is simple, delicious and a great recipe for beginning canners. 100% deliciousness in a jar that goes perfectly on toast, saltines, chicken, pork, with coconut shrimp, and, and, and…
Tie a pretty ribbon around the top and it makes a great gift at any time.

Ingredients:

  • 12 Satsumas (about 2.5 pounds, can substitute Mandarin or Clementine oranges),  quartered and thinly sliced, discard any seeds.
  • 1 lemon, zest and juice, discard any seeds
  • 6 cups of water
  • 4 pounds of sugarTools: jelly jars, candy thermometer, funnel.

Equipment:

  • Saucepan
  • Candy Thermometer
  • Jelly Jars, Lids, and Rings
  • Wooden Spoon
  • Ladle
  • Funnel

1. Wash the fruit with warm water and scrub with a brush to remove any dirt, grime or sprays that may have been used on the fruit beforeSimmering sliced Satsumas harvest.

2. Quarter and cut the satsumas into thin slices.

3.  In a heavy saucepan add water, all the fruit and lemon (zest and juice). Bring to boil and then simmer for 35-45 minutes until peel is tender.

4. Prepare your jars.

5. Remove pot from heat and add the sugar. NOTE: the rinds will stop softening once the sugar has been added, be sure it is to you desired tenderness before adding sugar.2016-12-06-09-41-30-small

6. Over medium heat, bring the fruit/sugar mixture up to boiling – stirring constantly. Cook to the jellying point (222 degrees F on a candy thermometer). Once the temperature starts rising over 212 degrees, it will take an additional 30-45 minutes to get to this point.  Do not rush here as your marmalade will not set if you are impatient.

7. Ladle hot marmalade into jars, leaving 1/4 inch head space. Wipe jar rims and adjust lids. Process for 5 minutes in a waterbath canner.

8. Check seals when cool and label. ENJOY!

Satsuma Marmalade going...going...gone

Satsuma Marmalade going…going…gone