Week 9 (5/19/05)
Even though the temperatures have been cool, this month is flying by like crazy! Half way through May and many of us still haven’t had the chance to get those flowers and veggies planted. Don’t worry; we’ve got plenty of planting time. And plant availability stays strong right into June. But, if there are specific plants or special plants you want, but you need to wait to plant them, go ahead and buy them now, and keep them at home (watered) until you’re ready to plant.
[Life is simpler when you plow around the stump.]
*WHETHER IT’S THE WEATHER – Looking at the forecast, this could be another absolutely outstanding weekend. Just a reminder for those who have planted new trees, shrubs, perennials, grass seed, etc. Make sure those new plants have good even moisture as they begin to get themselves established in your garden. And for the established plants, as their new growth is coming out, good soil moisture is also very important. The last couple rains have been very much needed rains! So be sure you’re checking the soil moisture around your plants regularly. The golden rule is about 1inch of rainfall every 10 days or so. Get a rain gauge and know how much your yard has received. If Mother Nature hasn’t given your yard its inch of rain, you’ll need to supplement.
[Forgive your enemies. It messes with their heads.]
*WHAT’S BUGGIN’ YOU? – Keep picking off those bagworms from last year. It won’t be long until they’ll be hatching out. Get rid of them now and save yourself a lot of picking later!
[Don’t name a pig that you plan on eating.]
*QUESTIONMARK & THE MYSTERIANS – Here are a few gardening questions from this weeks emailed news bag:
"Is there something I should be doing for my lawn at this point, before we get into the summer?" -Yes! Chances are it could use a nice feeding of a slow release high N fertilizer to help carry it through the summer. And, if you see a few weeds here and there, go after them now with a spot treatment. If you have a few more than spot treating will take care of, consider spraying the entire lawn with a broadleaf weed killer, as well as feeding. Or, you can combine the 2 and use a weed and feed. As always, read the labels for directions and restrictions.
"Can I cut off the foliage of my daffodils yet?" -Don’t know. Has it been at least 6 weeks since they stopped flowering? At least 6 weeks or they start to turn yellow, whichever comes first. By the way, that’s also the best time to dig, divide, or transplant spring flowering bulbs.
"What’s up with the hollies and the yellow leaves?" -Hollies can naturally shed leaves in the spring, and the amount will depend on variety, as well as environmental issues. Our general consensus is that the past 2 seasons (extremes in wet and dry soils), combined with late warm fall temperatures, diving into single digit temperatures (twice), took its toll on hollies (and several other varieties of plants). Feed with Hollytone, some may need to be cut back to get them to fill out more, and we may lose a few, but overall, most should recover.
"When is the best time to prune my lilac?" Prune them right after they’re finished flowering. This is one plant that doesn’t wait around to set its flower buds for next year. Deadhead, remove extra long branches if needed, and if too thick inside, thin out a bit.
"We’re laying a limestone patio with rough rocks gathered from creek beds. What can I plant between the rocks that is low and takes foot traffic?" -I love using thyme, and there are so many varieties to choose.
What would you suggest I do for chickweed control?" -Your best defense against chickweed in the lawn is a thick lawn. It simply cannot compete with a thick lawn. In the landscape beds, they will grow like crazy. Here’s what to do. When you see it growing in the early spring, get rid of it right then. Hand pulling is the easiest as it has a very little root system. By getting rid of it early in the season, it doesn’t flower and go to seed. By not going to seed, you cut back the potential of having to deal with it later. You see Chickweed is called a "winter annual". Those seeds actually begin to germinate in the FALL, and over the winter, and by spring, are already growing. So the pre emergent herbicide in the spring may have stopped any left over seeds that hadn’t germinated earlier, but that’s it. The pre emergent actually needs to be applied in the late summer, if you’re going after the majority of chickweed seeds!
[Letting the cat out of the bag is a whole lot easier than trying to put it back.]
[Live a good honorable life. Then when you get older and look back, you can enjoy it a second time.]
[Never kick a cow chip on a hot day.]
*GROWING ‘MATERS UPSIDE DOWN! - Here’s a look at a really different type of container gardening. It doesn’t take up any floor space, and it turns the world of container gardening upside down! It’s the upside down tomato. Here is what you’ll need:
One tomato plant (cherry, yellow pear or grape)
One parsley, chive plant, or bouquet basil plant
One 14 - inch or larger hanging basket (without a saucer) – 2-3 gallon buckets or even pickle buckets work great!
Soil-less Potting Mix / Soil Moist / Osmocote - pre mixed and ready to use
Miracle Gro for later feedings
8 inch square of fabric with a 2 inch slit cut in the middle
-Take the basket or container chosen and cut a 1 ½ to 2 inch hole in the center of the bottom of the container. Place the fabric inside, so the slit is directly over the hole.
-Gently massage the root ball of the tomato until it fits through the hole. Push the plant, roots first, through the hole and slit in the fabric. Leave about 1/3 of the plant foliage sticking out the bottom, the rest of the plant inside the pot.
-Now, fill the container with your pre mixed soil-less potting mix. Gently tamp the soil around the roots so that it holds the tomato firmly in place. This is a bit awkward, so 4 hands may be required for this part of the planting!
-Once the tomato is securely planted, and the container is full of the soil-less mix, then plant either the parsley or chive in the top of the pot.
-Hang your upside down tomato in a sunny spot, water well, and water as needed throughout the season. Be sure to use the Miracle Gro as a fertilizer supplement throughout the growing season. Now be sure to hang your basket high enough to allow the tomato to vine as it normally would. M-m-m-m, fresh cherry tomatoes on the bottom, with fresh parsley, basil or chives on the top. What more could you ask for?
[The best way to get out of a hole, is to stop digging.]
[If you’re riding ahead of the herd, take a look back every now and then to make sure it’s still there.]
*FROM THE GARDEN TO THE KITCHEN / HEY RITA WHAT’S COOKIN’? –
My onion chives are starting to bloom so I’ll soon be making chive flower vinegar (the chive flowers turn the vinegar a soft pink) and adding the flowers to omelets, salads and stir fries. Today’s recipe makes use of the abundance of chives that everyone seems to have right now. And it’s a great way to use the "thinnings" from that row of spinach. Now if you’re making this with green onions, be sure and use the white part, too. Remember, nutrition starts in the root!
STIR FRY BEEF WITH CHIVES/GREEN ONIONS AND TOMATOES
1 pound flank steak, sliced thin
4-5 Roma tomatoes cut into wedges
2 bunches chives, chopped or l bunch green onions, sliced
Handful of snow peas or spinach (opt)
1/3 cup soy sauce or more to taste
2 tablespoons Canola or peanut oil
1 tablespoon cornstarch
2 tablespoons water
Sesame seed oil to taste
Garnish: Fresh chopped chives or chive flowers (opt) and more Sesame oil
Combine beef and marinade ingredients and marinate from l0 minutes up to a day. Heat a wok or skillet and add a bit of oil, if desired. Cook beef until done. Add onions and tomatoes and snow peas or spinach if you have them. Cook just until tomatoes are heated through. Serve over hot rice which has been seasoned with several shakes of sesame seed oil and chopped chives or green onions. Serves 4.
TIPS FROM RITA’S KITCHEN:
Light vs. Dark Sesame Seed Oil:
Light: A beautiful clear yellow and usually sold in fairly large bottles. The seeds have not been roasted, so the oil can be used for frying. The flavor is unbelievably mild.
Dark/Roasted: Roasting the seeds delivers the flavor we have come to love. The roasting process turns the oil dark and depending upon the brand, you’ll see variations in color. Usually sold in smaller bottles at the grocery. You can buy larger bottles of this at specialty stores. Not a frying oil, but a seasoning oil, as it doesn’t hold up to high temperatures. Stir in toward the end of cooking time.
Harvesting Chives: Cut as close to the ground as possible. This allows to new growth to flush up, and keeps the plant looking neat.
RITA’S EASY BARBEQUED CHICKEN
4 pieces chicken (I like boneless, skinless breasts)
2 cups favorite barbecue sauce
1/2 cup chopped onion
Dash or two of garlic powder
1/4 cup brown sugar (optional but good)
Place meat in single layer in pan. Mix sauce, onion, garlic powder and brown sugar. Pour over meat. Cook over high heat, covered, until it comes to a boil. Turn heat down to medium and cook, covered, until chicken is done, about l0 minutes. Serves 2-3.
- Rita Nader Heikenfeld, CCP / Macy’s Regional Culinary Professional / Herbalist / Author / Local TV and Radio Cooking Expert / Adjunct Professor U.C. Clermont College / Community Press Papers [email@example.com attn: Rita]
[After eating an entire bull, a mountain lion felt so good he started roaring. He kept it up until a hunter came along and shot him. The moral: When you’re full of bull, keep your mouth shut. –Will Rogers]
That’s it for this week. Looks like great weather ahead, so do yourself a favor. Go out and have the absolute best weekend of your life.
*THIS ONE’S A KNOCKOUT - For the past several years now, you’ve heard us talking about the all great Knockout roses. And still many folks ask me, what’s so great about those Knockout roses? And you know what? I’m glad they ask!
Knockout roses are a series of shrub roses that have been breed to be disease resistant, especially against blackspot and powdery mildew, they’re insect tolerant, very hardy, and flower like crazy, without deadheading. Put all that together and we’re talking a low to almost no maintenance rose that blooms its head off all season long. Last year, they were still flowering in early December. I watch a Knockout rose, growing in a parking lot island that gets very little food, dries out in the summer, and dumped on with salty snow in the winter. It takes a licking but keeps right on tickin’; that’s how tough they are!
Now, Knockout roses are a shrub rose, with the potential to get 5’ x 5’, but easily maintained at smaller sizes. Currently, there are 3 different Knockouts, with a new one being introduced this year. The original Knockout has raspberry red flowers, not much fragrance, but just keep coming with flowers all season long. Then, Blushing Knockout was introduced, with its light pink flowers, fading to an almost white. Last year, Pink Knockout was brought into the market, with its much deeper pink flowers. And this year, watch for limited numbers of the Double Knockout to be available. It’s the original Knockout flower, doubled! Again, all of which are all season bloomers.
Knockout roses can be used as a specimen, hedging, mass plantings, flowering shrub, in a container, and they even come in a tree form! So now you know what’s so great about Knockout roses!