Remembering the Daffodils

I always look forward to spring and the blooming of the daffodils.  We didn’t have any snow this winter, but did have some super cold temperatures.  Now that it’s spring, we have had several hard freezes and even a small amount of snow.  Unfortunately it was enough to take out the daffodils (along with the blooms of my peach and pear trees.)  Sigh.
I’m glad I enjoyed them when I did.
daffodil
Where I live, daffodils are often spotted randomly in the middle of fields or on the edge of creek banks often signally the site a previous homestead.
daffodils by creek and field

daffodils at old homestead

Do you see the path that leads to the old foundation?


daffodils and old house

I brake for old homes with daffodils


daffodils and old hometead
daffodils in sun

Dirt road daffodils at sunset


Many of the daffodils I have were rescued from a property about to bulldozed to build a new building.  Over the years, they have multiplied and have been transplanted throughout my gardens.
daffodils
daffodils and rusty can
Daffodils are bulbs, so to enjoy these spring flowers, they need to be planted in the fall.  I have planted as late as December but it is much easier if the ground is not frozen.  The bulbs do need quite a bit of chilly weather to produce the best blooms for spring.  It’s also important to remember that after the flower has faded, it can be cut off but leave the foliage to die back naturally.  This process can take up to six weeks and is giving the bulb energy for next years blooms.
To hide the ugly, dying foliage, I like to plant my daffodils behind my other perennials.  Since they are the first to bloom in my garden, by the time the foliage is dying, the other perennials are popping out of the ground and able to hide the unsightly yellowing leaves.
If you notice your daffodils are not blooming like they should, it’s possible they are too crowded or too deep.  After the foliage dies back and before they disappear in the landscape, I will dig them up, thin them out about 2-3 inches apart and about 3-5 inches deep and replant the remaining in a different spot.
A great trait of daffodils is they are not liked by deer or squirrels.  So far, I’ve not had any deer or squirrel problems in my garden (and there are plenty of both). Maybe it’s luck, maybe it’s the dog, or maybe it’s the daffodils. Whatever the case, I sure enjoyed them while they were here and they are such a welcome sight after a dreary winter.
Do you have a favorite spring flower?

Posted in Garden | 2 Comments

How to Start Tomatoes from Seed

I think the best part of summer is harvesting the first tomato.

Cherokee purple is an heirloom tomato that is easy to grow and one of my favorites! https://theblondegardener.com/2017/10/15/storing-green-tomatoes/ https://theblondegardener.com/2018/03/11/how-to-start-tomatoes-from-seed/

Heirloom Cherokee Purple tomato


Anticipation builds as the tomatoes go from green to pink to full-blown red.  It’s a game of patience as we wait for just the right moment to pluck it from the vine and take a bite.
Then, as the warm tomato juice dribbles down our chin, we get this overwhelming feeling that all is right in the world.  The heat, humidity, and bugs are suddenly forgotten as we savor the distinct flavor of a vine-ripened, fresh from the garden tomato.  To say it’s a special moment in the garden is really an understatement.
To achieve this nirvana though, you must first start with a tomato plant.  Soon, the box stores and nurseries will be bombarded with several varieties to choose from.  But, if you want to grow your own and try different varieties (and there are hundreds), starting tomatoes from seed is super easy and very rewarding.
The seeds from the small Mexico Midget tomato can be saved from year to year. https://theblondegardener.com/2018/03/11/how-to-start-tomatoes-from-seed/
I am excited this year to be a part of a trial for a couple of new dwarf tomato plants. This is a project for Craig LeHoullier -also known as the NC Tomatoman.  He is also the author of Epic Tomatoes and Growing Vegetables in Straw Bales .  Mr. Le Houllier has been growing and researching tomatoes for almost four decades.  The dwarf tomato idea came from customers that kept asking for tomatoes that were smaller in height and could be grown in containers on their decks and patios.  He found it very hard to find a good open pollinated dwarf variety and, with the help of an Australian gardener friend, they embarked on the journey to change this.  Needless to say, I am very excited to be apart of this project and the seeds he gave me are hopefully on their way to becoming a new, well-loved variety.
**
For those that would rather watch a video, the quick how-to can be found here.  Otherwise, continue scrolling for more detailed instruction.
To start tomatoes from seed, you first need some containers, potting soil, and lights or a sunny window. Since I have an enormous amount of plants I start each year and several containers of flowers here and there, I buy this growing mix by the a bale from our feed store. It's important to start seeds off right with a good growing mix. https://theblondegardener.com/2018/03/11/how-to-start-tomatoes-from-seed/
To this I add extra vermiculite and perlite to help with drainage.  I don’t have specific amounts to tell you since I don’t mix the whole bale at one time.
It's important to start seeds and transplants off with a good growing mix. these additives help with drainage and moisture retention. https://theblondegardener.com/2018/03/11/how-to-start-tomatoes-from-seed/
Most smaller bags of potting or seed starting mix from box stores will be already mixed and ready to go.   The key is to use a good mix from the start.  Don’t skimp here!  Stay away from the fifty pound bags for $.99.  Those deals bring you nothing but heartache and no plants.  I speak from experience.
When I’m ready to plant,  I mix everything together in an old wheelbarrow.  For smaller amounts, a bucket works just fine.  I add water slowly to the mix until everything is slightly moist.
It's important to start seeds and transplants off with a good growing mix. https://theblondegardener.com/2018/03/11/how-to-start-tomatoes-from-seed/
As far as containers go, I use plastic, nursery pots that I purchased and can be reused.  Yogurt containers, plastic or styrofoam cups, and newspaper pots will work as long as there are a one or two small holes for drainage.  I’ve seen where people use egg shells or egg cartons but, in my opinion, these are really too shallow and tend to dry out very quickly.  Seeds need to be kept moist in order to germinate.
Fill your containers about 3/4 full of moist potting mix and  place one or two seeds in each container.  For these four-inch pots, I sprinkled several seeds.  I do this at the beginning of seed starting season to save time and space.  Sometimes, seeds don’t sprout and I haven’t wasted a lot of space under the lights for nothing.  Then, later, when they sprout and get bigger, I will transplant to different containers.  If you are growing for yourself, just one or two seeds per container is good.
Top off the container with a light layer of mix and gently water.
It's important to start seeds and transplants off with a good growing mix. Don't forget to label! https://theblondegardener.com/2018/03/11/how-to-start-tomatoes-from-seed/
I place all of my pots in a tray so I can water from the bottom.  I also use a heat mat to speed up germination.  These mats can be ordered from garden supply companies and recently I saw one at our local Lowes.  I’ve also heard of people using old heating pads or electric blankets but personally I have not tried those.
Good lighting is a must for seed starting. https://theblondegardener.com/2018/03/11/how-to-start-tomatoes-from-seed/
The next consideration is light.  I have a little greenhouse now but, before then, I used my dining room table with grow lights.  A south, sunny window or room that gets lots of sun will work too but, to get seeds off to the right start, they really need about 14-16 hours of light.
And probably one of the most important factor to remember if you save seed is labeling.  If you remember nothing else, remember this:  all tomato seeds look alike.
All tomato seeds look alike. Be sure and label those containers. https://theblondegardener.com/2018/03/11/how-to-start-tomatoes-from-seed/
And, if you forget that, remember this:  all tomato plants look alike.
All tomato plamts look alike. Be sure and label those containers. https://theblondegardener.com/2018/03/11/how-to-start-tomatoes-from-seed/
And if you forget that, remember this: label, label, LABEL.  I make up my labels ahead of time and put them in the container immediately after I plant them.  I also make labels for the garden when I plant there as well.  For the most part, the actual tomato will tell me what they are, but some varieties look very similar.  Being a seed saver and seed seller, remembering what you plant is kind of important.
https://theblondegardener.com/2018/03/11/how-to-start-tomatoes-from-seed/

“Did you remember to label those for me?”


Many tomatoes are hybrids.  To create a hybrid, plant breeders cross-pollinate two tomato varieties to create a new tomato.   Hybrid tomatoes have  great flavor too but will not grow true to seed.  So if you find a great tasting tomato that’s a hybrid,  be advised that those seeds need to be bought each year.
Some of my personal preferences are the open pollinated varieties such as Cherokee Purple (my favorite for sandwiches), Mexico Midget (my favorite for salads and eating straight from the garden), Beefsteak (my husbands favorite for a sandwich), and Amish Paste which is a good canning tomato.
What is your favorite tomato?
 
 
 
 

Posted in Arkansas blogger, Family, Garden, Home, tomatoes | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 11 Comments

My Wabi-Sabi Gardens

Instead of making unrealistic resolutions at the first of the year, the new challenge is to find one word to focus on.  One word that tells people who you want to be or how you want to live.  Some common words chosen, for example, are courage, persevere, and strong.    A few weeks ago, I found a word and realized this is the perfect word for me (and fun to say!) and what I needed to focus on for the year.
Wabi-sabi (侘寂) is a concept in traditional Japanese aesthetics constituting a world view centered on the acceptance of transience and imperfection. The aesthetic is sometimes described as one of beauty that is imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete.
Social media gives me the opportunity to show only the best flower or vegetable in my garden.  In reality though, this is not so.  Imperfection, flawed beauty, and shortcomings abound all around me and I’ve got to learn to be ok with that.   
When you see holes in your passionflower leaf, the gulf fritillary caterpillars have arrived. Passionflower (Passiflora incarnata) is a native vine that has a spiritual meaning. https://theblondegardener.com/2017/08/27/passionflower-its-not-what-you-think/
For any person who has strived to grow organically (as I do), imperfection is actually quite common.  My tomatoes might have crack or two and my peppers will most likely be misshapen but I can assure you, the flavor is unmatched.  I have strived to create an environment on my farm where bees forage on healthy flowers, butterflies can lay eggs on chemical-free plants, and beneficial bugs help fight the bad bugs.  This means I will probably have holes in my foliage, Bermuda grass as a ground cover, and a bug or two (or twenty) to deal with.

Grasshoppers

Dinnertime


For personal likes, I have been practicing wabi-sabi my whole life as I am naturally drawn to old, worn, chipped and rusty things.  I love a good flea market find, dilapidated barns and houses, and heaven help me if I see a piece of furniture with chippy paint.  The imperfection makes it more interesting for me and I love incorporating some of these finds in my garden.
My rusted teapot I found at my recycling center planted with sedums.
Wabi-sabi almost sounds like an excuse to let my garden get out of hand, and I’m sure that is not what the true meaning is about.   I can assure you I will be fighting the bermuda grass and bugs this summer, but I vow I will not let those imperfections define me as a gardener.
mexican sunflower and monarch
So, as I venture through 2018, my type-A personality will strive to embrace the mantra of wabi-sabi in the garden the best I can.  Where imperfection is accepted and shortcomings are not dwelled upon.
 

Posted in Arkansas blogger, Farm life, Garden | Tagged , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Slow Cooker Italian Potatoes

I don’t mean to bombard this blog with recipes, but during the winter I cook.  A lot. And since I can’t spend much time preparing a meal, my slow cooker is frequently  involved.   I love the fact I can throw food into a cooker, go about my business and have a nice meal or side dish ready in the evening.
Slow cookers come in different sizes.  I have a small one I use for dips that need to be warm, but the larger one is the only one I cook in.  This particular side dish will fill up a big slow cooker, so you will need to use one that’s at least a six-quart size.  If you are looking to purchase one, go ahead and get the bigger one.  It can be used for any slow cooker recipe.  I also like the ones that automatically switch to warm mode after the cooking time.  These cost a little more, but if you are not there to manually switch the cooker to warm, you could overcook your meal and that would not be good to come home to.  Special liners are also available that make cleaning up a breeze, so look for those as well.
You only need four ingredients for this recipe.  Potatoes, bacon, cheese, and Italian dressing.    If you can talk someone in to helping you peel potatoes, this prep step will go much faster.   By the way, do you say I-talian or i-talian?
crockpot potatoes

Italian Slow Cooker Potatoes
5 lbs. potatoes, sliced and boiled **(see note)
1 lb. bacon, cooked and crumbled
16 oz. Monterey Jack cheese, shredded
1 package of Italian dressing, made up
-After potatoes are boiled, layer the potatoes, bacon,
cheese, and repeat in that order until all are used.
-Pour the dressing on top.
-Cook on low for 3-4 hours or until heated to desired
temperature.

**NOTE

When I first made this recipe, I didn’t see the part where you boiled the potatoes first.  So, needless to say, the potatoes were not quite cooked through.  The next time, I followed the directions and I didn’t like the texture of the potatoes.  Too mushy, for me.  Now when I make this, I don’t boil the potatoes and cook them on low for 6-7 hours.  This gives you a firmer, yet soft potato texture that we prefer.
This is a favorite cold weather comfort food and, honestly, how can you go wrong with warm potatoes, cheese, and bacon?
crockpot potatoes2
 
Enjoy!
Brenda
 
 

Posted in Arkansas, Arkansas blogger, Cooking, eating, Family, Farm life, Home, recipes | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Quick and Easy Lasagna

For the most part, living in the country, out of the city lights and noise, is a wonderful dream come true.
It does, however, have some disadvantages.  As our area continues to grow by leaps and bounds, the drive to work gets longer and longer.  I leave my house before seven and get home around six.  It makes for a long day and the older I get, the less I want to cook when I get home.
I think this is why I rely on my slow cooker for many of our meals.  Most of the time, I throw in a chicken or roast, add some veggies and let them cook all day.  It’s so nice to come home to a wonderful smell and a delicious meal ready to eat.
Another great meal I like to make in the winter is Slow Cooker Lasagna.  It does take a little more prep time, but you can do this the night before or, if you’re an early riser like me, the morning of.   Since the cooking time is a little shorter than most meals, I usually save this one for the weekend so I’m not so rushed during the week.   Unfortunately, I don’t have any pictures because it was devoured quickly and what was left was taken for lunches the next day.
I would suggest, if you don’t have a slow cooker, look for one with an automatic warm feature and adjustable times (some versions have high and low with no time options).  Mine is pretty old but I can still adjust the times to thirty-minute intervals with the automatic warm feature kicking in when the cooking time is complete.

Slow Cooker Lasagna
1 pound ground beef
1 large onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 can (29 oz.) tomato sauce
1 cup water
1 can (6 oz.) tomato paste
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. dried oregano
1 package (8 oz.) no-cook lasagna noodles
4 cups (16 oz.) shredded mozzarella cheese
1-1/2 cups (12 oz.) small-curd cottage cheese
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
In a skillet, cook beef, onion and garlic over medium heat
 until meat is no longer pink; drain. Add the tomato sauce,
 water, tomato paste, salt and oregano; mix well. Spread a
 fourth of the meat sauce in an ungreased 5-qt. slow cooker.
 Arrange a third of the noodles over sauce (break noodles if
 necessary). Combine the cheeses; spoon a third of the mixture
 over noodles. Repeat layers twice. Top with remaining meat
 sauce. Cover and cook on low for 4-5 hours or until noodles
 are tender. Makes 6-8 servings.

Serve with a salad and garlic bread and enjoy!
Perfect for this busy holiday season.
Brenda

Posted in Arkansas blogger, Cooking, Family, Farm life, Home | Tagged , , , , , , | 4 Comments

It's a Marshmallow World

First of all, I’m not a huge fan of marshmallows.  When I use them for cooking, I don’t feel they are all that flavorful or actually add anything other than some sweetness and texture to a recipe.  Speaking of texture, I can hardly stand reaching into a bag and touching those chalky  little pellets.  I always hope and pray they haven’t congealed together so I can just pour them into a measuring cup without incident.   And, even though I know they are an integrative part of the classic s’mores equation, I would rather forego the whole marshmallow thing and just eat the candy bar.
That said, last year I was wandering around Pinterest and stumbled upon a recipe for homemade marshmallows.  Everywhere I looked, people were making marshmallows and raving how delicious and easy they were to make. Personal testimonies began popping up how homemade marshmallows changed their entire outlook on this centuries old candy.  I saw  colorful pink, green, and blue marshmallows. Peppermint marshmallows, coconut marshmallows, and gingerbread marshmallows began to flood my mind.
Marshmallows, Marshmallows, Marshmallows!
I knew I was going to have to get over my self-made disgust and give these a try.  How could so many people be wrong?
Turns out they weren’t wrong.
Come to find out, homemade marshmallows are a far cry from store-bought.  I seriously could not believe how good they were and  I made numerous batches last year for Christmas presents and for my own mugs of hot chocolate.
Making marshmallows is easier than you think https://theblondegardener.com/2017/12/09/how-to-make-homemade-marshmallows/

Homemade Marshmallows
3 envelopes unflavored gelatin
1-1/2 c. sugar
1 c. light corn syrup
1/4 tsp. kosher salt
1 TBS. pure vanilla extract (or peppermint extract)
1/2-3/4 cup crushed peppermints (optional)
Powdered sugar for dusting
Lightly spray an 8x12 nonmetal baking pan (be sure to
spray the sides of the pan)and lightly dust with sifted
confectioners sugar.
Sprinkle the gelatin on 1/2 cup cold water in the bowl of an
electric mixer and allow to sit while you make the syrup.
Combine the sugar, corn syrup, salt, and 1/2 cup water in a
small saucepan and cook over medium heat until sugar dissolves.
Raise the heat to high and cook until the syrup reaches 240
degrees on a candy thermometer. Remove from heat.  With the
whisk attachment and mixer on low speed, slowly pour sugar
syrup into dissolved gelatin.  Whip on high speed (I used speed 6
on my mixer) for 10-13 minutes.
Add vanilla extract and 1/2 cup crushed peppermints(optional)
and mix thoroughly and quickly.  Pour into prepared pan and let
stand uncovered overnight.

Here are some tips I found helpful.
I like peppermint, so most of my batches were made with the peppermint extract and crushed candy canes (which are a huge pain to unwrap!)  When I stumbled upon a box of unwrapped candy cane sticks, that sped up the crushing process tremendously.
Making marshmallows is easier than you think https://theblondegardener.com/2017/12/09/how-to-make-homemade-marshmallows/
If you choose to add the peppermint pieces, an easy way to crush them is to place them in the freezer first to make them more brittle.  Then place in a heavy-duty baggy (or double baggy if using thinner bags),  place on a doubled towel, and hit gently with a rolling pin.
Making marshmallows is easier than you think https://theblondegardener.com/2017/12/09/how-to-make-homemade-marshmallows/
Once you have mixed the ten to twelve minutes, quickly pour the mixture into the pan.  Don’t fuss getting every drop in the pan.  Once this mixture cools, it is next to impossible to scrap it out.


After the pan has stayed out overnight, pop it in the freezer to make cutting easier.  Thirty minutes to an hour does the trick.  After you cut the marshmallow squares, lightly roll them in sifted powdered sugar to coat the sticky sides.
Making marshmallows is easier than you think https://theblondegardener.com/2017/12/09/how-to-make-homemade-marshmallows/
Store in an airtight container until ready to use.
Making marshmallows is easy but somewhat time-consuming, but the end result is worth the effort, in my opinion.  It’s a great way to use up extra candy, candy canes or peppermints after the holidays and can really add the wow factor to your holiday gift-giving.
Enjoy!

Posted in Arkansas, Arkansas blogger, Christmas, Cooking, do it yourself, Family, Farm life, Home, recipes | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

A Couple of Crock Pot Recipes for Thanksgiving

Posted in Garden | Leave a comment

Harvesting and Storing Green Tomatoes

I’m going to let you in on a little gardening secret.
You can have tomatoes from your garden well after a frost or freeze.
I understand nothing beats a fresh, vine-ripened tomato.  I couldn’t agree more.  I am still picking tomatoes every day and couldn’t be happier.

Cherokee purple is an heirloom tomato that is easy to grow and one of my favorites! https://theblondegardener.com/2017/10/15/storing-green-tomatoes/

Heirloom Cherokee Purple tomato


Unfortunately, the end of just picked, still warm, juicy, red tomatoes is coming to a close.  Tomatoes do best with warm temperatures both day and night.  Our days are still warm enough, but the nights are getting much cooler.  More than likely, by the end of the month, we will have our first frost and the season of tomatoes will be over.
Or will it?
Cherokee purple is an heirloom tomato that is easy to grow and one of my favorites! https://theblondegardener.com/2017/10/15/storing-green-tomatoes/
The key is knowing when your average first frost date is.  In my area, that date ranges from October 17th-26th.  A couple of years we have gone into November, but for the most part it usually happens towards the end of October.
Just as I do at the beginning of spring, I begin to watch the weather in October.  If the night-time temps start to drop in the low 40’s, I go ahead and remove all the tomatoes left on the vine and bring them in the house.
Cherokee purple is an heirloom tomato that is easy to grow and one of my favorites! https://theblondegardener.com/2017/10/15/storing-green-tomatoes/
At this point, I can do a couple of different things.  I can leave them on the table and let them ripen (which takes about a week), I can make fried green tomatoes or green tomato relish, or I can do what my grandmother did and have tomatoes for several more weeks.
Cherokee purple is an heirloom tomato that is easy to grow and one of my favorites! https://theblondegardener.com/2017/10/15/storing-green-tomatoes/
After she brought her tomatoes in from the garden, she would take off the top stem and clean off any dirt.  She would wrap each tomato in a piece of newspaper and put them in a cardboard box.  Not just any box, mind you, but the same tomato box she saved from year to year.  She put the biggest ones on the bottom, the medium ones in the middle, and the smaller ones on top.  The box was just the right size to fit under her bed and that’s where they were stored.  I can remember giving her the “are you crazy?” look when she first asked me to get her a tomato from underneath the bed.  Looking back, it was quite the hidden treasure.
Cherokee purple is an heirloom tomato that is easy to grow and one of my favorites! https://theblondegardener.com/2017/10/15/storing-green-tomatoes/
Under her bed provided the ideal conditions for storage- a cool, dark place.  Left under the bed, they would still continue to ripen but at a slower pace than if they were out on the counter.   This method worked great for her as she was always on top of anything garden inside or outside her house.   I, on the other hand, am an out of sight, out of mind person and probably wouldn’t remember until I noticed a puddle of goo oozing from underneath.
Instead, I wrap them in newspaper and layer them in a large, brown paper sack.  I try to put the really green ones on the bottom and the ones that have started turning closer to the top.  I have one closet that I store canning jars and miscellaneous paper goods and, since I’m in there often, I am continually reminded they are there.  Here it’s easy to pull out a tomato and check on its progress or get a couple out to ripen quickly on the counter.  Depending on their state of ‘greenness’, I might have garden tomatoes until December.  What a treat!
Cherokee purple is an heirloom tomato that is easy to grow and one of my favorites! https://theblondegardener.com/2017/10/15/storing-green-tomatoes/

Heirloom Cherokee Purple tomato


Brenda sunflower emoji
 
 

Posted in Arkansas, Arkansas blogger, Farm life, Garden, tomatoes, Vegetables | Tagged , , , , , | 6 Comments

Seed Saving and Cuttings

Every gardener has their weakness.  For some, it’s roses.  For others, tomatoes.  For me, a flower or vegetable moves to the top of my list if I can save the seeds or take a cutting for next year.
https://theblondegardener.com/2017/10/01/seed-saving-and-cuttings/
Fall is the time for most seed saving but, once you learn how easy it is, no flower is off-limits at any given time of year.  I did a video of this for Hometalk last year if you want to take a look.  I will warn you it’s about forty minutes long but I do cover how to save a lot of different seeds.  Once I realized how much money I could save by saving seeds and doing cuttings, I became obsessed with it.
Some of my favorite seeds I like to save are sunflowers, zinnias, and marigolds,  Oh, wait! I can’t forget about dill, basil, celosia, and Allium.  Oops!  There’s also coneflower, black-eyed susan, tomatoes, fennel, and milkweed.  Seriously, the list is very, very long.  When I tell you I’m obsessed, I am not joking!
As for cuttings, the past couple of years I have added an area of sweet potato vines to my back flower bed.  (p.s. I also do cuttings of coleus and that can be seen here)
Sweet potato vines spread very quickly and fill in bare areas very well. They don’t mind full sun but I noticed they needed extra watering during our extreme summer heat.  Last year, I put them in a bed that gets afternoon shade and they really surprised me how well they did.
https://theblondegardener.com/2017/10/01/seed-saving-and-cuttings/
Here is an easy way to make these cuttings.
First, cut off a good section of the vine.
https://theblondegardener.com/2017/10/01/seed-saving-and-cuttings/
Then cut this into individual sections about five-six inches long.
https://theblondegardener.com/2017/10/01/seed-saving-and-cuttings/
https://theblondegardener.com/2017/10/01/seed-saving-and-cuttings/
Remove all the leaves except the top
https://theblondegardener.com/2017/10/01/seed-saving-and-cuttings/
As you are  doing this, put the cuttings in a container of water.  After the container is full, take them inside and let them sit, or leave outside in a shady, protected place.  After about a week, tiny roots will form and this is the signal they are ready to be potted.  If the weather’s still nice, keep them outside and let the roots get established.  When the forecast starts showing temps close to the 40’s at night, bring them inside and put in a sunny area until spring.
By spring, the root system will be well established and, after all signs of frost are gone, they can be planted.
https://theblondegardener.com/2017/10/01/seed-saving-and-cuttings/
I hope you will try taking some cuttings this year.  I need other people to be as hooked as I am!
Brenda sunflower emoji

Posted in Garden | 3 Comments

Passionflower-It's Not What You Think

The other evening I was walking through the butterfly garden in search of monarch caterpillars, when my foot managed to get tangled in a vine.  Looking down, I noticed the beautiful passionflower vine (Passiflora incarnata) sneaking its way into the garden path.
Passionflower (Passiflora incarnata) is a native vine that has a spiritual meaning and is also a host plant for the gulf fritillary butterfly. https://theblondegardener.com/2017/08/27/passionflower-its-not-what-you-think/
Before I go any further, be advised this particular passionflower can be invasive.  It can take over a field in no time if not kept in check.  There are many species of Passiflora but I can only give you insight on this one.   The thing is, I knew this going in and still planted it and thought I could contain it.  Silly me.
As with a host of other plants, passionflower has been used medicinally for years.  It is said that Native Americans used the leaves of this plant to make a tea to treat insomnia.  Being an insomniac for years, I thought I should research this more.  After seeing terms like possibly unsafe in large amounts (what’s a large amount??), possibly safe taken short-term (how long??), and likely safe when taken with normal amounts of food (define normal), and could cause short-term paralysis (ok, I’ve heard enough.)  I decided to skip the experimentation of passionflower and stick with my regular non-sleep habits.
One might also think, with the name of passionflower, the plant might have mystical powers making one irresistible, alluring, and charming.  Dating back to the 15th century, the word ‘passion’ in passionflower actually had a religious meaning that referred to the crucifixion of Jesus. Spanish missionaries used the passionflower to represent the last days of Jesus as follows:
* The pointed tips of the leaves were taken to represent the Holy Lance.
* The tendrils represent the whips used in the flagellation of Christ.
* The ten petals and sepals represent the ten faithful apostles (less St. Peter the denier and Judas Iscariot the betrayer).
* The flower’s radial filaments, which can number more than a hundred and vary from flower to flower, represent the crown of thorns.
* The chalice-shaped ovary with its receptacle represents a hammer or the Holy Grail
* The 3 stigmata represent the 3 nails and the 5 anthers below them the 5 wounds (four by the nails and one by the lance).
* The blue and white colors of many species’ flowers represent Heaven and Purity.
Passionflower (Passiflora incarnata) is a native vine that has a spiritual meaning and is also a host plant for the gulf fritillary butterfly. https://theblondegardener.com/2017/08/27/passionflower-its-not-what-you-think/passion flower
True or not, I found it an interesting twist on such a pretty flower!
I almost forgot about the fruit!  After it flowers, a small fruit called a maypop will form.  These are also edible but when I cut one open, it was hollow.  Then I ran and washed my hands fearing deep sleep and short-term paralysis would set in before I could make it to the house.  Not really but once you learn these things, you begin to question the motives and intentions of every plant.
Passionflower (Passiflora incarnata) is a native vine that has a spiritual meaning and is also a host plant for the gulf fritillary butterfly. The fruit of the passionflower is called a maypop. https://theblondegardener.com/2017/08/27/passionflower-its-not-what-you-think/
The main reason I wanted this in my butterfly garden is because it’s the host plant for the Gulf Fritillary butterfly.

Passionflower (Passiflora incarnata) is a native vine that has a spiritual meaning and is also a host plant for the gulf fritillary butterfly. https://theblondegardener.com/2017/08/27/passionflower-its-not-what-you-think/

Gulf Fritillary Butterfly


The caterpillar of the Gulf Fritillary is small and spiky and you know they are there when you see holes in the leaves.
When you see holes in your passionflower leaf, the gulf fritillary caterpillars have arrived. Passionflower (Passiflora incarnata) is a native vine that has a spiritual meaning. https://theblondegardener.com/2017/08/27/passionflower-its-not-what-you-think/
Gulf Fritillary caterpillar on passionflower vine. Passionflower (Passiflora incarnata) is a native vine that has a spiritual meaning and is also a host plant for the gulf fritillary butterfly. https://theblondegardener.com/2017/08/27/passionflower-its-not-what-you-think/

Gulf Fritillary caterpillar


Since I had never tried to raise one of these to the butterfly stage, I put this guy in a critter cage and began to feed it.  I was unsure what stage of development it was in and it must have been close to pupating.  A few days later it made this pretty chrysalis
This is gulf fritillary chrysalis. It's host plant is passionflower. Passionflower (Passiflora incarnata) is a native vine that has a spiritual meaning and is also a host plant for the gulf fritillary butterfly. https://theblondegardener.com/2017/08/27/passionflower-its-not-what-you-think/
and about 10 days later we came home to this.
Passionflower (Passiflora incarnata) is a native vine that has a spiritual meaning and is also a host plant for the gulf fritillary butterfly. https://theblondegardener.com/2017/08/27/passionflower-its-not-what-you-think/

Gulf Fritillary Butterfly


Passionflower will grow in full sun to part shade in zones 5-9.  It can vine up to eight feet long and (for me) rarely comes back in the same spot.  My plan was to plant it on my fence and let it twine and twirl to its heart’s content.   It’s plan was to be footloose and fancy free in my garden path.
Consider yourself forewarned and informed if you decide to give this vine a chance.  So far, it hasn’t been too bad to keep in check but I definitely don’t want to turn my back on it.
Brenda sunflower emoji

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