Dragonfly

gardening

I just got done trimming my lavender plants when this red dragonfly was spotted on our fence. Usually they are blue/green in color. Interesting guy. The dragonfly was sitting still long enough for me to run in and get my camera and take several shots. Why? Because he was visably in the process of having a snack it seemed. Then he was off.

One never knows what will be in the garden from day to day. As always, Happy Gardening!

Recipe Review: Zucchini Snack Cake with Orange Glaze

Cooking, gardening

Yesterday, I wrote about my crazy baking day in the kitchen in order to use a zucchini. I made three different recipes. I decided to put the Zucchini Muffins and the Zucchini Brownies in the freezer. We would have the Zucchini Snack Cake with Orange Glaze for dessert.

There were two reasons for this decision. One being this was a new recipe and I wanted to taste it while it was at its peak. I have made the other two recipes before and already knew how they tasted. The second being that I was not craving chocolate, or desiring a muffin for dessert (more of a breakfast thing). So cake it would be!

I picked the snack cake recipe mainly because it did not contain chocolate. It seems as though all the recipes for zucchini cake throw in a bit of chocolate. But I did not want chocolate. Love chocolate, just not all the time. This recipe also contained orange. Bingo! I was sold. We have an orange tree out back and I not only need to use the zucchini but the oranges as well. Then I saw that the recipe came from a familiar blog (Barefeet in the Kitchen) that I have made recipes from before and they were always delicious.

So here is the recipe:

Did I make any changes? Yes, two very minor changes. The baker said that she prefered to use store bought orange juice as it had more flavor in the cake. Well, I know that the flavor is not in the juice but in the zest. So instead of just using my freshly squeezed orange from our orchard, I also added the zest of the orange to boot. The only other change I made was in the amount of glaze I used on the cake. I wanted to cut down on the sugar content so I reduced the glaze by half and it was plenty. The glaze covered the top of the cake completely. If wanting to cover the sides as well, then use the whole recipe for the glaze.

The cake was easy to make and tasted good. The aroma of oranges flooded my kitchen as this baked. Wonderful! So, if wanting to use up some zucchini and oranges, why not give this recipe a try.

As always, Happy Baking!

Propagated Lavender Takes Off

gardening

Ah the joys of gardening! Its the little successes that make it all so worthwhile. Back in June, I propagated lavender from lavender I had in my garden. (There’s a post on this in the gardening section.) Now it is early September and there is evidence of success. A lavender bud has formed on one of the propagated plants. Oh joy!

With the recent success of my blue potato bush and now the lavender, I could really get into propagating plants. I have a vision for where these new plants will be going in my garden. Believe me, I have a lot of space to fill. I plan to have a border of lavender and potato bushes. However, with the propagated plants, it will take a bit longer for them to reach a decent size. Yes, I would get faster results by purchasing more mature plants at the nursery, however, I kind of like this whole propagating thing.

As always, HAPPY Gardening!

Planting Apricots from Seeds

gardening

If at all familiar with my blog, one will know that I like to try growing plants from cuttings or seeds. So it will not be of any surprise that I am at it again. This time, however, it was my son’s idea to plant an apricot seed.

It is always best to do a little research before sticking cuttings or seeds into the soil. Our research on the apricot was well advised, as we now have the start of our apricot tree growing. How did we do it? Simple enough reallly. After eating the apricot, we let the pit dry on a paper towel for a few days. When it was hard, my son cracked it open with a hammer. Kinda like cracking a walnut shell really. Inside the pit lies a nice little apricot seed. This was then put into a hole poked into soil and covered with a light topping of soil. I have been careful to water it and keep it moist, especially in the heat we have been having as of late. Low and behold, the seed has produced lovely green leaves. It will be fun to watch this tree form. As always Happy Gardening!

Planting

The apricot is front row on the left. Note how well the lavender and the blue potato bush are coming along as well.

Ah, the Difference a Day Makes!

gardening

As I was busy baking this morning, I got a little late start on my watering. But I got out there, with hose in hand, ready to give the plants I have been propagating a bath, when low and behold, there is color amongst the green. Are my eyes playing tricks on me? Oh my gosh! I am now jumping for joy, full of excitement. The blue potato bush, that I propagated back in June, has a flower! A beautiful, perfect, little flower. Not only does it have a flower, but another bud as well. I am so excited! So much so that I made my daughter come outside so I could show her.

The funny thing is, is that when I watered the plant yesterday, there was no flower. I did not even notice a bud. Maybe I missed the bud, but there was not a flower. Ah, the difference a day makes in the garden. It is the little successes that make all the difference. I hope that my green thumb continues with this one. I have now become attached.

To see my original post on my blue potato bush, see my post titled Propagating Plants. This blog was posted on June 4th. So, about two months was all it took to get to this flowering point. However, not all propagated plants survive, as can be seen in my post titled Propagating Plants – An Update, from July 26. Now that I’ve had success with this propagation, I may try another one to replace the one I lost in July.

As always, Happy Gardening!

Propagating Plants – An Update

gardening

It has been a little over a month since I propagated the lavender and blue potato bush. I thought I would write an update at how this process is going. My first post on this can be found under gardening and is titled Propagating Plants.

First of all, I want to say that I have been very diligent about watering the plants. They are on our potting table and I have been sure that they are taken care of in the mornings and are never dried-out. I have done nothing more to them than watering them.

From the beginning, all plants looked fine. One of the blue potato bush plant’s leaves started to wilt not long after being planted. I did not panick. It still looked alive. However, last night, I think reality has hit. The plant’s stem is dry looking and I think it has reached it’s end. The other blue potato bush is thriving. Last night I was so happy to see that new buds are forming on the plant. A sure sign of happiness!

Looks like the end…
Thriving!

The lavender seems to look pretty much the same as when I planted them. I guess that is a good thing. All seem to have attached themselves to their new soil.

Hopefullly, these cuttings will continue to grow and someday be able to be planted in the ground. I will keep posting every now and then on their progress. As always, Happy Gardening!

Building a Garden Tuteur

gardening

My husband and the kids are doing projects together this summer. I said, “Hey! How about me? I want to do a project too!” So, I got in on the deal. The project I chose to make with my husband was a garden tuteur. Tuteur is French, which makes it sound that much more appealing. It basically means stake or support. It is put in the garden to support climbing plants and vines but also for an aesthetic element to the garden.

The above is a sketch I did of the finished tuteur in our garden. I wanted a color that would complement the orange and lemon trees in our yard and also the lavender. A bright tourqoise stain was chosen. We chose to stain instead of paint the tuteur so it would not peel. Love the bright fun shade!

To make the tuteur we followed the building directions at: https://sheholdsdearly.com/diy-french-tuteurs-garden/

The tuteur was really pretty simple to make. It involved cutting boards on the table saw then using a mitre saw to cut the angles. Pieces were assembled using weatherproof wood glue and screws. We built the tuteur in two sessions. We stained it in two sessions as well, letting the stain dry overnight inbetween coats.

Of course, I say this was pretty simple to make only because I have a husband who has built a thing or two in his day and knows what he is doing. I’m sure if I tried to build this on my own it would have come out all lopsided and wonky. A BIG thanks to my husband for our great summer project! As always, Happy Gardening!

Zucchini Flowers are All the Buzz at My House

Cooking, gardening

Of course I had heard of people eating zucchini flowers. I had just never tried them myself. Since we have an abundance of zucchini in the garden right now, I thought we could spare a few of the flowers. So I searched for a recipe and went out to the garden to collect the flowers.

I collected four large zucchini flowers, placed them in my bowl and headed back inside. I decided not to wash them right away in hopes they would stay fresher until I was ready to use them. It would not be long anyway. So I set about making the rest of the dinner. We were having chicken with sundried tomatoes and olives baked in foil packets (to lock in the moisture), orzo, blanched and sauted fresh green beans with garlic (from green beans picked earlier in the day), and of course the zucchini flowers which would be lightly breaded and fried.

It was finally time for me to prepare the zucchini flowers. I washed and removed the stamen from one and set it on a towel, then another. As I was washing the third flower, I heard a buzzing sound. What! Oh no! A bee was inside the flower. I hurried the bowl outside to get rid of the bee before it escaped inside our house. When outside I pried the flower open a bit with a knife hoping the bee would exit without attacking me. Success! As I started to head back inside I again heard buzzing. What! Oh yes, another bee was inside the flower! I again coaxed this bee out of the flower. Was this it? No more buzzing. It was safe to go back inside and finish making dinner.

So, I think I will add a little note to the recipe for fried zucchini flowers. It will say, “Check for bees before taking zucchini flowers inside house”. How could the author of this recipe leave off such an important piece of information? Maybe this has only happened to me?

Regardless of the excitement in the kitchen, the meal turned out fine. The zucchini flowers did receive quite the buzz around the table. My family enjoyed them and we had a story to share as well. The recipe can be found at: https://www.bonappetit.com/recipe/fried-zucchini-blossoms. Just remember to check for bees! As always, Happy Gardening/ Happy Cooking!

Dinner is Served

Monarchs Are Back – 2020

gardening

Last year I penned a post about Monarch Butterflies in our garden. They are back again this year. The caterpillars have eaten almost all of our milkweed plants. Today, I saw one lone caterpillar cleaning up the scraps.

Caterpillar eating milkweed

Even more exciting is that, when I was sweeping the front porch, I spotted a chrysalis on the side of the house. This one being on the opposite side that I spotted one last year. There are also the remains of two chrysalises where I had spotted the one last year.

Remains of chrysalis
Chrysalis

Every day is a little different in the garden. I have to remind myself to be more observant on a daily basis or I could easily miss the little things that blend in so well. As always, Happy Gardening!

Propagating Plants

gardening

I have big plans for our backyard. Part of the plan is to plant more lavender (which is doing quite well in our yard) and blue potato bushes (which are relatively low maintenance). Since we already have these in the yard, I decided to try to propagate my own plants from cuttings.

I have been saving large yogurt containers for a little while now with the intention of using them as pots. I was pleasantly surprised to find out that the labels came right off and I could write on them with a Sharpie. I also poked holes in the bottoms of the containers with an awl for drainage.

Yogurt containers with awl

Next, a little research in propagation. April through June is a good time to propagate plants. I am in the window of time, early June. I took a cutting just below where the green part of the stem meets the woody part of the stem. Then I striped the leaves, leaving a few at the top and cut off the tips of the plants. Then I poked them into my soil-filled containers and gave them a good watering. I will just have to wait and see if I did this correctly.

Lavender Cutting

If this works, I figure I will be saving myself a little money from not having to purchase new plants. Of course, they will be smaller and take longer to grow, but I can spend the saved money for other things to complete the yard project. I will also have had a little fun trying something new. As always, Happy Gardening!