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Thursday, February 23, 2012

A Touch of Flowering Beauty

Hi everyone!

Last year, at the markets, we used a couple of 5 gallon buckets planted with different herbs to help hold down our canopy. One of the buckets had a sage plant in it.

If you grow or have ever grown sage, you know it is one hardy plant. After the market season was over. We took the bucket to the greenhouse. And of course it is growing beautifully.

Another wonderful part about growing sage is it has the prettiest delicate purple flowers.


It is so nice to see flowering blooms at this time of the year!


And don’t forget, the pretty little sage flowers are edible. They have a more subtle taste than the leaves. Adding them to a fresh garden salad would not only taste good but, the soft purple color would add a wonderful visual contrast to all the greens.

These little flowers are also lovely floating in a cup of hot tea. The flavor would be very mild and you could still get the effects that sage has to offer. When we have a sore throat or congestion, I always add a bit of sage to our tea. It has always had a soothing effect.

Sage,(Salvia Officinalis), is referred to as the herb of longevity. Although best known as an ingredient in poultry stuffing, Sage(or edible sage/garden sage) has been used medicinally for thousands of years. In the Middle ages, Sage was thought to promote longevity. One legend says its healing comes directly from the Virgin Mary.

Native to the Mediterranean region, its name comes from the Latin Salvare, which translates roughly as "to rescue" or "to heal." Sage is often used as a remedy for respiratory infections, congestion, cough, sore throats, appetite stimulant, indigestion and is said to have a beneficial effect on the liver. It is also given for fever, night sweats and urinary problems. Some women even find that it helps with menopausal symptoms.

Sage is a uterine stimulant, so it should be avoided in therapeutic doses during pregnancy. It is safe to use in cooking however. It may also decrease milk production so nursing mothers be aware of that. Gargling or swishing the tea without swallowing should not lead to this effect.


When you plant your herbs remember they also can add color to your garden. Most herbs have beautiful flowers. Since we grow more than just one of each plant, I try to let one flower to see the pretty blooms and to use them in different ways.

We are joining  Fertilizer Friday.

Got Spring Fever? Take a Free Class!

Hi everyone!

I am completely into learning new stuff and when that education comes FREE, hello, I am there! and right now I have Spring fever so bad, it’s driving me insane! so, I am constantly looking for anything to do that is gardening related these days to get my “fix”.

So, I thought I would share a couple free classes being held at Home Depot. One is for Landscaping design and the other is for Lawn Maintenance. I am not sure if it is nationwide so, you may want to go to the site and check to see if your local Home Depot is offering them as well.

Get more info here

And no, Home Depot has no idea who I am or that I am talking about them. LOL


Landscape Design

Learn to create your own garden landscape
  • Discover the basic principles of landscape design
  • Learn to identify plants that grow in specific climate zones
Get the latest landscape supplies here


  • Sunday, March 4, 2012
  • Sunday, March 11, 2012
  • Sunday, March 18, 2012
  • Sunday, March 25, 2012
Time: 1 p.m. – 2 p.m.

Man raking lawn.

Lawn Maintenance

Add curb appeal to your home with essential lawn maintenance tips
  • Learn how to identify the appropriate products for your spring lawn care needs
  • Learn the four steps of a lawn care system
Gather more information on lawn care and tools here


  • Saturday, March 3, 2012
  • Saturday, March 10, 2012
  • Saturday, March 17, 2012
  • Saturday, March 24, 2012
  • Saturday, March 31, 2012
Time: 10 a.m. – 11 a.m.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Fresh Lettuce

Hi everyone!

After a visit to the greenhouse and spending a good deal of time snapping pictures left and right, I thought I would share some gorgeous lettuce that is ready to pick.


It is growing hydroponically and is beautiful!

Now, last time we posted pictures of the hydroponic beds, we had lots of questions about them. So here is a little bit about them.  The hydroponic systems are made from everyday materials available at Lowes, or Home Depot, or any store like that. They are simply downspouts, with holes cut in them, drip irrigation tubing, a water reservoir and a pump. They were developed and designed by a retired engineer who volunteers at the school, and built by students.

IMG_0712 Did you know that a lot of this wonderful fresh lettuce is used at the school in the cafeteria? These students are literally growing their own food. They aren’t at the level to completely supply the school cafeteria yet but, they sure are working at that goal. Isn’t that awesome!


They do sell some of the lettuce as well. This is one of the ways they earn money to put back into the greenhouse. And where would you rather buy your lettuce at this time of the year? The grocery store, where you have no idea where it came from and what was sprayed on it? Or right here at a local high school greenhouse where you could go in and look at it and choose what you wantIMG_0721 

Don’t you wish all schools could have this amazing program in place?

Are you planning on growing some lettuce? With the weird weather we have had here in Michigan, it is going to be interesting to see how early crops will be able to be planted and produce.

I think I am going to try a variety of different lettuces (love all the beautiful colors lettuce comes in) and other greens as an early crop this year. If I have luck with them, I will try a fall harvest as well.

Now, decisions, decisions….which varieties to try out?

Check out this interesting idea to try different lettuce without using a lot of space. Hummm…..


I found this photo online and have no idea who the original source is. Sorry about that. I would love to see more detail on this.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Lime Mint

Hi everyone!

Last weekend we had a few inches of snow on the ground. Today the snow is almost gone and it is sunny out.

After last week’s Master Gardener’s class, which was all about flowers and landscaping, I was just itching to get outside and play in the soil!

Since it was sunny, I decided to bundle up and go outside and putter around a little bit.

I started cleaning out the dead debris from a pot of Lime Mint. This was a new herb for us last year.

All the dead stuff is gone and out of the pot.


Now look what I found.


Lots of new growth! I had to cut off several runners that had planted themselves into the yard near the pot.


I love trying new mints. They are fun to play with. But, they are aggressive so, when you plant them, you need to plant them in their own area. I use large pots to get them established. If you don’t contain them, they will completely take over wherever they are planted!

Next, I am tackling the chocolate mint!

While I was outside working, I noticed that our oak barrel with peppermint has standing water.

IMG_0693 It is the only barrel doing this. We are going to have to come up with a drainage solution for this barrel. It will be a project to deal with next month. Have you taken a look at your gardening areas and noticed any drainage problem? This is the time to start checking things out and come up with a game plan for Spring.

This has been such a weird winter here in Michigan. We have had very little snow and relatively mild temps. I think all our poor plants are so confused!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Herb of The Year: Rose

Hi everyone!


Does that surprise you? The herb of the year is the Rose? It surprised me when I heard about it last summer! I never think of a rose as an herb. However, if we refer back to the definition I posted:

What the word “herb” really means
A very fitting definition that defines herbs by their usefulness rather than by their appearance or botanical structure was coined by Holly Shimizu, director of the U.S. Botanic Garden. Holly says, ―Herbs are defined as plants (trees, shrubs, vines, perennials, biennials or annuals) valued historically, presently, or potentially for their flavor, fragrance, medicinal qualities, insecticidal qualities, economic or industrial use, or in the case of dyes, for the coloring material they provide.

Roses definitely fit into that category.

**Very Important: ONLY use culinary roses. NEVER use roses from a florist. They are treated several times with chemicals. Use the roses you grow if you do not use chemicals on them or look for local organic growers.**

Culinary Use

Rose petal and rose hips are used a lot to make jams, jellies, cordials, vinegars and sweets. Rose flavoured Turkish delight has been produced in Turkey since the 15th century and is known there as lokum.

Rosehip syrup is a natural source of vitamin C, containing 20 times more vitamin C than oranges by weight.


Recipe - Rose Vinegar

I found this recipe for treating mild headaches and as a gargle for sore throats. It's also good to use as a facial toner.

  • 3 Handfuls Fresh Highly Scented Rose Petals (red or deep pink give the best colour).
  • 7 Tbsp's Distilled White Vinegar.
  • 1 Tbsp Rose Water
  • 1 Pint Distilled Water.
  • Place the rose petals in a glass container and add the wine vinegar
  • Leave the container in a cool, dark place for 1 week, shaking the liquid every day
  • Strain through a muslin cloth and discard the petals
  • To use, dilute the 1 Tbsp of rose vinegar with 1 pint of waterSource: Herb


I will be sharing different things I try with roses this year. There are so many fun and interesting uses for them. Who knew?

Saturday, February 11, 2012

It’s All About the Worms!

Hi everyone!

Last week we organized a special presentation for the kids during school. It was….Worm Day!


Let me explain.

At the High School we volunteer, we started teaching them about composting. And one of the very best composting is Vermi Posting. This is a worm compost method. The rich black compost that is created through this method is referred to as Black Gold by gardeners. The is the crème de le crème of compost! One tablespoon of this in a houseplant will do miracles for you plant. It is in very high demand and is very expensive.

Given the right environment, the worms will go to work to digest the kitchen scraps and bedding faster than any other compost method. The material will pass through the worms' bodies and become "castings." In about 3-4 months, the worms will have digested nearly all the garbage and bedding and the bin will be filled with a rich, black natural fertilizer and soil amendment. Compared to ordinary soil, the worm castings contain five times more nitrogen, seven times more phosphorus and 11 times more potassium. They are rich in humic acids and improve the structure of the soil

Check out this source to read more and to learn how to built and maintain your own worm compost. UNL Extension in Lancaster County


Red Compost Worms

There is a select group of teenagers that have been working with Troy to create this compost and keep it up. Four teenage girls really got involved and decided that this is what they wanted to work on for their project for the FFA Leadership Skills Demonstration Competition.


We offered them the opportunity to practice their demonstration at the princess’s preschool class as a way to prepare for this big competition. The girls jumped at the chance! We knew the kids would love it! hello….we are talking worms here!



The girls did a great presentation and all the kids loved it.


The next day, this modified gray tub made it’s permanent home in the classroom. It is filled with worms, shredded newspaper, a little soil and a pulverized apple to get the worms feeding.

And of course, part of the learning process is to let the kids touch and pick up the worms. Those worms were all over this table!

The children gather around when one of us or the teachers feed the worms. They are excited to realize that their lunch time vegetable/fruit leftovers get recycled by feeding them to the worms.

There are so many amazing lessons that can be taught through this project. I know that our volunteer project aren’t exactly the “norm” for preschoolers but, they seem to enjoy them as do the teachers and even other classrooms want to visit this classroom!

And we have a worm compost and a regular compost at the high school. We are excited because we have been talking with a professional composting company in partnering up with us at the high school for even more learning experience in this area.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Project: Preschool Indoor Herb Garden

Hi everyone!

Does it surprise you in the least that one of the first volunteer projects we did with the Princess's preschool class was to start them an herb garden? Of course not, I didn’t think so.


Kids are like little sponges. If you make something fun and interesting, they just absorb the information up. And when you let them be part of something, they get a wonderful sense of ownership.


The above picture is Cuban Oregano (it is in the pot with the Aloe Vera). This plant started out as a small piece of broken Cuban Oregano from our home. We started it in a glass of water so the kids could see how it grew roots. Once it was big enough, they were part of planting it and now watching how big it is growing.

The Aloe Vera plant was a rescue. At the high school there is a compost pile and a place where people can drop off unwanted containers/pots for the students to use. Well, someone dumped their Aloe Vera plant in the compost pile. It was pretty beaten up but, it gave the kids a fun chance to see a plant being rescued and brought back to life.


Since we volunteer with the high school students as well and have access to their wonderful greenhouse, we have a lot of herbs growing right now. So, starting a small window ledge herb garden for the children at the preschool was just a natural thing to do.

IMG_0548_thumb[2]We wanted to have a variety of different types of herbs.

IMG_0552_thumb[2]When it comes to watering and taking care of the herbs, the students wait for one of us, then a few kids at a time can take turn watering.

IMG_0557_thumb[2] This has become their garden. We are hoping to do an actual outside garden with them in the Spring.


We occasionally will bring in a new herb. They are always so excited when they can pinch a leaf and smell it. They know that this one is a “Pizza Herb” (oregano) or that one is a “Candy Herb” (peppermint). It is so fun to see their faces when the recognition of the scent hits them!

The sense of smell is such a powerful sense. It was interesting to observe one of the children smell the citronella when we first brought it into the class room. When a new herb comes in, they each get to smell it and this child instantly said, “That smells like camping!” This is a 3 year old! How cool.


**The Lincoln Park Indoor Farmer’s Market will be open again this coming Sunday. We will be there and hope you are too!**


I’m joining:

Fertilizer Friday