Sunday, December 24, 2017

Winter Asparagus Chores

I finally got to the asparagus patch!

After harvesting delicious asparagus spears for about six weeks, I let the rest grow, form pretty ferny fronds, and die back.  Asparagus needs to be allowed to die back before pruning to feed the roots for next year's spears (the same thing as with bulbs such as daffodils, the leaves feed the bulb).  Once the spears start to get small, don't harvest more.  I know the stores offer "baby" asparagus spears, but that is just bad for the plant!  Asparagus takes literal years before you should harvest any at all!  But, once established, plants can produce for 20 years. 

Some gardeners cut back their asparagus in the spring, before new growth, others in fall.  I wait until December (late December this year!).

This is my asparagus patch last week... 

This is the same patch yesterday afternoon...  There is still some stubborn garlic growing.  I have it almost eradicated. 

Once you've cut them back, you can see last years dried "stems," and can easily pull out. Don't yank this year's bunch!  You can see the difference between the new cuts (fresh looking interior) and the old ones, which are dried and dark brown.  I pulled out the weed by the way!

The one between my fingers is from 2016, the one below this year's. 

 The same one showing how easily it slid out of the soil.  (Sorry about my dirty Band-Aid!) 

The last thing to do preparing an asparagus bed for winter is to layer on some nice manure!  My bed is about 3' x 4', and took a large bag of steer manure, about 2" - 3" thick.  Don't dig it in, even come springtime.  That would damage the asparagus roots.  You can't dig around in an asparagus bed!  It doesn't get really cold here, so I don't add a layer of straw mulch, which is done in colder locations.

This bed was here when I moved here in 2011.  It is the one and only edible planted by the home's original owner.  Hard for me to fathom owning a house with a large yard since 1962 and not planting more! 

Monday, December 18, 2017

Beef Roast with Fresh Herbs

I don't think I've shared a savory herb recipe.  Tonight I was in the mood for a roast (and fortunately had one thawed - 50% off at the store last week!) and decided to make an herb rub.

Nothing better than fresh herbs!

Nothing better than fresh herbs just picked out of your own herb garden!   Many herbs survive the winter cold just fine, even Mediterranean herbs.  That seems a bit odd to me; I visualize Mediterranean weather as much warmer than mine.  Actually, I lived in Spain when I was 13 years old, and it was the coldest winter they'd seen in a decade, so I don't know how warm a "Mediterranean" winter really is! 

I used regular English thyme... 

 ...and prostrate rosemary.

I had no fresh garlic (😲) so used garlic powder (which I often do, as well as using onion powder, for the taste without the slimy onions!).  Using a mortar and pestle I ground the herb leaves (remove by rubbing along the stem the opposite direction of growth) with the garlic powder into olive oil.

I then rubbed it into the meat, laying the stem remnants under and on top of the roast.

400 degrees for 10 minutes, then lower the temperature to 325.  The aroma is amazing!  How long is up to you, I like it more done than most. 

If only my potato crop had been a success, I could have served those as well.  In case you need a reminder of my harvest...  in totality... 

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Mid-December Pre-Winter Cold

Winter won't be here calendar-wise until next week (21st), but it sure is here temperature-wise!  The nights lately have been in the 20s!  THE 20s!  Those temps sure put an end to any perennials hanging out in the butterfly garden!

I cut back both the black-eyed Susan and Indian blanket flower today. The coreopsis will be left as-is, except for mulching.  Apparently they prefer to be pruned back in spring.  These were grown from seed and didn't bloom this year. 

The bee balm was looking to tattered early in the fall, and now that I cut back the other plants I have found this...

I knew bee balm was a member of the mint family, but I didn't expect it to look and act so minty!  When I saw this (above photo) I thought the orange mint had somehow invaded the butterfly garden!  I actually broke some off and smelled it.  Not orange mint.  Yet, so, so, minty, I am doubting myself, although it is where the bee balm was cut back, and I read that, indeed, it can be invasive.

It's just so... mint-like!  I mean like orange mint and woolly apple mint.   These are pieces I ripped out from under the coreopsis.  If these continue to spread like the mint it is I won't have anything but bee balm in this butterfly garden circle!  What have I done!

The cold nights have brought some beautiful frosty scenes.  I wanted to pull over to the side of the road many times yesterday, but refrained due to safety in the fog.  Even the weeds were beautiful.  I limited myself to my own garden photos.

Tuscan blue rosemary

blueberry bush



creeping thyme - not pretty white flowers, it's frost!

Saturday, November 11, 2017

November in the Garden

Sorry for the lack of posts.  I started a new job, and while I have been going in earlier, it is still dark when I get off, so there is no time to garden before or after work!  I have today off, and it's sunny!  I took advantage of that to get some photos and to cut some herbs and perennials back.

First, some pretties... there are still lots of herbs blooming in the garden, even in mid-November with a few freezing nights.

Coyote Mint: it's growing very nicely.  I'm so pleased, as it was one of the plants I have wanted for a long time. 

coyote mint

coyote mint

Rosemary: rosemary is so pretty and cheerful on chilly days!  Delicious in warm stews on chilly days too! 

prostrate rosemary

prostrate rosemary

Blue Boy rosemary

Blue Boy rosemary


Mini Blue lavender

Mini Blue lavender

Goodwin Creek Gray lavender

The lemon thyme is doing very nicely, after a hard summer where I wasn't too sure it was worth bothering with.  All it takes is a little natural water, aka rain!  The herbs always do so much better once it rains than when they are watered from the hose.  We have "good" water too, so I am not sure why they prefer it...

lemon thyme
Having never grown creeping winter savory before this year, I am not sure how it handles winter.  I think I should cut it back, based on the new growth at the base of the old, as seen in the photo above my finger.  The older leaves are rather a sickly looking yellowy green.  Either too wet in the ceramic planter, or ready to be cut back.  I'll cut back and see what spring brings.  Worse comes to worse, I'll plant something new!

creeping winter savory

Then there's the Butterfly Garden.

The Black-eyed Susans and Indian Blanket Flower are showing signs of flagging, but are still putting out new flowers. The Susans blooms are smaller than in the summer. 

Indian Blanket flower after the petals fell off
I cut the yarrow back, leaving the newly forming buds, but I doubt they will flower before it gets too cold.  

 "UpTick" coreopsis is done blooming.  I guess it will die completely back like another I bought dormant. 

UpTick corepsis (tickweed)

Get a load of that pineapple sage stem!  From dormant to a virtual shrub in a few months!  It's in completely the wrong spot, but sure liked the raised bed soil! 

pineapple sage
 Things that didn't flower this year...  I think, just think, they are coreopsis.  The bottom photo is definitely lance-leaf coreopsis, grown from seed.  The plants sure are healthy. 

lance-leaf corepsis

The Sungold tomato has ripened its last.  As colder weather hit most of the fruit just dropped to the ground.  I don't expect I'll have to buy a plant next year!

last of the Sungold cherry tomatoes - I ate them!
fallen Sungolds - and apparently a rogue garlic?
So, that's about it for now in the herb/butterfly/vegetable gardens.

As for my new job, it's not pet or garden related, but, hey, it's a job and it's fine so far!  I'll save money, but miss great deals.  It's worth it to be rid of unreasonable management! 

Monday, October 23, 2017

Autumn in the Garden 2017

We have been having rainy days.  Some wind and cold temperatures as well, some cold enough to leave ice on the car windshields.  Time to clear out the carport so when we have to be somewhere early in the morning, we can park under it the night before and avoid scraping windows.

Between the rain and looking for a new job (there may be good news soon on that front), I haven't done much.  Autumn gardens may have pretty fall colors, but they are depressing, signaling an end to flowers and butterflies.

When I first moved in the lattice overhand was covered with ancient sticky (as in nothing but dry dead sticks) Virginia creeper.  I thought I'd removed it all. It wasn't until it changed to the gorgeous autumn red I found it growing among the climbing rose!  I'll leave it.  I'll just try to keep it under control. 

The peach is very pretty.  As is a small something tree that came up from a nut that looked like a filbert (hazelnut) but with different leaves.  I am going to transplant it into a nice pot and hope it stays small for a miniature garden vignette.

 The forsythia lost its leaves during the wind a few days ago.  The asparagus is nearly ready to cut back already, that's usually a December chore. 

 The anise hyssop has gone to seed.  I've read it's best to cut back the flower heads before the seeds drop, but I didn't.  Rain and wind knocked down a big part of the pineapple sage, which in turn broke off some of the anise hyssop.  You can see just how many seeds only a few of the flowers formed.  I took the broken ones and set them upside down in canning jars, where they released dozens, if not hundreds of seeds!  I really like anise hyssop in the butterfly garden, so will let the rest of the plant drop its seeds in the garden, and I'll transplant them for "gifts" to unsuspecting "friends!" 


This is a blue chocolate cherry tomato!  The plant got a very late start from seed, and now has just set fruit, which probably won't get the warmth needed to ripen more than this one.    It's not as dark as I'd expected it to be. 

 The butterfly garden is reaching the end of its season.  This was the pineapple sage this morning.  It lost its right side to the storm, and the rest is going to the cooler nights.  The corepsis is about done, the black-eyed Susan and blanket flowers have fewer flowers by the day.  I've already started ordering more seeds for both the butterfly garden annuals and perennials for the rock garden!  The latest are butterfly weed (asclepias tuberos) and a perennial lupine.  Under $2.00 per package of seeds, free shipping, plus U.S. grown, why not?