Sunday, January 15, 2017

Garden Resolutions

January is a great time to make resolutions for the year, in all aspects of one's life but definitely including gardening. I find that it's better to keep goals to a minimum - that way it's much easier to achieve them, and if you exceed them you can congratulate yourself! So here are some of mine, and I invite all readers to add comments about your own.


  • As a Master Gardener I resolve to keep trying to educate the public about safe, effective, and environmentally positive ways to grow plants, especially the ones that feed us. In particular, I plan to do a better job making educational signs and labels for the Derwood demonstration garden so that all visitors can learn.
  • In my own garden, I resolve to add some more delicious and healthful herbs, and to keep my dehydrator accessible spring through fall so I can dry them while they're still fresh and flavorful, instead of forgetting about it until fall frost threatens and nothing is at its best. I'll also grow and dry some more roselle hibiscus.
Use the outer parts of the red "fruits" that form after flowering. Remove the seed pod.
If it's brown you may be able to use the seeds inside to grow plants next spring.

We had Jamaican sorrel drink from my own plants at Christmas!
  • I resolve, where at all possible, not to waste seeds (it's so hard not to buy or trade more than you have room for, especially with the seed catalogs spread out before you in wintertime), or food.
  • And I resolve to keep the soil covered, whether with mulch, cover crops, or close planting of food plants and ornamentals.
What are your garden resolutions for 2017?

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

The 2016 Year in Review

Are you ever curious about all the great projects that Master Gardeners are involved in? Here is a short video of the 2016 Queen Anne's County Master Gardeners year in Review.


Monday, December 19, 2016

Directions for Folding a Newspaper Container


Compliments of University of Maryland Extension – Allegany & Garrett Counties



STEP BY STEP DIRECTIONS:


(Any size of newspaper can be used)

Step 1: Cut your newspaper in half

Step 2: Fold the newspaper in half (top to bottom)

Step 3: Fold newspaper in half (left side over the right - like a book)

Step 4: Unfold and use a marker to trace the center line on both sides of the paper (Always keep the folded side of the newspaper towards your stomach.)

Step 5: Fold the bottom right corner up to the center line, then fold the bottom left corner up to the center line.

Step 6: Fold the top of the front side of the newspaper down the top of the part that was folded up in the last step.

Step 7: Fold the front flap down one more time.

Then flip the entire piece of newspaper over. (Keep the point toward your stomach)


Step 8: Fold the right hand side of the newspaper into the center line, then fold the left hand side into the center line. (Similar to shutters on a window)


Step 9: Fold the top of the newspaper to the top of the “shutters”. Then fold it down one more time and tuck it into the “shutters”.


Step 10: Fold the point up to the top of the container and then unfold. This fold line will become the bottom of the container when completed.
The rest of these folds are just to help the container open up easier. Fold them and then unfold.
Step 11: Fold the point up to the left bottom corner. Then unfold.


Step 12: Fold the point up to the right corner, then unfold.

Step 13: Open up the container, fill with growing media, and plant your seeds!



Step 14: Enjoy!

Monday, December 5, 2016

World Soil Day - and a reminder to cover your soil

Today is World Soil Day as declared by the United Nations General Assembly. So I hope you've spent some time thinking about how vital good soil is to our gardens, our agriculture, and our planet. Soil rocks! Also, soil... humuses. Um.

Today a bunch of us MGs went over to the Derwood Demo Garden and helped take care of our soil by putting a mulch of shredded leaves on any areas of bare soil.

MG Joslyn Read covers the soil with leaves

We usually do this earlier in the season, but we had to wait for a delivery of leaves - and since we did wait, some winter weeds had germinated in the compost topping the beds. So we had to do a little weeding too. Avoiding weeds is one reason to cover your soil - not just during winter, but all the time - and others include preventing erosion and runoff, keeping soil temperature even, protecting roots from freeze damage and frost heave, keeping moisture in the soil, and adding organic matter (assuming your soil-covering material is organic).

You can cover the soil with mulches like leaves or straw:


or with cover crops like this crimson clover in our 100-square-foot garden:


It's too late this year to plant cover crops, but consider this as an alternative for next year. We'll be doing a lot more of it at Derwood.

Thank your soil today - and remember to keep it covered!

Friday, December 2, 2016

Pesto tarte soleil: how to look impressive with little effort

If you want a dish for holiday gatherings that will make you look like a fantastic pastry chef but involves minimal time and skill, take a (basil) leaf from my book and make tarte soleil! This is a sun-shaped puff pastry creation that ends up looking like this:


This is one I made for a GIEI state meeting this summer, with basil and roasted tomatillo pesto. Plain basil pesto (which you may have some of in your freezer, if like me you escaped the dreaded downy mildew until very late this year) works great too, as does any paste of a spreadable consistency - you don't want it to drip. I haven't made a dessert version yet, but Nutella seems like a good idea. :)

The recipe with photos and full instructions is at Smitten Kitchen. I made the tapenade version with the feta dip first - it's also great.

Make sure that you thoroughly thaw the puff pastry ahead of time, in the fridge, but also keep it cold while working. It will puff up better if it goes into the oven still chilled.

Really, it is simple to make - just rolling, spreading, cutting and twisting. And I am betraying this great reputation I have for making a super-complicated dish by telling you so.