Onward and Upward

Finished

I finally decided to renovate my little plot at the new apartment. Since we’ve moved in I’ve just had all my plants in pots sitting on top of pavers which lined the floor of the garden “bed”. I’m not sure whose idea this was, whether the landlord or previous tenant but I’m guessing it may have been an attempt to keep the shoots from the nearby tree from taking over. They weren’t really effective in that manner since the shoots were popping up in between every paver. Anyway, I removed all the paver under which was some sort of filter cloth which i also removed and lo and behold there was some pretty nice dirt under there with earthworms galore. I bought about 20 bags of topsoil and compost to fill it out and planted my existing plants into the bed, leaving room for annuals and maybe a few more flowering perennials. It’s still a mess out there but here are a few photos documenting the process.

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tweeting?

ok… i don’t mean the birds, though it is spring and while visiting NC there was an abundance of birds out and about. i’ve created a mini slideshow of my road trip to NC with a stop by LA Reynolds Garden Center, The Greensboro Farmers Market & Mama Quade’s house where I have been spoiled with warm temps and beautiful spring blooms!

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now back to the birds… did you know we’re tweeting??

follow us @3girlsandagrdn  see you around the twitterverse…

Shady Business

Here in Brooklyn I’ve been spoiled for the last three years with my south facing, relatively unencumbered, sunny garden. I’ve easily been able to grow vegetables and herbs and even an occasional fruit. But now, settled in the new place I realize there is a monster of a tree that will eventually blanket my yard with shade.  Some typical shade-loving perennials are hosta, ferns, brunia, hellebore, heuchera and hydrangea just to name a few. They are all pretty hardy and should come back each year depending on variety although i’ve found some ferns can’t take the cold winters up here and never rear their fronds again.  You should choose some shrubs and perennials for depth and texture and then add annuals for color and tone. Here are some great annuals for shade: Impatiens which will fare well all season long. Coleus which comes in so many amazingly colorful varieties nowadays. The Polka-dot plant is just plain cool and gets pretty tall.  Ipomea aka sweet potato vine is perfect for container plantings. Lobelia is a cute and delicate flower that is great for borders. And of course the ever-classic pansy or it’s little sister, viola, can be used to fill a window box.

I admit I planned on documenting the transplant of some of my old plants to the new apartment but I was so distracted and busy by the move I shirked my duties. Mea culpa. Here are some pictures of the current garden. A few are new additions but mostly old pals I couldn’t bear to part with.  It’s no where near complete but it is only April so there’s still time. On a side note, my computer display is broken so I don’t really know how this final draft is going to look. Here’s to hoping!

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Philadelphia International Flower Show

My sister, an avid gardener and landscaper by profession, attended the flower show in Philly this past weekend, running now through the 13th. Since she is our official upstate New York correspondent I asked her to do a write up on the show. Enjoy:

The theme was Paris in spring. There were certainly displays that followed that theme, but then there were ones like the bayou scene, where it’s hard to make the connection, except maybe that cajun’s speak french. There was a giant bottom section of the Eiffel tower as you entered, which was pretty impressive, and supposedly can-can dancers, but it was so crowded in areas we were hard pressed to find them. The orchids were lovely as always and a garden lover would appreciate it on the sheer basis that there were a ton of flowers in bloom in early march. By far the most looked-forward-to for me were the shops with great deals on cut flowers, bulbs, and other plants. Roses for under eight dollars for a dozen! And I bought two Siberian tomato plants that produce tomatoes down to 39 degrees. There is a lot to see and two days would really give you time to enjoy all that it has to offer but a few hours is sufficient to get the idea. And forget about the Reading Terminal Market across the street which is a huge enclosed market with meat, fish, cheese, breads, produce, chocolates, pastries, not to mention the eateries there where you can sit at the counter and enjoy any number of international foods ranging from Thai to Greek.

The city itself offers great historical hot spots, such as the Liberty Bell and Betsy Ross’ house, among others. Even the old architecture and row houses are impressive. For garden lovers this is a worthwhile trip. Put this one on your bucket list for sure.

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http://www.theflowershow.com/home/index.html

fresh eggs.

the other day i came home & a friend handed me a couple of fresh eggs from the farm upstate… there is just something about eggs from chickens that were not bought in some store.

this past fall i learned that if the eggs that are laid are unwashed they do not need to be refrigerated as the icky looking coating protects the egg.. it is only when that is washed off ( like the super clean eggs you find in a store ) that the egg will spoil if left unrefrigerated… so stop washing those freshly laid eggs!

here’s a bit about ”unwashed eggs” from the site ‘seeds of nutrition’ :

You want to be sure that the “Bloom” is left on. What is the “Bloom”? It is a natural antibacterial protective covering that the hen deposits on the egg as she is laying it.
That protective coating protects the egg until it is used. Bacteria has a hard time penetrating a dry shell, but will have a much easier time if the shell is wet because the shell is porous.

Commercially grown eggs are washed and bleached. Not only that; the chickens are cage confined and never see the day of light. And because of these conditions their feed is loaded with antibiotics to keep the chicken healthy. These chickens also have a very short life span.

“Unwashed Eggs” are eggs that are gathered, brought into the house and lightly wiped off with a dry cloth, paper towel, a loofa pad, or scrubby. Absolutely no water comes in contact. If the hens laying box is kept clean and egg gathering is frequent for the most part the eggs will be clean and no need to deal with feathers, hay stuck on, or chicken poop.

Thank Goddess For Garlic

where it all begins

I love garlic. I’d eat a garlic sandwich if it weren’t for the inevitable “death breath” that garlic has habit of creating. As you can tell by looking at it, it is a bulb and therefore can be planted in the fall along with all of your other bulbs. Only with garlic, a single clove sort of acts as a seed rendering an entire bulb after maturation. This makes sense when you think about the garlic you’ve left unused for weeks and it starts to sprout a little pale green shoot. Now if you didn’t plan ahead (ahem) that’s okay too. Early spring plantings are just as good and you can yield a comparable harvest. The key is to sort of trick your garlic into thinking it’s in a dormant state by sticking it your fridge. And since I’ve never done this before i’ll have to roll the dice on the length it needs to be in there in order to be fooled. I’m guessing a week. Once your garlic is sufficiently sleepy break it up into single cloves.  A general rule about planting bulbs is to dig a hole double the size of the bulb. So with each clove i suggest planting about 2 inches deep and 4 inches apart with the fat part of the clove facing down. If you’re fortunate enough to have the space to do rows make sure they’re a foot apart. I’d say the trickiest part of growing garlic is the harvest itself.  You know it’s ready to go when the leaves start to brown and die off.  I suppose it’s better to err on the side of harvesting too soon where the cloves will be very small (and the skins tender and edible as well) rather than too late where the bulb will split apart. Now don’t forget garlic needs to be dried. Otherwise it will rot and then all your work for naught. Despite your desire to manhandle your produce after all that waiting, don’t mess with them too much and certainly don’t wash them off. Just hang them up in a cool, dry place and after about a week you can wipe off the dirt and reap your rewards.