Hello, it’s been a while. I’m still here, still making things (and selling them on Etsy here and here), still growing plants, and still learning. I’m also still sick and looking for treatments that help (so far not much luck). I do hope to start writing a bit more or at least sharing my projects sometime soon, and the format of this blog will likely change but I’m not sure how yet.
Anyways, that’s not really what this post is about. This post is about my Key Lime tree. Remember it? I started it way back in 2013 (four years ago) and shared updates about its growth on a fairly regular basis. Well, it’s time for another update: there are flowers! My key lime tree is flowering!
I’ve been pretending to be a bee and pollenating the flowers with a paint brush and doing a bit of reading to see what I need to do to help the tree set (and keep) the fruit, so we’ll see what happens!
This growing information is for Grosso lavender (the variety that I planted in my front garden last year), but other lavender should have similar growing requirements. Grosso lavender is hybrid of cold-hardy English lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) and heat-tolerant Portuguese Lavender (L. latifolia). It is the primary commercial variety for the production of lavender oil.
Grosso Lavender Care
Size: The Grosso variety of lavender can get up to 2.5 feet (76 cm) tall and wide.
Water Requirements: This lavender prefers soil that is kept between dry and moist.
Soil Requirements: Grosso lavender grows best in neutral to slightly alkaline soil that is well drained.
Light Requirements: Grosso lavender does best in full sun.
Temperature Requirements: This lavender grows well in USDA zones 5 to 8, though may not survive the winter if the temperature gets below 0F and there is no snow to insulate the plant.
Nutrient Requirements: Lavender actually prefers a soil with somewhat low fertility.
Pruning: For continued blooming, remove faded flowers. About every three years, prune back to 8 inches (20 cm) tall in the spring.
Pests: This lavender is susceptible to root rot and leaf spot.
Blooms: The blooms of this lavender are lavender in color and very fragrant. Blooms appear from June to August.
It was an unusually warm and dry February here in the Midwest. The plants have started to wake up from their winter slumber and I’ve started to plan what I’m going to grow this year. I’ve decided to focus mostly on the vegetables that I eat, with a few new ones that I’ve never grown before just for fun. While I don’t have the layouts quite figured out yet here’s what I’m hoping to grow this year.
Community Garden Plot:
Tiger Eye Beans
Currant Tomato (just one this year)
Thai Red Roselle Hibiscus*
* denotes plants I’ve never grown before
I’m still waiting on my order of ginger to ship, and I still need to find a source of lemongrass, but otherwise I have all the seeds/plants. My spring break is next week so one of the things I want to get done during it is get my seeds started. We also have a planting day at the community garden next Saturday so I’ll find out which plot I’ve moved to. Gardening season is SO close!
Sweet basil, (Ocimum basilicum) is the most common variety of basil sold in the United States. While there are many other basil varieties, some closely related and some not, I chose to focus on sweet basil since I’m the most familiar with it.
Sweet Basil Information
Size: Sweet basil can range from 24 – 38 inches (61 – 97 cm) in height depending on conditions.
Water Requirements: A lot of water is required to grow basil. Soil should be kept damp, but not soaked.
Soil Requirements: The soil that sweet basil is planted in should be fertile and well drained. Basil prefers a soil that is very slightly acidic (pH 6.4) but can tolerate a wide pH range.
Light Requirements: Sweet basil likes to be grown in full sun (at least 4-6 hours of direct sun).
Temperature Requirements: Sweet basil does not tolerate cold temperatures well and should be kept above 40°F (4.4°C).
Nutrient Requirements: A fertilizer with equal amounts nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium with additional nitrogen supplementation later in the growing season is recommended for sweet basil.
Pruning: Many people who grow basil cut off flower buds, as they believe it causes leaves to become bitter. Nipping off the top set of leaves can encourage the basil plant to become bushier. Regular pruning is recommended.
Pests: Although sweet basil is relatively insect repellent, it can still be bothered by pests such as whiteflies, cutworms, and nematodes as well as fungal and bacterial diseases.
Companion Planting: Basil is often planted along side tomatoes.
Growing Indoors: Basil is well suited to growth in containers, both indoors and outdoors. Pots need to be at least 8 inches (20 cm). The best growing medium is a soilless mix and the light, water, and nutrient requirements are similar to those of an outdoor plant.
Today I want to talk a little bit about garden journals. Keeping a garden journal is something I try to do every year, and somehow by the middle of the growing season I completely forget about it. This has left me with a bunch of partially started notebooks and horrible records of what I’ve grown. Clearly the old system wasn’t working for me, so this year I decided to try something new.
Enter the traveler’s notebook. It’s essentially a cover (mine is a Wide Wanderlust Butterscotch from Foxy Fix) with elastics which hold notebook inserts. It’s highly customizable and has a huge fan base. I stumbled across them while looking for ideas for setting up my grad school Filofax (a post for another day) and though that maybe, just maybe, here was a system that would work. So I thought about it for a few months, came up with a plan, got some inserts to try out, and ordered my notebook.
It arrived a few weeks ago, and so far I’m definitely a fan. It feels like a nice cohesive book, but the inserts seem to give me the flexibility I’ve been craving. Here’s how it’s set up right now.
Insert 1: Calendar Purpose: Mostly for recording weather and planting dates, but other garden events like classes are included too.
Insert 2: Garden Log Purpose: To record what goes on in the garden (planting dates, harvest quantities, pest problems)
Insert 3: Orchard Log Purpose: Essentially the same as the Garden Log, only for the orchard: To record what goes on in the orchard (tasks, harvest quantities, pest problems)
Insert 4: Garden Resources/Ideas Purpose: This insert gives me a place to write down helpful books and websites as well as any ideas/information I come across that seems useful.
Insert 5: Orchard Resources/Ideas Purpose: In addition to being a place to record similar stuff to the Garden Resources insert, I’ll also use this to keep my notes from the steward training classes for the orchard.
And there you have it! Five inserts in total, and hopefully enough space to record everything I want to. Again, right now I think this system will work, but then again I’ve thought that about the other notebooks too. Here’s hoping.
Do you have a garden notebook/journal? How do you keep from forgetting about it halfway through the season?
[Please note that this page is for educational and informational purposes only and may not be construed as medical advice. The information is not intended to replace medical advice offered by physicians.]
Today we’re going to take a brief look at the culinary and medicinal uses of Bay Laurel leaves.
Medicinally Bay Laurel can be taken as a tea to soothe stomaches and relieve gas. The leaves also have diaphoretic properties and can induce vomiting when taken in large quantities. The oil of bay laurel can al be applied externally as an antiseptic and to treat sprains, bruises, and arthritis.
In the kitchen, bay leaves are typically used dry as fresh leaves contain bitter tasting compounds that drying removes. Leaves are added to soups and stews to flavor the broth and are removed before eating. Leaves may also be used in pickling, marinades, and baking.
Around the home bay leaves are used to make fragrant wreaths and garlands, and to repel insects from the pantry.
As stated in last week’s introduction, January’s herb of the month is Bay. While there are several plants that are used as the “bay leaf” spice in cooking I’m going to focus on bay laurel (Laurus nobilis). This type of bay is also known as sweet bay. Laurus nobilis originates from the Mediterranean and can be grown outdoors in warmer climates or indoors as a houseplant in colder ones.
Size: Bay Laurel can grow up to 23 ft (7.5m) tall if not pruned.
Water Requirements: Bay laurel has moderate water requirements. As with most plants overwatering can cause root damage.
Soil Requirements: Bay Laurel prefers well-drained soil
Light Requirements: Bay Laurel grows best in full sun to part shade.
Temperature Requirements: Bay Laurel can be grown outside in USDA Zones 8 to 11.
Nutrient Requirements: Bay Laurel grown in containers can benefit from controlled-release fertilizer or a liquid feed every two weeks from mid-spring through late summer.
Pruning: Bay Laurel is well suited to being pruned as a topiary or shrub but they are slow growing and can be slow to recover.
Pests and Problems: Bay is susceptible to bay sucker and both soft and horse chestnut scale. Waterlogged roots can cause leaf spots or yellowing of leaves. Yellowing of leaves can also indicate a nutrient deficiency.
Container Growing: If you want to grow bay laurel as a container plant it is important to use well draining soil. Plants grown in container are also susceptible to freezing when it’s cold outside so make sure to insulate the pot. The Royal Horticultural Society recommends that bay be repotted every two years.
Part two, the culinary and medicinal uses of bay laurel and some recipes, will be coming next week so be on the look out for that.
As an aside, my classes start back up again this week, so while I have the best intentions to post weekly, we all know how that went last semester. If I disappear for a bit, it’s probably because of schoolwork.