Saturday, April 30, 2011

Rescued Lilac

Last October, I wrote about how we rescued this lilac bush from an ad we saw on Freecycle.  When we transplanted it, I was pretty worried about the trauma of digging it out of the ground and planting it in our yard.  I thought it might be too much stress for the lilac bush since we had to cut off a lot of the roots to remove it out of the ground.  It was so well established and the roots were really entrenched in the ground.  Well, this plant truly bounced back this spring and started growing buds.  And look at it now!  It's blooming!  I can't begin to tell you how incredibly happy I am that we were able to successfully rescue this plant!  Look at this gorgeous bloom!
There are only 3 blooms on this bush.  I wish there were more, but there are so few blooms because when we removed the bush out of the ground, we had to prune it back a lot so that it could fit in the car.  I think we pruned off some of the branches that would of had buds.  I'm crossing my fingers for more lilac flowers next year!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

I Can't Resist a Sale

The hubs and I were at the supermarket the other day, and I saw that they were having an amazing sale on potted bulbs.  Usually supermarket bulbs look like such crap, but these were pretty nice looking.  In fact, they were beautiful.  There were 3 hyacinth bulbs in each pot, and they were on sale for 3 pots for $9.99.  I can't pass up a good bargain...ever.  Into the shopping cart they went, and came home with us.  The smell was so intoxicating, with these 3 pots together, how could I pass up such a good deal?  I just love the scent of hyacinths.
I knew exactly what I wanted to do with 2 of the pots.  I decided to plant them outside in my front flower garden.  I had so many empty spaces that I wanted to fill, so I planted the hyacinths between the daffodils to try to fill in those spaces. 
I hope that the hyacinth bulbs will duplicate as easily as daffodils do.  I want the entire space to fill up with bulbs. 
The 3rd flower pot I gave away to my Aunt since she also loves hyacinths.  I hope she enjoys them as much as I do!  I'm sure she will.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Why I Hate Dandelions

Seeing my yard full of these yellow monsters makes me see red. No matter what others say about dandelions, how its edible and that it makes good wine, I don't consume it, so in my mind it's just an obnoxious weed. Despite my efforts to try to remove the dandelions in the most organic way possible last year, they came back in full force this year. It seems like now I have a field of dandelions rather than a green lawn. How do you get rid of dandelions? I'm desperate for advice and looking for organic methods of removal. Help!
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Sunday, April 24, 2011

Planting the Carrot Seeds

For this year, I decided to try Annie Granny's method of planting carrot seeds by making homemade seed mats. You can see the great tutorial of how she makes her seed mats here.  This year we are growing Scarlet Nantes, Cosmic Purple, Parisienne, and Purple Haze.  I am so excited about the purple variety that we are growing this year, I've never tried these before so it'll be a fun experiment.  I got both of the Purples and Parisienne from a seed swap.   I love seeds swaps because it gives you a chance to try a new variety without committing to a whole packet of seeds.   I can't wait to see if these germinate soon!

The Winner of the Williams Sonoma Pie Crust Cutters is....

Mavis from the blog 100 Dollars a Month.  I used the random generator, and got #5 as the winning entry.  Comment #5 was Mavis.  I put 15 instead of 14 as the number to pull from, because I had one reader contact me on Twitter stating that they couldn't leave a blog comment on my blog because of browser issues.  I don't know why, but some users can't comment on my blog. Do any users of Google's Blogger have this same issue?  How irritating!  Congrats to Mavis!  Mavis, contact me via this contact form, and I'll mail out the William Sonoma Pie Cutters to you asap.
I wanted to share with you some amazing food we ate this weekend.  Down the street from where we live, there is a pretty amazing Spanish restaurant.  I really love their beef empanadas.  I ordered some for our Easter Egg hunt.  Empanadas is something I never make at home because it requires some major deep frying.  Being that I don't own a fryer, and that I hate to fry foods over the stove, I just ordered at the restaurant.  These taste pretty phenomenal.  It's not something we eat often though because it's totally not healthy.
We also ate sushi for lunch.  I love sushi, I can eat it everyday, but I don't because eating raw fish should be done in moderation.  Doesn't this platter look mouthwatering?  It was so good!
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An Easter Egg Hunt in the Rain

I have extended family that live an exit away from us and they have 2 little kids.  Since I have a big yard, we did an Easter egg hunt last year.  We had so much fun last time that we decided to do it again this year.  Today was the Easter Egg hunt, but it rained.  So instead of having it outside, I had to hide Easter Eggs inside the house.  LOL.  The kids had fun anyway.  I love the different designs that they do these days on those plastic eggs.  Pretty cute, no?
We had to find activities to do inside the house, so we also dyed Easter Eggs. I love all the colors!
I made each of the boys Easter baskets.  Instead of baskets, I used sand pails.  I filled the baskets with bubbles, sippy cups, chocolate, jelly beans, and a mini piggy bank.  Making these were so much fun!  Happy Easter everyone!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

The plant gods have smiled upon me.

I won the most amazing prize.  The plant gods have smiled upon me.  Get this... I won... a $100 gift certificate from Santa Rosa Gardens from An Obsessive Neurotic Gardener's website. I literally almost fainted when I found out that I had won.  Thank you, thank you to ONG, aka John, who is the writer behind An Obsessive Neurotic Gardener.  I really can't thank him enough for hosting such an amazing giveaway.  If you don't follow his garden blog, you should.  He has a great sense of humor with an expansive knowledge of ornamental grasses and native plants.  He's the only gardener that I read that is a little (obsessed) with grasses.  Which is pretty cool in my book because I don't know squat about grass!  I ordered the following with my gift certificate prize. I am so beyond excited!
When I received the package in the mail, it was like Christmas in April! Everything was so nicely packed.
When I took all the tissue paper off, I saw that everything was wrapped in this protective netting.   Totally impressive that they took the care to wrap everything so nicely.
Here are all the plants with the netting off.  I can't wait to start planting these in the yard.  I don't know where everything will go yet.  I only know where the blue hydrangea will be planted.  I have a spot in the front yard for that beauty.  The two lemon grass plants will be potted in a container.  I think that will be very nice on our patio.  Do you grow lemon grass?  Where did you plant yours?

Friday, April 22, 2011

A Plant Exchange Does Happen in NYC

When we started gardening, we were such newbies that we were a bit overwhelmed.  I looked for other garden blogs from fellow New Yorkers and they became my inspiration! I am truly amazed by how city folk could create such amazing edible landscapes in this urban setting that we live in! From rooftops, to fire escapes and balcony gardens, and edible front yards, nothing stopped these urbanites from growing their own food. It was inspiring to find so many like minded "urban gardeners". What I like most about reading other nyc blogs is seeing what they are growing in the same climate region. It really opened our minds as to what we can grow here in our zone. Earlier this week, I saw that one of the bloggers that I follow, Bucolic Bushwick, was offering a Sungold Cherry Tomato Seedling giveaway.  If you don't know her blog, do check it out, she has an amazing roof garden in Brooklyn.  She also makes her own DIY Self Watering Containers, which I think is pretty darn cool.  I've always read about how wonderful Sungolds were, but we have never grown them.  She and I had traded seeds a couple of months ago, and so I contacted her and arranged a plant swap.  We had a spearmint plant that had sent out runners last fall, and we planted many of the runners in hopes that it would produce roots and turn into seedlings.  Indeed it did, and I had arranged to swap the mint plant for the Sungold.   Luckily for us, Bucolic Bushwick also had a Fairy Tale Eggplant seedling that she offered to trade too.  Cool!  Having never grown this type of Eggplant, I Googled Fairy Tale Eggplant, and was surprised to see that it has these cool white stripes on the purple fruit. Really pretty!  These are the plants she gave me.  Don't they look awesome?  She uses a grow light system, I really have to get my hands on grow lights.  These seedlings look so much nicer than the ones I started indoors. 
I arranged the plant swap on the day that I had to go into the city for a client meeting.  I brought the mint plant with me.  The hubs drove me to the subway station with mint plant in tow.
It's a bit of a ride to the subway, so I put the mint plant in the cup holder on the console.  A perfect way to transport seedlings if you ask me!  Don't forget, today is the last day to enter for a chance to win some leaf shaped pie cutters!  To enter, you must leave a comment on this post.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Our New Rain Barrel

We finally got around to installing gutters to our renovated garage this week.  We used a Home Depot gift card that we received as a belated wedding gift from our friends to finance our gutters.  Here's the hubs trying to drill it into place.  It took the two of us to install it, it was quite the balancing act as we were both on ladders!  He took the shorter ladder and I took the tall one because I'm over a foot shorter than him.  I hate ladders and so I held on for dear life.  I took this photo on solid ground.
I think it looks great!  One side down although, we still have to install the other side, but it will have to wait for another day!  One took us half the morning.  I love this photo, my two favorite things in the same picture, my favorite composter and my new favorite rain barrel.
Installing new gutters mean's our new rain barrel got installed too.  The chain link fence was in the way, so we couldn't have the rain barrel flushed against the garage.  Therefore, we had to extend the gutter pipes away from the garage.  It's a bit goofy, but it works.

Horseradish, It's Here!

I received my horseradish in the mail that I ordered from This will be our first time growing horseradish. Both my husband and I love the stuff, and so we are beyond excited to be growing our own. I am a little bummed by the quality of the roots that Burpee sent us.  There are 5 roots in the order and 2 of the roots were puny skinny.  You will see it on the left side of my hand.  Compare that to the ones on the right which are thicker.  It's not my first frustrating experience with Burpee.  Last year, I had a dismal experience with getting their seeds to germinate.  I don't know why I continue to give them business.  I think we bought our horseradish roots with them because I couldn't find a good source that sold horseradish.  These better grow well, if it doesn't, I will never buy from Burpee ever again.
I ended up planting the roots in a large container.  A lot of garden bloggers advised me to not put them in the ground since they can be very invasive.  I hope these grow well.  I'm on the lookout for a wine barrel to purchase so I can transplant them in that.  I want to give it as much space as possible so that it can produce runners.  I want lots and lots of horseradish!  Yum.
Just a reminder, I'm hosting a pie cutter giveaway, enter here!  Deadline is this Friday, 4/22.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

A Look Inside

I must say, at first I was a bit skeptical about winter sowing. However, my broccoli winter sowing experiment has been a tremendous success. Check it out! This juice container was planted back in February. The plastic container protected it from the relentless snow. Now it acts like a little greenhouse. Look how healthy the broccoli plant looks!  It looks even better than the ones I started indoors! 
Here's a photo of the "greenhouse" juice container. You can see all the condensation along the sides of the juice bottle.  It's important to also keep the cap off.  You have to be careful if this is directly in sunlight, it gets really hot, and can cook the little seedling.  Keep a watchful eye on it. 
For comparison's sake, here are my broccoli seedings that I started indoors.  As you can see, the winter sown ones are much larger and healthier looking.  I am totally going to winter sow all my brassicas for the vegetable garden for 2012.  I am not going to even deal with sowing these indoors anymore.

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Amaryllis Re-Blooming

The Samba Amaryllis is really putting on a show. The other flower bud stalk bloomed this week. Now there are 5 flowers opened on the plant. WOW. It is such a spectacular display of blooms. I'm so happy with this bulb, and with the quality of White Flower Farm products!  I am so going to order from them again. I've grown Amaryllis bulbs from Home Depot before and it's never grown as nice as these.  This amaryllis is absolutely stunning!  The photo does not do it justice.
Here is a view from another angle.  Isn't it lovely?  Blooms galore!  It is so worth the $13 I spent!  Worth every penny.
What is so exciting is that when I was walking around the plant, I saw that the bulb has shot up yet another flower bud.  I have never had an amaryllis bulb produce 3 separate flowering buds before.  This is so beyond exciting!! Do you see the new growing bud down at the bottom of the plant?  I love this plant.  I only wish blooms this big had a fragrance!!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

400 and 100! And a Giveaway!

I realized today that I have reached 100 followers of this blog!  Wow, what exciting news!  I write this blog to document our adventures in gardening, and it's fun to look back in time to see what we did previously. It's all a learning experience for us, and writing about it helps us remember what worked and what didn't. I've been so busy with work this month that I just passed 400 blog posts and didn't realize it.  This is actually my 402 blog post!  How did I miss 400?  To celebrate both reaching 100 followers and hitting the 400 mark on blog posts, I am having a giveaway. Woot!  One lucky reader will win a Williams Sonoma piecrust cutter in the shape of leaves.  For all those growing fruit this summer and love to make pies, won't these look so adorable on top of your pie?
The shapes are absolutely cute!  To enter, just leave a comment on this blog post by Friday, April 22nd, 11:59pm PST.  On Saturday, I'll pick a winner at random using  Good luck!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Brooklyn Dirt & Dreaming of Peaches

Back in February, the hubs and I went to a talk on "dirt". While we were there, we had our photo taken by a writer from Brooklyn Bread.  Brooklyn Bread is a monthly community magazine that features community events.  Our photo made it to the feature on Brooklyn Dirt. We are the last photo, 2nd row right.  Pretty cool.
Here's a look at what's happening in our backyard.  The most exciting thing happening right now is that our peach tree is blooming!  I love the pink blossoms.  It is so pretty!
Here's a look at the whole tree.  The tree is pretty small.  I'm not sure how old it is, since it was here when we moved in over a year ago.  I'm guessing it's a 3-4 year old tree.  Last year we lost all the peaches in a big wind storm.  I'm hoping this year some of the peaches actually get big enough to ripen on the tree.  I hope!

Backyard Poultry

I received this in the mail the other day. And invitation for a free issue of Backyard Poultry.  We really want to raise chickens in our backyard, but we are a bit worried what the neighbors will think.  We have 4 neighbors who have property that are adjacent to ours.  Why 4? Well, next door to our property they built townhouses.  Primarily, I am worried with how noisy chickens are. I've never raised chickens so I don't know if hens make a lot of noise.  As well, somehow I feel like the neighbors might think that having chickens will attract "critters" to our yard.  For example, we already have a raccoon problem.  There is one that roams the neighborhood. I saw the raccoon on my front steps this week.  I can't imagine what the neighbors will think if we build a chicken coop.  I know it's "our" yard and we can do whatever we want, but since we have many neighbors and they live so close to us, we don't want to make any of them angry at us.  Do you raise chickens in an urban environment?  Do you have any advice?  Any advice is welcomed.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

My "Greenhouse"

My enclosed porch, aka the "greenhouse" is busting at the seams. It's completely overflowing with plants.  Today, I moved some of the seedlings outdoors, like the leeks and broccoli.  I planted the leeks into the garden and the broccoli are hardening off.  It really didn't make much room when I moved the seedlings.  I can't wait until the other seedlings get larger so I can also move them outside.  I also moved the potted peonies into the backyard, they'll get planted this week.  Since this is my first year with the peonies, they won't flower.  I hope the roots gets nicely established so that they come back strong next year.

My Bulb Garden

Last November, I bought some bulbs on sale from an email promotion with Flower Power and Gardener's Supply Company.  I bought the bulbs for a steal, at 75% off.  I always love a good bargain!  The prices were so great that I bought 4 bags of bulbs.  Since I already planted a lot of daffodil bulbs in the front yard, I made a little area on the side of my yard to plant these sale bulbs.  The early bulbs have bloomed, daffodils and hyacinths.  Following those are tulips, then irises and lilies.  I realized that my little bulb garden looks a bit sad, I'll have to add a lot more bulbs next year.  How do you mark your bulbs, to know where to add more the following fall?
Here is a closeup of the hyacinths.  I had bought a multi-color variety pack, so it's great to see what colors actually bloomed.  It's such a cool surprise since I didn't know what colors I was getting in the bag.  They really weren't kidding when they said multi-colors!  Hahaha, I ended up getting all different colors.  Even though they are all different colors, and none "match", they are indeed pretty and the scent is amazing!  You can smell the fragrance wafting through the yard.  Just amazing.
My favorite bulb out of the entire lot that I ordered were these double petal daffodils.  Wow, aren't they spectacular?  I totally have to buy more of these for next year.  It's so much prettier than the single trumpet ones.  Don't you agree?

Saturday, April 16, 2011

I Can Almost Taste the Beer Now


Our packages of hops came in the mail this week. The hubs and I are beyond excited to grow these. I was home when the delivery came, and my first thought was, "oooh Girl Scout Cookies!" Upon closer inspection of the box, there was a label from The Beer Essentials.  They recycle boxes from the Girl Scouts to send out their products.  How cool is that?  I will always support a company with "green" practices. Inside, the package was so nicely packed.  There was a cold ice pack to keep the hop roots refrigerated. They also sent us a pen and a magnet.  Good marketing idea if you ask me!
Here are the two rhizomes we ordered, Nugget and Cascade.  The instructions were to refrigerate the roots if we didn't plant them right away.
I temporarily planted them in a 6 inch pot.  Later, I'll transplant them into larger pots, that eventually will grow up along the new garage.  Here it is 4 days after planting.  Those roots were really ready to go!
UPDATE: The Nugget rhizome never grew and I called their customer service and they said they have no guarantee on their plants.  I asked them, so it's "buy at your own risk" and they said "Yes."  I will never buy from them again!

Friday, April 15, 2011

Free Tree from Lowe's on Earth Day

I received an email today for a free tree giveaway at participating Lowe's.  On Earth Day, Saturday, April 23rd, Lowe's is giving away a million trees.  How cool is that?  It doesn't say what type of trees they are giving away, but I'm sure you can call your local Lowe's to find out.  We just got 2 trees recently so we don't need anymore on our property, but I wanted to blog about it in case you might be interested.

A Rose By Any Other Name

I finally placed my order for my David Austin Roses.  (jump for joy) I always admired the roses featured on Davy's Louisiana's Gardening Blog.   He grows the most stunning specimens.  I asked him where he ordered his roses and he recommended  Chamblee's Rose Nursery.  I placed my order for the following rose bushes.  I ordered the Anne Boleyn, it's a stunning soft pink rose with lots of petals and a nice fragrance.  What I like about this rose is that it's a repeat bloomer, so it should bloom well into the fall. 
photo from Chamblee's Nursery website
I knew I also wanted a white rose so I picked out this one.  It's called Glamis Castle.  On the Chamblee website is says the rose is named after, "Glamis Castle, the childhood home of the late Queen Mother and the legendary setting of Shakespeare's play 'Macbeth'".  I love that the color is a creamy off-white.  It also has a fragrance and a repeat bloomer.

photo from Chamblee's Nursery website
Lastly, I ordered this deep yellow rose called Graham Thomas.  It is named after "one of the most influential rosarians and garden writers of our time." What I like about this rose is that it's disease resistant and the color is amazing.
photo from Chamblee's Nursery website
The roses are being shipping out next week. I can't wait to get them in the garden. I planted only hybrid tea roses last year, so I am really excited to add David Austin roses to the garden this year.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

We Have a Reputation

I was working from home today and the doorbell rang.  I saw that one of my neighbors were standing on my front steps.  She came by to see if we wanted her 3 Holly bushes and her Magnolia Tree.  Her landscaper removed the 3 bushes from her yard because they weren't getting enough sun.  I guess we have a reputation around the neighborhood for being plant people and for rescuing plants, like we did with the Lilac and Climbing Rose Bush.  Gulp.  I hope plants don't start mysteriously showing up on our doorsteps.  She said that she didn't want these thrown out, so I said I would take them.  It was so nice of her to think of us and give us these plants.  I'm sure I can find somewhere in my yard to put them.  Maybe we can plant them at the end of the yard, where we installed a chain link fence.  I hate the idea of a live shrub or tree getting thrown out. 
Here's the other Holly shrub and the Magnolia tree.  The Magnolia isn't looking so hot, it has a lot of brown leaves, but if we prune it back, I think it will bounce back to life.
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