April showers bring May Flowers
Mel Torme- april showers
Mel Torme- april showers

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Pansies, violas and Johnnie Jump Ups






When the winter season comes to its end and the spring season arrives, the pansy family of flowers

is more than ready to show us their happy faces in our gardens. Pansies hold a special place in my

heart--and for most gardeners-- because of the cheerful flower faces that welcome the new season.

 Some years, the weather does not cooperate and we are surprised with a blanket of snow after planting them, but the pansy family does not care; it just keeps smiling until the snow melts. No other flower can tolerate the type of weather that they can; cold and wet growing conditions are not a problem. For your

 own peace of mind plant pansies, violas and Johnnie jump ups this spring.


The pansy family comes from the mountains of New Zealand and got its start in America from a Dutch grower who brought seed to Massachusetts, where the gardeners could not get enough of them. Before long new pansy hybrids developed to bring cheer to a cold spring gardens. The pansy is the floral emblem of Rhode Island and the state flower of New Jersey and Wisconsin.


The Violas were named for a lover of the God Zeus, and even Shakespeare mentioned them often in his works. Napoleon, banished to Elba, said he said he would "return with the violets." When he did return, Josephine was dead. He picked violets for her grave before going into exile again to St. Helena. When he died, a locket found on him contained a lock of her hair and violet flowers.


The pansy family has many names and I thought you would like to know just a few of them: Tickle-my-Fancy, Kiss-her-in-the-Pantry, Three-Faces-in-a-Hood, Love-in-Idleness and Heartsease. This flower has five petals that are arranged on a short stem, with two petals on top, one on each side and one larger one on the bottom. The center is most always yellow, even in solid darker colored flower types. The foliage is medium green, the leaves are I to 3 inches long, and the shape is oval to heart shape. The plant grows

 in a clump 4 to 8 inches wide and 4 to 8 inches tall. The plants are easy to grow and are very hardy in all types of weather. Plant pansies in partial shade where summers are hot. Pansies will also grow in a sunny or shady spot in your garden or even in containers or hanging baskets. Select a location with a humus-rich soil for the best results, though they will also grow well in a moist well-drained soil.


If you want to grow pansies from seed, you must plant them 8 to 10 weeks before the first frost, usually during mid January. Once the seed germinates, keep the new seedlings in a cool room or they will grow fast, stretch and grow tall, often falling over in the garden. All greenhouses, nurseries and garden centers have plants available now, ready to face the changing weather where you live. The flowers will last until

the heat arrives when planted in the sun, so transplant them into a shaded garden in late June for

 summer flowers. If you like pansies, look for the new fall-blooming pansies available in September. These plants will bloom until the snow covers them in November or later. Many of them survive the winter and reappear the following spring.


When planting add a bit of "Soil-Moist" to the planting hole: it will help them save water during hot days. Feed them every other week with Blooming and Rooting fertilizer from Ferti-Lome once planted or

Dynamite time release pellets.  The "BIG" secret is to pick off the faded flowers so the plant does not

make seeds. The more you clean them, the more they will flower.


 When you pick off the faded flowers, crush the seed pods and throw them into the garden, where some

 of the seeds will germinate and spread. Smile with the Happy faces of Spring. Enjoy! 


Now is the time to plant your Peas!




My dad always planted Peas on St. Patrick's Day if the ground was ready--though it was sometimes not.

 We have been waiting to get out into the garden all winter long and now is the time! Go down to your local Garden Center to purchase your vegetable seeds and be sure to pick up some Spring Peas, such as the peas for shelling, Snow Peas and Sugar Snap Peas. I like the Snow and Sugar Snap Peas because you can eat the pod and pea, no waste and a lot less labor to clean. The taste of fresh picked peas is as different as frozen peas are to canned peas. If you have never grown peas in your garden, this year try it and taste the difference. Peas do not like the heat, so you should plant them now while the temperatures are cool. Purchase double the amount of peas you need and keep the balance for a fall crop that you will plant in August and harvest in October.


My father told this story to everyone he knew who loves peas--and it is true. On June 16, 1949 my mother was in her garden weeding and picking fresh peas for their dinner. A few neighbors came by that morning to see her and say hello. To their surprise when they returned home that evening a sign was attached to the front of the house: "IT"S A BOY." While my mother was picking peas, she went into labor with me and I think that is why I love peas so much. That night, my Dad cooked the peas that my mother had picked and

brought them to the hospital for her to eat because peas were her favorite vegetable also. Now you

 know the rest of the story!


It is best to plant peas in a location that is sunny all day. Before planting, work two inches of compost or manure into the soil as these plants love a rich soil and will give you more peas per plant for your extra

 work. If you have a loose, well drained soil, the plants will grow better than a soil with a lot of clay. If you have a wet spring, heavy, wet soil will rot the seeds before they have a chance to germinate. Use Liquid Gypsum before planting to break up the clay and open up the soil. Go to www.soillogic.com for more information on clay soil care. A soil PH of 5.5 to 6.5 is best and for most of us, lime should be added to the garden every other year to lower the acidity.


Peas are unique because they can produce a small bump on the roots called a nodule. This nodule,

 with the help of bacteria that live in the soil, has the capability of pulling nitrogen from the air and soil,

storing it in these nodules for future crops in the garden. Peas and beans can do this, so plant them in a different location every year and the plants will make free fertilizer for you, rather than taking it out.

If you are new to peas, purchase a package of nitrogen-fixing bacteria from the nursery when you buy the seeds as it will increase the yield of pods by as much as 75%. Vegetable Tone from Espoma or Pro-Trust vegetable food will give you better results than the traditional 10.10.10 fertilizer and actually help build

 up the soil at the same time.


Plant the peas on both sides of a string-type trellis or chicken wire fence to help keep the pea plant off the ground. Peas have tendrils that will attach to the support and hold the plant upright, keeping the peas clean, showing off the flowers so the bees can find them more easily, and produce more peas per pod. Space the seeds three inches apart and plant them 2 inches deep. If you like to eat peas, plant different types that

 ripen at different times so you can pick them for a longer time. Look on the back of the package for the maturing time and plant at the same time. Pick the peas when the pods are full but not bulging for the best tasting peas. All that remains is a little butter, salt, and pepper, so enjoy! 



Dan Fogelberg - Rhythm Of The Rain

Dan Fogelberg -

 Rhythm Of The Rain

Young onion seedlings


Onions are among the easiest vegetables to grow in your garden. Onions are one of the most useful vegetables you have in your kitchen and if you grow them yourself, you will not believe the flavor difference compared to supermarket onions. Your kitchen would not be complete without onions to flavor most

everything you cook. This vegetable can be used in your salads, soups, stews, stuffing, sandwiches, and

side dishes, and even eaten raw or cooked on your hamburger. The onion originated in Asia and was

 grown in all parts of the world by the Egyptians, Greeks, Romans and today you in your kitchen.


The onion comes in yellow, white and red. The shape will vary from round, oval, long, thin and will grow as a single bulb or come in clusters; some even grow out of the ground.


Select a spot in your garden that has sun all day long. Your soil should be rich in organic matter, so add

 plenty of compost or animal manure before planting every year. A soil that is loose and well drained without clay will grow the best plants. Never plant onions in the same place every year. Rotating crops in your

garden will keep them healthier, especially if you keep onions away from same area for 3 years or more.

Soil pH should be between 6 and 7.5. If soil is acidic, add lime. If you have a wood stove, sprinkle the wood ash on the ground before you till the soil to plant your onions.


Onions have a terrible root system and have a tough time finding food far away from the plant. The same

 goes for moisture in the soil; it must be there, but not in large quantities. Water onions weekly, and keep the soil moist to a depth of 6 inches. When you use a fertilizer with Mycorrhizal fungi such as Protilizer from Natural Alternative added to it, your plants will be able to grow a root system double the normal size and that means "BIGGER" and "BETTER" onions.


 Use Bio-Tone by Espoma with Microbial Fertilizer. Use at the time of planting in early May and repeat 2 times more 4 weeks apart. A couple application of Neptune Harvest organic fertilizer will also help to push the onion plant to grow faster and larger.


I will catch "Hell" for this statement, but the best onion plants come from seedlings, not "BULBS". Onion Sets are small onion bulbs grown in Holland and shipped to the Garden Center in a dormant state. These small onion bulbs are grown in a different climate and usually produce smaller onions in your garden because of climate change. I will guarantee you bigger onions, leeks, bunching onions, etc., when you plant seedlings.


 Some garden centers sell seedlings in flats or trays, or you can buy them in bunches of 100 plants out of the soil. If you choose bunches, prune roots by 1/4 inch and let them set in water for a hour or two before planting.

Plant onions 6 inches apart, and they will do best in wide rows of 6 to 10 plants in a row, rather than a single plant to a row. Weeds have always been a problem during the summer and if you are not careful, you will pull up the young seedlings with the weeds.  


 When the top of the onions begin to fall over, they are ready to harvest. Just pull them out of the ground and let them sit in the sun for a few days, or until the tops turn brown and dry up. Or you can also leave the onions in the garden until the top is brown and dried up. Store onions in your basement for the winter where it is cool but where they will not freeze. Enjoy!



"He tills his land will have plenty of food"
Proverbs 28:19
Conway Twitty - Rainy Night In Georgia ft. Sam Moore
Conway Twitty - Rainy Night In Georgia ft. Sam Moore

Now is the Time to plant Broccoli


Broccoli is a vegetable that either you love...or you don't. It's a vegetable that can be eaten fresh out of the garden, raw in salads, is great for dipping or cooked a hundred different ways to fit your taste buds. It's also one of the few vegetables that you actually eat the flower buds of the plant before they mature to flowers. This unique vegetable will do best when planted early in the spring when the weather is still cool to cold, so don't wait to plant them when the weather is ready in mid-May for your tomatoes--plant them now. At this time of the year, it's too late to start broccoli plants from seed, so plant seedlings available at your local nursery or garden center. But you should buy a package of seeds for a fall and early winter crop--and I will tell you about that fall crop after we talk about the summer crop.


Broccoli is a vegetable that prefers a soil a bit on the acid side to neutral; if you apply wood ash or limestone to the garden every other year the plants will do quite well. They are heavy feeders and will quickly deplete your garden soil of Nitrogen in just one season unless you fertilize them monthly with a good organic vegetable garden fertilizer. Broccoli should never be planted in the same location of your garden every year. Rotation of the location in the garden will keep this wonderful vegetable productive and will give the soil a chance to rest and rebuild the soil fertility. Adding compost to the garden soil--leaves, animal manure or seaweed--in the fall of the year will help to rebuild the quality of the soil by spring for other types of vegetable plants.


If you have tried to grow broccoli in the past--or other cold weather crops such as cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, cabbage or collards and have had problems with small or stunted growth, hollow stems or stems that crack or split open, you have a problem that is easily solved with an application of Borax detergent powder. Soils that are on the acidic side or are low in organic matter, such as compost or animal manure are usually deficient in Boron. In the spring before planting add compost and use Bonide - turf turbo to sweeten the soil.


If the fertilizer you are using does not list Boron on the package, just add Borax detergent to your garden at the rate of 2 pounds per 1000 sq. ft. of garden and till to a depth of 6 inches deep into the soil. Boron deficiency is also responsible for corn that has discolored foliage, stunted growth and is light in color; also look for poor corn kernel development on the cob of the plant. Vegetable garden fertilizers like Vegetable-Tone  or  Dynamite time release pellets are complete fertilizers and will solve your problem with a Boron shortage in your garden.


Broccoli loves a well-drained soil with lots of organic matter like compost, animal manure, or seaweed added to the garden every year. This helps to hold moisture around the plant roots during periods of high heat during the summer. If your soil is heavy and on the clay side, conditioning is necessary to help root development and prevent root rot problems if the season is a wet one. Adding Garden Gypsum will also help to break up the clay in the soil and improve drainage. If your soil is on the sandy side also use Soil Moist granules at the time of planting to help hold moisture around the roots, all you will need is a good pinch per plant.


Select a full sun location in the garden for the best yield but the plant will tolerate a bit of shade. Space your plants 18 to 24 inches apart, with 2 feet between rows. If you're planting in a block, try to stagger the rows so plants have more room to grow. Once the plants are established in the garden and growing well, water them weekly to help the plant produce side shoots once you have picked the large terminal head of broccoli. A well-fed and watered plant will produce 1 to 2 inch mini heads all summer long. Pick those mini heads often and if some should develop yellow flowers, cut and remove them from the plant--or the plant will go to seed and production will stop, especially when it gets hot. Broccoli will keep over a week in a food storage bag in your refrigerator, so pick often until you have enough for a meal and then cook or just eat them raw in your summer salad. Pick your broccoli when the flower buds are small and tight for the best flavor.


Broccoli is a great source of sulforaphane, (a compound that can help prevent some types of cancer) and antioxidants that help protect the body from other disease. It is also low in saturated fats and cholesterol. Broccoli is full of vitamins like calcium, iron, potassium and a good source of protein.


Some problems you might encounter are: cabbage lopper--a small green caterpillar insect that is easily controlled with the new natural insecticide called Spinosad that is safe for all pollinators in your garden. A soil insect that I had problems with in the past called the root maggot is easily controlled with a new insecticide for the vegetable garden soil is called "Garden Eight Granules for the Vegetable Garden"; just apply in the hole around the roots at the time of planting and the problem is eliminated. This same product will also control cutworms when you sprinkle it around the plant after planting and it is safe and very effective, as cutworms love the cold crops vegetables when planted at this time of the year. Both of these vegetable garden insecticides are available from Bonide lawn and Garden at your favorite garden center or nursery. Once you apply the product, water the garden well to make them effective and protect your garden plants. If you have wire worms in your potatoes, radishes, or turnips this product will control these pests when added to the soil around the seed when planting.


If you want to grow a fall crop of broccoli, purchase your seeds now, as they will not be available later--and save them until mid-July. Start your seeds in a flat of seed-starter soil at mid-month; the seeds will germinate in about a week. Set out seedlings when the plants develop 3 sets of leaves--and plant them 12 inches apart in the garden, as this fall season crop will only allow you to harvest one large head per plant due to the length of the season. If the fall weather is nice, you may be able to harvest some additional side shoots but plan for nice large and tasty heads by late September or early October.


Some wonderful varieties to look for are 'Packman F1', 'Premium Crop F1', 'Saga F1' or 'Mariner F1', as these varieties will produce an abundance of side shoots all summer long and a large fully formed terminal head in the spring and fall season.


Keep plants away from plantings of pole or snap beans and strawberries, as they do not get along very well. Good companion plants are bush beans, lettuce, cucumbers, beets, and carrots. Now...do not forget to rotate your crops with another vegetable other than the cold weather crops and the plants in the cabbage family the following year; give the soil a chance to rest, and rebuild itself naturally. Enjoy!






                                                   Greek Moussaka



The only way I have ever eaten Eggplant is Eggplant Parmesan, so to me it was not a vegetable that was worth space in my garden, until now. I went to a Greek festival last summer with friends at their church and had this dish and fell in love with its unique taste. Eggplant now will have room in my garden this spring and if you would love to taste something unique try this wonderful Greek meat and vegetable dish as Eggplant is available all year at your local supermarket or grow it in your garden or container like the Smart-Pot. It's easy to make and your family will love it.




2 large eggplants thinly sliced but not pealed

3 tablespoons of olive oil

1 pounds of a lean ground beef 90% or ground sirloin

1 large onion chopped

2 cloves of garlic coarsely chopped

2 large fresh tomatoes chopped or one 14 oz. can of chopped basil/garlic tomatoes

cup of a good dry white wine and a glass for you while you're cooking, optional

3 tablespoons of chopped fresh parsley

3 tablespoons of seasoned breadcrumbs

2 extra large egg whites

Salt or sea salt and fresh ground pepper to taste


For the topping:

3 tablespoons of butter softened

1/3 cup of all-purpose flower

1 2/3 cup of milk

teaspoon ground nutmeg

1 cups of a grated sharp Cheddar cheese or Gruyere cheese

2 extra large egg yolks, plus 1 whole egg


1} layer the sliced eggplants in a colander and sprinkle each layer with salt. Set over your sink for 20 minutes, then rinse well to remove all the salt and pat dry.


2} Heat your oven to 375 degrees. Spread your eggplant in a rousting pan or cookie sheet. Brush them with Olive oil, both sides and bake for 10 minutes, or until they just begin to soften. Remove and cool the eggplant but leave the oven on.


3} Make the meat sauce. Heat the olive oil in a large pan and brown the hamburger until all the meat is no longer pink and looks crumbly. I use a large Wisk to chop up the meat as it cooks in the pan. Add the chopped onions and garlic and cook for 5 minutes.


4} Add the chopped fresh or canned tomatoes to the pan of cooked meat, along with the wine and stir well. Season with plenty of salt and pepper to taste


5} Bring to a boil and then lower the heat to simmer and cover, cook for 15 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and let cool for about 10 to 15 minutes. Stir in chopped parsley, seasoned bread-crumbs and egg whites.


6} Lightly grease a large baking dish, and then spread out the cooked eggplants in a single layer. Spoon over with the meat sauce and cover the eggplant, add the next layer of eggplant and spread the meat sauce over and spread evenly and then add the final layer of eggplant on the top of the meat sauce.


7} To make the topping, put the butter, flower and milk in a pan. Bring to a boil over low heat, whisking all the time until the mixture thickens to form a creamy sauce. Lower the heat and simmer for 2 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat, season with nutmeg and half the cheese and mix well.


8} Cool for 5 minutes then beat in the 2 egg yolks and the whole egg. Pour the sauce over the eggplant topping and then sprinkle the remaining cheese on top . Bake for 30 to 40 minutes at 375 degrees or until golden brown. Allow the dish to stand for 10 minutes before serving.


We go every year with our friends Flo & Kerry, Dave &Sandy and Flo's Aunt Betty.  Enjoy!!!



Garden Journal

        Garden Journal - A garden is a friend you can visit any time. Gardens require planning and cultivation, yielding beauty and joy. This garden journal helps make planning and organizing easy. This book makes a great gift for gardeners, family, friends, birthdays, Christmas, new home or as a self purchase.

Cover holds a 5 x7 or 4x6 photo, Heavy-duty D-ring binder

1. 8 tabbed sections
2. 5 garden details sections with pockets for seeds, tags....
3. Weather records page
4. 6 three year journal pages
5. Insect & diseases page - 3 project pages
6. 3 annual checklist pages
7. Plant wish list page
8. 2 large pocket pages
9. Sheet of garden labels
10. 5 garden detail sheets
11. 5 graph paper pages for layouts
12. 5 photo pages holds - 4- 4x6 photos in landscape or portrait format

Journal, Planning, Inspirations. 

 To Order call 207-590-4887

Regular price $34.95  Special Price $31.95!  special!


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