12/23/08

How to Grow Patchouli (pogostemon cablin)

This patchouli was one of the first things I started growing in my garden. It is a wonderful, bushy, no-maintenancce, fragrant plant that shows off beautiful purple flowers in February. I see buds bursting all over it already, so I know in another month, it will at its peak.

I use it as filler all the time in my arrangements and it always outlasts its vase-mates. It's terribly easy to propagate too. I love it. Here are some other posts about this wonderful plant.

http://www.daniellecopeland.com/2007/03/patchouli.html
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Dracaena marginata Pruning

I pruned back my Dracaena marginata a few months ago. As with most plants, if you prune them the right way, they will grow two branches from each pruned branch.

I lobbed off the top of this Dracaena marginata a few months ago. Today, I noticed two new branches growing about an inch down from where I lobbed off the old foliage. I like the newer foliage...it's bright red. Here's a photo of the more mature green foliage from February.

By the way, I stuck the lobbed off piece in the ground about 5 inches and it's a beautiful new plant now. I've actually done this 3-4 times with dracaena marginata. It's a good way to get free plants.

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12/21/08

How to Propagate Aloe Vera

Aloe plants are easy to propagate. Several times a year, baby aloe plants (pups) shoot up from the side of the plant. If you pick them like you'd pick a weed, you can easily pot them up with even the worst of the soil from anywhere in your yard.

I should mention, I live in zone 9b, South Florida. So, no complaining if you live in Michigan and can't get your aloe to grow pups. The aloe pups usually have white spots on them. They lose the spots within a year.

One of my NYs resolutions is to use my garden indoors more frequently. So, I've researched the aloe vera plant to determine how I can make better use of it. I'll continue using it for burns and on my face every once in a while. I used it when I got that mystery infection on my arm last month. It's a constipation remedy, so I won't be ingesting it. It's supposed to reduce inflamation, so I'll keep that in mind.
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12/12/08

What I did with my Lemon Crop

So, here are my completed myer lemon bars. I think they are ok...definitely bakery quality, but not something I'd order twice. I'm just not a fan of custardy lemon stuff.


I made two batches: the one shown above had a thicker layer of filling and are not able to be eaten like a bar. From the photo, it looks like they are made with sweetened condensed milk, but it's just a lot of butter, flour, and sugar...a lot.
I scoured the internet for the recipe that used the greatest quantity of lemon juice...I still have a cup of juice left over. If you want the recipe, check out foodtv.com.

12/11/08

My Lemon Bars From the Garden

When life gives you lemons....no, I'm not doing that.
I have a beautiful crop of myer lemons and was just dying to make something with them. I used Ina Gartens recipe. I have to admit, I would definitely try another recipe next time. It's good, but I don't like how the topping adheres to the crust.
'
The skin is nice and thin, and the flesh smells so ripe and fresh. I juiced a dozen and got three cups of juice. I susually get much more juice, but these were small lemons.

Here's the final lemon bar. I'll now dust powdered sugar on top and cut ito small triangles. I think my mom's office is going to have to deal with this one. I made an extra one to keep here.
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Infused Vodka For Christmas Gifts

Martha (Stewart, that is) is all in a tizzy about being in a recession. So, this week, she's giving us ideas for homemade Christmas gifts. I just happen to love her infused vodka idea AND..................ready?............. I one-uped Martha......

I'm using fruit from my own garden. She was not using her own garden harvest.
Above, cranberry-tangerine infused vodka (photo shown prior to the vodka pour)

Above: lemon mint infused vodka. I grew my own myer lemons which I peel and eat like an orange. The mint is from a two-year old Orange Mint plant tha grows like a weed in my garden.

Above: lemongrass ginger infused vodka. I have been growing the lemongrass for about a year now. The ginger is fresh from the grocery store.
So, they were put together on Dec 8th. Tomorrow is the 12th and I'm going to try one. I made smaller sample sizes for myself of each of the flavors. I even made a pomegranite-tangerine. Yum.

The only word of caution...when canning, you have to make sure your working environment is sterilized. I worked very clean while doing these. I'm sure the alcohol would kill germs, but I didn't want to take any chances. If you're a friend, and are reading this, look what's in your future!

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The Vegetable Garden in December

The side vegetable garden is dreadful right now. I guess I should feel lucky that I can even grow veggies during December.

The jalapeno plants (above) produced a bunch of japs that I harvested, seeded, and prepped for jalapeno poppers. While cutting and seeding them, I stuck my fingers in my eyes, then inhaled the seed fumes. Bad news. So, I put the japs in the fridge. Later, John "helped" by cleaning out the fridge and, thinking they were old, threw them away. All for naught. :)

So, the japs in the first photo are droopy and yellow. The brown clump in the second photo is an old marigold that will hopefully drop seeds and produce new plants. The rosemary (next to the brown clump is tall and twiggy because I didn't pinch it enough this winter. The tomato to the far right probably has one of those tomato diseases I cannot identify. Another year with diseased tomatoes. Oh, and the sand at the base of the tomato is actually one giant fire ant pile.

So, my five stages of veggie garden grief are coming to an end...
I'm past denial, anger, and bargaining. I'm just getting over depression, and am moving into acceptance.

Perhaps the next step for me will be to get rid of the fire ants, yank out the dead plants, and make a spring planting list.
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Decorate Your Houseplants for Christmas

The mystery moss from WMart has gotten into the Chtistmas spirit.

I decorated the moss with a few ornaments and I'm diggin' it. I also hung ornaments on the pineapple in the fornt yard, but it's not hardly as cute as the moss.
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12/7/08

Plumeria (Frangipani) looks horrible during winter

Are they supposed to look like this during winter? I kow they cannot tolerate temps below freezing. They prefer temps above 40 according to gardenweb.com.

We did dip down to the 40s this winter already. I have two neighbors who have plumeria that looks like this also. I guess I'll just wait it out.
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My Peach Tree is in Dormancy

I knew the UF Sun Peach would go dormant this winter, but I didn't know it would look like this. Yuk.

The fallen over Christmas decorations don't make it look any better either. The tips of the tree almost looked diseased. Almost all of the leaves have dropped now and I'm just waiting another month or two to do some pruning. It seems like only yesterday, it had been blown over by Tropical Storm Fay. Here's how it looked back in April when I planted it.

I'm going to follow the advice of a fellow blogger when it comes to pruning the tree

Kim said...
Indeed, low-chill peaches are the way to go here in Florida. Here's a
link to the UF/IFAS publication on this topic. And here's one on pruning, Based on the recommendations, you should probably wait until late winter to prune.
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Brugmansia in December in Florida

So, back in Auguest, I noticed the first blooms on the brugmansia (Angel's trumpet) I planted from seed a few years ago.

It put on a spectacular show this winter and I think it's starting to die down now. I haven't trimmed any branches, which I know I am supposed to do. Problem is, every time I go outside to choose branches to cut, they have flower buds on them. I am supposed to be trimming the older branches so that the tree will grow bushier. A few months ago, it was very busy. In February of this year, it was the most pathetic little bush you'd ever seen.
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Garden in December

I've been neglecting the garden this winter because I've been focused on our Christmas Display.

Shown here are some rose bushes that I need to dead head. I planted dwarf gold mound (duranta) a few months back and if I keep them trimmed up, they are always this electric green/yellow color. The asparagus ferm is doing well. and I pinched the patchouli cutting (shown next to the flamingo) two months ago, and it sprouted two stalks. I pinched these two stalks last week and can already see two more stalks coming from each of the existing two stalks. Search my blog for "pinching" to see what other plants you can make double their bushiness just by pinching.
I just got around to checking in on the plants. Argh, they don't look that good. The patchouli shown below is still a winner. This is one plant for S. Florida that never looks bad. It gets water via drip irrigation every day for just a few minutes. I hack it in half twice a year. I also pick 3 ft branches to put in fresh slower arrangements. I can do no wrong to it and it always looks beautiful.

The marigold to the right of the patchouli looks miserable.

The meyer and eureka lemons have produced nicely this winter. Here's what will likely become lemon bars. The brown stuff on the outside of the lemons is only cosmetic. The inside of the fruit looks and tastes ten times better than what you'd get a the store. And they're organic! YOu can see two of the eurekas to the left. They look more like traditional lemons. The myers were smaller this year and look like oranges but taste like a sweet lemon.
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