Seed Season

My mailbox is full of gardening catalogs and the excitement of spring and summer is almost here.  So many new ideas every year are contained in these great publications.  Yes, there is something to actually having a printed catalog in hand, when searching for my lettuce seeds for my summer kitchen garden. Most often, I am reading and learning from the various companies as they showcase their products.

I love to shop these catalogs and complete a bit of research on the types of seeds that might work best in my short season Michigan garden.  I know that my yard does not have the greatest and longest sunny exposure, so I am always careful to choose seeds that will grow to maturity within the summer months.

This year, I will grow a variety of mesculun salad leaves and other lettuce mixes. In years past, I have had great success with lettuce in my garden. And fresh garden lettuce is so spectacular, that it is hard to compare to anything found in a market.  For this reason, I think everyone should have a small kitchen garden. So satisfying!

Applewood Estate 100 years

We visited Applewood Estates in September for their 100 year celebration. It is the former home of Charles S. Mott and his wife Ruth Mott in Flint Michigan.  The home is lovely with gardens and several buildings to tour and experience.  I wanted to share some of the photos of the lovely estate which was open this year for their special celebration. We especially love their herb gardens and perennial gardens. The home is a lovely Michigan landmark, and the history of the Mott family is equally charming.

Grape tomato frittata

I am still harvesting grape tomatoes from my two summer plants which cost $1.82 each at the VanOogethem farm and greenhouse last May.  I have been using them in so many great dishes this Fall and just love the fact that my little kitchen garden can produce this product so easily for us.

One of my favorite ways to use these little tomatoes has to be in vegetable frittatas.  I found another great recipe to share that was simply so tasty for any meal of the day.

It was adapted from Bobby Deen’s Everyday Eats cookbook.  Gather these ingredients:

2 tablespoons olive oil, 1 small thinly sliced white onion, 1 small sliced zucchini, 1 cup of grape tomatoes which have been sliced in half, fresh basil, salt and pepper to taste, 4 large eggs and 1 cup of egg beaters, Parmesan cheese.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Heat oil in a large 10 inch non-stick skillet, and saute the onion and zucchini about four minutes.  Add tomatoes, basil, salt and pepper and continue to heat on the stove top.

Next, in a bowl, beat eggs, salt, pepper and a couple of tablespoons of Parmesan cheese. Pour over the vegetables and cook until the eggs set for a couple of minutes.  I usually tilt the pan back and forth so that the eggs cook evenly.

Take the skillet off the stove top and bake in the oven about 13 minutes until brown.  Serve warm and enjoy! This is a perfect recipe to serve with a side salad, fresh fruit, a breakfast meat, or with a popover. This recipe will easily serve six people.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

Summer garden flowers

So as the Summer is ending, my garden is winding down as well.  Many of my favorite flowers are faded or have ceased blooming.  I still enjoy photos of them and just had to post some of my new favorites for this season. Every year is a different experience and a chance to try a new variety or two.  My herb garden with a few vegetables continues into the Fall and will supply enough herbs for my cooking until Thanksgiving again this year.

I planted my garden in 2008 and have added new shrubs and plantings every year since that year.  It is ever evolving.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES    SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

IMG_9027

IMG_9003    IMG_8823

 

Japanese Tea Ceremony

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

Just a few miles away from Midland, we were able to experience an authentic Japanese Tea Ceremony.  The tea house was constructed in 1985 and is used for a variety of functions.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

We were served green tea and Japanese sweets in the traditional mIMG_9196anner.  The tea house has 8 reed mats and was constructed from Japanese architectural designs and with transplanted construction workers for the project.  There were no nails used on this building. The wood is natural and not treated with paint or stains.

The gardens surrounding the tea house are decorated with some elements traditionally found in Japanese gardens including a red bridge near the Saginaw River.  The area is peaceful and compliments the tea house. This experience was both relaxing and intersting.

IMG_9186

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

http://www.japaneseculturalcenter.org/index.html

 

drying summer flowers

Not only do I enjoy my summer garden while it is in bloom, but I usually try to save some of the flowers of the season.  I simply use my garage greenhouse and old sheet pans.  I put out flowers from summer floral arrangements and also from my garden throughout the season. I allow them to dry on their own without using any products.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

I seem to have better success with certain types of flowers, but even those that don’t seem to look as good as the others, still have significance to me.  I use them in my fall arrangements on wreaths or outdoors in baskets on my porch or deck. Every year I have a new supply and don’t worry about keeping them longer than that.  Such fun for me to have flowers of the summer throughout the Fall and sometimes for Spring arrangements too.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

 

 

 

Flowers in Chicago

So during my Chicago visit, I could not help but to really take notice and appreciate the lovely street flowers along the Magnificent Mile. The floral and landscape designs were well planned and diverse along the road. They were not only planted nicely, but very well maintained which impressed me for a big city.  Chicago is doing something right.

The designed beds incorporated art, color, texture, and imagination. The flowers were healthy and for well-traveled streets with lots of traffic and pedestrian movement, the beds were nearly perfect.  Here are some of my favorite beds along the way.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES  SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES  SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES   SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES