Indoor herb garden

Last month I planted an indoor herb garden using the culinary herb kit which came with the Miracle-Gro AeroGarden Classic 6.  Even though I am an Advanced Master Gardener and enjoy growing edibles outdoors, I have not been a fan of indoor gardens.  What attracted me to this system is the soil-free hydroponic features of this garden.  It also uses LED high performance lighting for maximum plant growth.  Everything was included in this particular kit, even the plant food which is required for the best growth.

Even the pods are pre-seeded, guaranteed to germinate, and grow faster than if planted in soil.  The garden’s lights are timed and come on based with the program provided within the system.  The unit notifies me when the plants need food and more water to nourish their root system.

Since planting day on March 15th, I have been very happy with my new indoor herb garden.  The plants began to grow under the provided grow domes within one week and have been growing nicely ever since those first days.

Since Michigan weather is just now warming up, and my perennial herbs outdoors are waking up for the season–I haven’t been without my own home grown herbs for a couple of months.

Harvesting has been fun and easy.  My culinary herbs include two types of Basil, Thyme, Mint, Dill and Parsley. I have been using them in my cooking and love to snip just what I need for a particular dish.

Placed in my sun room, the AeroGarden does not take up much room and is quite attractive, adding some green to the environment. The garden does not use GMO seeds, herbicides or pesticides either.  In six months, I plan to try the lettuce kit and enjoy fresh grown greens throughout the Fall.

AeroGardens have been around for many years, so I am happy now to be on board as an indoor gardener.  Kits can be bought at Home Depot, online or at many specialty cooking stores.

Spices, seasonings, and more

The anticipation of growing my summer herb garden is starting to build for me this month.  I attended a gardening seminar a couple of weeks ago, and ever since the excitement of what I will be growing this year in my edible garden has stayed with me.  I always have my regular list of perennial herbs that I nurture every year, but add in a few other edibles, including vegetables, garlic, green onions, and a few tomato plants.

However, during the winter months, I have to rely on my kitchen cabinet of spices, seasonings and more.  I have finally admitted to myself that I must have an addiction, as I really love to try a variety of seasonings when I prepare our meals. I love my collection and have several favorites that I have acquired over the years.

My kitchen has three cabinets devoted to spices, seasonings, and flavorings.  My rolling rack contains a variety of salts, spices that are not used most days, and some baking decors.

My upper cabinet near my stove contains the spices I use most often for seasoning our meals.  Here I have a collection of salts, peppers, herbs, herbal blends, a variety of special blends, and some of my favorite mixes from Pensey spices.

I have found that using turntables in this cabinet has helped with the organization a great deal, as well as some boxes of spices organized by use which easily pull out to be accessed quickly.  I don’t buy my spices in large quantities, as I prefer to have fresh available all the time and would not use enough to justify large bottles of any particular seasoning.

I have a third cabinet for liquid flavorings and baking spices, along with more baking decorations.  Having an organized kitchen has helped me to be more efficient while preparing meals.  It has also helped me when planning to purchase ingredients for a new recipe, as I am able to easily check my current supply as I know where every one is located.

Springtime is a great time to get organized in the kitchen!

 

rosemary potatoes

I love the taste of fresh rosemary and decided to use some from my garden for these potatoes.  They were delicious.  If you have fresh parsley from the garden as well, that would also compliment the taste of this dish.

To make these potatoes, I used my electric skillet, but they can also be prepared on the stovetop.  I used seven small red potatoes, olive oil, black pepper, about 2 tablespoons fresh rosemary, crushed garlic, and some chopped prosciutto.

First, I parboiled the potatoes for about 20 minutes.  I chilled the potatoes earlier in the day and then diced the potatoes.  Then, I browned the chopped prosciutto in the skillet with a tablespoon of oil and the flavors.  Then, I added the potatoes.

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I cooked them until they lightly browned, and then added some diced red pepper, grated Parmesan to taste and some fresh or dried parsley to taste.

These potatoes could be used to accompany eggs for breakfast or any meat or fish dish for dinner.  Excellent taste and flavor.

 

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.

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Grilled chives from the garden

Summertime herbs are being harvested in my garden, and I recently decided to grill some chives with my other vegetable assortment for dinner.

The chives were delicious on the grill and gave another texture to the Asian dish, which I paired with some grilled shrimp.  There is something just so wonderful about taking cuttings from a home garden and adding them into the dinner menu.

I usually clip my chives a couple of times a season and enjoy them in everything from herb dips to garnishes for salads or pasta dishes.

If you did not plant chives this year, be sure to put them on your list for next year, as they are super easy to grow and will even tolerate some shade in the garden.

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Summer garden update

Our Michigan chilly Spring temperatures moved slowly into pleasant Summer weather and suddenly, I looked up, and my perennial garden was back in bloom.  Anyone who gardens with perennial flowers and herbs knows the feeling when the garden looks flat just after the Winter season breaks. I look outside and think, will my garden come back this year?

And, in a matter of weeks, the garden springs forth without much more effort than clearing some leaves or clipping and pulling dead growth. I remain fascinated by the wonder of gardening. Each year, I choose a few annual herbs and vegetables to add into my kitchen garden, and then relax and enjoy what has been planted in years past.

I usually lose one or two plants every year, but seem to move past the sorrow quickly when other flowers seems to have tripled in size and beauty.  Some of my perennials seem to multiply around my garden and either by birds, squirrels or the breezes find another comforting spot to grow and become comfortable.

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My garden is very personal.  I share it with you only because I truly enjoy being within the fenced walls to think about each plant, and reflect on how it finds nourishment from my Michigan sandy soil.  Others gardeners may strive for perfection, look for praise, or hope for awards–but I know the true reward from my garden, it is the satisfaction from making a space in my yard tranquil and inviting. My husband and I turned a family playground space into a place where we could experiment with plants and learn from nature.

Enjoy the photos and think about how you might create a quiet space for reflection within your own yard. Or, maybe you also know that satisfaction?

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A new botanical garden

This past week we visited a new and developing botanical garden located in Traverse City Michigan.  On the grounds of the old Traverse City State Hospital farmland, the garden areas are coming together after century old buildings are being re-purposed and refurbished. On the site are plans for a variety of healing gardens, educational gardens, historical gardens, and space for a summer picnic after strolling the wooden paths.

Sustainability is used as a framework for the renovations for the property.  Our guide shared with us how recycled materials from the barn are being used as outdoor lighting. Even rainwater is being captured for gardening irrigation. The visitor center exterior has been designed to accommodate bees and butterflies.IMG_6822

I especially loved the renovations for the large barn which is used for events, as well as the walled garden in progress.  This garden is being built from the foundation of an old horse barn, and has the look and feel of an old English formal garden.

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The Traverse City community garden is also located at the Historic Barnes Park, and has grown to capacity this year with every garden plot taken by community residents. Members of the non-profit organization come together to garden and share knowledge and skill for growing produce, some of which is donated to the local food banks.

An interest in community gardening has grown in past years, as individuals have embraced the idea of increased fresh local vegetable consumption combined with the desire to increase exercise.  Gardening a plot of land to grow delicious food for a family certainly contributes to a healthy lifestyle.  And, sharing a common area in a community builds a bond with others which could last a lifetime.IMG_6817

If taking a trip to Traverse City this summer, be sure to include a visit to the Historic Barnes Park to see how this community is building and growing their resources to make something very special for all to enjoy.

For more information, please follow these links:    http://thebotanicgarden.org/

http://www.tccommunitygardens.org/