Spot of Gardening

Gardening in South Louisiana

Mighty Mints

Once upon a time in a land called the Kitchen Garden, three small Spearmint plants moved into a  3′ x 4′ plot.  There was plenty of land for everyone and they grew up happily.  The owner of the land was told by everyone to plant them in pots so the Spearmints would not take over the entire garden but the Spearmints seemed harmless and there seemed to be enough land for everyone.   As time went by, the Spearmints filled up their plot of land and began to move entire families into the neighboring plots of land.  They seemed intent on conquering the entire Kitchen Garden!  The owner objected to this and began to evict them from the neighboring plots of land but was kind enough to find new homes for them.   And away the young families of the Spearmints went to their new homes.  Meanwhile, new families of the Spearmints continued to try to expand but the owner continues to insist that the Spearmints remain within their boundaries.  Lately, the owner have found a Chocolate Mint and an Apple Mint who wanted to move in.  Having learned her lesson, the owner has graciously allowed them to move into two beautiful condo apartments, i.e. the hanging pots.

The Spearmints (2) Chocolate Mint (2) Apple Mint (2)

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April 29, 2010 Posted by | Herbs | , , , | 3 Comments

Dancing With The Dragonflies

This past weekend, I discovered dozens upon dozens of dragonflies visiting my garden.  I haven’t seen so many dragonflies since I was a child (I won’t say how long ago that was…).   These are welcome visitors since I am hoping they will cut down on the mosquito population in my backyard.  These were quite young dragonflies so I am assuming they just emerged from the larval stage.  It looked a dragonfly festival in my backyard with the swirling and flying dragonflies in the air.  My camera was not able to capture motion photos but I did catch a few that weren’t too shy to pose for the camera.

April 26, 2010 Posted by | Bugs, Uncategorized | , | 2 Comments

Yuzu, Yuzu

The Yuzu trees (Citrus Ichangensis x Citrus Reticulata) have burst into bloom with beautiful flowers and fresh green leaves.  Hopefully, this year’s multitude of blooms will turn into beautiful yuzu fruits which will ripen into fullness.   Last year, the fruits kept falling off while still tiny and only about 4 managed to ripen.

The yuzu trees has huge 2″-3″ thorns which I usually snip off every spring.  Yes, this is a lot of work but so is weeding.  For me, the extra work is preferable to being  stabbed by a 2″ thorn while trying to admire or pick a beautiful aromatic yuzu fruit.

My yuzu tree has finally grown taller than the neighbor’s 6′ fence!  It just celebrated its 3rd birthday with us and really has grown very nicely.  I’ve hesitated to prune it since I wanted it to grow taller but I think I will have to prune it this year to encourage a fuller look.   I am thinking of selecting the branches that need pruning and trying to propagate those branches.   I’d love to have a few extra yuzu trees!

April 25, 2010 Posted by | Flowers, Fruits and Vegetables | , | Leave a comment

Search for the Culinary Sages

The culinary sage is another essential herb for the kitchen/herb garden.  Would your Thanksgiving turkey or stuffing be the same without this quaint herb?  Many would say nay.  I have grown the common sage (Salvia officinalis) every year from seed.  It is quite easy to grow in the ground or in containers.   The silver leaves make a nice border or accent plant in the flower garden, also.  But, my search for sages continues on….

While wandering through a local nursery, I found two new sages – Pineapple Sage (Salvia elegans) and Honeydew Melon Sage (Salvia elegans ‘Honey Melon’). I’ve read about the Pineapple Sage in other people’s garden blogs but have never heard of the Honeydew Melon Sage.   Needless to say, I snatched both of them up, along with an Apple Mint that I have been lusting for since my sister bought one last year.  The cutting she gave me never rooted and was a lost cause.

Honeydew Melon Sage will start to flower in May while the Pineapple Sage will begin in the fall.  They are both great hummingbird attractors.   Their leaves and flowers are edible and can be used in herbal teas, too.    The fragrance of these plants are amazing and the fuzzy leaves are fun to rub between your fingers.   I’ve planted both sages next to the Confederate Jessamine by the  swinging chair so I can swing and enjoy the mingled scent of jasmine, pineapple and honeydew – – tropical delight.

Honeydew Melon Sage:

Pineapple Sage:

April 24, 2010 Posted by | Herbs | 2 Comments

MIL’s Vegetables

The Sushiman’s parents are currently visiting us from Shanghai, China.  Since they are from the big city, my MIL was pretty excited to be growing her very own vegetables!  In an earlier post, I posted about going tomato plant shopping with her.  I thought I’d show a few vegetables she has planted:  snow peas, a type of chinese pac choi and some lettuce.

April 23, 2010 Posted by | Fruits and Vegetables | Leave a comment

Squash and Zucchini

The Sushiman and I picked up two squash and two zucchini plants from the RedStick Farmers Market.   This is a first for the both of us.  I’ve never grown a squash or zucchini in my life but they seems to be an essential garden plant to grow.  Every time I’ve talked about my kitchen garden, someone always ask if I have squash or zucchini.   Well, this year I will be able to say, “Why, yes I do.”

In my ignorance, the yellow squash and zucchini are interchangeable.  Besides the fact that one is yellow and the other is green, I’ve always felt these vegetables are similar.  Well, I am mostly right.  Both the yellow squash and the zucchini are actually summer squashes (Cucurbita pepo).

The yellow squash can be either the Yellow Crookneck or the Yellow Straightneck.  I have no idea which one we picked up.  Guess it’ll be a surprise to look forward to in the summer.

The zucchini or courgette can be yellow, green or light green!   I always thought they were green.  LOL.

Both the yellow squash and zucchini should be grown on mounds or hill.   I, however, will attempt to trellis my yellow squash and zucchini plants.   Since my dragonfruit did not survive this winter, I have redesigned the dragonfruit trellis and will be planting new dragonfruit again.  Meanwhile, the squash and zucchini will be using this trellis since it’s handy.  This will keep the leaves and vegetables off the ground which will reduce the chances of ground-borne disease, hopefully.

My newly planted yellow squash and zucchini plants:

April 22, 2010 Posted by | Fruits and Vegetables | Leave a comment

Thyme for Me

In every kitchen garden, there should be an herb garden.  In the herb garden, there are several herbs that should be included.  One of them is thyme.  I love thyme as a herb in the garden and in the kitchen.   There are over a 100 varieties of thyme and they are difficult to differentiate.  The most common are the Garden Thyme (Thymus vulgaris) and Lemon Thyme (T. citriodorus), which most people are familiar with.   Thyme is actually a member of the mint family and is a perennial evergreen shrub(in my case, it has been more of an annual) and like many herbs native to the Mediterranean.

Thyme doesn’t do so well here in the Deep South due to the humidity and the heat.  Last year’s thyme didn’t survive the drought of June in the ground even though I watered them faithfully.  This year, I will plant them in pots which will allow them a better surviving chance.  I picked up a coconut thyme, a variegated lemon thyme and a silver lemon thyme at the LSU Garden show.   I’ve seen some interesting creeping thyme available at the nurseries, also.

The coconut thyme ( T.  pulegioides coccineus) is often sold as an ornamental or groundcover online (I googled it since I’ve never seen a coconut thyme before).  I’m not sure why it’s called a coconut thyme because it doesn’t smell like coconuts at all.  It tasted fine but I’m wondering if it is really edible?

The lemon thyme is a favorite of mine and it’s definitely edible.  The silver lemon thyme (T. citriodorus ‘Argenteus’) is a usual guest in my herb garden but the variegated lemon thyme (T. citriodorus variegata) will make an interesting decorative statement when used as an herb in various dishes.  Upon a closer look, the silver lemon thyme doesn’t seem to have any silver edging so it may be just a plain ol’ lemon thyme (T. citriodorus). I’m still considering picking up an English/French thyme (Thymus vulgaris) but this variety doesn’t seem as hardy here in the Deep South (or maybe it’s me?).

April 18, 2010 Posted by | Herbs | 2 Comments

Sweet Sweet Olive…

The Sushiman and I purchased this Sweet Olive tree (Osmanthus fragrans) at the RedStick Farmers Market downtown.  The Sweet Olive has been on my list of “Trees I would like to Have” ever since a co-worker told me that the sweet olive blooms are also known as osmanthus.  Osmanthus are dried flowers which are used to add a wonderful aroma to teas and desserts in many Asian cuisines.   I especially love it with rice wine dessert.  When we put the Sweet Olive tree in The Sushiman’s Jeep to bring it home, the Sweet Olive filled his Jeep with its wonderful fragrance.  We planted it at the far side of the driveway since we needed something to replace the bush that was killed by last year’s frosty winter.   I look forward to coming home and being greeted by the Sweet Olive’s fragrance as I get out of my car in the future.

April 17, 2010 Posted by | Flowers | Leave a comment

It’s a Purple Iris!

The first iris is blooming in our front border and it’s purple!  It’s a surprise since I thought it was a yellow iris like the other irises I have been seeing bloom around town.  The iris is actually a deeper purple than in the photo.  Too bad my camera isn’t able to capture its true colors.  There’s only one bloom so far but it’s a small planting.   I wonder if the irises which The Sushiman planted the heart garden is also purple?

April 16, 2010 Posted by | Flowers | 1 Comment

Return of the 50 cent Rose

Last year, my mother gave me some hybrid roses which she picked up for only half a dollar each.  I planted them in the front side border and watched them grow and bloom.  My post on the 50 cent Roses was well received last year and I thought people might want to know how those roses are doing.  Well, they are doing very well in that spot and have been blooming their hearts out since the beginning of April.  It just goes to show that the frugal rose can also be a show stopper.  If only my camera skills could do them full justice…..

April 15, 2010 Posted by | Flowers | Leave a comment