Friday, March 4, 2011

Spring Really Is On The Way

Posted in Pursuit of Happiness, Seasons tagged , , , , , , , , at 3:41 pm by Elaine Petrowski

A  Mama Bear and her  cubs were spotted crossing a nearby major  highway yesterday.

Though the snow created some amazing images this winter, like many, I'm longing for Spring to arrive this year.

The edges of the lake are flowing water, not ice, today.

Daffodil sprouts are now five inches high in my garden.

Spring arrives in 16 days according to the calendar.

Do you think the piles and mounds of dirty snow will be all gone by then?

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Invite the Natives to Return to Your Garden

Posted in gardening, sustainability, useful information tagged , , , , , , at 7:58 pm by Elaine Petrowski

The hummingbirds, and I, love cardinal flowers (lobelia cardinalis) .

The hummingbirds, and I, love cardinal flowers (lobelia cardinalis) .

The native plants, that is.

” Invite nature and beauty into your landscape with native plants. Bowman’s Hill Wildflower Preserve Fall Native Plant Sale is filled with a premier selection of over 200 species of nursery-propagated native trees, shrubs, herbaceous perennials, vines and ferns native to Pennsylvania, New Jersey and the Delaware Valley Region. The Fall Native Plant Sale will be held at the Visitor Center area of the Preserve on Saturdays and Sundays, September 12 and 13, and September 19 and 20 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. each day.”

Natives, which here in the Northeast include azalea, viburnum, redbud, holly, river birch, dogwood, clethera, bearberry, pasture roses, honeysuckle, clematis, iris, bee balm, cardinal flower, black-eyed Susans and many, many more:

  1. are beautiful.
  2. survive on available water, once they are established.
  3. don’t usually run rampant.
  4. invite indigenous wildlife to your yard.
  5. nurture  the native birds, butterflies, moths and bees.

Talk about sustainability.

FYI: Bowman’s Hill runs this fundraiser twice a year, to support their efforts at education and propagation.  So if you live in the area, plan a trip for this weekend or next.

Black-eyes Susans are native to much of the United States.

Sunny and indomitable, Black-eyes Susans are native to much of the United States.

If you don’t live nearby, why not look up native plant sources for your area?  Here are a few I found:

Agrecol in the Midwest, sells $2 packets of native flowers and grasses.

There’s a big list of suppliers for a big state like Texas native plants.

Michigan natives abound.

Don’t be shy. Leave a note (see “comments”) or email a photo to write4@att.net  about a favorite native that grows in your garden. If you don’t have a garden, just tell us about a favorite native from your home state or country.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Four Great Reasons to Garden

Posted in gardening, Life, Pursuit of Happiness tagged , , , , , , , at 12:39 pm by Elaine Petrowski

While we were gone.

While we were gone.

” A garden is a thing of beauty… and a job forever. ” So proclaims  the pretty little needlepoint pillow one of my dearest friends crafted as a gift for me.

Sometimes … like after the pounding rains that washed my lettuce seeds far out into the Jersey Meadowlands somewhere; that insatiable  ground hog, who stretched to enormous heights to eat every last one of the moonflower buds; the endless mosquito bites and poison ivy; a tomato blight that splotched, and ultimately ruined,  all of the lovely green orbs… I wonder… why am I doing this?

But then comes a morning, like one just passed, when everywhere I look presents a natural wonder, a trick of light, some small delight.

Sometimes, especially in a garden, one picture is worth a thousand words.

And so I share with you four great reasons to keep at it.

Enjoy.

Please leave a note about your garden/gardening. Or send a picture of some garden delight to share here… write4@att.net.

Early morning visitor

Early morning visitor

I "heart" gardening.

I "heart" gardening.

All the zinnias are pink this year!

All the zinnias are pink this year!

Monday, June 8, 2009

There’s No Such Thing as “Free Mulch”

Posted in gardening, Humor, Laughs, Life, Pursuit of Happiness, sustainability, useful information tagged , , at 7:28 pm by Elaine Petrowski

sunflower from www.freedigitalphoto.netToday I got to tallying the hours we’ve put into our community garden plot and realized that we are at about 14-person hours so far.

And that’s not even counting the time spent curing our collective poison ivy.

To date, we’ve

  1. Bought, designed and installed  rabbit/deer/woodchuck fence.
  2. Shopped for, and planted, four kinds of tomatoes — some to eat fresh, one that’s supposed to keep for a few extra weeks to extend the season into October, and still others, bred to make a thicker sauce for the freezer — always a heartwarming, soul-satisfying find on, say January 23.
  3. Bought seedlings (Is that cheating?) for basil, rosemary,  green beans, peppers and tomatillos. And actually put them in the ground too.
  4. Sowed two kinds of  lettuce, arugula and mache, at the very edges. And planted sunflower seeds in the very middle– for beauty, for the birds and because I never can grow them in my cool, shady backyard.
  5. Tucked nasturtium seedlings (Okay, it is cheating.) into the corners and adopted several orphaned marigold plants, proffered by one of the other gardeners, who seriously overbought. I did this simply and only because I LOVE the festive look and peppery taste of edible flowers in my  summer salads.
  6. Spread out a thick layer of newspaper and then covered that with “free mulch” to keep the weeds at bay.

It’s only conjecture that the patches of poison ivy we both sprouted a few days later actually DID come from the “free mulch”  pile. But the raw materials  for that mulch originate from the town’s curbside collection of garden debris. So there’s no telling what’s in there, along with the collective Christmas trees, snippets of verboten black plastic bags and mangled toy car wheels.

Note to self:  wear gloves when working in the garden. And stock up on that great, cheap  CVS poison ivy scrub, which will irradicate the scourge quickly, so long as  you don’t wait too long and use it as soon as the infernal itch begins.

Anyone got a better, faster cure?

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Garden & Gun?

Posted in fun, gardening, Life, Pursuit of Happiness tagged , , , at 12:45 pm by Elaine Petrowski

Received an email today inviting me to subscribe to a recently launched, upscale, lifestyle magazine titled — of all things– Garden & Gun.

Check it out. Looks great, doesn’t it?

And take it from a long-time freelance writer.  A new magazine in this economy is certainly something to crow about.

As a self-avowed magazine junkie, I’ll do my best to pick up a copy on my next trip below the Mason-Dixon line.

But what about that title– Garden & Gun?

A bit  incongruous, especially given the chi-chi content.

Is it just me?

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Redefining “Community Gardening”, the New Jersey way

Posted in Funny, gardening, Humor, Laughs, Life, Pursuit of Happiness, sustainability tagged , , , , , at 8:43 pm by Elaine Petrowski

We started planting our first-ever plot in our town’s community garden today.

What could be better? The community gardening season begins. www.freedigitalphoto.netGreat exercise, fresh air and fun visiting with all the other eager, new gardeners on this, the first day planting was “permitted.”

Much to my surprise, it turned out that of the six other gardeners we encountered, four were  also newbies.

As I “played in the mud” and mentally planned how to fit in all the sun-loving herbs, tomatoes, tomatillos and sunflowers  we can’t grow in our shady yard, I couldn’t help but wonder just why so many of these much-coveted, 10′ x 12′, already roto-tilled, mini-farms were suddenly  available this year.

As we finished our third hour of working  (3 x 2=6 hours*),  one of the more experienced gardeners showed up and regaled the newbies with this story:  Late last growing season a woman who was NOT a  participant, arrived at the garden with a basket on her arm and began happily picking tomatoes. “My son told me it was OK because this is a community garden, ” she said.

And so, the adventure begins.

As the old Irish saying goes , “May the rain fall softly on your fields and the wind be always at your back”…

*Just for the fun of it, I’m counting the person-hours we invest. (I’m afraid to add up the cost!) We’re now at 10,  including the garden committee meeting, shopping for plants, seed, fertilizer and the chicken wire to keep the rabbits out, setting up the fence (an engineering feat for two non-engineers) and then finally, actually planting some seedlings.)

Thursday, March 12, 2009

No Trip to Italy in The Budget This Year?

Posted in Life, Pursuit of Happiness tagged , , , , , , at 1:12 am by Elaine Petrowski

Arugula

Arugula

If you can’t scrape up the discretionary funds to travel to Italy this summer, don’t despair. You can use that garden we discussed in the last post to plant Italian vegetable seeds instead.

Grow Italian, an online seed catalog,  features seeds for dozens of Italian vegetable varieties, including cultivated dandelion, arugula, basil, garlic, endive, chicory and tomatoes. ( They’re offering a special too – order 11 packs and the 12th is free!)

If Japan is more your dream destination –but you won’t be going there either– try the Asian veggie seeds at  Kitazawa Seed company. (Though they claim arugula as a native too!)

None of the greens or herbs require much room. And according to the sustainable gardeners at retrovore you can grow many of these veggies in small spaces like a sunny terrace or windowsill.

Just a row or two?

What are your thoughts? Participate in my poll, below.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Are You Ready to Grow Your Own?

Posted in gardening, Life tagged , , , , , , at 8:44 pm by Elaine Petrowski

Food, that is.

grow your own

grow your own

It seems vegetable seed sales are way up this  year.  And spring isn’t even officially here yet.

Just as I was mulling over the idea of tucking a few more edibles into our backyard landscape this summer, I stumbled on an NPR radio show on the topic. Leonard Lopate Show 3/5/9 about all the people who beat me to it.

And why not?

Home vegetable gardening is, as “they” say,  a win-win situation. You get fresh, better tasting, nutritious food without farm equipment and trucks polluting the earth to get it to you. You can save money and get some exercise.  (And it seems,  kids who grow veggies, eat more veggies.)

Start small.  Before it gets too hot, plant a row or two of leaf lettuces. Add some perennial cooking herbs (they come back each year) like mint, lemon balm, thyme, rosemary, oregano and chives in between the shrubs. Put some basil, parsley and a few cherry tomato plants in a big pot on your deck. Or just consider planting some edible flowers like nasturtiums and marigolds to improve the look, as well as the taste, of summer salads.  (But you can’t spray the flowers with pesticides!)

If you think this is all a great idea, but have no clue where to begin, check out retrovore.com and the National Gardening Association for  seed sources, a reading list and some how -to tips.

So … are you convinced?

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Ode to the Poinsettia – The Holiday Gift That Just Won’t Die

Posted in Humor, Life tagged , , , , , at 2:15 pm by Elaine Petrowski

HAPPY NEW YEAR.  Wishing peace and prosperity to you all.

Here’s a piece I wrote some time ago for a now-defunct magazine. (Wonder if things like the typo in the headline were a contributing factor?)  And while my opinion of the ubiquitous plant has not changed, it does seem I will make it through the holiday season WITHOUT one this year.

poinsettia

Anyone else share my view?


Wednesday, October 22, 2008

About those Sunday morning glories

Posted in Life tagged at 12:06 pm by Elaine Petrowski

"Heavenly Blue"

Just in case you were wondering, the morning glories are the “Heavenly Blue” variety and my absolute favorite. I’ve planted them somewhere, every year, for at least the past decade.
One reason I think they are happy this year is the very sturdy lattice that allows them to climb up about 15 feet so their heads are in the sun all day. (Forget growing them in a pot– not enough soil to flourish in.)
And don’t bother saving the prolific seeds that are produced… they revert to that behind- the- garage- just- comes -up -every- year- purple morning glory, which is certainly a nice “volunteer”, but not nearly as amazing as these.
These were, I believe, from Renee’s Seeds and packed in a simple, black and white line-drawn envelope with the only spot of color a blue morning glory.

I fed these exactly 1X, back in July. They did not begin to bloom in earnest until late August. I’ll be so sad when the frost does get them.

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