Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Tomatoes Garlic Basil - An ordinary title. A great subtitle!

“Tomatoes Garlic Basil” tells us exactly what this book is all about. “The Simple Pleasures of Growing and Cooking Your Garden’s Most Versatile Veggies” not only makes us pick it up, but also buy it and read it from cover to cover.

Doug Oster has an advantage over many of us; his wife is Italian (or, at least, of Italian descent), so it is logical to suspect that she is the inspiration behind some of the wonderful and simple recipes in Tomatoes Garlic Basil.

The cover entices. The introduction inspires. The content compels us to make room in our gardens for (more) tomatoes, garlic and basil. And Cousin Mariella’s Eggplant Parmesan recipe has us both shaking our heads and determined to make this a project.

As a fairly recent gardener who became a Certified Master Gardener before she knew the difference between a Petunia and a Geranium and who loves basil, has a love-hate relationship with tomatoes and is growing garlic for the first time this season, I love this book! I will probably still keep buying my pesto at the local Farmers’ Market, instead of making it myself, and I’m not enamored of a garlic soup with grapes, but I can’t wait to make “Easy Baked Basil Fries” or cook up a batch of Pasta Sauce with Thyme (thyme being another one of my favorite herbs, with several varieties growing in my garden).

The trend for creating home gardens is undeniable. Newbies can’t go wrong with trying tomatoes, garlic and basil; Doug Oster’s book it a wonderful resource for them – and for veteran gardeners.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Spring Approaches - day by day

My favorite Maple (right) is beginning to develop leaves. There is still a lot of garden work to be done. A butterfly bush still has to be cut down, and a rose pruned. Dead, woody branches of several lavenders have to be removed, and the lawn (Bermuda) has to be scalped. Sedums (top) are popping out of the ground everywhere, day lilies are getting taller by the day and if all goes well my garden will be full of Shasta daisies two months from now. Before then, though, I'd like to see the daffodils and tulips in bloom. Winter is still hanging on, it seems.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Indoor Blooms

Contrasting the paucity of outdoor blooms, there is a whole lot of blooming going on indoors, including this pink Christmas Cactus.

Spring Approaches

Today is March's "Bloom Day" and apart from one Daffodil, the Viola in the masthead, a few Pansies the rabbits have not yet eaten and a Helleborus that has been in bloom for a month now, there are not many blooms to photograph. So, I am using a clump of Chives to illustrate the day.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Good Advice for New Gardeners

I’ve just read Betsy S. Franz’s “How to Take Care of Your Share of the Planet; Exploring, Restoring and Protecting Your Share of Planet Earth” and found it full of advice for new home owners and beginning gardeners.

From buying or attracting beneficial garden insects and practicing water conservation to composting, Franz makes gardening sound enjoyable – which it is supposed to be. She advises keeping a gardening journal, and includes lists of plants for butterflies, birds and hummingbirds in this slim 91-page publication.

A wonderful gift for experienced gardeners to pass on to newbies (and keep a copy in their own libraries!).

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Unidentified Plants at Elachee - March 6, 2010

None of us on today's hike could come up with names; perhaps you can help out?

Elachee Nature Hike

Today's hike at the Elachee Nature Science Center focused on spring wildflowers, but perhaps the most exciting appearance was of a redtail hawk that kept circling overhead, obviously looking for lunch (or trying to make the acquaintance of the injured redtails in the cages). Beautiful bird.

But, on to plants! We saw lots of Trillium (Trillium cuneatum), above, but none yet in bloom. Also huge clumps of doghobble, and Galax (Galax aphylla) - top, with Christmas fern.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Will State Budget Cuts Affect Master Gardener Program?

In Georgia, the Master Gardener program is administered by the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences of the University of Georgia in Athens. UGA is part of the University System of Georgia, which is governed by a Board of Regents.

All of the State of Georgia's government faces draconian budget cuts for the next fiscal year. That includes the University System and it trickles down all the way to the Master Gardener program.

It may not do any good to try and lobby the Board of Regents for the MG program, but it certainly would not hurt to give it a shot. So, if you are so inclined, here is the address:

Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia
270 Washington Street, SW
Atlanta, Georgia 30334