Edible and Medicinal Plants Book

I am co authoring a book on finding, using, and growing, wild edible and medicinal plants.  The book will be available in a printed version and a bit later as a PDF, for Kindle, and for Nook.

To find out more join this blog so you will receive notification when this book is available.

This book will have common and botanical names, description, photographs, how to use medicinally, what parts are edible and medicinal, how to eat, and how to grow.  This pocket size book will have a spiral binding for portability and usability even in the outdoors. Great addition to an emergency preparedness kit and makes a great gift!

I have also updated my book What About Herbs?  The updated version is now available as a PDF and will be available soon for Kindle and Nook.

Potted Plants

When growing plants in containers there are some things to keep in mind for the best chance of success.

Choose a container 2” larger than the pot the plant is already in. If the pot will stay outside year round choose a material that can handle temperature changes. Fiberglass, resin, concrete, and heavy duty plastic will last longer than unsealed terra cotta. If the container does not have drainage drill holes in the bottom so water does not sit in the bottom of the pot. A unsealed terra cotta pot will allow water to evaporate through the sides of the pot.  This may be desirable when planting cactus and succulents especially if there is a chance of overwatering. This may not be the best thing for hotter weather and non drought tolerant plants.

Use potting soil – not garden soil. Potting soil will drain better and not contain weed seeds. Some brands I like are Dr. Earth, Black Gold, and Patio Plus.

Rocks or gravel are not necessary for drainage and may actually prevent water from draining. The only time I would recommend something in the bottom of the pot is if there is a chance the pot could fall over or blow over or if it is a huge pot that would require a large amount of potting soil. To weight the pot down put a few bricks or large rocks in the bottom where they will not block drainage holes. Placing smashed pop cans or upside down pots will take up space in the pot so less soil will be required in huge pots. If you are concerned about a little soil coming out of the bottom of the pot place a coffee filter or piece of landscaping fabric in the bottom of the container.

Place in an area appropriate for the needs of the plant or plants. Sunny, shady, morning sun only? Check plant labels, research for your climate, or ask a garden coach.

Check whether to water by sticking your finger into the soil up to your first knuckle. For most plants the soil should just be beginnning to get dry before you water again. Water throughly – not just a quarter cup.

Guest On Joy In Your Garden

I was a guest on Joy In Your Garden, April 19, 2014 with Joy Bossi! This was a remote broadcast from Red Butte Gardens. You can listen here.

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Rosemary - Growing Indoors

Rosemary is sometimes hardy in my climate (zone 6) - depending on the winter weather and where it is planted.  If you grow rosemary indoors for whatever reason here are some tips you may find helpful.

When watering rosemary, check the soil moisture first by sticking your finger into the soil.  The soil should be almost dry.

Every third time you water pour the water over the rosemary plant.  If you water this way every time you may notice a whitish color almost like someone had dumped some flour on it.  This whitish color is from powdery mildew. 

Keep your rosemary plant away from furnace vents, doors, and other sources of blasts of cold or hot air.

Harvest as desired by cutting off pieces of branches to use with potatoes, chicken, fish, pasta sauce, breads or as your imagination takes you.  Never remove more than 1/3 of the plant.

Win A Homeschool Convention Ticket

Homeschool Convention, Saturday, January 25, 9 a.m. – 6 p.m., Weber State University, Ogden, Utah

Come visit me at my booth at the Convention! – Beuna Tomalino, Garden Inspire
As a homeschool mom (my children are grown) I know that gardening is a great way to teach about gardening, arithmetic, biology, cooking, and healthy eating, among other subjects. As a garden coach besides giving hands on instruction, diagnosis, and advice I teach gardening classes. Check my calendar for the upcoming events or schedule your own class or coaching session.

To enter to win a ticket visit my Garden Inspire blog


Sage (Salvia officinalis) is probably best known as the herb for stuffing.  In addition to stuffing, sage is great in pasta sauce, sausages, breads, and with vegetable such as carrots.  Sage dries easily especially in my dry climate. Sage can also be frozen for later use.  Depending on the weather you may be able to harvest some fresh sage for your Thanksgiving stuffing.

Sage, Salvia officinalis

Sage grows as a small shrub and attracts bees to its beautiful blue flowers.  In addition to the typical sage as pictured above, sage also comes in other varieties and colors including Golden – with leaves splashed with golden yellow, Purple – leaves of purple and green, and Tricolor – leaves of white, green, and purple. 

Golden Sage
Golden, Purple Sage, and Tricolor Sage all have the same scent and flavor as typical culinary sage.  Planting them can add more diversity to the landscape.  The leaves can be used as a garnish or to add color to appetizers.

Tricolor Sage

Purple Sage

Their relative, Pineapple Sage Salvia elegans, is a tender perennial which I grow in a pot and bring inside over winter.  As the name suggests, the leaves have a pineapple scent and flavor which goes well with fruit drinks and fruit salads. Pineapple Sage also has a brilliant red flower. Other than Pineapple Sage, the sages mentioned are drought tolerant.

Pineapple Sage, Salvia elegans

Landscaping For Pets

When planning a landscape (or houseplants) when you have pets consider how what you plant may affect them.  Some plants are toxic to pets. I would especially be careful with dogs since they tend to eat almost anything.

Egyptian Walking Onion
Grapes and raisins - poisonous to dogs and cats.  Damage the kidneys.

Avocados -poisonous to most species but especially birds.  Damages the heart muscle.

Garlic and onions - poisonous to dogs and cats. Damage to red blood cells.

Macadamia nuts - poisonous to dogs.  Muscle and nervous system problems.

Chocolate - poisonous to most species but mostly dogs.  Nervous system and heart. 

Pet Safe Foods - for dogs and cats

Green beans
Popcorn - no salt, butter, GMO
Sweet Potatoes

For more information or if you have a pet poisoning contact the Pet Poison Helpline
or ASPCA Poison Control 

More toxic plant information 

Chickens for pets?  Here is a seed mix for chickens!

Label Your Plants: Zucchini or Butternut?

Labelling plants is a smart thing to do but I don't always follow my own advice.

 Especially with squash.

I picked what I thought was a zucchini and as soon as I picked it could tell by the feel that it was a winter squash and by the shape that it was butternut. I have never grown butternut before so at first I was thinking it was just a weird shaped zucchini.  Too bad I can't put it back.  Maybe it will taste good anyway.

Weed Killers - Now is not the time!

Please do not use any weedkillers during the heat we have been having!  Weedkillers should be only used when temperatures are between 70 F and 85 F for 24 hours after application.  Incorrect use does not just cause problems for  you but also for your neighbors and possibly those who live quite a ways away.

In the meantime, keep the desired plants as healthy as possible by proper watering, fertilizing, growing conditions, etc.  For more information see  lawn care information and weed control methods,

It has been said that a weed is a plant in the wrong place.  If you identify what the weed is you may find that you want to leave it there or move it to a different spot.

Purslane - an edible "weed"

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Is Your Garden/Yard Heat Stressed?

  In my area this summer has been unusually hot.  Some things that can help plants through the heat of summer:

Don't assume you need to water more frequently.   Watering deeply is what you want to do.  Check the soil moisture by sticking your finger into the soil up to the first knuckle.  For most plants the soil should be just barely damp.  For larger plants, trees, and shrubs you may need to dig down in to check soil moisture.  Be sure that water isn't pooling under the plant.  In some cases watering everyday can cause the roots to rot.

Water in the cooler parts of the day.  This is better for the plants and saves water.  Morning is a better time to water than evening.   Evening watering is more likely to encourage fungal disease.

Give them some shade.  Some plants may appreciate some shade.  This could mean installing temporary shade cloth.  For other plants such as pansies and cilantro, plant in a partly shaded area.

Wait to plant.  For cool season crops wait until the weather is beginning to cool before planting.  Spinach, lettuce, cilantro, and dill are among the plants that prefer cooler weather and can be harvested within a short period of time.  In my area planting in March and then again in August helps with a better harvest.

Spray with liquid kelp/seaweed.  Kelp (a type of seaweed) has been shown to help plants be more drought tolerant, disease resistant, and frost resistant.   Using a hose end sprayer set the sprayer to 1 T. per gallon or mix 1 T. per gallon of liquid seaweed in a spray bottle or watering can.  Water the plants and spray the leaves in a cooler part of the day.  I prefer to mix my liquid kelp with fish emulsion at the same proportion.

Install a rain gauge.  When it does rain you can determine whether or not you still need to water. 

Dormant Kentucky Bluegrass
Kentucky bluegrass naturally goes dormant in the summer.   We keep it green by watering and fertilizing.  So, if you have a Kentucky bluegrass lawn (most of the Northern U.S. does) don't worry if the lawn looks evenly tan as long as you have fertilized and checked for pest problems and sprinkler issues.  If you have spots of brown, yellow, rust color, or white your lawn could have other problems. See my lawn care information.

Food plants are more important to water than lawn and plants grown only for ornamental value.

Drink enough water!  Make sure you are getting enough to drink.

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