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"

Enhanced by Zemanta

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.

Enhanced by Zemanta

How To Remove Sap or Grease

The best way I have found for removing sap or grease:
Pour vegetable oil onto your hands, tools, or even clothing.  Rub hands together to loosen sap or grease then wash with soap and water. Gently scrub clothing then wash as usual.  For tools you just wipe and the sap should come off.  Any oil left behind can prevent rusting.  
This is not only easy and inexpensive but is less drying to your hands and less likely to cause damage to clothing.
Sometimes this method will work for removing adhesives.


I have created a survey related to additional products and services that I would like to offer.  Please fill out this short survey (eleven questions - mostly "Yes" or "No") and share with family and friends.  If you want updates please join my website since I will not have your contact info from the survey.
Thank you for your time!


For controlling mosquitoes in the landscape (and on you):

Empty any water containers that are unnecessary. For pet water dishes, bird baths, and ponds there is another option. Bacillus thuringiensis v. israelensis is deadly to mosquito larvae and fungus gnats but safe for pets, birds, and fish. Also called B. T. var israelensis, it is available in a liquid but also a dry form as donut shaped “dunks” and small “bits”. There are other types of B.T. - one for controlling caterpillars and one for Colorado Potato Beetle so be sure you are getting the right one.

Planting mosquito repelling plants can also be helpful especially when planted around patios and decks. This is most helpful if the plants will be brushed against as people are walking past so the essential oils of the plants are released. Lemongrass (a relative of Citronella) is a famous one but is not hardy above zone 11 so for most of us will either need to be overwintered indoors as a houseplant or you will have to buy a new one each year. If you want to cook with lemongrass you may want to just bring it indoors. More cold tolerant herbs which are also mosquito repellents are mint and lavender. Mint should be grown in a pot anyway to avoid taking over your yard. Lavender can be planted in the ground in most climates and should overwinter just fine in a pot in many climates as long as the pot is large enough to provide insulation for the roots. A pot of 14” - 16” should work for either lavender or mint. Keep in the mind that plants in pots still need water during the winter.



Some other mosquito repelling ideas:
  • Throwing some herbs on the grill during or after cooking may also repel mosquitoes and other insects from your outdoor gathering plus flavor your food when used during cooking.
  • Essential oils of many herbs will repel insects. If using a quality essential oil lavender can be used directly on the skin. Essential oils can also be used on the cuffs of pants and shirts and brims of hats and added to the melted wax in candles.
  • Outdoor sprays containing insect repelling essential oils – as always read the ingredients so you know what you are getting.
  • Avoiding sugar and bananas as well as consuming garlic may help mosquitoes avoid you.  Getting enough B vitamins is also said to repel mosquitoes.


Three Seed Starting Methods

Compressed peat pellets

Compressed peat pellets can be purchased in bulk or with a small “greenhouse”.  You can start with the “greenhouse” and then buy extra peat pellets for future use or use.  A salad/deli container or shoe box would also work.  Place the pellets in desired container, add about 1″ of warm water, check in 30 minutes or so.  If pellets are not thoroughly expanded and damp add more water.  If the pellets are expanded, pour off any extra water.
To see the rest of the methods  
While visiting the above link, join my website for future blog posts and gardening information.

Preparing For Spring Planting

Some things you can do now to prepare for Spring planting:

Look at catalogs to get an idea of what you would like to grow.  In addition to the seed catalogs, for edible plants I like Richters, Logees, and Raintree.

Locate sources of compost and start making your own for later use.

Notice sun, shade, and wind patterns of your landscape.

Research your climate zone.

Make a list of what you like to eat and what of those you would like to grow.

Check your tool inventory.  If you need to take tools or mower blades in for sharpening this is a slower time of year for the shops so a great time to get it done.

Take some time for learning now.  Gardening classes begin this month!