Garden Therapy! Planting Herbs…And A Mint Limeade Recipe!

pots

Garden Therapy!  Planting Herbs…And A Mint Limeade Recipe!

Garden Therapy! Planting Herbs! www.mytributejournal.com

“For me, there is nothing quite as satisfying as telling the people you’ve invited over for lunch that the food they are eating first started in your garden!”   Curtis Stone – Chef 

For a gal who enjoys gardening and has helped her husband grow a variety of garden vegetables throughout the years, I have to confess that until a few years ago, I hadn’t really tried my hand at growing herbs–the Schilling company had usually met my needs for the herbs and spices I used for cooking.

Garden Therapy! Planting Herbs! www.mytributejournal.com

 Although I hadn’t planted herbs myself until just recently, I remember my grandma’s kitchen window sills being lined with small pots containing beautiful, fragrant herbs!

In my research on growing herbs, I found the general consensus to be that if you plant herbs in your garden, they should be In a cordened off space, separated from the rest of your vegetables, since herbs are prolific growers and can easily take over a garden space.  Herbs thrive the most when they get early morning sunlight and should be generously soaked when watered, but the dirt should be allowed to dry out in between watering sessions.  Also, for the best flavor and to extend their harvest season, some herbs, like mint, should be pinched back as flowers start to appear.

Garden Therapy! Planting herbs! www.mytributejournal.com

A separate planter box for herbs would be an ideal space to plant herbs and keep them contained from spreading into the rest of your other vegetable garden.  (These are easily made by cutting and securing a couple of layers of 2X4 wood planks or railroad ties together to a size that fits your space.)   

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My husband and I chose to start our maiden voyage into the world of herb gardening by planting a few of our favorite herbs (basil, thyme and mint)  in a big container pot. 

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The rich colors and textures of the various herbs are as pretty as any of the flowers in our other pots.

It only takes a quick glance online for you to be able to find countless unique and clever ideas for planting herbs…..

Garden Therapy! Planting Herbs! www.mytributejournal.com

Even if your herbs are growing in an outside garden during the summer months, you could easily transplant them to containers for inside use during the winter months too.  (I also think planting herbs in clay pots or other decorative planters can bring a fun element to your home décor too.)

A Tasty Mint Limeade Recipe!

The delicious mint limeade at Vinto’s Pizzeria, one of mine and my husband’s favorite restaurants, was what first inspired us to try our hand at growing a few herbs of our own!  Adding fresh basil to home-made spaghetti definitely sold us on using fresh herbs in some other recipes too.

Mint Limeade at Vinto's. www.mytributejournal.com

A few fresh mint leaves mixed in with a tangy limeade drink is summer in your mouth!  (You could always add some grape juice to make a refreshing lime rickey too.)   

After making and adapting several variations, this is the recipe I love for Mint Limeade:

Mint Limeade! www.mytributejournal.com

Depending how sweet or tart you prefer your limeade, adjust sugar accordingly.  I put in about a half liter of seltzer or ginger ale to this recipe–again, add to your liking. 

Mint Limeade Recipe! www.mytributejournal.com

Mint Limeade is the perfect drink to serve and enjoy for a patio party too!  Enjoy!!

Do you have a favorite drink that hits the spot and quenches your thirst on a hot summer day?  I hope you’ll share!

–Mary

Garden Therapy! Hardy Houseplants!

Garden Therapy!  Hardy Houseplants!

Compared to the East coast, we have had a very mild winter season here in Utah, but that doesn’t mean I still don’t have a bit of spring fever!  I’m especially excited to get outside and do some gardening, but since Utah is considered to be a Zone 6 growing climate, and planting flowers outside is not generally advised until right around Mother’s Day, so other than doing some basic clean-up, I have had to rely on hardy plants on my porch and inside my house to tide me over until then!

Garden Therapy! Hardy Houseplants!

Although we may dream of having an indoor “Shangri la” garden of sorts, our time restraints and abilities aren’t always conducive to creating it–that doesn’t mean we can’t have a little piece of plant paradise in our homes!

Garden Therapy! Hardy Houseplants!

 (via “Decorating With Plants” by Marybeth Little Weston)

A Few Hardy, Awe-Inspiring Houseplants!

Pothos:

Although my mother and grandma adorned their homes with beautiful plants, my first houseplant was a variegated pathos that hung in a macramé plant holder in my first college apartment!  It is so hard to believe that macramé has made such a huge come-back in home décor, (…who would have ever guessed???) but pothos plants have always been popular houseplants because of their hardiness and their brilliant green leaves!

Pothos plant in macreme plant holder www.mytributejournal.com

Now days, I usually put one out on my patio during the summer months.  Pothos plants trail beautifully and just need to be watered every few days, but they don’t do well in direct sunlight.

Patio decor! www.mytributejournal.com

Variegated ivy plants are very similar to pathos as far as their ease of care, stunning leaf color and trailing quality.

Ivy plant www.mytributejournal.com

Ferns:

My mom used to have a large fern sitting on a gold pedestal stand in the entryway of her home.  Other than needing to give ferns a good weekly watering, along with an occasional spritzing and a some filtered morning light, ferns are a great way to give a blah corner in your home some great color and texture!

Garden Therapy! Hardy Houseplants! www.mytributejournal.com

p-4515Ferns make great outdoor plants in your yard too, as long as they are kept in a spot that is mostly shady!

Garden Therapy! Hardy Houseplants! www.mytributejournal.com

I’m in love with the new little air ferns that are so popular today and require little or no care!  Pinterest is chalk-full of eclectic ideas on displaying these fun ferns!

Air ferns www.mytributejournal.com

Succulents:

If there was a special plant award given for the best “come-back” plant of the year, succulents would win it, hands down!  Home Depot even has a special section of their plant area devoted to succulents!  I have leaned that the key to succulent care is not to overwater.

Succulent housplants www.mytributejournal.com

It tickled me to see that my daughter, who lives in New York City, even gave her urban apartment a little punch of plant life with some fun succulents!

Hardy succulent house plants www.mytributejournal.com

Kalanchoe:

This time of year, I really start craving some natural color in my home, but other than bunches of fresh cut flowers from a flower shop or grocery store, I couldn’t find too many hardy flowering houseplants until I came across Kalanchoe plants.

Flowering houseplants www.mytributejournal.com

Kalanchoe come in a variety of colors and are reasonably priced  at most garden centers.  They have a long blooming timeframe and will do well outside on your porch or patio as long as temperatures are above freezing.

Other colorful plants that do well both inside and out are coleus, begonias, and geraniums.  I remember my grandmother transplanting many of her begonia and geranium plants into clay pots in the fall and putting them on her kitchen window sill before the first freezing temperatures of winter–then she would plant them back out in her yard during the spring and summer months.  I am just not that ambitious, but it sure made for lovely flowers inside…and out during each season of the year!

Hardy houseplants! www.mytributejournal.com

I still like to get some fresh cut flowers for around my house too!  Although tulips aren’t really considered to be hardy flowers, since they only last about a week or so, it just doesn’t seem quite right not to have a vase or two of them around the house during springtime!

Spring tulips www.mytributejournal.com

Another thing I do to get the most bang for my buck when it comes to fresh flowers is to pick out a variety of what florists call “filler” flowers at my local flower shop.  I can’t explain why, but they seem to have a better longevity than some of the regular sized blooms and are just as pretty!

Garden Therapy! Hardy Houseplants! www.mytributejournal.com

As great as the plants are themselves, finding some neat containers and pots to plant them in and then displaying them in ways that accent your home décor is just as fun!

Pansies www.mytributejournal.com

All your Easter candy gone, why not fill your basket with pansies then!

Forsythia blossoms www.mytributejournal.com

With bright forsythia blossoms in it, this old bucket I got never looked so good!

Garden Therapy! Hardy Houseplants! www.mytributejournal.com

This rustic plant décor, via “Country Living” magazine, is definitely my zen!

According to an article by Yahoo Makers having houseplants can actually help improve the air quality of your home too!

I’m always looking for some new plant ideas to change things up a bit in my home, please share some of the hardy houseplants you love. 

–Mary

Garden Therapy! Gifts From The Garden!

Garden Therapy!  Gifts From The Garden!

Garden Therapy! Gifts From The Garden! www.mytributejournal.com

Perhaps one of the things I love about gardening is the instant gratification…you plant a few flowers or vegetables and within a fairly short season you reap the rewards!

Harvesting Garden Gifts!

When I was a young girl and worked with my grandma in her garden this time of year, she used to joke that if you didn’t watch out, and turned your back for too long, your front porch would soon be littered with the abundant zucchini crops of your well-meaning neighbors.

I learned from my grandma and my mom that gifts from your garden are perhaps best given in smaller, more frequent doses–and with a bit of thoughtful consideration.

Garden Therapy! Fresh garden produce. www.mytributejournal.com

In her garden shed, my grandma always seemed to have an endless supply of charming woven and wire baskets that she’d arrange her colorful produce in–these eclectic treasures were a special gift in and of themselves.  My grandma also carefully trimmed excess leaves and vines from the vegetables or fruit before washing them off good.

Both my mom and my grandmother would often include homemade samplings of some of the things they gave out in their baskets–then along with the recipe, they’d provide enough extra ingredients so that the lucky recipients could try their hand at recreating their own version of these tasty treats!

Pickled cucumbers www.mytributejournal.com

My mom’s “Pickled Cucumbers” were always a big hit!  They are so easy:  You just peel and slice 2-3 small cucumbers, (I find that fresh garden cucumbers seem to have fewer seeds, so they work best for this recipe.) then with the cucumbers, add about a third of a thinly sliced onion, salt and pepper to taste, then place in a pint-sized jar.  Add a 3 to 1 ratio of cold water and white distilled vinegar.  Then let the cucumbers marinate overnight in your refrigerator before serving.  There’s something about the tangy flavor of these cucumbers that people seem to love! 

Garden Therapy! Gifts From The Garden! www.mytributejournal.com

One of my very favorite garden gift baskets to give includes a bag of my favorite tortilla chips, a bottle of salsa, and instructions to add fresh diced tomatoes and ripe avocados to the salsa for a great semi-homemade snack!  (Giving homemade salsa would be great too, I just didn’t get around to making any this year.)  This is a Wilding household staple!

Another favorite gift from the garden is this layered salad in a mason jar.

Layered toss salad www.mytributejournal.com

Chop up lettuce and any other fresh garden vegetables you like in a toss salad, then layer them a few times in a large mason jar.  Give with a bottle of dressing and maybe a loaf of bread or a bag of rolls and you’ve got a fun dinner for someone–all they will have to do is pour the salad into a large bowl and they’re set.  I like doing it this way, since I find that eating out of individual serving jars is a little awkward.  It’s also hard to get the dressing down to the bottom too.  But hey, go for however you like to do it best–I just like the idea of serving fresh garden veggies in fun, creative ways!   

My grandma, in particular, taught me that it was also nice to include a little jelly glass jar of freshly cut flowers or a potted plant of some sort tied up with leftover scraps of lace and ribbon with my garden gifts.

Here are a few of my updated versions of plant and flower gifts from the garden that my grandma used to make.

Garden Gifts! www.mytributejournal.com

It tickles me that “Chicks and Hens” and other succulent plants that were popular when I was growing up are so trendy again.  However, my sweet grandma would shake her head to think that burlap is all the rage now!  I simply wrapped a small rectangle piece of burlap, folded over at a 45 degree angle, around the base of this small clay pot and secured it with some vintage lace and thin jute rope.

Vintage glass vases www.mytributejournal.com

In trying to follow the example set by my mom and grandma, I like to have a few novelty bottles and vases on hand, then when needed, I can add some fresh flowers and combine them with a fun treat for a great impromptu gift for that special someone on any given day!  My mom was a big proponent of giving little gifts on days other than the ones set aside for those usual kinds of celebrations.   

Recently, I discovered a really simple way to recreate the aged, floral patina look of some of my favorite clay pots that were once stored in my grandmother’s old gardening shed.

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The only supplies you’ll need is a clay pot, a bottle of ModPodge, a sponge applicator and some decorative tissue paper.  

Apply a coat of ModPodge directly to the pot itself, then carefully smooth tissue on top of ModPodge. (There will be some creases, but this just adds to the overall look.)  Apply another coat of ModPodge directly on tope of the tissue paper.  The ModPodge will appear milky white, but it dries clear.  Dry pot overnight.

Mod Podge floral clay pots www.mytributejournal.com

The subtle design of the tissue paper gives the clay pot a classic vintage look that I love.  Add some flowers and it will definitely provide a unique gift from the garden–maybe for yourself!     

Decorative clay pots www.mytributejournal.com

My daughter-in-law used this same technique using fabric–then she gave this cute pot to me!  It’s such a unique look–I love this so much!

Even though it’s quite small, my husband and I enjoy our garden’s crops this time of year…

Garden vegetables www.mytributejurnal.com

…especially when we slow down long enough and take the time to prepare and serve the vegetables!  Now there’s a head smacker for you!  Ha!  Our new favorite veggie dip is “Vegetable Garden” cream cheese! 

My ever wise grandma often quipped that–

Garden quotes: "Where A Garden Grows So Does Hope!" www.mytributejournal.com

  • Hope for new experiences in life.
  • Hope for abundant living and giving.
  • Hope for sharing it all with those you love!  

What I’m learning now is…

My dad used to joke after being lightly reprimanded by my mom for snitching some goodies meant for neighbors, that if anything was in a fancy jar or on a gilded tray–it wasn’t meant for him!  When it comes to gifts from the garden, it’s good to learn the “make two-take one” rule of thumb, that way everyone stays happy and healthy!

I would love to hear about any special garden memories or stories you’ve had that you’d be willing to share.  Any fun garden gifts you have given or received? 

Coming up next is the recipe for my mom’s secret ingredient peach jam! 

–Mary