Friday, December 14, 2012

December Bloom Day

It's that time of year again, when we turn to indoor blooms for entertainment.  The African violet gets little attention during the gardening season, but now that the outdoor blooms are gone for awhile,  she gets some love, and a little fertilizer, and she'll bloom off and on all winter.  African violets are cheap thrills - this one came from the grocery store for under $5.00.  She's perfectly happy with a little water, good drainage, and some fertilizer now and then.

African violets can get leggy, floppy, unstable, and start looking unattractive as older, lower leaves wilt and fall off.   The solution I've found for that is every year, maybe two,  I re-pot.  All I do is carefully remove the pot, slice off an inch or two of roots at the bottom, and add a little fresh soil to the bottom of the pot - just a little.  I leave enough room in the pot to sink the plant down enough to cover the leggy stem and stabilize the plant so it's not floppy anymore.  Then I add more soil to the top of the pot, water, and fertilize.  It renews the plant beautifully, and it looks brand-new again.  I've done it twice with this one, and I'll do it again whenever it needs a fresh start. 

A few things are blooming in the basement greenhouse, including this little fuchsia.  If she makes it through winter, she'll be visited by hummingbirds in the garden again next year, spring through fall.

I hope you're enjoying a few indoor blooms this month too, or you're somewhere warm and still enjoying blooms in your garden.

Happy Bloom Day all!  To see more Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day posts, please visit Carol at May Dreams Gardens.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Peeling Garlic the Easy Way

Do you grow garlic in your garden?  I have, but garlic does best with full sun - a luxury we don't have in our veggie beds.  When I've grown garlic here it was delicious, but the bulbs were very small. 

Mom and her Garden Buddy grow garlic every year, and share some of theirs with us, both fresh, and their homemade garlic powder.  We like to call it Life-Changing Garlic.  Yep - it's that good!

If you're like me you may love cooking with garlic, but could do without the peeling.   Here's a quick, easy tip I learned a couple of years ago for peeling it the easy way, in just seconds.  It's easier and neater than the smash-and-peel method, and your fingers don't get all garlicky.

You'll need two same-sized metal bowls.  Medium-to-large-sized bowls work best, as you'll want some space for the garlic to bounce around in.  Separate the garlic bulb into cloves, and place the cloves into one of the bowls.  Place the rims of the two bowls together as in the photo above.  Use both hands to hold the rims together, and shake vigorously for 15 or 20 seconds.  Separate the bowls, and your garlic will be peeled, just like the photo at the top of this post.  That's it!  Now it's ready to slice, press, or use whole.

Did you know this trick already?  If not, try it - it works!