I’ve Got Sunshine On A Cloudy Day… My First In-Print Gardening Article for Martha Stewart Living Magazine!

January 20th, 2011 § 9

Enjoying the Fruits of my Labor in Martha Stewart Living Magazine

Some moments are worth celebrating with friends! My first gardening article for Martha Stewart Living —”Sunshine in a Pot”— has just been published in both print and electronic format. Savor the sweet moment with me and pick up a copy of February’s Martha Stewart Living Magazine or download the iPad App— it’s a beautiful issue…

Martha Stewart Living Magazine – Subscription via Amazon

Johnny Miller’s gorgeous photographs set the sunny mood for my citrus-growing article; filled with all of the horticultural information, online resources and cultural tips you’ll need to get started with these rewarding plants. Martha Stewart Living iPad edition also contains wonderful citrus recipes; including Meyer lemon butter, lemon pine-nut tart and Meyer lemon coffee cake.

A Splash of Sunny Color and Lively, Citrus Flavor Brightens Grey Mid-Winter Days and Helps Chase Away the Blues…

Imagine waking up to the scent of citrus blossoms; their sweet, delicate fragrance perfuming the air. Picture yourself stepping through the door and into the next room; plucking a plump, juicy lemon, glowing orange or shimmering lime from the branches of your own tiny citrus tree…

Slice a bit of fresh lemon for your morning tea. Close your eyes and breathe deep. Instantly, the fragrance transports you: grey clouds and dingy snowbanks disappear as you are whisked away to a sunny Mediterranean terrace; sampling a zesty lemon granita as the vespas fly by…

Have an Apple iPad ?
If you do, click to download Martha Stewart Living Digital Magazine and Mobile Apps

The pulp: “Sunshine in a Pot” contains all of the sweet, cultural details you need to succeed with homegrown citrus. Also inside this issue of MSLiving: discover the southern charm of Camellias in a feature gardening article by Stacey Hirvella —with dreamy photographs by Ngoc Minh Ngo— along with the always delicious recipes, fantastic decor and fabulous crafting ideas you know and love.

The beautiful sea-green glazed mug in this post is by Virginia Wyoming

Special thank you to Stacey Hirvella and Miranda Van Gelder

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Article and Photos (excepting links from Martha Stewart Living) ⓒ Michaela at TGE

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Celebrating Fourth of July Weekend: Garden-Fresh Strawberry-Mint Mojitos & Flowers Exploding in the Night Sky…

July 2nd, 2010 § 5

Strawberry-Mint Mojitos – One of the Summer Garden’s Greatest Pleasures !   Photo ⓒ Michaela at TGE

An explosive ‘bouquet’ in the night sky ⓒ Michaela at TGE

Look at those great big sparklers! Oh yes, I do love a little pyrotechnic excitement now and again – don’t you? In honor of America’s birthday, I’m going out to see fireworks tonight, and –goofy gal that I am– I’m pretty excited about it. To me, fireworks look like gigantic, technicolor flowers, exploding in the night sky. Wouldn’t you agree? Well, I know not everyone will get what I’m driving at here, so I put together a few daytime vs nighttime kabooms and kablams (photos below) for a bit of comparison. Even hand-held sparklers look like flowers to me; so much so, in fact, they seem like the perfect fizzy bridal bouquet (well, I do suppose you would have to wear a flame-retardent gown, and say your vows pretty fast – now wouldn’t you?).

Fourth of July is one of my two favorite holidays, (think you can guess the other?), and I’m about to pack up my bag and head on down the dusty road with some treats for my evening companions. Since Mentha villosa (Cuban mint) and fresh strawberries are plentiful in the garden, I figured I might as well whip up a few fresh strawberry-mint mojitos later on tonight. But of course, I can’t leave without sharing the recipe with you.  So scroll down past the floral and pyrotechnic explosions below… ‘Till you reach the cocktail recipe. Enjoy! And do have yourself a safe and fantabulous Fourth of July…

Happy Birthday America !!  xo Michaela

Red-Orange Explosion by Day ⓒ Tim Geiss

Red-Orange Explosion by Night ⓒ Michaela at TGE…

Exploding Queen Anne’s Lace in the Garden ⓒ Michaela at TGE

Exploding Queen Anne’s Lace in the Night Sky ⓒ 2009 Michaela at TGE

Exploding Echinacea by Day ⓒ Michaela at TGE

Exploding Echinacea by Night ⓒ Michaela at TGE

Wishing All of You a Happy and Safe Independence Day!

Cheers!

Photo ⓒ Michaela at TGE

Strawberry-Mint Mojito

Ingredients (makes one cocktail):

6-8     strawberries washed and quartered, plus extra for garnish

1-2     tsp white sugar

1/2     lime cut into quarters

4         sprigs of mint – (pinch first 3-4 sets of tender leaves and tip)                             {ideally Mentha villosa & p.s don’t stint on the mint!}

2         ounces of fine Puerto Rican white rum*

1/2     cup of cracked, not crushed, ice cubes

Club soda to top glass

Fresh picked strawberries from the garden. Photo ⓒ Michaela at TGE

Directions:

Drop the mint into bottom of a cocktail shaker cup and crush the herbs with a muddler or the back of a wooden spoon to release the oil. Add the sugar, and squeeze in the juice of the lime wedges, next, add the strawberries and mash together well. Stir in the rum*. You can toss in the lime rinds if you like. Add the cracked ice cubes to the cup – cover and shake well. Pour the contents into a frosted glass and top with club soda. Before serving, garnish the glass with a fresh strawberry wedge and a sprig of mint. Serve.

*This drink is also fantastic without rum. You may wish to add more strawberries and a tiny bit more sugar if you are excluding the rum. Or add a touch of good quality, artificial rum flavoring instead.

Add Champagne, Prosecco or a Non-alcoholic Sparkler for a Strawberry Flirt. Click here for recipe. Photo ⓒ Michaela at TGE

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Day Bloom ⓒ Michaela at TGE

Night Boom ⓒ Michaela at TGE

Bright Blasts of Dill ⓒ Michaela at TGE

Pyrotechnic Petals ⓒ Michaela at TGE

Bright Blue Bachelor Button Explosion by Day ⓒ Michaela at TGE

Electric-Blue Bachelor Button Explosion by Night ⓒ Michaela at TGE

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Article and photographs,(with noted exception) ⓒ 2010 Michaela at TGE

All content on this site, (with noted exceptions), is the property of The Gardener’s Eden and may not be used or reproduced without prior written consent. Inspired by something you see here? Great! Please give credit where credit is due. It’s a small world and link-love makes for fond friendships. Stealing makes for bad dreams…

Do you enjoy visiting The Gardener’s Eden? You can help support this site by shopping through our affiliate links. A small percentage of any sale originating from The Gardener’s Eden site will go toward web hosting and maintenance costs. Thank you for your support!

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Ruby-Red, Fragrant Fraises des Bois: Life’s Sweetest Little Luxuries…

July 2nd, 2010 § 5

Fraises des Bois, or alpine strawberries, offer a continuous supply of summertime fruit – Photo ⓒ Michaela at TGE

Oh the magic of Fraises des Bois! To me, they look as if they belong at the center of a tiny table in an enchanted forest; one set just for leprechauns, fairies, nymphs and elves. Alpine strawberries (Fragaria vesca) are fragrant, delicious and easy to grow. Sometimes called ‘the wood strawberry’, this rose-relative is a separate species from the common garden strawberry, (Fragaria x ananassa), and is native to North America, Europe, northern Africa and some parts of Asia. Unlike their runner-forming cousins, these lovely mounded plants produce fruit throughout the growing season – spring to fall. Many cultivars are available, including the delightful red ‘Alexandra’ and ‘Mignonette’, and for the more kaleidoscopic plate, there are even white and yellow alpine strawberries! Strawberries of all kinds are best planted out to the garden in early spring – but it is important to prepare the site well in advance (unless you are growing in containers). So if you would like to grow alpines in your potager next year – read on….

Alpine strawberries are herbaceous perennials (the foliage dies back in fall and then returns from hardy roots in spring). Many cultivars are very cold hardy (some to -30 degrees fahrenheit) and they can be grown directly in the garden, or in containers – especially strawberry planters – on decks, patios, steps and terraces (if grown in containers, the berry plants are best moved indoors for overwintering in cold climates). Alpine strawberries are easy-care perennials, and they are usually propagated from seed (collected or purchased),  or easier yet, by division of plants. All strawberries prefer slightly acidic (pH 6-6.5), hummus-rich, well-drained soil. Growing strawberries on a slight slope  –raised bed or in containers– helps to provide both drainage and air-circulation. When grown directly in the garden (as I grow mine), spacing plants at least 16″ apart will result in best fruit production. Mulch is important both to protect the shallow roots from dehydration and temperature fluctuations. In winter, I heap mounds of clean straw over alpine and common strawberry plants, and I try to protect them from late spring frosts with removable row covers (though as patches increase in size, this becomes much less feasible). Alpine strawberry plants can and should be divided every few years – in cold climates this is best done in early spring so that the root systems will have time to establish. Early fall division is also possible, though much riskier in zones north of USDA 6. When the task is undertaken early in the season, the easiest way to make more alpine strawberries is through division of the underground stolons (though collecting and drying seed for germinating indoors works too, if you are patient). I fertilize all strawberry plants with good compost, and I regularly test the soil in all of my garden beds to assure a proper balance of key nutrients (particularly phosphorus)…

The jewel-like color of the fruit, sensational fragrance and sweet flavor more than compensate for the tiny size of alpine strawberries. Photo ⓒ Michaela at TGE

Alpine strawberry blossoms ⓒ 2010 Michaela at TGE

Frais des Bois at harvest ⓒ 2010 Michaela at TGE

Competition for alpine strawberries comes in many forms; from weeds and insects to chipmunks, mice and birds. In my garden, the boisterous mocking bird clan living in the adjacent scrub seems particularly interested my strawberry crop this year. I do love their singing and bug catching, but I wish the mocking birds, robins and other winged-robbers would stay away from my strawberries! Now, don’t you feel too bad for my feathered friends – they have plenty of wild elderberries (Samubus canadensis), bramble berries and bugs to feast upon. If birds are snagging your berries, you can always cover them with safe Bird Netting, which allows air flow and pollinating bees to fly in and out. Alternately you could use insect pop-ups (such as those linked below) set in place when berries are close to harvest, and then removed at intervals for critical wind and bee pollination. Slugs can be a real problem during rainy periods (copper edged raised beds, beer traps and diatomaceous earth are some commonly used deterrents), and insects –particularly sap beetles, tarnished plant bugs and bud weevils — are always an issue with strawberries of all kinds. Never apply an insecticide, even an organic insecticide, during bloom periods, as you will kill beneficial insects (including our precious honeybees) along with the less desirable, ‘bad bugs’.  For backyard berry growers, I advise hand-picking insects and the limited use of row covers (see below) when berries are close to ripe.

For more on berry growing, check out my review of Barbara Bowlings excellent Berry Grower’s Companion (linked here) available through Barnes & Noble online. And say tuned… More berry growing tips will be coming soon!

Containers with pockets, like the one pictured from Amazon above, are a great way to grow alpine strawberries.

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Article and photographs, (excepting last four by affiliates), © 2010 Michaela at The Gardener’s Eden

All content on this site, (with noted exceptions), is the property of The Gardener’s Eden and may not be used or reproduced without prior written consent. Inspired by something you see here? Great! Please give credit where credit is due. It’s a small world and link-love makes for fond friendships. Stealing makes for bad dreams…

Do you enjoy visiting The Gardener’s Eden? You can help support this site by shopping through our affiliate links. A small percentage of any sale originating from The Gardener’s Eden site will go toward web hosting and maintenance costs. Thank you for your support!

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