The nursery & garden centers are a tempting place to go right now for us gardeners. As we drive past we can see the happy pansies that we just know want to come home with us, shrubs that we are sure we would have just the right spot for beckon us to take them, that beautiful flowering American Red Bud would go just perfect over in the side yard... yes we gardeners are like the pet lovers that just want to give that one last kitty or puppy a nice home, we too think just one more... Well, thankfully plants are a bit easier to maintain and provide for, so on goes the reasoning away! That's OK though, pet lovers and gardener's alike love what they love and we know what makes us happy. Right now I am busy planning our farms new Sausage Raised Bed Garden. The boys and I just put twenty new 4x8 beds in the side yard and this will be where we plant all the herbs, peppers and fennel that will go into Neil's sausage blends. It is very exciting to know that Lord willing this fall I will be harvesting all these wonderful things that will tease 'your' taste buds in the coming seasons. I love gardening!
I would like to take a couple days and discuss the options and decisions that effect us when choosing between annuals & perennials. Today we will discuss Annuals. The time for us to start making these decisions is steadily creeping up on us~ the choices of annuals will soon bombard us. We should be choosing a variety of flowering ornamental's. Many bulbs provide early spring color, while perennials change the garden's look from week to week. Annuals are steady performers, adding color and filling in while hardy plants mature; because they last only one season, annuals also let you experiment with different schemes, year after year. Each year we are exposed to several new varieties and colors of petunias, marigolds, salvia's and such... which do we choose? For me it is kind of easy... I know I like pinks & purples. My garden's are primarily in this color range with a few splashes of yellow, red and orange from nasturtiums, marigolds and canna's. But otherwise I stick to what I know I like~ pinks & purples.
Here are a few tips to help you when choosing annuals:
*Thinking Through Annuals:
~Annuals will give you lots of spectacular color through the season with repeat blooming.
~Annuals will grow for only one season, but some such as sweet alyssum, pansies, snapdragons and bachelor buttons will reseed prolifically!
~Annuals do a wonderful job filling in between newly planted perennials that need some time to mature.
~Most annuals prefer a sunny location, with a few exceptions that like shade- impatiens, coleus, begonias and pansies will tolerate.
~They like containers and will be faithful bloomers as you are faithful in dead heading and watering.
~You can keep some through the winter by potting them up in containers and bringing them indoors. If you have a green house or four season sun room, you can enjoy your beloved bloomers for a bit longer. Some better bets include begonias, coleus, impatiens, and geraniums.
Here are a few suggestions on types of annuals:
Tender Types: Ageratum, begonia, celosia, cleome, coleus, geranium, impatiens, marigold, morning glory, salvia, sunflower, vinca and zinnia. These need to be sown or transplanted about two weeks or more after the last spring frost, when the soil is warm. These annuals will not survive if touched by a frost.
Half-hardy Types: Bachelor button, calendula, cosmos, lobelia, nasturtium, petunia, phlox, annual poppy, snapdragon, verbena. These should be sown indoors and planted outside at about the time of your last spring frost date. These prefer cool growing conditions and can tolerate light frost.
Hardy Types: Dianthus, larkspur, pansy, sweet alyssum, sweet pea. These can be directly sown in the ground whenever the soil can be worked or set out seedlings in early spring. These tolerate cold weather and hard freezes.
Keep Them Blooming! As much as we gardener's hate to cut off those pretty flowers, it really is the best thing you can do for blooming bedding flowers. Snip off every bloom as you set the plants into your beds or containers. This 'thoughtful' pinching reminds the plants that they should get back to the business of growing roots and stems, which will result in many more blossoms over a much longer time.
Coat Racks~ Most of us have a back entry or mud room where we come in to take our outdoor gear off. Here is a really cute & easy project to make hanging up those duds more special.
Materials you will need:
*A board, an old piece of barn wood or something else you like, just so long as it is tall enough to hold your seed packets.
*Enough empty seed packets to cover the length of the board you have chosen.
~Take the board you have chosen and if you are going to paint it, do so now; allow to draw thoroughly. If you want a rustic look, lightly sand paper off the edges and the center to add a distressed look; be sure to clean off all dust.
~Tack the seed packets on with a bit of the wood glue, just to temporarily hold; Apply the modge-podge over the seed packets to glue on the board- follow package instructions; allow to draw according to instructions.
~Once the glue is totally dry, put the coat hooks on as desired; hang up on the wall of your choice and enjoy your pretty project!
Breakfast is the start of the day, so why not start off on the right foot with a hearty meal to get you rolling. Here is a yummy recipe using Garden Gates Breakfast Sausage!
1 baguette, torn into bite size pieces
1 lb. package of Garden Gate's bulk Breakfast Sausage, cooked and drained
10 eggs from Garden Gate, beaten
2 cups milk
1 cup fresh spinach, washed and torn into bite size pieces
salt & pepper to taste
1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
1. Arrange the broken bread pieces on a lightly greased 9x13 baking dish; top with cooked sausage.
2. In a bowl, beat eggs; add milk, salt, pepper and spinach, mix; pour over bread & sausage.
3. Sprinkle cheese over top of mixture.
4. Bake uncovered at 350 degrees for about 30-40 minutes, or until golden and eggs are set.