Posts Tagged ‘How to’

Snack Plating for the Holiday Week

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Ah, the week between Christmas and New Years, you just don’t feel like cooking, especially after a high-powered holiday.There are only a few times of year when the fridge is as overflowing as it will be over the next few days. Magazines are filled with tips for using up all that turkey. Recipes for turkey hash, turkey soup, turkey a la king…We prefer a simpler approach and just use whatever is already on hand to throw together a snack plate. Continue »



Easy Propagating Perennials: Sedum Plants

Large swaths of flowering plants best for design and for use by pollinators.

Large swaths of flowering plants best for design and for use by pollinators.

Want to increase your stock of perennial plants? It’s worth your while to make new plants, to share or to make a bigger splash in the garden. Plus, it’s easy and fun.

Propagation varies in terms of easiness, but sedums, like ‘Autumn Joy’ or its other variants are a good place to start as they are one of the easiest. Sedums are one of my favourite perennials for many reasons. Pollinators go crazy for their flower nectar, and as they are succulent, they are super low maintenance. They are also one of the hardiest perennials, and one of the few that will over-winter in a container.

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Rooting Your Own Mint

Rooting mint

Rooting mint in a small decorative vase.

There’s nothing like having fresh mint on hand, and I don’t know about you, but when I buy a bunch of mint, I tend use it a couple of times for a specific recipe, or to add to the best gin and tonic recipe anywhere.

Best Gin & Tonic Anywhere

Mix up whatever ratio of gin and tonic you prefer, with ice cubes.

Add to it, a generous squeeze of fresh lime, a couple of slices of cucumber, and a mint leaf or two. Swirl. Enjoy the taste of summer.

But after making my gin and tonic or whatever, I generally toss the remaining mint bunch into the fridge where it often dies because I forget it’s there. Pulling a squishy bunch of decaying mint out of the fridge is always sadness-inducing. And the last thing we need is more sadness in January, the month that contains the most depressing day of the year, Blue Monday.

Fresh mint showing root development.

Fresh mint showing root development.

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Filling in the Cracks with Hardy Sedums

Sedums can fill unusual spaces in the garden, like this V-shaped gap in the garden.

Sedums can fill unusual spaces in the garden, like this V-shaped gap in the garden.

Perennial Sedums, the winter hardy version of succulents, are tough. Remember, if you like succulents, there are two kinds, the tender ones that can’t survive freezing temperatures—like echeveria, jade plants, burro’s tail—and these, commonly called Hens and Chicks or stonecrop, which are perfectly able to withstand Canadian winters. There is always a space where you can fit a few in your garden. And there are so many named varieties of hardy sedum to choose from. Colours range from green, blue-green, and pink all the way to deep purple. One of my favourite new varieties that does well in dry shade is bright yellow-green ‘Angelina’, which turns orange in the fall.

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‘Angelina’ sedum turning orange in September.

 

The sustainable approach to gardening is to make sure you have growing plants covering soil, rather than on relying on mulch. Avoid bare soil at any cost. Instead, use low ground covers for any garden bare spots. Sedums work especially well in garden crevices, as seen in the picture above. They are true ground huggers and help to stop erosion on slopes. This sedum patch above, is growing on a slope, where even mulch would be regularly washed away.

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Question: “Why does the car smell like dinner?”

Tuft of rosemary on olive cutting board

What’s the best way to dry herbs? Hanging upside down on strings is the traditional way. Some people use an oven, but many modern ovens don’t have the low temperatures that herb drying needs. One of the most ingenious and unorthodox ways I’ve heard is to dry herbs using your car as a dehydrator. This tip was gleaned from the excellent edible gardening and growing food podcast called Living HomeGrown with Theresa Loe. With this unusual method you take a bunch of herbs, bundle them, and tie the stems together with a rubber band. (A rubber band works better than string because as the stems shrink the rubber band still holds them tightly.) Don’t make your bunches too big; a bunch of stems about an inch or less across is a good size. Then simply place your herbs around your car. You can use a tray to be tidy, but even placing them on a tea towel would do.

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