Archive | August, 2012

Cuttings From the Garden

26 Aug

This time of year is one of my favorites in the flower garden.  The nights are starting too cool and the blooms are presenting their luscious hues of vibrant pinks and oranges with a backdrop of foliage showing many shades of green.  Now is the time when you reap the rewards from all of the hard work of planning, planting, and weeding.  It’s hard to think that the weather will soon be changing and the cooler days of autumn will be upon us.  Now is the time to decide which cuttings to take from the garden for indoor growing through the winter.  One of the easiest plants to do this with is Coleus.  You don’t want to dig up the plant due to a soil organism that doesn’t allow Coleus to successfully grow indoors.  I started these from seed last Thanksgiving, and I think that I will take some cuttings this year.   With its colorful foliage, ease of rooting and low light requirements, it makes an ideal garden plant to grow indoors.  With its sturdy, strong square stem (a clue that it is a member of the mint family) it can easily be handled.   You can root Coleus in a small clear vase in water if you choose, and by following these easy steps you can ensure successful propagation.


  1. Choose a time to take cuttings when the plant is under less stress, such as the morning.  Select only healthy vigorous plants to take cuttings from.


  1. Prepare containers filling them with a good quality potting mix for houseplants.  Any size less than 2 inches in diameter works well.  Water thoroughly. Or if you choose, use a small vase and root first in water.


  1. Cut the stems about 3 inches long from the top.  You should make the cut just above where a set of leaves are present.  That way the parent plant will still continue to grow fuller and more attractively.


  1. Remove all lower leaves only to leave 2-3 left on the tip.  If any flower is present, remove.


  1. Create a hole in the potting mix (a pencil works well for this) and place the cutting into the hole.  Move some of the potting mix around the stem so it stands up.  Water and place in a bright but shaded spot out of direct sunlight. 


  1. Continue to water only when the potting mix starts to dry out.  Do not allow to become completely dry or to over water and become soggy. 


  1. Once roots have formed either in the vase or in the potting mix, transplant into a small decorative container.  Keep in a morning sunny window and enjoy throughout the winter months ahead.  You can then plant it back out in the garden next spring after danger of frost.  Enjoy!

My Urban Market Salsa

19 Aug


I love the fresh summer veggies right now.  Take this salsa recipe for starters.  It has EVERYTHING  you need for a meal.  I’m warning you, when you make it, you will probably think it’s an appetizer, but once you start to eat it, it will turn into a meal because it tastes so good and it is so full of fresh garden flavors.  It also provides something from every food group! You probably aren’t able to grow everything for My Urban Market Salsa so you will have to pick up the remaining ingredients at your local market, which is why I don’t call it My Urban Farmscape Salsa. I can’t grow everything, but I can grow most of it, and hopefully you do too. 

1 cup cooked, cooled and rinsed black beans

1 cup sweet corn, cooked, cooled, and cut off the cob

1 cup diced tomato

½ cup diced sweet red pepper

¼ cup seeded and diced jalapeno pepper

½ cup finely shredded cheddar cheese

½ cup diced onion

2 tablespoons chopped parsley

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons lemon or lime juice

2 teaspoons minced fresh garlic or 1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon cumin

 Mix above ingredients and place in the refrigerator overnight.  Serve the following day with tortilla chips.  My favorite are the blue corn tortilla chips.  Or for lunch, serve in a homemade flour tortilla.    Bon Appetit !

Pepper Harvesting and Preservation

12 Aug

One of my favorite crops to grow in My Urban Farmscape is peppers. You can get a lot of bang for your buck out of these compact plants.   Historically, peppers have been used throughout the world to flavor some of our favorite dishes with their crisp, tangy, sweetness or their hot, spicy, heat.  Think about it.  What would chili be without the pepper?  How boring would your veggie trays look at the summer picnic without a bright orange, yellow or green bell pepper?  Would tacos or fajitas exist?

Sweet Peppers

I have started to pick sweet peppers and I’m sure that you will soon if you haven’t started already.  As I begin to get an overabundance, I will share some, but I will also freeze or grill them.  For bell peppers, you harvest them when they are ripe, which is when they reach their mature size.  They will feel heavier and may start to turn color.  As you gently pull, twist the stem.  Or use scissors or pruners and cut the stem about 1/2” from the fruit.  For the colored bell peppers, wait until they turn their color (yellow, orange or red). 

Freezing Bell Peppers

It’s simple.  Slice the pepper in half, stem to blossom end.  Remove the stem and seeds inside.  Wash, and dry.  Place in a freezer bag or freezer container and toss into the freezer.  Use for cooked dishes.  They get soft once frozen so they won’t work well for fresh eating.

Roasting Sweet Peppers

Also easy.  These larger red sweet peppers give just the right flavor to some otherwise boring soups or stews.  Cook these directly on the grill or over an open flame on your gas stove.  You could also use the broiler in your oven. As they cook they will get soft and their skin will char, that is when you know they are done.  Remove from the grill and allow to cool some making it easier to handle when you remove the skin.  After the stems and skin are removed, chop and place in a freezer container what ever you don’t use. Yum!

 Hot Peppers

For hot peppers, most of them can be harvested in the green stages up to their colored stage.  These will be ready for harvest later in the season as they LOVE the heat.  Of course you can use any of the hot peppers fresh however you like.  

Freezing or Jam

You can freeze jalapeno peppers like bell peppers, removing the seeds.  WEAR GLOVES!  One of my favorite things to do with jalapeno peppers is to make pepper jelly.  The recipe I have used is on the Sure-jell box.  I like to spread this over some cream cheese and serve with crackers.  Secret: Want to give it a little more bite?  Leave in the seeds.  Watch out though if you take some for a holiday gathering and grandma tries some.  She might scream out some words you have never heard from her before.  Most grandma’s don’t  like hot spicy foods!

Drying Peppers

You can dry all chili types.  I like these to turn red on the vine.  You can spread them out over a screen, string up on fishing line or heavy thread, or use a dehydrator.  It’s fun to make decorative gifts or ristras.  Once you know they are dry, you can grind them in a coffee grinder, not used for coffee of course, but just for your peppers, and then store in a glass container.  These make nice gifts, and who knows, maybe you could come up with your very own famous chili spice mix!  I love peppers.  How about you?  What is your favorite way to preserve peppers?

Inspiraton from the Paper Towel

5 Aug

I would like to think that I live my life spontaneously.  Not as spontaneous as I would like, but enough so that sometimes I don’t know where my day will lead me.  When I started this blog, my intent was to write about organic gardening in small spaces, which for today, is at My Urban Farmscape.  I told myself that I would have loads of information to share with others.  And I do, but sometimes I have no idea when I wake up in the morning what I will write.  Maybe this is procrastination, but I like to call it spontaneity.  This morning I had thoughts of sharing how to make a garlic braid, or maybe how to dry herbs.  It felt forced, and being a spontaneous personality, well, it seemed dreadful.  What I really wanted to do was to get outside  as this is the first cool day in a string of long hot dry ones.  I was thinking that once I got outside I would find my inspiration, and come up with my topic for today’s blog.   I then worried that once I got outside, it might be hard getting back inside to write.  Todays dilemma.

During breakfast, my husband asked, “Where did you get the paper towels with garden sayings?” 

“I think they were in the mega pack, I didn’t even realize it.”

He read out loud, “No two gardens are the same.”

The thoughts in my head were suddenly filled with flashes of gardens that I have experienced in my life.  I replied with a chuckle, “Wow, that’s true, I never knew paper towels could be so inspiring.”  And with that, I grabbed my coffee and headed upstairs to my computer.  I decided to share with you  my garden inspirations for today, brought to you today by Bounty (could I get a paid endorsement for this?)


The flowers of all tomorrow are the seeds of today.


You can bury a lot of troubles digging in the dirt.


Gardening is a way of showing you believe in tomorrow.


Friends are flowers in a life’s garden.

Now that I have posted this, I will be going outside to strip the dried peppermint leaves off of their stems and place in a jar to save for tea.  I need to catch up with some weeding, and soon I’ll share with you more about harvesting and preservation in a later post.  This is the plan, but when I get in the garden, I have no idea where the day will go, I just know that I need to get out there.  As always, I welcome suggestions for topics from you.  Enjoy your day!

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