Archive | November, 2012

My Favorite Urban Farmscaper Gifts

25 Nov

Seriously, haven’t you heard enough about cyber Monday and all the deals that could be out there?  Well, I have…except for the deals I find for my gardening friends! The holiday season is upon us and  honestly, I won’t tolerate another gift that is marketed to gardeners that really has no useful purpose.  Like a Chia Pet for example.  I love plants, and love growing them, but have no desire to have a terra cotta bust of Homer Simpson with chia hair!    So, with that, here are some of my favorites with the links to these awesome gardening products on Amazon  as well as suggested gifts for gardeners.  When you click on a picture it will take you straight to the product.  Don’t forget to come back to My Urban Farmscape!

Happy shopping!  Remember, click on the pic to  send you to Amazon, or a link  like the one here for all of the Cyber Monday Deals.    Shop Amazon – Cyber Monday Deals Week

My Favorite Urban Farmscaper Gifts!

The Ultimate Urban Farmscaper’s Gift!  Why not have it all in this compact space.  A raised bed with an optional greenhouse to extend your gardening season.  A great idea for a senior or  Farmscaper who has everything…except this!

 

 

 

 

 

 

I love  this Jewel Coldframe that I mentioned in an earlier post and use at My Urban Farmscape to extend the season.  When you aren’t using it in the garden, it can be broken down for easy storage.

This Earth Box below is great for those of you with little space and with little time tending to garden chores.  Maybe you didn’t find the time, or forgot to water last year?  A perfect gift for the busy Urban Farmscaper.

Some of my favorite pruners to use in the garden for harvesting as well as in the kitchen for cutting fresh herbs.

For indoor growing and seed starting, supplemental lights are a must have.  For quality and compact sizes, here are two of my favorites.

For the garden photographer the right kind of lens or camera can really help to capture the tiny life living in the garden.

Books for Urban Farmscapers that love to grow food in small spaces, and even for those growing in not so small spaces.

Books for preserving and cooking food you grow or buy at the farmers markets.  Great gifts for someone that is trying to eat local and seasonally.

Magazine subscriptions that are full of useful information about gardening, cooking and homesteading.  I keep every issue of mine for reference.

Garden fun and games for farmscapers of all ages and for the future farmscapers.

Indoor Urban Farmscaping  for someone who may have limited indoor growing space.

Make sure you click the pic to go to Amazon! 

Happy Holidays!

Patti and the My Urban Farmscapers Team

Sage Advice

18 Nov

Berggarten Sage

After a hard frost last week I noticed how beautiful the icy crystals looked on my sage plant.  As I continued to take pictures, I reminisced about its earthy flavor and how Thanksgiving wouldn’t be complete if this herb wasn’t included in the stuffing.  I also use fresh sage leaves and incorporate into any Mediterranean dish.  I am surprised at how it tastes so different from the dry powder my mom would use when I was younger and now, how  it adds the right balance when prepared properly.  I also love to make a rub of sage, salt and pepper.  I use this on a pork roast. 

White Sage

Not only is sage, Salvia officinalis, used for culinary purposes, it also has some medicinal properties.  Although I am not a practicing herbalist, or have I ever prepared an infusion of sage leaves in water to make a tea, or created any sage tinctures, I have read that sage is known for its effect in the reduction of perspiration.  I have also read that extended or excessive use of sage can cause symptoms of poisoning!  I found this information in a book by John Lust titled, The Herb Book.  White sage, Salvia apiana, is a ceremonial herb used by Native Americans.  This is the preferred herb for making smudge sticks.  The leaves are smooth and the color is a lighter shade of grey.

seed

I love growing sage, and it is the perfect herb for an urban farmscape.  Why?  Because culinary sages can be harvested throughout the season, can be dried and kept for long periods of time, and you can make useful gifts from your garden.  They also look beautiful as there is nothing else that I can think of that has that grey color or texture.  A member of the mint family, sage is easier to manage and shouldn’t spread like some of its cousins.  For culinary use, I grow Salvia officinalis ‘Berggarten’ for its large rounded leaves, as well as Salvia officinalis ‘Extrakta’ which is higher in oils and a plant that I collect seeds from each year.

There is, however, a sage that I grew this summer that does not work well in an urban farmscape.  That would be Clary Sage, Salvia sclarea.  A biennial plant that will flower in its second year, growing small the first year, and exploding the following year both in size, flowers and seeds! 

Clary has beautiful leaves, big like rhubarb but light green, bumpy and fuzzy.  I loved it earlier in the season. 

huge leaves

The flower heads hung down as they started to form, and as the flowers opened, they stood straight up as if they were shouting to the bees, “Here I am!”  And boy oh boy, did the bees come!  It flowered for the whole month of August, and I was able to collect many seeds. 

flower bud

So, here was the problem.  I planted it next to the driveway, where every time my husband came home he would have to brush against it.  He really didn’t like the smell of it.  And if you touched it, the oils stayed on you and your clothes, thus allowing its fragrance to linger.  I love the smell of sage, but many people don’t.  I grew this sage to add to my collection.  I need to find a different place in the garden where it will get a lot of sun.  That will be tough.  Clary sage is a medicinal herb, used mostly for its oils.  I have no way of distilling oils from plants; I just really like the way it looks and the bees that it attracted to my garden.

Clary Sage flowering

So, here is my “sage advice”.  Keep the culinary varieties in your urban farmscape, add some spice to your life and your food, maybe grow a little ceremonial sage to burn and cleanse the air, and save the Clary Sage for a sunny spot for a beautiful, eye-catching, dynamic bee plant….a little distance, but not too far from your walking path.

Cover Crops

4 Nov

cover crop of clover and rye

Just because it’s November in Michigan, don’t think for a minute that there isn’t much gardening to write about at My Urban Farmscape.  Look at the above picture for example.  This is a cover crop of clover and rye that I planted which will be tilled into the soil in early spring .  If you garden on a slope, a cover crop will  help  prevent soil erosion.  You could  add a cover crop during the growing season to help to suppress weeds, or provide additional fertility to the soil which is what I am doing, only I chose mine specifically for planting in the fall.  These green manures help organic farmers  improve soil fertility from year to year in order to keep their organic certification.  Or, even if not certified organic, farmers have learned the value cover crops.  Many people forget about the commitment to the earth and the environment our farmers have.  I think that using a cover crop is one of the most important things you, as an urban farmer, can do to improve the soil.  Feed the soil, which in return, feeds the plant.   I talked about this in the post I wrote earlier in the season titled “Talkin Dirty”, here’s the link  http://wp.me/p1GoP9-60  I did mention in that post about adding greensand and rock phosphate at this time too. 

So, cover crop planted, soil amendments added, gardening season over?     Never.

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