Summer arrives in full force…June is a wonderfully colorful month with flowers blooming everywhere in the garden…a medley of old-fashioned flowers in shades of pink, blue, lavender and white here is punctuated by plantings of flamboyant foliage and a blast of bright yellow accent. Flowers always bring a smile!

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Growing with the season…sunshine, blue skies, and a few rain storms bring out the tastes and blossoms of early summer!

Sweet, tiny Alpine strawberries ready for picking daily…stately garden phlox offer a fragrant welcome to visitors and beneficial insects. In their own order, many other fruits and vegetables and flowers make their appearance creating an abundance once again to be picked, tasted and enjoyed.

Companions and Easy Edibles…Planted together, herbs and flowers are great companions in a vegetable garden and help to yield a greater harvest. Organic gardeners are much more willing to use time-honored, environmentally safe methods of growing. We all know that companion planting principles help protect and produce greater crops.

As good organic gardeners we must try to understand as much as possible how plants can effectively improve and help each other thrive. All those old-fashioned cottage gardens that were and are a riotous quilt of flowers, herbs and vegetables, jumbled together prove what we now know about companion planting…it works!

If you don’t have enough space for a large garden…create a mix of crops and herbs with a few flowers in containers. The large galvanized troughs are perfect for many food crops, especially tomatoes, peppers, basil and such. The 3-tiered hanging garden is a great idea for herbs and salad greens for a limited space area. Be creative and remember almost anything can hold plants and almost any vegetable can be grown in a container. Be sure to provide blooming marigolds and sweet alyssum to attract pollinators…a must for tomatoes…IMG_1427

Tomatoes, essential for summer home gardens. I only grow heirloom varieties. A few of my favorites are…Brandywine, Black Cherry, Yellow Pear, Rose Gold and Green Zebra.

Some simple things to try: Heirloom Tomato Salad with herb vinaigrette…

1/4 c. avocado oil, 3 Tblsp red wine vinegar, 1Tblsp. Dijon mustard, 1 Tblsp. lemon juice, 1 Tblsp honey…fresh thyme, chopped basil leaves, parsley and salt & ground pepper. Whisk or make in a jar and shake. Makes enough for just a small salad…increase amounts as needed. I will add feta or goat cheese to salad depending on what I have on hand.

Heirloom Tomato Tart, an elegant and delicious showstopper for a summertime meal.

You’ll need a tart crust so make your own or buy prepared pie crust. PREBAKE the crust. For the filling: Combine 2 cups ricotta cheese, 2 cups grated Parmesan cheese, 1 1/2 lbs heirloom tomatoes sliced for top of tart, salt and pepper for seasoning and fresh basil leaves for finishing. Spread cheese mixture on cooled tart crust, Top with plenty of sliced tomatoes, sprinkle with salt and basil. Serve immediately and enjoy!!

Create a magical atmosphere on summer evenings…

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Create tea lights using recycled jam jars, or…buy new Mason/ Ball canning jars, wrap wire around the top to hang them from tree branches or an arbor.

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Bonne idée…I love Bonne Maman jams and always save the empty jars. Once the delicious jam is eaten, the jars can be re-used for a variety of purposes. I use for herb bouquets, storing dried rose petals and lavender buds and garden seeds, making salad dressings and much more. I especially love their distinctive gingham tops.

 

 

A walk on the “wild side” needs a path…a collection of scrambling, tumbling plants fill the areas along these garden paths. I typically use stones set in gravel for a path when designing a landscape but the grass path shown above is a delightful change!

 

Til next time AND…a look at FOOD, the culture of the South.

Wear a hat and protect your skin from the summer sun!

 

One thought on “Ground rules…connected to the land.

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