summer 2013

Sunday, June 26, 2011


At Brookside Gardens in Wheaton, MD,  there is a fragrance garden that incorporates many different plants.  The one thing they have in common is their wonderful smell.  Some emit a fragrance, some you have to touch .  I have been going to Brookside Gardens since the late 1970s.  It is FREE. It is  BEAUTIFUL.  Please go if you have the opportunity.

In my home garden (different from my farm garden,)  we have stone steps leading up to our front door.  When my husband planned these around 12 years ago,  I talked him into making planters for me.  I have planted lots of perennials in them, and every year I also put in some annuals.  The biggest criteria for choosing plants comes down to fragrance.

 When I come home, my hand automatically reaches out to touch all the plants


pineapple sage

  I know this isn't much to look at, but if you rub a leaf between your fingers, it smells just like pineapple.  In late summer, beautiful red flowers appear.


dianthus - also called pinks

Dianthus is a tender perennial.  Sometimes is survives the winter, sometimes not.  I've had them last up to 5 years.  They smell like carnations.


sweet alyssum - an annual

lavender in flower

sweet woodruff - incredible smell, very sweet.

lemon balm - smells like lemon when you rub a leaf.  A little aggressive, but easy to pull out.  Also flowers later.

more lavender

Because so many of the plants are green,  I add other plants for color, these usually have little or no scent.

sedum - succulent plant that needs very little water

prickly pear

  A native. Will have pretty yellow flowers later in the summer.  Always wear gloves, this plant has tiny spines that HURT!  Also happy in a drought.

Evening Primrose

Knock out rose bush.

Ugly right now.  I dead headed all the blooms, more will follow.  Nice scent, but not really strong.  Since I hate using chemicals,  I let the bugs alone.  But you can see, more leaves and flowers are coming.

To top everything off,  I use cocoa shell mulch in the garden.  Smells like chocolate.  I don't know if this mulch is readily available, but we live about 80 miles away from Hershey, Pa, home to a large chocolate factory.

On my deck, I have a couple of planters.  This year for the first time, I planted Jasmine.  Smells great.  I am not always on top of watering containers.  Hope it isn't too needy.  This is a southern plant, I will assume it is an annual.   Also, mountain mint is new to me this year.  Very tall, leaves smell great when rubbed.  Every year I put in lots of herbs for cooking or just because they are pretty and smell good.


mountain mint

oregano - smells like pizza :)

  My wonderful Mother in law, Maurine died  in 1999.  Her favorite color for flowers was yellow.  I know it is silly, but I always have some kind of yellow flower planted every year.

This year it is a marigold.  Portulaca is another favorite and every once in a while I find yellow petunias.

Saturday, June 18, 2011


The flowers are starting to bloom.  I started my flowers from seeds in my basement and the perennials I bought were small and cheap.

butterfly weed

zinnias started in my basement

Sunflowers.  I bought a large package about 6 years ago.  They still germinate and grow every year!

Zinnias.  I threw seeds in the ground on May 8.  They are getting ready to bloom

purple cone flower - echinacea

On the home front:

I found a cute caterpillar when I was weeding a flower bed this morning.  Looked him up, he will be a pretty white moth in the future.

Talk about between a rock and a hard place!

On the farm:

Added some equipment a few weeks ago.  When we find farm equipment that we need at a good price, we buy it.  We want to be more self sufficient and not have to borrow equipment if we don't have to.

hay wagons


Stood in my hay field and took a couple of pictures.  One is the view of the Catoctin Mountains, turn around and the other is all the round bales lined up for the winter.  What is good about this is, it reduces the temptation of teenagers joy riding in our field.  The bales block road access to the field.  The only way in from the road is where my car is parked.

You need to scroll on the bottom to see the next image

Tried out the panorama option on my camera.  Cool, right?

Stuck in the mud in this mom's 2 week old car

Not great pictures, taken on my cell phone

Took him weeks to fix the field.  In the winter, shoveling many dump truck loads of top soil into the ruts.  Truly a life lesson.    (I hope)

Sunday, June 12, 2011

More food

Harvested some potatoes today.  I had some seed potatoes left over, so I planted them in another bed at the beginning of the season knowing I would take them very early to make way for green beans.   In a small area, I got some good size potatoes.  Some have wireworm damage.  I will just cut that area out when I roast them later.  Wireworms are the larval stage of the click beetle.  Unfortunately, you don't know until you pull the potatoes up.

accidently pulled out an onion while weeding 

First round of green beans are setting fruit.

Dusted broccoli with Bt.  Little caterpillars are starting to actively eat the leaves.  The Bt affects only the caterpillar, nothing else.  I will have to re-apply after the next rain.

imported cabbage worm is green.  the other is a cross-striped caterpillar

Native plant bed was weeded.  Seeing good bugs hanging out.

lady bug

another good bug

brown daddy long legs

zucchini squash and cucumbers are doing well

You may notice I have corn and green beans hidden in here.  Trying out the "three sisters" as an experiment

training cucumbers up the trellis

planted the next crop of bush green beans.  When the sugar snap peas are done, I will plant pole beans up the trellis

"bona fide" Burpee bush beans (Wal-Mart for a dollar)

volunteer marigold. Marigolds are believed to deter bugs and bunnies

Had a fight with gnats this morning. After digging three out of my eye with dirty hands, I sprayed my hat with Burts Bees insect spray.  Strong smell, non-toxic, really works.

A word about different gardening techniques.  At the University of Maryland Extension program we are taught Integrated Pest Management  We are also taught that many people want to know what to spray on their plants to make all the bugs go away.  That is fine for them,  we encourage people to carefully read all instructions on the bags or bottles they buy.

The way I garden is the way I choose to garden.  I can tolerate a little damage here and there, some people cannot. 

Last year, I was planting my russet potatoes and a neighbor came over and told me that I should start throwing Sevin down right away to keep the potato bugs away.  I don't disagree with their methods,  I just like to take a wait and see attitude.  When I see damage I need to address,  I will address it then.  I figure the lowest amount of chemicals in my life, the better.

During a breast cancer talk I attended a few years ago, a chemist from the University of Maryland spoke about chemicals in our everyday products.  The most eye opening part of the speech concerned the chemicals  in synthetic  fragrances added to almost everything we use in our everyday lives.  These are not good for anyone, so I started slowly going to fragrance free for almost everything I buy.  I use glass to store most food in the fridge and never cook food in plastic containers.  I also cook in cast iron or enameled cast iron pots and pans.  Even my grandson's Pampers have a strong fragrance to them when you take them out of the box.  Who are they trying to kid?  Nothing is going to cover that smell!   :)