For Dragonflies And Me

  (Snover, Michigan)
Enjoy the everyday life I love to live!
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Window box Gardening, Easy Jewelry Magnets, Make Pillows with Old Shirts, Honey, Almond & Oats Granola and Yummy Spring Potato Salad!

Spring is such an exciting time of year... I love all the flowering trees and shrubs... in my opinion if it doesn't bloom at some point, why bother having it! Although I do admit the beautiful colors of Autumn in the fall with all the maples and other trees bursting forth in spectacular hues of orange, red, yellow and bronze is stunning as well... I welcome spring with open arms, dream for summer and long for fall...  
         
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Children's Gardens & more themes, Butterfly Kisses & a super Yummy Apple 'Breakfast' Pie!

Each Spring my children get pretty enthusiastic about planting 'their' own garden plots.  Ryan, my soon to be 10year old is always right there ready to get going.  Last year he gathered several old bricks he discovered and made small 'raised' beds.  He dug around to loosen the dirt and proceeded to plant his tomato plants along side basil, nasturtiums & marigolds.  He has learned the art of Companion Planting like a true gardener!  Taylor & Kyle are usually in competition as to who's garden shall yield the greatest bounty and there-by collect the most funds from dad 'n' mom! The problem most often is that the thrill doesn't always last through till the harvest~ before the harvest is weeding & tending~ not such glamorous tasks as the planting!  But they are learning and I believe will someday have beautiful flower & veggie gardens for me to walk through!

But in the meantime here are a few more Garden Themes to dream about & work toward!
The first is a lovely *Children's Garden~  Sunflower Houses~  A good friend of mine has a really neat book called 
Roots, Shoots, Buckets & Boots by Sharon Lovejoy.  It is a book all about different children's garden theme's.  One that struck us most was a sunflower house. It is so fun & incredibly simple~ first find the perfect spot, a sunny corner in the far back of your veggie garden works well~ or in a flower bed if you have room~ figure about a 6'x6' area.  You will need the Giant Grey Stripe or Mammoth Sunflower's or even better a combo of both.  Using a stick for a marker, draw out the area in the dirt, any shape you want will do~ round, diamond, square, whatever~ then plant the seeds according to package directions.  Be sure to leave enough of an opening for an entrance.  Once the seeds start to sprout reseed where any didn't germinate so you have a complete 'wall'.  After your sunflowers are about six inches high plant Morning Glory seeds at the base of some of the sunflowers~ about every six would be good.  To make a roof over your hide away, take twine and go around the tops of the sunflowers to make criss~cross sections for the morning glories to climb over.  Once your sunflowers and morning glories are full grown it will be the perfect spot for picnics, story time or playing house.  Your children will love it!
other stuff for the Children to plant.... Children love to plant and if you give them something fun to grow it can even be more special! Let them plant some decorative gourds.  There are more varieties than you can shake a stick at including Swan, Bottle, Snake, Apple and even a Dinosaur Gourd.  Let them page the seed catalogs with you and have them pick what interests them.  There are books that teach the art of Gourdology which can be found at your local library.  The garden project can at harvest time become a craft project!  

Are you a crafty type of person?  Why not try growing your own Wreath Garden.  With the cost of materials these days, a package of seeds will go a long way in the savings department. Try growing these easy plants and who knows you might even be able to start a little business with your craft!
*Flowers that work well for Wreath's include~ boxwood, sweet annie, yarrow, bay, statice, artemisias and gomphrena. 

*Ditch Garden~
Do you have a ditch in front or alongside your home that just screams 'do something with me'? It is always an eye soar and you just don't really have the time to tend another garden? You want something but would like a maintainence free space that looks good without a lot of effort? I did, so last year I attacked the ditch that runs along the road in the front of our yard. My ditch is often fairly wet so my choice was a day lily patch. Here are two very quick & simple solutions if you have a similar dilemma. First & foremost determine how often and to what degree the area is wet.  This will determine if you do a Wild Flower or Day Lily Garden.  Next, if tilling is a possibility
rotor~till up the section to be seeded/planted.  If the area is not tillable due to moisture you will need to do a Day Lily garden.  If this is the solution, dig holes about every two feet and plant a clump of day lilies.  They can handle the early spring moisture and tolerate the dry & hot summer days that hit Michigan. If the area is not overly moist and tilling is an option,  simply scatter Wild Flower seeds in it. After a couple years you will have a breathtaking, car slowing garden that will never be an eye soar again.  Which ever you decide will best fit your space, be sure to check planting directions/requirements before you put all the work into it.  

What are Butterfly Kisses you ask? These have been shared in my gardens for many years by me & all my children.  They are the sweetest way to give that little person in your life a 'special' kiss & I love you.  So here are step by step instructions for those who are interested!
*First, find one or more of your favorite children.
*Next, stand them close to you and get down to their level~ face to face!
*Getting right up close in their face, put your eye up against their eye and blink as quickly as you can!  Be sure to tell the child to do the same!  The child will of course giggle and ask for tons more and of course you will gladly oblige!
That's a Butterfly Kiss, and of course they are most fun in a garden!

Who says Apple Pie is just for desert?  This yummy Apple Pie will surprise the ones you love around the table, give it a try!

Apple 'Breakfast' Pie


1 beaten Egg, from Garden Gate
1/4 cup oil
1 cup milk
1 1/2 cup Pancake Mix from Taylor's Bake Shoppe
1/2 cup plus 2 Tbsp. Vanilla Sugar                                                                                    2 Granny Smith apples cored & wedged
1/2 tsp. Cinnamon
1/4 tsp. Nutmeg
2 Tbsp. butter
Add about 1/2 cup nuts is you would like!
Top it with some Whipped Cream or Ice Cream~ Yummy!

1.  Beat the egg, oil & milk together and then add Pancake mix, 1/2 cup of sugar and nuts if using.  Beat until smooth, but don't over beat.
2. Pour into a greased 10" pie plate. 
3. Arrange the apples evenly over batter.  Combine the 2 Tbsp. of sugar with cinnamon & nutmeg; sprinkle over the apples.  Dot with butter.
4.  Bake at 375 degrees for about 30- 35 minutes or until apples when poked feel tender.  Serve warm with your choice of topping.

Happy Day,
Jean
 
 

Birds~ Watching, Feeding & Housing, Pretty Porches, and Market Square Open Faced Baguette's!

I love to watch Kyle our oldest son take his little brother Evan's hand to go fill the bird feeders.  It is so sweet and special!  Kyle has always been my bird feeder and now Evan is too.  We love to watch the boo-jays come to the giant sunflowers we planted for their fall 'fare' and see the finches devour the thistle seed in the ditch, then slowly change their bright summer yellow feathers for the drab brownish garb for winter.  Birds provide such a wealth of entertainment not to mention relaxation.

Here are few 'Bird' Friendly ideas for both enthusiasts and wannabe's!
*Don't throw your hair away- or your pets for that matter!  After you comb your hair or the pets, put the wads out in bushes or low branches of some trees.  Watch and see as your feathered friends will take them to add to their next.  Other things you can help them with is the lint from your dryers & scraps of yarn. It is so neat when you look up in the tree and see some of your red yarn up high in a nest!
*We always include a row of giant sunflowers at the one end of our small veggie garden.  It's not just beautiful but it provides so much food for the birds in the fall.  If you don't have a veggie garden plant them next to your kitchen window or some other visible spot so you can watch!
* Egg shells are loaded with calcium and birds need it to make strong egg shells. Rinse and crumble them up and scatter around under your bird feeders or on top of evergreen shrubs.  If you have chickens by chance add to their feed, you're eggs will be much stronger and if you have little hands gathering, a bit less likely to 'crack' on the way up to the house :-) !
*Give a bird a break and free rent.  The entertainment they provide will be worth the work! Put bird houses out in trees and other locations.  You can get all kinds of info on what types of houses attract certain birds.  If you want Blue Birds, start reading and preparing now!  What a special treat to have a pair of these!
*Super easy bird feeders are right in your kitchen and yard!  Here are a couple simple ones to make and are great fun for children to help with!  First gather some pine cones, fill all the cracks with smooth peanut butter then roll in bird feed of your chose.  Tie a bright piece of yarn around the center and hang where you will be able to enjoy.  Another easy one is to take some corn syrup and mix loose bird seed into it until it is moldable and not drippy, gooey.  You can roll flat & cut with cookie cutters into shapes or just make balls.  Add a string then let dry.  Hang, watch & enjoy!
*Keep a journal!  I use to keep a journal of all the birds that would gather at my bird feeders.  Just the first time.  You can make it really special by using photo's you have taken or found or water colors of those birds and adding them in along with the sitings. 

I am all about a Pretty Porch!  I absolutely love to decorate my porch, (see photo's) and make it as welcoming as possible.  Last year I painted the ceiling a sky blue and that added such charm!  I have two rocking chairs on it, one for me and one for Neil.  I love to sit out their in the early morning before everyone else gets up and do my devotions with a cup of coffee.  I get to 'hear' the whizzing of the humming birds wing's, the buzzing bumble bee and the wood pecker tap tapping in the tree.  I love the morning sounds on the porch, but the evening ones are equally interesting~ the swooping of the bats wings as they slide out from the chimney and pass by us very closely, the peepers in the pond across the road, the crackling wood in the fire pit we are all sitting around and the shrill scream of the Screech Owl in the woods.  There are a few other 'sounds' around, like the laughter of busy boys, the vroom vroom of the tractors hauling my pea stone away from the patio area, the 'crack' of the ball hitting the baseball bat from the boys playing, the girly scream of the big sister as the 'flying bat' swoops a bit too low.... so you have to listen closely for the evening sounds!
A porch in my opinion has to say, 'Come set awhile'!  So now is the time to start preparing!  Go ahead & start shopping around at all the local thrift shops for 'porch' worthy items!
*Neat old chairs that will be a welcome seat for a pretty potted plant, bird houses.
*An Old window that you can hang on the wall and swag some grape vines over top.
*A neat old table that you can set potted plants on or use as a quaint little breakfast table.
*Rocking chairs of course!
The ideas are limitless, use your imagination and let your porch be beautiful!

Try these yummy & easy open faced sandwiches!
Market Square Open Faced Baguettes!

3 tbsp butter                                                                                  1 tsp. dried Basil from A Pinch of Spice & More
1 1/2 cup sliced mushrooms from Willowridge Farm                    1/2 tsp. dried Garlic from A Pinch of Spice
1 cup thinly sliced Zucchini from Willowridge Farm                    1/4 tsp. each Salt & Pepper from James Creek Sutlery
2 Tomatoes sliced from Springbrook Gardens                            4 Baguettes, sliced from Golden Wheat
1/2 cup sliced and separated Red Onion from Garden Gate         1 Cup shredded Cheese from Grassfields

1.  Melt butter in skillet over medium heat.  Stir in all ingredients except baguettes, cheese and tomatoes.
Cook, stirring occasionally, until veggies are crisp-tender, about 4 to 5 minutes. 
2.  Arrange baguettes on an ungreased baking sheet.  Sprinkle 1/4 cup cheese over each half and bake at 375 degrees for about 5 minutes or until lightly toasted and cheese is melted.  Remove from oven; top each with one slice tomato.  Spoon on veggie mix; top with remaining cheese. Continue baking 4 to 5 minutes longer, or until cheese is melted.  Yummy!

Happy day,
Jean
 

 
 
 

Starting Seeds, Easy Liquid Fertilizer, Deterring naughty critters from gardens, flower beds & keeping good ones-

Starting Seeds in doors is very easy and extremely rewarding!  All you need is a few everyday household items~
*If you buy organic baby lettuce, greens or spinach than you will have access to those handy clear plastic containers with lids.  These are perfect for seed starting.  Be sure to poke several drainage holes on the bottom of the container.
*Fill your container about 2/3 way full with a good organic potting mix. Plant your seeds as package describes.  Be sure to follow planting dates on packet. Water accordingly.
*Put the lid on, which will give a greenhouse effect.  You will not have to water due to the condensation that will be created.
*Put in a sunny window and wait until seeds start to sprout- see seed packet instructions.
*Once the seeds start to germinate, remove lid and water according to packet instructions.
Another easy but more extravagant way is to set your flats on a table and hang lights on 's' hooks with light chains from the ceiling  in a warm basement or other room.  The lights must be no more than 3 to 6 inches from the top of the flat (or the plants once they start growing), so be sure to make your light set up adjustable.  Plain old florescent shop lights work best for starting seeds, or you can even purchase 'grow lights' from greenhouse supply companies or seed catalogs. 
*You can go to any big box retailer and purchase really slick 'seed starting' kits.  Follow instructions on kit.... and enjoy!
Transplant outdoors following packet instructions.

Easy fertilizer~ to give your house plants an extra boost, add 1 teaspoon of Epsom salt and 1 teaspoon of fish emulsion plant fertilizer to 1/2 gallon of water, then stand back and watch'er grow!  Extra fertilizer water can be stored at room temperature for up to 3 months.

Humane Critter Deterrent~
I know we all have a pet that we love & cherish, but we also have flower beds we work very hard to keep beautiful and when that pet trompples the new shoots of that cherished peony or knocks down the Heirloom tomato plant loaded with green tomatoes, things can get a bit frustrating.  So here are a few 'humane' ways to deter our beloved cats & dogs from our beloved gardens.  This will also deter rabbits, squirrels and ground hogs- not so beloved.
~Sprinkle a mixture of 3 parts Cayenne Pepper and 1 part ground Citrus peelings. Sprinkle liberally around perimeters of beds and directly around specific areas that you want to keep Fido & Kitty out of.  Reapply weekly or after the surface soil dries after a rain.~
You want Toads!  They eat literally thousands of insects a week and they are the best friend of any organic gardener!  If you have a pond- (no fish they eat toad eggs) or an area you don't mind un-mowed and natural; there is no need to throw away broken clay pots, these make lovely toad houses and look too cute hidden among flowers.  These are all perfect toad hiding places. Toads have enormous appetites and faithfully feed on grasshoppers, cutworms, slugs, flies and most of the bad bugs that drive all of us gardeners crazy.  It is crucial you use NO pesticides as they are easily absorbed through the toad's skin.  Be sure to educate your children on good toad behavior- no smooshing!


Try some yummy muffins for breakfast or snack, these are a winner!
Peanut Butter Muffins


1 cup Whole Wheat flour from Garden Gate                                                                1/3 cup Applesauce
1 cup Oatmeal                                                                                                                        1 1/2 cups milk
1 Tbsp. baking soda                                                                                                          1/4 cup honey
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 cup Creamy Peanut Butter


1.  Whisk together flour, oats, baking soda and salt.  Add peanut butter and applesauce; beat with an electric mixer on low speed until smooth. 
2. Stir in milk and honey. 
3.  Spoon batter into paper lined or greased muffin cups, filling about 2/3 full.
4. Bake at 350 degrees for 12 to 15 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean from center.
Cool in pan for about 5 minutes; transfer to a wire rack to finish cooling.
makes about 1 1/2 dozen.

Happy day,
Jean

 
 

Gardening Gift Exchange, Lovely Luncheon and Parsley Bacon Sandwiches!

"He who plants a garden plants happiness." Old Chinese proverb.

Who doesn't love to get flowers, a special card or a 'just because' gift?  I know it always brings a smile to my face, that's for sure.  Here are a few novel ideas I have picked up along the way and have done myself.  Have fun and remember there is no pressure in gardening, only smiles.

A Gardening Gift Exchange is a great way to start the Spring season off! Here's a few tips on how to host & organize one.
*Make your Invitations!  This sounds harder than it is.  If you don't have any idea books on scrap booking or card making try the library and they are sure to have several that you can borrow. 
*Ask each of your guests to bring a small wrapped gift that is related to gardening.
*When your guests arrive have each one draw a numbered slip of paper (1 through however many guests you have invited) out of a clay planter that you have prepared ahead of time.
*Have each guest sit with the gift they brought.  The guest who pulled number one chooses a gift from someone.  The person who chose number two gets to choose another unopened gift OR take the one the previous person chose. 
It keeps going until everyone has had a chance to choose a wrapped or opened gift.  When the party is over, each guest will leave with a little gift... and a little inspiration for her own garden!

Of course no Party is complete without a tastefully done Luncheon, so here are some ideas on how to create a welcoming and cheerful event....
The Food~
*Try cutting softened butter into shapes using cookie cutters.
*Using a honey dew or cantaloupe melon, cut in half, hollow out and fill with your favorite ice cream.  Make homemade ice cream- it is super easy! 
*Deviled eggs look even yummier with fresh chives tied into bows and placed on top of them.  Use the chive blossom's to set on the bow.
*For extra special dinner buns- combine in 1 stick melted butter your favorite herb such as rosemary or thyme.  Dip the roll into butter mixture and bake.
*A special punch bowl will hold Raspberry Lemon tea with lemon, lime & orange peel spirals combined with ice cubes containing mock orange or orange blossoms. 
*Of course mini sandwiches- see Parsley Bacon Canape below! 
Set the Tables with something that will make them go 'ahhh'~
*Use pretty floral sheets or plain white that drape to the floor with quilts laid diagonally over for table clothes.
*Use 3 clay pots of the same size to hold forks, spoons and knives in.  Tie a piece of raffia around the rim with a bow to make it even cutter.
*Use baskets  lined with floral napkins to hold napkins & breads.
*Mason jars make the cutest drinking vessels, especially if they are blue! Not to mention flower vases and candle holders.
*A hodge podge of old plates & platters are a great way to serve your sandwiches, cheese & crackers & appetizers.
*Use an old galvanized wash tub filled to the top with ice and put bottled water, juice or pop in for guests.
*An old pickle crock thoroughly cleaned makes a spectacular punch bowl.
*Print the menu out on card stock and lay over each guests plate. 

Parsley Bacon Canape
Of course use Garden Gates awesome bacon for this special treat...

1 cup fresh chopped Parsley from Garden Gate                                            1/4 tsp garlic powder
1 pound Garden Gate Bacon, fried, drained and crumbled                             1/2 cup butter, softened
1/4 cup mayonnaise                                                                                     
1 loaf Old World Bread
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce

1. Combine chopped parsley, bacon, mayo & Worcestershire to spreading consistency. 
2. Mix garlic powder into butter.
3. Roll the bread with a rolling pin slightly.  Spread bread with garlic butter mixture.  Spread parsley mixture over the butter.
4.  Roll the slices up and wrap in waxed paper and twist ends.  Freeze.  to serve, unwrap and slice 5 per roll.  Thaw.
Yields about 10 dozen.

Happy day,
Jean

 
 

Seed Gift's, Secret Pal's and a Yummy Quiche

I love to give gifts, especially gifts for or from the garden!  There is something special in a wild flower bouquet just because.... or a small start from a perennial plant for a special friend.  I have several perennials in my gardens that are from friends and each time I venture through I think of them, and I do believe this is the point. Each Spring most local stores have the 10 for $1.00 seed packs, I like to stock up on them and include in gift baskets, birthday cards or any other little garden type gift.  Store them in an air tight container and keep in the freezer, it will add to their longevity.

Have you ever had or been a Secret Pal?  I have been on both the receiving and giving end, it is so much fun!  Here are a few tips on how to be one!
*First pick someone who you think could really use some cheering up or someone you think it would just be really fun to surprise.
*Decide how long you want to do it- 3months, 6 months, the longest should be a year.
*Decide on a theme- this makes it easier when deciding on gifts. Once you decide on the person, that should make the theme easier because you will more than likely know what they like. Make a list with the twelve gifts you want to give fitting each one to the month.  
*Premake your monthly cards- I used the pictures out of one of those mini calenders you can get for a buck or two, cut the pictures down to fit on a piece of card stock- 4"x6" works really well- also they are already themed to the months!  I glue the picture down for the front of the card and then write or stamp what I want in each one, put it with the envelope and you're ready to roll every month.  
*Watch at thrift stores for gifts- you would be shocked what you can find.  Typically most of the bigger thrift shops have a section that is jam packed with Brand New items, still in the wrappers with price tags!  
*You can even preplan you gift 'container'. Choose if you want to go with simple yet cute gift bags- which can also be picked up at thrift stores- or cute baskets or even nesting boxes.  The options are endless.
.... so choose that special person and gift away, after all, 'it is better to give then to receive'...

Here is a really yummy Quiche for a special brunch you may be planning or just a really special breakfast...
"Michigan Winter Farmer's Market Quiche"

1 deep dish pie shell                                                                                                               
2 cups  Organic Monterrey Cheese (or similar), shredded
1 pound Garden Gate Hot Italian Sausage                                                                         1/4 cup chopped bell pepper
3 Garden Gate eggs, slightly  
                                                                                              1/2 tsp each Pink Himalayan Salt and Black Pepper
1 3/4 cup Milk                                                    

1/2 cup sour cream
                                                                                                        Lettuce, shredded          

1.  Prebake unpricked pie crust on a preheated cookie sheet in a 450 degree oven for about 5-6 minutes.  Reduce temperature to 325 degrees.  
2.  Remove casing from sausage, brown in skillet, breaking up the meat until crumbly and cook thoroughly.  Drain well.
3. In a bowl combine eggs, milk, cooked sausage, cheese and peppers.  Turn into partially baked pastry shell. Bake at 325 degrees on the preheated cookie sheet for 45-50 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean from center.  Let stand about 10 minutes to set before serving.
Serve topped with sour cream, salsa and shredded lettuce for a super yummy treat!  Enjoy
Happy Day,
Jean

to see more about us go to our farms website at

www.thegardengatefarm.com

 
 

Raised Bed Gardening, Plant Container Ideas, Yummy Savory Garden Cornmeal Pancakes and more...

"We do not see nature with our eyes, but with our understandings and our hearts."  William Hazlitt

Has Spring sprung?  it surely does feel like it.  I was talking to a friend this morning about the Robin spotting (other day's blog)  and she said her Snow Drops were blooming.  Come Spring come!  This year I am putting in a new raised bed garden over by our barn hill that will be specifically for Neil's sausages!  I am so excited about growing and drying all the herbs. Raised beds are such an easy way to go for anyone, especially if you don't have a large area.   If you want to have a no fuss, no muss garden try raised beds, they require very little maintenance and can grow almost everything! 

Raised Bed tips on how to make & grow!
*The lumber you use should be at least 10" high or higher if you want it. Although for proper root growth this is the minimum. 
*Do NOT use old rail road ties, no matter how many you get for free- they contain a poison called Creosote that will leach out into your soil, be taken up by the roots of your plants, nourish the plant and you get all the by-product in the fruit that it bears when YOU eat it! Yuck!  Stay away from treated lumber for the same reasons.  (this pertains only to those who want to grow organically!)
*Your raised beds can be as long as you want them to be, but the best width is 4' wide.  With this width you can easily 'reach' in from both sides.  You never want to 'step in' your RB, this compacts the soil, which makes proper root growth more difficult.  My farms RB's are either 4'x4' or 4'x8', these work best for me.
*Find a sunny location in your yard and decide how many you would like, or should I say how many would fit :-) !  I would not have a stitch of grass if I didn't have boys that need 'play space'!
*Fill your box with from the bottom up with a mixture of well rotted manure, compost, old grass clippings, hay or straw and top with a rich, loamy soil. 
*After you have your box filled with all the plants you want to grow, put a layer of newspaper (NOT colored print sections) about 3-4 sections thick between your plants, top with a layer of grass clippings or straw to act as a mulch. You will have virtually NO weeding!
*Water thoroughly and enjoy your hard work! 
For a very concise book on Raised Bed gardening I always recommend 'Lasagna Gardening' by Patricia Lanza.  I also recommend companion planting with all your growing ventures. I use Louise Riotte's, 'Carrots Love Tomatoes'.  Both these books will give you a great start to your gardening ventures.

Other nifty ideas for plant containers:
1.  Old galvanized chicken feeder or waterers, tin buckets, watering cans, old metal double burner caners (see picture) enamel ware anything... be sure to put drainage holes on the bottom- unless there it is well rusted and has time worn ones, even better!
2.  Wheel barrow's or old wagons can be found at any flea market or garage sale.  You can either put the plant pots directly in the containers or fill em' with dirt and direct plant.  Either way, totally adorable!
3.  Barrels or metal wash tubs are great as well.  I have a old half barrel at my back door with a bleeding heart in it.  When it is in full bloom it is simply stunning. 
4. Old drawers, crates or even an old wooden trough (yes I have had one).  These work great in your garden's to add depth and interest.  You can plant anything in them. 
The idea's are endless, if it has a hole to put dirt in you can plant it, just depends on your taste!  The key to successful container gardening is proper drainage.
*One more tip- to save on dirt when filling very large containers, recycle packing peanuts, old broken Terra cotta pots, small plastic pots, etc.  Put these in the bottom of your container until about half filled, then pour on the dirt!  They will also be much lighter if you need to move them!

Here's a yummy recipe using Taylor's Cornmeal Pancake Mix!
Taylor's Savory Garden Cornmeal Pancakes
1 Pkg. Taylor's Bake Shoppe Cornmeal Pancake Mix - follow instructions and add to batter:
1 cup niblet corn, drained                                                  

1/4 cup diced bell pepper (any color
1/2 cup diced red onion, from Garden Gate                        

  1 small carrot, peeled & sliced

1/2 tsp Taco Seasoning    

1/4 oil

1. Stir together all ingredients except oil. 
2. Heat oil in a frying pan over medium-high heat.  Drop batter by 1/3 cupfuls into hot oil.  Cook 3-4 minutes on each side until golden brown.
Garnish with fresh chopped Cilantro, sour cream and Salsa !
Happy Day,
Jean

 
 

Robins & Geese, Kitchen Gardens & Yummy Potatoes, oh my...

A few weeks ago our friends Kevin & wife Hilda spotted twenty-one Robins in their front yard! Kevin is the music teacher at our childrens school and he told the children how he and his wife gazed out their living room window in awe counting.  Back in February when Neil & I were in Saugatuck we watched about seven fairly large flocks of Canadian Geese heading North.  Well, many an old timer would say, 'The birds know..."  I believe it.  
This weather sure puts me in the mood for gardening even more!  I have several herbs planted in the green house right now; Basil, Rosemary, Parsley, Oregano, Sweet Marjoram and several others.  A few years back my daughter Taylor was reading through one of my Country Garden mag's and came across an article on Kitchen Gardens.  That was all it took for her and then, 'Mom, could we make a kitchen garden?'  Well I never say no to creating another garden, so we went right for it and now we have a lovely garden right off the side of our garage that is easily accessible from the back door and adds beauty to our yard.  We incorporated a Tea bed and several perennials along with the veggies we plant each spring.  My favorite spot in it is the Herb Garden.  I used several old drawers and other containers to put the herb's 'in'.  There are all the perennial herbs that come back year after year and then we try a few new ones each year as well. We always incorporate the annual have to's - primarily Basil! Oh how we love our fresh Heirloom tomato Brushetta with fresh picked basil and garlic.
Here are are a few tips for making your own Kitchen Garden:
*First, make sure your new garden is near an entry door to the house where you can easily go out and gather the bounty for your meals.
*Make sure there is a water source nearby that a sprinkler can be used.
*Do a 'map' of the area and what you would like to incorporate before you start.  Get the proper info on each plant and know how much space you will need for it's growth habits.  I have made the mistake of not giving enough room too often in the past and end up climbing over and through a mass of plants.
*Use container's of all sorts to add an eclectic look. This will also help keep things where you want a bit easier.
*Use flowers to add beauty & charm- you can choose edible ones as well!
I like to take before & after pictures so I can see the progress and see growth over the years.  Have fun in the garden, it is a happy place to be.
Cute Herb Tag Idea:  Take small pieces of broken old slate, painting the name of the herb on it, and spraying it with an acrylic sealer.  Place the marker at the base of each herb.  Then the next year when cleaning up the garden spot there won't be any problem with identification. 
Here is a yummy Winter Thyme Potato Casserole
Of course you can get your potatoes, bacon and thyme all from The Garden Gate Farms booth at the market...
20 Redskin Potatoes                                        
1 cup  Cheddar Cheese, shredded & divided
1 tsp Seasoning Salt                                         
1 tsp. dried Thyme
1/2 lb. Garden Gate Bacon, crisply                  1/2 cup  Butter, melted
cooked, crumbled & divided
1. Cook potatoes in boiling water until tender; drain.  cool and slice about 1/4 inch thick.
2.  Arrange half the potatoes in a greased 9"x13" baking dish.  Season with Matt's Mix & Thyme.
3.  Top with half the bacon and half the cheese.  Layer on remaining potatoes; repeat with other half of bacon & cheese.  Drizzle butter over top.
4.  Bake, uncovered at 325 degrees until cheese melts and casserole is heated through, about 30 minutes.


Happy Day,
Jean

 
 
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