Rainy Days and Sundays

I planned to do some planting today, but it rained. . . a lot.  Don’t get me wrong.  This is a good thing, especially since all the signs, thus far, point to a drought year.  Alas, I was looking forward to putting something in the ground.

I still have not planted anything in my actual garden plot.  While I am usually a last minute type of girl, this is getting ridiculous.  I guess much of Memorial Day Weekend will be dedicated to planting the veggies and tidying the flower beds.   (This is important because I am hosting the Natrona County Master Gardener’s monthly meeting in less then 2 weeks!)

Luckily, some things have returned, so my veggie plot does not look completely desolate.

French Tarragon

French Tarragon

I added tarragon to my garden last year and had no idea that it would actually come back.  This is a delightful herb that, sadly, I overlooked until recently.  James Beard once said, “I believe if I ever had to practice cannibalism, I might manage it if there were enough tarragon around.”   With tarragon, I believe I could too.


My love of Thyme, is surpassed only by my love of Tarragon.  I have at least three plants that survived our mild winter.  I have been growing thyme for a couple of years and this is the first time any of my plants have survived the cold.


Until last year, I would have sworn to you that I hated sage. . .passionately.  I was wrong.  I never knew how versatile this lovely herb could be.  I made the most wonderful sage pesto (which I will share at a later date) and fried some up Tuscan style (thank you Gayla Trail).


This picture represents about 1/3 of the garlic I planted last fall.  I love garlic.  As a rule, I double . . . sometimes triple. . .the garlic called for in any recipe.  (Perhaps that’s why I’ve never seen a real vampire, despite my best efforts.)  Don’t even get me started on garlic scapes.  I planted three varieties this year. . . Red Rojas, Fireball, and Music.  Yum! I can hardly wait.  I heartily agree with Lois Diat that “without garlic, I would not care to live!”

I also have a bunch of lavender which I neglected to photograph.  Again, I came to the culinary delights of lavender only recently.  I thought of it as perfume or ingredients in an eye pillow, but not as food.  I made a lavender vinegar that is a wonderful addition to fresh peaches, strawberries, or watermelon.




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For the Love of Potatoes

Years of living in small apartments with very little space has given me a deep and abiding love for container gardening.  Containers give you options for color, design, and if you’re anything like me, cramming as many plants as possible in a tiny space.

I’ve tried to grow just about every vegetable in a container, yet somehow, it never occurred to me that potatoes were made for container gardening until last year.

Luckily, I ran across a description of “Trash Can Spuds” in Gayla Trail’s book Grow Great Grub.  (If you haven’t read this book, run out and buy it now!)  Within minutes of reading her wonderful instructions for these marvelous spuds, I became obsessed with finding the perfect container (one trashcan and two large plastic pots) and blue seed potatoes.

These are the basic steps (adapted from Ms. Trail’s checklist).

  1. Find your container.  It should be at least 18″ deep.  This year I chose a metal trashcan and two 18″ cloth containers.
  2. Make sure you have plenty of drain holes  (on the bottom and the sides of the trashcan) for the best drainage.
  3. Fill your can with 6″ of potting soil.  Place your seed potatoes evenly over the surfacing leaving 5-6″ between each.  Cover with 2-3″ of soil and water lightly.
  4. Keep the soil moist, but not waterlogged.
  5. When your potatoes are about 8″ tall, add more dirt (or straw) until about 2/3 of the plants are covered.  Repeat this step, until the dirt (or straw) reaches the top of the container. (NOTE: I have not used straw myself, but I have been assured by better gardeners than myself that it works just as well and cuts down on the use of expensive potting soil.)
  6. Again, make sure you keep the potatoes damp, but not soaking.
  7. When your potatoes are done flowering, they will start to turn yellow and die back.  Cut back your watering and allow the plant to dry out.
  8. After a couple of weeks, you can harvest your potatoes.  Just dump out your trashcan and gather your reward.
Follow these simple steps and you should have a plentiful harvest of delectable potatoes by the end of the season.  
In the spirit of full disclosure, I must confess that all of my efforts last year yielded a grand total of three teeny-tiny blue potatoes. I attribute this to my folly, not the technique itself.  There is a reason why this blog is called Gardening Clueless.  I just hope this year’s crop will  be much more fruitful.
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I’m just not ready!

I have been in serious denial about gardening season this year.  I’m already behind (which I’m beginning to realize is a perpetual state of being for me).  This year it seems worse because spring came early. . . way early.

If I were on the ball, I would have potatoes, peas, carrots, beets and turnips already planted.  Alas, I have nothing planted.  Luckily, a few plants survived our mild winter.  I have thyme, tarragon, lavender and sage that are thriving.  I also have a very sad rosemary plant that is pleading with me to put it in a pot.

My goal is to get the cold weather crops planted, the rosemary happy and my tomato selections completed this weekend (unless its windy).

I also plan to update my blog on a regular basis.  It is my new year’s resolutions, which to date, is a miserable failure.  Springs seems like a better time for resolutions anyway.  Also, blogging seems like a good way to track my gardening progress from year-to-year.

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Summer is a great time for fresh herbs and spices.  Currently my garden is full of fresh basil, thyme, oregano, sage, parsley, tarragon (which is a first), and the ever versatile mint. Regular mint, spearmint, peppermint, chocolate mint, and pineapple mint.

Mint is refreshing as a tea (with lemon balm for extra flavor) and my favorite. . . Mint Juleps.  There is something so soothing about the combination of mint and hard alcohol on a hot summer day.

The following recipe is not a traditional Julep, but still wonderful.  This recipe was adapted from a recipe I received from a long lost friend.  I’ve forgotten the name, but remembered the Julep. . . You can see my priorities here.

Lemonade Mint Julep

1 Cup Lemonade

1 Cup Sugar

1 Cup Water

3-5 Tbs Fresh Mint (muddled)

Gin or Bourbon (to taste, I like a lot)

Combine water and sugar in small saucepan.  Heat until sugar is dissolved, creating a delightful simple syrup.  Let cool to room temperature.  Take 1/2 cup of the simple syrup and muddle mint leaves using a wooden spoon. Combine syrup, lemonade, gin and mint in a pitcher.  Cool for one hour.  Serve over ice (crushed is traditional) and with a garnish of fresh mint.


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Ah, summer, what power you have to make us suffer and like it. ~Russell Backer

Summer is coming to a close and I chose today to be my first real blog post.  Why, you might ask, would someone start a gardening blog in August.

Well, I finally got enough guts and time to do it. (Okay, I had the time, I just put it off for a year.)

I have five great loves in my life:

  • My husband
  • Reading
  • Cooking
  • Gardening
  • Crafts (currently Knitting)

While this is primarily a gardening blog, a few of my other loves will creep in from time to time.  I will share recipes and food preservation tips.  And . . . . when I figure out a use for knitted pea scapes (sweater anyone), I’ll pass that on too.

I love gardening.  I love the dirt . . . the responsibility of watering early in the morning (unless I’m tired) . . . . bees buzzing around my beautiful plants . . . . the pride of finally growing a heirloom tomato (just one, but still an accomplishment) . . . .harvest time (yum).

Despite my love of all things green and leafy, I am not a great gardener.  I make rookie mistakes (even with 15+ years of trying) and I’m easily sidetracked (particularly if shopping is involved). Until this year, it never occurred to me to grow in any configuration other than a row (square-foot what).

I’m also easily overwhelmed.  Gardening is all well and good when your planting and watering, but staring down the barrel of a tomato avalanche makes me want to hide in my house and cry.  All the canning, processing and pressuring loved ones to take one more bunch of mint (“Yes, you really need more!”) is time-consuming and never-ending (at least for now).

I just want to skip to the eating part.   (Maybe that should have been one of the great loves. hmm. . . .).

My garden is a work in progress, but I am proud of it. . . . weeds and all.

P.S.  I’m secretly trying to convince my husband to convert our whole yard (front & back) to a vegetable garden. Screw resale values.

Posted in General Gardening Info, Tomatoes | 1 Comment

Hello world!

This Blog is currently under construction as I figure out what I’m doing.

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