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Transform any space into a living spectacle with Air Plants: The Curious World of Tillandsias. Enter to win your copy as well as a cork tillandsias garden kit from Flora Grubb to help you get started.

It’s easy to enter:  Just follow the link below and leave a comment!

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Visit the Timber Press Scribd page for a print-ready version of this graphic (and more!).

Inspired by Daffodil: The Remarkable Story of the World’s Most Popular Flower by Noel Kingsbury

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Earth Food

by Guest Poster on November 19, 2014

in Food

Written by David Deardorff and Kathryn Wadsworth, authors of What’s Wrong with My Vegetable Garden?, this post originally appeared on their blog.

Earth Food

David has been talking about storing summer bulbs, and it got me thinking about all the things we who live in cold climates do to prepare for winter.

As gardeners we store bulbs, corms, tubers, and tuberous roots. These plant structures store the net photosynthate that the plant produced during the growing season. Which means: plants store food to survive the winter and grow again in spring.

Somewhere in our pre-history we learned a lesson from plants and started storing these same plant parts for our own food. We “lift” tubers like potatoes (Solanum tuberosum) from the ground, shake dirt free and, in former times, placed them in root cellars. Today we might store them in cardboard boxes or burlap sacks in our garages. We also gather tuberous roots like sweet potatoes (Ipomoea batatas) and bulbs like onions and garlic, and store them through the long months of cold when we cannot grow food outside.
3 onion beautiful 68As November proceeds in the northern hemisphere, we prepare for festivals at which we gather and share our stored bounty from the garden. Storing food is all about coziness, feelings of safety, belonging, and abundance. Despite the hardships of the season—driving rain, cold, and, snow—we enjoy our winter feasts.

David’s family cherishes traditional winter feasts. Mashed potatoes are a must. Close relatives of tomatoes, eggplants, chili, and bell peppers, potatoes come from high in the Andes of Peru, and have been grown for over 6,000 years. Breeders have mixed the gene pool to create the multitude of varieties we have now.

We all have favorite potatoes, but I particularly love the ones with tender skins and flavorful flesh, such as Yukon golds. I also like to mix it up with the newest—or oldest, depending on how you look at it—Peruvian blue and purple potatoes. But tradition often dictates the good old russet. No matter which potato we choose, I use a recipe I learned long ago:

Simple Mashed Potatoes (serves 4)

  • Potatoes: 2 lbs
  • Milk: enough to barely cover potatoes
  • Salt, pepper, butter to taste
  • Scrub the potatoes and leave skins on. Cut them in half inch cubes.  Boil them in milk until tender. As you mash, add butter, salt and pepper to taste.

Sweet potatoes come from lowlands throughout the Caribbean and South America, and people have been mixing genes from these gems of the earth for a long time to create many tasty cultivars. Some of these cultivars are also called yams by grocers in many areas of the U.S.

7 beets harvesting 92crop

Still, our favorite bounty from the root cellar through the winter is:

Root Cellar Bounty

  • Bulbs: Onions, Garlic
  • Tubers:  Potatoes
  • Roots: Sweet potatoes, Beets, Carrots, Parsnips
  • Olive oil: enough to drizzle the vegetables in a thin coating
  • Favorite herbs:  such as thyme, rosemary, and sage.
  • Cut all the vegetables into bite-sized pieces. Lay them in a single layer in a 9 x 13 baking dish. Drizzle them with the olive oil until thinly coated. Roast them in a 350 degree (F) oven until fork tender.
  • Yum. Oh, you should probably let them cool for a bit before you bite them.

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Storing Summer Bulbs

by Timber Press on November 18, 2014

in Gardening

Written by David Deardorff and Kathryn Wadsworth, authors of What’s Wrong with My Plant?, this post originally appeared on their blog.

Storing Summer Bulbs

Glorious flowering bulbs of summer can light up your garden all through the warm summer months. Some, like tuberous begonias and dahlias, bloom all summer long. Others, like gladiolus, cannas, and crocosmia, have a more definite and shorter season of bloom. All are among the most flamboyant of summer flowers. They come in a brilliant rainbow of colors, many provide much needed height, and all add interesting texture and form to your garden. Oddly, though all those mentioned above are called bulbs, none has a true bulb. Instead of real bulbs they have a variety of underground storage structures like corms, tubers, or tuberous roots.

dahlia65 adj crop

If you live in a cold winter climate, you need to dig up most of your summer flowering bulbs in autumn before hard freezes occur. Unlike spring blooming bulbs such as tulips, daffodils and crocus, these summer blooming bulbs are tender and will be killed by winter cold. You should dig up tender summer flowering bulbs in the autumn before hard freezes occur. Then you divide them, store them through the winter somewhere where they won’t freeze, and re-plant them in the spring. Garden jargon calls this process “lifting” the bulbs.

crocosmia99 adj crop

Dig them up, shake off as much of the soil as you can, and set them on newspaper in cardboard boxes to dry for a time. When the little bit of soil clinging to them has dried out, brush away the soil and store them in labeled paper bags until time to plant again next spring.

A couple of tips for success:

  • First, never store bulbs in plastic bags. Plastic bags don’t breathe, and they trap humidity. Both conditions promote bulb diseases. Put them in paper bags.
  • Second, dust them with sulfur after you’ve cleaned them up and before storing them. A good way to get them dusted is to put them in a zip-top plastic bag (only temporarily!), add a tablespoon of dusting sulfur, close the bag tightly, and shake. You should wear a face mask to avoid breathing the sulfur dust into your lungs and you should wear gloves to avoid getting it on your skin. Sulfur is a mineral element, mined from the earth, and is routinely used in organic gardening practices to control fungus disease. It is a relatively safe product but some people can have allergic reactions.
  • When your bulbs are well coated with sulfur, put them into a paper bag, label the bag with the kind of bulb, the name of the cultivar, and the date, and store your summer flowering bulbs in a cool, dark place through the winter until you can plant again in the spring. Dusting with sulfur prevents fungus spores from germinating as bulbs in storage can easily become infected with blue bulb mold, a fungus disease.
  • If, in spite of your best efforts, some of your bulbs become moldy while in storage, throw them away. Don’t plant them. And don’t keep them near your other bulbs. You’ve heard how one rotten apple can spoil the whole barrel. Same goes for bulbs. You don’t want one rotten bulb to spoil all the rest.

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All images: Steve Trudell

Guidelines to help you avoid the dark side of mushrooming from the authors of Mushrooms of the Pacific Northwest.

Ask most Americans or Canadians what proportion of mushrooms are poisonous and likely they will say it is high. This leads to the common perception that eating wild mushrooms is a risky business on par with being a movie stunt-person or jumping motorcycles over large canyons. Although it is certainly true that mushrooms can, and do, kill people, the data show that such occurrences are both rare and nearly always preventable. Nationwide, of the many calls to poison control centers in the U.S., only about one in 200 involves mushrooms and, of these, the vast majority involve incidents where there are no symptoms—usually a child was found chewing, handling, or even just looking at a mushroom and the parents panicked.

So who gets poisoned and why? The simplest answer is people who don’t know what they are doing eat mushrooms that they shouldn’t. Thus, if one invests a bit of time learning some basic mushroom identification and maintains a conservative attitude in deciding what to eat, mushroom-hunting and -eating (mycophagy) can be a perfectly safe and rewarding pastime.

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The Cultivating Garden Style author shares her tips on how to create a garden that reflects your personality.

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Turmeric is known as a fugitive dye: with exposure to sun and washing, the color will fade from bright yellow to lighter, less saturated shades. All images: Tristan Davison

Turmeric is known as a fugitive dye: with exposure to sun and washing, the color will fade from bright yellow to lighter, less saturated shades. All images: Tristan Davison

Some of the easiest natural dyes for the beginning dyer to work with are in your kitchen cabinet. They are fun, nontoxic natural dye materials to get you started with the world of color.

Turmeric is a tropical plant that yields an orange-yellow spice from its dried, ground root. Turmeric dye creates a bright yellow. You can use the ground turmeric root available in powdered form in the spice section of your market. Or if you live in a tropical area, you can easily grow the turmeric plant for dye material; using freshly grown turmeric root will create an even stronger dye color. You process turmeric root either by cutting it into small pieces, then grinding or pureeing it, to create a bright and satisfying dye.

As an easy and rewarding beginning project, consider dyeing an old piece of natural fabric or a seldom-worn cotton, silk, or wool garment you have in your house. There’s something magical about transforming a familiar object into something stunning and new with a dramatic color change. Examples could be a piece of reclaimed linen fabric that you turn into a vibrant yellow tablecloth, an old white wool sweater that is freshened with a bright yellow hue, or a plain cotton shopping bag you want to make more colorful.

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How to make a mini gabion

by Timber Press on October 22, 2014

in Craft, Design

All images: Kelly Fitzsimmons

All images: Kelly Fitzsimmons

Gabions, which are metal mesh baskets that hold rocks or concrete, have historically been a tool employed by the likes of civil engineers. But these industrial building blocks have come into vogue for uses beyond securing structures and edifices.

Today, gabion cages are regularly put to use in garden design as an alternative to other retaining wall materials. Additionally, smaller versions can become footings for arbors, benches, planters, or even the foundations of modern water features. On a small scale, you can create a candle holder or base of a planted centerpiece that captures the gabion look and construction.

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Informal, quirky, and engaging characterize this garden style.

Cottage gardens hold near-universal appeal, as they are often the gardens of our parents and grandparents. Born of necessity, the cottage garden was the original homesteader’s paradise. Always an overflowing, informal place where chickens might mingle with kids and bikes and vegetable patches, as well as the occasional artistic work of a neighbor or the homeowner, the cottage garden remains a lively place where there is always something going on.

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Cultivating Garden Style author Rochelle Greayer shares her strategy for design inspiration.

Who wants a cookie cutter house anymore? No one I know. It is much more fun to let your character and taste shine through. We express our personal style every day in the choices we make: clothes, home decor, food, and products we buy. As far as I am concerned, a garden is just another room of the house, another place to define and dress however you see fit. There are many ways to gather and organize motifs, moods, and samples in order to get in touch with your taste and personal style. Here are some of them.

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