Garden Chick - Notes from the Garden

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Blueberries-Grow Your Own

We started off with three blueberry bushes in our garden a few years ago. We are down to one. One succumbed to the Barbie Jeep, and I have no idea where the other one disappeared to, so blueberry bushes are on my list of purchases when I visit the Chattanooga Market next Sunday.

Most blueberries need a different variety near them to encourage a lot of fruit. The one bush left standing bears very good and is a "rabbiteye" variety, which grows well in the south, and is a more compact variety. We will need to look for a different variety which is for our Zone 7.

Be sure and choose the right variety for your climate. My blueberry bush is hardy in Zones 7-9 so be sure an check with your local nursery before purchasing.

Like most fruits and vegetables, blueberries do best when planted in full sun, but will tolerate some shade. When planted in moist, well drained soil, rich in organic matter, your blueberries will provide you with a bumper crop.

Blueberries are different from a lot of fruits, however, due to the fact that they prefer an acidic soil. (pH 4.5-5.5) You can amend your soil with soil sulfur before planting a new bush or sawdust, composted leaves, wood chips, cottonseed meal, leaf mold and especially peat moss, will lower the soil pH. You can pick up a soil testing kit from your local nursery or submit to your local agricultural extension center.

If you are planting a new bush, remove all the flowers or fruit the first year. Doing this will help establish the plant, and provide you with a bigger crop next year.
Plant your blueberry bush according to directions, then spread a deep layer of mulch over the soil around the plant. Pull it back away from the stem a few inches. This thick mulch will provide protection not only from the cool weather, hold in moisture, but keep voles, mice and other pests from attacking the plant underneath the mulch.

Blueberries are easy to care for, and should not require any pruning the first 5-6 years. After that, you may cut away any old stems to the ground, allowing new limbs to take their place.

Top dress each year with compost. The roots of blueberries are very sensitive, and can be easily damaged if you over fertlize. If you do use fertilizer, use it at a rate 1/2 or 1/4 of the recommended amount on the package.

Netting or fencing may be needed to protect your plants. The birds love our blueberries, and if not caught in time, can eat half your crop before you know it, and Granddaughters can really clean a bush off in record time!

If you don't have the space, or your soil is poor or stays soggy, blueberries can be grown in containers. Choose large containers, and plant in an acidic potting mix.
Blue-Blueberry Muffin
1/4 cup butter, softened
2/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon peel
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla1
1/4 cups blueberries
1 cup plus 2 tbsp cake flour, sifted
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup milk
1/4 cup chopped pecans,
optionalTopping:1 teaspoon sugar mixed with 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon or ground nutmeg
Preheat oven to 375°. In large bowl, cream butter, sugar, and lemon until light, about 4 to 5 minutes. Beat in egg and vanilla. Mash 1/4 cup of the blueberries and beat into batter. Whisk together flour, baking powder and salt.Fold dry ingredients into batter, a little at a time, alternating with milk. Fold in remaining 1 cup berries and pecans Divide into 8 paper lined muffin cups. Sprinkle each muffin with the sugar and spice mixture. Bake until muffins spring back when lightly touched, about 20 to 25 minutes.
For more blueberry recipes go to

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Thursday, April 23, 2009

Week 9 Blog Contest - Nature's Gift

At Nature's Gift we have been pleased and excited about hosting this week's contest. The hard part has been trying to decide what to offer as the prize!
We chose Deluxe Personal Inhalers from our new shipment, filled with the winner's choice of several healing synergies.

We'll ship one of these pretty purse-sized inhalers filled with your choice of our SineEase Synergy, for easing sinus pain and congestion, Happy Morning Synergy, recommended for easing the nausea of morning sickness, but also helpful for motion sickness, etc., or our research based depression fighter "Citrus Smile."

To be entered in the contest, respond to this post, here, and at all the blogs listed below.
And to make the contest even more exciting, ONE lucky entrant, drawn from one of the listed blogs, will receive a signed copy of Marge's Book "Essential Oils and Aromatics".
You may check these links for some of the reviews. From the Journal of the Northeast Herbal Association, or from The Massage Therapy Journal.

Remember all of the blogs below are participating, so visit all of them and post to increase your chances of winning.

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Monday, April 20, 2009

Earth Day 2009- Growing "Green" Kids

My first earth day celebration was in 1986 when my oldest son Josh was in the first grade. His school hosted many activities including beginning to recycle at his school. This project was sponsored by a number of "room mothers", including myself, and approved by the principle.

Today, 23 years later, I am enjoying introducing my granddaughters( 5 and 3) to gardening and a love of the outdoors. One minute they are playing with their dolls, dressing in high heels and make-up, the next catching minnows in a little branch running down our property, and digging for worms. You can see my granddaughters on my web page at .

Earth Day is April 22 every year, and is a great way to reinforce your committment to use less energy, eat locally, and save our natural resources.

Here are some simple ways to introduce children to "green living"

Create a green living reward chart and receive stickers for participating in green activities.
Decide what your reward will be for a certain number of stickers.

Have them decorate a pot and place a houseplant in their room. Situate in the correct light for their plant and water it when it is thirsty.

Remind them to turn off the lights, television, stereo, and computer when they leave the room.

Turn off the water when brushing teeth. This will save a couple of gallons every day. Did you know Americans use 100 gallons of water each day, and that is twice the rate of other industrial nations

Purchase a resuable bag for your groceries. Keep in the car for those quick trips into the grocery store or local farmers market

Visit a local farmers market. On average, food travels over 1500 miles to get to our plate. Introduce your children to locally grown food, and discuss how this helps local farmers, saves gas, and is much more healthy.

Plant a garden. Even if it is small, or a container garden. Tomatoes, peppers, herbs, onions, are some of the vegetables that can be grown in a container.

Plant a tree in your yard.

At the grocery store, look for products with recycled content such as toilet tissue, paper napkins, paper towels and facial tissue. We could save over 150,000 trees if each U.S. household replaced just one typical box of facial sheets with recycled sheets, 500,000 if each household replaced just one roll of 75 sheets of paper towels.

Buy school supplies made from recycled materials, and encourage the school to use recycled school supplies.

Use water bottles that are not disposable.

Have at least one all vegetable meal each week. A farmer uses an average of 6 gallons of water to grow lettuce, but 1,000 to produce a cheeseburger with lettuce. Feed for cattle is very inefficent to grow. When you do make your own burgers, use locally grown, grass fed beef. It taste better and is better for you.

Recycle and reuse: Recycle cardboard, plastic bags, paper, and aluminum cans. A cardboard recycling center on my way to work has one special bin to donate small amounts of cardboard to a local charity. Instead of buying containers for your kids rooms, have them decorate cardboard boxes to hold their pencils, supplies, jewelry pieces, cars, etc.... Donate used toys and clothes to a local thriftstore, or have a yard sale. Shop thrift stores and yard sales. Not only does it save money, it is reusing what someone else does not want.

Shop Wisely- Do you really need it?

Karen earth day activities for kids

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Compost Your Coffee Grounds

This morning, like so many other mornings, I emptied my old coffee grounds in the garbage. I admit it, I don't have a compost pile. I have meant to make one, but........
While drinking my fresh cup of coffee, reading the ads in the back of Mother Earth News, I came across an ad from Peace Coffee ( with ideas on uses for old coffee grounds. In the morning, my coffee grounds will be taken down to my newly plowed garden and dumped. I promise. (if it's not raining).

Did you know:
  • Coffee grounds provide a good source of nitrogen for your garden.

They can be applied directly as a top dressing to acid loving plants such as blueberries, hydrangeas, and azaleas. I have all three plants, so no excuses.

Combine your coffee grounds with browns such as leaves and straws to generate heat. They act as a green material. For large amounts of grounds added to the compost bin, add 1 teaspoon lime or wood ash for every 5 lbs to counteract the acidity of the grounds.

Use your coffee grounds in vermicomposting (worm bin).

Sprinkle used grounds around plants before rain or watering for slow-release nitrogen

Encircle the base of plants with a coffee and eggshell barrier to repel pests

To make a gentle fast acting liquid fertilizer, dilute a half pound of wet coffee grounds with five gallons of water.

Source: Picture from


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Thursday, April 16, 2009

Herbal Giveaway from the Rosemary House

Bertha Reppert (1919-1999) was the founder of The Rosemary House and our mum. She was a Renaissance woman ahead of her time when she opened a herb and spice shop in a conservative East coast town in 1968. Convinced that once everyone learned about herbs they would love these plants as much as she did, she became an avid educator about the secrets of herbs. Lecturing, writing and always promoting herbs, Bertha Reppert became a mentor to many. This weeks prize is a copy of her last herbal and one of our very favorites.

Bertha Reppert's TwelveMonth Herbal features 365 herbal essays one for each day of the year. Written like she is speaking to a friend this book is fun, informative and easy to read. Many folks have told us they reread the book every year and make their own daily notes in the margins. Be sure to leave a comment to this post and at the other participating herbal blogs (see the links below) for your chance to win this clever book (an $18.00 value) filled with herbal lore, recipes and crafts (priceless)

Sisters Susanna, the herbalist, and Nancy, the culinary artist, continue to share their Mother's love of all things herbal at The Rosemary House, the herb and spice gift shop, and at Sweet Remembrances tea room.

The following blogs are also participating, so stop over, post a comment on these blogs for additional chances to win this weeks giveaway AND the chance to explore some cool blogs.
Patti’s Potions
PrairieLand Herbs
Aquarian Bath
The Rosemary House (where a list of winners will be posted on the 24th)
Check back we have a couple more weeks of give-aways!

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Sunday, April 12, 2009

Gardening by the Moon, Part One, The Phases of the Moon

What was once old is now made new

I have said a number of times my love of gardening was handed down by my grandmother and father. I vividly remember when I was young, my grandmother waiting until just the right time to plant,according to the moons phase, and the signs of the zodiac. Was it a new moon? This was the best time to plant above ground annual crops. After the full moon? In go the root crops such as onions and potatoes. My Dad often consulted the Farmers Almanac to see when to plant.

The resurgence of organic and natural gardening has reignited a growing interest in lunar gardening. Added to an arsonal of weapons such as composting, companion planting, and organic fertilizer, planting by the moon can significantly effect the harvest and quality of the vegetable garden People may mistakenly think this idea is rooted in folklore or superstition, but there is actually science to back it up.
The Earth is in a huge gravitational field. As the Moon travels around the earth, it's gravitational pull on the earth creates the daily tides, and also affects the smaller bodies of water, including moisture in the soil.

New Moon:

During the new moon, the tides are at their highest. The Sun and Moon are lined up with the Earth. This is the first quarter and one of the two waxing phases. Seeds germinate easily, so it is the best time for planting, specifically annuals that produce their yield above ground, and their seeds outside the fruit. Examples would include: lettuce, spinach, broccoli, cabbage, celery, and grain crops. Cucumbers are one exception to this rule. Any activity that relates to growth and expansion should be undertaken in the waxing phase or the time between the two phases before the full moon.

Second Quarter:

The second quarter is another waxing phase, occurring immediately after the new moon. The second quarter produces good leaf growth, and is the ideal time to plant annuals that produce their yield above the ground, with their seeds inside the fruit. These would include beans, melons, peas, peppers, squash and tomatoes. Vining plants can also be planted during this time.

Any vegetable picked that is for immediate use should be picked during the waxing phase.

Full Moon:

This is the third quarter. The full moon is the waning period of the moon, or the time it's energy is drawing down. The moonlight is decreasing, and putting energy into the roots of plants. This is the time to plant root crops such as potatoes, onions, beets, carrots, and peanuts. Perennials, biennials, bulbs, shrubs and trees should be planted during this waning phase. Transplanting should be done during this time due to active root growth taking place, as well as pruning.
Fourth Quarter:
Due to the decreased gravitational pull and moonlight, this period is considered to be a resting period. You can cultivate, harvest, prune, weed, spray and transplant during this time. Drying, preserving, conserving your harvest is best done during the waning phase of the moon.
Also, mow your lawn during the 3rd and 4th quarter, as growth will be slowed during this time.

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Happy Easter

Happy Easter to all.

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Friday, April 10, 2009

Week 7 of the herbal blog contest

Welcome to week 7 of the herbal blog contest! This week we are featuring Aquarian Bath your source for all natural gentle soaps, herbal balms, salves, deodorants, and spa pillows. Aquarian Bath's soaps, balms and salves are either unscented or lightly scented with only pure essential oils. This week, enter to win you choice of a Lavender Spearmint Lip balm in a 0.15 oz tube OR a Lemon Lime Lip Balm in a 0.25 oz slide tin, and 20% off on your next order with Aquarian Bath.

The Lavender Spearmint Balm is made with Extra virgin olive oil, Shea butter, Beeswax, Castor oil, Spearmint and Lavender essential oil.

The Lemon Lime lip balm is made with Coconut oil, Shea Butter, Castor oil, Beeswax, Jojoba, Lime and Lemon Essential oils, and Zinc Oxide, a mineral used in sunscreens.

To win one of these lovely balms, enter by posting a comment in response to this blog entry and take a chance at winning! Entrants must include their email address to be eligible to win. US and Canadian residents are eligible. You can receive additional chances to win in the following ways:

* Tweet about this blog contest on including @aquarianbath in the tweet. Come back and log your tweet with a comment to receive 1 additional entry.
* Visit and join Aquarian Bath's fan page on Facebook. Leave a comment so we know you joined to receive 1 additional entry.
* Make a comment about your favorite item from Aquarian Bath's etsy or 1000markets stores to receive 1 additional entry.
* Make a purchase with Aquarian bath to on etsy or 1000markets to receive 3 additional entries.

*The following blogs are also participating, so stop over to enter with them for additional chances to win AND the chance to explore some cool blogs.
Aquarian Bath
Make a purchase from one of these 9 host blog's online stores to receive 2 additional entries and leave a comment at the host's blog's contest:
The Essential Herbal
Herbs from the Labyrinth
Patti's Potions
PrairieLand Herbs
The Rosemary House
Nature's Gift
Torchsong Studio
SunRose Aromatics
Garden Chick

One lucky winner from one of the 10 host blogs will be contacted to receive 2 free soaps of their choice along with their lip balm and 20% off coupon, so be sure to visit and enter at all 10 blogs.

The winners will be announced at the Aquarian Bath blog when the results are in from all participating blogs. Enjoy.

Keep coming back and keep entering. We have some great prizes coming up, and we'll be having the contests until the middle of May

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Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Georgia Garden Bloggers

Are you a Georgia Blogger? Then drop by and add your name to the list!

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Sunday, April 5, 2009

Dogwood Winter

What a gorgeous day today. The high was 72 degrees. The picture above is a little pink dogwood tree that we bought several years ago for "cheap" at a flea market. I didn't think it was going to make it but this year it burst open in bloom several days ago. The picture on the bottom was taken at dusk after a long day outside cleaning out the chickweed and various weeds. My Stella de Ora daisies have now formed 3 huge clumps after only peeping up from the mulch about 2 weeks ago. The bed also includes rudbekia, what I call society garlic (little purple flowers on shoots), bee balm, a peony bush, and purple coneflower. These are all coming up throughout the bed.
Not to be fooled by this wonderful weather, no planting has been done. Tomorrow begins a week of cool weather, with the highs in the 40's and lows down to 30. Guess this is what they call Dogwood Winter. Oh well, I enjoyed the day while I had it. I am sure there are those out there with snow still on the ground.


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Friday, April 3, 2009

Prairieland Herbs Healing Wands

Welcome to week 6 of the herbal blog contest! This week, enter to win a .15 oz. Healing Wand from Prairieland Herbs! These healing wands contain herbally infused certified organic olive oil, locally produced beeswax, vitamin E, essential oils of tea tree and lavender, and are the perfect size for your pocket, purse, or diaper bag. They work wonders on cuts, scrapes, rashes, burns, dry skin, hangnails, etc. To win one of these useful and natural healing balms, simply enter by posting a comment in response to this blog entry and take a chance at winning!!! Don’t forget to include your email addy so we can contact the winner! The following blogs are also participating, so stop over to enter with them for additional chances to win AND the chance to explore some cool blogs.

Keep coming back and keep entering. We have some great prizes coming up, and we'll be having the contests until the middle of May!

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