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Making Black Bean Soup

Making Black Bean Soup

Soup really hits the spot on cold days. Granted, here in coastal Alabama, we’ve had a relatively mild winter, but we have had some nights where we had to take tender plants indoors. On nights like that, we enjoy making soup or chili. Last night…

My Favorite Cake Icing to Make — Cream Cheese Icing

My Favorite Cake Icing to Make — Cream Cheese Icing

Don’t you want to swipe your finger through the icing on this cake, and take a bite? This delicious, creamy icing (a.k.a., frosting) works well with many types of cake and cupcakes. Bo especially loves it on devil’s food, or any dark chocolate cake. I…

Making Chicken Pot Pie

Making Chicken Pot Pie

Occasionally I make little individual pies, and freeze them. It’s a bit more trouble, but on days when we do not want to cook, it’s nice to be able to reach into our freezer and pull out two of these individual servings of chicken pot pie, and pop them into the oven. Add a salad, and you have a great meal.

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I have listed milk as an optional ingredient. If your pie filling mixture is too thick, it can be thinned by adding a tiny bit of milk. Only you can judge if you’ve added enough to reach your desired thickness.

I Made it!

I Made it!

This is an old blog post originally published a year ago, and moved from my old blog “In the garden With Maria”:   After several years of wanting to take the Florida Master Gardener course, and having multiple conflicts, I was finally able to fit…

How to Prune Variegated Ginger

How to Prune Variegated Ginger

Jennifer P. told me of her variegated ginger, and how tall it has grown. She asked the best way to prune it.   There Are Several Reasons to Prune Variegated Ginger (Alpinia Zerumbet Variegata):   1. When the plant grows too tall for your garden:…

Goldenrod

Goldenrod

 

As early as July, the goldenrod had grown tall, but was blending in with the other wildflowers and, yes, weeds, along highways throughout the South, and probably other places, too. I saw it in Georgia and Alabama on a trip in early July. By now, its blooms are painting the sides of highways and country roads gold.

 

We can appreciate its beauty more now that we know it is not the cause of seasonal allergies. The culprit is ragweed which blooms about the same time as goldenrod.

 

 

 

If it has not yet begun to turn that gorgeous golden color, it will any day now. I hate to think of the time I ripped out a lot of goldenrod  before I knew it was the ragweed (that I left untouched) that caused my sneezes, runny nose, and itchy eyes. No wonder I didn’t feel any better!

 

Unlike plants with large, showy blossoms, wildflowers typically have clusters of tiny flowers. This is probably why they re-seed themselves so readily to provide large masses of color. Here’s a closer look at those tiny flowers.

 

 

 

Goldenrod was once the state flower of Alabama, but many who wanted a “real” flower, not a wildflower had it changed to the camellia which is gorgeous, but requires a lot more attention than the self-sufficient goldenrod. We’ll talk about camellias another time. Oh, before I forget, goldenrod still has the honor of being the state wildflower.


Do I Need to Dig Up My Dahlias Here in Florida?

Do I Need to Dig Up My Dahlias Here in Florida?

Barbara’s Question About Dahlias:  Barbara G-H. moved here from New York where dahlias have to be dug up every autumn, stored over the winter, and replanted each spring.  During a golf outing, she told me about her dahlias that had become quite ragged-looking the previous summer,…

How to Shape a Crepe Myrtle Tree Grown Too Large

How to Shape a Crepe Myrtle Tree Grown Too Large

Sharon F. recently read my article on HubPages, entitled “Proper Pruning of Crepe Myrtles” and e-mailed me about her myrtle. Here’s Sharon’s question:    “My Crepe Myrtle is getting too large (both tall and wide) for the space where it was planted. How would you approach…

Keeping Poinsettia Alive After the Holidays

Keeping Poinsettia Alive After the Holidays

Over the years, many of my friends have asked about keeping poinsettias alive after the holidays. So here is what I’ve learned over the years. I have lost count of the questions I’ve been asked about how not to kill these beauties, so rather than take a chance on omitting someone, I’ll not mention the names of those who asked. What I will do is share what I have learned about caring for poinsettias.

How to Care For Your Poinsettia:

Poinsettias, how we love them!  They are enjoyed by so many this time of year, yet so many are killed shortly after the New Year. Okay, maybe not intentionally killed — maybe loved to death by too much water or not enough light indoors. Many suffer from dry indoor heat, and are often neglected after the holidays. Could it be that we simply don’t know how to care for them? Nah, it couldn’t be that… well, maybe.

 

Light:  Poinsettias need full sun: at least 6 hours per day.

 

Hardiness: Poinsettias are cold hardy in USDA Zones 9B – 11. I live in Zone 9a which is north of 9b, so I will take no chances if we get below-freezing temperatures, which we may get in January or February. They are happiest at temps above 50 F.

 

Water:  The soil should feel moist and cool when touched, but not soaking wet; too much water is as bad, if not worse than too little. If your potted poinsettia feels very lightweight when you pick it up, it probably needs water. Just feel of the soil to see if it’s dry. If it needs water, take it to a sink and water it well, allowing the excess to drain away.

 

Be sure to remove the decorative foil that comes with most poinsettia purchased during the holidays when watering these delicate plants. This is true for any potted plant — those foil wrappers are death traps, as they allow the plant to sit in water that has escaped the drainage holes in the bottom of the pot. You definitely want this water to be able to drain away completely.

If you are diligent about checking for water collected in the foil wrapper, you could leave the foil on, but only if you know you will remember to check on it. Will you remember if the phone rings, or the baby cries, or the doorbell rings? Not me. So I remove the foil during the watering process, then replace it after I’m done. On the other hand, if I have a pretty cache pot to put the ugly plastic pot into, I trash the foil and use the pretty pot.

 

Enjoy your holiday flowers, and your holidays.

 

Merry Christmas!  Happy Hanukkah! and Happy New Year!

 



Making Strawberry Jam

Making Strawberry Jam

A couple of years ago we spent a week in Scotland and England, where we ate delicious scones with strawberry jam every day. In England, we had them with clotted cream. In Scotland, butter was used instead.   After returning home, we decided to try…