Monthly Archives: March 2012

Joyeux Printemps and Bon Anniversaire, Paul

Joyeux Printemps and Bon Anniversaire, Paul

Firsts have always meant a lot to me. My mother was born on the first day of winter, my brother was born on the first day of spring and I was born on the first day of summer. If it’s the first of any new season, chances are good you need to have a birthday card handy.

It’s the first day of spring, what a way to welcome it in. We had gale force winds, trees are down, electricity is  spotty, and our Wii may have been surged. The Wii is a tragedy because that is how we watch Netflix in the den. I’m hoping it’s just some breaker that Ryan will be able to reset when he gets around to it.

So, it’s spring! Let’s garden!

I’m so excited about my Tom Thumb lettuce. Wait, didn’t you say you don’t grow lettuce? I said I have

Tom Thumb Lettuce Ten Weeks

difficulties with lettuce. I’ve been living in South Texas for the last la di da years and my lettuce has really loved to bolt. I grow romaine for the bunnies and use as much as they don’t eat and this year I’m growing Tom Thumb in the main bed. We’re much further north so it’s not going to bolt, right? Yeah, well, we’ll see. Read the rest of this entry

Ark of Taste

Ark of Taste

Have you heard of the Ark of Taste? If not, now you have.

Maintained by the global Slow Food Movement, the Ark of Taste is a catalog of heritage foods that are in danger of extinction. I love that this is food that is being preserved to use as food.

These fruits and vegetables are not being grown at University, in a Botanical Garden by Master Gardeners for scientists. This is food, being grown for food, by people like you and me. To preserve food because it tastes good! I love that.

When I found out about Slow Food I felt like I had reconnected with an old friend.  It was akin to when I was in the third grade and I found out that we needed to save the pandas. I knocked on every door USNB Beeville, TX. Those pandas were not going to save themselves. I raised $112.67, but it was 1977 so that was like 9 million dollars then, right? Now the panda has a fighting chance. Because of me and the Navy Base in Beeville, TX.

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Paisley Plant of the Week: Rich Sweetness Melon

Paisley Plant of the Week: Rich Sweetness Melon

“Why don’t melons get married? Because they can’t elope.”

When we moved to the Flint house, there was already a small garden in place. It was very small, but I really did love it. I loved it so much that I could completely forgive everything I gave up to come here. A soaking tub, gone. Marble counters, cherry over sized cabinets, history. My beautiful, glorious, sink down in neck deep water every single stinkin’ day soaking tub, a memory.

We arrived in East Texas, I immediately love the idea of being so close to my relatives. We’re less than an hour from all of the Parsnips immediate family and most of the extended. We’re close, but not really too close, if you know what I mean.

We live on a peninsula of the lake, there is not really a reason for anyone to “just drop by”. You wouldn’t be “in the neighborhood” unless you were taking the jet ski out, in which case you’re welcome to drop in first.

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Stuff You Missed in Botany: Leaves

Stuff You Missed in Botany: Leaves

Leaves are such fun! We love to see them stretch themselves in our little peat pots in the early spring. We love to see them set themselves ablaze in the dog days of summer and the proclamation of fall. We take treks to behold the wonder that are leaves.

So, what are they? How can we help them be healthy in our gardens?

Leaves are the organs of photosynthesis, typically flattened and thin. Although some leaves have adapted to be quite unrecognizable as a leaf in the way we think of leaves. The leaves of conifers are those needles you pull out of your carpet for six months after Christmas. The leaves of succulents are fat and juicy, sometimes waxy or pokey. (Pokey is a technical term, don’t try this at home)

Leaves come in a gazillion shapes, sizes and colors. Like people. (Gazillion, another technical term) = )

Leaves in my garden are the indicators of health for my plants. If they’re perky, green and abundant, life is good. Proceed with gusto. If they’re droopy, sallow and sketchy, an intervention of some sort is necessary. Proceed with caution. If they are rotted, brown and chewed on, well, it may be time for a new hobby or at least some new plants. Proceed to the seed catalog or knitting store, whichever seems logical at the time.

Leaves perform the duties of changing the energy in sunlight chemically into a form of energy or food for the plant. Think of them as tiny little powerhouses. They arrange themselves in such a way that they get the most amount of sunlight they can without shading their brother and sister leaves. If you’re even half observant in your garden you’ll see leaves turn themselves towards the radiance of the sun. It’s amazing.

Cucumber stretching to the sun!

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Beware The Ides of March

Beware The Ides of March

Throwback Thursday is a time to shine a spotlight on one of our heirloom varieties in an attempt to

Bougainvillea on a villa

Bougainvillea on a Villa

introduce it to new gardeners or remind us of a long forgotten friend.

Today I’ll be talking about Bougainvillea. Family: Nyctaginaceae Genus: Bougainvillea

The perfect plant for hot areas, the bougainvillea shines above the…..




We interrupt this regularly scheduled programming to bring you breaking news!

Beware the Ides of March!

What Ides you say? I’ll tell you what ides. The big three ides…Fungicide…Herbicide…and (da da dum) Pesticide!

The bane of all that is good and holy in the garden!

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What Mother Never Told You About Weeds

What Mother Never Told You About Weeds

East Texas is bursting in to bloom. The Parsnip has a job preaching at a very small church in a little town south of us called New Summerfield. It’s a tiny town, boasting one stoplight, one gas station but no fewer than 40 greenhouses. I asked one of the locals about this, they said New Summerfield is the growing capital of Texas. I’m not sure if this is true, but I’ve seen evidence myself that it may be. They have a Color Spot house, a Bonnies Plant store, and family owned greenhouses a plenty. (Haha I went to the Chamber of Commerce page for New Summerfield—it is, indeed The Plant Capital of the South according to their web page population 998)

New Summerfield, TX Greenhouse

Greenhouse in New Summerfield

It’s a lovely drive and we really have enjoyed our times spent listening to podcasts and visiting with each other for the 35 to 40 minutes it takes to get there. So, get to the point, right? Okay. This past Sunday on our way to New Summerfield we saw field after field of the most beautiful yellow wildflowers.

Fields of Yellow on the way to New Summerfield

Saffron Fields on the way to New Summerfield

The Gunz family are no slouches when it comes to wildflower looking. We take the requisite “Bluebonnet” tour each year at Brenham and College Station. We do the Azalea Tour (okay that’s not a wildflower, but you get the point) in Tyler. We have driven far off the beaten path, yea, verily I say, off the path completely, to see some flower, plant, or tree. This is the first time we have seen this saffron sea as far as the eyes can see.

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Anyone Can Can? 5 Things to Can and Preserve This Year

Anyone Can Can? 5 Things to Can and Preserve This Year

I am amazed at the resurgence in popularity of life skills that were once completely taken for granted, deemed “archaic” and “dying arts” that now are considered chic and fresh. Recently I read an article that surmised more people under the age of thirty knit than do over the age of sixty. My friend Staci Brown, a statistics teacher, would say that was skewed because of population density or size of survey but that, notwithstanding, is an interesting supposition I think.

Anywhere you look you can see a mounting interest in homesteading, gardening, canning and preserves, and several of the needle arts from bygone eras. You can find it in the bookstores, on television, on the radio, podcasts a plenty, even our fashions are reflecting the trend.

One of the most popular dresses right now is a modern version of the “pillow case” dresses that were prevalent in the depression of the Thirties. It’s interesting to me that during the depression these were used because flour sacks and feed sacks were used to make pillowcases because that was the only “fabric” people could afford or was available, and now these dresses are made from expensive designer material very often.

Dress made from Flour Sack 

Antique Flour Sack Dress

New "Pillow case" dress

Modern equivalent of the old "Pillow Case" Dress


So what does any of this have to do with the garden? Hold your horses, I’m getting there.

We’re at the precipice of the growing season, so close to jumping off. Now is when we need to decide to can or not to can. If you’re going to be putting up some of your produce, it’s a good idea to get your stuff together now so you’re not in a mad scramble come August or September when you have fifty pounds of tomatoes, two bushels of zucchini and mountains of green beans in your kitchen. If you’re not going to can, you should start deciding who you’ll be giving all of your leftovers to and arrange for delivery. ; )

If nothing else, start looking for bargains on canning jars, easily the most expensive component when canning after you have your basic equipment. Remember, you can reuse jars, but you’ll need new lids and collars. I get jars from estate sales and yard sales all the time, you’re going to sterilize them anyway, why not?

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5 Things I Want to Know About You or Sunny With a Chance of Parsnips

5 Things I Want to Know About You or Sunny With a Chance of Parsnips

It rained non stop for five days. After the drought we have had, let me tell you, it was glorious. I didn’t even mind getting soaked trying to run into the church building yesterday. Today dawned warm and sunny, which means I need to be out in the garden. The seedlings are going to be set out soon and there are still chores to be completed before that can happen.

So, today is all about you. I want to know five things about you. I’m always talking about me. I want to hear from you. What is your gardening story? Who are your gardening heroes? What makes you tick and what makes you sick? After you leave your comments, send me a message with the title “Paisley Parsnip Participant” to with your particulars and I’ll send you a packet of seeds. Thanks for participating, and have a Paisley day~KeriAnne

  1. Finish this sentence: If I could only grow one thing, it would be…
  2. Would you say a) I have always had an interest in gardening, it’s been a passion all of my life. b) I have always liked plants, but I didn’t really garden until later in life. c) I never really thought of gardening one way or another until (insert event) happened. d) toothbrush
  3. The one person that has influenced my garden or love of gardening is__________and this is why___________.
  4. I don’t grow___________, and this is why ____________.
  5. If I had more room I would a) plant more plants of ___________ b) branch out to other plants like maybe _____________ c) get more animals instead of more plants d) toothbrush

Thanks again. Don’t forget to email me with the title “Paisley Parsnips Participant” at for your free seeds. Free seed offer ends April 1, 2012


Paisley Plant of the Week: Winged Asian Bean

Paisley Plant of the Week: Winged Asian Bean

Have I got a paisley plant for you and she’s a beauty! How would you like a plant that you could eat every single part of? A plant low in calories, high in protein and high in flavor? Look no further!

Asian Winged Bean

The Asian Winged Bean has arrived!

Asian Winged Bean plant

Grown much in the way as a pole bean, the carefree vine loads on the beans beginning in September and will continue to be generous right up until your first frost. As I mentioned before, every part of this plant is edible. Not only edible, but delicious. The tuber has a nutty flavor and has up to 20 grams of protein, far more than a potato or even a sweet potato.

The leaves can be eaten fresh, or cooked like spinach. Unlike spinach, they are readily available in even your hottest weeks. The flowers are a beautiful lavender and have the taste and texture of a good mushroom, lovely in salads. And finally the pods, a mixture of a snow pea and asparagus flavor, can be eaten raw, cooked, or they can be dried and cooked like any other dried beans.

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Stuff You Missed in Botany: Scoville Scale

Stuff You Missed in Botany: Scoville Scale

Some like it hot and some sweat when the heat is on...”~Robert Palmer (via Duran Duran)

This pepper is hot. But what does that mean? Hot when it comes to the spiciness of a pepper is subjective, right? I mean, two serranos in a Thai stir-fry is approaching the right “heat” for my son, but has me running for the milk and an alternative meal. Subjective.

If only there were some way to quantify the spiciness of a pepper without relying on the conjecture of an individuals palate. Thank you Wilbur Scoville.

In 1912, Wilbur Scoville devised a method called the Scoville Organoleptic Test, giving us a scale that measures the capsaicinoid content of a substance. In other words, how “hot” something is depends on how much capsaicin is in it.


So, what’s not and what’s hot?

The scale is pretty straightforward. If a pepper has a lot of capsaicin, it’s hot. If it has less capsaicin, it’s mild. Here is a nicely colored picture available from

Scoville scale

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