Category Archives: Leaves

Throwback Thursday: Rue Herb o’ Grace

Throwback Thursday: Rue Herb o’ Grace

Herb of Grace? Why is it called that?

Rue: Rutaceae Genus: Ruta

Rue? Why don’t we hear more about it?

It turns out that it was once as common as basil or oregano in the kitchen. Not so much today. This is a very old plant. It is used medicinally and in cooking.

The leaves are used in cooking as a spice for eggs, cheese, and meat. It can also be eaten fresh in salads, although it is extremely bitter, it is said to increase your appetite. I’m not a particular fan of bitter, but I must say I’m eager to try this now that I’ve read a little about it.

Common Rue, lovely flowers

I’m particularly interested in it’s use as a medicinal. It has such a broad range of uses, it seems like it was just used for everything, from colds and fevers to melancholy and hiccups. There were some pretty strong warnings about it as well. The oils of rue should not come in direct contact with the skin, as this can cause blistering and an acid type reaction. Also, pregnant women should not use rue, as it can cause miscarriage. However, it is indicated for use as an aid for menses.

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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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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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Throwback Thursday: Moss Rose

Throwback Thursday: Moss Rose

On Throwback Thursday I try to shine the spotlight on an heirloom variety. For some people, this is an introduction to a treasure from the past, for others a memory spark about a long forgotten favorite.

Today’s Thursday Throwback is Moss Rose, or Portulaca. This is also called Common Purslane and is considered an edible plant, good eaten in salad and also in stir-fry.

Portulacaceae: Portulaca grandiflora: Portulaca, Moss Rose

Moss Rose is extremely hardy. So hardy in fact that it can become invasive if you don’t discipline it regularly. However, it’s so pretty, you may choose to ditch the grass and keep the Moss Rose. Portulaca comes in many shades of red, orange, pink, white, and yellow. This little guy is so tough, you can often find it growing in the crevices of sidewalks, between paving stones and even in cracks of building foundations.

Portulaca has a really low profile, preferring to meander close to the ground. If pruned properly, it can reach it’s full height of about 30″. Okay enough of the jibber jabber, let’s see the flowers.

"Rosita"

 

White Sundial

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Stuff You Missed in Botany: Photosynthesis

Stuff You Missed in Botany: Photosynthesis

Photosynthesis: a biochemical reaction using a carbon molecule to produce an organic molecule, using sunlight as a catalyst

This is what you missed in Botany (or have forgotten from 7th grade science) explained three ways.

It’s a great idea to try to understand photosynthesis if you are a gardener. This can help you understand why plants react the way they do to our particular lighting conditions. This can also help us figure out where we want to plant things in order for them to be the most “photo” happy, thus giving us our desired result, a thriving plant.

Okay, so what is photosynthesis?

My four kids have all been home schooled for all of their academic careers. My two oldest kids are now in college. I have a son in 8th grade and a son in 1st grade. All four have taken, or in Patrick’s case, will take, Botany.

Ryan and Meghan were a breeze to teach. Ryan is a visual-spatial learner so I wrote everything out with charts and diagrams. Meghan is an audio learner so I spoke the lessons as well setting things to music whenever possible.

I’m saying all this to tell you that I learned I had to explain things different ways in order to get the same material across to four different people learning things four different ways. That’s how I’ll explain photosynthesis now. Three ways.

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Plant Discipline. It must be done.

Plant Discipline. It must be done.

I root for the underdog. I’m loyal to my team even when they lose. I still make excuses when my twenty year old throws a fit about taking out the trash. “He’s tired, he hasn’t been sleeping well lately.” When it comes down to it, I generally try to avoid the big d word.  Discipline. There, I’ve said it. Now if only that were enough.

Plant discipline. It must be done. What does this entail and, more importantly,  how do I get around it? When it comes down to it, there is no getting around it. Specifically this discipline, thinning seedlings, pruning, training climbers and weeding.

We put all our gardening hopes and dreams in to planting our microscopic seeds. We water them, but don’t over water them. We carefully weigh the pros and cons of the heated seed mats. We turn the peat pots exactly 1/4 of an inch every day so the light can evenly bathe our little beauties. So, what do the books say to do next?

“Rip up the weaker of the three, leaving only the strongest.” Are you kidding me?  They’re all my babies. How can I choose. Flashbacks of Sophie…the room is going dark…. Would I have kept Ryan because he could read when he was four but gotten rid of Patrick because he’s dyslexic? Okay, hold on, reign in the drama.

The simple fact is, if you weed your seedlings, the plant that remains will be stronger and you’ll get better yields from it. I completely understand that in my head. I completely know it is an absolute must to thin seedlings. So, here’s what I do instead.

For some plants, I just suck it up and clip them off at dirt level when the strongest seedling has reached four true leaves. I do this for plants that are easily disturbed. I clip instead of pulling because if you pull, you can disrupt the roots of the strong plant you are intending to keep.

With germination rates of seeds, it is important to plant more seeds than plants you actually want. However, seeds do have a much higher chance for germination than in bygone years.

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