Category Archives: Roots

The Summer Is Here!

The Summer Is Here!

Today is the first day of summer! So happy summer! It’s the longest day of the year (or the shortest if you live on the other side of the world).

Summer is…

  • a time for home made and carted popsicles.
  • swimming pools or swimming holes.
  • firefly lanterns and sleep outs.
  • lemonade on the porch and watermelon in the fridge.
  • secrets with friends.
  • daisy chains and banana bikes.
  • pirates and princesses.
  • grandparents and cousins.

It’s the first day. What are you going to do with your summer?

Make it paisley!~KeriAnne

Comfrey, and the Livin’ is Good!

Comfrey, and the Livin’ is Good!

In a rather neglected part of the yard, over by the treeline of the woods, I have three Comfrey plants that seem to like their arrangement. I like them there as well. They have pretty lavender and white flowers and they will come back next year even though I’ll cut them down to two inches this year.

As a Green Manure, Comfrey is a workhorse. As a natural fertilizer, it will be your “go to” plant food. You may even come to depend on it as you do your Aloe or lavender. This hardworking, often overlooked plant can really do wonders in the garden, and in the home.

I grow Comfrey for three purposes: compost, herbal medicinal, and as a nice border.


Comfrey Border by the woods.

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Gourmet Parsley? Yep.

Gourmet Parsley? Yep.

Parsley isn’t paisley. Unless, of course, it is.

This year I’m growing gourmet parsley. Three kinds of gourmet parsley to be more accurate.

You may ask, “What, pray tell, is gourmet parsley”? I’m so glad you asked.

Gourmet Parsley #1: Hamburg

Hamburg Parsley

Hamburg parsley is actually a parsnip (not my scoffing husband, Parsnip. The vegetable parsnip) The root can be used and is delicious mashed either with potatoes or just on it’s own. Seriously, most people cannot tell the difference between mashed potatoes and mashed parsnips.

I grow parsnips year round…well nearly year round. I sometimes have a break in July through August as they do love to bolt in the extreme of Texas summer. Last year, I just kept growing them, let them go to seed and saved the seeds. This will work if you are not growing carrots or other root veg in the immediate area. Most of the things that would cause cross pollination problems are cleared out by the end of May because of the heat, so it works for me. Read the rest of this entry

Time to Thin the Radishes

Time to Thin the Radishes

Time to thin the radishes!

Yesterday and again today I had to thin my radishes. I want my French Breakfast radishes to grow nice long beautiful cylinders so I am thinning them to a manageable line.

This prompted a search for what to do with all my little radish sproutlings. I came up with two ideas that I think are interesting enough to pass along.

First is a radish sprout sandwich. I’m not even going to bother with a “recipe” format. I cut thin bread into three inch squares, buttered the bread and piled on the radish sprouts. These little sandwiches are as scrumptious as they are cute. If you want you can slice some radishes thinly and put these on as well.  I think they would also be good with whipped cream cheese on the bread, but we didn’t have any so, there you are.

Radish sandwich! Yum!

The next idea I am giving a recipe for because it is a little more involved. I hope you enjoy it!

Radish Top Soup

  • 2 Tablespoons Butter
  • 1 large onion rough cut
  • 4 celery stalks rough cut
  • 3 potatoes diced
  • 4 cups raw radish greens
  • 6 cups chicken or vegetable stock (not broth)
  • 5 radishes (any variety) sliced thin (reserve a 6th for garnish if desired)
  • Course ground sea salt and pepper to taste

In a large saucepan melt butter. Add onion, celery, saute until tender. Mix in the potato and radish greens, stir until they are coated with the butter. Add in the stock, bring mixture to a boil, reduce heat to simmer. Simmer for 30 minutes or so. You can add the cream at this point simmer for ten minutes, or you can transfer the lot to the blender (or use your immersion blender in your pot) to make it really creamy and silky. Either way, add your cream, salt and pepper to taste, Serve with your radish slices, radish green sandwiches (see above) or some home made potato bread. Yum!

Radish Top Soup and sandwiches Yum!

Another variation I love with this is to add a few avocados, they make it buttery and even silkier. It really is delicious and so so easy!

Paisley Plant of the Week: Green Meat Radish

Paisley Plant of the Week: Green Meat Radish

This is only the second year I have grown radishes. I had forgotten how fun they are. I remember now.

So, what’s fun about radishes?

To start with, they grow super fast. Super Fast! I started a line of French Breakfast on a Thursday, this was them on Tuesday.

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Stuff You Missed in Botany: Propagation from Cuttings

Stuff You Missed in Botany: Propagation from Cuttings

When the Parsnip was a young preacher just getting started, we would often visit with the older members of our congregation. We would see if they had any physical, environmental or, most pressing in our line of work, spiritual needs.

While living in El Dorado, Arkansas we were always glad when the time would come to visit Henry and Marguerite Hogg. Henry was a strapping man in his early eighties when we met him. He had stories, many stories of how he had been a school teacher (at age 16!), then went on to be the county postmaster at the ripe age of 19. He had been to war, lived through the Depression and raised a strong, loving family.

As interesting as it was to visit with Henry, I always looked forward to my visit with Marguerite. This tiny, 5 foot, soft spoken woman chose her words carefully and didn’t “put on airs”. I liked that and I liked her. But, my favorite thing about visiting with the Hoggs was…the violets.

Marguerite had loads and loads of beautiful African Violets.They covered every inch of every windowpane. Rich burgundy, royal purple, majestic pink, quiet lavender violets, violets, everywhere.

Violet Array

One Thursday morning Curt (the Parsnip) called me and said, “Hey, Henry and Marguerite want us to come over, can you be ready in 20 minutes”? When we got there we had coffee and some treat or other and then Henry took Curt out to his large, beautiful garden to talk man things. Marguerite said, “I want to give you a violet, you always admire mine so”. I was thrilled beyond words. My own violet treasure. Read the rest of this entry

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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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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Root, Root, Roots and All!

Root, Root, Roots and All!

My brother in law, Roger, used to have a rather large vegetable garden. After a career change, he moved to a city house that did not have the yard for a garden.

Recently I asked him what he missed about growing his own veg. His response puzzled me at first. He said, “I miss being able to eat stuff straight from the ground.” Again I was a little confused. Isn’t all vegetable  matter straight from the ground? After a little ferreting out, I realized what he meant.

He misses the root crops. He grew beets, turnips, radish, and carrots primarily. He had the obligatory tomatoes and peppers, but his passion was the roots. Being a southern boy, he also loves greens. The things he had in his garden with the exception of the carrots make nice greens as well.

I must admit, I am only slowly coming around to the root family. My family doesn’t enjoy cooked greens. Until last year, I had only planted carrots and parsnips. This year I have branched out considerably. This is due mostly to the amount of gardening space we are now allocated.

In times past I would have had to have sacrificed something my family loved for something they only tolerated. However, with the new house came new space. Space to stretch my gardening legs. This year I am growing turnips, “Red Top Ideal”, beets, “Chioggia”, and radish, “Spanish Black”, “Philadelphia White”, and “French Breakfast”. These are along with my regular crops of carrots and parsnips.

Root crops are pretty happy crops as a general rule. They really are not fussy or demanding. They like light, well drained soil and they like to be fed pretty frequently. Radish likes a cool head and will spice up on you considerably if it’s too warm. It’s important to make sure you don’t have and rocks or clay clots in your bed. As the root is going down, when they encounter an object, a rock, a clot, a root from a tree, they will either bend around the object, or split  and continue growing. This doesn’t change the nutritional value in the least, but it does make for odd shaped harvests. It also makes your plant work a little harder which can lessen your yield a bit.

Again, you can eat these, but they are not ideal and can be avoided with a little prudence ahead of planting.

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Phat Tuesday! pH Levels. Oy Vey!

Phat Tuesday! pH Levels. Oy Vey!

pH levels and what to do about them.

I am not a scientist. I do not play one on TV. However, my degree was in Library Science, which has enabled me to find out some of what scientists know.

Unfortunately, some of the information I was able to find seemed to be written in a foreign language of which I am not familiar. I speak Geek, but I wouldn’t say I was fluent in it.

Here’s what I was able to distill about pH levels.

  1. pH levels are a measure of the acidity (sourness) and alkalinity (sweetness) of soil.
  2. A numerical scale is used to express the pH level. The scale goes from 0.0 to 14.0, with 0.0 being most acid and 14.0 being most alkaline. 7.0 is considered neutral.
  3. It seems that pH levels are not a measure of soil fertility, but instead is an indication of the availability of access to the the nutrients. For instance, soil may contain adequate nutrients and yet plants may not be able to access those nutrients because of an unfavorable pH level.

What does that mean for gardeners? I think of it this way. I have four kids, they have four different values of nutritional needs in order to function properly. However, all four have different tastes and preferences. In order to make sure they get what they need, it may be necessary to make it palatable for them.

For example, all four need vitamin C. I could put out four glasses of orange juice for them to drink. But if Ryan doesn’t like orange juice, he won’t drink it. Meghan is on a diet so she leaves hers as well. Jonathan doesn’t like the pulp so his goes untouched. Patrick loves orange juice and drinks all four. Three of them did not benefit from the available juice or receive the vitamin C they needed. One of them is going to need the restroom in about 20 minutes.

Scenario #2, Necessary nutrient: Vitamin C

Ryan loves hot and spicy anything and loves vegetables. I give him a salad with jalapenos and sweet red peppers and tomatoes. Vitamin C delivered.

Meghan is on a diet. I give her half a grapefruit. Vitamin C delivered.

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