Welcome to my Western Pennsylvania garden. Join me on a "Walk Down the Garden Path".

Friday, May 30, 2008

Butterfly and Blooms

It has been a while since my last post because we have been working like crazy to get this yard and garden in order. Between the mowing, trimming, weeding, and planting there was no time for posting. Here is the first of many catch up posts.

While outside after a day of working, Lillian and I spotted this butterfly on the alliums. She stayed around long enough for us to get the camera and take several shots. Here are two of them.

Saturday, May 17, 2008


Asparagus - A Haiku
Tender stalks of green
bring a delicate flavor
to Springtime dishes

I haven't written any poetry lately so I thought I would try my hand at it again. I hope you enjoy the results. I like Haiku because of the simplicity.

Our asparagus crop did very well this year. If I remember correctly, we started our patch three years ago. We have about nine plants in the garden and another large clump in a field above our house. This clump was there when we moved in and my husband has to make sure he doesn't mow it down. It is a rather large clump which we should probably try to move down with the rest but it's one of those low priority projects that just hasn't happened yet.

Here is a recipe for an Asparagus Frittata that was very good. I adapted it from a recipe by the California Asparagus Commission.

Asparagus Frittata with Red Bell Peppers

1 pound asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1 inch pieces
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 yellow bell pepper, diced
1 onion, diced
8 eggs or 1 carton egg beaters
salt and pepper
1 cup cheese of your choice (feta, cheddar, parmesan)

Saute bell pepper in olive oil until soft, but not browned.
Add onion and asparagus and saute about 2 minutes more.
Whisk salt and pepper into beaten eggs.
Stir in cheese and sauteed vegetables.

Coat the inside of a heavy, non-stick 12-inch frying pan with olive oil. Pour the egg mixture into the pan. Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven, covered, until eggs are just firm, about 35 minutes. Remove cover, bake until top is lightly browned, about 10 minutes.

Loosen the frittata, then cover pan with a large, warmed serving platter. Flip frying pan over onto platter. Cut into wedges and serve.

This is how mine turned out. I used egg beaters from a carton. I used my cast iron skillet to saute the vegetables and to cook the frittata. We served it right from the pan, I didn't flip it to a serving platter.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

May Blooms 2008

This morning I walked around and took pictures of all the May Blooms.

My Rhododendrons are in full (Scintillation)

and just starting (not sure of this one's name but it's very common in Western PA). And of course my early rhodo - PJM is quite finished.

And my red azalea is looking good this year. Unfortunately his white counterpart did not survive the winter.

There are a couple of iris blooming right now. The purple bearded are just starting.

And here's a white one that grows on my hillside garden.

Here is a clematis that is blooming.

And almost all of the alliums.

A walk through the vegetable garden shows some lettuces and such doing well.

And the newly weeded chives (finally I can see them!) are blooming very nicely.

I'll end this post with my most beautiful Lily of all, my 6 1/2 month old daughter. She always joins me in my gardening ventures and can't wait to have her own garden.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Rain, Rain, Go Away

Isn't it a shame that you can't bottle up and store some of the incessant springtime rain and save it for dry, dusty days of July ? Sometimes it seems that all it does is rain in Pittsburgh and it looks like this week is going to be one of those times. I swear, I think you really can sit and watch the grass grow - and just be sitting five minutes.

But I shan't complain too much, for the rain also bring a lush, verdant look to the entire yard and garden. Of course some of that lushness is the weeds but we will overlook them for the moment. Instead, let's focus on how beautiful blossoms can be with the raindrops settling on them like a summer's dew. And how the rain makes the ferns and mosses thrive. And you can't have rainbows without rain. Well, you can't have them without sun either and unfortunately we don't have any sun right now.

I guess what I am trying to say is that if circumstances beyond your control (like the weather) force you to not accomplish what you had planned to do (work outside in the yard/garden) don't sit and sulk about it. Find the beauty in situation - there's always some there. And use the time to do something else that you've been putting off because of all the yard work. Like reading a book, working on a craft project, writing a letter, posting in your blog, maybe even some housework. That's what I am going to do. There's always tomorrow for the weeding. And with the rain, the may be bigger but they may also pull out a little easier.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Garden Gnomes Sighted !

The Garden Gnomes have returned from their winter home (somewhere in Southern Florida, I believe) and were seen getting busy doing some garden work. One of them was sighted tending to the peas and radishes while another was busy at the newly delivered pile of compost.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Lemon Tree Oh So Pretty...

This is our biggest Lemon crop yet. Four lemons from our Ponderosa Lemon Tree ! Yes it is possible to grow citrus in Pittsburgh. You just need to bring them in during the winter and give them a sunny location, don't overwater, and once it starts to warm up outside they can go back out. We bring them in when nights are below 50 degrees F, especially if they have flowers or new fruit set on them. I used these lemons as a marinade for Coconut-Crusted Chicken. Here is the recipe. It was very tasty.

Coconut Cashew Crusted Chicken

2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 cup shredded coconut (sweetened is ok)
1/2 cup cashews (raw is better)
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
2 limes or 1 large lemon
2 tablespoons of your favorite marinade (i.e. tequila lime, ginger soy)
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/2 cup flour

1. Slice chicken breast into thin flat strips - 3 or 4 per breast
2. Grate the zest from you citrus and set aside. Juice your citrus and add to your marinade mixture. Let the chicken marinate in the for at least 30 minutes.
3. Chop the cashews into small pieces. Combine with the coconut, cilantro and zest in a shallow bowl.
4. Put the flour in a shallow bowl. Mix the egg with 1 tablespoon of water and put this in another shallow bowl.
5. Coat the marinated chicken pieces in flour, then egg, then the coconut mixture.
6. Place in a baking pan. When all pieces are coated, bake at 375 degrees until chicken is cooked.

This is very good served with honey mustard and was also good cold.

Thursday, May 1, 2008


It's amazing that eggshells and apple cores can turn into black gold. But that's exactly what happens when they are composted. This is such an easy way to get a nutrient rich additive to add to your gardens.

To get started you first need a compost area. Since it can tend to be a bit unsightly, you might want to position it out of the way of the main view of your garden. There are several different compost pile styles to choose from. I have a ventilated plastic shell with a lid that opens at the bottom to pull compost out from. You can just have a pile, which is what I had before a friend gave me the spare shell she had. If you have a pile, you may want to fence it in.

The next step is to add your compost materials. This can be grass clippings, leaves, kitchen scraps, basically anything organic. Just no meats, fats, or dairy products. That is not good for the compost pile. Now the final step and the one that I don't do nearly enough. You must turn your compost pile in order to facilitate the decomposition of the materials. Ideally you should probably do this once a week. Just get in there with a pitchfork and mix up your pile. Since I have a plastic shell, what I need to do is lift up the shell, move it over, and then shovel the pile back in, mixing it up as I go. If you use a fenced in area you can do the same, just have twice the space of your pile and then you can go back and forth each time you turn. The easiest by far is to have a barrel that you can just turn. This is the Cadillac of compost bins and a little expensive to buy, although if you are industrious you can make your own out of an old water barrel. Then it is easy to turn your pile every day, you just spin your barrel and you will have compost in no time.

Once your materials is decomposed you will have a beautiful, black, rich substance. This is perfect for giving a boost of nutrients to your garden soil.

Now I have to get out there and turn my pile. It's been sitting there all winter and I need some compost for my garden !

Happy Growing!