Posts tagged Botanical Interests
Garden Bloggers Gather

What do garden bloggers like better than writing about gardening and plants? They like gathering in verdant places like Seattle, The Emerald City, experiencing new gardens. and joining the "sisterhood of garden bloggers" across the country. Okay, there were a few fellas in the mix, too.

This year's garden blogging conference, dubbed Seattle Fling, was a compilation of nearly 80 gifted garden writers who pen their passions about all things gardening. A "Who's Who" of multi-talented voices naming off plant names like a foreign language.

It is a diverse group, not just for the climatic regions they represent, but how they hail their expertise. Some are Generation X, with soon-to-be-released garden books under their belts. Some are forefront blog sensations who can proudly say they have almost a decade of posts and writing in their arsenal. Some are veteran garden writers and speakers, well known in this country's garden circles.

This phenomenon of garden bloggers and writers gathering together magically happens once a year, usually in July. Last year it was in Buffalo, New York, serendiptously coinciding with Buffalo's Garden Walk. Next year's 2012 event is tentatively planned to be held in Asheville, North Carolina.

Garden bloggers attending this year's Seattle Fling 2011, experienced a well-planned and orchestrated itinerary of private and public gardens, retail garden shops and nurseries, a David Perry photography workshop, West Seattle's Sunday morning Farmers Market, and a spoiling by garden-related sponsors.

Garden bloggers were treated to this unique concrete "ruin creation" by Little and Lewis in a wooded private garden. The concrete leaf fountain now moss-aged with water and time, was originally molded from an actual Gunnera leaf.

A trip to the picturesque waterfront Olympic Sculpture Park featuring 21 works by world-renowned artists was both captivating and breathtaking, capturing the essence of Downtown Seattle on one side, and the beauty of the Olympic Mountains and Puget Sound on the other.

VintageGardenGal wishes to thank everyone involved in this year's Seattle Fling 2011, and embraces her fellow garden bloggers.

Do You Grow Fava Beans?

Colorful Fava Beans I generally plant fava beans in my potager every year. I think it is because they remind me of Europe. Fava beans were a staple in northern Europe before the introduction and popularity of the potato. When I'm in Europe, I see fava beans for sale at outdoor markets, and mentioned often on restaurant menus. While fava beans have been cultivated in Europe for centuries, fava beans are relatively new to the American farm, market, and garden.

I absolutely adore their catchy black and white flowers which remind me of black-eyed peas. Oh yes, and I love their slightly nutty buttery taste, too. Fava beans are also known by the names; Broad beans, Windsor beans, English beans, and a few others. (Please note, in some cases, a few people can be allergic to, or have an enzyme deficiency to fava beans. I have never experienced this or heard of this personally before, but have seen it in my reading).

In mild climates such as Southern California, I sow my fava beans in the fall, and patiently wait 150-180 days later, for harvest in spring. Fava beans are a legume, and require a long, cool growing season. Fava beans are also considered a beneficial cover crop, because they are high in nitrogen, and return nitrogen back, enriching the soil where they are grown.

I plant my fava bean seeds in a large full sun plot in my potager, where their height won't affect my other growing vegetables. Seeds need to be planted about 2" deep, and 6" apart. Allow for about 24" between your rows. Mature fava bean plants, do not require staking or support, and can reach 4' to 5' high yielding apple green pods, 6" to 8" inches long, with 5 to 7 beans in each pod.

The best reason for growing fresh fava beans is their wonderful taste and versatility. You can utilize young tender fava bean pods whole, or shelled when mature. Fava beans can be used in light spring pastas, hearty soups, pureed as a dip, sauteed as a vegetable, or used as a substitute for lima beans. It seems like every year, I see yet another creative way to use fava beans in spring recipes.

If you are not familiar with fava beans, I whole-heartedly recommend growing them sometime. Fava bean seeds are easy to find through your favorite seed catalogs. Territorial Seed and Botanical Interests both carry fava beans. In the garden, fava beans are quite striking in appearance, easy to grow and cultivate, add nitrogen back to your soil, and reap a tasty spring legume.

Please share if you  are familiar with, and grow fava beans in your garden? Please comment on your favorite way to enjoy fava beans.

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Let Your Sunflowers Go To Seed

Drop Dead Red Sunflowers This is a new category first called "Garden Economizing", which will offer you wonderful economic and often ecological tips to save you money in your garden, yet enhancing your garden.

Do you grow sunflowers in the summer for flower arrangements? For a dramatic look in the garden? To feed the birds? Yes, sunflowers can become a living bird feeder in your garden....and for a seed packet price.

Two summers ago, I bought the seed packet Drop Dead Red Sunflowers from the Botanical Interests seed company, out of Broomfield, Colorado. See "Meet A Magnificent Mustard", at VintageGardenGal for a previous mention of Botanical Interests seed company. It is a big seed packet for $5.49, net weight 4 grams. Normally, I don't spend that much on seed packets, but their illustration and description lured me in. These "Drop Dead Red Sunflowers" are a beautiful array of various reds, burgundy, and yellow 4'-5' tall sunflowers. Perfect for fall.

I planted my entire "Drop Dead Red Sunflower" seed packet last summer, and they were beautiful in bloom. I let them dry, and go to seed. This spring, some of last year's "Drop Dead Red Sunflowers", reseeded once again, and began another growing season. I was thrilled. After enjoying their long-lasting blooms, I again let these sunflowers dry, and go to seed. This summer, I was rewarded with numerous eye-catching goldfinch every morning feasting in their usual manner, upside down on the bobbing sunflowers.

So for my $5.95 seed packet investment, I have had two growing seasons of sunflowers, and counting, and enough free wonderful natural sunflower seed for my delightful goldfinches to enjoy for a couple of weeks. It is important to note, that In your zone, in your garden, you will attract native wildlife birds to your garden that might not necessarily be goldfinches.

I also hang a year-round goldfinch feeder in our plum tree, for the pure enjoyment of watching these fascinating birds. I regularly fill it up with nyjer seed, a favorite goldfinch seed. Keeping our goldfinch feeder filled can add up, so it helps to supplement their food source with goregous sunflowers grown in the garden.

Add your thoughts, do you grow something special for your wildlife birds to enjoy? Do you have bird feeders in your garden? Do you think letting some of your plants go to seed for the birds, attracts unusual birds to your garden?