Posts in Plants
Omega-3 Chicken Forage Blend

Starting PVFS Omega-3 Chicken Forage Blend in Garden Flats In doing research for my upcoming new book, Gardening with Free-Range Chickens For Dummies (For Dummies (Home & Garden)) with coauthor Rob Ludlow of BackYard Chickens, I stumbled across Peaceful Vally Farm Supply's Omega-3 Chicken Forage Blend. What a find!

This organic forage blend is a real treat for your hens. It is available in 1 pound to 1,000 pound quantities. You can grow in it on a large scale in a pasture, in your garden, in a chicken run or zone, or even in 17" garden flats like I did.  Warning, Peaceful Vally Farm Supply recommends not grazing horses on this mixture. Flax can form prussic acid when exposed to frost.

This forage blend is a warm season crop in mild climates, and can be sowed after danger of frost in cooler climates. It needs regular irrigation, and most likely needs to be replanted each year. Keep your seeds moist, and your chickens away from this blend until it is the desired height for your chickens. Surprisingly, seeds germinate immediately, and in less than two weeks time is 3" to 5" high, the perfect height for chickens to graze.

In 2 weeks time, the forage blend is ready to be given to your chickens.

Peaceful Vally Farm Supply has refined this unique forage blend from their own expertise, feedback from backyard poultry enthusiasts, and university research. This blend consists of alfalfa, buckwheat, clover, flax, millet, rye, and rye grass. Feeding your chickens this forage blend ensures their eggs will be rich in Omega-3  fatty acids, an important component of a healthy diet for those eating their eggs.

My happy hens love this forage blend, and your chickens will too

My chickens go crazy for this blend as you can see in the photo. Most chickens devour the blend before the plants can set seed. Peaceful Valley Farm Supply tells me you can try and grow this forage blend in a raised bed with a protective wire over it to keep your chickens from eating it roots, and all. With the protective wire, the grass might have time to replenish itself, if you keep your chickens away from it as regrowth begins.This blend is not only great for chickens, but ducks and turkeys,too.

If you order the Omega-3 Chicken Forage Blend from Peaceful Vally Farm Supply for your chickens, be sure and tell them VintageGardenGal recommended it.

Potted Fall Spirit

Fall Vignette When I saw this ornamental grass, Pearl Millet, Pennisetum glaucoma, I knew I had to plant it in my vintage vintner buckets. I love this chocolate bronzy grass, because of its scale, color, and commanding interest. Could it be it stirs my Midwest roots. Pearl Millet reminds me of marshy cattails on the edge of a sleepy pond, and a surprising stretch resemblance  to an ornamental cornstalk.

Pearl Millet is a perennial. It likes sun, and will faithfully bloom summer to fall. In a pot it should be watered at least once or twice a week. I have a feeling planted in the ground, this grass could grow legs. Seriously, the plant tag states that mature size is up to 1-8' tall and 1-4' wide. I think I'm going to keep mine happy in it's potted state.

I paired Pearl Millet with a New Day Red Striped Gazania, that will  reach 10" high and conveniently fill in the base of my bucket. Last, I added  a wispy, trailing Muelenbeckia, Creeping Wire Vine. It has small bronze leaves that will complement the bronze foliage of the Pearl Millet and the reddish stripe of the Gazania. Other choice companion plants might be zinnias, petunias, and marguerite daisies.

I stacked my favorite dried apple gourds on my French cart, and enlisted my rooster statuary as sentinel, and the vignette is complete.

Please share if you happen upon plants that stir your creativity. Please share if you have a beautiful fall vignette of your own.

Simple Country Bouquet from the Garden

Besides growing your own edibles, it is a great idea to grow your own flowers for bouquets. Here is a simple country bouquet idea for an event I had this spring.

Flowers. My perennial sweet peas were abundant and in bloom. I have written about my lovely perennial sweet peas in more detail, Perennial Sweet Peas. Perennial sweet peas are easy to grow, bloom spring to summer, and return year and year. Perennial sweet peas are one suggestion. Let your garden dictate your bouquet.

Vessel. I collected Bulgarian yogurt jars back in the seventies. When traveling through Bulgaria, yogurt was sold in these simple-shaped wide mouth jars. Such a nice size, and an appealing shape. You can use any vessel you have on hand. Try using vessels which appeal to you and are a little out of the ordinary.

Embellishment. These Bulgarian jars are clear. For fun, and a little color, I lined the jars with peppermint geranium leaves. These leaves are very soft and fuzzy. They hold up well in water for several days. The leaves are the prettiest "Ireland" green which is fabulous with the various pinks of the perennial sweet peas. I could have added a pretty ribbon, or glass balls at the bottom of the jars.

In a way, this simple country bouquet from my garden is exactly what my dear friend, Debra Prinzing, and her photographer, David E. Perry, are trying to convey in their new book, The 50 Mile Bouquet: Seasonal, Local and Sustainable Flowers. Following after the "Slow Food" movement, Prinzing and Perry introduce us to the "Slow Flower" movement. Do you know where your flowers are grown? When they were harvested? If chemicals were used to grow them? Prinzing and Perry introduce us to local organic flower growers, gathering, and ultimate "Slow Flower" design. Using fresh flowers out of our own gardens is one easy step in this direction.

Please share if you are aware of local organic flower growers in your area? Please share if you create your own organic flower bouquets out of your own garden.

Elegant Roses Create an Elegant Holiday Table

For those of you with limited dining table space who need a floral arrangement which is not too overwhelming in stature and height, try this floral arrangement which compacts rose heads. I've seen this type of floral arrangement in flower shops in Europe, and sometimes in dazzling floral demonstrations. It can be done for any occasion, and in any color. It is a design concept, which can inspire you to create an arrangement of your own.

I have an antique dining table which is very long and narrow. I love our table, but it is always a little challenging to get candles, place settings, and sometimes flowers squeezed in. I did this arrangement for our Christmas dinner, and it worked out well.

This floral arrangement starts with a table oasis which you can readily find at floral supply stores. The oasis is soaked in water as usual, and then placed in a plastic form box which keeps your tablecloth and table dry. I choose white roses, but you can choose any color rose which compliments your particular theme.

Start with fresh roses, and cut them at an angle to about 3-4" in length. Line them up, shoulder to shoulder in your oasis. Remember that your roses will continue to open up, and expand in your floral arrangement. Creating this arrangement 2 days ahead allows the roses to open more, and fill in the arrangement with a mass look.

For greenery, I clipped foliage from my garden. I found green boxwood, feathery cypress, chartreuse euonymus tips, and blooming blue rosemary. You might have berries, pods, and other blooming shrubs to use from your garden. Green foliage is placed horizontally in the floral arrangement to hang over sides, cover your oasis, and complete the look.

This arrangement will last longer than usual because the water has less distance to travel to the rose head. Check every few days if your oasis is still moist.

Please share if you create a special floral arrangement for your holiday table. Please share if you are familiar with this type of floral arrangement.

Find at the Fair

Strolling through this year's San Diego County Fair garden exhibits, I happened upon this ground cover perfection, Calandrinia spectabilis, or Rock Purslane. Aptly deserved, it was awarded "Noteworthy Plant" recognition.

Calandrinia spectabilis is a stunning evergreen shrub with succulent gray-green foliage. It is jaw-dropping spectacular in mass. Not only does it have a wonderful foliage and a soft look to it, it's fuschia-pink flowers on tall upright wispy stalks add even more drama. These precious vibrant flowers bloom almost year-round in Southern California gardens.

Calandrinia spectabilis can reach 2-3' tall, and up to 5' wide. It is a drought tolerant shrub, and will tolerate poor soil. It likes to be watered deeply twice a month, spring through fall, and once a month November through March. Deadheading spent flowers will encourage more blooms.

The Calandrinia spectabilis complements succulents, cacti, grasses, olive trees, and California native plants in many types of garden settings. I have a pea gravel courtyard with a centered water fountain. I planted a few Calandrinia spectabilis around my courtyard fountain to add a little color and surprise.

What a great plant find. I recommend planting this shrub ground cover in your garden or your favorite container. Look for it at your favorite local nursery, especially one that specializes in succulents or California natives. Please share if you have this shrub in your garden. Please comment on how you have used it in your garden.


VintageGardenGal Tidbit Thyme....

A fabulous facial is just as important to a "gardener gal" as her gloves, and favorite hoe. For those that live in the San Diego area, treat yourself to Orgin Day Spa. First time clients, mentioning VintageGardenGal, are entitled to 20% off a facial. I love their "Signature Facial." Treat yourself, and start your summer right!


Rhubarb Rules

Not everyone loves rhubarb. It seems like there are two types of people in this world. Those who love rhubarb, and those who don't. I fall into the category of loving rhubarb. I look forward to baking with it in the spring, picked fresh from my garden. I keep it in a tucked away place and basically just let it be. When I initially planted my rhubarb plant two seasons ago, I put a bottomless vintage pail over it to force it's desired stalks to grow straight and long. It worked.

For those who love rhubarb, you probably know quite a bit about it. It is often found cleaned and bundled at our local stores in the produce section, and farmers markets spring time into summer. For those who love rhubarb, it is always a treat to find it fresh, as it does have a short harvest season.

If you are planning on planting a perennial rhubarb plant in your garden, keep in mind, it takes about two years for your plant to be harvest-ready. A rhubarb plant likes full sun, acidic soil, and moderate water. Mulch it well in the spring and fall. Three to four rhubarb plants will suffice for a family's needs.

In spring, choose long, crisp-looking stalks from your plant. Gently pull at the bottom of each stalk to harvest, rather then cutting it from the plant crown. Harvest stalks carefully, leaving at least 1/3 of your original plant. Rhubarb plant crowns can be carefully divided with a shovel when they become too large.

Rhubarb stalks can be kept fresh in a refrigerator, preferably unwashed for about a week, and also can be cleaned, diced, and kept frozen in your freezer. Do not eat rhubarb leaves, as they are poisonous.

I thought maybe I could "dig up" some new facts about rhubarb you might not know.

Rhubarb is a vegetable, and not a fruit.

Rhubarb is related to Sorrel.

Rhubarb is usually cooked first before adding to recipes, due to its intense tartness, and fibrous stalk structure.

Rhubarb plants are long lived, and can be productive for a life time.

Rhubarb pairs well with citrus fruits like oranges and grapefruit.

Rhubarb as a savory, pairs well with meat stews, and legumes like lentils.

Rhubarb has a highly acidic property which reacts to baking soda in a magical way, creating amazing baked goods.

Rhubarb varieties come in green, pink, and red colors.

Rhubarb comes in purely ornamental varieties, too, so look to see if your rhubarb plant is edible or ornamental.

Rhubarb is an incredible plant. Tuck it way in a quiet sunny spot, or boldly plant it as a foundation plant in your garden. It is a low maintenance plant, pest and disease-resistant.

It's tart taste easily transforms into sweets, savories, baked goods, syrups, sauces, drinks, and jams. In fact each spring, I anxiously anticipate from "cooking circles" what is this year's newly creative way to use rhubarb. Please share if you have rhubarb plants in your garden. Please comment on how you like to cook or bake with rhubarb.


VintageGardenGal Tidbit Thyme....

A fabulous facial is just as important to a "gardener gal" as her gloves, and favorite hoe. For those that live in the San Diego area, treat yourself to Orgin Day Spa. First time clients, mentioning VintageGardenGal, are entitled to 20% off a facial. I love their "Signature Facial." Treat yourself, and start your summer right!

Sally Holmes Rose Envy

I've got "Sally Holmes" rose envy. One of my favorite roses, Sally Holmes is a great country rose charmer and it's flowers remind me of multiple bridal bouquets bursting with happiness. I have a climbing Sally Holmes rose which I adore, but I have never seen a Sally Holmes rose as happy as the one my girl friend has planted auspiciously in her front yard on a low split rail fence.

Sally Holmes rose was originally bred in England, and brought to this country in 1976. It has many attributes besides its good looks. It is prized for it's vigor, long bloom season, fragrance, and stout disease resistance. Its pale white-creamy flowers are tightly packed in clusters with deep green foliage, creating a romantic look. It is a shrub rose, but can be trained as a climber.

Sally Holmes roses do well in Zones 5-9. They like full sun. The average size of this rose is 6-8' high by 4-6' wide.

This delightful rose works well in the garden with planted companions such as hydrangea, viburnums, junipers, ornamental grasses, and generally most perennials. Wherever you plant a Sally Holmes rose, I'm sure you will be delighted.

Please share if you have a Sally Holmes rose in your garden. Please comment on how you have planted your Sally Holmes rose in your garden.

VintageGardenGal Tidbit Thyme...

Attention Chicken Lovers! Spruce up your chicken coop for VintageGardenGal's Annual Chicken Coop Photo Contest. Send in your photos this month to

Perennial Sweet Pea

Just when the heat of late spring is too much for my annual sweet peas and they start to fade, my perennial sweet pea, Lathyrus latifolus, seems to kick in and surprise me with it's "oh so delicate" orchid-shaped blooms. Looks are deceiving, however, there is nothing delicate about this sweet pea perennial plant. It is a workhorse as beautiful screen for you in your garden, natural banks, roadside fences, and hard to plant areas.

Hardy to Zone 3, it is more drought tolerant than annual sweet peas. It likes sun, and will bloom more profusely with plenty of sun. Perennial Sweet Pea comes back year after year, easily self-sowing and can reach 9 to 12 feet high. It blooms late spring to summer.

Perennial sweet pea flowers are quite different from it's annual sweet pea cousins, too. They have no fragrance. Their flower palette is very feminine, blooming in shell pink, white, and mauve colors only. The perennial sweet pea flower is a diminutive 1" size, smaller and less wavy ruffle, from the sweet pea flowers you are most likely familiar with.

Each flower is a perfect tiny orchid shape, aligned in a straight row of spray on its vine. Perennial sweet peas are great as cut flowers in arrangements as a small bouquet, or using the entire dramatic vine with its spray of  sweet pea blooms.

It has history, too. It is an heirloom vine, which Thomas Jefferson grew, enjoyed, and called "everlasting pea"  in his day. Modern day, Sweet Pea Queen, Renee Shepard, of Renee's Garden has the Perennial Sweet Pea seeds available to purchase on her website.

In celebration of  all moms on their special day,  Happy Mother's Day!