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Entries in vegetable (3)

Friday
Feb132015

Adding Sense to the Garden

Most of our gardens are designed and appreciated for their visual beauty. We love color and for the most part this gives us great pleasure. We do not often consider the notion of appealing to the other senses of smell, sound, touch and taste, but imagine how much richer our appreciation of the garden would be if we did.

SMELL - Have you ever been within sniffing distance of a lilac and not stopped what you’re doing to breathe in the incredible fragrance? In early spring, a well-placed Viburnum carlesii, near a door or window, will intoxicate you with its sweet spicy scent, as will Calycanthus and Clethra alnifolia in the summer months. One of my favorite trees, Magnolia grandiflora, with its gorgeous leathery foliage and large, waxy camellia like flowers, will captivate you with its citrusy scent in early summer. Fragrant vines such as Wisteria, Honeysuckle and Fragrant Clematis will enchant you, as will other plants like Jasmine, Camellia, Peony, Casa Blanca Lilies, Lavender and Lily of the Valley. Many herbs are fragrant with rosemary at the top of the list. The lingering scent from the simple act of rubbing your fingers on its foliage will take with it all the stresses of the day!

Water tumbles over the rocks into the pond below creating a soothing melody.A birdhouse offers shelter for different songbirds in the garden.SOUND - Water in the garden, whether in the form of a small recirculating pond with a bubbler or a formal fountain, is one of the most peaceful sounds in nature. So is the sound of songbirds, and attracting them to the garden is relatively easy. Offer the shade of a tree, a large shrub for cover from prey and a food source of berries, worms and nectar for sustenance. They will delight you with their melodies from dawn to dusk. Bird baths, feeders and houses are delightful garden accessories that will also attract birds year round. Wind chimes offer a less organic, but effective way to add sound to the garden, however, be careful to choose one with a pleasing tone and melody.

Smooth, leathery Croton accents light, feathery Angelonia.TOUCH - The sense of touch is less obvious in the garden than the other senses, so the design elements, whether a stone sculpture, bench or urn, need to be more obviously placed so that one cannot help but touch them. From the exfoliating bark of River Birch to the soft touch of moss, plants offer an endless combination of tactile appeal. How can you stroll past the fountain grass without wanting to feel the softness of the foxtails or the plumes of Miscanthus. The succulent leaves of Sedum, the soft and silky foliage of Lambs Ear’s, and the leathery flower petals of Magnolia grandiflora, all beg to be touched and should be planted within easy reach. When designing your garden consider plant combinations with contrasting textures. Coarse textured plants, whether from foliage or flower, tend to be accents in the garden and should be combined with large groupings of fine textured plants.

TASTE – Today, most gardens are designed for beauty and visual enjoyment, but there appears to be a renewed interest in getting back to the time before supermarkets, when gardens were organic and sustainable. Dwarf fruit trees in the lawn, a berry patch, grape vines on a pergola, hanging baskets of cherry tomatoes on the porch, a trellis of cucumbers or containers filled with various vegetables and herbs on the patio not only give us personal enjoyment and satisfaction, but also feed the soul. What tastes better than a tomato freshly picked from your garden or grapes from the vine? Where space is limited, container gardening is a great option and can be placed wherever there is at least 6 hours of full sun and water is available, hopefully near the kitchen. Garden centers, web sites or your favorite garden designer, can help choose the right container and plants for you.

By choosing to explore and implement these possibilities beyond the visual experience, we will most assuredly be rewarded with a greater appreciation and enjoyment in our garden. 

Written by Maria Morrison-Ferrero

 

If you would like to get in touch with Maria please contact her via email: maria@goldbergandrodler.net

Thursday
Feb062014

Do You Have Cabin Fever?

After a January snowstorm in Centerport. Photo by Nick OnestoIt looks like old man winter still has his grip on Long Island. As I look outside, the ground is still white and it is snowing again with even more snow in the forecast for later this week. It would be nice to get outside and go for a walk without worrying about frostbite or dodging over snow banks to avoid oncoming traffic. Boy, would I like to go somewhere warm and sunny for a week or two.

What can we do to alleviate cabin fever as the winter wanes and the spring approaches? If you can take a few weeks in a warm climate, go ahead. If you can't, here are a few ideas to help deal with the dreary days remaining in winter.

Your indoor plants are living with less light during the winter which translates to needing less fertilizer. How do you know if they need to be fertilized? Well, if they are actively growing or flowering indoors, fertilize them. At least once this winter, give your indoor plants a boost with some fertilizer. Make sure the soil is moist before fertilizing. Water soluble 20-20-20 is good for non-flowering houseplants and 15-30-15 fertilizer is best for flowering plants. If your indoor plants are dormant, suspend fertilizing until the spring.

Housebound weekend days seem to go by more pleasantly when observing nature through a window into your garden. Install a bird feeder outside a window next to a comfy seat and watch the wide variety of birds display their colorful feathers against the gray and white of winter. You can vary the type of seed you provide and thus vary the population of birds that come to visit. Try to keep the squirrels away by placing the feeder away from jumping off points like branches or furniture. The less landing surface the squirrels can find on the feeder will help deter them as well, but a hungry squirrel is a determined squirrel, so there are really no squirrel-proof feeders. Watching the squirrels' antics is sometimes more entertaining than watching the birds eat!

A picture every year to document where your bulbs come up helps to plan for next yearAnother way to banish the winter blues is to look ahead. What would you like to improve outdoors? Planning is an important part in the process of developing a landscape and all of the elements that are integral to a wonderful garden. I like to start with a photo review of last season to assess and evaluate what worked well and what needs improvement. If you don't have photos (think about photo documenting your garden next season), you can mentally walk through your garden in your mind's eye and jot down a few notes. Once the snow melts and the weather warms up a bit, take a walk around your property again. How is the hardscape holding up? Are the trees safe and healthy? What areas of the garden need some help and what areas are doing well? Then develop a strategy for what to improve and how to do it.

Shopping in your own backyard for produce is quick and easyI like to cook, so I always make sure I have enough room for a variety of herbs. What was I missing last year that I want to make sure I have on hand this year? How will I fit in additional plants? Will I have to swap out a variety? How did your vegetable garden do last year? Do you need more light or compost? Maybe you need to have an arborist evaluate your shade trees and selectively prune to boost your vegetable garden's yield. Maybe you don't have an irrigation system, and after the hot, dry summer we had in 2013, you might consider putting in a drip system to make your life easier.

This is where landscape design professionals can be of great value. Planning, creativity and garden development strategy are our expertise. An accomplished and experienced landscape designer can help you remodel portions of your garden, recommend hardscape improvements, help develop new garden areas or prepare plans for a complete renovation if that's the path you're on. Prepare a wish list including your favorite plants, garden themes and lifestyle needs. A landscape plan can be a great way to develop and improve your property with both short and long term goals in mind. Contacting a landscape designer at Goldberg & Rodler in the winter will give you a jump start on spring.

Other ways to beat the winter doldrums include attending garden lectures and workshops or settling in with a good gardening book. Check with your local garden center, library or arboretum to see what activities are on their schedules. If you are looking for a good book focusing on sustainable design and methodology, try "Grow More with Less," by Vincent Simione, the director of Planting Fields Arboretum and Historic State Park in Oyster Bay, Long Island. It is a great guide for a homeowner or professional that can put you on the right track developing your garden in an easy and sustainable way.

So there you have it, a few ideas to distract you from winter until we can get outside again. Good luck, and if you'd like to talk to me about your garden, call me, Sal Masullo, at (631) 271-6460 or email me salm@goldbergandrodler.net, and I would be happy to discuss your landscape with you.

Written by Sal Masullo

Friday
May112012

The Taste of Nature

I have a completely organic vegetable garden every summer at my house. It is cheaper than buying vegetables in a grocery store or farmer’s market and I know exactly where my food comes from. In addition, I can grow whatever varieties I want and a tomato from my garden always tastes better to me and my family than the hormone enhanced, genetically modified strains they sell at the store. Store bought veggies grow on factory farms with genetically modified seeds formulated to grow rapidly and have maximum yields. They use manufactured fertilizers, herbicides, pesticides and the end result tastes nothing like what a real tomato should taste like.

It is everyone’s personal choice what to feed themselves and their families, but I know that in my life, with all of the potential carcinogens and toxins just hanging around in everything we use and eat, it is important to me to do what I can to offset those toxins. I also love that I made those veggies happen! I gave them love, care, and then made them into delicious dishes for my family. Below is a recipe from my mom for Gazpacho. It is a delicious cold soup and every year I can make it using just the food in my garden and a few staple kitchen items. I also make a great salsa every summer and that recipe is below with a quick homemade way to make tortilla chips. I know that in this economy everyone wants to save a few dollars. What better way to do it than in your own backyard?


Noreen’s Gazpacho

 

Ingredients:

2 large ripe tomatoes, cored and quartered

1 medium onion, peeled and quartered

1 green pepper, cored, seeded and quartered

1 small clove of garlic

1 cucumber, peeled and cubed

3 cups tomato juice

1/3 cup red wine vinegar

1/4 cup olive oil

3/4 cup chicken broth

Salt

Freshly ground black pepper

Garlic croutons for top

Instructions: Blend veggies in blender. Add tomato juice and blend again. Pour into large bowl; add vinegar, oil, broth, salt and pepper. Blend well and cover. Chill for several hours and serve.


AJ’s Salsa

Ingredients:
3 large tomatoes, chopped 
2 bell peppers, cored, seeded and chopped
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 sweet onion, chopped
3 chives or scallions, chopped
2 sprigs of cilantro, chopped
Lime juice to taste, approx. 3 tbsp
1 jalapeno, minced (seeds = heat, use gloves & wash hands thoroughly 
 

Instructions: Combine all ingredients and chill. Enjoy with tortilla chips or multi-grain pita chips.

 

Homemade Tortilla Chips

Use a pizza cutter to section fresh flour tortillas. Brush with olive oil and season with salt. You can add a little limejuice, too. Lay pieces on a baking sheet and bake at 350°F until crispy.