• Buzzworthy Bee Podcast

    August 28, 2015

    Recently, Theresa Loe of Growing a Greener World on PBS invited Robin of Garden Mentors to join her for a bee podcast. Together, they spent over an hour discussing gardening with for and with bees for Theresa’s hugely popular Living Homegrown podcast.

    honeybee on squash flower

    As the sun rises, a honeybee flies from blossom to blossom on a butternut squash plant.

    Theresa’s popular homesteading podcast introduces listeners to all things growing, cooking and preserving for self-sustenance and good taste. If you don’t already know Theresa from her award-winning work on PBS’s Growing a Greener World, it’s time you get to know her and her fantastic Living Homegrown offerings!

    In this episode of Theresa’s Living Homegrown podcast, she and Robin chat about pollination, adopting unwanted bees, hosting honeybees, creating a bee-friendly garden, garden art for bees, swarms, bee populations and so much more. And, nope, they won’t just talk about honeybees, and yes, there will be lots of links and additional information to help you in your bee-focused garden endeavors.

    Listen to their conversation now.

    Theresa Loe with Bee Preserver

    Theresa unwrapping her Glass Gardens NW Bee Preserver Robin hand-delivered on a hometown trip. (Listen to the podcast to find out more about their friendship & this bee art.)

    I won’t give it all away here. Instead, tune in and join the fun. Odds are, you’ll fall in love with more than one new bee idea and find yourself listening in to many more of the weekly, educational podcasts Theresa has linked from her site. Psst! Subscribe to her newsletter, and you’ll get her Top Sources for Canning Tools & Supplies to download for free. It’s great!

    (You can support this blog by buying through our links. Purchases made through the affiliate links on this page and others on this site pay a small percentage to Garden Mentors. Thank you for buying and helping support us!)

    Looking for our Pollinator Favorite Things free info sheet?  Get it here with your subscription to our mailing list. Psst! – our monthly reminders go out tomorrow, so don’t delay or you’ll miss out!

    (Robin, via Garden Mentors, has served as a contributing researcher and writer for Growing a Greener World. However, no compensation has been paid for our participation in this podcast or for this post.)
  • Zucchini Chip Recipes

    August 21, 2015
    When the garden gives you zucchini overload, make our zucchini chip recipes!

    Don’t ignore your productive plants and hope those squash that magically appeared overnight will just go away when you turn your back on them. If you aren’t picking your zukes a day or so after each fruit flowers, that tender, little veggie morsel will rapidly turn into a tough, pithy, seedy giant nobody want to eat.

    Zucchini harvest in Stumpdust wood bowl

    Pick your zucchini squash when they’re just a day or two old for tender, sweet eats!
    Beautiful wooden bowl created by our friend Andy at Stumpdust!

    In our garden, from a total of six plants, we harvest about a pound to three pounds each day. We eat many fresh, shred and freeze others for latkes, cube/blanch/freeze several for soups and stews come winter, and dehydrate them as noodles to store as well. But, we still seem to have a fridge drawer full of them all summer long.

    salt 'n pepper zucchini chip recipe image

    Simple salt ‘n pepper zucchini chips from our recipe are delicious, healthy & easy to make!

    So, I worked up a few tasty no-fry recipes for dehydrating several more of those tiny torpedoes into long-storage, tasty pantry snacks that replace greasy bags of store-bought chips. Check out just how easy it is to make garden-fresh Salt ‘n Pepper, Seaweed and Hot ‘n Smoky BBQ chips on your own with our recipes. And, if you need tools or ingredients, check our shopping links at the end!

    Zucchini Recipes: Chips in 3 FlavorsPrint Print

    Hot ‘n Smoky BBQ Flavor

    smoky bbq zucchini chip recipe visual

    Slice thin. Sprinkle with flavor. Insert into dehydrator. Eat or store in your pantry!


    Ingredients:
    1t chili powder
    1/2t fine sea salt
    1t smoked paprika
    1/4 t cayenne powder
    1t tomato seasoning salt

    2, 3/4-1 lb fresh, young zucchini

    Step 1: Mix chili powder, sea salt, smoked paprika, cayenne and tomato seasoning salt together in a small bowl. Set aside.

    Step 2: Using a sharp knife or mandoline, trim ends of zucchini and discard. Then, slice zucchini into thin rounds about 1/4″ thick.

    Step 3: Place sliced zucchini rounds in single layer onto as many dehydrator trays as needed to accommodate your slices.

    Step 4: Sprinkle about 1/8-1/4 teaspoon of spice rub onto one side of each zucchini slice.

    Step 5: Insert trays into dehydrator. If your dehydrator has a heat setting, set it to 125F. Allow dehydrator to run until the slices are dry and crisp, like a chip! (These slices can dry quickly, within a couple of hours. But, times vary by location, humidity and temperature, so watch yours carefully.)

    Step 6: If you don’t eat all of your zucchini chips right away, place them into a dry vacuum seal container so they don’t go limp.

    Jars filled with our chip zucchini recipes

    Store your zucchini chips in vacuum sealed mason or other jars to keep them fresh & crisp like these Seaweed & Smoky BBQ flavor chips.


    Salt ‘n Pepper Flavor

    Ingredients:
    1 t fine sea salt
    1 T freshly ground black pepper, fine-to-medium grind if possible
    2, 3/4-1 lb fresh, young zucchini

    Beginning with step 2 in the BBQ flavor recipe, trim and slice zucchini. Line dehydrator trays as in step 3 in the BBQ recipe. Then, sprinkle each slice with a bit of salt and ground pepper. Next, refer to steps 5 & 6 in the BBQ recipe above to dry and store your chips.


    Seaweed Flavor

    Ingredients:
    1 t Celtic Sea Salt Gourmet Seaweed Seasoning
    2, 3/4-1 lb fresh, young zucchini

    Beginning with step 2 in the BBQ flavor recipe, trim and slice zucchini. Line dehydrator trays as in step 3 in the BBQ recipe. Then, sprinkle each slice with a bit of seaweed seasoning salt. Next, refer to steps 5 & 6 in the BBQ recipe above to dry and store your chips.


    (You can support this blog by buying through our links. Purchases made through the affiliate links on this page and others on this site pay a small percentage to Garden Mentors. Thank you for buying and helping support us!)

  • Fabulous Hardy Fuchsias

    August 14, 2015

    Hardy fuchsias make it into just about every garden we design. Fuchsia plants come in all sorts of shapes, sizes and colors. Seasonal baskets usually drip with annual varieties that only strut their stuff until a cold snap that kills them, but the stunning array of hardy fuchsias is equally show-stopping — plus, these come back year after year. Both tender and hardy fuchsia plants feed hummingbirds and bees throughout the growing season. And, once pollinated, fuchsia fruits are edible – the bigger the flower, the bigger the fruit.

    DebRon's Black Cherry Hardy Fuchsia

    ‘DebRon’s Black Cherry’ has us singing “Ch-ch-ch-cherry Bomb!” when it blooms.

    The Fuchsia genus includes ground covers, woody shrubs, delicate perennials and basket dripping color pops – truly there’s a fuchsia for every garden.  And don’t be fooled – fuchsias come in more than just the magenta color fuchsia.

    DebRon's Black Cherry Hardy Fuchsia flower

    When ‘DebRon’s Black Cherry’ blooms fully opens, it’s easy to understand the name. Labels claim it gets to four feet tall, but in the years we’ve grown it, it stays to a tiny 18″ at most, even when woody stems aren’t cut down for winter. This hummingbird favorite is hardy, having survived several cold winters, buried under several feet of snow!

    (You can support this blog by buying through our convenient links. Purchases made through the affiliate links on this page and others on this site pay a small percentage to Garden Mentors. Thank you for buying and helping support us!)

    Other mid- to large size hardy fuchsia favorites:

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  • Drought Watering: Home to Garden

    August 07, 2015

    In the mid-1970s I won second place in a drought watering solutions contest at my Willits, California middle school; the first place winner was a much better artist than I. My idea-rich poster is long gone, but many of the lessons I learned as a kid growing up in drought have become a way of life for me, particularly in this year’s record-breaking Seattle hot and dry streak. If you’re struggling to keep your garden watered and  keep your water bill from breaking the bank, consider these creative ways to use “waste water.”

    drought stressed sedum

    Even drought-hardy sedums like this need a drink in times of high heat & low rainfall, but they’re less likely to croak than many other plants when grown in hot, dry situations.

    Morning showers bring evening flowers!

    If you haven’t already, start by changing out your shower heads and faucets to low flow models that can save you many gallons each time you turn on a faucet. Of course, showering with a buddy and not showering everyday (or multiple times a day) can really cut down on water use too. And, baths are lovely, but what a lot of water those use!

    bucket in shower capturing for drought watering

    Keep a bucket in your shower to capture clean water that otherwise just goes down the drain.

    If you don’t already have a bucket with a spout, buy one and keep it in your shower or tub. When you turn on the faucet to heat your morning shower, capture those otherwise wasted gallons into your bucket. In our household of two adults, we at least fill one bucket this way each morning, which in turn fills a couple of watering cans for garden plants and bird baths! Or, within a couple of days we’ve added a few buckets of this water to our galvanized tub for a cooling foot bath or a doggie bath. And, if you’re taking baths rather than showers, use a siphon or scoop up most of the dirtied bathwater into your bucket to pour into a tree gator or onto the base of a thirsty shrub or tree. Just be sure you’re using biodegradable soaps in your tub.


    Need some of the gear we’re suggesting?

    (You can support this blog by buying through our convenient links. Purchases made through the affiliate links on this page and others on this site pay a small percentage to Garden Mentors. Thank you for buying and helping support us!)


    Dishwater makes great gardening water too!

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  • How to Preserve Zucchini Noodles

    July 31, 2015

    This has been the year of the zucchini in our garden, which means we’re learning how to use and how to preserve zucchini in creative ways. In past years, we’ve shared our simple method for freezing zucchini and enjoying it in a grain-free, low carb latke. Because we’re harvesting a few pounds of these and other cucurbits everyday this summer, we’ll run out of freezer space if all we do is freeze’m. So, it’s time to fire up the dehydrator for zucchini noodles!

    Zucchini noodle tool

    This two-sided vegetable peeler will make angel hair & wide noodle zucchini in a snap.

    We’re giving one of these tools to a lucky mailing list subscriber!

    Want a chance at this freebie? (The entry period has now passed & the winner has been notified; but we encourage you to sign up in order to hear about future specials available only to our subscribers!

    Join our mailing list before midnight PDT on July 31, 2015. Then, check your email for our monthly newsletter on August 1st to get all the details and find out how to throw your hat in the ring.


    Zucchini noodles are a fantastic low carbohydrate alternative for anyone who loves pasta dishes but wants to keep their carb or grain intake low. Plus, they’re really simple to make. And, dried they’ll store well into winter without drawing power from your deep freeze.

    Trimmed Zucchini

    Harvest your zucchini each morning, selecting young fruits that weigh in under a pound. Larger ones get seedy & more difficult to work with. Young ones are ideal! After washing your zukes, trim off & discard the stem & flower end of the fruit.

    Trimmed zucchini

    Next, use the wide blade to shave a lengthwise, flat size into your zucchini. Lay the flat side down on your cutting board so the squash doesn’t roll as you cut your noodles.


    (You can support this blog by buying through our links. Purchases made through the affiliate links on this page and others on this site pay a small percentage to Garden Mentors. Thank you for buying and helping support us!)



    Zucchini being sliced into noodles

    Decide if you prefer stringy or wider noodles. We make some of both. The angel hair size is great for spaghetti, and the wide shape is ideal as an egg noodle replacement. Then, use the wide or narrow cutting blade, pulling lengthwise down the fruit multiple times to shave off your noodles. The last thin bit may require slicing with a knife or chop it into dinner!

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