December 31, 2009

Happy New Year

New Year's Eve I remember most are those which were most unusual.
First one I remember was 15 years ago, backstage at National Theatre in Warsaw. First was the concert, then private visit at backstage and marvellous office rooms.
Another one was over 20 years ago, in Szczecin, when with friends we have decided to go to the forest, have some burned sausages and some drinks - nothing really fancy.
The other one was spent at home with friends - we decided to have pyjama-party. We all had our hair done, make-up and jewellery on, but we were still in pyjamas.

Break through today! Do something unusual to remember that night forever.

I wish all of my readers, that 2010 will be better than 2009, that your garden will thrive like never before and your life will bring new opportunities.

Whether you live in Australia, Holland or United States, I wish you Happy New Year!

December 29, 2009

Mums that still blossom in winter -15C // 4F

Can you believe it? Even I couldn't believe my eyes. Damn cold and this yellow, cheering flowers are up and maybe not so happy, but still alive.
If you don't know mums flowers (Chrysanthemum) - this is perennial in the Asteraceae family.
They are usually either garden hardy or exhibition - so, I understand this is the very garden hardy mums cheering us up.

Welcome them in the garden for winter joy and an insect repellent effect throughout the year.

You may see beatiful white muums in the conservatory pictured by me at the beginning of December.

December 28, 2009

Fresh parsley growing on the windowsill

Fresh parlsey will be grown enough soon. One week ago during Christmas cooking I found 3 old parsley roots in the fridge. It was clear 'cook or compost' choice. I have chosen the third one - stick it to the soil and see what happens.
Now you see what happens just 7 days later - fresh parsley on the way...

December 20, 2009

Authentic Pierogi Recipe - Polish Christmas Cooking

I dedicate this pierogi recipe to my twitter friends, who inspired me to make this post, after they have learned yesterday what I am going to cook today. Pierogies are very tasty especially homemade. Basically the dough is the same, you can make different stuffing: sour cabbage with mushrooms, potato-white cheese-onion (called here in Poland God knows why - Russian pierogi) or different fruit-sweet versions (strawberry and blueberry are my favourites).
There is one special kind that traditionally is made in Poland for Christmas - this is sour cabbage pierogi. They are served at Christmas Eve dinner since few centuries. Dough is the same, stuffing is special.
Recommended further reading Polish Classic Recipes (Classics Series)

Recipe for 3-4 hungry persons - approx. 30-40 pierogies (depends on size)
1/2 kg of sour cabbage
10 dag of dried wild mushrooms
1 cup of water
salt, pepper or hot capsicum

Stuffing preparation:
Chop sour cabbage to small 1 cm long pieces, add salt, pepper or capsicum and cook it for 20 minutes.
In separate pot cook water and mushrooms  for 20 mintutes. After it cools down chop finely the mushrooms and add them to cabbage together with the water they were cooked in. Mix and cook 20 minutes more.

If you don't have wild mushrooms, you may use regular mushrooms, however the taste will differ.

Dough ingredients:
4 cups flour plus some extra for kneading and rolling dough
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups of milk
1 tablespoon of oil and 1 tablespoon of salt for cooking
butter and onions for sauteing

This dough pierogi recipe is very special and comes from my mother. Possibly you will not find it in the books, but it works really great when you need to make sure your pierogi dough is strong enough and soft enough at the same time. It doesn't require any additional cream, butter or anything else.
Mixing boiling milk with flour, makes the dough soft enough, easy to seal and strong to prevent falling apart while boiling. 

Mix salt with flour, add boiling milk and work the dough until is smooth (7-8 minutes). Be careful at the beginning - it may be very hot in some places.
You need to work fast. The colder the dough gets, the more difficult it will be to roll it.

Roll the dough on a floured board or countertop until 1/8" thick.

Cut the circles with cookie cutter. Or any cup will do. 

I have chosen the biggest cup - for lazy big pierogies.

Add the teaspoon of stuffing, which you prepared earlier.

Put the sides together...

And seal the edges.

You may add some pattern to decorate and strenghten the seal.

Voila! they are almost ready!

Add salt to water and boil it. Add some oil to make pierogies oily after cooking, so they don't stick together.
Add pierogi only to boiling water, not earlier. This prevents falling apart.

It looks like this after you place them in the pot. Move them very gently, so they don't stick to the bottom.
Cover the pot and wait until the water starts to boil again.

When pierogies are floating on the top, turn off the flame, cover the pot and keep them like this for 5 minutes.
After that they are ready.
Before serving you may add on top:
fried, finely chopped onion.
We serve it with fried onion for Christmas.

Bon Appetite!
Recommended further reading Polish Classic Recipes (Classics Series)

December 19, 2009

Winter gardens worth to bother?

Winter gardens can truly cheer us up when everything around is dull or even covered white with snow.
If you are still reluctant whether winter gardens are worth to bother, have a look at the pictures below and let me know what you think.

Do you remember great garden tour we had at the sloping garden?

Pictures of this airy light and beautiful winter garden were taken in December when everything was already dull and brown, short before snow appeared. By the way do you know that snow is like sex?

November 27, 2009

My life with Poinsettia - second year

If you remember my Poinsettias from last year, you don't need to click here to see how it looked like last Christmas and after Christmas. I kept it since then, it got 1 month dormancy period end of March and here it is! Tadadam! No special tricks applied - it turns red free willingly. No cartons to put on it, no closet to stick it for the night. Nothing. Only water and sunlight in the day.
Isn't it beautiful? Isn't it wort to be kept and taken care after Christmas?

This is Blooming Friday, so hop over to Katarina and have a look what's blooming today in different countries.
If you would like to overwinter your Poinsettia check here how to do it.

November 22, 2009

Decluttering house and garden – HELP needed!

Help! There is a mess in my garden – this is not related with the autumn mess created by dead plants. This is real mess. Too many different plants and sometimes chaotic planting – it needs to be corrected.

I have deep need for simplifying my surrounding, decluttering my life. I see myself in better, simpler, less cluttered place – it doesn’t mean I need to go somewhere, rather I need to make true order.

Decluttering is not one time job, this is a state of mind and it needs continuation on daily basis.

It might be easy, if approached with proper attitude. Now it is easier to do it at home, because I already have a plan – everyday I will spend 15 minutes on decluttering and throw away every little thing that I don’t love or TRULY need. This is systematic war declared – I start from the entrance door and continue place by place.

Deep inside, I fear arriving to my wardrobe – how to throw away my clothes. I know, the rule is – donate every piece you didn’t use over a year.

Rule is rule – life is life, so HOW to decide?

Luckily clothing section is upstairs, so it will take some time until I arrive there.

If I continue as I decided, it seems I will be done for Christmas and ready with fresh space for new year. Writing here about it, will help me to stick with it – are you interested in reading here about the progress?

Second rule of my private decluttering war I am applying is “2 for 1” - I decided to throw away 2 things, if I buy 1 and bring it home.

I have already a good candidate – my shopping from 2 days ago: sweet new cap, gloves and broche. If I am serious with myself on decluttering and my new life, this means I need to throw away 2 caps and 2 accessories items. Gloves are usually getting lost natural way, so no need to throw them away.

Now we arrive to real issue and main reason for this post – THE garden. How to start decluttering? What rules to apply?

You guys are awesome – I saw it many times already - and I know you have an idea how to start decluttering the garden. How to approach it? Any practical solutions you like to share?

November 20, 2009

Beautiful flowers or common weeds? Cathedral bells

This beautiful flowers belong to cathedral bells (Cobaea scandens) - perennial climber in different continents, annual in Poland. In some countries its beauty is admired and wanted, in other you may find it on the list of common weeds (New Zealand). Pure relativity.

See also The Flower Recipe Book

November 15, 2009

November flowers - GBBD'09

Sweet brugmansia flowers went to compost heap together with all the leaves and some stems - completely naked, still in the pot, she will be stored without water until February.

November flowers need to be in orange color, which is so desired now. Vibrant and spririt uplifling. When days are getting shorter and shorter... Here at 4.30 p.m. is already pitch black outside - was it like this previous years? My husband says no - but how is that possible? What could have changed?

Do you remember my poinsettia from previous year? I keep 2 of them growing. They got nice dormancy period, pruning and now slowly new leaves are naturally growing in red. It looks like she will be red for Christmas, without any additional effort.
Does it count among November flowers today?


GBBD is hosted by Carol at May Dreams Garden - so if you are interested, just hop over there to see blooms from all over the world.

November 3, 2009

Grow Grapes website discovered

I just came across an interesting site called “Grape Growing System” that I believe you’ll all be interested in. Few weeks ago I have signed up to free materials and because I value them a lot, I decided to share it with you.
If you also want to grow grapes the correct way and would like to sign up for free information, you only need to fill the little form on the right. It is worth it - every incoming e-mail is full of tips and ideas. So if you want successfully grow grapes, this is the site and this is guy.

I will share with you my story. I have tried once to grow grapes and it was truly grand ‘grow grapes flop’. My first grape plants got sick very fast after being planted not in proper place and not taken care of. I searched for help and nobody could give me any sensible advice at that time, they were all mainly advising different strong chemicals for treatment. Sorry! But no. I am organic gardener, so I didn’t want to spray them with pesticides. I looked for much more than information with what to spray them. I believed there are better ways.

If the plant is offered not proper growing conditions, why should I additionally punish myself, my family and all living creatures in my garden with deadly and dangerous chemical? I already felt sorry for the plants. I have planted them in a wrong place, wrong way and my grape plant suffered, but this is not a disaster – it’s only mistake caused by lack of knowledge.

It is exactly the same as with learning how to walk, write, how to drive or anything else – you learn by making mistakes. You learn faster if somebody is helping, right?
I was thinking to look for local grape growing gardener, but that is too much hassle. There is no vineyards in the neighborhood - where to look?

I love grapes as a plant – it is so vital and grows such beautiful fruits - planning to grow them again, because beside fruits I'd like to have a beautiful grape arbor in my garden.

If you subscribe to "Grape Growing System" website that teaches how to grow grapes the correct way, share your opinion with me.

October 17, 2009

13 Beautiful Examples of Wine Grape Growing

One of the main mistakes in wine grape growing is poor planning of arbor or other support. See this selection of of hand picked marvellous examples of grape arbors and get inspired.
If you plant grapes in the garden today, even your grand grand grand grand grand children can still enjoy it and remember you as the founder of family little vineyard.
The oldest grape with an age of over 400 years is still growing grapes. It is registered in the Guinness Book of Records as the oldest vine in the world and symbolises wine culture of Maribor, Štajerska and Slovenia.

Grape arbors are beautiful - they don't have to look sad.