Where was I This Morning? In the Garden…Where Else?

1 - May 28This morning was spent working at the Moreau Community Garden. I was planning to get more vegetables into the ground but when I arrived the beds had not been cleared of large debris, topped with compost or raked level.

So I got to work alongside Jeremy and Kevin, who work for the Recreation Department. They added compost and we raked pulling out large sticks, bits of plastic, bags, scraps of metal, rocks, etc. that littered the compost.
3 - Ma6 28

Together we got the 15 beds in shape for planting, which will be done Thursday morning.

And there are a quite a few plants waiting to be planted. Temporarily, I covered pots of endives, snap peas, lavender, lettuces and more with soil in a front bed to keep the roots moist until Thursday when these and other plants will be move to their permanent growing positions.


There are so many tomatoes, I think we should have a tomato test taste later in the season to determine which we like best. Thank you Murray Penney from the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Saratoga Springs for the donation and for growing such healthy plants. These are beauties.

And thanks to Toadflax Nursery which donated some sweet cherry tomatoes just the right size for children to sample. Andy, who works there, was great in helping me find just the right ones. We picked ‘Yellow Pear’ for the fun shape, color and taste and ‘Red Grape’ for the size, shape and taste. I can already imagine children picking tomatoes warmed by the sun as a sweet treat.

We need a few trellises to grow the tomatoes, cucumbers, peas, etc on and we need a compost pile.

I also have two giant pumpkin plants, which already sport leaves the size of a saucer. Jermey volunteered to bring some rotted cow manure to the garden by Thursday as that is the recommended medium for growing a really big pumpkin. And, I’m hoping we can grow a REALLY big one.

If anyone has experience growing giant pumpkins, I’d love to talk with you about how to help these two plants reach mammoth proportions.

Square Foot Gardening

Once we plant, you will see the beds divided into squares. This is the start of a square foot gardening plan that I recommend for new gardeners. It eliminates the question of how close to plant as each 12 x 12 square has a designated number of plants depending on the vegetable being grown. No guess work! And the other reason I like it is you can immediately tell by looking at the square if there is a weed growing as it will not be in the pattern you planted. Makes life easy for new and old – I mean, experienced gardeners.

It is going to be a great season.

Look for me in the garden Thursday at 9 a.m. It is not too late to join the fun, plots are still available. Call Town Hall: (518) 792-1030

When you come Thursday, bring trowels and the plants you want to grow. I have some seeds and plants to share, too.

Natalie Walsh, Garden Coach

Accessorizing Donut Seeds

powderedOne more idea:

I looked at the Powdered Sugar donut seeds and wondered, “Would confectioner’s sugar stick?” The answer is “Yes,” and the sugar makes the cereal look more like tiny powdered sugar donuts.

I added cinnamon and sugar to the donut seeds with that name, but – other then smelling nice – it didn’t have much impact on the appearance.

Some Like Chocolate More


Same idea – royal icing with sprinkles – but this time in chocolate.

How to make Royal Icing:  3 tablespoons meringue powder, 2 cups confectioner’s sugar and about 6 tablespoons of water. I mixed the ingredients and divided it into two batches. One for “pink glazed” and the other for “chocolate icing.”

I added food coloring to color and then started dipping. I placed the iced cereal on waxed paper and sprinkled them while the icing was still soft. Most stuck just fine, but a few sprinkles needed to be glued on afterwards.

They look great.  I’m going to use these as party favors!

Click on “Donut Seed Packets” in the menu above for other ideas.

“Extreme” Donut Seeds


These donut seeds look pretty…pink and pretty (left image).

But you could take it further by dipping them in royal icing and adding sprinkles (right image).

They came out looking so cute. Because I didn’t want them to move around in the packet and possibly lose sprinkles, I glued them to a scrap of card stock I cut to fit inside the plastic bag. If you do this, test to be sure the “Donut Seeds” are glued in the right place to show through the window.

If only these really grew. Imagine…walking out into the garden in the morning. Coffee in one hand and the other hand free to pick a garden fresh donut.

The kit for all 6 designs is available on Etsy (www.Etsy.com and search “donut seed packets”).

Think of it as the perfect gift for the gardener who has everything. A joke you can share or as favors for garden parties, weddings or birthday parties.

I made six different donut seed packets: Apple Cider, Powdered, Cinnamon Sugar, Black Hole, Chocolate Glazed and Pink Glazed Donut Seeds.

You can buy the Donut Seed Packet Kit for $10. In each kit are 12 Donut Seed packets (two each of six varieties), plus a bonus blank one for your own design, bags to hold the cereal and instructions. You need scissors, glue and cereal.

Want to be part of the Donut Seed Gallery? Donut loving artists who create another seed packet should get in touch in the comments section. We can start a donut seed packet gallery!

Donut Seeds?

I have to start out saying I am a gardener and it was a long winter.

There was a lot of time was spent thinking about the gardens, flowers, and the vegetables I would grow.

One day I was eating breakfast while going through garden catalogs and a thought floated into my head … my cereal looked like donut seeds. It made me smile and I started to play with the idea. Before long I was doodling, then I brought the idea into Adobe Illustrator and got into it. (I told you it was a long winter).

At the supermarket I noticed all the variations there are in little circular cereals and ideas for different kinds of donut seeds came into mind.

What you are seeing below are the results.  Six different packets of donut seeds designed by yours truly complete with humorous text on the back outlining the planting requirements for these seeds which – by the way –  are guaranteed not to grow.

I hope you get a giggle out of them.

They are posted as a kit on Etsy (go to http://www.Etsy.com and search “donut seed packets”) if you need a truly original gift or party favor for a gardener.


Naming Names

I was asked about the shorter than usual sunflowers I planted in the herb and edible plants bed at the Saratoga Springs Community Garden.

I planted two different types. The first is Burpee’s Sunspot and only grows 18 inches high. The other in Burpee’s Sunrise-Sunset Mix and it reaches a height between 28 and 36 inches.

Seedlings should start emerging in 7 to 14 days.

The beans in plot #44 are Burpee’s Royalty Purple Pod and the yellow beans are Burpee’s Goldrush. The beans will  be ready to harvest in 55 days. That is August 7th. Yes, I counted.

BTW-I’m not getting anything from Burpee…it is just coincidence that they are all Burpee seeds.

Great Morning in the Garden

The garden was hopping this morning. I ran into other gardeners busy tending their plots as well as visitors who came by just to enjoy the new created community garden.

In between speaking to my gardening neighbors, I planted box number 41 with herbs and edible plants and the large center box (#44) near the entrance with beans surrounded by flowers and herbs. In the herb-edible plants garden (pictured above) are planted low-growing sunflowers (24 to 36 inches tall), a rhubarb, marigolds, cilantro, lime basil, marjoram, dill, sage, parsley, and thyme.

In the large middle bed, I planted two rows of bush beans – one purple and one green – and snapdragons, zinnias and parsley.  A lot of parsley was planted because it is a larval food for butterflies and I am hoping to attract as many as possible to our garden. Also, parsley tastes great.

The purple and green beans were shared with me by fellow gardeners Helen and Sid Gordon. Thank you.

Garden Conservancy Tour – Margaret Roach’s Garden

We spent part of this soggy Saturday in Columbia County exploring gardens including the garden of Margaret Roach, who was the first garden editor for Martha Stewart Living magazine.  Her garden was part of the Open Days Garden Conservancy tours, a fundraising event for the organization that preserves exceptional gardens across America.

I always see something that I can bring into my own garden designs when I visit the gardens on these tours. In Roach’s garden, it was the masterful play of color and texture. At her country home, where she has garden for 25 years, plants from lowly ground covers to stately trees were visually woven together in an appealing tapestry that is at once both stimulating and subtle. You can tell that a great deal of consideration was given to plant placement.

Everywhere you look, you’ll see several different shapes of leaves artfully planted closely together to showcase color, texture, glossiness and shape. For example, shiny rounded European ginger leaves near a feathery fern next to the hand-like wild geranium leaves, across from the tiny oval leaves of a barberry. It is all about shapes of color and form.

The key to a great garden design is in the details. In the photos below, notice what Roach has created for herself. It is masterfully done. And, something you can do in your own garden. Following aretwo images that really showcase the importance of textures using plants that are readily available.

Another design element that was well done in this garden was the use of color and contrast. In the photos that follow Roach played off two complimentary colors….red and green. Notice the Japanese Maple with a bright yellow-green sedum acting as mulch in the terra-cotta pot. And, at right below, the Smokebush’s purple rosy leaves paired with the fresh green leaves of the wild geranium.

Other noteworthy elements of the garden were a small pond where visitors stopped to appreciate the chorus of frogs and unusual trees such as the Autumn Moon Japanese Maple. At left below is a closeup of the leaves of this tree.  Roach said she moves the small tree into a garage to protect it from ice and snow damage in winter.

If you don’t know about the Open Days Conservancy Garden Tours you can find out more at their website http://www.gardenconservancy.org. Preserving beautiful gardens for the public to enjoy is the goal and mission of the Garden Conservancy and the funds raised during the garden tours ($5. per garden) go toward this purpose.

I have been to many great gardens through this program and look forward each year to reading the directory that lists the gardens on tour with a brief description. The directory arrives in my mailbox in late winter and I’ve been known to put on the kettle, settle down with a hot cup of tea and begin marking off the gardens I don’t want to miss.

I’ve even been known to schedule family visits in other states around open days tours in those locations. Visiting the gardens of others and talking with those who care for the properties is deeply satisfying. These kindred spirits appreciate what you do, share nursery sources, and often speak the same language….botanical Latin.

If you decide to look at the schedule and want to know if I’ve been to a garden you’re considering, contact me. I’ll share my experience.

If you would like to see more of Margaret Roach’s garden, her website is http://awaytogarden.com.

Japanese Woodland Peony

This is a plant with great interest and subtle beauty for the shade garden — the Japanese Woodland Peony (Paeonia obovata). The flowers are delicate, single, pink and last only a short while. I’m glad I took this image before the rains because now they are gone. But this plant has more to offer, the foliage looks wonderful next to woodland companions such as hostas and ferns. And, come fall, the star-shaped, reddish seed pods burst forward with a dramatic display of dark seeds. My husband once called me out of the house to come see what was going on. “You have to see this,” he said. It’s that spectacular.

Gardening Questions?

Check out the new “Gardening Questions” page. I am a master gardener who loved the program so much I went back to college and earned a plant science degree from SUNY Cobleskill in ornamental horticultural. I’ve written about gardens for more than 15 years and was a newspaper garden columnist for 12 years. If you have a garden question, I will do my best to answer it.

This week I wrote about low maintenance gardens and how I go about creating them for myself and my clients. The garden pictured below uses plant textures, shrubs and trees that offer visual interest, feed birds and attract butterflies. Annuals provide the pop of bright color.