Monthly Archives: February 2013

Early Spring Planting

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If you are anything like our family, you counting down the remaining days of winter. I have been chomping at the bit, stopping by my local lawn and garden stores once or even twice a day. In southeastern Ohio, we have had quite a sporadic winter. This last day of February, we are having on and off snow showers, while just last week it was 65 degrees and sunny. I have prepped the small garden of my rental property on these sunny days—pulling weeds and putting up a little metal fence. These are trying times for gardeners—even a novice gardener like myself. To help ease the cabin fever, here is a short list of plants you can tend to in the early weeks of March.

 

The Crocus. The crocus’ botanical name is, in fact, Crocus. These flowers are synonymous with spring. They come in beautiful shades of blue, white, yellow, pink, orange and purple. If planted in the fall, they will bloom in springtime, and if planted in the springtime, they will add colour and flourish in the fall. I didn’t actually plant my crocus’ in the garden. I was surprised to see them poking through the soil a week or two ago, and am excitedly waiting to see what colour they will bloom. The flowers, along with a large hydrangea bush, are left over from whomever tended the garden and rented the house before. These flowers grow from a hardy bulb; mine are planted in partial sun, but also tolerate full sun.

 

Rosebushes are generally very hardy once they have established themselves. I have a total of 6 small roses on my rental property. Like the crocus’, their colouration and variety will be a surprise to me. I have been trying to revitalize them, with some (perhaps premature) pruning and feeding. Although roses will bloom okay without regular feeding, the quality of blooms increases greatly with fertilisation—as often as every two weeks. Depending on your part of the country, roses should be planted at different times. They do need to go out, however, before the last frost date.

 

Sweat pea is a charming annual flower, that you need to start around the first week in march, if you want to experience their colourful blooms in July. For best results, it is recommend you to soak a paper towel, then wrap the seeds inside the paper towel and place into a plastic baggie, like Ziploc. Place the bag with the seeds in a sunny windowsill. It should take between a week and 10 days before all the seeds sprout. They can then be placed in loose earth. It is important to give them a trellis, or something similar to vine on. Sweet pea can be found in a number of colour mixes and varieties and is easily one of my favourite summer flowers.

 

This is just a tiny taste of flowers for early planting! There are also many fruits and vegetables that can be started inside and transplanted after the threat of frost. It’s time to get a jump on early planting to get the full enjoyment out of your garden!

 Sources

 Jen. “Planting Sweet Peas.” At Home In The Northwest. At Home in the Northwest, 5 Mar. 2012. Web. 28 Feb. 2013.

 McCarthy, Annette. “Crocuses.” : How to Plant, Grow, and Care for Crocus Flowers. The Old Farmer’s Almanac, n.d. Web. 28 Feb. 2013.

Piccino, Annelle. “When to Plant Roses.” Rose Gardening Made Easy. N.p., n.d. Web. 25 Feb. 2013.

Rots, Nina. “What Flowers to Plant in March.” EHow Home. N.p., n.d. Web. 28 Feb. 2013. 

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Sweet Cinnamon

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Open up the cabinets in any kitchen and find a common denominator. Flours, sugars, cooking oils and what else? Spices! Spices help to add flavour to your favourite meals. Even if you just like peppering your eggs or mashed potatoes, you are utilising spices to enhance the taste of your food. Although now readily available at your local grocery store, spices were once considered as valuable as jewels or precious metals. They were used as currency in the trade of goods, slaves, lands and given as gifts during diplomatic negotiations. Entire expeditions were launched in the hopes of finding new varieties of spices. And one of the most desired spices was cinnamon.

 

Cinnamon is a wonderfully diverse spice. It is best to purchase a ‘quill’–an intact stick of cinnamon—and grind it with a mortal and pestle,or a coffee grinder. Cinnamon looses it’s flavour and potency quickly, like pepper, so it is key to grind only what you need. The jars of pre-ground spices can’t hold a candle to the freshly ground spices. Sprinkle your fresh cinnamon on toast, ice cream or pumpkin pie. Use the quill to stir your coffee or tea, and infuse the smell and taste into your beverage. If you love the smell, you can place whole sticks of cinnamon in pans of water, boil them on the stove and enjoy the scent of cinnamon wafting through your living space. Enjoy this link for a wonderful Valentine’s Day treat—Valentine’s Heart-Shaped Cinnamon Rolls from Spiced.

 

The tantalizing aroma isn’t the spice’s only appeal. Medieval doctors used cinnamon as treatment for various ailments, including sore throats and coughing. More modern uses for cinnamon include helping to lower blood sugar levels and lowering LDL cholesterol levels. It has also been linked to lessening inflammation and arthritic pains.

 

There are many varieties of cinnamon and each one with a slightly different look, aroma, texture, and potency. Varieties that are sweeter and more mild are used for baked goods and sweets. More bitter varieties are best pared with spicier foods, like curries and moles. Cinnamomum zeylanicum is the scientific name of ‘true’ cinnamon and is native to Sri Lanka. This type of cinnamon, commonly called Ceylon, is considered of the finest quality and is generally more expensive. The type commonly consumed in the United States is referred to as ‘cassia’, and actually refers to two different species: Cinnamomum cassia and Cinnamomum burmannii. By consuming both cassia and Ceylon, you can reap the healthy benefits, but be careful. The recommended dosage of cinnamon ½ to 1 teaspoon per day. However, cassia cinnamon has been known to be toxic when consumed excessively, so make sure to find Ceylon, or ‘true’ cinnamon. The packaging should be labeled properly. Cinnamon can also cause allergic reactions, mouth sores, and even liver problems. It is best to speak with a dietician or a health care provider if you wish to take the larger doses.

Sources–

Cook, Michelle S. “10 Surprising Health Benefits of Cinnamon.” (Page 3). Care2, 28 Dec. 2011. Web. 13 Feb. 2013.
Courtney. “Valentine’s Heart-Shaped Cinnamon Rolls.” Spiced. Spiced, 29 Jan. 2012. Web. 13 Feb. 2013.
Filippone, Peggy T. “Cinnamon History.” About.com Home Cooking. About.com, 2007. Web. 12 Feb. 2013.
“History of Spices.” McCormick For Chefs -. McCormick, 2011. Web. 13 Feb. 2013.
Johnson, Kimball. “Cinnamon Health Benefits and Research.” WebMD. WebMD, 13 Oct. 2012. Web. 13 Feb. 2013.
Lynch, Elizabeth. “Spice Trade–A Brief History of Cinnamon.” Spice Trade–€” A Brief History of Cinnamon. Culinate, 2 Jan. 2008. Web. 13 Feb. 2013.
“What Is the Difference between Cinnamon and Cassia?” WHFoods. WHFoods, n.d. Web. 13 Feb. 2013.

 

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