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Author: Katie Hassell

Fresh Iced Tea Popsicle Recipes

Our episode, featuring a trip to Charleston, S.C., brought us to the only tea plantation in the United States. Tea is so Southern and so delicious, and we got a closer look at how it’s grown and processed on the plantation. And we’re so thankful tea is still around. We can’t get enough of it, iced or hot!

This episode and the heat of summer, prompted a search of the internet for iced tea popsicles. We were inspired by some light and healthy recipes online, especially those using fresh fruit and one with matcha, a green tea super food. These two recipes were tested and approved in our kitchen.

Matcha and Milk Popsicles
3 cups almond milk
3 tbsp honey
1 tsp matcha green tea powder
Zest of 1 lemon

Mix ingredients together in a bowl until smooth. Fill molds with mixture and freeze until completely frozen, 3 to 4 hours.

 

16_05041Blackberry Black Tea Popsicles
3 cups black tea
2 tbs honey
Juice of 1 lemon
1 pint blackberries

Reserve 1/4 blackberries. Mix all other ingredients until smooth in a blender.  Divide remaining berries between molds and top with tea mixture.

 

Lavender Room Spray

Materials

  • 3/4 cup water (I use tap water, but distilled is fine too)
  • 2 tablespoons vodka, witch hazel, or real vanilla extract
  • 5 drops lavender essential oil
  • 5 drops lemon essential oil
  • 5 drops rosemary essential oil

Directions

  • Combine in an 8oz spray bottle, shake well, and spray as needed.

Cabbage Patch Kid: How a plant inspired one girl to feed needy families

Many years ago, the Bonnie Plants Third Grade Cabbage Program — where third-grade students are given a cabbage plant to tend either at home or at school – inspired one young student in South Carolina to create an organization to feed those in need.

Katie's-Crops-1Katie Stagliano was given a plant in third grade. It grew to be almost 40 lbs! Her cabbage was too big for one family. So, she donated it to a soup kitchen, where it fed more than 275 people. Amazed by how many people her cabbage fed, Katie started a vegetable garden specifically to donate to hungry people in her community. Her initiative continued to grow and expand, and  in 2012, at the age of 14, Katie became the youngest person to receive the Clinton Global Citizen Award.  She met Matt Damon at the awards ceremony!

Katie's-Crops-2Today, she’s the founder and chief executive gardener at Katie’s Krops, a nonprofit organization that continues to grow food to feed the needy. Offering grants to students and schools, her organization has expanded into 51 gardens run by kids in 21 states. Those gardens produce thousands of pounds of healthy produce for families. We are so inspired by what Katie is doing, and to think it all started with a small cabbage plant donation.

The Bonnie Plants Third Grade Cabbage Program is open schools across America. This program aims to connect children to their food and nature. Sometimes the cabbages grow up to 50 lbs! Principals and teachers can register here.  Plants will be delivered at the optimal time for your growing zone. Once the cabbages are grown, classrooms can submit entries for a chance to win a $1,000 scholarship. See previous winners here. Warning: They’re adorable.

Farmers market oddities and how to use them

If you take your time to browse the farmers markets this summer, you might see a few things you’ve never tried before. Like a knobby circle of kohlrabi, or a strange looking lemon-shaped cucumber, or greens like watercress or Italian dandelion. Give them a shot! Make a resolution to try one new fruit or vegetable a week throughout the growing season, and see where it takes you. You never know! You might find a new favorite. Here’s a little background information on some of the more common oddities in the farmers market and a few ways to use them.

 

Kohlrabi:
KohlrabiA vegetable that’s a cross between broccoli stems and tender cabbage, the kohlrabi should be peeled first and foremost. Get that tough outer layer out of the way. Then try it raw. If that taste suits you, slice it thinly and add it to salads. If not, you can roast it with potatoes and other root veggies for a sweeter flavor. Or add to an omelet, a casserole, or any other dish with a medley of vegetables.

 

Lemon cucumber:
It may look like a lemon on the outside, but it’s still a cucumber on the inside. Don’t try to squeeze juice out of this one. Add it to your cucumber and tomato salad for an unexpected color variation on a standard Southern dish.

 

Watercress:
WatercressThis little green is growing in popularity. Known for its peppery flavor, watercress can punch up a salad or soup. Simply remove the thicker stems and sprinkle on top of your plate or bowl. Watercress might be best raw, but you can also add it to pizza or a hot sandwich with cheese. Treat it like peppery basil and you can’t go wrong.

 

Italian Dandelion:
Italian DandelionDandelion? That’s a weed! Not exactly. The leaves are similar, but this edible variety has deeper green coloring and is packed with nutrients. They can be bitter, so go carefully. Add it to fruit smoothies. Rinse, squeeze dry, then sauté with olive oil, salt, garlic, lemon juice, red pepper flakes, and maybe a shot of honey to mellow the flavor. Basically, you can use Italian dandelion anywhere you might use kale.

 

Leeks:
LeeksIf you’ve been eyeballing those leeks for awhile but you haven’t tried them yet, it’s time. I can understand the confusion. They look like green onions. What’s going on here? Yes, they’re related to onions and garlic, but the flavor is milder. Chop them up and add to salads and stews. Or try them in an omelet or frittata. Sauté in lemon juice and broth and serve with salmon. The possibilities are endless.

A Guide to Gifts Dad will Dig

Let’s agree dad deserves something nice this year, not the same-old, same-old. Put down that chain-store leather wallet, and let this be the year you go above and beyond for your old man. Start your shopping right here. And if you’re celebrating, check out our Dad’s Day Brunch Menu.

 

AM Leonard Stainless Steel Soil KnifeAM Leonard Stainless Steel Soil Knife
Buy

Every gardener needs one of these for those tedious tasks in the yard. This tough tool can dig into the dirt, slice through thick stems with ease, and the orange handle makes it easy to find if you set it down. The built-in ruler helps you measure the proper depth for seedlings.  It comes with a sheath for storage and to protect this knife from the elements.

 

Cork and Canvas Dopp KitCork and Canvas Dopp Kit
Buy

Dopp kits are trending very hard in the world of men. And this one can work as a toiletry kit, cosmetic bag or shaving kit. It has a cork top that’s water-repellent and stain-resistant. Sleek, durable and made with sustainable materials.

 

Green Envy Garden HoseGreen Envy Garden Hose
Buy

Though attractiveness may not be the most appealing quality in a hose for dad, you can back up this purchase with a lifetime warranty. This hose won’t kink under pressure and remains flexible in sub-zero temps, but let’s hope it never comes to that. It’s drinking water safe and lightweight.

 

Sweet and Spicy Glazed PecansSweet and Spicy Glazed Pecans
Buy

Lambrecht is a company committed to quality, and by that, we mean they consider every aspect in making these incredibly addictive Sweet and Spicy Glazed Pecans. Southern-grown pecans are glazed in sugar and salt, then given a pinch of heat from red pepper, black pepper and chili powder. Dad will inhale them so fast, you might consider buying two. He might remember to savor the second package. Maybe.

 

Pop Top CoastersPop Top Coasters
Buy

You need coasters to protect your furniture, and this one is made to look like old pop tops. It’ll make dad smile every time he sets his drink down. These reproduction soda caps have an aged finish to add authenticity.

 

Folk Art Crows Wall FountainFolk Art Crows Wall Fountain
Buy

This authentic –looking homage to folk art sculptures becomes animated as a wall-hanging fountain. Plug it in to watch the crows move when the pump activates a trickle of water through their beaks. The closed system recirculates water to cut down on waste.

 

Long-Handle Cape Cod WeederLong-Handle Cape Cod Weeder
Buy

Ideal for row crops or raised beds, the steel blades are nearly indestructible and the handle will save your back during long weeding days. This tool is effective, comfortable and durable. Built to last a lifetime.

 

Garden Home Travel MugGarden Home Travel Mug
Buy

Fans of P. Allen Smith’s Garden Home show will love this mug. It has a bright, spill-proof lid that’s easy to spot among the lid drawer. Holds approximately 12 ounces of caffeinated goodness.

Dad’s Day Beer Brunch Menu

Dad’s Day is on the horizon.
It’s time to celebrate the man who taught you to change a tire.
How to hang level photos.
How to pace yourself with alcoholic beverages.
How to avoid being electrocuted … just after you managed to accidentally shock yourself on an unsecured outlet.

Next weekend, return the favor and teach dad a thing or two – about brunch. Start with coffee. Brunch is about being civilized.

16_02926Then, take your cues from Little Rock’s rustic, man-centric Lost 40 Brewing Company and create a Beer Brunch for dad with dishes like Sausage and Grits, Beer-Battered Waffles, or Farmer’s Hash with roasted onions, potatoes, red bell and poblano peppers, white cheddar, breakfast sausage, topped with over-easy eggs.

Then, for the final flourish, introduce dad to the Brew-mosa (aka Beer-mosa). Basically, a light beer – Lost 40 uses its Day Drinker Belgian Blonde — mixed with orange juice.

Official Brew-mosa Recipe:
16_02911Pour beer into glass. Add orange juice to taste.

It may not be dad’s thing, but you weren’t really into shop class, either. And he’ll appreciate your efforts.

And check out our shop for gifts dad will love.

 

16_02905

Plan your summer vacation: A self-watering container review

A guest post by Gary Pilarchik

In early May, I was fortunate enough to attend Garden2Grow 2016 at Moss Mountain Farm in Little Rock, and I had a wonderful time.  I never would have thought my experiences there would lead me to grow an entire cucumber and tomato salad garden in a single container.  The greatest issue with container vegetables is water or more specifically, watering.  Once the soil in a container completely dries out, a lot of harm is done to the plants.  Months of work can be lost by accidently missing a single day of watering.  I have been there too many times while battling our 100-degree summers in Maryland (Zone 7).

During the event, teams of five competed to build a fairy container garden, and the winners got their choice of a Crescent Garden container.  Before the contest started, we were introduced to Crescent’s TruDrop® self-watering system. I was intrigued at the size of some of the plants in the containers. Well, a bit of luck fell our way, and my team won the contest!  That little, yet exciting, victory, led to the experiment I am starting in my container garden today. Maybe now I can beat the heat.

fairygarden

 

This is a demanding experiment, so I did some research on the TruDrop containers.  The one I looked at was 26 inches wide and 26 inches tall, a solid design for growing larger vegetables. The watering system is self-contained and sealed. No insects will find shelter in the water. The TruDrop container’s reservoir holds 12.8 gallons of water, and it has a simple visual display that tells you where the water level sits; making it extremely easy to know when water needs to be added. The container is double walled, which helps with temperature regulation.  It is made from food safe material and it is recyclable.

photos crescent 004I then had the idea to grow a complete tomato and cucumber salad garden in one container. The 26-inch containers were the perfect size.  I typically grow single tomato plants in 5-gallon containers which can be a challenge as they generally need to be watered twice a day in July.  Vacation is almost not an option during the heat of the summer. When I saw the TruDrop container holding large plants, I really wondered how vegetables would fare in that type of self-watering system. Now I can find out and come late July I will have the results!  And I have to say the brail design and color is so much more attractive than my gray 5-gallon containers.

The system evenly waters from the bottom, which is the best way to water plants. It cuts down on waste and decreases the chances of fungus and other diseases that can occur from overhead watering. The soil stays evenly moist at root level and this promotes a strong well-developed root system.  I will be mixing a water soluble fertilizer in the reservoir to keep the plants evenly fed. With this size container, I will only need to fill it about every 10-14 days when the plants are up to size, maybe less.  I could honestly take a vacation and not worry about watering.

photos crescent 003All of the needed vegetables will be planted in a growing area with 19.5 gallons of soil capacity. That space will hold both a dwarf determinate tomato that delivers pink, 12-16 ounce fruits and an indeterminate compact cherry tomato for sweet cherry tomatoes all summer long.  A bush variety cucumber will be joining the bunch.  Nothing beats the scent and sweetness of a freshly sliced cucumber picked straight from the vine.  I’ll add a jalapeno pepper plant to spice the salads up occasionally, onions of some sort, some basil and maybe some cilantro into the Crescent container.  Like I said, not an easy test for any self-watering system, but I think this one can handle it. Stay posted for updates here or on my channel.

Gary Pilarchik’s Rusted Garden YouTube channel has more than 75,000 subscribers and 600 quick, focused vegetable garden videos. A video update on this tomato and cucumber salad container will be featured at  the end of July.  The channel is a culmination of more than 20 years of gardening experience, and he hopes to help you with your gardens and teach children that vegetables don’t come from a grocery store!

One Recipe, Two Uses: Honey Simple Syrup

Simple syrup is an invaluable staple in the kitchen. Use it to sweeten your tea, your cocktails, to candy-coat roasted almonds or pecans or brush onto cakes. It’s a breeze to make and has many everyday applications but is especially useful when you’re entertaining. So, we think it’s time to kick it up a notch.

For a more robust and complex flavor, sub in honey for the usual granulated sugar. Honey simple syrup is light and divine, and we’ve got two delicious ways to enjoy it below – the Strawberry Green Tea Spritzer (with or without alcohol) and the Sweet and Minty Melon Balls. The honey simple syrup here makes enough for the drink and the melon balls, so if you want to keep more on hand, you should consider doubling the recipe.

 

Honey Simple SyrupHoney-Syrup
1/2 cup honey
½ cup filtered water

Instructions

  1. Place both honey and water into a medium saucepan.
  2. Heat over medium, stirring or swirling just until the honey dissolves.
  3. Remove from heat.
  4. Store in an airtight container in the fridge.

 

 

Strawberry Green Tea Spritzer16_03766
1 quart freshly brewed green tea
¼ cup honey simple syrup (or more to taste)
1 cup sliced strawberries
2 cups sparking water or Prosecco
8 SunPatiens® Blooms for garnish

In a pitcher, muddle strawberries with simple syrup. Add green tea and stir to combine. Pour over ice and top with sparkling water or prosecco. Garnish with a SunPatiens®.

Yield: 8 servings

 

 

We used the Melon ‘Lilliput’ from the P. Allen Smith Home Grown Seed Collection.

Sweet and Minty Melon Balls
3 cups melon balls – watermelon, cantaloupe, honeydew
½ cup honey simple syrup
Fresh mint leaves for garnish

In a large bowl, combine watermelon, cantaloupe, and honeydew balls. Drizzle with honey syrup and lightly toss to coat the balls. Serve in chilled bowls or sorbet cups, garnished with fresh mint.

Yield: 8 servings

Plants for Color All Summer

Life is hard, gardening shouldn’t be. Here are seven plants you can grow that will be colorful all growing season without a minute’s trouble.

 

LUSCIOUS® Bananarama Lantana                                       
BUY

  • Tough-as-nails annual is extremely heat and drought tolerant, tolerates poor soils; protect from frost
  • Large clusters of bright sunny yellow flowers on mounded plants
  • Blooms all season without deadheading
  • Attracts butterflies and hummingbirds, not preferred by deer
  • Full sun

 

LUSCIOUS® BERRY BLEND™ Lantana                                  

  • Tough-as-nails annual is extremely heat and drought tolerant, tolerates poor soils; protect from frost
  • Large clusters of fuchsia, orange and yellow flowers on mounded plants
  • Blooms all season without deadheading
  • Attracts butterflies and hummingbirds, not preferred by deer
  • Full sun

 

COLORBLAZE® KEYSTONE KOPPER® Solenostemon(Coleus)
BUY

  • Richly saturated orange-bronze foliage
  • Bred to bloom very late or not at all, making the plant last into fall with little maintenance
  • Wonderful in large containers and landscapes
  • Heat tolerant and less preferred by deer
  • Full sun to shade

 

COLORBLAZE® LIME TIME™ Solenostemon(Coleus)
BUY

  • Vigorous selection with bright chartreuse foliage that brightens up any combination or landscape in sun or shade without burning
  • Bred to bloom very late or not at all, making the plant last into fall with little maintenance
  • Wonderful in large containers and landscapes
  • Heat tolerant, less preferred by deer, and mildew resistant (which can be a problem with other chartreuse coleus)
  • Full sun to shade

 

COLORBLAZE® ‘RAINBOW RHYTHM®’ Hemerocallis                      
BUY

  • Enormous 7 ½ – 8 ½” flowers
  • Glimmering tangerine orange, gold dusted flowers with twisted, ruffled petals
  • Blooms in early midsummer on tall scapes loaded with buds
  • Full sun to part shade

 

AMAZING DAISIES™ ‘Banana Cream’ Leucanthemum
BUY

  • Picture perfect, large 4-5”, lemon yellow flowers age to creamy white
  • Disease resistant variety with strong stems that are great for cutting for long lasting fresh bouquets
  • Blooms begin in early summer with some rebloom from secondary buds; benefits from deadheading
  • Full sun

 

LO & BEHOLD® ‘Lilac Chip’ Buddleia                                    
BUY

  • Award winning, seedless butterfly bush that won’t sow its seed around the garden
  • Soft lavender pink flowers attract butterflies and hummingbirds from midsummer to frost without deadheading
  • Dwarf, compact habit grows only 1 ½-2’ tall x 2-2 ½’ wide
  • Perfectly sized for containers and small-scale urban landscapes
  • Full sun