Paula's Patch: A Minnesota Garden

Come wander in; my gate is always open! Gardening / Birding

Lots of Veggies August 7, 2014

We have been harvesting several things in recent weeks from our yard pots — cherry tomatoes, flat leaf parsley, sage, and soon basil (it’s a little slow growing in our shaded yard!).  We also belong to a CSA farm and have lots of colorful items in our boxes each week — summer squash, zucchini, cucumbers, potatoes, beets, tomatoes, peppers, snap peas, and lots of greens.

I never tire of using these fresh veggies in all kinds of dishes that are perfect lunches or al fresco suppers.

Go to Paula’s Garden Patch News to check out what American Meadows has been harvesting in their gardens. Yum!

What have you been harvesting and enjoying this time of year?



Household Garden Remedies for Unwanted Critters November 7, 2011

This time of year has me thinking about how to keep the squirrels from digging all the bulbs I just planted, and how to keep my shrubs and trees protected from rabbits when it snows.

My husband and I have tried any number of things to keep them both out of our yard. Some have been successful, like live trapping. This has significantly cut down on our squirrel population. While it’s had some impact on our rabbit population, they are less likely to go into the trap. See below for a trick to try with pet hair.

We will be putting 4-foot high chicken wire (ugly?!) around our vulnerable shrubs and trees before it snows to protect them from being rabbit meals come winter. And I’ve been sprinkling garlic powder around the areas I don’t want the squirrels digging. Cayenne pepper works too.

Jerry Baker, master gardener, is the king at providing natural solutions for all kinds of garden and household problems.

Try these solutions, made from common household items, to help keep rodents and deer out of your garden.

For rabbits:

rabbit image | paula bonelli |

image courtesy of

  • Pet hair in old pantyhose – fill old hose with pet hair and hang in various parts of your garden.
  • Hot sauce mixture – mix 2 ounces of hot sauce with 6 ounces of water. Spray on and around the plants you want to protect.

For squirrels:

  • Cayenne pepper mixture – mix 2 tablespoons of cayenne pepper and 1 tablespoon of dish soap into 1 quart of water. Spray around problem areas.
  • Garlic powder – sprinkle around problem areas.

For gophers, voles and moles:

  • Ammonia-soaked dryer sheets – place them in the tunnels, seal the hole and they’ll scram!
  • Castor oil and soap mixture – mix 1/2 cup of castor oil and 1/2 cup of dishwashing liquid in a 20-gallon sprayer. Saturate the area around trees and shrubs in affected area(s).

For deer:

  • Rotten egg mixture – pureé 2 raw eggs, 2 cups of water, 1-4 cloves of garlic, and 2 tablespoons of hot sauce. Allow to sit covered for several days (preferably outside of the house!), and sprinkle or pour over vulnerable plants.
  • Scented soap – put scented soap in old pantyhose and hang in deer-troubled areas.

What pests are you trying to keep out of your garden? Got any natural solutions you can share?


Still Blooming… October 11, 2011

During the last few days of warmth, my morning glory is still blooming. It’s only a blossom or two and the foliage looks pathetic, but you can’t beat the hardiness of this fast-growing vine. It’s easily started from seed, thrives in a sunny spot and may even reseed the following year.

morning glory

morning glory

I’ve got mine in a planter climbing up from the deck to our second-story balcony. It does much better directly in the ground; my neighbors is a true violet color, is still lush, green and loaded with blossoms! Jealous. 🙂

Did you know they are considered a noxious weed in Arizona and it’s against the law to grow them?! Glad that’s not the case here in MN. It’s the ideal annual for our short growing season reaching heights of 15-20 feet, has lots of showy blossoms and is nearly disease/pest resistant.

What’s still blooming in your garden?

This week I’ll be re-potting some of my succulents and tender plants so I can bring them indoors for the winter.  I usually use pots I can hang or medium-sized pots I can set near windows. This year I think I have more to bring in than usual. I might have to get a tiered plant stand or  shelf unit.

If you’re in Minnesota, you’ll want to get your tender plants in this week. Our overnight temps in the next few days will dip into the 40’s or possibly the upper 30’s. Goodbye summer… 😦


Garlic Chives October 4, 2011

I love this late-blooming herb. Garlic chive (allium tuberosum) is in the onion family and can be started from seed quite effortlessly. It looks very much like a regular chive, but the greens are flatter and wonderfully fragrant (but then I love the smell of garlic!). Since it blooms in late-summer, I can enjoy the white blossoms when most of my other flowers are done blooming.

But more than just enjoying the look and smell in my garden, garlic chive is a flavorful addition to any dish you’d normally use garlic in. Try it raw in a salad or added to a one-pot supper for extra fresh flavor.

It would make a nice potted herb since it’s easy to grow and this would help keep it contained. It spreads easily, so I aggressively thin out the new seedlings that seem to have feet everywhere! You can help contain it if you don’t let the blossoms go to seed or border it so it doesn’t creep into neighboring plant spaces.

I have so much, I often snip it while it’s blooming, bundle tie the greens together with a bit of twine and hang them decoratively in my kitchen or back porch.

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Do you have of allium in your yard? What variety(ies)?

Related posts:

Garlic Chives

Growing Allium


Rose of Sharon September 26, 2011

Rose of Sharon is my new favorite flowering shrub. I received a seedling from my Aunt last fall and stuck it in the ground. I really didn’t think it would survive since it’s Zone 5 hardy. I put it in my side yard against the fence and prayed. 🙂 The shelter between the fence and the house was enough to protect it. If it could survive last winter, I have no doubt it will be a show-stopper!

It’s in the hibiscus family – one of the reasons I like it. I adore the beautiful blossoms. The other reasons? It’s a late-bloomer (Aug-Sep, but mine’s still going strong and it’s nearly Oct!) and it’s easy care, low-maintenance. This shrub can get 8-10′ tall and 4-6′ wide; perfect for what I wanted which is a bit of living fence privacy between yards.

It grew to about 2 feet tall this year and the blooms are plentiful. I’ve tucked it between my flowering honeysuckle vine and a red trumpet vine, all of which I’ll train to a trellis or wire attached to my fence panels. The oodles of blooms I’ll be able to see from my kitchen window will make me smile and the birds will thank me.

(click to enlarge photo)

Do you have a favorite flowering shrub? Share it with me by commenting below (bottom right corner of this post).


Late-Summer Photo Slideshow September 12, 2011

Later this week, we will be experiencing daytime temps in the 60’s. Grrr. Guess it will really feel like fall. I’m enjoying my late-summer blooms. There are not many this time of year as most of my plants are waning and looking anything but pretty.

I love to do a walk-about in my yard while I have my morning coffee. I take my pruning shears and deadhead, snip and tidy up. I invariably find the morning light has brought a new blossom to my view, so I grab my camera and snap yet another picture.

While you are drudgingly welcoming the cool air later this week, enjoy this slideshow of late-summer blooms, garden and nature photog. 😀

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P.S. Are you getting your bulb order/wishlist together. The time is nearly here to plant those fall bulbs!


Edible Flowers July 19, 2011

Did you know that Zucchini and Squash blossoms are edible? How about Culinary Sage (Salvia officinallis) blossoms and leaves?

Many other garden flowers and plants are edible too—day lily, nasturium, dandelion, begonia, calendula,  and many herbs like thyme, dill, cilantro, chives, anise, garlic, fennel, lavender and basil.

But before you add edible flowers to your menu, get a good book on edible flowers, check with your local garden center expert or do your research online. Not all are edible and some can make you very sick. Make sure no chemicals or pesticides have been used, use plants from gardens or markets you trust, and be sure to eat ONLY the edible parts.

I LOVE zucchini blossoms battered and pan fried. My grandmother and mother made this classic Italian snack for our family when I was growing up. Now is the time to get those blossoms off the stems! Try this summer treat and see what you’ve been missing.  🙂

Pan-Fried Zucchini Blossoms

Prep Time: 15 minutes


Clean flowers of pollen, stems, stamens and pistils before using. (Put flowers (with their stems) in a jar of fresh water if you cannot preserve or prepare them right away. They are best used just after picking.)

Rinse gently and remove stems. Pat gently dry.

The blossoms can be stuffed with a bit of soft cheese like ricotta before dipping in the batter, if you like.


  • Olive oil for frying
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup of flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon of salt and more for sprinkling, or for a sweet version use cinnamon sugar
  • 1/3 cup club soda or plain mineral water (approximate) OR whole milk, cream or half-n-half
  • 1 dozen zucchini blossoms (approximately)

Heat 1/2 inch of oil in a deep frying pan to about 375 degrees.

In a small bowl, beat the egg and then add the flour and salt to it to form thick batter.

Stir in just enough mineral water or milk to thin batter a bit so blossoms can be delicately battered.

Dip each blossom in batter. Place in oil and fry until each side is golden brown. This will only take a few minutes (2-4).

Remove from oil and let drain on a paper towel. Sprinkle with salt or cinnamon sugar while warm.

Enjoy this delicious treat!



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