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?



Pretty Perennial: Bee Balm June 10, 2014

I love bee balm and so do my hummingbird visitors. I have a couple of spots with this pretty perennial. Do you have it in your yard?

Read more about this perennial on the American Meadows blog: A Showy, Native Perennial: Bee Balm


Dividing Irises November 16, 2011

Do your irises look like this? Is there a ‘dead’ spot right in the center?

iris, overgrown | | paula bonelli

'dead' center of overgrown iris

Time to divide! It’s really simple. Here’s how:

  • Dig up the entire patch of irises by loosening the dirt all around it. If it’s really large, just cut it into sections with your shovel and then lift out the sections. Try not to disturb the roots.
  • Using a knife or sharp spade, divide the clump into workable sections no larger than 6″. Sometimes you can even accomplish this by pulling them apart with your hands; just depends on how overgrown they are.
  • Using a pruners, cut off all the dead, odd-shaped and overgrown rhizomes and discard.
  • Re-plant your newly pruned and separated clumps. Maintain the same planting depth as before. If you have singles, just put a few together in a hole.
  • Water well until ground freezes and through the first blooming season.

This method works well for most perennials. If you have more than you need, share with a friend! I love having specials blooms in my yard from dear friends or family. Reminds me of them. 🙂

What flowers do you have that were from others’ gardens?

Related posts:  Flower Photo Gallery | New Plants for 2011 | Fall Bulbs


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?


Fall Fun at Olbrich Gardens October 18, 2011

On a gorgeous fall day during a recent visit to see my children, we headed to the Olbrich Botanical Gardens (Madison WI) for a stroll.

We had planned on taking in the famous Farm Market surrounding the Capitol Square and keep my daughter company while she vended her beautiful jewelry. But the wind did not cooperate, forcing most vendors to pack it in.

It was a disappointment only in the sense that our plans changed unexpectedly. Spending time together was the important thing; it didn’t matter how.

We decided it was far too nice to be couped up inside so we headed to the nearby Gardens. We really figured there wouldn’t be much to see; we were just anxious to soak up some fall sunshine.

Boy were we wrong! They had beautiful fall decorations around the entrance and in planters near the doors. But beyond that, it was all the natural beauty that drew us deeper into the gardens. The hydrangea shrubs had monstrous blooms, plump berries adorned bushes and vines, fuzzy caterpillars were basking in the sun, delightful blossoms filled shrub roses, and the lush green color of evergreen groundcovers and grasses created a beautiful backdrop.

hydrangea | olbrich gardens | | paula bonelli


caterpillar | | paula bonelli

shrub rose | olbrich gardens | | paula bonelli

shrub rose

evergreen groundcover | olbrich gardens | | paula bonelli

groundcover (name unknown)

ornamental grass | olbrich gardens | | paula bonelli

ornamental grass (name unknown)

As you can see, I stopped frequently to snap pictures. Or to plead with my son NOT to eat the berries, pods, nuts, whatever! I promise we fed him – maybe he was after dessert?! Just funnin’ with ya, Drew. 😉 LOL

What fun have you been having this fall? Are you still enjoying any birding or gardening activities? Tell me by commenting below.  🙂


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


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