My Japanese Knotweed Nightmare….

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Re-adapted from my sister blog: Anna’s Gardening Antics and Musings

Greetings my fellow gardeners. Thirteen years ago I purchased a beautiful old home with a tiny yard full of miscellaneous shrubs and unusual mystery plants.  I had lovely thoughts of creating a private haven of flowering vines, small fruits trees and edibles, similar to my late grandmother’s garden. I had very little knowledge at that time about gardening, so I read hundreds of books, watched gardening videos and took various classes for over a year.

The following Spring, I emerged outside with my gardening gear, ready to clean up the yard when I noticed several tall, red stalks protruding from the ground next to a concrete pad where a garage once stood. Uncertain of it’s identity, I shrugged and continued my yard work. Two weeks later, my curiosity became relentless so I took of picture of the stalks…now a good 4 feet tall and looking a bit like bamboo and sent a picture to our local extension office. Soon I received bad news, it was Japanese Knotweed.

Thus, a 11 year battle has ensued and it is ongoing as you can see. Because of the concrete pad, it has remained in a small area. At the end of the summer, the bees descend on the tiny  flowers and the birds eat the seeds.

A few more facts about this invasive weed:

Japansese Knotweed (Fallopia japonica)

  • Originated from Asia and was introduced to the US in the 1800’s as a ornamental
  • Has rhizome runners that can extend 60 feet
  • Can grow under any conditions and is listed as one of the world’s most invasive species

I have tried nearly everything to combat it organically. Next Spring, I am going to try something new.  Because it is invasive, you have to be extremely careful handling it and with it’s disposal. I have included several links to provide you with more information.

http://www.newsweek.com/2014/07/11/japanese-knotweed-driving-men-murder-257257.html

http://www.nyis.info/index.php?action=invasive_detail&id=43

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Queen Anne’s Lace Jelly Recipe

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Re-adapted from my sister blog: Anna’s Gardening Antics & Musings…..

Recently, I had the honor of sampling a delicious jelly made from Queen Anne’s Lace (Daucus carota) flowers. It was absolutely wonderful: sweet with a mild, flowery taste.

Of course, I simply had to ask for the recipe so I can make a big batch of this fantastic jelly to share with family and friends (I am sharing the recipe at the end of this post). This jelly will be perfect on dry or buttered toast or scones.

Here is a little information about this lovely and underrated plant:

Queen Anne’s Lace, also known as wild carrot or bishops lace, can usually be found in ditches, meadows, roadside and dry fields. It is considered an invasive weed in many places, but it has culinary and medicinal properties. As a naturalized plant, it attracts many beneficial insects, such as butterflies, bees, wasps and lacewings.

The flower head or umbel of this beautiful plant is flat and has delicate looking tiny, white flowers with a small purple dot in the center. The plant itself usually grows between 3 to 4 ft feet and the flower head 3-8 inches. They flower between May-October and are biennials. The stalk is tall, woody and hairy; the leaves flat and hairy. The leaves and stalk are not edible and may cause skin irritation. The taproot is long with hairy stems. It has the faint scent of carrots and is edible if eaten young.

There are other plants that are similar in appearance to Queen Anne’s Lace. The first is called poison or water hemlock (Conium maculatum). The entire plant is extremely toxic and can be fatal if ingested. The other, fool’s parsley (Aethusa cynapium), is poisonous and can cause rawness and burning. Both plants produce strong, putrid odors and have smooth stems, leaves and taproots.

Do not attempt to eat Queen Anne’s Lace unless you have a positive identification from an expert!

Now, here’s the recipe:

Queen Anne’s Lace Jelly
(Using a standard hot water bath canner)
Makes about 6 jars

1/4 cup of freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 cups of fresh Queen Anne’s lace heads
4 cups boiling water
1 package of SURE-JELL “Less/No Sugar pectin (save and use the instructions on the box for safe canning)
3 1/2 cups of sugar

Slowly add the boiling water in a large bowl with the flower heads (make sure the heads are full submerged). Cover the bowl and steep the flower heads for thirty minutes. Strain the mixture and add 3 cups of the infusion in a medium cooking pot. Bring the liquid to a slow boil.

Gradually add the lemon juice and pectin. Stir the mixture frequently. Bring the liquid to a rolling boil and stir in the sugar slowly until the mixture returns to a rolling boil. Boil for one minute then remove the pot from the heat. Skim the foam from the top and slowly pour or ladle the liquid into sterilized jars. Allow a little head space and make sure you wipe the rim of any excess liquid with a clean cloth. Then seal the jars with sterilized lids and tops. Place in hot water bath for 5 mins. Allow the jelly to set overnight before relocating the jars.

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What is Melilot?

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Photo via: Flickr

Melilot (Melilotus officinalis), also known as Yellow Sweet Clover, is a non-native plant originating from Eurasia and brought to the US as fodder for animals and a cover crop to produce a bust of nitrogen to poor soil and fields. It is not considered a weed but can become invasive if not monitored properly as it can be found in all types of soil.

Melilot benefits honeybees with it’s abundance of nectar and pollen and several types of butterflies and moths larvae which consumes the buds, leaves and flowers. Many mammals such as rabbits, moles and deer typically enjoy the leaves and flowers from the life benefiting plant as well as various birds who consume the seeds. As an herb, it is used medically under a physician’s care for a variety of ailments such as bruises and circulation problems.

In the home garden, Melilot is usually grown as an annual but is actually considered a biennial. It has a scent similar to fresh hay or mowed grass and it’s muted yellow flowers can be an asset to any wildlife or pollinator garden.

Resources:

http://www.botanical.com/botanical/mgmh/m/melilo29.html

https://gobotany.newenglandwild.org/species/melilotus/officinalis/

 

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Benefits of Basil

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Garden Quote…..

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Five Common Edible Flowers In The Home Garden

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Did you know, there are edible flowers in most home gardens? Many gardeners grow plants for visual appeal and for their fruit, but many flowers also offer the same taste as their hosts.

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Bachelors Button / Cornflower – (Centaurea cynaus)

Bachelor button flowers have a sweet to clove-like, spicy flavor and are a great addition to any fresh garden salad or as a colorful garnish.

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Pansy  (Viola X wittrockiana)

Pansy flowers are most noted for their abundance of beautiful, vibrant colors. The flowers have a mildly sweet grass-like flavor and are excellent accompaniments to salads, desserts and sprinkled on top of soups. They can, of course, also be used as a garnish.

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Impatiens  (Impatiens wallerana)

Impatiens are favorites for any home garden and come in an array of lovely colors. The flowers offer a sweet flavor and can be added as a garnish to desserts, salads and drinks.

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Signet Marigold (Tagetes tenuifolia – aka T. signata)

Also known as American Saffron, this strain of marigold has a slight citrus flavor and can be added to salads or used as a saffron substitute in dishes.

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Sunflowers (Helianthus annus) 

Sunflowers have an amazing assortment of edible uses. The flower buds can be cooked like artichokes and the roots can be eaten raw or cooked. The leaves, roots and flower petals can be brewed into a tea and has an earthy flavor. The leaves can also be used raw in salads or cooked liked spinach. The stalks  have a celery like flavor and can be eaten as a healthy snack.

Note: Make sure you consume flowers that have not been treated with pesticides or other chemicals that are used in most garden centers or nurseries. As with any plant if you are unsure if it is edible, please be sure to research them thoroughly before consumption.

Additional resources:

https://whatscookingamerica.net

 

 

 

 

 

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Benefits of Creating a Pollinator Garden

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