Garden Blogs I Dig
'Tis the season for all things pumpkin. Pumpkin bars, pumpkin bread, pumpkin pie, pumpkin pancakes....lotta pumpkin up in heeah these days. With the abundance of pumpkin recipes dancing in my head, I ask the burning question: canned vs. fresh pumpkin?
I admit, I am a long-time canned pumpkin consumer. Roasting pumpkins and pumpkin seeds were not a part of my upbringing. Well that stops now! We still had this darling baking pumpkin from our CSA farm share and it sparked something inside me. I am a gardener and a foodie true and true, and I'm here to step up to the challenge and decide once and for all which is better: fresh or canned?
Round 1: AESTHETIC VALUE
The first challenge is obvious. Fresh pumpkins are adorable. They are not only used for baking and cooking but are a staple in fall decor. In the other corner we have an aluminum can of pumpkin puree. Not only is it aesthetically unpleasing, but it's also harmful to the environment (Boo!).
Round 2: THE PUREE
This one is less apparent.
On one hand, the steps necessary to actually obtain the fresh puree is far more timely than simply opening a can. Cutting, deseeding, roasting, peeling and pureeing - a lengthy process.
HOWEVER, the color of the fresh puree captures the essence of the pumpkin - bright and crisp. The canned pumpkin is more brownish, not as vivid. Also the texture of the fresh puree is silky and smooth. The canned is gritty and dense.
Round 3: THE FINAL PRODUCT
Of course when we are talking pumpkin bread with a cinnamon streusel topping, they are both going to be delicious, and they were. The texture of the bread made with fresh pumpkin puree was smooth and velvety. The bread was rich with subtle pumpkin flavor. The bread made with the canned pumpkin was more dense and the pumpkin flavor was stronger.
Actually there is no contest: fresh totally knocks out canned. Reminds me of Rocky III when Rocky beats the Russian - you knew all along the Italian Stallion would pull through. Little secret: I had an inkling the fresh pumpkin would be victorious.
Lesson learned? It is well worth your time to roast and puree fresh pumpkins. Roast a lot at one time and freeze what you don't use. And don't forget the seeds!
A final pic of the mouth-watering champion.
Sadly, this weekend I made the decision to dump some containers that housed annuals such as begonias, impatiens and petunias. They were looking pretty pathetic due to the streak of cool nights we've had lately. I admit it....I had a bit of a pity party thinking of the eminent winter and lack of all things green. But I gave myself a swift kick in the ass and I replaced the spent flowers with new, happy and festive fall plantings!
I stuck to the basics: mums, pansies and ornamental kale.
I love the deep green and purple hues of this variety of kale. The contrast really makes the yellow pansies pop.
The grass adds some much needed height to this squat container.
Darling bubble gum pink mums accent the dusty foliage of the kale.
I'm happy with the outcome of my fall plantings this year. They are lush, colorful and seasonal. Replacing summer containers with fall annuals is a great way to prolong the growing season and add that extra punch of color into the autumn landscape. Now I just need to insert the quintessential pumpkin here and there for the finishing touch.
Speaking of pumpkins, I recently saw this AFTER I had purchased my mums for the year. Guess I will keep this in mind for next year's fall inspiration. Absolutely beautiful! I will be on the hunt for white pumpkins this year - they really make these spicy burnt-orange mums pop!
With so many varieties and colors, the recipes for a successful fall container are endless. Please share some of your winning autumn containers!
It's here, it's finally here: SPRING!!! Today is the first day of Spring and I couldn't be more excited. We experienced some spring showers in the morning, but we ended up with a partly sunny day and a balmy temp of 68.
I was able to rake out a garden bed that sits near the sidewalk and is notorious for collecting leaves and debris. After that I inspected all the beds to take the first roll call of the season.
The hellabores are emerging, one of the first perennials of the season to bloom.
I'm thrilled to see these adorable species tulips popping up that I planted last fall. They are a native variety that hopefully will bloom year after year.
The bright, crayon green foliage of the surprise lily is a welcome sight every spring.
There's not much now, but I'm happy with my early arrivals. Can't wait to see what spring has to bring in the coming weeks!
Have you made a list? Have you checked it twice? Seriously people, Christmas is less than three weeks away! Hopefully your favorite gardener avoided the naughty list. Reward them for playing nice all year by filling their stocking with these gifts any green-thumber will cherish (ahem - hint, hint).
Gardening gloves are an excellent and thrifty stocking stuffer. My favorite gloves are Atlas Gloves: they're perfect for weeding, planting and other basic chores. They come in a variety of sizes and fun colors. I have small hands and the size small fits, well like a glove (haha - pun fully intended). I've had the same pair for over five years and they are an incredible value at four pairs for $13.95.
Give your garden lover a gift to last throughout the year: a subscription or renewal to their favorite gardening mag. I really enjoy thumbing through Garden Gate Magazine and would be ecstatic if Santa took care of my renewal for 2011. Garden Gate's pages are filled with vivid photos, articulate illustrations and useful information for avid horties as well as the novel gardener.
These antique herb garden markers will put a smile on your loved one Christmas morn. Individually hammered and stamped, each beautiful spoon marker is unique and will surely be a conversation piece. A set of five spoons retails for $30.
I always have blank greeting cards on hand so I'm not left scrambling when a coworker's birthday pops up or I have to send a quick thank you. These beautiful handmade cards by Jen at Blackberry Graphics would be a fantastic addition to any Christmas stocking. Ten cards with envelopes, includes personalized monogram, for $10 - great bargain!
Many garden tools are small enough to fit in a stocking: trowels, weeders, pruners. One of my favorite garden tools is Garden Works Soil Scoop, and believe me the gardener on your list will LOVE getting this handy tool in their stocking this year. At $19.95 it's a reasonably priced tool that features a sturdy ergonomic handle. It scoops, it digs and it comes in six festive colors!
Any of these budget-friendly gifts will bring a smile to your garden lover's face come Christmas, just don't let Santa take all the credit!