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#SettingtheSEEN: Our Favorite Things Show!

Written by Natalie Bencivenga on .

I hope everyone enjoyed the holiday with family and friends. But now, it's time to shop 'til you drop for the upcoming holidays! Check out this week's special "Black Friday" edition of Setting the SEEN: Our Favorite Things Show! Sara and I have some great ideas for items to check off of your wish list!

Follow @NatalieBenci on Instagram and @NBSeen on Twitter to keep up with #wheresNataliePG

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Beautiful kale persists through the winter

Written by Doug Oster on .

blog kale persists'Redbor' kale provides much needed color in the winter. Photos by Doug Oster

blog tight redbor kalea

blog garden sunriseWinter sunrise reveals the beauty of the winter garden.The soft orange glow of a winter sunrise illuminates what's left in the garden.

These are the mornings I'm so glad flowering kale got planted at the end of the season. My favorite is 'Redbor.' Originally bred as a food crop, gardeners saw it's beauty and used it as an ornamental. The plant is deep purple, tree like in it's growth habit and thrives in the cold.

Often times the plants will overwinter, bringing color to the garden through spring. What happens then is amazing. Surviving plants put on cheery, little yellow flowers which are set off by the purple foliage. Once they flower and put on seed pods, the plants die.

There are lots of different types of flowering kale. The most popular only get about a foot high and come in shades of pink, purple and white. I've actually seen plants for sale this late in the season. Hahn Nursery had some and if you poke around there might be other places willing to sell them cheap. A container planted inside and then put outside near the house in a protected spot could provide color all winter.

When the starts align in my garden, the pansies live though the winter too. I've got some orange flowers surrounding the 'Redbor' in pots. Their flowers are tired right now, but still add much needed color during the off season. An extended thaw will bring them back to their former glory and if they make it to spring will start to flower in full force.

I'm lucky enough to have an unheated greenhouse and found six flats of pansies at a nursery (cheap) which will happily thrive in their until spring.

Even though most gardeners need the break that winter provides, it's nice to have a few little things to keep us going through the snow.

blog beautiful pansyThese pansies have seen better days, but will perk up during a thaw.

 

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Saving seeds from the winter garden, it's fun and easy

Written by Doug Oster on .

blog garlic chives seedsThese garlic chives have gone to seed and it's easy to see the plant is about to drop them. Photos by Doug Oster

I don't know about you, but I miss the garden already. Saving seeds is a great job this time of the year.

While walking through the flower and vegetable garden, it's easy to see that lots of plants have gone to seed. Even though it's been cold, those temperatures won't harm the seeds.

In my garden, there are garlic chives, marigolds, hostas, beans and more which will give up their seed easily.

All we are doing is mimicking nature by grabbing the seeds before the plant discards them.

There's one important thing to consider when saving seeds. There are two basic plant types, hybrid and open pollinated. Hybrid seeds might be sterile and won't produce the same plant, it reverts to a parent. OP seeds will produce something almost identical as the plant which it was saved from.

Sometimes hybrid seeds can sprout and grow something interesting. In the case of the hosta, one of those seeds could create a brand new cultivar. That's what I hope anyway. In the past, my seedlings always look identical to the plant I've saved the seeds from. But every once and a while a sport will sprout which will look completely different.

It's easy enough to see when seeds are ripe for the picking. Examine each species in an effort to harvest seeds just before the plant drops them. Seeds are living, breathing organisms, it's important they are mature. When they are, it insures the seed will have what ti needs to produce a plant next year.

Beans are an easy plant to start with. My favorite pole bean is the heirloom 'Cherokee Trail of Tears.' It was the first heirloom I ever grew, planted almost 30 years ago. I wrote a story about learning about the plant from the late Bob Janca. He started my life long obsession with heirlooms that continues today. Heirlooms can always be saved from year to year. In the case of beans, once they mature, dry and turn brown they are ready to be saved. The whole pod can be stored and then the seeds can be removed when it's time for planting.

I'll gently pick apart the hosta seed pods, dropping the black seeds into a paper bag. For other plants like garlic chives, they can be shaken into a bag or in the case of marigolds, the seed pods themselves can be saved.

Storage might be the most important aspect of seed saving besides maturity. It's imperative the seeds stay dry after being harvested.

After dropping into the paper bag, the seeds are brought inside, allowed to dry and then put into small paper envelopes.

Those envelopes are then put into a glass mason jar. Each one of my jars has silica gel in the bottom to be sure the seeds remain dry. Some gardeners use rice to absorb any moisture.

The jars are stored in the basement where they stay cool and it's dark.

Each species has different requirements for germinating. Some need a period of cold, others need it to be dark and some want light to sprout.

The hostas will be sown in late winter under lights. I'll know what I have as soon as they sprout. It's fun to tell garden visitors "those were started from seed."

I also love to give away seedlings and even the seeds to like minded gardeners.

Take a look around your garden and find some seeds to save, it's fun and you might discover the next great variety.

blog hosta seeds readyThese hosta seeds are ready to be shaken into a paper bag and saved for the winter.

blog marigold seedsmature marigold seed pods can be saved too.

blog tot seed pods'Cherokee Trail of Tears' pole bean is my favorite. These pods are ready to be picked and saved.

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Free garden books and more Sunday with Doug

Written by Doug Oster on .

blog give a wayI'm giving all of this stuff away on Sunday at 1 p.m.

I've got lots of books, bulbs and other gardening bling to giveaway Sunday. I'm presenting "Preparing the Garden for Spring (things you can do now, for your best garden ever)." I'll also be cooking with oysters all as part of Wholey's Oysterfest in the Strip at 1p.m.

Hope to see you there!

 

 

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Everything must go! Free garden giveaway Sunday with Doug

Written by Doug Oster on .

blog give a wayThis is just some of the garden bling I'm giving away this Sunday at Wholey's in the Strip. Photo by Doug Oster

I'm just finishing up vacation and part of the chores included cleaning my office. If you've ever seen the show Hoarders, you get the idea.

I've got tons of cool gardening things to giveaway this Sunday, 11/23/14, 1 p.m. at Wholey's in the Strip.

Not only will you walk away with a free gift or two, I'll be cooking with oysters for the store's annual Oysterfest event. You get to eat what I'm making and I'll also be talking gardening. I'll be presenting "Preparing the Garden for Spring (things you can do now, for your best garden ever)."

Hope to see you there!

 

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