Sharon Johnson of Columbia, S.C., is a passionate gardener, a point that is made obvious by the fact that she lives on a small lot, full of concrete pads, yet she has found a way to have a beautiful garden full of flowers, fruits, vegetable and herbs. Some are in containers, some are not. Her blog will document the adventures of gardening in pots, fending off deer and small animals and the trials of organic gardening.
 

 

A Taste of Rhubarb
by Sharon Johnson - posted 11/04/12

Rhubarb…as a GRIT (Girl raised in the South), I was never introduced to the flavor of rhubarb until I started selling party food through a company that offered strawberry rhubarb jam…the first time I sampled that jam, I thought I’d died and gone to heaven…it’s right up there with muscadine jam like my Mom makes!  Rhubarb has been around for ages, literally, with references to its presence being found in ancient Chinese text.  It arrived in America the 1800s and has thrived in the northern parts of the country.

My friends from New York teased me about my obsession with rhubarb, but I was determined to grow it here, in filtered sunlight, in a relatively moist area with lots of humus…after all, this plant is deer-proof, right?  Well, city deer strike again and no, rhubarb is NOT deer proof…apparently southern deer think just like I do and cannot leave the stuff alone.  It started with one leaf missing…then a week later; the entire plant disappeared amidst the telltale signs of not-so-tiny cloven hooves.

My friend then took pity on me and when her family came down from New York, bless their hearts forever, they brought me the last of their rhubarb harvest for the season! My oh my…what to do with this glorious vegetable!  I then remembered a cookbook I bought a few months ago, The New Southern Garden Cookbook by Sheri Castle.  This book contains all your favorite southern recipes, with a healthy twist!  You can find it here:  http://www.statebystategardening.com/shop/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=53&products_id=927

In this book, I found the perfect recipe: Rhubarb and Strawberry Cobbler with Cornmeal Biscuit Crust!  It was so divine, I made it twice!  Thank goodness for good friends and their generous families! 

 

 

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Miniature Gardens
by Sharon Johnson - posted 08/04/12

I'm back.  I’ve been away a long, long time.  I apologize for that.  Life happens sometimes, this time it was two weddings and a huge national convention I attended which required numerous handmade gifts.  I also decided to exhibit my favorite miniatures there: my dream garden.  I wanted to share this garden with you.  It may be a fantasy but it brightens my day.  The scale is one inch equals one foot and I made a large number of the items inside.  You may recognize the astilbe blooms on the right hand side...I dried them and then dry brushed them with green acrylic paint to give the illusion of trees!

 

 

The dogwood tree flowers were made one at a time, 4 hearts punched, edged with brown and glued together, then no-hole seed beads were added for the center...talk about a labor of love! The fountain in back contains goldfish and water lillies and on a table there sits a 1/144" to the foot landscaped scene in a basket.  If you like, I can post additional pictures.

I so enjoyed this garden and creating the flowers and plants within that I decided to try it in real life, so here’s my take on a real-life “mini garden”. 

For my garden container, I choose a window box planter.  It’s really too shallow for much gardening in our heat, but it’s perfect for sedums.  I tend to “overcare” for sedums, so a container that allows them to dry out between watering.  It seems to be a success, maybe its overly successful as the plants are already tumbling away from the container.

I started with an unnamed sedum I bought at a garden show.  Then I added Neon and Picolette Stonecrop and an unnamed plant from a friend (the tall spiky one). 

Try this with a young gardener and send the container home with him/her.  It’s always nice to pass on our joyful hobbies to the next generation.

 

 

 

 

 

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Aquaponics - the missing piece
by Sharon Johnson - posted 04/28/12

My miniponics system continues to amaze me.  Tomato cuttings love the floating raft system…and my fish are so happy they are reproducing!  All of this inspires me to get going on the big system (okay…and all my seedlings are still in the greenhouse)…so yesterday afternoon, we went shopping at one of the big box home improvement stores…then we went to one of the big box farm supply stores…and STILL we are missing an important part…it’s the fitting that goes through the tank and grow bed walls and connects the piping. 

We found a small one, but nothing in a size we could use…1” and 2”…so I went home and got on the internet…at the stores, the only name I could find for the part was “water tight straight connector”…NOT very helpful…but here you go…I found it on the internet…it’s a bulkhead fitting…most specifically it’s a threaded pvc bulkhead fitting…will be placing an order today.

In the meantime, we are building a table for the grow bed, which must be higher than the sump tank.  We have a pump and lots of plumbing elbows, connectors and reducers…should be fun…stay tuned for the putting it all together post coming soon.

In the regular container garden, it’s been a rough season, one moment its hot as blazes, the next moment we are having frost  far later than our average last frost date.   The corn in my three sisters garden hasn’t minded the cold but my beans will have to be replanted.  My rhubarb is flourishing in the ground, my asparagus overstepped its bounds onto the driveway and needs a trim.  Volunteer (those mystery tomatoes) tomatoes are STILL popping up everywhere.  I’ll keep the healthiest looking ones and clip the rest, and it’s time to redo the front beds.

 

The front beds have been filled with lantana for several years.  It takes 6 flats of flowers to fill the beds, so the lantana has been perfect, except it comes out so late the beds look sadly neglected until they do.  Pansies are deer fodder here, so I am at a loss as to planting schemes.  I thought of keeping the lantana and planting lots of spring bulbs underneath them, so that the lantana covers the dying foliage and the beds aren’t empty in spring and winter…but my husband says no…something green…something perennial…in builder’s sand…with root nematodes…one side in sun, one side in shade BUT because they are mostly symmetrical, they should match…hmmmm…little wonder I love my containers so much…but next week, we will tackle this problem.  This weekend is aquaponics, my favorite local fair: Sparkleberry Fair, and a fantastic horseback ride for charity, The Boykin Spring fling…how are you spending your weekend? You can find more information about Sparkleberry Fair here: http://sparkleberrycountryfair.org/ .

 

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