Sage

Sage- Salvia officinalis or Common Garden Sage

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Salvia is from Latin ‘salvere’ for “to save” or “to cure”

Officinalis is a Medieval Latin descriptive term referring to a plant or organism used in medicine, also known as herbalism. The literal translation “of or belonging to an officina” refers to a storeroom or apothecary where medicines were kept. In Medieval times a monastery was often the place where herbs were grown and herbal medicines were made and stored. Continue Reading »Sage

The Houston Farmer’s Market

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The usual trip to the grocery store can seem such a chore, week after week. We follow a list of reminders dutifully buying food for our families. If you are new to Houston or simply haven’t been in awhile, a visit to Canino’s, Houston’s leading farmer’s market for over 50 years, is a splendid way to enjoy the bounty of spring. Located right in the heart of Houston at 2520 Airline Drive and open daily from 6 am to 8 pm.The store and it’s numerous back stalls are a voyage across time to a place of community, seasonal harvest, curiosity, and imagination.

Why You should visit the Houston Farmer’s Market Now!

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The assortment of locally grown Texas products are abundant, from fruits, vegetables, herbs and spices to nuts, honey, jams and jellies. There is no refrigeration, so produce is fresh, ripe and colorful. The sweet delectable scent of fruits, permeate the fresh outdoor air.

Upon arrival crimson colored strawberries burst forth from their boxes next to fresh deep icy pink Texas watermelon. The bins overflow with fragrant honey tangerines, citrus of all varieties, colorful chilies fresh and dried next to magnificent purple onions and beets. The verdant leafy greens like cilantro, basil, lettuce and kale, stand like a forest throughout the many stalls. Chayote, prickly pear fruit, and cactus delight our curiosity begging for a wonderful creation. Ladies slice mangos, pineapple, oranges and coconut to wet the palate while walking the kaleidoscope of stalls. There is no duty to fulfill, just let your imagination soar with fresh epicurean possibilities.

Don’t forget to bring spring home with the plentiful variety of potted plants, vegetables, herbs, flowers and roses.

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Helpful Tips :

Caninos’ Market accepts all forms of payment

The individually owned back stalls deal in cash

Take your own shopping bags

Calendula

Calendula- Calendula officinalis, also known as Pot Marigold

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Calendula is Latin for “little calendar or little clock” referring to the flowers tendency to open in the morning and follow the movements of the sun Continue Reading »Calendula

The Arrival of Spring

Warmer days and cooler nights, Spring is here.

After a long cold rainy winter, the sun’s brilliant glow warms our hearts in anticipation of wildflowers, sowing seeds, and dirt stained hands. The bulbs of Autumn are in vigorous full bloom from winter’s icy hand. Let there be sun, Spring is here.

In the temperate Gulf Coast climate, the over winter crops are lush and exploding with hope. Hope for the many fruits and vegetables soon to ripen. The following is a list of my top 5 most anticipated arrivals. Some are only a season long, while others are a few years old bearing their first crops.

The Globe Artichoke

1. The Globe Artichoke, Cynara scolymus, is a cool season crop bearing fruit in 150-180 days. The perennial Artichoke or Cardoon (wild or uncultivated) is a variety of thistle, native to the Mediterranean region. The globe artichoke is the most anticipated crop in the garden. There are 3 flourishing plants that will bear many fruit stalks, up to 5 feet tall per plant. Although they are edible and some will be eaten, leaving a few to ripen will yield glorious thistle-like purplish flowers. Many say it is a sight to be seen. Lucky for the neighbors, these fabulous plants border the sidewalk for all to see.

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2. The Peach Tree, Prunus persica, is a deciduous tree native to China. On average, a peach tree may take 3-5 years to bear fruit. A friend whose grandfather has a homestead farm in El Campo, Texas, gave my peach tree to me. Her family has been living in Texas since the Republic of Texas. The grandfather passed away last May and this is the first year the tree will bear fruit. I only planted the tiny tree last year after torturing it in a pot for the previous 2 years. After planting in the Earth, the tree grew faster than any plant in my garden. In fall, I had to prune it heavily as it was growing into the neighbor’s yard and power lines. Luckily, heavy pruning is what helps peaches, plums and other stone fruit produce. This year I hope to harvest enough peaches to make a cobbler or pie. Yum!

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3. The Wildflower Garden, Bluebonnet, Cornflower, Indian Blanket, Cosmos, Poppies, Mallows, Coreopsis, Wine cup, Coneflower, Sunflower and so many more! The time to plant wildflowers is in the Fall through January. For many months there is only greenery. Boring and exciting at the same time, so many seeds sown yet which will the winter bear. Previous years have given the standard hearty Coreopsis, Cosmos and Verbena. These tolerate drought and that is what we had in 2011, 12 and 13. But 2014 brings much rain and an abundance of weeds. A strong year for weeds equals an excellent year for wildflowers. Wildflowers and weeds are really the same; some are just preferred more than the other. Be careful with those anti-weed chemicals for your lawn, you may just be killing off some important wildflowers and herbs.

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4. The Lemon Trees, Citrus “Meyers” and “Eureka”, the first a China hybrid and not a true lemon. The second a true lemon from Italian seed stock brought to California. Both are delicious but I have not sampled the fruit from my own trees. The Meyers lemon was the first tree my family planted. What an exciting moment to plant the very first tree upon your own property. The time was spring and the sun was bright. By November, the tiny tree spent almost four months in the shadow of the house. No sun equals no fruit. This is the fourth year and the tree has grown and reached for the winter sun for spring bloom. The back yard smells lovely with the profuse display of flowers. The bees are happy.

The Eureka lemon, our second citrus child, was fortunate to have gardeners that knew better about placement. Just a little variegated baby given to me free by a nursery in Fall of 2012. We placed it in a large pot in a sunny location and only a year and a half later, Eureka tripled in size with blooms and fruit. Oh how I look forward to marinades and lemonade.

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5. The Grape Vines, Genus- Vitis vinifera x aestivalis, “Black Spanish”  & “Blanc DuBois” vines are growing rapidly along the fence. As a lover of history and antiquity, the study of plants dispenses the wisdom of genetics, archaeology, and cultural traditions. Yes, all this from grapes growing on my fence. How one might ask? History reveals itself in the scientific names ‘vinifera’ and ‘aestivalis.’ The first, ‘vinifera’, are the grape varieties from Europe and Southwestern Asia, where 6000 years ago the first vessels of wine are found. The second variety, ‘aestivalis’ is native to North America and primarily used by Native Americans for it’s edible fruit and juice. The cross pollination of the two varieties by European colonists lead to new cultivars. The Black Spanish and Blanc DuBois vines growing in my garden are for fruit, jam, juice and wine. This is the third year and should be the year to bear fruit. A common saying for grape vines is, “The first year, they sleep. The second year, they creep. The third year, they leap!” After the educated pruning I performed in February, the vines are bursting forth. I am intoxicated by all of Spring’s  possibilities already.

Chamomile

Chamomile- Chamomilla recutita or  Matricaria chamomilla (an annual)

Chamaemelum nobile (a perennial)

Chamomile is Greek for ” ground apple” due to the apple like scent

 

chamomile True Chamomile- Chamomilla recutita

A member of the Asteraceae or Sunflower family Continue Reading »Chamomile

Lemongrass

Lemongrass- Cymbopogon citratus

lemongrass picphotograph by silhouetteartpress

Greek for “kymbe”-boat and “pogon”-beard, likely referring to the flower spike

A member of the Poaceae (syn- Gramineae) or true grasses Continue Reading »Lemongrass

Rose Envy

How to Care for Roses

 

My grandfather grew gorgeous roses of  all colors for my grandmother Margie Francis. When I was young the fragrant blooms stood higher than I could reach. My grandfather had to pull the wondrous blossoms from the sky for me to catch their intoxicating scent. A person can lose their self in the aroma of a rose. I promised myself then and there to one day have my very own rose garden.

It started innocently enough with one rose bush, a double knock out easy to grow crimson and carmine unscented bloom. Everyone warns of the laboriousness of successful rose cultivation. A warning filed away for later analysis. Leap then look has always been my motto.

I did not read any books, ask advice or consult the Internet. I simply dug out a space along the neighbor’s chain link fence, knowing air circulation was necessary from the repeated black spot and mold warnings, plenty of sun from 11:00 am until 5:00pm and in the roses went one by one. It has been over a year and many special varieties are now flourishing. My personal favorites are Pope John Paul the II, glorious snow white with a heavenly scent and the dainty tea rose with tiny bursts of cologne.

The success can be described simply, Ignore them. Roses do not like much water. A discovery found when I was too busy to tend the garden and the roses began rising to the blue summer sky. Infrequently water roses at the base, DO NOT SPRAY the plants with water. Water on the leaves breeds fungus and black spot. Black spot and fungus leaves remove and throw away in the trash. Also dead heading spent blooms will encourage new flowers.  On or around February 14th, the day of love and roses, prune. Cut the branches to increase air circulation, especially at the base of each plant.

This fall I will let the spent blooms last until they turn to rosehips- a power packed source of vitamin C and antioxidants. Looking forward to making rosehips jelly and tea to which I will toast my late grandfather and grandmother, Edmund John and Margie Francis.

 

Basil

Basil-  Ocimum basilicum- Sweet Basil

        Ocimum sanctum- Holy Basil

Sweet Basil in bloom

 photo by silhouetteartpress.com

 Greek for “basileus” meaning “king”

A member of the Lamiaceae or Mint Family Continue Reading »Basil

Arugula

Arugula- Eruca sativa or E. vesicaria

photo by silhouetteartpress.com

A member of the Brassicaceae, also known as the crucifers or the cabbage family Continue Reading »Arugula

Patchouli

Patchouli (patchouly or pachouli)

 photo by silhouetteartpress.com

Pogostemon cablin- also P. commosum, P. hortensis

A member of the Lamiaceae or Mint Family Continue Reading »Patchouli