Not long ago I stopped by a neighbor’s house to see how her remodeling project was going; she’s putting the house up for sale. She asked me about a row of plants growing on the north side of the house. Her plan is to remove the flowerbed and plant the area into grass.
Years ago, a previous resident planted a row of Ajuga — sometimes called Bugleweed. The foliage on these plants is a beautiful bronze color. I’m not sure of the variety, it’s probably ‘Bronze Beauty’.
- Ajuga multiplies by sending out runners (stolons).
The plants are doing quite well in the shady area. Ajuga has a tendency to spread but these are behaving themselves and staying put in the garden bed.
Ajuga makes a great ground cover growing best in rich moist soil, which describes the growing conditions of this bed of Bugleweed. They will adapt to drier and less fertile areas if they have to.
In mid-spring, blue flowers appear on Bronze Beauty. Other varieties produce purple or white flowers.
The owner says these plants have to go. Normally, I’d wait until spring to move them but, since I have no choice, I’ll have to dig them within the next few days.
With some snow cover this winter, they should over-winter just fine.
The other day, a friend of mine gave me a handful of Egyptian walking onion sets. I hadn’t thought about them for years. The first thing I ever planted as a young adult with a garden of my own was a patch of walking onions.
Egyptian walking onions got their name from the unusual way they reproduce. A walking onion plant grows through the summer. As autumn approaches, they form a cluster of mini-onions at the top where you would normally see a flower. The cluster of bulbs, or sets, grows until they get so big that they cause the plant to bend and fall over –sometimes as far as two or three feet from the parent plant. The sets take root at that spot and grow into new plants. The following year the cycle continues –that’s how they walk across the garden. I don’t know about the Egyptian part of the name though.
Although it sounds like it, they are not invasive. They are easily tamed by picking the sets and moving them where you want them.
Autumn is a good time to plant these sets since it is the time of year when they “walk.” As a perennial, they easily survive our winter. Egyptian onions are the first thing that comes up in the spring and can be harvested and used like green onions.
- These Egyptian walking onion sets have been in the ground for ten days. Now they are about one and a half inches high.
During the summer, the onions grow a cluster of bulbs that are about the same size and shape as a shallot. Those can be dug up and used like a small onion. The taste is much more pronounced than most onions. By the way, the sets are edible too.
At one time it was hard to find Egyptian onion sets unless you knew someone who grew them. Nowadays they are available online.
Our Indian summer is here for several more days but it won’t last forever. Frost hit in some low lying areas a week or so ago but many gardens are still going strong.
Some plants in the vegetable garden can tolerate light frost; others have no resistance to it. Basil is one of those crops that can’t take even a hint of frost.
I’ve taken the time to collect some of my basil now before the frost hits here. In the past, I’ve dried basil in a food dehydrator. Many of the subtle flavors seem to be evaporated out doing it that way but it stores well and keeps most of its green color,
Last week I chopped a quart of fresh basil and poured olive oil over it to keep it fresh. There is nothing new to this method. For years, people have been preserving basil in olive oil. I found out just recently that botulism could form in the basil-oil mixture if it is kept at room temperatures for more than a few days. Even if the mixture is refrigerated, botulism can grow. The only safe way to keep basil and oil mix is in the freezer.
I froze a couple of pint jars and brought one out today just to check it. It’s frozen solid; I’ll have to let it thaw a little before it will be easy enough to scoop out.
- A jar of frozen basil-olive oil mix, right out of the freezer.
Some people put their basil-oil mix into ice cube trays and then freeze it. Later, they take cubes out of the freezer as they need them.
Next year I think I’ll watch out for ice cubes at the garage sales.