Mary's Veggie Garden

May 29, 2010

Butterfly Flower Quilt

Filed under: Flowers,Quilts — marysveggiegarden @ 1:49 pm
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My quilt club, First Dutchess Quilters, held a contest called the “Seed Packet Challenge”.  We  each drew a plain white envelope containing a seed packet and the contest instructions. We were to make a 12″x18″ quilt which either copied or interpreted the seed packet.

Butterfly Flower Quilt

I drew Butterfly Flower, aka Butterfly Weed, or Asclepias tuberosa. I was pleased because I actually grow butterfly weed, but also a bit dismayed: its flowers are dense clusters of tiny florets. How could I get that look with fabric? In the end, I decided to concentrate on the butterflies, and hint at the flowers.

Techniques used:

* stitched raw edge applique: butterflies, flowers, some leaves

* Hand embroidery: butterfly spots, flower buds.

* Machine embroidery: wing veins, flowers, and lettering.  I used a zigzag stitch for the machine embroidery.

Butterfly weed is a perennial plant in the milkweed family. It is unusual among perennials in emerging very late, usually in early June. Thus it is easy to destroy the root crown when planting other flowers.

Butterfly weed has a major advantage: deer do not eat it. I’ve seen hoof prints in the garden, but the butterfly weed is untouched.

My quilt did not win any prizes, but I learned a lot about the design process and the techniques.

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May 21, 2010

Chive Harvest

Filed under: Chives,Gardening,Vegetables — marysveggiegarden @ 11:54 am
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When is the right time to harvest chives? They say the fresh young growth of spring is best. I usually harvest for salads and cooking in the spring but that amounts to only a few spears.

I freeze chopped chives for winter use and I usually harvest those in the fall. Yes, the spears are a bit tougher in the fall. They are also mixed with early fallen leaves and if I’ve waited too late, some of the spears are dying, so I pick through the chives to remove the debris then rinse well.

The right front chive bunch was chopped back to 2" less than a month ago. The harvest barely slowed them down.

I’ve also been a bit worried about cutting the plant back in the spring, then having nothing. I reasoned that in the fall, everything  was about to die in the cold, so a severe cutting wouldn’t matter.

I’m happy to report that a severe spring cutting doesn’t bother chives.  On 4/26 I cut the right front bunch of chives back to about 2″ tall. Here they are less than a month later, growing vigorously. They will bloom a bit later than the uncut chives, but that is an advantage: I’ll have chive flowers to use on salads for a longer time. I could have harvested earlier, but not later: flower buds were forming deep in the bunch. The flower stalks are tough and fibrous, not good for eating.

To prepare chives for freezing, remove debris, rinse briefly, drain, then pat dry with a dish towel or paper towel. Chop bunches into 1/8-1/4″ pieces and store in a freezer bag. I remove air from the bag by sealing it most of the way, sucking out the air, then quickly completing the seal.

Preparing chives for freezing.

The chive bunch that I harvested, roughly 8″ in diameter, provided a pound of chopped chives for the freezer. And yes, a pound of chopped chives is enough onion essence to make my eyes tear profusely.

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