Archive for February, 2014

Grow Lettuce, Spinach and Chives on the windowsill as seen on KDKA’s Pittsburgh Today Live

Wednesday, February 26th, 2014

Growing things like lettuce, spinach and chives is easy.

Growing things like lettuce, spinach and chives is easy.

As the endless winter continues, here’s a great project to keep gardeners sane. I found some great looking lettuce, spinach and chive plants at Chapon’s Greenhouse in Baldwin. I also found the right sized pots to fit on the windowsill there too, but I bet you could find them at your local garden center too. If you don’t want to make one of these, they sell them already planted, but then you won’t get your hands dirty.
There’s not much to it really. Fill the container with moist planting mix and work in your plants with the tallest in the middle and smallest along the edges. Keep them watered in the windowsill until mid-April when they can go outside. Harvest as needed.
Have fun planting!

Recipe for Hope and recipe for Seafood Lasagna

Wednesday, February 19th, 2014

Here I am with the amazing Bonny Diver, the person behind Hair Peace Charities.

Here I am with the amazing Bonny Diver, the person behind Hair Peace Charities.

Recipe for Hope is this Saturday 2/22/14. It’s an event which helps Hair Peace Charities, a charity helping women with cancer. Here are all the details.
This is the recipe my wife Cindy came up with for the first Recipe for Hope, it’s Seafood Lasagna-

1 large onion diced
1 head of garlic minced
1 pound frozen lobster pieces
3 ounces sun dried tomatoes
1 cup white wine
6 ounces fontinella cheese grated
6 ounces of gorganzola cheese crumbled
1 cup butter
5 leaves of basil chopped
2 tsp oregano chopped
1 tbs lemon juice
2 cups half and half

46 ounces riccota cheese
10 ounce box of frozen spinach
2 eggs beaten
1 cup of romano cheese grated
1 tbs parsley chopped

1 box (nine ounces) Barilla oven bake lasagna noodles

16 ounces mozerella cheese

4 tbs of extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

Put olive oil in a fry pan on medium heat. Add onions and cook four minutes, then add garlic cook until onions are soft and trasnparent.
Keep garlic moving don’t burn. Add tomatoes, lobster, wine and bring to boil.
Reduce heat add butter, gorganzola and fontinella cheeses and half and half. Squeeze a fresh lemon. Stir and simmer until smooth.
To make filling-
In a large bowl combine spinach and riccota cheese, eggs, parsley and salt and pepper.
To assemble-
Pour enough sauce to cover the bottom of a large baking pan. Layer noodles on the sauce hen cover them with the ricotta/spinach mixture. Pour enough sauce to cover. Continue intil pan is filled with layers of noodles, sauce and ricotta/spinach mix.
On top of that add mozarella cheese.
Bake one hour at 350 degrees covered. Take out of oven and let sit for 20 minutes before serving.
Serves 8-12

Valentine’s Day Alternatives as seen on PIttsburgh Today Live

Thursday, February 13th, 2014

Roses aren't the only flowers which make great gifts for Valentine's Day.

Roses aren’t the only flowers which make great gifts for Valentine’s Day.

Ok, you’ve got to buy roses, right?I think there are better choices for Valentine’s Day, but no one wants to end up in the dog house.
Keeping roses looking their best means cutting the bottoms of the stems before putting them in water and adding a drop or two of bleach to keep bacteria at bay. Change the water daily and give the roses another cut at the bottom after a few days.
For some reason a penny in the vase helps too.
There are lots of plants which will last longer than a dozen roses. Every time your significant other looks at these plants, they will think of you.
Potted miniature roses will live all winter on the windowsill and can go into the garden in April where they will last for many years.
Cyclamen is one of the only houseplants which should be kept on the moist side. When watered frequently they will bloom for months.
How about an orchid, they will bloom for months too.
I found some really cool plants at Chapon’s Greenhouse, including a heart shaped topiary.
One more tip for those roses, dry them when their time is done in the vase and they will last forever, just like your undying love for your partner.

Explore the Gardens of Italy with Doug!

Wednesday, February 5th, 2014

This garden is one we'll see on my trip to Northern Italy.

This garden is one we’ll see on my trip to Northern Italy.

Next September I’m taking gardeners on a once in a lifetime trip to northern Italy. It’s a 10 day trip starting with our overnight flight to Venice on September 6th, 2014 (my birthday). Gardeners who came to London with me last May have already started to sign up. There’s a $250 discount for travelers who sign up early. The price of the trip includes air fair, lodging, 12 meals, bus travel, admission to all venues and more. Highlights include Venice, Murano Island, Doge’s Palace, Giusti Giardino, Como, Lugano, Switzerland, Bellagio, Stresa, Lake Maggiore, Villa Cicogna Mozzoni, Isola Madre, Isola Bella.
We’ll have local professional guides at each area and I’ll be traveling with you to help them.
It’s going to be a wonderful time. There’s nothing better than traveling with other gardeners. But this trip is more than gardens, there will be lots of other things to see too.
Here are all the details.
Call me with questions, 412-779-5861.

Cool houseplants from KDKA’s Pittsburgh Today Live

Wednesday, February 5th, 2014

This 'Pears and Jade' pothos is a new look for an old favorite.

This ‘Pears and Jade’ pothos is a new look for an old favorite.

I was at Chapon’s Greenhouse in Baldwin doing a story on the phenomonon of growing extremely hot peppers when I saw so many amazing houseplants.
They keep me sane in the winter. One of my favorites was a new pothos called ‘Pearls and Jade.’ All houseplants are bulletproof and will happily grow all winter on the windowsill. There are some things you can do now to keep them looking their best.
Look carefully at the leaves, if there are yellow or brown foliage, remove them. Any part of a plant that’s looking worse for wear should be cut off and put in the compost (you do compost don’t you?). Look at the plants closely. If there are discolored leaves, maybe a purple tint, that’s a clue they are not getting what they need, so hit them with some organic fertilizer. There are a couple ways to do that. One is to use a liquid fertilizer like fish emulsion, but I also love a granular type from TerraCycle.

If the tips of the leaves are turning brown there might be a salt build up from chemical fertilizers. Be sure your pot has good drainage to flush those salts out.

The leaves of houseplants are more important than the flowers — they need to be kept clean so they can stay healthy. My house is old and often dusty, so I let the houseplants dry out and then place them all in the bathtub and run the shower over them once or twice a year. This is also a great way to flush out the soil. With plants that have big sturdy leaves, I wipe them down as they go back near the window.

Most houseplants should be kept on the dry side, over watering and over fertilizing kills them.

It’s great to have something to take care of inside during the winter, and neglect is actually a good thing. As the days get longer, the birds begin to sing, the air smell different and it won’t be long until the crocus poke through the soil. When that happens there’s nothing left to stop us.
I’ve written about clean air plants in the Post-Gazette before. Kelly Ogrodnik, former Phipps’ sustainable design and programs manager did lots of research about what’s in our air and how plants can filter the bad stuff.
Here’s a list of plants grown indoors that will help take toxins out of our indoor air-

English Ivy (Hedera helix)
Spider plant (Chlorophytum comosum)
Golden pothos (Scindapsus aures or Epipremnum aureum)
Peace lily (Spathiphyllum ‘Mauna Loa’)
Chinese evergreen (Aglaonema modestum)
Bamboo palm (Chamaedorea sefritzii)
Snake plant (Sansevieria trifasciata‘Laurentii’)
Heartleaf philodendron (Philodendron oxycardium, syn. Philodendron cordatum)
Selloum philodendron (Philodendron bipinnatifidum, syn. Philodendron selloum)
Elephant ear philodendron (Philodendron domesticum)
Red-edged dracaena (Dracaena marginata)
Cornstalk dracaena (Dracaena fragans ‘Massangeana’)
Janet Craig dracaena (Dracaena deremensis ‘Janet Craig’)
Warneck dracaena (Dracaena deremensis ‘Warneckii’)
Weeping Fig (Ficus benjamina)
Gerbera Daisy (Gerbera jamesonii)
Pot Mum (Chrysantheium morifolium)
Rubber Plant (Ficus elastica)