Wednesday, September 28, 2016


by Michelle L. Dauberman

So you planted some Stevia in your herb garden this year and now it’s time harvest and use this trendy new sweetener.  Here are some suggestions on how to get the most out of your Stevia plant:

1.  Harvest your Stevia plants as late in the fall growing season as you can.  The longer you wait the sweeter the leaves will taste.
2.  Before the light frosts begin to settle it will be a good idea to lightly cover your plants.
3.  Protecting your Stevia plants extends the growing season but be sure to harvest your plants before the killing frost.  If you wait too long you will lose your plants.
4.  Now you’re ready to harvest, trim each stem from the base of the plant.
5.  Remove each leaf from the stem and place them on a drying screen or a net.
6.  On a warm fall day take the leaf-covered screen/net and place it in direct sun for about twelve hours.  You can also use a dehydrator but utilizing the sun is better.
7.  When your Stevia leaves are completely dry they are ready to be used or stored.

Using your home grown sweetener is easy.  Just crush or grind the leaves to taste and drop them in you favorite beverage or dish.

If you’d like to store your Stevia leaves for future use put them in any air-tight glass container and they will remain sweet for around two years.

For information on the health benefits of this sweetener:

Friday, September 23, 2016

Revitalize your garden for next year

Michele Koskinen

Summer is in our rear view mirror and we gardeners are looking forward to next season. There is much to do before the winter sets in. Cleaning the beds, removing any diseased plant material, composting your raised beds, maybe caring for a few cole crops through November, planting buls for a spring bloom, getting the vegetables beds ready for early spring planting (remember when you couldn't start because of the snow on the ground) and other chores you may have each year.

This past year, looking at my garden did not inspire me.  I see a tired, overgrown, wrong plant wrong place garden that was beautiful 5 years ago but now some love and tough decisions are required. So where do I start?

Do I remove the weeping cherry that is failing or try to save it?
The Magnolia is getting too tall and looks crowded in the corner…..Prune and lighten up the small specimen or remove.
One Hydrangea seems to not have good growth or bloom this year. Investigate how to help it become vigorous again.
Move some of the perennials and divide other's.
Add a piece of art to the garden.

The two photos are my timeline of two years that show the problems that became more obvious this year. This is one of my tools for reinvigorating the garden. After all, we do forget from year to year what did well and what needs to be changed.

Garden Shot 2015 July Magnolia getting too large for space
Yes you see veggies with my flowers.

Garden in late June 2016…Coneflowers reseeding everywhere, hosta needs to be divided, back beds not showing well this year.


The list below are questions and suggestions you may use to look at and evaluate your garden.

1. Photograph and map your current garden for reference.
2. If you have kept a journal every year, check back for any comments or photos on your garden. This allows you to remember any changes made over time.
3. Make a list of what you like and dislike about your current garden.
4. If large trees, shrubs or  perennials need to be removed or pruned, decide the how, who, and what will replace them.
5. Is your garden all seasons, or spectacular in two seasons? Do you want to extend the beauty of the seasons by adding another or happy with what you have?
6. Are your plants perennial, mixed, or mostly annual? How about your vegetable and herb garden.
7. Start planning now if you are going to add shrubs, trees or perennials. Many could be planted at this point and watered until the first frost. Fall plantings are often less traumatic for many species and will have a head start in the spring.

Remember that gardens are not static and last forever.  They grow, are beautiful and often need our help to remain beautiful and inspiring. Change is not a bad thing.

For more inspiration check out these articles:

Journals for the garden     previous blog
Photography of the garden…..previous blog

Updating you garden/