May 22, 2012

Shopping cart issues resolved (I think!)

The shopping cart on my availability page has been glitchy... maybe it's the post office shipping estimator (they keep fiddling with things) or--sunspots? ? ;)  At any rate, it was seriously underestimating shipping charges, more than I can absorb.  I *think* I have a fix in place, that forces it to calculate correctly; test orders came out looking good and I hope that is the last time I have to muck with that for a long time!  I'd rather be weeding than taming shopping cart code.

And I hate weeding! ;)

So, if your order's been queued, with a request for additional shipping charges, now you know why, and I am sorry for the snafu.

May 6, 2012

New plants for 2012: mints

I have several new mints this season, and am really pleased with three of them; this variegated peppermint is a much nicer strain than the one I had years ago, with bolder coloration and a richer, deeper smell.  There's almost a hint of chocolate to it; not a big surprise I suppose as that is a Mentha piperita variety as well.

The English Mint!!  (Really needs the capitals and exclamation points; it's so very vivid.)  This spearmint relative is bold, sweet, clean, crisp, and green.  The foliage is large and bright green to match; it's my favorite mint while I am transplanting.

Mojito mint--a slight fruity undertone, subtly citrusy, and a nice minty flavor.  I can see why this is the mint used in the Cuban drink, rather than something as assertive as English mint; this one works well with others instead of demanding center stage.  The fruity notes make you want to come back for more.  This one is also featured in a new soap this season; I may also make some mojito mint jelly... wonder how rum stands up to canning?

Mail order catalog update

The shopping cart/plant availability list is installed and working!  Still probably have some tinkering to do with the code for font and layout (why yes, I am a constant tinkerer! :P) and more photos to take and upload, but it's online, it's searchable, and reflects what is available for shipment NOW, vs what might really be sold out, or now moved to a larger size.  I do miss the print catalog, being a person of the book, but not using all that paper is enough reason in itself to stop printing it.  Being able to add color photos and expanded descriptions is something of a dream come true, as well.  The shipping module calculates options for you, so you can tailor time in shipping/cost to your liking; if the estimate is too much off (still getting size averages tweaked for potted items) I'll notify you of any difference.  So far this has not been necessary, I'm happy to say.

Shopping Cart/availability page for Paradise Gardens Rare Plant Nursery

February 2, 2012

Catalog changes coming

This year's catalog will be out later this month..... in .pdf form, on the nursery site for downloading.  I've done a papersaver .pdf each year for a while now, and this year, unless specifically requested, there won't be a print version.  Subscribers/those who have ordered recently will get a free copy mailed to them upon request, but otherwise there will be a charge for the paper version.  This will give me another week to transplant, write tags, and take care of seedlings instead of printing, folding, stickering, sealing, stapling and the like, and the printer can go back to its intended use (plant tags).  Nobody, not even me, wants to try to read tags I write, and while my wrist is much improved after the Great Board Fence Collapse Incident, I'm saving my fingers for transplanting.

The soap site shopping cart is working well enough (translation: I've got the training wheels off) that I will be installing a streamlined version of a cart on the Availability pages of the nursery site, which will only feature up to date inventory, thus streamlining that part of the process as well as saving more trees. 

Subscribers and recent orderers will receive a postcard notification reflecting the change, soon; and I'll post the link to the finished catalog when it is uploaded.

September 11, 2011

A fragrant treat: rose petal jelly

This year's rose crop was excellent (even the deer thought so :P ); it was a very good year for rose petal jelly.  I took photos this year during jelly making, as the transformation is fairly striking.

The roses I use are primarily 'La Ville de Bruxelles', my favorite of my Damasks:

I remove the petals from the calyces, measure,

soak to rinse and remove rose beetles if there are any (none this year; the beneficial nematodes were a success!),
  and simmer. 

When the color and flavor have been extracted,

 (and how glorious the house smells while this is happening!),

I strain the petals, pressing the marc to extract the flavor.

and add lemon juice which revives the roses' color and corrects acidity for jelling.

There is a merest shimmery rainbow of essential oil floating on the surface, I tried to catch it in the photos but my camera (my mp3 player!) couldn't see it.

Then I finish the process with pectin, sugar, lids and rings, water bath and when cool, a pretty topper and label.  This year I found little satin roses to add for a whimsical touch, and to help color code my jams and jellies. 
As I believe gardening, and life really, should be about joy, and this was a great rose jelly year, I kept a couple of jars for my own pantry and for gifts; the rest I'll sell at market.

Autumn Creeping In

Though it's been down to 35F several nights, frost so far has skirted the farm, which is really odd, but then this season is the strangest one, weather-wise, I can remember.  It was cold and wet, up until mid-late July, and then WHAM, hot...then cold and wet again, then hot, and has stayed hot.  Truly, 90's, even 80's are just WRONG for this time of year.  The plants are confused.  I've seen flowers on forsythia recently! 

It's just beginning to be cool enough to do the fall digging, both harvesting and setting in, that needs to be done, and with daylight telescoping down now, the race is on to get as much done as possible.  This week, I hope to get peonies dug and re-set, spaces made for next spring's fruit trees, the last of the lavenders lined out, perennial babies moved up or out, and the snowbirds brought at least to the porch, if not inside.  I've made the mistake in the past of thinking 'nah, it's not going to freeze tonight, it's cloudy' at twilight, only to wake up at 6 to ice on the miserable lemongrass.  So that's getting done first this year. 

With the herb harvest, I've been working on new designs for sachets and cat toys, and will be lurking a bit in fabric stores for certain bits and colorways.  The rose petals I turned almost all into jelly this year, instead of any liqueur, and the garlic-rosemary jelly turned out very nicely, zippy/tangy and not so sweet; I plan to give an armload of lemongrass the same treatment this week.  I found some darling satin roses in different colors late last winter, and have added them to the ties for the jelly toppers; I knew I'd find a reason to have them, if I got them!

The back porch roof needs re-doing, and that is #1 in serious projects, it should only take a few days at most, but I may end up jobbing it out so I can focus on digging; cutting metal is not my favorite thing.

July 3, 2011

Ooh-er, a new canopy and a new, smaller soaping space

Yet another windstorm at market, and my canopy became a bumbershoot, I will save the top as a replacement, and try to find someone with the patience to fix the frame or reycle it.  For the market though, I need a sturdier one, eeking through windy days was a constant battle.  I did a lot of research, asked a lot of other market/fair vendors, and got a new one that is way sturdier, with some simple tweaks that make me very happy.... it sheds rain rather than collecting it in huge draughts that dump on the unsuspecting (as do the canopies of my neighbors at the fm!), and the latches have levers rather than finger-smashing, biting buttons.  That's tech only a vendor could understand, but............ oh, my, it's a huge improvement.

The soaping space moved from the front porch to the back porch, it's tinier and forces me to streamline things a bit, but it frees up the front porch for living space, which I quite like; sitting there with a cuppa, listening to the hummingbirds at the blackcurrant sage and chastizing the little whitetail buck for eating my petunias in the porch pots (he looked so very doggy, "Why are you telling me no?" :D )........ ah, nice to have the space back.

After the day's transplanting, I hope to get to a batch of cocoa butter soap (unscented) and some goatmilk ones with the fresh goatmilk I traded for at the market yesterday, and tinker more with oatmilk as a substitute for silk, plus the infamous huckleberry soap.