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Homemade Pretzels

I haven't made homemade pretzels since we were in Alabama and I had forgotten how easy they are if not a little time consuming. I made these last week for Oscar night. They keep a long time in an airtight container. 1   (.25 ounce) package   active dry yeast 1 tablespoons   brown sugar 1  teaspoons   salt 1 ½   cups   warm water (110 degrees) 3   cups   all-purpose flour 1   cup   bread flour 2   cups   warm water (110 degrees) 2   tablespoons   baking soda 1-2   tablespoons   butter, melted 2   tablespoons  kosher salt Line two or three baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside. Place the yeast, brown sugar and salt in the 1.5 cups of warm water. Stir to dissolve. Stir in the flour. Knead for about 7-8 minutes. Place in a greased bowl and cover. Let it rise for an hour (I place mine in the oven with the light on). Combine the two cups of warm water with the baking soda in a square shallow pan. After the dough has risen, cut it into 12 equal pieces.  Roll each section into a

Fall and winter containers

I've been working on the fall and winter pots for the past few weeks. Pansies are really the only flower you can have through the winter. Snapdragons will bloom through the fall and come back again in the spring. And then there is ornamental kale and cabbage. I remember growing it once before when I was pleased with how it looked. Other years it would bolt and look awful and not display much color. I decided to try again this year. 

The major problem I have with planting the fall pots is that I can't bring myself to tear out the summer plants that are still looking good. I would hate to work a public place where you have to rip out perfectly good plants to put in the next season's display. I can see why it has to be done but it hurts me to do it. Therefore, I'm searching for pots all over the place and trying to decide which plants I should throw out.

I have an inner conversation in my head that goes something like this: "Oh, I forgot all about all the pots down by the waterfall - I can use those! --- "No, the impatiens there are still beautiful. I can't pull those out." --- "They are down here in the lower forty, no one ever sees them anyway." And I go back and forth. In the end, I left the impatiens but I also have quite a few pansies that are not planted. I suppose I should just buy more pots.

There are quite a few containers that are still looking good. 

These white begonias are too pretty to rip out.
Of course when the frost hits, I'll regret it.

The Dragon Wing begonias in the patio pots are huge and they will bloom until frost. If anyone can give me some tips on overwintering them or how to root them, let me know!
Euphorbia "Diamond Frost" lives up to its name. A fantastic plant!
Pots on the steps to the back door. That is Camellia "Bonanza" beginning to bloom on the side.
Since the back door is where everybody comes in and out, I decided to place a lot of pots here.

Oh yeah, I didn't mention mums. Actually, I'm not crazy about them. They are expensive, they don't last long enough and I'm rarely successful when putting them in the ground. They do bring a lot of color though and nothing says fall like mums and pumpkins.

It does pay to shop Home Depot first thing in the morning. I got this huge orange mum for $3.50! It was a tad wilted but after I brought it home, planted it and watered it, it looks as good as new.

Text and photos by Phillip Oliver, Dirt Therapy


  1. I'm with you on not pulling out plants that are still performing. You certainly need to buy more pots!

  2. Phillip, while you're tearing out and replacing, be sure not to disturb that beautiful fuzzy one in the first photo.

    Your garden is still so full of color. Ours is winding down with the colder temps and rain and rain. :)

  3. Is it normal for that camellia to start blooming so early? I could not quite believe my eyes when I saw it in the first picture. As for pulling out plants that still look good, I know exactly what you mean. I cannot get myself to do it at all, so pansies and mums and asters and the like either get new pots or are plopped in bare spots in the beds. The city gardeners here are currently in the process of pulling out perfectly good beds of salvias and various other annuals and replacing them with mums that just start wilting because they are not rooted in and do not get watered properly...It just seems a waste to me...

  4. I cut my dragon wing begonia back and bring it inside - it's pretty dormant through the winter and looks pretty pitiful by Spring but it snaps right back when I take it back outdoors. To root them I just take some cuttings, put them in water, wait until I see roots, and then pot them up. The easiest plants I have ever propogated. I have several offspring to bring inside this year - I don't know where I'll put them!

  5. I know what you mean about not wanting to pull out perfectly good looking plants. Heck, this time of year they are just getting their second wind. Definitely need to have a few pots for winter interest only. Love the kitty in the first picture.

  6. Jeg kom tilfældig forbi din blog.
    Gode billeder.
    Sød kat.
    Smuk engelfigur. Den måtte gerne have stået i vores have.
    Tak for rundvisningen.

  7. I'd just call your "summer" plants "autumn plants" and let them be! They are SO beautiful.

    I've never ventured much into container plants. After a few mishaps, I gave up, but this post tempts me to try harder. (I think it is because I'm a lazy gardener - not consistent in watering and fertilizing, etc.)

  8. I am not a big fan of mums either. Sometimes I will bring the next-to-free broken ones home from the nursery and cram them all together for a mass of color, and when they are done - compost.

  9. You can literally cut the Dragon Wing Begonia stems, place in damp soil and it will root.. Also, if you cut some stems off of the Diamond Frost Euphorbia and place in a vase of water it will root in a few weeks. I did this last year and did not have to buy any this year. Do you plant pansies in the ground?

  10. I see you keep a lot of things in pots. I have started doing this as they are easier to take care of than if they are in the ground. I am concerned about their over wintering, particularly roses, purslane, and mandevilla.

  11. CG, that is a sansanqua camellia and they bloom in the fall of the year. "Bonanza" is the first to bloom and usually starts in October.

    Ginny and Darla, thanks for the information!

  12. I am the exact same PAINS me to pull out plants that are still alive...I have a horribly guilty conscience!

  13. I have a dragon wing begonia I have had for several years. (see my latest blog post for a pic. Like others said it is a snap to overwinter. I just cut mine back severely (yes it looks pitiful) but it will start putting on again in the spring. I just water sparingly in the winter and it's really not fussy. If you don't cut it back it will make a mess when brought indoors..leaves and blooms drop like mad! You say you have no luck with mums in the ground. I always plant mine and just keep shearing them until July4th. Mine are so pretty now.

  14. I bring a lot of my potted plants into the garage to overwinter. It's so full I'm not sure how I used to park 2 vehicles in it. Oh I know I had a lot of things stored in the back of the pickup and when I needed to use it instead of the Jeep I had to unload and reload when I got home. I'd be buying more pots also. I can't stand to kill a nice looking plant. Great photos. Mary

  15. Phillip, I just stumbled onto your blog! What great plants you have! I just posted today about my summer plants still going strong! I am your newest follower; and I hope you will follow back! Many blessings to you!

  16. Hi Philip... I think your containers look great! We are going through the same considerations here concerning removing plantings... the issue is whether we want to be doing it when the weather suddenly turns cold or not. Thankfully my wife prefers working outside in the colder temps so if she is willing, I'm not going to make a fuss! If it were just me, I'd be removing stuff doubletime while I can still do it without wearing gloves and an overcoat. Larry

  17. back up pots, thats the answer.

  18. Your garden is so exquisite, Phillip. I can imagine sitting and just drinking in all its beauty and feeling a beautiful peace...

    Love the pussycat too!!

    gerri XXX

  19. I would be out there taking 4-6" cuttings just above a node, then cut just below a node to stick the cutting of all the begonias. What am I saying, I have a great many white begonia cuttings that already need bumping up to a bigger pot.

    More pots, and nursery pots that fit into your decorative pots so switching is simple.


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