What is Blooming Now?

Not many things are blooming this early, but I would like to introduce you to the Salix caprea.  This plant is also know as the weeping pussy willow.  Picking branches loaded with the little catkins was a favorite pasttime of mine when I was small. 

There are both male and female Pussy Willow trees.  The male catkins are larger and more fluffy.  This weeping tree is perfect for a location where you need a smaller tree.  It’s mature height of 8-10′  makes it great for a focal point or patio tree.



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5 Plants On FIRE this Fall

I know you’ve felt fall acoming….pretty sure you got out your sweaters in anticipation.  But just so you know…there is still a lot of fall color yet to be seen. And if you act quickly, you might have something to enjoy in your own garden.  Here are a few of my favorite plants carrying great red fall color.

Flame Grass (Miscanthus sinensis purpurascens)

Red Gnome Dogwood (Cornus alba ‘Regnzam’)

Burning Bush Tree (Euonymus alatus)


Sienna Glen Maple (Acer Fremanii ‘Sienna)

Happy Planting!


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Fall Forward (Into Soups) Part 1

Good Afternoon, class. It’s been a long few weeks of “summer vacation,” and now it’s time to get back to making some RECIPES! Are you ready?

Fall is just around the corner (Geese are honking their way South past my window as I write this, a telltale sign of the oncoming season), and that means your gardens have been bursting with the season’s (almost) last Tomatoes, Zucchini, Eggplant, Peppers, and the like. The temperature is changing, the growing season is winding down, and it is time for some warm, comfortable food courtesy of your garden.

Soup making is a great way to utilize your bounty of vegetables, and that is what we are going to focus on today. This week’s recipe is one of my all-time favorite soups to make and eat, as it is simple, delicious, and uh…tastes good. You will need a food processor or an immersion blender to execute this pureed soup, There is also a quantity of Crushed Red Pepper in this soup, which you can vary to taste. I recommend going big on the spice, but that’s just me…


Zucchini Rosemary Soup

2 lbs Zucchini, cut into 1/2 inch rounds

1 med yellow onion, rough chopped

2 Sprigs Fresh Rosemary, leaved stripped and finely chopped

6 Cloves Fresh Garlic, chopped

1t (or more) Crushed Red Pepper

Vegetable Stock or Water, enough to just cover the vegetables

Some Olive Oil

Sea Salt & Fresh Ground Pepper to taste

Tip: Since this is a pureed soup, you don’t have to worry too much about cutting the vegetables too small or uniformly.

1. In a large Saucepan or Small Stock Pot on medium heat, saute the Onion and Garlic in Olive Oil for about 5 minutes, taking care not to brown or burn either the Onion or Garlic. This is also a good time to toss in a little S&P.

2. Add the Crushed Red Pepper and Garlic to the pan, continue to cook for 3 minutes.

3. Add the Zucchini, then pour in the Stock or Water, just to the top of the Zucchini. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes.

Note: Do not add too much liquid at this point. If you feel the soup is too thick after pureeing, it can be thinned out. Thinning out is much easier (and prefferable) to attempting to thicken.

4. Remove the soup from heat, and puree with an immersion blender. Alternately you can puree in batches in a food processor, but I find the Immersion route to be much easier and safer when dealing with hot liquids.

5. Return the soup to heat and adjust the seasoning and thickness to you liking.

6. Eat!

You can also “go the extra mile” and make a little garnish by mixing 1/2 cup sour cream with a teaspoon of white balsamic vinegar and a small dash of salt and pepper. Use a spoon to drop a dollop into the center of your soup.

There you have it. If you have WAY too much Zucchini on your hands, multiply this recipe and either freeze individual containers (the soup will last about 4 months frozen) or give some soup to a friend. Soup is a great cold weather gift.

Well, it is good to be back and I hope you enjoy today’s recipe. Until next time,

Happy Gardening and Good Cooking!


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Outdoor Oasis-Check

Get the most out of your backyard and create the space to relax…entertain…and simply enjoy yourself.

Lay out an inviting path.

Provide additional seating with a seatwall.

Be prepared for cooler seasons with a gas firepit.

Easily cook for the masses with a built in grill.

And finally, give your guests a focal point they can’t take their eyes off.

Project location: Winterset, Ia.  Landscape Designer: Adam Parrott

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Party Patio

Like to entertain? Need space to gather? Consider a patio!

Create a cozy retreat off the corner of your house.

Extend the space from existing concrete patios.

Add function to a patio by merging high traffic areas.

Bring the party “downstairs”.

Or create your coffee bistro oasis.

Whatever the need…whatever the desire…using pavers to extend your outdoor living space brings unmeasurable satisfaction into any landscape.

How do YOU enjoy your outdoor space?  Are you enjoying it?

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Put Them In The Stock(s)!

You can use commercial base powders or those little stock cubes in your recipes that call for vegetable stock, but why not use your own, home made concoction? You get to control what goes or doesn’t go in to your broth. Those commercial substitutes are generally chock full of sodium and preservatives, and even the “natural” brands leave something to be desired.

I have been asked by a few readers how exactly to go about making this Vegetable Stock that is called for in a number of the recipes here on Timber Pine Unplugged. Well, today is your lucky day. (Surprise) This is another great way to utilize some of the extra onions, carrots, celery, and herbs laying around your garden. You can also use parsnips, cabbage, scallions, leeks, practically anything (don’t use beets, though) you want in your stock, and don’t be afraid to add or subtract anything from this recipe. You can make a good vegetable stock base with just Onions, Carrots, and Celery (otherwise known in the French Cooking world as Mire Poix). Another thing to remember is that you can make as much or little as you want, and can freeze the leftover stock for about 6 months. So…let’s get started with what may be the simplest recipe I will ever offer. Maybe.

Basic Vegetable Stock

For The Stock:

2 lbs Onions, quartered and peeled

1 lbs Carrots, washed and cut into 1inch pieces. (no need to peel)

1 lbs Celery, washed and cut into 1inch pieces

6 cloves Garlic, peeled and smashed

2 Leeks, Halved and washed. (use the whole leek, it’s ok)

4 Bay Leaves (if you have fresh, even better!)

2T Black Peppercorns

Some Sprigs of Fresh Herbs such as Thyme, Rosemary, or Oregano

Water to cover

You can also add:

Parsnips, washed


Fennel Bulbs



Napa Cabbage


and many others.

  1. Prepare all of the vegetables as instructed.
  2. Put the veggies, the herbs, and spices into a large stock pot
  3. Add cold water to JUST COVER the vegetables.
  4. Bring the mixture to a boil, reduce heat and simmer uncovered for about 40 minutes.
  5. While the stock is simmering, use a large mixing spoon or skimmer to skim any foam or impurities from the top.
  6. After 40 minutes, remove from heat and let cool for about 15 minutes before handling
  7. Using a wok strainer, scoop the vegetables from the stock and discard.
  8. Place a fine mesh strainer over an appropriately sized container and pour the stock through.
  9. Refrigerate to cool, or use right away. You can also place leftovers in freezer containers and uh…freeze. Your stock will last for about 6 months frozen.

Very simple, and worthy of the effort. You now have some good home made stock from your garden ready for some recipe use. I often just add a little salt or soy sauce and have a bowl of this vegetable stock with a tomato, basil, and fresh mozzarella sandwich on Tomato focaccia and a bit of tea. Did I just say that?

Until next time…

Happy Gardening and Good Cooking


look me up on Twitter… @VegChefDSM

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Getting from one place…to another

Often times flagstone steppers or outcropping steps are used in the landscape to bring you from point A to B.  There are several different varieties of materials to choose from.  Here are just a few…..

New York Blue flagstone steppers

Iowa Buff Flagstone Steppers~cut

Iowa Buff outcropping steps

Iowa Buff flagstone steppers and patio

How do you get from here……to there?

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