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Posts Tagged ‘herbs’

…. Spinach seedlings, that is.

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And though I got them off to a late start this year and thankfully May showered us with some fine weather they seem to be thriving well. It looks like we have some good sowing weather ahead too, so who can complain? Believe it or not, I’m praying for a few days of nice steady rain. We need it badly.  I’ve been so busy getting my seed in the ground and still cleaning out the beds and adding even more raised beds. I needed to make some room for warm weather crops like peppers, eggplant and tomatoes. The onions, leeks, and shallots are in and I’m thrilled the spinach and chard and kale are looking good! I can’t wait to make a spinach frittata 🙂 It’s just about ready to start harvesting.

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A few weeks back, I made an executive decision this season, and though it tore my heart apart, 😦 (literally) but for health reasons, it was necessary to close the farm down after ten years of working the land there. I will miss it dearly, but made a deal with my doc to cut back.

So I did. To just a quarter acre from now on. I still get to play in the dirt, the land is closer to home.. I can now walk to it… primo land and no rock nor weed! The property is lined with old fashioned lilac bushes with a few miscellaneous perennial beds and even a garden bench to rest upon when I become weary.

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I’ve been busy getting it all prepped, amended, new beds made and sowing for weeks now. Even managed to build a new cold frame for my new nursery.  Digging, digging and more digging up and transplanting from the old farm and moving to the new took a lot longer than I’d anticipated, but that task is behind me now. It’ll be a new adventure, but I’m as happy as a gull with a french fry to continue on.  And all of Papa’s 109 year old rhubarb patch made it through the move beautifully! There was no way in hell, I’d be leaving that behind after all the years’ it’s been with me.

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But alas, I had to say good-bye to my grapevines 😦 Just too big an undertaking for me to move all of them. But a farming friend has moved them all to her vineyards, instead, so I’ll still have my fair share of all the grapes I’ll need for my jams and wine.

I didn’t get my peas planted as early as they should go in the ground either, into the new garden and they’ve just popped out of the ground, but I’m keeping my fingers crossed we’ll have a few more cool nights, and they will be just fine. The transplanted garlic are looking just great in their new home!  I won’t be 100% settled until I find my first scape emerge… then I’ll know they are good to go. Today I’m going to take a gamble and set the scarlet runner beans around the teepee poles, and set the remaining beets, carrots, plus an additional 100 more onion sets. Lastly for today, I’ll be picking the new flowering chive heads to go into my chive vinegar for farmers market that will be opening in just two weeks! Gads, what a busy time of the year it is… but wouldn’t want it any other way.

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Plus, this little guy seems to follow me wherever I go… so I’m pretty certain everything’s gonna be just fine.

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The garden is finally beginning to look like a garden. I had no idea what an undertaking I had taken on with this project. Ugh 😦 But all in all, it’s finally taking shape. One thing’s for certain.. I’ll never be without fresh salads, organic veggies and herbs for the next few months. Happy gardening!

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….. parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme. Can’t get the song out of my head today 🙂

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IMG_4868Whenever we see the word “herb” most of us think of small, fragrant plants that Grandmother grew in a corner of the vegetable garden: Basil, thyme, rosemary, mints, dill, savory, sage, parsley, chives, anise and marjoram.  The word, however includes all plants that do not develop a woody tissue.  It was perhaps 100 million years ago when Mother Nature executed one of its major miracles and evolved the enclosed seed which contains all the chromosomes essential for the growth of a complete plant organism.

Tens of thousands of species of herbs help make our flowering world.  The leaves of grasses, flowers, weeds, annuals and biennials are soft and succulent, not stiff and enduring like the needles of pines, hemlocks and spruces. The hard, encased seed is the basis of the herbs that clothe our fields and meadows, uplands and forest glens.  For even as the massive oak develops its seed in a hard shelled fruit, so also does a tiny violet nestling unseen among the thick-growing grasses of the meadow.

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The violet who will lift its blue cheerful face to the golden sun in these upcoming warm Spring days is a fragile plant, but when Spring, summer and fall have passed into eternity, it has a time-tested method of protection while zero temperatures freeze Earth’s breast.  The life power of the violet and countless other small herbs simply withdraws into the roots of the plant beneath the soil surface.  In the dormant roots, waiting for time to be fulfilled, is a force man cannot comprehend.  Too often we walk unseeingly; we look but we do not see.  None of us can understand the mystery of life, but each of us can feel the glory that is all about us.  When you walk the countryside in these up and coming warmer months heading our way, you will be surrounded by the wonder of herbaceous life.  Tread gently.

 

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Calendula officianalis also known as ‘Pot Marigold’ is one of my favorites in the herb garden.. for not only their showy colorful appeal & addition to any garden.. but medicinal, cosmetic, culinary & dyeing benefits. The flower petals are the most resourseful part of this very versatile & lovely plant and contain the highest concentrates of healing resins.

Yes, this humble plant has been an inspiration of herbalists and gardeners for centuries. Named for it’s ability to bloom every month of the year, Calendula comes from the latin, ‘Calends’ or ‘New Moon’ and since the calendula flower head follows the sun.. it’s also known as ‘summer sundial’.

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The flower itself means ‘winning grace’ in the language of flowers and you’ll get no argument from me here, with colorful hues from pale yellow to bright deep oranges.. but the sweet calendula has been valued as a ‘wellness herb’ for centuries. Some marvel at it’s ability to soothe pain and prevent scarring. It’s also an excellent antiseptic, thereby preventing infections. Calendula is commonly used to soothe skin and reduce inflammation, and the key ingredient that will go into my Calendula Agave soap bars. Additionally it is good for small children to help alleviate skin disorders and diaper rashes. The dried flower heads are used to flavor soups & stews, added to the dye pot for some marvelous earthy golds & yellows, or added to a natural healing balm.
It’s been a great season for the calendula in the gardens this year. Much of it has already been dried, that will go into my formulations… soaps, balms, creams & salves. Some, into meal making and even my baking.. and a good amount will go to my friend, Rita and into her dye pot to make me some lovely golden wools that will be incorporated into my hooked rugs this winter.

Calendula… in my mind, least of humble. More so, simply marvelous.

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… in the gardens 🙂 Even when I’m battling mystifying critters each day. I never knew of a mouse that enjoyed leeks, basils, dill & sage so much! Grrr

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With the herbs nearly all harvested now, its time to make sure the winter medicine cabinet has all it needs. Elderberry syrup and Thyme honey are two of the important parts of my medicine cabinet.. mainly used for colds, influenza and sore throats.

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Thyme is a powerful antiseptic and it’s loaded with antioxidants. It works hard to:

  • ward off colds.
  • relieves a sore throat & inflamed tonsils
  • provides relief from hay fever
  • helps improve digestion

It’s strong antiseptic properties including activity against viruses, insects, bacteria and fungus, is just another reason to always have some on hand.  Traditionally, thyme was used to treat bronchitis but I find it to be useful in my house for treating winter illnesses such as colds like the one I am fighting now. 😦

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One nice way to use thyme is as honey… and its very easy to make. You can still pick thyme now, it should withstand a mild frost just fine. Cut stems short and put them in a glass mason jar. Cover the thyme with wildflower honey. Put the jar in a pan of water to slightly heat the honey while pushing the thyme down and adding more thyme. Once the honey is fluid, put the lid on the jar and store the honey with the thyme still in it, until needed. You can use this honey to add to tea or use it straight for a sore throat… and I just love it drizzled over my fresh yogurt too! Be well!

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They cleaned me out at farmers market this week, so..its gonna be a dilly of a morning.

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