Tag Archives: herbs

Every garden has a story

Pajamas, tea, camera, and an early garden walk on the final morning of March. I ignored  garden chores last fall while I began  recovering from illness. Even so, gardens in spring remind us that we can count on life’s continuation and renewed beginnings.  Here’s to health and moving forward.

 

Wild onions, Egyptian walking onions, chives, possibly shallots, possibly garlic. Mysteries. Enough plants to divide and sell starts at farmer’s market.

 

Rhubarb, strawberries, currents, Jacob’s Coat for rose jelly and rosehips. Enough strawberries to sell at farmers market and transplant to create the strawberry farm on the new property.

 

Puppy puppy puppy! In the cycle of life old dogs die and new ones emerge. A few weeks ago she could sneak through the fence and get into compost. Times was on my side and she’s too big now. Outside the potage garden Mojo (Mojita), 15 weeks old, believes she has no limit to pruning decorative shells from a flowerbed or sitting on flowers. Yet. I don’t recall how I trained previous German Shepherds to stay out of unprotected beds but I’m sure she will learn. If you have tips for this training, please, please comment below!

 

Comfrey, cat mint, and garden central around the septic tank cover where Bergamot remains mulch out weeds and iris’ emerge. I intended to move them both away from the tank cover last year but health prevented progress. This year, after iris’ bloom, I will design and construct an organized wheel of herbs, vegetables, and flowers in the garden center. We bought adjoining property with a 2500 square foot garden and an orchard, ready to take on more growing responsibility. The little 30X20 garden next to the deck gets a makeover from all purpose food garden to potage garden. I’ll share plans and progress as I go into those projects.

Every garden has a story to tell. It’s a happy place for inspiration no matter what stage it’s in with me.

Weekly Photo Challenge:  Story

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Smudge Day

 

Every autumn I look forward to lighting a bonfire and tossing onto it things that are no longer useful to me like an old rag rug Mom made that even the dogs won’t use anymore, and outdated income tax forms more than 7 years old, and a small note describing a relationship that is no longer helpful, or even a portion of the relationship that needs to stop. Smoke removes negative things and purifies them, and us, so the ancient stories tell.

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Smudging is similar and it doesn’t require such a huge flame. It can be done indoors. I try to smudge the guest room between guests, even if I only burn incense. I felt it’s time now to really smoke the negative energy out of that room and my home so I studied up about crafting my own smudge sticks and took myself on a gathering walk outside my door.

For this smudging to remove negative energy I bundled a section of a mullein seed stalk with sage from my garden and dry pine needles. The sage was fresh  and the mullein damp. I didn’t give the bundle time to dry so it was hard to keep it smoldering yesterday when I held it by hand and whooshed the smoke with a group of feathers. Today I initiated a rescued cast iron cauldron that Rusti Shilling discarded. I swear on a stack that’s her name.

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My ideas was to kindle a fire and let it settle to coals to keep the smudge stick smoking. I collected some twigs from beneath a pine tree in my yard but they weren’t as dry as I thought. Crumpled gratitude notes from my gratitude jar flamed easily but not enough to keep the twigs burning. So let’s try 3 tea candles. Three is a good number and I shaped them in a triangle. That did the trick.

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I got the smudge going outdoors on my deck then brought the cauldron into the guest room and set it up on an inverted iron pot to protect the floor, keeping it well away from bedding. I’ve washed sheets and bedspreads and I left all the bedding unfolded on top of the bed. I also opened the closet doors and the adjoining bathroom door, and opened the window a bit. All the while I was telling the unwanted energy and spirits to go away, they are not wanted, they are not useful today, they are free to go. Repeating it over and over as I walked and wafted the smoke through the area.

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This method sustained a lot more smoke and I hadn’t thought to disable my smoke alarms ahead of time. I discovered how sensitive they are to even a little smoke not even in the same room and that’s assuring. I let a little smoke out of the guest room into the rest of the house and then closed the door so the smudge would work most effectively in the areas most used by guests. If you’ve been a guest, don’t take offence. This is something I do to prepare the room for the next guest and I prepared it for you, too. I like the energy of some guests so much I don’t smudge the room for a long time so I can feel the good vibes longer.

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Finally I placed an inexpensive item on the smudge stick that was left by a guest who experienced a really negative energy, intense but brief, while staying here. I expected it to smolder and put out the tinder but instead it flamed up. For safety I took the pot outdoors and let it burn up most of the remaining elements.

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I’m all about safety from fire at my place since I live out of town and no fire truck is able to get here in time to save my home. Rusti gave me this cast iron lid, too, which doesn’t fit the rusty pot but it worked wonderfully to smother the fire.

So now I have released negative energy from the new-to-me cast iron cauldron and my home. Tommorrow I will burn lavender, holy basil, rosemary, and mint to bring healing, protection and calming. I feel like this iron pot will be a handy and safe “fire pit” for me, and I like that it’s portable. Some years, like this one, I haven’t had a bonfire because it’s too dry and grass fire is still a danger. This year I’m starting a new tradition for smudging my home at least once every autumn.

Weekly Photo Challenge: It’s Not This Time of Year Without . . .

 

Mullein Meal

Landscaping to attract nature is not particularly challenging when you live in an ecotone where forest meets field in rural Idaho. Ecotones, the spaces where two environments transition into each other, are rich in diversity. These areas provide for more wild life than either zone on its own. Native Mullein grows readily in disturbed ground here and when this set planted themselves in my new vegetable garden I wanted to see how they would flourish. The fence is about 5 feeet tall so you can see how large these mulleins grew in top soil we brought up from the riverside. I didn’t expect to see this White-headed Woodpecker searching for insects that inhabit the flower stems. It worked over these plants for several days, as well as a stand of them along our gravel road.

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Designing my yard and garden to attract interesting birds and pollinators in the Rockies means promoting plants that attract these animals while resisting damage from deer, ground rodents, range cattle, and drought. Mullein is a sound choice that does all that and it’s a intriguing flower to watch develop. It’s super easy to grow and you’ll see it spring up in dry fields like a weed. These pictured grew as volunteers, but I have dug up the first year plants, the leaf sets, and successfully transplanted them. They build flower stalks their second year. This a fabulous plant for children’s gardens where they can feel the soft fuzzy leaves. Plus mullein is a wonder plant for respiratory problems and many other health issues. I dry the leaves in fall and make tea when my allergies attack.

If you don’t have access to the plant where you live, contact me and I’ll send you some seeds free. If you can find the plant try getting seeds from the flower stem and planting them in fall or transplant a first year root.

New Roots

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New buds are starting to branch from this stem. Even so, it needs to be pinched off to shape the plant and promote root development.

In response to The Daily Post’s weekly photo challenge: “New.”

New Roots

I rather feel like there’s nothing new in the universe. But I’m not certain. Everything is connected or one thing leads to another, or so I’ve seen. Take this little Rosemary start for example. It began about 20 years ago when I bought a small plant in a 4 inch pot in Port Angeles (PA). I repotted it into a larger pot and brought it with me when we moved to Idaho in 1998. It nearly died of a white fungus while it was indoors for a frigid Rocky Mountain winter. I pruned more than half the plant to remove the fungus and let it live if it would. It lived indeed! It thrived from the pruning and when we moved back to PA in 2003 I planted it in our yard and left it alone. Plants do pretty well if left alone, the right plants at least.

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One of my “little gardens”, a sidewalk runs through it. Gone for 2 summer months, this is the result of leaving plants alone. Sheers and a mug of Scotch soon fix it all.

That plant reproduced itself into 4 more plants and they all grew to be about 3 feet high and pretty wide. I found their starts in the soil at the base of the first one, propagated by a natural process called “mounding” in which a branch gets laid down and partly covered with soil. New roots develop and you can just snip the branch off from the original and plant the new start. When I moved back to my Idaho home in 2013 I had 4 big Rosemary bushes growing in my Port Angeles yard. The fifth had been killed by a peninsula winter.

That home has renters now so last fall I started 3 new little Rosemaries from trimmings when I pruned one of the large herbs to clear the sidewalk for safe passage. I popped the little cuttings into small pots of plain old potting soil, kept them damp at the risk of causing rot, and sure enough they began to show new leaves. When new leaves appear you know the roots are developing. I pinch off new growth and use it for aromatic flavors in the kitchen. Even little herbs do their jobs just fine. Removing new growth promotes root development and it prevents the plant from getting spindly, making it bushy.

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New growth ready to be pinched off. Plants DO grow in winter.

The idea that plants are dormant in winter is not precise. I keep these starts in a sunny south facing window and they are producing abundant new growth. They are beginning to branch out so by late spring when it’s safe to put them outside, they will be nice little herbs to move into larger pots. Look at all the new white branches stemming from the brown trunk.

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This start needs shaping. Obviously new roots are developing.

If plant life is so well connected, new roots emerging from old stems, how can our human lives not be interconnected, too? I’m not just talking about genetics here. I am rooted in the Pacific Northwest and have restarted myself more times than I can recall. We can nurture our own roots and use them not to anchor us to one place or one idea, but to set us out on new paths. We can nurture new roots in people we encounter, too, without even knowing it. Some people say I am the most grounded, rooted, person they know. If that’s so, it’s because I have learned that I can regenerate myself when I need to and I’m not afraid to take that risk. Well, a little afraid but brave. My daughter calls me spunctuous, a word she created. She asked if it’s OK to make up words. Of course it is.

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