It’s been a while since I wrote about Amie’s crafting. All the garden activity hasn’t put a stop to all that, of course. Today we made something specials for one of Amie’s teachers who has broken her wrist. Amie wanted to give her one of her dolls, but then I suggested her teacher probably no longer plays with dolls. So we came up with the idea of sewing a nice embroidery for her.

Amie has sewed before, on a piece of punched paper and lately with a plastic grid and needle.

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But this was much more fun!

We assembled our “real” materials: a small wooden hoop, a coarsely woven napkin that I can no longer get clean – curse that chocolate soy pudding! – a thick embroidery needle and some wool.  Amie made a simple drawing on the mounted fabric and then she sewed along the lines.

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pachypatchsmallThe Pachy Patch in Summer 2008

yesterday was a perfect summer, spring, winter’s day: cloudless sky, 60F, the mildest of breezes, and some good hard labor. I went out, turned the two defrosted compost bins and then tackled the Pachysandra patch, a.k.a. the vegetable garden. Ah Pachysandra…

It took over five hours of hacking and pulling, getting down on my knees to pull out each and every root and dumping wheelbarrows full of the stuff in our growing “brush” section (or should I compost it? All that green…). In the end my hands were almost no longer up to peeling all that  tape off the cardboard boxes. We saved these boxes from our move and big purchases last summer with exactly this in mind: to protect the suddenly exposed soil from the wind and the rain. But the tape was still all over them, so we peeled and cursed as the sun dipped further behind the horizon and a brisk wind came on. We loaded the cardboard with some of the big stones that also came out of the ground. We should have watered them down too, but then it is going to rain and sleet this evening, so why waste tap water?

This now was mostly me, as DH was busy putting out cold frames together. Once in a while Amie would come to help with her little rake, but most of the time she played by all herself in her play set or just exploring the garden, mumbling a a dialogue to herself. I looked over at her often, and knew it in my gut, that that is what we came here for: Amie telling stories in the garden.

So I had time to think, to write stories in my head. There was an incredible clearness that came with the hard work and the cool breeze. I believe it now, that gardener is good for writers, for people in general.

But my particular train of thought was precipitated by a neighbor stopping by to remark: “Mm, Pachysandra. You’ll never get that out, you know.”

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“Yeah yeah yeah,” I went in my head after her had left, “did I really need that?” This was followed by retakes of all the avowals, by friends and strangers alike, that this would be difficult, as we have no experience, and it will be very hard work, and we’d get tired before we got anywhere, and did we know what we were getting into, etc. etc.

And then I realized something: how often have I said this? I stood up. How often have I said this not just about our food-project, but about everything else I’ve ever attempted. And not just to myself, but to others, to my friends, my family? Oh, many many times.  Because that’s me: the “pessimist” or the “realistic” or “cautious one”.

Why? Because it’s my nature? My upbringing? My culture?

BS!

Then I laughed out loud, the rake (by now one twine was bent up) in one hand, one of those pesky roots in the other. I had just realized something else. You’re going to laugh too, but here goes:

If you are passionate about something, you can do it.

To test this now I rehearsed all the “big projects” I’ve ever worked on. First, my studies in philosophy. Basically I studied philosophy when I was 23 until Amie was born, when I was 34. I earned a Master’s and a PhD, all Summa cum Laude. Then, on the cusp of earning a second PhD, I dropped the whole thing. Why? I’ll tell you why: eleven years of accumulated doubt, most of it self-doubt. I had been passionate about philosophy, in the beginning, but that passion had been slowly eroded away by doubt. Overtaken by a weed.

Second, the novel. I finished that book – baby/toddler in the sling – in a year and a half. Why did this succeed? Because I made short thrift of it. There was very little time for doubt. The idea of not finishing it, of it being hard work never crossed my mind. I just did it. My first agent’s response was a rejection, but it was incredibly encouraging – indeed the best rejection a first-time author could hope for. Once I’ve found the time to follow up on his advice, I could sell the thing.

Listen to me! It’s a new me! The novel has shown me that I can do whatever I set my mind to.

So this garden project now. There are many reasons why I am doing this: food for my family, food for the community, physical and mental health, preparation for an uncertain future, a wholesome life for my daughter… Yes, I know I have no experience. I know there is a lot of shade in my garden. I know it is and will be hard work, and a frost might wipe out all the crops, and our chickens will all eventually die, being animals likes us, and I won’t be able to go on a long holiday in spring, summer or fall. And I will have missed some of this here Pachysandra and it will grow back and I’ll have to weed it again…

I have thought of all these things, you know. And whenever I’ve voiced them to my DH, he said (though maybe not in so many words): So?

And he’s right! I’m not afraid of hard work.  I always do my homework. But most of all I’m passionate about this, and no one – least of all me – has the right to trample over it.

Then I said to myself, as I bent to my Pachysandra again, that if this works for me then it will work for others, and I am the first one who should make a change. As of now I will encourage my friends and family no matter what their passion is. I will nudge the doubter aside and say: “Now wait a moment, I can see it in her eye: I have no doubt that she can do it!”

And with that resolution I resumed my hacking away at the last Pachysandra. I could see in that liberated, humusy-dark and lively soil our garden growing.

~

Today it’s coming down, a flurry of almost melting snow on the Pachy Patch in the Winter of 2009:

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Cover of Home Ground, ed. Barry Lopez (c) painting by Eric Soll, Trinity University Press

Here’s one of the reviews I wrote for Suite101.com. The copyright recently passed to me, so I can share it with you here.

It’s of Home Ground, a book that deals with the concept that is most on my mind these days: place. The more I think about place, the more it amazes me that its concept (if not the physical thing itself) entails all the other concepts at the heart of our endeavor: nature, culture, self-knowledge, sustainability, wholesomeness, care…

Home Ground reflects this complexity, so it is a book that is within reach at all times at our house.

~

With over 850 definitions of landscape features, many specific to America, this book is about geology and history, American identity, and how one makes a place home.

In Home Ground, Language for an American Landscape, Barry Lopez (editor) has brought together forty-five writers and more than 850 new definitions for the terms Americans use to describe their unique land. Some of the contributors are Michael Collier, John Keeble, Barbara Kingsolver, Jon Krakauer, Bill McKibben, Robert Michael Pyle, and Barry Lopez himself.

What is so fascinating about these definitions is that they are (mostly) not technical, objective, general or scientific – however you want to describe the glosses in an average dictionary. Indeed, the intention is not to give standard definitions, but to approach the subjects from personal and specific point of views.

  • Taking “place” personally

The personal line may be that of the authors, each of whom tackles the terms they are familiar with because they actually live with the landscape features they describe. Each was free to impose their own style, making some entries read like fairy tales, prose poems, or even jokes.

The personal is also injected by the inclusion in the definition of the people who invented, imported and evolved the term as they made themselves at home in a place. These can be a large group of people such as the Inupiaq, whose word for a swollen ice hill informs the Canadian and Alaskan word “pingo.” Or Conquistadores importing Spanish adaptations of Latin and Arabic words. Or a romantic ranger inventing the word “kiss tank” for the pool of rainwater that refreshed him in a dry place. Or even an individual, like Farmer Peek, after whose kill or brook the city in New York is named.

  • The skill of naming a place

The authors know that only such personal connections can make these terms recognizable and thus usable to us. For, notwithstanding our alienated and predominantly urban existences, we are still looking for a place to call home. And a large part, if not the first part, of making oneself at home is naming the features of the new and alien landscape and thus appropriating it, in a way.

And let’s face it: we have lost the skill of naming. Land is merely a valley, a mountain or a plane. Water is but a lake, pond, river or brook. Such an impoverished language will not do if we want to honor a place as home and take care of it as something precious and worth preserving.

Home Ground re-introduces us to a treasure trove of words and definitions, some very old and on the brink of extinction, some relatively new. It offers time-tested approaches to how to make up our own terms. Home Ground is thus a dictionary, an etymology, and a collection of essays about place and our habitation of it.

It must be added that, though the explanations are personal, they are still accurate. The authors did careful research, in the field as well as in reference books geology and history. And the scientific accuracy of each entry has been checked by an advisory board.

  • A literary effort

Another way in which Home Ground strikes a departure from the average dictionary is its realization that it is the writers who keep these special words alive. It is up to the settlers and inhabitants to name the places and their specific features. But it is up to the novelists, poets and essayists to record and preserve, interpret and explain these in their specifically human context.

The scientists – geologists and geographers – strive to make descriptions of place generic so as to fit them into an all too common framework, one that is too general to have any purchase on our minds. Writers, on the other hand, keep words alive in the lived-in situations of their stories. Thus Home Ground demonstrates how so much of American literature has been shaped by the American landscape.

  • An American land

This brings us to quintessential American-ness of the book. The authors make it clear that their effort is “an invitation to learn American geography, to read American history, and to celebrate a deeply engaging dimension of American character.”

Perhaps it is even this American character that makes an effort like Home Ground possible and eminently successful. The book celebrates a distinctly American attitude to a land that was only recently a vast, diverse and often frightening New World as yet unnamed and thus ready to receive names. It also honors the native names that were sometimes adopted by the settlers, sometimes ignored and overwritten – but now, recovered.

Home Ground is not the kind of book you can read in one sitting. It is to be consulted again and again, measure by measure, for its scope is vast, even though its approach is personal. It also doesn’t end on the last page: if the essays don’t point you to more reading, the bibliographical note (however short) and the biographies of the writers will. The introductory essay by Barry Lopez provides more food for thought. There is also visual distraction in the form of 100 delicate black-and-white line drawings by Molly O’Halloran. If that were not enough, the authors invite readers to contribute their own landscape terms on the Home Ground website.

  • Details and resources

Home Ground, Language for an American Landscape was published by Trinity University Press in 2006.

Click here to hear NPR’s Alan Cheuse discuss the book, broadcast on All Things Considered, December 11, 2006.

Click here to hear Barry Lopez and contributor Michael Collier interviewed by Jim Nielsen on NPR’s Morning Edition, first broadcast on November 16, 2006.

What We Do button (c) Katrien Vander Straeten

  • One

Our renovation project has so far generated a fair amount of scrap materials. Luckily it’s mostly wood and only some drywall, which is virtually not reusable.  Of the wood  DH and I have saved most: we take out the nails, tease off the drywall and have built up a nice stack of project wood in our shed.

But then there is the wood that is no longer structurally sound, or boards that are so driven through with nails that taking them all out would reduce them to splinters.  Just as we were going to delve into our (pricey) options of disposing of this, I received a Freecycle notice asking for “untreated, unpainted scrap wood for boiling down maple tree sap – nails no problem”. Well!

The guy came by today to pick up heaps of scrap wood. Turns out he started syruping five years ago as a school project for his daughter. He asked around his neighborhood about maple trees, and everyone offered their tree. It’s so much fun he does it every year now. The sap is running already and he ran out of wood.

  • Two

We started building our first cold frame.  The “lights” – the glass frames that sit on top of the box – will be the Freecycled storm windows we picked up a while ago from someone who had them sitting in the basement. Hadn’t fit a window in years.

We’re going for a very simple design without hinges, very much based on Eliot Coleman’s cold frames.

In a few weeks the lettuce seedlings in our basement will be ready to be transplanted outside. We won’t have raised beds yet (unless the weather atypically cooperates). But we’ll have lettuce! I’m thinking I should sow the spinach too…

  • Three

This is the one I’m most excited about. There’s a house around the corner with a stable attached. In the stable, two horses. Amie and I sometimes drive or walk past there on the way from or to school. Last week I left a note in their mailbox asking if they could spare some manure.

The owner called today and very generously offered us all we could take, indefinitely! As soon as the snow has melted we can go and take a look. In the meantime I’ll be figuring out how to transport it and reading up on how to compost large amounts of horse manure…

Anyone any experience with this?

I love my new neighborhood!

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The Black-Seeded Simpson Lettuce is doing well. I fed it some Tomato Food (Terracycle Wormpoop) the other day, as it was immediately on hand. There were no instructions on the bottle, so I eyeballed it. Oops! Their leaves soon curled under, a sure sign of overfeeding. Luckily it wasn’t too bad.

The wormpoop is a 1-1-2, but for seedlings, which most of all need their root growth stimulated, it is best to have a fertilizer with a higher phosphorus content (the middle number). So I bought some pricey Neptune’s Harvest Organic Fish/Seaweed Blend Fertilizer, which is 2-3-1.

When sowing the lettuce I put several seeds into one plug, and in several plugs two seedlings came up. As six of the plugs remained empty, I scooped out the most vigorous double plantings to transplant one of the seedlings. I cried out with amazement: above ground they aren’t much to look at, but their roots are amazing! So long and strong.

The plugs in the foreground of the picture (above) hold Catnip. It’s in the cold area because it needs cooler temperatures to germinate, which it is supposed to do pretty fast, but no sign yet.

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The warm germination box is almost full: three standard flats as well as a couple of those green mushroom boxes from the grocery store. Just punch holes in the bottom and they’re perfect flats. Another loop closed!

I sowed more Clear Dawn Onions, about 90 seeds in two mushroom boxes – quite a change from my first foray, when I put two seeds in one plug. I also sowed one box of German Thyme, about 50 seeds – who knows, those seeds are so tiny! After soaking overnight I sowed on box of Parsley seeds, and the 20 seeds that were left I put in two little pudding cups.

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My one disappointment is the Applegreen Eggplant, of which only two germinated (you can spot one in the back of the picture, to the left of the “PARLSEY 1” label). Many others had sprouted small white spikes, but there has been no sign of them. Maybe they went underground? Maybe it was the algae that did them in? It hasn’t affected the other seedlings in that flat. More probably it just hasn’t been consistently warm enough (eggplant likes it hot, 75-85F), so I changed our setup a bit. Once those two seedlings has its first true leaves I’m transplanting it and I’ll give the rest a couple more days. Real estate in that box is at a premium!

So what’s growing so far?

  1. Black-Seeded Simpson Lettuce (sowed 2.21): 36 strong seedlings
  2. Clear Dawn Onion (2/21):16 seedlings
  3. Applegreen Eggplant (2/21): 16 seeds, 2 seedlings
  4. Redventure Celery (2/21): 50 seeds, lots of tiny seedlings coming up
  5. King Sieg Leek (2/26): 48 seeds, some seedlings coming up here and there
  6. Peacework Sweet Peppers (2/26): 24 seeds, nothing yet
  7. Rosemary (2/27): 12 seeds, nothing yet
  8. Marjoram (2/27): 12 seeds, two or three seedlings coming up
  9. Mint (2/27): 12 seeds, nothing yet
  10. Lemonbalm (2/27): 12 seeds, nothing yet
  11. Catnip (2/27): 16 seeds, nothing yet
  12. Thyme (3/4): 50 (?) seeds
  13. Clear Dawn Onion (3/4): 90 seeds
  14. Parsley (3/5): 70 seeds

For an obsessive record keeper like myself, this is just plain heaven!

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Kitchen Gardeners International has an interesting article on the worth of a home garden. The author, Roger Doiron, weighed the food coming out of his 1600 square feet garden in Maine (zone 5b/6) and calculated how much this food would have cost had he bought it in a conventional grocery store, a farmer’s market, or a place like Whole Foods. The numbers came to $2196.50, $2431.15, and $2548.93 respectively. More generalized figures are $60,000 per acre, or $1.50 per square foot.

Mmmm… My motivation for starting our own vegetable garden has always been a mix of self-sufficiency (out of principle as well as in case TSHTF), health (physical and mental), and the health of the planet (eating as locally as possible). My great hope is to eventually feed my family all the necessary vegetables, herbs and fruits during the growing season, eggs most of the year, and some of these outside the growing season through canning, freezing and root-cellaring.

In financial terms this means I wouldn’t have to purchase these foods at the grocery store, and thus that we would save that money. On top of that (I hope) we would also take out in food what we put into the soil, seed and water in dollars.

This article, then, is good news.  Let’s assume we can do as good a job as Roger Doiron and have (as we have planned) a larger garden. Let’s guestimate that at present (in our current “frugal mode”) we spend only about $70 a week on veggies, herbs, fruits and eggs (say around $3700 a year). Then we can break even on the dollar investment and pay off our initial investments (*) sooner than I had thought. Then after that we can eat better, cheaper, and more.

Of course we don’t need to eat more. So to me that “more” translates into “more people”. With the extra we can help out others, like at the food pantry around the corner that’s in trouble, or the elderly and financially troubled families in our community, or the schools that might welcome fresh produce.

So I’ve joined the Hen and Harvest Garden Challenge, to give at least one tenth of your produce to some worthy cause.  This year being our first we might not make that, but it’s the goal I’m aiming for. And I know: I haven’t one carrot, one lettuce even to show for it yet. And I’m not particularly known for my green thumb (ha!). But you’ll see! We’re going to make it work.

(*) Initial investments: growing lights, loam and compost, timber for raised beds, some tools and soil amendments, as well as perennial seeds, root stocks for fruit trees and berry bushes, and mushroom spores.

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Yuck! I have one flat with green algae coating the surface. It started with one small spot and the next day it was all over. It shouldn’t harm the seeds directly, but it may smother them. The causes were (1) over-watering (beginner’s mistake), (2) the fact that the potting soil I’ve been using compacts too much when watered, (3) poor air circulation. Solutions: (1) take dome off quicker, (2) add more vermiculite to the starter and (3) add a fan to the setup. I might lose the eggplant, celery and onion (which I sowed too thinly anyway), but at least I learned quickly! I’ll resow these soon.

One of our three compost bins – the black Earth Machine that absorbs the eastern sun every morning – came back to life: it’s hovering around 70F. Soon the psychrophiles will make room for the mesophiles, which will heat things up to 100F, when the thermophiles can take over for a couple days. Then the earthworms will migrate into the heap. The other two heaps are still frozen, like bricks.

Talking of heat: we’re enjoying another blizzard. Just when most of the snow  had finally cleared, 15 inches of new white fluff came tumbling out of the sky – it’s still coming down. It’s beautiful and soft, but so winter isn’t done yet. I’ll be heading out to shovel our driveway soon.

School was canceled and so was my pottery class. Amie made a boat:

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Riot for Austerity fist with Thermometer

“Rekenen,” Dutch: to count


Gasoline: doing much better at 16%

Between us we consumed 20.3 gallons. That’s 6.77 gallons/person, that’s:

16% of the US national average.

I have this great deal with another mom from Amie’s preschool: in lieu of my watching her kids for four hours a week, she watches Amie for two hours and she picks Amie up almost every morning on her way to drop her daughter off at school (we’re on her way): saves me time and gas. I’ve also managed to keep the trips to the grocery store (in the other direction) to once a week. If only Spring would come, then we could bike…

Electricity: we made it!

Our electricity consumption at 371 KWH is up a bit from last month, but then we have one more person in our household (our “co-houser” ), as well as a hundred or so little germinating seeds and seedlings under 16h/day growing lights and a 24/24 heat lamp.

But we still made it to 10% of the National US Average!

How so? Well, it’s all wind!

Yes, we switched to the 100% wind energy plan. Who would have thought it was that easy? (I’m sure that last statement is a lot more complex than it sounds!).

Heating oil and warm water: the usual fiasco

We had some really cold days, and a couple of warm days too, when I just shut off the heat and opened all the windows to let some fresh air in. But those were exceptions. Mostly it was cold. So we consumed 79 gallons of heating oil. That’s

128% of the US national average

It’s less than January and December and it will go down as the earth’s axis tilts us closer to the sun, but it’s still too depressing. I’ll just refer you to my usual winter-rationale and leave it there.

Garbage: used to make it, not this month, though…

We’re making less and less household garbage each month, and are well in the range of the 90% reduction. But we started working on the “Annex”, the part of the house that we close off in winter. Something is rotting in there and we need to address it before we install a “guest suite” there (fancy for guestroom with bathroom).

So we started ripping out some walls and floor boards. Today as we stood over the pile to sort through DH and I discussed what to keep. He didn’t want to spend so much time on taking out the hundreds of nails pounded and wrenched into perfectly fine two-by-fours. I insisted though, that I’m not throwing the good stuff away! Even the remotely good stuff. Even though I don’t know what we’ll use it for.

Still, our garbage will peak this and next month as we get the renovations over and done with. I’ll weigh in when we have assembled and sifted through the entire pile.

Water: same, with one person extra

Our water consumption has stayed the same, which is great news. Our co-houser takes a daily shower, so we must be making a great effort!

We used 430 gallons of water. Per person (4 of us) that makes:

14% of the US national average

Consumer goods: made it!

Nothing broke. We didn’t run out of anything. We did spend some more money on our germination and seedling setup (more seeds, of course, an extra timer, a spritzer, and some extra flats and plugs), but as that’s an investment in a more sustainable future, I’m leaving it off the tab, just like I did last time.

We also bought some good, new tools for our renovations ($ ) and on my favorite food growing book: Growing Vegetables and Herbs, From Seed ot Harvest, by Terry and Mark Silber ($15 secondhand). That totals up to $50 new and $15 used, which comes to:

6% of the US national average.

Amazing, when you just don’t go shopping anymore, how easy it is to simply forget about spending money, and about stuff in general.

Food: how even to begin

We ate out twice this month, cheap pizza each time. It had been so long: the first time we ate at the restaurant/take-out place, Amie was so excited!

I’m going to refer to an older post for my reasons for not reckoning this category. But I can report that we are eating less and less meat (about a pound of red meat between all of us per week) and that we eat a lot more dry and bulk foods.

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  • Vegie update

Of the Black Seed Simpson Lettuce, sowed last Saturday, all but 3 of the 36 plugs have germinated. I took off the dome and moved the flat to the seedling area, which isn’t heated or enclosed. It’s a steady 65F there, underneath the fluorescents.

The Clear Dawn Onions, which I also sowed last Saturday, are coming up nicely and many of the Applegreen Eggplant seeds have put out short white spikes.

And yesterday I added to the bunch by sowing the Peaceworks Sweet Pepper and the King Sieg Leek I got from Fedco.

Our setup has been rearranged from how you last saw it. I enclosed the germination box (on the lowest shelf) with cardboard lined with alluminum foil and two rugs in front for easy access. It has the usual fluorescents (2 fixtures, which is 4 bulbs), but I had to add a heat lamp to warm things up a little. Closest to the lamp it’s about 75F (for the celery and eggplant seeds) and furthest away it’s about 68-70F (the leek is there now).

I’m debating whether I should enclose the entire shelf. Most seedlings do like it cooler (55-70), but with their domes off a lot of the humidity gets lost, and I’m afraid I mightforget to water them once and they’ll dry out. On the other hand, if I enclose it I need to also install a fan for air circulation, because damping-off doesn’t appeal to me either… Decisions!

  • Herb update

So then I took my attention off the vegies for a moment to glance at the herb charts (setting-out time, germination temperature, etc.) in the Silbers’ book. Gack! Most herbs are even slower! Of the vegies, eggplant takes the longest, 12-14 weeks, to set out time. But lavender takes 14-20 weeks, lemon balm 14-18 weeks, mint 14-16 weeks, etc!

Amie is at a playdate today, till 2:30, and I have just enough space in the germination box for:

  • 6 rosemary
  • 6 marjoram
  • 6 mint
  • 6 lemon balm

And because catnip likes to germinate at a cool temperature, I can put that in the seedling area.

This time I went with Bountiful Garden, because they were one of the only companies selling the French Green Lentil we’ve been looking for. And while I was at it, I ordered the veggies I had forgotten and some more herbs for teas and bees. Here’s the list with Bountiful Garden’s descriptions (BF), which speak for themselves:

  • Green French Lentil: our favorite soup lentil.
  • Culinary Flax: because Sharon said so (for good reasons, which are now also mine).
  • Tan Garbanzo Bean: because we love hummus.
  • Alyssum: “attractor of beneficial insects and butterflies… a carpet under tall, relatively open plants like onions, garlic, orach, pole beans, podding radish and sunflowers.” (BG)
  • Scorzonera Parsnip
  • Ornamental Mix, Sunflower
  • Blue Lupine (Bluebonnet): “fixes nitrogen and tolerates poor, rocky soil. Spectacular sheets of blue in spring to summer. Excellent cover crop to prepare beds for heavy-feeding summer vegetables.” (BG)
  • Double Blue Cornflower: “Quick and easy edible flower at home among vegetables or in problem areas of the yard. Great cake decoration, garnish, salad ingredient, or scatter the petals like confetti on food. Pair with nasturtium, CA poppy, or calendula for a great spring display.”
  • German Chamomile: love it in tea.
  • Lemon Balm: “Tolerates poor soil as long as it is sunny. Drought tolerant. Plant after last frost. Self-sows. Leaves used for tea with aromatic lemon flavor. Anti-viral, sedative, anti-depressant, helps headache” (BG)
  • Glaskin’s Perpetual Rhubarb: because I remember sucking on rhubarb as a kid. (perennial)
  • Phacelia tanacetifolia: “Prime beneficial-insect plant. Lavender-blue, fragrant flowers are loved by people too. A quick growing plant which makes a fine, feathery but dense carpet that shades and holds the soil but allows moisture to trickle through. Phacelia attracts pollinators–one of the very best bee plants. Our research garden has found it inhibits nematodes and improves soil structure. Makes good compost material.” (BF) (perennial)
  • Vervain: “Vervain” means “sacred bough”: it was one of the sacred herbs of the Druids. A perennial with tall thin wands of lavender flowers from a carpet of dense evergreen leaves. Easiest to grow of perennial herbs. Sun-loving, drought-resistant, adaptable, with spreading roots that hold and protect the soil. Medicinal: Restorative for nervous system, digestion, convalescence, menopause, and headaches.” (BF)
  • Sweet Cicely: shade-tolerant perennial.
  • Sacred Basil / Tulsi: Tulsi tea is one our favorites. (perennial)
  • Conover’s Colossal Asparagus (perennial)
  • Roman Chamomile (perennial)
  • Anise Hyssop: “attracts bees. Leaves have a distinctive licorice scent and flavor. Delightful for tea or seasoning. Showy purple flowers up to 4′ in height often planted in flower beds. Zones 5-9.” (BG) (perennial)
  • Burnet (Salad): “Super winter-hardy and adaptable perennial will even grow in boggy or rocky soil. Young leaves add cucumber flavor to spring and winter salads and dips.” (BG)

I just checked my mail and the last back-ordered seeds from Fedco have arrived. Now I can plant the Thyme.

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I also ordered the book Growing Vegetables and Herbs, From Seed ot Harvest, by Terry and Mark Silber. It’s the first book I’ve bought in months: amazing!