Saturday, July 22, 2017

Medicinal Weeds: Mullein

 This is a year of exploration for me in the world of weeds - both culinary & medicinal.

I've been watching some videos that are teaching me a lot about what's out in my yard & neighbourhood. Check him out: Yarrow Willard: the Herbal Jedi.

Always properly ID your plants before jumping into anything new. I do a vast amount of research & ask questions & talk with local Plant Geeks whenever I can.

His video on Mullein came at a very opportune time - the mullein in my Apothecary Garden is starting to bloom!!

But what to do with it?

 Well, one of my main goals this winter is to come up with one or at least a couple of really amazing blends of oils to use in salves & lotions & massage oils for use this winter to assist with the aches & pains that we seem to suffer more from at that time of year. So, I am harvesting a few flowers every day to put into avocado oil & in a few weeks, this will be strained & ready for use when I ready to go in a few months.
I've only the one plant - only 4 feet tall! I'm hoping that it will reseed itself (I've missed a few days of flowers, so am hoping they produce enough seed for next year's plants). I'm also going to dry a few leaves to try as a winter tea for colds.

Will have to let you know how this all works later on in the year!

Friday, July 21, 2017

First Harvest of Broccoli

 I've been keeping my eye on the broccoli plants for about 2 weeks now after hearing that a few friends have had theirs bolt suddenly due to the weather. They have grown very quickly over these weeks & I knew that I would be eating them very soon. This morning after the rain event (maybe a half hour of rain after weeks without), I went back out & decided to harvest 2 of the 6 plants as they were starting to look like they wanted to go into flower.

Not a bad size for growing broccoli for the first time & just letting them do what they wanted...

I made sure to leave enough of the stem on the plant to allow for other sprouts to form - which they were already doing. This means future harvests of broccoli - even if they are wee & small.

Have you ever had fresh from the garden broccoli?? WOW!!! We cannot believe how tender the stalks are (& we eat as much of the stalk as possible when we purchase broccoli as it is so healthy for you!!)

Tonight's menu includes a coleslaw with these fresh broccoli heads as the main feature. Add in a bit of red cabbage, green onion, shiso leaves & garden peas & you've got an amazing fresh & crisp salad!! Great with pull pork sandwiches in the late afternoon sun...

Thursday, July 20, 2017

A Morning of Rain

We finally had a bit of rain this morning!
The air feels refreshed & while it wasn't a whole lot of rain, the plants look revived.

The tomatoes are getting larger & looking pretty healthy considering I'm not babying them like I have in the past.

The nasturtiums are finally starting to bloom. I'm using them as aphid traps in the veggie bed & so far, they are working very well. A couple plants have black aphids on them & in a couple of days, I'll remove them to the compost heap.

The Scarlett runner beans are finally starting to put on a wee effort. Maybe the rain will convince them that they should grow & give us flowers & food...

The bees are loving this section of garden with the yellow Evening Primrose, the orange calendula, blue of the borage & some red nasturtiums.

* I'm still having technical issues with this site & find it frustrating to say the least * Hopefully these issues will resolve themselves & allow me to share in a more regular & joyful manner *

Sunday, July 16, 2017

A Little Perserverance Please

 The 'dog days' of summer...

Things are getting a little out of control.
The pak choy is bolting - but the flowers are edible & the leaves still sweet, so I'm letting this happen.

The zesty salad mix (mustards) are also bolting & these flowers are also edible. But the flavour of the leaves is now becoming very strong - over powers a salad & no one wants to eat it.

I keep telling myself that I'm letting the seeds develop so I can save some seed for next year. Not really working so I should really just pull the plants & compost them. Make room for some winter veggie plantings... or late season greens once the weather cools down... or carrots - would be nice to see carrots this year...

And how about that broccoli?! I like to check on them almost daily as I'm concerned that they will suddenly bolt overnight & I won't get to appreciate my first home-grown broccoli. Diligence will pay off...

The peas have decided they will grow & produce after all. This is a grand & glorious thing!

Lesson - peas are not skinny, narrow, vertical growing plants. They expand outwards & take up more horizontal space in your garden than you might think. I was trying to grow beets, celery, cucumbers, onions, leeks & radish in the shadow of the peas. Most of these will not make an appearance til they see some proper sunshine, which might not be til next year at the slow growth rate of the peas.

Peas need to be planted much sooner in the season.

And this is the monster pumpkin - growing smack dab in the middle of the walk-way in the veggie bed. Loving life in sandy soil with no nutrients (that I'm aware of) & a whole lot of heat (those stones can burn the bottoms of your bare feet in the noon-day sun!). This plant will not remain contained to the lower portion of this space - it is already sending out reaching tendrils towards the peas & I'm sure it will blanket more space over the following weeks...

I love this wildness & remain hopeful for a harvest of something from it.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Potato Harvest

My experiment with growing potatoes in a pile of wood shavings has come to an end. I decided yesterday that the 4 foot tall plants were probably not producing the amount of potatoes as they should because I was no longer hilling the plants - I ran out of vertical room & wood shavings.

Sounds odd to say I ran out of vertical room, but since I didn't shore up the mound with a frame that I could add onto, the wood shavings were starting to become wild & spread on to other plants growing nearby.

Plus the peas were taking advantage of the height & growing on & up the potato plants.

It was time to see if this worked...

I just gently tugged on each plant & they came right up out of the shavings - still attached to the plant & very clean!!

No bugs, no issues. Amazingly, the original potato that was planted was still whole & sound & I'm sure it would have kept on producing if I had hilled the plants properly.

But, for this year, I have enough fresh potatoes for a meal & the satisfaction knowing that my experiment worked! A few tweaks for next year & we'll produce more spuds more efficiently.

I spread 2 large buckets of used wood shavings around the flower bed as a mulch & called it a day.

Friday, July 14, 2017

A Week of Gardens - part 2

Well, the first week was jumbled.
Let's see what this 2nd week of July will look like.

I harvested a good quantity of greens from the garden this week. The lettuce is amazing!! Cannot eat it quick enough, but it holds very well in the fridge & tastes so smooth & lovely that I am going to be seeding more when the weather cools down a bit.

The kale is now in the freezer for comfort food meals in the cooler weather & I'm drying the rose petals, lemon balm & calendula for teas or to make salves & oils later on.

These roses are so fragrant - have the with me at the table while I work.

I somehow missed the flowers on the pea plants & I'm pretty sure that over the course of only 4 days, these suddenly appeared! Super sweet & super crunchy - the pea patch is the first place I head to when I come home from work.

I took a peak under the leaves of the pumpkin & yes, it is flowering.

The poppies that were growing here have now been removed - thought it best to give this plant some space & to also allow me access to the garden! I've 'composted' the monster poppy plants in an area that I wouldn't mind having them grow on their own, so we shall see if they make an appearance there next year.
The tomatoes are finally making an appearance too & the plants look none the worse for being watered from the top down. I've put some slate stones underneath the plants to assist with heat & water & this seems to be working just fine.

There are 2 other tomato plants that are of the cherry variety - they seem to have gone a bit wild & I should take a closer look to see if I should prune them some & tie them up to the supports.

Lazy gardening...

Love hiding in the middle of the wildness of the flower beds. Viewing the gardens from different perspectives (inside out or back to front) gives ideas of creativity a chance to flourish.

Can't wait to propagate more of these wonder plants & watch more insects & hummingbirds come into the yard.

And finally these two - my shadows.
When I come home from work, they immediately seek me out for attention, for petting, playing & treats out in the garden. Well, the dog likes the treats from the garden & the cat just likes to play hide & seek in the flowers... 

This was another fabulous week in the garden. Let's see what happens this weekend & if I can share in a timely fashion the next growth explosion.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

A Week of Gardens

Where is the summer going?!

I'm so busy just relaxing & enjoying the garden space (ha) that I forget to show & share. I'm also having issues with the blog program - it just seems to be difficult to work with right now, so apologies for the scattered look it has today. (maybe that's technology's way of saying 'get out in the garden & away from the computer'!!!)

Things seem to have exploded in growth over the last couple of weeks too & it's about time!

The marigolds are recovering after being attacked by slugs & the calendula are flowering brightly. I have hopes that the wee nasturtiums will eventually grow & flower too.

This year I will be saving seeds again - finally - after many years of not having that option & these 3 veggie bed companions are high on my list.

The pumpkin growing in the flagstones in the walkway of the garden is making it difficult to wander in without brushing up against the fuzzy leaves & stepping on them.

I will be checking to see if there are female flowers showing up yet as the first to bloom are male. Would be nice to have at least 1 pumpkin come out of this monster plant that I've let grow where it wants.

Growing as a companion to the pumpkin is a huge mass of California poppies. They are great insect attractors & thrive in the sandy soil between the flag stones (which makes me wonder how the pumpkin is growing in the same poor soil...)

I'm contemplating saving seeds from these as well & would like to see more out in the front where the conditions are a little more harsh than out in the back...

The Apothecary Garden is also taking off & I'm going to let the plants I've been gifted to grow & produce seed this year. Next year I'll start harvesting & using their goodness in salves & oils & teas.

This beauty is the Evening Primrose. It has scent in the evening hours, so I've got it close to the edge of the garden bed so we can enjoy it.

Have you ever noticed the different fragrances of your garden space at different moments of the day?

This is a crazy corner of the garden - love it!! The 6 foot tall red bee balm in the back, with the clary sage in shining silver with the yellow rose & a red frilly poppy just finishing it's bloom. There is a cherry tree off to the right & tall lilies in the front.  Other random seeds are sprouting & some plants are waiting for the fall to be moved to the front gardens & other plants are growing happily in the partial shade (like the 3 different clematis growing along the back & side fence).

This area smells heavenly & is one of my favourite spots to sit in the late afternoon when I'm home from work.