A Garden Nibble Walk

What fun to walk through one’s garden and see all the plants coming back to life! Those of you who love and grow herbs will totally understand what I’m about to share, that is, nibbling on fresh spring herbs.  My garden is large enough that I can enjoy a leisurely walk around the perimeter, admire the growing plants and take a few nibbles of the edible herbs. Let’s see what we have on the spring menu from photos I took yesterday:

If I’ve just eaten a meal, I like to start with rue, a bitter herb which aids in digestion. Chewing a fresh rue leaf is known to also relieve tension headaches and anxiety.  The name rue comes from the Greek meaning “to set free” and therefore its ancient reputation “to set free from disease.”

023

How about a little hyssop nibble, another bitter herb which acts as a digestive stimulant. Hyssop can also act as a nervine to calm anxiety, but it is better known for its anti-viral actions, especially effective for respiratory infections.

026

Lemon balm leaves are a tasty little “snack” while walking or working in the garden. Just like the name reveals, it has a lemony flavor.  Those of you who are familiar with essential oils probably have used Melissa essential oil, which comes from lemon balm (Melissa officinalis) and is known to have a calming effect (nervine).  I like to make an herbal tea with fresh leaves or from those leaves I have dried.

021

A whole kale leaf (or more) is almost a meal instead of a nibble! 🙂 The kale is doing well this spring in spite of being set back by by a hard freeze because “someone” forgot to close the lid to the cold frame.

025

And what would a garden nibble walk be without a couple chickweed stalks? Considered a weed, this little plant is very tasty, especially picked fresh and placed in your favorite sandwich. Flowers, stems and leaves are all edible. I like to add chopped chickweed to our lettuce salads. Nice mild flavor.  Eat weeds? You betcha! Learn more about which weeds are edible from an expert, Green Deane, here

024

So what’s for dessert?  Peppermint! Nothing like a fresh peppermint leaf at the end of a pleasant garden nibble walk. The peppermint patch is growing well so I should have plenty of leaves to make peppermint tea for my family and friends this summer.

027

Thank you for coming along with me on a garden nibble walk. Even though you didn’t get to actually partake, maybe you will be inspired to plant some herbs and enjoy your very own fresh nibbles.  Blessings to you all.

 

Winter Break and Planning

After a long break from posting, I am back at least to say hello to everyone who reads my blog and hope you all are doing well.  My garden is at rest since fall.  Not much digging to do yet, but potatoes should be planted in March so I do have my pick axe and shovel ready.

Since I was blessed to make it to 70 years of age this January, I started thinking about how to make gardening easier for me, especially the digging and pick-axing part, so I rounded up eight empty feed tubs my daughter uses for her cattle. I drilled holes in the bottoms, put in a layer of small rocks and old wood pieces and will fill the rest with some organic garden soil.  Really looking forward to see how this works out and if I can make my containers produce healthy vegetables like you see in all those seed catalogs!

019

As always, never giving up hope that this year will be a great year for an abundant vegetable harvest.  Haven’t had such a pleasure in several years, but this may be the one. Grasshopper plagues, drought, late killing frosts, and garden pests have really contributed to disappointments in gardening the last several years. But I will not give up. I really do appreciate all the people who can grow beautiful and healthy organic vegetables and I strive to be one of them. Learning how to do so never ends.

So what am I doing while awaiting the next planting time?  I’m enjoying looking at all the seed catalogs! What a fantastic array of vegetables God has created for our eating pleasure.  Getting orders ready for Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds, Southern Exposure Seed Exchange and Seeds from Italy.

Even in winter, the garden is a lovely place. I feed the birds there, take pictures of them, sit and read on warmer days, watch my little dogs play, and await every evening to see what kind of a sunset show there will be!

Blessings to you all.

The most common bird in my garden is the Mockingbird, Arkansas’s state bird. This one taken today as I was out with my 3 little dogs in the garden.

018

A sunset show photo from last night over our pasture and round bales.

051

 

Frost is Coming!

014The first freeze of the season is coming, ready or not. Weathermen say it will happen tomorrow night, November 7.   I always try to prolong the life of my garden plants by covering them with frost blankets; it does help for a time, but of course eventually it really is winter and garden plants die off.

In the past I have kept some cold hardy lettuce growing all winter using frost blankets to cover the lettuce bed, but this year I’m trying a small cold frame. 004Lettuce and spinach are growing really well in there right now, treating us daily to these healthy greens.  We’ll see how the plants do over winter.  Will it be a mild one or a severe one? We never know, of course, but we always hope for the mild one.

018Marigolds and hummingbird sage are still brightening up the garden! Today there were many honey bees buzzing around the sage blossoms. Always love seeing the bees at work especially because we hear so much about bees dying off due to pesticides.  I don’t use any pesticides so bees have a safe gathering place in my organic garden.

Another growing season is coming to an end, but what wonderful memories of the garden this past year, planting tiny seeds which miraculously produce cucumbers, melons, tomatoes, turnips, zinnias, marigolds, hyssop, lavender and much more.  I look forward to garden miracles in 2016, Deo volente.

“I’ve been a dweller on the plains,
have sighed when summer days were gone;
No more I’ll sigh; for winter here
Hath gladsome gardens of his own.”
– Dorothy Wordsworth, Peaceful Our Valley, Fair and Green

The Last Rose of Summer

002Well, summer is officially over, so I took some photos of my climbing rose bush which hasn’t endured the summer heat very well but with some much-needed rain a couple weeks ago and a few cooler nights it all of a sudden sent up a long stem way up to the top of the garden arch and  produced a beautiful bloom by the heart shape.

Another rose bloomed near the bottom of the arch as well as if celebrating the last day of summer yesterday.  019

Garden harvest is about done for the season except for the turnip crop which will be in the next few weeks.  Green beans are just about finished as well.  The herbs I planted have done very well and the holy basil just keeps blooming and has grown to now what I’d call a bush! 026

024Zinnias have kept up their glory all summer long and marigolds are in close competition.  Both have almost taken over the garden beds but they still look just outstanding.

For the first time this spring, I planted cardinal climber and all of a sudden this lovely plant with fern-like leaves has climbed all over the north garden fence and is quite cheery with its bright red flowers.   006

A few weeks ago I bought a small cold frame and have planted lettuce, spinach and French breakfast radishes (who eats radishes for breakfast?).  We’ll see how this works out!

Wishing you all a beautiful autumn season!

“I loved autumn, the one season of the year that God seemed to have put there just for the beauty of it.”      ~Lee Maynard

Serpent in the Garden

ratsnakeIt isn’t often that I see a large snake in my garden but when I do, my instant thought is to get it out, mainly because I have three very small dogs who enjoy being in the garden with me and I don’t want a snake to bite them.

In our area we have two poisonous snakes, the copperhead and cottonmouth. In the 41 years since we have lived at our place, we occasionally see a cottonmouth during the warm months around our ponds. Once in a while a copperhead might show up on in the front yard or in the garden, but not often because we have four large dogs which are active enough on the lawn to discourage too many visitors.  A snake more common to see is the black rat snake, most often seen just quietly slithering across a dirt road.

Earlier in the day, I had put some old crinkly paper feed sacks under one of the apple trees as an attempt to deter squirrels from approaching the tree (yes, we try anything harmless).  Returning to my crinkly sacks yesterday evening, I picked up one of the sacks to put under another tree and all curled up under it was a large black rat snake! A large one too, like several feet long and a 2-inch or more body diameter.  First thing I did was get my three little dogs out of the garden and back in the house!

That done, I went back to the job at hand. Hadn’t seen a black rat snake in my garden since last year so I tried what was successful the last eviction. I got the hose and sprayed it. Last year when I did that, the snake made a beeline for the north fence and was out of there in seconds. This year? Nope. Sprayed and sprayed. It seemed to enjoy the shower, so I turned up the spray pressure and up the apple tree it went, coiling around and around and then placed itself nicely on an upper branch and stared at me. When I told my daughter, she asked me if the snake talked to me or tempted me to eat an apple.  We laughed. My little Garden of Eden is already cursed by the original Fall, so I reckon the serpent and I couldn’t do any more damage.

I left the long black fellow on his apple tree branch and continued working in my garden. It was a rather comforting thought that no squirrel would dare to climb up that apple tree right now. I had read earlier in the day that you could hang fake snakes in your fruit trees to deter pesky robbing squirrels, but I had a real one up there. Maybe I could make a deal with the serpent after all………….   😉

“Now the serpent was more subtle than any of the beasts of the earth which the Lord God had made.” Genesis 3:1

Potato Blossoms!

Potato blossoms!  I love them.  Look how beautiful they are!

077For some reason I seem to be able to grow good potatoes.  They have done very well in my garden for several years.  Perhaps it’s the soil or the climate is good for them here in Northwest Arkansas.  I don’t do anything special to the garden soil other than add some of my own compost when I till up in the fall.  I also add Espoma brand fertilizer.

This spring I planted three varieties:  Butte, Carola Gold and Rose Gold seed potatoes which I purchased from Wood Prairie Farm, whose owner is a dedicated organic farmer.075

The only pest I have had so far is the Colorado potato beetle.  Because I’m also dedicated to organic gardening, I don’t use any pesticides in my garden and do the “old fashioned thing” to pick off the beetles and their larvae by hand and put them in a jar of soapy water.  Of course that is easy for me with a small garden with only three rows to inspect and clean off.   Whatever do the big organic farms use?  022

Here’s a photo I took of beetle larvae munching on my potato leaves.  I always hate seeing these larvae getting fat on my potato leaves.

But guess what I love to see? The lady bug beetles! They are a natural predator for Colorado potato beetles.  They eat the eggs.

And here’s a photo I took of lady bugs making more lady bugs! Keep up the good work my dear friends, the lady bug beetles.

024

A Little Garden Tour

It’s May 1, and a lovely day here.  Welcome to my little garden tour!  Come on through the arch at the top of this blog.

One thing I enjoy is walking in my garden.  It has become my favorite place just to walk. In the winter months I like to hike around the meadows and woods; that’s when the snakes, ticks and chiggers are into their winter sleep.  We live on a dirt road and I often like to take a nice long walk with our four big dogs on these roads, but if we’ve not had recent rain you can get pretty dusty when a vehicle passes by, therefore, walking the perimeter of my garden is a good solution to my love of walking.  Come along for a little walk with me…………..

Here are some photos to enjoy along the way.  The garden is completely fenced in because I have three little dogs who get to run free within the 80′ x 130′ enclosure; it’s a safe place while mama is tending the garden.

008Here’s a view to the west.  Apple trees on the left and a solar-power clothes dryer!  See it?  😊  What’s not to enjoy about hanging clothes out to dry in the fresh air and sunshine?

One long bed dug up and ready for planting.  005 Apple trees on the left as well as some blueberry bushes.

View to the north.  Garlic beds on the right and brick-lined lavender bed.   Rosa rugosa bush starting to bloom.  Red creeper will be climbing up the lattice by the bird house later.

003View to the south.  Potatoes growing nicely in the foreground.  Grape vines starting to green up in the background.  Two elderberry bushes are behind the grapes but hard to see in photo.  Blueberry bushes barely visible to left of grapes.

002The southwest corner of the garden is where we have a black metal table and chairs under the lovely Southern oak tree.  On warm Sunday afternoons my daughter and I play Scrabble (Garden Scrabble!) here and drink a cup of coffee.  Birdbath is nearby as well as royal purple raspberry and current bushes.

Hope you enjoyed your tour!

“Regardless of geographical region or culture, gardening is perhaps the most common shared experience of Nature.” ~S. Kelley Harrell

Earth Day in the Garden

041Every day is Earth Day in my garden and in my life.  Why?  Because I believe in God who created the earth, everything upon it, and everything beyond.  This Wondrous Being has given me life and allowed me to “tend my garden” on His beautiful Earth.  Imagine if every person born upon the Earth tried his whole life to take good care of the area upon which he dwelt, so that if the generous Benefactor one day should stop by, all would be clean and well-cared for, thereby showing how appreciative he was for the amazing gifts which were bestowed upon him.  How very sad there seem to be so few people who care.  But, some people have tried throughout Earth’s history to be grateful tenders of Creation so there is hope!  Whatever Earth Day was meant to be, politically, economically or otherwise, it is a good idea to remind us creatures not to trash our earthly home and to ever strive at cleaning up after those who don’t care.  It seems like we will always have such people doesn’t it?  Look at all the folk who clean up litter along the highway from those who toss it out their windows.  Truly caring people at this moment are trying to clean up toxic waste, promote clean energy sources, promote true healthy living and prevent more contamination and trashing of the Earth.  May God bless the work of their hands.

As a 68-year-old grandmother I’m not able to invent small solar panels which would provide free power for home use (wow, wouldn’t that be something), but I will continue to tend my little organic garden, and not just within this garden, but in my “extended garden” of life, trying to do no harm to people, other creatures or the environment and be grateful for my life upon the Earth.

One of my favorite quotes is from Joel Salatin; from the first time I read this quote I have made it my motto:

I am a caretaker of creation. I don’t own it. What I’m supposed to do is leave it in better shape for the next generation than I found it.

Mowing Garden Grass

If I had a magic wand, I’d create a lovely stone walkway through my 150′ x 70′ garden.  I would establish only raised beds about 3′ high so I could tend to my veggies without having to bend down or work on my knees, and there would be nothing to mow because nicely designed flower and herb beds would take up the rest of the space.  But for now I will continue bending, kneeling and mowing my garden grass.

A few years ago I discovered a battery-powered push mower, a Neuton, which was love at first use because I hated using a gasoline push mower; it was so loud and stinky.  I’m on my second Neuton and still enjoy mowing with it.  Because it uses a battery, it starts immediately every time.  It is much more quiet than a gas engine and of course there is no smell other than freshly mowed grass.  After mowing, I have to plug the battery back into the charger but other than keeping the mower clean and blade sharp there is of course no oil to change or other maintenance.  And what to do with all the mowed grass clippings?  Rake them up and put them in my compost pile of course.  It makes for some really good “green manure.”

http://www.neutonpower.com/

neuton

Hail Storm Damage

We got a hail storm late Sunday afternoon (April 19) like we have never seen in over 40 years since we have lived here.  It hailed for almost 15 minutes with pea size hail which piled up like snow.  Not only hail, but we got over an inch of rain during that short time as well.  There won’t be as many blueberries as hoped for this year because many blossoms were knocked off.  Strawberry plants were smacked down.  Other tender young plants were also beaten down in the earth and some stems broken.  But today the sun is shining and the sky is bright blue!  Not all plants in the garden have been destroyed, so we will continue to sow and tend the garden in hope of reaping in due time the “fruits of our labor.”

Here comes the hail storm!

008

Hail accumulated like snow.

035

Strawberry patch beaten down.

044

Pea size hail everywhere!

022

Potato plants beaten down but they should recover.

045

Bee balm beaten down but it is hardy and will recover.

055