Posts from the “Garden News” Category

Growing medicine

Posted on July 6, 2017

It feels like the universe, in all its goodness, has given me a garden this year wrapped with a ribbon and bow. How else could I explain that our friends Brittany and Kevin just happened to have a spare corner of land on their farm? And that it included a hundred medicinal plant seedlings, gifted from one of their friends from her own medicinal herb farm after she finished her spring planting?

Generous. That’s what the universe is, working through friends and friends of friends. 

As Seth and I wrote out our goals and plans earlier this year, with the snow knee high and a baby sleeping in my arms, I placed gardening high on my list of priorities. It may have been a bit of cabin fever. I didn’t get to work in a garden last year with the morning sickness and drought. The necessary, long recuperation from giving birth this winter made me wild for getting my hands in the dirt.  My schemes weren’t too grand; I thought I’d be ok with a few calendula plants and some herbs and wildflowers. 

But now I have about 200 square feet studded with all manner of plants, most that I’ve never grown and a couple I can’t identify. It’s slow growing.  I got the plants in the ground halfway through June instead of halfway through May. The frequent rainy days have delayed things a bit too. But oh, to be growing again!

I’ve been chewing on this blog post for a while, trying to think of how to introduce this unexpected garden, and even now I pause a minute. But the truth is that I’m growing again: medicine, yes, but also myself. Learning how to care for new plants, expanding the medicines I’ve been making. Squeezing in work between looking after not one but two babies. Oh goodness. These are things I never thought I’d be doing. 

The list of plants is extensive. Vervain, marshmallow, motherwort, oregano, valerian, St. John’s wort, bittersweet nightshade, echinacea, milky oats, borage, thyme, rosemary, calendula, yarrow, lemon balm, California poppy, catnip, anise hyssop, common and clary sages. Enough plants to heal your skin and help you sleep, soothe your muscles and lift your spirits. And a few things that I don’t know yet. What are these two plants? Time will tell (but I wouldn’t say no to a little friendly internet help either). 


Meantime, I’ll be out there hoeing and trying not to hoe my seedlings that look like weeds. The flea beetles have gotten to my bittersweet nightshades but we’re not down for the count yet. I planted the marshmallow and valerian on opposite ends of the garden so I wouldn’t get them confused (their leaves look alike at this size). And I got the last of my very favorite calendula seeds to sprout. Small steps in the right direction, as always. 

Seed season

Posted on March 6, 2017

We went to a greenhouse skinning operation about a week ago, full of farmers helping the farmers of Upswing, owned by Brittany and Kevin, as they venture into their first season on new land.  As always, when farm folk get together talk turns to joking about how many turnips are left in the root cellar (tons!), telling how strange it is to write yet another yearly post about CSA sign-up day, lamenting the dearth of experienced farm help, and sharing how unprepared they are for March 1, the date to seed onions in flats in greenhouses. Across Massachusetts, farmers are sowing seeds in plastic trays with 98 cells and heating their greenhouses through what is hopefully the last cold spell so they can have spring onions.  Next come brassicas and peas and…

Introducing Earth Morning v.2.0

Posted on October 18, 2014

  We decided to give up our garden plot at the community garden.  It was complicated this year with just the one car and Seth’s farm job, and I can’t imagine that will get any easier as we add a house-building to the list of factors. However, just as we decided this we came across a new apartment that fits us very well.  It’s smaller than our old place (just 2 rooms!) to help in our downsizing process, it’s on a quiet street which is better for my head, it has a backyard for the dog, and — wonder of wonders — it has a garden plot with a landlord who would like us to turn it into something beautiful. Moving?  Bah. Who cares about lifting things…

Food and No Food

Posted on September 5, 2014

I love this time of year.  The garden outperforms itself with tomatoes and green beans.  I’ve been getting a couple of eggplants, dozens of cucumbers, and several handfuls of jalapenos.  Even the endive has held on.  Enough food, in short, to make me love summer. In related food matters, I went to the allergist for some help with my recurring stomach troubles and consequent migraines.  I tested as allergic to tree, grass, and weed pollen, and the allergist says I have oral allergy syndrome.  Eating certain foods triggers an allergic reaction because the food protein is so similar to the pollen protein that my immune system thinks it IS pollen and reacts accordingly.  In my case, GI trouble. I’m pretty sure it’s a huge cosmic joke.  The…

I tied up those darn tomatoes

Posted on July 25, 2014

It took me forever.  Not because it was hard, or needed special equipment that I didn’t have.  It’s because I formed a mental block against the task.  I think we all have those tasks, the ones where it feels like you’re not making any progress because you’re mired down in it.  You know — in the weeds.  And then you put it off because you feel horrible, and the task grows to monstrous proportions in your head, and then you put it off some more. I girded my loins and tied them up, trimmed the extraneous stems, and pulled the particularly egregious weeds (I left the rest where they were until another time.  I call it casual weeding).  The tomato plants look good now, like they…

Good luck at the garden, or maybe that’s just spring

Posted on June 17, 2014

I haven’t been able to make it to the garden as much as I’d like.  This is iffy when it comes to gardening — I can’t be on the ground to monitor things.  Things like chasing off chipmunks, or pulling the weeds as they poke their heads out of the ground.  When I arrived at the garden this weekend, though, I was pleasantly surprised.  It looks as though the rainy week helped me out a ton. My broccoli thought maybe it would like to spring back.  The spinach took off, despite the leaf miner.  The tomatoes seem to be holding their own.  The curly endive is delicious, and WE HAVE PEAS. I can’t figure out what’s going on with the eggplant.  Maybe flea beetles? …

This week in the garden: pests

Posted on June 2, 2014

You know the rhyme that goes, “Mistress Mary, quite contrary, how does your garden grow?” If her garden is growing, what does she have to be contrary about?  I’ll tell you.  Pests. Something has been feasting on our vegetable seedlings.  The carrots and radishes are nonexistent, despite the steady rain we’ve had.  And take a look at the endive. These endives should be about 12″ in diameter now.  They are a measly 3″ across, with browned, chewed ends.  Most likely chipmunks. Our spinach is coming up and it looks all right, except for the leaf miner spots. And I’m guessing our broccoli currently resides in the bellies of some happy woodland rodents.   It’s enough to make anyone contrary. In some good news, we got…

How does your garden grow?

Posted on May 18, 2014

It’s early yet, but my garden is on its way.  Seth and I planted spinach, endive, dandelion, peas, radishes, and carrots in the last month or so.  The peas are reaching for the sky.  We’re harvesting chives and spring garlic already.  And thank goodness for that.  A person can only take so many supermarket vegetables before her body revolts. This weekend, I recruited my brother to help put up the pea trellis.  We’re using a pole stretched between two stakes, with string hanging down for the peas to climb.  Will it work?  It’s anybody’s guess.  But I can tell you that our next door gardener often watches us working with confusion in his face.  I get that a lot. This garden experiment is all…

Printable recipe cards, just because

Posted on April 6, 2014

I guess the winter got me down more than I thought, because I had a two week fervor where all I did was sketch vegetables and then try to turn them into something pretty.  It was during the miserable cold stretch between the snow melting and the weather warming up enough for the soil to reach that magical stage, “workable.” Now that it’s warm(ish), I work my plot of dirt instead of my sketchbook.  But there’s still time for cooking.  And if you like functional, pretty things in your kitchen, I hope you’ll enjoy these.  Just download, print on cardstock — I used Staples — and cut out on the light gray lines.  I made them in two sizes:  3″x5″ cards if you’re old-school like me, or 4″x6″ recipe cards.…

Plotting. I mean Planning.

Posted on March 27, 2014

There are things you do in the winter to keep from going bonkers that it has been below zero for five days in a row and there are an estimated 14 more inches of snow on the way.  One of them is to dream about how lovingly you will mulch your dirt. Oh, just me then?  Ok. And then there’s plot planning.  Seth and I were late on this, but it doesn’t really matter so long as you get it done before seeding time.  And even then, you can futz with things.  Which is good, because frankly my plot plan has already changed from this version. The beds are all to scale.  Not so much the paths, and I couldn’t be arsed to draw…