Monday, October 10, 2011

Container Garden

Jen and I have enjoyed this bit of container gardens. We used Mom's old washtubs for the containers. The one on the ground holds basil. The one in the tall tub is the "mystery mint." I took a piece of it to Joanne's one meeting. The consensus was I had licorice mint. Gee! I didn't even know licorice mint existed!  For the winter I moved the mystery mint to the herb bed and mulched it well. I hope it makes it.

What sorts of dishes do you make with Licorice Mint?

The colorful arrangement in Grandma Lala's old wash pan is the find from Home Depot. It was originally priced  over $10.00, but I found it on the reduced rack for $1.99. It was wilting and looking pretty sad. Jen was sad that day as well, so I gave it to her to cheer her up. She nursed the plant, making sure it had adequate water, and look what a treasure we got to enjoy! I moved it to the container garden area after it was healthy. Sigh. I wish this would winter over, but I know the plants are annuals.

The white planter is the miniature rose I bought. I love miniature roses, but I have the worst luck with them. As usual, spider mites killed this one.

Herbal Harvest

Drying herbs above the BarBQ

Herbs drying on the back porch
I had a good harvest today. I pulled up a lot of the herbs I had planted. They will dry outside for a bit, then we will bring them inside. I already have a braid of onions drying in the kitchen. Jen wants me to put some nails up near the kitchen ceiling and hang bunches of herbs there to finish drying. I will probably do that. When they are fully dry, we'll harvest them and put them in jars.

NOW it occurs to me that I could have left some of them in the ground to see if they would winter over. Oh, well. There is always next year.

Joanna has given us plenty of ideas of ways to use these plants besides using them in cooking. I plant to make some Four Thieves Vinegar soon. Its a cleaner and disinfectant made from mint, basil, hyssop and other herbs. We are also talking about making dream pillows. Those a sachets of sweet scented herbs that are pinned inside a pillow to aid sleep.

I'm already thinking about what I want to grow next year.

Putting the Garden to Bed

Raised beds
 It's already fall. I didn't do much with my garden after the heat/drought struck, but I'm pleased with it none the less. It did well for its first year.

The raised beds have been put to bed. I harvested my herbs and have them drying. Two out of three of the beds have been mulched. I didn't mulch the bed where I grew the tomatoes because I am not certain how I will use it next year. This year it was open. Next year I may want to divide it into square-foot sections as well. I really like square-foot gardening. It lets me dabble in several kinds of plants in a small space instead of planting 90' rows of one thing.

Trellis bed
The watermelons on the trellis were a partial success. Two or three melons actually grew, but I didn't realize I had planted an ice-box melon. They were past the door before I had any clue they were ripe. Heck, the melon wasn't much bigger than a soft ball! I thought it needed to keep growing. There is a bright side. The raccoons didn't get my melons either! The last time I had melons I watched the cantaloupe religiously, poised to pick them at their prime. The day I was ready to get them -- all the melons were broken open and eaten. Coon tracks in the mud told me who the bandit was. :(
Herb bed

Jen and I picked all of the cilantro and dried it about a month ago. We have some nicely labeled jars in the cupboard now. I see volunteer cilantro coming up. We may have some fresh herbs for her salsa into the winter if the weather holds. I hope the rosemary winters over. It survived last year, but was in a more protected area. I'm mulching everything heavily. Time will tell.

Now, I wonder when I'll know the leeks are ready?

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Sloughing off

I should be posting more. I have been knitting, more off than on. Once the summer heat struck, the knitting bag got hung on a door knob in my bedroom. I doubt I'll pull it off that knob till the weather cools down.

I have made a few Granny's Dishcloths and given them away. There are socks in that lonely knitting bag, and a sweater in another one. I am so slow to work on the sweater that I have to frog it back to the beginning each time I come back to it. I don't know where I left off. Perhaps I should pin a post-it note to it next time. "I am at xxx spot on the pattern."

And what HAVE I been doing? Reading my new colorNook. It is so much fun to have an entire library at my fingertips. Some days I finish one book and move right into the sequel. (I love series books.) After finishing all the Elemental Masters Series by Mercedes Lackey (for the second time), I discovered Juliet Blackwell's Witchcraft Mystery Series. That lead me to her Haunted Home Renovation Mystery Series. Waaaw. She's just starting those series. Three books in one, only one book in the other.

My daughter and I loaded up at the library book sale a few weeks ago. I grabbed all the Dorothy Gilman books I could find. I have always loved her Mrs. Polifax series. (Heavens! I'm old enough to be Mrs. Polifax now. She knits. She gardens. She does a little spying for the CIA... just your average little granny...)

One of Gilman's stand-along books isn't a mystery. It's more a romantic comedy (think Tom Hanks/Meg Ryan). Title Thale's Folly, it is a nice little summer read. Each chapter is started with a quote from a old herbal. I found that delightful because Jen and I and our friend Rosanne have been going to herb classes all summer.

The herb classes are taught by Joanne Bauman of Prairie Magic Herbals. Joanne has taught us how to use wild plants for healing, as well as how to use the things I grow in my garden. I am developing a lot of interest in herbs thanks to her. The last two classes were particularly interesting. They were on Plant Spirit Language. She draws heavily on Cherokee traditions when she teaches us about communing with out plants and learning to listen to what the plants have to offer us. It is fascinating and opens an entirely new way of seeing plants and my garden.

I commune with my garden when I'm watering it. The chives enjoy my company. Some day I will sketch them. So far the only plant that I have sketched is the watermelon that is growing inside the toe of an old nylon. My watermelon plants are trellised to grow upward instead of sprawling all over the yard. Yes, I'm still square-foot gardening.

And yes, again, I did post this word for word from the Iris Knits blog. True confessions of being lazy and doing nothing but reading and watering the garden during one of the hottest summers on record in Kansas. Mea Culpa!