The midsummer garden… If all went well with your planning and planting in spring, this is the month in which you will be reaping much of the rewards. Timely picking of fruit and vegetables can encourage more flowering and more fruit, and the garden …
Search Results: echinacea
These are actual images of plants I have grown this season (Spring/Summer 2019) in compost and “veggie mix” bought from a landscape supply place, which I have now no doubt contained herbicides Killer compost is a term given to compost and manure mixes that contain …
Full steam ahead with my garden diary / inspiration blog. If you've missed the beginning, feel free to check out the Introduction, and last week's first edition - Week 1.
It was propagation week this past week according to the Lunar Planting Calendar, so I did loads and loads of sowing! It was a good de-cluttering exercise too – I planted most of my really old seed, ones I got or saved as far back as 2014! We’ll have to wait and see what comes up, and if they don’t, it’s no real loss, because it unburdened a bit of my seed stash, and I can make space for more new and interesting (fresher) seeds.
This led to me perusing many a seed catalog, and not only the ones available in New Zealand… Oh my! There’s some really stunning herbs and vegetables out there in the world – Blue Keyes Tomato (go Google it!) and Black Thai TQ Chilli has stolen my heart this week! Not to even speak of the chillies… pumpkins… eggplants…
But while there’s import restrictions on seeds, and I’m not quite set up to be an importer (yet), I had to make do with local suppliers, and even though I have thousands of seeds in my seed collection, of course, I still found quite a few things I’d like...
This Week's Weather
Typical spring weather continues with cold days where the maximum does not reach above 8C, and really hot days where it rockets over 18C. We had some rain, some frost, some light winds and some lovely sunny days too. It’s a roller-coaster ride!
But the plants seem to know what to do, even with the ups and downs and there’s so much springing into action now!
Looking Good in the Garden
The violas and pansies are looking simply delightful! I’ve grown a selection of violas all around the edge of my early spring garden bed (the one with peas, lettuces, broad beans and some kale). Miya and Leia (my daughters) have had endless fun picking them for fairy salads, for food parcels for the guinea pigs and bunnies, edible bits for themselves, and as “nature paint”. They even hammered a few flower designs on paper.
I’m very excited by all the buds on my fruit trees (except the plum – I hope it is not going to feature as a “problem” in one of my blogs…). I am learning so much about the different stages and types of buds on apples and pears. A tip - don’t search for “Apple bud” on Google… it comes back with some kind of in-ear headphones for Apple devices. And on the same note, if you search anything “blackberry”, make sure you qualify it with adding “plant” to the search terms!
The dahlias are also starting to make a show for it! Of all the bigger named dahlias I planted so far (from tubers I brought with from my old place), seven have come up already. Two has yet to show their new growth, and sadly one of these is my star performer of last season – Penhill Watermelon. I do so hope she is just a bit of a late sprouter…
Here's some more blooms and buds from this week:
I've got chooks! I was very lucky to be given two fully grown chickens - not even a year old. I'm really in love with these poofy little black shiny Pekin Bantam hens with their feathery feet!
Also, my quail started laying! Whoohoo! Only one egg a day for now, hopefully the other hens get their lay on soon.
Roses… I’m very saddened by the fact that, of the six Matthew’s roses I bought for my new home, only the Cappucino is thriving… Heaven Scent is to all my knowledge dead, as is Sweet Dreams. Veilchenblau has one or two little red buds which I’m hoping will actually eventually become proper growing bits, and the same with Kiwi. Felicia isn’t dead, but she’s sure not thriving either… I really don’t understand it as they are planted in the exact same way and in the same garden bed as two roses I got from the clearance section at Mitre10 (Jubilee Celebration and Spiced Coffee) and three Warehouse barerooted roses (barely a stick when I bougth them) – Scent to Remember, Roayal Dane, and Pascali, as well three roses I brought with from Stanmore Bay (My Mum, Scentimental and Blackberry Nip…
I’ve never had issues with their roses before, but as they have been treated the same as all the others, and are the only ones not thriving, I’m wondering if I should write them an email?
Sowing, Planting, Growing
What did I sow? Um… everything? No! But nearly!
I sowed: coreopsis, cosmos, marigold, peas, beans, squash, tomatoes, chillies, basil (all sorts of different basil!), coriander, rocket, snapdragons, mugwort, foxglove, hollyhock, parsley, dill, fennel, motherwort, scabiosa, honeywort, aquilegia, shiso, salad burnet, nasturtium, viola, echinacea, delphinium, corn cockle, queen anne’s lace, borage, asters, aremian basketflower, cleome, forget-me-not, echinops, larkspur, liatris, sunflower, orlaya, phacelia, autumn sage (white flowering and salmon flowering), goldenrod, moth mullein, zinnia, poppies, viscaria, cucumbers, chives, chervil, orach, strawberry spinach, savory, feverfew, Tansy, thyme, fenugreek, anise hyssop, marshmallow, cornflower, catmint, bee balm, costmary, eggplant, chicory, endive, … and possibly even more!
I have also put in my first potatoes - the early crop (Rocket) and second early crop (Ilam Hardy). Next week or the week after I'll do the main crops. This is very exciting for me because it is the first time I'm doing potatoes in a garden bed, previously being restricted to tubs and buckets in the urban rentals. They did give crops, but I counted it more as a fun garden activity than a self-reliance crop! Hopefully I have many many potatoes to harvest this year.
What I learned
I learned that Magnolia (Magnolia grandiflora) flowers are edible. They are apparently quite sharp tasting – very much the same as their fragrance, and are actually most often used pickled.
How I Used my Produce
I know offal is not everyone’s thing, but I do enjoy livers and kidneys, and actually need the iron-rich food once in a while. So this past week I made a chicken liver and bacon salad. Chicken livers always need some parsley in my opinion!
And while these are not really my own produce (need to set up some warm spots for turmeric and ginger again) - it definitely is worth adding it here: Turmeric Tea
Baby, it’s cold outside! Winter definitely has come a-knocking… And with it, I’m already seeing an upsurge of colds and flu all around. Luckily, I’ve come into the season fully prepared – beating cold with hot! Ice with Fire! Fire Cider Tonic, to be exact.
This tonic brew is also known as Cyclone Cider, or Master Tonic, and is a folk medicine of old, made popular again by herbalist, Rosemary Gladstar in the 1970s (and when using the actual name “Fire Cider” in commercial settings, it is also the center of huge trademark disputes… which I don’t really want to go into, suffice to say it is a cider based tonic and it is fiery).
Essentially it is simply an infused vinegar packed with herbs and spices to make it a powerful immune-boosting, anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, anti-viral, and circulatory tonic.
There are quite a few variations on the original recipe, and it is easily adaptable to what you have on hand, and the quantities used are also not set in stone – adjust it to your tastes, your heat level tolerance, and the ingredients you have easy access to. Keep in mind though, the healing properties, and the interactions between all the different herbs and spices.
This is my go-to for a traditional tonic, and a good base to start from:
- Raw, unpasteurized (with the “mother”) apple cider vinegar
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 3 heads garlic, chopped
- 1 organic lemon with peel, sliced
- ¼ – ½ cup fresh ginger root, chopped
- ¼ – ½ cup fresh turmeric root, chopped
- ½ cup fresh horseradish root, chopped
- ¼ cup fresh thyme and parsley, chopped
- Some black peppercorns
- A few fresh cayenne or jalapeño peppers
- Honey to taste
As I mentioned, the above ingredients make a good base, but you can be quite flexible – add different fresh herbs, e.g. rosemary, oregano, or even lemon balm or nasturtium leaves. Dried herbs and roots like elderberries, cinnamon sticks or Echinacea root can also be beneficial in the tonic.
- Place all the herbs and spices in a 2 liter jar, and cover with raw, unpasteurized apple cider vinegar. Be sure to cover the herbs by at least few mm, then cut a square of parchment or wax paper and cover the jar before tightly capping it.
- Store in a warm (but not full sun) place for a few weeks, shaking the jar daily.
- After three weeks, your tonic is ready, but it can sit for a few more weeks to get really potent. Some herbalists let it steep for months before straining.
- Strain the herbs and roots out (you can use the pulp and dry it in a dehydrator, and powder it to use like a spicy condiment sprinkle on soups etc.)
- Add warmed raw honey to taste (around a 1/3 cup is good), mix thoroughly, and bottle.
Although it doesn’t strictly have to be refrigerated, I like to keep my cool.
Using your tonic
Take a tablespoon a day as a preventative, or when fighting an infection, you can up the dose to 2-3 tablespoons twice a day. There’s a lot of interesting ideas on how else to use it, although I’ve not tried any of them – make a salad dressing with the tonic as a base, add to herbal teas, or juices, and I’ve even read that someone used it as an analgesic rub for sore joints!
With the wicked wind today, it is best to reflect on gardening last week, than to try and go outside to do anything! Luckily so far my tomatoes and zucchinis seem only a bit windblown, but not worse for wear. I don’t think the colder …
This past week, according to the moon calendar I use, was time to get planting – the most fertile for sowing and making cuttings of all above-ground crops. I sowed a lot of seeds! No, really… LOTS! We are heading into spring after all and I need enough stock for my markets, and plants for my own garden, especially since I have two garden visits booked in for MeadowSweet, and because I’m still on a mission to become more and more self-sufficient each season in my own home garden.
I sowed more tomatoes and chillies, and lots of flowers – edible flowers, cottage garden flowers, and especially flowers for bees and butterflies. Peas also went in – Carouby (a new favourite of mine), as well as sugar snaps, and blue shelling peas. I started a few of my main crop veggies for summer too – trying out early sowing of cucumbers, zucchini, watermelon and luffah. We’ll have to see how they go. They’re all under a little plastic Warehouse special hothouse (which gets surprisingly warm!). Beans also – my favourite is Dwarf Royal Burgundy, but I also sowed a Dwarf Tendergreen for variation, and Takamatua Heritage Runner bean (they make very attractive large jet black and shiny beans!)
In the vegetable garden I planted out a whole row around the edge of a raised bed of freckles lettuces, some starfire marigolds, silverbeet bright lights, and flowers – poppies, poached egg flower (Meadowfoam), hollyhock, foxglove, delphinium and larkspur. And sunflowers!
In my nursery, I’ve been super excited to see a few of the winter dormant plants breaking through – horseradishes are pushing up purple leafy bits just above the soil
level, and the valerian is already growing leaves from its new growth. No sign on most of the echinacea (bar one!), rhubarbs, or the French tarragon, but they’ll come soon, I’m sure. Speaking of new growth – back in my personal garden, I’m happy to see itty bitty red specks of leaves forming on the bare stems of my pomegranate plants.
It really is quite an exciting time in the garden – and yes, I know it is still technically winter, and there may still be a cold snap, or two (or ten), but I just can’t stifle that feeling of anticipation, like the holding in of a deep breath, just about to be let go…
If you’ve been interested in healing herbs, or alternative medicine, you probably have heard that Echinacea is good for supporting your immune system, and perhaps you even know that a sage or thyme gargle can combat sore throats, and soothing peppermint can relieve congestion. Whether …