Hal's Hat

Hal's Hat

Thursday, September 26, 2013

The Garden Almanac

Here are some updates to my garden almanac:

Due to that extended stretch of heat in the first three weeks of September, I've replanted my spinach THREE times. I have a few that are happy now and germinated... but sheesh!

My lettuce and chard are both doing fine. Since I started them from seed, they got bedraggled by heat and insects. However, they are loving Autumn and looking like troopers. 

Made some Melissa officinalis vinegar (that's Lemon balm) this weekend. It is the simplest recipe ever: stuff a jar full of lemon balm, pour cider vinegar over it. Cap it. Woo hoo. I use it for salad and soup. It is lovely tasting- lightly lemon. Balm is used for mood lifting and lightening the heart. It isn't a heavy hitter on the herbal medicine scale but not everything needs to be. (Harvested it from the kid's school garden :))

As the equinox approached and the season shifts, I am aware that my body is craving balance. I need to feed it more bitter foods, more wild edibles and nourishing seasonal goodies. It's important, for me, not to give in to my basest cravings. I natively crave carbs the minute a seasonal change appears. I mean, I wander my kitchen mulling my possibilities and settle on cheez-its. I then eat them, notice they feel and taste tangy (that's good) but also muddy (like rancid oil). Really self? This is what you wanted? It turns out that sesame oil is a recommended Ayurvedic remedy for my constitution. I make a salad bowl with kale and lettuce and beets and add lots of sesame oil. Better. Left over Vietnamese beef broth with noodles and green stuff- also very very good. Warming, dark, flavorful but balancing. Adding kale gives it a tang and kick that settles my stomach. 

First apple crisp of the season last night. My dad loved the seasonal apple crisps! 5 lb bag of Jonathon apples from the Rees farm near Perry. Perfect tart flavor!! 

What is approaching? Waiting for the sweet potato leaves to begin to yellow. Harvesting all the tomatoes I can and cooking them down. Harvesting okra here and there for freezing. Tomatillos are STILL producing well!
I made infused oil in the last month as well. I dragged my feet in the summer... so I harvested rosemary and comfrey during their respective bloom times for oil. 

Pro tips: Separate your perennials (that is DIVIDE them) now. Use root stimulator to assist them getting acclimated. The cooler the weather, the easier it is to plant!
Fertilize grass- Milorganite is a manure-based fertilizer that is non-chemical and fairly natural. Spread it on your grass for a green up and assisting the grass roots!
NOW IS DESIGN TIME. Consider design in your landscape. Yes, I'm a designer. Yes, I think design makes everything feel better. You can work within whatever framework you like- permaculture, native landscaping, xeriscape, fancy English gardens.... 
Bulbs--- because you will love yourself in the spring! I mean it. Great big fancy daffodils will make your March. :) Woodland bulbs I love: 


galanthus or snowdrop
grape hyacinth

Bulb tips: forget tulips or understand that they aren't the best perennials. I like and am experimenting with:

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

This liminal moment: summal, fummer? August 35th?

Good morning September.... it's slowly becoming August lite here. Still hot, rapidly whirling toward my birthday and the equinox. I have been gathering the late summer bounty- tomatillos, peppers, tomatoes.
I've also begun sowing the fall bounty and back to work in the gardens....

Here is what I'm doing: I'm picking up clearance annuals. I've planted dill plants and ornamental peppers and nasturtiums! They are beautiful, enjoy the heat/cool dynamic we will be rocking out with for another few months (?) or weeks.
On August 15, I planted my first crop of the fall garden. I planted green bibb lettuce and red leaf lettuce. I also planted a row of Ruby Red chard, pulled out my old kale, planted a small plot of carrots and some rows of spinach. As usually happens in this liminal moment, this threshhold moment, some seeds were so fertile and ready to grow that the 90 degree days didn't phase them. The spinach promptly told me to go to hell, though. So I replanted more this weekend. I can take rejection.

Seed germination basics: they don't like hot weather and will germinate more evenly in sub 85 degree days! Keep the seed bed evenly moist. If the seed dries out, it's dead. I watered every late afternoon- not ideal, but it works for me. Once you see dichots, keep the watering even and don't let them dry out. They are very tender. If they are being attacked by critter (insect, pests, birds), use a floating row cover to protect. Choose seeds that are meant for the time you are growing. Don't start tomato or basil seeds in late summer for a fall garden. Don't start melons. Here is a great list of what to start when! It is from K-State and is the gold standard. The first pages are how many seeds to plant for the yield you want. Page 3 is the calendar.

My sweet potatoes and okra are happy. My calendula needs cool and looks burnt out. The comfrey offered a second bloom and I collected it! The wild original roses, the old ones, are putting on the second show. The nasturtiums like it dry and coolish- so they offer their bubbly presence. And the freaky, perennial rosemary?? It's decided to bloom. I mean, this plant shouldn't be wintering over. But it's moved into sub-shrub territory!

On the docket this fall-- I'm going to interview my yoga teacher, Sharyn, and get the good info for you on some of the poses that have been reinvigorating me. What about stimulating the thryroid by locking my throat bandha, jalandhara bandha? What poses might support my liver, kidneys and adrenal glands? Also, I found this wonderful article on the psoas muscle. It's a profound eye-opener for me, one of those muscles that does so much.

Have you read this much-shared article about the link between gut flora (pro-biotics HEEEYEEE!) and mental illness/ mental health? It is really good support for the notion that we, adults, should support our gut flora in as many ways as we can. We should identify and eliminate foods that are allegens to us and which make us feel crappy. Then, we should help our guts repair themselves by eating lots of probiotic foods/ probiotic supplements. I don't actually take any supplement but I do give them to my kids. The second part of the article is that gut flora is made or broken in childhood. FEED YOUR KIDS FERMENTED FOODS- like good unsweetened yogurt, kefir, kombucha, fermented vegetables (uhm, good luck?). Or use a probiotic supplement.

Update on RAGWEED (which I keep writing as rage weed. Yes. Rage. Weed.): the ragweed tea, not infusion, is very helpful to me. I do not have intense ragweed allergies this year. The tea has kept my histamine reaction to a minimum! What I did was make a large jar of it. I pruned off ragweed leaves and put them in hot water. Very complex. Then I steeped it for  20 minutes or so. I drank a couple cups every few days. Pleasant. Surprising.]
I know that some people who have bad allergies to Ambrosia (that's the botanical name for all ragweeds) should NOT DO THIS. But for those of us with sneezing and itchy eyes who seek relief without pills, it's pretty nice. 
[Please consult someone knowledgeable before picking random leaves....  I mean, you know that. But consult me, send me a message with a picture if you don't know ragweed by sight. I'm here to help!]

Again a list of what I've linked above:
The K-State garden calendar. All pertinent info about vegetable seeds, when to start, how to gauge yield, perennial/annual status, warm/cool season crop and a basic calendar.
The yoga, psoas muscle article.
The link between gut flora and mental wellness.