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Category Archives: Gardening

Herbs In My Garden

Herbs In My Garden

This year I have planted quite a few different herbs in my garden areas, and this past week I have harvested and dried three of them.  I have comfrey, yarrow, and linden flowers.  The linden flowers are not really something that I planted myself, because it is a huge tree in the front of my yard, but every year at this time, the flowers come on strong on my tree and they are the most delightful smelling flowers ever.  Here is my process of harvesting and drying these three particular herbs for medicine value.

Imagine yourself sitting under a beautiful tall green tree. The soft summer breeze gently ripples through its shiny heart-shaped leaves.

High overhead, you can hear honey bees lazily buzzing in and out of its perfumed flowers. The shade is cooling and the scent has a calming effect. You feel relaxed and alive and aware of its healing energy.

This is the linden tree. Sometimes if grows 130 feet high, and produces some of the most powerful herbal medicine known to humans. You may even have one of these trees on your street because they are planted widely in cities, and are fairly common in the countryside throughout Ontario where they are usually known as basswood. – See more at: http://vitalitymagazine.com/article/the-linden-tree/#sthash.0DIROirr.dpuf

Imagine yourself sitting under a beautiful tall green tree. The soft summer breeze gently ripples through its shiny heart-shaped leaves.

High overhead, you can hear honey bees lazily buzzing in and out of its perfumed flowers. The shade is cooling and the scent has a calming effect. You feel relaxed and alive and aware of its healing energy.

This is the linden tree. Sometimes if grows 130 feet high, and produces some of the most powerful herbal medicine known to humans. You may even have one of these trees on your street because they are planted widely in cities, and are fairly common in the countryside throughout Ontario where they are usually known as basswood. – See more at: http://vitalitymagazine.com/article/the-linden-tree/#sthash.0DIROirr.dpuf

Linden flowers

Linden flowers

My awesome Linden Tree

My awesome Linden Tree

Linden flowers or blossoms – great for the digestive system as a tea, commonly used in teas to soothe anxiety or panic, can be used in the bath water as a relaxing bath, and helps with insomnia when drank as a tea before bed time.  It is known to help lower blood pressure, and to help restore the liver.  Worth doing a little more research on this treasure! I like to use it in my salves that I make simply because it has the calming properties, and it makes them smell so delicious.  I think I am going to try making a perfume with it before too long.  I will post it when I do.

Here is a little blurb that someone wrote about the Linden tree, and I quote it here with the link to the original article.     “Imagine yourself sitting under a tall green tree. The soft summer breeze gently ripples through it’s shiny heart shaped leaves.  High overhead you can hear honeybees lazily buzzing  in and out of it’s perfumed flowers.  The shade is cooling and the scent has a calming effect.  You feel relaxed and alive and aware of it’s healing energy.  This is the Linden tree.”  Love it!

Imagine yourself sitting under a beautiful tall green tree. The soft summer breeze gently ripples through its shiny heart-shaped leaves.

High overhead, you can hear honey bees lazily buzzing in and out of its perfumed flowers. The shade is cooling and the scent has a calming effect. You feel relaxed and alive and aware of its healing energy.

This is the linden tree. – See more at: http://vitalitymagazine.com/article/the-linden-tree/#sthash.0DIROirr.dpuf

Imagine yourself sitting under a beautiful tall green tree. The soft summer breeze gently ripples through its shiny heart-shaped leaves.

High overhead, you can hear honey bees lazily buzzing in and out of its perfumed flowers. The shade is cooling and the scent has a calming effect. You feel relaxed and alive and aware of its healing energy.

This is the linden tree. Sometimes if grows 130 feet high, and produces some of the most powerful herbal medicine known to humans. You may even have one of these trees on your street because they are planted widely in cities, and are fairly common in the countryside throughout Ontario where they are usually known as basswood. – See more at: http://vitalitymagazine.com/article/the-linden-tree/#sthash.0DIROirr.dpuf

Imagine yourself sitting under a beautiful tall green tree. The soft summer breeze gently ripples through its shiny heart-shaped leaves.

High overhead, you can hear honey bees lazily buzzing in and out of its perfumed flowers. The shade is cooling and the scent has a calming effect. You feel relaxed and alive and aware of its healing energy.

This is the linden tree. Sometimes if grows 130 feet high, and produces some of the most powerful herbal medicine known to humans. You may even have one of these trees on your street because they are planted widely in cities, and are fairly common in the countryside throughout Ontario where they are usually known as basswood. – See more at: http://vitalitymagazine.com/article/the-linden-tree/#sthash.0DIROirr.dpuf

Comfrey

Comfrey

Comfrey is a well know plant for healing. I use it in my own miracle salve recipe that I make, as it has great properties for healing cuts, scrapes, bruises, and even bones. It can be used as a poultice or compress to help heal broken bones and is known for this.  There is some controversy as to whether or not it should be taken internally.  Some herbalists use it, and others will tell you not to.  Do your research before taking it internally.  It can cause damage to the liver, especially if taken often.  It is a miracle herb in itself when it comes to healing and using in my salves.

Yarrow plant

Yarrow plant

Yarrow blossoms

Yarrow blossoms

Yarrow is a great little plant, and grows wild in pretty much every prairie or empty lot, and often in lawns around here.  Yarrow is a great plant to know about.  By using its feathery leaves and crunching them up, they can be placed over a wound to stop bleeding.  It can also be drank as a tea to help stop bleeding internally and heal things like bleeding ulcers.  I also will use this in my miracle salve recipe because of its properties to speed up healing.  Yarrow also has some properties that act similar to aspirin and will help relieve pain.  It is a great herb that affects so many different parts of the body, in fact some scientists say that it affects every part of the body in some small way.  It is also known to promote sweating and is often given as a tea to help do this, to in turn break a fever.

Okay now for the drying part…….I dry the yarrow hanging upside down from my clothesline, and the comfrey and linden I just laid them flat on some trays.  Each of these were completely dry in 48 hours, but then we have been having some pretty extreme heat around here.

hanging yarrow from the clothesline

hanging yarrow from the clothesline

Linden flowers drying

Linden flowers drying

Comfrey leaves laying flat to dry.

Comfrey leaves laying flat to dry.

And the finished products………..

Linden flowers, yarrow leaves and blossoms, and comfrey leaves all ready to be used.

Linden flowers, yarrow leaves and blossoms, and comfrey leaves all ready to be used.

Yay!  I love harvesting and drying the herbs, and then using them in the medicines that I make.  It is kind of a cool feeling to know that I actually understand what to know and use these things for.  I love it!

Today, I am heading over to a small  park that is not too far from my house and I will be harvesting some plantain. Plantain grows wild pretty much everywhere, but this one particular park it is thick and beautiful.  I will take pictures.

 

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Coconut Coir In The Garden

Coconut Coir In The Garden

Yay, I got most of my garden in today!  The best part too was that I didn’t have to dig in peat moss to my raised beds, I used Coconut Coir that is free around here.  I live close to a ton of greenhouses that grow their vegetables in the coconut coir, and when they are done with it, and strip the greenhouse to ready it for the next planting, they just give away the old coconut coir.  If people don’t take it, they end up taking it to the dump.  It is a shame really, how much ends up in the dump.

Here is a great site that talks about the coconut coir.     Here is just one quote that explains a bit about it.  It is great stuff, and I can get all I need for free.  Even better!!

“Aside from not damaging your plants and soil, the use of coconut coir also yields a lot of positive results. Coconut coir is used most commonly as a soil additive. It provides both potted and garden plants with sufficient space for air circulation while maintaining excellent water retention capacity, which extends the lifespan of soil and slows down the decomposition process. Coir, like peat moss, tends to decompose slowly, creating air pockets that allow water to effectively drain. The fibrous nature of the coir also absorbs water and helps the soil remain moist and fertile. The aerating and hydrating properties of coconut coir make it perfect for every type of soil. If you are working with sandy soil, the coconut coir will help retain nutrients and keep moisture close to the roots. For soil that tends to be more clay-like, the coconut coir works to provide aeration in the hard-packed soil so that nutrients and moisture can be well dispersed. Coconut Coir eliminates the need for additional fertilizer and provides gardeners with a consistent supply of moisture and air for their soil, creating the perfect environment for planting and growing in any climate.”

This is what they look like when I pick them up from the greenhouses.

The coconut coir in the used bags from the greenhouse.

The coconut coir in the used bags from the greenhouse.

I love the way that it breaks down into my soil and works into it well, just like a good peat moss will do.  It has some of the roots still from the cucumbers or tomatoes that were growing in it, but they break up really well, and as you can see in the corner of the picture below, it breaks up and works into the soil so nicely.

I am going to get some more over the next couple of days, and work it into my flower beds.  I did some of the flower beds last year, but need to do the rest of them this year.  I love it when free stuff works for me!

So if you have any greenhouses close by, see if they use the coconut coir, and if they toss it when they are done.  It is just as good as peat moss, and wwway cheaper!!

The coir, some worked into the soil and some not.

The coir, some worked into the soil and some not.

 
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Posted by on May 17, 2014 in DIY, frugal, Gardening, Life, Living

 

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Gardening With The Future In Mind

Last year I really started thinking different about gardening.  Normally my gardens would include what fresh vegetables we might want through the summer months, and what produce I could grow to preserve and use for the winter.  I have always been blessed with great family and friends who have very large gardens / farms who have let me work for produce and such.  My dad has always had a large market garden / berry farm, but when he decided to sell out soon, I started to realize that I have wasted many of my years here, by not starting sooner to build up my own little yard into my own little survival garden.

Last year I planted cherry trees, Saskatoon bushes, raspberry bushes, some strawberry plants and currant bushes. We already have a really great set up of grape vines which

Gardening in pots.

Gardening in pots.

provide all the juice and jelly that we could use in a season.  However if I had planted these 12 years ago when we moved into this home, I would have a really great little berry farm on my corner lot in the city.  Now I have to wait for a few years to really see the benefits of planting these.

I have also planted a few herbs that are perennials. Some of these are herbs that we use on a daily basis, so planting them will help us long term to become more self reliant.  Some herbs are annuals where I live, so they need to be planted each year.

A couple of years ago we built four raised beds, that have proven to be prolific in pretty

Calendula, a herb that benefits the garden and your health.

Calendula, a herb that benefits the garden and your health.

much whatever I plant in them.  I love them!  They are so easy to weed and water, easy to plant, and easy to harvest the produce.  I have tried to used the square foot method of gardening in them a bit, and it seems to work great.  We have also built some metal sides to the raised beds, that way we can wrap them in plastic to make little 4 by 4 green houses.  It works like a charm.

Okay, so I have some perennial herbs planted, and lots of berry bushes and trees planted, but what other things can I get growing and how can I make better use of my yard to make my family more self reliant?

Probably one of the first things that you can do when planting a garden, is to try and buy garden seeds that are called “Heirloom” seeds.  These can grow produce for this year, and if you save the seeds, you can use them to grow produce next year and from year to year. The seeds that

Zucchini growing in pots

Zucchini growing in pots

are called hybrid seeds, are genetically modified to produce a great, heavy yielding crop for the one year, and then you have to purchase seeds again for the next year.  They will not produce fruit from planting the seed the second year.  You can use a mixture of seeds in your garden, depending on what you want, but just make sure you keep notes on which seeds are which, that way you can save useful seeds, and not waste time on others.

It would be wise also to learn which native weeds are actually herbs and food.  Many of these most obnoxious weeds we have, could sustain life, and actually help heal many of our minor complaints.  Weeds like dandelion, plantain, burdock, mullein, and portulaca can be

My grapes in their second year.  I need to update my pictures to the fifth year of growth.

My grapes in their second year. I need to update my pictures to the fifth year of growth.

really noxious weeds, but are all really healthy for us to eat, and have some amazing healing properties.  These can be a great resource for our survival gardening, just learning where to find them and what to do with them.

Some good vegetables to plant would include: green or yellow beans, corn (if you have the space), tomatoes, carrots, potatoes, cucumbers and squash (if you have the space).  Some of these take up quite a bit of space, so you can either get the kinds that climb, or find another garden space that you can let them spread.  You can learn to plant climbers with stalk plants, like beans or peas with corn, and then plant squash around the base to fill in.

You can plant things in pots too.  There are many years that I have not had enough garden space, so I grow things in pots.  Peppers, tomatoes, beans, carrots, and even zucchini can grow in pots.  Do a little bit of research because with careful attention, you can do all of your gardening in pots, if you are motivated enough.

No this isn't my yard, but maybe someday it will look this good! Notice a few pots in amongst the planted ones.

No this isn’t my yard, but maybe someday it will look this good! Notice a few pots in amongst the planted ones.

This year, I am going to make a couple of more raised beds.  I am running out of room in my yard, so I may have to use up some of my lawn and turn it into garden space.  We can each do little things each year, that can have a huge benefit for the future years.  One day, one year at a time, we can become a little bit more self sufficient.

 

 

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Edible Landscaping – The New Way of Gardening!

I am so grateful that the weather is finally warming up here, in the cold north!  Well, there are actually places much colder than us here in Southern Alberta, but where we are it is finally warm!  I love this time of year.  It makes me want to get out there and get digging in the soil. But alas, it isn’t quite “that” time yet.

The last couple of years I have been transforming my landscaping!  I have caught onto the rage of “edible landscaping”.  Some might call it “urban homesteading”, however that includes more of the raising small animals, as well as the gardening.  Edible Landscaping really is just what it says, incorporating into your landscaping plants that are completely edible.  What a great concept!

I have found some great inspiration from a couple of different sources, and I share them here with you today, but beware, you just might get inspired if you watch too much.  I really love John’s advice and inspiration in this first video.  He has several other you tube videos, and in fact has his own channel here, if you want to watch more about what he does.

This next family is pretty amazing.  I don’t know that I could do quite what they are doing, they are a bit extreme, but they get some great food for thought rattling around in my mind.  Here they are at their you tube channel also.

I have been slowly transforming for the past couple of years.  I have been planting several fruit trees that will grow in our area. I have also built several raised beds in my back yard which I hope will be really productive this year.  I also really love herbs, so I have incorporated herbs into many of my flower beds.  I don’t really want to get rid of all of my flowers though, because I really do love them too.

One more picture which is linked to his web site.  Check it out!

James Wong

James Wong

All in all, I have been trying to be more self reliant, more frugal, and more productive by transforming my landscaping a little more each year. I am a far cry from either of these yards in the videos, but they do inspire me to keep doing more. I am thinking a couple more flower / herb gardens might just “show up” on my front lawn soon.  Hmmm, I wonder if my husband will notice?

 

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Gardening with no garden space

I was supposed to write a guest post about gardening a week ago, but never had the time. Sorry about that! But I did manage to take a few pictures of how I am doing my garden this year. Because I really don’t have any garden space in my yard, unless I rip up my grass in the back yard, which I may do next year, but anyways………I have planted a whole lot of stuff in pots this year. Here are a few pictures of some of the things that I have growing. First off here I have zucchini growing in pots. This was about 10 days ago.
These are what they look like today!
I am thinking that they are going to do great in pots! The only downside of pots is that they need water daily. But hey……….it rains here almost daily……….so that hasn’t been an issue yet!

I have some squash and pumpkin that I have planted throughout my flower beds. I have never tried that but, I am thinking they will overtake the flowers, weeds, and everything else, and they should grow good. Maybe less weeding!! 🙂 They got a bit of hail last week, but here is what they are looking like…………and if we could just get some heat, they might really start to grow.

I have peppers, tomatoes, and beans also growing in pots. Here is what they look like…………….and again, when we get some heat, they will really take off.

And here is what my garden looks like along the south side of my house. So who says you have to have a garden to grow things. Just be creative. I also have basil in pots, and have a picture of my grape vine here too. It is just starting to come to life.
I also have at my Dad’s farm a large crop of potatoes and carrots. You can grow both in pots, but I want lots and lots to dehydrate and store, so it isn’t easy to grow that many in pots. If you want fresh then just google how to grow potatoes in pots, and you will be surprised, it is pretty easy.

With the crazy weather and things happening in the world and even close to home for many of us, it is wise to plant whatever we can and learn how to use it and store it. My goal for my garden this year was to plant things that I want to put away like beans and squash, tomatoes and peppers. Kind of a staples garden.

I have been doing alot of dehydrating as well, and I am working on a post to show what I have been doing. It is pretty fun, and I love my dehydrator! So coming up next……………dehydrating all kinds of things!

 

Farmer’s Almanac and Gardening

I have been hearing mixed reports about the weather for the next couple of months.  So I decided to look up the Farmer’s Almanac for our region.  You can find it below at this link.  And if you are not in my region, then scroll up or down for your own region.  http://www.almanac.com/weather/longrange/region/ca/4  Here is what it said for Southern and Central Alberta, Saskatchewan, and parts of Manitoba.

MARCH 2011: temperature 0 °C (2 °C above avg.); precipitation 5mm (15mm below avg.); Mar 1-7: Sunny, turning mild (yay!!!); Mar 8-14: Rain and snow showers, mild; Mar 15-19: Flurries, cold; Mar 20-23: Sunny, turning warm; Mar 24-27: Sprinkles, mild; Mar 28-31: Sunny, seasonable.

APRIL 2011: temperature 2 °C (4 °C below avg.); precipitation 30mm (avg.); Apr 1-6: Snow, then sunny east; snowy periods west; cold; Apr 7-10: Rainy periods east; sunny, cold west; Apr 11-13: Sunny, cold; Apr 14-18: Rain and snow showers, cool; Apr 19-26: Snowstorm, then sunny, cool; Apr 27-30: Sunny, warm.

So all in all it isn’t looking to be wonderfully warm, but perhaps not quite so cold either!  So now you may ask, why do we really care about all of this?  Well, it is kind of important to farmers, thus Farmer’s Almanac, because it will help them do some planning on when to plant and what kind of weather they can look forward to.  And for us, well we should also be thinking the same kinds of things.  We should have most of our seeds ordered if we are going to order from catalogues.  If not, do it soon.  And we should be planning what kinds of things we want to have in our gardens to have as fresh food for the table, and food to put away for the winter months.  Really, because of all of the scares of increasing prices on these fresh items, IF we can get them at all, I think it should be at the top of most of our lists to be planning our gardens and what we want. 

What if you don’t have garden space?  Did you know that you can do wonders growing vegetables in containers?  If you have never done it, well just do a google search on container gardening, or small space gardening and the resources out there are limitless.  You can also check out your local library on these subjects and I am positive that you will find a ton of books with lots of ideas.  You may also want to check out square foot gardening  http://www.squarefootgardening.com/  I know his books are at our local library.  Amazing information for getting the most produce out of small spaces.  This is one of my goals this year is to turn half of my back yard into a bunch of square foot gardens.  More produce per square foot, less water usage, less weeds, and less bending.  It is a win, win situation.

 I do alot of container gardening.  I plant all of my hot peppers (and that is usually alot) into gallon size pots and they grow awesome.  The only thing with planting in pots is that if it gets really hot you have to water at least once a day, sometimes twice.  The nice thing is if there is too much rain, well it will either drain out the bottom, or you can easily move the pots to a dryer location.  When I go away camping or something, I just set up a sprinkler drip system and they seem to survive pretty well.  If the weather turns too cold, I move my pots inside over night and out again in the morning.  There is also alot less weeds this way.   You can quite often find used pots, just ask around at greenhouses, farmers, or on freecycle, people are usually quite willing to give away their pots, but not me!  🙂

So your goals should be right now to be planning on what you want to have growing for fresh and for storage.  Figure out the layout of your current garden space, or figure out which chunk of your lawn you are going to turn into garden.  (Remember you can’t eat grass, well you can but Yuck!!)  Get your seeds soon so you can be starting the ones that need to be started indoors.  My kitchen over the next week will turn into a partial greenhouse for about the next two months.  I love it!  Don’t wait, just be proactive and have faith that if you get creative in your planting, you can only be blessed with a bountiful harvest. 

 
 
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