Posts Tagged ‘Organic Gardening’

Edible Landscaping Secrets

I get so many questions from people about permaculture, edible landscaping, Robinhood roses, and “permaculture in pots” that I thought I’d list some of the top things I’ve discovered here. This is by no means a comprehensive post — just sharing some of the beauty and a handful of general tips. (If you would like personal assistance with your own situation, this month’s Property Reading Special can include that.)

Combine Flowers with Veggies:

One of the easiest ways to sneak edibles into a “regular” landscape is to intermingle them with flowers. Passersby will notice the blooms but not the edible. This purple iris and columbine camouflage purple and green radicchio. The taller, vibrant plants distract critters from the radicchio, while the lower radicchio covers the soil and keeps it from drying out so fast. The radicchio is so well hidden that I forgot it was even there, until I found it un-nibbled and happy in the slight shade provided by the purple maple and taller flowers:

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Even trickier, you can plant edible flowers like nasturtiums, violets, hibiscus, borage, and roses. Many herbs like sage and lavender flower as part of their life cycle, and squash blossoms are not only beautiful but delicious!

Consider Color:

Many vegetables come in unusual colors beyond what you find in the grocery store. Sources like Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds specialize in rare and colorful varieties of garden classics. Even standards like red chard can play nicely with coordinated snapdragons and pansies like we have approaching our front door:

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Garden Update: Bursting Forth and Bittersweet

I’ve been so busy with sessions and house hunting, which makes this season’s Dance of Spring a little bittersweet. The literally thousands of bulbs I’ve planted as recently as last Autumn have begun their smiling jigs and Sufi swirls. I still contend that this circle of miniature daffodils I planted around our North Star Cherry tree, visible from the stairwell’s window, was one of the very best gifts I’ve ever given myself:

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You can also see the chives poking through as they prepare to bloom in the season of alliums, while the Elfin Thyme ground cover awaits warmer weather.

As David and I view property after property, Continue reading

Flowers in November: Some Beauty on a Gorgeous Day

Getting back to more of the garden variety garden posts, here are some flowers still blooming today, plus a bouquet I made David’s mom this past Saturday.

Zinnias:

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Veronica:

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Cosmos and sedum:

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Mums and sweet alyssum:

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Saturday’s bouquet with blackeyed Susan’s, lavender, cosmos, sedum, zinnias, yarrow, foxglove, and bachelor’s buttons. We’ve also got wild violets, snapdragons, calendula, nasturtiums, and more still smiling in the yard — at least until this coming Friday’s hard frost. I enjoy it while I can!

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Blessed Be …

and be the blessing!

 

 

Invasive Species, Black Walnuts, Narcissists, and a Comment Bump-Up

I’ve received some emails and comments about yesterday’s post, Clearing Fog: Higher Discernment and Effective Tools to Free Yourself from Confusion, Narcissists and Sociopaths, and I just want to remind everyone that I consider myself primarily an artist in all things I do, including in my garden and on this blog.

In the garden, as on the blog, context is everything. The very same “beneficial” plant in one setting could become toxic and invasive in another setting. Tansy attracts all the right bugs, but left to set seed, it can completely overtake your garden, as well as your neighbors’ yards. If you plant it, know what you’re dealing with, and keep those seeds in check. If you don’t want to be careful, then don’t plant tansy.

Black walnut trees provide excellent walnuts, but the juglone they exude happens to poison most surrounding plants, even for years after cutting them down. Do black walnut trees have zero value? Should they be avoided at all costs? That depends on what you’re trying to grow around them. If you love black walnuts for their calories, heart healthy fats, and taste, then maybe you want to plant black walnut trees. Maybe you want to create an entire guild of black walnut trees and compatible plants, because you love what those plants offer. No problem there — unless you want to grow juglone intolerant plants around their drip line or roots. If you want a regular garden, then don’t plant black walnuts. If you have black walnuts around, you will need to know how to protect your soil and plants from juglone contamination. Context makes a difference in what and how you decide to plant.

Japanese knotweed is the bane of ecosystems, a highly, highly invasive species that out competes native species and can ruin yards, parks and gardens. Would I ever plant it? Nope. Does it have value as a foraged plant? You betcha. Japanese knotweed happens to grow extremely well in Lyme-endemic areas like Wisconsin, and guess what? The exceptionally high resveratrol content in Japanese knotweed just happens to be an effective alternative treatment for Lyme Disease. It also makes delicious rhubarb-like deserts, and tastes amazing as a pickle. Is Japanese knotweed evil? Should it be sprayed with increasingly strong toxic chemicals? Or could it provide an enormous amount of free food and medicine for restaurants, wild food foragers and people needing to strengthen their immune systems?

Please take any article or video I post within context of the post. Just because I post an informative video or article that speaks to the topic at hand does not mean I fully endorse the person or their work in any and all contexts. It means I found value in what they shared related to the information at hand. I write so many posts about discernment in order to help individual readers increase their own process of discernment. My posting something does not absolve you of your own responsibility for discerning in your own life and its own unique contexts. Like an artist, as a blog writer, I feel into what feels important to express, and I pick and choose colors, words, images, articles and/or videos that help to make that expression more available.

I do the same thing in the garden with plant selection. I would not and do not knowingly plant invasive species, but if something is already there, and it provides exactly what I’ve been looking for, I will find a use for it until I find a way to eradicate it, if I find it’s posing an active risk. Context makes a difference with plants and with people. Some narcissists and sociopaths do incredible work. I’ve actually found that these types of people vie with one another for control, and so often they provide extremely useful tools for seeing through other narcissists and sociopaths. That doesn’t mean I want to watch every video they’ve ever done, want them as a friend, or endorse all their work. Unless I specifically say that I endorse someone or that this person is a friend of mine, then I am not blanket endorsing them. As an artist, I have merely decided that this particular color works well here. As a gardener, I’ve decided that this particular plant would look good here and provide value to its neighbors. As a blogger, it means I find this particular piece valuable in this particular context.

The world is not black or white. It has a whole lot of grey. If you can’t decide between a and b, that’s likely due to the infinite distance and variances between a and b that you haven’t considered. Empowerment includes wading through the grey to find your own answers. If you need help with that, I’m happy to assist through articles and/or sessions; however, the decisions on how to act or what to do with information remain your own responsibility. Here’s how one reader has applied some of the material on this and other blogs. I write and garden to inspire and to create more beauty in the world. Sometimes that involves looking at big piles of compost and recognizing how everything and everyone have value. Context is key. Knowing what you desire to create in your life, how you wish to feel and how you wish to be … all of these are keys, too.

Comment bump up from Seattle72:

Gaslight is a really good movie. Gives me shivers watching it. Charles Boyer and Ingrid Bergman are brilliant in it. A 19 year old Angela Landsbury is in the cast as well.
In the aftermath of ending a recent relationship, I was getting bummed thinking that it seems all men are abusive narcissists in some form. Then I was whacked upside the head with the realization it only seems that way because I keep trying to master my trauma to rewrite history to prove I’m worth loving, by cycling through the same story, with similar players, over and over again.
I really started to buy into the idea that I must be crazy because when I was with him, things seemed so good. He dangled the carrot, and I jumped. It felt so familiar. Then, almost like clockwork, within 36 hours of spending time together, I would awaken from that spell and start questioning him, holding him accountable. I was no longer adoring and instead started calling him out on his crap, which included gaslighting, lies, evasion, etc. You can guess which side of me he labeled as crazy and unstable…
I started to believe it too, that my adoring, fawning, butt-kissing, suck-up side was the sane side… Why couldn’t I just be nice all the time? I was so lucky to have him, if I keep this up I will lose him! 😝 He encouraged that fawning part of me (which really is a coping persona borne from childhood abuse, a component of Complex PTSD, its the fourth ‘F’ in the fight, freeze, flight, fawn quartet). What an incredibly sick form of conditioning, what an incredibly unhealthy relationship.
I think one of the gifts of this experience is discovering that my so-called bitchy side that stands up for myself and expects respect and accountability from others is actually a great facet to have! Its not the crazy side, or bad side as a few narcissists would have me believe. It carries much of my will and aligns with 3rd Chakra energies if I’m not mistaken.
Conversely, if I see myself starting to fawn and trip over my good sense and self care to please someone for the reward of their approval, that’s when I need to take a moment to assess whats really going on there, it could be a signal something is up.
I’ve had it backwards for so many years now! It’s kind of freeing to realize that the side of me I wished away for so long, the side I blamed for all my failed relationships may actually be a very important part of my core being.
I’m looking forward to exploring this flip in perspectives.
Here are a few links pertaining to Complex PTSD that I found pretty helpful.
http://outofthefog.website/toolbox-1/2015/11/17/complex-post-traumatic-stress-disorder-c-ptsd
http://www.pete-walker.com/index.htm

Thank you, as always, for creating this space to share.
😸

Laura again: thank you, Seattle72! Sounds like you’re reclaiming parts of yourself and embracing Shadow … more keys to being happy, healthy and whole. Many blessings to you and all!

Garden Pretties and Yummies

Some recent rains in this very dry summer have the garden looking lush and producing well! Below you can see one of the newer “neighborhoods” planted this year, including one of nine hazelnut trees, a gooseberry bush, three hostas, nasturtiums, kalette, kale, comfrey, calendula, zephirine rose, and blackeyed peas. The dead looking matter around the base of the hazel is cut down comfrey, which adds nutrients back to the soil to help this tree thrive:

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This area was originally a mass of tree stumps and so many dandelions that it was constantly going to seed. In 2014, I put out large swaths of landscape cloth and covered it with mulch. The only thing growing there was my old garden tower, but as the mulch and repeated layers of mulch broke down, I noticed extremely dark, rich soil there. Not planting anything seemed like a waste of good yard space, plus I have a view of that area from my writing office.

The difference in growth between this area and the new yard in front of the blue house is striking, as this original yard has been sprayed twice yearly for 3.5 years with a farm grade fish emulsion and soil conditioner a friend of mine invented, whereas the other yard has only gotten two treatments and began with crappy soil. The gooseberry above (bottom left corner) was planted at the same time as the one in front of the blue house, but is three times as full! That gives me hope for the blue house yard, which just needs more TLC to catch up to its neighbor.

Above, you can also see a row of dwarf apple trees and some of the backyard gardens. Here’s a closer look at those:

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Zinnias have finally made a strong, regular appearance, shown here with various chards, cabbage, tomato, French sorrel, nasturtium, borage and calendula. Behind them you can see our two pokeweed sentinels by the back gate, more comfrey and borage, and just a hint of blueberry bushes and raspberries to the upper left:

zinnias and friends

Cushaw squash has begun its journey to the sun. These are the extremely drought tolerant vines that produced five toddler sized squash last summer with me completely ignoring them. You can see one of those below, alongside Egyptian walking (all over the place) onions, sea kale, tomato, eggplant, more borage, and kohlrabi, with rhubarb in the back and another triple tiered bed to the upper right containing various peppers, Thai basil and a volunteer melon of some sort:

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I’ve been harvesting, freezing, juicing, making falafel white scallop squash “fries” in the convection oven, and today marks the first pickles of 2016:

(No, I did not juice that entire homegrown beet! I used about a third, and that pile of homegrown produce (except three stalks of celery) made 1.5 pints of green juice. Mmmm, so fresh! The white scallop squash “fries” helped me use up some falafel mix that needed to go. I just tossed strips with a bit of olive oil and the mix, then baked at 400 and finished with a broiler until crispy. They went really well with a homemade vegan ranch dressing over salad greens, fresh tomato and a cucumber.)

The squirrel planted giant sunflowers out back have reached at least ten feet! You can see them below with the white scallop squash plant (bottom) and the “ideal companion plant” borage, which has pretty much taken over here. The bees love it, so I’m getting loads of pollination this year:

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Despite the enormous sunflower, the three Brussels sprout plants growing under it appear to enjoy my neglect:

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The echinacea by our front door is in full bloom…

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…and every morning begins with me opening the curtains and calling out, “Hello, morning glories! You’re looking glorious!”

morning glories through the window

Wishing you abundant beauty and deliciousness!

Vandana Shiva ~ On Paris, Violence, and Earth Healing

“Let us make peace with the Earth. Turn to the Earth, and apologize. And then we can make peace with each other.” ~Vandana Shiva

Personal FAQ’s

This set of questions comes in frequently enough from blog readers, clients and friends that I’ve decided just to address them all here, even though they’re more personal.

How old are you?

I’ll be 43 in May 2016. Yes, I look young for my age. It’s partly my high raw, extremely fresh (often just harvested) and nutrient dense vegetarian diet, partly genes, partly keeping my skin moisturized (I switch among a variety of natural things depending on season), and largely related to lifestyle. When you live more authentically, you look and feel a lot younger.

Is that your natural hair color?

Yes, mostly. I’ve used henna for about 10 years, but not to alter the color of my hair. I use it to coat the knotty strands and make them far lower maintenance, requiring no conditioner and only minimal hair washes per week. I wrote a popular post on all things henna back in 2009 when people also kept asking about my crazy hair. The day of and day after putting a henna mud pie on my head, my hair’s quite a lot redder than normal, but after that initial color burst, the henna color has very little difference from my natural hair color. I just don’t like to brush or wash my hair much, and without henna, those witchy knots get totally out of control with winter scarves!

What do you use for dental care?

Some of you might remember that I used to have lots of trouble with my teeth due to demineralization, low vitamin D, and a spine injury that compromised my digestive nerves, thereby keeping my body from fully extracting nutrients from my food. It was quite the journey to recover and avoid double digit root canals, but I not only avoided the root canals, I popped out most of my fillings and regrew enamel. A huge part of that process included exorcising someone else’s projected emotional issues that had lodged in my teeth. I won’t go into details here, because they’re private, but beware covert hypnosis by someone with bad teeth!! On the physical level, I found the following things very helpful:

I make my own version of ORAMD, with almond oil, peppermint oil and spearmint oil in whatever concentrations I intuit I need. I’m sure the ORAMD is more standardized, and it does work well. I just got tired of buying little bottles for more money than I would spend if I used bulk items to mix and match. Your mileage may vary. Please don’t ask me to recommend oils companies, as I know people who sell from a variety of lines and don’t wish to show favoritism. I’ve also used NOW oils from health food stores, and my gums and teeth responded well, although I’m pretty sure NOW is not normally considered food or pharmaceutical  grade.

I drink raw goat milk and eat raw goat milk cheese. It’s illegal to sell raw milk in Indiana outside of a herd share, unless you’re selling it for animal use. I have a very hungry pet tooth! Actually, I need to find a new supplier, as mine is selling their goats and packing up the business and the herd share here is full. Raw cow milk did not heal my teeth. It relieved pain and stopped the progression of cavities, but not until I switched to raw goat milk did my fillings pop out and enamel regrow. For a protocol about using diet to heal your teeth, I highly recommend Ramiel Nagel’s book, “Cure Tooth Decay.” You probably won’t want to try everything in there (fish head soup and organ meats anyone?!), but the book also gives a list of the worst tooth offenders, so you can at least avoid those or modify how you prepare them. It includes a lot of recipes for tooth healing, plus information on healing the gut, as well.

I go through periods in which I drink a lot of herbal infusions, especially nettles and oat straw. I find horsetail gaggable, but if i want really shiny hair or super hard teeth, I will occasionally chug down a horsetail infusion. You can find out about infusions here and here.

To fix my underlying back issue, I found several things extremely helpful:

the BioMat (I use this every day, and I prefer the Mini, since you can move it around without much effort)

Dr. John Sarno’s book, “Healing Back Pain”

the DVD, “Yoga for Scoliosis”

and, much more recently, Dr. Eric Goodman’s “The Foundation Exercises”

I’ve also found as a general rule that the more time I spend in the garden and the less time I spend sitting at a computer, the healthier my back feels. I have hauled literally 10’s of thousands of pounds of wood mulch, compost, leaves, trees and more during the past three years. When I send my former chiropractor from Madison (also a dear friend) photos of our yard, she cannot believe — literally cannot believe — my back allowed me to do any of this, as she saw the shocking spinal x-rays from 2011. Even then, she and her chiropractor hubby thought they must have mixed up the x-rays, because by all accounts, I should not have been able to walk, let alone hike up mountains.

Due to an accident in 2011 that re-aggravated the spine injury from my 1998 car accident, when I first went to my chiropractor friends, I was in severe, chronic, crumple-up-and-silently-scream pain. Since implementing the things mentioned above, my back remains pain free most of the time. I’ve not seen a chiropractor since leaving Madison, even though I used to go two or three times per week. Now, on the rare occasion I overdo something, it just takes a few minutes on the BioMat to recalibrate, or else asking myself what I’m feeling pressured to do that’s off path for me. Once I “realign,” the back pain disappears.

Can I have your recipe for ____?

I don’t generally follow recipes — or, rather, I often follow four or more at a time, adjusting them to my own needs, desires and ingredients. I don’t often write things down while in the kitchen, because I’m usually making a horrific mess! That said, here are some recipes and general tips:

Goji Dandelion Red Lentil Curry

A quasi-recipe, plus link, for raw vegan holiday feast fare

Summer squash bundt cake

Seer’s Tea (which also helps balance female hormones)

gluten-free, sugar-free, dairy-free Yule Log

The Five Flavors Principle:

One secret to delicious soups, curries, sauces, pate’s, and stir fries is what David and I call the “Five Flavors Principle.” We add in whatever ingredients for the base, but then we put in at least a small amount of each of the five flavors — salty, sweet, bitter, pungent, and sour. We don’t use refined sugar or salt, so the sweet might be a base of pumpkin/squash/sweet potato, a little fruit like goji berries, a pinch of birch sweetener, honey, blackstrap molasses or maple syrup. Just a little usually does it for those last ones. For salt, we use Real Salt, Himalayan sea salt, miso, wheat free tamari, kombu (a sea vegetable that makes beans more digestible), or homemade pickle juice. We eat loads and loads of dark leafy greens, which usually take care of the bitter flavor. Many herbs also fit that category and add extra health benefits. For pungent, we use homegrown garlic or onions. For sour, we often use a splash of apple cider vinegar, but depending on the dish, sour could also include lemon or lime juice.

For non-Asian savory soups or dishes, often add some cooking sherry for depth of flavor. We can’t decide what category sherry goes into, as it covers a wide range of tastes. The cooking process removes the alcohol.

There’s a lot of wiggle room with the Five Flavors Principle, and it really gets you thinking about the base flavors of your ingredients. David is “The King of Soups,” so even if I make the entire meal, he usually tinkers with the final flavors during the last few moments of cooking. I honestly don’t know exact proportions even when I do the tinkering, because for me, cooking is a highly intuitive process. When you incorporate the five flavors, your food not only tastes better due to the balance of explosions on your tongue, but you end up getting trace vitamins and minerals that your body needs and therefore responds with a feeling of immense satisfaction.

What’s in your vegan alfredo sauce?

White scallop squash (peeled zucchini or yellow squash might also work, but we love the white scallop squash)

extra virgin organic olive oil

nutritional yeast

garlic

a bit of hot water to aid blending of the above in a Vitamix or other highspeed blender

Amounts really do vary, so taste test as you go.

Add to a pot and bring to a slow boil, continue to taste test for creaminess and add more nutritional yeast if needed. I usually soak dried porcini mushrooms and use peas from our garden, adding those towards the end, along with a splash or more of sherry and just one splash of wheat free tamari. We salt and pepper to taste at the table and garnish the sauce with chopped fresh parsley and chives, served over quinoa pasta (elbows or penne). It is super yum, and don’t be shy with the garlic!

How long have you been gardening?

I had a small garden for two years in Madison, plus some indoor herbs both winters in a sun room there. I began working on our current Goshen, Indiana garden in April 2013. It’s now a mini-farm with raised beds to deal with juglone (from former black walnut trees) poisoned soil, and planted in a permaculture design that incorporates many, many fruit and nut trees, bee and butterfly friendly flowers, herbs, and annual and perennial vegetables. Late this summer, I also took over the smaller yard (and house) next door. I planted around 1000 spring bulbs this fall, so the whole place should be rockin’ next spring!

Although I’ve had three summers here, I do my best to garden in some form year round. I always grow some kind of herbs in winter, along with cuttings of tender perennial veggies that need to winter indoors. This year, I’ve got a two foot long window box of lettuce sprouts, which I hope will keep us in fresh lettuce all winter, provided we get enough light in our southern window. I’ve also got various hoop houses and row covers outside with chard, kale, lettuce, and spinach. If we have our typically frigid Northern Indiana winter, we won’t get much production out of those in January, February and March, but one of the new raised beds sits in front of the south facing wall of the house next door. I hope some heat bounces back to the covered bed to keep us in spinach most of the winter. I do have indoor grow lights, but the laundry room of the new house has not yet made its transition into gardening prep room.

Do you ever teach gardening classes?

I haven’t yet, but I plan to do so starting next spring or summer (2016). If all goes well, I will complete my permaculture design course this winter, and I’m also looking into herbalist certification. I apprenticed with an herbalist back in 2001-2002 and have taken numerous classes, plus private study; however, I’m not certified to teach or consult. I hope to remedy that soon, as people keep expressing interest in herbs, gardening and permaculture. I’d love to share more tips and instruction, as truly, working with plants and trees is one of the most amazing ways to transform your life and our collective world.