A Year is a Long Time in the Garden

So just over a year ago I shared this picture of my little herb garden with all of you.

My Babies!


This is the same garden bed, from almost the same angle, as of last night.

my babies 2014

I couldn’t shoot it from exactly the same angle without cutting off too many leaves and flowers.

What a difference a year makes.


My Babies

As promised, I give you a picture of what I planted.

My Babies!
My Babies!

That’s Rosemary, Lavender, Sage, Thyme (Orange and Lemon varieties), Yarrow, Marjoram and Parsley in the herb bed. I will be adding plain Thyme, along with Dill, Calendula, and Mugwort later (yes, there is enough room). I’m thinking about filling up the spaces in between the herbs with annuals this year, since I know the herbs are going to get MUCH BIGGER in time.

In the second bed (which I couldn’t get a good picture of because the light was terrible) I planted lettuce, chard, kale, mustard greens, nasturtiums, and chives.  And watching over the tender little greens is this:

Soft and Fuzzy

Yes, that’s a big fuzzy mullein. Yes, to some people it’s a weed. To me it’s an extra special added bonus gift from the garden. Anyone who has read my blog for a while knows of my abiding affection for weeds–and mullein is one I’ve never really worked with before, though I’ve admired her tall spires in ditches and at the edges of farmer’s fields. I don’t know very much about Mullein except that the blossoms are used in a (very effective) oil for ear troubles. But when I started clearing the beds and saw the Mullein there, it seemed like a sign that it might be time to work with the plant. So I carefully weeded around it. We’ll see if it plays nicely with my greens or not.

I admit there’s a disappointing lack of dandelion and chickweed in the garden. But now we’ve cleared some ground, I think there’s a good chance they’ll turn up. Just don’t tell the neighbors I’m hoping for more weeds.

I’m excited to see what will happen in my little postage stamp garden. I thought I might feel disappointed not to have more herbs, but I’m actually looking forward to discovering how a handful of plants will meet my culinary and witchy needs. I’m sure you’ll hear all about it in the coming months.

A Bit of Earth

“Might I,” quavered Mary, “might I have a bit of earth?”

In her eagerness she did not realize how queer the words would sound and that they were not the ones she had meant to say. Mr. Craven looked quite startled.

“Earth!” he repeated. “What do you mean?”

“To plant seeds in–to make things grow–to see them come alive,” Mary faltered.

He gazed at her a moment and then passed his hand quickly over his eyes.

“Do you–care about gardens so much,” he said slowly.

“I didn’t know about them in India,” said Mary. “I was always ill and tired and it was too hot. I sometimes made little beds in the sand and stuck flowers in them. But here it is different.”

Mr. Craven got up and began to walk slowly across the room.

“A bit of earth,” he said to himself, and Mary thought that somehow she must have reminded him of something. When he stopped and spoke to her his dark eyes looked almost soft and kind.

“You can have as much earth as you want,” he said. “You remind me of some one else who loved the earth and things that grow. When you see a bit of earth you want,” with something like a smile, “take it, child, and make it come alive.”

–The Secret Garden, Frances Hodgson Burnett

Since I came to the city in September I’ve mourned the loss of my garden. Of course with a full time job I wouldn’t have enough time to negotiate with the bindweed and blackberries for garden space, much less do all the other tasks required by a large garden. But as trees started budding and spring blossoms opened I couldn’t help aching a little bit, knowing that I wouldn’t be participating in the growth cycle in the same way this year.


Then my girlfriend’s mom asked if I’d like to garden with her. Of course I said yes.

Less Weedy

And that was when I was granted two raised of my own to plant in. It’s a much smaller space than I had before, so I have to choose what to plant carefully, but it’s a chance to get my hands in the ground–and it’s a project I can manage in the time allowed, especially since there will be someone there to water when I can’t make it across town to check on my plants.

Compost at the Ready
Compost in Waiting

As you can see, the beds were full of weeds and in need of a good layer of compost (hence the line of plastic bags), but the little garden itself is a charming space. And more importantly I get to share it. I had forgotten how gardening is excellent therapy until I started clearing the weeds from the first bed.

When I get around to posting again I’ll tell you about the (other) unexpected gift, and show you what I planted. I know you can hardly wait.

Friday Flora: Famous Last Words

“Could be worse. It could be raining.”

You know what happens next, right? Boom, flash, downpour!

Well, it’s not raining here. But clearly, my statement last week that August has been gentle and lovely was the equivalent of throwing down the gauntlent. August would like it to be known that she is as fierce as ever, and she has the heat and humidity to prove it.

BUT, harsh mistress that she is, she is still beautiful. I think I’m allowed to say that. And at least the heat is making the garden progress a little faster.

So maybe the pumpkin will turn orange before winter . . .

Even if we all melt, we still have that beautiful light to enjoy. Especially in the morning.

These plums–I have no idea the variety, they are very tiny and tart–are destined for a batch of mead. We’ll juice them first and then add honey and yeast. Well, the hubster will do it, and I will watch.

This is the flower on a tomatillo plant. I’ve never grown them before–they’re really wonderful. I can’t wait to make Salsa Verde with the fruits!

And the fruits are the coolest things ever. Because you see those little green balloons? When the fruit first starts to form, it is teeny tiny and the little balloon is basically empty. It’s like a little bubble of shade for the baby fruit. And you know the Tomatillo is ready when it fills up the balloon. It is the coolest thing ever. And they are big, attractive plants.

And finally, can you believe that color combo? It’s a happy accident–I scattered some Calendula seeds under the Rosa rugosa, and one of them is this incredible orange color, with the magenta roses behind it. One of my favorite combinations. I want a room in these colors one of these days. Or maybe an outfit to wear. Or both.

This weekend I need to make pickles, and do something with three grocery bags full of chard and two bags of green beans. But I can do it, because I am a Badass Homemaker.

Friday Flora: The View from the Front Porch

I’m going to give this little weekly feature a try. Friday Flora will be–you guessed it! Pictures of plants. It will replace my old irregular “flower watching”, because sometimes there are no flowers! Sometimes there are only leaves or old twigs. Flora covers it all! Some weeks there will be multiple pictures, some weeks just one. I have two for you this week. Both are a view of the herb and flower bed in front of the front porch and slightly to the left.

The first was taken on May 22nd of this year.

The second was taken day before yesterday.

Can you spot the difference? Har har har *snort*

What’s blooming in your yard right now?

A Farmgirl Interlude

If you can produce (or bottle it, depending on which side of the pond you hail from), as we do, you probably have same problem we have: namely, more used lids/seals than you know what to do with. We’ve been making jams and pickles and tomato sauce and chutney for enough years now that we’ve amassed quite a collection. And even though we use mason jars for things like storing leftover soup, keeping small amounts of broth in the freezer, or makeshift water bottles, we still have way more seals than we can use floating around our kitchen. I hate to throw something so potentially useful away, so . . . what to do with them? I haven’t yet come up with a project that uses them in quantity. HOWEVER.

This spring I was planting seeds and needed to mark my rows with something. I came up with this idea.

This is an incredibly simple DIY project. I just used picture nails to attach the lid to a little piece of wood that was roughly stake-shaped. The hardest part was not hammering my fingers when I was starting the nail pounding.

I used Sharpie to write on my lid. Over the summer the sharpie lettering will fade but that’s okay, it means I can use it again next year. I imagine there are more permanent, durable markers out there, but I was going for cheap, quick and easy. Like me.

I think it’s actually kind of cute, and it’s big enough to not get lost when the plants start to get bigger.

I love creative re-use. It makes me feel all kinds of smart and innovative. I doubt I’m the first person to think of this, but hey, my picture looks kind of cool, right?

What’s your favorite way to re-use?

Scenes from the Garden, March 14, 2011

I think it’s time for a little nature therapy. I spent a little time outside, during a break in the rain. Even in a few minutes outside there is always something worth seeing.

I Love Moss

I really love moss. Which is a good thing, since I live in an area where moss grows on anything that will sit still long enough. This moss is growing on  a stone at the edge of one of the herb beds, where yarrow and sweet woodruff are starting to put up new green shoots, and the rosemary is thinking about blooming.

Leaf Skeleton in its Natural Habitat

I often see leaf skeletons looking all clean and perfect in craft stores. I imagine they are created by subjecting regular leaves to some sort of chemical process. This here leaf skeleton is naturally occurring, and happily decomposing under the rosemary plant. I left it there to finish the job. A picture is enough.

My garden is greening. And that makes me happy.