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Archive for the ‘organic gardening’ Category

Find it-MUGWORT-ID it

Mugwort-Artemisia vulgaris

Know it

http://botanical.com/botanical/mgmh/m/mugwor61.html

I have to tell you Mugwort and Wormwood are very close. They are related and they are both good herbs to wildcraft. So here is a pic and description of Wormwood. Two for the price of one.

Find it-WORMWOOD-ID it

Wormwood-Artemisia absinthium

Know it

http://botanical.com/botanical/mgmh/w/wormwo37.html

The leaves on the wormwood are more deeply lobed and more of a silvery color than the mugwort. Wormwood is a great find and has quite a history. It is one of those biblical herbs as is fennel and yarrow.

Here’s the bible references

http://www.herbsociety-stu.org/bible_herbs.htm

Find it-Yarrow-ID it

Yarrow-Achillea millefolium

Know it

http://www.altnature.com/gallery/yarrow.htm

Yarrow comes in pink, white and yellow.  A reader was nice enough to point out that the white yarrow and not the yellow as I had originally posted, is the native.  Good to be able to set the record straight.  Thanks Judith.

Native yarrow is very prolific and reseeds itself almost desperately which is good because there is so much you can do with it. I just learned you can take one leaf, chop it up and put it on your compost pile to speed up decomposition. Works so well with other herbs too.

Find it-Red Clover-ID it

Red Clover-Trifolium pratense

Know it

http://www.herbwisdom.com/herb-red-clover.html

You can find red clover everywhere. Red is really pink and there is a white clover but the medicinal properties are different. It also reseeds itself and is, as is with all clovers, great for the soil. All the herbs I have mentioned here that are so beneficial and part of the wildcrafting art are regarded as weeds by the makers and producers of lawns. Ortho and Scotts have weed killers to protect the precious over pampered, waste of space we call lawns from the likes of Mother Nature.

How to use:

Dose may vary from person to person, but general guidelines are as follows:

  • Dried herb (used for tea): 1 – 2 tsp dried flowers or flowering tops steeped in 8 oz. hot water for 1/2 hour; drink 2 – 3 cups daily
  • Powdered herb (available in capsules): 40 – 160 mg per day, or 28 – 85 mg of red clover isoflavones
  • Tincture (1:5, 30% alcohol): 60 – 100 drops (3 – 5 mL) three times per day; may add to hot water as a tea
  • Fluid Extract (1:1): 1 mL three times per day; may add to hot water as a tea
  • Standardized red clover isoflavone extracts: directions on product labels should be carefully followed
  • Topical treatment (such as for psoriasis or eczema): an infusion, liquid extract, or ointment containing 10 – 15% flowerheads; apply as needed unless irritation develops. Do not apply to an open wound without a doctor’s supervision.

 

As you might guess I am not a fan of lawns. I am sorry. They are nice to look at when they are all green and manicured. As a kid I hand mowed about a quarter of an acre of lawn every week which I actually enjoyed doing.  I don’t like lawns because I think today they are a colossal waste of time, money, water and effort.  Josh, #2 son, sent this to me about a year ago knowing how I feel about lawns. This is right on and what we call garden humor. Enjoy.

GOD AND ST. FRANCIS DISCUSSING LAWNS

GOD: Francis, you know all about gardens and nature. What in the world is going on down there? What happened to the dandelions, violets, thistle and stuff I started eons ago? I had a perfect, no-maintenance garden plan. Those plants grow in any type of soil, withstand drought and multiply with abandon. The nectar from the long lasting blossoms attracts butterflies, honey bees and flocks of songbirds. I expected to see a vast garden of colors by now. But all I see are these green rectangles.

ST. FRANCIS: It’s the tribes that settled there, Lord. The Suburbanites. They started calling your flowers “weeds” and went to great lengths to kill them and replace them with grass.

GOD: Grass? But it’s so boring. It’s not colorful. It doesn’t attract butterflies, birds and bees, only grubs and sod worms. It’s temperamental with temperatures. Do these Suburbanites really want all that grass growing there?

ST. FRANCIS: Apparently so, Lord. They go to great pains to grow it and keep it green. They begin each spring by fertilizing grass and poisoning any other plant that crops up in the lawn.

GOD: The spring rains and warm weather probably make grass grow really fast. That must make the Suburbanites happy.

ST. FRANCIS: Apparently not, Lord. As soon as it grows a little, they cut it-sometimes twice a week.

GOD: They cut it? Do they then bale it like hay?

ST. FRANCIS: Not exactly, Lord. Most of them rake it up and put it in bags.

GOD: They bag it? Why? Is it a cash crop? Do they sell it?

ST. FRANCIS: No Sir. Just the opposite. They pay to throw it away.

GOD: Now let me get this straight. They fertilize grass so it will grow. And when it does grow, they cut it off and pay to throw it away?

ST. FRANCIS: Yes, Sir.

GOD: These Suburbanites must be relieved in the summer when we cut back on the rain and turn up the heat. That surely slows the growth and saves them a lot of work.

ST. FRANCIS: You aren’t going to believe this Lord. When the grass stops growing so fast, they drag out hoses and pay more money to water it so they can continue to mow it and pay to get rid of it.

GOD: What nonsense. At least they kept some of the trees. That was a sheer stroke of genius, if I do say so myself. The trees grow leaves in the spring to provide beauty and shade in the summer. In the autumn they fall to the ground and form a natural blanket to keep moisture in the soil and protect the trees and bushes. Plus, as they rot, the leaves form compost to enhance the soil. It’s a natural circle of life.

ST. FRANCIS: You better sit down, Lord. The Suburbanites have drawn a new circle. As soon as the leaves fall, they rake them into great piles and pay to have them hauled away.

GOD: No. What do they do to protect the shrub and tree roots in the winter and to keep the soil moist and loose?

ST. FRANCIS: After throwing away the leaves, they go out and buy something which they call mulch. They haul it home and spread it around in place of the leaves.

GOD: And where do they get this mulch?

ST. FRANCIS: They cut down trees and grind them up to make the mulch.

GOD: Enough. I don’t want to think about this anymore. St. Catherine, you’re in charge of the arts. What movie have they scheduled for us tonight?”

ST. CATHERINE: “Dumb and Dumber”, Lord. It’s a really stupid movie about…..

GOD: Never mind, I think I just heard the whole story from St. Francis.

See you next week. Will be doing dandelions and two others.

Happy Crafting.

Wildcrafting part 1   Starter Guide

Wildcrafting part 2 Mugwort (bonus plant Wormwood) Yarrow, chickweed, and red clover

Wildcrafting part 3 dandelions and making flower essences

Wildcrafting part 4 The Cat’s Meow-A Real Lifesaver

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Picture by Cassie

Busy as a bee

Samson was scheduled to do this week’s blog but he is up to his eyeballs in moving and getting settled.  So, this is kind of an intermission.   The intermission is a trailer for the award winning documentary Food, Inc.  This comes with a warning.  If you can’t stand the truth or you are not ready for the truth then do not watch this. “You will never look at your dinner in the same way again.”

I wondered about the old adage, “The truth hurts” and asked myself what does that mean?  How can the truth be a bad thing? I pretty much decided that facts are about as close to the truth as you are going to get. Or perhaps the certainty of numbers are very close to an indisputable truth.  I mean 1+1 for all intent and purposes is always going to = 2.  So, who is hurt by the truth?  I think honest persons can not be hurt by the truth.

Tell an honest person the truth and they will appreciate knowing it. However, tell a  person who knows the truth and covers it up with an intent to deceive and you have someone who would be exposed for lying about the truth and that would hurt.

What is the truth?  The truth is. What is a lie?   A lie is a cover-up of the truth.  The truth be told would expose a lie.  So, only a liar could be hurt by the truth.  And if that is the case then the old adage should really say, “The truth only hurts liars and that’s a good thing.”

I don’t have any idea of where all that came from. All I know is, that is what you get when someone says, We need something up and we need it up quick.  So there’s quick.

Watch the trailer and tell me who you think is telling the truth and who you think is lying?  And why.

http://www.foodincmovie.com/

Also if you want the latest GMO news this is it.

http://www.organicconsumers.org/articles/article_20188.cfm

The Good News

http://www.greenpeace.org/seasia/en/press/releases/us-court-ruling-on-gmo-rice-af

Even better news. How to Fight the Good Fight and win.

http://www.celdf.org/

http://www.celdf.org/Default.aspx?tabid=61

http://www.soyinfo.com/haz/gehaz.shtml great resource page for groups, blogs, organizations, political action groups

P.S. Added Feb. 10,2010:  Huffington Post publishes the 12 most unethical companies in the WORLD.  The worst of the worst.  Too delicious.  I am not an I told you so type person but I TOLD YOU SO!!!!!!

http://tinyurl.com/yhy36hc

P.S.S. Studies link GMOs with toxins, allergies, infertility, infant mortality, immune dysfunction, stunted growth, accelerated aging, and death. Whistleblowers were fired, threatened, and gagged. Warnings by FDA scientists were ignored. Expert Jeffrey M. Smith, author of the #1 GMO bestseller Seeds of Deception, and Genetic Roulette, presents SHOCKING evidence why these gene-spliced crops may lead to health and environmental catastrophes. Learn how to protect yourself and discover the Campaign for Healthier Eating in America—a brilliant plan to quickly end the genetic engineering of our food supply.

Gotta see it.

http://vimeo.com/6575475

We will continue our regularly scheduled blog next week.  Ciao for now.

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Meet Charlotte Photo by Cassie

Meet Charlotte Photo by Cassie

As near as I can tell this is a Eriophora transmarina from Australia. It was sitting in a covered glass on the counter top when I came home from work last night.  A note on the top read.

Beware

Beware

“Jessica saved your life. Beward! Spider! Real One!” I picked up the glass and shook it to get a better look at what was inside. It stayed still and curled up. I thought that saving my life meant the spider got dead. I looked at its markings. I was not keen on having poisonous spiders laying about and this one did come with a warning.

Just a couple of days earlier I had noticed all kinds of spider webs popping up in the garden with beautiful big webs. I looked up orb spider because I remember Samson talking about orb spiders in the garden one day. Well, sure enough it was an orb weaver. And it is holding true that spiders that make pretty webs are pretty harmless. This orb weaver is harmless but will bite  if provoked. This is just saying she is not looking for a fight but will defend herself if she has to. The bite is not terrible but you might want to avoid provoking her.

I stopped shaking the glass now so as not to piss her off.  Here is a great site with some very interesting facts about this spider that looks like Charlotte  from Charlotte’s web.  She has the cute little bangs in the front and eyes all a glow.  Amazing web making ability. How about alternating sticky line with non-sticky line. Silk web strong enough to net some birds.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Orb-weaver_spider.

Once I got a little movement out of her I turned her loose in the honeysuckle vine right outside the front door.  She didn’t go very far either. Next morning there she was right above the front door, tucked under the eaves.

Setting up housekeeping

Setting up housekeeping

Not that the web isn’t  interesting enough but I will be reading between the lines and looking for a message from my dear Charlotte. Is that a ‘p’ I see just on the left there?

Here are some more great pictures and info on Orb weaver spiders.  http://tinyurl.com/4m3w26

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It’s true, the sunflower has mutated into some hydra-like plant that seems to produce an endless number of sunflowers. Not that I’m complaining, because I now have dozens of little sunbursts to ogle at, but it’s truly amazing how much it is producing. In fact, it’s producing so many sunflowers that the sheer weight of them is overloading the branches and causing them to break off. It’s a bit mind-blowing.

But not completely inexplicable.

You see, when the sunflower was still a wee lass, Denette mistook it for a weed. And pulled it. Denette is very industrious and efficient. I love you, sweetheart. When I came out to the garden and saw the poor little sunflower splayed out on the ground beside the bed I cried a little.

“Oh,” said Denette, “I thought that was a weed.” (I’ve already told you this part, but the dialogue seemed important).

“Hmm…” I said, “…it wasn’t. It was a cute, innocent sunflower and you murdered it.”

Denette gave me one of her oh, puh-leeze looks, picked up the dying sunflower, and jammed it back into the soil of the raised bed.

“There,” she said. “It should be fine.

I did not concur. And I fully expected it to find a shriveled stalk the next day. But what I found instead was a sunflower that knew it had a second chance and threw all it’s energy into making as many descendants as possible as fast as possible in case it was again mistaken for a weed in the future.

The bees are certainly happy.

They’re also happy with my pumpkin. Yes, that’s one pumpkin. Growing out of a mound of compost.

And taking over.

...

I have had to hack it back with a pair of clippers to keep it in line. So far, it’s tried to kill pretty much everything else in the garden, save the tomatoes, which can totally hold their own. My poor little Stars and Moons melons are surrounded and feeling very claustrophobic. “We didn’t sign on for this,” I can hear them saying.

Every day the pumpkin grows another foot. Seriously. A foot. Now it’s into the cucumbers we planted.

And the actual gourds themselves? Yeah, there’s already a dozen of them. One is as big as my head. Already. I have no idea how big it’s going to be by Halloween. Or, more importantly, where it’s going to fit.

The rest of the garden is going crazy, too, especialy the tomatoes which have boldly resisted our attempts at control, but that’s a subject for another post.

Oh, and here’s how the kids “help out” in the garden. Gotta love ’em!!

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The following post was made possible by my new (used) wheelbarrow. My mom, incredible bargain shopper that she is, bought it for $5 at Goodwill. Normal retail value: about $80. She’s a genius.

It was a canalouplantation weekend. I think I’m going to write a song using that word, which I just totally made up by combining cantaloupe and transplantation. But you already knew that, didn’t you? Because you’re one of our readers: smart, funny, and beautiful.

The melons (I’m assuming cantaloupes, but they’re all volunteers, so they could be pumpkins for all I know) were taking over the mound I had assigned to them. I had to regulate.

Last week I pulled a bunch of the babies and gave them away to a group of organic gardeners who meet at ECOSLO.More green than brown, I'm LOVING the garden!

This week I had to move several of the bigger to a place where they have room to roam. A place without fences or walls. A place where they could be free.

Otherwise known as the south side of the house.

Loaded up and ready to go.

I made three mounds of the (not nearly as rich) dirt, added some Black Forest compost, and soaked them with Kaia’s help. Which means the mud ended up everywhere instead of just on my hands. My exposed skin is now baby soft.

Then I brought over the errant plants and reassigned them to their new homes, where the Buffalo roam, and the skies are not cloudy all day…

Nicely situated in their new abodes.

Today, they’re looking a bit…blah. Fingers crossed that they make it. In my opinion, one can never have enough [insert favorite melon here].

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Umm….the garden is going insane. I can’t believe how much bigger everything has gotten in just a few weeks. Here’s a quick rundown of the progress:

One month on...

  • The tomatoes, the anaheim chili, and some of the gourds are flowering
  • Everything is up now, and VERY healthy
  • The mulch is doing an excellent job of keeping my soil moist; I’m watering much less often
  • I still have to replant a cucumber (note to self: you LOVE cucumbers; go plant one!)

I planted FAR too many potatoes. I see that now. I’m going to have to do some serious thinning. Which I hate doing. There’s something wasteful about tearing out a perfectly good plant. I might just have to start another bed…

Some thinning may be appropriate...

Lastly, the gourds are taking over. It’s not pretty. I have about 10 volunteers sprouting out of the mound. They are threatening my beautiful Stars and Moons watermelon sprouts, and I cannot allow that.

Stars and Moons watermelon!

But, I simply can’t pull them out and throw them away. Like I said above. Not a fan.

So I’m offering the starts to a good home. If you want one or two, leave a comment and I’ll arrange a time to bring it over and help you prep a mound in your yard.

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CalpopsGarzasWash08www.montereybaycnps.org/

Let’s do it. Get rid of the grass, at least most of it and plant fire resistant, drought tolerant, disease and bug resistant, sexy, wild, natives.  Native fire resistant plants are a real asset to your yard anywhere in California. Did you know that a watered apple tree or Indian Hawthorne burns better than an unwatered Ceanothus, and with just a little water Salvias (Sages) are harder to light than a watered fruit tree?  This and much more information about fire prevention  provided by Las Pilitas Nursery. Easy fixes for high risk fire areas.  Here is a picture of a garden landscaped with fire retardant plants.garden-tour-2

Plant natives grapes which are fire resistant make a beautiful arbor or barrier and you can eat the grapes.  fire_562s

Plant natives to attract bird, butterfly and hummingbirds.  Milkweed is the only plant the monarch uses and it also attracts swallowtails.  butterflyweedThe natives  are very low maintenance. They can be very showy and spectacular like our California Lilac,  Ceanothus, left, Ceanothus_L.T.Blueor low and inconspicuous like Pacific Mist Arctostaphylos, right.images Pacific Mist loves coastal sandy gardens where it grows one foot high and 6-8 feet across. Then there are the fragrant varieties for your smelly garden. California Mock Orange (Philadelphus lewisii) center.  Thumbnail pictures from Las Pilitas.

a494-1

And so many sages.  This one is called Hot lips and hummingbirds love it. large_salvia

Natives have everything you need for a carefree spectacular garden.   Save money on water, pesticides, herbicides, fertilizers, save time, mowing, weeding, hedging, spraying, and the energy savings in hard labor are all good reasons to Go Native.

By planting natives and getting them established, which does take a little time in the beginning, you can just let them do what comes naturally and leave all the work to them.  There are perennials which come back every year, annuals that reseed themselves, hardwoods, softwoods, bushes and trees for the layered effect.   There are many varied reports on  deer resistant natives.  You will have to check with your local extension or neighbors on what works best in your area.  I think the general consensus is they love roses and if they are hunger they will eat anything.  So, this one is up to you.

Check out the gardens below.

nativeplantswww.thedigeratilife.com/…/

p_ng_mass_bl2www.cnps-yerbabuena.org/…/local_gardens.htm

gardenwphttp://tinyurl.com/ctx8l4

This is a very good site.  Full of fun facts and information.  It is hosted by Randy White. The site below, Food Not Lawns, is just a little off subject. I just thought I would put it in here to give you something to think about.  It is well worth a look see.  You can’t help but learn something.

flores_food_not_lawns_1

http://www.foodnotlawns.net/

I have taken you on quite a tour and it is just the tip of the iceberg.   If you just want to get started a good place to start learning about natives is at  the California Native Plant Society.  They have field trips to local areas and a great list of nurseries that carry native plants.   One nursery on the list is Las Pilitas.  It has an online Landscape and  design plan.  You just answer some questions about your planting area and it will tell you what plants to plant and where. Also, a must read on fire prevention.

And now that you are thinking about Going Native you can also start thinking about what you are going to do with all the extra time and money you will have after planting a native garden.  The time you save you could spend oh, I don’t know, sleeping, surfing.  Kowabunga.

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