New Ideas for the Garden

With lots of time at home I have been able to focus attention on gardening. My neighbor and I have shared tips and little plants across the back fence. I am looking forward to garden produce.

This year I have added mushroom compost to the garden to help break up the heavy clay soil. In some places I have added earthworm castings as a fertilizer. 

In the past I have lost squash and pumpkin plants to vine borers—the caterpillars that eats the inside of the plant’s vine. So I did an internet search for ways to prevent this problem. One suggestion was to place aluminum foil around the base of the stem—I tried that before without success. Or wrap the stem with cheese cloth. My squash and pumpkin plants now have cheese cloth around their stems.

Another suggestion was to companion plant nasturtium, chives, calendula or tansy around the squash/pumpkin plants. I have tansy and calendula growing next to the pumpkin plants and nasturtium and chives next to the squash. I also planted the squash in a new area, because rotating location of plants is a good idea. We’ll see how this experiment works.

For the tomato plants I put a mix of banana peel, crushed egg shell and coffee grounds deep in a hole, covered with some soil, before placing the tomato plant in.

I am thrilled that some of my herbs wintered over. The sage and thyme were in sheltered areas outside. My rosemary plant did well in a sunny bay window during the winter and is now outside.

I am looking forward to the time our state opens up—our district of Illinois is still shut down. I am anxious to have time together with friends and family. In the meantime gardening gets me outside, into the sunshine. I look in wonder at endless variety of plants and flowers that God has created for our enjoyment.

Do you have gardening tips for growing healthy plants?

Sharing this post with the Five Minute Friday writing community. Today’s prompt is: FORWARD

Rhythm of Life

The mint in my backyard has flowered; tiny white flowers make a wreath around the stem. I pause to wonder at the delicate loveliness.

The phlox are a bright spot of color. I can see them from my kitchen window.

The elderberries are getting ripe. I will make elderberry juice/syrup from them. 

The flowers are blooming. The vegetables and fruit are ripening. It is the bounty of summer. And then autumn will come. Again.

The rhythm of the seasons provides order to our lives and points to God’s faithfulness. After the great flood God made a promise to Noah.

While the earth remains, seed time and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night, shall not cease. Genesis 8:22

God is sovereign over the earth and we can trust his promise.

The prompt for the Five Minute Friday writing community is: AGAIN

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The Colors of Calendula

Calendula is a bright sunny flower and a herb. It has been called poor man’s saffron. The petals of the flower can be added to rice. The flowers can be dried for tea. I have enjoyed seeing the range of colors of that the flower displays from bright orange to yellow to mixed colors. Just a few of the many varieties are: Pacific Beauty, Pink Sunrise, Lemon Cream

Calendula
Lemon Yellow Calendula
Calendula

You can read more about growing and using calendula flowers in another post that I wrote. Click here.

The photo of the orange calendula was taken by my son a couple years ago. The other flowers are in bloom now.

Sharing this post with Sue’s photo link-up.

Do These Flowers Like Sun or Shade?

Today I made my first trip to the farmer’s market this year. Early produce was set out in abundance: lettuce, swiss chard, kale, asparagus and strawberries. But the first booth I came to had flowers and plants, both annuals and perennials. 

When I saw the sweet williams, I wanted two plants. I asked the man who was selling them, do sweet williams prefer sun or shade? He said, “Definitely the sun”.

I thought about my question. Every plant has its preferences—the soil pH, tolerance for dry periods, sun or shade. And every type of flower is unique. And then there is the color range within one type of flower. All that information is contained within the seed.

And God said, “Let the earth sprout vegetation, plants yielding seed, and fruit trees bearing fruit in which is their seed, each according to its kind, on the earth.” And it was so. The earth brought forth vegetation, plants yielding seed according to their own kinds, and trees bearing fruit in which is their seed, each according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. Genesis 1: 11-12

When we pay attention to the amazing intricacy of the world God created, it is awesome. I give praise and thanks to God.

Why was I drawn to purchase the sweet williams? My Grandmother grew sweet williams (and lilacs). A few of them still grow on the hillside by the old farmhouse. Since trees and bushes have grown up they are in the shade and have become sparse. Now I know that they like the sun. I came home and planted them where they will have lots of sunlight.

Today the Five Minute Friday community has the prompt: QUESTION To see the different thoughts generated by writers or to join in, visit Kate’s site. .

Women & Children at Botanica

When we visited Botanica, the Wichita Gardens, I especially enjoyed the focus on women and children. There is a children’s garden area where they can water plants. The children can walk through monster trees and climb the stairs to a fairy house.

The peonies, roses, irises and clematis were in bloom.

Peonies at Botanica

Throughout the gardens sculptures of women graced the landscape.

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When Spring Comes and the Flowers Appear Miraculously

For behold, the winter is past; the rain is over and gone. Song of Solomon 2:11

Snow Drops

The flowers appear on the earth, the time of singing has come, and the voice of the turtle dove is heard in our land. Song of Solomon 2: 12

Crocus

I watch my garden beds after they are sown, and think how one of God’s exquisite miracles is going on beneath the dark earth out of sight. I never forget my planted seeds. Celia Thaxter (1835 -1894)

Crocus


Colorful Foliage and Flowers in Northern Michigan

A week ago my husband and I were in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. We had six days mostly off the grid, reading and doing small projects. The day that we arrived it was raining. It rained a couple more days. One night we had thunder, lightening and a heavy down pour.

The benefit was all the bright green foliage, the wild flowers and the apple trees heavy with apples. When I took time to see the flowers, to pick apples and watch the birds flitting from tree to tree, I was refreshed.

wildflower

 

Sweet pea

 

wildflower

For I know the Lord is great, and that our Lord is above all gods.
Whatever the Lord pleases, he does in heaven and on earth,
In the seas and all deeps.
He it is who makes the clouds rise at the end of the earth,
who makes lightnings for the rain and
brings forth the wind from his storehouses.

Psalm 135: 5-7

The prompt for Five Minute Friday is: RAIN   Visit this community of writers by clicking here.

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Garden Notes: The Plants, Animals and Pests in My Yard

From spring to fall the garden is a place of wonder, amusement and challenge. Here are thirteen examples.

The tulips are one of the first blooms in my yard.

The Garden

The scent of the lily of the valley is pleasing. I love how the little bells peek out from the green fronds. This is the flower for the month of May—the month that my first baby was born.Lily of the Valley

The elderberry bushes had abundant flowers this year so I picked the flower heads (umbels) and made elderflower syrup. You can find the recipe here.Garden

When the elderberries are ripe—they are also abundant—I  will  make   elderberry juice. You can find the recipe here.Elderberries

This year I picked 6 quarts of cherries from the cherry tree, but this tree requires a lot of tending. You can read about it here.

Labor of Love

The grandchildren enjoy picking the raspberries, mulberries and currants.

Raspberry

It was a delight to see a hummingbird flit among the branches of the cherry tree. I placed a hummingbird feeder close to the tree. The little bird has been back.

The pickling cucumbers are growing well. I have been making lacto-fermented pickles. You can find a recipe here.

lacto-fermented cucumbers

This year I am growing tomato plants in containers. I was so pleased to see the developing tomatoes. And then I noticed a half eaten tomato. The next day I realized that there was a huge tomato worm on the plant. (Where do they come from?) He had devoured the leaves from two stems and was devouring another tomato. I had to call my husband to pick him off. (Didn’t even think about taking a picture this voracious green worm!)

I have become quite good at finding the Japanese beetles on my plants and can readily pick them off. If you find them in your yard, pick them off and drop them in a container of soapy water.

Japanese Beetle

The calendula flowers in glowing colors are blooming. I pick the blooms and dry them for tea. The flowers are also good for making a salve. Read more here.

Calendula Flower
Art Shades Calendula

As I watched from my kitchen window I noticed a squirrel that was busy trying to untangle a burlap strip that I had wound around the base of the plum tree and a steel rod. The plum tree was growing at an angle, and I was trying to help it grow upright. The squirrel ducked in and out of the burlap, gnawing at it. When I went outside he scampered away. He had it shredded the burlap in places, hoping to carry it off.

The zinnias are beginning to bloom. At first they have a single layer of petals. And then additional layers appear and the color becomes richer. It is a nice metaphor for the way we grow as Christians. As we follow the Lord obediently, spending time in the Word, our life becomes fuller and richer.

Garden

Today’s prompt for Five Minute Friday is:  THIRTEEN                                Visit Kate Motaung’s blog to see the various ways writers were inspired by this word. Thanks for visiting!

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Petite Purple Irises and Stinging Nettle

It is the last day of February and my dwarf irises are blooming. I was surprised to see their purple petals as I returned home from a weekend trip. Winter isn’t over, but my tulip and hyacinth bulbs are sprouting leaves.

Dwarf Iris

What will our spring be like? My thoughts turn to garden plans. Every year I like to introduce a new plant to my herb garden.

It is so convenient to have fresh herbs for the kitchen. I have thyme for chicken and broth, sage for turkey, rosemary for potatoes and soups, chocolate mint for coffee, tarragon for salad dressing and basil for pesto and tomato sauce.

This year I want to add stinging nettle. I am familiar with nettle tea, having read about it in the Wise Woman Herbal for the Childbearing Year.

The common stinging nettle is a uterine tonic and general nourisher with a special ability to strengthen kidneys and adrenals. Its high mineral and chorophyll content makes it an excellent food and tonic for the hormonal system.*

The New American Herbal has more information about this plant. It is called stinging nettle because the leaves have fine hairs that cause pain and inflammation when touched. It is important to wear rubber gloves when harvesting the leaves of this plant.

Properly handled with gloves and long sleeves the leaves can be easily gathered and then neutralized by the heat of cooking . . . Once you know how to respect them, you’ll find nettles deliciously mild with a deep nutty green taste and a slightly minty finish. **

I saw a recipe for nettle soup in a Swedish cookbook. I think the nettle leaves would be a good addition to broth—adding good mineral content as well as flavor.

And so I will order some stinging nettle seeds from Mary’s Heirloom Seeds. Then I have to decide on a safe place to grow them—perhaps in a container.

Do you have some garden plans?

*Susun Weed, Wise Woman Herbal for the Childbearing Year, Ash Tree Publishing: Woodstock, New York, 1986, p. 2

**Stephen Orr, The New American Herbal, Crown Publishing Group, New York, 2014, p. 330

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Lilac Bouquets

The lilacs are in bloom and I enjoy arranging them in bouquets. My grandmother had lilac bushes and the one in my yard was a shoot that I transplanted.

Lilac Bouquet

His tenderness in the springing grass,
His beauty in the flowers,
His living love in the sun above–
all here, and near, and ours.

Samuel Gilman (1791 – 1858)Lilac BouquetLinking with Seasons and Sue’s Wordless Wednesday