Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Garden musings...

I've been trying to get my garden compiled on paper, or at least in my head! Although I've saved seeds, I still have some varieties of flowers and vegetables. I also want to concentrate on drying and blending a wonderful and lovely-to-look at tea this year! I usually dry scads of various mints and combine them all together for winter use, as well as Wild Raspberry and Blackberry leaves, Lemon Balm, Bee Balm, Nettles and Dandelion. But I'd like to create a blend that's a little more elaborate for gift-giving too. I've been wracking my brain and revisiting herb books I haven't touched in a long time, and I created this chart above as a quick visual reference to help me along the way. (I need all the help I can get sometimes!)
I know it's not a complete compilation, but it's a starting point to remember to harvest and dry the many herbs and flowers that I do grow, and concoct a pleasing and tasty blend. I am not partial to strong-tasting herbal blends or spices in my tea, so I will go lightly on the more pungent flavors.
Have you any particular favorites when it comes to growing and blending your tea herbs? Is there a particular herb I've left out of a category that you simply must include in your blend?

As I was browsing the web this past week, I stumbled upon this link from Garden Betty on making your own seed tape. (i'm sorry, you'll have to copy and paste; it won't link) I'm curious to know if this is feasible, as I have never tried seed  tape before. Perhaps I'll at least give it a try... it just may cut down on the transplanting or thinning.

I am keeping cabin fever at bay fairly well and trying to be patient with winter. We got the sugar maples tapped yesterday, and I'm waiting on the sap flow to commence in the next few weeks. We had a few inches of snow last night, and may get another storm this weekend. The chickens, ducks, guineas and geese are probably suffering from cabin fever more than I am, as it has been bitter cold with the winds we've had, so I've kept them in the coop more than in other years. Word has it that there is either a mountain lion or a bobcat out back. It's tracks have been spotted throughout the woods, so it is best that the poultry are in anyhow.

I am hoping all is well in your corner of the world. I leave you with these few lines...

A warm and cheery fire roars merrily
And shadows dance about the darkened room. 
Beside the hearth a gardener sits and dreams
Of sunny days, of flowers in full bloom. 
Some hollyhocks should tower near the fence,
Bright red. ones that the bees can't help but find.
The trellis at the gate again must wear 
Blue morning glories, or the rosy kind. 
To lend a bit of distance to the scene,
Close to the rear I'll plant in shades of blue
The tall and stately larkspur, double ones­
Of course I'll put in scabiosa, too.
I couldn't do without a pansy bed­
Snapdragons make such beautiful bouquets­
Frilled zinnias and yellow marigolds 
Add just the proper touch to autumn days. 
The flowers grow and bloom with loveliness 
Until a sound destroys the fantasy­
A burning ember falls and I must leave 
My garden and my charming reverie. 

Saturday, February 2, 2013

For the birds

It is ironic that wintertime languishes and tempts me with hours to be filled, so unlike the other three seasons when the only other things you do with your free time are eat and sleep...
Poultry do not require much time in winter... a drink of warm water laced with apple cider vinegar and molasses and all the trimmings from soups and salads, mounds of warm hay and some cracked corn, and an airing out when the weather is feasible and a snug home is about all they ask this time of year. They don't venture far in cold weather; thus there is no chasing down a flock of errant guinea fowl at 9 pm to make sure they're all safely in the barn for the evening. Predators are less apt to be a bother now, as they too are snugged away except at dinnertime, and the snow gives evidence if they come close.

I certainly do appreciate the calmer pace... I've managed to read a book or two, which is unheard of during the growing season, and I just adore my time spent frivolously tending to Pinterest (ahemmmm..) I can find time now to create a bit more, and that is a luxury in and of itself. I hope you can make time too! I've posted a few bird-related images you may be able to use... they are copyright free from my always-growing collection. These particular ones were compiled by Nancy Rosin in the Memories of a Lifetime series. Enjoy!

Winter, a lingering season, is a time to gather golden moments,
embark upon a sentimental journey, and enjoy every idle hour.
John Boswell

Surely as cometh the Winter, I know
There are Spring violets under the snow.
-  R. H. Newell

February is merely as long as is needed to pass the time until March.
-  Dr. J. R. Stockton

When the snow is still blowing against the window-pane in
January and February and the wild winds are howling without,
what pleasure it is to plan for summer that is to be.
Celia Thaxter

He knows no winter, he who loves the soil,
For, stormy days, when he is free from toil,
He plans his summer crops, selects his seeds
From bright-paged catalogues for garden needs.
When looking out upon frost-silvered fields,
He visualizes autumn's golden yields;
He sees in snow and sleet and icy rain
Precious moisture for his early grain;
He hears spring-heralds in the storm's  turmoil­
He knows no winter, he who loves the soil.
-  Sudie Stuart Hager 

There is a privacy about winter which no other season gives you … Only in winter…can you have longer, quiet stretches when you can savor belonging to yourself.
-  Ruth Stout

Out of the bosom of the Air, 
Out of the cloud-folds of her garments shaken, 
Over the woodlands brown and bare, 
Over the harvest-fields forsaken, 
Silent, and soft, and slow 
Descends the snow.
-  Henry Wadsworth Longfellow