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Calendula is not (only) for you

calendula flowers

It’s starting to make me uncomfortable, seeing herbs described and defined by what they can do for us. And if we think they’re especially useful, they’d better watch out- we’ll hunt and gather them to extinction.

Plants were not put here for people, as the old story tells. They were living on this planet for eons before we came along and were keeping pretty busy without us.

Calendula flowers, for example, provide nectar and pollen for bees and butterflies. Calendula roots form active partnerships with fungi, benefitting the soil. The fact that Calendula has so many health and beauty benefits for people doesn’t mean that we have more rights to it than any other being.

I hope people can learn to think about plants in a bigger way. We’ve done so much taking. There’s a lot of giving back to do.

 

 

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Ready for Winter Downtime

Calendula still blooming in November garden

It is sad when garden time comes to a close. But we’re a bit tired after a long season and are looking forward to a little downtime.

The Hadley garden has already had frost. All that’s left are some greens growing under fleece, as well as a few Scotch Bonnet and Habanero plants still ripening their peppers under plastic cover. It’s getting cold now, though. We’re almost done.

The Northampton garden hasn’t had a frost yet. There are Calendula, Alyssum, and amazingly Nasturtium and Holy Basil flowering. Thank goodness! I’m still seeing honey bees.

That’s Calendula pictured above. Her orange-yellow color is so bright, it shines in my November garden like sunshine. This happy, pretty flower is one of the first to greet me in Spring and the last to leave in Autumn. I’ll miss hanging out with her in the garden.

Luckily, I’ve got a good stash of dried Calendula flowers to get me through the Winter!

 

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First Herb Harvest

fresh-cut chives, catnip and thyme

I might deny I said this come the rose blossom days of sun-filled June, but I love Spring the best.

(Wait, I already have to take it back. The rushing in of summertime in the weeks around Summer Solstice is what I really love. Spring is just thrilling in a different way.)

The garden is jumping up fast and we we were able to start cutting some herbs today. Chives are always the first to fully grow out, but our well-loved Sorrel isn’t far behind. We hope to be cutting Sorrel and Garlic Chives next week, so wish us some rain 🙂

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Can’t find Spring? Make it yourself

forsythia flowers

If you have access to a forsythia bush, you can make your own Spring a little ahead of the calendar.

Forsythia flowers will bloom early if you cut some stems and bring them inside. They’ve lasted over a week on my kitchen table and have been such a treat to have as we’ve just gotten another foot of snow!

It’s really easy- Here’s how:

Cut forsythia stems on a mild day when the temperature is above freezing and put them in a bucket of warm water.

Once inside, cut another inch off the bottoms of the submerged stems. This second cut, performed underwater where air cannot get in, will promote water uptake.

Keep them in a bright spot and you’ll start to see flowers in about 6 days.

Happy Early Spring!

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Signs of Spring

spinach and chickweed

We have a big patch of green in the middle of the foot of snow in the backyard- a bumper crop of chickweed growing in our cold frame with the spinach I planted last Fall.

Hawkeye still kindof thinks of chickweed as a nuisance, but for me, it’s a favorite!

One of the first plants to appear in Spring, you can eat it like spinach and it’s a very helpful medicinal. Awesome in bodycare too, I love using soothing chickweed in oils and salves for irritated skin.

Learn more about chickweed the way I first did, from herbalist Susun Weed: “Chickweed Is A Star