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Sage, Winter’s green

December = Nothing to do in the garden, devouring each seed catalog as it arrives in the mail. No snow yet so I can still see some green out there including Chives, Lemon Balm, and Sage.

Garden or Common Sage (Salvia officinalis) has become one of my favorite herbs since I’ve been gardening. Partly because it’s so easy to care for, I admit (Low maintenance perennials are gold, Jerry! Gold!).

Sage is also really beautiful, and it’s a medicinal as well as culinary herb. If you think next I’m going to say I also adore it because bees love the flowers, you’re right!

Sage makes a tea that’s especially nice this time of year as it helps ease coughs and sore throats. Some people find it a little bitter, so add sweetener if you like.

Another way to experience Sage tea is in the bath. Sage alone makes me feel refreshed and clean but combined with Rose petals, the bath becomes more fragrant, luxurious, and soothing.

(Adding Pine needles to the Sage and Rose just occurred to me. That seems a perfect Winter bath blend to remedy the melancholy dark days.)

One last thought on Sage, from the old Latin proverb, “Cur moriatur homo, ciu calvia crescit in horto?

“Why should a man die while Sage grows in his garden?”


I’ll be writing all about Sage this month, so hop on to our newsletter if you’d like to have the posts emailed to you. The signup box is at the bottom of this page. I often include extras in the newsletter that aren’t shared on the blog.

 

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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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Dominica, We Love You

Dominica

Hawkeye and I love the Caribbean. There’s no place we’d rather be outside of the garden.

We were shocked, stunned, watching as Hurricane Irma destroyed everything in her path. And now, with Hurricane Maria coming so soon after, so viciously, we are distraught and depressed. It’s hard to take it all in even though we are so far away.

The photo above was our first glimpse of the island that’s become first in our hearts: Dominica, the Nature Island; land of three hundred and sixty-five rivers, mountainous rainforest, a cerulean sea full of whale and fish, unique, unspoilt beaches, and lovely, lovely people. We planned to go back this Winter but sadly now those plans are on hold.

I thought I’d share a few photos to balance the images of destruction and I’d like to reiterate what seems to be the theme of the disasters currently happening around the world: People, it’s time to come together.

 

If you are able help, please visit the Dominica Hurricane Maria Relief Fund website to donate to their hurricane relief efforts. Thank you!

 

To everyone in the Caribbean, our hearts are with you!

 

Grapefruit tree on the walk to Spanny Falls
Grapefruit tree on the walk to Spanny Falls
The black sand at Mero Beach
The black sand at Mero Beach
Produce for sale at Mero Beach
Produce for sale at Mero Beach

 

 

A song Hawkeye and I are often singing 🙂

 

 

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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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Happy Spring!

garden tools and flowers

We’re celebrating the first day of Spring by starting our planting today. (Indoors only! There’s still snow on the ground.)

Kale is first on the list, and in a first a for us, Lemongrass.

Every year I swear off tender plants that have to be overwintered in the house, but I’m making another exception for Lemongrass.

We fell in love with Lemongrass when we saw it growing wild on the island of Dominica. It was everywhere! Blew our minds to see it growing like, you know, grass on the side of the road, instead of the hothouse plant we know it as.

And if you know Hawkeye, you know Dominica has become the place that’s first in his heart. He can’t wait to get back there. Until then, we’ll keep practicing a stuffed breadfruit recipe, drinking rum with lime juice, and catching some sights of the West Indies on these fun sailing channels on YouTube:

Wishing you Caribbean sunshine and a very Happy Spring!

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World Fire Cider Making Day!

fire cider, tradition not trademark

Fire Cider is a popular traditional herbal remedy freely shared, made, produced and sold by hundreds of herbalists across the world. The remedy has taken on many different amendments over time, somewhat like chicken soup. Many people have their favorite version, but the base consists of fresh garlic, onions, ginger, horseradish and chile peppers that sit in vinegar for the desired amount of time, are strained, and then a bit of something sweet is usually added at the end. The remedy is used to help warm up the body, and generally acts a stimulant and antimicrobial used during cold and flu season. Recently, a large company decided to trademark the name and is forcing small businesses who have made and sold it to change their product names. Some of the companies and individuals in question have made and sold this remedy for many years longer than the company that trademarked it has even existed. Many people feel this is a dangerous precedent to anyone who creates and shares recipes anywhere on the web or in books and this led to a filing with the US Patent and Trademark Office asking that the mark be deemed generic. Until the company agrees to freeing Fire Cider from trademark restriction, a boycott of their product has been launched.  -from the Free Fire Cider blog

February 2 is the half-way to Spring mark and is also World Fire Cider Day of Action. Join thousands of anti-trademark fire cider supporters by making your own batch and boycotting Shire City Herbals to show you believe traditional herbal remedies belong to everyone and cannot be owned.

Here’s the basic recipe:

fire cider recipe

 

I use golden cayenne peppers and substitute black radish because we grow those. I also love adding beets for that fiery red color and use maple syrup as the sweetener. Other great additions/substituitions to the basic recipe are:

  • Rosehips
  • Elderberry or Schisandra Berry
  • Elder flowers or Hibiscus
  • Leeks or Green Onions
  • Thyme, Oregano, Basil or Parsley
  • Mustard Greens or Seed
  • Astragalus or Burdock root

 

January 25, 2017 marked the 3 year anniversary of the Fire Cider trademark battle. For information about this ongoing issue and the boycott against Shire City Herbals, please go to Tradition Not Trademark’s Free Fire Cider website.