Archives for category: Garden

I like to think that pretty much everybody can identify a dandelion.  If not, ask somebody around this time of year, and they can probably show you.  Usually when you gather from nature, you have to be careful not to overharvest.  This is not a problem with dandelions.  They’re basically impossible to kill, which leads to the only thing you really have to be careful of with them – make sure you’re harvesting from a place that hasn’t been sprayed with weed killer!

Oh, and watch out for your friendly neighbourhood honey-bees.  They like dandelions too!  image

Anyways, I wanted to make some dandelion-infused oil.  It’s a nice massage oil for sore muscles, but more than that, it’s packed full of Vitamin D and is great for cooking with in the deepest dark of winter when you can barely remember what it felt like to be warm.

The actual gathering portion of this is quick and easy.  You probably need less than you think you do, because the garbling portion of the show is pretty tedious.  You don’t want the green bits, just the yellow petals.  The best technique I’ve found is to split the flower head in half and then sort of scoop out the petals with my thumb.  This project will appeal to the same sort of people who like knitting.image

imageI’m infusing mine in sunflower oil, because if we’re going for solar energy, let’s go all the way!  To that end, I’m also letting it infuse in sunlight for the afternoon.

At this point I’m not sure if I’ll even strain out the petals.  They’re totally edible and good for you, after all.  Probably only if I notice the oil starting to get cloudy, at which point straining out the plant matter can save it.

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I’ll definitely be saving some of this for Longest Night!

My mom was visiting for the weekend, and we decided to put in the side garden.  Unfortunately it’s still a little early and tends to just barely freeze at night, so we have to tuck them in.  It should just be another week or two before we can leave it uncovered through the nights, because it’s a real pain, but it’s worse to find dead plants.

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We also salvaged this old waterer that happened to be on the property and turned it into a planter.

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With a wire brush, some elbow grease and a can of rust-paint, it turned out lovely!

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You can hardly see most of the bedding plants amongst the straw.  Give it a couple of weeks though, and I expect an explosion of green.

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There is a lovely small garden bed on the south side of our house that I plan to fill with kitchen herbs this summer. They don’t take much space and I love having them right outside the door so I can just pop out and snip some for whatever I’m cooking. It’s obviously been neglected for a year or two.
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Over the last couple of days I’ve been preparing it for the growing season. First I cultivated it shallowly by hand and cleared out the weeds. Got several buckets of tasty nutritious weeds for the chickens. They love fresh greens and aren’t picky!
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We’ve inherited quite a lot of old bales of straw, so I put down a thick layer for mulch. It will help retain water and build up the organic matter in the soil as it decomposes.
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Then I covered the whole thing with thick tarps and weighed them down pretty thoroughly with rocks because even in a nice sheltered spot, prairie winds are intense sometimes.
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It’s still a good month until I can trust the weather not to freeze at night, so I’m using the time to heat up the soil under the tarp. Hopefully this will trick the weed seeds into germinating and then smother them thru lack of sunlight, all before the plants I actually want even go in the ground.

While it is possible to have enough tarps for a given project, I’m not at all convinced that it is possible to have TOO MANY tarps stockpiled around an acreage. They’re useful for so many different things! What I’m saying is if you see them on sale, buy 4 or 5 cause you never know when you’re going to need one (or several).