This is my 3rd year of having interns help me out with planting, harvesting, product making, foraging and more.
Early Spring garden planted…
We also go on fun adventures!
You never know what we will be doing…it all depends on what is growing and who calls me to come harvest an abundance of something. This Spring we went to Dawn’s to harvests lots of elder flowers and will be going back there shortly to harvest the berries.
Just LOOK at the size of these bushes!
Calendula later in the spring…
One day we ventured over to Athens to the UGArden, run by the UGA students. My friends Maisy and Noelle take care of the Medicinal Garden and love the additional hands to help harvest. Here is the chamomile we harvested –
As soon as the pine catkins were starting to fill with pollen, we harvested the catkins. Unfortunately this year I only got out a couple days so did not collect as much as I wanted! Still a fun time 🙂
The passionflower took over the garden so it needed to be desperately harvested –
lots and lots …
Sometimes we just need to take off on a hike into the woods, more often than not!
We only found 1 good mushroom – ONE!!! A beautiful reishi and yes in the background those are kudzu flowers, KUDZU FLOWERS in June!!! That is plain nuts, they should not be out until August, crazy weird Georgia weather this year.
I forgot to get pictures of our wild cherry harvest but we made cherry shrub, a fruity vinegar and sugar syrup that was sooooo darn delicious. 🙂
I love my interns and feel so blessed to be able to have them here helping me and to be able to teach them about herbal medicine. This is just a dream come true and it is all about the journey!
I kept waiting for it…Winter. Not that I like the cold or anything but during Winter I get to catch up on paperwork – ugghhh taxes and stuff. Renewing licenses, certificates, adding all of my receipts and planning for the new year always happens in February. When it is cold outside it is much easier to get work done inside without feeling like you are wasting the day away doing computer or paperwork.
Not this year, well at least not ALL of it! We had like 2 weeks of Winter in January, I think.
Now instead of continuing my planning stage for the garden and my classes, I feel the need to be outside, to hike, to plant…anything out in this beautiful weather. It has been in the 70’s all week long and the trees are blooming. I know we live in the South and all folks but it is not Florida for pete’s sake!
Thank goodness I have interns starting in a little less than 2 weeks because if it is “Spring” now, I have a TON of work to still be done to ready the gardens and my upcoming mushroom forest. Sigh…the life of a homesteader, always things to do and not enough time to do them! Seriously I am NOT complaining, I love my little farm and all that I do and can do here. Hey I could be stuffed in a cubicle somewhere right? Well heck no, not this gal, I would die…
Today is not a day for work either..it will be an afternoon of hiking with the kid. I will be meeting him for a day in the mountains – hooray!!
Spring, lovely Spring! We wait all winter long for this time of year, well at least I do. I was just itching to get out and dig, plant and harvest and just enjoy the sights and sounds of Springtime!
This year, we are growing more, hopefully 🙂 My neighbor came over with his tractor and tilled up a giant section in the herb garden for a few rows and my hubby helped me make the rows and get rid of giant clumps. Actually John did most of the making of the rows – he is better at it, a perfectionist I might add. Each row is about 35 feet long and 2 feet wide -woohoo!
My interns and I planted 40 calendula plants, 4 ashwagandha, 4 hibiscus roselle – all in the rows and huckleberries, stevia, quinoa, spilanthes(toothache plant) and echinacea in various raised beds and wild areas. I cannot wait til they grow!!!
Seeds were started for arugula, skullcap, sage, borage, lettuce, marshmallow, nastursiums and more. I am not good at seed starting so I figured between me, Stephanie and Brooke, two of my three interns, we should have a good shot at it. They can help me remember to check on them and thin when necessary. Keep your fingers crossed!
Many of the plants I get are started by local friends – ❤ Friends that grow things very well from seeds! New plants go into the raised boxes until I know they can succeed with my sometimes neglect. Any that have to be pampered don’t get to stay. I know that’s mean but besides tending to the plants, I have to take care of critters, teach classes, prepare for classes, making product, delivering products, doing event, yada yada yada and of course take care of the family! I love plants that are naturally strong and perennials to boot.
I also started new mushrooms – trying Oyster mushrooms this time around. We shall see if they grow. I did them on straw in bags and in buckets. A teeny, tiny one is growing out of the straw – hope it will become a big bunch!!!!
What do you think of farm chores? Sometimes I wonder about those that live in a subdivision with a tiny yard, never wanting to step foot in a farm, what do they do all day? Most probably have the cleanest house – worth of being in the pages of Southern Living magazine with everything orderly, in perfect shape with pillows that have that puffed up look then a crease in the top, staged ever so perfectly on the sofa. HA!
You won’t find that here. 🙂 Yes my house is clean, somewhat neat, sometimes cluttered but it only takes a bit of effort to make it “company” ready. I would rather go outside and clean stalls, move hay, plant, weed, hike – A-N-Y-T-H-I-N-G but clean and primp for a picture perfect house.
It was freezing the day I took these pictures but I laugh now thinking back to the picture that went around facebook below – that is what I felt like and needed to get outside!
I did go out in the garden to play with the beds adding food scraps, compost, layers etc…
First I dug a hole in one of the raised beds with my small hoe/rake thingy(LOVE this tool!), then I dumped in the kitchen scraps.
Covered it up with dirt and added a layer of straw –
Covered that layer with compost – here is a pic of the compost pile but I forgot to take one when I covered the bed. 😀
My hens do the turning for me –
Then a layer of leaves –
Look what I found growing?!
On to take the tarp off the hay and move it around cause it got wet a bit from the ice – boo. 😦
climb in and rip off the tarp
hope there is no snakes in here
kick up the hay
trying to get hold of the hay
whoops didn’t get much
rotating it closer to the edges
Tina eyeing me climbing out
Finally Tina does what she does best – EAT!
Love my horse 🙂
By this time my hands were frozen so done for the day! Hope you have a beautiful day today in whatever you do!
Today is cold and windy and just blah! Or it could be blah because I have company in my house that has been here for over two weeks now!!! 😀
Only about 60 days til Spring – yippee!
I am digging out my seed catalogs to narrow down my selections of what to order. What’s your favorite seed to order? Ha, or should I say what are your favorite SEEDS, cause you can not just have one….like an m&m, no one can eat just one m&m.
I have a Seed Savers Catalog and a Horizon Herb Catalog and now I am about to venture into the web site of Botanical Interests. Have you ever bought their seeds? I have a couple from them and they come highly recommended so if you check out all of their wonderful choices!
Annuals, biennials and perennials. It’s easy to convert your garden into a private retreat for native butterflies. Butterflies use plants during each stage of their life cycle – egg, larva (caterpillar), pupa (chrysalis) and adult (butterfly). This mix includes plants for their entire life cycle, and will attract a great number and variety of native butterflies.
SOWN AT THE RATE OF 25 SEEDS PER SQ. FT., THIS MIX COVERS APPROXIMATELY 150 SQ. FT. AND INCLUDES: (Percent of mix by weight)
Also I just ordered from Le Jardin du Gourmet because you can buy tiny seed packages when you want to try certain plants without investing tons of money. The sample packs are only 40 cents each – amazing!!! They are not in fancy packages, very plain envelopes. Some do not have planting instructions and you must check on their web site on how and when to plant but heck, for that price, who cares!
I am going to grow all of these this year – some I already have but want more!!!
Early this morning I decided to finally cut up the dried lemongrass, remember the lemongrass – labor of love post? It was warm in the kitchen so I took my bundles of lemongrass, a large bowl, clippers and a cup of coffee to the front porch to enjoy the early sunshine and crisp air.
The view from my front porch inspired the name of our farm but I do not know why I am not out there as much as the back yard. It is so beautiful and peaceful. 🙂
As I sit to patiently cut the lemongrass into tiny pieces, I ponder the events, happenings and memories both good and bad that occurred in 2014. Most of the news programs bring the bad events of the year, why not the good, why is it always the gloom and doom! Yes there were some bad times in 2014 for us but I will not focus on them as I am grateful for the many blessings God has brought to our lives and look forward to what 2015 has in store for us.
Yes 2014 started out really darn crummy! John was out of work for two and a half months, no unemployment, no farmer’s markets. It was a tough start but we were faithful, I WAS faithful. I had friends and family that were faithful, we prayed, we believed, we trusted.
It got better of course, new jobs, new starts and new opportunities! In March I was helping my friend Cyndi, of Lazy B Farm, set up a class with Patricia Howell, who we love so much and was so excited to be there, actually I was lucky to be there thanks to my good friends!! Patricia asked me when I would take her Herb Program and I told her it would take a miracle or winning the lottery for me to attend the year long program. AND she said, as most of you already know, “Would you like to be my assistant and attend the program?” Yep the rest is history. I finished and graduated from the BotanoLogos School of Herbal Studies a few short weeks ago. Ready to continue my life as an herbalist. 🙂
Herb classes at the farm always make me smile, thinking back to all the classes with happy students learning and exploring the world of Herbalism especially seeing certain plants for the first time and realizing they too have those plants at home to help them medicinally. 2014 brought classes in Backyard Medicine, Natural Beauty Products, Wildcrafting Jams and Jellies, Herbs for The Immune System, Breadmaking and Medicine Making 101. I even had the privledge to take an enormous amount of people(more than expected) on an Herb Walk at the Gwinnett Environmental & Heritage Center. Very cool!
The Farmer’s Market this year was fabulous as usual, meeting new faces and seeing old friends.
My son is in 12th grade, our last year of homeschooling. He did amazing on his ACT exam and got into Piedmont College for dual enrollment and accepted as a student for his Freshman year 2015-2016. Awesomeness!!!!!
We did have some loss, my Gram lost her battle to cancer in September at the age of 89. She was my most favorite person in the family. I love her and miss her dearly. 😦
Our old dog Lightning passed away too – 14 years old. We have Luke – sweet, protective Lukey!
We still have chickens – 8 total at the end of this year but they are not laying eggs. Grrrr….6 may be around the age of 4 so dinner soon??? 2 are only 8 months old so do not know what their prob is.
Realized I grow herbs better than veggies.
Hee Hee Hee. My garden will be even bigger next year but mostly my favorite medicinals like Holy Basil, Nettle, Calendula, Lemon Balm, Yarrow, Burdock, Chamomile, Echinacea and St. John’s Wort. There are more but those especially. Of course I will have to plant tomatoes and basil. You should have seen hubby’s face when I told I wanted to plant the entire horse riding arena with fruit trees and herbs – priceless!
My shiitake mushroom crops was bigger than I ever expected, can’t wait to innoculate more logs.
New things I learned this year?
How to identify turkey tail and oyster mushrooms, how to tincture more precisely, garbling herbs, cooking in an iron skillet(I know, finally), make kale powder, grow burdock, cabbage, okra, learn new medicinal plants, how to plant a million(ok 142) beets in rows at the UGarden, drying all of my own herbs, make lacto-fermented pickles, make apple cider vinegar, make my own tea blends, make homemade vanilla, how to be more accepting of people with different beliefs as well as be more open to new ideas, and to be even stronger this year in my own faith. I am very thankful for all the many blessings I have received.
I made a bunch of new friends –
One of my new friends, Noelle(You must visit her cool blog – The Fuller Life) invited me to volunteer with her at the UGarden (University of GA) and I got to work with her and Maisy for about 6 weeks on Wednesdays. We worked in the Medicinal Garden and the Culinary Garden. Oh and planted beets 🙂
What about you? Any new things that you learned or cool memories of 2014? Let me know, I would love to hear them. 🙂
As I finished my lemongrass, I snapped a few cool photos of hubby walking up the drive with his newspaper, Luke and the horses nearby. So sweet – I love this life!!!
Have you ever had a tarragon pesto before? I FINALLY tried fresh tarragon for the first time last month while volunteering at the UGarden(University of GA Garden). Tarragon is simply amazing! I looked up a few recipes and tweaked one to my liking. You can eat it on crackers, veggies, mix with pasta or serve over grilled salmon – my favorite way. 🙂
First go pick some pretty looking tarragon and flat leaf parsley –
Next get your nuts, I used almonds and garlic, rough chop them.
Put everything – the herbs, the nuts, garlic, olive oil, water, butter(YES I said butter), lemon juice, salt & pepper in the food processor and pulse it until it is to your liking.
Keep it chunky or make it super smooth! – I like mine still with a lot of texture if I am using over fish otherwise more chunky for crackers. 🙂
Tarragon & Parsley Pesto
1 cup packed fresh tarragon leaves
1/2 cup packed flat-leaf parsley leaves
1/3 cup cashews, walnuts or almonds.
2 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 small clove garlic, quartered
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
Get ready to eat!!!!
Delish! Let me know what your favorite kind of pesto is?
Have a beautiful day today,
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It has been awhile since I updated what is growing in the garden and the woods and any critter news so I went out and took some new pictures to SHOW you what’s happening! 🙂
I tried a few new medicinal plants this years, some worked and some not so good. I am not the best grower, it really has to be able to survive without pampering. I mean, I can’t help it, I just FORGET to water or weed sometimes. I realized tomatoes just do ok for me so I grow just a few plants now and trade for the rest. Hot peppers, easy but I have no idea what happened to the bell pepper plants…they were there but they didn’t make it. The okra….w–e-l-l I wasn’t sure when to pick it being the first year so they got a mind of their own, overnight I might add and they grew to like 4″ long. Oh well not so good to eat at that stage. So someone gave me this fabulous idea to let them dry on the plant, paint them and make santa Christmas ornaments – woohoo!!!
I CAN grow lemon balm, lemon grass, oregano, sweet basil, holy basil, stevia, chamomile, butterfly bushes, anise hyssop, comfrey, sorrel, lettuce, cabbage, stinging nettle, collards, burdock and oh yeah sunflowers BUT the darn squirrels came and took ALL OF THE FLOWER HEADS when they were going to the seed stage. UGGHHHHHH.
This week, I will be harvesting all of the nettle, basils and lemon balm – big work a head for me.
Here are my shiitakes! LOVE them – again easy peasy to grow.
We did lose our beloved dog, Lightning earlier this month at the ripe old age of 14. It is very sad losing one of our critters especially one we have had since a pup.
She was loved by all and is missed very much by us and her furry companions Luke, our boxer/lab mix and our two cats. Critters must get along on our homestead, it is the way it always was here and always will be. Not quite sure how it happens that way but it really is cool to see all of them coexist, hanging out together. Like a regular land of Dr. Doolittle. 🙂
Currently we have 8 chickens and none, I mean non are laying eggs. What happened? I go out everyday to check, sometimes I get one, just one and we used to get 5-6 a day. Two hens are young so they aren’t ready yet and the others went through the molting stage, when they lose feathers everywhere and I do know they don’t lay during that time. Hopefully I can get some eggs soon or they won’t get anymore pizza scraps, veggies, sourdough bread or spaghetti. You ever see chickens eat spaghetti or pizza – they go nuts!
Herbal classes each month with Herb Walks and Making Medicines –
How many of your grow your own herbs? You can save a TON of money by growing your own culinary and medicinal herbs even if all your grow is Basil, Parley, Mint and Lemon Balm – in my opinion – the four easiest herbs to grow!
Each year I have been growing more herbs so that I can dry them and enjoy them year round. I am NOT paying $3 for a teeney weeney jar of basil this year – no way.
Enjoy the following post from Frugally Sustainable and Growing Herbs For Beginners. 🙂
At the end of the post there is a link to Grow Your Own Herbs archives. I do believe the blog is inactive but there are some great articles for herbs.
“Will growing your own herbs save money? Absolutely!
I wondered about writing a blog post on growing herbs and saving money for two reasons.
I have grown herbs for a very long time so it does not seem new or remarkable.
I have not checked the price of fresh and dried herbs at the grocery store in a long time. Yowza! Talk about sticker shock.
After getting all gussied up (clean jeans and shirt) we went to town on our mission to check out herb prices. We visited three grocery stores and a small health food store. At all four stores I looked at fresh and dried packaged herbs and checked the prices of medicinal herbal teas. The fresh herbs at the grocery stores were small packages- each contained a mere .75 ounce of ‘fresh’ herbs. The least expensive store priced each package at $1.99 and the most expensive at $2.79.
The teas ranged in price from $4.59 (on sale) to nearly $7.00 for a single BOX of teabags and most only had 16 teabags per box. Ouch.
Honestly, I was stunned by the prices. Even a lone container of mint or Lemon Verbena can provide you with a lot of herb. Dry it yourself and you will have fresher tasting tea than anything you can buy in a box… and you’ll have a lot more of it.
Grow Your Own
If you purchase your plants in the Springtime you can expect to pay $3 or $4 per live started plant. Starting your own plants from seed will save you even more, especially if you have a place to start seedlings. You may have an initial investment for things like pots and soil, but being frugalites we know that so many objects can be re-purposed and used as containers.
Growing and harvesting your plants over the summer will make your investment money back quickly. After all, those little grocery store herb packages each contained just a few snippings, so regularly pruning your herbs would provide as much, or more than those packages.
Things to Consider
In most areas perennial herb plants don’t need replacing yearly and most annuals will set seed for you. This means you won’t have to replace plants and buy seeds every year. A biennial like parsley will provide seeds every other year and edible leaves all of the first year. That’s a heck of a deal!
We often have people ask about garden space and herbs. Many people believe you need a lot of space for an herb garden and don’t realize that many herbs are happily grown in containers. You absolutely don’t need a huge herb garden to grow teas, medicines and gourmet herbs for your family. Many of the larger herbs like fennel, bee balm and marshmallow are perfectly content in big tubs or even 5 gallon buckets. If you only have room for a few herbs, think about what herbs you might use the most. Many herbs can be used both in the kitchen and medicinally. A few dual purpose favorites are mint, thyme and sage. All are helpful medicinals and wonderful for cooking.
Anything you grow and dry for yourself will help keep the family budget in check and you’ll have the satisfaction of knowing where those herbs came from.
So, do I grow all of my own herbs? No. There are somethings that just cannot or do not grow well here and so I buy what I can’t grow. Do I save money growing my own herbs? Evidently much more than I thought!”
Now It’s Your Turn
Daily Goal: Give one great tip for growing herbs and start some fall seeds.
Rhonda is a Midwestern Organic Master gardener, farm gal, homeschool mom of six, artist, and commercial herb grower turned teacher. Besides her garden she raises poultry, Angora rabbits, and livestock for milk, meat,eggs and fiber (spinning, weaving, crochet). Learn from her through her website and join the facebook community.