Tag Archives: herbs

Back to the earth – 5/17/2018

Monday was the only day this week that we didn’t have at least a 50% chance of rain and I finished mowing.  Rain with slightly cooler temperatures seemed like a good recipe for planting seeds, but I didn’t get out there then. Tuesday it wasn’t raining when I got up, so I held to my 30-60 minutes of weeding plan and got a lot done, later in the day I got the monster line trimmer going and got around the house and started on the thigh high grass in the two currently unoccupied chicken runs, but I saw a lightening strike less than a mile away and wisely quit, getting back in the garage just as the first of a series of gully washers descended on us.  Wednesday it rained all day long and we took another 7 hour road trip finally finding a route for the Harley Chapter to do that didn’t have drop offs on narrow poorly paved roads that haven’t seen civilization since Moby Dick was a minnow.

Today was forecast for thunderstorms beginning around 2 p.m. so I grabbed the popcorn, beans, pumpkin, and cucumber seeds, my hoe, my gloves, put on my muck boots and finished planting all the seeds except the sunflowers which I had failed to purchase.  Just as I got back in the garage, it started raining, a nice gentle kind that settles the seed in.  As there was no chicken feed for tomorrow and herbs still had not been planted, a quick trip into town and sunflower seed, chicken feed, and herb starts for the half barrels were purchased.


There are actually 4 barrels there, the front two are planted with wildflower and edible flower Seedles, around the corner is one with Rosemary, Parsley, Globe Basil, and Lemon Thyme.  Behind it are two gorgeous yellow bearded iris blooming profusely in spite of that being the chicken’s favorite place to dust bath when they are free ranging, then another barrel with Sage, Parsley, Globe Basil, and Golden Thyme.  Also purchased were two more pepper plants and Sweet basil that I got into the ground in the garden.


The Day lily bed that has a large clump of Dutch Iris in it is showing many buds.



This clump has grape Bearded Iris and blue Dutch Iris and needs to be moved as it is where the deck deconstruction is underway.  After the deck is finished, the area where the large low section is now will be a poured patio and the muddy front of the house will receive a walk at the same time.

Before tackling the barrel planting, flower bed weeding and extending the rock edge down (I didn’t finish that), I did finish going down the side of the garden and the two chicken runs with the line trimmer.  It didn’t like the really tall grass, but it is a manageable height now.  It is now after 4 p.m. and the forecast thunder storms have not arrived.  I wore out with a bit more work to do, but there will be another day.  There is still another barrel that is full of volunteer Hyssop that needs to be moved away from the deck deconstruction and a decision on whether it is going to be allowed to just stay Hyssop or be planted with flowers.

The rapsberry bed that is overgrown with wild geraniums, volunteer raspberry shoots and old canes that didn’t get cut still needs my attention too, but other than that bed, planting the sunflowers, and moving the nursery trees, the garden is in maintenance mode.


5/13/2017 Mother’s Day Weekend

We waited too long to make reservations for lunch or dinner tomorrow, so we will have to try someplace that doesn’t take reservations and just has call ahead service.

Our new phones arrived yesterday and a rainy afternoon was spent getting them set up.  This morning, both us were awake early and with the town mobbed due to commencement exercises at the university, we headed in early to get breakfast and go to the Farmers’ Market.  So many vendors now and so many goodies to buy, meat, vegetables, breads, coffee beans, pasta, yarn, fiber, candles, prepared foods and beverages.  Other errand runs including making sure that the old cell service has been cancelled, bale of straw for the hen house, dog food for the 3 giant beasties that live here were all accomplished, before 10:30, then home.  The next 5 hours were spent in the yard and gardens.

Wood pile before


For several years, the woodpile has been up against the vegetable garden fence, leaning against the fence enough to require an extra T-post to keep it from collapsing into the garden.

Wood pile new

Up hill from the vegetable garden are two old cedar fence posts, two other posts that were under the wood were placed on either side of the two verticals, using them as end pieces and the wood was moved and re-stacked there.

Wood pile after

The resulting area will be part of the new flower and herb beds as soon as I get some more cardboard.  Once the wood was moved, the remaining stack of cardboard was toted outside, onions weeded, cardboard laid around two sides of that box where it has not been placed and where the lamb’s quarter was trying to take over, also placed under the fence at the south corner where I had quit prior to the rains.  More cardboard was placed outside of that uphill fence after lots of weed pulling and digging to  clean up around the comfrey and iris and to extend that bed  for two of the perennials that had been residing in pots on the porch. The cardboard was slipped under the fence to overlap the cardboard on the inside of the fence and spoiled hay mulched around them.  Another trip out for cardboard will allow me to carry the bed on around the corner.  The chicken run will just go around the south and west side up to the gate and the electric fencing wire will be reinstalled around the perimeter to stop the deer.

New bed

The inside of the henhouse was hosed down with white vinegar, neem oil, and essential oils and left open to dry.  The bale of straw will be spread in there as soon as it is thoroughly dry.

Something has been nibbling on the baby chard plants so that bed was covered with hoops and bird net.

The chickens have been free ranging since I started working outside today.  they should be put away so the dogs can go out.  We still haven’t gotten them so that they don’t chase the chickens when out.

Perhaps some more weeding and planting can be accomplished tomorrow before we go out for Mother’s Day.

Olio 4/14/2017

Olio: a miscellaneous collection of things

Yesterday was another beautiful day, the 4th in a row.  The forecast is continued nice temperatures, but the next 10 days show 8 of them with a fairly high chance of rain. We had both grands home with us for their spring break, so no serious running around was scheduled.  We did go get the gate hardware at Tractor Supply and came home to a couple hours of work outside time.

The gate hardware was installed on the wooden post that was already set, having to drill a pair of 5/8″ holes about 4 inches into the post.  Once the gate was hung, the end T post was shifted a few inches to give the gate something to abutt  and the fence that had to be removed to move the post was reattached.  A section of rabbit fence was used to close the opening between the chick run and the cull run so the chicklets won’t be able to escape from one run to the other and then out through the welded wire fence.  The three 7 foot tall posts to hold the netting were strung together with a length of braided electric fence wire and anchored to the end T posts and the netting was suspended.  The run is ready to let the chicklets out in another few days.

Chick pen


There are two wooden 6 x 6″ posts with the two gates hanging from opposite sites of one post usually and the left gate closing against the second post.  That post now has gate hardware so that one of the gates can be moved leaving one run open.  Maybe someday, a third gate will be purchased, but since there are only two groups of birds to deal with right now, gate moving will occur instead.

Last year at one of the spinning/knitting retreats, I taught a class in salve making and in my shop, I sell several different herbal healing salves.  This summer, I am going to teach a similar class to kids at one day of their camp and am often asked what is the best use for each salve.  This is a topic of interest and so I purchased a new book on herbal medicine, an art that has been practiced since recorded history or before.

Herb book


And reading through the book over the last couple of days has gotten me thinking that at least part of the unused garden section can become a permanent herbal medicine garden, consolidating the perennial herb and the annual herbs in one bed of good soil.  One of the herbs that I have never grown, but find interesting is Hops.  In Tractor Supply purchasing the gate hardware, I found this.


Now a place that it can grow needs to be decided, the box says it will gets 15 to 30 feet long and will trail along the ground, on a fence, or a trellis.  There are a few other herbs that have been on my list for a while that will now be sought out and my next project is to make some tinctures.  As we don’t use chemical fertilizer or herbicides, the plantain and dandelion are safe to use right from the yarn once they have been washed off.  Another project is to try to build a solar dehydrator to dry the herbs.  I envision a stack of wire grids that have a mesh cover to keep the insects out.  Either one that can hang or on wheels that can be brought in off the deck if it is going to rain.

After dark, the big birds were all moved to the huge cull coop so that a cover crop can be seeded and hopefully will germinate in the main run before the 16 chicklets are large enough to move.  After a couple of days in the coop, the big birds will be allowed out into that run and they will be excited to find it full of chick weed to eat.


We Have Spring

At least the weather says we have it.  The calendar is still a couple of weeks off and I know that we don’t have frost free days until Mother’s Day here, but for this week, it is superb.  It is so nice today, that Mountaingdad took the Big Bad Harley out for a ride, realizing as he was getting ready to go that he had a back running light out, he rode to “the big city” an hour away to get it replaced and to get a hot dog.  The one thing he really misses about Virginia Beach is Famous Uncle Al’s.  They grilled Boar’s Head all beef hot dogs and have the best french fries ever, hot and crisp.  No where in this university town or the surrounding towns has he been able to find a “good” hot dog.  There is a place near the HD dealer that has ones he finds acceptable.  I’m glad he could get out.  Maybe tomorrow too.

When eldest son and grandson #1 came in on early Saturday morning, T tasked L to look under the bus seats to be sure they hadn’t left anything.  Once in my car on the way to the house, he reached for his hat and uh-oh, no hat.  This was a nice wool hat that I had knit two Christmases ago to go with a Moebius Scarf for him.  If the weather is chilly, due to his short haircut and thinning top, he wears a hat.  I try to keep him in knit hats.  Sometimes, without him nearby, they end up too short for him to fold the brim.  One of his last remaining ones, has numerous holes held together by safety pins, OK for around the house, but not too professional on the bus ride to work or the walk across campus to his office.  He was disappointed in it’s loss, but I had recently determined that I might have better luck selling hand spun, hand knit scarves and hats than I was having selling the hand spun yarn, so I pulled a skein of local undyed Dorset lamb yarn and two small skeins of dark undyed Shetland to make him a new one.  As he drives my car to his house when I return them home after a visit, because I have to drive home alone the next day, I tucked the yarn in my purse as we were leaving Sunday afternoon.  I cast on the hat, knit the ribbed brim as we drove north and began the color work part in the dark after dinner.  I had hoped to finish it on the drive and while there, but we arrived at 9:30 p.m. and having to get up at 4:30 a.m. Monday to take them to the Metro for their mini vacation, I didn’t get it done.  Yesterday, I was too foggy from the short night followed by the long drive home, the chores needed once here, I didn’t get but a couple of more rows done.  I realized that I had less of the cocoa color than I thought and had to pull out about 8 rows to change the design to accommodate the shortfall.  This morning, I finished it.


It has been washed and is blocking, once dry, I will mail it to him, knowing that in spite of this week’s beautiful spring weather, he will likely need it for a bit longer until it gets warm and stays warm.  This is the first hat I have ever made with my hand spun yarn.  It is thick, warm and generous.  I hope he likes it.

The spring like week lured me to put the kitchen floor potted herbs out on the deck.  This allowed me to clean up the dog hair, live and dead stink bugs, and a few dead wasps that were lurking between the pots.  I know that they will have to spend some more days and nights in the house before they can summer out, but they are out for now.


This is probably the last time I will have the large pots on the floor in the kitchen as I have learned how easy it is to root Rosemary and so the Rosemary plants are going to be planted in the garden this year and cuttings taken and rooted for the window sill pots at the end of summer.  The cuttings will overwinter in the sill and be planted in the garden again next  year, it just doesn’t overwinter here in the mountains of Virginia.  The mint is going to be cut and rooted for a window sill pot as well, along with the other window sill herbs.  I have been toying with the idea of finding a small wagon that can be waterproofed inside that will hold several smaller pots so that I can perhaps expand the winter herb garden to include a few more herbs like bush basil and maybe a small sage.  It could then be rolled out of the way to clean under it, rolled out in the sun on nice days and stored for the summer when the garden has the herbs growing in it.

The excitement of seeing leaves, flowers, and vegetables growing again is swelling.  I still need a few seed packets, but the seeds I purchase are from a Virginia company and many of them are sold in the local natural foods store.  I just need to pull my list together and get in there to get them before they sell out.  It is approaching the time to start my tomato, tomatillo, and pepper starts.  They can’t go out until mid May and I don’t want them to get too tall and leggy before then, so I will likely wait another week or two to start them.  Everything else gets direct planted.  I have thought about direct planting them as well.  The volunteer tomatoes and tomatillos are always the strongest and best plants out there.