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Malabar Squash Hunt (Cucurbita ficifolia)

Malabar Squash - King Size

Malabar Gourd, Malabar Squash, Fig-Leaf Gourd, Pie Melon: There are many names for the Cucurbita ficifolia. No matter what you call it, this is one of the most amazing squashes EVER. Tremendously versatile - it can be used in soups, stews, goulashes, pies, puddings, beverages, and more! Every part of the plant is edible. The biomass is incredible! Join me on this Malabar Squash hunt and be prepared to be amazed!

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Garden Chaos – The Rest of the Story

Green frog on a grape leaf

The rest of the story... the late summer garden has turned out nothing like what I envisioned in the spring, but in some respects, is so much more. It's hard not to get discouraged when once again, I've truly lost the battle against grass, thistle, and bindweed. Garden chaos rules, but neatness and control are so overrated, are they not? Here were my "Ah ha!" moments.

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The Return of the Bees and the Dreaded Dearth

Bee on hollyhock

The bees have returned! Yay! Here’s the whole story. And with them, responsibility. Do they have enough food? Nectar is suddenly scarce when the fruits are fruiting and the flowers are done blooming. The dreaded dearth can hit a hive harder than winter. What can you plant to ensure they make it through late summer? In this post, I list the main bee plants that we have growing right now, including the bees' favorites.

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April Garden Survey: To Do or NOT To Do…

Red Flowering Currant, Ribes sanguineum

It's another drippy day in the Pacific Northwest. What to do ... or not ...  that is the question.

April is National Gardening Month. The blogs are full of To-Do Lists on what you should be doing if you had your act together (which is making this overachiever feel like a real slacker). What is truly feasible? How to find balance? Taking an April Garden Survey is a good procrastination technique. In this post, I explain my strategy for this year's garden (and for minimizing my workload) and take a look around at what is up and blooming.

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Solexx Greenhouse Kit Sale!

Solexx Harvester Greenhouse Kit attaches to building

[caption id="attachment_7514" align="alignright" width="350"]Solexx Conservatory kit The Solexx Conservatory kit is made for serious gardeners! Solexx Greenhouse kits are on sale through 4/15/18![/caption]

Adaptive Plastics, maker of Solexx greenhouses, is having a “tax refund” sale through April 15, 2018. As a Solexx Distributor, I'd like to pass the savings on to you. If you've been thinking about getting a greenhouse, now might be the time. In this post, I talk about how much I love ours and the pros & cons of the kit vs. the DIY route.

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Winter Berries: the Autumn Olive, aka Autumn Berry

Autumn berries in September

Fresh fruit in late December! What a treat! Autumn Olive, aka autumn berry, Elaeagnus umbellata, is an amazing shrub. It is a nitrogen fixer, great for pollinators, and provides fruit when little else is available. The berries are high in lycopene and antioxidants and can be made into jams, syrups, elixirs, wines, fruit leather, tossed into baked goods, sprinkled on salads, or eaten fresh by the handful. I love this shrub. And the red berries beneath fresh snow are strikingly beautiful.

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The Power of Tea: Herbs for Coping with Grief and Hard Times

a cup of herbal tea

There are times in your life when you are blindsided by events that turn everything upside down and inside out. The path forward is not at all clear; the only thing you know is that things will never be the same. This post is about how a cup of herbal tea can help us cope with grief, get some rest when we need it most, boost our immune systems when we are most vulnerable, and get ourselves recentered. We dedicate this post to the memory of our good friend, Andy, who was hit by a drunk driver. Please don't drink and drive.

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Turning the Corner into November

We turn the corner into November. It is amazing how much is still blooming and how many fruits are still available! Here is a quick autumn garden inventory. Lots of pictures of flowers, fruits, fall colors, and cute grandkids - plus an amazing bald-faced hornet's nest that was revealed after the leaves had fallen!

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Rain!

Raindrops on purple goosefoot leaf

Rain! This post was written after we had gone 3 full months without a single drop. Living in the Rainshadow of the Olympics in the Pacific Northwest is sometimes a challenge for the garden. Now we begin our transition to a time of drizzle and gray...and I couldn't be more thankful!

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Travels in Ecuador

A little break from our regular Barbolian garden chatter: We escaped the Pacific Northwest February drizzle (and snow!) on a trip to Ecuador! How crazy! Turns out, it was one of the best things we ever did. Here is our story of the wonderful people we met, the gorgeous country we traveled through, and a way for me to share our photos with friends and family. Hope you like them! We are looking forward to going back!

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A Quest for Cottonwood Buds – and How to Make Cottonwood Salve

Today, we are on a quest for the cottonwood - Populus balsamifera – and more specifically, the cottonwood buds on windfall branches with which to make a healing salve. Cottonwood is powerful medicine - the bees make propolis out of it, so that should tell you something - and now is the best time to collect the buds for making what is commonly known as "Balm of Gilead." Prepare for a sticky adventure. The scent will make you swoon....

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Garden Journal – Do You Have One? How to Make One – and Why?

One of my main goals for the garden this year is to do a better job of tracking things. This post is about ideas for a garden journal, and I would be very interested in hearing from my readers as to what works for them.

It seems that garden journals fall into two categories: those that are more like Planners and serve as guidelines, schedules, and a means of recording results for production gardens and small farms – and those that are more like Art Journals that document not only observations but also a spiritual journey, sometimes with a bit of flair and whimsy thrown in for good measure.

In the past, I have been on the practical, production side of things – make that, borderline fanatic about recording stats on the garlic crops, but I have always fallen short on keeping track of other things. This year, I'd like to try something different and make something that will be fun to look back on.

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Permaculture Resolutions (and Where Do We Go from Here?)

Happy New Year from Barbolian Fields! We live in "interesting times." This year, we are incorporating Holmgren's Permaculture Princples into our New Year's Resolutions. Our goals, in general, focus on reaching out, buying local, being prepared for uncertainty, optimizing our backyard ecosystems, and keeping things in balance by also taking time to enjoy life. We hope you will join us in making a difference!

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Spring Equinox – a Discovery of Miracles!

It is, at long last, the Spring Equinox. I love this time of year when each new bud is a discovery.

Cornelian and Nanking cherries, forsythia, daffodils, nettles and purple deadnettles, the first dandelions...

The first buds of the new season are such an inspiration! Everywhere you turn is another miracle...another bit of magic.

This is a somewhat wandering philosophical post, but full of pictures and a quick read.

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Mystery Solved! Daphne laureola

As it turns out, Daphne laureola, aka Spurge Laurel, our mystery plant, is NOT a friendly plant! It is both dangerous and invasive! If you see it in your backyard (or elsewhere), destroy it ASAP! It is on the Noxious Weed list in Washington State and many others throughout the U.S. Do not touch it with your bare hands! The sap is highly poisonous.

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Mysterious Plant

Case in point: for those of you who read my last blogpost all the way to the end (ahm…it’s ok if you didn’t get that far; unlike so many things in life, you can always go back), I was waxing philosophically about how wonderful it is to stumble across a new plant that you don’t remember …

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Bee Swarm Saga

This is a true tale of honeybee determination, courage, against-all-odds survival, instinct over reason, fate, and loyalty to the point of willing to give up one’s own life for the protection of one’s brethren. Also a few of my thoughts on bee intelligence.

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Garlic for Barter and Trade

What do 3 dozen eggs, 3 bottles of honey, and a beautiful handcrafted dish have to do with garlic? Barter Fare! A new economy is emerging - one that is deeply connected to the earth, self-sufficiency, living simply - one that places more value on human connection than on the almighty dollar - one in which trust, friendship, and the trade of goods and skills can strengthen local communities. And hey, this stuff is just so cool!

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Let’s Do a Bee Walk

For Farm Tour Day, my friend, Sid, who runs Annie's Flower Farm, asked me to do a "Bee Walk." What is that? Something you make up as you go! We took a stroll through the gardens and kept a close eye out for honeybees, native pollinators, and even frogs. And why do some bees like some flowers and other pollinators prefer something different? And what can they tell us about how much we need one another?

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