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!
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.
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.
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.
Walk along a soaked garden path in early March and what do you see? Raindrops, birds, insects, and the world waking up. So amazing, it drove me to write poetry. Herein a poem for March, the wondrous transformations in a garden, and the miracles of spring. They're everywhere. If we build it, they will come.
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.
A gallery of winter scenes from the garden. Farewell, Winter. Tomorrow is Spring!
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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.
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.
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!
Be Aware! There is Magic in the Gardens on an October All Hallows’ Eve!
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!
Forager Alert: If you've ever wanted to identify, harvest, cook, & eat seaweeds, this post is for you! So much abundance right out our back door! If you are local, heads up: Mac Smith is hosting another Wild Harvest class at the next minus tide that will teach you how. Upland plants also included.
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!
The fact is, the greatest changes come from people, not from government. Now is the time to bring back the Victory Gardens of yesteryear. We can change the world, one garden at a time -- together.
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....
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.
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!
Change brings opportunity! A return to the 3 Permaculture Ethics: Earth Care, People Care, Fair Share, provides solutions amidst political turmoil.
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.
Or...Garden Visions and Realities: Creating a Practical Seed Order – or not. If you haven't placed your seed order yet, you might want to take this advice.
Are your garlic plants looking a little yellow? Will a cold, damp spring bring molds? What can you do if there are problems? What are the signs to look for? Let's weigh our options and figure out the best ways to prevent diseases.
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.
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 …
To get your seeds to germinate, you might have to "think like a seed." Many folks in the Pacific Northwest are starting seeds indoors this month for transplanting later, but some seeds germinate better with a period of cold or fluctuating cold/thaw cycles. They might be better planted directly in cold ground.
LOVE the "firsts" that happen in January! First crocus, alder catkins, croaking frogs! This warm weather has brought out the bees, and they are returning with pollen! And look! The garlic shoots are up! Farewell January. Bring on Spring!
Rosemary! Blooming in January! You gotta love this herb! It is a great cullinary plant, medicinal herb, insectary, and more! You gotta grow it!
Why isn't the Winter Solstice the beginning of the New Year? Where are the birds & the bees? How many different fruits can we find in the garden in mid-December? Pondering these questions and more…and wishing everyone a season of light and hope!
When a helium balloon lands mysteriously in the Barbolian Fields backyard, what could it possibly mean??? And what could it possibly have to do with blogging or permaculture or anything relevant? You will have to read to find out!
I have squished them with my bare hands, blasted the nests open with a power hose, sprayed them with vinegar, burned them alive with a blow torch, and for those that survived all that, drowned them in soapy water. Yes, we are talking about tent caterpillars. Fair warning: this post is not for the faint of heart!
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.
Whether you recycle, upcycle, bicycle, reduce your footprint, make a footprint, go for a simple walk, plant a tree - so much we can do to celebrate Earth Day! My advice, if nothing else, plant a seed! Take care of our bees and they will help feed the world!
Do you keep a record of what is bloom throughout the year? Since we started keeping bees, I have become much more aware of what is blooming when - particularly during those months on either end of the warm season, when the weather is unsettled and food for them can be scarce. Here is my current list.
This post is about focus, unfocus, hocus-pocus, and how diversity helps battle adversity. All this and figuring out how to define who you are, what you do, and what you can offer in 24 words or less - which is pretty much an identity crisis. Obviously, I took more that 24 words.
At last! We have reached that tipping point: the Vernal Equinox - when day and night are equal. Sunshine ahead! It is more important than ever to plant a garden this year - and in the process, make the world a better place.
“By now you should have a pretty good idea what you will be growing and where...” That’s a quote from Erica over at NW Edible Life. If you are not quite this together, take heart. Here's a post about narrowing the seed decision. Or not.
Bees, bee plants, rainwater catchment, spiral gardens, scything, mulching, garlic, unusual fruits, perennial vegetables: here is what worked (or NOT) in our garden last year. Incorporating ideas for 2014….
When it comes to mold and fungi, how do you tell the good guys from the bad guys? This post provides several preventative measures as well as quick fixes to mildew, molds, and blights. The key: focus on improving the entire immune system. Treat the whole system, not just the symptom.
A thank you to those who take time out of your busy schedules to read my crazy blog - and a few thoughts on the solstice, tracking the sun, full moons, new moons, supermoons, holidays, the New Year, and cavorting beneath full moons. Why not? Happy New Year!
The problem with getting a new camera for Christmas in 2012 was trying to sort through over 1000 garden photos! I see I am attracted to symmetry, contrast, and bees! Here are a few of my favorite shots, that STILL can't begin to capture the beauty and perfection of Mother Nature!
If you want to convert an old orchard to a self-sustaining food forest, start with the SOIL. Billions of creatures can live in a single teaspoon, all connected by miles of fungal mycelium. It's an entire universe beneath our feet. Prepare to be amazed.
Wishing you abundance in your life and in that of all those you touch. May your holiday be full of love and laughter! Thanksgiving is every day - and every day an opportunity to make a difference.
It is past the middle of November, temperatures are dipping into the 20s, and yet - oh my! - so many blooms in the garden! The bees, when they venture out, are particularly grateful. An I, too, appreciate them all that much more now!
How much garlic you should grow? How much space do you need? Mulch? Till? Tools? How do you build beds? A few practical things about answering these important garlic-planting questions and preparing ground, particularly under less-than-ideal conditions.
Garlic Planting Conundrums, Part 2, in which we ask, where can you fit garlic in a permaculture landscape, what about companion planting with garlic, and what is the most efficient way to grow really great garlic?
On the Eve of All Hallows… when according to the ancient Celtics, we enter the dark half of the year…
…spiders cover the world with glitter… (a garden gallery at Barbolian Fields)
Garlic Growing Conundrums! Twists and turns in this year's garden led to breaking new ground for next year's garlic crop! What went into the decision process...
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!
Honeybees have their cozy hive, but what about all the other pollinators out there? Where will they overwinter? Upcycle your junk into an Insect Hotel! As crazy & elaborate as you make it. Very fun educational craft for kids, too.
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?