30 Things that Make Me Happy

30 Things that Make Me Happy - Because we need happy things right now more than ever… so - coming to all of us in the northern hemisphere - here are some sure signs of spring!

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Primer for Planning a Garden for Pollinators
Pink Viola

Primer for Planning a Garden for Pollinators

Although still officially winter, pollinators are already emerging from their winter havens. What will they eat? Here's what's blooming in my garden & pointers on planning a garden for pollinators.

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Winter Greenhouse Gardening: Strategies for Survival in an Unheated Space

Definitely still winter here in the PNW! Here are some strategies for gardening in an unheated winter greenhouse and ideas on how to keep your plants alive, no matter what it's doing out there! Also - here's what we have going on in the Barbolian Fields greenhouse and some gardening tasks for January. Stay warm!

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Sense of Place

My dog, Barkley, taught me about having a sense of place. This happens, he said, when we develop a sense of belonging; it becomes an extension of ourselves. When we connect, we care; when we care, we protect; when we protect, we try to heal, nourish, and help grow. It becomes our personal truth.

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Last-minute Gifts from the Kitchen
Bottled elixirs, oxymels, syrups - all make great last-minute gifts

Last-minute Gifts from the Kitchen

Overwhelmed right before the holidays? Here are some ideas for some easy last-minute gifts using your fruits and herbs: vinegars, honeys, syrups, cordials, oxymels, herb & spice blends, jams & preserves. Most importantly: don't let overwhelm get the best of you! Take time to enjoy the season! Happy Solstice! Happy Holidays!

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November Gatherings – and a Recipe (sort of)
November gatherings

November Gatherings – and a Recipe (sort of)

November Gatherings - it's a great word for this time of year. A gathering of fruits, roots, herbs, seeds, friends, thoughts. Here is a recipe for Black Hawthorn Syrup made with fir needles and assorted herbs. Happy Holidays!

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Garden Overwhelm, Equinox, & Finding Balance
My granddaughter demonstrates how some of us ARE in balance! (And why it's nice to keep a patch of lawn!)

Garden Overwhelm, Equinox, & Finding Balance

If you are like me and some 19 million other people out there (or more), you might be experiencing Garden Overwhelm. This time of year when night equals day (more or less) is a good time to think about our own equilibrium. This post explores how to get back on track, and when all else fails, your dog just might have the answers. Happy Autumn Equinox!

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Spring Blossoms Return! Yay!
Daffodils: I would plant them for no other reason than that they make me happy.

Spring Blossoms Return! Yay!

Such a busy time of year! Sometimes, though, we need to set aside our To-Do lists and take a moment to breathe in the air of spring. Miracles all around us! I just wanted to share a few photos of some of the spectacular flowers blooming right now. SO gorgeous! So very much appreciated after the deep snows of this last winter! Take a quick look, and then go out in your own backyard and take a moment to wander and linger.

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The Winter Garden Site Assessment: Gaining Perspectives

Spring is almost here! Yay! But before spring clutters the garden with a bunch of leaves, take a winter garden site assessment to evaluate whether your garden is growing toward your goals. Winter allows us to see the bare bones of the garden - the skeletal infrastructure - and a site assessment at this time can give us new insights into what works and what doesn't. Identify sectors, look at how growth over the past year may have changed conditions, think about priorities for the coming season. Hooray for spring!

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Creating a Winter Snow Sanctuary for the Birds

Wow. We got hammered with the snow! Mild compared with the Midwest, but enough to make me think about how the birds survive in this crazy winter weather! Here are some ideas on how to help them survive.

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Perennial Seed Germination Made Complicated (or rather easy)

Perennial seeds, which often have several mechanisms for delaying germination until the timing and conditions are just right, can be difficult to get going. Here are some tips and tricks to wake them up. Also included is my working list of those seeds that like cold stratification, along with general methods for that time-honored "Baggie-in-the-Fridge" method.

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The Plant & Seed Purchasing Strategy
So many seeds and catalogs; so little time. We need a strategy!

The Plant & Seed Purchasing Strategy

Yay for Seed Catalog Season! In this post, I share the secrets of my Seed Purchasing Strategy, which enabled me to cut my seed wish list down to an almost manageable number! I also share with you my actual seed and plant order. Did I succeed? Or am I absolutely crazy? You be the judge!

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2018 Highlights; 2019 Goals, Strategies, and New Beginnings
2019 Goals and Strategies: Reflect, Observe, Interact, and Send out Ripples!

2018 Highlights; 2019 Goals, Strategies, and New Beginnings

It is that time again to reflect over the year’s ups and downs, an exercise that has become cliché but that can still be quite helpful. It was a busy year! Here is a quick summary of what went down (or up, as the case may be) at Barbolian Fields, along with a few goals and strategies for the coming year. What will 2019 bring? What will we be able to do to make the world a better place? How will we help one another? How will we heal our planet? We can start by getting back to the garden.

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Blooming in November: Flowers for Bees, Pollinators, Feathered Friends
Frosty rose blooming in November

Blooming in November: Flowers for Bees, Pollinators, Feathered Friends

I am always amazed at what is still blooming in November. Such gifts! The bees and other pollinators are especially grateful. So am I! In the midst of the leaf-raking season, be sure to take a break to smell the roses! Hope your Thanksgiving is full of blessings, your life full of gratitude, and your garden full of whatever it is full of. It's all good!

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Malabar Squash Hunt (Cucurbita ficifolia)

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
I will garden until I croak.

Garden Chaos – The Rest of the Story

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 Return of the Bees and the Dreaded Dearth

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

April Garden Survey: To Do or NOT To Do…

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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On the Wings of March

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.

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Solexx Greenhouse Kit Sale!
The Solexx Harvester Greenhouse can attach to a building or be free-standing.

Solexx Greenhouse Kit Sale!

[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] Adapt8, 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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Goodbye, Winter

A gallery of winter scenes from the garden. Farewell, Winter. Tomorrow is Spring! [gallery link="file" size="large" targetsize="full" ids="7482,7481,7480,7479,7478,7477,7476,7475,7474,7473,7472"]

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Winter Berries: the Autumn Olive, aka Autumn Berry
In September, the autumn berries start getting ripe. They are quite astringent at first, but get sweeter after frost.

Winter Berries: the Autumn Olive, aka Autumn Berry

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. But BEWARE - this plant can be invasive in some areas!

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

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!
Purple Goosefoot, Chenopodium giganteum, or Giant Pigweed - covered with raindrops. Its velvety leaves hold on to the drops of water.

Rain!

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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Wild Harvest with Mac Smith: Seaweeds and More from the Strait of Juan de Fuca

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.

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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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Victory Gardens for Change

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.

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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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Spring Garlic Woes

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.

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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…

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Cracking the Seed Germination Code

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.

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