Home » Barbolian Fields Blog – Welcome to the Ramble in the Brambles

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

Mystery shrubCase 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 planting. Its seed could very well have taken years to germinate, or possibly have been planted by a bird. And I said something like, “We look forward to those [meaning, these seemingly unplanted plants that have a way of popping up where you don’t expect them] – and the challenge of figuring out what this ‘new discovery’ is at that time.” Actually, that is a direct quote.

And so here I am in the midst of one of these challenges, and I am scratching my head.

What the heck is this and where did it come from? How big will it get?

It popped up right next to a small Dunbar Plum tree, which is growing rather slowly because it was dwarfed by some medicinal Saint John’s Wort that appeared one year right next to it. So I moved the wort, and now there is this.

This thing looks very familiar, but I can’t say for sure what it is. It has deep-green glossy leaves and tiny tubular, almost waxy flowers that are very attractive to insects, including the honeybees. And hey, it blooms in February, which makes it worth keeping right there!

Mystery shrub flowersIt is quite beautiful – but I am worried it could overcome the little plum, so somebody might have to move. I don’t see another anywhere else in the garden.


I am sure someone out there can help me identify this beautiful creature. Thanks!


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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Crocus, Frogs, and Bees! Oh My!

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!

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willow winter

Fruits of December

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!

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It’s Your Day

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!

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Caterpillar Slaughter

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!

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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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