Swarm Alert!

We noticed the little cedar tree over by the beehives looked a bit odd yesterday – and as we got closer, we realized, Holey Moley! a swarm of bees was almost completely covering it! Now for the hard part: how to persuade them to move into our hive!

Avoiding Shaken Bee Syndrome

Does anyone else out there see the utter impossibility of shaking 15,000 bees through a small hole in the center of a box DOWN into another box without them all just flying UP into your face??? There has to be a gentler way. In my attempt to avoid Shaken Bee Syndrome, I managed to completely botch this bee installation. Learn from me and avoid. Or follow. The choice is yours.

A Quiet Place for Peace

Willow room in spring

The Willow Room in spring takes on a life of its own. Individually, the reeds are supple. They bend with the forces that shape them. Together, however, they are strong – forever interlocked. Recent events in Boston remind us how together we are stronger, and, too, how each of us needs an inner garden sanctuary in which to find peace and make sense of this world.

Urgent: Weed Your Garlic!

It’s officially spring and that means the beginning of Panic Season! So much to DO! Here is one more urgent task on your to-do list: WEED YOUR GARLIC. Early Spring is the most important weeding you will EVER DO in your garlic bed – and here is why.

Plant and Seed Quest 2013

Ok – so the truth is, I just cannot narrow it down. I have spent days and days looking at websites of different nurseries and purveyors of exotic seeds – and I have spent months and months reading about plants and planning different guild arrangements and compiling “wish lists” that rivaled the loving letters I used to send to Santa Claus – and I, much like our dear friends (ahm) in Congress, cannot seem to reconcile the expenses with the budget. And, like them, the debate goes on and on – because my vision does not coincide with reality, which I am still trying to define, in terms of the vision, of course. It’s a loop-thing. As is life.

And so I took a break to try to put it all back together in the Willow Room, because even in winter, this is a good place to go see how things with a little creativity, intertwine. (Besides, it was time to do a little pruning.)

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Happy Day – Rodent or Otherwise

What? Looking for shadows to predict weather? I’d say the bees are better indicators! As well as the snow geese, the pussy willows, and the Cornelian cherry…not hard to find things that say Life is Good! Happy Groundhog Day!

Seeds for Trade

A list of seeds I collected last fall – and also some roots and tubers. Care to trade? Buy? Barter?

Garden Resolutions, Goals, and To-Dos for 2013

Personally, I think New Year’s resolutions are over-rated and goal-setting can be counterproductive. A To-Do list, though, Yes! Break it down into action items! Here’s what’s in store for the garden!

Frosty Morning at Barbolian Fields

Frost is on the grapevine! The dill looks like a sparkling fireworks! And our friend, Toad, well, he looks like he could use a little warm sunshine!

12 Good Things about the 2012 Garden

Wow. What a transformation! Here are 12 accomplishments and lessons learned in the 2012 garden. It’s all good! And 2013 promises to be even better!

A Message for Peace

I had to throw out my words today about crazy holiday gift ideas. The recent news of innocent children slain in Newtown make us all question who we, as a human race, have become. Maybe it’s time to get back to the garden…

December Bees

A sunny day in early December and the bees are out! Hooray! And even more amazing – they are finding pollen! But where? Should I feed them? Are they ready for winter?

Thanksgiving Every Day

Wishing you abundance in your life, however that may be defined! Have a safe and happy holiday – and may it be full of love and laughter!

Food Forest Beginnings and Fall Tasks in the Orchard

Grass, to me, is Orchard Enemy #1. I talk about how to get rid of it, how to turn an orchard into a food forest, and what to do to get your orchard ready for winter, thanks to tips from Michael Phillips’ book, The Holistic Orchard.

The Willow Room Dance

Welcome to my secret garden: the Willow Room. It didn’t start out as much – just a few twigs; but it has transformed into something truly magnificent! A place to dance and celebrate autumn!

Time to Plant Garlic!

Time to get that garlic in the ground if you haven’t already! Need garlic? We still have some! Want a tool to make the planting easier, faster, & more uniform? We have just the thing! Need planting tips? Look no further!

What’s Wrong with My Garlic?

What’s Wrong with My Garlic? Does your garlic have yellow-tipped leaves, signs of mold and rot, falling over stems, thirsty insects sucking the living juice right out of the plants? If you don’t think you have problems, after reading this, you might change your mind.

Garlic: You Better Come On In My Kitchen

It’s been awhile since I’ve played harmonica for the ol’ garlic patch (or at least shared it). We are bringing her into the kitchen for her own protection… bwahahahaha

Garlic Status: Mid-July

I am getting lots of questions about where we’re at with the garlic – when we’ll have bulbs for sale – and how about the bulbils? Here’s my final, not-so-final, wishy-washy answer to predicting the future.

Three Sisters Corn Patch

Thinking of a “3 Sisters’ Garden”? (corn, beans, and squash together). Can you still plant corn in the Pacific Northwest? I planted June 16 last year, sort of 3-sisters’ style (sort of not). Great results! Read on!

Plant ON, Plant People!

Is it too late to plant spinach? When should you plant tender veggies? What to plant? Did you miss your planting window? Or is it just opening? These questions and more, not necessarily answered.

Permaculture by Nature

Before we coined the word, “Permaculture,” Nature was already perfecting it on her own. Here, Paul Gautschi describes his methods of mimicking nature by applying mulch in his garden. The results? Absolutely amazing! His approach has recently been featured in a film, “Back to Eden.” Happy International Permaculture Day!

Warre Beehive Update: Save the Queen!

A heroic effort on my part, as well as by the bees. We all had the same mission, really, to Save the Queen – we just had slightly different approaches, being as I was perceived as a smoke-breathing giant intent on raiding their hive!

Let ‘er Bee Free!

Do you install bees? Dump them? Pour them? Knock them in? Release them? And what happens when you let loose 15,000 (or so) bees? Here’s how it went down, folks. Happy Earth Day!

Warre Hives Set Up at Barbolian Fields

A video and some close-up pictures on the Warre hives we built. If you are looking for something simple, inexpensive, and something that naturally lets the bees do what they instinctively do – this is it!

Bee Ready – Ain’t Mis-bee-havin’!

Happy Earth Day! In celebration, we are releasing somewhere around 20,000 bees into their new home, a Warre Hive situated on the back side of Barbolian Field. Here are a few videos to show you how we are getting ready for this big event (and conquering a few fears in the process!)

Nettle Soup

Looking for a good recipe for Nettle Soup? Look no farther! All these nutrient-dense weeds growing out there wild and free – and free for the taking! Indulge in one of nature’s superfoods!

Tracking the Sun

Hooray! It’s officially spring! Days are getting longer than the night – finally! Here are some cool tools to help you track the way the sun changes with the seasons and some ideas on how to apply that info to your garden design.

Is Your Garden Boring? (The Food-Forest Solution)

Has winter exposed your garden as a bunch of boring rectangles and squares? Do you wish it more replicated real life, running in circles? There is help for people like us. Work WITH nature to transform your labor-intensive squares into a self-supporting food forest.

A Case of March Madness

Winter doldrums got you down? Beware of March Madness – when everything goes a little crazy – and not just the weather and the weeds. Indulge your compulsion to “buy more plants.” They are good for you.

16 Days Until Spring

A gallery of buds and blooms – the garden is waking up and it looks like it has been watered with a triple shot of caffeine! Spring is only 16 days away! Yippee!

First Sprouts of Garlic!

Mid-February and the garlic is UP! Tallest in the patch is the Chinese Pink, a Turban variety, but all varieties are making a showing. These hardy little bulbs can handle the rough weather ahead. Just be careful with the mulch!

Death by Garlic, Revived by Kale

February is a weird month – we get a little bit of everything in the weather department. We do a lot of fantasizing through seed catalogs and are anxious to get our hands back in the dirt. When the winter blues & blahs get you down, our latest kale recipe, “Death by Garlic, Revived by Kale,” is sure to bring you around.

For the Love of Kale (and Garlic and Cauliflower)

What’s to salvage out of a garden hammered by winter storms? Italian Lacinato (or Tuscan) Kale stands strong! Here’s a great recipe for Chicken-Kale-Cauliflower casserole (with a fair amount of garlic, of course!)

How to Prune an Old Apple Tree

Got pruning phobia? Never fear. This 5-step approach to fruit tree pruning will help you get those old apple trees back into shape in no time! (Well, maybe in a few years, anyway.)

Reflections, Resolutions, and to All a Good Night

Do you make garden resolutions? I’m going to keep it simple in 2012 – going to make it a year to slow down, linger awhile, and smell the flowers. A garden teaches us so much if we just stop, look, and listen.

Handmade Christmas Gift Strategy

Ok. We’re in countdown-to-Christmas mode. We love the idea of handmade gifts, but finding time to make them is another matter. Here’s a strategy on how to manage your time and achieve your wildest dreams. Ok, maybe not that exactly.

Thanksgiving Dog Biscuits

Here’s the basic recipe: turkey, pumpkin, whole eggs, rice flour, nutritional yeast, a little oil and molasses. No wheat, no corn, no artificial anythings. Give your dog something to howl about!

Thank You, Good Earth

Hope your Thanksgiving was full of giving thanks. A few thoughts on gratitude, abundance, and how fortunate we are. Thank you, readers, for following my posts!

What to Do with a Phat Jack

Did you grow a giant pumpkin this year and are now wondering what to do with it? We’ve got some ideas…

‘Tis the Season for Transylvanian

Halloween Night! What a fright! Protect yourself with Transylvanian Garlic! Special sale on braids – while supplies last. Warning! It packs more than just a little bite. Seriously. I warned you. Vampires need not apply.

A Somewhat Unconventional Garlic Garden

I tried a little unconventional approach to this year’s garlic garden. I built the beds in a series of circles around nitrogen-fixing shrubs and a meandering form that looks a lot like my life – er, I mean, a whirligig. Whatever. I was lost.

Got Garlic???? YES we DO!

We still have lots of garlic! In trying to set up a storefront, I wiped out my page that lists them. If you’re looking for great garlic to plant or to eat, shoot me an email and I’ll get back to you. It might take me awhile to find a fix!

Garlic Planting Planner

Having trouble figuring out how much garlic you can plant in your garden? Or maybe how much garden you need to plant all your garlic? I’ve created a little tool in Excel that will do all the math for you – leaving you more time to get down and get dirty in the garden! Check out the Barbolian Fields Garlic Planting Planner.

Garlic Still Available!

Got garlic? We do! Need some? Contact me! This post lists what’s left…

Surrounded by Garlic!

Got garlic? One can never have too much. See what it’s like to be surrounded by about 1000 bulbs and over 130 pounds of this fragrant stuff — swooooon…

Barbolian Garlic Harvest 2011

Our garlic harvest was a full month later than in some years, but yes – the garlic is in and hanging in the shed – AND THE GOOD NEWS IS: IT LOOKS FANTASTIC!

A Memorial Garden Sanctuary

We planted my mother with the dogs in the pet cemetery. It’s true. She would have wanted it that way, right next to her best friend, little Lambchop. It’s not as bad as it sounds. The cemetery, which we affectionately call “Boot Hill,” sits on a little knoll with a view of the Olympic Mountains, … Read more

Self-Imposed Limitations, Sustainability, and Creatively Breaking Rules

I’ve hit a turning point. Actually, several of them. In the process, I’ve been examining my self-imposed limitations, my concept of sustainability, and why now is the best time to break a few rules. Another lengthy psycho-analysis post of how our gardens teach us much about life and visa versa – and what to do about it.

Square Foot Gardening and Getting a Grip on What You Really Need

Want to grow more food in less space with less effort? The “All New Square Foot Gardening” by Mel Bartholomew has the approach you might be looking for. With gas headed skyward, putting away the tiller and growing what you need makes a lot of sense. 100% of the harvest at 50% of the costs, 20% of the space, 10% of the water, 5% of the seeds, and 2% of the work – that makes it a no-brainer.

Lasagna Gardening and the Great Mulch Cover-up

“Lasagna Gardening” – heard of it? read it? Here’s my review of the book and a take on a method that heaps organic matter on top of weeds and lets you kick back while nature does the work. Also a tip on slug control that doesn’t involve squishing them with your bare hands or watching them shrivel under salt.

Garden Planning Season

Blame it on Seasonal Affective Disorder if you wish, but this is the time of year when many of us otherwise-very-reasonable people succumb to buying seeds for things we know we don’t have room for or can’t possibly grow in our zones. We need to get real. A strategy. A garden PLAN. I’ve been reading a lot of books this winter and am passing on some cool ideas – obviously, not my own. This post is an introduction.

Garlic Under Snow

Snowstorm in the PNW! The garlic is under a blanket. Here’s a good recipe for a simple high-energy food mix for the birds.

Garlic is UP! and Much about Mulch

Garlic is up and growing strong! This year, we did not apply mulch to the garlic beds. Mulch is the new mantra for a lot of people – we say, that depends…

Garden Planning 2011: Some Successes from 2010

Time to plan this year’s garden! In this post, I share a bunch of pictures of plants I grew from Renee’s Garden Seeds – things like poppies, morning glory, larkspur, yellow pole beans, beets, kohlrabi, and more. These will definitely be on my “grow again” list.

Themes and Resolutions

Did you make any gardening New Year’s resolutions this year? Do you have a strategy when it comes to keeping up with your garden? Last year, I used goal-setting and time-management techniques to try to get an upper hand on the weeds. My mission was to “Establish Boundaries” over which no weed should dare cross! Lesson learned: weeds do not respect my boundaries. Many things – particularly the garden – are beyond my control. This year, I’m working more from an attitude of cooperation rather than conflict. We’ll see whether Mother Nature agrees.

New Year’s for the Birds

As the winter weather sets in, there has been a frenzy of activity at the bird feeder. This post gives some ideas on how to make muffins for the birds out of suet, nuts, seeds, and other goodies. We also made a bird feeder by drilling holes in a small log and filling them with a suet mix. Enjoy!

Thanksgiving – today and every day

A happy Thanksgiving to one and all, and a few thoughts about abundance, gratitude, supporting family farms, and thinking about what is important in life. Thank you everyone for all your support, and may you have a wonderful and safe holiday! Remember to buy local!

How to Plant Garlic Bulbils

Here’s how I recently planted garlic bulbils – those little seed-like clusters in the scapes. Planting scapes is a great way to increase your crop at a low price. Can you still plant them? Yes, I think so, but you may want to wait for the snow to melt if you’re on the Olympic Peninsula! I am sure there will be warmer days ahead if you still need to get them in the ground.

Harvest Now for Holiday Gifts from the Garden!

No time to lose! You still have time to harvest things to use in making gifts from the garden. Holiday gift ideas include seed sharing, taking cuttings for propagating plants, herb blends, food treats, an assortment of crafts, and a recipe for calendula salve.

Time Again to Plant Garlic

Frost is on the pumpkin and it’s time to plant garlic! I am going back to basics this year – keeping it simple. This post is all about planting garlic: planning, building beds, enriching the soil, planting, and mulching.

Fall Abundance – and a Great Recipe for Apple Cake

So many reasons why I love this simply gorgeous time of year! But aaaghhh! So much to do! …last-minute scramble to button things up for winter, can and freeze surplus produce, get the garlic in the ground, don’t forget fall cover crops…and what to do with all those apples? Try this Skillet Apple Cake Recipe – it’s fast & easy!

Harvest Celebration Farm Tours

Tomorrow, Saturday, October 2, is the 14th Annual Harvest Celebration Farm Tour in Clallam County. If you are on the Olympic Peninsula, Washington State, this is a very fun event that gives you a glimpse of what the Peninsula has to offer. This year, nine different farms are opening their barn doors and throwing a party – hayrides, music, great food, farm animals & produce, demonstrations – a ton of down-home family fun.

We are incredibly blessed to have such an abundance of “real” food and local products available to us. It’s up to us to insure that availability. By supporting our local family farms, we are supporting our independence, our self-sufficiency, and our communities. Our health – and our quality of life – defined on so many levels – depends on it. So when you check out some of our local farms this weekend, take time to get to know our farming neighbors. We’re all in this together.

10 Tips for Growing Corn in the Pacific Northwest

Hey! We are doing the Corny Happy Dance here at Barbolian Fields. YES! We are harvesting CORN! Amazing but true! Here are my 10 tried-and-true tips for growing corn in the Maritime Northwest, where summer heat can be fleeting, at best.

Grow, Corn, Grow!

We’re running out of heat units here! What do I have to do to inspire this corn to get with the program? Maybe this little Gershwin Summertime tune will help, by yours truly & trusty harmonicas in Em and Am. (the livin’ ain’t so easy if you’re an ear of corn in the Pacific Northwest)

Capturing Sunshine in a Jar

Save money, eat healthier, control the ingredients, be more self-sufficient – all good reasons to can your own food. It is a connection to past generations who understood the importance of self-reliance to survival. And like our grandparents, come some blustery day in the midst of winter, we can gather with family and friends, crack open a jar of those home-canned peaches, sit back, and close our eyes at the sweet taste of summer. Mmmm-hmmmm. A little sunshine in a jar.

Artichoke Beauty and the Art of Aioli

We have artichokes! Celebrate by making your own aioli – basically garlic, lemon juice, egg yolks, and olive oil blended together in a smooth mass – to transport yourself into some other realm. It is a night and day difference from the stuff you buy in a jar called mayonnaise. Artichokes – extraordinary thistle that they are – are the perfect partner to this excursion into a gastronomic swoon.

Every Soil Tells a Story

We delve deeper into the whys of a poor garlic crop this year, and although I highly suspect it was a combination of a long wet winter and spring, incessant strong winds, and too thick a mulch, I thought it might be a good idea to buy an NPK soil-test kit and see what the soil could tell me.

St. James Infirmary (Ode-to-Garlic) Blues

A sad farewell to my garlic crop, which did not do well this year. And a thank you to all the frogs that spontaneously joined me in my song.

When All Else Fails, Buy Plants

A little retail therapy helped offset the dreary weather and having to face a very poor garlic crop. Sad day. Looking for some bright spots amidst a lot of bulbs that rotted in the ground. Looking for reasons why. Even after over 30 years of growing this stuff, gardening is always such a learning process, huh.

Scapes, Scallions, and the Scarcity of Spring

In this post, I confess to having a serious case of scape envy, based on reports I am getting from others whose garlic plants are already producing those delectable scapes. Want to know the difference between scapes, scallions, and “green garlic” and how elephant garlic fits in to this picture? I’ll try to unravel some of that for you. And if you’re wondering what to do with your scapes, stay tuned for my upcoming cookbook!

Addicted to Oil? Sharpen your hand tools!

The oil still gushing out of the bottom of the ocean in the Gulf should make us all aware that we are all part of the problem. Choosing to use hand tools instead of machinery is one small way we can cut back on our consumption. In this post, I describe how I sharpened an old sickle and cut down my green manure crop of a rye-clover-vetch mix (mostly rye) by hand. Let me tell you, it made me feel pretty darn powerful! Try it. You’ll like it. And so will our environment.

Pull Back the Mulch and Feed the Garlic!

If you’ve tucked your garlic in under mulch for the winter, now is the time to pull back the blanket and let the sun shine in. Early spring is a time of intense change for the garlic plants, and when they first come up, they are hungry! Have pity and don’t make them search for food! This post is about the special needs of garlic in early spring and how to care for them.

Garlic Reconnects Old Friends and Makes New Ones

Progress reports from Pennsylvania and the Mojave Desert: Barbolian garlic is thriving across the country! Plus a little philosophical wandering into how the Internet, gardens, and garlic can reconnect old friends and make new ones!

Quinoa Crustless Quiche with Spring Greens

NOW is the time to use those spring greens, because later on they get strong and bitter. Personally, I had easy access to lovage, sorrel, parsley, pea shoots, kale, and collards, so those are things I wanted to use. Lovage & sorrel, especially, need to be used in small quantities, but can really add that little “zing” that makes everyone wonder, “Jeez! What IS that!” Here is a recipe that is a take-off from something I found in Vegetarian Times. I’m calling it Quinoa Crustless Quiche with Spring Greens. You won’t believe how quick & easy it is to make. Low calorie. Nutritious fast food, Inca style!