garden

willow winter

Fruits of December

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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!

Good Fungi vs Bad Fungi, Molds, Mildews, and Blights

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A reader from Texas posed some very good questions relative to my recent post on the importance of building the soil and, in particular, the essential role fungi play in the process. (Read: To Convert an Orchard to a Food Forest, Start with the Soil)

Specifically – How do you differentiate between the good guys and the bad guys?

She asks, “Don’t we always seem to be spraying trees against fungus?” “What about all the mildew, fire blight, early blight, and other diseases that can take down tomatoes, squashes, and cucumbers seemingly overnight?”

Where do you start?

How do you help one without helping the other?  Or the converse, destroy one without harming the other?

Can you introduce good fungi? And can good fungi fight off the bad ones?

My response started to get a bit lengthy, and I decided it would be better as its own blogpost. Maybe some of the other readers out there can shed some light on this as well.

Rust on Quince Leaves

I am definitely going to try to be more on top of spraying this plant this year with nutritious compost teas, and maybe even something with baking soda. I have a lot of mulch around the base, but maybe it hasn’t had time to break down and feed the soil yet?? I believe this was the Quince. Hope it makes it!

Because I couldn’t agree more on how confusing some of this is! Read More »Good Fungi vs Bad Fungi, Molds, Mildews, and Blights

Solstice, Suntracks, Supermoons, and a Happy New Year!

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Full Moon Rise
Dear Friends,

I thought I might write you all sooner. At the time of the last full moon of the year, for example, would have been appropriate, but the great white orb managed to boldly rise in the cold night sky and then set in quiet serenity the following morning without any website fanfare on my part (although I admit to a certain amount of cavorting in song and celebration, which is usually what happens when I whip out my harmonicas under a full moon….). (Not to draw correlations, of course.)Read More »Solstice, Suntracks, Supermoons, and a Happy New Year!

Favorite Garden Photos of 2013

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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!

Thanksgiving Connections

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sunchokesThe end of November! How did this happen?  It appears that we were so busy during the flurry of harvest activities and making sure things were getting tucked in before the coming chill, we forgot to look up! The days are not as long, you know; they are gone before you know it! We hardly noticed just how swiftly one turned into another while the sun skated low across the sky. What happened to high noon?Read More »Thanksgiving Connections

October Spiderwebs

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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)

Let’s Do a Bee Walk

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Bee Walk? What does that mean? I mean, bees don’t walk much. Some say they “march,” as in marching up into the hive. But they don’t really march, either. Rather, they follow, which is interesting, considering they have the option of flying.

A Bee Walk sounds like a Moon Walk, Michael Jackson style, with a slight buzz. Hmmm. I like that idea.

See Annie's Flower Farm, Sequim, WA

Sid, aka Annie, of Annie’s Flower Farm – always cheerful and as beautiful as her flowers!

So I was kind of doing some creative moves in the Willow Room when my friend, Sid Anna, who runs Annie’s Flower Farm, called to ask me if I would like to do a “Bee Walk” through her gardens. Read More »Let’s Do a Bee Walk

What’s to Eat?

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Bee on Leaf
“What’s to eat?”

It’s a phrase that brings me back to when my teenage kids would hang for long periods on the open door of the refrigerator

As we approach late summer, I, too, have to ask, “What is there to eat – for the bees?” (And for that matter, what’s to DRINK? Are their water sources still available?)Read More »What’s to Eat?

Willow room in spring

A Quiet Place for Peace

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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.

For the Love of Kale (and Garlic and Cauliflower)

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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!)

Thanksgiving – today and every day

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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!

Harvest Now for Holiday Gifts from the Garden!

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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.

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.

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!

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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!

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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

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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

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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!

Garlic Is Coming On Strong!

The garlic is growing strong at Barbolian Fields! We applied a heavy layer of mulch at planting time, and it appears to have done a good job of protecting the bulbs from the series of winter freezes and thaws and also preventing erosion of the beds when we got a lot of rain. Looks like a good crop this year if all goes well!

Buying Seeds: Garden Planning Reality Check

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Ha! Wasn’t that incredibly irresponsible of me in my last post??? I mean, I’m talking to people quite possibly stuck in a snowbank, and I blithely (as I can do so very well) flaunt our blooming crocuses and say, “Here are some fantastic catalogs – a little retail therapy will do you good!”
Whoaa – whoaa – whoaa….
We need to review the Reality Check Blues Rules! Here are some things to keep in mind when you go shopping for seeds!

January Signs of Spring

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I know it’s cruel and unusual punishment to post these pictures of a rhubarb bud and the first pea shoots, but here you go. For those of you encased in ice or buried in a snowbank, hang in there! Spring isn’t too far behind!

Blue Moon Garden Review

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A cold winter’s night beneath a blue moon: December 31 and it’s that time of year again: time to evaluate what worked and what didn’t in the garden. Once you complete this year-end ritual, you can dive into all those seed catalogs. But don’t skip this pre-garden planning step: a realistic evaluation now might prevent you from making crazy impulsive purchases based on glossy photos, mouth-watering descriptions, and a human tendency to forget the bad and remember the good. Or not.

Buy Garlic, Not Gold!

Garlic has been named the Best Performing Asset in China this year, outperforming gold, silver, oil, and real estate, a consequence of supply and demand and the H1N1 flu epidemic scare. If you’re looking for good garlic, though, the very best can be found at home. Buy local.

Tomato Saga and Green Tomato Mincemeat

A story of growing tomatoes, from training them up a trellis to having them take over the garden. If you are wondering what to do with all those green tomatoes left at the end of the season, here is the best mock mincemeat recipe I have found. Ingredients include tomatoes, apples, raisins, citrus, and spices. No meat, lard, or suet. Makes a great mock mincemeat pie just in time for Thanksgiving and upcoming holidays. This post also recommends a couple of good garden cookbooks and a great place to purchase seeds and get gardening information.

Yes! You Can Still Plant Garlic!

It is not too late to plant garlic! This post discusses pros and cons of planting early or late. A detailed description is given on how to plant garlic, including planning, building beds, pre-plant techniques, spacing, and mulching. It is based on my over 30 years of growing garlic in the Northwest.

First Garlic Harvest Underway!

The garlic has matured a little early this year due to the warm weather. We are harvesting our first garlic nearly 2 weeks earlier than usual. When to water and when to harvest is always a balancing act when it comes to garlic.

Garden Fireworks

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An Angelica flower appears to be a 4th of July fireworks celebration!

Rainwater Collection System

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Conflicting demands of population growth, agriculture, and environmental needs (endangered salmon and other fish) are putting a huge strain on our water supply. Setting up a system to collect rainwater is easy and inexpensive and can not only get you through the dry spells, but leave precious water for other uses.

Spring Cleaning in the Garlic Beds!

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Spring is a busy time to get the garden in shape before planting. Garlic is up and so are the weeds! Efforts now to get rid of the weeds will pay off with big garlic bulbs later! Also time to fertilize the garlic with a little side-dressing of blood meal for a nitrogen boost. Seaweed and fish fertilizer foliar sprays also strengthen the plants. Raised beds are a real advantage to early growth.

Welcome Back Garlic!

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Welcome back New Garlic Shoots! Welcome back Garlic Lovers! It’s only February, and the garlic looks rather naked and vulnerable out there.