PROMISES

Calendula makes promises….
calendula

Promises fulfilled…
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calendula-2-7

Heartsease
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TRIP TO JASMIN GARDEN

jasmin garden0http://www.jardinjasmin.com/catalogue/index.php?UILanguage=EN

One of the highlights of this spring was a first trip to Jasmin Garden nursery in Saint Laurent, Quebec.
Place was huge, very organized, and very clean and tidy.
Everything you could possibly want for gardening was there, from pond equipment to trees, and greenhouse upon greenhouse to visit.
It was inspirational and calming to walk through the pond area with the trickling water displays everywhere, and the vast array of plants that looked very well cared for and healthy. It certainly made you think of all the creative gardening possibilities. I did not get to explore the whole place due to my back problems that day, but I look forward to making another trip soon. Had a little mix up in the amount of items loaded on my cart, but a wonderful fellow there, Allen, went out of his way, and out of his hours I might add to correct the mix up and it was much appreciated. A good quality gardening find.
I am trying their own Jasmin potting mix, compared to some other local name brands, which so far has a good smell and texture. We will see how the plants take to it, but I expect I won’t be disappointed.
Digital StillCamera

Digital StillCamera

jasmin garden2Digital StillCamera

Digital StillCamera

The Character of Plants, Nature Responds

baby cucumber taking its first firm hold.

baby cucumber taking its first firm hold.

 This baby cucumber growing past the indoor lights, reaching out it’s first tendril invokes the same thrill as when a baby grabs hold and curls its hand around it’s mothers pinky for the first time. How is that? Am I the only one who feels like this toward my plants? My baby cuke taking it’s first firm hold onto life. It’s bursting to climb, but I’m waiting for the good weather to come before setting it outside. I fear that weather may not come. It’s the end of May heading into June and exterior temperature last night was 3 degrees. Two nights in a row I have had to bring in those warm loving tomatoes and peppers, which are also aching to get into their final larger pots. Today’s temperatures hovered around 11 to 15 degrees celsius with gusting winds making it even cooler. I can’t say the tomatoes are enjoying the transitions from exterior to interior too much. They are equally sensitive as the cucumbers. The first night I brought them in they withered slightly from the interior heat, then when they were put out in the morning their leaves severely curved in reaction to the wind, and I feared they were lost, but they perked up and made a full recovery after a few hours. I have seen the tomatoes leaves curl this way before, but was puzzled as to what the problem could be. Now I know it’s a self defense mechanism against the wind or extremes.
One of the joys of plants is discovering the individual characters of each new addition. Its sensitivities, requirements, how it thrives. After transplanting the cuke into a larger pot, I saw the tendril reaching out and hanging in mid air an inch away from the stake. I had not yet tied it to the stake. I turned my head for one moment occupied with other plants. When I turned back the tendril had a hold onto the stake. When I came back later, it had several more coils firmly wrapped. Sometimes when it’s quiet you can actually hear them pushing and pulling, a leaf brushing past another, a blossom falling.
A curious thing had also happened during winter with the calendulas. Growing indoors the calendulas were blossoming under artificial lights, but they were few and far between. Having only one blossom to work with one day, and wanting to save some petals for my omelets and not take the whole flower, I decided to pluck only half the petals, and leave the other half of the petals still on the stem. I felt pretty weird about it though, and stared at the half naked flower. I wondered how the plant felt about it. I found out how it felt, when the next blossom came out. It reacted by only growing half a blossom! I could hardly believe it, and wish now I had taken a snap. It responded by stunting its growth on half of the next blossom! Since I didn’t want to encourage this behavior, I never plucked in this fashion again. Now it’s back to full blossoms again. These plants amazed me when I first grew them by how they closed up in the evenings. They may move slower than we do, but they are certainly moving and being active quite a bit. I love when each plant shows itself in its true character. They are always responding and being so purely alive and true.

Incredible Stunning Morning

Digital StillCamera

blocked sky May 15, 2015

When I went to water the plants this morning my mouth dropped at the huge amounts of chemtrails already in progress. It was in a little bit of a double shock because I suddenly came to the realization without any doubts, that we are indeed being slow killed for population control. It would have been a beautiful day, without the chemtrail interference. Mid May already and today it’s cold outside. The trees and plant life, and any life for that matter are not getting enough sun, or warmth, and are being bombarded with metal poisoning. And who is doing this? I would be prone to say the government/military, but the truth is we have no government, tho plenty of military- being its own corporation. We only have a bunch of corrupt corporations pretending to be government, who have been allowed, through our own apathy to run a muck and destroy this planet. Seems these corporations have bought their way into controlling every aspect of our lives through force and intimidation. Corporations, cold fictions that men have created, an ego driven, title based type mania with no respect for life. Just because it’s done slowly doesn’t make it any less murder. In full view, the Agenda 21, the corporations jointly cooperating, and implementing the policies world wide. The people unable to grasp what type of web we have been cast into, unable to comprehend the evil intentions against us. How can we do anything when we are busy working and giving our hard earned money to these corporations, and barely just surviving ourselves? With absolute malicious fore thought and intent the people are kept drained of their own resources to survive.

blocked sky May 15, 2015

blocked sky May 15, 2015

It is not the corporations, but the will of men that go out and get in their planes and spray the population. It is the will of men to participate to commit these criminal acts purchasing these chemicals, filling the containers daily.

Nobody wants to look at it, our own murder; we want to look at the cute cuddly distractions to make ourselves feel better. Yes it’s important to feel good and embrace positivity. We need that in order to compare and contrast the deep depression we are in, so we can again know how to live life, to remind ourselves how good it can be, but we need to be careful to find a balance with the reality of what truly is going on.  While we are watching the cute and cuddly looking for joy, learning once again how to be whole, we are avoiding holding these men who willingly participate in this destruction, accountable for their actions.

 

Gift in the Pot

Digital StillCamera
While preparing my pots doing spring garden cleaning, and turning over the dirt, I discovered some gifts from the squirrels. Yup, peanuts buried in there, one to each pot, 2 in the last one. During winter I saw a squirrel that looked rather sickly to me. Its nose was all runny, bearing its teeth, and had the head very close to the ground of the railing it was sitting on. It refused to leave, even after a couple of firm nudges. I thought maybe it was really old, or it had a cold. It almost looked like it was falling asleep, or couldn’t go on. It hadn’t occurred to me that yes, squirrels can get old too! I was quite concerned for its health. But I needn’t be, it was more that it WOULDN’T go on. I just saw the same squirrel running about bearing a very fat winter tummy, looking quite boisterous. The reason it didn’t want to leave, was probably because it had just buried its nuts in my pots, or trying to retrieve them, and it would explain the low bearing teeth posture, probably in defense mode.
I threw the nuts back out to them, and am trying to figure out a natural way to keep the squirrels at bay, and away from my garden. Funny though, the pots didn’t appear to be rustled through, they had hay mulch over them which were undisturbed, and the nuts were buried quite deep. I don’t know how they accomplished it without making a mess.

spinach-01Part of the spinach crop this year. These were transplanted from indoor seedlings, and are taking quite awhile to establish. Not much sun on the balcony, and it was quite a cold April, with only one or two warmer days. Those are egg shells for mulch, to help reflect more light onto the leaves, and keep some of the excess heat out during the day, and heat in during the night. I double cupped them, using old cups from last year, due to the near freezing temperatures at night. Poked some pin holes in the sides to keep some air circulation.
I notice the gnats and bugs in general are attracted to the black color of the earth. More and more mulching seems the way to go for multiple reasons. I am also hoping to detract some of the bugs with the white color of the egg shells.
Some of my home made compost had spider mites, darn! I scooped the bulk of them off the top surface when transplanting, as I couldn’t let my winter compost go to waste. I have noticed that there are fewer spider mites in the glass pots, and more in the plastic ones. I am concluding that they might be finding the glass too slippery. Believe it or not, I spend some extra time in the evening hand picking the remainder out with a pointy blade while the population is still low. They just crawl onto the blade and then I squish them between my fingers off the blade, being ever so careful not to cut myself. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Funny, I would never dream of squishing any type of bug between my fingers a couple of years ago. It appears that I am starting to relax about bugs. But only I think because these are so small, and it seems to be the most practical way so far. It’s giving my eyes quite a work out too. I really don’t want to be spraying anything. Until I figure something else out, this seems to be keeping their numbers down, there are only the odd two or three now. If I had more cash I probably would go for some predatory insects, to do the job for me.

“Keep Reachin Till You’re Reachin”

calendula

These lovely Calendula are such a surprise! They sprouted within a day! Last year they took weeks on end, and repeated attempts and conditions. They either molded, or withered shortly after sprouting, or just plain rotted. I believe the term for it is “damping off “. It took months to get anywhere with them. So, when I planted these seeds from my own harvest, I was leery of what trials awaited me, and I wondered if the bees got to pollinate well. But they did! 90% sprouted so far, in this first batch at least, and I’m thrilled! So far… As the mother plants were not that strong and struggled, it is rather amazing to see so much robust health come to her offspring. I made sure to keep the earth as neutral as possible, and pasteurized the earth this time by baking it at 150 degrees-the lowest my oven will go-for about half an hour to 45 minutes, to make sure to kill off any stronger pathogens, bacteria, kill weed seeds and fungi. I imagine the sun would naturally do this pasteurization process if the earth were outdoors. Whereas, sterilizing kills everything, pasteurizing retains some of the good organisms.
There seems to be differing temperatures to bake at, and some people recommend covering the earth, and preheating the oven to 200 before lowering. After seeing a graph, which I can’t find again to re-post, on what gets killed at certain temperatures, I settle for 150 degrees.
Here are some links on pasteurization:

mother earth news-compost
pasteurize compost

Lettuce on the Door

Lettuce and Spinach growing in milk cartons hanging on the door.

Lettuce and Spinach growing in milk cartons hanging on the door.

Lettuce and Spinach growing well on the door in milk cartons. This year seems to be doing much better for the spinach in their new cooler location sandwiched between the interior door and the exterior storm door. Here they are protected from too much cold and wind, but still getting their light and coolness.

Previously the spinach all bolted or get very scrawny and leggy. The only problem is that due to the inner door being blocked from behind by a cupboard, the door does not open all the way, and when I am going through the door, I sometimes inadvertently bump or scrape off the leaves that are hanging out as I pass. I go gently around them now. Though, the picking is easy! Just open the door and grab a few leaves,  so convenient! This will do until I get the greenhouse up and running. Trying to make use of every window and door sun space I have.

Drinking Wormwood Tea

wormwood

Drinking wormwood tea for the first time, was much anticipated, more than what I expected, and definitely did not disappoint. Having read that the Impressionist used to drink absinthe, knowing wormwood was used as part of the drink, and being an artist, it was almost an obligation to experience a part of what the masters experienced.

Van_Gogh_-_Still_Life_with_Absinthe

Van Gogh -Still Life with Absinthe

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L’Absinthe-Degas

Wormwood does not make the whole absinthe drink, but is used along with other herbs in an alcohol base.  Making a tea with it, and using it for the anti-worm properties it has, was far different.  Apparently, it was used for this purpose as far back as the Roman days, so really it is doubly a taste of history.

absinthe art1

Of course there is warning saying you should not intake too much, which goes for all things, and can have adverse effects if overdone, so proceed with caution.

absinthe1

The unusual phrase attached to absinthe “chasing the green fairy”, now makes perfect sense to me.  Though it is implied that one hallucinates, I didn’t with a simple tea without any alcohol, but the very first ways my perceptions changed was that I became increasingly aware of the air around me. Light and airy, as if you became the substance of feathers.  There is a heightening of senses, and so you are more aware and look around (for the green fairy-not that you actually expected to find one-still being very much attached to your good senses) as if new to the world. A feeling of well being, is quite firm, but lasts only a few minutes, till you take your next sip.

For some reason I didn’t want to gulp it down, and lingered over it for well over half an hour, it being a leisure thing and experience by its nature.

One of the tragic things about being artistic is that often you are in a brew, tumultuously turning things over in your mind, searching at the depth of things and it can get quite serious and often you find yourself in a depressed state.  So when something like this light and airy feeling comes into your scope, the contrast makes you wonder, do un-depressed people feel like this all the time? Mmm…I am sure – not. It’s not the type/ sense of well being that makes you crave more, and thirst desperately or addictively for your next intake either, but more like an after dinner mint at the end of the week.

I made my tea quite mild, and mixed it half and half with green tea, and some sugar.  The first time it was very bitter, but in a good way like a tonic. The second time I didn’t dry it so long, for only about a week, so perhaps it was more mild than the first time, and I used also a pinch of fresh ground nutmeg, and I think that is what took the edge off the bitterness. It had a type of sweet and bitter thing going on. A real treat, definitely recommend.

absinthe1-2

gumballsabsinthesoap

Fertility Natures Way

Buttercrunch lettuce flowers.

Buttercrunch lettuce flowers.

Watching nature and the fascinating self-made propagation, or the way plants give back to the earth.  When placing the lettuce outside it immediately bolted, grew to about 3 feet, and began going to seed.  Surprised by the flourish of flowers which only stayed open for a brief time, then closed up and when they opened again had a puffy fine lined feathery bouquet with seeds attached underneath.  I like the way Wikipedia describes it like a “parachute”, and,  “The pappus remains at the top of each fruit as a  dispersal structure”.

buttercrunch-seeds

Buttercrunch lettuce seeds under a fine lined feathery bouquet glittering in the sun.

Built within it’s structure the seeds get picked up by the wind and can self propagate without any help. It is wonderful to see this type of bounty.

With fall and cool weather my mind is focused on preparing the soil and I saw a wonderful film about soil fertility which shows a method with wood chips that keeps the soil fertility process in balance in the link below called “Back to Eden”

Back to Eden film.

Back to Eden film.

http://www.backtoedenfilm.com/

The film is also on http://vimeo.com/28055108

Yes, I Can!

Canned carrots with doe hill pepper harvest.

Canned carrots with doe hill pepper harvest.

This weekend I tried my hand at canning for the first time!  There is something so reassuring about it.   You just don’t dread the foreboding winter as much, when you know you are stored well for it.   Only had sea salt on hand and was supposed to use salt without iodine, which the sea salt naturally contains.   So, I added a few drops of vinegar and lemon in order to keep the color, but much less than I’ve seen done. I am waiting to see if the color will turn brown due to the iodine, or if the lemon and vinegar will do the trick.   I used the water bath method as I don’t have a pressure cooker, and I decided to precook lightly to kill germs beforehand rather than cold pack (which is raw uncooked veg.), and of course had to add some homegrown herbs and garlic.  Some herbs like oregano should, I hope, aid in the preserving process.  In the excitement I left a a darn bay leaf in the carrot brine, so one will probably be overpowered with it . I really enjoyed the process, even though I was quite nervous about it. All the tops popped like they were supposed to. One on it’s own, and the other two when I pressed down to test them, but they stayed down so they passed the test. The process does perplex me a bit.  I wonder how the water doesn’t seep into the top gap when being immersed, and only now figured out why there needs to be a gap in the first place after reading this book “Put ’em Up!”.  The gap is needed for the food expansion during the heating process. That leads me to another question.  So how come when it expands it doesn’t suck some of the exterior water back in? I am guessing it can’t do both at the same time. Who on earth figured all this out- the exact amount to leave at the top? And I wonder how far back it all started. The book helped me to understand the process more, and I like the way it’s organized.  I wish I could find some of those colorful tops in the book.  Important things I learned were:  fingertip tight means don’t use your knuckles to over tighten the tops as gases will not be able to escape , let the jars sit 5 minutes  after turning off the heat before taking them out, and do not  tilt the jars to get the water off the top when taking out the hot jars as the seal is not set yet.

Here is the Amazon link: http://www.amazon.com/Put-em-Sherri-Brooks-Vinton/dp/1603425462

I also found a strange sooty film on the exterior of the jars and the inside of the canner that I am hoping is from the first use of the canner and not from the metal tin covers. There is not that much choice on the local market for canning tops.

Gee, now I don’t have to worry about food going bad.  It is quite comforting. The true test will be of course, when I open them up a month or two down the road.  I think I will be doing sauerkraut next, probably some tomato sauce with market tomatoes, and some fruits. These are more acid and therefore less risky and lend themselves better to the water bath method. Then, the only room for fantasy in the world of practical, will be for the playfulness of herbs, balancing the quantities and the tastes, and dreaming of just opening up a jar of home canned on a cold winter day.

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