Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Summer Haze, Garden Days: What I've been up to in my garden this summer!

One of my favorite pastimes is spending time gardening. I have quite a large garden in the back of my house, and an even larger piece of property that I can wild forage upon. I simply love this, and on many given days you can find me out in the back tending to my plants, and running around examining and harvesting wildflowers. There is really nothing that you can buy in the grocery store that could ever compare to what you can grow at home. Further more, seeing all the different species of plants pop up at different times creates a much more profound understanding and appreciation of mother earth and what she provides us. For example, when spring first rolls around, we get a lot of detoxifying plants popping up like dandelion leaf, but by the end of the summer and into the fall we start getting things like squash, which are sweet, heavy and nourishing and prepare us for the winter months of cold and snow. So here is a little play-by-play of my garden, (mostly chronologically)

above: Chives are some of the first plants to appear in my garden, and the big, beautiful blossoms tend to appear in mid spring, usually May, for me. While I like to add chives themselves to everything, even finely diced into salads, the blossoms are lovely when they are infused into vinegar. They create a beautiful pinkish allium-scented vinegar that creates wonderful salad dressings!

above: My favorites! Dandelions, detoxifying and tonic to the liver, use dandelion leaves in the spring for pestos, salads, wilting greens, teas, etc. The possibilities are endless, super healthy, and delicious. 

above: The beautiful poppies that like to take over my garden...in full bloom around May.

Above: So this year I tried my hand at planting garlic! After working in a botanical garden and tending to a gigantic veggie garden there, I learned that growing garlic is really a cinch. These snaky green little things, however, are the garlic scapes, or the flowers of the garlic plant. In order for the garlic bulbs to grow to the best of their ability, it is important to cut off the flower to that the plant puts all its energy into the bulb. The scapes, however, are a tasty and delicious treat that are never wasted when snipped off the plant. One of my favorite preparations of these guys is making a pesto. Simply blend with lots of olive oil and parmesan cheese, and you get a beautiful garlic-y cheesy pesto. So good! I look forward to garlic scape season every year. 

 above: These are the processed garlic bulbs, my entire harvest. I grew 2 varieties. The small purple tinted bulbs are called "creole red" and the huge bulbs are called "Leningrad". Both are delicious! I think next year I will plant mostly Leningrad though, because I put garlic into practically everything I make so the bigger the better!

above: Here is a random veggie harvest (that I subsequently turned into a salad and a frittata) from one particular day. In it is Red Russian Kale, cucumber, purple island peppers, red cherry peppers, cherry tomatoes, a Black Krim tomato some rosemary and thyme and some little chamomile flowers!

above: I planted some lowbush blueberry plants this year as well. While I didn't get too big of a harvest, next year I should get a bigger yield as they begin to take into their new homes! This is the harvest from the first day. I actually froze most of the harvest, and I think I'll probably make some blueberry pancakes with them. It reminds me of when I was little and we used to go hiking and camping up in Maine. We would collect wild blueberries on the way up the mountains we hiked, bag them up, and make blueberry shake n' bake pancakes on our campstove the next morning. These blueberries were just as delicious as the wild beauties. 

 above: Some lavender, garlic, and motherwort. I simply love the smell of lavender, and like to make bundles of the buds I harvest. One edible creation I tried with it, however, was lavender lemonade. Instead of diluting the lemon juice with water, I used lavender bud tea and a honey simple syrup to sweeten it. Sooo good! The motherwort is a common "weed" that is actually much more than just that. It is extremely good for the feminine reproductive system, can help reduce menstrual and PMS symptoms, and it a wonderful and gentle heart tonic. I use it in my feminine health teas.
 Above: Here is half of my stinging nettle harvest from the backyard. I am so thankful that it grows there, because contrary to what anyone who's ever felt the wrath of the stinging nettle might think, it is actually one of the most loving, awesome, nourishing plants you can consume! It is anti-inflammatory, it limits histamine response, and it is also chalk full of nutrients and calcium, making it a great general health tonic herb. 

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