Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Where to Begin?

We've been moved out to the farm for a year now, and haven't made as much progress as we would have liked, ........but, ah, life goes on.  My husband and I debate often over using chemicals and no till.  He is an avid no-till farmer, but he still uses a lot of chemical herbicides.  They have started planting cover crops in the fall to aid in soil nutrition as well as soil retention.....but like to burn it off in the spring with chemicals instead of tilling it under.  He says that tilling it under disturbs the soil structure and you lose too many nutrients and microbs by tilling the ground.  I tell him that we are not going to be able to grow carrots in the ground that has been a horse pasture for years and years because the soil is too hard packed to allow the roots to grow, therefore we must till it.  But with so many other projects that needed attention this year, the garden debate was put on the back burner.  Besides, it was a lousy year for gardening.  We're looking forward to next spring.
I did get a few herbs in the ground and a few herbs in pots and I also got some rhubarb planted.  My husband's grandmother, Granny Dot, always had rhubarb in her garden and made strawberry rhubarb pies.  Royla, one of Granny Dot's daughters now lives in the house in Cambridge City and is also an avid gardener.  But as the years pass, she has decided that she is tired of pulling weeds and is tapering down her garden.  So she dug up Granny Dot's rhubarb and brought it down to me.  I planted part of it and passed a portion of it along to my sister-in-law Judy.  I did harvest a small amount of rhubarb this year to make some strawberry-rhubarb jam.  I'm hoping for a larger crop in the coming years.
We ripped out the shrubs on the south side of the house because neither Shawn nor I like to care for shrubs.  I have managed to plant some herbs along there with a few flowers.  There was some existing tall phlox growing there and I left part of it.  It bloomed all summer and was very fragrant.  I planted some St. John's Wort, purple sage, anise hyssop and some basils and mint near the front porch and also added some marigolds that my daughter had grown.
I planted other various herbs later in the summer, but I'm not sure how many of them will make it due to the drought we had.  I planted a regular sage and a Berggarten sage, regular fennel and bronze fennel, salad burnet, parsley, Carolina mountain mint, more anise hyssop, a couple of lavenders, and some thymes and oregano and a hyssop plant on each side of the porch steps.  I'm pretty sure that my oregano and thymes have already withered beyond salvation, but I have more to plant.  I plan to get some more plants in the ground this week.
Most of my herbs were too late or too small to harvest this season, except for the mint!  Mint grows especially quickly, so I planted some mint so we could enjoy mojitos this summer!!!  ;-)  And we did enjoy them many times!!!!
I also foraged along the roadside and gathered mullein blooms to make some mullein oil.  It makes a great remedy for earaches.  More about mullein in my next post.
Here are some of the hydrangea blooms I harvested to dry this year.
And I also gathered many, many hydragea blooms that I dried to sell at markets and use in the shop.  I had a hydrangea bush at the farmhouse and also had a couple of hydrangea bushes at the old place.  So I harvested a variety of blooms and dried them.
So we have had a slow, but good beginning.  Let me know what you had success with this year, or tell me about what you planted.

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