Friday, April 27, 2012

Square Foot Gardening - April

This year I am going forward with my Square Foot Gardening plans. If you've never heard of it, you really should look into this method.  I've wanted to do this for years, but finally I have the place and opportunity, as well as a retired husband to help me out!  It looks like it's going to be a very good day, weather-wise. Blue skies and warming temps.We have to move more quickly now; it's almost time to get the planting done.  Here are some pictures of how we have begun to set it up.

 I'm heading out soon to a flea market, the first of the season in my area. I'm hoping to find some good deals, maybe some garden treasures. Then we're back home to work outside. The mulch is being delivered this morning, also; that's always exciting.  I love the fresh smell of the wood. But then the back breaking work begins. We move a little slower this year, there have been a few injuries since last summer,  and we take more rests.  I hate getting older. It interferes with my gardening plans big time.

Square Foot Gardening is perfect the solution for us.  Everything is within easy reach.  It's a sensible way to approach vegetable gardening, allowing you to plant exactly what you want in a small area; therefore easy to weed and take care of.
Square Foot Gardening was started by Mel Bartholomew in the '80s.  I've owned his book ever since, my copy is dated 1981, and so now is the time to give it a try. Follow along with me on my journey into a new world of vegetable and herb gardening.

You might also like to visit my cooking blog at An Herbal Bedfellow.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Herb eBooks

Have you noticed the Herbs Gone Wild ebook series in my right column at Amazon? I am so happy and proud of my good friend Diane Kidman that I just had to post her widgets.  Diane is a blogger at dkmommyspot and An Uncommon Thread. And now she has finally achieved her dream of becoming an author. Her three books have been consistently in the top ten herb ebooks at Amazon, often reaching the coveted number one spot.
Diane has spent several years studying and taking a course with the famous herbalist Michael Moore.  And now she has put all of her knowledge to use by writing these three witty and helpful herb books.

Herbs Gone Wild! Ancient Remedies Turned Loose, is filled with suggestions on how to use the everyday herbs you grow in your garden (and others you might need to purchase) as health aides for your family. The following product descriptions will give you a good idea of what these books are all about:
Whether it's cold and flu viruses, high blood pressure, or arthritis, herbs have offered reliable relief for centuries. Herbs Gone Wild! (Volume 1 of the Herbs Gone Wild! Series) shares practical remedies in an entertaining and easy-to-read format so you can be your family's home herbalist. Learn what herbs to use for cold and flu symptoms, first aid, general aches and pains, and more. Medicinal teas and tinctures with proper dosages are laid out simply. You'll even learn how to make your own tinctures and salves, saving money and improving your family's health naturally. And with the help of the Herbal Medicine Chest guide at the end of the book, you'll be able to quickly reference over 70 herbs for home use.

Diane's second book in the series is Beauty Gone Wild! Recipes for Gorgeous Skin and Hair. Once again it is very easy and fun to read.  I found my self wanting to create some herb recipes right away and get started experimenting with her suggestions.
Tired of forking over large amounts of money for fancy-pants lotions, creams, hair care products, and perfumes? Want to get rid of your cupboard of chemical cocktails disguised as deodorants and toothpaste? In Beauty Gone Wild! (Volume II of the Herbs Gone Wild! Series) you'll learn how to save a ton of money while avoiding harmful ingredients by making your own herb-based beauty care products. The instructions are easy, the ingredients pure and natural. The best part? It's fun. And the results are phenomenal. The moisturizing cream recipe alone is worth the read!

And the newest of the three part series is Hair Gone Wild! Recipes and Remedies for Natural Tresses.
I think this one was the most enjoyable for me.  What girl doesn't like to fuss with her hair.  And we all have one problem or another whether it's too curly or straight, thick or thin, and maybe the color is not the correct shade to suit us.
Tired of your hair's unruly behavior? Ready for some natural hair care that not only works but brings your hair's true beauty to light? Whether you're looking for a few quick remedies to end your hair woes, or you're ready to go all out and learn the magic behind the no 'poo phenomenon, Hair Gone Wild! will take you there with easy-to-understand instructions and a good dose of that most ancient of remedies, humor. Everything from how to make homemade hairspray and gels to how to ditch the shampoo and grow magnificently manageable hair that you'll finally love!

I'm sure you'll love these books as much as I do.  Pop over to the side bar and give one a try!
Congratulations, Diane, on the publication of your books and the start of a new career!

You might also like to visit my cooking blog at An Herbal Bedfellow.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Earth Day 2012

It's Earth Day once again.  How did that year spin by so fast?  A lot has happened in my life in that time, and I'm sure it has in yours, too.
We all love our Earth.  It's so beautiful with its green and blue on the outside.  Move a little closer and you see all the colors of the rainbow, both in geography and people. For me today is a time to reflect on the Earth and what we can do as individuals to make it better.
Each year I try to go a step forward in doing my part. I now use organic sprays on my fruit trees, try to encourage bees to come live in my garden, put up lots of bird houses and feeders, and water only when necessary.  Today I am finally taking another step I have always wanted to do.  I am buying a compost maker. We have had many plans to make our own compost pile in the past, but when you live in the city, it's not always an option. Although I do live at the start of the north woods in Michigan, ( I'm actually in the Manistee National Forest area) I am still in a suburban setting, where all houses have large 2 acre lots. I could have a compost pile if I wanted, but it would take away precious space from the areas that I have plans for other projects; therefore, we decided to buy a small composter.  Just enough for the two of us and our leftovers. It's just one more step to going green. Compost makers save on your garbage accumulation, and at the same time makes something wonderful for your garden know as "black gold."
Next I'm saving for a  rain barrel, but that's for another day.
So you see, you don't have to jump right in and do everything at once that is on your list for helping the earth.  Just make a start.  If each of us does one little thing and sticks to it, it will make a big difference.
Go ahead and take that first step.  You'll be proud of yourself and Mother Earth will be proud of you, too! Happy Earth Day!

You might also like to visit my cooking blog at An Herbal Bedfellow.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Daybreak Magnolia

Isn't it gorgeous?  This is my newest garden member. It's called "Daybreak" Magnolia. The Thundercloud Plum that used to live in this spot is now in the back yard, and loving it!
Once I saw this tree at the nursery, there was no going back, even though I did not go there to buy a magnolia. This is not only a beautiful specimen of the magnolia tree, it is practical, too.  The late Dr. August Kehr, a famous magnolia hybridizer, considered it to be his finest creation. The huge blossoms are fragrant and a beautiful rose-pink, which Dr. Kehr named as "light Neyron rose." And the best part of this particular tree is that it was hybridized to bloom in the late spring, in my area that will be late April to early May, so it should avoid all frost damage. Well, this is Michigan, after all, so I won't count my chickens.
My new tree will spread to about 15 feet total ( 7 1/2 feet  from the trunk) and reach 20-25 feet tall. I planned it far enough away from the daylily garden so when mature, it will only cast a shadow in the very late afternoon, but will still provide shade for a weary garden sitting with her afternoon tea.
My Daybreak Magnolia is so lovely, I may be out in the garden at daybreak just to admire the lovely blooms in the morning.

You might also like to visit my cooking blog at An Herbal Bedfellow.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

My 2012 Garden

Spring has arrived and I'm back to gardening in my new 2012 garden. After working on and planning it all last year, this will be the first full summer of it's growth in my new home.

We have had the warmest March ever in recorded weather history for my part of Western Michigan, and it has been wonderful.  Of course, that means that everything is blooming early, and that can mean danger for some plants in the garden.  They started popping their lovely heads above ground only to be hit by a freezing rain on the last day of March.

The daffodils took it all in stride.  No damage done to the rhododendrons, either.  Actually, the only visible result was a beautiful glass effect on the tree branches. The day before this ice storm hit, I had moved the Thundercloud Plum you see pictured above to a new location in the back yard. It's branches were bent over with the weight, and I was sure it would not survive the shock of it all.  But later in the day, as the ice started to fall from trees in chunks, the branches popped right back up, and now my little tree looks very healthy.

And of course, the daylilies didn't seem to notice that anything had gone awry, little troopers that they are.  There's a lot to be done yet, with mulching, etc, but we are way ahead of schedule with the spring yard work and it feels good. The big excitement this year will be watching this first batch of moved  daylilies (8o) grow in their new home.  I still have about 40 to dig in the fall if they are large enough to split. I am also starting a new vegetable garden in the Square Foot Gardening plan laid out by Mel Bartholomew.  I have always wanted to try it and this yard is perfect for it, as well as the fact that we are getting older and large plots no longer work for us.

The summer of 2012 looks to be a very fun gardening year.  There's nothing like the anticipation of what will come!

You might also like to visit my cooking blog at An Herbal Bedfellow.