Walking Onion

June 5, 2011 § Leave a comment

In the many seasons and turns around the sun, I’ve had numerous gardens and plant friends grace my presence, each one unique and captivating in their own right. I’ve fallen in love with so many kinds of plants. Out of all of the medicine, flowers and food that are at different stages in their life cycle in our garden this year, the one that I’m constantly drawn to is the Walking Onion. It’s considered a perennial, which according to my dictionary means lasting for an apparently infinite time, or enduring…That’s a pretty great gift to be granted. 

 This is their second summer in our ground. As they grow, they emerge from their transparent wombs and put on quite a show as they dance and sculpt their way to a new version of themselves.  

 They very quickly multiply and grow from the picture above to the one below. 

Those once new flowers form their own little bulbs and eventually get so heavy they have to lay themselves down on the ground.

They find their new place to rest, dig their roots, and start the cycle all over again.

It’s amazing to witness this plant’s growth and reproduction happen above ground and in such an expressive way. 

I love the reminder that each new onion is always from the same source and their lineage is long. I love that the onions and greens we can cook with travel around and have relationships with different plants in our garden. I like to think of these onions as having a deep understanding that they’ll be here for a while and they’re taking the time to get to know the other plants that share their home. 

Duckies’ Big Day Out

May 16, 2011 § Leave a comment

A few weeks ago, we drove to the post office to pick up a tiny box  filled with our new babes. We now have eleven thriving Indian Runner ducks. 
They started off inside our house to stay warm and then graduated to a sweet little house Shaun made for them on the back porch. They will be here for another week or so, but in the mean time we need to get them slowly acclimated to their future home {the garden} and our flock of five full grown Blue Swedish ducks. The garden is a bit of a walk from our woodland abode so we decided to load them in the wagon and take a field trip…
Our daughter helped push her ‘duckies’ the whole way. It was quite the effort on her part and she was very determined and attuned to what the duckies where up to. 

When we made it to the garden, we took them out and waited to see what they would do. Being their first time out in the big world, naturally they stuck by each other and didn’t explore much. We sat with them for about an hour and watched them slowly grow curious about their new surroundings and started looking for bugs to eat in the oregano of our herb spiral. 

Here they are a little more relaxed with their ‘papa’ next to them. They’ve really taken to Shaun…they start talking and come to the gate of their house when they can hear his voice and they follow him when they are out. It’s really adorable.

We’ve had our Blue Swedish ducks for about a year, and they aren’t sure about this whole thing. They stayed just on the other side of the herb spiral and were on alert most of the time. We have one duck that is really maternal and we’re curious to see if she’ll adopt the babes.

Our Blue Swedish ducks that we’ve had for about a year aren’t sure about this whole thing. They stayed just on the other side of the herb spiral and were on alert most of the time. We have one duck that is really maternal and we’re curious to see if she’ll adopt the babes.

I’m mean, really? Is there anything cuter? 

After a while, we loaded them back into the wagon and headed home to make supper. We’ll continue to take them to the garden with us for the next week or so. 
We’ve read the Indian Runners are somewhat of herders. Meaning, they’ll follow a flag on a pole and will stay within site of the flag out in the field. We’ve noticed they are really responsive to the color green and we’re bringing some green fabric with us each time we have them out. As they get more comfortable with the process of traveling, we’ll play with making a flag to follow and eventually walk them from the house to the garden without the wagon. 

In ideal permaculture zoning, it would serve us better to be closer to the garden, so we’d spend less time traveling back at forth. But we also need the duckies close to us while they are still young, vulnerable, and needing lots of attention.  So, we are making the best of what we’ve got and making the trip one of our daily chores that our toddler loves to participate in. We’ve loved watching these little duckies grow!

May 10, 2011 § Leave a comment

First of all I have a confession to make…I’m addicted to shopping, plant shopping that is. I drool over seed catalogues and rarely leave empty handed when I venture to one of the big box store’s with the hubby for his random building supplies. It seems like this spring, the one plant I keep bringing more and more of home is Lavender. It’s one of my all time favorite smells and it’s a gorgeous plant to have around the house and in the garden. I don’t quite have the patience to grow lavender from seed yet so I’ve been stock piling different varieties and this fall we can take cuttings to root and have more lavender in the spring. {Who doesn’t want more lavender?} One of my favorites I’ve found is the fern leaf lavender. It’s got amazing silvery leaves and it’s totally different from the more common lavender.

Last night on our walk home from the garden, I cut back some of our already well established lavender plants. There are lots of flowers on them, some at their full ripeness and other baby buds. I had to resist the urge to cut them all and walk home with a gigantic bundle of lavender. I trimmed the older buds and left the little ones. The birds, bees, and butterflies love them so I wanted to leave some for our fellow friends. Trimming the lavender’s older flowers will also help the plant’s energy go towards new blooms and make the plant more bushy and full.

So what to do with those fresh and lovely smelling flowers? Dry them of course, for future crafts and projects. When I first started learning about plants and herbs and how to dry them I was told to hang them upside down in a paper bag away from light. Well, that might be a great way to do it, and I did try that several years ago, but honestly, I want to see and enjoy them. Hanging herbs and flowers bring so much beauty to wherever they are and help my inspiration stir around what I want to use them for when they are ready.

I looked through my yarn stash and pulled some gold cotton thread that I love to use for embroidery and wrapped it several times around the lavender and then hung it in my kitchen window. Some of the projects I already have in mind are flax and lavender eye pillows, using the flowers when wrapping presents, lavender oatmeal bread, and lavender infused oils for baking and for body lotions.

Now I just wait for the lavender to dry and dream of my other flowers in the greenhouse and garden that I can also craft and create with. I’m so looking forward to our bounty of zinnias, calendula, celosias, poppies, false indigo, sunflowers and many more. I plan to use them all for crafts, medicine and dye plants for fabric, and even play with paper making with the dried flowers so the paper can be planted and grow new life.

May 5, 2011 § Leave a comment

I’m finding myself very grateful this spring to live in the woods, with our garden, our animals, and our community. Every morning our daughter wakes up and the first the she says is, “go to garden, see Papa, eat strawberries, see duckies, make smoothie.” There are so many things about this that make me deeply happy…

She knows her Papa is out in the garden every morning. We spend a lot of time there and it’s where she wants to be, with him, me, the plants {strawberries in particular this season}, and our ducks. So we get up, get dressed, grab our strawberry picking bowl and make our way to the garden. She opens the gate and runs to the strawberry beds at the far end of the garden, plops down and starts eating. She takes a few breaks to help me pick, but mostly she’s filling her belly with sweet fruit we’ve been loving and growing ourselves. Our strawberries are planted with our raspberries and surrounded by violets, lamb’s ears and lemon balm. Often times she sits and watches the butterflies and bees swarm the raspberries and ponders why she can’t quite catch the butterflies to pet them. When our bowl is full, we show Papa our bounty, say by to our duckies, and head back home to make breakfast.

She’s been in a smoothie mood lately and every morning she decides what color she wants her smoothie to be. Some mornings it’s pink, others it’s green or purple. We add as much good stuff as we can and as she says ‘vroom vroom.’ Blend and drink….and end up with smoothie all over her face, my clothes and furniture. 🙂 But I love that my 2 year old knows where her food comes from. I love that she’s making choices about what she wants to eat and that we have the ability to grow nurishing food for her. I love that we venture out to the garden every morning and come home and create together. I can’t wait to see what we come up with when our summer bounty overflows into our kitchen, her dreams, and our daily playing, learning, exploring and creating.

April 28, 2011 § Leave a comment

Here’s my favorite duck egg that we dyed for Easter. {You can click on it to make it bigger.} It looks a lot like mama earth to me and it jump started my desire to learn to dye again. Our intention for Easter was to dye our duck eggs naturally. We spent the morning gathering plants from the woods and garden and boiled them in pots, watching them to see what colors would emerge. After a few hours, nothing was happening and we started to get discouraged. I realized I want to read more about this art of dying with plants. So here’s the book I’m getting myself as a late birthday present. The Handbook of Natural Plant Dyes.

This book will fuel my dying projects in a few ways….

For Christmas I was given money to spend on amazing hand-dyed hemp fabric to make a new wardrobe with. Well, I waited too long to use it and the amazing artist whose fabric I had been drooling over for months, closed her shop. In my search for something similarly inspiring, I haven’t found anything I like. So I think I’ll use the money to buy some un-dyed hemp fabric and create my own colors, and then use the fabric I create to inspire the pieces I will sew.

I also intend to grow as many of the plants as we can. I spent all day yesterday starting flower seeds in our greenhouse. We plant according to a Biodynamic calendar which uses the planetary and star alignments to determine the most ideal times to plant things in four categories; roots, flowers, leaves, and fruits. So as we sow our seeds for food, fiber and fun I’ll share our journey.

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