MOUNTAIN SPRING HERBALS
April 22, 2014 @ 2:59 PM

 April 21, 2014

Just got back from a short trip to my old stomping grounds, Washington DC to help my daughter and son in law plant their first garden in their new home. I dug up and bought some hebs from my garden and then we went on a shopping spree at their local nursery for some good soil, more plants and all the other stuff new gardeners need. But, a few days before, I got a disappointed e-mail from my daughter saying she had done a soil test and found LEAD!! She did some quick investigation, but it confirmed what I knew--all soil has some lead...urban gardens, however, border on toxic levels of 500ppm or more. Should city folks grow their own foods? Is it worth the risk? Should they belong to  CSAs?

The answers .........

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November 10, 2013 @ 9:57 AM

 The next few days mark the traditional end to the gardening season, with the celebration of St. Martinmas. All in garden tasks are completed, while homesteading work moves indoors for the winter and livestock are returned to barns after herds are culled. This is the beginning of  "natural winter"--not calendar winter. Feasting on the final garden and butchered bounty continues for a few weeks until Advent brings a period of fasting.

"Snow on St Martinmas, snow on Christmas"

My final return to the garden over these next few days, will find me digging the last of the carrots, beets, onions, radishes and harvesting some hardy greens like chard and beets. The roots will be loosly packed in baskets and moved to ......

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October 26, 2013 @ 5:19 PM

 We associate most holidays with specific foods, and as it turns out, often, those celebratory foods offer us a particular type of healing much needed for that season. Fall is a transitional time of really slowing down and changing where we spend most of our time, the type of activities we do, amount of sleep and how we eat. So many changes at once cause the  all too familiar season of colds/flu/bronchitis..... we are vulnerable. Eating certain foods though, can help us keep and build strength, enhance our immune systems and allow us to ease into seasonal change. Winter is the time to utilize heavy spices for health, but Fall offers us the last goodies from the garden--those that are late to mature and easy to store: squash, .........

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August 24, 2013 @ 3:07 PM

 August 24 ~

In what can only be described as my worst gardening year--ever, I want to try and look on the positive side and pass on to you, the silver lining aspects of this challenging season......in spite of the fact that "half full glasses" are not my thing!

Typically, early August finds the gardens going full tilt--some things passing, but many things coming on to replace them---hollyhocks, chicory, foxgloves, daisies, chamomile all spent, but gorgeous black eyed susans, Joe Pye weed, elecampagne, asters, coming on strong. That is sort of happening, but the hollyhocks were really sub par  and had  some form of rust the entire summer, as does the elecampagne. Everything else is coming along, but not as .........

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July 25, 2013 @ 7:00 AM

 July 25 ~

There have been floods, 2 weeks of extreme heat, threats of blight and, thus, the weirdest gardening year I can remember. A few days ago, the weather pattern changed, putting us back on track for some sort of normalcy, but it remains to be seen how the gardens will produce when all is said and done. Prediction of what would do well or not used to be pretty straightforward, based on spring weather or particular pest problems, but all bets are off this summer. It seems it is going to be a day to day, take what you can get sort of season.

Many plants are late in maturing and many are early, but right now, tons of things are ready for harvest....herbs, weeds, berries, flowers, cones, mushrooms, veggies, grape leaves. If .........

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June 11, 2013 @ 10:30 AM

 June 11 ~

How I looked forward to June!!! I am never one to rush the seasons and am pretty patient with our very long winters and then the dangerous fluctuation between warmth and frosts...But here I sit-- INDOORS again. More rain...a LOT more rain. It rained most of last week too, when I was trying to get the gardens looking nice for my students. It was not up to my standards, but it was good enough. The day after was pretty nice and then...back to RAIN.

During class, I told my new batch of herb enthusiasts that I had a class plan, but that due to the weather, we would have to be flexible. Usually, a first class entails an extensive plant walk--including the vegetable garden. We popped out .........

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June 1, 2013 @ 7:28 PM

 June 1 ~

What is normally a typical, yearly task has seemed Herculean this Spring. Family obligations, extreme weather and many other things proved unusually disruptive to an already stressful period.......  my annual May panic  X 10!!!

But today, after 2 days of working non-stop (except for the needed re-hydration breaks), the veggie garden is done. We can sit back (perhaps with a basil/ginger/fruit cocktail) and look at it with pride and great relief and pleasure for a week or so...before the weeds take over and demand more intense attention. The heat and humidity have been unbearable to us--especiall since we left the DC area years ago to escape humidity---which had been a success until 5 years ago. I do.........

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May 21, 2013 @ 8:22 AM

 May 21 ~ 

This time of year, I bite my nails over late season frosts---not because I was arrogant enough to plant out tender crops or flowers, but because I want my beloved Lilacs to bloom.

I grew up with several lilacs in my yard, lavender and white. My grandmother had several different types of flowering shrubs that filled the yard with delicious scents, but the lilacs were the first to bloom....and they are so majestic. When we first moved to our home 32 years ago, I immediately noticed that there was a lilac bush at each corner of the house and later learned that it was a tradition in the 1800's to plant them in graveyards and around home foundations. Over the years, trees have become so large that they began shading .........

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May 20, 2013 @ 7:59 PM

May 20 ~  

Right now, my previous "panic" has now settled into a more positive "I CAN do this" mode even though there is so much more to do. Also, every inch of me aches after my gardening muscles had their winter's vacation. But, everything is beginning to look nice and I have learned to pace myself, as I re-learn every year.  I should not overly complain, though, because much of the work the "needs" to get done...could have been accomplished already......if only I didn't know so much!!

Instead of barreling through with my various mowers, weedeaters, tillers and loppers, I am constantly stopping and wondering whether to gather that little bit of garlic mustard--even.........

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May 11, 2013 @ 8:49 AM

 May 11 ~

It happens every year......this gut wrenching panic about how much there is to do to get the gardens ready and how little has been done and how time is running out. My deadline is always June 1st, because that is a few days before my summer classes start. Here it is the middle of May and my property looks HORRIBLE.

This is the general scenario: By mid- April, I feel somewhat in control...lots of ideas, rested from winter, the grass has not started growing yet, so everything "looks" manageable. The end of April/early May, we always go to DC to visit family. When we get back......everything has taken off, grass is several inches high, weeds everywhere (can't even keep up with them between eating and .........

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