June 4, 2012 @ 3:17 PM


              "Compost is best aged like a fine wine" ~ Anon.  

  Competing with family obligations, weather and self-imposed limitations/deadlines, has made this spring very frustrating....but I almost have everything under control.....at least, that's what I let myself believe. We never can truly control our small portion of nature, but we can "edit" it to our purposes. My purposes are food and  medicine harvests and teaching opportunities. Each gardening season has me in a mad rush to keep certain areas pristine for the comfort of students (and to avoid lawsuits resulting from someone getting hurt while visiting the gardens or property)... and looking around at new and old volunteer "weeds" to decide what should be left to grow wild. This year, certain circumstances made some of those decisions for me--not entirely to my liking.

  In spite of the early and unusually warm spring weather, I found myself behind in garden work--where I remain as of today. However, I have decided to embrace the chaos, learn from it and maybe even enjoy it.

 Too many plants died over this winter due to lack of snow cover--so there are gaping holes in my usually overfilled beds.  I have 2 compost bins, but have already used up my lot for the year--even though I need 2-3 times as much. Some have suggested one of those "compost makers" that churn out the black gold in a few weeks rather than months---but I have old fashioned ideas about letting nature take it's course--even if it is slow. I need some homestead animals for their milk, eggs and poop....and because their sounds make me happy..... but, that will have to wait until we can replace our dangerously delapidated barn.  Some areas I like to keep open, got grown over too quickly due to extensive rainfall. Some plants need dividing and are not looking great. Eli in the Nettle patch Frosts did in most of my beloved lilac blooms for this year, apple crop will be low and I am behind in planting out seedlings. The weeding and mowing alone, take up most of my time and cause a lot of frustration because they are maintenance tasks--not progress. So, can I make some lemonbalm aide out of this less than stellar gardening year? I am off to a good start.

  My new weed patches are going to yield me bumper crops of St. John's Wort (which my nerves and aching back will truly appreciate) and Red Clover. I have had paltry clover crops for several years, but due to a really hard to get to patch of ground and other factors, they are there, yielding me a daily crop to dry. Of course weeds have pretty flowers, so I have been and will continue to enjoy those and I am sure that as the year progresses, I will find many more herbal allies. I can use those empty spaces in the gardens to teach about the realities of gardening VS. nature.   My grandson is finally at an age where he not only likes plants, but is able to be a real help. Most wonderful, though, is that he has a class demonstration to prepare on a topic he really likes---he chose to show his class how to make an herbal tea ---from picking to drinking------without my suggestion....REALLY!! I just need to enjoy what I know to be true...that all change or disappointment can lead to unexpected joy and there is no better place to learn and understand that... than in the garden.  But the biggest pleasure is a fulfilment of my lifelong dedication to passing on the knowledge and wisdom of the natural world that my grandparents handed to me. That is one aspect of this gardening season that has gone smoothly.