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Purple Basils have more fun

 

Somebody has been chewing the Genovese basil, but not the Dark Opal. That somebody is missing out!

Dark Opal basil is totally delicious. It’s said to have a stronger anisey taste, but I don’t notice a difference. Of course, I pile basil leaves on sandwiches like other people do lettuce so maybe an overwhelmingly-strong basil flavor is my kind of thing.

You can substitute Dark Opal basil in any recipe that calls for green sweet basil. Try pesto for fun– it turns your mouth purple.

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The Solstice Tide

Rosa mundi closeup

Summer Solstice is on June 20th this year, but you can already feel it in the air! The sky is still light at 9:00 at night and the garden is overflowing with roses.

Heirloom roses are better than gold to me– they smell incredible (seriously, better than any rose scent you’ve ever smelled) and are really useful in herbal medicine.

(yes, yes, you can eat them too)

Today I’m using rose petals to make a richly moisturizing skin salve for my dry, cracked, achy gardening hands. Combined with red clover, violet, marshmallow, and meadowsweet, this salve will be exactly what my summertime skin needs.

Happy Solstice! And remember, it’s always a good idea to salve up after all that sun 🙂

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Moving Day

wheelbarrow

It’s finally moving day! We’re turning Hawkeye’s photography studio into ‘farm central’ so we can have all our plant projects under one roof. I’m so psyched- I’ll have a big space to play herbal mixtress in and we’ll be able to keep the paperwork organized!

We’re going to start moving into the studio this week, but probably won’t have time to get fully settled in until Summer. Planting season is upon us!

I’ve been seeding kale, chard, and leeks inside this week, and have spinach sprouting in the hoophouse. Lots of spinach over-wintered in our cold frame too, along with a glorious patch of chickweed and a few dead nettle which are flowering.

Serious beauty on a busy road 2/3 mile from downtown…. You could almost call it Paradise 😉

Happy Spring!

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Turn of the Season

fall asters

The season is coming to an end. Our herb garden was done in by the freeze two nights ago and all that’s left in the veggie garden are greens we have protected under chenille row covers. (Asters photo taken the day before the frost)

Greens still growing include Lettuce, Kale, Tatsoi, Mizuna, and Arugula, and we’ll be harvesting them for a few more weeks yet.

I brought a couple of Rosemary plants indoors to overwinter as well as my big Patchouli and Rose Begonia, so I’m not totally without my plant friends. But I’m already missing the garden….

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Savoring Summer’s End

heirloom tomatoes

It’s the last day of Summer. And it’s cloudy. And cold. Which means I’m trying hard not to get bummed.

Hawkeye to the rescue! He’s cut up a big batch of our heirloom tomatoes to cook into sauce and can. The smell of the tomatoes is like having sunshine indoors. I can already feel my mood lifting.

(The glasses of cabernet sauvignon he poured might not be hurting, either 😉 )

 

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In love with Swiss Chard

swiss chard

Its calcium, iron, and vitamin C content are not the only reason I love Swiss Chard. When the sunlight hits it, the vibrant stalks light up like stained glass. Never fails to knock me out.

We treat it as a cut-and-come-again, harvesting individual stalks as they’re ready instead of cutting the whole plant at once.

Alone or combined with other leafy greens like Kale, Tatsoi, and Mizuna, it makes for a quick and easy side dish, cooked with onions, garlic, rosemary, and a dash of Bragg’s.

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Garden in the Sky

herbs growing in containers

A piece of our big puzzle has finally fallen into place….

When Hawkeye and I decided we wanted to move from serious hobbyists to dedicated farmers, the first challenge we faced was space. Our house in Northampton sits on just 1/5 acre- not nearly enough land for us to produce enough veg and herbs to share.

Luck was with us though! Just as we were hitting a wall trying to find land to rent, an aquaintance mentioned she had an unused, 3/4 acre property that she would love to have someone farming.

Our Hadley garden was born! The only drawback is the 18 minute drive to get there (on a good day- the time can double if you’re stuck in traffic).

Talking over our goals for the micro-farm recently, Hawkeye brought up an idea he’s mentioned many times before that I’ve never taken seriously: a rooftop garden.

So simple! So obvious! The flat roof over our garage is perfect for building a rooftop garden and would give us the full sun growing area at home we’re currently lacking. But I was intimidated by the amount of work (and money) it would take to make this happen ($25 per square foot is the ballpark figure).

The only other option seems to be to leave Northampton, which isn’t really something we want to do.

Now that I’ve agreed to the project, I’m really excited about it! Can’t wait to see the view from my garden in the sky!

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Jenny Lind Melon

jenny lind melon

Here’s one of our faves, the ‘Jenny Lind’ melon. This photo was taken a couple of weeks ago before they were ripe (the skin now is more netted and tan-colored) but it shows the “button” (top right) that’s considered one of the determining features of this variety.

Inside, these muskmelons have a beautiful light lime-green flesh that’s juicy and sweet.

We’re especially fond of them not only because they grow well in the cooler weather here in the north but because of Northampton’s connection to Jenny Lind.

As the story goes, Jenny Lind- a Swedish opera singer popular in the mid-nineteenth century- dubbed Northampton “The Paradise of America” when performing at the Academy of Music Theatre.

Now Northampton is known as “Paradise City”, though I sometimes get funny looks from people who only have the G N’ R association 😉

We’ll be bringing our Jenny Linds to the next Florence Wednesday Farmers Market, August 27, 2-6 pm.

 

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