The sun came out beautifully this afternoon, it was so nice to walk down to the creek that is flowing quite rapidly making its roaring sound from all the spring rains we have had. With more hours of sun light and abundance of rain, the bright green colors of dandelions, chickweed, plantain, lamb’s quarter, violets and other wild weeds are making their delightful appearances. What a blessing it is to forage these nutritious wild edibles! It was quite a surprise to find bluebells in full bloom a few weeks back, I was almost certain that the last flood had washed them away! What a treasure to behold near the banks of the creek! I really enjoyed taking photos of these lovely plants!
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…Would you be thoughtful ?
Study the fields and the flowers.
Would you be wise?
Take on yourself a vow,
To go to school in natures sunny bowers….” J.L. Blake
Sweet Basil is one of my absolute favorite culinary herbs! This very flavorful herb is excellent in soups, casseroles, spaghetti sauce (of course!) all kinds of tomato dishes, sauces and more. It makes a great Italian salad dressing! You can make basil vinegars to use through the winter and pesto, one of our favorite ways to enjoy basil!
Basil is an easy to grow annual. It is a sun loving, warm weather plant and grows for most of the summer season.
A secret to having nice healthy basil plants all season is to keep the flowers and any seed heads pinched off. Doing this will keep the basil plant from going to seed, giving you those large, wonderful, fragrant leaves and full strong basil plant for a long time. In late summer we do let a few plants bloom and develop seeds on purpose to save for next years planting, another easy and frugal way that basil keeps giving!
You can start your basil from seed by direct sowing outdoors after all danger of frost has passed or you can plant seeds indoors for an early start, then transplant your basil when the time in your area is right to plant outdoors.
Watch our Basil video for more ideas!
Also, we like to space our basil a foot or so apart which makes nice room for them to grow and get plenty of air circulation. Basil seems to grow in most any soils and thrives with comfrey tea or worm castings applied around its base.
Sometimes basil will reseed itself from the spot it grew last year, which I find handy! So keep a look out and you may see that you have free little basils!
You can also get a cuttings of basil from a friend or a plant you bought or started that has gotten at least six inches or so tall. Just cut a few inches of the main stem take off bottom leaves and place the basil stem in water. The herb should root for you fairly soon, when it does - place your now completed basil plant in the garden.
As you can see there are many ways to get these wonderful plants going and keep growing! We grow sweet basil more like a crop. We grow it by the rows:)
Another added bonus about basil is that pests don’t seem to bother it and planted here and there among your vegetables really helps to keep pests away! Im gonna make more of an effort to plant basil all through out the garden this year!
When working in the garden, I’ve grabbed basil leaves right from the plant and rubbed the leaves right on my skin when I was being bothered by gnats and the bugs quit bugging me!
So why not give Sweet Basil a try this year? You’ll find out how sweet and giving it is ! :)
Speaking of Sweet …..
The Sweet Potato is an amazing, easy to grow, very tasty and highly nutritious wonderful food! The nice sized tubers once harvest can be prepared in many ways, such as peeled raw into salads, sliced up for French fries (we like to use coconut oil to fry them in) baked sweet potatoes with butter, mashed sweet potatoes, sweet potato salad and sweet potato pie!
The beautiful leaves from these plants are also edible! So while you are waiting for your tubers to grow you can enjoy harvesting a few leaves and putting them in smoothies or tossing a few in your salad for extra nutrition! You can even cook the vine tips and leaves as greens! Now that's what I call a plant that keeps on giving!
This plant loves very warm temperatures, day and night and does well growing in more of an acidic soil.
Propagating your own sweet potato plants (called slips) inside gives you a jump start and can save you a little money too.
Click here to see how to start your own slips.
In late spring many Co Ops or garden centers will have sweet potato slips and or plants for sale that you can purchase to set out when all danger of frost is gone.
We harvest sweet potatoes before the first frost in the fall, or after leaves start to yellow. The potatoes will need to cure first. After harvesting the sweet potatoes spread them out, carefully, not to bruise them, in a barn or out building (we have cured ours on the covered porch just fine) for 10 days or so, this makes thicker skins. After the potatoes are cured, store in a dark, dryish, place that stays around 65 or so degrees. We have stored our sweet potatoes in boxes under beds and under other shelves or benches and they stored good for us that way. The sweet potatoes should last you through the winter and maybe till next harvest! Don’t forget to save a few potatoes for making more plants!
We have heard of folks who have kept their sweet potatoes going for generations! Now thats a food that keeps on giving!
Our three favorite green beans:
*Royal Burgundy Bush Beans make delicious, purple pods and are easy to grow and find among the green foliage. These beans can handle cooler weather better than others and can be grown in containers! They turn green after cooking!! Super fun for children!
*We were introduced to Jade green beans last summer at a farmers market. These beans are a rich green with a wonderful flavor! They also kept a good color and texture after pressure canning! The taste of these canned green beans was wonderful, almost as good as fresh!
Another type of green bean we love to grow is called Roma Bush Bean. These beans are very easy to grow. They develop a large, flat bean pod which makes great green bean casseroles and other green bean dishes- they are almost meaty! They can up real good too with lots of flavor!
Growing green beans is easy, wait till all danger of frost is gone and “direct sow” into the ground . You can plant green beans right along with us by watching our Homestead Blessings The Art of Gardening DVD, available in our shop (Mother's Day Special going on NOW!)
You can let some of your green beans go to seed by letting them dry on your vine or bush until the plant has stoped growing and the beans inside the pod are very dry. After harvesting your dried beans you can save them for next years planting!
Make sure you get some good, organic, heirloom seed from a trustworthy seed company so your seeds will grow for you again and again!
Green bean seeds are one of the easiest plants to save seed for the next year and the next-so if you are new to saving seed you might want to try and learn how with green beans, and you will find how your green been plants can keep giving great food for you and your family!
We love growing and eating cabbage! It is such an amazing food! Even one cabbage head makes a lot of food! If you plant a row of them you will be able to enjoy your home grown cabbage for quite some time!
You can enjoy cabbage boiled, stir fried, stuffed, baked, fermented (sour kraut) and in many other dishes and or food combinations, such as Cole slaws, soups, salads and more! I’ve heard of folks who even use cabbage instead of lettuce on sandwiches.
Cabbage was the first food we ever fermented by making sour kraut. See our Homestead Blessings The Art of Canning DVD and make it with us. Once you make sour kraut and you experience how easy it is, you’ll be ready for making many other wonderful fermented foods! The health benefits are amazing! Click here for a great recipe!
As you can see this is a very giving and versatile food!
One of our favorite types of cabbage is a hybrid called StoneHead. It grows very tight, smaller, 3-4 pound, round heads and matures in about 50 days and holds well in the garden without splitting.
You can sow cabbage seeds inside for an early start yourself or you can pay a few dollars (just pennies a plant) for cabbage plants that have already been started for you! Your local nursery, garden center, co op or hardware store will have cabbage plants in packs of four or six or by the flat containing up to 36 plants or so! Just think that would make a lot of sour kraut, if you put it up, that could give you food all winter!
Crowd your cabbage! Cabbages can grow close (10"-12") and can go out very early in spring you may need to use row cover or fleece for protection on very cold nights and or to keep out the cabbage moths. One year we planted Hyssop all through the cabbage beds, there were no moths and we had a great harvest!
Soon you may find little cabbage heads are forming! You can harvest and prepare these little cabbages just like you do your large ones! This would be such a fun garden project for your children too!
Besides the cabbage storing well, after harvest, in a root cellar- for possibly months and or in a very cool place for several weeks-the cabbage stem and roots keeps giving little cabbages even after the main harvest! Now that’s a blessing!
We have planted early crops and have a greenhouse full of garden starts yet to be set out! And of course we’ve started and transplanted many herbs.
We have not had a problem with the armadillo since we our wonder dog has grown into such a great guard dog who doesn’t like those critters either - well, he dose like to chase them and he has done a fantastic job! The annoying, garden damaging varmints are gone! Now we do still have voles, moles, and maybe even trolls ( just kidding! )
They are just so frustrating! Since we don’t use any kind of poison in our garden we have had to get creative about ridding these little but destructive and uninvited creature, by using blackberry canes, (which they don’t like cause its scratches their thin skin) and Juicy Fruit chewing gum (they eat it but can’t digest it) and placing it down their tunnels for them to find! We have noticed that the moles don’t seem to make tunnels under certain herbs and other strong scented plants so we will try to interplant these herbs to deter them. Our cabbage is doing well, although slugs started to help themselves on some of the leaves, which I sprinkled a handful of sand around each little plant! So far it’s working great! (slugs don’t like to cross sand)
Hope you are getting outdoors in the garden, barnyard, fields and woods and enjoying this beautiful spring! It’s a very busy time of year with more work than we all could ever get done, but it is also a most enjoyable time of year with the increase of light and warming sunshine, musical sounds of singing birds, bubbling brooks- the sights of leaves appearing so green upon the trees once again, the red buds, dogwood blooms, herbs, flowers and all the new life of the plants and animals- calves, lambs, kittens, pups, baby goats, new fluffy chicks. These are our days of spring and garden beginnings, which are so full of abundant life, enjoy!
To all the Mothers, have a very Happy Mother's Day!