The Milkweed Diaries

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Peppers and cabbage

Cabbage is "heading up" --here are some of our cabbage babies (Early Jersey Wakefield) with some kale and the ever-persistant milkweed (on the right side between the two right-most cabbages) poking its head up in the middle of a veggie bed.

We are planting a bunch of pepper varieties -- Corno di Toro, an Italian heirloom (Horn of the Bull!), Black Hungarian, Pasilla Bajio (from Mexico, used in mole), Golden Treasure (another old variety from Italy), Long Purple Cayenne, Red Cheese Pimento, Hungarian Hot Wax (pictured below), Jimmy Nardello, Romanian Hot, and the very intriguing Orchid Pepper, of which a google image search yeilds nothing. What will it look like? Who can say. Baker Creek says it is ornamental, and the peppers are "orchid shaped." I eagerly await its fruiting.

Hungarian Hot Wax

Pasillo Bajio

Jimmy old farmers market favorite of mine ... we're growing starts from Sugar Creek Farm from seeds they saved last year.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Heirloom tomatoes and the local food guide....


Pruden's Purple

Golden Sunray

Cream Sausage

We just finished planting 39 heirloom tomato plants....woohoo!

Most of the varieties, including those pictured above are from seeds from Baker Creek via Sugar Creek Farm, where we're taking our greenhouse and gardening class, except one variety, some Sungold seedlings I bought at the farmers market from Patryk Battle of Sparkling Earth Farm.

Planting tomatoes...broccoli, cauliflower, and garlic in the foreground.

We planted 15 varieties: Pruden's Purple, Cream Sausage, Roma Rio Grande, Orange Banana, Golden Sunray, Carbon, Foxcherry, Sungold, Red Fig, Mama Leon, German Tree, Sarah Black Purple, Belize Pink Heart, Persimmon, and Emerald Evergreen.

Some of the tomato babies planted in a south-sloping raised bed with Genovese Basil seedlings...

In other news, I learned at the ASAP board meeting last night that 250,000 print copies of the 2008 Local Food Guide are OUT!

You can get it in all sorts of places in WNC, and it's also available online HERE.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Crabapples flowering....

At first we thought these thorny, thicketing little trees blooming over the past month were hawthorns. This one is branched out over the creek. It turns out they are crabapples. CoreyPine taught me how to tell the difference. The flowers smell divine.

It appears that we have both crabapples and hawthorns growing all over the place out here. Here's how to tell the difference between them: crabapples have leaves growing out of their thorns. Hawthorns have bare, leafless thorns. They are very similar-looking -- both in the apple family. Also, I haven't seen the hawthorns flower yet, but apparently the petals of their flowers don't taper in at the bottom like the crabapple petals do.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Irises and Lilies-Beautiful Medicine

I came home from 5 days away to find the slender blue flag irises in the bog garden blooming, and the water lily in the frog pond...hurrah!

Both of these plants are medicinal.

The root of the native Blue Flag Iris, according to my Peterson's Field Guide, was used by native peoples in a poultice form on "swellings, sores, bruises, [and] rheumatism," and internally, as a tea, when a strong laxative or emetic was needed, or to stimulate bile flow.

Physicians used to use Blue Flag Iris as a stimulant and "blood cleanser," and homeopathic doctors apparently still use the plant "for migraines and as a cathartic, diuretic, and emetic."

I ordered these irises last year as bare root plants from Prairie Moon Nursery, a really fabulous online source for native plants. I planted them about a year ago, and now they're blooming for the first time.

Prairie Moon is a great source for ethically grown native plants of all sorts. What do I mean by ethically grown? Prairie Moon is a nursery that propagates their plants organically in outdoor beds, rather than robbing wild populations and damaging ecosystems. Here's a tidbit from their website about why that's important: Since persistent digging of wild plants can deplete and destroy local plant populations, it is important for prospective native plant buyers to be aware of the origin of commercially sold plants.

And then there's the Fragrant Water-Lily, which came from Short Mountain Sanctuary as a gift from Alan, who hauled the root in a giant heavy pot out to our land last year. He perforated the pot and we sunk it down in the water. It has exploded this year and is full of buds, and the first bloom is incredible (above). Peterson's says the roots were used by native peoples for lung ailments, mouth sores, and as a poultice for swellings.

Who knows if we will ever dig up any iris or water-lily roots for poultices, but it feels good having them around and they sure are gorgeous spring ornamentals....

Joanna Macy on ecological crisis and despair

Above: Joanna Macy

I came across this crystalline article by Joanna Macy in Yes Magazine:

How do we live with the fact that we are destroying our world? What do we make of the loss of glaciers, the melting Arctic, island nations swamped by the sea, widening deserts, and drying farmlands?

Because of social taboos, despair at the state of our world and fear for our future are rarely acknowledged. The suppression of despair, like that of any deep recurring response, contributes to the numbing of the psyche. Expressions of anguish or outrage are muted, deadened as if a nerve had been cut. This refusal to feel impoverishes our emotional and sensory life. Flowers are dimmer and less fragrant, our loves less ecstatic. We create diversions for ourselves as individuals and as nations, in the fights we pick, the aims we pursue, and the stuff we buy.

Of all the dangers we face, from climate chaos to permanent war, none is so great as this deadening of our response.

Read the full article here...

It's a very short, clear piece, and so full of insight.

Then I found this video on her website: Embracing Pain . It's a beautiful and clear meditation on despair, suffering, and a conscious response to the realities of life on the planet at this moment.

I highly recommend the article and the video. It would probably take about 10 minutes to read the article AND watch the video. There is so much wisdom in her approach, her consciousness. Much appreciation to Joanna Macy.

post script: i'm reading and listening to all of the joanna macy that i can get my hands on. here is a great summary of the concept of "the great turning" by joanna macy, including kinds of actions needed for radical transformation....