Some Harvesting- Roses

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Rose petals on the table cloth

Look at all the rose petals. A few days ago the rose bushes were burgeoning with beautiful flowers. So I did the ‘Morticia’ thing and picked them all off. Then I sat down and watched a History Channel special while I separated the petals from the rest of the flower. It came out to about a gallon and a half of fresh rose petals.

I took them up to the third floor, where it is warm and dry and spread them out on this drying cloth. I checked on them today, and they have dried, but they aren’t done yet. They have reduced their volume by about 2/3rds. These smell lovely! They will be used to make teas and incenses. They will also be put into oils and perhaps a few mojo hands. There is now a second crop out on the rose bushes of about the same quantity. I think we may take these fresh and make rose water out of them. The rose water is a great astringent and toner for the skin, very good for that emerging acne of the hormone laden teenage years. I also use it as an offering during full moons, and as a component in the blend I make for water used to pour ghost roads. When adding a rose flavor or scent to a smoke, I prefer to use rose water as the moistening agent while rubbing the herbs into the mullein.

Magically speaking, these rose petals are of a delicate vibration, and make many things sweet. The dried petals would be ideal in a sugar jar for love and beauty in the home. They would also go well in the sugar jar with some cloves for eloquent speaking or ‘honeyed words.’ Rose petals are of course known for their use in love work. But the love here is very young, naive, and innocent. So, if you are looking for any other flavors of love, be sure to add to those roses. Another thing to note, is don’t burn roses for love. The changing of the smell doesn’t seem to carry through the love feelings or energies.

Rose petals are also great in an anointing oil for enhancing the psychic senses. I prefer to add lavender if I’m going up in vibration, and mugwort for going down in vibration. For communing with fey on midsummer’s eve, adding in some flower petals from the mallow family also has a synergistic effect for me.

More Garden Time

The corner tomato jungle.
The corner tomato jungle. This picture is from later in the year, but you can see the trellis structure.

I spent yesterday and today working in the garden. And I think only about an hour of the total ten was spent digging in the dirt. My main pursuit was trellising. I managed to build teepees out of various materials from our yard and garden. I built a rather large ponderous one about 8 to 9 feet tall I am guessing for the summer squash plant. This was made out of sheet rock corners Superman found in the garage. Then I built some smaller ones only about 7 foot high for the tomatoes out of some re-bar, old pipes, and branches I found in the yard. I created some cross pieces from carpet wool to hold the plants in. And I hope to get the squash in place tomorrow. I also dug out the carrot patch again and put in another path. Lots and lots of wild morning glory up the fence there.

I did come across some bags of grass clippings today in running my errands, and brought a couple home for mulching. But just didn’t get to them this evening. After 10 pm tonight, me and the boys went out and harvested two huge bundles of yarrow by moonlight. I didn’t even make a dent in what was there. The bundles were too big to hang on the rafters in the kitchen, so at the moment they are in my entry way. I need to find somewhere else I can hang bunches to dry.

I have a lot more trellises to put in tomorrow. As I would like to get the other tomato plants and the beans all done before they get too big. And then Thursday we are going to plant a sunflower house. It is a bit late, but I think we can still enjoy it.

Herb Spirals

With my growing interest in gardening, recycling and permaculture I’m exploring ways to make my life easier and my soil better.

One thing I found today is an herb spiral. This looks like something I would find entertaining, and the benefits to the plants sound great! By creating many little micro climates in one place I will be able to grow a wide variety of herbs without running all over the yard.

I am not sure where to put it, but I am sure that will come to us as we work on planning things out.

Elsewise around here I am working on crocheting a hassock, all made with recycled stuffing and structure. The cover is from several scraps of acrylic yarn I have in my stash and I am working several tapestry crochet designs into it as I go. So far I have started and then ripped out six different tops. I gave up on the top for now, and decided to work on the sides. Since I seem to be coming up with all the ideas for what I want on the sides while I struggle with the top. I am on the bottom area right now, and this is the chart I am adapting for the tapestry crochet pattern:

I have nine repeats of it going around. So far I am using a gold colored yarn and one called ‘Claret’ it is sort of a dark Burgundy color. Looks very much like the Griffindor colors from Harry Potter. I am not sure where else I am going with it.

Inside I still have about 20 tomato plants in small pots. Two days ago (on Wednesday) I did manage to plant the 4 pumpkin vines over on the north side of the back yard near the grapevine trellis. I had to dig out a big chunk of bricks to get them in. Almost all of our pathways in our garden are filled with bricks, but I still have tons more. I did line the front beds of iris with them. The whole family spent an hour and a half Wednesday night putting in the beds and planting the iris bulbs. Our neighbors came by and chatted while we were working, and Superman took them back and showed off our veggie garden. I also planted some peppermint under where the hose drips on the north side of the house in the front, and some chocolate mint in the south bed with the roses. My mom gave me all the mints and the iris. Hopefully this coming Monday I will get some papyrus. A good friend of mine has a big plant, and we are going to cut it down and make some papyrus paper and she is going to give me a small chunk to start in my house. Right now I have a pot for it in the living room in our southern bay window, but I am not 100% sure that is where it will stay.

I have also started working on another book. Right now it contains all of the almanac info for my area for 2009 and the first two months of 2010. I am going to see where it goes. I know many friends in other areas who want some of my books calculated for them, but it is a lot of work to calculate all of that out. So far I have included about 800 or so holidays and their history, along with how they are calculated, all of the retrograde charts for the first 19 planets, the moon phases and signs, moon void of course data, planetary hours of the day for sun and moon, and various notable astrological configurations, along with lots of astronomical data that is visible from our earth spot. I would like to work it into a daily planner format. But the problem becomes that there is six or seven pages of data for each day. Which seems a bit cumbersome. Even adding the days planetary hours onto a day chart breaks it over into a two page spread per day, if there is room to write in appointments.

I would like to add our local planting and harvesting data for our county. But getting it down that small seems like it would really limit its usefulness. I just have much more testing and puzzling to do on the whole matter.

Books and Lilies

I just picked up Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell on the recommendation of one of my current teachers. So far it is great fun! I crocheted a new bookmark for it of course.

Another of my favorite Filigree Bookmarks. Mr. Norrell is a practicing magician, which none of the other magicians in Yorkshire are. They only study about magic. Mr. Norrell has a vast library which is of course the envy of the Society of Magicians in York. But, he is very polite as he looks down his nose at them, and tricks them into giving up magic (what else would a magician do?) so he can acquire their books and they will quite hounding him.

Being a bibliophile and a pursuer of the occult myself, the descriptions of Mr. Norrell’s library were great fun. Having moved into this new house, it is taking some time for the books to settle into their homes. I have the hardest time with single category classification. And, I am glad I did not take the books downstairs to my ritual room and potion storage areas, as since the April and May rains have come we have discovered that our basement leaks! Joy of Joys. It is the East wall and the mortar needs to be repaired we have discovered.

This morning, while tending to the gardens, I found our first blooming lily from the couple that lived here before us. It is a tiger lily and absolutely gorgeous. I need to trim the roses again, and will do that this evening when it has cooled off a bit. It is late morning, and already the not-mercury-any-more has climbed above 90 F.

In the mean time I am working on some crochet of course. And I have also picked up the knitting again. Been doing much better on this swatch and just need more practice. Someday I will be knitting lace shawls, and that is all there is to it.

To the right is the beginning of my new sun hat. So far I have an ivy lace pattern in the crown, but that is all. I had wanted to do some sort of relief of a charted grape leaf shortly after the lace area. But I tried it out with some fp and bp sc, and it just didn’t work out. So, that has been taken out and I am trying something different. I don’t know what that will be!

In the mean time I joined a CAL (crochet-a-long) for a mystery shawl. So far it has turned out to be great fun! I usually tend to crochet rather tightly, and this is a good challenge, using a very thin thread and a large hook.

Ramble On

Sleep and his Half-brother Death. By John William Waterhouse
Sleep and his Half-brother Death. By John William Waterhouse

Well, it has been an eventless morning. We were supposed to go and sell herbs at the local farmer’s market, but it was raining and hailing something terrible at 6:30am when we went to setup. We bailed. I just didn’t think the dried herbs would hold up, and I had some fresh plantain, but I didn’t want it to get damaged.

So my witchy sister and I decided to retreat back to our waterbeds.

In garden news, the morning glories are taking off, and I had some huge pumpkin seedlings come up in the seed pots yesterday morning. Just dirt when I went to bed, and then two 5 inch seedlings the next morning. I am also absolutely inundated with tomatoes and watermelons! When I went to transplant the volunteer tomato plants, there were a lot more than I thought. I had originally estimated around 40 or so plants, it is a lot more like 90. And the little seedlings are getting huge. And all of the watermelon seeds sprouted! I thought I might get half, so I went ahead and planted all of them. Oh well, now I am also distributing watermelon sprouts along the with tomato seedlings.

Fact for the day: Calamine is another name for zinc carbonate.

Lessons in Flow

Cardinal Climber Morning Glory from the back gardens
Cardinal Climber Morning Glory from the back gardens

Well, after about 5 hours with both me and my hubby digging in the garden trying to remove a layer of gravel 18 inches deep, we give up. My parents were over for the holiday dinner tonight (side missive: Even after having been married and on my own for nearly 12 years now, it really feels like a milestone to have my parents over for dinner without a big to do or any major cleaning.), and we showed off our garden accomplishments with great pride. We talked about all of the problems and challenges we had overcome so far, and the many more we had to go.

My mother is really my first experience of the concept of fertility in my life. Not only did she bear me and my brother (obviously), but her garden over burgeons continually. She gardens like fish swim, as if she were born to it. When spending time in her gardens I can feel her love and attention oozing back out of the plants and the earth. As a child I fondly remember thinking of the new flowers in the garden as springing up beneath where she had set to sketch and weed the evening before. Her abundance in this respect has always inspired me and driven me to pursue a fertile abundance in my own life, and to nurture and rear new life and growth around me. And for many years I have always had a black thumb. And so I turned my efforts to the harvest part of the cycle, something I do excel at naturally. I am excellent once the plants are grown, and at wild crafting (ethically and sustainably of course), and in making the preparations and storing and preserving the harvest both in edibles, medicinals, and now magical plants and their parts. But never before could I grow anything myself. I killed any number of very hardy houseplants, including cacti and air ferns. And in the garden at our last house I managed no plants, and to kill off all of the honeysuckle, mints and poison ivy that was taking over when we moved in. So, to say the least, to share in the pride of my garden with my mother is quite a heart swelling moment. She even commented this evening that she never thought I would be working in the garden unless I was helping someone with a harvest.

Anyways, back to the garden of gravel. My mom suggested that we simply plant what we have in the ground and fold in some compost and just go from there. When she saw how much work it was going to be to try and take the gravel out she said it was just too much and we should just try to work with it. And you know, I had forgotten her wisdom of going with the flow and working with the land itself. I am so glad I can still hear her when I need it most.

A simple piece of practical advice about my garden may not seem like much, but the joy of hearing the wisdom of my mother, from my mother is a very big thing to me, and something that really drives the joy wheels of my life.

Putting in a Garden

My Celosia
My Celosia

I have managed to completely clear out and rearrange the front office in the last week, and I am now slowly unpacking and moving back in.Well, I guess I must now officially add gardening to my long list of hobbies. We have been spending the last couple of weekends putting in a veggie garden, and lots of house plants. So for outside we have 9 tomato plants (1 is already giving us tiny tomatoes, and 4 of them I just planted this morning), 1 artichoke, 1 summer squash, 4 butter lettuce, and 6 asparagus plants. In the seed beds I have planted carrots, zucchini, leaf lettuce, onions, garlic, wax beans, radishes and cucumbers.

Out in my front beds I’ve got four rose bushes that were here when we bought the house, and have added some digitalis from seeds, some spider worts, spearmint, peppermint, lemon balm, and some pretty purple wild flowers I found by the river.

Inside I have starts for another 33 tomato plants, cantaloupes, watermelons, dill, basil, more mint, honeysuckle and pumpkins. And in planters we have some sage, rosemary, parsley, 2 airplane plants, several pothos, scented geranium and some petunias.

I spent about two hours this morning working on the next beds. The problem is we have encountered the section that was driveway in the backyard. And it is filled with gravel. I dug and dug, and picked, and scooped and dug some more in a little area about 4 by 3 feet. I had to dig down about 18 inches to get all the gravel. And now I am out of buckets! I need to make a sifting screen and find a wheel barrow or some other containers to catch the soil and store the gravel. I guess I can pile the gravel on a tarp, but I need a container up off the ground to sift through and get the gravel separated from the soil. I gotta go raid the garage and see what I can build.

At the moment it is the heat of the day, so we are all inside doing our afternoon interior chores. Me and the kidletswill go back out this evening since Superman has to work late and rebuild two file servers that crashed early this morning! Oz and MoTo have a friend over for the afternoon and they are a rolling batch of loud noise! But they are great fun. It is the first day out of school for them and they are all having a blast.

The kids spent the garden time digging up the paversfrom a buried patio we found the in backyard and moving them into the garden to build the paths. And of course some rain forest jungle dancing (better known as playing in the sprinkler), stalking the jungle animals (chasing birds and squirrels in the back yard), and bush whacking through the dense forest in search of buried Mayan temples (swatting at the tall grass with sticks).

Summer freezing

Oh I just love the taste of summer! Fresh tomatoes,  fresh basil, fresh oregano, fresh rosemary. Are you sensing a theme here?

Freshness is so wonderful in the summer. And having a garden, I experience abundance in a very literal way. My gardens over flow with produce in the summer and fall. I harvest herbs daily, many of them I turn into the wonderful blends, oils and potions I sell here on the website. But I also bring plenty of them into my kitchen to cook with.

When winter comes around and snow covers the garden, I am thankful for the herbs I have stashed away in my freezer.

To freeze woody or hard herbs, such a rosemary, thyme, oregano, sage, tarragon, etc. I love to put them in a fat base and put them in the freezer. I prefer olive oil or butter, they work equally well.

Chop up your herbs, you can keep them seperate or mix them. Fill an ice cube tray about 2/3rds or 3/4trs full with the herbs. If some stick out, it is no big deal. Then pour in either olive oil, or melted butter. Cover with plastic wrap and put in the freezer over night.

The next day pop them out of the ice cube trays and put in a freezer bag. Date and label and wait for winter!

These are great to saute onions and garlic in. They are wonderful to put into homemade bread, or on homemade bread. They make a handy base for meats in the crock pot. And they can just be dropped into soups and stews.

For other herbs that are soft such as basil, parsley and chives. I freeze them in oil too, but the taste will change. For these herbs I prefer to make a paste out of them, similar to pesto. Load up the food processor with hand fulls of your herbs. Again, mix or seperate as you prefer. Then put in just a little bit of olive oil and a tablespoon of lemon juice and process away. If the mix is on the dry side, drizzle in the olive oil as it runs until you have a paste. You can use melted butter too, just make sure it is fairly cool, as too hot will cook the herbs.

To put these in ice cube trays, I find it helps to grease the trays a bit. Just swipe them with some olive oil, then scoop in your paste. Again cover with plastic wrap and freeze over night. In the morning, bag, date and label.

The lemon juice helps keep the brightness of the herb flavor. Not exactly the same as fresh, but still wonderful for winter.