5 Reasons I Want Weeds in My Garden

Buzz off, Monsanto! 5 Reasons I Want Weeds in My Garden. From free food and medicine to wildlife habitat, weeds are a natural part of a healthy garden.

I know this is going to sound crazy to many of you, but I let some weeds grow in my garden on purpose.  This wasn’t always the case.  When I was growing up on the farm, we had a huge garden for fresh eating and preserving.  With long, straight rows of veggies and paths in between each row, weeding was a never ending chore.  My stepdad used to run the tiller up and down the paths, while the rows themselves were tediously weeded by hand.  Inevitably by the end of the season, weeds that escaped the hoe would be overgrown and seeding out, to be tilled into the soil and start the whole cycle again.  I dreamed of a garden without weeds.

Fast forward to the 90’s, and my very own garden beds to arrange any way I wanted. I discovered the magic of mulch and planting in blocks instead of rows with nekked empty space between.  Instead of dirt paths that turned to dust when things got dry and mud when it got wet, I had raised beds with tidy paths between, perfect for a suburban yard.  Then things changed again.  Attached to the end of another article a friend had copied off for me was a page of another manuscript – “Weeds:  Guardians of the Soil“.  It caught my eye, but I had no idea where to read more as the book was no longer in print, and the friend passed away.  [Read more…]

4 Great New Homesteading Books from Chelsea Green

Great new homesteading and permaculture books from Chelsea Green.

I’ve slowed down my purchases of homesteading books in recent years, but when I spotted these new titles in the Chelsea Green newsletter, I had to take a closer look.  I’ve wanted to learn more about permaculture and mushrooms for a while now, and weeds have been a favorite of mine for years.  I decided to splurge and invest in all four titles. 

The day after I sent in my order, up pops an email in my inbox with an invitation to get a copy of the weed book to review.  Since I had already purchased all four books, I asked if Chelsea Green would be willing to sponsor a giveaway for my readers. They said yes.  So, without further ado, here’s a review of these new and interesting homesteading books that you’ll have a chance to win for your home library.  Note:  The giveaway wrapped up in December 2014.  Congratulations to our winner! [Read more…]

Putting the Garden to Bed – Musings at the End of Another Gardening Season

Putting the Garden to Bed - Musings at the End of Another Gardening Season. Why my garden looks messy, and that's just fine with me.

Written on 11/7/2014 as a personal facebook post.  I got so much feedback on it I decided to add some photos.

Today I put up the driveway markers for snow plowing, emptied the kitty litter out by the fruit trees to discourage the mousies, spread the ashes lightly around the garden, took out the compost, brought in the last of the pumpkins from the greenhouse and the little fairy from the garden, fed the birds, tucked some bins and posts into the greenhouse, and added more corn stalks on top of the parsnips to hold the straw down. The boys moved the water jugs around the grapes and blueberries for extra protection, and filled the wood racks. Tonight I froze celery and made pumpkin leather. [Read more…]

Blue-eyed Grass – Weekly Weeder #48

Blue-Eyed Grass - Sisyrinchium montanum - the grass that is not a grass, but a beautiful, delicate iris.  Range and identification, wildlife and human uses.

Today’s featured plant is Blue-Eyed Grass, Sisyrinchium montanum.

There are many varieties of blue-eyed grass, that look somewhat similar to each other, but the one I’m discussing in this post is also known as Strict Blue-Eyed Grass, Mountain Blue-Eyed Grass, Common Blue-eyed grass, little blue-eyed grass, little common blue-eyed grass, alpine blue-eyed grass, northern blue-eyed grass and Star Grass.  (source, source, source). This “grass” is not really a grass at all, but a type of beautiful, delicate iris.

Narrowleaf or stout blue-eyed grass (Sisyrinchium angustifolium) is another variant. Wikipedia notes that this genus includes 70-200 species of plants in the Iris family native to the Americas, some of which are endangered.
[Read more…]

Field Pennycress – Thlaspi arvense – Weekly Weeder #47

Field Pennycress - range and identification, wildlife uses, uses for food and medicine, potential as the next big biofuel crop.

Today’s featured plant is Field Pennycress, Thlaspi arvense.

Field Pennycress is also known as Pennycress, Field Pennygrass, Field penny-cress, Frenchweed, fanweed and stinkweed.  (source)

It’s in the mustard family (Brassicaeae), so it is related to common garden crops such as cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, and kale, as well as other wild mustard family plants such as Shepherd’s Purse –Capsella bursa-pastoris – Weekly Weeder #15 and Winter Cress- Barbarea vulgaris – Weekly Weeder #20.
[Read more…]