Seed Philosophy

 

amaranth flower

A delicious breakfast in the garden of freshly picked fruits was purely heavenly on this perfect fall morning. For those of you interested in getting some basil, pears or eggs, they are still available this week. Contact us to come by.

The other day I was in the garden collecting seeds from my plants. It’s a practice that I’m working on doing more regularly (and effectively). There’s a lot more to it than one would realize. In fact, the other day I opened a bag of sunflower seeds I’d collected. They had molded because I forgot to let them dry first – duh! Oh, well, I digress. There are more seeds to collect in the garden when I want them. If you look at the amaranth flower here you’ll see the little light colored spots. Each of those is a little black seed protected by an outer covering.  From each tiny seed a new plant will grow. There is such abundance in nature.

I found myself wandering back and forth between the plants, moving from picking produce to collecting seeds and back again. My mind is filled with two activities in the garden right now – harvesting the fruits ofmy labors (Oh, joy!) and planting seeds for the next season (exciting and creative!). I began musing about the way the garden symbolizes life. In Chinese medicine, the fall is a time for grieving, clearing, letting go. This process is best done both physically and emotionally. Physically, we can take this time to do a cleansing with broth (see a recipe in Salsa Summer post) or a watermelon fast. Emotionally letting go of what is in the past (whether it’s the bright days of summer or the  innocence of youth) allows the soil to be fertile for new experiences.

So, this combination of removing the old, dried up materials for composting and preparing the soil for planting (by adding last year’s compost and dry manure) is a beautiful reflection of the way life unfolds. It is good to do this regularly in life as well – by removing the old mental habits and planting the seeds of fresh thought. Come spring we will have sprouted a new attitude!

 


A Day in the Garden

Yesterday was a day filled with activity in the garden. The glorious sunflowers that brightened our days have made way for the vegetables being planted for the fall. It used to bother me to take a plant out of the garden before it was absolutely finished. I guess it brought forth a certain melancholy for the end of the season. After so many years of gardening, now I find that I am eager to move on to the next season. There’s  a perceivable change in the air when it is time to remove the old and make way for the new. So, out I go using a yoga posture (lazy triangle) to support my back, as in the photos here. Leaning with one elbow on a knee, with an open stance I am able to move freely – reach, pull, turn and toss!

 

 

 

 

 

Echinaceas

 

After attending a workshop at the Gardens at Heather Farm on herbs this week, I am inspired to divide my plants more regularly and now I know which ones do best from seed or division. Rose Loveall of Morningsun Herb Farm is a great presenter with a wealth of information. Part of yesterday’s project was dividing the echinaceas. A surprisingly easy job. Now I have a nice section in the garden for next year instead of just a  pot. A great herb for cutting – the flowers are so lovely.

Another fun piece of info that I learned at the workshop was that if you infuse fresh rosemary into honey it makes a great cough syrup!

Rosemary Honey Cough Syrup Recipe

Presenter Tammi Hartung told us to loosely pack a clean pint jar with rosemary. Warm the honey lightly on the stove just to the point of liquifying. Pour the warm honey over the rosemary. Stir well to cover the herbs thoroughly with honey. Let sit for three days. Rewarm the honey and strain out the herbs. Return the infused honey into a clean jar and keep for next time you have a cough to soothe!

 

After a busy day working in the garden, the summer evening beckoned. So, the early evening was delightfully spent relaxing in the new swing we have in the garden (Thank you, Eileen!). It’s always fun to have company and I had plenty. First Lao came over to enjoy the cooling ground.

Gradually, one by one, the cats came over to try out the swing.

 

 

 

 

 

The triad of willow, juniper and fig

The view from the swing was marvelous. With chickens quietly clucking in the background I found myself marveling at the trees. The majestic willow is a huge presence in the garden. She fills the sky with her branches. In the early years, she held a rope swing for us to play on. Her partner, the junipers that volunteered to grow next to the willow. Each one with a different personality. Tall and strong, standing near them I feel grounded and secure.

Ripening figs

The fig tree in the foreground brings me pure joy. The delight of being with this tree is felt by all who come to visit the garden. According to Tarla Fallgatter, “The ancient Hebrews looked upon the fig tree as a symbol of peace and plenty.” This is exactly how we feel each year as the figs begin to ripen. Definitely full of peace and plenty of them!

The early fall is filled with wonderful flavors. Picking the last of the summer peaches, the first of the fall figs and grapes and mixing them all together for a juicy fruit salad is a pleasure only available for a short time. Delicious as is for breakfast or served with vanilla yogurt and honey for  dessert.

fall fruits salad


Salsa Summer

The air is beginning to change. I noticed two weeks ago, did you? Indian summer is creeping up on us. In Northern California that’s what we have for fall in my area. The tomatoes are getting riper by the day and the feeling of abundance that I get when I look at the grapes ripening on the vine is heavenly. Last night I collected a variety of tomatoes – sungold cherries, little romas, a beautiful orange heirloom and some black cherry tomatoes –  and cut them up into a lovely summer salsa to have with the cod I broiled. By adding garden fresh jalapenos, chopped cilantro, shallots, a dash of salt and a squeeze of lime I had the perfect complement to my fish. Served with a crisp caesar salad with homemade dressing I had a well balanced summer meal. Last night’s salsa became today’s guacamole. Refreshing with a cut vegetable salad and a few corn chips for lunch.

While collecting basil for pesto this morning, I was struck by the softness of the light on the flowers in the yard.

The cosmos and sunflowers grew prolifically this year providing us with a scene of astounding beauty every time we stepped into the back yard.

 

 

 

Back to thoughts of fall though. It is time to get the seedlings started  for the winter garden. Ofer has been making new soil for us to do our fall planting with. He combines the heavy clay soil from our yard with sand, compost and manure and then mixes and waters to create a wondrous mix for happy plants. We put the soil with our little seeds into four inch pots on this great shelf we found on the street. This year we are planting a lot of different vegetables – many of them are heirlooms we haven’t tried before. Romanesco broccoli, calabrese broccoli, kohrabi, red cabbage, brussel sprouts, lettuces, chard, artichokes (green and purple!), shogoin white turnips and golden globe turnips, red beets, Italian parsley, and parsnips. The next round of starts will include even more! The room we’ve created by moving the chicken yard fence is getting our garden juices flowing!

Thoughts of fall were also quickened by the strong wind we had last night. I felt so cozy in bed with the sound of the wind through the window that my musings went to one of my favorite winter warmers – fresh veggie broth. So, this morning when the breezes persisted, I collected celery and chard from the garden, a big onion and a carrot I had sitting around and cut them all up into a soup pot. Cover with water and bring to a boil. Simmer for 15 minutes. Delicious! It’s great cool, too.

This broth is one of the healthiest foods you can eat. It’s wonderful as a cleansing soup for this time of year. Fall, according to Chinese medicine, is a time for letting go, allowing the old to move on. Clearing the lungs and large intestine, the organs associated with fall, is a beneficial thing to do at this time of year. Try some of the veggie broth, lots of chopped vegetable salads and freshly cut watermelon for a late summer cleanse in preparation for the fall that’s just around the corner.