Sunday, September 30, 2012

Taste of Fall: Fall Waffles

   Fall in the south means rolling showers and slow drizzles washing away the dry remnants of a long hot summer. As soon as the first cool front makes an appearance, my families' taste buds start craving the comfort of certain delectable favors. One in particular are waffles.
   Waffles are common to fall in our house because summer is just too hot for such work and spring is way to busy. To make them extra special, bits of chocolate dot the dough while a wisp of cinnamon cream add a unique flare.

Doesn't that look tasty?

Fabulous Fall Waffles

1 stick of butter, softened (yes, real butter)
4 eggs, separated
3 cups whole milk
1/2 cup sugar
1 3/4 cups wheat flour
1/4 cup whole grain hot cereal (I use Bob's Red Mill)
2 cups white flour
1/8 cup flax meal
1 1/2 Tbsp baking powder
1 tsp vanilla
1/2-1 cup miniature chocolate chips or grated dark chocolate

   Preheat your waffle maker and beat your egg white to stiff peaks. In a large mixing bowl, stir your wet ingredients well before adding the dry. Stir in your chocolate with the dry ingredients before gently folding in the beaten egg whites.
   Lightly butter your waffle iron (if it is not non-stick) and pour 1/2 cup mixture per waffle section - my waffles are 4"x4" and Belgian style. Cook following your waffle maker's directions. ***If you eat gluten free or low carb- use your favorite baking mix and simply add cacao nibs or dark chocolate shavings for your chips. The recipe can be adjusted to your diet.

Cinnamon Cream

1 cup heavy cream
3 Tbsp confectioners sugar (powdered sugar)
2 tsp cinnamon

   Beat all ingredients with a mixer until you have a sturdy cream for your topping. You may substitute crushed mints, nutmeg, pumpkin pie spice or citrus zest for a delicious variation. This cream tastes wonderful on a cup of coffee or black tea, as well as dolloped over crepes or pies.***For us sugar free gals, use stevia powder- one teaspoon (or packet) in place of the sugar.

   To serve your waffles, place a dollop of cream over a waffle, sprinkle with a few chocolate chips, and dig in. Crunchy and sweet with a hint of cinnamon- just right for fall. Add a cup of hot cider and a porch swing- make a memory!


Saturday, September 29, 2012


Revelation 2

King James Version (KJV)
Unto the angel of the church of Ephesus write; These things saith he that holdeth the seven stars in his right hand, who walketh in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks;
I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars:
And hast borne, and hast patience, and for my name's sake hast laboured, and hast not fainted.
Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love.
Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent.
But this thou hast, that thou hatest the deeds of the Nicolaitanes, which I also hate.
He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God.
And unto the angel of the church in Smyrna write; These things saith the first and the last, which was dead, and is alive;
I know thy works, and tribulation, and poverty, (but thou art rich) and I know the blasphemy of them which say they are Jews, and are not, but are the synagogue of Satan.
10 Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer: behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days: be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life.
11 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; He that overcometh shall not be hurt of the second death.
12 And to the angel of the church in Pergamos write; These things saith he which hath the sharp sword with two edges;
13 I know thy works, and where thou dwellest, even where Satan's seat is: and thou holdest fast my name, and hast not denied my faith, even in those days wherein Antipas was my faithful martyr, who was slain among you, where Satan dwelleth.
14 But I have a few things against thee, because thou hast there them that hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balac to cast a stumblingblock before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed unto idols, and to commit fornication.
15 So hast thou also them that hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitanes, which thing I hate.
16 Repent; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth.
17 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the hidden manna, and will give him a white stone, and in the stone a new name written, which no man knoweth saving he that receiveth it.
18 And unto the angel of the church in Thyatira write; These things saith the Son of God, who hath his eyes like unto a flame of fire, and his feet are like fine brass;
19 I know thy works, and charity, and service, and faith, and thy patience, and thy works; and the last to be more than the first.
20 Notwithstanding I have a few things against thee, because thou sufferest that woman Jezebel, which calleth herself a prophetess, to teach and to seduce my servants to commit fornication, and to eat things sacrificed unto idols.
21 And I gave her space to repent of her fornication; and she repented not.
22 Behold, I will cast her into a bed, and them that commit adultery with her into great tribulation, except they repent of their deeds.
23 And I will kill her children with death; and all the churches shall know that I am he which searcheth the reins and hearts: and I will give unto every one of you according to your works.
24 But unto you I say, and unto the rest in Thyatira, as many as have not this doctrine, and which have not known the depths of Satan, as they speak; I will put upon you none other burden.
25 But that which ye have already hold fast till I come.
26 And he that overcometh, and keepeth my works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations:
27 And he shall rule them with a rod of iron; as the vessels of a potter shall they be broken to shivers: even as I received of my Father.
28 And I will give him the morning star.
29 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Twenty Random Things...

   In honor of our twenty year anniversary, may I share some quirky random things about us and our crazy married life....

1. We both served in the military at the same time, but didn't know each other then. After coming back home only a week apart, we met.
2. He came to my house on a church visitation to invite me to Sunday school..uhm, I haven't missed a day since.
3. I love coffee..he loves Coca Cola. In all honesty..he can't stand the taste of coffee. How funny is that?

4. Our engagement lasted a week. He asked Monday; we married Saturday. Simple and outdoor wedding.
5. A trip to the feed co-op together is our alone time.  This is where all the serious conversations happen.
6. Once a year we go out to a restaurant for dinner; either my birthday or our anniversary.
7. We face each day as it comes..the challenges and joys each in their time...and we have seen plenty of both.
8. We each have grandparents who owned large family farms; our favorite places when we were kids.
9.  Strangely enough, we neither one are social butterflies..shut the gate, we'd rather be at home.
10. Homesteading is my thing. Many people believe the farm set up is my husband's plan and I do the work..nope. He graciously allows me this crazy, wild homestead madness...I think he enjoys the outcome.
11. Submission is a virtue we value. Without yielding of our strong personalities (we both have one) this marriage would never have worked.
12. He loves my ridiculously long hair.
13. I love his bushy mustache.
14. Church is not optional...we go, kids go..if you're sick you better prove it..otherwise get in the car.
15. Our family is a priority over all other matters.
16. He loves a specific cookie recipe..I have made it for 20 years.
17. We both have a rather warped sense of can be quite interesting.
18. He was my mixed martial arts coach when I was a teen...we didn't know it until after we were married and looking at old photo albums.
19. We never consider divorce...murder, maybe..but never divorce.
20. Twenty more years...we both agree..challenge accepted.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Fun Finds: All Fall

Golden leaves in gentle breeze, tart cranberries and sweet pumpkin's all about fall. This week's fun find theme is "All Fall"...crafts, candies, and good ol' fun.
Fall Trail Mix {with FREE printable}

Fall is gathering and giving to our classmates, our neighbors and friends. Over at  Make Bake Celebrate a wonderful fall mix recipe is shared with a pretty printable label too!
Gourd candle holders...simple but cute idea 
Grocery stores always have a bin of little gourds of every shape and color..I never now what to do with them. Revel has this beautiful tutorial for turning those funky, bumpy bundles into classy tea lights..perfect for a table setting, entryway or even a fire place display.

Thanksgiving - make a sugar cookie recipe, divide dough and add food coloring, roll together and cut out with leaf cutters. CLEVER! 
When our family gets together there are always plenty of kids..every age and stage. Keeping them calm can be quite a challenge...after all, it's a holiday. Over at DVO their 'Home Cooking Newsletter' has several really great edible activities for the kids. Edible play dough is my favorite!
Ginger Citrus Simmering Spices 
Fall brings us together in so many wonderful ways; each invitation so thoughtful and precious. Tattered Sisters Primitives  shares a wonderful gift idea...Ginger Citrus Simmering Spices. Just imagine the warm and wonderful fragrance that fills the air the moment the jar is opened. 
The BEST Toasted Pumpkin Seeds 
Now, settle down on a big fluffy chair..sip some warm green tea..and dream of all the wonderful fall crafts and gatherings while you munch on these yummy pumpkin seeds.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Pumpkins Instead

   Let me just be honest for a moment. It's my anniversary, predator activity has been level red this week,  and my corn husk doll making pattern/supplies were no where to be found. The projected corn husk angels post is just not happening today. Disappointing, maybe, frustrating, yest..but just keeping it real. Instead of making dolls, I ran away with my husband for an afternoon walk (far away from the crazy known as my life) and pondered other icons of fall. He said pumpkins; that man is a genius.
   From as far back as I can remember, my children and I visited a local petting farm and pumpkin patch as soon as the fall season came upon us (and, as soon as temperatures were no longer sweltering). Snapping photos of them in overalls sitting amidst the sea of orange pumpkins was so precious. We look back and deeply treasure those times.
   When it comes to traveling, this family doesn't take a trip,sir. A picnic lunch full of yummy, home baked goods will always packed for the occasion; sandwiches on home made bread, fresh fruits and veggies with drinks- a few of those standard family chocolate chip cookies, of course. When we go, we plan to spend the day; enjoy ourselves and not be in a rush.
   These days our kids are well past the petting zoo/farm/pumpkin patch days. Yet, the memories linger. Each of us treasured a different piece of the trips we made. For some, the little train ride around was the best thing, picnicking on a quilt under a tree, hand feeding the gentle beasts...or meeting a new person and sharing the day with them. Special moments, each different, each important.
   Now then...the pumpkin. Let's let our minds wander there a moment. No fall trip to the petting farm is ever complete until the pumpkins are carefully chosen and lovingly cradled all the way home. Being frugal minded fold, our pumpkins were always cleaned, cut, and cooked then set aside for wonderful recipes to enjoy throughout  the season.
   As I recall the messiest things are always the most fun..and few things are messier than cleaning a pumpkin. Scooping out the stringy, seedy insides...cutting it into pieces..baking it up in the oven. The sights, the touch, the smells...icky wonderful textures. One immediate favorite for us was toasting the pumpkin seeds into a salty goodness, they never lasted the night! Later came pumpkin breads or pumpkin muffins or pumpkin pies. It may have been hard, messy work, but, the rewards were well worth it.
   These days we grow our own pumpkins; Sugar Baby is our favorite variety. Pies and breads are still  made...even some pumpkin butter has found a place here. Dinner tonight brought laughter and longing as we talked about our yesterdays- those long ago visits to the pumpkin patch. I believe this conversation will find its way to our table again and again as we reminisce over memories made those wonderful fall days.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Welcome Fall: Corn Husks I

   Have you ever been in the produce aisle and seen large bags of corn husks? (They are generally near the bin of dried beans) This simple item has so many interesting purposes, aside from making tamales. Many years ago when my children were younger we used our fall afternoons to venture into various uses for this common item. During one of our studies we made corn husk dolls..which led us down a path of discovery with dyes, corn husks, get the picture. As we welcome the fall season, let's gather corn husks from the drying corn (or purchase some on our next grocery trip) and try a few crafts we have done over the years- starting with dyeing the husks.

various mediums

Four different dyeing methods:

1. Food coloring
2. Powdered drink mix
3. Natural elements
4. Paint

   Any of the methods are great for adding color to your corn husks. For me, on hand supplies and the ages of the children were the deciding factors for which method was used. For example, food color and powdered drink mix are simply mixed with water (your desired concentrate) and left to soak until you achieve the shade you are after. Paints can be watercolor, tempera, or acrylic (again- think on-hand supplies) only need a protected work area, paintbrush and some creative juices. Natural elements may warrant some research, a nature walk to gather items- or simply a tour of your kitchen, boiling-steeping time. Before you choose a method consider your age group, on-hand supplies, and the time you want to put into it.

Methods Detailed:

husks under food coloring mix

  Food coloring is very simple and can be done by most young children. Pour water into a shallow bowl or some pie tins- no measuring necessary, simply consider leaving enough room for adding husks. Add enough food coloring to make the water fairly dark; remember it is the soak time that determines the result. Place your husks in the color and soak until you are satisfied, bearing in mind the colors will be lighter after the husks are dry. To keep your husks in the dye (they float) consider placing a canned good in a bowl on top of the husks to weight them down. Small children may enjoy checking the color occasionally and watching the shades develop. Bear in mind that with this method, the color choices are limited, however, you can try mixing them for different hues.
   I hang my husks on the clothes line to dry- you can lay them outside on the grass, a picnic table, or on newspapers.

red powdered drink mix

   Powdered drink mix stains everything! This is very effective and yields a nice color. (the color choices are also limited with this method) This is another method very easy for small children. Simply use shallow bowls or pie tins filled with enough water to mix your powder yet leave enough room to add the corn husks. Once you add the husks- remember weigh them down to keep them under and soak time determines depth of color. Try mixing powders, checking color hue through out the process- or (like eggs in spring) use multiple colors for various effects. Dry them after you reach a color you like- again it will be light once the husk dries.

painting at the table

   Painting works with any child who likes to get into their task- hands on and slightly messy! Cover your workspace and your clothes; gather the paint media of choice; jump in. Paint directly on dry husks and be creative- you can't do it wrong. Just a personal note: we thinned our paints a bit to allow the husks to soak up the colors. Again, dry them- these colors will be much bolder than the previous methods with very little fading.

using blueberries

   Now the natural elements- this is for older children or children interested in (or studying) nature. Libraries and online media offer a ton of information on natural dye methods and colors. Interesting to learn, many natural elements yield a color nothing like their own. Many green plants lend a yellow or rust color- adding different items (like a nail) to your natural dye alters the outcome. This method is only limited to the depth you are willing to go. Most natural dyes require boiling, steeping, and a long soak period- bear this in mind. A great until study on dying can be found at

   I realize this post may be a bit overwhelming- trust me- it's not meant to be. If you choose to try it, this activity can be rewarding and fulfilling- just ease into it. Remember that children love to "help"- they can do more than we think: pour, measure, mix- dip, observe, discuss. Over the years we have used it to aide a lesson in school or just to spend time together. My children loved to see things change- to participate in the changes. Like the colors of fall, there is no limit to the beauty you can display. And, there's more.....

  We're not done with these husks!
corn husk dolls as angels

                           Next we make corn husk dolls to play with, to share, to decorate with. Stay tuned!

Monday, September 24, 2012

Welcome Fall: Creative Leaves


beautiful fall colors

   Fall is a season full of warm, rich color. Various hues of autumn gold, warm browns, and crisp red trigger a sense of comfort and calm. When the leaves start to change on the trees near our farm, the woods beckon us to come- to stroll among them and view their glory. Dawning our hiking boots, a tote bag, and a camera, the family gathers near the edge of the tree line- adventuring into the deep mystery of the wood.
   Gathering fall leaves is a wonderful way to spend time together as a family. Tall to small, teen to tot, everyone can join this activity. Nature is full of amazing color, contrast and creature. On a walk, we often discuss: habitat, environment, ecosystem, diversity, forestry and the effect of man on this- God's purpose and command concerning nature. Leaves are gathered from every shape and color available- pictures are taken; of the trees, creatures, fungi and flora around us. Memories are made.
   Returning home is not the end of the journey, but the beginning. Leaves and the pictures thereof are now at our whim- available for a myriad of display and decor. Nature items are so versatile and inspiring; the possibilities seem nearly endless.

Ten things you can do with or concerning leaves:

1. Display. Leaves scattered about a mantle or around your table centerpiece not only add beauty, but remind you of the wonderful time your family spent gathering them. Place them in a basket or bowl with gourds, pine cones, acorns for a natural centerpiece.

2. Garland. Strung together with: other items from nature, fall fabric strips, purchased decor shapes, popcorn, or by themselves- leaves make an attractive garland to drape along the window frames, the doorway, the entry to your home or an alcove area--even your porch.

3. Wreath. Tucked or tacked on a wreath base- grapevine or straw are my personal favorites- with acorns, pine cones and ribbon. Beauty will adorn the door of your home with delightful memories of your stroll through the trees.

4. Create creatures. Using acorns, pipe cleaners and other crafty items- let your littles craft some cute leaf people, pets or imaginative creatures for play or display. Another great afternoon memory making moment.

5. Make leaves yourself. Be inspired by the colors of fall and gather colorful bits of tissue paper, some wax paper and your iron. Swirl some glue on a sheet of wax paper, lay bits of tissue paper on the glue, top with more wax paper and run your warm iron over it. Cut the design into a leaf shape or use construction paper with a center cut out of leaf shape or shapes to make a window-style frame.

6. Make leaves another way. Grate or shave some old crayons between two sheets of wax paper and run your warm iron over it. Use the cutting or framing methods mentioned above to finish the project.

7. Learn about leaves. Let your walk through the woods inspire a study of leaves. In the past we studied tree identification using leaves, types of leaves, and the purpose of leaves in the life cycle of the tree. Many resources are available online, at the library or your local bookstore--or be creative and develop your own.

8. Make a card. Adhere your leaves to blank cards to send family and friends. Grandparents and relatives that live far away would love to hear from you around the holidays. Send this cute card and tell them the story behind it- share the fun!

9. Decorate clothing. Let the leaves guide you to paint or fuse colorful leaf shapes to t-shirts, sweatshirts or overalls for a cute seasonal outfit. Last year we cut various leaf shapes out of felt and stitched them onto tote bags for ourselves and for handmade gifts.

10. Feed them to the animals. This may seem strange, but our farm animals love leaves as a treat. When we rake our yard, the leaves are gathered up in bags and cans to feed our animals during the winter. Leaves make good bedding in the hen house or dog house, and when they pets are done with them, they go great in the compost bin.

   Simple and sweet; fall crafts do not require expensive supplies or tedious directions. All you need is a little time together, a little imagination, and some energetic children- the rest will do itself. God painted a beautiful pallet just for us- enjoy it with your family this weekend by ushering in the fall season with leaves.

Growing Home

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Welcome Fall: Fragrant Pine Cones

   It came and went without the faintest hint of cooler weather; the first day of fall. Despite the lack of lower temps, the beauty of the season is evident all around us: leaves transforming from summer greens to golden hues, the herd munches heartily on every green thing, night falls a bit sooner each day.

  With the change of season comes the shift in crafty goodness. In the place of bright flowers and greenery comes deep golden brown leaves and the many warm colors of gourds and acorns. Pine cones start to fall from the trees and make their way to the craft versatile and beautiful.
   In honor of fall with it's many hearty scents and textures, scented pine cones take center stage. Soothing cinnamon or clove, calming sandalwood, invigorating pine and cleansing sage are easily preserved in the many layers of the pine cone.

   Using essential oils (or the cooking oils found in the spice isle at your grocery store), drop several drops of oil- scent of your choice- onto the pine cone focusing on crevices, place the scented cones in a resealable bag and let them cure one week. Now add them to your display or decor. These make great gifts and may be used in the fireplace for a burst of scent. My girls tie a ribbon on the end and hang on in their is their favorite scent. The farm boy prefers the warmth of cinnamon and cloves..placing it on the shoe shelf of his closet. 
   For a twist on the scented cones, melt beeswax or paraffin (adding color or scent desired), dip your pine cones in- I tie a string around them to prevent us from burning our hands, let them dry on wax paper and package them neatly with some spiced cider, popcorn and a good book or movie for a cute gift basket.
   This week we focus our sights of the hope of cooler weather; of winter gardens and rustling leaves. Our senses will tingle with tantalizing aromas, spicy flavors, and the beauty of warm color. Yes, it is time to gather the garlands and welcome fall. 


Saturday, September 22, 2012


 Revelation 1

Friday, September 21, 2012

It's A Birthday

To my fun and feisty farm boy;
The adventuresome teenage ninja;
Feisty goat wrangler;
The only one who can catch chickens without Hadassah's help;
Cookie critic;
Frustrated fisherman;

Happy birthday, farm boy!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Fun Finds Friday: Herbal Goodness

   With this past week's herbal garden theme, I thought about writing a post on medicinal herbs in the herbal garden, however, the more I pondered it..the longer the post got to be. Many savory and tea herbs hold wonderful medicinal properties: mint settles nausea/digestion, rosemary helps a headache, sage is cleansing and helps mucus..etc. In the end, I decided to share some fun finds relating to medicinal herbal goodness.
Preparedness – Homegrown Medicinals 
   Herbal medicine is a continual learning process and I am rather new to the process. This
website has several interesting medicinal herbs and their uses.
Stinging Nettles Uses and Benefits in Nettle Tea, Beer, Juice and Chicken Feed
   Stinging nettles grow wild on our homestead; I absolutely hate them, but here is a link to some great information about the properties and uses of nettles.

Make your own herbal astringent...great for oily and acne prone skin!
   Herbal skincare is not only frugal, but much less irritating to those with sensitive skin issues. This sight has wonderful information not only about herbal skincare, but making infusions and tinctures of all kinds.
Winter Remedies from Keeper of the Home
   Another great resource, especially for young families, is found here. She combines nutrition with natural remedy, and being a mom of little ones, often directs her focus to the young mothers and younger children.

   Growing all our own medicinal herbals just doesn't seem practical, at least not right now. I am grateful for the wonderful bloggers who regularly share their wisdom, experience, and resources with the rest of us. 

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Herbal Garden: Savories

   On this family homestead, our savory herb garden is the perfect compliment to the main vegetable crops. The best part of planning the family meal is roaming among the herbs, brushing over them ever so slightly..their fragrance sparking inspiration and creativity.

   Basil: A basic staple to our cooking plan, basil is very versatile and extremely easy to grow. Spring seeds are set in the greenhouse until the soil warms, but fall plants are direct set in the soil once the summer heat wanes. This herb is abundant in production and is excellent for propagating cuttings.

   Dill:  It took me a while to find a happy place with dill...we didn't hit it off right away. My only experience with dill was in dips for veggies, and I had a terrible time getting it to grow. The feed co-op introduced me to 'Bouquet Dill' - specific for my area; now I love it. I cast the seed direct in the soil in spring and fall and wait for the beautiful 'lace doilies' to blossom.

  Oregano: This creeping tangle of dainty leaves is amazingly potent and spreads like an ant hill. I divide it out every season to keep it going..Greek, Italian..this herb has some interesting varieties and makes a wonderful presence in the garden.

  Parsley: Growing parsley in the south is a little crazy; it doesn't have long to survive here. A cold climate herb, I purchase plants because the seeds never quite worked out for me..and being a short term herb, it wasn't worth the effort. I dry plenty while it grows for use in dressings and in my smoothies.

   Rosemary: This herb is hardy and pungent! We have a plant that is nearly my height and quite bountiful; you can brush by and just breath it in. I purchase a plant but take cuttings from it regularly to propagate and share. Being a great herb for many Italian dishes, it also is a perfect complement to roast meats. It likes well drained soil, so raised beds or a potting is best.

   Sage: It isn't just for stuffing, ha! Sage is delightful and easy going..fragrant and quite beautiful in its varieties. For me, seeds never grew well, so plant it is..several varieties every year..variegated, pineapple, many.

   Thyme: Oh, thyme..never enough in my garden. I love it in soups and salads..vinaigrette and  even a summer tea. This herb loves rock gardens and very well drained soil; we keep it in pots and harvest often. I haven't had success with seeds or I purchase it when I find it.

   After a long day of homestead work it is such a joy to brew a cup of tea, grab a hand made throw, and stroll over to the herb garden..stirring their leaves as I go..take a seat there on the bench..and watch the sun set over the barn. Tranquility and peace bring rest to our busy bodies, and solace to our souls.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Herbal Tea Garden: How-To

   A few years back one of my farm girls was a master gardener apprentice at our local extension. Her weekly assignment there was the large herb garden. Peace and tranquility came from those precious days among the scents, sounds and savories...she longed for such a place here at home. After some serious consideration and planning, our herbal tea and rose garden became a reality.
   The first thing she did was deep till the soil and remove as many grass/weed clumps as possible. Barn gleanings were added to amend the soil, then worked in.
   Our next feat was making raised rows in the soil. Each row is raised about a foot high for good drainage and two feet wide for easy reach. The rows vary in length due to the layout of the plot; a square ripple from the central point- our windmill.

   The path way between the rows is being lay with wood and wood chips. Although not pictured here, we have placed weed barrier cloth under the wood to keep growth down. Once old fence boards were set in place, wood chips were scattered over top for ease and comfort.
   Once vital key to the herbal garden is mulch; lots of it. Leaf clutter is our primary source; applied deep and seasonally. When side dressings of compost are given to nourish the plants, leaf mulch is easily brushed aside and reset. I love the natural look of the mulch and the contrast of color it adds.
   While herbs provide lush beauty in the form of varied greens and deep purple, our girl loves color. To resolve this deficit, she intermingled hibiscus, lantana, marigold, nasturtium, and a variety of roses. These majestic additions lend not only color, but height as well. Recently there has been added a few berry canes and small citrus trees...bringing a new element to the garden.
   The herbal tea garden fulfills our farm girl's desire for solace and peace; it's beauty lends her calm in the storm. Her goal may seem accomplished, but with gardening that is never so..our tea garden grows and changes with each passing season. Some things vary and change as our needs and creativity may lead us, but some things remain the same...His grace is always found in the paths and rows of the beauty growing here.

Monday, September 17, 2012

The Herbal Tea Garden: Considerations

   When my farm girl approached us with the notion for her own herbal garden she didn't just come at us on a whim, she took the time to plan, ponder, and consider the commitment and the function of such and endeavor.
   Time: Gardens don't grow themselves, they require time and work. At the time of her plans she was a home school student with time to work the garden. Currently she is a college student and swim instructor..this change in availability had to be considered when the garden was amended this spring.
   Size:  Dependent upon availability of space in the yard, the time to be invested...our tea garden is quite large..spanning the front of our house in a cottage style lay out that takes you from our front door to our first pasture fence.
Function: Is this culinary, medicinal, it meant for beauty? What beneficials will be attracted or deterred? Her garden desire was to incorporate all aspects of the garden in a natural, yet welcoming fashion similar to the master gardener version. Bees and butterflies were wanted and were the many varieties of herbs available to grow here in our climate.
Future: Knowing she was an upper high school student, the future had to be considered. Did we want to take over care of the garden when she was no longer here to do it? In undertaking such a large garden plot, the future tenders needed to be considered.
   Our farm girl's herbal plot has been up and functional for several years now; a thing of beauty and refreshment. While her time between the rows is not as much as she would like, we are all grateful she took the initiative when she had the availability to design it and put it in place.
   Tomorrow, our farm girl's how-to makes a debut here on the blog!

Sunday, September 16, 2012

The Herbal Tea Garden: Our Faves

   Nothing warms the soul or cools the body like a cup of delicious herbal tea. Only in the past few years have I realized the vast variety of herbal teas that can be grown right in my own garden.
   An herbal tea garden can be grown in any part of the home garden. One garden friend keeps her herbs interplanted alongside her vegetables, while yet another grows them in her flower bed. I have seen small potted gardens  in kitchen window sills or greenhouse selves. Wherever it takes root, the delightful fragrances welcome not only us, but the bees and butterflies as well.
   My teen spent a year as an apprentice master gardener working elbow to elbow in the large gardens of our county extension. In that year, she turned a plot of our homestead into a rose and tea garden equipped with fragrant herbs for health, nourishment, and tea.
   Some of our favorite tea herbs are:
We always keep a pot of mint in the greenhouse.
    Mint: Mint isn't only minty, but comes in various varieties such as apple mint, orange mint and chocolate mint. Our mint grows free in large raised beds with plenty of room to sprawl (it is invasive) and tickles the roots of many a rose bush. We take our mint hot or cold; standing alone, or paired with lemon or ginger.
   Lemon balm/Bee balm: The balms have a fresh lemon fragrance and delicate flavor refreshing on it's own or paired with any tea we would drink with lemon.The balms grow alongside dwarf citrus trees (Satsumas) lending their blossoms to the bees that pollinate there.
   Catnip: Delicate and velvety leaves frame dainty white flowers on the catnip in our tea garden. This herbal tea is just right when nerves need settled and sleep has evaded us. Our catnip makes it's home with the berry canes in our tea garden.
   Basils/Sage: Now basil may seem odd for tea, but cinnamon, lemon, and Thi basil varieties and lemon or pineapple sage are amazing.

   My daughter Jen developed and maintains our tea garden, and is writing a post with me for tomorrow on planning and planting. Join us!