On Sunday, daylight savings begins, and we will be doing the final lap of winter before spring officially arrives on March 20th. Who is excited about this? We’ve made it through another winter!
The Spring Equinox is one of two days where the Northern and Southern Hemispheres will have equal daylight. It’s the official start of spring and the days are noticeably longer. But did my garden get the memo its time to wake up?
Late March and early April is the time when we see the first signs of spring in our garden. Tender wildflowers start to poke their heads above their winter blankets of mulch and leaves. Flowers like crocuses, violets, and tulips are usually the first to show their faces.
I wondered if the crocus had a story or a special meaning similar to the rose and other flowers? These questions led me down many rabbit holes, and who knew this small, pretty flower had so much passion associated with it.
The book The Secret Meaning of Flowers says the crocus means attachment, cheerfulness, exuberance, foresight, gladness, jovial, joy, mirth, the pleasure of hope, visions, youthful, and gladness.
In addition, I found an article that said “crocus” means thread, referring to the long, thread-like stamens. It also stated the word also derives from the Greek word Krokos because the plant gives us saffron from its stamens.
This flower also has several love stories originating from ancient Greek Mythology.
One version says Crocus was a young man and had an affair with a nymph called Smilax. He became bored and unhappy with the relationship, and the gods didn’t like his behavior and decided to turn him into a plant. Smilax turned into a beautiful yew tree known as a slow-growing tree with hard but flexible wood. Perfect for Cupid’s bow and arrow.
Another Greek version stated that Crocus killed himself because he was so grief-stricken when the gods refused permission for them to marry. The goddess of flowers, named Flora, took pity on the two lovers and turned them into plants so their love could bloom forever.
Then there is this version that says Smilax wasn’t interested in Crocus. But the ole’ boy wouldn’t take the hint to go away. In frustration, she turned him into a flower so she could have some peace and quiet.
Then we have the great Greek love story of Zeus and Hera (the goddess of women, marriage, and children). The story goes they were “enjoying each other’s company” so passionately that the river bank they were on erupted with crocus flowers.
Since then, these two lustful lovers have been associated with passionate love. In some parts of the world, crocuses bloom near Valentine’s Day and are the preferred “passion” flower rather than roses.
The Crocus species (Crocus Sativa) has medicinal properties grown commercially for saffron and seeds all over the world. So please, please, do not go out and start chewing on a crocus plant. These plants in our yards are poisonous!
c. Sativa has carotenoids that have been shown in clinical studies to inhibit cancer cell proliferation. Saffron helps reduce depression supports eye health and cognitive function.
In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), saffron is used for depression, shock, cramps from moon cycles, PMS, skin disorders, stomach weakness, and an appetite suppressant.
There you have it; when your crocus starts to pop its pretty purple flowers above ground, I hope you will remember they are flowers created by mad passionate love of one kind or another as well as a healing herb.
Chevallier, Andrew, Encyclopedia of Herbal Medicine, 2016; 89
Hello Everyone! I hope you are doing well under the circumstances. My family is all hunkered down at this point. My Hubby is now working from home, and that took a few days to get him organized. I had to move out of my office so he could move in. I’m now working at a table on a dinosaur laptop for the time being. But Hey! These are some crazy times at the moment. You do what ya gotta do!
To update you on what the plan is during this quarantine – I am going to try and have greens available for pickup only. The CT State Dept. of Ag is requesting farmers to open their farmstands to the community as soon as possible.
Unfortunately, we don’t have a farmstand due to parking issues at our home. However, I will have microgreens and herbs available very soon – micros – hopefully by next week or weekend. All orders must be pre-paid before pick up. Due to my daughter’s immune issues, I will not be making in-person sales. I’ll post what’s available on the TSF Product Page, FaceBook and the blog as well. If you want an email alerting you that week’s cuttings, please sign up in the sidebar.
I do accept Paypal and all major credit cards. Paypal account email is email@example.com
Microgreens are still the same price as before $3.00 per/oz.
Other products available for sale right now are herbal teas. There are 7 different teas. Teas sell for $8.00 per jar.
Lavender Harmony Tea
Minty Mint Herbal Tea
Lavender Rose Bedtime Tea
Cinnamon Rose Tea (with Coconut Milk)
Blueberry Raspberry Hibiscus Tea
Pumpkin Pie Tea
Farm to Bath
Yes, we have plenty of soap and other bath and body products available. Free shipping is available on all orders $30 and over. If you want to pick up your order – that’s fine too, just email me your request so I can process your payment separately prior to pickup. Again, no person to person sales. All orders must be prepaid.
Hello Friends! Happy New Year! I am happy to announce that my podcast about herbs is now live. Living and Lovin Herbs is about different ways you can use herbs.
Whether it’s for:
growing them in your garden
using it in bath and body products or
creating a chemical-free home
I’ll share with you its history and traditions, because who doesn’t like a good story! If I find a good book related to the subject, resources that might be helpful, I’ll post a link under book recommendations and reference found in the show notes.
The goal of this show is to demystify herbs, their uses and make it easier for you to incorporate them into your daily life.
There are 4 shows posted on iTunes ready for download. You can also go to the website livingandlovinherbs.com where you can listen to the show, check out the pictures related to the podcast, download free recipes and other information related to herbs.
My goal is to post 2 shows per month. If I can do more I will, but I’m a one woman show and still managing the farm and Farm to Bath.
I’m doing research on the American Thanksgiving dinner. I hope you will take a few minutes to help me out by filling out this survey. I will reveal the results in the upcoming Living and Lovin Herbs Thanksgiving Show in mid-November.
The American Thanksgiving meal is iconic. We often see images of a perfectly roasted turkey on a table overflowing with side dishes such as bread stuffing, mashed potatoes and gravy, dinner rolls, cranberry sauce, and sweet potato casserole, green bean casserole, pumpkin pies, apple pie, and a mince pie. But are these foods still popular on the 21st century American table? Have we changed what we make and serve? I know in my house the answer is yes!
What’s on your Thanksgiving table? Do you cook dinner? Do you still eat the same foods today as your family’s past generations? Do you stick with the traditional Thanksgiving herbs and spices or do you use different herbs and seasonings? Is your dinner now 100% vegan?
Please take this quick survey and I’ll reveal the results in my Living and Lovin Herbs Thanksgiving Dinner Podcast Show.
It’s the end of May here in Connecticut, and how is your garden doing? Things here are painfully slow going here. We’ve had a wet, cold spring and in between rainstorms, we’ve been busy rebuilding the yard and changing some things around for easier maintenance. We’re not as young as we used to be and its time to transition the gardens into the next phase of its life. More perennials and fewer annuals.
To add insult to injury, this winter’s brutal polar vortex combined with the wet, cold spring has taken its toll on our garden. Many trees, flowering bushes, and lavenders didn’t survive. My hubby has been busy digging up the deceased and replacing with new softwood bushes and flowering plants. I’m amazed at the extent of the damage. Mother Nature can be so cruel!
I’ve been surveying the raised bed area and figuring out what new perennial herbs I can plant that will survive our crazy winters. My big experiment will be seeing if I can grow old fashioned big bush roses. I’m planting them in the largest raised bed we have. Winter freeze will be a huge concern since the beds are above ground. Will the roots overwinter in a raised bed? I don’t know, so stay tuned…
In the greenhouse, we ripped out the aquaponics system and reverted the 2 beds back to dirt. I planted more rosemary and experimenting with scented geraniums. The variety I’m starting with is “Rose of Attar”. The leaves really do smell like roses! If they survive the winter, they will be a wonderful addition to my herb garden.
Time Well Spent!
The good news is, the time spent waiting for storms to pass and temperatures to rise has been productive. I’ve been working on the last bits of my garden book. It will be published sometime this summer titled “My Garden Journal” (although, the title may change…I’m currently playing with different titles).
I started journaling my gardens 20 years ago to remind me what worked and what didn’t from one season to the next. Gardening is a journey – your yard is an ever-changing ecosystem and I found that journaling gave me a higher success rate.
My personal journal evolved over time. It wasn’t fancy, just a list of plants and comments in the margins of how things went during the growing season.
However, when I was teaching children how to garden, I discovered by accident, my journals were a great teaching tool. My simple journal pages made the perfect outline for the curriculum I was creating. I took what I learned from these very talented students and reworked the format. The results were a simple easy to follow garden journal for children (and adults too!)
In addition to the journal pages, I also added other useful sections. For example, Parts of a Plant, Themed Gardens, How to Make Compost Tea and 10 Easiest Plants to Grow from Seed. These sections were designed to give young gardeners basic tools to be successful in their first years of gardening.
Excerpt from “My Garden Journal”
Here is the section from the book on the “10 Easiest Plants to Grow from Seed”.
Arugula is a small leafy green that has a peppery taste. It makes a perfect addition to salads and pasta recipes. To get ideas on how to prepare this green, do an online search. There are lots of recipes to pick from.
Arugula can be direct seeded into the ground and prefers to grow in cooler temperatures and is best grown in early spring and late summer into fall skipping the hottest part of the growing season.
Basil is an excellent herb to grow. Basil does not do well if direct seeded into the soil.Start your seeds indoors in small containers and then transplant outside when it’s warm enough.
When the plant gets big enough, pick the leaves off to add to a fresh tomato salad.Dry the leaves and save them for your herb and spice collection.There is nothing better tasting than homegrown basil in spaghetti sauce!
Basil prefers hot weather and full sun and best-grown late spring through the hottest part of the summer. Make sure the flowers are pinched off frequently for a bushier plant, which will produce more leaves.
If you are growing this plant in a container, water frequently.Plants grown in containers dry out quicker than plants grown in the ground or in raised beds.
Microgreens are 5 to 10 day old baby plants that you can harvest and eat. Don’t confuse them with sprouts which are seeds that have sprouted in water and then eaten. The difference is to grow microgreens you must plant them in potting soil or some sort of growing medium sprout them and then harvest the plant.
These baby plants are high in nutrition and can be grown on a kitchen counter with no sunlight. They are the perfect plants for a kitchen garden.
The easiest microgreens to grow are:
Spicy mustard greens
Cucumbers are a gardener’s summer favorite. Make sure you have plenty of room to grow these plants; they like to spread their vines everywhere.Do an online search
to learn how to save space by growing up.There are many ideas on how to build simple trellis’ using materials such as long sticks and twine.
Cucumber seeds can be direct seeded into the ground in late spring, or can be started indoors (early spring) in small containers and transplanted into the garden when it’s warm enough.
5. Green Beans
These are one of the easiest plants to grow, and you get a lot of beans in return for your work.They can be direct seeded in the ground late spring. Beans like to grow in direct sun and love hot temperatures.
When researching seeds, make sure you know which kind of beans you’re buying. There are bush beans and pole beans.Bush beans don’t need any trellising.Just plant and watch them grow and harvest them when big enough.
Pole beans need a trellis to climb on.
6. Green Onions
Green onions are tall, green and white stalks and they are fun to grow.Patients will be essential, because they may take most of the growing season before you can harvest them.
Green onions grow well in containers but need frequent watering during hot weather. They are a perfect vegetable to grow if you have a spot that has partial shade.Direct seed in early spring and keep watering.Onions take many weeks before they sprout.So be patient.
Onions also do well if left in the garden over winter. Once the garden bed is established, they will self-seed (the seeds drop into the garden bed after they flower), and new plants will grow the next season.
There are many kinds of kale to grow, so do your research on which varieties will grow well in your area.Kale likes cooler temperatures but will tolerate some heat if the plants are well established.
Kale is another plant that can be stared in early spring and late fall and will tolerate colder temperatures until a hard freeze or even snow.These can be direct seeded into the ground.
Dinosaur Kale is a good recommendation if you are looking for tender leaves, which are perfect for salads.If you want to grow big leaf varieties like Red Russian Kale, their leaves are perfect for making crispy kale chips – which are like potato chips.Yum!
Peas are another early spring and fall plant to grow and can be direct seeded into the ground.My peas never make it to the kitchen because I eat them right off the vine while working in the garden.They make a great snack!
These plants require something to climb on otherwise they will grow in a heap of strings on the ground.
There is nothing more satisfying than a fresh picked homegrown tomato! They are gardener’s pride and joy! Do your research on what kind, or color you want to grow.There are hundreds of varsities to pick from and you need to know the difference between an Indeterminate and Determinate tomato variety.
For beginner gardeners, I would recommend not growing tomatoes in the heirloom (or determinate category) until you are an experienced gardener. Heirloom tomatoes taste great but can be very temperamental if the plants don’t get an even amount of water and sustaining hot temperatures.They are also prone to disease and fungal problems.
If the plants get stressed this results in what is called end rot or blossom rot.The tomato is not ripe enough to pick but instead starts rotting on the bottom of the fruit and the falls off the plant.Once a plant starts producing rotten fruit the problem cannot be fixed. The plant must be pulled out of the ground and thrown away.
I recommend varieties like “Big Beef” or “New Girl” for a nice evenly round healthy tomato and are perfect for sandwiches or salads.These varieties are what is called “Indeterminate” hybrids and are not prone to disease or fungal problems.
There are smaller tomato varieties you can grow too.Grape and cherry tomatoes produce a lot of fruit and are fun to grow.Make sure you share with friends and family if you have too many.
Indeterminate Tomato: Tall plants that require staking for trellis and will keep producing fruit up until first frost.
Determinate Tomato: A bush variety that is low and compact and doesn’t require staking. These plants grow a certain number of fruit and then the plant stops growing and dies.Unlike the indeterminate tomatoes where the plant continues to produce fruit until it’s too cold.Heirloom tomato varieties are determinate plants.
I recommend you start your seeds indoors in small containers and then transplant into the garden in late spring. Do not direct seed into the ground the seeds will have difficulty sprouting.Tomatoes need full sun and plenty of hot temperatures.
Sunflowers are beautiful and can be a showy centerpiece to any garden. The good news is sunflowers now come in many different sizes.These are a perfect plant to direct seed into the garden.
There are shorter more compact varieties that produce multiple flower heads that are smaller. These are great for flower bouquets.
The tall varieties like Royal Hybrid produce one big flower and need lots of sun.Make sure your seeds are organic if growing these flowers for bird food and don’t spray your plants with pesticides or herbicides. Chemicals hurt the birds and wildlife that will live among your plants in the garden.
At the end of the season, cut the flower heads and dry them. The birds will appreciate a nice snack when there is little food to forage on during the cold winter months.
Happy Spring!! Astronomically speaking that is. But that doesn’t mean its warm outside and flowers are blooming here in New England. Mother-nature can be cruel sometimes and tease us mercilessly with a beautiful warm sunny day and dump a foot of snow the next.
So technically (at least around here) we wait until the end of April to officially declare spring. In the meantime, if you live in a similar climate as we do, why not begin work on your winter body now. So when the warmer weather is here to stay, you’re looking and feeling pretty darn good!
On another note, did you also know that today is also International Happiness Day? What are you happy about? Post it in the comments below. I’d love to know.
I’m happy that today is a bright, warm sunny day. This is the first day I opened the greenhouse to cool things off and bring in some fresh air. I’m excited that soon, I’ll be back in the garden planting this seasons herbs and flowers for our Farm to Bath herbal bath and body products. Cue the confetti… Whoohoo!
It’s Our Ancestors Fault Or Is It?
According to scientists we consume an additional 200 calories per day during the long winter months because of low levels of Vitamin D. Other researchers believe its part of our DNA we inherited from our ancient ancestral relatives.
Back in the day eating more calories was critical to surviving a long winter. The more “fluffier” our relatives were the better chances they survived the cold, harsh winters than the skinny rail thin ones. Remember there were no McDonalds or grocery stores to supply them with food when it ran out.
They either starved to death, froze to death, or survived on their reserved body fat. It was survival of the fittest or in this case the fluffiest. Thank goodness we don’t have to live that way anymore and can control our environment and what we eat!
Whatever the reasons we gain weight, come spring, what goes on, must come off. Whether it’s our DNA flipping its hibernation switch (my analogy) or we’re getting more Vitamin D because the days are longer. Our body is telling us its ready to shed the extra pounds.
What Are Detoxifying Foods?
There is a whole industry devoted to detoxifying one’s body, and sometimes it can be confusing and misleading. But it doesn’t have to be this way. There is some middle ground without committing to a strict detox cleanse and spending hundreds of dollars for someone to tell you what you already know. Stop eating junk!
There’s no one size fits all to detoxing. You just need to be aware of what you’re eating. I call it “conscious eating.” Eat more plant-based foods and herbs. Eliminate foods high in sugar, fat, carbohydrates, and processed foods.
Here is a general idea of what a detox lifestyle looks like. Typically there are 3 goals:
“(1) to remove potentially “toxic” foods, (2) to eat a simple diet so that detox organs like the liver can focus less on digestion and more on detoxification, and (3) to increase your consumption of water and foods that encourage the detoxification organs to do their job more efficiently.”
Body into Balance, Maria Noel Groves, 97
Just stated, eat a simpler diet, especially in the spring. This is when your body is ready to shed its winter weight. This may be the reason why trying to stay fit during the winter is like pushing a car uphill. Your body isn’t listening because you may be Vitamin D deficient and its in hibernation mode.
Don’t get me wrong, weight loss can be made at any time of the year, but it’s tough to fight those comfort food cravings during the cold winter months if you’re low on Vitamin D. Just be aware of what you’re eating and have a plan.
Talking to your doctor is also a good idea. Have your Vitamin D levels checked as a precaution. It’s important to have a baseline, so you know if your weight gain is related to a Vitamin D deficiency.
I get mine checked annually, and my doctor adjusts my Vitamin D supplement dosage as necessary. The bad news is as I get older, my Vitamin D levels drop too severely low levels during the winter months; which is triggering other health problems.
The good news is, all of this is in my control. My doctor tells me I can mitigate any future damage by merely getting outside and walking and eating more nutrient-dense foods.
After doing a lot of research on winter weight gain and Vitamin D deficiency, I found some detox and weight loss friendly herbs and vegetables that are nutrient dense that I’ve added to my diet. I thought this would be helpful to you in achieving your own health goals.
Garlic and Onions
Mushrooms (cooked in Broth)
Flax and Chia Seeds
Culinary Herbs and Spices (especially Turmeric)
Body into Balance, Maria Noel Groves, 97
All of these foods listed can play a superstar role in detoxing your body naturally and should be easy to incorporate into your diet daily. However, there is one green that is a real Superhero. It hits 3 of the most common health goals most people want to achieve.
Dandelion Greens – The Superhero Green!
Photo by Brenda J. Sullivan
I love this green and try to incorporate it into my diet as much as possible. It’s one of the few herbs that does so much good for the body. A once favorite herb/green during the Great Depression, it hardly gets a mention in herbal and culinary circles today. But, there are still a few diehard fans out there.
According to Rosemary Gladstar, International Herbalist, this green is:
“… One of the most widely used herbs in the world, dandelion is highly respected, both for its preventative and for its remedial qualities…”
Herbal Healing for Women, Rosemary Gladstar, 28
The dandelion chemical composition focuses its energy on nurturing the kidney and liver. The most significant health benefit I discovered is dandelions act like a diuretic.
Unlike, synthetic diuretics, that deplete the body of potassium which can cause other health issues, such as muscle weakness, fatigue, digestive issues, just to name a few problems. Dandelions are high in potassium and replace K naturally at the same time helping the liver and kidneys eliminate excess water and toxins.
Health Benefits Specifically For Women:
In some women, hormonal changes can have severe effects on their bodies. Research suggests that eating dandelion leaves and roots during a woman’s menstrual cycle can help with bloating, PMS and breast tenderness.
Also, dandelions are also known as a bitter. Bitter greens help stimulate the bile in the stomach which encourages better digestion, which detoxes the body and helps with elimination.
This can be important for women who have issues with cravings, bloating and constipation during their cycle. This green can help move things along and reduce some of the discomforts.
Personally, I can gain up to 20 pounds of water weight during my moon cycle. To help reduce the fluid buildup, and the uncontrollable cravings, I’ll take dandelion root supplement daily. I make sure I drink plenty of water and eat fresh dandelion greens several times a week to help flush my system. This keeps things moving through my intestines which is reducing the pressure in my stomach and back. Think of your body as a deflating balloon.
In addition, I cut back on the amount of gluten, starches/carbs (e.g., bread, pasta, white potatoes, white rice, and corn) and the worst offender for PMS sugar!
Move That Body!
Dandelions are rich in Vitamin A, C, Iron and Calcium which are essential for healthy bones among other things. This is important for a woman who is menopausal or has been diagnosed with osteopenia which can happen to women over the age of 50.
Also, moving your body is essential to dropping that winter weight.
Our ancient ancestors didn’t continue sitting around when the snow melted. They got outside and started hunting and gathering to feed their family. So you’re already genetically programmed to move! No excuses here…
I try and go for a walk for at least 45 minutes to an hour a day. If I can’t get that much time in, I’ll find 20 minutes somewhere and jump on the treadmill and do a quick 20. I don’t have a perfect record, but I try to get more days in than not.
If you don’t have a treadmill, do circles around your coffee table, around your kitchen, dining room, bedroom, or in your yard, whatever. Just get moving and work up to an hour, its better than doing nothing. I promise you’ll feel better.
Dandelions Achieve 3 Health Goals:
It is a bitter, that helps get a sluggish gut’s digestive juices moving. Yes, pooping is good for you when trying to lose weight!
It’s a natural diuretic that doesn’t deplete your body of potassium and other essential nutrients. Dandelions are naturally high in potassium, Vitamin A, C, Iron.
It’s perfect for bone health, especially for those who are diagnosed with osteopenia. Dandelions are naturally high in Calcium.
Honestly, I haven’t found another green that can do so much good for one’s body. It truly is a Superhero Green!
Dandelion greens can be eaten raw, sautéed or steamed. I often add them to a brown rice dish or just saute them in a little olive oil and garlic which is my favorite way to eat them.
If you’re interested in eating them wild, the best time to harvest them is in the spring and early autumn. Make sure when harvesting that no fertilizers, herbicides or pesticides have been sprayed or sprinkled on them. So please be careful if you decide to harvest wild dandelions.
Otherwise, you can pick them up fresh at your local health food store or grow them yourself. There are seed company’s that sell the seeds. Just do an online search.
According to the Flavor Bible, dandelions go great with the following foods:
1 tablespoon drained, rinsed and finally chopped capers
Salt and ground pepper to taste
1/2 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons lemon juice orchampagne vinegar
Mix ingredients in a bowl and set aside for flavors to blend together. This can be made ahead of time and refrigerated. Bring to room temperature first, then drizzle over greens toss well, before serving.
Note: This recipe is enough for several dishes. Only use a tablespoon or so on these greens. Refrigerate the rest.
Dandelion Greens Cooking Instructions:
Heat oil in a 12-inch heavy skillet over medium heat gently infuse
the olive oil with the chopped garlic. Don’t burn the garlic!
Add dandelion greens and sauté until greens are wilted. Salt and
pepper to taste.
Drizzle a tablespoon of the salsa verde over greens and give a quick toss and then serve.
Disclaimer: I am not a doctor, if you have questions about your health please consult with a licensed medical professional. The information in this article is for educational purposes and not meant to treat or diagnose any medical conditions.
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