Thanksgiving Flower Harvest

Calendula is prolific in my garden. This is something I can view as a blessing due to the many benefits for which this herb is known.

I am grateful for my garden and all it has to offer and to teach me.

I am opting outside today and choosing to not buy anything.

I am grateful for my health which allows me to garden and harvest with ease.

I am grateful to spend another Thanksgiving with my family and see them maintaining their health and vibrancy.

I collected these the day before Thanksgiving and will dry them to add to tea. I still have calendula infused olive oil on hand from a year before.

The tiny native bees love them!

Peace and love,

Kristan

Herbal Tea Blends How-To

Buying tea is fun: exploring new flavors and brands that may help ease symptoms or simply taste good. What’s more fun is making one’s own tea blends!

My garden has mint, lemon balm, lavender, chamomile, parsley, rosemary, calendula, and many other cooking herbs. These are the ones usually being made into tea.

Most of my arsenal is pictured here. I have a serious love of vintage tiny crocks and they are perfect for storing dried herbs.

Choosing which vessel to drink from and deciding where to place the herbs is the hardest part of the process! I have a lovely tea strainer that sits atop a mug, and I also have a muslin cloth bag that is nice for a whole pot of tea. Obviously, I chose the stainless steel tea strainer + my favorite poppy mug.

My favorite blend is mint, lemon balm, and a bit of lavender.

Sometimes I enjoy just mint, I think that’s my second favorite.

Chamomile by itself is amazing, but I like it with mint. Also with lemon balm.

Calendula + mint; lavender + calendula; parsley + mint; basically anything mixed with mint is delicious and soothing.

I have “modeled” some blends based on purchased teas I enjoyed but didn’t care for the price tag. Those usually include licorice root because of its natural sweetness. They require more effort, so I’ll usually mix a larger batch to enjoy over a longer period.

Rosemary is best when fresh and is super strong. I enjoy it mixed with honey and chamomile!

In fact, I like most herbal teas with a bit of honey. I think their flavors come out more fully with some added sweetness.

All herbs either came from my garden, or were bought in bulk at my local herb supplier.

The honey in the coconut jar was purchased in bulk also!

As far as how much to add to each cup, it’s a personal preference, and can also be based on how fresh the herbs are + how finely cut they are. I generally use about one tablespoon because I like a good flavor. Definitely use less if you are using a true tea like earl grey or black.

What are some of your favorite tea blends?

Peace and love,

Kristan

Autumn Harvest


A basket full of butternut squash. Some weren’t fully ripe, but the plant was dying back so I decided to cut all the fruits and bring them inside. At least I have a few that will last me a couple months. These keep for a good amount of time and taste excellent roasted with some fresh herbs from the garden.

Winter squash is fairly easy to grow; try to stay on top of any squash bugs by picking off the eggs that are laid out in beautiful patterns on the underside of leaves. I really enjoy less common varieties, but the butternut was most prolific this year. Uchiki Kuri got attacked by bugs and I didn’t ever get a sprout from the Hokkaido Stella Blue seeds that were planted. Zucchini always does well in my area, but its abundance can sometimes be more of a curse than a blessing. 🙂

Peace and love,

Kristan

Backyard Reveal

We have somehow let the rogue sunflowers take over the back garden space. The flowers are beautiful, peaceful, and support the local ecology. All sorts of bees are constant visitors during the sunflower bloom time, and when seeds start to become ripe, finches are ever present and full of song. However, the intentionally planted crops didn’t fare so well due to the lack of sunshine and water. 


Before the great clearing of 2017

Next year I’ll be pulling any sunflowers in this area, but they have had a good run. I’ll let them go wild in another place.

The great reveal! There’s a building back here!

Now I can see the beautiful boxes and garden bed my husband built! I generally plant early spring crops in these boxes: peas, potatoes, kale, radishes, and green onions have all lived here. The climbing plants in the back are clematis ❤️.

Happy fall gardening / culling.

Peace and love,

Kristan 

A Ritual of Planting Garlic

Garlic is one of my favorite crops to plant! I also love potatoes and flower bulbs so I think I like digging in soil (and autumn weather). 🙂 

I know I can use my crop of garlic to plant more garlic, and it is even recommended, but I didn’t have any on hand this year, so I ordered seeds and garlic from High Mowing Seeds. Their seeds and plants are organic and they have an excellent selection. I like the red chesnook variety and the bulbs get huge without compromising flavor. Another teacher gifted me some of her gorgeous garlic, and I could have used that as seed also, but had already placed my order.

I cleared out a diagonal half of one of my 6′ by 6′ beds, then lightly hand tilled to break up my hard southwest Idaho soil.  We did get a truckload of soil + compost in our beds this spring, but our soil gets hard anyway due to the intense heat and dry periods. Then I made some rows about 5″ apart using my Hori-Hori knife, which is THE BEST garden tool in existence.


I took the time to look for the largest cloves first because the largest ones really do produce the biggest garlic bulbs. I had some trouble with the wrapping coming off too easily. You want the wrapping to stay intact for healthy growth. 

Then I placed the garlic before covering the cloves.


I spaced each clove about 6″ apart and tried to not get too close to the edge of the box to ensure maximum bulb growth.

I dug them in a little deeper with my knife (about 2″) then covered with more soil. Easy and extremely satisfying! All I have to do is water them occasionally if it doesn’t rain at all before winter and cover up a bit when there is some growth. In July I hope to have a beautiful crop of garlic! 

Any extra cloves that were smaller or unwrapped I’ll just throw into my next meal.


I think it’s exciting to dig them up and see how big they have gotten! It’s like a surprise you’ve been waiting patiently for all year. Even if they don’t get big, I still am grateful to harvest my own food. I haven’t bought grocery store garlic in many years, and even though I didn’t find time to plant any last year, some of my previous crop is still good somehow. Also, I had quite a bit of forgotten cloves in different places of my garden and got quite a good, albeit unintentional, little volunteer crop this summer.

Happy planting!

Peace and love,

Kristan

A Few Snapshots of My Garden

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From top to bottom: cantaloupe, tesuque chilies, green bush beans, a withering uchiki kuri squash (too many squash bugs this year) plus a watermelon, and scarlet runner beans and cucumbers, trellised.

My garden is in my front yard. We really have two front yards, separated by the sidewalk and about two feet of elevation. My husband put in four 6 x 6 garden beds he built by hand. They are beautiful, but there is so much vegetation, I cannot get a good photo of them at this point in the season. We purchased really beautiful and healthy garden soil which was a 70 / 30 mixture of topsoil and compost. It was delivered to our house for a fee, which I gladly paid. I am thrilled with my garden now, which is tremendously easy to weed and water. I let it go pretty wild and also crowded plants a bit too much, but am still extremely satisfied with what we have. Instead of buying any compost in plastic, we took old curbside recycling tubs and asked a local gardening center to dump compost into those. It worked pretty well! They were so heavy, though.

I’m looking forward to planting my favorite crop, garlic, very soon. I also plan to not buy any plants at all next season, rather starting everything from seed. Fingers crossed it works!

Peace and love,

Kristan