Monday, March 16, 2009

Spring Awakenings

It's almost spring here on Grassy Mountain. This is a time of transition, with weather extremes; one week we celebrate almost record temperatures and can wander around in shirtsleeves, and the next we have ice and snow everywhere!

As I write this we are on day four of a cold rain, but it is most welcomed, as it will help my gardens get off to a good start and will jump start the greening of the mountain.

I've spent the last two weeks alternately hunkered down with the dogs by the wood stove and getting out to hike here and with friends.

I've managed to get all of my gardens ready, cardboarding the disaster of the culinary herb garden, trying to kill the Comfrey there that some fool (read Sam) transplanted last year to a new spot. Of course the Comfrey roots left in the culinary garden thrived after being cut, and I had plants everywhere. Cardboarding and heavily mulching will get rid of them, but unfortunately will also kill my Oregano.

Not to worry though, as I'll be attending the annual Asheville Herb Festival in early May and will replenish my gardens with new young plants. If you're local to this area you should check them out. It's a great source for locally grown herbs and garden plants and seeds, and features many other herbal and hand made products. It's always good to support local growers and businesses, and I enjoy the chance to keep my money local.

This year I will be trying something new for the vegetable garden, as I have such limited space and want to grow more yummy stuff. I'm going to train all my summer squash and zucchini plants up a trellis, and my tomatoes will be moved to upside down buckets hanging from the barn. That way I'll have more room for the other plants. My Jerusalem Artichokes should fare well, as I didn't do a complete harvest last fall. I left a lot of the tubers untouched, so the bed will spread. The 'chokes will become my potato substitute.

I'm also trying something new in my community, and will be holding a FREE "Ask the Herbalist Day" on Tuesdays at the local Switzerland Cafe. This is a great little cafe and General Store run by friends Ann and Lora. If you're in the area please check them out. They have the freshest salads and the best quiche anywhere.

Anyway, back to the subject at hand. Every Tuesday at 2 PM I'll be setting up at a table outside and holding court with anyone who comes along. I'll be available for all herb related questions. Folks can bring samples or photos of weeds in their yards for help with identification and a brief talk about the best uses for the plant. General questions about health will be entertained and discussed, and I'll have my herb books, press book, weed of the month handouts, and may even have a plant of the week present for discussion. It's a way I can provide service to my community, and hopefully make new contacts and friends who will then go on to attend a class or herb walk.

Chickens. Well, I have to admit, I stink as a chicken farmer! As I last reported, I ended up with what I thought was two roosters and one hen. But that hen just never would lay any eggs. I checked every day for my first "free range egg" to no avail. Then one day I noticed "her" comb was growing, and "she" was growing some suspicious looking tail feathers to boot. My hen I'd watched so closely was none other than a crossdressing rooster! Great. No eggs. After a time the three began to fight, and my favorite one, the white one I named Rocky was getting the worst of it. I finally butchered the two mean red ones and now have this one pretty white rooster that comes when I call and stands to be petted. But no eggs.

I'll remedy that in April with the addition of several hens purchased from a local hatchery who keeps pullets till they are about ready to begin to lay. No more biddies for me!

I've spent the last few days updating my website, so please do check it out when you get a chance.

And that's all for now folks!

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