September – Fresh Start

Hey there,

I know I’m not alone in thinking that really, September is the start of the new year.  Everything is new and beginning again.  I don’t like to rush the seasons…OK, now I’m fibbing…we all know how I feel about Winter – it’s OK for a little while, but then, enough already.

It’s not officially Fall yet, but it’s in the air.  Especially this year, after the “Summer that wasn’t” here in Southern Ontario.  I love the Fall and it’s normally such a short season, but September and October – FAB!

There are many activities art related in my area in September and October…all the things I love: shows, tours, classes.  The food is amazing with the fresh harvest.  I get the urge to make things with my hands. There’s a coziness to it all and yet, I still have my gardens…it’s still too early for “Jack” to take them from me.  Ahhhh  Mums and pumpkins and all the rich colour.  The sky is a deeper hue.  The fields are dotted with gold, purple, white, rust and warm shades of brown.  Darker at night a little bit earlier, but not too early yet.  Cooler for sleeping, blue jeans, maybe a light sweater or jacket, but most days, you can still wear sandals and Pearl still wears her pretty summer wheels. YAY!  What’s not to like?

Mercury has been in retrograde and I have not been at all inspired to write.  Mercury being the planet of communication – you see where that came from.  Mercury plays a big role in my birth chart.  Not an excuse, just a statement.  Besides, I’ve been spending every spare moment outside and not in front of my computer. There will be lots of time for that later.  I’m going with the flow.

Round two of seeds have been planted in the veggie gardens.  Peas, radish, spinach and lettuce, hoping for a second crop in the cooler weather.  Swiss Chard is still going strong.  I’m harvesting tomatoes daily, made some dill pickles from my cucumbers (where I often find Niles peeking out from beneath the vines…)

← Meet His Royal Cheekiness, Niles!  Looks like he’s wet (again) from being out in the rain (or in the garden).

There are squash on the vine, green beans are yummy as are the yellow zucchini. Carrots and beets processed and round two planted.  I’ve really enjoyed my veggie gardens this year and so glad that my plan from last Fall – the apple harvest bins – have worked out really well.  They seem to be just the right size for the amount I need.  Easy on my back and easy to plant and harvest – not large enough for me to go too crazy with amounts planted – but you’d be surprised at how much I can sneak in. 🙂 A saunter out to the barn in the morning with my scissors and my basket is the routine…what will I bring in today?  Happiness.  Soon, I’ll be harvesting and drying the culinary herbs. Oregano is already in the jar.  Hello homemade pizza!  Can you smell it?

 

 

Some of my harvest!

Oy, the drying frenzy hasn’t really started yet, but it’s coming.  As is the bringing in of the plants. Very soon. My big pot of Rosemary has not had a happy Summer.  Even sitting out on the deck on the South side, where it sits every Summer, it’s been too wet.  It was actually happier inside the dry house in the Winter. I’m hoping it perks up and am thinking about bringing it in now.  I’d hate to lose it, it’s a good sized plant and one that I use often in Winter for flavouring.  On my bucket list is visiting those countries where it actually grows as a shrub…one day.

Not a wild greenie here in Canada, but Rosemary is an awesome plant.  It tastes and smells divine and is the herb of remembrance.  Even Shakespeare said so!  One of those culinary, curative and cosmetic herbs that may be used year round.  Not only tucked into bridal bouquets and wreaths for centuries, but once used as a religious herb as well.  It has been burned as incense in ceremonies as protection against evil and at funerals. Sometimes mixed with Juniper to cleanse and purify the air.  I like to use it for adding flavour to roasting meat and potatoes.  I will also make an oil with it for use in cooking and/or the bath.  A very clean scent when mixed with Lavender.

The oil from the plant leaves is antibacterial and anti-fungal.  A good “breathing” herb to relieve headaches. Used in a tea, it makes a good mouthwash.  All good reasons to bring my potted plant in sooner, rather than later!

What else am I harvesting?  The Moon’s energy.  Tonight she is full in Pisces and the Sun is firmly planted in Virgo.  So an excellent time to dream big, as Pisces is ruled by Neptune and is the sign of dreams, whereas Virgo, a very grounded, Earth sign is the one to get things done and make those dreams a reality. A powerful combo.  Win-win!  The September Full Moon is the Harvest Moon, a little earlier this year.  Watch for the orange colouring.  I will be straining some bath oils this evening and using the preserved energy in the cold months ahead.

Today’s colour is white.  Appropriate in speaking about the Rosemary in bridal bouquets and wreaths above.

What will you dream of under this Harvest Moon?  Make it big and then make it happen.

Until next time,

-Debra

O Sun, wherefore art thou?

Hey there,

O Sun, wherefore art thou?  That doesn’t sound so much like complaining, does it?  Fancy. 🙂

Took a wee break and now I’m back.  Did you miss me? 🙂

Two words:  New. Phone.

Two more words:  @#!&%!! Frustrating.

Enough said

Into August we go – my birth month.  Yep, another spin around the Sun for me…not yet, but soon; I’m on the cusp, first full day of Virgo.  Right now we bask in all things Leo – can you feel the Sun’s energy? (When we are blessed with it, this year!)  Leo is of course ruled by the Sun and the Sun represents the outer you, or your ego.  The colours? Gold, yellow, amber, orange – the colours of Sun-day. Warm, summery, fun.  Many of the greenies that flower in August are yellow.  Cool fact.

So how does your garden grow?  My veggies are kind of at the in between stage right now.  The early, cooler weather crops are not doing well in the heat, although I’m still harvesting lettuces and Swiss Chard, the radish and spinach have called it quits.  I’m going to re-seed end of August for another cool weather crop in the Fall.  Something went bums up with the peas.  The vines grew, developed the pods, but they never ripened, got soft and then the vines died…hmmm still looking into that one.  It couldn’t have been lack of rain!  They aren’t chewed, so I don’t think anything got into them.  Anyone have any ideas?  Maybe I should have harvested them when they were fully formed, but yellow?  They are called green peas for a reason. >: I’ve left them on the trellis to shade the lettuce, but it doesn’t look pretty…

The hot weather veggies:  cucumbers, beans, mellon, squashes and tomato are all coming along, but not nearly ready to harvest.  Lots of tomatoes on the vines, but very green.  I’m harvesting beans and will be harvesting beets and carrots soon.  We haven’t had a lot of hot Sun, although we did get some this week.  I did call this the year of experiment, garden-wise, so I’m waiting things out.  The early crops were good and I will be harvesting garlic when things dry up a bit, next week.

Endings are new beginnings.
Edit the story and continue the book.

I just got back from visiting in the City (Toronto) for a few days.  Down to see my daughter’s new abode and to visit Mr. G (my grandkitty) 🙂  Lots of walking and it was very hot.  Such a different world from the one here at Blue Roof Living.  I always love to visit – a few days is enough to experience the fast pace, the people, the food, do a little shopping, visit a gallery or two, get caught up.  I usually go for a spin through the financial district, my old stomping grounds from what seems like a lifetime ago, and then back I go to my kitties, the greenies, the birds, the fresh air, the dark night sky and the quiet:  home.  I usually take transit down – I’m not a big fan of driving in the City.  When I get back, there’s Pearl (my VW Bug rag top), patiently waiting for me and all is as it should be again.

Always fun to visit, but I’m not sure I could live there anymore.

Breeaaathe – and into a frenzy of spot watering my gardens as soon as I get my stuff in the door.  (Um, I might have bought a few new plants and tucked them in, here and there.)

It hasn’t been a great Summer to get out on the boat – our Civic Holiday long weekend is upon us; fingers crossed for some Sun and Wind.

Nothing too new critter-wise here (other than insects) – Niles is settling in.  Niles is the latest kitty to call the blue roof home. Ralph brought him home and he’s certainly paying for that…Niles is not far out of kittenhood and is in constant play mode.  (If he would stay still long enough, I’d take his picture and let you see him!)  Ralph is entering his golden years.  Playing is ok for a while, then, enough already, time to rest. Niles will push him one step too far…and then WHACK >ouch<…poor Niles – he’ll learn the hard way. Winnie, in her platinum years, just slugs him whenever she sees him, so he steers clear of Winnie – she doesn’t have the patience for a young whipper snipper like him.  Her mode is called “cranky”.

Winter should be interesting.  If Niles wants a bed by the fire, he’d better win over Winnie first…that’s her domain!

My stone wall?  Sigh  That’s not going nearly as quickly as I had anticipated.  It’s either raining or I can’t stand to be down by the trees for the mosquitoes – they are so fierce this year.  Even with my bug stuff on, I get badly bitten. So not happy about that.  There will be a push in the Fall to get some more work done on it.

One nice thing about the plentiful insects this year (I do try to find something good) is the butterflies!  Lots of them and they are so beautiful…I’ve been studying up on the different kinds and I’ve got most of the ones you find in Southern Ontario in my meadow. YAY!

Gee, that may call for a new book! 🙂 I’ve discovered Mourning Cloaks, Eastern Tiger Swallowtails and Red Admirals.  Of course, I always have lots of Monarchs, because I have lots of Milkweed in the meadow.

Look at these beauties on the Sea Holly.  Mourning Cloak on left above and Red Admiral on right.

And lots of Bees, which is always a good thing. The Meadowsweet, left above, is alive with Bees – all different kinds.  Look at that big Bumble Bee in the Hosta flower above right.

So, the flower gardens and the insects have most certainly benefited from all the rain we’ve had this year.

What have I been harvesting?  St. John’s Wort, for one.  This herb has also been called Touch and Heal, among other things. Hypericum Perforatum looks like the photo above on the left.  The photo to the right of that shows my jar of the flowers and leaves packed in oil, harvested about two weeks ago.  The jar in the middle, below them shows another harvest, flowers and leaves in oil that have been sitting for almost one month.  Can you see the colour of the oil?  Red!  Historically, the pigment from the crushed flowers was believed to signify the blood of St. John, who was beheaded.  Also the herb is usually flowering around June 24th, which is St. John’s Day.  You know me, I’m more about the woo woo, but interesting fact all the same!  I will leave the jars sitting in the Sun for two Moon cycles.  The Sun extracts the energy of the plant and harvesting by the Moon extracts her energy…it’s a twofer.

What would I use this red oil for?  I would use it topically for any kind of nerve pain.  Sciatica, Shingles, etc. It is also good for sun burn, but be careful with exposing your skin to the Sun while using it, as it can make you susceptible to burns. I’ll make a salve with the oil, incorporating it with beeswax – less messy to use that way.

Let’s turn to the night sky.  We get to experience some neat stuff this month in the sky.  The full Moon is this coming Monday, the 6th.  Mondays are ruled by the Moon.  We also experience a Lunar Eclipse on the afternoon of the Full Moon.  Two weeks later, on Monday the 21st, the New Moon, we experience a Solar Eclipse at almost the same time in the afternoon.  Very interesting.

Jupiter will be very close to the Moon in the week of the New Moon – especially mid week, in the West. Jupiter has been in the night sky since April and we’ll be losing sight of the King Planet before too much longer.  August is also an excellent time to see Saturn in the West to the left of Jupiter.  Because of the tilt of the planet right now, you can easily see Saturn’s rings with good binoculars or a telescope.  Venus still shines brightly in the East before dawn.  The Milky Way is still very easy to see overhead late evening.  A magic wash of light.

Hmmm, where are we tonight…the Moon is in Capricorn.  Very matter of fact, follow the rules kind of day.

Today’s colour is coral.

Well now, lots of goodies and photos this time around.  A little payback for being away. 🙂 For my Canadian readers, do enjoy your August long weekend, whatever you may be up to.  Our season is so fleeting, especially this year.  Enjoy safely.

Until next time,

-Debra

Portia the Protector

Hey there,

Greetings from Portia.  That’s her above.  Portia sits in the Cedars amongst the Vinca and the pine needles beside the front walk.  Portia is Mrs. Beasley’s backup for tree rats.  Sometimes Mrs. Beasley gets tired – there are a lot of tree rats.  They’ve all over-wintered very well, dining on the bird seed and are plump and happy (like Portia).

I’m here!  Did you miss me? 🙂  Doing the tree planting thing – remember way back, last post?  (That sounds rather solemn, doesn’t it?)  Well, still working on it, but my “forest” has begun.  Haha The good news?  I’ve transplanted about 60 trees (very small ones) and my muscles are in “summer mode” again!  Not done yet, but it’s a start.  The bad news? You can’t really see it yet – the forest or the trees (get that one?).  The grass and the meadow greenies are all growing up fast and my “forest” has gone incognito.  But I know it’s there. 🙂  I also know that with a little patience, it really won’t take many seasons for me to start to see it.  Patience can be a toughy.

What else has grown?  Take a look!  My veggies.  For all you nay-sayers out there snickering to yourselves about my apple bin gardens – I know you’re there…

Back row is the peas, then lettuces, then radish, then spinach and finally some swiss chard.  So far, (fingers crossed) the critters are ignoring them.  I might have to move Portia to stand guard if that changes. 🙂

I know the left half has been left empty – thanks for noticing.  That’s so I can continually sow as I reap! Won’t be long now before I start to plant the summer stuff in the other two bins. More on that later.

Many of the birds are back.  Just saw the first little female hummer – they usually arrive somewhere around the long weekend in May, which is this coming weekend.  We’ve had a couple of extremely warm days (it’s been a weird Spring).  Went immediately to the barn to dig out my feeder.  (Please don’t put food colouring in your humming bird feeders.  It’s not necessary and does more harm than good!)  All set up and ready to go.  Right now she’s enjoying the bleeding hearts in the north garden.

I’m always startled the first time one zooms by in May.  Even though I’m expecting them, it’s like a giant bee whizzing by.  Right to the spot where I hang my feeder.  They remember!  The females come back first and find me to let me know – get out to the barn, I’m hungry.  Okey doke and I get right on it.

Speaking of the barn, there are nests popping up all around it.

An Eastern King Bird has built her nest on top of the light outside the barn, which is situated beside the door.  First photo above, top left of the photo (you have to squint).  Sorry for the shadow – I was out in full Sun, but it’s there.  I hate to keep disturbing her, but every time I go out there to get something or to go to my veggies, she’s not very happy.  I might need to put up a sign so everyone (and that’s the Royal everyone) remembers that she’s there.

DO NOT DISTURB MRS. KING BIRD
or the Dandelions 🙂 

Robins are nesting in the outside beams too (middle and right photos above).  Lots of flapping and squawking every time I’m there…maybe they’re just happy to see me.  Or maybe not.

I can relate some days – Ew. People.

Lots of Robins this year.

 

Very excited to report (as I’m sure you are) that I have an Indigo Bunting dropping by the nyger seed feeder.  Absolutely gorgeous!

←  Just look at this guy!

 

 

 

 

I’ve also got the Orchard Orioles back. More snickering here because I put apples on sticks for them (below).

But you can see, they like apples (and oranges).

Lots of Goldfinches as well – such vibrant colour. 🙂

So, besides the tree planting, gardening, general clean-up and “getting stuff out and cleaned up”, I’ve also been attending some seminars.  Now you know why you haven’t heard from me in a bit…

(Don’t ask me about the dust bunnies lurking under the blue roof.  Just don’t ask – I’m not going there.  It’s too nice outside and there’s too much to do out there.  The boat is about to go in the water too, and that will need some attention and set-up.  Oy, so busy at this time of year.)

The Oak Ridges Moraine Land Trust, here in Southern Ontario is hosting their Bio Blitzes and holding seminars to educate the public on climate change and the wildlife and fauna they can find in their back yard.  This is right up my alley and I’ve been to two talks so far.  One on wild forest plants and one on mushrooms.  They were very interesting and informative and I’ve now got a new channel to go to for information and involvement in the community.  Yay!

How are your Maple Leaf Tulips doing?  Open yet?  Mine still aren’t open.  They are very late.  They’re up and ready to open, but still tightly closed.

Here’s one clump of them →

Anticipation!  All of my other tulips have been open for a while and are starting to fade with this warm weather.  These will be nice after the others have almost finished.  That’s not a bad thing.

A friend of mine (are you there?) went to the Ottawa Tulip Festival last weekend and they weren’t open there yet either.

Can’t wait to see all the gardens sporting these when they finally bloom!

 

Oh yeah, I went to my local Garden Club’s plant auction.  Remember that from last year?  Still planting stuff as a result of this year’s visit…

UGH It looks like it’s snowing in here because the wind is blowing stuff through my window screens as I write. Or maybe that’s the dust bunnies dancing.  Never mind.

Do you want me to write, or do you want me to dust? Thought so – me too.  Sigh

Where are we tonight…I know the Full Moon has come and gone…ah, we’re ending the third quarter in Aquarius.  There’s the no restricting my freedom above and the who gives a hoot about the dust bunnies (except maybe my Mother…). The Moon enters Pisces just before midnight – a state of dreaminess on it’s way.  Breathe deeply.

Thursday is ruled by Jupiter.  Have you been looking at Jupiter in our night sky?  Hard to miss, he’s very bright and out all night.  The planet of luck and good fortune.  I’m feeling very fortunate that I have months of delightful growing season ahead of me.  The air smells like fresh cut grass and all things growing.  Not to mention the farm fields – you’ll have to ask Portia about that.

Today’s colour is red.

I’ll leave you now, grooving with Portia – and the dust bunnies – here under the blue roof.

Until next time,

-Debra

Hallelujah to Horsetail

Hey there,

Well Spring is in full throttle here in Southern Ontario. Can I get a Hallelujah! Life is pushing forth from the Earth after its Winter slumber and the air smells fresh and fecund.  There is nothing quite like that smell, is there?  That whiff of new life and warmer days to come.  It just makes you want to go out for a walk.  Fabulous.

As Mother Nature sheds her heavy cloak and the birds celebrate in song, we gardeners get down and dirty…OMG, suddenly there is so much to be done!  No more reading chair planning and scheming by the fire.  Those plans are now being put into action.  My muscles and back can attest to that as we stretch and bend to the task at hand.  Anyone else out there feeling it?

You know it’s gardening season when…

Those first few “working” weeks, you can spot a gardener by the stoop and the grunt. 🙂  It’s a good hurt though and feels wonderful to be moving outside again.  Of course it would be smart to take it slow at first…but who’s got time to wait – too much to do.  I so enjoy working outside in this weather.  There will be plenty of time to sit on the porch and admire the plants once the hot Summer weather arrives.  (First I have to get those chairs painted…)  For now, we move!  Time to work off that Easter chocolate.

Speaking of Easter, the Easter Bunny brought me a new trowel (she’s a beaut! – nice and light) and some spiffy bright gardening gloves – the good ones with grip.  Oooooo  Although, those gloves are now covered in dirt. 🙂

I’m pleased to report that the second apple bin garden is full with early Spring seeds.  Very excited!

← Take a look.

The holes you see are immersed plastic plant pots.  Once the plants take root, I’ll fill those pots with water to keep the roots moist, rather than water from the top.  Less waste and deep root watering.  The standing grid is leftover fence material that I’m using as a trellis for the peas.  The grid on top is something I rigged up with bamboo stakes to give me a map for planting.  Anal?  Me? Noooo 🙂

I’ll keep you posted on the progress.  This is my first year doing this, so I’m a keener.

I’ve planted peas, a mix of lettuces that I’ll clip young for salads – so my version of mesclun, radishes, spinach and Swiss Chard.  I’ll succession plant the lettuces and the radishes, so I remembered to leave space for that.  These veggies all grow well in the cooler weather.  All that reading by the fire taught me some stuff and filled my head with ideas…eye rolling in the background here.

My last frost date is at the end of May, so I won’t be putting any hot weather veggies in until the first week of June, but I’ll be starting to eat my own salads in about a month.  Add to them the wild greenies that I’ve already started munching on…people hate going for a walk with me because I spend more time bent over picking stuff and eating it.  I’m willing to share for those who dare!  My liver is grateful for the Spring cleaning.

Garlic is coming up in the first bin, which I planted last Fall.  Two more bins to fill.  Yay!

It’s wonderful to go for a walk in the woods at this time of year, when it’s dry enough.  April showers bring May flowers.  Some of the Spring plants coming up through the dried leaves and plant litter on the forest floor are really cool.  You have to look closely for them.  Much more than Trilliums out there, although the Trilliums are spectacular, there are several that come up before the Trilliums.  Wild leeks are coming up – yum!  Hepatica is a frothy pink flowered ground cover right now (pictured at top).  Wild Ginger is emerging – shiny heart-shaped leaves with that burgundy bell-shaped flower beneath.  Trout Lilies, Anemone, Columbine, Solomons Seal, False Solomons Seal – to name a few early ones.  Such eye candy after the long Winter.

Wild Violets will be flowering soon, the leaves are coming up – flowers and leaves are edible.  We spoke about them last Spring here.

Who else is coming up that we haven’t spoken about before?  Horsetail!  A spectacular, ancient plant that is very beneficial and is harvested young, as it emerges in the Spring.  Always cut, don’t pull the plant – you don’t need her roots!  It’s always nice to ask first, too.  Just sayin’ (woo woo).  The photo above on the left shows it in the very early stage.  Looks like tiny asparagus or bamboo.  The photo on the right shows Horsetail as it starts to open. Much easier to see at this stage – kind of looks like an under water plant, doesn’t it?

This is what Horsetail looks like fully opened out and mature. Kind of fern-like or it reminds me of a bottle brush for scouring.  The leaves are stiff and feel almost like plastic.  This plants doesn’t flower, rather, it reproduces by spores, like Mushrooms, rather than seeds, but is a plant, unlike Mushrooms. Horsetail has been found in prehistoric fossils.

The benefits?  Where to begin?  Can you say bone health?  Uh huh, women of a “certain age” – are you listening?  Horsetail is full of minerals – it readily absorbs them from the soil, so only harvest it from a place you know has no contamination.  

Young Horsetail made into a tea and consumed regularly is an excellent bone builder and strengthener and will help the healing and mending in breaks.  It’s also rich in Silica, which promotes strong and healthy skin, hair and nails.  You can use the tea as a final rinse for your hair to help smooth and strengthen.  It will help with hair loss when used internally and externally.  It repairs tissue – great for your kidneys and aids in treating urinary tract infections and kidney stones.  Horsetail is also an inflammation reducer.  Drink up!

Only use the young plant for consumption.  The mature plant can irritate the kidneys.  As always, only harvest those plants which you are confident you know!

There is one use for the mature plant:  It can be used by drying it and pulverizing the dried plant into powder. The powder is then mixed with baking soda and can be used to clean your teeth – as a tooth powder, not to be swallowed.

Whew!  A lot of stuff going on with one little greenie.  Wild is always best.

Where are we tonight?  The Moon has just entered her fourth quarter, decreasing in light and rising late at night – we’re in Aquarius.  Are you feeling rebellious?  Pluto went retrograde this morning – heads up!

The colour today is purple.

Here’s hoping you get some time to enjoy a walk in the woods this early Spring.  Breathe deeply to clear your lungs and keep looking for those wonderful, delicate, wild greenies.  Such a treat before the rush of all things big, loud and Summer.

Until next time,

-Debra