Friday, January 20, 2017

How to find out your hardiness zone and last frost date

It's time to start garden planning! I really love this part of the growing process. I get to thumb through seed catalogs and discover different varieties of my old favorite herbs and vegetables. I can spend hours planning out my garden deciding what goes where and how much I want to plant. Unfortunately, there's always something I want that I can't have. This year it's a soap nut tree. *sigh* I really want that tree. Unfortunately it would die over the first winter which is something I know because I checked my USDA hardiness zone. 

 plant hardiness zones, USA, last frost date

When planning your garden two of the first questions you need to answer are:
What is my hardiness zone?
When is my last projected frost date?

The answers to these questions will help determine what you can plant, and when you can start planting. Luckily the are really easy to find out. I'll show you how.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Must know Winter tips for dogs

Most of us know to dress warmly, wear gloves and take other precautions when it's cold and snowing out. It's just second nature to not want to be uncomfortable so we take measures to prevent against it as much as we can. Most people don't think about their dog in the same way though. Many pet owners believe that because their dog has a fur coat that they can tolerate the cold better then we can. That's not always the case. Truth is, they're just as used to a nice warm house as we are...and the cold weather can be just as much of a shock to them, as it is to us. Luckily there are a few simple things you can do to make winter a little easier on them.

winter tips for dogs

  •  Trim the fur on the sides of your dogs paws and between the toes to minimize ice and snow accumulation.
  •  Your dog’s fur insulates him against the temperatures. Groom your dog regularly during winter to keep his coat in top shape. A well groomed coat can help a dog to hold onto his body heat better.
  •  Be careful with space heaters and fireplaces. When cold, dogs will seek out heat sources and may sleep too close to them. You wouldn't want your pooch to get burned.  

Friday, January 6, 2017

8 wild herbs I foraged this year

This is the time of year when everyone is talking about their best posts of last year. This is a problem for me since I didn't write all that much last year. I'm sure I could come up with something but I have a better idea...I'd rather talk about something I did instead of something I wrote. One of the things I did a lot of this year is foraging. Some call this wildcrafting. It's simply looking for and harvesting wild growing food or medicinal plants. We all know that I love medicinal herbs so of course that's what I was looking for! I live far out in the country and took a walk down these lovely country roads and wooded trails several times a week. I found some wonderful things like a field full of Milkweed, and one certain path that has tons of Red Clover growing. There's a huge patch of Jewelweed around the corner on Cemetery road and Yarrow grows at the end of my driveway. 

Foraging for wild herbs

On these walks I carried little mesh pouches to collect things in. I was very careful to not take too much. I collected in small batches and dehydrated everything immediately. Thankfully as the summer went on, these plants kept growing and growing so there was always more the next time I went back. In all I collected 8 different herbs to use for medicines and other products like salves. Here are the 8 herbs I collected...

Friday, December 30, 2016

Red Veined Sorrel: A salad and a cure

I really like odd varieties of plants. I don't know what it  is about the more uncommon plants that attract me, but I looked around at my garden and house plants today and realized that I have quite a few. I decided to start a little series here and am dedicating one post a month to introducing some of the medicinal herbs, flowers and other plants I grow that you may never have heard about. I would like to start off with a stunning foliage plant called Bloody Dock.

bloody dock, bloodwort, herb, bloody sorrel

Bloody Dock (Rumex Sanguineus) is also known as Red-Veined Sorrel or Bloodwort. This striking plant has vibrant green leaves with brilliant veins of burgundy-purple.  The interesting thing about this particular plant is that not only can it be eaten like a lettuce or sauteed like a spinach, but it also has the healing properties of an herb.

The leaves of the Bloody Dock grow from a tight rosette. They are longer then they are wide, these are called lanceolate leaves. The young leaves of the Bloody Dock plant can be cut and used like a lettuce. They are slightly sharp tasting though and a bit lemony. Once the leaves are mature they get a bit too bitter but can be sauteed like spinach to make them palatable. Once sauteed they go very well with fish or eggs. Once the plant is established it can be used as a cut and come again. If it's not pruned often it can get quite leggy and will produce small flowers.

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