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Letting Nature Grow Your Garden, Page 1

Monday, June 04, 2018 8:20 PM | Wise Woman (Administrator)

Letting Nature Grow Your Garden,
Page 1


Dancing with the Fairies




Your garden. What fun -- and frustration -- await you there! The best mentor you can choose, as far as I'm concerned is Nature herself. Nature likes life everywhere. Have an open field and plants magically appear! This is the way plants grow when left to themselves. We don't have to struggle so much.

It is wisest to let Nature have Her way. Nature has her own agenda, and your life as a gardener will be easier if you bow to Her desires. Better to dance with the fairies than struggle with eliminating "weeds". What herbs already grow around you that you can use as teas and seasonings? Most areas are rich in such plants, both native and introduced. Many of them will be happy to grace your garden with very little effort on your part. Some will appear, others may want to be transplanted. Still others are simply there, waiting for you to notice.

For instance, pine trees. Pine needle vinegar is an exquisite treat that is easy to make. I call it homemade "balsamic" vinegar. Fill a jar with pine needles. (I prefer white pine, and pinyon pine is even better, but the needles of any pine are fine.) Cover needles completely with apple cider vinegar, filling the jar to the top and capping with a plastic lid or a piece of plastic wrap held in place with a rubber band. This vinegar, like most that I make, is ready to use in six weeks. Pine vinegar is rich in flavonoids, vitamins, and minerals. It helps keep the immune system strong, and strengthens the lungs as well. I love it on salads.

Your home, like mine in the Catskills, offers rose hips and sumac berries for vitamin-C rich teas; spice bush leaves and berries to suggest the flavors of bay and allspice; and the roots of sweet clover to use as a vanilla substitute.

Grab a local field guide and go looking for all the plants that are native to your area. For example, if you live in the northern states like Minnesota, a great book is "How Indians Use Wild Plants for Food, Medicine, and Crafts", written in 1926 by Frances Densmore who collected information from the Minnesota Chippewa. There are many similar guides available.

Why use native plants? They are often hardy survivors and naturally adapted to the area, sometimes requiring less watering and care. Whether in the wilds or in your garden, Nature is ever-ready to provide you with all you need with little or no input from you. An abundance of edible and medicinal plants covers every inch of my garden -- and I didn't plant any of them. With only a little help from me (I spread compost several inches deep on my gardens spring and fall, and keep them fenced against my goats and the marauding deer), my gardens grow: garlic mustard, chickweed, violets, dandelion, curly dock, nettles, burdock, wild madder, crone(mug)wort, wild chives, poke, catnip, malva, wild mint, bergamot, cleavers, motherwort, chicory, raspberry, goldenrod, creeping jenny, barbara's cress, evening primrose, milk weed.


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