Just Another Day in the Garden
Late Spring Observations
As we prepare to celebrate the Summer Solstice, the longest day of the year, we are putting the finishing touches on the vegetable garden.
We are lucky to have a free source of horse manure, so yesterday we all helped empty 3 pickup loads of it. It was steaming!
2012 Wasabi Sales Have Begun
In her book The Resilient Gardener, Carol Deppe offers a list of 33 Gardening Rules. Many of these are specific suggestions for gardening logistics. Two of my favorites are Rule 31: Slow Down, and Rule 32: Notice Everything.
In early spring, we had the luxury of time, waiting for the dangers of frost to pass by before getting the temperature-sensitive plants in the field. Each appearing flower or tiny leaf stood out in all its colorful glory. As we approach the heat of summer, we have been in a planting frenzy, this past week getting cucumber, squash, bean, tomato, pepper, and tomatillo seeds and plants into the garden. Luckily, we have still been able to take the time to notice the many wonders around us.
Fresh wasabi seed is now available. Packet (50 seeds) = $10. 1 gram (200+ seeds) = $30. Price includes domestic postage; add $5 for international shipment ($15/pkt, $35/gram). Limit is 5 grams per customer.
Seedling plants in 2x2x3″ pots are $5 each, plus shipping. Total (continental USA):
1 plant = $15, 2/$25, 3/$30, 4/$40, 5/$45, 6/$50, 7/$60, 8/$65, 9/$75, 10/$80 Limit 10 per customer. HI, add $5. Sorry, no international shipment of plants.
Weekend at the Asheville Herb Festival
June 11 1-5 pm
Mountain Gardens grows more perennial vegetables than any other nursery that we know. We grow most of the plants in Eric Toensmeier’s “Perennial Vegetables,” the comprehensive guide to growing these plants, which are a major staple in any permaculture garden. In this workshop, we will tour the garden to see these plants and discuss their propagation, cultivation, habitat, harvest, & use. Perennial vegetables in our garden include: Apios (American Groundnut), Turkish Rocket, Ostrich Fern, Giant Solomon’s Seal, Bamboo shoots, Oca, Arrowhead, Sea Kale, Good King Henry & Nettles.
We had a lot of fun this weekend at the Asheville Herb Festival! We sold quite a few plants, and bought and traded for many others, including tea, curry, and Vietnamese Cilantro plants. It’s great to meet and connect with other herb growers, and to learn what customers want to grow.
Bee colonies will, if healthy, sooner or later outgrow their hive.
Beekeepers can accommodate their bees by adding supers, or extra levels to the bee hive boxes. Another option is to split hives. To split a hive, the queen is placed in a new hive, along with workers, some of her brood, and honey. If the split is successful, a new queen will hatch from one of several special queen egg cells.
In nature, bees will swarm from a hive and congregate in a high place, such as a tree, while scouts look for an appropriate new home.
Our bees recently swarmed, in spite of our best efforts to keep them happy at home.
Luckily, we were able to catch most of the swarm, and set them up in a new hive! And, no one was stung in the process.
Upcoming Workshops at Mountain Gardens
As the name of this category of edibles implies, they appear and are available for consumption for only a brief period of time. Solomon’s seal shoots are tender and similar to asparagus, until the plants grow too tall to eat. The leaves of ramps (wild leeks) are only visible for a few months, before the leaves die back–though the plant later sends up a flowr. The morel mushroom season lasts a couple of months, with the morels only appearing after a big rain when the weather is just right.
Here at Mountain Gardens we have been delighting in harvesting these spring ephemerals, and collecting them for a few local restaurants as well.
How Does Our Garden Grow?
Mountain Gardens Herbs presents: Useful Native Woodland Plants
Topics covered to include:
Identification, ecology, cultivation and uses of edible, medicinal
and otherwise useful species.
At Mountain Gardens hundreds of species are displayed in a Paradise Garden setting and in the immediately adjacent Pisgah National Forest most of the major native medicinal and edible herbs can be seen in their natural habitat.
Plants are available for sale in our nursery – come early or stay late to shop.
April Showers Bring... Mushrooms!
With this Spring’s warm weather, we are about a month ahead on our planting schedule! We have been busy planting seeds and starts while many new blossoms appear every day. Our gardens are blessed with a bounty of edible plants, native Appalachian and Chinese medicinal herbs.
Enjoy these photos of just a few of this spring’s beauties!
APPRENTICE PROGRAM (2009)
Here at Mountain Gardens we are experiencing a bit of mushroom mania. We have enjoyed harvesting shiitakes and oyster mushrooms from our mushroom logs, and found a few choice specimens of morels in the wild. (One morel, divided between 6 interns, makes one tasty morsel each!)
I have been having apprentices at Mountain Gardens for more than ten years. At first, the intention was the same as most farm / garden apprentice programs: to get help for the tasks that we do in exchange for providing a learning opportunity. For many years my goal was to have three or four apprentices. Recently, I have been exploring the ‘carrying capacity’ of our facilities, having six and sometimes as many as eight interns. At the same time the focus has been shifting, with education becoming more central to my goals, to the point where I have begun thinking of Mtn Gdns as primarily a school.
So, how to begin? The firm foundation on which we will build must be a clear understanding of exactly what we want to create. I have several working definitions of a Paradise Garden. The simplest is: ‘an environment in which everything we need is there for the taking.’ This encapsulates the description of Eden in Genesis: it contains ‘every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good to eat’, and they are freely given. But of course humans are not just passive recipients of this bounty – we have a role to play: ‘to dress it and keep it.’ This role, or niche, is very different from human activity after the Fall, when we must earn our living ‘by the sweat of our brow.’ The distinction is clearly between a life in cooperation with nature, working with what is given, and a life which wrests from nature what we ‘want.’ The latter is the sweaty work of agriculture, transforming the environment and “making the earth say ‘beans.'” The former is the gentle pastime of gardening.
A friend set up this blog for me several years ago, and it has since lain fallow. But recent developments have inspired me to activate it: an upgrade to the photovoltaic system which allows for more time on the computer than just answering email, and the fact that, as doom clouds darken, certain profound truths which would show the way to our salvation remain largely unacknowledged and unspoken. Although we are all very happy that our government is now in the hands of intelligent people, it is already apparent, if it was ever in doubt, that the most we can hope for is a slight braking of our headlong rush to destruction. And it should never have been in doubt: there can be no hope that government will solve the problem because government (the State) is the problem. It’s entirely up to us.
But this blog is not going to be about radical politics, nor about impending doom. My mantra is ‘Paradise or Bust’ and what I want to write about is Paradise. What’s needed is a radical shift of values, a changing of the tide compared to which the American, French, Chinese, etc. revolutions are just so many waves rolling in. A change from people living and defining their lives as components of the State/ the Economy, to people living and defining their lives as an integral part of the great, single life on earth: Gaia.