Working/volunteering on a farm makes me appreciate all the work that goes into having veggies to sell at the market as well as its price. From the time a tiny seed was purchased it goes through so many steps of growth and caring from the farmer(s)…its amazing! From planting (while kneeling or squatting), to weeding, watering, stacking/trellising (if needed), picking, reseeding (for succession or in case the seeds did not germinate), storing till market, preserving the seeds, washing, and … The seed, on the other end, with the help of the soil and moisture starts to germinate, grow roots, grow its first true leaves, its leaves, flowers, fruit, all the while being tended by the microorganisms in the soil, gathering energy from the sun and water from the rain (or the farmer). So many steps…for one little fruit, no wonder it tastes sooo amazing!
This past June, I learned how to weave baskets with Kudzu. Since then I have wanted to make another one but never found the opportunity…until I realized it was a friend’s birthday on Monday. Not having any Kudzu growing on my land, I decided to use wisteria instead (almost any vines can be used).
I grabbed the clippers, walked down the hill through a patch of pokeweed, poison ivy, and ground ivy and spotted a mature wisteria vine. I cut about a 6′ section and climbed back up the hill. On the porch, I stripped the outer bark from the inner bark with my fingers and a knife. I then pulled the outer bark in different length and width strips…the more even the strips are the more even the weave. With the aid of a needle and Raffia (which comes from a palm tree in Africa), I held a bunch of wisteria sections and attached them together. At first, it was a bit akward because I was trying to remember what I had learned but I eventually let my muscles and my hands take over…an hour later I had made a small basket perfect for holding knick-knacks or a handmade bar of soap (which I included). I still have plenty of fibers to make another basket…I am thinking a bigger one to hold yarn I just spun.
I am taking a homestudy herbal course and in the current lesson, Rosemary Gladstar suggests using certain plants to make herbal powders and vinegars to flavor foods. I took her idea and designed my own recipes based on the herbs, plants and weeds I found growing in my gardens.
To make the herbal powder, I dehydrated the herbs until they were bone dry (on a low setting) and then crushed them up into a spice jar. Some of the herbs I used are Borage, Lavender, Lemon Balm, Oregano, Thyme, and Sage. The powder is amazing sprinkled on quinoa.
To make the flavored vinegar, I warmed up the Apple Cider Vinegar gently, filled a pint glass jar with all I had collected (Dandelion leaf, Sage, Basil, Rosemary, Thyme and Oregano), and poured the vinegar to cover it all. I then sealed the jar and let it sit, away from direct sunlight, where it will marinate for 4 weeks. I can’t wait to try it. Here is another example of what herbs or berries can be preserved with vinegar: http://www.healthygreenkitchen.com/preserving-in-vinegar.html
Walking by one of my lavender bushes this week, I realized that the blooms had dried up on the plant. In a split second, I decided to make lavender sachets. I ran inside got the clippers and started cutting the stems. I then used my fingers to separate the blooms into a bowl. Using scraps of fabrics I had, I sewed a couple of square sachets, filled them up with dried blooms and sewed them shut. They are small enough to carry and/or place in a drawer to scent my clothes.
This is a great activity to do with kids. I did the whole thing with a four year old girl and she loved every step. While sewing she sat on my lap and helped me guide the fabric and cut the threads. She loves to carry her little square with her and smell it.