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Showing posts from August, 2014


I try to tuck a few calendula plants in the garden every year. It is a rather prolific plant that produces amazing resinous flowers that hold a number of uses.

Calendula has a long history as a medicinal plant. The flower has been used to prevent muscle spasms, gastrointestinal problems and is even used to treat bee stings . It can be applied to the skin to reduce pain and swelling which is why some people use it as an alternative cure for diaper rash. It can also be made into a healing salve which is how I first became aware of the plant. My wife dried the flowers in our first garden and used them in the bath water. It has a hydrating effect on ones skin.

It has also long been used as a culinary plant. The petals are edible and it has been used to color cheese and butter and even as a replacement for saffron in some dishes. You can use the flowers in salads, soups and rice dishes as a garnish to add flavor and coloring.

An interesting historical note on this flower is that it used …

The Importance of the Family Garden

"If you grow a garden you are going to shed some sweat, and you are going to spend some time bent over, you will experience some aches and pains. But it is in the willingness to accept this discomfort that we strike the most telling blow against the power plants and what they represent." ~ Wendell Berry~

As I have noted in the past our family owns a home in a small rural community. We possess 1/16th of an acre and every inch of soil is precious. Things are tough in my community. It is a dinosaur in some sense of the word. It is a blue collar factory town. Opportunity is rare in the form of corporate commodity but here families are creating their own opportunity simply by digging in the rich dirt in their own backyards.

Our family, in many ways, is similar to most people in that we live paycheck to paycheck and we have to get down right creative to put healthy meals on the table. We are also a bit different from the general populace in that our family of five, soon to be six,…

Ground Cherries

We have been growing ground cherries in our garden for nearly four years now. Originally we ordered a few plants from The Seed Savers Exchange in Decorah, Iowa. Since then we have been growing our heirloom plants from the seeds that we save each fall.

Ground cherries, which are known by a number of names such as husk tomatoes, Cape gooseberries, strawberry tomatoes and my favorite poha, are a new world plant for the most part. They are a member of the nightshade family. They produce miniature fruits that are protected and preserved in tight husk that resemble a Chinese lantern. While not much bigger than a blueberry they produce a large flavor. If eaten while immature they have a bitter green tomato taste. If they are mature they have a wonderful flavor that has been described as mango, vanilla and even pineapple. They really do have a taste of their own and while I don't necessarily think it taste like any of the descriptions I just mentioned it is very delicious. The immature f…