The pleasure of your company.... cordially requested at a Launch Party for How David Met Sarah on
Friday, December 9, 2011, at 7:00 PM at the Phoenix Rising Arts Collective in Thomaston, CT, at 135 South Main Street in the old Seth Thomas factory building. We hope you will come and celebrate with us! Meet the "real" David, have your book signed, see amazing exhibits by local artists, and nibble on delicious holiday treats supplied by Passiflora Tea Shop.

Urtica dioica radix - Nettles Root

It's autumn in my little corner of the world and that means it's root-digging season. With this help of friend Sheena I was able to, among other things, start a jar of Urtica dioica radix (Nettle root) tincture.

I've not yet worked with this root, so I'm not in a space where I can share much about my experience with it, short of digging the roots. It didn't take long to get to know this part of the plant. I have an intimate and loving relationship with the aerial part of the plant, but the roots are new to me and I'm already glad that we've met.

Once the lovely, pale roots were cleaned, I quickly learned that chopping them up was best left to the kitchen sheers. Clearly, this is one tough cookie.

My reason for wanting to play with this medicinal rests in its affinity for men's health, specifically to prostate health. I love the men in my life, and if the aerial parts of this plant offer any clue to the actions of the rooted parts, I suspect they will love the men in my life also.

~ rose

Sweet Solidago

It's been such a busy summer. In fact, it perplexes me to consider that autumn's full arrival is only weeks away. I've been busy growing food, eating food and preserving food. And, in my world, food includes herbs. I dry … ferment … can … freeze … infuse in vinegar, oil, alcohol and honey …

Speaking of honey, I was recently guided to make a small batch of goldenrod (Solidago spp.) infused honey. This is a first for me, and I'm sensing it will come in handy in the coming months for something renal or respiratory related, for lungs or kidneys that crave a little toning sweetness … or (and this really resonates for me) to soothe and comfort the heart-center as we journey into the heart of darkness toward and into the season of winter. 

Whether we use her botanical or common name, she speaks of the sun. 

Solidago expresses sol (sun) and dago (dagger), the dagger of the sun … that cuts through haze, mists, fogs and the deepest darknesses … all the while allowing shadows to emerge with clarity and crispness, forms in which we may nurture sustaining and loving relationships with them, for they are a loving part of us. Goldenrod, which blooms with summer's waning, expresses the staff that we may carry into the west, to steady our footing and offer golden light and warmth as we head into the solitary cold and darkness of winter's realm. 

To make a infused honey is, like so much of herbal Medicine (the people's Medicine), so simple. Fill a jar with your herb of choice, cover with a nice local, raw honey, cap and label with contents and date. You can place the jar on a high shelf, out of direct sunlight and forget about it until you have a need to remember. Strain it and use it at will. I often process my jars in a dehydrator, giving them a several hours at a low (110F) temperature over the course of several days. Some folks process their herb and honey in a crock pot on the low setting for a few days. As I say to my students, this is not rocket science … trust your guidance, your intuition … trust your experience … and have fun.


they say, "eat me, eat me."

At least that's what the ones I've been listening to have been saying to me. Recently, you might say I was guided to take a closer look at how I've been feeding myself. I realized that, especially given the hit I've taken to my heart chakra, I could be eating a whole lot more green food.

So I've added greens - fresh greens - to every meal, including breakfast. And I don't have words enough to tell you how much better I feel.

Weeds I've Heard From...

I haven't been doing much writing or reading lately: what I have been doing a lot of is weeding....weeding and rambling.

Weeding is a good way to do nothing as long as I don't care how many weeds are still left when I'm done. And on my ramble this morning, I saw wild phlox, buttercups, honeysuckle, ragged robin and forget-me-nots.

Garden Update

I haven't been raptured. I'm okay with that. I just planted a garden. I'd like to see it through.

The tomatoes, peppers, tomatillos, and eggplant are all doing fine in their pots. I transplanted thyme, oregano, parsley, and lovage into some of the tomato pots, and they seem to be liking their new homes. Kale, broccoli, cabbage, garlic chives, and red onions are all looking great in the raised bed. The L-shaped vegetable bed is quiet except for the pumpkin and loofah transplants.

Then there are the direct sown seeds. The snow peas were the first to poke through the surface. Yesterday, I noticed there were also radishes of the French Breakfast variety, kohlrabi, and chioggia beets sprouting. With this week of thunderstorms, I had some fears that some of the seeds would get washed away. I was dumping excess water out of pots, and checking the beds daily. Today, there are Scarlet Globe radish, Black Spanish radish, Sylvetta arugula, golden chicory, and Amish snap pea raising up little leaves.

A neighbor noticed me and called out a good morning. He asked me how we built the bed. He wants to build his own.

The bed is about 36' long. It's 5' wide for half of it, and 3' wide for the other half. This is because of the fence the bed is against - the raised bed fits the shape of the fence.

Beds are generally 4' wide to make it easy for you to reach in for sowing, weeding, harvesting, staking, etc. We used untreated wood for the bed (chemically treated wood is a bad idea for a vegetable garden). It's pretty easy to take a drill and secure wood together at the ends. You can get four 8' long pieces of 2" x 10", cut two of the pieces in half, and have a 4' x 8' vegetable bed. Instead of going through the back-breaking work of turning over sod, lay down layers of newspaper. Once the soil is put in, everything growing underneath it will die.

For soil, I used GreenCycle. They delivered a mix of organic topsoil and compost to my driveway. We then hauled it all over, using tarps, to the beds. It was hard work, but I had some wonderful friends helping me out.

Pictures coming soon.
It finally happened - my dirt arrived.

Four yards of organic mixed topsoil and compost! Don't you just want to lay in it like a pile of leaves? ;)

First, I painted the bed.

Malai "helped." The pots are for tomatoes, peppers, tomatillos, herbs, and dwarf sugar peas.

Then, with actual help of course, the bed was filled! Here there will grow cucumbers, okra, kohlrabi, lettuces, zucchini, onions, leeks, thai basil, spinach, radishes, and broccoli.

We had dirt leftover, so a whole new garden bed was created!

All those daylilies and other things near the foreground of the photo were up against the house. I moved them to the end of the fence and created an L-shaped vegetable bed. This is where the corn, pumpkin, loofah, beans, and peas are going. All that's needed now are some trellises!

It was a lot of work. Digging, painting, carrying, and planning. Couldn't have done it without the help of family and friends, so thank you to them. At the end of the day and after a shower, Lover and I settled into our couch not wanting to move again. Our chihuahua and Munchkin cat curled around us, and we held cups of hot gomaichu (a great tea with a woody, savory flavor). Worn, accomplished, clean, and sore, I felt completely content.

It's been a slow start, but next year will be better. Now that the beds are in, I can plant cool weather crops like brassicas (broccoli, cabbage, kale) and peas early on. The onions, tomatoes, and peppers will get started with the grow-light and heat mats, and everything else will get put in as soon as the last frost pasts. Gardening....ahhhhh. Rejuvenating.

Dandelion Petals

The dandelions are blooming. I nearly squeal with excitement when I see their sunny heads raised to the sky. I harvested a small bunch today and sat in the shade to lovingly pluck the petals. Now, I sometimes add these to pancakes and biscuits, sprinkle them on a salad or garnish a soup with them … but these ...

 … these were bagged up and placed in the freezer. As the dandelions continue their blooming - and they will - I'll keep harvesting and adding to the freezer bag. When I have enough (whatever that turns out to be) I'll start a batch of dandelion wine, or liquid sunshine, as I like to call it.

They're beautiful, aren't they?

First books, and now seeds...

Libraries. Quiet enclosures of knowledge, history, words, pictures, listening pleasure in the form of compact discs, and viewing pleasure in both DVD and VHS format. Who doesn't love a well-stocked library?

Now, catching on in various parts of the country, are seed-lending programs via libraries.

Fairfield Library is doing a seed-lending program. The idea is that you "borrow" heirloom seeds, sow 'n' grow, benefit from the veggies and green, and preserve seeds from the plants. In the fall, you bring the preserved seeds back and return them to the library. How cool is that?!?!

The program is sponsored by the Fairfield Woods Branch Library and the Fairfield Organic Teaching Farm. Funding for program is provided by the Fairfield Earth Day Committee. Seeds were donated by Bakers Creek and Comstock Seeds.

Hopefully this is a trend that will continue to catch on and spread to libraries everywhere. Here's to spreading the independent food movement.

More on First Harvests & Taraxicum

I've been nibbling Taraxicum officinalis - dandelion greens for days now, and adding them to my salads too. Yesterday, between the rainfall, I harvested some spring roots that were growing in the garden paths.

This morning, to chase the chill out of my little hut, I scraped the roots clean and roasted them in the oven until they were good and dry (at 325F for as long as it took - I wasn't watching the time keeper). I do a snap test and often remove the thiner roots from the oven before the others. I usually have a jar of roasted roots tucked away somewhere in my little hut.

I ground some in my blender and decocted (simmered) them for a while (more than 20 minutes, less than a full hour - again, I wasn't watching the time). I strained the brew and sipped this divine beverage as I do my tea and coffee and bourbon - straight up, neat, nothing to hide or mask the essence of this delicious brew. Some folks like to add milk or cream, honey or sugar, just as they would for coffee or tea. 

Some folks prefer an infusion, but I like the decoction.

Dandelion root is, among other things, a source of vitamin A, C and D, and some of the Bs too. It also offers up minerals like iron, potassium and zinc and is honored as an antioxidant and as a tonic to digestion and liver function. It is a bountiful and generous ally. 

This is just one of the many ways that that dandelion offers its blessings to us. Try it sometime - in any season - it's yummy and good for you!

First Harvest

On my ramble through the gardens, I noticed a few places where dandelions had the grace to grow. I can never find them in the lawns in time to actually eat them, so I was very happy to see some very green and tender leaves in places I could easily retrieve them.

So yesterday, I dug out my trusty trowel and went hunting for the first salad of spring. :)

Spring Rain

I took a walk yesterday. All around the gardens, in between the raindrops, the first official spring assessment feels to me like visiting old friends you haven't seen in a while. The weather was so extreme this past winter, I was happy to see so much apparently has survived.

The crocuses, the hyacinths and the snowdrops are blooming. The silver willows have burst gold. In patches, the grass is turning emerald green, and the branches of the lilac are swelling with fat buds. The waterfall is foaming and Mr and Mrs Duck showed up exactly a month ago.

This spring has a particularly poignant edge to it. It's a week ago my father died. For years, my father wished he was well enough to travel, well enough to come and see the beautiful place where I live.

As I splashed through the puddles and inspected the beds and the bushes and the buds, I felt very strongly that this year, at last, he has.

It's Thyme

Thyme for this blog to wake up!

To the listeners, those that contribute to the posts here - it's springtime! And the green world is raising her voice and begs for her wisdom to be shared. 

So, let's share.