Let's Get Dirty
A gardening blog for adults who still love to play in the dirt.
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By Laurena Mayne Davis
Tuesday, December 28, 2010
It's the plotting season. The holiday hubbub behind us and outdoor work still a few months ahead, it's time to curl up with some inspirational reading and strategize those gardening and home improvement plans.
This stack of Mother Earth News magazines was a fall birthday gift from my sister-in-law Carol, who edits a rural lifestyle magazine and is herself a gardener extraordinaire. (She has a greenhouse in Tennessee to die for.)
Now's the break in the action when I have time to read, and Mother Earth is one of my favorites. Growing up, I remember seeing those early black-and-white issues in our home, probably since the magazine's beginning in 1970. Back then, my nomadic military parents dreamed of homesteading in Alaska. Fortunate enough to have a permanent home of my own, my interests are more immediate.
From the last few nights of reading, I've learned tips on growing two crops I want to try: asparagus and potatoes. There are instructions for building a cold frame from a shower door, a recipe for bread dough that will keep a week in the refrigerator, and directions for building your hand-hewn, timber-frame dream home on 160 acres in Ontario — all right, that last one may have gone a bit far afield.
Mother Earth is only $10 for 6 issues, and there's a lot of great information, including how-to videos, at their website. If you need more ideas, Carol's magazine is Out Here, and you can see copies at tractorsupply.com.
By Carol Clark
Tuesday, December 14, 2010
My mother always had a plastic mistletoe decoration that we hung from a doorway at Christmas. You couldn't miss the big ball with the red felt ribbon, so if someone was hanging out under the fake decor, they were hoping for a little attention. I always wondered where the heck this thing came from and why people kissed under it.
Around the time I was in middle school, I found REAL mistletoe in the drug store for sale. It was a must have. If you could possibly get someone to eat it it would give them a stomachache. (Mistletoe is mildly poisonous to humans). This is great middle-school fun.
Mistletoe, which means "thief of the tree," is actually a partial parasite or a hemi-parasite that sinks its roots into a host tree and sucks the nutrients out of the host plant. Kind of like your kids...
The name "mistletoe" actually comes from two Anglo Saxon words Mistel - (which means dung) and 'tan' (which means) twig or stick! So you could translate Mistletoe as 'poo on a stick!
Years ago, scientists observed the plant growing on trees that were covered in bird dung. They believed the plant came from the bird poop itself. It wasn't until years later they realized the plant was coming from seeds in the dung.
The hanging of mistletoe comes from the Druids who believed it was a mystical plant that warded off evil and brought luck to the household. The tradition of kissing under the mistletoe came from England where a berry would be plucked before the kissing. When the berries were gone, there was no more kissing allowed.
Who knew? Kissing under a stick of poo.....
By Laurena Mayne Davis
Monday, December 13, 2010
Scent is one way to connect to the outdoors, even when you and the
garden are hibernating a bit over the winter.
For an extended-family Christmas party exchange of homemade gifts, I
mixed up a dozen bottles of linen spray with oils from Scentsations
Body Bar, 634 Main St., No. 103. It's in the breezeway of Sentinel
Square, across from The Winery. Scentsations will custom-blend your
lotions, sprays, shower gels and more on the spot, or sell you the
oils by the ounce to mix at home.
I mixed multiple batches of linen spray using the following
instructions and was happy with the results.
1 teaspoon essential oil (or combination of oils)
1/4 cup unflavored vodka
3 1/2 cups purified water
In a large bowl, mix the oil and vodka together. Vodka works as an
emulsifier, allowing the oil and water to mix evenly. (Buy the
cheapest you can find, of course.) Add the water, mix and pour into
empty spray bottles. Shake well before each use.
This first blend I dubbed Mountain Meadow. It's equal parts Bergamot,
Ylang Ylang, Green Tea and Rain. There's a Piñon Pine-scented oil that
reminds me of warm days on Glade Park. I'll try that next, maybe with
Rain or something else soft and light. Selecting oils is a treat in
and of itself.
I spritz linen spray when I iron, when I change sheets, and when I
put away towels. Every time I do, I'm reminded of longer, warmer days
By Carol Clark
Tuesday, December 7, 2010
"Never worry about the size of your Christmas tree. In the eyes of children, they are all 30 feet tall." ~Larry Wilde, The Merry Book of Christmas
Every Christmas you are alive should be a special Christmas, but some are more special than others. Your first Christmas married, or your grandchild's first Christmas. During these years you want to do something meaningful, that you and your loved ones will remember for years to come.
Several years ago, a family member had their first daughter and we gave them a living Christmas tree. They enjoyed the tree during the Christmas week and then proudly planted the tree right in the middle of their front lawn. As their daughter grew, so grew the tree.
Bookcliff Gardens still has a variety of beautiful, aromatic, living Christmas trees.
Beautiful Blue Spruces
Bachere Spruce (my favorite)
After you choose the right tree for the area you plan to plant it in, gradually introduce your tree to the indoors by placing it in a covered porch or in the garage for three or four days.
Place the tree away from heat sources in the house, if possible, to prevent it coming out of dormancy. Leave the tree inside only for seven to ten days and slowly reintroduce it back to the outside.
This is such a special gift and you can point to it someday and say,
"This is your tree", or
"Remember when we did that?"
By Laurena Mayne Davis
Thursday, December 2, 2010
This Christmas I am more determined than ever to pare down the fussy decor and use simple, organic items for their fragrance, their authentic beauty, their frugaility and, quite frankly, their disposability.
A wreath from the Orchard Mesa Tree Farm is an easy choice for the front door and has the added benefit of supporting a local farmer.
Mixed nuts in a yard sale wooden bowl is both nutrition and ornamentation.
A grocery store rosemary tree on the dining room table wafts rosemary scent with every brush of the hand.
When Chrismas is over, we'll dry and store the needles for seasoning dishes the rest of the winter.
Oranges studded with whole cloves combine the two scents I identify most with Christmas, after the natural pine tree, of course.
What do you do to bring a little of the natural world indoors for the holidays?