I am a fan of the year-round herb garden. While plants like parsley and cilantro may come and go with the seasons, I can always count on a small plot of perennials to thrive when nearly everything else is starting from seed or starting to seed.
Just outside my kitchen door I tend to the standard Mediterranean herbs (basil — the African Blue variety is a non-seeding hybrid that grows all year — rosemary, sage, oregano, thyme, and mint) as well as varieties you’re not likely to find in a market (mitsuba, salad burnet, True French sorrel, wild zaatar oregano, anise hyssop, lime balm, and lemon verbena).
Add bloody dock to that list of bizarre but beautiful herbs that do double duty as an edible green and an ornamental plant.
One of the things I’m often asked on the blog, when readers see me take off on a road trip for days or weeks at a time, is this: Who takes care of your garden when you’re away? Or especially in the summer: How can you even leave your garden with all those tomatoes growing?!
The way we invest in and care for our plants, they’re practically our babies. And since we can’t very well pack them up in the car, many of us feel tied to the responsibilities of raising a vegetable garden the way we do with children or pets.
But with careful planning, it is entirely possible to leave your garden for a week or more, guilt-free and stress-free, and actually come back to a garden that’s gotten even bigger than you remembered.
If you’ve been following either of my recipes for homemade chicken feed (here and here), you may have wondered how to calculate the protein content of your feed should you decide to mix things up. Perhaps you want to try some other grains and seeds for your flock, or you need to formulate a higher-protein feed for baby chicks.
I personally use a spreadsheet to calculate my figures and manage my costs, and now this spreadsheet available to you!
The five little things that made my week…
1. Even when I sit at this computer for 10 hours a day (which has been my life for the last month), I love looking out into the garden and feeling the sun streaming through the windows. Best office ever, next to actually working in the garden.
Every year for the last couple of years, I’ve been sequestering myself for several days at a time, borrowing beautiful homes in beautiful places for self-imposed and self-directed writing retreats. I find myself checking off a huge number of tasks on my to-do list in just a few days, more than I’m usually able to do in a week in my own home.
And why is that?
Because there are no distractions. There are no husbands to cook for, animals to pick up after, dishes to load, laundry to fold, or errands to run. While I adore my home and see it as a sanctuary, the reality of being home is that there’s always something to do here… something other than work. It’s especially difficult considering I work from home, and every day as I’m typing away on my laptop, the garden or the kitchen or the ocean view always calls to me.
So, I am a big fan of self-imposed writing retreats. I love to get away, focus on my passions, and find inspiration in a new environment. I love to hunker down and tackle projects that would otherwise be near-impossible for me to start (or finish) at home. I retreat in order to move forward.
National Career Development Week kicks off today, and while I personally have no connection with the counseling association that celebrates it, I always feel it’s a great time to reexamine career goals and set a game plan for the coming year. Many people do this after the first of the year, but I like to have a clear vision come January, before all those other “fresh start” goals take away my focus (you know the ones… like cleaning the garage and working off a few pounds. Blech.).
When it comes to blogging as a career (or working your way up to that point), I’m often asked what the secret is to growing a blog audience.
And to that I answer…
Up until last week, when I spent a few days exploring north-central Arizona, I really had no idea that the forests around Flagstaff were so green and volcanic. Had it not been for red rock mesas rising in the distance and tumbleweeds rolling across the desert, I wouldn’t have thought we were in the state best known for the Grand Canyon. (Then again, Arizona has surprised me before with fantastic waterfalls I’ve never seen anywhere else.)