Saturday, November 26, 2011

Balsamic Vinaegrette Salad Dressing

Balsamic Vinaigrette (salad dressing)

½ - ¾ cup balsamic vinegar
3 T Dijon Mustard
2-3 T honey
2-3 cloves, garlic, minced
1 T chives, minced
2-3 teaspoons chopped herbs of choice (thyme, basil, tarragon, etc)
1 cup olive oil

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Old Man's Beard

Would you liken to an algae and a fungus? Yes, nerd jokes never grow old. But a lichen is a symbiosis between a fungus and an algae. Lichen grow under conditions where neither the algae or the fungus alone could grow, but together they rely on each other and grow fine. In Colorado we find lichens growing on rocks and rarely find these web-like structures growing in trees. However, in Oregon (where I happen to be at the moment celebrating Thanksgiving) there are many of these hanging clusters on branches which are called Old Man's Beard or more properly 'Usnea'.

Usnea is best known as an immune tonic and anti microbial which is particularly good for lung diseases. It is best used as an alcohol extract or tincture. Many of these properties are due to the content of usnic acid found in this symbiotic organism. Although usnea has been shown to increase bleeding times it can still be used as a wound dressing in an emergency. Its web-like structure makes it useful to help hold a wound together in an emergency and prevent infection.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Fall Garden Prep

Lavender under snow
Winter and accompanying snow came very quickly here with little time to prepare. I was able to pull out most of the tomato plants from the garden and dispose of them. I tend to leave a lot of other plants though as a place for (hopefully) beneficial insects to winter over. However, if you have any plants that look diseased now is the time to get them out of the garden and in the trash. Cutting back overgrown perennials is also a good idea. Here are some things you might want to do before winter gets too far under way.

1.    Plant bulbs. When its fresh in your mind now plant spring bulbs in places that need more color. You can do this up until the time the ground freezes, typically December.

2.    Rake Leaves. Leaves on the ground can cause a lawn to die or become diseased. These leaves make a great addition to the compost pile.

3.    Weed. Its never too late to weed. Getting at these perennial weeds now can stop them from getting  a head start in the spring.

4.    Protect your roses. Once the ground freezes lay some branches around the roses to decrease the freezing and thawing that occurs. I like to cut up branches from the Christmas tree for this purpose.

5.    Water! This is one of the hardest things to remember in the winter. If the ground is frozen you don’t need to water, or if it snows you don’t need to water. But if temperatures are above freezing and there is no precipitation for 2 weeks it’s a good idea to haul out the hoses and water perennials and trees.

6.    Sit in a warm house and look at gardening books to get ideas for what to do differently in spring. Do this while things are still familiar and you can evaluate what works and what didn’t work. One thing we are planning on doing is getting a sprinkler system installed to make the job of watering easier.

7. Cover bare garden areas with compost. Since we have several types of animals here (horses, goats, chickens) I am covering my  garden areas with manure so that it can compost there in place during the winter.

8. Drink lots of herb teas while looking out the windows this winter.

I'm sure I am forgetting something. What have I forgot?


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