Monthly Archives: July 2013


More Hugelkultur Info and more Garden output later.

More Hugelkultur Info and more Garden output later.

Planning with hugelkultur for dry summers based on the last 2 years- of course this year we have been quite wet.

Need to build at least 2 more beds before next summer.


I read about hugelkultur a few years ago.

I read about hugelkultur a few years ago.

This is one of many sites I have visited to get info on building the hills. I have one built and it is producing cabbage and herbs.

I am trying to figure the best way to “cover” the surface to prevent rain runoff and erosion.. may use wood baffles or plant a ground cover- maybe an edible crop ground cover. Thyme or an edible green.

Finally summer- like and Some dry sunny days.

Now that the hottest week of summer has passed and the early summer rainy season has passed. The plants have a chance dry out and grow. After several weeks of wet-feet the plants that survived now have the chance to grow and produce flowers and fruit. Image

After 3 sunny days without rain the sun and dry warm earth gave the wet plants a chance to grow and start producing. A slow growing cucumber took off, grew 18” and produced the first cucumber of the season, tomatoes grew 3-6” each and the cabbage started to fill out. Herbs that had been doing well took off, rosemary went from 12’ to 26”, parsley filled out and winter savory exploded in size. Greens remained leggy and will be turned under as a manure and 2nd planting of green beans were removed after bugs took over. The new beans sprouted in 5 days and are about to climb the bamboo teepee- time to keep them protected and sprayed with a little soap and onion tea….

Now a week later the melons and squash are flowering and climbing. They should be fruiting  soon and if I can keep them wet enough  and producing food .  I have 2 kinds of melons plus 2 winter squash and some fun patty-pan summer squash. No Zucchini or crookneck squash this year( plenty from friends). Image

Recent floods didn’t seem to tear my garden up as much as some of my neighbors, the pallet based raised beds seem to be helping. The goal at the end of the season will be to build up double-decker or triple level pallets for deeper root options and to better handle heavy rains. The raised beds will also make it easier to control irrigation in the event of dry or drought like summer.

The hugelkultur hill I built seems to be working well but I need to perfect the process. I have plans to build at least 1 more.

I have started some fall kale and it seems to be coming up nicely and I will thin it shortly.

  I have collards and beets for another fall crop and will some start some garlic for next year.

Real Cheapskate- Forage for Wild Greens- FREE !!!

I collected a nice bag of wild plantain (plantago major) yesterday. I have used it in the past as base for green smoothie, shredded greens in soup and of course in a salad with fruit and nuts to balance the sour bite.  Image

I have not harvested or eaten the seeds yet- though they are edible cooked or raw- the challenge will be harvesting the tiny seeds from the tough stalk.


Plantain is very high in beta carotene(Vitamin A precursor) plus vitamins B1, C and K.
It has a lot of calcium as well as : allantion, apigenin, aucubin, baicalein, linoleic acid, oleanolic acid, sorbitol, and tannins. Allantoin promotes wound healing; Acubin is a powerful anti-toxin.
These substances together give plantain exceptional antioxidant, antiseptic, antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, diuretic and expectorant properties.

Medical research show its usefulness for asthma,bladder problems,blood sugar control bronchitis, emphysema, fever, hypertension, rheumatism.
Plantain is a powerful detoxifier.  Plantain can be used as a poultice on the skin to draw out venom from snake bites and bee or hornet stings. Use a poultice of mashed leaves, in an emergency chew with saliva, and place on infected area.
It has antibacterial properties and a poultice will also draw out thorns or splinters.
It has some use as a tobacco control aid. It causes an aversion to tobacco and has been used in blend to help smokers quit.

The only cost is time- and maybe a pair of scissors…..

Summers are for floods….

Some summers are dry even to the level of drought- this year we have been getting a lot of rain and the garden has been muddy and the plants have been stagnant. Not much lost yet but not much growing since the roots have been wet/submerged.

Last week  the community garden- along a stream- was flooded after several days of 1-2″ rainfall that culminated in a 2-3″ downpour Thursday afternoon until Friday morning. Luckily the damage in my garden spot was limited to flooding and the loss of some mulch/grass.     Image

I spent a few hours Saturday replanting some beans that had faltered and were ‘bugged”

I also have several pieces of wood to dig and build an additional hugelkultur hill for fall planting and next seasons planting.

The weather has been sunny and dry this week , I am hoping the tomatoes and cukes that have been growing will start flowering and producing fruit. The roots now have the chance to dry out and breathe and support plant/fruit growth. I hope the weeds take a break but i am sure this dry and sunny spell will also bring them out in full force and glory- hopefully some of them are edible. Image

Stinging Nettles and Milk Thistle – Weeds or Wonders

>Planting and growing “weeds” is a lot of fun and beneficial. In the past I have grown dandelions and they are great in salads, soups and smoothies. Tasty and full of vitamins/minerals.           Image

This year I am growing Stinging nettles and Milk Thistle.  I love a plant that can fight back when harvested- like going hunting. I also enjoy the challenge of creating and attractive garden, that is a joy to visit and walk by.  The color and spread of the nettles and the variegated coloring of the thistle leaves and the beautiful purple flowers. AND the thorns.

Besides the taste and fun in the garden- these cool plants have the following benefits.

Stinging Nettle – leaves/roots – Vitamin:A,B,D,C,K; Iron,calcium and silica{ Urtica dioica }

Helpful/useful for:

-Urinary tract Infections                        – Kidney stones

-Joint ailments and arthritis                  -allergies

– general inflammation                          -internal bleeding

-all kinds of ..itis issues                          -many other indications……

How to Consume:  Cooked greens, tea , smoothies, leaves and stems as a topical skin treatment


Milk Thistle –leaves, blooms,stems and seeds, high anti-oxidants,bioflavonoids     {silybum marianum}

Helpful / Useful for:

-Liver and gallbladder concerns            -appetite and heartburn

-allergy concerns                                     -hangover

– diabetes issues                                      – alcohol abuse symptoms

How to consume- Leaves and flowers cooked or in salads or smoothies, seeds as a coffees sub.



The new plants are coming in slowly but look great and I will add some more pictures as they mature and I have more starting for late season harvest.

I became enamored of these greens a few years ago when I got “hooked” on green smoothies. I was able to purchase dandelion greens at the store but had to cut and harvest these in the wild or from the “weedy” section of gardens at other homes. Many of them looked at me funny when I planted seeds for these tasty greens as well as dandelions.

More to come.

Recycle- ReUse Pallets for Garden raised Beds- Free Lumber

I have been collecting and using old wooden pallets (HT-heat treated) for the garden this year and so far it has made it easier to build raised beds and in the garden THIS year the extensive rains have made the beds helpful and safe.

As i bring the new pallet in I like to create/set a weed barrier with newsprint or cardboard and then place the pallet, and make sure it is level.


The next step is to start filling/loading the frame with growing medium- I like coffee grounds from local coffee shop. Shenandoah Joe Coffee Roasters [ ] is my source for buckets of coffee grounds.   Image

After I spread the grounds and mulch I top it all with a soil blend and prepare for planting.


This pallet is now planted with- spinach, yarrow, Milk thistle, and oregano.  Updates and pictures to follow.

othe pallets planted this season- cucumbers, spinach, herbs and onions/chives.

might use for covered winter planters…