This morning I got out of bed a little before 5am and looked at the temperature.
Minus 2 degrees Fahrenheit, with a wind chill of minus 24 degrees Fahrenheit. Egads! That is just too dang cold. (And I love winter!) The good news is that today I did not have to go into work as the office is closed for Martin Luther King, Jr. day. In fact, I purposely prepared for today: all errands and shopping were completed on Saturday. We were out finishing up those errands when the big winter storm (Harper?) started, but we were fine. Some slippery roads, but nothing unusual for January in the Finger Lakes.
Of course, we also got quite a bit of snow! Well over a foot fell, plus there’s always drifting in our windy little world over here. Mr. Gordon plowed on both Saturday and Sunday. But the bitter cold was due to hit today – and it did. I wrapped in my blanket and made more tea. I had plans for a quiet day in: some reading, writing, gardening planning/review, and cooking. Some laundry and whatnot. Ah, a day to myself.
Nothing doing. Mr. Gordon’s truck decided it was too cold to go to work. Actually, the truck sputtered and the engine started knocking. Check engine light came on… ugh. (He JUST got the oil changed on Saturday. This was unexpected.)
Well, thank goodness for:
- Triple A
- The fact that Gordon can work from home via his laptop
- The tow truck who delivered the truck to the dealership
- A warm house and many blankets
- The electricity did not go out during this storm (very thankful!)
- Mr. Gordon and I can carpool to work while the truck is repaired – our offices are relatively close to each other, maybe 15 minutes apart
- A savings account for emergencies – although Mr. Gordon would rather NOT dip into it!
- And of course, we are grateful that Mr. Gordon was HOME when the truck broke down. Like I wrote above, minus 24 degrees wind chill.
So, the day’s plans changed a bit, although I have not had to head out in this cold. Thankfully.
Now back to the garden plans…
One of the things that I intended to do today was begin to plan our medicinal herb garden. This is something that I wanted to do for a long time now. I know that it would probably serve me well to start small, so I have only ordered eight different seed varieties. I’ve seen references to Strictly Medicinal Seeds (link) as a reputable resource for this type of purposeful garden, so I placed my order with them. Now, I’m going to take some risks – some of the plants are not necessarily the best fit for our plant hardiness zone – but what is life without a few risks? (I’m mostly risking around $3 per seed packet and some frustration if I don’t have success.)
Ordered the Following:
- Astragalus (Astragalus membranaceus)
- Chamomile, German (Matricaria recutita)
- Clover, Red (Trifolium pratense)
- Echinacea purpurea
- Hibiscus (Hibiscus sabdariffa)
- Sage, White (Salvia apiana)
- Tulsi, Temperate, aka Holy Basil (Ocimum africanum)
- Valerian, Official (Valeriana officinalis)
It was hard to narrow it down just to these eight. Mr. Gordon requested the Hibiscus. I think that might be the toughest one to grow here. We are a Zone 6a surrounded by a Zone 5b. (If you have a US address, you can use a helpful interactive map to determine your zone by visiting this site: https://planthardiness.ars.usda.gov/phzmweb/interactivemap.aspx )
Even though we are not in the warmest climate, we get a lot of full sun in summertime – and it’s typically ungodly hot. (Did I mention I really like winter?) But, if last year was typical of the weather (this coming summer will be our second year here), and the property behaves the same, I’m worried more about the soil composition and drainage. Our region is known for it’s clay soil and our property tends to take in a lot of water.
We combated that last year by practicing no till gardening with raised beds (planted directly in compost, actually). I plan on using raised beds for the herbs, too. I will start everything inside, as well. No direct sow.
I’m especially looking forward to having a White Sage bush again. When we lived in the city, we had a hearty bush in our backyard. Even though I was told a sage bush typically does not thrive past five years, ours did – and in less than ideal conditions. I loved that bush! She was still going strong when we moved.
The herbs I chose for this first medicinal herb garden were based upon a little bit of what I’ve used (purchased) in the past, such as Chamomile (calming, soothing), Echinacea (bolster immunity), Red Clover (women’s herb), and the the Sage, and also what I want to use more often and learn more about (Astragalus, Holy Basil). I have been enjoying Tulsi tea since I learned about it, and thought that growing it might be enjoyable. I’m sure in the beginning I’ll mostly be using the herbs in tea form versus tinctures, salves, etc.
Location on our property is still up in the air. For now I’m considering north of the main vegetable garden. I’d like to develop a small circle garden, inspired by this blog post from the Tenth Acre Farm: The Circle Garden Design for Productive Gardening (link). I love the idea of ringing the raised beds with large stones/rocks. Mr. Gordon has already told me he will not weed-eat around the beds.
Actually, I’d love to surround the beds / fill the pathways with pea gravel. Probably not in my budget this year. Well, our gardens will be living (literally) projects for the rest of our lives – we’ll probably never be “finished.”
That’s not really a bad thing though, is it?
Well, I think it’s time to get back to the garden planning and some drawing. Also researching a new compost resource. We are just not producing enough of our own and will need to supplement for this year’s gardens.
(Hey, look! The sun came out!)