There is just nothing better than strolls through your garden on spring and summer evenings. It is my fave part of the day to take a leisurely stroll to see how the garden is progressing, what is newly sprouting, and what is ready to be harvested. It is common for my husband or I to excitedly inform the other about what wondrous things we have discovered.
It is also a joy to “smell” the garden. I love walking outside to be greeted by the smell of roses, hyacinth, or honeyvine milkweed. It is a bit of heaven on earth.
Of course you need to plan a bit and pick fragrant flowers and plants. Here are some of my favorites:
English lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) – Always a favorite and much hardier than french or spanish lavender. It smells so good is it any wonder it is popular in perfumes and beauty products?
Lemon Balm – Great citrus scent and you can use it for cooking. Get some of these lemon balm seed balls and disperse through your yard for an aromatic delight.
Rosemary – Smell the lovely fragrance and cultivate it for culinary uses. I cannot walk by my rosemary without grabbing a small sprig to smell and enjoy.
Peonies – Not only are they a gorgeous flower to grow they smell really good too. Try Felix Crousse or Shirley Temple…lovely, pink, and fragrant.
Daylily – These are very regal and lovely. Like flowers for royalty. They also smell royal. We have a variety of these lovely flowers in our garden.
Catmint – Looks similar to lavender and smells wonderful when you walk by it.
Gardenia – I have to mention what is probably one of the most famous garden fragrances. The lovely white flowers pack a punch when it comes to scent.
Sweet Pea – This is a vine with delicate flowers and a heavenly scent if you get the right kind.
Lilac – I have been obsessed with lilacs ever since reading the Nancy Drew book Mystery at Lilac Inn as a kid. You just can’t get anymore gorgeous than these conflowers and the scent is out of this world.
Heliotrope – Smells like cherry pie and it has gorgeous dark purple flowers.
Honeyvine Milkweed – A vine that smells incredible. The scent carries long distances and monarch butterflies adore the stuff so you get lots of butterflies too. Careful where you plant though. It is very invasive.
Enjoy your garden!
Children have so many ways to keep busy. Computers, televisions, tablets, game consoles, the Internet, and more. However, as a parent, you know that some of those “things to do” are rather mindless and void of any learning value. The question is, how do we get children away from the mindless into something not only educational, but fun as well.
Take gardening for example. Gardening for kids can be more than a hobby; it can be a life skill that can serve them for the rest of their lives. Gardening is not only educational, it is relaxing, fun, and can bring you and your children together in a new exciting way. Not only that, but creating a garden that is free of artificial pesticides, growth hormones, and other dangerous chemicals is healthy for your family.
Here are five ways to get your child in the dirt and growing a garden that everyone will enjoy.
1. Let your kids choose what to plant. Give them a say as to what goes in the garden. Just be sure to offer some guidance without making the choice for them.
2. Give them the opportunity to dig in the dirt and create the rows. Yes, they may be crooked, but with time it will get better.
3. Design a garden just for them. Put their favorite veggies and fruits in a spot created for them. You can even let them make a special sign just for their garden. The book Roots, Shoots, Buckets, and Boots explains how make a pizza garden for instance.
4. Make your garden an insect friendly one. No, not for unwanted insects, but rather for those that aid in keeping your garden clean of the all the bad bugs. Lady Bugs are great insects to have around because they eat the nasty aphids that want to ruin your garden. Bees are also quite welcome and once you explain how vital they are to a garden, it helps alleviate fear.
5. Tell your kids that once the garden in complete that they can create a special salad or bouquet just for the family. Don’t get in the way mom, just be a guide.
There are so many ways to make gardening for kids a special treat. Find a nursery near your area and visit it often with your children. Get them ready for the experience and the joy of gardening.
Remember that as a parent, you have way more influence than any television show ever could. So be creative with your approach, make it a fun experience, and your children will learn to appreciate, maybe even love, gardening.
Spring is almost here. Let’s get busy!
March Garden Chores:
- Dig runner bean and celery trenches and fill with manure, kitchen waste, and garden waste
- Spread compost/manure on garden beds
- Mulch fruit trees
- Feed fruit trees (organic blood, fish, bone, and seaweed mixture)
- Protect apricots, cherries, peaches, and nectarines from frost if they begin to blossom
- Use a winter wash on fruit trees to control insect pests and fungal diseases
- Plant bare root fruit trees and bushes
- Plant early potatoes, shallots, garlic
- Rake seedbeds and start weeding
- Spray apple/pear trees with neem oil to prevent scab
- Keep growing seeds indoors for planting in spring
As you make your garden plan for spring and you order seeds from catalogs take a moment to think about plants you can grow for their medicinal properties. There are plenty of safe and effective herbs you can grow and use in homemade remedies for everything from first aid uses to illness.
Learning about herbs and all their uses is actually quite fun. It is a perfect way to pass time during the dreary, cold winter months. Make a plan now to come to know the following herbs and plant a few. Then when spring and summer comes try your hand at making herbal remedies. You can create your very own homestead apothecary! Enjoy!
20 Safe Herbs to Grow and Use
Aloe – A succulent prized for its thick gel that is perfect for soothing burns and skin irritations.
Burdock – This tenacious weed is great for skin problems like acne, eczema, and psoriasis.
Calendula – Beautiful flowers that promote cell repair and growth in rashes, sores, and burns.
Chamomile – Gentle but effective in treating colic, indigestion, infection, and more.
Chickweed – Soothes skin irritations and calms itchy eyes. Great eating too!
Dandelion – A great liver tonic and blood purifier. Good for digestion.
Echinacea – Stimulates the immune system and fights off cold and flu in the beginning stages.
Elder – Helpful with fevers, viral infections, and frequent bladder infections.
Goldenseal – Can be used to fight off illness and conjunctivitis. Makes a great mouthwash.
Hawthorn – Can help with cholesterol levels and blood flow.
Jewelweed – Excellent for dealing with poison ivy and poison oak.
Lemon Balm – Helps with depression, memory, focus, and digestive issues like colic.
Licorice – Soothes inflamed tissues such as sore throats and ulcers. Also good for adrenal fatigue.
Marsh Mallow – Lubricates dry coughs and moisturizes the lungs. Also soothes skin.
Nettle – Helps with joint pain, allergies, and hay fever.
Plantain – Often used for wounds, bites, stings, and blood poisoning.
Red Clover – One of the very best vitamin and mineral supplements you could ever take.
St. John’s Wart – Helps with stress, depression, nerve damage, and seasonal affective disorder (SAD).
Valerian – Helps with insomnia and nervous system disorders.
Yarrow – Helps with swelling after injuries, soothes menstrual cramps, and reduces heavy bleeding.
Don’t let the cold temperatures and rainy (or snowy) weather get to you. Spring is right around the corner and there are lots of garden chores that require your attention this month.
February Garden Chores:
- Harvest winter hardy cabbages, brassicas, leeks, celeriac, parsnips, rutabagas, and winter radishes
- Check garden beds, fruit cages, etc for damage after snowfalls
- Start making homemade cloches/hoops
- Winter prune established apple and pear trees
- Prune grapevines and fruit bushes
- Stock bird feeders
- Cover seedbeds with newspaper and cardboard
- Buy/start seed potatoes
- Lay out garden plan for upcoming year
- Order seeds from catalogs (think regional, organic, heirloom)
- Order new asparagus crowns for planting in March/April
- Sow seeds indoors for planting in spring