Herbal Household Remedies: Mint

Most plants of the mint family have a wonderful fragrance and can be used in various ways. Check out this link to find out more.

Here is an interesting article on the OFA‘s website about mint and its uses.  If you have some in your yard, you know just how prolific all the mint family plants are.  Make use of them instead of fighting them as ‘weeds’!


How do you use extra mint leaves? Here are 12 marvelous uses for mint around the home and garden—from culinary to medicinal to mouthwash to bug repellent!

All images on this post are straight from the article we are linking to, only slightly edited


The Mystic Orb!

St. Swithin’s Day if thou dost rain,
For forty days it will remain.
St. Swithin’s day if thou be fair,
For forty days ’twill rain nae mair.


Saint Swithun (or Swithin) was an Anglo-Saxon bishop of Winchester and subsequently patron saint of Winchester Cathedral.  His historical importance as bishop is overshadowed by his reputation for posthumous miracle-working.  According to tradition, if it rains on Saint Swithin’s bridge (Winchester) on his feast day (15 July) it will continue for forty days. (Wiki)

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Phenology: Nature Tells You…

Phenology is not hocus pocus.

As gardeners in the colder climates, we are waiting to finally sow and plant things, and every year, there is this question of when to get what into the ground.  Instead of looking at calendars and weather forecasts, though, all you need to do is look at your yard for cues because nature tells you when the time is right.  The study of these signs is called Phenology, and it is really quite helpful for every gardener.  Below, you find two example lists, one sorted according to cues, the other according to vegetables, for your consideration.  While cues are different in every region, the following examples list plant cues that are quite common from sea to shining sea.  Happy gardening!


  • Blooming crocus are your cue to plant radishes, parsnips, and spinach.
  • When the forsythia is in bloom, it is safe to plant peas, onion sets, and lettuce.
  • Half-hardy vegetables, including beets, carrots, and chard, can be planted when the daffodils blossom.
  • Look for dandelions to bloom before planting potatoes.
  • Perennial flowers can be planted when the maple trees begin to leaf out.
  • When quince is blossoming, transplant cabbage and broccoli.
  • Wait for apple trees to bloom before planting bush beans.
  • When the apple blossoms fall, plant pole beans and cucumbers.
  • By the time the lilacs are in full bloom, it will be safe to plant tender annual flowers and squashes.
  • Transfer tomato transplants to the garden when lily-of-the-valley and blossoming dogwood are in full flower.
  • Full-sized maple leaves signal time to plant morning glory seeds.
  • Peppers and eggplant can be transplanted when the bearded irises are blooming.
  • When peonies blossom, it is safe to plant heat-loving melons, such as cantaloupe.



  • Start succession plantings of beets and carrots when dandelions are blooming.
  • Plant lettuce, spinach, peas, broccoli, and cabbage when the lilacs show their first leaves or when daffodils begin to bloom.
  • Plant peas when the forsythia blooms.
  • Plant corn and beans when elm leaves are the size of a squirrel’s ear, when oak leaves are the size of a mouse’s ear, when apple blossoms begin to fall, or when dogwoods are in full bloom.
  • Plant tomatoes, early corn, and peppers when dogwoods are in peak bloom or when daylilies start to bloom.
  • Plant cucumbers and squash when lilac flowers fade.


There are plenty of lists like this out there on the internet. Just ask the oracle!



Busy Busy Busy

Sit down for a minute, relax, and watch someone else being busy busy busy.

Do you get like that?  Busy busy busy and no time for anything than being busy?  Well, maybe you can sit down for a minute, literally, 58 seconds, relax, and watch someone else being busy busy busy.  Here is a short video of the honey bees who moved into one of the maple trees on the property a few months ago.  They are loaded with yellow and orange pollen:

The orange pollen is an indication that fall is coming.  Got to wonder how much honey they have stashed away in that tree by now!

Other indicators that fall is approaching can be found in the apple tree:

apple featured

We have not seen any European hornets this year, but then again, they usually wait until the apples are really nice and ripe, and then have their feast.  We posted a few pictures of them last year.

Also, we harvested a bit of this crop again, but found out later that this time, we were a bit late:  Stinging nettles are very tasty just sauteed in butter, but once they developed flowers, they are hard on the kidneys, or so they say.  So you better get to them before that.  But seriously, of all the so-called bitter greens – Swiss chard, kale, dandelion greens, nettles and the like – our absolute favorite are stinging nettles.  Once you harvested them, you blanch them in boiling water so they won’t sting anymore, and then cut them to the size you prefer and throw them in a sauce pan with some butter.  Let them get soft, and enjoy them.  We often eat soup – carrot soup, for example – and a few nettles thrown in when the soup is already in your bowl is quite delicious and adds texture.

nettle harvest featured

And here are a few pictures to enjoy, just because beauty is such a wonderful thing.

First, leaves on the apple tree im Gegenlicht:

gegenlicht featured

Two Zinnias:

zinnia featured


horse fly

And a much smaller bug on a Black-eyed Susan.  I think he was just doing his daily stoutness-exercises when I came along with the camera.

flower and bug insta

There’s that for today.  Make sure you don’t get too busy!  We all have the same amount of time, you know, 24/7, to be exact, and it is up to us to make time for the right stuff.



End of July Garden Impressions

How things stand on the eve of August…

Here we are again at the eve of a new month, and I would like to share a few garden impressions.  The bees are buzzing, and other insects as well, the flowers are blossoming, and the vegetable yield is reasonable thus far.  Zucchini are an almost complete failure this year, but cucumbers are plentiful.  Tomatoes are pretty but mostly green still, and we are fairly swimming in Hungarian Wax peppers.  Green beans were another failure – the young plants served as bunny food -, but the second crop might turn out better.  Lettuces are about exhausted, but there will be a second crop as well.  And now, as usual:  Pictures!

Cucumber blossom.  Very much appreciated by the honey bees.

cuke blossom

I wonder if the honey they make tastes like cucumber relish…

breakfast featured

We should probably be worried about this little fellow and his comrades.

should be worried featured

“And what do you want to be when you are a grown-up?”

bud featured

Spearmint blossoms!


First fall colors:  reddish sunflower

sunflower featured

Here is a window of opportunity:  A row prepared for succession planting.

window of opportunity

I think we have enough yellow flowers everywhere to scare off even the hardiest of the Moorfolk.

lots of yello insta


buzzzz featured

Baby Sparrow on the Move

Meet Fluffy.

This little guy left the nest prematurely.  He’s feisty and can hop and flap pretty well, but he can’t quite fly yet.  Mother and Father are busy feeding him while he explores the yard.  Hoping to give him a roost away from the marauding hordes of chipmunks that inhabit the premises, we built him a temporary home, but he prefers exploring the garden and finding his own cabbage worms, rather than waiting for Mom and Dad to provide some.  Maybe tonight he will appreciate the safety of the roost more than during the day.

Meet Fluffy:


Here he was on his way out into the wide, wild world:


Bad hair day:



Some Are More Welcome Than Others

At present, we have two folks of the buzzing kind to observe.

Living in the woods means living with wildlife.  Some critters are more welcome than others, naturally, primarily because some are more dangerous to us than others.  At present, we have two folks of the buzzing kind living on the premises:

A folk of honey bees, and…

bee folk moving in featured2

… a bald-faced hornet‘s nest in the make.  Surely you can imagine which of the two we prefer, but then again, they all have their place and purpose in the large scope of things.

hornets building

Here’s to bees and such!

bee folk moving in featured



Oh Help! Oh No!

Quick, get the hose!!

It’s a Triffid attacking the house!

triffid featured

Quick, get the hose!!

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Don’t know what a Triffid is?  Here’s what the experts say:

triffid featured5

“Triffids are tall, carnivorous, mobile plants capable of aggressive and seemingly intelligent behavior. They are able to move about by “walking” on their roots, appear to communicate with each other, and possess a deadly whip-like poisonous sting that enables them to kill their victims and feed on their rotting carcasses.”

triffid featured4

Here it comes……

End of June Garden Impressions

How things stand on the eve of July…

Finally, the weather allows us to get the garden back into shape, which basically means that mornings and evenings find us scratching around in the dirt happily while the girls squeal and giggle and splash around on our homemade water-slide.  The pictures show you a little bit of how things stand on the eve of July.  Featured tomatoes, below pepper blossom.

pepper featured

St John’s Wort:

st johns wort featured

Cucumber blossom:



blueberries featured

Hungarian Wax pepper:


Marigold blossom:

marigold insta

And bees in the clover.



Good luck to you, bees!

In the middle of happy gardening yesterday morning, there arose a humming and buzzing that made us look up in surprise.  Lo and behold!, the air was full of bees.  Bees, bees, and more bees buzzing around and around over the yard, without any apparent aim or order.  So we all stood and watched, glad that they were busy buzzing a couple of feet over our heads, and not further down.

Shortly thereafter, the buzzing grew faint.  But it did not take long to figure out what was happening:  About 70 feet off the ground, in the top branches of a tall maple tree, the bees had all gathered for a break.  There they hung, in a cluster of bees that bent the branch, with some of them still swarming around as if on guard while the majority of them was resting.

swarm insta

Not sure what they were up to, but we figured they were looking for a new home.  After about an hour and a half, they had disappeared.  I guess the real-estate agent they were waiting for had finally shown up to take them to their new domicile.

Good luck to you, bees!

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