7 Healing Herbs to Grow in Your Garden

If you’re cultivating edible plants this summer, you might also like to add some medicinal herbs in amongst your vegetables. Having the ingredients at hand to treat minor health issues is of the utmost importance when it comes to self sufficiency, and these plants tend to pull double duty as pollinator attractors to your garden as well.

Calendula

Calendula

The bright, sunny heads of calendula flowers are well known to most people, but few realise just how healing Calendula officinalis really is. Most people just grow these marigolds as decorative plants, but they’re actually invaluable as a medicinal herb. Calendula-infused oil or salve is ideal for burns and various skin irritations like rashes, cuts, scrapes, and insect bites/stings.

Echinacea

Echinacea

I prefer Echinacea purpurea to angustifolia because the former can be taken once illness has set it, whereas the latter is better as a preventative. Wild patches of echinacea have been over-harvested by people, so planting your own is preferable to wildcrafting it. As an added bonus, it attracts pollinators like bees and butterflies like you wouldn’t believe.

Milk-thistle

Milk Thistle

Milk thistle seed powder is excellent for cleansing the liver, kidneys, and gallbladder, and is exceptionally effective at treating gallstones and kidney stones. The powder can be taken in tincture or decoction form, or can even be added to smoothies, but it takes a lot of seeds to make even a small amount of powder: although you can gather the seed heads in autumn after they’ve dried out and stopped flowering, it might be better to purchase the powder or extract from a retailer instead.

Mullein

Mullein

Although this grows wild around my area, I’ve also sown patches of it in the sandy areas on the edge of my property. It’s a biennial plant, so it only flowers every other year, but both its leaves and flowers have very healing properties. Steep the flowers in honey to make a potent
A tea made from the leaves is excellent as an expectorant, and brings great relief from wheezing, hacking coughs. Smoking dried mullein leaf can also alleviate asthma, and oil in which the flowers have been steeped is ideal for treating ear infections. The entire plant is anti-inflammatory, and a tincture of the leaves and flowers can bring great relief from joint pain, arthritis, and even lymphatic congestion.

Stinging-nettle

Stinging Nettle

Although it’s difficult to harvest because its hairlike stingy bits hurt like the nine hells if they touch you, this plant’s medicinal properties are well worth the effort. It’s an anti-inflammatory and diuretic, does wonders for urinary issues, can alleviate rheumatoid arthritis and other joint pain, and can ease allergy symptoms. It’s also quite delicious when cooked and used like spinach,

Just suit up, wear heavy gloves when harvesting it, and blanch the plant with boiling water to neutralize the stingers before using it.

Thyme

Thyme

Not just a delicious aromatic herb, Thymus vulgaris is a wonderful herb that has countless medicinal uses. Its antispasmodic properties help to alleviate stomach cramping and colic, while its antiseptic properties are incredibly helpful for topical applications. The crushed leaves can also be used as an impromptu insect repellent to keep mosquitoes and black flies away, especially behind the ears and along the hairline.

Yarrow

Yarrow

Also known as “soldier’s woundwort”, Achillea millefolium has been used medicinally for thousands of years and is invaluable for any healer’s garden. Yarrow flowers and frilly leaves have many medicinal properties, and are worth delving into if you’re interested in building up an apothecary’s cabinet of your own. Additionally, this lovely plant attracts all manner of pollinators, and is an ideal landing pad for migrating butterflies.

 

NOTE: Please remember that herbs are medicines, and their effects can vary from person to person. A remedy that works well for you might not work for your child, partner, or neighbour, and some people may have allergies to certain plants. For example, people with ragweed allergies may react badly to chamomile, and those who are allergic to latex should stay away from birch. No herbal remedy is guaranteed to cure a complaint, and it’s important to do your research properly before brewing up and drinking an infusion. It’s usually a good idea to speak to your healthcare provider to make sure that the herbs you’re interested in taking don’t have contraindications with any medicines you’re on, especially if you’re pregnant or nursing.

In addition, if you’re gathering herbs from the wild, it’s extremely important that you learn to recognise them properly. A lot of plant allies have toxic lookalikes, so if there’s any doubt about what you may be harvesting, don’t do it. Just buy a tea, tincture, or dried herb in bulk from an apothecary company like Mountain Rose Herbs instead.

raised beds, raised garden beds, vegetable beds, raised vegetable beds

Permaculture Principles: Observe Your Land Before You Plant Anything

By Catherine Winter

One of the first lessons in sustainable permaculture is to observe your land for at least a year before planting anything in the ground. You can plant anything you like in pots and containers as you can move those around easily, but plunking seeds, bushes, or trees into your land requires a whole lot of research and awareness first. Many of us get reallyreally excited as soon as we have a plot of land to play with—we go nuts with planning and ordering seeds and planting all kinds of stuff, and end up sabotaging our vegetable gardening attempts with our impatience.

I’m just as guilty of this as many others have been before me, and although it’s been a pain in the arse to sort out and I’ve kicked myself for my stupidity, I’ve also learned from my mistakes. Hopefully you can learn from them too.

raised beds, raised garden beds, garden beds

Royal Screw-Ups

Case in point: when I moved into this house in 2013, I was delighted to see a beautiful little flat patch of earth on the NE side. I promptly squeed myself and plopped two raised beds onto it, filling those beds with herbs, lettuces, and brassicas. Well, fast forward a month and those beds were completely shaded once the trees’ foliage filled out completely. The beds were also under constant onslaught from the fuzzy poplar catkins that fell from above, so I was weeding and cleaning the soil every day just to keep up.

This is exactly why it is of vital importance to observe your property during all four seasons before committing to any permanent structure or long-term investment like nut trees or berry bushes.

I have raspberries, blueberries, serviceberries, and blackberries in a nice acidic patch of soil in one corner of my property, and I’m happy that I really observed and took note of the changes in that area before planting anything. See, it’s on a rather steep slope of the mountainside that my home is perched upon, and winter’s meltwater takes a very specific path through that very berry patch and into the stream below. If I hadn’t taken note of the water’s course in late winter/early spring, I might have planted some bushes right in that pathway: the plants would have died and I would have gotten screamy.

cabbage, green cabbage, savoy cabbage, brassica, brassicas

As frustrating as it is to be patient, it’s even more frustrating to regret hasty actions… especially since seeds and plants can be a costly investment. I can’t tell you how many plants I’ve lost thanks to sudden May heat waves, crazy July frosts, and local wildlife discovering what a lovely buffet I’ve provided for them.

Take Photos, Make Notes

Seriously, take pictures of your property every couple of weeks throughout the year so you can see how changes take place over time, and get out there so you can experience things firsthand. Make notes about everything from little microclimates you may discover to dips and hills: you can use these to full advantage when planning your garden, such as keeping water-loving plants in the dips, and those that need better drainage in the raised areas.

rabbit, wild rabbit, rabbit in the garden, rabbit eating plants, bunny, garden bunny

Keep an eye on the animals and insects that visit your property, and determine whether they need to be attended to. These are just a few aspects that should be monitored:

  • Are there a lot of bees and other pollinators? Or will you need to entice some to your land with indigenous flowers?
  • Do squirrels, rabbits, deer, or other herbivores stop by often? Take note of which species visit so you can sort out an action plan for dealing with them humanely so they don’t eat all of your plants.
  • Does a lot of snow fall on your property? Where does the meltwater go?
  • Does your region have a history of inclement weather such as droughts or summer hailstorms?
  • Which areas get the most sun throughout the year? Which get the most shade?

Once you have a really clear idea of all of these facets, you’ll be able to make well-informed decisions about the types of plants that will work best for the space you have to work with. Remember how we talked about working with your land rather than against it? It really is in your best interest to determine what would work best, and then go that route rather than dreaming up what you’d like and then trying to force Mother Nature to comply with your wishes.

…don’t even try, because she always wins.

If you have any questions about which plants would work best for your zone and the space you have available, please don’t hesitate to ask us in the comments section: chances are someone on our team will have answers for you.

 

Photos by Local Food Initiative and Nathan Anderson via Flickr Creative Commons and UnSplash.

Cherishing Food as Sacred

By Catherine Winter

How diligent are you about not letting any food go to waste? Do you find yourself throwing out wilted greens or furry fruit on a regular basis? Or letting leftovers go bad at the back of the fridge because you didn’t want to eat the same thing two days in a row? If you have, you’re not alone. Most of us have allowed this to happen on more than one occasion, and although we might have felt a pang of guilt, we may not have felt the solid gut-kick of irresponsibility and remorse that we should have felt at the time.

Why is that? Well, it’s likely because the average person is so far removed from the process of growing food from seed to harvest that they really aren’t capable of appreciating just how much work goes into growing everything they buy. They don’t consider how soil (black gold, really) is made from organic matter breaking down, and how the nutrients in that soil are sucked up by little seeds to grow into edible plants.
They don’t think about the diligence needed to keep little seedlings alive with regular waterings, or how vital pollinators like bees and butterflies are in order for these plants to develop and go to seed.

Plums

Growing one’s own food cultivates an appreciation that just buying pre-packaged items at the grocery store doesn’t provide. It can’t. There’s too much of a disconnect between the plastic-wrapped, pre-made items bought at the supermarket and the plant or animal from which it originated. It’s not until a person has taken part in the process of coaxing life from a seed and nurturing it to maturity, or drawn an egg out from beneath a clucking hen, that they can really comprehend how sacred food really is, and how devastating it is to let any of it go to waste, ever.

In her book Braiding Sweetgrass, author and botanist Robin Wall Kimmerer touches upon the “Honourable Harvest”: the idea of only taking what is given (and not more than what is needed), to use it well, to be grateful for the gift, and to reciprocate it in kind. When we pick wild berries, we only take our share, and leave the rest for our forest cousins. Similarly, when we purchase food from the grocery store, we should ensure that we’re not depleting the shelves for our own selfish whims, but leave enough for others. When we harvest items from our garden, we need to make sure that we let a portion go to seed: both so we can re-sow the following year, and to allow wild creatures to take their fair share as well, in exchange for having helped to pollinate and fertilise our gardens.

Children Gardening

There is an overwhelming sense of gratitude that occurs when one takes an active role in cultivating and raising food, and the awareness that food is a gift, and not to be taken for granted. This is one of the reasons why it’s so important to get children involved in food gardening from a very young age: if reverence is nurtured from day one, they’re far less likely to be wasteful and irresponsible about food later in life. Hell, they might even become avid gardeners themselves, but we can only hope and pray that’ll happen.

It’s time that we re-learn what it is to treat our food as sacred, and revere it as such; to take a moment before eating to acknowledge all the work that was poured into growing every morsel on our plates, and have sincere appreciation for the sun, soil, rain, and toil required to feed us. It is with these small gestures that we can start to move beyond our consumerist leanings and connect more deeply with the world around us, and the life-sustaining gifts that we receive from it.

DIY Beneficial Insect Hotel

By Catherine Winter

Many people gripe and moan about the insects they have to contend with, but not all bugs are equal when it comes to benefitting (or harming) your plants. Vital pollinators like bees and butterflies deserve our respect and appreciation, while aphid-eating ladybugs and mosquito-devouring dragonflies are powerful allies for organic pest control. By creating an insect “hotel” and setting it up near your food garden, you can provide a wonderful shelter for your local insect allies so they can keep working hard amongst your food plants.

This is a great weekend project to dive into during this nebulous time between winter and springtime. Snow’s still on the ground and we won’t be able to get seeds into the ground for a little while yet, but those of us who are champing at the bit to do garden-ish things can focus our energy on creating one of these in prep for the growing season ahead.

insect hotel, bug hotel, insect habitat, bug habitat, pollinators, beneficial insects

What You’ll Need:

  • A large, open wooden box
  • Rolled-up tubes of paper
  • Hollow reeds or bamboo, cut to fit the depth of your box
  • Large wood chips or strips of bark
  • Dry straw or small sticks
  • Solid wooden blocks with “bee holes” drilled into them, if desired. (Remember that different bee species have specific preferences for both their eggs, and shelter. Leafcutter bees like 1/4″ wide and 2 1/2 -4″ deep holes, while mason bees like theirs to be 6″ deep, 5/16″ wide. Don’t drill all the way through the block: bees need warmth, not drafts.)
  • Eco-friendly, natural glue*

*Note: If you’d prefer not to use any kind of glue, you can just arrange everything loosely and then secure thin-gauge chicken wire over the front of the box. This will keep all the sundry bits in place, and the insects will have no problem getting through the wire mesh.

insect-house

Instructions:

Decide how you’re going to arrange your hotel ahead of time by drawing some thumbnail sketches. If you’ve created a drilled bee box, glue that into place first: it’s a lot easier to work around that behemoth than to try to mash it in to fit later.

Once that’s done, glue items into place around it, ensuring that they’re held together quite firmly, but that there’s enough room for air to circulate. Using different materials means that a variety of species will be able to find nooks that are best suited to their needs.

Cultivating a relationship with the beneficial insects in your area is a vital aspect of sustainable permaculture: the goal is to encourage your land to function in the most harmonious, holistic manner possible, and insects are imperative for a healthy, self-regulating ecosystem. For example, parasitic wasps annihilate tomato hornworms, cabbage moth larvae, whiteflies, and many caterpillar species.

insect-castle

You’ll draw the most beneficial species to your garden by planting indigenous wildflowers in and around your space, as well as along the periphery. Although exotic plants are beautiful, local insects are most adapted to native flowers. For example, Queen Anne’s lace is indigenous to your area, plant that for parasitic wasps, lacewings, and ladybugs.

Before you know it, you’ll have countless new visitors helping out with your vegetables and herbs, and those lucky critters will have a gorgeous villa to go home to after a hard day’s work.

death bee, bee, Detroit, bees, pollinators, declining bee populations, resin bee, giant resin bee

Death Bee

By C.E. Young

I’d never seen a bee as big as Death Bee, a bee so large I noticed him by his shadow first, a disc out of the corner of my eye that had to be either a fairy or—hope against hope—an honest-to-goodness hummingbird. I live in Detroit. I’ve seen a hummingbird once in my 50 years here. A half-century missing the simple magic of that. Except fairies and hummers didn’t buzz, and when I say “buzz” I mean vibrate, and when I say “vibrate” I mean Rodan. In the span of 5 seconds I went from guy sitting in his backyard trying to read a book over the noise of the neighborhood, to facing head-on the truth that here there be monsters. Death Bee.

Fat but agile as a guided missile. Black and yellow war bands. Wings that likely cut flesh. Six hairy trunks that served as legs. ‘Roids or insane workout sessions, who knows? I only knew I’d never seen a bee that large. He might have been one of the mutated Africanized killer bees whose coming was part of city-lore since the 70s. (It was hard enough as a Black kid to find positive reflections in the United States, now I had to worry about African bees adding to the false threat narrative too?) Would an Africanized killer bee respect diasporic brotherhood? No, it would impale me on the 8 inch switchblade it hid in its ass. I’m a big man. 6’2”. Couple hundred pounds.

Which is to say that I ran.

big-bee

Death Bee didn’t follow. It staked out a position near the section of my privacy fence closest to the back porch (1: my reading spot; 2: of damn course) and patrolled. If I came near that spot it advanced. I backed away, he resumed normal military stance. There were no flowers there. Nothing of obvious value to Death Bee or any other bee. I had to assume this was a show of force as a prelude to invasion.

My backyard was the only peace I had in this hellish neighborhood, and that only when most of the neighbors remained indoors. I was not giving that up. I recall thinking—as I dashed up the porch steps, threw myself at the door, and hoped to all gods that anyone bumbling into my yard didn’t suffer too much—This far, no further. Research elevated Man from bee. I didn’t want to do a whole scorched-Earth campaign of the backyard. There were tomato plants and zucchini growing back there, for gods’ sakes.

I looked out the window and I saw Death Bee patrolling and I knew that, as frightened as I was, I would not kill. It’d be too much like watching Godzilla die, and nobody…nobody needed to see that.

Non-lethal measures it was, then. I consulted the greatest source of life I knew: Catherine Winter, writer, artist, grower, high priestess of Whee. I truly didn’t want to kill anything in the yard (collateral damage to centipedes and mosquitos: acceptable); regular bees and crickets and spiders—they all had their places. A Death Bee, though, was an affront to gods and civilization. Especially one with so much attitude (I swear I saw it watching the back door, waiting for me to come out, Rambo face paint across its fuzzy face, red bandana ready to slowly tie across its forehead). I knew there were a billion chemicals I could use, but I also knew that when I used those chemicals (and yes, I have) and the wind blew any of their spray back toward me I ran like mad from caustic cancer fleshburn hell.

“I only want to scare it,” I said. “What makes bees go away?”

“Neem oil,” she said. I found out where I could get it. I bought it. I bought a sprayer. A good one. The ‘Nuke It From Orbit’ variety. But I waited. I didn’t spray immediately. A day had passed between spotting Death Bee and getting the Neem. Side note: Death Bee and the Neem is a helluva band name. Maybe Death Bee was gone, rejoined its fellow mutant bees or been captured by aliens for anal probing. He was big enough for that.

I opened the back door. It was early. It was quiet. Won’t say “too quiet” because, y’know, effing city life, but the air was still on that summer day. It was as if the Earth wanted me to listen.

Then I heard it.

The buzzing.

bee, death bee, big bee, huge bee, resin bee, giant resin bee

Death Bee didn’t merely buzz. Death Bee was a running chainsaw perched on the edge of the bathroom sink and about to fall onto a baby, and you knew you had to catch it in your bare hands no matter what. That’s the flavor of dread that sudden abundance of zzzzzs elicited. The inevitability of doom. The reminder of mortality.

I ran outside to take its measure, curiously emboldened by my fear. Death Bee hovered into view, darted at me (by then I was already halfway across the lawn. Yes, I waved my arms and hands spastically aloft. Why do you ask?), then resumed stealth mode by the fence. What about that section of fence made it so appealing? It was an old, rickety wooden fence. Death Bee was no borer bee, no. Death Bee was munitions. He’d be the first one pushing the plunger down to blow the fence so neither of us could have it. So I began to wonder was there something on the other side he was protecting? Some huge Kalahari Death Bee mound in my neighbor’s yard behind the vines and weeds he never got around to attending abutting the fence?

I tuck-n-rolled back into the house and considered things. The neighbor had dogs, so I didn’t want to spray over the fence. I would be precise with my nuclear-option sprayer. I would wait until very early the next day, attach the sprayer to the hose, and begin.

The neighborhood would learn to love the smell of Neem in the morning.

Neem actually smells quite good. An oily, minty, brown mouthwashy goodness. If I were Death Bee I’d stand in the stream of the spray with my mouth open and thank me for the service. But I trusted Cate’s wealth of knowledge. If there’s one person I’d follow into purgatory to plant a small patch of seeds, it’s Catherine Winter. So I sprayed. I sprayed the entire length of the fence. I sprayed the porch. No sign of Death Bee, so I sprayed again. I went inside, let it dry, and came back out. There was no Death Bee.

Until there was.

He rotored quickly into view and he was pissed. In my mind I countered with I pay the ridiculous mortgage on this house! anger for anger. The Neem was supposed to have worked! I didn’t have a baseball bat or a sword but I did have a flyswatter. If Death Bee wanted a piece of me he was going to have to come get some.

But then I remembered that my brother was deathly allergic to bee stings; that I’d never been stung; that I did not want to learn by field study if I was deathly allergic, and that I’d once had a bee fly up my shirt sleeve and terrorize me for either 5 hours or 8 seconds—who can tell?—by pretending it wanted nothing more than to get out. My mother told me to be still and it would fly out, but, as Lou Reed sang in Last Great American Whale, you can’t always trust your mother. I whipped my arm around and flung it out like a sling. I also ran like hell when it came out. Past is future.

Memory exists to keep us from killing ourselves repeatedly.

I ran again.

Godzilla, Godzilla nope, Godzilla Oatmeal, Godzilla nope meme, Oatmeal Godzilla

Day 3.

More research was needed. I knew that bees were endangered but I didn’t think they were endangered in my city. I knew bees weren’t wasps (assholes) or yellow jackets (assholes). I knew the old saw that if you left bees alone they’d leave you alone. But Death Bee behaved as if he were the Amun-Ra of bees: he had no fear, brooked no trespass. And he apparently snorted Neem like cocaine because he’d gotten increasingly Tony Montana-ish.

What I did not know, however, was that bees weren’t a no-have option. Bees were dying. Everywhere. It seemed unimportant…until you researched it. You realized not only were they important, they were crucial to every benefit we receive from agriculture. Bees were frikkin’ life. A butterfly’s wings might cause a tsunami but a bee’s butt gave us string beans and yams. One way or another, they gave us string beans and yams.

Was there a way to live with Death Bee? Of course not, he was maniacal. But I will admit to respecting him a wee bit more. Also, I neemed the hell out of that space for the rest of the week. An absolutely unbelievably minty fresh yard. Some days Death Bee was there, some days not.

death bee, resin bee, giant bee, giant resin bee

Until one day he wasn’t. And the next. And one more. Understand, I’d never seen a single other huge bee besides Death Bee this entire time. Or let’s say I never saw more than one Death Bee at a time, one huge bee that would register on a scale and grin an evil grin about it. I never found out what kind of bee it was. Never knew where it came from, why it picked my yard, where it went. I knew, however, that I’d never buy a commercial insecticide again. Regular bees flitted among the flowers of my zucchini plants. I was cool with them. I had no desire to harm anything outside, really (except centipedes and mosquitos. Maybe flies). I could live on this planet; they could live on this planet. I could read; they could pollinate. And if ever there was contention, it could be handled without loss of life. That’s a small epiphany but it’s huge.

So was Death Bee some guide sent to teach me a lesson? The lesson being neem oil is addictive to humans. Could be. Maybe I’d forgotten to appreciate the bio part of life as I’d sat there that summer day with the guts of a dead tree dipped in magic in my hand (if you want to know what I was reading, it’s called There Is No Lovely End by Patty Templeton; writer love 4 ever yo). That’s very likely. We all know bees are dying everywhere. We know lots of things are. And we know pretty much we’re the ones killing them. Conglomo-murder. We’ll kill anything if it lands on our plastic fork at a picnic.

But a lot of us aren’t interested in killing. We just want to read good books in the summer air and chill.

While keeping watchful eyes out for any Death Bees we might find.

If Not, Flowers

By MK Martin

Our little corner of the earth sits atop one of the highest elevations of the Province. This is where wind is born. Zeus sometimes hangs out here, in the winter, zapping a few trees here and there, while the winds swirl and gust through hidden crawlspaces, resulting in sounds best left to Halloween.

As such, it can be pretty tough to grow food here. Alternating years of heavy rains, lost from some other continent, and drawn out drought have compacted most of the dirt into a stubborn, grey clay in which sturdy, local potatoes grow and not much else. Our yard seemed at first, an abyss. A grand stretch of land we’d run across fields and fallen into rivers and rolled over our hems for. One season of too many tomato plants told us otherwise.

We planted seed after seed in little peat pot after egg carton, grinning at the tadpole tails and embryonic leaves that emerged after a few days’ simmering in humidity and moisture. But then, they all become seedlings, and I could not bear to just ‘thin’ them out. So I planted them, green beans and another mistaken monster, oregano, in the same place and watched as the tomato jungle took hold. I knew nothing of pruning, or pinching. I knew nothing at all. And we drowned in tomatoes, were drunk on the scent of tomatoes in the air and giving away tomatoes with pleading croaks, ‘Surely you can trade us a zucchini!’

When I had the first, shiny green eyes of garden planning, every scene was a Monet before me: the idle buzzing of insect wings around plentiful flowers, trailing bean tendrils looping through a lattice, fat little squashlings basking in a not too hot sun, for exactly seven hours. What bucolic, Antoinette bliss it would be, as I pop myself into the picture, dressed in linens, harvesting crops in a fine wicker basket. The reality looks more like the yoga pants I wore during the early stages of labor, covered in dirt as I tried to hack enough organic materials into unrelenting clay, hair in my eyes, itching my nostrils, black flies biting my ears, picking rocks, just so I can get seedlings in the ground. No matter how much we amend our soil, it insists its true makeup is clay.

bachelorbutton

Each year, for the past eight years, something goes wrong. One neighbour started using Roundup. The other neighbour mercilessly cut down every tree in his yard, ripped up every plant and installed a chemically fed lawn, which he cuts every other day for one hour. Both yards run right into ours because we are strangely situated lower. The year after the Tomato Jungle, we wanted to grow kale, and were besieged by flea beetles. No natural remedy worked, and the consensus was clear: unless we took care of it in the early stages of spring, we were out of luck. Our early tomato jungle became wilted, pale and blossom rotted, no matter where we planted them.

This year, I planted flowers. Flowers upon flowers, fragrant flowering herbs and let the weeds grow where they may. Our garden was bursting with poppies, bachelor buttons, clovers, melilot, calendula, zinnias, marjoram, sage, thyme, rosemary, nasturtium, morning glories, yarrow and borage. The dream of hovering bees was realized, and we were not plagued by insect destruction.We had very little rain for most of the spring and summer, a possible monsoon season is our future reality. Our zone has changed from 4b to 5b in the time we’ve lived here, so each food plant needs babying to survive. Where a cultivated species fails, a wild bloom flourishes, sending its encoded roots down to heal what it can. We may not see the the fruits of letting our ‘field’ lie fallow in flowers, but we know the possibility is there. Putting my ear up against the ground, I inhale quietly, hold a breath and listen to them work.

bee_on_borage-pollinator