It’s a beautiful Spring day, and the birds are singing, the wind is blowing, buds are growing, and I am reminded how beautiful everything looks when it is simply alive. Daring flowers are popping up, with not a care that we may see a late freeze, the kids are in and out throughout the day, and I am busy busy in the garden.
Remember our garden project? Yes, it consumed our entire Spring last year! But the rewards were good – and this year, they will be great! We’ve already planned out literally every square inch of soil in those beds, for the entire year, and I am looking forward to luscious, delicious, and nutritious fruits and vegetables on our table. Yes..it’s that wonderful, beautiful time of year. But it’s also a lot of work! Year round gardening means year round work. And though we didn’t utilize the garden much during the winter, we did have a late tomato crop that we harvested (literally) the day before the first official freeze hit. We were swimming in green tomatoes for months!!
I was worried at first, that they would never ripen off the vine, when they were SO green, and SO hard. I was frantically looking up recipes for green tomato salsa, fried green tomatoes, etc. I just couldn’t waste all that hard work! (Not to mention, all that waiting!) A friend of mine told me to simply lay the tomatoes out (not touching), in a cool place – and when I was ready to ripen a few quicker, to place them in a warm window. I thought “I don’t know if this is going to work, but it sure beats waste – or months of green salsa!” So we gave it a try, and sure enough, it worked! With the exception of literally a few of the smallest, hardest, greenest in the bunch, those tomatoes ripened slowly in the garage – and quicker in the window when we moved them, and we were eating those amazing tomatoes for a couple months “fresh”, and I was able to freeze batch after batch of homemade pasta sauce! Delish!
Fast forward to a month ago, and there you would have found my husband and I cleaning the garden beds. All old roots systems have to be removed, the dirt has to be tilled, and soil amendments have to be added if you want healthy produce for the next growing crop. What we did was add worm castings, compost tea, and an organic fruit/vegetable food to the dirt. Then we gave it all a good mixing, and voila! The beds were ready!
So, what’s on the “menu” for this year? Strawberries, goji berries, carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, leaf lettuce, kale, romaine lettuce, radishes, okra, cabbage, garlic, turnips, and parsnips. I know, right?? Isn’t this exciting! (Everything listed from okra and on will be a fall/winter crop)
So once we had the dirt good and ready, we started our lettuces, radishes, and carrots by seed. I went ahead and got broccoli and cauliflower seedlings planted, since we had a head start on Spring already. And then I left everything to their natural cycle of growing…
Last jump to the present. We’ve got some exciting happenings in the garden! Firstly, remember when I first started my 2 mature goji plants into the garden last year? And I added 2 “baby” goji plants? Well, those 4 goji plants must have had some pretty wild parties when we weren’t looking, because we now have..get this..16!!!! goji plants growing!! Just look at this!
I know, beautiful, isn’t it? My mouth is watering, thinking of all the berries we’ll be eating this summer.
Speaking of growing numbers, just look at my yarrow plants! (I planted 2 last winter) See all those baby yarrow shoots coming up from the ground? I didn’t see this coming at all – literally – because their seeds are spread from shoots underground.
Now, my lettuce, romaine, and kale seeds – check out those secondary leaves!
The carrots are growing their secondary leaves as well – take a look!
Now, for the broccoli and cauliflower – I can’t wait until harvest time!
Next is our radishes. Remember how quickly they grew last year? They’ll probably be ready to harvest in a month or so – such prolific, enthusiastic growers!
Last but not least is my prized plantain. Remember the benefits of plantain? Here’s a little story to jog your memory. About 3 months ago, my son was playing in the backyard, and he had gotten bitten by (I suspect a nasty spider) He came in the house, complaining that his back itched, and when my husband and I looked, he had a large, angry, red knot of a bug bite on his back, and it was probably 1/2 inch raised from the rest of his skin. The skin around the bite was even turning red, giving it a “spreading” look. As my husband ran to google to try to find what could have caused the bite, I ran to the garden and snatched up some plantain leaves. I rinsed them off, then stuck them in my mouth and chewed away to break up the cellular wall. (If you try this at home, try not to swallow the juices, they are put to good use!)
I spit this wad of chewed up plantain directly onto my son’s bite, and covered it with tape to 1) hold it on there and 2) not absorb all the juices away from his skin.
Ten minutes later, my husband decided he would take him to the doctor, as a precaution, since we had no idea what had bitten him. He began gathering shoes, socks, etc. Five minutes later, he was ready to go, and wanted to wash the plantain poultice off before leaving, so the doctor could get a good look at the bite. So he did -and the bite was nearly 100% normal looking again.
With the exception of a little pink area on his skin, and a very minor raised spot, you wouldn’t have even known he had just gotten bitten there!
And this, folks, is where my husband finally, FINALLY had the “aha!” moment. I wish you all could have seen the look on his face, as he asked “the plantain did that??!”
“Of course it did”, I replied. “I’ve been telling you over and over that plantain pulls poisons through the skin! Bites, rashes, you name it. Didn’t you believe me?”
Still bewildered, he answered, “but I’ve never seen anything like that before.”
And that, folks is why my plantain is prized. Because if you have kids, or if you like at all to be outdoors, plantain could be the difference between a trip to the ER (or worse), and a few minutes on the couch with minor discomfort.
That’s not to say I wouldn’t have taken my son to the doctor if we had washed that poultice off, and the bite looked just as it had before applying the plantain – but it didn’t. It seldom does.
So, the end of the story is that we put a new, fresh plantain poultice on the healing skin, and after another 10 minutes or so, that skin was picture perfect. And humble thanks to our loving God who put such awesome medicine on this earth for us to use – and respect for the plants He created:
“Along the bank of the river, on this side and that, will grow all kinds of trees used for food; their leaves will not wither, and their fruit will not fail. They will bear fruit every month, because their water flows from the sanctuary. Their fruit will be for food, and their leaves for medicine.”
– Ezekiel 47:12