February is of course a short month, but can prove to be just as busy - in and out of the garden.
Here in Washington we get a few sneaky warm days to get us excited for what is just around the corner. The spring bulbs are pushing through the Earth and the bird song begins to return. March usually sets us back on our heels a bit with cold wet weather so don't get to ahead of yourself! Below I have a few TIPS and suggestions for getting ready without breaking ground yet.
This month I would like to celebrate both Black History Month and Valentine's Day a little differently and invite you to join me.
Black History Month -
As many of us are starting to think about the hopeful return to farmer’s markets and how it might be different this year, picture eating fresh produce, filling vases of fresh cut flowers mingling with local artisans - ah spring is on the way. I digress, and ask you to stop and think about who your local farms are owned by and who your local farms are operated by. Across the nation, farms are getting smaller or completely converted to homes and business parks - which in turn affects our food systems and forces those working for farms to find new work and new lifestyles. A large subset of farms that were historically owned and operated by black farmers have either closed or changed hands, furthering the inequities and injustice of the system. Not that black farmers held the majority of land, but in the last hundred years you could say they are going extinct - at just 2% of ownership.
Farms run by African Americans make up less than 2 percent of all of the nation’s farms today, down from 14 percent in 1920. Source NY Times article
Right now there is a lot of attention on farming as a means of combating climate change and revitalizing our nation's food security. How can we work to make farming more accessible to all communities, including and especially black-indigenous-people-of-color (BIPOC)?
Here are a few of the ways I am trying to do my part, please join me - and if you have more ways to connect with local BIPOC farmers share as a comment on the newsletter page or send me a direct message.
- Read Farming While Black by Leah Penniman and this article on black farmers like High Hog Farm
- Visit Black Farmers Collective and Nurturing Roots Farm
Shop local - whether at the grocery store, your local seasonal market, or a pop-up roadside stand - your dollars go much further and directly support farmers.
Valentine's Day is now a week away!
Now I may be a girl who loves flowers, most all flowers really, but I can admit the traditional red rose is just okay to me.
I started wondering why do we celebrate this holiday with a flower that is not in its prime time during February? Then my mind started thinking where are all of these roses grown, how many miles do they travel to fill every floral department, and so forth…..I won’t bore you with the details.
Now for Valentine's 2021 and keeping with the theme of life being so different these days I challenge you to think about other flowers, shrubs and herbs to open your heart and to share with those you love. While some of these may be a season or two away from greeting us with blossoms and fruits, we can discover many ways to connect with the plant.
As I have previously recommend there are many ways to connect with flowers and plants. This Valentine's you may try an herbal tea or tincture.
Hawthorn Crataegus monogyna - can be harvested in early and late summer for year-round use. Hawthorn is an "ally for those challenged by speaking up for themselves and standing in their truth, sooth and relax tension surrounding the throat and heart. It cools the flames of grief, loss and heartache; and helps to keep the heart open while wisely protected." Teachings by herbalist Lauren Morgan Laurel Crown Healings
Lemon balm Melissa officinalis and Sweet Leaf Monarda fistula - are wonderful tonics full of essential oils and considered to be 'an elixir of longevity' additionally "any plant which helps us to understand and cope with beauty is a deer medicine, or (if used as a love charm) an elk medicine. Sweet leaf is used as a perfume so it is also a love charm." Adapted from The Book of Herbal Wisdom by Matthew Wood
~ ~ For the love of Roses and the sake of tradition ~ ~
Plant garlic as a companion near your roses as a pest deterrent or try onions to see if they make them more fragrant.
Incorporate native or wild roses in your garden for more wildlife habitat. Birds love rose thickets to build their nests for protection from predators. I personally enjoy the delicate blossoms of Nootka rose (Rosa nutkana)
Make a sweet treat with rose petals cookies or tea. You may have to purchase rose petals this year if you didn’t plan ahead.
Give the gift of gardening - now available, a one-on-one consultation or coaching session, plus a native plant. Buy now and schedule at your convenience.