In case you haven’t noticed, it is spring. That means that the flowers are blooming, and the trees are blooming and the weeds are starting to bloom too. It won’t be long until the grass is blooming as well.
If you are one of the many people who suffer from seasonal allergies, it means that you will soon be dealing with burning eyes, runny nose, headaches for some, rashes or whatever way your allergies manifest. I am one of those people. I have suffered from allergies for most of my life.
When it first was diagnosed I was in the eighth grade. That spring I experienced my first allergy induced migraine. In that case allergies, migraines and whatever else combined to make me really sick. It started with a slurring of my speech, followed by a loss of fine motor control and eventually vomiting and a loss of major motor control. As I lay on the toilet in the nurses office the school called my mother and told her I was having a drug overdose, to come and get me. It was a combination of hay fever and migraine, though just the hay fever was diagnosed at the time.
Since that time I have dealt with the results of seasonal allergies, never again as extreme as that time, but often making me extremely ill.
When I got married to my wife in 1988, my mother-in-law Ruth Hoey told me about a remedy I should try, honey. Raw, local, natural honey. I started eating local honey before the next allergy season. My allergies have never been as bad since. The honey doesn’t completely eliminate the symptoms, but the severity of them is much less.
So now I have a regiment. In late winter I begin eating at least a tablespoon of honey a day, hopefully I start doing this at least 3 or 4 weeks before the pollen starts to show. It may only be my imagination, but in the years when I am consistent in the daily use of honey I hardly have to deal with allergies.
They key here is that it must be local, and it must be raw. If my allergies are to pollen, the honey should be made from the same pollen I am allergic to. I look for locally produced honey from as close as possible to my home. I have heard that bee pollen works as well, but I have never tried it. Some people chew on the honeycomb, but with the amount I eat it is impractical, and I prefer the honey to the comb.
This year I have mixed it up a little. I now combine a tablespoon of honey with two tablespoons of apple cider vinegar in a large glass of water. This serves to eat my honey, and provides for a tasty drink different from my normal tea, water or coffee, and both better tasting and better for me than soda (which I do my best to avoid at most times).
Some people might think that the result is a product of my imagination, but I would much rather eat a spoonful of imagination than an antihistamine any time.
So, if you are one of those that suffer from seasonal allergies, try getting on a program of honey leading up to and through the allergy season. It may help you avoid some of those symptoms, and the medicines that we use to address the symptoms. I hope it works for you like it has for me.
By the way, those dandelions you see growing in my yard are there so the bees have something to eat early in the spring when other flowers have yet to come out.
Today was transplant day, the day when the weather is right to start moving things out of the greenhouse into the ground. I would like to share a photo essay of some of the things in my garden. You can click on the images below to get a view of a larger version of the image. You should do it, the large images hold lots of cool secret details you don’t see in the smaller versions.
Let’s start with the greenhouse. Because of the size and nature of my greenhouse, it is hard to get good pictures of the inside. I use a heavy plastic for the shell of the walls and root, and it allows light in, but it is not possible to take photos through it.
This was the second year for my new greenhouse, and the plastic can’t be used for another year. It has rips in the high stress areas, and it is generally starting to deteriorate.
Checking the weather today, I saw that the lows at night for most of the rest of the 10 day forecast are in the 50s, daytime highs in the high 70s. There is also rain in the forecast, so that combination meant it was time to transplant the tomatoes into the garden.
I rolled back the plastic roof to get a glimpse inside, but left it attached so I could put the roof back in place if necessary.
What it showed me was a good view of some very healthy and happy plants, especially the tomatoes.
But before I started to transplant, I took the camera out and had a look around. I like to chronicle my garden, and frankly, you can get some pretty cool pictures of plants that are just starting to grow. I wanted to share some of those with you.
Click on the image above and take a close look at the larger version of the image. If you are able to free your mind from the judgement of the dandelion as a weed, you will see that it is really quite a beautiful flower. It becomes the first major food source for the bees in the spring, and that is good enough for me.
I wrote in one of my earlier blogs about the raspberries in my yard. Now they are starting to bud out with new growth on the old canes that will produce berries this spring, and new canes popping up that will provide berries in the fall.
Peas are one of my spring stalwarts. I like to plant them very early because they can handle a few freezes or snows and just keep on doing their thing. There have been some years when I have planted the peas right into the snow. Then, when they find soil they find the right time to germinate and are one of the earliest green things in the garden. I really like to look at the up close details of the pea plant.
In addition to being an early herb to add to your sauces or salads, oregano is a lovely delicate little herb. It is surprising how much it can increase in size from year to year. This is my third year with this particular plant, and it has been transplanted to this location. Somehow it manages to have green even under the snow.
Another early riser in the spring is the onion. Onions are the thing I plant the most of, placing either seeds or sets all over the garden. And yet, I always seem to run out of them. Luckily it is easy to keep the seeds of onions, so there is nothing to seeding the garden liberally with onions.
The picture above is another one to take a closer look at. I was taking a picture of the lettuce coming up. I knew that there were a lot of little somethings coming up, but I didn’t know what they were. And then I opened this photo. I started a daisy patch because they are my wife’s favorite flower. Daisies are perennials, so they come back year after year, but it takes them a little while to get started. so this year I decided that in the back of the daisy patch I would grow lettuce and sunflowers. The sunflower seeds were just planted this weekend, but the lettuce is up. And now I realize that this will be the last year I will be able to plant lettuce here, because with all those daisies, there won’t be room for anything else next year.
In the picture above, you can see volunteer blue kale coming up from where the kale was planted last year. I like that the bolt is there for perspective. This is currently a little tiny plant. But, take a look at the larger picture and check out the details of the bolt, the water drops on kale, and the stone or wood deteriorating beside the bolt. That bolt used to hold a board onto cement blocks to provide a decorative edge.
The asparagus is well under way. It is the first edible thing that I get out of the garden each year. I planted these from seed about 5 years ago, and planted the seeds way too close together. I have been thinning the patch ever since. I thin one small section each fall and generally give away the roots, I have no more room for growing asparagus. If you are going to plant asparagus from seed, do yourself a favor and get the right spacing, it is a chore to thin them. I right about it in this blog post.
And since I have also posted about compost, I thought I would only be fitting to show the current status of my compost pile. It is very hot and active in there. The tarp give you an idea of the size of the pile, and it has reduced down to about a half or a third of the size it was at the beginning of spring. I have pulled some of the compost out today as I transplanted tomatoes, but it still has a ways to go before it is ready for using.
So, that is what the garden had to share before I started transplanting today. After I transplanted 35 plants of various types, I tilled up a new section to add to the garden. It was in the back corner and never had any light before. But last spring I lost three trees and it opened up a nice area that I can now garden. I added about 500 sq. ft. of garden this spring. I’ll be needing a lot of that compost to get it into shape, my soil consists mostly of sand until I amend it.
And just to close out the post, I wanted to share a cool photo I got after the storm came in and put a half inch of rain on my newly transplanted garden.
We used to throw a lot of watermelon away. Some of the old ways of cutting the beast left it difficult and messy to eat, and didn’t providing for those time when you just want a little bit of watermelon instead of a whole slice.
I needed something to write about in my blog today, so I am floating up this bit of fluff because I have pictures, and this is the kind of stuff some people like to see on the Internet. So, let’s get started.
Whenever I start to carve a watermelon, I think of my grandfather, Fritz. He had a definite and predictable way of starting the process. The first step is that if there is a stem, it should be cut off. No reason here, just the first part of making sure it is dead. Then, for the next step, you kill it.
To kill a watermelon, you thrust the knife deep into the heart. Now this is where I break off from the tradition that I was taught. Fritz would always then split the watermelon down the middle and cut out that part right in the middle that has no seeds, he called it the heart. Removing the heart was the last step of killing it, then it was cut into slices with the rind still attached. This method meant that usually the only time watermelon wasn’t wasted was when there were enough people around to eat the whole thing at one sitting.
We start by cutting off the stem end, then cut off the opposite end. This gives you a melon that is flat on the top and bottom, much easier to work with. This method works best with round watermelons. When you have a elongated melon, cut it in half to give you your first flat edge. The proceed the same as with a round melon. The idea here is to turn the melon into a cube.
Once you have cut off all the rinds you will have a cube. By cutting it in this way, you leave very little melon on the rind. You can scoop it out with a spoon or knife if you want, but it is that melon that is so close to the rind that it isn’t that tasty anyway. Not much waste, and what you waste isn’t the lower quality.
You can trim off the corners and it should leave you will rind-free watermelon. Now you can cut the length and the width, but don’t cut all the way to the bottom, leave the last half inch or inch in tact to hold it all together.
Now turn the melon over on one of the sides and now you can dice the melon into bite size cubes by cutting it across the slices you have already cut.
Eat what you want now, and throw the rest in a container with a lid that you can throw in the fridge. Now you always have a tasty and healthy snack just waiting in the fridge for you to eat a healthy option.
Put it at the front of the shelf on the fridge so you have to move past it to grab for something else that might be less healthy.
There you go, much less waste because it is easy to eat and you only need to take what you want at the time. Make sure you take the rind out to the compost pile. No sense wasting that, your garden will love it next year.