After several grave posts it seems an upbeat update, some good news and great resources are in order. So, I will for a moment ignore that it’s still sweltering here and in the 90s with no decent rain for far too many weeks.
Normally we’d have flourishing fall crops by now, but many are struggling with the daytime heat. Two decorative/medicinal favorites that keep my spirits up with their beauty and endurance when so much is brown or perished are Datura and Castor Bean.
Datura Inoxia at dusk emits a sensual lemony fragrance
These old timers are highly under-rated in the garden, in my opinion. They are useful, rugged and gorgeous and so misunderstood in our modern culture as science labels them “poisonous” and horticulturists scare folks away from them simply because if your pets or children eat a handful of their seeds they’ll most likely vomit. Should they choke down entire sections of these plants, they could die.
Interestingly, there are very few documented cases of such stupidity. Our chickens scratch and peck all around under these plants and don’t get sick. And our Great Dane-Mastiff loves to sniff the just opened flowers at dusk, as do I, and our bees!
The bees also enjoy the arugula blossoms, which is another favorite heat-loving plant and my favorite lettuce. I have a great many books on plants, but two favs are: The Herbal Lore of Wise Women and Wortcunners by Wolf D. Storl and Witchcraft Medicine: Healing Arts, Shamanic Practices, and Forbidden Plants by Claudia Muller-Eberling, Christian Ratsch, and Wolf-Dieter Storl.
Speaking of our bees, the feral hive that was relocated from an old steel drum in the spring is still hanging in there. After some concern for their slow growth I was able to locate the queen. My first queen-spotting–it was a proud moment–it’s pretty tricky for us newbees!
Feral hive relocated to our top bar hives
I’ve been experimenting with companion planting and it’s true, carrots really do love tomatoes and roses do love garlic. Not all of the companions or incompatibles from these books have proven correct for me, but those two definitely do. Roses Love Garlic and Carrots Love Tomatoes by Louise Riotte.
New favorite dish: duck confit–duck legs and thighs slow-cooked while submerged in duck fat, then fried in the fat before serving. For all those who might be thinking this sounds like a cholesterol nightmare, I say, don’t knock it until you read the research of The Weston A. Price Foundation.
Duck confit in the works–so delish!
Best resource this year: The Art of Natural Cheesemaking: Using Traditonal, Non-Industrial Methods and Raw Ingredients to Make the World’s Best Cheeses by David Asher. A shout out to the fantastic website Little Green Cheese for introducing me to it, it has absolutely been an eye-opener. I’ve been making cheese for a couple years now, and this is the book I should’ve read from day one.
This, in my humble opinion, is the way cheese was meant to be made. Most of the recipes use kefir, who knew, kefir as a cheese culture! Clabber cheese has become a new standby, which is really ironic, because it was a staple for so many of our ancestors. It’s basically raw milk spoiling on the counter-top.
Handy Hubby had to taste it to alleviate his automatic doubt and skeptical disgust. I learned a new expression from the famed Michael Pollan in his fascinating new series Cooked! He calls the miracle of cultures and molds and so forth,“The erotics of disgust.”
Unfortunately, for most folks’ health, their disgust-threshold is disastrously low.
By the way, the Clabber cheese got the thumbs up from Handy Hubby! 🙂
Another by the way, the above rose is La Duchesse de Brabant, another fav who fares well in the heat.