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Home Gardens Musings Personal Sustainability: How-To Recipes Uncategorized

Feasting on Herbs and Flowers

spring-herbs2

This is my favorite time of year to include a big handful of herbs and flowers in every meal.  Herbs have fully leafed out and are starting to grow tender new leaves.  The flowers in bloom are ever evolving, and you’d be surprised to learn how many of them are edible.  While we’re waiting for our first peas, beans, cucumbers, and carrots, I love highlighting the wonderful flavors of backyard and garden herbs and flowers.

tea-flowers

Make tea: Both herbs and flowers make wonderful tea.  Standard flavors like chamomile and mint are easy to grow in your garden and are best harvested at this time of year.  Other familiar blooms and leaves also make great tea!  Try red clover, stinging nettle, sage, rosemary, raspberry leaf, lemon balm, catnip, or rose petals.  Spices from your kitchen like ginger, cardamom, and cinnamon make great additions to tea blends.  Want to dig deeper?  Get a book or look online to learn the healing properties of your favorite herbs and flowers.

fresh-herb-tea

spring-herbs1

Make Herb Pesto, Dip, Sauce, or Dressing: I’m always surprised by how big a bundle of pungent herbs can be used to made a small dish of delicious “pesto.”  Try blending the herbs in your garden with sprouted sunflower seeds, olive oil,  parmesan, and lemon juice for a delicious pesto.  Add a small amount of chicken broth or coconut milk for a wonderful sauce to top your meals.  Add more oil and vinegar, and perhaps some plain yogurt, mustard, and garlic to make a delicious green dressing.  As a bonus, herbs are packed with nutrients and a variety of healing properties.

herb-pesto

Garnish Generously: Flower petals and finely chopped herbs made delicious and beautiful garnishes for meals and toppings for salads.  If you don’t have many choices in your garden, wander into your yard (make sure there are no pesticides or pet waste!) or nearby fields.  Dandelion greens and petals, clover petals, violets, wood sorrel leaves, purslane, chick weed and lambs quarters are all nutrient-packed wild leaves, “weeds,” and flowers that are plentiful and tasty.

may-salad-ingredients

may-salad

 

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Children and Nature School Gardens

Spring Projects with Kids

It’s still pretty white around here.  With warming temperatures come the wet and muddy conditions that define Vermont’s mud season.  Here are some things we’re doing to remind us that the flowers and fresh green leaves of spring will be coming soon:

making-paper-flowers

signs-of-springTissue Paper Flowers: I followed the basic instructions found here, simplifying it by instructing the kids to use just four pieces of tissue paper.  They came out great and could be made by our wide range of students!

Make a Signs of Spring List: Post a large piece of paper in your classroom or at home.  When you play outside, keep an eye out for signs that spring is on it’s way!

Forcing Spring Branches: All you need to do is clip branches and put them in a vase filled with fresh water.  Change water regularly, as you would for cut flowers.  Blooming branches, like forsythia, are great for forcing.  At indoor temperatures, your branches’ buds will open into new leaves and flowers.  We clip the bright red branches of dogwood now for a beautiful table arrangement at Easter.

starting-pea-seedsStart Seeds: Even if you don’t have a garden, starting seeds can be a fun spring activity.  All you need is a container with a hole poked in the bottom, potting soil, seeds of your choice, and some sort of dish for your container to sit in.  Grow lights or windows with strong southern sun will make for stronger seedlings that will do better if transplanted into your garden.  Plants like peas, lettuce, spinach, and herbs can be eaten as sprouts or “micro greens,” making this project rewarding in as little as 30 days!

mud-playPlay in the Mud: Yes, the extra laundry is worth it.  All sorts of learning, experimentation, engineering, and play can happen in the mud. We’re still wearing our winter outdoor clothes up here in Vermont.  As temperatures rise, rain pants, rain boots, and rain coats will help keep indoor clothes clean and dry.  Hosing everyone off before coming inside can help keep that mud outside.

Happy Spring!

paper-flowers

Categories
Home Gardens

Summer’s Edible Flowers

Eating flowers is fun!  For adults, garnishing meals with flowers and petals really makes the food seem more special.  For kids,  experiencing edible flowers is a great way to use all five senses, encourages taste testing and trying new flavors, and can seem thrilling in a very controlled sort of way.  I love watching emotions ebb and flow through a tentative six year old gearing up to put a flower in his mouth and taste it.  It really can be quite memorable!  Check out the variety of edible flowers blooming in my garden right now:

Edible-flowers

 

Love edible flowers?  Check out my past posts on Spring’s Edible Flowers and Preserving Edible Flowers.

Categories
Musings

Early Signs of Spring

On Groundhog Day, February 2, 2012, I noticed Iris leaves poking up into the air, swelling of the buds of some street trees, and blooming Snow Drops scattered across a yard I passed as I returned to my apartment from a morning jog.  We can’t possibly have a long winter, right?

Unfortunately, it took me almost a month to get outside to actually photograph early signs of spring in my neighborhood.  But it is still February.  And I  am still constantly surprised by the things I see plants doing in front yards across the city.

My delay did allow me to take advantage to a predictable change we all appreciate at the end of February: I can go on a walk after five and still enjoy some daylight!  Dusk quickly approached, making it hard to take well focused photos.  As the subject is time sensitive, I’m posting them anyway!  What unusually early signs of spring have you noticed?

Snowdrops
An over-wintered Pansy flowering!
Budding illuminated by the sunset
Crocuses
Summer Street sunset
The biggest surprise: Vinca/Myrtle blooming? Doesn't this normally happen in the summer?