Archive | March 2014

Weeding Time Again

It’s that time again. Time for weeds to rear the unwelcome little heads and time to start digging them out of my lavender. There have been a couple of interesting developments since last year.  One is that the weed barrier that we laid down last year is really paying dividends.  Big ones.  Huge. Last year it took half an hour to an hour to weed out a row of lavender. This morning Fixer and I knocked out 14 rows in an hour. That doesn’t count pulling out all the unwelcome unpleasantness between the rows, but Fixer made short work of those with the tiller, so things are looking pretty good out there. We still have about 10 rows from last year that need to be papered, so that’s the plan for tomorrow.

We’re planning to switch from 2 foot wide barrier to 4 foot wide barrier so we can avoid tilling between the rows altogether. The idea is that we will be able to leave it for 2-3 years and it should kill any remaining weeds and seeds.  Also under consideration is planting the rows between with grass, purely for aesthetics.

Fixer also tilled up last year’s garden plot today, which is where we will plant all of our tomatoes for this year.  Last year we had the whole vegetable garden there, but we got a little crowded, so we’re moving the rest of the veggies out behind the shop, where there’s room to spread out.  Again, driven by weed control.  I’ve been reading up on intensive gardening, which will conserve space and help control weeds, but I’ve just not had the time to complete my research.

One other interesting finding from last year is how many of the weeds on our property aren’t really weeds. More like beneficials gone wrong.  Three examples: shepherd’s purse, purslane and dandelion. (I know, right?)

Shepherd’s purse is a medicinal herb that can be used as a styptic and antihemorraghic both from the inside and the outside. You can check out more information here. I’ve not tried it out yet, but as often as Fixer cuts himself, it can’t be long before we have a chance to try it out.

From Wikipedia

From Wikipedia

Purslane is a constant irritation because it’s like the Hydra. Cut it in half and you end up with two plants. God help you if you don’t pull it all out. Turns out it’s an edible green.  I bet if we were trying to cultivate it for eating, we’d have less prolific plants. Ain’t that always the way? You can find recipes here.

And dandelion.  Ah dandelion. I’ve learned lot about dandelion this year.  Under cultivation, it just looks so wrong.  All these years of trying to eradicate them from our lawn, only to discover that it’s useable as a salad green, a soap colorant, and a medicinal herb both from the leaf and root.  Who knew? You can find more information here and here.

Check out some herbal books from your local library or bookstore and see what’s growing in your yard.  What unexpected edibles are in your yard?

Friday was also a big soaping day. I’ve been on the road quite a bit the last couple of weeks which slowed me down a bit.  Here’s a couple of photos of what’s coming soon to our Etsy shop.   Cranberry figCucumber MelonUnnamedWhite tea and amber

These were my first purposeful attempt at drop swirls and I’m pretty pleased with them.  What do you think?


Dear March

This morning, my friend Kate said. “Dear March, December called and she wants her snow back.” I laughed and laughed and then I thought, you know, she’s right.  It hasn’t been a very seasonally usual winter around here. Not much real snow until here lately and now it’s not hanging around, it’s just making things miserable. Planting time is coming on, so I’d really like to see the last of this kind of weather. How about those lovely May showers? Can we get some of those?

Fixer is working on his seed starts and garden planning. Since the tomatoes did so well last summer in the established garden patch by the house, we’re going to leave them right there and plant a few more rows. I didn’t realize how much tomato sauce and diced tomatoes we use in a year, so it seems like every year we plant more and can more.  I’ve been reduced to rationing the tomato sauce from last summer because there’s no way we’re going to make it until July for the new crop. One mistake I made last year was not considering harvest times. I ended up heavy on the late season Black Prince tomatoes so I had green tomatoes on the vine still when the weather turned. It was OK in the end when I found a fantastic green tomato chutney recipe, but still seemed a bit of a waste.  So this year, I’ll be looking for some earlier season varieties too. The Black Prince was a Russian heirloom variety, so it was supposed to do better in cooler weather and was a crazy streaky green/pink/gray-black.  It looked cool, tasted good and had the odd effect of turning tomato sauce a little grayish. I might do it again just to stretch out the growing season again.  More on gardening later.

If you want to read more about the real deal of producing almost all of what you eat, check out this blog, Matron of Husbandry. I really enjoy it. Photos, occasional recipes, lots of discussion about seasonal chores on a homestead.  I find it fascinating and I hope you will too.

In other news, there are some new business opportunities brewing for Bucklepenny. We’re investigating a chance to have a booth at my very first flea market. It’s going to be a one day affair, but it could be the start of something big. I’m pretty excited. It’s a juried event, so I’m waiting to hear back from the jury about weather I’ll be accepted or not.  I’ll post more information when I have it.

We’re working on more products, so check out the Etsy shop regularly to see what’s new.  We are also in discussions about placing our products in another shop. I’ll post a link when we’ve settled details.

New offeringsWe’ll be posting a line of natural soaps, which means that they won’t have cosmetic micas or the nifty fragrance oils, but they will be colored with natural botanicals and scented with essential oils.   Also our tea cup candles made with soy wax and hemp wicks, and soap dish gift sets.  I’ve also got a couple of other products in development.  If you have any special requests you’d like to see me offer, please email me at I’m always glad to try something new and different.