Toad's Permaculture

Poll: What’s your favorite season

Nature Adventure May 2021

Random flowers May 2021

Roses: April 2021

Pictures To Make You Feel Like You’re In A Forest April 2021

Beautiful Flowers around my house: only some of them though

Studying: Reproductive Morphology-> fruit

First, let’s start with

Fruit Parts

  • Carpel- the single member of a compound pistil
  • Carpel wall- the portion of the ovary that surrounds the locale
    • Locule- the chamber within the ovary that contains the seeds
    • Endocarp- the part of the carpel wall that encloses the locule
      • Endo=inner
    • Mesocarp- the portion of the carpel wall that is between the endocarp and exocarp
      • This is the middle portion and is fleshy.
      • Meso=middle
    • Exocarp- the outermost layer of the carpel wall
      • Exo=outside

Fruit types

  • Dry- a fruit that lacks moisture at maturity
    • Example: nuts
    • Dehiscent- a fruit that opens to release seeds once they are fully mature on their own.
      • For example: walnuts and pecans
      • Follicle- opens along one suture or seem
        • Example: milkweed
      • Legume- opens along two sutures
        • Example: peanuts and snap peas
      • Silique- opens along two sutures but the septum remains
        • For example: oleander
      • Capsule- opens along three or more sutures
        • For example: crape Myrtle
        • Locucidal- sutures forms within the locule
        • Septacidal- a structure forms along the septum
        • Porocidal- forms as pores at the top of each locule
    • Indehiscent- a fruit that does not open to release the seed on it’s own and requires help.
      • For example: sunflower
      • Achene- one sided pericarp
        • For example: sunflower
        • Samara- winged achene
        • For example: maple trees and ash trees
      • Nut- one sided fruit, entire pericarp is stony
        • For example: acorn
  • Fleshy- a fruit that contains moisture at maturity
    • Berry- entire pericarp is fleshy
      • Multiple seeds in flesh
      • For example: bananas, papayas and blue berries
    • Drupe- endocarp is stony
      • Has pits
      • For example: peaches, plums and prunes
    • Hesperidium- exocarp is leathery
      • Exclusively citrus
      • For example: mandarins, oranges, lemons and limes
    • Accessory Fruits- are fruits forked from structures other than the ovary
      • Pepo- fruit is formed by joining of the ovary with the epidermis
        • For example: gourds, cucumbers, watermelons, melons and cantaloupe
      • Pome- fruit formed from the fusion of the ovary with the hypanthium
        • For example: apple
        • Pomme means Apple in french
    • Aggregate fruits- fruits that formed from the fusion of multiple pistils within a single flower
      • For example: blackberries and raspberries
    • Multiple fruits- fruits formed from the fusion of an inflorescence
      • Cluster of flowers
      • For example: pineapple

Well here we go. Noting until class starts… I’m going to keep going.

Until next time

Studying: Reproductive Morphology-> Flower Parts

So first we should know that reproductive morphology is talking about what it takes to sexually reproduce. This includes the flowers, fruits and seeds.

Right now we’re strictly talking about the flower parts

Pedicel- the stem that supports a single flower

Receptacle- the tip of the pedicel. This is where all floral whorls will originate.

Steril whorls

  • Sepals- the outer whorl of the flower. It’s job is to protect the developing bud of the flower and is usually green and leaf like.
    • Calyx- the sepals collectively
  • Petals- the whorl of the flower, they’re usually colorful
    • Corolla- the petals collectively
  • Perianth- the Calyx and Corolla collectively
  • Tepals- sepals and petals that are similar is appearance

Fertile Whorls

  • Stamen- the pollen producing structure of the flower. This part consists of an anther and a filament.
    • Filament- a slender stem-like structure that supports the anther
    • Anther- the organ that produces pollen
  • Androecium- the stamen collectively
  • Pistil- the ovulr producing structure of the flower, consists of a stigma, style and ovary
    • Stigma- the flattened portion of the pistil where the pollen grain is received
    • Style- the portion of the pistil that connects the stigma to the ovary
  • Ovary- the enlarged portion of the pistil where ovules are produced. This will mature into a fruit if pollinated.
  • Carpel- a single segment of the pistil that contains a stigma, style and ovary

Gynoecium- the pistils collectively

Superior ovary- a flower with an ovary positioned above the sepals. For example: an artichoke

Inferior ovary- a flower with an ovary positioned below the sepals. For example: a rose

Flower shapes

Most flowers can be described as having flowers with gamopetalous corollas.

  • Polypetalous- petals are separate and not connected
  • Gamopetalous- petals are fused
    • Examples: morning glory and balloon flower
  • Actinomorphic- several lines of symmetry
  • Zygomorphic- has only one line of symmetry
    • Example: snap dragons and pansies
  • Irregular- no lines of symmetry
    • Example: Canna
  • Rotate- wheel shaped
    • Circular
    • Example: cherry blossom
  • Campanulate- bell shaped
  • Funnelform- trumpet shaped
  • Urceolate- urn shaped
    • Has a smaller opening than campanulate
  • Ligulate- strap shaped
    • Examples: aster family
  • Bilabiate- two lipped
  • Papilionaceous- butterfly shaped
    • Example: Orchid

Onward to the next part to study…

Studying: Leaf Parts

Yeah, that’s right. I am studying for finals still. You’re welcome. Enjoy the cool pictures with the vocabulary.

Leaf parts

  • Blade (Lamina)- the flattened part of the leaf
  • Petiole- the stalk supporting the blade
  • Stipules- parts located at the base of a leaf that joins them stem

Arrangement or Phyllotaxy of the leaf

  • Alternate- one leaf per node
  • Opposite- two leaves per node
  • Whorled- more than two leaves per node

Composition of the leaf

  • Simple- blade has one segment
  • Compound- blade is divided and has more than one segment
  • Leaflets- separate segments of a compound leaf
  • Pinnately Compound- leaflets that are along a primary rachis
  • Bipinnately Compound- leaflets that have been divided twice
  • Tripinnately Compound- leaflets that have been divided three times
  • Palmately Compound- leaflets radiate from a central point

Shape of the Leaf

  • Elliptic- leaf blade is widest in the middle
    • Football shaped
  • Ovate- the leaf is widest at or near the base
    • Egg shaped
  • Lanceolate- leaf is several times longer than wide but is widest near it’s base
    • Lance shaped
  • Obovate- leaf blade is widest near the apex
    • Reverse egg shape

Margin

  • The Margin is the side of the leaf
    • Entire- smooth margin on the leaf
    • Dentate- toothed margin on the leaf
    • Serrate- saw toothed

Apex

  • Acute- apex is from the straight sides
  • Acuminate- base is formed from concave-ly curved sides
  • Obtuse- with a rounded apex

Base

  • Acute- base is formed from straight sides
  • Acuminate- base is formed from concave-ly curved sides
  • Obtuse- rounded apex
  • Oblique- asymmetrical

Until next time

Studying: Stems

Alright so these are vocabulary terms I have to learn for my final.

Stolon- an above ground horizontal stem

Rhizome- a below ground horizontal stem

Trendil- a twining stem

Node- the swollen portion of a stem associated with buds

Internode- the portion of the stem between the nodes

Lenticel- spongy area in the cork surfaces of stems

Terminal bud- bud found at the end of a branch or stem

Lateral bud- a bud found along the side of a branch or stem

Woooo. I have got to start using these terms more when referring to things so that I sound better educated.

Random pictures: April 2021

Update: Blackberries April 2021 Part 2

By Melinda Hatfield

They have begun to flower. I know it is a process but I do enjoy waiting for these beasties to produce. I am excited to see them come into bloom and see what kind of taste they have.

I have no idea what kind of thornless blackberries these are. They were unlabeled excess that I purchased last year in bulk. It was a decent deal for the amount that I purchased.

By Melinda Hatfield

This is the first year they have been able to properly fruit and I am excited to see the outcome. I did not trellis my blackberries. Most of them stand upright on their own other hover over the ground.

I wanted to see what they would do naturally. So far the results aren’t awful and it seems they are producing flowers with little to no maintenance.

By Melinda Hatfield

I didn’t realize how many shoots come off the floracane. Not that it matters but in the picture below you’ll see the prima canes starting at the base of the plant. Last year I clipped half back mid summer and it seemed to have caused more side shoots.

I did notice that I have less growth when I don’t cut the tips but they are better at standing upright without the additional pressure and weight of the new shoots.

By Melinda Hatfield

So I bought these black berries in bulk because they were out of growing season and they didn’t have tags. Nameless babies but I am sure they will be delicious.

Some of the bushes have white flowers and some have pink ones. I must say that this makes me curious if they taste different. All I know is that they make it fun and diverse.

By Melinda Hatfield

I cannot wait to see what our first true harvest will look like.

I hope that our blackberries spread (like people have said they will) so that I can uproot and plant more berry patches. I really enjoy blackberries as a fruit. It’s too bad they do not have the shelf life to be sold in most box stores.

By Melinda Hatfield

Above is our only thorny blackberry bush that made it. We have some white blackberries but their roots were not established enough and they were very young plants and were taken out by the winter storm.

Lesson learned. Until next time…

Grapes: Mid April 2021

So, we had these winds that came through and really wrecked my name tags. Some tags stayed put while other are Gone With The Wind.

Pun intended.

So now I gave to find a way to…

  • Figure out what kind of grapes they are because I only know the names of 3 by heart and I can only tell them apart by their fruit.
  • Find a way to label my plants without losing my tags. Unfortunately, I am not good enough just yet to have them all in my brain. Working on it though.
  • Re-tie some of the vines so that they can start to hook properly on their trellis systems.

Some are doing better than others, that is for sure. I know that the muscadines are coming in second to last but I have know idea which muscadines are which because I have many different kinds.

It frustrates me but things happen. At least my grapes are starting to flower. I hope to get a couple of pounds of grapes this year. Who knows, the grasshoppers have already shown their willingness to mess with my crops.

Until next time with more updates…

Stout Creek Farms: An exciting new adventure

I am super excited. I went to Stout Creek Farms and it was amazing. First, let me explain: it was for a job interview. I know, but remember although I do dye shirts as a side business- I have a to have a day job and this is a hobby blog. So now that that is settled… I am excited to do what I love and learn more about the world. Not the world that we know with cell phones and gadgets but the world we live in with life, plants and animals.

When I started this journey I never imagined that I would be able to see so many cool things and learn so much. The people at Stout Farms are serious about regenerative agriculture. They want to put carbon back into the soil, ethically raise livestock, and just leave the world a better place. They are amazing people and this is amazing work they are doing. Being here this week, even though it wasn’t for very long (so far), has been inspirational.

Me, I’m slightly different in my approach and end game goals: I want to live in a jungle. Doing right by the planet is a perk, but I want to live in a jungle and teach people how to create their own jungles. You know so we can hide away in our own forests and listen to the world.

I want people to learn that they can create a jungle they can eat and how easy it is to be in control of the food you eat and how to be food secure in their own back yard. Imagine if people invested in putting money into growing trees and shrubs that are edible- a surplus of food can only be beneficial to the world and to people, to the community and would leave things better than they were.

They are amazing people who do amazing work, and it was very cool and I am excited about this new adventure.

A lot of information was thrown at me. I’m not going to lie, I knew a lot but I also didn’t know a lot. They are self informed individuals who love what they do and have obtained crazy amounts of research. The only animal I am personally considering on my own homestead/food forest is ducks and possibly chickens, but now that I see it I am leaning more towards ducks. Hanging out here might change my mind, but who knows what the universe has in store for me. All I know is working here for the little time I have has caused me to really think about my own habits and lifestyle.

They have a super professional website that does not do them justice- they have so much going on at their farm. They are putting it back into the soil- carbon that is- and ethically raising livestock. I helped them move cows and sheep and feed the chickens- I know I can learn so much here and I cannot wait.

I enjoy the work, it is full of adventures and there is something new every single day.

They move the sheep and cows and chickens from plot to plot in order to fertilize the ground and create fresh grazing areas for their animals. Their animals seem so happy (and vocal- they know when it is time to move and are excitedly waiting) and they have donkeys to guard their livestock and they have working dogs. I am not sure I got a picture of those but it was cool to see them in action.

I am excited that I will be going back to this farm daily. It is amazingly beautiful and I am excited.

Things that I want think would be amazing:

  • Starting a large berry patch, but first I have to figure out which ones would do best in this soil. I have to get together and start planning with the team to figure out where and how- which berries and which spots of land.
  • Starting an apple orchard, like a real one not like this patch work backyard orchard I am starting. One that has been planned to perfectly work with nature but also produce delicious organic fruit.
    • Along with this I want to experiment with multiple grafts on apple trees to see if we can get the trees to produce all season long.
    • For example: we would put one early fruiting one, one middle fruiting on another, a early summer fruit producer and a late summer fruit producer.
    • Also, I think that apples are one of the most diverse fruits. They can make flour, sauce, they go good in meals, as a snack, in pies… if you can’t tell- I’m a fan.
  • Peach trees are always a fan favorite and I think it would be really cool to do a similar grafting scheme but with 3 cultivars on each instead, at least until the trees are older.
    • Peaches do really well in East Texas and it would be amazing to really show off how amazing peaches can be.
  • Plums are a popular tree to grow in Texas as well, although I am not a fan many people love them. I know they do well but like peaches they do not self pollinated (but with all fruit trees having different kinds helps with pollination)
    • My kids love plums and there are many varieties that do well in our area and they are a primary fruit export in Texas- like peaches- which I thought was amazing.
  • Grape vines. I want to make their drive green with grapes. There are thousands of types of grapes- what if we just grew them all.
    • Let’s say we plant six of the same kind year one. Year two we are going to plant a new kind or maybe two new kind. As the years progress we can always go back to our favorites, but wouldn’t that be neat?
    • Then not only would we be producing grapes but we could also be a learning center for:
      • The 4H, viticulture enthusiasts, horticulture majors, agriculture majors… and on and on.
      • Schools could have field trips where the kids take a tour of the vineyard and find out how grapes are produced and how easy it is to plant something cool. This can apply to anything we are growing.
      • Grapes are amazingly hardy for our zone and there are hundreds of grape varieties. Not all grapes are the same and they bush out to be absolutely beautiful in the summer.
  • Vegetable garden- I want to be a master gardener now. I have got to get in contact with the local ag extension office and see who to contact. Growing a vegetable garden is going to be one of the most rewarding things. We have multiple growing seasons in Texas and we can rotate crops of pasture.
    • Working here (mind you it has only been a day and all I did was clean up half of their beds that already exist) has made me see the potential and they are doing amazing things regeneratively from the soil to compost.
      • I am going to make lots of compost and see how we can find better ways to grow vegetables in our zone and potentially encourage others to do the same thing.
      • I already started propagating plants. I am just too excited.
    • They are very interested in farm to fork and that would be amazing. Imagine making your own meals from Apple flour bread as an appetizer with a garlic goat butter glaze over top. Followed by meat that is 100% organic on the farm, grape juice made on the farm, apple cider during the winter, bond fire nights where you tell scary stories and eat berries by the fire.
    • I’m just one big run on, rambling but it would be so exciting to see people enjoy the fruits and vegetables that are growing by you.
  • The Stout Farm could use some wild flower diversity and I would love to find out the right mix that would not only benefit the soil but add additional nutrition to the animals. I am sure the information is out there. I just have to find it.
    • They have done their research but I absolutely adore Indian paintbrushes and other diverse native wildflowers. Possibly throwing out some seeds in order to encourage growth.
  • Making the ultimate plant fertilizer. They have so much poop, I know that with the right mixture I can create the perfect fertilizer for these plants.
    • I finally figured out what I am going to do with their machine. I am going to create compost with their poop and with what they already have I am going to create mounds.
    • I have to remember Drip irrigation similar to what I have because it is easy to check and replace lines if necessary and I have had none of those shenanigans in a year- but also because it is ran on a timer. And my timer has been neglected because I just leave it out in the elements. Since this is professional I’ll definitely suggest some sort of cover. We can’t all live like heathens.
  • So many projects run through my head but we have to start with some trees and we need to drive around together and find out what they want to do and where.
  • Oh and don’t let me forget: morel mushrooms. We have got to start growing those naturally in the wooded areas that aren’t being utilized. We want to encourage mushrooms to grow in order to help breakdown organic matter but also because they are delicious fried in butter and crackers and served as an appetizer.

Not going to lie… my imagination went wild when I found I had the job. I immediately thought- drip irrigation, but I should ask. So now I am looking forward to taking my current knowledge of blackberries to start a patch- that will be fun and I can’t wait.

One step at a time: current beds, garden up front, orchard and berry patch planning… I am just going crazy staying up all night looking into fun things. I cannot wait until finals are over so that I can focus more. Two more weeks and I can fully devote my time to really establishing the foundation for their own magical regenerative forest. (Also I want to take a class on Native American agricultural techniques. How do I make that happen?) So many things I want to do now and you know what? I can’t wait.

I just want to contribute to making the world a better place and yes, I do things that aren’t planet friendly sometimes- why shouldn’t we make the world a better place? This is where I think I should be. The universe is calling me to a place where I can experience all of my allergies while doing what I love.

Stay tuned because they have an amazing set up where I have access to all of the compost I could desire and there is no stopping me now. I cannot wait. This place is really something and I cannot wait to learn as much as I can from this amazing regenerative farm.

Also they have ducks. I should have mentioned them. Regardless, I am excited to embark on this journey. Please remember that every big dream has someone who is in control and this is their regenerative kingdom and I am at their mercy truly, but I think my ideas are okay and could always use improvement.

Until next time…

Curry

Curry plant or Helichrysum italicum is a member of the daisy family. They will eventually turn into a cute little bushy shrub and I cannot wait. Although they smell like curry powder they are not like curry.

This plant does have medicinal properties, although when I bought it I’m not going to lie- I instantly thought about the spice curry. The medicinal properties are: anticoagulant, anti-inflammatory, moisturizer, fungicidal astringent, antibacterial and antiseptic. That’s a lot but that’s what amazed me.

This is not the only things that this is good for. No, that’s not all. It is also good for fevers, burned skin, healing wounds, internal bleeding and coughing. That’s just from the oil.

The flowers allegedly go well in herbal tea. This is also useful as a culinary herb and seems to go paired well with almost any type of dish. I am actually pretty excited knowing that there are so many uses for this herb. I am slightly disappointed that I can’t just throw it in a pot and boom curry, but that was wishful thinking anyway.

They flower from June to September but can be harvested year round and are a perennial. The taste is allegedly bitter and I cannot wait to find that out myself.

The curry spice is a mixture of different spices but this is a plant and allegedly can taste pretty intense. Excessive curry consumption should be avoided because it could cause stomach problems.

Not going to lie when I hear ‘excessive’ curry use, I think that maybe someone ate two spoon fulls of curry every day and it caused issues but they don’t explain further. So, the world may never know.

The leaves loose a lot of their aroma after flowering but is best known for it’s medicinal uses. Some sites even mention that it assists with stress and mild depression, I don’t know if I would use that as a fact though. Who knows what will help someone who is depressed, and I can’t contribute a recovery or even an improvement to one singular herb even if it does have symptom relieving properties.

Some fun facts about curry:

  • This plant is primarily used in perfumes. I had no idea that this plant was widely used in perfumes, but it is.
  • This plant is technically not a shrub but a subshrub and it doesn’t get more than two feet tall. I mean, sure I’m trying to break records but you know how it is.
  • This isn’t typically something you find in a grocery store
  • Again another one that is drought tolerant and requires little to no care or watering
  • A natural pest repellent
  • Deer resistant

I am really excited about this plant and can’t wait until I find more herbs to share with everyone.

Until Next time!

Snapdragons

Snapdragons or dragon flowers are also known as Antirrhinum are medicinal plants. They are beautiful and they do attract butterflies and other beneficial pollinators, but they are so much more. I didn’t really see them as anything more than an annual until the snow storm that shook Texas- my snapdragons survived. I was shocked.

Never in a million years did I think that these beautiful flowers would have survived but they started popping up. It made me realize that I wanted to plant more. When I originally bought the first snap dragons on sale I didn’t think about if it had any medicinal uses. I only thought about how beautiful the blooms of the flower are.

The leaves and flowers are said to have anti-inflammatory properties and has been used on wounds. I am amazed that this beautiful flower can also be so beneficial. It also adds a certain amount of beautiful color that draws in butterflies and other pollinators. I am really happy because I feel as though I have seen more active pollinators since I have added these flowers than any other. It may be because my more fragrant plants attract the pollinators and they swoop in to show them they light at the end of the tunnel. I have no idea, but I do know that snapdragons have positively impacted my landscape.

Snapdragons bloom in spring and in the fall. They are a lovely addition to any garden, border or container. I saw pictures in my research where they were growing out of brick walls. That makes me hopeful that I won’t kill these beautiful flowering plants. I really want to keep them.

They do not deter deer or rabbits but they aren’t their favorite food either. Snapdragons are just all around an amazing color fixture in gardens and I appreciate what they will add to our food forest. I don’t know how long we’ll be able to keep them in full sun and it was mentioned that they bloom better the first year and then it slowly becomes fewer and fewer. This is a short lived perennial and I don’t expect that any single plant will last longer than three to four years.

After that we will be relying on the plants to naturally reseed.

I wish I had more information for everyone, but I don’t. I do enjoy planting things and I enjoy plantings things that are beneficial, have amazing color and are hardy to my area. I cannot wait to see what the plant does to the scenery of our property.

Until next time

Tricolor sage

Tri Color Sage is good for growing outside in zones 6 to 9. This is excellent because that is what my other sage is like and it has grown into a monster. I am hoping that these sage plants will do the same. In fact, I confess that the only reason I got many different types of sage is because…

  • My current sage is doing phenomenal. Literally it’s getting much bigger than I anticipated. Sage seems to do very well in zone 8a and that is what I am looking for. The reason that I placed it in between the trees that I did is because I hope that it will continue to bush out like the regular sage and if it does- I’m ready and excited.
  • I enjoy cooking with sage and although the articles tell me that they taste pretty much the same- I’ll be the judge of that. People said that the different kind of basils didn’t have much of a flavor different but that isn’t true with basils or mints. I just don’t understand how it would be that way with sages. Ignore the fact that they’re the same latin name just with ‘Tricolor’ slapped on the end. Salvia officinalis ‘Tricolor’
  • This herb is drought tolerant. If I can get it established I believe that I will eventually be able to leave this herb to natural growth instead of having to water it regularly. That is my end game goal.
  • They smell amazing. Some people don’t think so but I disagree. If I put a lot of fragrant plants around my trees I figure I will draw in pollinators.

This plant can grow in anything. Drought and heat tolerant, which goes well with our Texas heat. I want to know if the purple leaves taste differently than the green leaves. I want to know if this plant will have large leaves like my normal average garden sage plant. I can’t wait until this herb has grown big and out because it’s not just a fantastic herb but also attracts hummingbirds, butterflies and other positive pollinators.

Something I have learned in my economic entomology class that by attracting positive pollinators they will naturally take care of other not so fun insects that I am not friends with. Attracting birds might seem like a bad idea, but they are amazing pollinators and control insects naturally. I am hoping that by planting more sage and an abundance of food plants that I will end up with an abundance of fruit.

I am not sure how this will work, but I have realized that there seems to be more than enough around that the birds haven’t bothered our strawberries yet. We’re waiting for that.

Tri Color Sage, like many other sages, is deer resistant. A lot of people look for that in plants. When I realize that I am planting so many plants that don’t attract deer I know that I have to plant other plants- just in case a deer does happen upon my forest I don’t want them to be the only animal not eat.

Now, after doing some research I have read that this sage is not quite as hardy as it’s close relative. It still states the same things but seems to require at least four hours of direct sunlight a day. If it fails to meet it’s natural sunshine requirements then Tri Color Sage seems to droop and die. I don’t think that will be a problem here, but who knows you might want to look into a new way to do it.

Remember that sage is a perennial, evergreen herb that grows in our zone. I don’t think that it will have any trouble as long as it gets adequate sunlight.

Sage is well known for warding off evil and Tri Color is no different. Some medical research suggests that sage can be beneficial for memory, which sounds good to me. Back in the olden times they used to use it for snake bites. I’m not saying use it for snake bites, I’m just saying the history of sage is really amazing and you should personally look into it.

I planted more of these than the others because I think they are prettier. I also found that most of the information out there is a duplication. The facts are regurgitated from one source to another. One post says that sage does not attract ants, in fact it deters them. I hope to find out that this is a scientific fact.

This plant has high amounts of vitamin C and vitamin A. Tri Color Sage, like all sages, are great for digestion, have an astringent quality about them and are also anti-septic. That is more than enough reason to add it, but I can’t help thinking about how it allegedly deters ants. That sounds amazing because up until I went to college I was spending close to two thousand dollars a year spraying for ants.

Planting things that deter insects that I don’t like will save me a pretty penny. If it proves that it is working I’ll surely let you know. I know that keeping ants at bay is important for any farmer and not just those of us who are really into permaculture.

Tri-Color Sage is also rabbit resistant.

That’s right. We have rabbits around here, but they haven’t become a problem. It’s nice to know that this plant will not be a victim to rabbits or other predators. I’ll have to plant some hostas for the deer and rabbits near the back of the property. I do want to attract them, I just don’t want them near my other plants. That’s why we plant things like this. In fact, I’ve come to find that many of our herbs are resistant to these animals.

I am not sure yet but I am eager to find out.

All in all I am very please adding this to our forest and I can’t wait to continue to propagate these lovely plants. I feel as though they are going to be littering my property in no time at all. They have lovely lavender flowers that bloom at the end of summer. In my zone they are perennials, but in other zones they are planted as annuals.

These plants do well in containers as well as in gardens. They even do well in shallow soil or rock gardens, if that is something you’re into. Until next time…

Pineapple Mint

Pineapple mint come from Apple mint. It smells so good, I liked the first plant so much I bought more. Mentha sauveolens ‘Variegata’ is a creeping plant that spreads across the ground like cover. This mint can be taken over by green leaves and if it does is reverts back to apple mint. I plan on cutting off the apple mint sprouts and planting them in other places. I thought it was neat that this plant has the potential to be two different types of plants.

You see, pineapple mint is a variegation of apple mint. Which means that it should produce cream and green leaves, if there are sprouts of only green leaves coming from it there is a possibility that it can take over and you will be left with only apple mint. I quite like both so I plan on cutting off green off shoots and planting the apple mint elsewhere. I also enjoy the fact that it is a mint and that means it is easily propagated.

I enjoy that it is a perennial and being a mint is able to grow in our soil. Turns out, our soil is not as full of clay as I had originally thought. Mints do amazing in our soil and if I neglect to water them for a day or a week they seem to bounce right back. This mint does not smell as minty as the others. In fact, I’d go as far as to say it smells like a fruit punch.

The butterflies seem to love it and fly around the flowers that I have planted it around. I have caught many different butterflies all around it. I started this off with one and planted it in our fairy garden. It did so well that I quickly obtained around six to eight more plants. Other mints have grown very well in other parts of my property but I used these as fillers in between trees and berry bushes.

All in all this mint can be used for many things. From teas to potpourri, pineapple mint is a fruity addition to any mixture. Although it can be used culinarily I didn’t see any recipes that specifically called for pineapple mint outside of smoothies and cocktails- not that those might night encourage you to plant some along your garden walkway. That will not stop me from trying to use it as a culinary herb. The reason that people aren’t using it as a culinary herb is because the smell is lost in the cooking process.

They did mention that it makes a good oil and I hadn’t really thought about that. I know that hopefully next year there will be enough that I will be able to experiment a little bit and figure out what these delicious smelling herbs are good for. I truly like the idea of turning it into an oil.

Other articles have said that it can go well in salads, but I haven’t put a leaf in my mouth. I might, it smells good enough to eat. They say that I shouldn’t harvest this until May to October, and I cannot wait. It does make me a little sad that I have to wait a month, but I suppose I can wait until this plant has grown enough that it might survive my collection.

Some sites state that you must keep the soil moist, but I am not going to lie- I don’t always water on time, when I need to or when the plant would prefer. The plants have done just fine so far, who knows this might be a false plant happiness. It’s happened before, I thought it was doing well and the leaves perked up before they dropped and died.

I feel as though this will provide a lovely ground cover and where I planted it- It’s needed. I need these pineapple mint plants to spread like wildfire in between the trees and bushes in order to push back the grass development. As you can see we spread out a large batch of wildflowers each year and this year we have twice as many come back. We hope one day we won’t have to spread those seeds and that the mints that we have planted all over- not just this one.

Some articles claim that picking the leaves early in the morning is beneficial. The reason is because as the sun beams down on the leaves it changes the smell of the plant. The smells returns to it’s original glory the next day, but as the temperatures rise and the sun beams down it does cause the smell to stress out and not seem as potent.

They say that pineapple mint is good for sauces, fruit salads, and other dishes that require a pinch of sweetness.

I looked for recipes and found that pineapple mint goes well with chicken and lamb. There is some mention that it goes well as an added ingredient to a ham glaze, but most people talk about additions to mojitos or other alcoholic beverages. There are a few mentions of adding it to smoothies as well, but I am not exactly sure how that will work and how much pineapple mint will be required for one smoothie.

If you’re looking for something that is deer resistant and attracts pollinators, this mint is amazing. It can be grown in beds, pots and even wild- like I’m doing. It is and easy grower and seems to do well in zones 5 to 9.

And it all started when I put it in our fairy garden. It did not take long for this little herb to spread out and that just tickled me. I bought quite a few more. I planted them so that they could spread out- I gave them plenty of room to spread but this one will be my primary momma. I will not let her spread out, instead she will foster a generation of pineapple mint and with that we’ll cover the ground.

I can’t wait. Until next time…

Last Years Herbs: First harvest 2021

We cut quite a bit of oregano and it was very overgrown. Last year it hadn’t gotten nearly as big so today I went ahead and cut off a bit, my daughter helped me. She only enjoys cutting the oregano because of how it smells and how easy it is to see where to cut. It got us a pretty large bowl that we’ll dry out and use for cooking or whatever we want.

This year my goal is to save up enough oregano to turn it into an oil. I hear that oregano oil is amazing when cooked and using oregano from home is entirely different than the oregano that you get in the store.

Fun fact: the oregano, basil and other herbs that you get in the store are usually multiple different types of those plants all mixed together to make the product. When you use individual types of oregano or sage or rosemary you are changing your dish because they all taste and smell just a little bit different.

I had no idea before October 2019.

This was the reason that we were cutting anything. This has gotten out of control. It was bushing out of the fairy garden which made me think that something happened to make it grow like this. I didn’t add any fertilizer to the fairy garden because I wanted to be able to see the little houses and walking paths that we made.

The sage doesn’t look like a lot but it really is and there is so much more that I left behind. This seems as though it went from one plant of sage to three individual plants. I didn’t think it had spread so fast, but I am impressed. The smell is distinct and I am curious as to what our Tri color sage will look like in a few months or even next year. Especially seeing how happy and healthy this particular sage is in our very neglected fairy garden.

I like to think that the fairies take care of it because I am busy caring for my other plants.

This is my salad barnett and rosemary. I tried to leave the rosemary alone a little bit because it took heavy damage from the winter storm. I dare to say that the rosemary was protected by the other plants that surrounded it. The taller plants (sage and oregano and english thyme) were surrounding the rosemary and although one of my oreganos did die, I contribute that death to keeping the rosemary alive.

The rosemary is spreading out and reaching to the other plants and I am glad, I didn’t know if it would come back this time around. I was extremely nervous because this is one of my favorite plants. Rosemary is something that I would love to spread out all over my property. I planted around six more plants this year and plan on propagating many more throughout this year.

Salad barnett has become the bane of my existence. I am not telling you you shouldn’t plant it in the ground. I’m only saying that this is the most invasive plant in zone 8a I have ever seen before in my entire life. People warn you about mint but they never warn you about this herb right here. We had already cut quite a bit and threw it into the compost, but this is what we can harvest after three days. I was not expecting the kind of growth that I am experiencing with this herb that I don’t even know what I can do with.

Finally, this is my english thyme. I know it doesn’t look like a lot but this really is a lot. The plant grows upward and some of the plant had started to grow to the side. I wanted this to be more of a bush and so I cut a few of the runners. There is still quite a bite there but I will say that this it is delicious. I enjoy every years harvest of english thyme because I can add it to so many different things.

I am excited about the herbs that we are collecting already. It isn’t even half way through April and we’ve got enough of these herbs to last us until May. That is amazing to me.

Each one of these herbs cost me three dollars and they have already saved me at least ten dollars each. That’s return value that tastes much better than anything that you’ll find in the stores.

Strawberry Patches: 2021

By Melinda Hatfield

I love strawberries. They have many redeeming qualities. First, they attract pollinators. They are perennials. They can become invasive and provide a lovely natural ground cover. They create delicious fruits, but my favorite part is how low maintenance they are.

That is why we put in two patches. The picture below is what we tried to do. Originally, we thought we could line out where we wanted our patches but it simply kept growing. We enjoy eating strawberries and the kids have been out there every single day to check on the patches. I don’t there will ever be enough- even if we let them take over.

By Melinda Hatfield

The patches tripled in size within a few days. I am primarily taking pictures of this one because I have more before and after pictures. We spent half a day planting over on hundred and fifty strawberry plants. We divided them into two huge patches one closer to our fruit trees and one closer to our blackberry patch.

My kids have already been commenting how these strawberries taste berry than the ones at the store. We grabbed three different varieties to ensure blooming happened throughout the season and not just all at once.

By Melinda Hatfield

We decided just to put flags for the perimeter because from what I have read- and always do your own research – that they will just spread if I let them. I want to let them spread everywhere.

If I start it now by the time I’m old I’ll have strawberries everywhere. I cannot wait.

By Melinda Hatfield

I will give updates as the patch continues to improve but as for now we’ve already picked 13 strawberries and anticipate many more. Until next time.

We’ve got grapes: 2021

By Melinda Hatfield

We have planted over 36 grapevines and I would say that 87% have come back but 100% show promise. Last year we started out with two seedless grapes and by the end of it we had over 30 grape vines. Honestly, when I first started I had no idea but already they are spreading out quickly.

By Melinda Hatfield

Our grapevines are showing real promise and last year we decided that adding extra grape vines would only help us out long term. They do very well in Texas. I barely have to do anything but water them. Not going to lie, sometimes I forget and they are okay with that. In fact, I don’t think I lost a single grapevines this winter- which is surprising.

By Melinda Hatfield

It is possible to get fruit off of one year vines but we have a bunch of two year vines- they’re two years old now at least- and we are expecting a mild harvest this year. In fact, we are so excited for the grapes to come in that we check them regularly.

Here is my delimma: I haven’t created the trellises for all of my grapevines yet.

By Melinda Hatfield

It is a lot harder than I thought and we have been slowly putting them together but we feel as though this will not be the end of the world necessarily and we can clip if we need to. I just didn’t think they would take off this fast and they are taking off very fast. I’m extremely impressed.

By Melinda Hatfield

Please keep in mind that I did zero research before planting so many and they are all thriving. Grapevines have been the second easiest thing to grow, outside of blackberries, and I was very concerned due to the snow storms this year. All in all, they have been a surprisingly amazing crop to have.

When they start showing fruit I will update, until then have a great day!