Milady's Pantry & Stillroom : Claire's Herbs - Folk Herbalism
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Milady's Garden, Stillroom and Kitchen: Bloom where you're planted!



“I leaned back on my elbows and basked in the warming spring sun. There was a curious peace in this day, a sense of things working quietly in their proper courses, nothing minding the upsets and turmoils of human concerns. Perhaps it was the peace that one always finds outdoors, far enough away from buildings and clatter. Maybe it was the result of gardening, that quiet sense of pleasure in touching growing things, the satisfaction of helping them thrive.”

Excerpt From: Diana Gabaldon. “Outlander.”  


The moment I knew that I was doing it right....I let all of my plants go to seed and the next spring had to postpone planting because the Mourning Doves were born in my empty pots!

One of my readers remarked this morning when she was looking at one of the pictures of the gardens that I tend that "wow they are very pretty.....wish I had a garden. Sadly my plants on my Balcony are looking rather sad. " I wanted to reach through the screen and hug her. I was reminded of my own balcony gardens and what is what like learning to garden with no real soil, but looking down at tons of concrete. I wanted to tell her how proud I was of her for even  attempting to garden from several stories above ground. Maybe that sounds silly, but you'd be surprised how many people never even try.

My biggest mission in life and my laser focused vision for the world is that everyone has a garden of some sort and that  at some point in my life I will not drive past a single unused plot of land. It's easy to have a garden in the country, but when you can get one growing in the city I think that it's even better. You're growing a miracle and because others can see it, you'll inspire a miracle!  

Wherever you find yourself living, I truly believe that one of the most important things that you can do to enhance your life and preserve your health is to grow some of your own food. The spring after we sold our farm,  we moved into a third floor apartment. To say that I missed the dirt was something of an understatement, so I came up with the idea of turning our balcony into a mini urban farm. I was shocked at how much food I was able to grow in containers on that very small balcony and when I say small, I mean small. It was literally 7 feet long and four feet deep and fortunately it was about 9 feet high!

This was one small part of my container garden, 2 square feet of it to be precise! You are looking at spicy mesclun greens that I'd been cutting since mid april, basil and Italian flat leafed parsley, fresh marjoram and lots of edible violas and pansies! My favorite salad then was a composition of all of these things, on top of which I'd set a poached egg that had been basted in herb butter with lots of fresh chives, some prosciutto that was frizzled in the same butter, and a yummy wedge of perfectly ripened Brie with a toasted crouton or two! Sometimes I added a few spears of freshly steamed asparagus. Then I'd make a simple garlicky vinaigrette and enjoy it with a glass of champagne......Such amazing living out of about 5 dollars worth of plants!

I worked hard that year and the results were gorgeous. I remember being so proud when I discovered that the management office was driving prospective renters past to point it out. That first year I grew a bumper crop of tomatoes and fresh herbs, lettuces , carrots, strawberries and even sunflowers. I used the railings and the walls and I hung baskets from hooks that I drilled into the ceiling. As a result I had plenty of herbs for cooking, tincturing, turning into healing vinegars, fresh teas and I was able to have a green salad anytime I wanted. I replanted the lettuce in the fall, enjoyed it for a month or so and then added kale to the pots. I learned to make fresh goat cheese and I promise you that there is nothing like enjoying a fresh salad laced with strawberries and goat cheese and dressed with an herbal vinegar that you've grown and made with your own two hands. I even had sweet woodruff for my father's special May Wine recipe.

Come late fall that same year I let everything go to seed and as a result I had the most glorious birds all winter long. I was even more delighted to wake up one day to find a pair of Mourning Doves making a nest in one of my pots. We had the joy of watching their eggs hatch and the babies learn to to fly.



I was so excited.....These are everbearing strawberries that I' planted in two of my windowboxes that year. After wondering if they would ever flower, several weeks  later they rewarded me with loads of pretty white blooms. This week they are setting tons of fruit! The trick is patience I guess.....My intuition told me to just leave them alone and let them get established underground, sort of like raspberries do. Fruiting bushes like these do their work under the soil first and then usually at the point when you are about to toss them, suddenly explode with life! Fairly quickly  I had to go get berry netting as the robins were definitely keeping their watch!


That garden for me was my first real experience of blooming wherever you find yourself planted. My husband thought I was crazy until he began to taste it all. Our son loved it and still really enjoys helping me in the garden now that we've moved to a house with plenty of good growing space. I continued to utilize my balcony for containers of all shapes and sizes for many years and as a result of that personal experiment, I became inspired to help others learn to grow a bit of their food, as much as they can. Even if you don't have any more room for a simple pot of tomatoes, I promise you that that because you've grown them that they will be the best you've ever tasted. When you take responsibility for growing some of your own food, you begin to nurture yourself (and those lucky enough to get to eat it!) in the most intimate way possible.


If you make the choice to plant heirloom seeds then you've taken your food choices away from big ag , Monsanto and Dow Chemical AND you're also helping preserve our dangerously dwindling honeybee population, the honeybees being the proverbial "Canary in the Coal Mine" of our perilous dependency upon herbicides and pesticides. When growing season is done, save your seeds to replant next spring and you're doing your part to preserve  heirloom food choices for everyone!  Seed Savers Exchange is a non profit organization dedicated to saving and sharing heirloom seeds and  they will help answer any questions that you may have! Are you ready to bloom where you're planted? Please don't heistate to contact me with any questions that you might have...I've always got time for a quick cup of tea and a conversation!


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