Monday, March 10, 2014

Did you ever grow anything in the garden of your mind?

This week as I was picking up some seed starting mix at the local garden center a bag of bulbs caught my eye:
Lily of the Valley (that's Convallaria majalis, for my fellow botany geeks).  Sigh.  How lovely.  And I'm always on the lookout for some shade loving plants to beef up my cottage-style (read: chaotic and rambling) perennial garden.  How perfect would these be... and hardy to zone 2 none the less!  I asked the garden lady if they were poisonous, and she looked at me like I was crazy.  "You're not planning to eat them are you?" she says. "No," I say, "but my 18-month old might give them a try."  "Now why would he do that?" she asks.  I bite my cheek to keep from asking, "are you serious? Because he's 18 months old."  But thankfully Edward Scissor Hands aka The Christmas Tree Guy steps in and says, "I ate every plant I could get my hands on for the first 5 years of my life.  At least that what my mom tells me. I turned out okay for the most part. Just keep Poison Control on your speed dial."  I pull out my phone--and show them both that poison control is indeed on my speed dial already, and then I google convallaria and as it turns out it is poisonous.  Very poisonous. And as an added bonus, when it's done flowering, it grows delightful looking red berries.  So I guess it's out for the time being.  It does bring up an interesting point though, when you are a mom of littles who love to ramble outside all the livelong summer days where there are plenty of poisonous native plants even if you don't intentionally grow them in your garden:  How do you keep your kids safe from accidental poisoning?

With Sadie, who has a very well established sense of caution, it was enough to give her a blanket warning on eating any mushrooms, and then begin situational berry identification guidelines with her.  She can now accurately identify dogwood berries and baneberries, which are two of the main poisonous around our place.  We are working on wildflowers now.  Currently her favorite book is a plants of Alaska flip guide, which is coming in handy as a teaching tool.  She's also big enough to know to ask about a plant if she has questions.  Not sure how it will go with Eli. He is more of a caution to the wind fellow.  I'm banking on close supervision and lots of yummy and edible landscaping that he can safely browse close to home--and a whole lot of grace.

But back to the edible landscaping idea, I really am trying to establish some permaculture on our land that is edible and kid-friendly.  As evidenced by the fact that my kids will happily eat raisins and week old potato chips out from under furniture, it is clear that young children have a very innate desire to forage in their environment.  I'm sure there is more scientific evidence that points to that fact out there somewhere (a study in Scandinavian countries comes to mind) , but I have met my google question search quota for the week already. 

There's a lot of thought that goes into establishing your permaculture, and it's intimidating, and I just don't have the time or $1600 to take the local class this spring.  That's why the book Edible Landscaping with a Permaculture Twist is now at the top of my homesteading reads wishlist.
early Mothering Day present...hint, hint?

Lastly, in the garden of my mind I'm trying hard to make a spot for some honeybees.  I've been told  that beekeeping isn't rocket science, but there is something about it that sure intimidates the heck out of me....but oh to have some fresh, home-grown honey... and your trees and cane fruit adequately pollinated to boot.  Almost too good to pass up.  I'm currently plowing my way through the Beekeepers Bible.  Holy tome of amazing information!  Still, thinking the safest bet in the end will be to hit up some local knowledge.

And finally, to round things off, we decided to host a little seed/start swap potluck here at the end of the month to celebrate the kickoff of growing season and be a grounds for exchanging knowledge & ideas.  If you're local and want to attend leave me a note and I will get you the info.

Happy daylight savings, and may the garden of your mind be a source of pure delight in these last winter months.


  1. Hello! My aunt who lives in Maryland reads your blog and now that I live in Palmer wanted to share it with me! I love the idea of edible landscaping. We moved here after the high bush cranberries were past their peak, but my two year old kept trying to eat them for months. She ended up spitting them out and we do have something similar mixed in with them...skunk berry maybe LOL. Perhaps she got the idea from eating raspberries off the bush or maybe just the pretty red color.

  2. Hi Aylin! Welcome to Palmer! My kiddos graze on the high bush cranberries all winter too. It doesn't seem to matter how skunky and mushy they get (which is VERY right now thanks to the mild winter and spring.) There are other berries mixed in with them in summer --currants, baneberries & occasionally watermelon berries to name a few... but the cranberries are almost the only ones hanging onto the bush at this time of year. Happy garden planning!

  3. Also, fun that someone all the way from the East Coast follows my blog & that you are her niece! What a small world it is sometimes!