Studying Sage

sage 2I have started an herbal study, choosing Sage, Salvia officials, as my herbal ally.  Today, I started looking at my task list as outlined by The Kitchen Herb Wife and set out into the autumn garden to take a few photos and collect some fresh Sage before the frost we expect early in the week.

Task List:

1. Consider your ally in its dormant state. If you can see/visit it – sketch what you observe or take pictures. Does it need pruning/sheltering from possible frosts? Does it still have leaves or fruit attached? Are you going to grow it yourself? Where are you going to source it from? Are you going to buy/beg plants/grow from seed?

My sage is not dormant yet (end of October – nights averaging in the mid 40’s) but it was good to take a look now to see what changes the freezes will bring.  This specimen is about 5 years old, planted in a raised bed on the SE side of the house.  It does not get a lot of sun as we live on a hill near the forest.

2. Obtain some dried form of your ally and take yourself a tea once a day for one week and notice taste/flavour/effects on you.

3.What did ancient herbalists use your ally for? How did they prepare it? Check Culpepper, Galen, Avicenna, Hildegarde of Bingen, 16th, 17th, 18 and 19th century writers. (Hint: Maud Grieve and Matthew Wood give good summaries of older herbalists). Don’t forget Scudder, Ellingwood and King on Henriette Kress’ and Paul Bergner’s websites.

4. If you are going to plant your ally, prepare the ground and decide on and plan your planting scheme and plant your seeds. Take careful note of how long seeds take to germinate in what growing conditions and how long they take to acquire two “real” leaves. Pot on.

5. Research modern/current usage of your ally. Check if there is any difference between UK/US/European usage (or TCM/Ayuvedic/Western)

6. If your ally has bark, consider removing bark from prunings and either drying/tincturing, make tea or syrup or doubly infuse in oil. (Make sure the bark is suitable for internal ingestion first!).

7.Spend time with your ally during its dormant state – ask what it would like to teach you over the coming year.

Sage 1


The End of the Harvest… The Beginning of the Garden…..

The End……

The 2013 bean harvest

This week we are nearing the end of October and the end of our harvest.  There are apples to be picked, beets and carrots to be cleared from the garden and a few more herbs to be dried. The turkeys went in to the processor on Sunday night, they had been chasing the hens around the yard and egg production was way down.  Joe picked them up on Monday – 15 and 19 pounds.  Tonight, I shelled the dried beans – a pitiful harvest thanks to the rabbits – they are finishing their drying in baskets in the dining room.

The Beginning…..

October also brings the time of beginning to our garden.
The shallots went in this week.  Unfortunately, the farmer at the festival did not tell me the varieties, but there are four different types – large smooth (3), smaller smooth (3), smaller rough (4), and smaller really rough (5). It’s not much, but we never planted shallots before so i don’t know how much they’ll produce.

Garlic ready for planting

The garlic also went in.  This year, we put in eight different varieties; Elephant (21), Red Korean (12), Dujanski (10), Purple Glazer (10), Basque Turban (10), Gardner white (6), Gardner purple (5), and Chesnok Red (10).  This weekend, we’ll tuck it all under a layers of compost and dried leaves for the dark days of winter.

Map of the Shallots and Garlic – planted Oct 21 & 23

Spring Vacation – Day 8 – Gardening

Spring break is almost over and what a beautiful end to a busy week.  The skies were clear and the sun was shining brightly……

Garlic shoots getting bigger
Fennel seeds started in the greenhouse
Greenhouse lettuce coming up nicely
The first signs of sprouting carrots
Year two of celery started from cut off celery bottoms from the grocer. They overwintered in the bed outside. I’m so curious to look at the root system.
Mishka may be old and stiff, but he does love a sunny day and a walk down the lane
Homemade goodies out, ready to barter for some stinging nettles tomorrow.
Yesterday’s Cheddar out of the press and drying
Broccoli starts in with the garlic

March Planting – 4/10

This weekend, according to the moon phase, is a not particularly good time for planting anything.  It was, however, a dry March weekend in Oregon, so planting happened.

Saturday was beautiful so I added compost and fertilizer to the kitchen garden beds  and planted 2 rows of Nantes Carrots.  I also cleaned up around the garlic that I planted in November.  In the greenhouse, the lettuces are germinating well.  I started 6 cells each of Sugar Pumpkin, Butternut Squash, and a Green Squash that starts with a K?. I also started 18 cells of tiny pumpkins.

This morning DH set out some cinder blocks that were lying around for a potato bed and filled it with compost.  We planted 3 Cherry Red Potatoes and 3 LaRatte Fingerling Potatoes.  I also put 4 short rows of Detroit Red Beets into the raised beds in the backyard.  Eight varieties of beans also went in this weekend up in the fenced garden: Jacob’s Cattle, Pebble, European Soldier, Appaloosa, Tongues of Fire, Cranberry, Snowcap and Steuban Yellow Eye.  It might be a little early, but I thought I’d give it a go.

I also went to an interesting class this afternoon about growing mushrooms at home.  Not much how-to, but some great ideas and contact information for the Oregon Mycological Society.  I think it would be fun to go on some of their outings.  The gentleman told us its a good place to start learning to identify edible mushrooms.  He also said that in France you can take mushrooms to any pharmacist to have them identified – it’s part of their training.  How cool!

President’s Day in the Garden – Part Two

My grandfather, Edwin Alexander McDougall, was a wonderful man.  He took in my mother, sister and I after my father died in a boating accident when I was only 6 months old.  My grandmother, whom I don’t remember died soon after and grandpa was left to deal with all us girls.  He was the stable light in my life, the one that walked me to school, the man that taught me to garden.  Grandpa always said that you prune roses between Lincoln’s birthday (the same day as his) and Washington’s birthday.  He would trim our roses and then take a walk with his shears pruning the roses of any neighbor that would have him.  They would usually ‘pay’ him with a strong cup of coffee and a home baked sweet.  After the neighborhood’s roses were in shape, Grandpa would come home to sit on the back porch watching the airplane descending into pdx or tend to his fruit trees.

Grandpa died the 5th of October in 1983 he was 92 years old.  I think of him often, but I always remember on President’s day.  The grapes and blueberries are pruned just like he would have taught me.  Now it time to prune the roses – look after them Grandpa.

Starting the Garden 2013


We picked up the Veggie Calendar at Portland Nursery this afternoon.  It tells me that in Late February we should plant our asparagus crowns, garlic, onion sets, peas, potato tubers and shallots.

  • Onions – Copra: medium, round, white, 105 days – – – -$4.99 (one bunch)
  • Asparagus – Jersey Knight: all male – – -$3.56 (four crowns)
  • Potatoes
    • Organic Cherry Red: medium to dark red, 65 days – – – $1.59 ($1.99/lb)
    • Organic All Blue: blue skin and flesh, 90 days – – – $1.31 ($1.99/lb)
    • Yukon Gold: bake, boil, fries, 65 days – – – $0.69 ($0.99/lb)
    • Russet Classic: bake, fry, keeper, 7o days – – -$0.64 ($0.99/lb)
    • Organic Princess La Ratte: mild, nutty, fingerling, 100 days – – – $2.49 ($4.99)
  • Peas
    • Lilly Miller Early Frosty: bush, 60 days – – -$1.43/pack      planted outside 2/17/13
    • Lilly Miller Sugar Pod II: bush, Oregon, 68 days – – – $1.43/pack
  • Lettuce
    • Lilly Miller Paris Island Romaine: 78 days – – – $1.43/pack planted in greenhouse 2/17/13
    • Botanical Interests Farmer’s Market Blend: 21 days – – – $1.89/pack planted in greenhouse 2/17/13


We really cut back the fruit plants hard this year.  The three apple tree, pie cherry and  pear trees, two cherry trees, and peach tree in the orchard are done and ready for Lime Sulphur spray.  We also cut back the plums in the backyard and fruit garden and finished the two espaliered apples in the fruit garden.  DS worked really hard moving all of the cuttings to the burn pile.