Oh the water…

I haven’t done a video in so long. Please LIKE it if you really do. Helps me keep my Channel. But this spring has been good to us. So I thought maybe my simple water management system might be a good subject. Thank you so much! Part One.

https://youtu.be/OHSqE4VSOug

…in the flow….the honeysuckle and willow stretching from their sleep, waking in the studio, don’t talk about hypocrisy, corruption, political schemes, moral positions, religious dogma… they just are. No memory, no regrets, no pursuits… in the flow… on the path…

Asparagus Omelette / Rhubarb Crumble

Winter hardy, challenging-soil loving, perennial vegetables that are some of our favorite foods. Perfect for the ground level of your food forest or to mix in easily with a flower garden.

Folks who want food forests in Central Wyoming ask what food perennials can be planted at ground level? These are the two are the best. I have both of these in my Refuge Garden.

The asparagus in my Refuge Garden are the first food to appear, usually in late March, over night. About the same time the ducks start laying… fresh asparagus-duck egg omelette to celebrate spring is amazing. The other amazing thing is that asparagus seems to be perfectly happy in this ancient, clay sea-bottom. That having been said, that clay needs to be kept very wet – by rain, or melting snow or you watering – or the spear tips are damaged and growth is challenged.

Asparagus from seed will take five years to build a root system and then produces tiny little spears for a year or two before you can harvest. Asparagus do not like to be transplanted and will take another few years to recover and produce. Once your roots produce spears at least the size of your little finger you can harvest 50% of the spears. Leave 50% to feed the roots for next season and to produce the beautiful, flowing fern-like leaves and tiny bright orange fruits. The first snow will lay the fronds over and they provide cover for the roots through winter, maintaining some moisture in the soil. Lady bugs love the dropped tiny dry leaf mulch as a nesting and rearing habitat for babies (and their babies are voracious bad-bug eaters!!) My ducks also love to nest under the fronds, blending so well I sometimes don’t even know they are there. But ducks like fresh asparagus too, so they go into the garden only after harvest.

Rhubarb is a vegetable but we tend to treat it like a fruit. I add it to chokecherry juice for jams and jellies. I use it to make a rhubarb liqueur that is stunningly easy to make and so warm and good on a winter night. I harvest about half of the leaves, remove the leaf part (remember that the leaves can be toxic, even leaving rashes on your bare hands), wash the stalk in cold water, slice, bag and freeze for use later. We do have a type of rust that can attack some rhubarb plants turning them bright yellow/red/organge/brown. You would need to remove the whole plant and root and surrounding soil and do not replant rhubarb in that spot. But it would still be a great spot for other plants like raspberry, currant, chokecherry. The rust likes the rhubarb. I have only lost one plant in 20 years to the rust and it came in on the inexpensive rhubarb crown I bought. Lesson Learned: quality = longevity. The crowns I will have this year are disease resistant.

Asparagus Roots              5 to a bundle      $12.50 per bundle

Rhubarb Crowns                                              $12.50 per crown

Available in the Caper Wyoming area only. To reserve your roots and crowns contact me for more information by sending a Comment with email or text phone number, or text 307.262.8043 or send an email to tarafarmandnursery@gmail.com

Special Order Plant for 2022: Elderberry

Special Order Plant for 2022:  Elderberry ** How Do We Love Thee! : Wine, Jams, Pies, Pancake Syrup, and Floral Spring Teas: The flavors and healing properties, the form and texture of the leaves and the fragile umbrellas of white to creamy flowers – I have several plants in my gardens: native North American, Samdal and Samyal varieties.  Pollination is best with different types in your food forest or garden.  

Wondering about the medicinal qualities of elderberry? The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has a research study on polyphenols in elderberry at this site:

pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29241318/

Be aware: Do not eat elderberries raw. They contain a toxic substance that is neutralized with cooking. This is true of many wild fruits. So before going out to harvest on the mountain or a nearby creek, do a little homework.

In good years you will collect pounds. But a day of rain or severe wind timed just as the flowers are ready will dampen production. (This is why permaculture teaches temporal and spatial planning.) The perfect spot would be an area near the house, or shed or barn, or in among established trees and shrubs, usually on the northeast side, that never has wind, has limited sun and always seems a little damp? Perfect for elderberry. In the wild it lives in the protection and partial shadow of taller, stronger shrubs and trees.

Samdal and Samyal

Five gallon $22.50

Two gallon $17.50

To reserve your plants for Spring 2022 you will need to place a deposit of half the cost

Contact me through Comments here, or Messenger, or Text a message to 307.262.8043

A Giving Season…Even To Yourself

It seems too soon. It still gets dark so early. And with these higher-than-normal temperatures, we know winter weather could descend upon us any day or night. We live in Wyoming. The only way to know the weather is to frequently look out the window. The garden may still look like Autumn. We have been so distracted with so many other things. We have all had moments of anxiety or frustration about income, prices, food, shopping, and health.

I want you to feel more in control, to feel productive, to feel joy, to feel less helpless in this world.

It is as easy as harvesting this fruit, simmering it, adding very little fruit pectin and sugar ~ this fruit ripens on the shrub or vine ~ and covering your pancakes with rhubarb-raspberry preserves, serving homemade grape juice, or elderberry syrup spiced with turmeric or cinnamon for common colds and flu.

All of the varieties of plants listed here have been grown at The Refuge Permaculture Center for at least ten years. They have proven hardy in both drought and Arctic cold, in salty clay and deep sand. They are long term low maintenance.

The plants sold from the Refuge Nursery here are of two kinds: plants grown from seed, cuttings or root starts from plants established here at The Refuge, and bare root stock from long-time primary suppliers. In both cases the varieties are proven and highly productive. I add varieties to increase successful pollination. As with all nurseries, the available plants are a little different every year, especially as I start new babies every spring.

In this season I have Gift Certificates available for Refuge Plants, Garden Visits and Permaculture Design and Plans.

Gift Certificates: If you buy a Certificate for plants in the Spring you choose the amount you wish to give.

Garden Visit Certificate: $50.00 ~ I really enjoy meeting with people who love their gardens and landscapes. I love brain-storming ideas, offering suggestions and resources, and problem-solving. These visits are scheduled for an hour but we generally spend more time.

$100.00 Garden Visit Certificate ~ This Certificate includes a written brief of the visit with suggestions and resources. This Certificate includes the 10% discount on plants from The Refuge Nursery.

Garden / Landscape Permaculture Evaluation: $ 200.00 This includes two onsite visits and a written report. A 10% discount on plants from The Refuge Nursery is included with this Certificate.

Permaculture Design or Plan: $400.00 Certificate. This Certificate includes four site visits, landscape or garden evaluation, design concept, implementation plan and 20% discount on plants purchased from The Refuge Nursery.

Tara Farm and Nursery Plants for 2022:

Folks with Gift Certificates will be invited to come to The Refuge west of Casper to select their plants when everything is awake, happy and healthy.  The following plants may be available for purchase with the Gift Certificates by the end of June. As with every year, the weather and Mother Nature have a lot to do with what plants will be available.

Fruit Shrubs: Add these to that windbreak or privacy hedge to begin to create your own Food Forest.

Western Wild Rose, Chokecherry, Elderberry, Red Raspberry, Asparagus, Rhubarb, Currants (Red, Pink and Black), Gooseberry, Grape Vine

Flowers and Grasses: These plants are usually available the end of July, adding some color just before fall and producing seeds to build your “Native Prairie” example garden or to fill in a former lawn area.

Rocky Mountain Penstemon (excellent for rock gardens), Prairie Coneflower ( Yellow, Yellow/Orange, Burgundy), Echinacea (Purple Coneflower), Blue Spirea (very good for late season pollinators), Big Blue Stem Native Bunchgrass (Ornamental), Prairie Drop Seed Native Bunchgrass (Ornamental)

One Gallon Pot: $8.00 / Two Gallon Pot: $15.00 / Five Gallon Pot $24.50

Special Orders for Spring 2022:

Special Orders can be made now through March. For bare root stock or established young plants, a deposit of 50% of the order is required to hold the plants. I deliver plants when I know that they have come out of dormancy healthy and happy.

Asparagus Roots (5 / Bundle), Rhubarb Crown, Grape Vines, Gooseberry, Raspberry, Elderberry (two varieties are recommended for best pollination; I offer a discount on two or more plants ordered)

Black Currant, Gooseberries & Red Currant

To buy Certificates or reserve your Special Order plants contact me:

Call or text to 307.262.8043

Message from this Website

Message on Facebook

Email:   tarafarmandnursery@gmail.com

Red Osier Dogwood ~ Winter Color

Please enjoy the season, dream your garden, collect recipes and seeds and pictures.

Stay safe and well and I will see you here and in your gardens in Spring 2022 ~ Laurel

Why Natives… when hanging flower pots of petunias are on sale… ugh…

Why Natives? The Wyoming Sunflower
Helianthus maximilani or the Perennial Sunflower will soon be gracing every
open space, every road barrow pit, and my garden. Why my garden?

  1. Nothing is like the warm, golden color of these natives.
  2. Fast Food for the Road: The flowers feed late pollinators, preparing them
    for migration, hibernation or egg-laying. Seeded flower heads feed migrating
    song birds as they head south for winter.
  3. Disguised: The “flower head” is actually hundreds of tiny flowers. Look
    closely.
  4. The Good Bugs: Our native sunflower attracts one very special pollinator:
    the bee fly (I love this name ~ Bombyliidae). You’ve seen them. Fuzzy little
    flies with a long proboscis that looks like a stinger, but is used to take nectar.
    These little insects will fill the centers of the sunflowers, their legs and fuzzy
    bodies packed with golden pollen. And here is the ecological role of these
    peaceful creatures: The Bomby is able to detect small holes in the soil where
    grasshoppers have laid their eggs. The Bomby bee fly hovers over the hole
    and drops its own eggs into that hole. The Bomby larva hatch first and
    consume the grasshopper eggs. I love native team members. The first and
    most important practice in permaculture is observation. Observation is done
    to understand and apply what nature has developed over tens of thousands
    of years. This reduces waste of resources and introduction of toxins or other
    human long-term damage. As practitioners we support, even encourage natural processes. And so every year I collect the native sunflower seeds and
    strategically plant them in the gardens near the fruit shrubs, and I offer them
    water so that they will grow strong.
  5. Yummy: Collect the little sunflower heads when they have gone to seed.
    Remove the sepals, or leaves, from around the flower head. Brush oil – like
    olive flavored with garlic or sesame oil. Bake or grill the entire flower head.
    The flower head will soften and then it can be eaten whole.

My cows are less appreciative of the gifts of the sunflower. They simply put the entire flowerhead in their mouth and pull the crunchiness in, crushing the sweet oily goodness.

Redemption

My heroine & guruette:Alicia Bay Laurel #AliciaBayLaurel . In 1970 she wrote the handwritten, hand-drawn Living On The Earth. In recently re-reading it I became very unhappy with myself. So today I sought redemption. I split Russian olive firewood. I had forgotten the Zen of wood chopping, hurt my shoulder, regrouped and finished in the breath of it. I turned off the furnace and the fire is built and ready. Humble but proud, I then made my first attempt at homemade hummus…it turned out amazing!! Im adding avocado and will try very hard to not eat the entire batch for dinner!!! Next: making flatbread from scratch. Don’t get me wrong; there will always be a grocery list (especially with our growing season!!) This was a really good day. Tomorrow: More wood; buffaloberry jam; plumbing new rain/irrigation barrels… as the next sub-freezing snow event floats in. (My deepest thanks to Don who replaced the old busted ax handle and sharpened the blade.🙏)

Tiny Dragon Faces To Feed Us

One beautiful fourteen inch tall chickpea plant, bright fingered leaves of a legume…tiny dragon-faced flowers… she was the only survivor of last year’s chickpea experiment. She gave me six little chickpeas.

This year I have more hope and more experience, and a new plan. Soon the shelves in my greenhouse will be full of one gallon pots, planted with dry garbanzo seeds. They will get a full 100 days of growth. I will move the plants to a bed when they reach 5-6 inches tall and space them about six inches apart so they are close enough to support each other as the pods begin the weigh the leaves down. They will get more bare, poor soil; legumes live to give. Like my Mother Grape Vine – all of us, really – require a struggle to fruit.

The chickpea plants will get watered very little after they reach 4 inches tall. They will have a clear plastic tent and I promise to watch the weather for cold temperatures ~ snow in June; of course. The plants are frost tolerant and in fact they like things under 80 degrees. Four to six successful plants should provide me with lots of hummus ~ protein, fiber, vitamin C and all the benefits for my body of olive oil, cumin, lemon and the favorite bits: marinated artichoke, Kalamata olives, roasted red peppers, smoked trout, homemade basil pesto. Pita bread with just a few flakes of black pepper.

Various Hummus ~ Photo: foodwithfeeling.com

The Basics Into The Amazing: Basic Hummus

Add just a sprinkle of baking soda to the water

Low, long boil for the chickpeas from dried beans only

Beans are ready when the skins are peeling off in the water and they can be mashed with your fingers

Do not over cook

1 ½ cups cooked chickpeas (or one 15 oz can)

¼ cup fresh lemon juice

1 medium clove of garlic

½ tsp salt

½ cup tahini

If you have any question about your homemade tahini, this is the ingredient you want to spend money on.

Ground cumin

Olive oil

Cold water – dribble in to hummus to help make it smooth

Sesame flowers

And the second most important ingredient in Hummus: tahini. The flavor is so important that I may cheat and buy tahini. I will plant sesame seeds. I will harvest the seeds. Needs shift. Back in Grandma Helen’s day a woman would sit on the porch and remove the hulls of peas, beans and seeds. A cuisine meditation. Then women left the home to work. The cost of living climbed. Money bought the services of foreign women to prepare these kinds of things. Machines took the work.

But in “retirement” – which only means I don’t go into an office to work – I can sit in front of the woodstove next fall and remove the damp hulls from the sesame seeds. I will roast them and store them in jars in the dark cool shelves. If I can grow them….it’s all an experiment.

Nature knows. Sesame seed plants also want poor soil, dry conditions, no help. The two plants will be planted together. I will trim leaves from the chickpeas to release nitrogen into the soil for the sesame. The two will bloom almost together.

Basic Tahini:

Tahini can be made with hulled or unhulled seeds

Sesame Seeds

Soak the seeds, pat dry, remove the hulls by hand. Leaving the hulls on can give the end product a bitter taste.

To make the tahini you can hand grind or use a small food processor to create a cream of the seeds.

Drizzle oil into ground seeds. Olive oil is usually used, but try other oils like avocado.

Add salt to taste.

Pumpkin, pickled and frozen beets, pinto beans, chickpeas, sesame, garlic, grapes, chokecherries, currants, buffaloberries, rose hips, elderberries in “perfect timing” years…. It is always an experiment; the weather is never ever predictable. But there is such a full, sweet feeling working with the plants, preparing the fruits and seeds and the warm fragrance in the cabin when the meals are in the oven. I will always have a grocery list, but something more and something different every year makes the moment so much more full of comfort… compensation for the muck, the sore muscles, the scratches and scrapes, the never-quite-clean fingernails, the snowstorms…I’m planting the chickpeas in the next couple weeks, but I’m saving half of the seeds to make my first homemade hummus. Ill post a photo and how that experiment goes.

For now: the cows are still stuck near the shed in pools of MUCK. So it’s time to take them a little hay, some grains and try to move them away. The ducks go into their shelters when I ask them; they are just starting to lay (duck eggs make pumpkin custard so rich). And the snow drifts are just beginning to evaporate. Next week I will also be collecting more willow cuttings for new trees, planting some in the wet drain ditches and selling some to a long-time customer. And I might even get a chance to work on my paintings. Escape garden rules. Plant something to feed the family; plant something new to feed the mind; plant something that feeds your heart….but do it all inside, for now.