Weekend Updates – A New Car, Vaccine News, and Garden Updates

This weekend was a pretty big weekend for us, so I didn’t get a chance to provide an update until now. That being said, now I’ve got lots to share!

Trip to St. Louis

On Friday, Ashe and I drove down to the St. Louis area to pick up a car that my parents graciously sold to me for five dollars. I had been talking to my mom about needing to figure out who would take custody of the car that I currently own with Wren and she mentioned that my dad has had some health problems lately that has made it hard for him to walk, let alone drive, so they were considering selling the car. When I asked them how much they were planning on selling it for, she told me that they’d be willing to sell it to me for a negligible amount and that was too good of a deal to pass up.

I’m still looking into the idea of getting a cargo van that I could use for both camping and hauling for gardening things. I don’t really want to have two vehicles long term, but this will help us for now.

Vaccine Pt. 2!

On Saturday, Ashe and I got our second COVID vaccine through Carle Hospital. We were lucky enough to fall into the early batch that allowed us to get both of our shots already and I have to say, it feels amazing. I know that it’s still going to take a full month to build up the antibodies in our system and we’re going to have to still be fairly cautious even after that, but I have to say that I’m so much less anxious than I was before I got the shot, especially when going to public places like gas stations and the grocery store where people don’t seem to care too much about the well-being of others.

The second dose definitely kicked my butt a bit though. Ashe didn’t seem to have too much of an after-effect but I was extremely tired, very sore, and seemed to have a brief low-grade fever. It’s still totally worth it though. I’m very grateful that I’ve gotten that out of the way and I’m hoping that the COVID variants don’t totally make these shots ineffective.

Spring Arrivals

As I was out in the garden this morning, I noticed that we had a couple of plants making an appearance in our garden already.

In the first image are some Crocuses which have started to spring up in an area which we’ve cleared away some ground cover by the front door. These Crocuses were planted by one of the previous owners of the home and have sprung up as the first flowers every year for the last decade, bringing me so much joy in signaling that Spring is right around the corner.

In the other picture, you can see shoots from some Elephant Garlic that I planted a few years ago in a raised bed and never actually harvested. Elephant Garlic is quite large compared to other varieties of Garlic but can otherwise be used as you would any other variety of Garlic. Apparently this variety is pretty good at not rotting in the ground if left for too long, so it’s very fortunate that this was the variety I chose to plant a few years ago!

More Seed updates

Our little seedlings have made a ton of progress over the last few days!

On the far right side of the first image, you can see that we’ve got a bunch of Chives starting to show their first wispy hairs. Chives are members of the Amaryllidaceae and are close relatives of Onion and Garlic which is fairly easy to tell by their shape and taste. Their green stalks and delicate flowers are used to add a gentle onion-like flavor to many dishes including omelets, fish, potatoes, and soups. It’s a perennial herb, coming back year after year, so perfect for my starter food forest. The plant itself has insect-repelling properties, making it useful for natural pest control. Chives are very rarely used medicinally but can be a much gentler substitute for Garlic as it aids with digestion and blood circulation.

Behind the Thyme, you can also see the first starts that we have of Catnip. While I’m sure that our four cats will be very excited to have fresh Catnip around, we’re largely growing it as a medicinal herb. Catnip is a member of the Mint family and has many similar medicinal properties to other members of the family. It is gentle and calming and is often used to promote restful sleep. It also aids in digestion and is commonly used for children to support healthy digestion and soothe the stomach. If you want to learn more about using Catnip medicinally, please check out the Catnip herbal profile from Mountain Rose Herbs, one of my favorite herbal suppliers.

In the second image from the other side of our edible flower, herb, and tomato tray, you can see the first little specks of Italian Oregano in the second row from the left. Often used in Italian cuisine as a savory dried herb, Oregano is another member of the Mint family which aids in digestion. According to The Modern School of Herbal Medicine’s plant profile on Oregano, it has a plethora of uses including killing bacteria, fungi, yeast, parasites and viruses in addition to treating diarrhea, intestinal gas, sore throats, sinusitis, coughs, nervous tension, breathing difficulties, dandruff, diaper rash, rheumatism, earache, toothache, bee stings and venomous bites. It is also used to relieve cramps, reduce fever and the effects of mumps and measles.

Between the Amaranth and the Italian Oregano, you can also see a few little starts of Agastache, also known as Giant Hyssop or Hummingbird Mint. The particular species that we’ve planted is Texas Hummingbird Mint which is a 36-inch-tall perennial herb with showy rose-pink flower spikes in late summer and fall and licorice-mint scented foliage. The plant can dried to make tea or used to make a mosquito-repelling oil. Many varieties of Agastache are used in herbal remedies all over the world for respiratory, digestive, and circulatory health, as well as to calm the symptoms of colds and flu. If you’re interested in learning more about its herbal properties, be sure to check out Agastache for Herbal Remedies and Culinary Herbs and Use Its Licorice Flavor on the Joybilee Farm blog.

In the third image, you can see some additional wispy hairs that look a lot like the Chives that we’ve planted. These are Yellow Sweet Spanish Onions and we’ve planted a lot because you only get one onion per seed and we go through a ton of onions each year as we use them in almost every dish. We’ve planted 45 Onion plants to hopefully make a dent in how many we have to buy from the store. While we’ve mainly planted Onions because we find them delicious and versatile in the kitchen, Onions also have many as many uses in herbalism as their cousin Garlic.

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