In the Woods

 

fall leaves north east georgia
My backyard woods- Fall 2016

Henry David Thoreau

wrote the following in the “Where I Lived, and What I Lived For” section of Walden. The first time I read Walden, just a few years ago, I was surprised by the content. The text is full of deep philosophical wisdom, and actual practical gardening advice and data. This quote resonates powerfully with me. Thoreau’s reasons for gardening and writing seem similar to mine. He too sees how living closely with nature can allow people to experience life to the fullest.

” I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived. I did not wish to live what was not life, living is so dear; nor did I wish to practise resignation, unless it was quite necessary. I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to live sturdily and Spartan-like as to put to rout all that was not life, …   “

Project Gutenberg is an incredible resource for free texts, and they have the full text of Walden.

 

I am including a link to one of my favorite pieces I’ve written which is titled

Growing an Essay

It is inspired by Thoreau and Walden, and is written as a New York Times Draft style essay.

Indoor Organic Herb Garden

Problem: need for herbs during winter

Another major problem this “winter” is the temps have been a balmy 70 degrees all January.

Solution: Indoor Herb Garden!

Parsley, sweet Basil, Peppermint, Thyme, Lemon Balm, Indoor Herb Garden GA, Zone 7b
Parsley x2, Sweet Basil, Peppermint, Thyme, & Lemon Balm

I brought them inside despite the crazy warm temps, thinking we would have a freeze months ago, but no. The photo below was just for pretty factor the day I brought the first few inside, just before Thanksgiving. They are now growing on a north facing windowsill (with no direct sun).

organicgarden herbs- peppermint, basil, & parsley brought inside for the winter in Ga Zone 7b
Peppermint, Sweet Basil, Lemon-Lime Basil, &Parsley

Herbs add flavor to all kinds of foods and drinks, and as a bonus are known for their medicinal properties. The parsley below was delicious in this chimichurri steak recipe.

Parsley is not the most flavorful herb, but adds a unique and understated flavor when combined with other ingredients.

organic Parsley harvested from raised beds in Ga Zone 7b in mid Nov 2016
Parsley harvest from the raised beds in mid Nov

I am working on a post about the Garlic and Onions I planted in the raised beds. We use so much of both that I knew I must grow some this year. I am experimenting with winter gardening for the first time in the raised beds. We are fortunate to have many warm months to garden here in Georgia. However, I hope we get a little winter here soon.

Lobelia Cardinalis, GA native

lobelia Cardinalis, Ga native plants, Zone 7b, blooming in August

Let’s start off the New Year with a remembrance of the brilliant red fireworks of summer’s celebratory blooms. This stunning (and aptly named) Lobelia Cardinalis was a super special find from the Nightsong Native Plant Nursery sale last spring. Most of the pics are from blooming time which was mid August to nearly October.

Blooms just kept opening, marching up the ever growing stalk. I waited a while to transplant into the ground. I brought it home at the end of April, and planted in ground in mid July. Seemed to be growing nicely in the pot , so I waited. I dug a hole a bit deeper and wider than the current container, added some organic compost from my Earth Machine composter, and soil from my organic raised beds to fill the hole. Plentiful watering required during the super drought we had this summer and fall.

lobelia cardinalis, Ga native plants, Zone 7b, planting time July
Lobelia at planting time in July
Lobelia Cardinalis, Ga native plants, Zone 7b, Blooming in August,
Mature Lobelia-over 3 ft tall!
Lobelia Cardinalis, Praying Mantis, Ga Native plants, Zone 7b,
Mantis Stalker

The mantis reminded me that there is an entire forest ecosystem at work right here in my own backyard garden. The link above takes you to an amazing paper prepared by Rachel G. Schneider about Georgia’s Forest Ecosystems. The mantis, butterfly, bee, and hummingbird love this plant; so do I, and even the cats (due to increased bird and butterfly activity).

It grew to over 3 feet tall, and I was awed and impressed by this amazing plant. This native to Georgia wildflower grows so well here, and I am thrilled to have in my backyard just under the overhanging shade of the oaks and hickories. It gets mostly full sun, with a touch of late afternoon shade in the worst heat of the summer sun. On some of the blazing hot days, it looked a little wilted in the direct sun, but quickly recovered.

Lobelia Cardinalis, Ga native plants, Zone 7b
Baby Lobelia

This plant became the center of a flourishing ecosystem, in one season. I’m writing an article about the Tallassee Forest (my extended backyard). This area was sacred & special to the Native Americans, and has an interesting history. Many native plant and animal species thrive here – some only here. I’m so fortunate and excited to be able to experience this great state of Georgia, and to write about the native plants and ecosystems in my area!