Chamomile, a Hearty Survivor

Gardening

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Now, this is truly amazing. Sure, the winter has been milder than last year’s, but this little chamomile has been outside since it was casually tossed in the pot at the end of harvesting last fall. It grew and survived all winter until mid-January when I finally took pity and brought it in. Freezing rain, freezing nights, even a little bit of snow hasn’t stopped it. The chamomile now lives on a windowsill and I hope to bring it to bloom in the warm seasons this year. I want to save seeds from this one for sure. It’s supposed to be an annual chamomile. (The variety, for those who are curious, is Zloty Lan Chamomile/Polish Chamomile from Baker Creek.)

Curly Winter Grass Fronds

Gardening

This is the seedhead of a very hardy grass that we call elephant grass here. It’s a bit of a pest, in my opinion, because the leaves are sharp (no good for weaving- you’ll cut up your hands) and the roots are so strong it’s impossible to pull up. You’ll only hurt yourself if you try. Perhaps it’s named elephant grass because you’d need the strength of an elephant to move it? It grows about 5 feet tall and provides good privacy and can withstand freezing temperatures, drought, and seasonal flooding and doesn’t take much effort to maintain, but I still don’t like finding seedlings of it in my garden. Even when the plant is small, it is incredibly difficult to pull up. A single plant with just a few blades of the sharp grass takes all my strength to remove.

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In the winter, when everything else has died back, it’s rather pretty to look at. I took this photo earlier this month, and since then, a neighbor’s cat has moved into the grass and made it her home, so I don’t disturb that area right now.

Delicious Mousemelon Harvest

Cooking and Household, Gardening

This post may be slightly out of season, as the garden has now been put to bed, but as I plan the next year’s vegetable garden, I want to shine a spotlight on the delightful Mousemelon Vine I grew this year.

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It was very slow to germinate, but managed to fight off weeds in my survival-of-the-fittest gardening style. This plant hails from the southern part of our continent, so it’s a bit slow to grow, in my opinion. The harvest was a small basket full- maybe a couple cups in total volume, and most were eaten in the garden. All the tiny fruits were eaten before I could make them into a dinner salad. Delicious. Being perfectly honest, I could have probably increased my harvest if I had spent more time cultivating and babying the vine, however, I prefer plants that are strong enough to make do on their own.

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The fruit are so tiny and cute! They really do look like mouse-sized watermelons. The taste is a most refreshing blend of cucumber and lemon, though it is not related to either. You can generally find mousemelon seeds in the cucumber section of your seed catalog. Make sure you get a catalog that provides heirloom seeds. Not only will you be supporting our agricultural heritage and encourage biodiversity, you’re more likely to find unusual gems in their selection, such as this mousemelon.