Friday, July 24, 2009

Urban Gardening

View from my back door
First, the good news: Miss Faith, the ever-suffering, gorgeous goat, has rallied and is back to her persistently bleating self. She has taken to searching my pockets for licorice, which tells me she is certainly on the mend. She is ravenous and has decided to take her shots without complaint. She actually asks for the pro-biotic; we’re calling it her “yogurt”. One more day of the meds, and she should be as good as new. YAY! I’ve been thinking about herbs today, as I have home-garden work to do between rainfalls. Pennsylvania has inexplicably become semi-tropical this year. I hear it’s the result of El Nino; whatever the reason, my gardens are both great green jungles. While my larger garden and my goat are on Flint Hill Farm, my home is in Allentown. I can mow my lawn in 30 seconds, which is why I grow my big plants at the farm. And although my neighbors are wonderful, I doubt the city would allow a goat. Silly city. Just think of the gas we'd save mowing lawns! I had the pleasure of meeting Adelma Grenier Simmons in the mid-80’s. She was a leading figure in herbal history and usage until her death in 1997. She was also the founder of Caprilands Herb Farm in Coventry, CT. In the earlier part of her life, Ms. Simmons attempted to raise goats on the rocky property, which proved to be less-than-profitable. Her next venture, gardening, had the same results, so she began to explore herbs which thrived on the rocky soil. Hence the name of the farm: “Caprilands”, from the Latin root “Capri”, meaning goat. I met Ms. Simmons at “Gardenfest”, a summer festival put together by Rodale, way back when. I was pleased to be able to purchase a few of her booklets at the time, which I cherish. You can find a picture of her at the herb farm’s website: Another book that I truly enjoy is this oldie but goodie: Culpeper’s Complete Herbal, I actually have two copies of this gem. The later, updated copy is helpful, but I prefer the older version simply because I find it both quaint and highly informative. The author, who truly knew his subject matter, wrote in a charming old-English style that adds a certain traditional flavor to the work. The book is chock-full of herb lore and practical applications.
On tonight's menu: Kale, White Bean and Sausage Soup (my daughter, Megan LeVance's recipe), and Corn and Squash Simmered in Coconut Milk with Thai Basil, from Local Flavors, by Deborah Madison ( I'm also roasting some dandelion root I harvested at the farm in the rain the other day; it makes a great diuretic tea. The flavor has chocolate overtones. Yum! A must have for those of us who occasionally overindulge.
Tomorrow (or later tonight): horsehair bracelets with hand-worked, recycled glass beads. WooHoo!


  1. do we make it????/

  2. e-mail me and I'll send them to you, unless more request them! is my preferred address.

  3. what a beautiful garden! found you from your comment at Crunchy Chicken :)

    We have a tiny urban garden- and I just ate my first carrot!!!!! YAY :)

  4. Thanks, Eco! It's such a pleasure to watch things grow, isn't it? Even if your personal space is limited. I'm a BIG fan of community gardens!