It's been a long, hot summer here in the Midwest, but even hotter is our big permaculture giveaway. We gifted seven permaculture books and 3 decks of permaculture playing cards to 10 lucky Brunette Gardens readers. Our winners range across the U.S., gardening in a variety of climates, and they're an illustrious lot! We're thrilled to know we had a hand in fostering this community of enthusiastic, knowledgable plant people.
I've been a Substack reader for more than a year now, as some of my most trusted independent voices have migrated to the writer-friendly platform. There I've subscribed to their weekly missives, which I can opt to read either via the Substack mobile app or as an email newsletter, like the one I send to Brunette Gardens readers. The experience has been overwhelmingly positive. There are no ads to vie for my attention, and the writers can relax and go about the business of writing, following their own innate sense of what we readers want.
We're about halfway through our loot, our booty, our SWAG, as shown above. As mentioned previously, we started out at the beginning of the summer with all this:
Last month we hosted a Wild Ones membership tour, with around 50-70 people total visiting our garden across two tour dates. They asked a lot of great questions, and many of those questions centered around our decision to go lawn-free throughout the entire backyard, which comprises the majority of our 1/4-acre. Since going lawn-free is central to our design, and it's part of the reason we achieved platinum status in the St. Louis Audubon Society's Bring Conservation Home program in just three years, many were intrigued. I think it's worthy of a treatment here on the blog, so I'll run through a list of Frequently Asked Questions about lawn-free living.
An odd thing happened to me this year: I got the Christmas spirit. No, I wasn't visited by ghosts in the middle of the night. I'm actually not sure why it happened. Lisa thinks it's because our son is staying with us this holiday season before he ships off to Navy bootcamp. That might be it. It might also be that I've just reached the age where any reason to feel warm and snuggly is a good enough reason.
Halloween took its first fatal hit for me in the 1980s, when gossip about razor blades in apples gave my parents alarm. However, this was simply a continuation of a string of urban myths that started in the 1950s and continued through subsequent decades. The myths themselves derived from cases of homicide in which the murderer tried to cover up his crime by claiming poison came from trick-or-treat candy, or drug 'accidents' perpetrated by children who got into their parents' stash, the adults attempting to deflect blame on stranger's candy. You can read more about this over at the Halloween Love blog.
We made an unsuccessful attempt to germinate Walla Walla sweets in 2020 - Anthony grew up in 'the city so nice, they named it twice' - but that arid landscape is quite different than our steamy Midwestern climate. I cast around for an onion variety that would work much better here, and you can imagine my excitement when I stumbled upon a variety of perennial onions. Most vegetables, and most onions as well, are annuals, meaning you have to replant them as seeds each year to get a new crop. But perennial onions, also called potato or multiplier onions, are the gift that keeps on giving. You can keep some of the bulbs, replant them each year, and they'll multiply into neat little bunches of more bulbs!
"Take one down, pass it around..." OK, so we didn't exactly begin with 99 bulbs of garlic, but 65 is a lot of garlic bulbs to have on hand. Our basement smells like a pizzeria! We harvested this bumper crop just before the 4th of July: 65 bulbs of 'Silver rose' garlic, a soft-necked variety*, which we had put into the ground on October 31 (ooo, Halloween!). The order had been for 60 cloves to plant, so how we ended up with 65 bulbs at the end is unclear. Maybe there were a few extra in the order? At any rate, we had 100 percent return on our investment in those 60 cloves.
There's nothing so hopeful as an early spring flower, defiantly emerging out of the deadened winter landscape and signaling a renewal of green. Here in the St. Louis area, that usually means daffodils. These cheery trumpets sound in early March to lift our collective spirits and zing us with the energy of the season of growth.
A sourdough starter is a thing of beauty and seeming magic. All it takes is a bowl of water and flour, and you can 'catch' wild yeast from the atmosphere, claiming it as your own to use in everything from a simple loaf of bread to pancakes and pizza dough.