Monthly Archives: September 2011

Do No Harm – Some Thoughts on (Non-)Violence

In my previous post, I did a little bit of writing on some of the core-concepts(?) of my faith, and on how I can go about living those concepts in day-to-day ways. Which is great. Gratitude and mindful environmentalism and benign self-interest are all fantastic ways to live.

But it’s *easy* to say “I eat animals, but I only eat animals who have had a reasonably decent quality-of-life, and I’m grateful for their sacrifice, and I don’t waste their bodies” and so on. It can even be easy to live that way.

Where it gets harder is when the cat gets fleas or the fruit flies have started to take over your kitchen, or you otherwise have to figure out how to reconcile your desire for a clean and bug-free house and a (relatively) parasite-free body, with the desire of the fleas and fruit flies for food, shelter, and a sense of their own safety.

Maybe it’s because I’m a sadist, but I define “violence” more as “causing unnecessary[1] suffering” than I do as “causing pain or hurt”. There’s an excerpt from I am a Red Dress (Anna Camilleri’s gorgeous book of essays on womanhood, power, femme, embodiment, and incest survival) that says:

“This is what violence does; it squeezes us down into creatures we are not meant to be, so self-loathing and fearful that it hurts too much to hope, constantly waiting for the other shoe to drop, for things to begin badly, or end badly. Moments of joy and pleasure regarded with suspicion.
This is no way to live. […] We are not meant to be squeezed down, to be fearful – none of us, and one is too many.”

This is a definition of violence that I can live with, in part because it is broad enough to include emotional violence as well as physical violence, but – more relevant to this post – because it’s also fairly in line with what I believe as a sadist and an omnivore.

A turkey raised in a factory farm is a turkey raised in violence with all the misery that comes with it. A turkey raised on a farm where it gets to behave like a turkey is meant to behave and eat what a turkey was meant to eat, that is raised with its quality of life (as well as the potential uses of its body after death) in mind, is not a turkey raised in violence, even though it’s being raised for slaughter. Nor is a wild turkey that grows up in a world rife with predators and other dangers raised in violence, even though its death – by a human or non-human predator, by a parasite, by sickness, by hunger, by cold – will almost certainly not be a gentle one.

Abuse (of any kind) is violence. But mutually enjoyable consensual pain play, by this definition, isn’t violence. It’s meant to build the recipient up, not squeeze them down (to use Anna’s words), meant to give them pleasure even as it gives them pain and damages (in one superficial way or another) their body. It hurts, without a doubt. But it doesn’t cause harm. (Those who don’t do S/M may not see a distinction between those two things, but it’s there and it’s pretty significant, for those of us who do).

Similarly, I would rather kill a cockroach by crushing its head quickly and accurately, rather than leave one to slowly starve to death stuck in a glue trap. Yes, (for many reasons) I’d much rather make my home uninteresting to the cockroaches, and difficult-to-impossible for them to enter, than spend months trying to murder them all once they were inside. (Thus we have door sweeps and window screens and drain strainers to discourage them from coming in the first place). But I wouldn’t hesitate to kill them if I found them inside my house.

Anyway. That’s kind of where I’m at with this one.

How about you? How do you live out doctrines/philosophies like Harm None?
Drop me a note in the comments and let me know.

Cheers,
Meliad the Birch Maiden

Gratitude, Connectedness, Recognition – Thoughts on My Faith

My sweetie and I sometimes talk religion together. In part because we’re both interested in this stuff, in part because our various philosophies have a lot of overlap, and in part because she’s got a few things she’s struggling to reconcile in her life and spirituality and a sounding board is a Very Good Thing for her to have at this time.

In that vein, we were talking the other night about the core elements of our cosmologies, and I said this:

If I were to boil down my faith to a couple of specific words, I think they would be:
Gratitude,
Connectedness, and
Recognition

Gratitude is probably the biggest one.
Part of that, of course, is that I’m an omnivore. As such, when I eat animals, I do it with an awareness that this person had a life, and so work to against dishonouring their death by not wasting their body. It also means that I try, in various ways, to mitigate the suffering any given animal goes through on the way to being my dinner (I’ll talk more about that later).
Part of that is because I’m a gardener and a forager (and a canner), so I’m very aware that my fruit and vegetables come from plants, not grocery store shelves. Knowing that, when the butternut and hubbard vines give me a LOT of squashes, we will have good-keeping vegetables through the winter, means that I’m thankful when the squash plants fruit a lot (and even when they fruit only a little, because every little bit helps). Being a broke-ass omnivore also means that, yes, I am grateful for the grape vines that go ignored on local properties; for the fruit-laden cherry branches that overhang neighbourhood parking lots; for the service berries, crab apples, hawthorn trees, and rose bushes planted by the city in parks and along road-sides; and for the apple trees that grow wild in the scrub land near my apartment building.
Part of that is because I know my gods and my ancestors and the various other spirits who hang around my place are, more often than not, looking out for me and bringing me help, learning experiences (“learning experiences” ), and Good Things as I need them and/or as they decide I need them (see above re: learning experiences, ). When I do boiled water offerings, I’m offering my time and energy and recognition (see below) in gratitude as much as I’m offering the water. Y’know?

Connectedness pertains less to the Hindu, Buddhist and Jain concept of “one soul” or “that, you are” and more to a connectedness with all the people of a given place; connection with the land that feeds me and by-which I survive and thrive. This comes through watching the locals, greeting my (human and non-human, corporeal and non-corporeal) neighbours, paying attention to what wild (and domestic) foods are available in my neighbourhood, but also in my city-region and my bio-region at any given time.

There’s a thoughtfulness that comes with these two things – that which I call Recognition, but which might just as easily be called Mindfulness. Because I recognize the person-ness of the land, the plants, the non-human animals, the mushrooms, and everything else, I need to watch what I’m doing. It’s all the Little Things – and I admit that I’m sporadic with this stuff at best – that go into actively recognizing that Person-ness and those other people in the world, and acting appropriately towards them. Some of this is done through making offerings, through greeting my gods at various places around town or various points during the day, or what have you. Part of this is noticing sunrise and moonrise, moon phase, seasonal changes, and so on; Part of this means knowing which plants are in season; Part of this means using cloth bags, buying drinks in glass bottles or in cans rather than in plastic jugs or tetrapaks. Part of this means knowing how to make, and making, my own soaps and preserves; or using beeswax and soy wax candles rather than paraffin ones. Part of it is (er) remembering to water the container garden on the balcony instead of just relying on the drip-line to do it for me (see above re: sporadic, um…)

My sweetheart and I talk about the concepts of “non-violence” and “do no harm”, and both of us struggle, for different reasons, with how to live those ideals and how to reconcile them with the way we actually live.

Being a broke-ass omnivore means that, yes, I’m eating people who have suffered horribly in life but, through choosing BIG domestic/farmed animals (turkeys rather than chickens, but even more-so cows and pigs, rather than birds), through barter with hunters, through (eventually – it’s been a long time since I last did this) fishing for myself, through choosing to buy eggs laid by free-run hens or dairy from small-scale, organic farms, I can mitigate that – to a degree – in various ways. The more chances I get to do this, the better, as I tend to feel more rooted in my place, and better about where I stand in the world, when I live like this. It’s something I strive to have as the norm in my life rather than the exception.

Anyway, those are my thoughts for the moment. Stay tuned for a further post on “Do No Harm” and the definition of “violence”.

TTFN,
Meliad, the Birch Maiden

Iron Pentacle (Part One?)

Hey.

So I tried doing something like an Iron Pentacle Mediation (as outlined in Evolutionary Witchcraft) last night.

For those who don’t know, the Iron Pentacle is (as far as I understand it, anyway) an energy pentacle that you draw using the points of your body as the points of the star, while pulling energy into those points in the following configuration (which came from Faery Wolf’s post, fyi):

Head = Sex; Left Foot = Pride; Right Hand = Self; Left Hand = Power; Right Foot = Passion... and back to the Head again.

So, as I’m trying to get more in touch with my own sense of power, I figured it would be a good idea for me to try and do this.

Below is more or less how it went:

Okay.

First thing is: Because of my singing training, I can place energy in my third eye really, really easily. But I don’t think I was Doin’ It Right (Rite?) because it didn’t feel like sex, it felt like singer energy. (Then again, I did get a whole wodge of sex dreams last night, so may be it worked?) In any case, I wasn’t sure if what I was feeling was what I was supposed to be feeling. But there was something there, so I just thought “sex” while I felt it, and hoped for the best.

I can, currently, feel something going on in my Pride foot. Which is interesting because it came more easily this morning than it did last night, when I was trying to get it to light up and it only got a little bit of a pulse going on (pale yellow, not much in the way of brightness).

My Self hand was… present. Dim, but present. It was weird, because I couldn’t get stuff to light up at the same time. It was either I’m lighting up my Power hand or my Self hand or my Pride foot, but not all of them at once. I’m not sure why this is, and if people have thoughts on that, I certainly wouldn’t mind hearing them.

My Power hand was… heavy. Maybe because I’m holding power for someone else, too? Thoughts? Beuler? It lights up brighter than the rest of them, and more easily. This may also be because I’m used to pushing energy through my hands, though. (Although that wouldn’t explain why my Self hand was so much dimmer, if that’s all it was).

My Passion foot was… just not doing anything. Like I’d feel kind of a fizzle and then it’d die down again. And it’d fizzle. And die down again. I don’t know why this is, although gods know I’ve been trying to get my Fire on and, in the process, coming up against a huge degree of fear and Shrinking and such-like, so maybe that has something to do with it.

Moving between the points had its ups and downs, too. Moving between Sex and Pride wasn’t too hard, but moving from Pride, or Self, or Power back to Sex was really difficult. And it just… wasn’t happening between Passion and Sex. (Which is: What? Really? Crap!) And maybe that’s because Passion wasn’t exactly lighting up in the first place. But it felt like I’d be trying to light up Passion and it wouldn’t work (much) so it was like I was making a leap (teleporting?) instead of moving from one point to the next.

I get the feeling that it will get easier to run this stuff with practice, and that I might see the undoing of some emotional/energetic blockages as a result.

I’m hoping that’s the case because, ye gods, I could use the help.

TTFN,
Meliad the Birch Maiden.

The Tree of Contemplative Practice — And Where I Actually Do Stuff

So I found the below picture here.

A picture of a bare-branched tree, with various branches labeled with different types of active and meditative, communal and individual, spiritual practices

Which ones do I do:

Journaling
Dialogue
Deep Listening (maybe, maybe not — I try, but I also tend to project a hell of a lot, so… working on this one?)

Rituals (haphazardly)
Creating Sacred Space / Maintaing Altars (again… haphazardly)

Thank-You Prayer
Petitioning Prayer
(General Talking to the Deities Stuff)
Loving-Kindness Meditation (I do this during yoga, but not all the time)

Work
Vigils (sometimes), in groups or on my own

Centering (badly, but I try)

Yoga (rarely, these days)

Singing
Dance (which doesn’t necessarily go all the way into ecstatic, but it’s where I tend to aim)
(Devotional Poetry)

Grape Jelly from Neighbourhood Grapes

So. There are a few spots in my neighbourhood where the grape vines have gotten… a little out of hand.

Which is perfect, of course, for opportunistic gleaners such as myself.

I went out wandering the other day and collected about… 3-4 cups worth of really quite delightful, so ripe they were starting to (significantly – the ground was covered in them) rot off the vine, grapes. Probably “valient” breed, but I could be wrong.

I mashed them up and boiled them down and came up with about 1 cup of actual grape juice. Which isn’t much, but it gives me an idea of how what the fruit:juice ratio I can expect, at least with soft fruits (I do tend to prefer to make jam. Much less waste. But with something like this, where the seeds are small enough to be hard to get rid of, but big enough to be extremely unpleasant to actually eat – think rose hips, rowan berries, and maybe crab apples, too – then jelly it is!)

So.
1 C grape juice
1 C sugar
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
1 tbsp pear cider vinegar

1 pkg pectin powder

Boil the juice mixture hard for 5-10 minutes, add the pectin (scatter it lightly over the top of the boiling mixture, and be aware that it will probably bubble up like crazy at this point) and continue to boil for another 10 minutes.

Do the Frozen Plate Test and, if your jelly gels, you can get on with pouring it into steam-sterilized mason jars, and then processing those jars in a boiling water bath (for a good 5 minutes).

Easy. Easier, even, than pie. 🙂

TTFN,
Meliad the Birch Maiden

Supernatural Assistants — On Cosmology and Why I Think My Gods Get Mixed Up in My Life

So, I found a neat question[1] on Charmed, I’m Sure (originally, it was in the comments on this post), and – given current circumstances in my life – I figured I’d take a crack at playing with it.

The question:

Why is it that when you or I have to grow up and be responsible, it’s a spiritual quest with Super Spiritual ramifications? Is it just that we have a spiritual scapegoat? Or is it that we have a Helper, a “Supernatural Assistant” to guide us through what comes to most people anyway?

The way I look at this is, sometimes it’s just Stuff. Stuff happens. Not every major inconvenience is some deity going “Wake Up And Smell The Coffee!” at me.
Honestly, I have a bit of a hate-on for that particular sub-section of New Age Spirituality that tells you that Everything is about You and Your Growth. That thunderstorm? You. The minor tiff with your co-worker? Super You. Arab Spring? Totally All About You.
Drives me fucking nuts.

But.

Sometimes stuff happens that has GOT to be divine intervention because it’s too random-yet-unavoidable, too perfect and yet unpleasant, for it to be anything else.

Stuff like: All of your financial supports falling apart at the same time, only to have an entry into the career you actually want land in your lap.

Which, of course, is not the example that’s weighing most heavily on my mind at this time (This is what’s weighing most heavily on my mind. Hoy).

Sometimes Stuff Happens that, while you’d never in a million years have chosen those Happenings for yourself, and it’s scary as fuck, it’s also being made blindingly clear that You Will Learn From This. Even when you really wish you could just say “NoNoNoNoNo!” and hide under the covers until it goes away, it’s too damn clear that This Is Happening For A Reason (as in: it’s not random chaos[2]).

Also… When Stuff Like This happens – stuff that is really freaky and upsetting for me – and I ask my bowling-ball wielding Goddess, essentially, “Why are you doing this to me?????”
I do actually get answers.

Typically in pretty short order.

Sometimes it’s random cards falling out of my tarot deck in a way that says “this is what you’re going to get if you go through with this” (which… isn’t so much offering me Cookies[3], as pointing out exactly what the carrot is, and why I should step into the Scary even though it’s still fucking Scary).

Other times it’s sudden and significant emotional/mental break-throughs that, as my partner once put it, “let [me] in on the joke”. Like “Oh. That’s why you’re doing this to me. Got it. Huh… Bitch…” Y’know?

So, there’s that.

The other part of Rufus Opus’s question though, has to do with paradigms. Basically: “So, why, when everything feels humongous and overwhelming and scary and all Verily Fuck… it’s the Hands of God/dess/es reaching into [my] special snowflake life, whereas when it’s someone else, it’s… not? What’s with that?”

And, yeah. I think this basically comes down to paradigms. My worldview includes deities. It includes spirits and non-corporeal intelligences and People who have a broader perspective on My Life than I do and who, yet, actually want to have a hand in guiding it.
Which is awesome, if sometimes not ideal-feeling. I’ll take this over the alternative.

Which is what, exactly?

Well, it could be anything – literally. My paradigm is one where, when random scary-yet-probably-educational/growth-inducing stuff starts happening to me, I can look at a Bigger Picture and figure that there’s a reason for it.

I’m not sure if the hard-science/mechanistic paradigm would be able to explain, say, the reason my (open relationship, just to be clear) partner got into a more-significant-than-any-of-us-expected (non-romantic) relationship with a third party – let alone that said relationship is pinging “growth” and “self-understanding/actualizing” areas/buttons for all three of us in some pretty significant ways – in a way that would allow me to accept it or be at least slightly comfortable with it.
Someone else might be able to find all the answers they need through that paradigm, but that someone isn’t me.

So, there it is. I have “supernatural assistants” because I asked for them, because that’s who showed up to fill the void in my nascent cosmology, because their existence – and their corresponding influence on my life and what/who comes into it – help me to make sense of a universe that might, otherwise, just feel like a frightening mess of random chance and cruelty.

So that’s where I’m at on that one.

Cheers, and feel free to weigh in on this in the comments.

TTFN,
Meliad the Birch Maiden

[1] Contributed by Rufus Opus, who blogs over at Head for the Red, fyi.

[2] Non-random Chaos, on the other hand? Yeah, probably. My Goddess of change, luck, transition, and the crossroads? She throws bowling balls at me sometimes – typically when she thinks I’m getting to comfortable and Not Progressing (Fast) Enough.

[3] Cookies being, essentially, lots and lots of a feel-good stuff that you (expect to?) get for doing what actually amounts to fuck-all. I’m cynical. Deal.

Autumn Equinox Chutney (garden-grown green tomatoes with local wild apples)

So. Autumn is definitely in the air.

About 2-3 weeks earlier than I expected, at that.
(Yes, I know the Equinox is a scant week away — hopefully I’ll be spending it at Windborn and then hanging out drinking apple martinis or something with my girls — but two degrees Celsius is still a low-assed temperature for mid-September around here).

Consequently, I spent this morning dragging in the last of the produce from my balcony garden. I’ve turned most of it into green tomato chutney (or something along those lines), and will be turning most of the rest of it into sweet-and-sour pickled radishes over the course of the weekend.

The tomato chutney also used a couple of wild apples from a tree that grows a few blocks away. (I swear. If I had a ladder to haul around, I’d probably get myself into a LOT of trouble — there’s an apple tree just up and around the corner from me, which nobody’s harvesting, and I’m just sighing over it, I tell you).

I utterly love knowing where I can find a few sweet apple trees (as opposed to crab apple trees, although those have their fabulous uses, too). Since I don’t have much in the way of garden space (oh, how I long for multiple fruit trees and a big garden space to grow them in!) it’s that much more important to me to know where the fruits in my neighbourhood grow and when their season of ripeness falls. 🙂

The recipe for this Mabon-appropriate chutney(-esque) is as follows:

Green Tomato Chutney with Wild Apples

1 1/2 cups of green tomatoes, diced
3-5 gloves garlic, peeled and roughly chopped
1/4 cup onion, peeled and diced
1/2 cup tart wild apples, cored and diced
1 red banana pepper, cored, seeded, and diced

1/2 C apple cider vinegar
1/2 C white wine vinegar (mine was infused with garlic, om nom)

1/4 C fresh basil leaves
1 tbsp prepared dijon-style mustard (or 2 tsp whole yellow mustard seeds)
1-2 tsp salt
2 tsp whole black pepper corns
1 tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp dried coriander (OR 1/4 C fresh coriander leaves)
1 tsp ground coriander seeds
5 small fresh nasturtium leaves, shredded

Throw everything in a pot and boil the hell out of it until the tomatoes are softened and most of the liquid has boiled away and/or been absorbed.

Spoon into steam-sterilized jars, cap with steam-sterilized lids, and process in a boiling water bath for about 5 minutes.
Allow to cool (you should hear the “plunk” of the lids sealing themselves to the jars as this happens), then re-tighten the rings and store in a cool, dark place for at least two weeks, until you decide to open it.

(This should be pretty zingy when you pop the lid off. There’s a LOT of spicy in here — at least for me. Not sure whether the nasturtium leaves will keep their Spicy going once they’re cooked, mind you, but the garlic, black pepper, and mustard should do the trick either way).

Standing at the Cross Roads

My heart hurts.

I’m standing on the edge of something — yet another goddamn edge of Something – going “Do I jump?”

My divination attempts all tell me that (a) I need to try this because it’ll be good for me in the long run, but that (b) it’s going to be hard as hell and the end-result may yet only be “okay” rather than “awesome”.

It’s both easier and harder to be “dragged into” things against your will, or at least your sense of self-preservation. Harder because you feel powerless and lost, but easier because you can tell yourself you’re being a grown-up about it – or at least trying – despite crappy circumstances that you can’t necessarily change (at least not without causing a lot of unhappiness and, incidentally, forfeiting the part where you’re being a grown-up about it).

Have you ever had a deity drop Something in your lap?
This one wasn’t even my deity who dropped it. Or my lap, per se, that got the Something dropped in it.

I feel like this is something I’m Supposed To Do, even if it sucks for me. And now I’m being handed the opportunity to make it all stop.
WTF.

How do you navigate that?
How do you ask your own gods What To Do in a way that will get a clear and remotely helpful answer?

I know that the answer I want is: “Do it. Say Yes. It will get easier and easier and before you know it everything will feel fine and good and this will be as easy as breathing for you.”

But I also doubt very much that this is the answer I’m remotely likely to get.

Thoughts? Suggestions? Ways of coping?

Cheers,
Meliad the Birch Maiden

Preserves, Abundance, and Competence (Kitchen Magic)

Hey folks.

So. The past month has been a total roller-coaster. In the process, I’ve made a new friend (and talked divination, deities, and emotions with her, no less), but I’ve also come smack up against most of my worst fears and wobbles and all of my Really Crappy Coping/Survival Mechanisms (you know, the ones that never work but were the best you had available due to being in horrible situations for most of your formative years? Yeah, those ones).

And now I find myself in recovery mode. The storm – this one, at least – has passed, I’m feeling better and safer than I have in pretty much a month, and now I’m trying to get myself back on track.

It’s also early autumn and I’m looking at my garden and prepping for the (probably) final harvest (two months early, in a way, but whatever).

And I’m realizing that there is some correspondence-style kitchen magic I do while I’m at it.

See, I want to make preserves. (I always want to make preserves — I want to make more preserves than I ever actually succeed in making OR have room to store. It’s just the way I am).

I want to make sweet-and-sour pickled radishes ft nasturtium leaves, red wine vinegar, and honey (and, possibly, a bit of grape leaf as well).

I want to make wild grape jelly and, possibly (since I failed to make it last year), crab apple jelly (and/or rose hip jelly) as well.

I want to make a tea-mix of dried rose hips and dried peppermint leaves that I can just scoop out of a jar and into the boiling water in order to make one of the more refreshing iced teas I’ve ever come up with (and to see how it does as a cold-remedy over winter, given the ingredients).

I want to make green tomato relish with heaps of basil added in, and maybe some cilantro and nasturtium as well.

And I realized, today, that what I will get from this, besides food for my larder, besides gifts for my family/phamily, besides items to barter… is magical.

Right now, I badly need to rebuild the sense of abundance in my life, and my own sense of confidence and competence as well. And doing this, making food that last, preserving a little bit of summer through skill and (small A) alchemy… gives me these things.

This may or may not qualify as Magic in your books. But it puts me in mind of the “thinking in things” that magic needs in order to function.

TTFN,
Meliad the Birch Maiden

Ground Cherries and Banana Peppers OR State of the Garden, September 2011

Hey, folks.

Okay. It’s time for another garden post.

The dill and cilantro are pretty-much done for, and have been for some time. The basil and mink are still going, though, and I will need to harvest them for drying in fairly short order. I have to confess, rather to my chagrin, that I didn’t use a lot of fresh herbs this summer. I should have. But I didn’t. Next year, I may try dill again, and I’ll surely get in some peppermint, but I may not bother with anything else. We’ll see how things go.

My tomatoes, despite having been visited by some kind of weird speckling Thing (that we thought might be akin to blossom end rot) have turned out okay. I’ve still got a small heap of baby tomatoes waiting to ripen (and a handful or so that need to be harvested today) plus a couple of full-sized ones that are ready to come in. I will definitely be growing these again, possibly more of them.

The banana peppers (plural!) are ripening nicely. Give ’em a week? I will grow these again, too.

I still haven’t harvested the radishes. I need to pick up red wine vinegar, among other things, today so that I can get onto turning them into sweet-and-sour pickles (my plan is to do 125mL jars of these, plus 125mL jars of grape (or other) jelly and see what-all I can come up with. I’ll use these for trading and for DIY xmas presents for my immediate family (it’s something we do every year and, while I typically make gift baskets of home-made soap and candles, I figured I’d switch it up a little this year).

The squash is done for. I dug it up a few days ago. I feel kind of bad about this. Squash is an important plant for me – one of the symbolic (as well as literal) forms of one of my goddesses – and one I associate with having enough veggies to be able to get at least some vitamins into us through the winter, no matter how high the utilities bill climbs. So that I was unable to cultivate even one butternut squash on my balcony is more than a little sad-making. Next year, I will try growing bush delicata (or bush acorn, but I think I’d prefer the delicata), and I’ll only do one. And I’ll mix it with a few bean seeds, to help it out a little. Also: bone meal (or sardines) mixed into the soil at planting.

The beans… Lots of flowers. Very few fruits. Although, as of now, we do have about half a dozen (tops) beans hanging off the vines, so we did get something. Again, next year I’ll be mixing the beans with the squash, as I think they’ll both fare better if they’re planted together.

Not sure how the garlic is doing, but I think it may have been over-powered by the radishes.

Chines Broccoli and Chinese Kale: Probably won’t container-garden these again. I really enjoy them, definitely, but they need richer (and probably deeper) soil than I was able to give them this year. Ditto on the lettuce. I think that’s the kind of thing where you need window boxes all along your balcony and you plant one window-box per week and then harvest them, weekly, in that order, and hope they can grow back a second time. One small container of them was not enough for the kind of salad(s) I was hoping to make.

Cucumbers, as you know, bit the dust quite some time ago, but not before they gave me a good jar worth of cucumbers that I was able to pickle (successfully!) with garlic, dill, black pepper and mustard (plus standard pickling spice, white wine vinegar, and salt).
Note: Pickling them with a grape leaf is an extremely good idea. It does keep them from going mushy. YAY! 😀 I have two jars remaining, and I’ll be sending one of them to my sweety’s co-worker in exchange for some venison sausages in short order. 😀

Nasturtiums: Seem to have done just fine. I even got a couple of flowers. I find myself wondering if I can dry them, like basil or mint, and crush them up into a super-spicy herb that I can use in place of (not-so-local) cayenne pepper. Thoughts? Anyone want to weigh in on this one?

Ground Cherries: Like much of my garden this year, these were an experiment. I grew them in a fairly shallow container (about 4″ deep) and they see to be doing alright. I had the sense, in this case, to “weed out” the seedlings that weren’t doing so well early on, and I think this was a good idea, even if it felt awkward to be doing it at the time. I had a look the other day and, apparently, I’ve got the beginnings of ground cherries slowly ripening in their paper hats. Not many. Three at the most, which gives me an idea of how much fruit a given plant can bear and how big they need to be before they can do so. But still. Three! 😀
So I’m very happy about that (I *love* ground cherries, I love their citrus-fruit taste and their tiny seeds and the way you can use their paper husks for decorations. I would love to turn them into a meringue pie or a jam, and I adore eating them raw, too!) So I will definitely be trying this again next year. Probably in a bigger pot so that they have more room to grow and Do Their Thing.

And, yeah. That’s my garden.

For next year:

Scarlet runner beans OR kentucky wonder beans (but the scarlet runners seemed to do best of all of them)
Bush delicata winter squash

Baby tomatoes
Beefsteak tomatoes (or, possibly, roma tomatoes)

Ground Cherries (start early, indoors)
Banana Peppers (or, possibly, sweet bell peppers)

Peppermint
Dill(?)
Nasturtium(?)

We’ll see what else I can come up with come spring.

TTFN,
Meliad the Birch Maiden