There is a feeling of something new around here. I can’t quite explain it, but I’m just feeling like something new is happening. It’s a strange feeling for fall! It has a lot to do with the arrival of the new greenhouse.
It has not been assembled yet, but when it is up it will be 26′ x 72′, with raised beds for me and a very large area for potting prairie plugs. It’s really for the prairie business. With the rise in demand for natives, prairie and pollinator plots, Steve anticipates business. As it is, he is the only person in Central Minnesota right now doing prairie work. There are businesses in all other parts of the state, but Steve is the only one planting prairies around St. Cloud (though there is a business close to the Metro who does jobs here).
I don’t really know what it will mean for me yet. Next year I’ll just begin growing things in there. I’m pretty busy right now, pretty near my limit in terms of gardening and homesteading. Any more will require more time, and I’m not sure where that will come from. Right now it’s all just possibility.
But also this afternoon, out pulling things out of the garden beds, I was struck again by how different things are in the garden than they were when I first started this blog. I’m getting ready to plant the garlic for next year, and that always reminds me of my original impetus for the garden. Reading about eating locally, I started paying attention to where my produce came from. I stopped eating bananas and have successfully avoided crops from Australia and Argentina. But what really bugged me was the garlic from China. My garlic came from China! There is no life without garlic, of course, but I was surprised to find out how well garlic grows in Minnesota. There’s even a festival! And so, getting ready to plant two beds of Minnesota-raised seed garlic, I have about 40 heads of garlic (after using 60 already in the preserving and cooking since harvest in July) in a burlap sack in the basement that will get me through Thanksgiving. Two years ago I grew half that. I’ve made a dent, a very large dent, in my local food consumption. I’m not sure I believed that would happen when I started, and I certainly didn’t expect it would become so much a way of life for me.
After the work in the garden, I went for a walk with my camera to the new 17 acres of prairie. For about a week, a local construction company has been putting in a road for a new development that will have about a dozen houses. That will bring the development right up to the dead end where our driveway begins.
The long term plan for the city is to put a road right through these 17 acres to serve as a “feeder road” to get people in and out of the neighborhood. They would take the land through eminent domain. We’re thinking given the cost that it won’t happen for a long time. The new houses, though, bring it a little closer.
I wanted to take a photo of the purple flowers I saw there a week ago. Do you know what it is? I didn’t either, so we asked Jeff. It is hyssop. Hyssop! There’s a fair amount of hyssop flowering out in the new prairie, planted this past spring.
Hyssop smells like anise or licorice, but a bit more perfumy. Like maybe there’s some myrrh or frankincense in there. I say that because it’s a Biblical flower. It is used in the Old Testament in cleansing/purifying sacrifices. A branch of hyssop is dipped in the blood of the sacrificial lamb in Exodus and the hyssop branch used to apply it to the lintels to mark the homes of the Jews in Egypt so the angel of death will pass over their houses.
Psalm 51:7 reads: “Purify me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.”
In the New Testament, when Jesus is on the cross, he says he is thirsty. They dip a branch of hyssop into sour wine and offer it to him. And “when he had received the sour wine,” he “gave up the spirit” and says, “It is finished” (John 19:28-30). It’s a connection between the passover sacrificial lamb and Christ as sacrificial lamb.
And hyssop is growing out on the new prairie. Some day I may harvest this seed as part of our prairie seed mix. Wikipedia says it is used by beekeepers to produce an aromatic honey. It is also used in liquors, a primary ingredient in Chartreuse. As a healing herb, it is used as a cough suppressant and expectorant and in mouthwashes. In cooking, dried or fresh leaves are used (moderately) for their strong mint flavor.
If the sudden appearance of hyssop in one’s life doesn’t suggest there are more, new things ahead, I don’t know what does.
And now I’m off to make a new dish. My counter was completely bare when I went out to the garden today, but I’ve hauled in all sorts of things. I’m still eating “fresh,” and working on the stash in the fridge. Tonight we’ll be having a stir fry with pork marinaded in a tamarind chutney marinade. For vegetables we’ll have carrots, parsnips, daikon radish(!), onion, and greens: Michilli cabbage, turnip greens and beet greens. I’ve got a fresh burlap sack of Royal Basmati rice from the Somali grocery store, too. And maybe a handful of hyssop leaves.