Archives for category: Gardening

Join me at Fleurbain for the LAB Series.

On August 30th and 31st we are all about Lemon balm, otherwise known as Melissa officinalis.

What you might like to know about this herb ahead of time:

Lemon balm:

* is a great tasting herb, so lemony, but it is actually a part of the mint family.

* improves mood, and helps with the less glamorous moments of irritability and forgetfulness.

* can work to relieve stress headaches, heartache, aids digestion, helps you sleep and diminishes seasonal depression.

* is a famous antiviral that is effective against cold sores and shingles.

* can be used by folks of all ages.

* and to top it off, it is a beautiful perennial in Quebec!

At Fleurbain I will share with you the winning, synergistic combinations of lemon balm with other herbs.  We will discuss who should not be taking it in large quantities.  And we will experiment with a plethora of recipes used for refreshment and cosmetic purposes.

There are three opportunities to come to the Lemon balm LAB.  Preregistration is appreciated.

Please send me an email at: fleurbain@gmail.com.

Thursday, August 30th  4:00 – 5:30 p.m. or 7:30-9:00 p.m.

Or

Friday, August 31st      4:00 – 5:30 p.m.

Cost: $20.00  This includes notes, recipes and delicious samples.

Flavour is another reason for using weeds in food.

Herbalists like myself love to talk about the wonderful nutritional benefits to be discovered in common garden weeds such as lambs quarters, stinging nettles, dandelion, chickweed and many, many more.  The above link introduces you to how weeds make food more enticing in terms of taste.  If  herbalists are not so convincing when we go on and on about nutritious weeds, perhaps this article can convince you to try them for the flavour.  I still remember the first time I tried a weed as a gourmet food.  My neighbour, Eleanor, invited me over for lunch and she added chickweed to the salad.  This weed tasted fresh, cool and sweet.  The flavour reminded me of corn on the cob and it was simply delicious.

Do you cook with common weeds?  I would love to hear about it.

(A note to the nature newbies!  If you do not know how to identify plants, you should seek out experts who can introduce these plants to you.)

Thanks to Sarka, my good friend and the author of Wellness Intel, for passing along this article to me.  I do love it!

Have a great weekend, everyone!

English: Stinging nettles (Urtica dioica).

Stinging nettles (Urtica dioica)

Lady B and Rosemary: looking after things, 24 hours a day

We have a couple of new mascots in Fleurbain, and both would like to wish you a merry Christmas. Lady B came onto the scene at the same time as Rosemary, who had spent the summer in our friendly neighbourhood community garden. They are both over-wintering in Fleurbain, taking full advantage of our large bright windows and welcoming atmosphere.

All the best to you in 2012!

Natasha Henderson and Tammy Schmidt, Montreal

Fleurbain is under construction. Fleurbain is moving… moving in, setting up shop, shifting around, clarifying, distilling, and experimenting to compound our knowledge and expertise.

Fleurbain is no longer only a dream and a website… Fleurbain is a site.

We will have a grand ouverture and vernissage soon (probably in early November), but in the meantime we will have small open-houses, host workshops, and meet with our clientelle in the realms of herbalism and art. In coming weeks we will announce regular opening hours, but for now we are available by appointment.

Tammy Schmidt, Clinical Herbal Therapist, is available for appointments through tammy.schmidt.herbalist (at) gmail.com and Natasha Henderson Artist and felt-making crafty Workshop Instructor is available through nhen@videotron.ca. We can both be reached through fleurbain@gmail.com!

See you soon, Montreal!

Tammy Schmidt and Natasha Henderson, Montreal

… and the apartment sized harvests. Within one hour I picked basil, parsley, tomatoes, stevia, chamomile and lavender. I then planted some greens for the fall – a little late, we will see. After that I made a pesto and documented it. Okay, on with the rest of the day!

parsley and basil pesto

a nice big jar of pesto nearby an experiment in pickled jalepenos

Tammy Schmidt, Montreal.

Our reader Laurie Aaron Dahlquist recently uploaded some beautiful images to our Facebook Page, along the theme of Stayin’ Cool in August. Laurie (like many of us) is a member of a CSA Farm. We wrote one of our first articles on Fleurbain about our own little CSA farm; they hold a dear place in our hearts!

Here are the amazing pics Laurie took of her fruit and veg the other day:

Some of Laurie's CSA delivery this week.

What better way to cool off than with some fresh, organic fruit and veg that helps support local farms and biodiversity? Is there any?

mmmm look so crunchy and delicious and cooling...

OK, you tell us what you think about Stayin’ Cool with a thousand words. Yes, a picture speaks a thousand words, so send in your photo on the theme of Stayin’ Cool in August to our Facebook Page or email to fleurbain@gmail.com. We’ll post your images here.

my personal fave: THE TOMATOES

Bird on a cherry tree

Image by Vibragiel via Flickr

Cruising through the New York Times this morning, I came across a story about some of the trials and tribulations presented by wild landscape gardening.

Margie Ruddick is a landscape architect living in Philadelphia. She has nurtured a wild (and very beautiful) garden that doesn’t require watering, saves runoff water from going into the sewers and feeds the birds and neighbours. She is routinely questioned about her “wild ways” by the city, bylaw enforcement officers, and others.

I personally find this story inspirational. I had a lawn once. The first thing I did with this lawn was to rip up patches of it. I planted various ground-covers, heathers, lavender… however, I hadn’t thought to see what native plants would spontaneously germinate in my soil. This activity is even more exciting in a city setting; go to those abandoned lots, those cracks in the sidewalk, and you will find life.

Natasha Henderson, Montreal

brilliant echinacea flowers in front of a nice patch of mint

Is mint taking over your garden?  Here is one way to use it up.

* Take a good fist full of mint from the garden
* Coarsely chop it with scissors and put the mint into a shaker or jar
* Add a little gin to the shaker. Add 3 ice cubes and juice of a lime
* Shake vigorously to bruise the mint. Allow to sit and infuse as long as you can stand (at least 2 minutes)
* Strain into a glass filled with ice
* Top with tonic water or sparkling water, stir, voila!

Tammy Schmidt, Montreal

hello lemon balm, mint and friends!

I like to go for coffee with friends a couple times a week.  These are always important times for me where I am able to relax and unwind and just be with my buds.   When you live in a city and you have such a small apartment that your living room is also your dining room, entertainment centre, arts and crafts room, library and home office, it feels good to get out and embrace the perks of living in a city by going to a favourite coffee shop.

Last week, I was at a famously ubiquitous coffee shop with my friend.  She wanted neither coffee nor tea; she wanted a smoothie.  The problem was that the smoothie cost over $5 once the taxes were included! And that was the ‘prepared’ smoothie; the ‘fresh’ deluxe one was upwards of seven. Yikes. My friend and I go for coffee a couple times a week.  $5 per occasion makes for $10 a week.  Do this around  40 weeks a year, and it all adds up to about $400.  This is a lot of mooola for a few leaves infused in water, a couple percolated beans or a cup of juice and blended fruits.  This calculation is not something new to me. I read about the Latte Factor a couple years ago in a book by David Bach; it still shocks me to figure out the annual expenses for some things.

After feeling a little soured over the high cost of smoothies, my friend suggested that we bring a snack and a thermos containing some sort of drink to a park.  I think this is a great idea, particularly in the summer when Montreal’s parks are so beautiful.

So, this week we are going to try it.  We will enjoy an hour in the park instead of going to the coffee shop.  I can’t rule out coffee shops all together, because they are weather-proof places for me to expand my space.  That said, parks are apart of my space too. I can enjoy fine company in an equally pleasant park as many times as my friends and I wish to do so throughout the summer and into the fall.

To accompany this economical twist to our tradition, here is the recipe for what I am going to bring to our tea-time in the park. It is practically free!

Almost Free Tea

Go to the garden and fill a 1 litre jar with several handfuls of lemon balm, mint and other leaves you can identify as leaves suitable for tea (don’t be a hero and pick something you sort of, kind of recognize… only pick the ones you really know!  🙂 .  Pour a litre of boiling water over the leaves and allow to steep for 15 minutes.  Strain the leaves and allow the tea to cool.  Add a little honey and/or a squeeze of lemon to the tea.  Pour into a thermos filled with ice.  Bring the thermos to a park and enjoy with friends.

*If you do not have a garden or cannot identify plants, then choose a pre-packaged dried tea that you enjoy. I suggest a tangy one made with hibiscus.

Tammy Schmidt, Montreal.

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