Fennel in January

So I thought I would see how the fennel I grew last summer was fairing at the allotment. Surprisingly, the plants have been fooled into thinking its Spring because of the weather. My Fennel was starting to bloom and grow new shoots…oh I do hope the frosts don’t hurt it too much..it is so very beautiful. This month I intend to ferment fennel bulbs for probiotic support. Let you now how I get on.

Identifying Elder, Hawthorn and Rose

January’s tasks include identifying these trees. Its useful to have a son who is a tree surgeon, because not only did he help me identify these in Winter but also explained a whole lot of other stuff too. I have been on 2 walks in the area now where I live. Its useful that I have a dog because I go on walks all the time.

Identifying dog rose and briar rose was easy because there are still rose hips about, which helps to distinguish from mature brambles..IMG_0716

Hawthorn, again isn’t too hard to identify because of the thorns on the branches and twigs. In some cases the Hawthorn still has leaves, but that is probably due to the unusually temperate winter that we have had so far.IMG_0722

Lastly, Elder gave me some trouble initially. I kept confusing it with Hazel. I think I’ve got it now. The buds being equal rather than alternative on the new growth is helpful. I can recognise the bark and the messy stumps..also its growing in my garden, so I should be able to get this one. What I particularly like is the warty bark..it feels lovely to run your fingers over. This picture shows a bud in bloom, obviously confused by the weather. Fred tells me that Elder is extremely resistant and that frosts are unlikely to hurt the tree.IMG_0729

Lastly, something I learnt from Fred. “Epicormic growth”, when a tree sends powerful growth hormones to the site of a tree where the bark has sustained injury or been pruned back hard. You can often see this in the lower bark areas of some trees, like this English Oak.IMG_0743

Tonics workshop

Last Saturday went to Solihull to The Heads Household and played with making tonics from herbs in the kitchen. What a wonderful liberating experience! A handful of this, a pinch of that..top up with wine or vinegar and keep for so long, then decant and use for this ailment or that mood. This is a whole new world for me..something beyond the joy I feel when I am at the allotment or in the garden..its opening my eyes to so much more then I thought nature had to offer..It also feels instinctively right. Like tapping into something that I knew once?

The pictures below are Sarah’s kitchen andIMG_0710 from Sarah Head’s pantry..

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where to begin..

Well its a new year and January is young with a new moon promised within the week. One day before that I hope to attend my first workshop as Herb-wife apprentice. I have chosen 20 herbs to study this year and in particular, my herbal ally “fennel”; which also happens to be my maiden name. A name I resort to more and more since losing my husband in 2012 and my mum last year.

I started to grow Fennel last year on my allotment. I was going to eat the bulbs. Then I decided I would let it flower and use the seeds. I missed the opportunity and now the plants hang and droop with water beads. I gather Fennel self seeds aggressively..oh well..perhaps thats as it should be.