Monday, April 26, 2004

Equisetum arvense

Equisetum arvense, or plain old horsetail is coming up all over the place around here. When I first moved to this area, and I saw these mushroomy looking plants, I thought they were one of the strangest plants I ever did see. A quick check in my Rodales Encyclopedia of Herbs revealed that Horsetails are really really old. These plants were around 200 million years ago! (they once stood like giant fern trees). My horsetail grows about 4-8 inches high. They start out looking like the picture above. Then, inside of a few weeks, these spikes open to into a feathery frond of green. They look like soft little Christmas trees, but gather some in your hand, and they feel oh so scratchy. This is due to the fact that this herb absorbs large amounts of silica from the soil. Because it is so abrasive, I have used it to wash out the water fountains in the chicken coop, and the flats from the greenhouse, but I am told it is a "campers helper". When dried, it may be used to polish copper and brass. This herb also has medicinal and cosmetic uses due to the silica. I have heard of people soaking their fingernails and rinsing their hair with an infusion of horsetail. (WARNING: if you plan to use horsetail in a medicinal manner you should check with your physician) I have other plans for my horsetail. I will use it to yield a nice yellow green dye bath for my wool. If I choose to, I will use an iron mordant and get a deeper green. One thing is certain, I have to use it somehow! Horsetail is like a fern in the sense that it will spore on a windy day. Once it takes hold, it is almost impossible to eradicate because it grows on a thin creeping rhizome. And so, this time of year, it appears all over the place. And I will pick and use it all for something....knowing full well it will return next spring. So what if it looks a little weedy in my iris patch, it is a useful plant with a long history.

Sunday, April 25, 2004

email me

Many thanks to the good folks over at Google for offering me a Gmail account! I understand that I was eligible because of the fact that I am an active blogger. So, all you other bloggers out there in blogger land, sign up and lets see what it can do. You can now email me at my new gmail account that I have listed under "send me an email" (scroll down the side bar and the link is under the tag board.)

Monday, April 12, 2004

finishing something

I am finally finished with a project. This is the rhomney bag I have been working on.
I received this rhomney roving as a gift from a friend of mine who purchased it off of ebay. When I started spinning it, I discovered that it had many shortcuts mixed in, and so I decided to take advantage of this, and so I spun a slubby yarn that was thick and thin. After spinning it, I wove 4 separate pieces on the 3ft. triloom. I assembled these to make the pouch of the bag. Then I wove 2 other pieces on the foot long triloom. I fringed these and used them as the flap to cover the pouch. I made the straps for the bag from the lucet, and attached them using a simple whip stitch. Then, I got up my nerve, and tossed the entire thing into the washing machine to full it. The shrinkage that happened was enough to make the weave structure disappear completely! The button is from a cedar tree that had a purple heart (or core). I cut it in half, sanded and polished it with wax, and drilled 2 holes into it so I could sew it down. The finished bag measures approx. 12 x 18 (not counting the straps which would make it 12 x 24).

Friday, April 02, 2004

a triptych from my trip

This is a picture of the triptych that I made to deliver to my sister while I was away on my trip. The art history of the triptych is interesting to me, and I enjoy making them. I have been thinking about embellishing the outer panels with found objects, and will try this on the next one I make. The hardest part of the construction is finding hinges that work properly. When the hinges are so small, and the wood or paper so thin, they have a tendency to be flimsy, or not as secure as I would like. This triptych was constructed of pine, and then covered with handmade paper. The embellishment on the exterior panel is a found button, and then the entire exterior panels were foiled. The script on the interior was first designed on the computer, then embossed, then decoupaged onto the handmade paper.

Spinning Group this week was very much fun. Grace arrived late, but she brought a visitor along. It was a baby lamb, born that morning. The mother had given birth to 4 lambs (I believe that Grace raises Finnsheep) known to have multiple births. This little lamb was so small that she would not have survived on her own, so Grace will have to bottle feed her. At the time, she was feeding her every two hours! But I have since learned that she is now eating every four hours.

We also have a new member to the group. She is from India. She is learning to speak English, so at the suggestion of the librarian she joined the group to perfect her speech. She knits, so she brought her knitting along, but I am not sure what she is working on. I did not get much time to try to talk with her, as I was busy teaching someone how to do a Navaho Ply on the wheel.

I planted my tomato seeds yesterday. I have a total of 12 varieties this year. For those of you who are interested in this sort of thing, and for my own reference, I have listed them below. I am hopeful that this season will be a better one for the tomatoes than it was last year. What a bust!

Sanibel Fruit Shape: Deep Oblate Shoulders: Green Weight: 6 - 8 oz Days to Maturity: 75 Determinate Jointless stem attachment Smooth, extra-firm fruit Very high yields
Stupice (Heritage) A Garden Path favorite! An extra early potato-leafed variety from Czechoslovakia. medium-sized tomatoes. These semi-determinate plants have a long season of production - the tomatoes even increase in size as the season progresses
Burpee 4th of July H Each plant is loaded with 4 oz. fruits that bears early and continuously all summer; productive; indeterminate 44 days (can you believe it?)
Roma VF Hybrid Meaty, pear-shaped fruits and few seeds make this the one to pick for processing. Sets a generous mid-season crop. Determinate. 75 days VF-Perfect paste tomato!
Yellow Pear (OP) 75-80 days. loaded with hundreds of small 1-2 inch yellow pear-shaped fruit. Indeterminate, heavy production. An old-time favorite from Grandma's garden. F1, F2, V.
GREEN ZEBRAHeirloom 78 days Very unusual variety! The ripe fruits are bright green with light green stripes. The 2-4 ounce fruits have a delicious, real tomato flavor. Very vigorous determinate vines
Elberta Girl H, det, 100 days, bright red fruit striped in gold,3-oz plum shaped fruit this one is VERY tasty.
Golden Jubilee- Heirloom Attractive, bright orange flesh with few seeds, this tomato was the All-America Bronze Medal winner in 1943. It has a mild flavor, although a very good one. It produces well. It is a favorite among people who cannot tolerate the high acid content of most red tomatoes. 6 oz. fruit, short stemmed plants. Indeterminate. 72 days
Pineapple Tomatoes (Endangered) Heirloom An large irregularly-shaped tomato which ripens main season but is well worth waiting for. Semi-determinate bushy plants yield golden yellow tomatoes with beautiful red/gold bicolored flesh inside.
Monte Verde OP Large, indeterminate vine with non-curly foliage. Fruit is medium-large, green shouldered, firm, very smooth and very resistant to cracking. An early midseason variety that is a top yielder. Disease resistant to VFFStA. 85 days to harvest after transplanting.
I also planted Heinz 1370 and a Juilet Grape Tomato, but had trouble finding information about these. I grew Juliet last year, it looks like a combo between a large grape tomato and a small roma.
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