When I sat down to compile this month’s issue of All About Thyme for you, I considered putting together a special “coronavirus issue” with tips and ideas for coping with what ails us. But I decided against it. For weeks now, we’ve been inundated with reports on the virus—a tsunami of news that informs, assists, encourages, discourages, and even frightens us. I don’t know about you, but in this time of uncertain futures, I feel better when I can reach out and touch something comfortable and comforting. Plants are a comforting part of my life. So while you’ll find several ways to cope with our new normal in this month’s eletter, there’s plenty more. I hope it makes you smile.
And here’s a special thank-you to those who have written asking how Bill and I are doing in this remarkable time. We’re doing just what y’all are doing: hunkering down, trying to get things done, and worrying about the way our world seems headed. While we have plenty of what we need (including TP), we could hope for a stronger internet connection–our satellite link is down more than it’s up these days. Our wish for you: stay safe and well and remember that while we may be alone and apart, we are all in this together.–Susan
Herb of the Year for 2020: Blackberries, raspberries, and their cousins (Rubus ssp.) Named by the International Herb Association
Flower of the Month for April: Daisy
April is National Poetry Month
April Feature: Grow Your Own Salads
April 5: Dandelion Day is sometimes celebrated along about now, and redbuds and maybe an early rose or two are blooming. Must be spring!
April 8: Passover begins at sundown.
April 10: Arbor Day! The first Arbor Day was observed in 1872, in Nebraska. Trees aren’t threatened by this virus. Wouldn’t hurt to hug one or two, now, would it? And planting trees helps reduce the impact of climate change.
April 11: Licorice Day. A cup of licorice tea, anyone? An immune-system booster, licorice helps to protect against upper respiratory infections.
April 12: Easter Sunday.
April 16: National Stress Awareness Day. Oh, boy. Let’s change this to Stress Abatement Day, shall we? Soothing choices: a cup of mint tea, a relaxing scented bath, one of the Darling Dahlias mysteries.
April 18: Step outside and watch for bees, doing their spring thing.
April 22: International Earth Day. Please. Let’s not get so focused on our immediate challenges that we forget the crisis facing our planet.
April 23: St. George’s Day. Be on the lookout for fleeing dragons!
April 25: National Zucchini Bread Day (Nice, but in April? Doesn’t this belong in July, when zukes are coming out our ears?)
April 28: Maryland was admitted to the Union on this day in 1788. Its state flower: the black-eyed Susan.
April 29: On this day in 1796, Amelia Simmons’ cookbook, American Cookery, was published. It is the first cookbook by an American author.
Salads taste better when they come straight from the garden to your salad bowl. What’s more, the experience of growing your own may give you a good dose of sunshine and the old-fashioned pleasure that comes with getting your hands dirty . Here are some considerations for your salad garden.
- Visualize your favorite salad and list all its ingredients: lettuces, peppery arugula, other spring greens—plus radishes, carrots, tomatoes, cucumbers, spinach, green onions, mustard, tender green beans, and edible flowers. Don’t forget herbs! Basil, cilantro, dill, parsley, and chives are easy to grow and will spark any salad.
- Take your list to a garden shop or grocery store and purchase seeds–or order online, if you’re hunkered down for the duration.
- Locate your salad garden close to the kitchen door or in a collection of containers on your deck or balcony. Dig the soil deep, or fill the pots with a lightweight potting medium. Plant seeds, water well, and add a solution of all-purpose fertilizer.
- If you have a little more room, build a teepee trellis and add a climber. Red-stemmed Malabar spinach (Basella rubra) and red-leaf amaranth are both nutritious and attractive. Cucumbers and pole beans are other possibilities. Growing your salads on a deck? Train your climber up a wall trellis.
- Don’t forget those lovely edible flowers: nasturtium, pansies, Johnny-jump-ups, calendula.
And for a bushel of zesty salad dressing ideas, check out this mouthwatering collection.
Celebrate Earth Day by choosing one way to modify your lifestyle during the coming year, to reduce your footprint on the planet.
Find out what St. George has to do with dragons.
Take a look at Amelia Simmons‘ famous 1798 cookbook, the first written by an American woman for American women. It introduced the first printed recipes for Indian Pudding and Hoe Cake. “Indian meal” is what we know as cornmeal; hoe cake was so called because the batter was stiff enough to bake on a hoe held over a cooking fire. Through the magic of the internet, you are looking at the original pages of this wonderful cookbook!
Soothe that stress with these helpful herbal fragrances. Choose scented candles or use a diffuser with essential oils.
- Rose, for depression, irritability
- Orange, for apprehension, nervous tension
- Ylang-ylang, for sleeplessness, nervous tension
- Lavender, for tension, anxiety, and sleeplessness
Go native. Where bees are concerned, native is nicer. Wild bees are already adapted to the native plants of your area, so if you want to attract more native bees, plant more natives. In many parts of the U.S., this will include wildflowers like coreopsis, gaillardia, basketflowers, toadflax, sunflowers, red clover, black-eyed Susans, and monarda.
Learn about the black-eyed Susan’s medicinal properties, and watch for its pretty bloom throughout late spring and summer.
Listen to one of Susan’s podcasts about the lore and magic of herbs. Each one is fun—and you’ll learn something you didn’t know about your favorite herb!
Find out what Susan is up to these days by visiting her blog, Lifescapes. There’s always something interesting going on in the Texas Hill Country. On her “other” blog, BookScapes, she posts book reviews, bookish thoughts, and notes on the fast-changing world of books