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Your Best Garden NOW!

It is time again to fine-tune our gardens into mean, lean veggie-growing machines. How can we make this year's garden even better than the last? How can we work with nature? Kids naturally love nature, so include them in your gardening plans. Colleen Rabbit Smith is here to share a few "All The Buzz" ideas and personal observations about all things garden.

By diversifying our gardens, we are encouraging a holistic life. 

Try planting herbs and flowers to make gardens more diverse and nature-friendly. Plants like fennel and dill attract honey bees, butterflies, and ladybugs to our gardens while adding flavor and medicine to our kitchens. When we diversify our gardens, we encourage a holistic life. When our garden's immune system is stimulated, the food that comes out of it will fill our bodies with vitality. 

Echinacea has been known to enhance our immune systems by making more white blood cells.

One family of herbs, Echinacea spp., attracts beneficial insects such as honey bees and butterflies.  Without these insects, our plants would not get pollinated, and we would have no food.  Predator insects would start to move in.  Echinacea also attracts birds when it goes to seed.  Echinacea has been known to enhance our immune systems by making more white blood cells.  Digging the roots of third-year plants in the fall is an example of traditional herbal medicine.  A person could dry these roots and use them in tea to help stave off the first signs of cold and flu.

Red clover can also be planted to attract honey bees. Its roots travel deep into the ground and attract nitrogen-fixating bacteria. These bacteria feed our veggie plants, keeping them green and healthy. Red clover has been known to cleanse human blood and supply the lungs with extra oxygen for healing. It is also high in micronutrients that can feed our soil and our bodies.

Warning: Red clover is a blood thinner...

One of my favorite things about spring is going into the garden and nibbling these vibrant, purple blossoms. Warning: Red clover is a blood thinner for those already on medication.  I always let a few red clover plants grow in my garden and find them a wonderful companion, always ready to feed and nurture their neighboring plants.

Last season, I sat in awe, watching hundreds of honey bees sampling powerful pollen from my garlic chives. These bees may have needed that powerful, natural antibiotic at the time. It seems the bees have a powerful instinctual confidence in their pollen collections. By diversifying our plants, our bees have a better chance of survival.

By diversifying our plants, our bees have a better chance of survival.

Planting herbs, such as lemon balm, sage, oregano, basil, thyme, and rosemary, can also help ward off unwanted insects.  These plants also make wonderful teas, sauces, and facial steams.  Using pesticides (even ones labeled organic) can harm our fragile insect community.  Be careful of large retail outlets that may spray.  Get your plants from reliable sources.

We can be at one with our gardens.  We can benefit beyond the everyday uses of our gardens.  With a little help, our gardens can be a medicine chest for honey bees and other beneficial insects.  Take the initiative to plant and eat diversely this season.

Colleen Rabbit Smith—local horticulture and herbalism.

Colleen lives in The Ozark hill land of Missouri, near the head waters of The Courtois Creek. She gardens and wild-crafts a wide variety of plants. She also offers land consultations, workshops, and plant walks. Colleen is constantly reminded of the abundance The Earth provides for us all. She has a degree in horticulture and studied herbalism in Silver City, New Mexico, for four years. She continues to educate herself through books, lectures, and experiences. She aims to bring plant power to the people and develop a consciousness of land stewardship in The Ozark Region.

Get Out There! and get your garden on. No time to waste.

Supreme Leader of 573 Magazine


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