Tagged "garden apothecary"

Harvesting emails and Gram's garden.

“Write about ‘Meyer’ lemons.”

“CA poppies touched my butt.” 

“Smelling the roses in front of Mary at Mission Basilica.”



I have a folder in my email titled, write. It’s mostly filled with emails from myself with one or two hastily written sentences of writing ideas. In the moment, these ideas seem fantastic, and I am sure that I will remember exactly what I meant when I wrote them. 

One email says, “each leaf of tea.” 

Another says, “that goat that time.” 

I have the best of intentions to follow these sentences on a winding path to a great novel or personal essay or something that the NY Times would die to publish. Human interest stories about plants - what could be better? Mostly though, these emails stay in their folder and when I visit them on the rare occasion, I have no clue what the fuck I was talking about. “Write about ‘Meyer’ lemons” - Hmm, that doesn’t narrow it down. Should I write about how to grow them, the origin, a few recipes? I guess what pops up in my mind the most when I think of ‘Meyer’ lemons, is my Grandma Lee, who had a huge lemon tree in her back garden in San Francisco. It was planted back in the early 50’s, and by the time I was old enough to fall in love with it (around 5 years old), it was 1987 and the tree was enormous, with thick branches and bushels of foliage. My Grandpa Charles (pronounced, “Challles” with that old-fashioned native SF drawl, especially after a drink or two) pruned the tree in a uninspired rectangle, like most of the shrubs on the property. He was a good gardener, but not exactly a visionary when it came to design. I used to sit and watch him spray the shit out of the back orchard, filling the air with pesticides while I opened and closed the old brass spigot, watching the thick stream of water hit the pathway and bounce in different directions. I distinctly remember thinking, these chemicals are bad, as he sprayed the plum, apple and guava trees. But, a la The Godfather, I just sat and watched him, enamored with the visual and tactile delights of gardening. He wore a white tank top with slacks, and he smelled like church. 

When winter came, the tree was filled with heaping clusters of fragrant lemons and virile bright green leaves. The garden was a traditional postage stamp-size, outlined by a thin concrete pathway, leading in a rectangular round-about, through the garden. The lemon was on the left, but it dominated the garden. We all loved that tree; grabbing lemons off of it almost year round. Pulling at the branches and gathering the citrus in outstretched clothing at the waist, letting them weigh down our t-shirts or hoodies. The soot from the city often covered the outer growing lemons and leaves, so I would go under the tree, harvesting from the middle. My grandma told us a story once of a tortoise that lived under the tree for many years. Every time I butt-scooted under it for a lemon, I’d secretly hope to find that tortoise. I never did - and still don’t really know the full story of why my grandparents had a giant tortoise in their city garden. 

Originating in China, the ‘Meyer’ lemon was introduced to the US in 1908, and continues to grow excellently in the Bay Area - and in my opinion needs to be in every single garden. Beyond it’s great taste and medicinal qualities, it makes a lovely companion, planted along side of anything from succulents to roses. There’s little pretense with a tree like this, you just grow it and enjoy. 

The lemon tree is still there, long after my grandparents passed away. Another owner is living in the house and I have always wanted to knock on the door and visit the garden again to see that tree. 

The feeling of ‘Meyer’ lemons is what sticks with me the most. Origin is irrelevant. Recipes bore me. I want to spend time feeling like a little girl again - remembering what the blossoms smelled like for the first time and feeling the soft weight of harvesting lemon after lemon. Oils on the hands and green stains on our clothes.

“Write about 'Meyer' lemons”. One email down.


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Start. And continue.

Sparing you the details of a horrendous yet amazing eight weeks, I'll start by sharing some life stuff. I recently became single, started taking an intense weekly Japanese Taiko drumming class, and even more recently completed the Stanford University's Cultivating Compassion Training (CCT). Cultivating Compassion Training are basically fancy words that say for eight weeks, I meditated. I'm sure I'll be writing more about this, but for now my biggest take-away was on our last night, where our professor shared three simple words:

Start. And continue. 

Take this as you'd like, but for me and for today's post, this relates to farming... ish.


The long driveway of my property is going through my least favorite stage of the year, with puddles from this week's rain, giant gopher holes and the gravel I spent my savings on (back in 2002 and multiple times since) disappearing into nowhere. The gopher holes mock me and my efforts to thwart their continued swiss-cheese impact on my beautiful driveway. I walk, and with every two feet or so, softly mutter the holy prayer all farmers say, "Fucking assholes."

 The short walk to where the fields start is still lovely, with wind-bend hemlock smelling sweet with the remembrance of warmer days in the fall. I get to the rows of saffron (Crocus sativus), to survey what has recently bloomed. This is a perennial crop that needs tending to just a few months out of the year, with the time before harvest being the most important. Since I was consumed by something less savory during that time, the saffron were completely neglected. This year's harvest is definitely lower then expected (hoped, needed, wished), but it's more then sufficient for our purposes with the Higher Ground serum. (We have lots of perfect saffron threads being popped into new serum bottles as we speak, a winter 2017 batch that will be available well before christmas. Check out this awesome article including our products, from Alicia Silverstone.)  

Coming home from harvest, I pile the little heads of purple saffron in a heap on my kitchen table. Methodically, I work through the pile, pulling the narrow petals away from the stigma and stamen. The saffron (stigma) is laid flat to dry for the next two weeks. I haven't figured out a good use for the petals, other then burying my face in them for the rest of the evening. The buds that haven't fully opened are my favorite to process, twirling open with a simple movement and easily releasing the bright rust red saffron. 

My evenings have been spent tending to these tiny flowers, allowing me to spend time on a sweeter focus in these short winter days. 

Start. And continue. 

The plan is to plant more next fall and restore this current crop. Onward. 



To order a bottle of our new batch of Higher Ground serum, click here or visit the shop

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Farm Workshop #001 - recap

What a pure delight to have a gathering at the farm the other week!

It was a surly Friday evening, with clouds coming and going - until about 7pm, when the sky opened up and the setting sun shown through the back drop of our 100+ year old Cypress trees. If it sounds too dreamy, you're right. It was...

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GA + Merchant Home

A lovely post from one of most favorite companies, Merchant Home. This noteworthy company of the talented Alexandra Sklar, offers business insight that we have grow to depend on. I call her my ideas wrangler - although it doesn't begin to encapsulate all the Merchant Home has to offer. As a small company (and with my head mostly in the weeds, not the books), Alexandra's detailed eye for design, numbers, trends and business management is not only inspiring but vital. We have truly loved working with her and the MH team. 
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Add to the stove a quart of water with generous pinches of:
- Cinnamon
- Cardamom
- Nutmeg
- Clove
- Ginger
- Black Pepper
Allow to come to a rolling boil for a few minutes, then simmer on low.

This not only makes your home smell amazing, but can also deodorizer and disinfect the air and influence our mood. With this spice blend, you are prone to feeling warm, energized and alert. I like to keep this pot of botanicals simmering on the stove while I'm cleaning or doing paperwork.

I'm not a fan of the over use of essential oils (or the MLM's they're sometimes attached to), as compared to using whole, organic botanicals. Ideally, use the real-deal plant, not a processed version or expensive oil for burning or diffusing. Cinnamon sticks last for up to 6-8 uses, brewing pot after pot of fragrant tea. Nutmeg powder does the same, with the scent slightly evolving with each use. Here is a good blog post on safety when diffusing essential oils.

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