May arrives with longer days, spring flowers, sudden rainstorms (we hope), and nature exploding with growth. What will you begin now that we are emerging from the pandemic and new opportunities and adventures beckon? What can you release from this past year as you move forward with new ideas, relationships, adventures, and perspectives?
Farmer’s markets and CSA’s will be starting soon. Seasonal produce for May includes baby greens, spinach, dandelion, nettle, and chickweed, asparagus, brussel sprouts, new potatoes, artichokes, snap peas, snow peas, fennel, beets, sweet onions, rhubarb, and strawberries. Let the nutritious, delicious feasting begin!
Unfortunately, all May and June classes are sold out. I am looking at adding an herb walk or two at Denver Botanic Gardens at Chatfield for June. Stay posted.
Crested Butte Wildflower Festival, July 9 – 18
Crested Butte Wildflower Festival
It’s back! A week of glorious wildflowers in the mountains. Classes are offered on a variety of topics from hikes, botany, crafts, history, and more. I will be teaching classes on foraging, cooking, herbs, and crafting. Most are already sold out but there are plenty of other classes available. The amazing flower display is reason enough to venture here. https://crestedbuttewildflowerfestival.org
Fun Things to Do!
Are you getting that garden fever? Check out garden classes at the Denver Botanic Gardens and local garden centers and nurseries.
Cinco de Mayo Festival and Parade, food, fun, and culture downtown at Civic Center Park in Denver – May 7 and 8, http://www.cincodemayodenver.com
Food Truck Carnival, May 13-15, Northglenn. Over 20 of metro Denver’s best food trucks, carnival rides, and music. Summer has begun! http://www.foodtruckcarnival.com/
Spread the Word Music Fest, May 17 – May 19th, downtown Denver. A full weekend of music with local Colorado bands. Get your dancing shoes on!
Denver Arts Festival, Memorial Day Weekend, Central Park by Stapleton, Denver.
Music, art, and food. https://denverartsfestival.com/
Free days this month include:
Denver Museum of Nature and Science - Sunday, May 1, and Monday, May 23
Denver Art Museum – Tuesday, May 10
Colorado Railroad Museum – Thursday, May 12
Four Mile Historic Park, Friday, May 13
Check out free-days for more
May is THE gardening month of the year here in Colorado. Unless you are up in the mountains in which case you will have to be patient. Remember the most important item for garden success is soil. Get that right and the rest is a breeze. An ideal soil is the texture of the crumbled chocolate cake. Amend your garden space with compost and consider raised beds if your soil is uncooperative.
Have a plan and make a list before you go to the garden center. Incorporate plants that do well in this area. I veer towards the low water plants which also tend to be low maintenance. There is no point in planting azaleas and beef master tomatoes when there are so many better options.
This may be the year for a vegetable garden if you have never had one. Salad greens, radishes, cherry tomatoes, beans, leafy greens, and herbs all do well here. Enjoy the ease of walking out to the garden for your fresh produce and the thrill of accomplishment when your crop comes in. Just make sure you have enough sun and good soil to make it thrive.
For a treasure trove of information about what does well and when to plant it check out https://extension.colostate.edu/topic-areas/yard-garden/. You will find an abundance of information on anything from raising livestock to the best cherry tomatoes for your area.
Start small and go from there. You can always add on later if you have the time and energy. A small, well-kept garden is a source of infinite reward. A large weedy one? Not so much. Don’t overlook container gardens. Easy and great for small spaces.
The allergy season is upon us. So what can you do?
Keep an eye on pollen counts. The local news will announce them. Pollen is usually higher overnight and in the morning, so keep windows closed and forestall outside chores on those days when the count is high, consider getting a pollen mask. You should be used to wearing masks by now. An air cleaner and a vacuum cleaner equipped with hepa filters can be helpful. Limit carpet, pillows, and fabric in your bedroom, and put your pillow in the dryer for 10 minutes to kill dust mites. When pollen is hi refrain from drying your clothes outside and change your clothes when you come in. Keep surfaces clean by wiping down with a damp cloth.
I love my neti pot for rinsing out my nasal passages with salt water. To be truthful I never feel like doing it but I’m motivated because once I do it feels so much better.
Don’t stress out your body by eating a lot of processed foods and sugar. Stick to antioxidant foods like berries, dark leafy greens, and cruciferous veggies. You know the drill. Some herbs and supplements that can help are turmeric, reishi mushroom, astragalus, quercetin, Vitamins C and D, and freeze-dried nettles are all helpful.
Herb of the Month – Violets, Viola sp.
Violets are some of the first flowers of spring and are both edible and medicinal along with being absolutely lovely. There are many varieties, from pansies to perennial violets to wild violets that like to infiltrate lawns and stream beds.
Violets grow in sun to light shade and prefer a rich garden loam and moderate watering. Purchase dense, sturdy-looking plants with lots of healthy, green leaves and buds. If they have been in a greenhouse, harden them off by putting them outside for a few nights tucked up close to the house. Don't forget to remove the stems of faded blooms, to keep them bushy and full of flowers. They are cool weather plants so they will fade out when summer heat sets in and often come back in the cooler temps of fall.
Violets are cooling and moistening and have been used as food, for poultices, and as a soothing anti-inflammatory for hot, inflamed tissue. Violet and pansy syrup have been used to ease sore throats and as a digestive tonic. A poultice of pansy or violet leaves, made by mashing leaves with aloe vera to make a paste can be applied to the skin to reduce inflammation. Violets have an affinity for the breast and are used for mastitis, infections, pain, and cysts.
Unsprayed leaves and blooms are edible and can be used in teas, salads, smoothies, soups, stews, butters, vinegars, and more. Leaves are rich in Vitamin A, C, and trace minerals. You can candy the flowers or add them to salads and baked goods for lovely garnishes.
The Herbalists Happy Hour
Warm weather is here and it's time for refreshing beverages, cocktail parties, and al fresco dining. My book includes recipes for fresh, artisanal beverages and finger foods made with ingredients from the garden. I went for low effort and delicious results. It includes recipes for cocktails, infused liquors, non-alcoholic refreshers, bitters, garnishes, savory small bites, and more. From Blueberry Basil Blast to Smoked Salmon Mousse you’ll find plenty of ideas for healthy hydrating and flavorful snacking. Get it here
"The new dawn blooms as we free it. For there is always light if only we're brave enough to see it.
If only we're brave enough to be it."
- National Youth Poet Laureate, Amanda Gorman