Yep, it’s finally here, gorgeous, unpredictable spring. Clean and prepare your garden beds and get those early seeds and start going.
Feast on asparagus, artichokes, spring berries and greens, fava beans, dandelions, and chickweed.
Pack away your long johns and dig out those Easter pastels.
Plan a road trip or summer getaway. Time for longer days, and the warming sweetness of spring.
I will be on the road for much of the next two months so the next newsletter will be in June.
Upcoming Classes – Classes are sold out through June. Check the Denver Botanic Gardens, Apothecary Tinctura, and Rebecca's Herbal Apothecary in Boulder for classes on gardens, herbs, and more. A lot of the garden centers will be featuring free classes in April as spring fever starts to peak. Classes are offered at Echtors, Jareds, and Tagawa garden centers.
Fun Things to Do!
9 Health Fair Go enjoy some blood tests. See how you’re holding up for a very reasonable fee. https://365health.org/
Taste of Vail for some mountaintop dining, April 5 -8. https://tasteofvail.com/
The kids might enjoy the Tulip Fairy and Elf Parade on the Pearl St. Mall on Sunday, April 23. https://www.boulderdowntown.
April 22nd is Earth Day. Plant a tree, take a class, volunteer, and/or check out a festival. Do something to honor your Mama Earth. https://www.coloradoinfo.com/
Cinco de Mayo Festival and Parade, food, fun, and culture downtown at Civic Center Park in Denver – May 6 and 7, http://www.
Denver Arts Festival, May 27 and 28 at Stapleton. Art, music, and fun! https://denverartsfestival.
Denver Zoo - Sunday, April 9
Denver Art Museum – Tuesday, April 11, Sunday April 30, Tuesday, May 9, Sunday, May 14
Dinosaur Ridge - Monday, April, 17
Molly Brown House, Tuesday, April 18
Denver Botanic Gardens @ York St. and Chatfield Farms, Saturday, April 22
Denver Museum of Nature and Science, Sunday, April 30
*For more ideas check out https://www.denver.org/
April is the month when gardeners come out in earnest, usually in between snow storms. It’s wonderful to look out and see small explosions of color from spring bulbs and early blooming perennials.
The crucial item for a successful garden? Soil. I add compost to the garden beds every spring and fall. Check out www.dug.org for free composting classes. No space for a garden? DUG also has garden plots for rent.
Now is the time to divide your overgrown perennials and get those weed seedlings out. Go on an herb walk to find out which ones make a tasty addition to dinner.
I like a garden that features fragrance, herbs, veggies, and edible and cut flowers for the house. Drought tolerance, long bloom, and easy maintenance are also essential. Check out https://extension.colostate.edu/topic-areas/yard-garden/ for extensive information on the best choices for gardening in Colorado. Curb your enthusiasm and don’t plant more than you are willing to maintain in the dog days of August.
You can put in your cool-weather crops now including kale, spinach, salad greens, onion sets, and strawberries. Put out some pansies and primrose to compliment your spring bulbs. Cut back grasses, roses, perennials, and dead wood in shrubs. Resist the urge to buy tender plants too early. If a late frost doesn’t kill them, it will definitely stunt them.
Herb of the Month – Dandelion, Taraxacum officinale
April is the month for dandelions. Dandelions are plentiful and at their peak flavor right now. Dandelion happens to be one of the top five most nutritious vegetables, ahead of broccoli and spinach. It contains Vitamin A, calcium, iron, thiamine, riboflavin, and trace minerals. Europeans have been eating dandelions for centuries and you can find them here in upscale markets and restaurants, not to mention the backyard.
Medicinal plant properties include dandelions use as a liver and kidney tonic and mild diuretic. All parts of the plant are edible. Dandelion leaves are tastiest when young and collected before setting their flower bud, after that they become bitter.
Dandelion leaves can be used in salads, egg dishes, casseroles, soups, and vegetable dishes. Basically anywhere you would use spinach. Make sure they have not been sprayed with pesticides. The fall roots can be chopped, roasted, and used as a healthy coffee substitute.
The flowers, steeped in water, make a fine face wash, herbal bath, or steam. You can also use the flowers for vinegar and wine. Pull out the flower petals and blend into butter and cheese spreads, or as a bright garnish for salads and other dishes. The flowers are a source of a natural yellow dye and are an important pollen source for honeybees.
So don’t scorn this generous, sunny little plant. Appreciate the many gifts it offers and use it to give yourself a healthy spring boost.
Violets – Viola sp.
Violets are some of the first flowers of spring and are both edible and medicinal along with being lovely and fragrant. There are many varieties, from pansies to perennial violets to the wild violets that like to infiltrate lawns and stream beds.
They will 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, this will keep them bushy and full of flowers.
Violet and pansy syrup have been used to ease sore throats and make a delicious sweetener. A poultice of pansy or violet leaves, made by mashing leaves with aloe vera to make a paste can be applied to inflamed skin to soothe irritation and reduce inflammation. Violets have an affinity for the breast and are used to soothe 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 for lovely garnishes.
Homemade Cleaning Spray
My favorite homemade cleaning spray.
- 1/2 cup rubbing alcohol
- 1/2 cup Dr. Bronners liquid castile soap, I like peppermint
- 1 tbs. baking soda
- Several drops of essential oil – I like lemon, orange, and lavender
- 2 cups of water
Pour the water into the spray bottle and add the other ingredients. Shake to mix and you’re done. Cleaning products are some of the most toxic substances in our homes carry all kinds of nasty chemicals and fumes. This is effective, inexpensive, and non-toxic. I actually enjoy using it.