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Found 12 results

  1. Lynn


    It happened again today. I could feel a cold coming on last night, and this morning I felt phlegm in my throat. So I took 2 teaspoons of Echinacea tincture, and could feel the characteristic tingling on my tongue and cheeks. Within an hour the symptoms vanished. I took another dose tonight, although I feel fine. Although recent studies are telling us Echinacea is ineffective, centuries of use have proven it boosts the immune system. It is used to treat colds and flu, fight infection, help speed wound healing, and reduce inflammation. It was introduced to Europeans by the American Indians, who have used it for centuries. It is the most prescribed herb in Europe. Echinaceas are a group of North American perennial flowering plants, commonly known as coneflower when grown as a cut flower. The magenta-purple petals radiate around a high cone. In the Flathead Valley of Montana, Echinacea blooms in early August. I have seen it in the wild here, but it is rare. It enjoys full sun and average soil. Two species are most often used medicinally. One is the common garden variety, Echinacea purpureum. It grows to about three feet tall. The other species, Echinacea Angustifolia, is shorter and has smaller leaves and flowers. The leaves have small hairs. There is some debate about which is most effective. The appropriate species to use for particular disorders is listed in Prescription for Herbal Healing by Balch. Some of the conditions that studies have proven to help are: Acne and infected nails. Echinacea based creams can be used to protect acne damaged skin against sun damage. Cancer. German researchers have found Echniacea purpurea extended life expectancy of people with colorectal and liver cancer, when combined with phamide and thymostimulin. It also offsets depression of white cells during radiation and chemotherapy treatments. Yeast infections. Acts against Candida albicans. Colds, cough, flu, and strep throat. Double-blind studies show Echinacea makes colds shorter and less severe. Parasites. Echinacea is nontoxic to our system, but not so to parasites. September and October are good months to harvest the roots of Echinacea. After a frost, the plant sends nutrients to the roots to prepare for dormancy, so it will be able to spring to life in April. I cut the stems, then dig the roots and soak them briefly in water to loosen the soil around them. Then I take them into the kitchen and rinse with warm water, using a nail brush to clean around the tapering, fibrous root system. As with most roots, the medicinal properties of Echinacea are best extracted by the use of alcohol and water. Use 1 part Everclear or vodka to 3 parts water. Chop the fresh root into ½ inch pieces and weigh it. Place in a blender. Add twice the weight in ounces of liquid mixture (one ounce of fresh herb root in two ounces of liquid). Blend thoroughly, place in a glass jar with lid. Store it in a dark place for two weeks; strain through a paper filter, then bottle in a dark jar. Use 1/2 teaspoon to 2 teaspoons, according to your weight. Use your tincture when you feel the first symptoms of a cold or flu. Isn’t it wonderful to make your own medicine! Sources: The Complete Medicinal Herbal, Penelope Ody, DK Books, 1993 A Modern Herbal, Mrs. M. Grieve, Dover, 1971 Prescription for Herbal Healing, Phyllis Balch, Avery, 2002
  2. Lynn

    Elder Flowers and Berries

    Sambucus nigra Canadensis is a black berried deciduous, shrubby tree that seems to grow everywhere in the world! They grow wild in Montana, in moist areas, especially along rivers and streams. Elder has serrated leaflets, usually five to a group, opposite of one another. There are ornamental varieties as well. The flowers are in an umbel, creamy white, are muscatel-scented; used to flavor sweet and savory dishes and elderflower water for eye and skin lotions. The berries add flavor, color and vitamin C to jams, pies, and the famous elderberry syrup for colds. Leaves, stems, and roots are also useful medicinally. The pithy stems can be hollowed out and used for pipes and pop guns. Shakespeare mentions Elder as the Judas Tree (from which he hung himself) in Loves Labour Lost, reaffirmed by herbalist Gerard. Another old tradition is that the Cross of Calvary was made of it. Because of these old Anglo traditions, the Elder became the emblem of sorrow and death. Many country folk in Europe will not cut an elder. It was believed to drive away evil spirits by the Russians, and Serbs use Elder in their wedding ceremonies to bring good luck. It is heralded by many poets and herbalists throughout literary history. With the many medicinal uses of Elder, I can see why these beliefs are held. Each part of the plant is used for different purposes. Mrs. M. Grieve goes into great detail on the uses and constituents in A Modern Herbal, but here I will discuss the Elderberry and Elderflower. Elderberry is one of the most effective herbs for preventing and treating upper respiratory infections, constipation, and fever. The ripe berries are rich in vitamins A and C. Harvest in the fall. It stimulates the immune system. Compounds in elderberry protect against at least eight strains of human flu virus. A clinical trial of elderberry found that it cured 90 percent of flu infections within 72 hours, usually taking six days for recovery. For this purpose, the patented herbal medicine “Sambucol” or a cooked elderberry syrup is preferred. Large doses of uncooked berries can cause digestive problems. To make a syrup, make a decoction by heating 3 cups of cold water with 1 ounce of dried elderberry, or 2 ounces of fresh elderberry. Place the herbs in a stainless steel or glass saucepan and add cold water. Bring to a boil, then simmer for up to one hour, until the volume has been reduced by one-third. Strain through a sieve, filter paper, or cloth. Add 1 cup of honey and stir constantly until dissolved. Allow the mixture to cool and pour into a dark glass bottle. Seal with a cork stopper and store in the refrigerator. Elderflowers are used to reduce phlegm and encourage sweating. Useful for colds, flu and hay fever; they are made into a tea and flavored with honey. A gentle laxative and expectorant, it induces perspiration. The tea can be used as a mouthwash/gargle for mouth ulcers, sore throats, and tonsillitis. It can be used as an eyewash when cool, and in a cream for chapped skin and sores. The tea may be combined with peppermint and yarrow for flu and hay fever. Elderflower water, in our great grandmother’s day, was used for clearing the complexion of freckles and sunburn and maintaining a smooth complexion. It was often mixed with glycerin and borax for blemishes and moisturizing. Elderflower water is also used in the bath, aiding in cases of irritability of the skin and nerves. Elderflower water is made by pressing an ounce of the dried flowers in a glass or stainless steel container, covered with 2 quarts boiling water and an ounce of Everclear or vodka. Allow it to thoroughly cool, then strain through a paper or cloth filter. Refrigerate for long life. Use it in a spray bottle as an astringent after cleansing your face. We are fortunate to have such a beautiful, as well as medicinal, plant growing around us! Sources: Disclaimer:
  3. Sorry, I have not been able to find any connection to those puffy white confections we all know as marshmallows, except that the powdered roots mixed with water make a fluffy paste. If you know of any such folklore, please let me know! Marshmallows proper (Althaea officinalis) grow wild in the eastern part of this United States, but there are many species that grow wild in our neighborhood. The most common garden variety is the Hollyhock, and it can be used as marshmallow in the following treatments. Marshmallows possess the highest concentrations of mucilage, polysaccharides, asparagin and tannins of the group. I grow both Hollyhocks and Marshmallow at our organic farm. Externally, it is good for wounds, burns, boils and skin ulceration. Marshmallow and Hollyhocks grow about three feet tall, with pretty hibiscus like flowers in pinks, white and purple. They will thrive in any soil or situation, but grows larger in moist than in dry soil, and can be cultivated in any unused, wet ground. I like to grow them as a background in borders. Although the flowers and leaves can be used, the roots have the most nutrients, are thick, long and tapering, very tough and pliant. They are white and fibrous inside. Most of the Mallows have been used as food. It is boiled first and then fried with onions and butter. Remember that when you are lost in the woods! It can be raised from seed, or divisions made from the roots. The leaves and flowers are picked in August, the root is harvested in the fall and winter. Marshmallow water is made by soaking one ounce of roots in four cups of cold water, then simmering down to three cups. Strain through loosely woven cloth to keep as much muclilage as possible. This decoction can be used for inflammations of the mucous membranes: gastritis, esiphagitis, enteritis, peptic ulcers, hiatus hernia and for urinary inflammations such as cystitis. The result of these preparations is a gummy paste, great to use as a poultice externally, and soothing for sore throats and stomachaches when taken internally. Leaves may be used in a tea to soothe and heal bronchial and urinary disorders. They are expectorant, diuretic and demulcent. Try growing some of these pretty, easy plants. Look for them as weeds in your garden! Identify what you have before using medicinally. Harvest roots and make your preparations in the fall to ease colds and flu this winter. The Complete Medicinal Herbal, Penelope Ody, DK Books, 1993 A Modern Herbal, Mrs. M. Grieve, Dover, 1971 Prescription for Herbal Healing, Phyllis Balch, Avery, 2002 NRCS Plants database images Disclaimer: Herbal medicine and teas, as a method of healing, are not recognized in the USA. Lynn Cochrane makes no health claims. Any herbal or tea information is not intended to treat, diagnose, or prescribe in any way, and is for informational purposes only. She does not take responsibility for your experience using them. She trusts that you will consult a licensed healthcare professional when appropriate, especially pregnant women, nursing mothers, anyone over 60 years of age, anyone under 12 years of age, or anyone with a serious medical condition.
  4. Lynn


    LOCAL HERBS AND HOW TO USE THEM - Raspberry, Rubus idaeus Used as a flavoring for many delicious jams, jellies, fruit juices and yogurts, raspberries are a traditional favorite household remedy. The berries are taken for indigestion and rheumatism. They are rich in minerals and highly nutritious. A vinegar, made from the fruit juice and white wine vinegar with sugar added, is used for a cooling drink for fever. Raspberry vinegar is also used as a gargle for sore throats. Raspberry syrup dissolves tartar of the teeth. But that is just half of it! Raspberry leaves are used medicinally as well. They are a rich source of vitamin C and contain manganese, iron and niacin. Taken during late pregnancy and childbirth, the leaves are a uterine tonic. During the first trimester of pregnancy, do not use more than two cups in any single day, or more than twice in any given week. Let your doctor know you are using raspberry leaves. Raspberry leaf can help to relieve menstrual cramps. While relaxing the uterus itself, it stimulates supporting muscles to allow for easier menstrual flow. Raspberry leaf is traditionally used for bed wetting because it tones pelvic muscles. It is useful for diarrhea, wounds and sore throats because of its astringency. In France, Raspberry leaf tea is regarded as a tonic for the prostate gland. Harvest the leaves in summer before the fruit ripens. The leaves are usually available at our local natural food stores in bulk, or as a tea. When planting raspberries, place suckers of new shoots about 2 feet apart in rows, with 6 to 10 feet between rows, in good loam soil. It must be slightly acid, with a pH of 6 to 6.5 as the ideal. They need plenty of air to produce fine fruit. Mulch plantings to discourage weeds and keep soil moist, using a wood based mulch. I find that constant watering with a soaker hose throughout bloom and fruiting produces abundant fruit if rain is not abundant. To make Raspberry Tea: Used to ease childbirth, take one cup daily in the last six to eight weeks of pregnancy, and drink plenty of warm tea during labor. During labor, add rose petals to your tea. Raspberry leaf tea can be used for mild diarrhea or as a gargle for mouth ulcers and sore throats. The tea is used for washing wounds, and applied to varicose ulcers and sores. It also makes a soothing eyewash. Use 2 cups of water, just off the boil, to 1 oz. of dried leaves, 2 oz. of fresh leaves. Pour hot water over the herb in a tea pot. Leave to infuse for 10 minutes, then strain and drink warm. Store the rest in a pitcher in a cool place. To make Raspberry Vinegar: Steep one pound of Raspberries in one quart of white vinegar for two weeks, then strain. Use as a cough mixture or gargle for sore throats. Its pleasant flavor can be used to disguise the flavor of other herbal remedies. When sugar or honey is added, it makes an excellent cooling drink in summer. Sources: The Complete Medicinal Herbal, Penelope Ody, DK Books, 1993 A Modern Herbal, Mrs. M Grieve, Dover Publications, 1981 Western Garden Book, Sunset, 2001 Prescription for Herbal Healing, Phyllis Balch, Avery, 2002 Disclaimer: Herbal medicine and teas, as a method of healing, are not recognized in the USA. Lynn Wallingford makes no health claims. Any herbal or tea information is not intended to treat, diagnose, or prescribe in any way, and is for informational purposes only. She does not take responsibility for your experience using them. She trusts that you will consult a licensed healthcare professional when appropriate, especially pregnant women, nursing mothers, anyone over 60 years of age, anyone under 12 years of age, or anyone with a serious medical condition.
  5. Lynn


    LOCAL HERBS AND HOW TO USE THEM ~ PEPPERMINT (Mentha piperita) Greeks and Romans used peppermint at their feasts and on their tables in sprays. There is evidence that mint was cultivated by the Egyptians, but it came into use in Western Europe about 1750 and was first used in England. Of course, the English now consider their local peppermint as the best in the world. Some fine peppermint is grown in the Flathead Valley of Montana and carries a distinctive “green” flavor. Even though the cultivar may be a clone, the flavor of peppermint changes noticeably in every locale it is grown and the conditions of weather, water, and soil. Hence, peppermint from Yakima differs from peppermint from Flathead Valley. Some peppermint has much more menthol, which clears breathing passages. Both peppermint and spearmint do best in a fairly warm, moist climate in deep soils rich in humus, but is a cold hardy herb (down to -20 F in Montana). Peppermint will succeed in most soils when once started. It grows so very well under my outdoor faucet and outgrows any weed. Of course, quack grass moves in eventually, so I replant my peppermint in a new spot every three years, taking care to separate the weed roots from the peppermint rhizomes (wide-spreading, fleshy, and bare fibrous roots). For peak essential oil content, harvest, when the flower buds are forming after the dew, has dried on a sunny day. This herb is so prolific, I harvest it much more frequently, and a small patch of it provides herbs for hundreds of sleep pillows every year. Peppermint is a good decongestant, so helps a person to sleep more soundly. Peppermint is a superior anti-spasmodic herb (reduces muscle spasm and tension) and is widely used for stomach aches, cramping, flatulence, and colic. It is used with purgatives to prevent griping and used with drugs and formulas to disguise the taste. In slight colds or early indications of disease, Peppermint tea will help ward off the problem. Use one ounce of dried herb to 2 cups of boiling water, let steep for one half hour, then take ½ cup every few hours. According to Mrs. M Grieve, Peppermint blended with an equal quantity of Elderflower, as a tea, will banish a cold or mild attack of flu within thirty-six hours, and there is no danger of overdose or harmful action on the heart. Peppermint promotes sweating in fevers and flu. In fairly high doses, Peppermint Essential Oil is analgesic (relieves pain) and promotes calming. It is cooling, so is good for fever, headaches, menstrual pain and migraines. Apply to forehead and temples for headaches. Used as an inhalant, it clears nasal congestion. 2-3 drops of oil in a saucer of water left in the room at night will reduce nasal congestion. As a wash, use 2-3 drops of oil in ½ cup of water for itching, burns, ringworm, and skin irritations. Peppermint oil is used for Crohn’s disease and hepatitis to relieve digestive disturbances and stimulate the release of bile. It is easy to see why peppermint is used extensively in after dinner mints, gum, mouthwash, and toothpaste. Do not give any form of mint directly to young babies. It can reduce milk flow, so take internally with caution if you are breast feeding. Avoid peppermint if you have a gallbladder disorder. If you have chronic heartburn, avoid this herb. If you drink peppermint tea on a regular basis, take a few days' break after a week or two. Sources: The Complete Medicinal Herbal, Penelope Ody, DK Books, 1993 A Modern Herbal, Mrs. M. Grieve, Dover, 1971 Prescription for Herbal Healing, Phyllis Balch, Avery, 2002 Sunset Western Garden Book, Sunset Publishing, 2001 Mentha piperita illustration, from NRCS Plants Database, Britton, N.L. Disclaimer: Herbal medicine and teas, as a method of healing, are not recognized in the USA. Lynn Wallingford makes no health claims. Any herbal or tea information is not intended to treat, diagnose, or prescribe in any way, and is for informational purposes only. She does not take responsibility for your experience using them. She trusts that you will consult a licensed healthcare professional when appropriate, especially pregnant women, nursing mothers, anyone over 60 years of age, anyone under 12 years of age, or anyone with a serious medical condition.
  6. Lynn


    It is likely that the Hawthorn trees found locally in parks and yards will be Crataegus oxyacantha, English Hawthorn. However, the Downy Hawthorn (Crataegus mollis) is native to central North America, so it may be found growing as a native in Montana. Cratagegus odoratissima has an agreeable scent when flowering and is used as a fruit. A member of the Rose family, Hawthorns are known for clusters of pretty, white flowers and for showy fruit that looks like tiny apples in summer and fall. I have often collected the fruits to use for color in potpourri. The leaves are three lobed, with indentations resembling an oak leaf. It grows more like a shrub, multi-branched with thorny branches. It is a very hardy shrub, and species are able to grow in Zones 2 and up. Hawthorns make great hedges, and have been used as such in England and Germany for over a thousand years. European tradition regards the tree as sacred, having furnished the Crown of Thorns for Jesus. It makes an excellent fuel, making the hottest wood fire known. Evidence of benefit of Hawthorn compounds that support the heart and circulatory system are numerous. It is used at the beginning stages of heart disease, for mild heart muscle weakness, pressure and tightness in the chest, and to speed recovery from heart attack. Substances in Hawthorn interact with key enzymes in the heart to increase the pumping force of the muscle. By dilating the blood vessels, more oxygen rich blood gets to the heart to relieve chest pressure and tightness. Hawthorn’s action develops slowly, though. The flowers contain more cardiac influencing properties than the berries. Because of circulatory benefits, Hawthorn is good for arthritis and osteoporosis, in stabilizing the collagen in cartilage and bone. Extracts of Crataegus laevigata or oxycantha relieve restlessness and anxiety in children with ADD. Benefits for capillaries make Hawthorn a useful treatment for bloodshot eyes, swollen ankles and varicose veins. Leukemia and cancer patients benefit from compounds that deactivate plasmin, a chemical that allows cancerous tumors to spread through the body. Fatigue caused by Lupus is reduced when using Hawthorne extracts. FLOWERING TOPS: As an infusion for cardiac disorders, use 1 oz. of dried flowers, or 2.5 ounces of fresh flowers, in 2 cups of water taken off the boil (not boiling). Put the herb in a pot with a close fitting lid (such as a teapot). Pour hot water over the herb. Infuse for 10 minutes, then pour through a strainer into a teacup; store the rest in a pitcher in a cool place. Ingest ½ cup, three times a day. Make a fresh pot daily. Tincture: Use 1 cup of alcohol (Everclear is best) to 3 cups of distilled water. Put 20 oz. fresh flowers, or 7 oz. dried herb into a large jar with 1 quart of tincture base and cover with the mixture. Seal the jar and store in a cool place for two weeks, shaking occasionally. Strain the mixture through a cheesecloth or a paper coffee filter. Store in clean, dark glass bottles. Ingest one oz. (two tablespoons) three times a day. As with most horticultural varieties of plants, isn’t it a gift that this pretty landscaping tree is so good for us? Bibliography: The Complete Medicinal Herbal, Penelope Ody, DK Books, 1993 The Woman’s Herbal, McIntyre, Ann, Holt, 1994 Sunset Western Garden Book, Sunset Publishing, 2001 A Modern Herbal, Grieve, M, Dover, 1971 Prescription for Herbal Healing, Balch, Phyllis, Avery, 2002
  7. Lynn


    GARLIC ~ Allium sativum As a cultivated plant, garlic is of such antiquity that it is difficult to know its origin. Some consider it indigenous to southwest Siberia, where it spread to Europe and has naturalized in Sicily. The Greek poet, Homer, tells of the virtues of "Yellow Garlic” that Ulysses owed his escape from being changed into a pig by Circes. It flourishes best in sandy, rich moist soil. Plant cloves two inches deep, about 6 inches apart, in a sunny spot. Keep free from weeds, and gather the soil around the roots. Most commercial garlic growers plant in the fall, even in our cold climate. That way it is ready to produce roots before the ground can be worked. My experience has shown that it likes plenty of nitrogen rich compost and manure. As with onions, bulb formation is influenced by day length. So an early start is essential to get large bulbs. This herb has been used to heal everything. It is very antiseptic and has been used in many wars to prevent festering of wounds. The raw juice is expressed, placed on sterile pads and applied to the wound. From leprosy to the plague, garlic is attributed as a great healer. Fresh garlic may be applied to acne, warts, and corns. Orthodox medicine acknowledges that the plant reduces the risk of further heart attacks in cardiac patients; it is also a stimulant for the immune system and an antibiotic. Over 1,800 scientific studies support the use of garlic in lowering cholesterol levels and blood sugar, preventing heart attack and stroke, and treating infections and cancer. Diabetics can use garlic to stimulate the pancreas to secrete insulin, without stimulating weight gain. When garlic oil is applied directly to the ear canal, it stops the growth of two fungi that sometimes cause ear inflammation. Raw garlic can counteract the effects of probiotic digestive cultures taken to restore normal digestion and has been known to cause an upset stomach. Avoid using garlic if you take a blood-thinning drug, such as Warfarin, because it will add to the drug's effects. Nursing mothers should use garlic with caution because it can cause colic in some babies. Thirty-five years ago, I would make a garlic syrup for coughs and colds. I used to sell it at art fairs, but I spent so much time explaining it to people, I wasn’t able to sell anything else! It is also a delicious marinade for meats. Here is the recipe: Cut a pound of garlic, cleaned, into slices. Or you can crush it with a garlic press. Pour a quart of boiling hot water over it in a closed pot (glass or stainless steel is best). Let it sit for twelve hours. Make a syrup with one quart of apple cider vinegar and two cups of honey; add the garlic solution and gently simmer to reduce to a syrup. You could strain it, but I enjoy chewing the small pieces. You can add caraway and fennel seed bruised and boiled for a short time in the vinegar. They are good for tummy aches and women’s complaints while adding extra flavor to your syrup. Sources The Complete Medicinal Herbal, Penelope Ody, DK Books, 1993 A Modern Herbal, Mrs. M. Grieve, Dover, 1971 Prescription for Herbal Healing, Phyllis Balch, Avery, 2002 Herbal medicine and teas As a method of healing, are not recognized in the USA. Lynn Wallingford Cochrane makes no health claims. Any herbal or tea information is not intended to treat, diagnose, or prescribe in any way, and is for informational purposes only. She does not take responsibility for your experience using them. She trusts that you will consult a licensed healthcare professional when appropriate, especially pregnant women, nursing mothers, anyone over 60 years of age, anyone under 12 years of age, or anyone with a serious medical condition.
  8. Lynn


    If you would like your Christmas celebration on a smaller scale this year, you might consider using a rosemary plant, available at plant nurseries, as a Christmas tree. A dense, evergreen, aromatic shrub, it has resinous, needlelike leaves and soft blue flowers. The upright varieties are hardier, while prostrate ones are more tender. “Arp” is the hardiest rosemary, taking temperatures as low as -10 degrees F. Instructions for overwintering are to wrap in plastic sheeting and shelter from winter winds. Many folks grow them in pots and bring them in for the winter, just in time for use as a Christmas tree. It succeeds best in a light, dry soil and sheltered situation, such as the base of a low wall facing south. Rich in tradition, the Spaniards revere it as one of the bushes that gave shelter to the Virgin Mary in the flight into Egypt and call it Romero, the Pilgrim’s flower. It was introduced in England by Phillippa of Hainault, wife of Edward III in the 14th century. When trimming your “tree”, save the needles for use in cooking. Rosemary roasted potatoes are especially delicious. The best lamb roast I have ever eaten was in New Zealand, with a rosemary herb crust. Known as the herb of remembrance, rosemary is said to improve memory and fidelity for lovers. Because of this symbolism, it is used at weddings, funerals, decking churches and halls, and as incense in religious ceremonies. This is one of the greatest medicinal herbs, especially considering how affordable it is. Rosemary increases the blood supply to the skin, reducing pain in rheumatic muscles and joints. Rosemary baths help with low blood pressure, varicose veins, bruises, and sprains. Because it helps to relax muscles, use for indigestion, cramps and irritable bowel syndrome. Its fungicidal action kills Candida albicans, the cause of yeast infections. Dilute the essential oil using 10 drops per tablespoon of vegetable oil, such as olive, sunflower, almond or jojoba oil. I use the essential oil in pain relieving formulas. It is also a good rub, applied topically, for congested lungs. Add a few drops to the bath after a long, tiring day. It can be applied to the scalp to promote hair growth. Rub on your temples to lessen headaches. Essential oils are too highly concentrated to use internally. Harvest the aerial parts of the plant (the needles and flowers). It is best to steep one ounce of dried herb, or two ounces of fresh herb, in 5 cups of water. Make it fresh each day. Drink hot or cold. A tea can be used for colds, flu, rheumatic pains, and indigestion. It is stimulating, so avoid use before bedtime. Since this herb is a uterine stimulant, it should not be used medically during pregnancy. You should never ingest the essential oil. Small amounts of rosemary used in cooking do not pose a risk of any side effects. Enjoy the holidays, and winter, with rosemary! Sources: The Complete Medicinal Herbal, Penelope Ody, DK Books, 1993 A Modern Herbal, Mrs. M. Grieve, Dover, 1971 Prescription for Herbal Healing, Phyllis Balch, Avery, 2002 Sunset Western Garden Book, Sunset Publishing, 2001 Rosmarinus Officinalis illustration, from NRCS Plants Database, Britton, N.L. Disclaimer: Herbal medicine and teas, as a method of healing, are not recognized in the USA. Lynn Wallingford makes no health claims. Any herbal or tea information is not intended to treat, diagnose, or prescribe in any way, and is for informational purposes only. She does not take responsibility for your experience using them. She trusts that you will consult a licensed healthcare professional when appropriate, especially pregnant women, nursing mothers, anyone over 60 years of age, anyone under 12 years of age, or anyone with a serious medical condition.
  9. Michael Jordan

    Hops - For More Than Just Beer

    The Urban Guerrilla “Hops, it is from more than just BEER” By Michael Jordan A.K.A: Freyr MOJ, the Crimson JUGGERNAUT Hops, world renowned for the use in beer, is making a big comeback for gardens and baking. I was asked what I do with hop, well I make starts every year. Hops is getting expensive, so, over the last 10 years, I have been growing my own. Yes, I do brew beer, but there may things hops is good for. Hops are primarily used to reduce tension and aid in sleep. As a sleep aid, hops can be used in a sachet inside of a pillow. The aromatic properties of the herb will help one to fall asleep. For tension, hops can be taken to help relax the muscles and soothe anxiety. As a digestive aid, hops can help to relax spasms of the digestive system and aid in digestion Dosage: As an infusion, drink one cup in the evening to aid sleep. As a tincture, take 20 drops in a glass of water 3 times daily for anxiety. Take 10 drops with water up to 5 times daily for digestion. As a tablet, take for stress or as a sleep aid. As a capsule, take 500 mg, 3 times daily before meals, to help increase appetite. A sachet may be made and placed in your pillow to aid in sleep. Safety: You should not use hops if you suffer from depression. Consult your health care provider before beginning use of any herb. The shoots that corkscrew up out of the ground in the spring are quite tender and can be sautéed like asparagus. Combs stuffs hop leaves with hop flower petals, cheeses, and aromatics before tempura-frying them to make a cheesy-herbal beggar's purse. One of my favorite things to make with hops is bread. The hops give the bread a distinctive, though not very pronounced, hoppy aroma, and also, as I thought it might, a bitter finish, which is quite nice, once you get used to it. You probably need to like hops a lot though. The crumb is relatively heavy for a white-flour loaf, but soft and moist; the crust is soft and chewy. The flavor and aroma is awesome. This bread helps me with sleep and tension. Soft Hops Yeast Equipment: 3-quart sauce pan 1 quart glass jar with lid small sieve Ingredients: 1/3 cup dried hops 6 cups quality water 1 1/4 cups whole wheat flour 1/2 teaspoon sea salt 1/4 teaspoon dry active yeast or 1/3 cup good soft yeast from the previous batch Process: Simmer hops in water for 1/2 an hour letting the steam escape, to make a strong tea. The water will boil down to about 3 1/2 cups. Sterilize jar and lid in boiling water. I do this by pouring boiling water into the jar and over the lid. Place flour and salt in sterile jar, and strain boiling tea over the flour. Stir thoroughly. It is important to scald the flour to keep the yeast from souring. Cover loosely and allow to cool. When it is cool (not cold) add yeast and stir to incorporate. Cover loosely and keep at room temperature. It will bubble and ferment, producing a quality yeast. When it has fermented (6-12 hours), cover tightly and store in a cool place. Yields: 3 1/2 cups soft yeast. Keeps 2 week, properly stored. When the yeast has a strong tart smell and watery appearance, it is too old for use. Soft Hops Yeast Bread Ingredients: ¼ cup corn meal 1 teaspoon salt 1 ½ cups water 2 ½ cups milk ¾ cup soft hop yeast 10-12 cups flour, divided Optional Glaze: 1 egg 1 tablespoon water Instructions: In saucepan, combine cornmeal, salt and water. Bring to a boil, and simmer ten minutes, to form a thin gruel. Transfer to a non-metal mixing bowl. Stir in milk, to cool the mixture. Add yeast and 4 cups flour (I use whole wheat) to make a thick batter. Mix thoroughly and cover. This is called a sponge. Let sit in a warm (room temperature) place 2 – 12 hours. It can be worked again when the surface appears somewhat watery, though it is best to mix the sponge in the evening and finish making the bread the next morning. Stir in 4 cups all-purpose flour, to form stiff dough. Turn out onto a heavily floured surface, cover with more flour and knead to incorporate ingredients (10-15 minutes). Leave dough on the work surface, to rest while you clean out and grease the mixing bowl. Knead dough for twenty minutes, to develop the gluten. Return dough to mixing bowl and cover. Let rise in a warm area until doubled in bulk. This rising will take 45 minutes to 4 hours, depending on how long the sponge was allowed to develop. Knead again, divide and shape into loaves. This recipe will make three 4” x 8” loaves, or two 5” x 9” loaves. It can also be divided and shaped into rolls or hamburger buns. Place the dough in greased pans, cover and let rise until doubled in bulk. This rising should take no more than an hour. Mix glaze and brush on loaves or rolls. Bake loaves at 350 degrees Fahrenheit, for 50-60 minutes, or until the bread comes away from the sides of the pan and sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom. - Rolls and buns are baked at 375 degrees Fahrenheit, for about 25 minutes. When bread has baked, turn out of pans onto a wire rack to cool. For a softer crust, cover loaves with a hand towel while they cool. Note: This dough tends to rise up and not out, so make the base of the loaves or buns the desired size of the final product. Yeast Cakes from Hops 1 cup mashed potatoes 1 cup potato water 1 cup flour 1 cup dried hops 2 Tbsp. sugar 4 cups corn meal (approx.) 1 dried yeast cake (optional) Boil 3 or 4 peeled potatoes in unsalted water. When done, drain the potatoes and mash them well, but save the potato water to use later. Cover the hop blossoms with water and bring to a boil. Drain off the water and save it, too. (Ella's mother dissolved a dried yeast cake left from her last batch into this water as a booster.) Put flour in a pan and slowly stir in the potato water you saved. Be careful not to use too much water. Mix slowly so that the flour won't be lumpy. If the mixture is too runny, it might be necessary to cook it until it is a thick paste-like dough. Add mashed potatoes and sugar. Mix well and then slowly add the hop water until you have a medium soft dough. Let rise double. Then punch down and work in enough corn meal to make a stiff dough. Roll out the dough on a board to about 1/2 inch thick and cut into cakes. Let the cakes dry, turning them often to make sure they dry evenly. When you think they are good and dry, hang them up in a muslin bag for a few days to make sure they won't mold. After this you can store them in fruit jars or however you wish. We followed this recipe using the called for amounts of ingredients and found it made two large pans of yeast cakes. Whereas this amount would be fine in a large family where bread is made often, it was much more than we needed. You may want to cut it down some, especially the first time you make it. So then next time you plant something, try some hops. Not only will you have a great vine plant to weave in and out of your trellises, you have a plant that you can use to make something more than beer with.
  10. Rob Kaiser

    Growing and Cloning Blueberries 101 - Part 1

    This 2 part series of articles will cover our experience with the selection, cultivation and cloning of blueberry plants. I would like to mention that I am no expert in the growth and cultivation of plants. This is the first time I have ever attempted blueberry cloning. At the time of my writing this article, I have taken cutting on two separate occasions and am documenting the process in an effort to share the experience with others and to learn from it and improve next year. When I first began reading about cloning blueberries, the multiple articles I read mentioned taking cuttings in the spring. I live in Northeast Ohio – USDA Zone 6a. Blueberries are hardy here in this part of the country and part of the reason we are growing them. You can find more information about your hardiness zone and frost dates here: http://planthardiness.ars.usda.gov/phzmweb/interactivemap.aspx USDA hardiness zones make a good baseline for learning about plants, but each property has its own set of variables which can greatly impact the hardiness of plants either way. We can also create microclimates in order to facilitate the growth and development of plants that “aren’t hardy.” We’ll discuss this more in future articles that are focused on permaculture design systems. In addition to hardiness zones, I feel it’s important to learn about the first frost in your area. According to research I did, I’ve found that the average last frost in the area I live is about mid-May. Paying attention to the first frost dates can help you get a better understanding of “spring” and how this fits into the time frame for taking cuttings in your area. More information about frost dates can be found here: http://www.plantmaps.com/index.php http://www.almanac.com/content/us-frost-chart http://www.victoryseeds.com/frost/ USDA hardiness zones and frost dates are a great start to gaining a better understanding of your particular area. With all that said, let’s get back to blueberries. If you’re buying blueberries, you will find them available in one gallon, three gallon, five gallon or even seven gallon containers. Plants are also sold bare root or as balled and burlapped shrubs. In 2010, we planted approximately 100 blueberry plants. We bought them as “two-year” plants in a one gallon container. We planted three different varieties: ‘Eliot,’ ‘Patriot,’ and ‘Blue Crop.’ All three links to the varieties we use are from Stark Bro’s Nursery. They have been a great source for quality information and quality plant material for many years. I would recommend using their site as a resource for reliable information. We decided on these three varieties due to the time of the expected harvest. ‘Patriot’ ripened in the early season, ‘Eliot’ was a mid-season blueberry, and ‘Blue Crop’ ripened mid/late season. The idea was for an extended harvest season. The plants have been improving proportionally to the soil improvement and, accordingly, we are producing more abundant harvests each subsequent year. Over the past few years, some plants have performed much better than the others. Certain plants of each variety have performed better than others. Moreover, certain varieties seem to be performing better than others. For example: throughout our rows, it appears as though the variety ‘Blue Crop’ is performing better than the ‘Eliot’ and ‘Patriot’ varieties. In the photo below, you can see the past four seasons of growth on this plant. This is an example of a healthy ‘Blue Crop’ with other weaker performing varieties in the background, towards the top right of the photo. The baseball cap is there for scale. This plant has been in the ground four growing seasons. Purchased as a “two-year” plant in a one gallon container – this plant is approximately 6 years old. What was planted as a 1-gallon plant could likely be sold in the retail market for approximately a 30-36” Blue Crop Blueberry for $40-50, depending on where you live in the country. That seems like a fair return on investment. In the past, this area was traditionally farmed in grain. Years of rotational plantings of corn, beans and wheat has taken their toll on the soil. Obviously, under better growing conditions (healthy soil) – the plants would be healthier and have grown even better, but growing in less than ideal conditions demonstrates the resiliency of the blueberry plant as a species. When we first planted them, we dug large holes and backfilled the compacted clay soil with peat moss. Over the past few years, the moisture of the plants was closely monitored and they were fertilized with Holly-Tone each spring. Holly-Tone is a product made by the Espoma Company. I have used Espoma products in the landscape for 15 years. Many of their products are organic and compliment organic methods of gardening quite well. 3 years ago, we began the process of pruning the plants and thinning the canes each spring. This idea behind this was to maximize fruit production on the selected canes. This year is no different, but since I have moved back home to directly help my parents manage the fledgling farm, I decided that, in addition to the annual thinning and pruning, I would make an attempt at taking cuttings and propagating plants. The original cuttings were taken on March 23, almost one month before writing this article. The second round of cuttings was taken two weeks after, on April 6. Photo documentation and a detailed write up of the actual cloning process will take place in the next article. Stay tuned.
  11. Rob Kaiser

    Growing and Cloning Blueberries 101, Part 2

    In the previous article, we discussed USDA hardiness zones, frost dates, selection of plants with regard to early, mid, and late season harvest times. We read about the various sizes of plants that one can purchase and begin growing. Moreover, we touched on the importance of learning the history of the soil where we are growing our plants. All of this is important to factor in when growing blueberries. Again, I feel as though it is important to note that I’m not an expert in the propagation of blueberry bushes. However, my professional background is in the field of horticulture. During my studies in college, I remember that it took a significant amount of time to root woody cuttings (minimum 30-45 days, often 2-3 months). Additional research and reading about taking cuttings of blueberries suggested March / April as the proper time to take cuttings. With that said, I decided to first take cuttings on March 22, approximately 8-9 weeks before the last frost. That day, I decided to take cuttings from the canes that were being thinned out. With each cane that was cut and “thinned” – cuttings were taken from the previous year’s growth. From the plants that needed to have canes thinned out, I took cuttings from the plants that appeared healthiest at the time. Not really thinking ahead and planning, I proceeded to take my cuttings on Saturday afternoon with the intent of “re-cutting and sticking” the cuttings on Sunday morning. While in the field, I placed the cuttings in a plastic grocery bag and then placed it into the back of my Subaru overnight. The temperatures dropped below freezing for a couple of hours and it is likely that the cuttings froze over night as well. Whether this had anything to do with the success of the cuttings remains to be seen – however, it is worth mentioning and noting. The following Sunday morning, about 18 hours after taking the cuttings, I began to “re-cut and stick” the cuttings. For sticking the cuttings, I decided to mix perlite, peat moss and some seedling mix. I was not very specific with the mix I created, but I would estimate I used about 40% perlite, 40% peat moss and 20% potting soil. I decided to mix up the soil in a clear Rubbermaid tote and then simply stick the cuttings in the tote. The idea behind using the clear Rubbermaid tote was to create a greenhouse environment for the cuttings. Below is a photo of the “final product” prior to actually sticking the cuttings. After I had my soil prepared, I gathered my cuttings, a sharp knife (I used a simple grafting knife, but any sharp pocket knife will do), some rooting compound (I used Bonide rooting powder, purchased at Home Depot) and a pencil for poking holes into the soil. The cuttings that I had taken were of varying size and lengths. These cuttings were taken from the older canes that were being removed during the thinning process. In order to record which bushes the cuttings were taken from, each plant where cuttings were selected from the thinned canes had white flagging tape tied to it. I decided to make my cuttings a more uniform length. I also decided to try varying lengths of cuttings. Most of the cuttings I took were taken as “straight” cuttings, but some of them were also taken as what is known as “mallet” and “heel” cuttings. Mallet and heel cuttings are used for plants that might otherwise be more difficult to root. For the heel cutting, a small section of older wood is included at the base of the cutting. For the mallet cutting, an entire section of older stem wood is included. Straight, Heel, and Mallet Cuts Regardless of what types of cuttings you take, cuttings should generally consist of the past season’s growth. It is recommended that you avoid taking cuttings from plant material with flower buds, if possible. Typically, you want to remove any flowers and flower buds when preparing cuttings so the cutting’s energy can be used in producing new roots rather than flowers. Take cuttings from healthy, disease-free plants, preferably from the upper part of the plant. After pruning my cuttings to a desirable length, I used the grafting knife to make a new, fresh, cut at an angle. Since these cuttings were from the previous day, I wanted a clean cut. Also, a sharp and thin blade would allow maximum exposure of the cambium and “green” wood prior to dipping into rooting compound. At this point, I simply stuck the cuttings in the Rubbermaid tote. I didn’t really use any rhyme or reason when I stuck them in the tote, I just did it. My big pile of cuttings didn’t really amount to much and I was only able to fill up half of the Rubbermaid tote. At this point, I kept the plants covered in the Rubbermaid tote with the lid on them. The plants were initially kept indoors for about three days, where they began to quickly bud out during the higher temperatures. I decided that the quick budding of the plants was something that I probably didn’t want, so I moved them to the mud room– which was probably in the 60s during the day and in the 40s at night, receiving indirect lighting through a window. Periodically, I would mist the plants with a spray bottle to make sure that the buds stayed tender and moist. For the next two weeks, that is about all that I did. After two weeks, the plants looked like this: It was at this point where I took another batch of cuttings. The first cuttings were taken from the canes that were being thinned out. This time around, cuttings were taken from the healthiest plants. On each plant, especially the healthy plants, there was typically several shoots that grew rapidly, far above the rest of the plant. In the past, we would prune branches like this and “shape” the plant. In the nursery industry, this process is sometimes called “heading back.” This process removes the terminal bud and encourages growth and development of secondary buds, resulting in a fuller plant. It was typical to receive multiple cuttings from one pruning cut to the plant in the ground. One other thing worth noting in the photo above is the praying mantis egg casing. Over the past 5 years, since we have stopped the industrial farming of grain (rotational corn, beans, wheat), we have seen a tremendous increase in the insect and earthworm population. This is an indicator of the overall health and healing of the landscape through the planting of diverse food crops. Once the cuttings had been taken, I did not wait 24 hours, like I did the first time. I immediately returned home to make the cuttings a consistent length. Like the first time, I used the grafting knife to make a new, fresh, cut at an angle to allow maximum exposure of the cambium and “green” wood prior to dipping into rooting compound. After dipping in the rooting compound, I stuck several cuttings into a second Rubbermaid tote, but this time around I stuck 4-5 cuttings closer together. The thought behind doing so was that as I “root pruned” the cuttings inside this second Rubbermaid tote, I would basically root prune each grouping of cuttings, effectively creating small “mini-plants” that would already have 4-5 canes to grow out. Moreover, I wasn’t expecting 100% of the cuttings to take, and if I grouped my cuttings together in a cluster of 4-5, the likelihood of each grouping having several cuttings that took seemed higher, ultimately increasing the success rate of the cuttings taken during the second round. Below is a photo of how I arranged the clusters of cuttings in the second Rubbermaid tote used: And finally, once all cuttings were taken, the Rubbermaid tote was sealed for about a week and a half. What has taken place during that time? Stay tuned. (What initially began as a two-part piece is becoming a longer series. Thanks for reading and sticking with me during my experiment in cloning blueberries. Please leave comments and questions below and I’ll do my best to answer them for you.)