One Man’s Trash is Another’s Garden?

One Man’s Trash is Another’s Garden?

I am proud of our garden–it’s been a lot of hard work breaking in a new plot, but with some sweat, hope (and pixie dust) we have a fundamental part of homestead healthcare: garden based nutrition (and exercise =).

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I could brag about our rainbow chard, four different varieties of heirloom tomatoes, but instead I’m going to brag about my community.

This garden is an indirect community project. Everything in the garden came from our local community, and most of it was free. A friend let us use her tiller to break ground. We re-purposed fence posts, the fence netting I rescued from the recycling bin (all of it!) The box beds were re-purposed from an old garden, and the new bed was made from scrap lumber from our local saw miller. The wood chips on the path came from a local arborist. Even our tomato cages, we made from scrap fencing. All of these materials were someone else’s trash.  We were fortunate enough that a Farmer friend of ours let us come by and pick out end-season plant starts, which we babied. A client of mine, passed along more plant starts. One day I came home to eight buckets of dried manure on my front porch, a gift from my father’s sheep =). The few things I had to buy, a friend gave me expert advice on organic top soil (cheap!).

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Yesterday, we finished planting the second half of the garden. The other half is yet to be built, but dreams of beets and Brussels sprouts, drive us to keep digging. Our garden is a labor of love–from which we will be able to give back to our community the gift of nature’s bounty and medicine.

484183_436215629767388_1853256906_n For more information about nutrition, Heirloom seeds, and horticulture therapy, check out our other blogs.

Ground Ivy

Glechoma hederacea is originally from Europe. It is in the Lamiaceae family (Mints). It is considered an invasive plant (although why would anyone consider such a powerful medicinal unwanted???), and grows in most temperate zones, and is one of the first spring plants to flower.

Medicinally, it is a powerhouse! One of it’s very unique properties is Luteolin which is antiviral (modern medicines virtually have nothing that fights viruses), making it very specific for colds and flu. It is also an expectorant, anti inflammatory and antioxidant.

GroundIvy
  • Herbalists consider this plant to be specific for Hot/damp (infection) lung conditions. Mucus will be thick, yellow or green.
  • David Winston uses it for infections with persistent coughing (sound like this year’s super cold!) and allergic rhinitis, sinusitis.

I find it very interesting taking Doctrine of Signatures into consideration, the leaflets look a bit like the lung system.

P.S. Topically, Ground Ivy can be made into a poultice for insect bites, bruises, and active herpes lesions.

Ground Ivy Tea for Colds

(Herbalists are fond of using parts instead of specific measurements. Parts are useful way to maintain ratios.)

1p. of dried Ground ivy

1p. Licorice root

1 p. Yarrow flower

1/2p. Chamomile

1/4p. sage

1 Tbs per 6-8 oz of boiling water. Steep 10 minuets, add local wildflower honey. Drink 2-3 times daily while acute.

Ode to Dandelion

beautiful blond kid blow dandelion outdoor

Dandelion, the first flower of spring, it’s seeds bearing my dream.

When Brandon and I were discussing Dandelion, we both remember it being the very first plant we learned as children. I bet it was the same for you.  I made dandelion flower chains, ate its tender leaves, and wished upon every dandelion puff-ball. Dandelions were magical–full of fairy dust. When I became an Herbalist I rediscovered what I KNEW as a child;  they are  full of magical (medicinal) power…

dandel08-l Taraxacum officinale (Dandelion) can be found all over the world and is a very common weed. It prefers full sun.

Dandelion is in my top 10 favorite herb list. It is a panacea, and one of a few herbs safe for all groups of people. The whole plant can be used, but its parts are used for different medicinal purposes.

Leaf

The dandelion leaf in the springtime primarily works in the body as a food. Its leaves can be eaten raw or cooked. Dandelion greens have been an important part of traditional rural cooking and are a feature green in African American cultural use of Pot Liquor (the water left over from cooking leafy greens. This was used as a building food/medicine). It is full of vitamins and minerals including calcium, magnesium, iron and potassium.

In midsummer, the energy of the leaf matures, and the leaves then act as a medicine for the body with its primary action being and Aquaretic (potassium sparing diuretic). They are slightly bitter and help to tonify the gastrointestinal system. Regular usage can help lower triglycerides.

Flower

In Chinese medicine, the flowers are used to nourish the liver and eyes.

Root

The root is the deeper acting medicine (just like the root of the plant). Harvested in autumn, the energy of the plant is consolidated. It is primarily used to stimulate bowl and liver functioning (a formidable detoxifier). It also stimulates the entire digestive system from saliva production, digestive enzymes, bile flow, HCL, and nutrient absorption (See why i LOVE this plant!). In traditional medicine, there is hardly a liver formula, tonic, builder formula that does not have dandelion in it.

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Dandelion Delight Tonic Tea

1 part dandelion leaf

1 part dandelion root

sprinkle fresh dandelion flower petals

1 part nettle

1/2 Milky Oat

1/2 Chamomile or Lemon Balm

Steep 5 minuets and enjoy! Local wildflower honey to taste!

Winter Wildcrafing ( Purple Deadnettle )

Today was another amazing day to take a walk outside and do some winter wild crafting. There are so many amazing  plants and we had a challenging time choosing just one for this week. We decided to go with one that was surprisingly blooming. It was a small bloom but a beautiful one none the less. This weeks showcase is Purple Deadnettle (Lamium purpureum). Also know as Red Deadnettle, and Purple Archangel. With names like that can you go wrong?

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It’s a winter annual with purple flowers, square stems( Mint Family), and petioled leaves. The Petioled leaves, triangular and sometimes purplish upper leaves distinguish it from Henbit Deadnettle, which has upper leaves that don’t occur on petioles. If you are wondering why it’s called a “dead” nettle it’s because it wont sting you like other nettles may. Identifying this medicine should be pretty easy for two reasons. One, it’s in bloom(Feb.10th) and two, it’s considered to be an invasive which means it’s pretty much everywhere. It is small though( 5-20 cm.) so you will have to look closely.

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Medicinally it is an anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, antifungal, antiallergy, and an analgesic.

There have been a number of studies of Purple Deadnettle. During a study published in the Hacettepe University Journal of the Faculty of Pharmacy in 2007, researchers discovered had a wide range of antimicrobial and antifungal properties and when tinctured fought bacteria and microorganisms like staphylococcus, e.coli, pseudomonas and candida.

Purple Deadnettle is a rich source of germacrene, and flavanoids like vitamin C and quercetin and inhibits the hormone prostaglandin, the principle mediator for inflammation in allergies and chronic inflammatory conditions, which makes this a potentially great medicine for allergies. Always consult your herbalist before mixing these herbs with any prescription medications though.

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I think its amazing how such a small invasive plant can be so medicinal. did I mention that it’s also good in salads and smoothies? Preferably the leaves and flowers. We made a tea tonight using the fresh plant. It was wonderful. Happy winter wildcrafting.

References

Winter Wildcrafting

I love to wildcraft. My partner Crystal and I will take long walks in the woods or out in fields and spend hours looking for medicine as if we were in an Indiana Jones movie searching for the holy grail. I think in some way we are. While the warmer months are busy harvesting so many things the cooler months depending on where you are can be just as fruitful. So we decided to start a set of weekly post describing some of those herbs that can be found even in the dead of winter. Each week we will focus on a specific herb that we have found where we live around Chapel Hill, North Carolina. So if you live on the east coast or in a similar region have fun finding these herbs around you.

Chickweed( Stellaria Media)

Chickweed( Stellaria Media)

Chickweed is an amazing herb that can be found all over the world. It prefers shady moist places and I can walk outside in my backyard and spot it everywhere. It trails on the ground with a juicy pale green stem. Te leaves are opposite and shaped like a spade from a deck of cards. There is a row of hairs traveling on one side of the stem until it reaches leaves and then travel’s on the opposite side. A really cool thing about this plant is that the leaves fold inward at night to protect the tip of the shoot.

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Medicinally, it is a nutritive powerhouse, with Vitamin C, D, B complex, along with most trace minerals. It also is demulcent in action with anti-inflammatory, diuretic, and vulnerary properties. Herbalist use this internally to treat inflammation of mucosal membranes; skin, gastrointestinal system, genital-urinary system. It is also an excellent external poultice for any type of red, inflamed, itchy skin issue. Specifically, it would be an excellent alternative to Aloe for burns when mixed with egg whites.

Chickweed loses its medicinal power when dried, so one must use this herb fresh. An alternative is to freeze it, but it is not likely to be as effective. You could juice it and then freeze the juice which can also be used as an eye wash.

According to folklore, you can use chickweed to predict weather. If the flowers are blooming robustly, it won’t rain for at least four hours. Otherwise, bring an umbrella.

An important note: Do not gather this herb where nitrate fertilizer is used.

Chickweed patch

Chickweed patch

 

Crystal with her Nutritive Power House

Crystal with her Nutritive Power House

Here is an interesting recipe for a salad dressing:

2 Cups water, 1-2 cups Chickweed, 1 cup olive oil, 1/4 cup lemon juice, 3-4 cloves of garlic, 1 large potato, baked or boiled, 1 handful of parsley or dill, salt and pepper to taste. Blend everything together until smooth.

Resources:

Bill, S. Edible and Medicinal Plants, (1994)

Grieve, M. A Modern Herbal (1971)

Winston, D. Materia Medica Chickweed (2011)