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medicinals

goldenrod

I always thought of goldenrod as a dyer’s plant and was surprised to learn that it has medicinal properties.

Its Latin name, Solidago, literally means “to make whole”, and puts goldenrod squarely in the wound healing category. It has other medicinal properties, too, mostly related to improving the kidney and circulatory functions.

Apparently it is edible, but I wouldn’t know about that and will refrain from testing this hypothesis on my long suffering stomach. Read more…

how to grow herbs

You decided to start an herb garden? Here are a few tips. Most herbs like full sun (except a few, like mint and lemon balm) and a sweet soil that keeps moist but drains properly. If your soil is acidic, improve it with lime.

If you decide to grow a perennial herb garden, it is easier to start it from seedlings rather than seed, for two reasons. First, some of the perennial herbs, like rosemary and tarragon need to be started from cuttings anyway, germination is not always reliable and very young sprouts are vulnerable to anything from a late frost to dry spells or unseasonably warm weather. Read more…

working with herbs

Working with herbs is an art and small details in the practice of harvesting and preserving them make the difference between success and failure.

Harvesting:
Always harvest herbs in the morning, right after the dew has dried up but before the heat makes the plants release their volatile oils. Harvest fresh young leaves free of blemishes from areas away from roads and traffic. If you grow herbs for their flowers, always pick the flowers before they fully open. Never harvest plants on rainy days.

Read more…

rosemary

When you start looking into its qualities, rosemary can be quite intimidating, it seems to be good for everything: it makes hair grow strong and shiny, rejuvenates skin, boosts memory and concentration, sharpens eyesight, thins the blood and helps lower the risk of cancer. The impressive resume is due to the fact that this blessed plant is rich in iron, calcium, phosphorus, vitamins A, C and B6, folate, and some other plant specific compounds that act synergistically. Read more…

yarrow

A resilient weed, native to the northern hemisphere, yarrow grows wild in open fields and along the sides of the roads, and had only recently gained the privilege to be cultivated in flower gardens.
Don’t judge this humble herb to be ordinary, Achillea millefolium is a well documented medicinal plant, astringent, anti inflammatory and tonic, but above all it has a special gift: it is a hemostatic agent. Read more…

tending the herb garden

All the medicinal plants are in bloom, a rare sight for the herb patch, whose blossoms are usually scarce and short lived.
One might think the herb wheel is a happy go lucky mish-mash of perennials that take care of themselves and require minimal interaction, when in fact it is the exact opposite. You can’t grow an herb garden without giving it your whole heart and your full attention. It needs meticulous care, constant trimming and weeding, it needs to be pristine. Read more…

nature’s antiseptics

There are two strong antiseptics directly extracted from plants: one is tea tree oil, only found in the leaves of the Australian plant, and the other one is thymol, a potent antimicrobial found in thyme and oregano, a substance bee balms also have in abundance.

If you ever brushed against a clump of monardas you surely noticed that their leaves’ spicy fragrance is stronger than any other plant’s from the mint family, mint itself included. Read more…

mauve

If you were wondering what exactly the color mauve looks like, this is it. We know that because this is the flower that gave the color its name: mauve des bois, French mallow.

The flower has many names, the oddest of which is cheeseweed, a name inspired by the tightly packed seed heads that look like miniature cheese wheels. All the parts of the plant are edible, and this is fortunate, considering how prolific mallow is at producing offspring. Read more…

lavender

Since plant foliage usually doesn’t come in this hue, even for lavender itself, and this is the first time lavender came out of winter looking alive, I didn’t know if this was old growth I should prune or evergreen growth I should leave alone, so I looked up lavender care online. Read more…

holy aloe

I got this aloe plant for medicinal purposes, since aloe gel is a wonderful moisturizer and a great first aid balm for minor scrapes and burns.

At first I couldn’t bring myself to harvest any of its tiny leaves, I thought it needed all of its foliage to adjust to the new location and stabilize what looked like a very unsure bearing, easily uprooted. Read more…