Welcome to my "all things plants" blog. These are my own personal observations, thoughts, and things I've found beneficial to me. Please comment and contribute.

“To forget how to dig the earth and to tend the soil is to forget ourselves.” -Gandhi

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

today in the garden

Today I took some more pictures of my garden/s. :)

Ok, ignore my messy porch... this is my experiment at upside down tomatoes. wally world had the planter marked WAYYYYYY down so I snagged one to give it a try. I have two of my surprise tomatoes in it and purple poppies on top...I do not think it is getting enough sun, so I may move it. I will have to be careful of where...do NOT want it stolen!!!

Do you see my crazy cat peeking at the door?? That is her favorite spot and she will wake me up at dawn so I will open the door for her and she can sit and watch for intruders!!

super small strawberries... a HUGE disappointment, but....

I almost have enough for a SNACK! LOL!

Saturday, May 28, 2011

I USE to be a doubter....

Oh I have heard all the glowing remarks about how awesome it is to grow your own herbs for tea... you know those remarks made by people who have those awesome gardens we all drool over -with every herb known to mankind, and how they make fifty billion kinds of herbal tea of which all are super tasty and healthy.

I doubted. Sure I knew mint was minty but I was not a huge fan of mint (except double mint or fresh mint gum) or so I thought.

And I HAD tried to grow my own herbs, really did give it a good shot...along with garden veggies. Each year I gave in to my need to try to grow things even if it was just some tulips in a small flower bed. But my green thumb brain has a hard time getting the message to my brown thumbs.

However, this year was different. I have had success!!! Yes I did NOT kill my mints and other herbs...although my chamomile is not doing so hot.

And I have harvested my first batch of mint! Oh I was skeptical, I had had a cup of mint tea with a friend which was great but that was from HER garden and my garden always seems to produce fruits and leafy foods that would taste like dirt. (or so said my ex who refused to eat anything I grew)

I made me a cup of mint tea. From MY mint...

The first sip was ...oh how to describe it???

awesome just seems not adequate somehow... fabulous? no that isn't right either...

How can I describe something that totally tantalized my taste buds?? LOL!

Let us just say, I am no longer a doubter. I realize it wasn't the herbs I doubted (although I did think that) it was ME and my abilities to grow good food/herbs.

So no matter what successes or non-successes I have, I will no longer doubt myself.

I think I will have another cup of tea!

Monday, May 16, 2011

How to make Rose beads

Rose Beads
In a cast-iron cooking container, place a quart of fresh, finely-minced red rose petals, a cup of water, a few drops of rose oil to enhance the scent, and rusty nails, if you have any. Simmer for one hour. Remove from heat, stir well with a wooden spoon, and let it stand overnight. The next day, repeat the simmering process, adding water if necessary, until the doughy mixture has turned very dark.

Let the mixture stand until it dries to a clay-like consistency that can be easily molded. Wet your hands and roll into beads a little larger than a marble. (They will shrink about fifty percent as they dry.) Place on paper towels.

When the beads are partly dry, thread a large needle with dental floss, string the beads, and hang them to dry, turning regularly so that they don't stick to the floss. In a week, your rose beads are ready for their final stringing. Alternate them with smaller, pretty beads used as spacers. Add a clasp and store in an air-tight container to preserve the scent. As you wear them against your skin, they will warm and give out a sweet fragrance.

I wonder if this would work for other plants, like honeysuckle or lilac or lily of the valley? these are my favorites. I may try them IF I can find enough petals! Lilacs are already done in this area. There is a lot of Japanese honeysuckle blooming right now so I may try with that. Will have to find some iron nails and my old, rarely used cast iron pan; cause I sure ain't using my GOOD ones!!! lol!

By the way, I snagged that recipe from Susan Wittig Albert's "All About Thyme" newsletter. I recommend this newsletter if you like herbs, her stories (love her Chyna Bayles stories), and the history/folklore of herbs.


More Pictures of my "garden"

This is the mess of blackberries and who knows what else that I was suppose to transplant along my new fence this year but now I have to wait till winter/early next spring.

New use for empty dryer drums!

empty pots, these are my chocolate cherry tomatoes. Had some from the farmers market last year! YUM! I sure hope they grow and produce! they are heirloom so I will be saving some seed!!

these are some of my containers.

I don't do this very often but....

I'd like to recommend a blog. I really like this blog, it has really encouraged me to keep being thrifty when it comes to my gardening. And since I have a small yard, this is perfect for me since it's written by a mom in a trailer park who is trying to homestead!!! Kudos to her!!!!


It's called "Adventures of a Thrifty Mama in a Trailer Park Homestead". She is very 'down to earth', not preachy, humble, and has great pictures!!!! lol! I'm a very visual person so I love it when a blog has pictures. (I know, I should practice this more myself, lol! I'm working on that!)

And she even has recipes!

So enjoy!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

ok, my raised beds

I'm such a redneck thrifty person when it comes to making things easier for me. :)

I have no tiller so I'm making all raised beds. When I get some cash, I buy cinder blocks. The place is only a few blocks from my house and if I only buy a "few" at a time (which means more than what will fit in my van but less than a full load) they will bring them to my house free of charge!

here is one of them.

this is the one not doing as well as expected.

cooler weather

The weather has been cooler as I watch the flood waters creep closer to my town. So far the levy's are holding for our town. Can't say the same for the town just south of us, poor people have moats around their homes with flood waters still rising. The drainage ditches are still flowing backwards but we are hoping they will begin to flow right soon. Depends on how things go down in LA with them opening the flood gates. If our levy's go, it will only take about 15 minutes for the waters to reach my home. It's up off the ground about a foot and a half so maybe it will be ok...

I've found a few more wild edibles in my yard so here is the new list:

wild strawberries
viola's (johnny jump ups)
chick weed
plantain (two species)
wild onion (or chives) wish they were the garlic type
Shepard's purse
butter cups
poke weed

As for my garden, I've found some more pots so I hope to fill and plant those today, not sure what I'll put in them. A friend sent me some burpless cuc's so I'm sure one pot will be for those.

My peas and beans are up and I've a few tomatoes already forming on my 'mystery' plants...the 50 cent walmart unnamed ones.

My raised bed behind my shed, which I thought would be the one doing the BEST is actually the worst!! the plants in it haven't grown much at all... except the thyme. So I think that next year, that will be my permanent herb bed.

One lesson learned: plan where your beds will go DURING THE SUMMER!!! NOT THE WINTER!!! UGH! one bed that I THOUGHT would get at least four hours of sun, gets none. LOL! Well the plants in it seem to be happy.... but the yarrow is getting stretchy trying to find the light.

Only half of the strawberry plants I got from Gurneys (now I know why they were "on sale") are growing, the other half...nothing. But it is two different types. So it's all one type that is not doing anything. However, the two cherry trees I got are doing GREAT!!!! I LOVE cherries!!!

this is my empty yard that I hope to fill and revamp into permaculture over the next few years.... love all that space!! (it's very small, lol! perfect for just me)

my garden pictures are on my netbook but I'll up load some of them later!

peaceful planting!

Saturday, May 7, 2011

rain rain and more rain

so all the rain we've been getting has flooded many people. Thankfully, I have not been flooded out myself. And all this water has been wonderful for my garden! I even have my house plants out in it.

My heirloom Anasazi beans are beginning to sprout, a new bean for me to try. I usually just stick with Kentucky wonder or something. I love to eat beans raw so I don't' know exactly how those will taste but I'm growing the Kentucky also cause I know I like those.

I also picked up four "mystery" tomatoes from wally world, seriously they were selling just plain "tomatoes" for fifty cents each. Don't know what kinds they are but they have different looks, the leaves do. and they are growing at different rates....so we'll see.

I also found something I've been looking for since last year when I tasted them: chocolate cherry tomatoes!!! Found them at Lowes, they had four, I got two.... I wish I had more money at the time to grab all four. When I went back the last two were gone... but I've got two!!! So I hope they produce! They are growing great and one has some flowers on it. (which doesn't mean a lot here since last year, five of my plants had flowers but did not produce!)

I use raised beds and pots for my garden.

I have dug up some wildflowers this year and transplanted them. Some poppies, buttercups, yarrow, fleabane -all of which seem to be thriving.

I'm so happy that the crows did NOT dig up and eat my sunflower seeds, I've got six growing now.

I'll be filling more pots today and not sure exactly what I'll be planting yet but I've plenty of seeds to choose from.

A friend of mine believes we should have at LEAST two years worth of seed. I agree with him. And it's always best to over plant, you can gift others with your over abundance.

Happy planting!!!

Monday, May 2, 2011

all those 'weeds'

Walking around my small yard before it was mowed, I was amazed at how many different plants/weeds I had growing!

And many of them wild medicinals!

shepherds purse
wild onions

and a few others

I did harvest some before mowing; we have a 'law' here in town that if you don't keep your yard so 'short', you'll get fined, :P

But it's nice to know they are there, ready to spring alive and grow!

I will eventually have a grass free yard and all those wild edibles will be lovingly transplanted into raised beds! then the city will have NO SAY!!! And my yard will be completely fenced in so no little people coming in and 'helping' while I'm gone!

These weeds grow all over the place and are good for our health. Something that will help immensely when the world falls into total chaos...well at least for those who know what they are and how to use them!

So look around your place, see what wild edibles are growing -then read up on them! They may just save your life one day!

Sunday, May 1, 2011

More on cleavers

Jon from organichomesteading yahoo group just posted this info or shall I say reposted it. Good info; think about joining that group! so much great info!


From OHG An a to z Herb File

Cleavers, (Galium aparine)

Edible-best used in cooking, and in medicine making.

Cleavers is a cooling, de-congesting herb

The whole leaf has been used as a flavoring in soups
and stews. Roasted seeds are used as a coffee substitute.
The leaves and flowers are used medicinally. Cleavers is
primarily used for urinary problems and fluid retention, on
the basis of its apparent diuretic (urine-stimulating) effects.
It has also been recommended for enlarged lymph nodes,
tonsillitis, hepatitis, and snake bites.

What is Cleavers Used for Today?
Cleavers is often included in herbal mixtures offered for
the treatment of kidney and bladder problems, including
bladder infections, kidney stones, and prostatitis. It is also
said to help "cleanse" the lymph system. However, there has not
been any meaningful scientific evaluation of the herb.

The leaves of the cleavers plant (Galium aparine)
have small hooked hairs that cause it to "cleave" to the
fingers when touched, hence the name. The whole leaf has been
used as a flavoring in soups and stews. Roasted seeds are
used as a coffee substitute. The leaves and flowers are used

It is also said to help "cleanse" the lymph system.

Principal Proposed Uses
Bladder Infections, Fluid Retention, Swollen Glands

A typical recommended dose of cleavers is one cup of tea three times daily, made by steeping 10–15 grams of the herb in a cup of hot water.

Safety Issues
Cleavers has not undergone any meaningful safety testing. Safety in young children, pregnant or nursing women, or people with severe liver or kidney disease has not been established. In case cleavers does in fact have diuretic effects as claimed, people taking the medication lithium should use cleavers only under the supervision of a physician, as dehydration can be dangerous with this medication.

Interactions You Should Know About
If you are taking lithium, do not use cleavers except under the supervision of a physician.

Family Rubiaceae, Galium aparine
Other names"
Cleavers, Clivers, Goosegrass, Barweed, Hedgeheriff, Hayriffe, Eriffe, Grip Grass, Hayruff, Catchweed, Scratweed, Mutton Chops, Robin-run-in-the-Grass, Love-man, Goosebill, Everlasting Friendship, Bedstraw, Coachweed, Cleaverwort, Goose Grass, Gosling Weed, Hedge-burs, Stick-a-back, Sweethearts)

Galium odorata (Woodruff, Sweet Woodruff, Master of the Wood, Woodwrad, Waldmeister)

Galium verum (Lady's Bedstraw, Yellow Galium, Cheese Rennet, Curdwort, Maid's Hair, Yellow Cleavers, Petty Mugget, Cheese Renning).

Excessive doses can cause internal bleeding and should not be taken if on conventional medication for circulatory problems or during pregnancy. As the plant dries, coumarin is released, containing as much as 1% in the freshly dried product. Therefore, it should not be taken with other anticoagulant medications. Do not use if there are existing kidney problems.

Cleavers is a straggling annual, growing to about four feet in height. The plant is common throughout Europe and North America and found in many other temperate zones, including Australia. It grows prolifically in gardens and along roadsides, intertwining through hedges and producing long, sticky stems with Velcro-like, green fruits, sometimes called burrs. Each plant has the ability to produce some 3,500 seeds that often withstand the winter and get a jump-start on other plants in the spring. Livestock and birds relish its bitter flavor. For medicinal use, it is gathered when just about to flower in late spring.

Key Actions
induces sleep
lymphatic cleanser
mild astringent

Key Components
(a) Cleavers
anthraquinones (only in the root)
iridoids (including asperuloside)
polyphenolic acids
(b) Woodruff
(c) Lady's Bedstraw
iridoids (including asperuloside)

Medicinal Parts
Aerial parts
According to French research in 1947, an extract of cleavers
appeared to lower blood pressure.

Infusions are taken for kidney stones and other urinary problems, as well as serving as a cooling drink for fevers.

Can be juiced and frozen or stored for later uses. It can also be
bottled or canned. I preserved mine in vinegar for it's the cheapest
way I know to keep it active. I also dry it to add in soups and
stews. Dry it has an added value, medicinally speaking.

Juice is obtained from the fresh plant and used in such serious illnesses, as cancer, and as a strong diuretic to rid the body of toxins. It is also used to melt kidney stones inside the kidney: outside the kidney in the tube or bladder, including prostate disorders, and other kidney problems, and makes an effective
lymphatic cleanser for a range of conditions.

Tinctures are used for the same conditions as infusions and can be combined with such other lymphatic detoxifying herbs as dried pokeroot.

Compresses made from the infusion can be applied to burns, grazes, ulcers, or other skin inflammations. Or added to tinctures, salves,
lotions, rubs, ointments and lip balm.

Creams are regularly used to relieve psoriasis.

Hair rinses from the infusions are used to treat dandruff or scaling scalp problems.

Young shoots have long been a popular cleansing tonic in the spring since it appears very early, cook them with young poke leaves and
lambs quarter sprouts. It is often used as a vegetable where it is gently sweated in a pan like spinach and can be continually harvested until fall.

Cleavers is often taken as a diuretic, but it is also effective to soothe such skin disorders as seborrhea, eczema, and psoriasis, as well as for sunburn and blisters. It is also good for swollen lymph glands and as a general detoxifying agent in such serious illnesses
as cancer.

Cleavers is used internally and externally to reduce the discomfort
of ulcers, festering glands, and fibrocystic breasts. It may also
help induce sleep.

Herbalists value all parts of the plant, from its roots to its seeds, which are dried and roasted to make a coffee substitute. The plant can also be cooked and eaten as a vegetable.

spring or in autumn.

HARVEST The plant is cut just before flowering (usually in spring and early summer, then dried. Seeds as available. Roots in autumn.

PART USED Above ground plant and seeds. Best used fresh. The root has also been known to be used.

The red dye principle may stain urine pink.
Bitter, cooling, salty, blood cleanser, laxative, diaphoretic, diuretic, febrifuge, anti-inflammatory, antispasmodic, astringent, mild antibiotic, alterative, tonic; affects kidneys, gall bladder,
and the lymphatic and urinary systems; lowers blood pressure; assists healing.

Has been used as a blood cleanser in cases of eczema, scrofula, psoriasis, and cancer.

Has been used for edema, urinary tract infections, cystitis, urinary stones, insomnia, high blood pressure, enlarged lymph nodes (due to any condition), glandular fevers, scarlet fever, measles, upper respiratory infections, asthma, mumps, myalgic encephalomyelitis, hepatitis, jaundice, tonsillitis, adenoid problems, obesity, scurvy, spasms, eczema, psoriasis, cystitis, breast cysts and tumors (benign).

Has been combined with Marshmallow for cystitis; combined with Echinacea or Goldenseal for throat infection; with Red Clover,
Nettles and Figwort for psoriasis; for scarlet fever, small pox, and eruptive diseases it has been mixed in equal part with elderflowers; has been combined with thyme for cystitis and urinary tract infections (taken hourly as a tea). A cream is also used for psoriasis and other skin irritations. A salve has also been used for burns and scalds. A compress has been used for burns, abrasions, ulcers, and skin inflammations.

The infusion has been used for urinary problems (cystitis and gravel), for bedwetting (taken 3 times daily), and as a cooling drink for fevers. Has often been combined with Broom, Bearberry, Buchu, and Marshmallow for urinary obstruction.

Has been used externally for breast lumps, swollen glands, ulcerations, abscesses, wounds, skin irritations and minor injuries, psoriasis and all skin conditions in general. Has been used to reduce lymphatic congestion in the skin and breasts. An infusion for external use = 1/2 oz macerated fresh plant to 1 pint of warm water, steeped 2 hours. Also, the juice has been applied to sore nipples and sores.

Has been combined with red clover, figwort and stinging nettle for psoriasis.
For cancer it has been combined with Sweet violet leaves (a large quantity of Violet leaves has been used throughout the regimen). A poultice made by combining the juice with oatmeal has been used 3 times daily for indolent tumors; a teaspoon of the juice has also been taken each morning. Another method of reducing growths has been to measure out 1/4 cup fresh or dried herb to 1 cup of boiling water, the resultant infusion being separated into 3 parts and taken 3 times over the course of the day. An ointment of the fresh plant has been used for tumors.

The juice has been used for prostate problems.

The crushed freshed leaves have been used as a poultice to stop bleeding. Also for bleeding of the nose and the infusion and/or juice internally for bleeding from the stomach.

The juice of both the seeds and the plant were once used for poisonous spider or snake bites. The juice or the infused oil has been used for earache.
The dried powdered root has been used on wounds and open ulcers to speed healing.

Has been eaten in China as a vegetable to help with weight loss. In Chinese medicine it is regarded as tonic and as a blood cleanser and has been used for skin and breast cancer, hepatoma (cancer of the liver), , leukemia, dropsy, epilepsy, ganglionic tumors, gravel, high blood pressure, hysteria, pleurisy, sores, carbuncles, skin infections, spasms, urethritis, urogenital problems, blood in the urine, bloating, and ulcers. In a study using dogs as subjects, arterial pressure was lowered up to 50% without slowing the pulse.
Has been widely used as a Folk Medicine in central Europe and the Balkans for various cancers (breast, throat and tongue) and for indurations and wens.
In the East Indies has been used to treat gonorrhea (1/2 to 1 fluid oz of the fresh juice every 4 to 6 hours).

The Penobscots of North America used it in combination with other herbs for gonorrhea, kidney problems, and the spitting of blood. The Meskwaki boiled the plant to use as an emetic.

!All others buy commercial preparations and follow directions carefully!
GRAINS = 30 to 60
INFUSION = 2 tsp (3 to 8 grams) dried herb to 1 cup water just off the boil; steep 15 minutes and taken cool, a mouthful at a time, sweetened with honey or brown sugar. OR, 1 oz (28 grams) of dried herb to 1 pint of hot water (not boiling), steep 2 hours; taken 2 to 8 tbsp 3 or 4 times daily (roughly a mouthful at a time).
TINCTURE = 1 tsp (4 mls) in water 3 times daily, OR, 30 to 40 drops.
FLUID EXTRACT = Same as tincture.
GLYCERITE = Juice fresh plant in a juicing machine; measure amount of juice and add an equal volume of vegetable glycerin to preserve; taken 1 to 3 times daily.
JUICE = To preserve mix with 25% of its weight in alcohol.
SALVE = The fresh juice combined with butter and applied every 3 hours.

'Grease' in horses has been treated by using a poultice of Cleavers (macerate the plant into a paste and add 1 tsp of cayenne pepper to each cup of pounded herb).
Mammary tumors in dogs has been treated with a poultice of Cleavers. For kidney problems the fresh plant has been infused in milk.
For internal use in livestock 2 handfuls of the fresh plant, finely cut, has been mixed with bran and molasses and given 2 times daily.

In China the seeds are dried, then roasted and used as a coffee substitute.
Has been cooked like spinach.

The infusion has been used for dandruff and scaly scalp.
A wash of the infusion has been used to remove freckles.

The root is used to produce a red to pink dye.

The ancient Greeks matted it together to make a sieve. Likewise, it has also been done in Sweden where it was used to strain milk.



Heal All
Prunella Vulgaris - "Heal All"
Part Used: Herb. A valuable but largely forgotten heat-clearing herb. Internally and externally for many types of infection (bacterial and viral). Very good rinse or gargle for mouth sores, pyorrhea, sore and strep throat. Ear and eye inflammation. Discharges and bleeding in general. Fresh wounds and sores. Studies show it to be valuable for high blood pressure, neurocardiac symptoms. Dizziness and ringing in the ears.

Added: April 28th. 2009
Don't forget to harvest the cleavers

Here in Kentucky they are nearing their peak. I gathered a peck of them two days ago and have already processed them for medicine in case of. Mostly for kidney infections, and bladder inflamation, but clearvers have far more uses than that. (See OHG An A to Z herb file)

(Galium aparine)

I eat them in my spring salads. Mom told me that long ago when folks had nothing or less, folks would gather the cleaver fruit and toast them then grind and use them like coffee. I've tasted them like that and do NOT like them. I don't like coffee either.

They are vitamin packed and make a hefty spring tonic tea. I've also bathed wounds with that tea, and used it to cleanse a puss filled wound when I had nothing else.

I use it in some salves, and tincture it for use with sistitus and such infections of the urinary tract.

Most folks only know about cleavers when they pick the pesky round seed balls off their socks or britches legs, and scold the kids for doing it.

Disclaimer: If you suspect you have a disease or health related
condition of any kind, please learn and research what is causing it
and how to cure it. If you are unable to learn, you should contact
health care professional practicing natural and traditional forms of
healing. This information is for people who are ready to take
FULL RESPONSIBILITY for their health. The results reported MAY
NOT occur in all individuals.