garlic plant

Recipes: Sinus Reliever and Sore Throat Tea!

Sinus Reliever

  • 1 cup warm water
  • 1 tablespoon raw local honey
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 crushed garlic clove
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • ½ teaspoon turmeric

Enjoy!  

Sore Throat Tea

  • 2 tablespoons local honey
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • Dash of cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • add to your favorite tea, I like to add it to “Traditional Medicinal” sore throat tea, or echinacea tea. 
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After two weeks of going Snow Crazy (has anyone in Boston coined that term yet?) I decided I couldn’t let the weather keep getting in the way. Historic almost-eight-feet-of-snow-in-three-weeks record or not, I’ve got stuff to do. So classic me, I overbooked myself and now have zero free time. So I’m back on that five ingredient grind, starting with this very green spaghetti. 

Ingredients:

  • 2 servings whole wheat spaghetti
  • 4 cups spinach
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1.5 cups peas (I used frozen)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

Steps:

  1. Bring a pot of water to a boil, and cook pasta according to package directions.
  2. Meanwhile, mince the garlic and add to a stove pan with 1 tablespoon olive oil. Cook for one minute over medium heat.
  3. Add the spinach, stirring until it begins to wilt. This should only take a few minutes. Add peas and continue stirring for another minute, then remove from heat.
  4. Drain pasta, then add to stove pan with the spinach and peas. Stir over low heat, until evenly combined, and serve.

Note: Pasta can be replaces with any gluten-free variety.

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Allium ursinum, Amaryllidaceae

If you have ever walked in the woods in temperate parts of Europe, particularly in the British Isles, you might have happened to smell something garlicky during spring, right when the buds are breaking up in the trees. Ramsons, wood or bear’s garlic - it is known in a few more ways just in English - was probably the culprit. Here in Scotland its white star-shaped flowers follow the small and often solitary ones of A. paradoxum, another common Allium which I’ll write about in a different post. 

All parts of the plant are edible and often harvested from the wild, but it is also easy to establish in a garden, especially in the shady and humid areas avoided by many other plants with higher light requirements. If you are foraging in the woods I would suggest harvesting the plant when the flower stalk has already given away its identity, together with the smell, as the young shoots emerging from the ground can be pretty similar to some toxic spring geophytes, like Convallaria majalis, the lily of the valley. I remember A. ursinum in the woods in northern Italy, but it looks a lot more at home and plentiful here in Scotland. 

Top 10 Companion Plants

10. Three Sisters (Corn Squash and Beans)

Native American agricultural tribes have been using this combination of corn, squash and beans for centuries because it works. A fish would be buried under a small mound for fertilizer and corn would be planted on top of the mound. Squash would cover the ground beneath the corn while the beans climbed up the corn and added nitrogen to the soil. Multiple mounds could be integrated into an edible landscape. Though this is only one combination of plants that work well together, it is simple, proven to work, and a great basis for understanding permaculture gardening strategies.

9. Yarrow

Yarrow is a beautiful wildflower that both repels insect pests and attracts beneficial insects to the garden such as predatory wasps, ladybugs, butterflies and bees. Yarrow is known for its beautiful, intricate leaves and bright flowers and can be effectively used to combat soil erosion. Besides benefitting the garden, this herb can be used as an anti-inflammatory agent, a tonic, astringent, or can be used in a variety of other medical uses. Flowers can be used to make bitters and has been historically used to flavor beer. Due to its hardy nature, yarrow thrives just about anywhere in the garden and comes in a variety of colors, making it excellent for aesthetic and practical purposes in any garden.

8. Stinging Nettles

Possibly the most unpleasant plant on this list, the stinging nettle is considered a weed by most. Chemical secretions within this plant cause it to burn when handled, so exhibit caution. Despite its drawbacks, stinging nettles are used in a variety of medicines and remedies including gastrointestinal aid, BPH, increasing testosterone in bodybuilding, or as a treatment for rheumatism. The leaves are eaten by many types of caterpillars and will increase the amount of beneficial insects in the garden. Stinging nettles are a natural repellent to aphids and the roots contain anti-fungal properties. Nettle leaves can be cooked as a healthy green or dried and used in herbal teas (soaking in water and cooking eliminate the sting). This weed is extremely beneficial, though care must be taken around the stinging leaves.

7. Wormwood

A strong, but pleasant smelling plant, wormwood is most famously used in absinthe, though can also be used to brew beer, wine, and in making bitters. This hardy bush contains chemicals that are the base of all standard malaria medications, but with wormwood no medication is necessary. It is a natural mosquito repellent, as well as a deterrent for moths, slugs, fleas, flies, and mice. Scattering wormwood around the perimeter of a garden acts as a natural fence to ward off unwanted visitors.

6. Marjoram/Oregano

These perennial herbs are a great addition to nearly any garden. They are unobtrusive to other plants and will increase yields of beans, asparagus, chives, eggplants, pumpkin, squash or cucumbers amongst many others. As long as the light is not being blocked and there is plenty of room for root growth, most plants will thrive alongside both marjoram and oregano. An aromatic mixture of herbs such as mint, spearmint, oregano, lavender or lemon balm can fill any empty spaces in the garden, stifling weed growth.

5. Mint

Everyone needs an herb garden. Besides repelling moths, ants and mice, mint is a great addition to many drinks, desserts, or as a garnish. Keep mint with other similar herbs and they will quickly fill out the space. Cabbage and tomatoes reportedly increase yields in the presence of mint, but proceed with caution. Despite all of its benefits, left on its own mint will take over a garden. It grows back with a vengeance after being cut. That being said, there will be no reason to ever buy mint at a grocery store again.

4. Beans (Legumes)

Everyone loves beans, and for good reason. Part of the legume family, they don’t need much space, they’re healthy, and they will revitalize your garden soil. Unlike many plants that use up valuable nitrogen from the earth, beans actually put it back through special enzymes in their roots. Known as nitrogen fixing, legumes take atmospheric nitrogen (N2) and convert it to Ammonium (NH4) in the soil, making this macronutrient available to future and current plants in the vicinity. Aside from plants in the onion family, beans will thrive alongside most crops. For best results, plant legumes before, after, and amongst heavy feeders like tomatoes, squash or broccoli.

3. Chives

Great in soup and even better in the garden, chives are a hardy, low growing part of the onion family. Besides inhibiting mildew growth and repelling many harmful insects, the bright purple flowers are known to attract bees, which are needed to pollinate squash, tomatoes, cherries, or a plethora of other flowering plants. Chives are best grown under most types of trees, bushes and vines but should not be present alongside beans. Harvesting can be done throughout the season as this plant will constantly regrow its leaves. Chives and other members of the onion family are excellent additions to any garden.

2. Garlic

Besides flavor, garlic has a multitude of benefits for many plants. Because this bulb thrives in shaded, nutrient rich soil, cover plants are recommended. Garlic has been known to deter ants, mosquitoes, aphids, cabbage butterflies, caterpillars, snails, tomato worms, weevils and vampires (can never be too careful). Despite all the apparent benefits, avoid planting garlic with any type of beans, cabbages, or sunflowers since they will compete with one another for valuable nutrients. Next time you have an extra clove of garlic, plant it under a fruit tree, amongst cucumbers, or interspersed with lavender. It will grow with minimal effort. The enemy of my enemy is my friend, and garlic certainly is that friend.

1. Tomatoes and Basil

Probably the most well known example of companion plants. Besides improving each others flavor, tomatoes and basil really do work together. The tomato vines provide shade for the delicate basil, which delays flowering, lengthens the harvesting season, and overall increases the yield. Meanwhile, basil is a natural repellent for fruit flies, house flies, and aphids who want nothing more than to lay eggs in a plump, delicious tomato. Tomato roots run deep, while basil tends to stay closer to the surface, eliminating competition between the two plants. High yields and high flavor means true plant love.

How I Got into Backyard Farming

Idea:

Backyard Farming sounds crazy, so let’s try it  

What is it?

There is a movement where regular people are turning their backyards into micro farms and doing things like:

  • Growing all the salad ingredients they need for a year (minus the Russian dressing)
  • Growing 100 pounds of potatoes on a tiny patio
  • Raising a couple of chickens for meat and/or eggs
  • Raising Talapia fish to eat
  • Raising rabbits or quail for meat
  • Converting lawns into mini farms producing staple crops like corn and wheat
  • Using things like fences, walls, posts and garages to trellis things like grapes, squash, beans, and melons
  • Growing 100 pounds of garlic and selling it for $10 a pound at farmers markets
  • Raising bees and selling honey for $7 a pound at farmers markets
  • Making your own Beer, Wine, Meade, Cider or Brandy

Why this could be Awesome:

The goal here is that you do these things on your property without anyone really noticing or caring.  The goal is not to start up some “you might be a redneck if” style crazy farm on the lawn and instantly tank the neighborhood housing prices in the process.  With this project the goal is to be clandestine, or at least unnoticeable.  Do it right and neighbors will compliment how well your property looks as you bring them goodies from the garden all year long.  Other reasons this scheme could be awesome:

  • Lower your grocery bills
  • Be totally organic and chemical free
  • Potentially earn income
  • Less lawn mowing / Less using anything that runs on gas
  • Could be Fun

My Situation:

I live in a typical Cape Cod house on a quiet street in a medium sized city in Ohio.  I have neighbors very close on both sides and in the back.  In total I have about 0.3 acres of “land” which consists of a small front yard and a descent sized backyard enclosed in a chain link fence.  I have a tiny 1-car garage, a small patio, and normal guy yard tools.

Research Phase:

I went to the library and to the internet and looked up the following topics:

  • Small space / patio / container gardening
  • Permaculture / food forests / Organic Gardening
  • Homesteading /  Survivalist / Prepper (I’m not a prepper)
  • Aquaponics

Take a look at some YouTube videos on people who have backyard food forests.  Also Jeff Lawton’s videos on this topic are amazing.  I also recommend the book Gaia’s Garden and the website Permies.com

Let’s Do This:

And so when Spring rolled around I began…  The plan was to start small and incorporate little things at a time into my landscape, wait until I was used to them and make sure no one freaked out, and then slowly expand. 

Things I have Accomplished:

I’m on year three now and I think things are going relatively well.  Here’s a summary of things I have been able to do.   Note: Each topic below will have its own full post soon.

  • Toxin Free:  Gave up insecticide, commercial fertilizer and other toxins totally.
  • Compost: Created a composting system that produces about 1 pickup truck load of compost per year.
  • Waste Reduction: Generate zero yard waste.  Generate 1-2 bags of garbage per week, which is a reduction from 5 bags.  This reduction is due to composting, canning, burning paper with wood fires and using ashes in garden, reduction of processed foods purchased, etc.
  • Rainwater harvesting:  Made and Installed 2 Rain Barrels (55 gallons each), with a system to auto water the front yard with the flip of a switch using garden hose and gravity
  • Lawn Reduction:  More than half of my front yard is garden (but doesn’t look out of the ordinary at all).  Converted 1/3rd of my backyard to garden
  • Hugelkultur:  Installed about 56 feet of Hugelkultur mounds
  • Heavy Mulching: Threw down 2 dump truck loads of mulch, 3 pickup load of hay (about 40 bales) and 1 pickup load manure. 
  • Sheet Mulching: Experimented with Sheet mulching using cardboard and other materials to convert lawn to garden without digging.
  • Less Weeds: Cut weeding time down by using mulching techniques as well as chop & drop methods.  (you still get weeds, but less, and easier to pull)
  • No Dig / No till: Gave up Tilling totally.  There are many good reasons to do this. 
  • Less Mowing:  Mow only about 4-6 times a year (due to letting certain “weeds” grow into the lawn such as clover which doesn’t grow very tall).  Also, I mow the front lawn every other time with a gas free reel push mower, which saves gas and is very quiet (and a good workout).
  • Less Watering:  Cut watering in half (because of the rain barrels, a well-placed swale to slow down run-off and Hugelkultur mounds which soak up water like crazy)
  • Perennial Food:  Planted long-term plants such as 2 apple trees, 1 cherry tree, 2 blueberry bushes, 2 raspberry and 2 blackberry bushes, 10 square feet of strawberries, 2 grapevines, 8 asparagus plants.
  • Quasi Perennial Food:  Tomato patch comes back 80% every year from self seeding.  Also get a lot of self seeded greens and squash, by not picking everything.
  • Seed Starting:  Beginning to perfect a seed starting regimen that is actually starting to pay off.  Seed starting takes practice!
  • Big Crops:  Set to plant about 50 garlic plants this year.  Set to plant about 30 potato plants this year (these two plants both can be mixed into the front yard landscape).  Planted about 60 mustard green plants (also a beautiful plant)
  • Medicine:  Growing comfrey to be used for medicinal purposes as well as green manure / mulch.
  • Cool mini-Projects:  Things I have made from my backyard include Grape Juice, Vinegar, Tomato juice, Dijon Mustard, Tomato sauce, Roasted Dandelion Root coffee, Echinacea tincture, garlic braids, burn medicine, flower arrangements, and lots of delicious meals.

Things I want to Try:

There are so many things in backyard farming/ urban permaculture I still want to try. Here is my to-do list:

  • Plant way more fruit trees.  The ultimate goal of the permaculture “food forest” is basically to have tons of food growing everywhere on your property that requires little to no maintenance.  The hardest part should be picking all of the bounty.  Of course a key to this end state is to have lots of mature fruit trees that produce large quantities of high calorie foods year after year.  And even in cold Ohio, we can grow so many different kinds of fruit like cherry, apple, peach, plum, apricot and lots of berry and nut trees
  • Plant a successful cash crop.  I want to sell something at the farmers market!  I think garlic will be my first attempt because it is 100% maintenance free and 99% guaranteed to come up beautiful.  It also sells for a lot of money.  So far I have been eating mine, but each year I plant more and more.  One other nice thing is that you can space them really close together and plant them almost anywhere on the property, including right out in the front yard.  I tried to sell my mustard greens but nobody wanted them :(
  • Get bees.  Although probably not for everyone, I want bees.  There is some cost and some work involved, but you get honey, wax and increased pollination, and that is more than enough for me to want to try it.
  • Meat?  I’m not allowed to have chickens or any animal like that in my city.  Rabbits could work since they are silent and you could raise them somewhere covert and no one would know you had them.  But I don’t think I could kill and clean rabbits I raised.  I looked into pheasant and quail but same thing there.
  • Eggs? I’m not yet to the point where I’m going to defy my local laws and get a couple of chickens for egg productions, but If you are, there is a whole community on the net of covert chicken raisers.  The more hip urban cities such as St. Louis have legalized it, so do some research and go for it.  Don’t get any roosters unless you want to anger everyone within a 5 mile radius.
  • More Mulch!  Once you get into this hobby you quickly find that your soil sucks.  If you have a typical American house your soil is terrible because for the last 50 years your property has consisted of 90% grass which some guy mowed short twice a week and probably dumped mass quantities of weed and feed and other chemicals onto it.  All of the clippings were bagged and sent to the landfill and heavy rains continuously washed away any soil that happened to build up.  The fix is to throw down tons and tons of organic material like leaves, cut up weeds, hay, mulch, coffee grounds, manure, compost, etc.  But if you are a regular person with an office job you probably don’t have access to as much of this organic mulch as you need.  I’m always on the lookout on Craigslist for free manure and mulch, but it can be hard to come by.  You can grow your own, but this takes time.
  • Flowers  I got so caught up with food that I realized I didn’t plant many beautiful flowers that can serve multiple purposes.  I want them for cut flower arrangements as well as for medicinal purposes and sheer beauty.  Next year there will be flowers!
  • Edible Seeds:  I also want to get some edible seeds such as sunflower and pumpkin, yum!  Per square foot, sunflowers are one of the most productive foods you can grow, calorie wise.
Witches’ Remedies & Painkillers

from PaganHeart.co.uk

*IF YOU HAVE A SERIOUS OR RECURRING MEDICAL AFFLICTION YOU SHOULD SEE A MEDICAL PROFESSIONAL IMMEDIATELY. THESE REMEDIES ARE FOR MINOR AILMENTS AND TEMPORARY PAIN RELIEF.

ALSO PLEASE BE AWARE OF YOUR OWN ALLERGIES OR SENSITIVITIES WHEN IT COMES TO HERBS AND OINTMENTS*

(IMPORTANT: Herbal preparations should never be boiled in aluminum vessels! Use only copper, earthenware or pyrex to avoid contamination of the medicines. Please follow all directions carefully!)

ANIMAL BITES (MINOR WOUNDS) - The powdered root of angelica (gathered when the moon is in Leo, preferably)mixed with a bit of pitch and laid on the biting of dogs, or any other creature, helps to cleanse the open wound and makes it heal more quickly.

ANXIETY - A tea made from catnip, chamomile or skullcap helps to relieve anxiety and nervousness.

ARTERIOSCLEROSIS (HARDENING OF THE ARTERIES) - Combine one pint of grain alcohol with one ounce of powdered dried Hawthorne berries. This tincture should be given in doses ranging from one to 15 drops. (NOTE: Although hawthorne is non-toxic, it can produce dizziness if taken in large doses)

ASTHMA - Place the soft fuzzy leaves of the mullein plant in a teapot with hot water and inhale the steam through the spout to relieve the symptoms. Another preventative against mild attacks calls for one tablespoon of sunflower oil taken at night before going to bed. A brew of skunk cabbage, garlic, onion and honey was favored by many witches as a remedy for bronchial asthma. A very old asthma remedy used by the Native American calls for the smoking of ground red clover blossoms. The leaves of the California gum plant combined with those of the stramonium were also smoked.

ATHLETE’S FOOT - Rub onion juice between the toes two or three times daily until the condition disappears.

BACKACHE - A tea of nettle or rosinweed is recommended for aching backs by many witches.

Keep reading

Winter Tonic Recipe!

Winter is coming. But fear not, this natural recipe is a great way to help battle those pesky winter colds.

Ingredients:

  • 1 Cup of cut Horseradish ( 3 roots sliced thin)
  • 2 Large Onions sliced
  • 8 cloves of garlic minced
  • 1 small sized Ginger Root minced
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 4 cups apple cider vinegar

Store in a glass jar in a dark place for one month. Shake once daily. Strain mixture with cheese cloth and pour into an amber bottle with a glass dropper.

Use one dropper several times a day for a cold/sore throat. Add it to honey to disguise the taste. 

Start now to keep your family healthy and happy through the winter season!