Posted by: LittleDragonFarm | January 24, 2012

So not a fan of medicine soooo here’s the plan:

It’s been a long while since my last post but between illness, research, art shows and just day-to-day life it’s been busy! The latest thing that I have been researching is what to plant in the gardens: both here and at the farm, mostly in response to the various illness and general over all malaise.  I have found the places  from where I plan on ordering seeds and I have gone thru the catalogs and marked my wish list.  That is always the most fun, just sort of marking what you would like to plant if you had the money, place and time to plant and  tend all the lovely growing things. So in order to keep my feet on the ground I had to decide what type of garden I really wanted to focus on this year.  The first are my herb gardens, I have 3 of them, each with a different purpose and all have been devastated by the last 2 summers of drought and high heat. The second to focus on will be the vegetable garden, it is usually fairly large about 3/4 of an acre but we decided after losing so much of it last summer to the heat and drought that we would do about 1/4 acre in tilled space and then several raised beds closer in towards the house for the rest.  The last is for pure visual and aromatic pleasure around the patio and small fish pond.

The herb gardens are very simple gardens with a grassy,  almost circular path wandering thru them, connecting them to each other.  I have a cook’s garden with the herbs I use the most, a medicinal garden with those herbs I prefer for cough syrups, teas and tinctures and then the catch-all herb garden which contains all the herbs I want to try to grow but aren’t sure what location they will take when they do grow.  I also place the herbs that I have purchased from the nursery or garden store here in town in this garden as well; before I find a permanent spot for them.  I also have a mint garden.  I just planted the mint: it does its own thing without my help or anyone else’s for that matter. The mint garden will stay the same, as right now, it is doing quite well on its own, the other gardens however will need replanting to a fairly large degree.  The only herbs left in the cook’s garden are: oregano, marjoram, sage, thyme and rosemary and wormwood, which I don’t use but love the green and purple herbs and flowers against its silvery leaves.  So I will need to plant both summer and winter savory, lots of different basil,  lemongrass, sorrel, fennel (I place it in the herb garden rather than the veggie garden bc it seems to grow much better) dill, borage, chives (these come back every year but I always seem to need more) parsley,  french tarragon, lovage,  and I want to try cumin this year.  Now if the farm is settled by then this will all transfer out to the farm and may become a lot larger in scope as we will need a good cash crop fairly quick and I start most of these in the green house or in the bay window in the kitchen.  I love seeing the little tiny shoots of hope throughout the day in the window as I go about sewing, editing and just regular day-to-day activities.  Unfortunately, so do the cats. The window is a favorite sleeping spot for them plus they like the opportunity to sleep and snack without having to move anything but their heads.  However,  I found double stick tape keeps them out of the window if you crisscross it from the top of the window to the window sill.

The medicinal garden is a lot smaller than most because of the variety of allergies in the house and among the folks that use it.  I typically have horehound, catmint, catnip, chamomile, lemon balm, hyssop,  valerian, marsh mallow, echinacea, St John’s wort, lavender, angelica, ashwagandha, bergamont and wormwood (again just for color)  There are a few others I grow for their natural dye properties such as coreopsis, woad, yarrow and I am trying to grow indigo but it hasn’t been successful yet.  I may try a few other medicinals and maybe some more dye herbs this year but I haven’t decided which, maybe mugwort,  mustard and I would like to try some of the Chinese herbs but I need to study them a lot more before I decide which ones.

The last herb garden again is more like a catch-all type of bed but it tends to look the best with the wide variety planted there as I also plant flowers in the bed as well because it does look so beautiful and full.  Sometime the plants never leave the garden and I just keep it for the pure visual enjoyment.

The vegetable garden is so hard to narrow down because there are so many veggies I want to try to grow. It has been very hard to pick and choose between squash varieties, melons and tomatoes so… I haven’t picked. I decided to order my full order and plant what I can and save the rest for the next year.  Most seeds save quite well if you place them in a re-closeable freezer bag and place them in the freezer.  Baker’s Heirloom Seed catalog is dangerous to your wallet but a whole bunch of fun and the end result is quite tasty!  Anyhow this time on the order form the extra neat things I want to try include salsify,  artichokes, a larger asparagus bed, yellow wax beans, (which I love but my family doesn’t. So they are all mine) celeriac, Jerusalem artichokes also known as sunchokes which are great raw in salads or cooked like potatoes or in soups, endive, a few more greens because the chickens LOVE turnip and mustard greens.  I would like to grow wheat and sorghum as well.  The wheat grew well in the backyard so I would like to try more of it and sorghum is grown around here in many gardens and on many farms.  I will just have to figure out a sorghum press so we can make good use of it after it is harvested.  We also will have the usual potatoes, tomatoes, cucumbers, squashes including pumpkins, peppers  including ghost peppers which are too hot for any major consumption of them outside a pepper sauce to be used as an ingredient… very sparingly.  Chard is one of our favorite vegetables especially in salads or in chicken broth with garlic, onions and salt for an easy, simple soup.

So these are all integral parts of staying away from medicine and doctors other than my usual diabetes check in and medicine although part of my goal is to reduce that medication as well.  I plan on using many of the herbal medicines more often than we do now because I know what is in them and how the components were grown and where they came from or rather out of which garden they are from as well as how the are grown.  Most of the herbs out of the medicinal garden are best in a simple syrup or in a tea so they can be sweetened as needed or flavored as needed.  I have listed some of the recipes I use at the bottom of this post.  I tend to go very simple and add things as I need them, however always, always be careful of what you use and mix as some herbs should never be used together or with certain man-made drugs. Know your herbs, they are nature’s drug cabinet and should always be used with caution.

I also plan on changing my family’s meals to be more on the vegetarian side of life with less meats and only those we have raised ourselves or by friends that are as careful as we are with how to do things.  So meat will be served 2 or 3 days a week at the most, we have done this before and it made all of us feel much better so we are going to make it the rule rather than the exception from now on.  I actually did go to a nutritionist for about 8 weeks to map out how to do things correctly and it was an immense help. I highly recommend it if you are planning any major lifestyle changes and many insurances cover it as well with a referral from your regular doctor.  We don’t have insurance but I was able to find a way to have it done for reduced cost.  It was worth it.

So while we are waiting to close on the farm I am going to continue to research the things we want to do and how we can achieve those goals and write about them when there is time.

My 2 favorite recipes:

Violet syrup (used for flavoring as well as medicine):

2 cups of sugar

1.5 cup of water

4 cups of violets, wash and trimmed of their stems

bring water to a boil, add sugar, bring back to a boil, take off heat and add the violets let steep until syrup cools, strain and place in clean canning jar, will last until the next spring in the refrigerator.

some folks add half a lemon’s juice which will turn it from blue-ish to more pink.

Use as cough syrup, mild expectorant, also just plain tasty for a flavoring.

** our kids love to candy the violets and they have become a very welcome spring treat.  Wash fresh violets and dip each into violet syrup or use a paint brush if you want to use the violets to decorate cakes or cupcakes etc then place in a sugar filled tray until they dry.  Store in an airtight jar they store for at least a year in a cool dry place.

Horehound cough syrup

1/2 cup of dried horehound leaves

1 cups of water

2 cups of honey, preferably raw and local if you can, allergies permitting

boil leaves in the water for about 8 to 10 minutes but no more than 10 minutes.  Remove from heat and strain ALL the particles of horehound leaves out of the water, add 2 cups of honey or more if you like it sweeter.  Use 1 tsp for cough. you can use it up to 4 times per day but as I  prefer to use less medicines regardless of whether they are herbal or man made I do a tsp in the morning and a tsp at night before bed.  With plenty of hot liquids during the day such as tea and water.

I also like to use marsh mallow but the kids eat it as candy and think I’m nuts if I give them a home-made marsh mallow when they are coughing- home-made using the marsh mallow root.  I just have misplaced my recipe.  Chamomile (leaves and flowers), lavender (flowers fresh or dried) and lemon balm(leaves) or even lemon verbena (leaves). I prefer to make tea with:  I take the herb and stuff as much as a small tea ball will hold and steep for about 3 minutes- I tend to use a weak concoction as I am very responsive to any type of medication so I go light on the teas.

Chamomile: calming, can be sleep inducing

Lavender: calming, very mild anti-depressant.

Lemon Balm: headaches. “mood lifter” and can relieve menstrual cramping- but its better for headaches and its great for a summer iced tea version just for a refreshing change.

As you can see most of our herbals run to headache relief or coughing.  I believe I need to branch out a bit more as we need muscle relaxers as well so salves are going to be big this summer.

As this is an ongoing thing I’ll probably post now and then about my adventures in herbal medicines.

And next time I’ll do a better job of editing the posts after I am done and autocorrect  messes them up!

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Responses

  1. A actually great submit by you my friend. We have bookmarked this page and will appear back following several days to examine for any new posts that you simply make.


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