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thelayherbalist

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January 29th, 2009

I've been working over the past few months on a new project, a web site entitled The Practical Herbalist on simple, useful herbalism and homesteading. The site's beginning to look like a bonafide web site, with a growing body of content and a fledgling forum and everything. I'm pretty excited about the direction I've taken, and along with that I've decided to move this blog...or rather to use my other lj blog, candacehunter, to write about all things herbal and homesteady.

Over the upcoming weeks, I'm going to be getting back into the rhythm of posting. I welcome friends both old and new to tune and see what this Practical Herbalist is up to.

February 14th, 2008

It's been awhile!

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Dang, it's been awhile since I last posted.

The harvest for 2007 was awesome! I'm planning a garden for the first time this year. My goal is to eventually grow all our veggies and a ton of our herbs in our gardens. Maybe I'll keep on sharing harvest and preserving with the farmer I know, too, though. I dunno. What I do know is that I've got tons of plans and I'm super excited about this year's garden...and I'm wondering if I'll be able to keep up with it all.

July 27th, 2007

Gardening and Lunch

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We pulled literally a truck load of sow thistles, bindweed, Wild lettuce, and an assortment of other plant life that just didn't belong where it was growing from the gardens. It is amazing how much space those pretties take up even after sitting in the sun for several days.

I discovered that I had a single Teasel plant growing in my garden. It was very close to the house and in full shade. Sure, he was happy there, but it seemed to me that I need to move him. So, he's in the front corner now. I'm hoping that he'll recover from the shock of moving amidst this hot, dry weather and will take nicely in that area. I scattered a handful of Mullein seeds about there as well. I'm excited to see what grows.

A friend is stopping by for a light lunch today. This morning, I picked a goodly handful of Basil and Spearmint for a spicy Tomato salad that I will pair with some curried tuna and puffy breads. That served with a glass of chilled wine and followed by a dish of ice cream ought to be delightful. I do so love having friends over for lunch during the week. It gives me an excuse to cook something light, elegant, and sensuous. Hmmm. I think I still have a little bit of that Mango chutney left, too. That would be so very nice to share.

July 23rd, 2007

I spent a few hours in my garden this weekend. It felt utterly exhausting and also so very divine. I had tons of Canada Thistle and Wild Lettuce out there. I haven't found a use for Canada Thistle beyond pleasing the Faeries. I decided to pull as much of it out as I could and replace it with some artichokes. I love artichokes and I'm hoping they will, too. Just in case they don't, I spent some extra time with my Nettle patch, pruning away some of the neighboring plants just enough to give them a touch more sunshine.

I kept a patch of the Wild Lettuce on the side yard. It's beautiful there. I've used Wild Lettuce as a tea from the dried herb, but have never yet made a tincture of it. I plan to do that sometime soon. And, I plan to keep on growing it in the side yard so long as it'll grow there. I pulled all I could from the rest of the garden, though.

On Saturday, I had the opportunity to stop by Heather Nic an Fhleisdeir's garden (check out her site at http://www.celticherbs.com) to pick up a few plants...and a lot of plant wisdom. It was really wonderful to see the hedgerow I helped her create last September looking so fully and lush. She had an excess of Yarrow, Feverfew, Vervain, Lemon Balm, and Borage plants to share as well as some Mullein, Red Clover, and Fox Glove seeds. I got the plants into the ground that night and by the next day they were already beginning to settle in. I haven't put the seeds down yet, but that's on my agenda for this week. I plan to pick up some Wormwood and maybe a few more seeds this week, too. If I'm lucky, I'll run across someone with some Comfrey to share...although there is that one plant in the front yard that looks like it could be Comfrey, maybe. Yep, identifying that plant is on my list as is trimming the Sagemint plants and maybe moving one of them so that my rosemary can get a bit more sun.

Whew, it's going to be a busy week!

July 11th, 2007

My father-in-law and his son have set out for Minnesota with all of their belongings; they plan to settle there at least for now. It was hard to see them go.

Today, I made my first pitcher of Nettle infusion for the summer. It's been several months since I last made the stuff. I wish that I'd kept up with making it, but amidst the move and the guests and the painting I just didn't. I plan to get my family back into eating all-organic, mostly-locally grown foods again. I've truly missed the healthy choices and values we'd had in place before all of the transition and turmoil began.

So, I'm sipping an iced Nettle tea as I take stock of my work. I have a pile of projects on my desk and a list of tasks about a mile-long. Were it not for the Oat infusion I added to my tea, I imagine I'd be feeling mighty overwhelmed by now. Something about that weedy-green flavor just soothes the nerves. Maybe I'll just put my feet up and relax for the rest of the day. I'm quite certain I've earned it!

June 29th, 2007

(no subject)

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In truth, I made two gallons of wine and a pie. The pie is long gone, and boy was it good. The wine is still bubbling away on my counter.

It has been awhile since I've done anything that truly feels herbal. I made some more shampoo bars with help from my little one two weeks ago. I keep thinking that I need to get out into my garden, but I haven't done it yet. I pulled a wheel barrow full of thistles about a week ago or so. New ones have taken their places. My biggest goal for my garden this year is to map it out and to begin planning what I want to plant in the fall and next spring. I want my garden to be full, every inch planted, but we're coming onto the drought part of the summer. Does it make sense to plant a lot just before the heat and dry weather set in?

I ought to make some more dog herb mix, some more tooth powder, some more mouth tonic, some more deodorant powder. I ought to send out an email to see if anyone has an abundance of any fruits they'd like to trade for a couple of hours of gardening help so I can begin to restock some of my pantry shelves. I ought to get a batch of soap going -- I'm nearly out of the base soap I use for shampoo and body bars. For that matter, I ought to get a second batch going so that I don't have to buy laundry soap any longer.

Somehow, I haven't been finding time for the herbal tasks that I love doing. I'm thinking that it may just be time for me to re-evaluate the projects and places I've been using my energy. Hmmm.

June 12th, 2007

First Strawberry Harvest.

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Wow. I just picked five big bowls of strawberries. There has to be a good 15 dry pints there. There are more that are almost ripe still outside, too. I bet I'll be picking another couple of bowls in another two days. I think I might have to make a gallon of wine tonight!

June 7th, 2007

It's time for a rest.

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I planted some lettuce, beans, carrots, chicory, nicotinna, calendula, chrysanthemum, nasturtium, and a plethora of other seeds about a week ago. Maybe it's been longer. Shortly after that, I began the next painting project...

And, I didn't stop until the main portion of the house was completed. All that is left is the entryway, the little bathroom, the laundry room, and my son's room. I had great plans for painting the little bathroom tomorrow, but my back is tired and I'm thinking it may be a good time to take a break.

This afternoon I plan to brew an herbal tea and relax.

May 24th, 2007

Roses

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The sensuous nature of the Rose is perhaps unsurpassed by any other flower. Their petals are divinely silky, their scent seductive, their thorns a rapturous tease.

I have never grown Roses before now. There are several Rose bushes in my little garden. I read last fall that it is wise to trim the blown blossoms; this ought to encourage new buds to form. I gathered the a basket full of blossoms this evening and laid the petals on several trays. If they dry well, then I shall make incense from them. I love the scent of Roses in incense. If they do not, well, then I had the wonderful gift of having held them in my hands and having breathed in their scent. In any event, it was a blissful experience.

May 23rd, 2007

Planting

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Yesterday, I planted:

29 strawberry plants
1 French Tarragon
7 tomato plants
1 basil
1 artichoke
1 spearmint
1 peppermint
1 thai pepper plant

I have left to plant a few more. Maybe I'll do it today, this morning even, while it's still cool out.

It feels great to have my own garden!

May 18th, 2007

(no subject)

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First off, those no-VOC paints are so very worth the price.

Secondly, it's been three years since I painted a ceiling, and my muscles are crying out in protest. Today, I'm thankful for Arnica salve. The ceiling's done and the walls are about two thirds done. I'm doing a faux finish on the walls. The base coat is on and the first finish coat is on. I have at least one or maybe two coats to go before I'm satisfied. This afternoon, I'm picking up the sample paints for the bedroom and we'll do a couple of sample boards tonight. Tomorrow, I'll get the paints we need for the bedroom and we'll start preparing. I hope to have the bedroom done by next Wednesday or Thursday. I hope to have my studio done tonight. Tonight. Maybe I'll slow down on the other painting projects afterall. This is feeling on the verge of crazy right about now.

And, I've still got to take a break to get my strawberries into the ground and to figure out how to get the irrigation system on. I haven't planted my tomatos yet, either. At this rate, it'll be August before I see any fruits. Gads, there's too much to do!

May 13th, 2007

Gardening and Painting

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My entire front yard is a garden. It's not a huge garden, but it's not too tiny, either. And, there are two huge bushes of catmint. I call them bushes because that's about what they look like right now. I think I'm going to remove one of the giants and plant Lavender there instead. The one that's close to the sidewalk I'll leave. People like to touch the leaves as they pass by. The scent is kind of refreshing in a strange sort of way.

Before I get to dig-in to the gardening work, I am going to paint. This week, I'm starting with my studio. Tomorrow, I'm off to the paint shop to check out the colors and finishes that are available there. On Tuesday, I intend to buy paint and get started with preparing the space. By Wednesday, I'll be painting and by the end of the week my studio will be finished. That's the plan, anyway. If I get the house done as quickly as I desire, I'll still have time to get a few plants in the ground before the heat of summer.

May 9th, 2007

We're In!

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Wow, I missed the entire month of April...in terms of Live Journal, that is.

Since my last post, I have had one crazy, busy, stressful time of it. We made an offer on a house; that fell through. We made another offer and that one held. We closed on it in three weeks, which was no small task, and I've spent one day so far in the new house unpacking. I have a way to go yet, but I will have the place squared-away by the end of this week. I need an end to this craziness.

Besides, I have a tray full of Tomato seedlings, 29 Strawberry plants, and a handful of Nettle, Mugwort, and Marshmallow plants who are aching to get into the ground. Although my new home is totally suburban, I have a nice little garden that's all ready for planting. There are four raised beds as well as a goodly sum of berm-style beds that are loosely planted. I intend to go for the Victory garden look -- plants of my choice in every square inch of those beds.

March 29th, 2007

Yesterday, I made my last batch of Rosemary vinegar from this yard, a half-gallon of Rosemary clippings in white vinegar.

Sadly, I am getting ready to move again. It's been a tough couple of months for us. We've been renting a place that we have come to love. When we moved in, the landlady said that she intended to sell the place and in February she came to us to discuss terms. After a lot of strange and hurtful behavior, the landlady has decided that she is not going to sell the home at all and instead is going to move back in. She handed us a termination of lease notice last Friday; we're being evicted.

So, I collected the last Rosemary clippings that I could reasonably gather from this place. I have marked all of my plants. I've made a half-gallon of Oat infusion and another quart of relaxation tea. And, I'm house-hunting.

I'm excited about what is yet to come, buying a house and having a garden of my own as well as leaving behind the resentment and anger that the landlady has expressed toward us, but I'm also filled with sorrow at leaving the hills here. I have dreamt of living in these hills for the past three years or more. I've had six months here, and I've loved the place as much as if not more than I'd ever expected I would. It is hard to be leaving so soon.

March 22nd, 2007

British Steel!!!

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Joy! My digging fork arrived in the mail. It's got a beautiful Ash handle and a hand-forged-in-England steel blade. I took it out to one of the beds for a try...turns like a dream.

(no subject)

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I have envisioned the garden I want to plant outside my library and the one I want outside my back bedroom. I want to start doing some research on the herbs I'll plant there. I have a start on ideas and I know how I'd like the overall beds to look.

I cut away the horrible wire that someone wrapped around one of the trees out front. The wire cut into the tree's trunk, creating a large swath of deadwood along the west side of the trunk and killing two young branches that had grown above it. The tree is a good six or seven inches in diameter at the trunk, and the wire has probably been there since the poor darling was planted. I don't understand how people think that is even remotely acceptable. Grrrr.

I have started to envision the garden I want to plant around that tree, too. There are lots of saplings growing up. I don't know what they are yet, so I'm waiting and watching. Some of what's there will be going, but some will be staying, too. It's a bed that needs some extra care right now, I think, but there is an amazing about of growth potential there, too.

I planted a bunch of Dandelion seed along the edge of the driveway, a handful of chamomile seed in a patch along the walkway, and I cut a ton of peppermint runners from the peppermint plant near the garage and spread them through out the front of that bed. I see, too, that many of my methi seeds have sprouted and grown their second set of leaves. The Thymes and Applemint that I planted look pretty happy, too.

Many of my newer seeds are sprouting in the green house. Many of the older ones never sprouted. I need to take inventory today so I can prepare for the local permaculture guild's seed swap, which is happening on Saturday morning. I even have a few seeds I can take to swap myself, mostly tomato seeds that I saved from last year and a few squash and pumpkin seeds.

March 7th, 2007

Relaxation Tea Recipe...

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Man, today is a day for this one, too. I have some steeping on the counter even as I write. Thank You gravemedicine for reminding me to post this!

Relaxation Tea Recipe from Heather Nic an Fhleisdeir (http://www.celticherbs.com)

Mix one part by weight each of Licorice Root, Ginger Root, Scullcap, Borage, and Peppermint in a proper tea-storage container.

To make the infusion, steep between two-thirds and three-quarters of a cup of the dry tea in a quart of boiled water for two hours to overnight. Strain out the herbs and store the infusion in the refrigerator for up to two or three days.

To make a cup, heat about a third to a half a cup of water to boiling and add that to about two thirds to a half a cup of the infusion. Then, sit back and enjoy!

Seedlings and Seeds...

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My mystery seeds are starting to sprout. They're so darn pretty. I have a good feeling about the rest, despite the age of the seeds. (Some were a couple of years old!) If they come up, I'll have Loufa vines, Cabbage, Celery, Borage, Sweet Basil, Lemon Basil, Aniheim Peppers, and Mexibell Peppers.

Today, the sky is cloudy and we've had rain, so the wasps are all hiding. That means I can get into the greenhouse to plant a few more. I have a small number of Mugwort, Marshmallow, and Wood Betony that I bought last fall. I planted a few of those outside in the fall and saved the rest to start indoors for the spring. I also saved some various squash and tomato seeds, a handful of concorde grape seeds, and some eggplant seeds. I have no idea if any of the ones I saved will sprout. Today feels like a good day, though, to give it a shot.

March 2nd, 2007

I am happy to report that my Angelica, who has grown to a good four inches now, as well as my wee-bitty Methi sprouts all survived this week's dashing of snow. Happily, the percipitation has turned to rain once again, though up the road I saw a fair bit of snow lingering on the ground.

February 26th, 2007

Mmmmm...Nettles!

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I started making and drinking Nettle infusion again. This year, I'm making it double-strength because I still have a couple of pounds left from last summer's purchase. Dang, it's green! But, it tastes so good, too. I'm really starting to long for some good, strong greens. I need to get out and do a bit of picking soon. There are, at least, Dandelions about. I've seen Plantain here, too. With a bit of luck, this year I'll either find a goodly stand of Nettles myself that I can harvest, or I'll have the opportunity to get my own garden of Nettles going. I have a few roots. In fact, there's a goodly chance that I can get more roots if I ask around, too. That would be just lovely.
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