Posted on

Seeds of Hope

bean seeds

This is a difficult story of rape survivors in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo. The current statistic is every hour in the day 48 women are raped. So in addition to the horrible death toll of war, thousands of woman and children are left injured, abandoned, despised by their families and society, and with no hope for a future.

But one woman named Masika, herself a rape survivor, is helping other women recover and rebuild their lives by learning to grow their own food. Bean and corn seeds, farmed communally with other women, are not only feeding their hunger but acting as balm for deep psychological wounds.

I cried throughout the 25 minutes of this show. The suffering is overwhelming. The message, though, sings in my heart. Seeds and working the land are our way back to hope, back to life.

Not to discount the superhuman efforts Masika makes in caring for everyone, acting as counselor and mother. It is a heavy burden on her. She persists, she says, because there is no one else to do it.

But the seeds are the tool she’s using to achieve this miracle of saving and protecting life. Having come to gardening myself as a means to reconnect with the natural world and live a healthier, more meaningful life, it’s a message I already understood intellectually. After seeing Masika’s story though, I feel this deep truth has penetrated my inner-most core and lodged in my soul.

Watch the show here

Posted on

Do you Drink or Wear your tea?

Holy Basil (aka Tulsi)

I’ve been growing Holy Basil in the garden for three years and only fall deeper in love with each passing season! When you meet this plant, you understand instantly why it is so revered; its fragrance is truly heavenly! Being so useful medicinally while being so pleasant to consume really does seem a kind of miracle…..

Holy Basil (Ocimum sanctum) is also commonly called Tulsi (which is Sanskrit for “the incomparable one”) and is worshipped by Hindus throughout India. In Ayurveda, it’s used as herbal tea, dried powder, fresh leaf, or mixed with ghee for the common cold, headaches, stomach disorders, inflammation, heart disease, poisoning, and malaria.

Essential oil can be extracted from Holy Basil and is used in skin care and herbal cosmetics for its anti-biotic, disinfectant, anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties.

 

D.I.Y.

If your skin is acne-prone like mine, you’ll love what Holy Basil can do for you! Make a tea with dried Holy Basil and use it like a toner. It helps clear up acne and blemishes, while making your complexion appear brighter.

You can also use the tea as a hair rinse to add luster to dry hair and soothe an itchy scalp, as well as for a breath-freshening mouth rinse.

I like to add Holy Basil to bathtub tea too. Talk about a reviving, skin-soothing soak!

 

Posted on

Early Autumn Garden News

sunflower
Autumn Equinox, September 23rd

“It is a sad moment when the first phlox appears. It is the amber light indicating the end of the great burst of early summer and suggesting that we must now start looking forward to autumn. Not that I have any objection to autumn as a season, full of its own beauty; but I just cannot bear to see another summer go, and I recoil from what the first hint of autumn means.”   ~ Vita Sackville-West

 

The biggest news is Hurricane Irene. Unlike so many around us, we had very little damage from the storm. A couple of tomato vines and one sunflower were broken, and a tree limb fell on the mushroom shadehouse, snapping its wooden frame.

Hawkeye repaired the frame, I trimmed the vines and gathered the green tomatoes that had fallen to the ground, and aside from looking a bit windblown, the garden was back to normal….

 

Catch up with the rest of the garden happenings while grabbing some D.I.Y. recipes in the Early Autumn Newsletter- Just posted!

http://www.paradisecityherbal.com/Seasonal_Newsletter.html

Posted on

Dog Days of Summer on the Herban Micro-Farm

butterfly on bee balm flower
"Make your piece of this Earth into a garden. It matters." -- Richo Cech

We’re in the Dog Days…. Lots of heat and sun and practically no rain. The rain barrels are dry, so I’m dependent on my drip hose and city water (Yuck! Coincidentally, water-use restrictions have gone into effect in Northampton today.).

The plants are thriving as I’m drooping! Anise hyssop, basil, bee balm, calendula, catnip, cilantro, dill, echinacea, holy basil (aka tulsi), mints, motherwort, mugwort, st. johnswort, wormwood, and yarrow are filling the garden and my shelves as I dry, tincture, and oil-infuse them.

echinacea

Our veggie garden is starting to really crank now too. The kale, chard, and sorrel are still coming, and I’ve been picking green and wax beans by the pound!

“Ronde de Nice” and “Golden” zucchini (pictured below) are keeping me in squash, and the cherry tomatoes are slowly working up from a handful-harvest to a bowlful.

tonight's harvest

Always testing the boundaries of our sun-challenged little garden, this year’s “impossible-to-grow-here” veggies are mini-butternuts and yellow “Moon & Stars” watermelons. The vines are huge, defying my expectation that they wouldn’t amount to much. Crawling up along the fence and stretching through the garden, they’re covered in bee-filled flowers and little green fruits!

Next up is the construction of a new Winter vegetable bed, à la Eliot Coleman. It needs to be where a perennial herb bed is now, so I’ve got some digging to do!

Posted on

Catch Me, I’m Swooning!

grandmother's rose

Never one to swoon over roses before, I’ve suddenly become a devotee. It could be my age, I will admit. Roses are said to have a special pull for (ahem) “mature” women, and I’m now 43.

But I lean towards the idea that it’s more to do with familiarity. Getting to know the antique Roses I brought into the garden a few years back has been such a joy!

 

Roses have been used throughout history not only for perfumes and cosmetics, but also for food and medicine. Though indispensable in my bodycare, somehow I haven’t gotten around to actually incorporating them into my diet, with the exception of vitamin C-filled Rose Hip tea.

So I’m on a mission to change that! And I’m hoping to start with this recipe for a traditional Kurdish dessert, Yellow Rose Petals with Almonds.

 

In the meantime, I’ll continue slathering my outside with skin-loving Roses! A key ingredient in my popular Eye Creme, I added Rose to a sugar scrub recipe I’d been playing with and was knocked off my feet! The aroma is heaven and the scrub is gentle enough to use on my face, as well as being great for hands, feet, elbows… Anywhere that needs a little polishing.

rose sugar

Introducing Rose Sugar: Hand-blended with pink Rose petals (cultivated without chemicals) and other flowers, plus unrefined brown Demerara sugar (made by evaporating the juice from the first pressing of sugar cane). Now available in my Poppy Swap store!