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Sage, Winter’s green

December = Nothing to do in the garden, devouring each seed catalog as it arrives in the mail. No snow yet so I can still see some green out there including Chives, Lemon Balm, and Sage.

Garden or Common Sage (Salvia officinalis) has become one of my favorite herbs since I’ve been gardening. Partly because it’s so easy to care for, I admit (Low maintenance perennials are gold, Jerry! Gold!).

Sage is also really beautiful, and it’s a medicinal as well as culinary herb. If you think next I’m going to say I also adore it because bees love the flowers, you’re right!

Sage makes a tea that’s especially nice this time of year as it helps ease coughs and sore throats. Some people find it a little bitter, so add sweetener if you like.

Another way to experience Sage tea is in the bath. Sage alone makes me feel refreshed and clean but combined with Rose petals, the bath becomes more fragrant, luxurious, and soothing.

(Adding Pine needles to the Sage and Rose just occurred to me. That seems a perfect Winter bath blend to remedy the melancholy dark days.)

One last thought on Sage, from the old Latin proverb, “Cur moriatur homo, ciu calvia crescit in horto?

“Why should a man die while Sage grows in his garden?”


I’ll be writing all about Sage this month, so hop on to our newsletter if you’d like to have the posts emailed to you. The signup box is at the bottom of this page. I often include extras in the newsletter that aren’t shared on the blog.

 

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Herbal Alchemy: Calendula oil

calendula oil

al·che·my: a seemingly magical process of transformation, creation, or combination.

Herbal oils are a good home remedy to keep on hand, useful for everything from skin moisturizing to first aid.

Infusing herbs into oil is actually a simple process, but every time I decant the resulting colorful (and sometimes fragrant) oil it seems like magic had a hand in its creation.

If you’ve never tried making your own herbal oil, Mountain Rose Herbs has a helpful blog post with directions for both the solar infused and quick heat infused methods.

If you’d like to try a different technique that’s closer to how true medicine makers do herbal oils, herbalist Kami McBride has a Calendula oil video tutorial on YouTube that’s really informative.

She talks about why she loves herbal oils, what she uses Calendula oil for, and then demonstrates how she makes oils with the addition of 100 proof vodka and a blender. This process has a few more steps but you will have a really excellent oil! The video is half an hour long and definitely worth your time. Enjoy!

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Calendula brings the Glow

calendula petals in oil

Cold, grey, and rainy today. I’m thinking about cozying up with one of my favorite plants, a golden beauty long associated with fire and the Sun, Calendula.

Calendula officinalis is her botanical name, but she has been known by many different names including Pot Marigold, Merrybud, Marygold, Summer’s Bride, and Ruddles.

Calendula’s petals, leaves, and stem contain carotenoids which are vitamin A precursors with antioxidant activity. Used topically, it’s excellent for all skin types, and especially good for sensitive, dehydrated / dry, chapped / inflamed skin, wounds and burns.

I use Calendula in one of my skin care blends for its ability to improve skin’s condition by refining pores and encouraging cell renewal.

Another effect more difficult to measure is how Calendula can cast a little warm sunshine onto cold, grey, rainy moods. Settling into a hot tub full of Calendula bath tea is one of my favorite ways to relax and soothe my skin and nerves.

‘Bathtub therapy’ seems not to be practiced by many people in the U.S. I saw a statistic go by recently saying 50% never take baths. Wow! No wonder everybody is so grumpy all the time. Don’t know how I’d manage without them.

If you’ve never made your own bath tea, I have directions and recipe ideas in this post. Give it a try. Take some time, slow down, have a nice long soak.

After the bath, massage a bit of Calendula oil into your damp skin. You’ll be refreshed, moisturized, glowing.

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Calendula is not (only) for you

calendula flowers

It’s starting to make me uncomfortable, seeing herbs described and defined by what they can do for us. And if we think they’re especially useful, they’d better watch out- we’ll hunt and gather them to extinction.

Plants were not put here for people, as the old story tells. They were living on this planet for eons before we came along and were keeping pretty busy without us.

Calendula flowers, for example, provide nectar and pollen for bees and butterflies. Calendula roots form active partnerships with fungi, benefitting the soil. The fact that Calendula has so many health and beauty benefits for people doesn’t mean that we have more rights to it than any other being.

I hope people can learn to think about plants in a bigger way. We’ve done so much taking. There’s a lot of giving back to do.

 

 

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Beautiful, Bountiful Basil

basil lemonade

 

The big heat of Summer is here, the time that Basil begins growing with beautiful bounty! We’ve just started delivering bunches to the co-op and I’m happily munching as much as I can.

I’m a pretty serious Basil hound, using fresh leaves like lettuce and smearing pesto on anything I can. Good old sweet ‘Genovese’ Basil is my standard, but it’s fun having the different flavors of different varieties so we also grow ‘Lemon’ (makes an incredible sun tea), ‘Dark Opal’ (a purple-colored variety of Italian Sweet Basil), ‘Thai’ (a spicier Asian cousin that holds its flavor better when cooked with heat) and ‘Sacred’ (native to India, also called ‘Holy’ Basil or ‘Tulsi’).

Basil has been traditionally used as herbal medicine, and is good food being rich in vitamin A, vitamin K, vitamin C, magnesium, iron, potassium, and calcium.

So delicious! And it’s good for you! Enjoy some new recipes this Summer- you might get addicted like me but it’s kindof hard to see a downside to that 😉

Frosty Basil Lemonadehttps://www.vitamix.com/recipes/frosty-basil-lemonade

Purple Pestohttp://www.gardeners.com/Make-Your-Own-Pesto/7686,default,pg.html

Thai Basil Sangriahttp://www.foodandwine.com/recipes/thai-basil-sangria

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