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 Lemonade: https://www.vitamix.com/recipes/frosty-basil-lemonade
Purple Pesto: http://www.gardeners.com/Make-Your-Own-Pesto/7686,default,pg.html
Thai Basil Sangria: http://www.foodandwine.com/recipes/thai-basil-sangria
My journey to plantland started with aromatherapy. I cringe now thinking about how heavy-handed I used to be with essential oils. They take so much plant material to produce. And you don’t really need much for it to be effective. Less is more!
Summer Solstice is on June 20th this year, but you can already feel it in the air! The sky is still light at 9:00 at night and the garden is overflowing with roses.
Heirloom roses are better than gold to me– they smell incredible (seriously, better than any rose scent you’ve ever smelled) and are really useful in herbal medicine.
(yes, yes, you can eat them too)
Today I’m using rose petals to make a richly moisturizing skin salve for my dry, cracked, achy gardening hands. Combined with red clover, violet, marshmallow, and meadowsweet, this salve will be exactly what my summertime skin needs.
Happy Solstice! And remember, it’s always a good idea to salve up after all that sun 🙂
If you’re a compulsive label-reader like me, you know a good label is hard to find! Even natural brands succumb to the necessity of synthetic preservatives to protect their water-based products from contamination.
Most annoying though is when ingredients aren’t fully disclosed. (Hiding preservatives under the name ‘parfum’ is low, and hiding essential oils under the term ‘proprietary blend’ is not much better. I get that makers are worried their special essential oil blend will be copied. I just think it’s more important for the user of that product to know *everything* that’s in it in case of allergies or other sensitivities.)
And what about ingredients that weren’t grown organically, harvested ethically, or traded fairly?
These are the things I worry about, and I know you do to. It’s why I take extra care when sourcing ingredients for our farm-made skincare, working with a few select suppliers and growing many herbs myself.
You’ll always get the full monty here. When the skincare is natural, handmade, full of herbs, and 100% vegan, it’s a label that makes for good reading.
Because I’m limited to how many plants I can have in my small space, I look for plants that are multi-talented and can be used in different ways.
Echinacea (or Purple Coneflower, currently blooming all over the garden and bringing in hungry goldfinches) is one you probably know as an immune-stimulating medicinal herb, but its anti-microbial and anti-inflammatory properties have an important place in your first-aid kit too.
Plants for a Future, a charity researching and providing information on ecologically sustainable horticulture, lists Echinacea in its database saying the plant has long been used by North American Indians as a universal application to treat the bites and stings of all types of insects.
It’s used also as a pain killer and healing agent for burns, to reduce pain and prevent infection in recent wounds, and to clean out wounds that become infected.
Use the tincture, or make yourself a nice healing salve.
The past few years, I’ve been making an olive-oil based salve with Echinacea flowers, Rose petals, Comfrey leaves, Yarrow leaves and flowers, and Holy Basil leaves and flowers. The blend works well, soothing irritation and speeding up the healing time on the nicks and scrapes I get so often from my habit of gardening without gloves.
Are you using Echinacea topically? I’d love to hear your experiences!
It’s actually almost embarrassing how in love with Lettuce I am….
One of the first things I can eat out of my garden in the Spring, Lettuce’s amazing variety of colors, textures, and flavors is enough to put me into a swoon.
And more than just a pretty face, Lettuce is rich in vitamin A and potassium plus has some vitamin C, calcium, iron, and copper.
(*except Iceberg Lettuce, which is very low in nutritional value)
Lettuce fits into my small-space garden rule which requires plants to do double-duty: Besides eating it, you can wear it 😉
A lettuce face mask helps restore skin’s natural pH, soothes rough skin, and can help heal pimples.
Put lettuce in a blender to pulp, then massage onto skin. For a fancier version, add a little olive oil and lemon juice. Olive oil is a great moisturizer, and lemon juice a gentle astringent that cleans and refines pores.