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Herbal Lore: Basil

 

basil

When I say “basil”, do you think “pesto”? Pesto made with sweet basil just happens to be one of my most long-standing addictions, but with over 50 different varieties (possibly as many as 150!) distributed around the world, basil is about much, much more….

Since ancient times, basil has found its way into our food, medicine and cosmetics. It’s antibacterial and antiviral, and a good source of vitamin A, vitamin K, iron, and calcium.

Basil has been used medicinally to ease headaches, sore throats, coughs, nausea, and to ease nervous tension. It’s also reputed to strengthen dry or brittle hair, restoring hair’s natural luster and shine.

 

D.I.Y.

One of my favorite hair rinses is a strong tea made of Basil leaves and Lavender flowers. You can pour it over your head and catch the runoff in a bowl to keep repeating, or do it lazy-style like me and just dunk your head in a bowl.

A twist on my recipe: substitute Holy Basil (Tulsi) for the Sweet Basil. For Brunettes: try a Basil and Rosemary blend. For Blondes & Redheads: try a Basil and Chamomile blend.

To make this aromatic, strengthening hair rinse, use 2 Tbsp of herb per cup of water and steep for at least 15 minutes.

 

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Garden Aromatherapy

peppermint
peppermint

 

Top on my list of “To-Do’s” today: harvesting Mint. I love Mints and grow several different varieties.

Or you might say, the Mints grow themselves. Mint is famous for overrunning its allotted garden space. I tried containing it, first edging it with slate and later growing it in a container, but Mint finds its way up, over, under, and around all barriers.

(This habit has actually endeared Mint all the more to me- I adore vibrant, enthusiastic, abundant plants!)

So now I let the Mints run wild, which gives me lots to harvest and share. It’s also recommended as a companion plant in the garden, repelling pest insects and attracting beneficial ones.

Taking cuttings of my growing collection of Spearmint, Peppermint, Mojito Mint, Orange Mint, Chocolate Mint, and (new to the garden this year) Ginger Mint is such a joy! It scents the air and my hands with an unbelievably delicious, invigorating fragrance.

It’s aromatherapy for gardeners 😉

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Down with Disease, the micro-farm story so far….

calendula
calendula

 

Hello! Hope Summer is treating you well!

I missed publishing my Summer Solstice Newsletter a couple of weeks back because I was ‘down with disease’. Yup, I’m now a member of the rapidly-growing Lyme Disease club (my husband, Hawkeye, became a member last year).

Near-drought conditions, extended-higher-than-normal temperatures, and being sick has made our ‘micro-farm kick-off year’ even harder than we anticipated.

Hawkeye has been managing the off-site garden all on his own, while I’ve struggled to keep our on-site garden even just limping along. The fatigue I had for weeks from Lyme made it impossible to do much more than get out of bed some days….

 

Garden News: Harvested a bumper crop of Garlic * Calendula, Marshmallow, Holy Basil (Tulsi), Self Heal, St. John’s Wort & Yarrow in bloom * Echinacea, also in bloom, is really spreading and looks ready to take over the garden * Soaking the logs to push the next Shiitake flush * The resident woodchuck has a new garden favorite to munch: Horseradish leaves!

 

Crafting News: Made White Sage-infused oil for the first time. Don’t know why I waited so long to try it! I planned to use it as an achy muscles massage oil (it’s said to be a good remedy for insect bites too), but it smells so incredibly good that I’ve been rubbing it on for no reason at all 🙂

 

For more on using White Sage, here’s an interesting blog post from RootSimple.com, who also talks about why *not* to use White Sage.

 

And if you haven’t tried making your own herb-infused oils yet, here’s a great YouTube instructional video which shows both hot and cold infusion methods.

 

Happy Summer!

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Too Many Roses (a good problem to have)

Rosa mundi
Rosa mundi

Who cares about Roses? With a reputation for being fussy and needy in the garden, I sure didn’t. The tough, hardy ones that take care of themselves (you know, the weeds) are more my style.

But you almost can’t pick up an herbal medicine book and certainly won’t find an herbal cosmetic book that doesn’t include Rose, so a few years back I made a token planting of 1 sprout each of  3 old-fashioned varieties: Apothecary’s Rose (Rosa gallica ‘Officinalis’), Rosa Mundi (Rosa gallica ‘Versicolor’), and Rugosa Rose (Rosa rugosa ‘Alba’).

These sweet shrubs turned out to be anything but fussy! Almost a little too robust, the Gallicas throw seed and are having a go at becoming a hedge while the Rugosa sends out runners in every direction! I didn’t pay much attention to them, though, until last Summer.

It was the bees I noticed first. There are so many bees working these flowers it’s actually noisy! Then, the aroma caught me. All throughout the garden I could smell those Roses. Suddenly, I was in love.

I’d only dabbled with Rose in salves and perfumes, so I gathered as many petals as I could in anticipation of Winter experiments: Oils and balms, tinctures and elixirs. Infused into aloe vera, witch hazel, apple cider vinegar. Whatever I could think of!

Today my herbal pantry shelves are brimming with rosy goodness and I can’t figure out how I ever lived without it. “Queen of the Garden” as nickname makes sense to me now.

Though I did intend to clip them back this Spring, I’ve decided instead to let the Roses run wild. Wonder who will be happier with the overflow this Summer, me or the bees….


Roses used topically are wonderful for the skin. And not only for beauty. Rose is a revered healer of wounds and important first aid plant 🙂

Rose flowers: anti-bacterial, anti-depressant, anti-fungal, anti-inflammatory, anti-spetic, anti-viral, aphrodisiac, astringent, cardiotonic, decongestant, expectorant, hemostatic, laxative, sedative

Rose hips: anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory, anti-oxident, anti-viral, astringent, cardiotonic, laxative, nutritive, tonic, high in vitamin C


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