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Wear Your Herbs: Echinacea

echinacea

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!

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Soaping on Schedule

handmade herbal soap

Boy, for one crazy minute there while pondering how to get done everything that needs doing this year, I decided to give up on soap-making.

That was scary! I am so enamored with hand-milling olive oil soap, it made me kindof bummed that it was gone. Soap takes about a month to fully dry and cure though, so I have to plan out my soaping schedule in advance to make sure it gets fit in.

And I can only make so much, so I have to limit my choice of blends.

the definites for this year are:

Rose, with Rose petals, Marshmallow root, and Geranium essential oil

Lavender, with Lavender flowers, White (Kaolin) Clay, and Lavender essential oil

Lemongrass, with Lemongrass, Coconut Milk, and Lemongrass essential oil

Sage, with Garden Sage, White Sage, French Green Clay, and Sage and Lavender essential oils

Calendula, with Calendula petals, Oatmeal, and Tangerine essential oil

also pondering:

Elderflower, with Elderflower blossoms, Mango Butter, and Palmarosa essential oil

Linden, with Linden flowers and leaves, Green Tea, and Ylang Ylang essential oil

maybe Lettuce or Cucumber or Seaweed? Something green….

 

“Wild Carrot” is a notable omission as it’s one I’ve always made (fresh carrots with the scent of (Wild) Carrot Seed essential oil- love it!), but I thought I’d take a break to give me the chance to try something different.

Have I missed any of your favorites?

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Lookin’ this good, everybody gonna swoon

Spring Lettuce in the garden

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.

 

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Chamomile in the Springtime Garden

chamomile

German Chamomile (Matricaria recutita) is one of the first signs of green in my Springtime garden, and a very welcome sight it is!

A member of the Daisy Family, Chamomile contains calcium, potassium, vitamin B2, flavonoids, coumarins, and salicylates. The flowers are used for their antibacterial, anti-fungal, anti-inflammatory, sedative, and vulnerary properties.

The flavor is described as both sweet and bitter. You’ll notice its appley aroma which is just how it tastes, but if you make the same mistake I did and steep your tea extra long (medicine-making style), it becomes really bitter!

Chamomile is used in skin care to soften dry skin, clean pores, clear acne, and reduce puffiness. It’s also a key herb to use for healing wounds and inflammations such as burns, itches, and bug bites.

Try using Chamomile in a steam to ease nasal congestion. Used as a bath herb, Chamomile can relieve stress and calm cranky children.

I also like to use Chamomile to make a massage oil that soothes sore muscles and aids relaxation. This oil is wonderful on sore, swollen feet!

 

* If you are sensitive to Ragweed you may be allergic to Chamomile. Be careful when you first try it. Otherwise, it’s considered very safe.

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Infotainment for herbanites

Paradise City Micro-Farm YouTube Channel

When the weather outside is frightful and all you feel like doing is curling up around the warm glow of your computer screen….

Here’s my take on “the best of the best” gardening and herbal videos on YouTube. Check out my Playlists for

  • Natural Skin Care
  • Herbal Profiles
  • How-to’s and Recipes

plus Favorites like “Why Permaculture Folks Love Comfrey” and “Amazing Urban Permaculture Food Forest Garden” at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCoBAaly1FHPtXhBX4HgU7qw.

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