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Is there a Hoophouse under that Cucumber vine?

hoophouse covered in bolivian cucumber vines

Yes, wow! Bolivian Cucumber (‘Achocha’ or ‘Caihua’) grows like no cucumber I’ve ever seen. Planted on one side of the hoophouse, it grew across the top to the other side, then out both sides and over the top on the outside.

We’d never heard of Bolivian Cucumber (native to Bolivia/Peru) until we were given a few seeds last year. We grew them this year for fun, just to check it out, having no idea what a beautiful monster it would grow up to be.

So vigorous! Covered in flowers which attracted all kinds of insects, then loaded with little cucumbers. It slowed down during the heat of Summer luckily, or we’d have been overrun both with vine and fruit.

achocha in basket

The cucumbers are different, smaller and not as juicy. A bit sweeter though, I think. If you let them grow to maturity, they become hollow and are typically stuffed like peppers and roasted.

Medicinally, Bolivian cucumber is used to treat high blood pressure, high blood-cholesterol levels, arteriosclerosis, circulatory problems, diabetes, gastrointestinal disorders, tonsillitis, and as a remedy for intestinal parasites.

(Again, wow. All that from a humble cucumber.)

While researching, I found a reference to the fruit and leaves being boiled in olive oil and used topically as an anti-inflammatory and analgesic. I haven’t found any further topical-use information, but I suspect it may be a language-barrier thing with me not speaking Spanish.

achocha, cut up with seeds removed

I picked a big handful of the best leaves and all the cucumbers growing outside the hoophouse yesterday, before they get hit by frost, to try making an oil.

If you’re as intrigued as I am with this plant, check out the write-up at ‘Plants For A Future’, one of my favorite online plant resources. Than visit John from’s garden to see his Bolivian Cucumber patch in this video with great visuals of the plant plus growing and eating information (and very cool, he grows a different variety than what I have- different leaf shape and spiky fruits!).


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50% off Gardener’s Salve

gardener's salve on sale

Gardener’s Salve, for the dry, chapped, cracked, or irritated skin of working hands.

I’m updating this blend but have a few of the original left in stock, so I’m offering them at half-off regular price: $10.00 each while they last!

Packaged in a recyclable tin that was manufactured in the U.S. 1.75 oz (50 g) net wt. 

— Ingredients —

White Sage*: Anti-fungal, antibiotic, anti-inflammatory.

Comfrey^: Helps promote growth of new skin cells.

Echinacea^: Antibacterial, antibiotic, and anti-inflammatory.

Plaintain*: Soothes inflammation and accelerates healing of wounds.

Meadowsweet*: Helps relieve muscle and joint pain.

Extra Virgin Olive Oil*: Conditions and moisturizes.

Virgin Coconut Oil*!: Highly emollient and moisturizing.

Watermelon Seed Oil: Light textured, highly moisturizing and emollient.

Candelilla Wax: Vegan substitute for beeswax, derived from the leaves of the Candelilla shrub. Softening and protective.

Essential Oils: A light, herbal-scented blend of Lavender and Frankincense.


* Certified Organic

^ Farm grown

! Fair Trade

These will be replaced by the new blend as soon as they’re gone. Head over to the store to get this special price while you can :)

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Connect with Plant Magic

collection of herbs drying

Fingernails are growing back, getting long again. Guess my gardening season is officially over.

Yeah, I’m bummed, but as I pack away the herbs I’ve dried and take stock of whatever tinctures, oils, or vinegars I’ve made, I’m as happy as the first planting day in Spring.

I like being around plants all the time, and it feels really good having a stash to get me through my garden-less Winter! Reminds me I’m part of and connected to Nature even when I don’t feel it (like when it’s been bucketing cold rain for days and I’m hiding indoors attached to a computer screen).

Using herbs makes me conscious of this connection too, whether I’m working to create a satisfying dinner or sumptuous skin balm. Their different personalities, colors, textures, aromas, and how they combine to become something unique is a kind of magic to me.

Plant magic. Cooking with, eating with, crafting with, living with, learning from, and caring for plants, our oldest friends. Get connected. What could be more natural?




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Surviving the change of season

st. johnswort flowers

A belated Happy Autumn to you! And as if I wasn’t already feeling low enough about Summer’s end, the season change has brought me a throat virus.

My throat is like my early-warning signal . When I start getting run down, a sore throat is always the first symptom. If I pay attention to it (start going to bed on time, make sure I’m eating well, load up on herbal tea with elderberry syrup, take a hot soak in the tub), it usually resolves without becoming anything more than a sore throat.

But if I don’t pay attention and let it go for a couple days… Well, it worsens and I end up where I am today: headache, sick stomach, and a really sore throat with both tonsils swollen and sore.

Change of season is a time many people get sick, so it’s a good idea to keep a couple go-to remedies on hand. I mentioned elderberry syrup. It’s a proven cold and flu remedy and is pretty easy to find if you don’t make your own.

Calendula and St. Johnswort (pictured above) are helpful for many different complaints, including cold and flu, so I always have them around in various forms (dried, tinctured, infused oil, salves and creams).

Calendula tea can be used as a gargle to reduce inflammation of the mucous membranes of the mouth and throat, which will ease a sore throat. Tincture can be substituted if you don’t have it dried.

St. Johnswort with its antiviral, expectorant, and anti-inflammatory properties is another great herb tea to gargle with, and is said to be especially useful for chronic sore throat. Again, substitute tincture if you don’t have the dried plant.

Drinking those teas is great too but may take an acquired taste. Try making a big batch of tub tea with Lavender or Chamomile added to the Calendula and St. Johnswort and treat yourself to a nice, long soak.