Preserving The Harvest

You won’t find me hanging over a hot water bath anymore! It’s not that I don’t like home canned foods or how lovely they look all in a row, but it’s labor intensive and I don’t necessarily believe anymore that it’s the best way to preserve food. Since this post isn’t about preserving vegetables, I’m going to forward you to my friend Amanda Rose’s blog just in case you’re looking for different ways to put up natures bounty this Autumn. Her mom, Jeanie Rose puts together great instructional videos and when she’s in the kitchen cooking, I can practically smell it on the East Coast!

So pop over to Rebuild From Depression AFTER you read my post.

You might remember and then again you might not….that Honey was very sick the end of March, beginning of April. That’s when the hoot about the “Swine Flu” or better known now as the H1N1 Flu was breaking in the news. We believe, although there’s no way to know other than our own experience, that Honey had the “Swine Flu”. He barely made it to the airport to pick me up from my visit to Germany to see Sweet Girl. Once we got home, I nursed a very, very sick man. In all our 28 years of marriage I’ve never seen my man that sick….ok, maybe once before when we were both laid up and running to the john with the flu that hit both ends….but that’s got to of been nearly 28 years ago! Boy time flies when you’re having fun….and as I like to say, even when you’re not!!!!

I easily digress……Honey has learned to trust me in our 28 years together…I sure hope so! He has learned to trust my oddities in treating illness. My shelves are filled with books on living naturally; whether it be childbirth, menopause, dentistry, veterinary care, herbalism, nutrition, mental health, gardeing…..you name it, it’s on my shelf. In fact, I just purchased another bookshelf to hold my small library. I love books….but there I go again.

We discovered in my nose diving into herbal books when Honey’s fever was raging toward 103, that Mullein is a wonderful herb for influenza. I was reading out loud as he was burning up and nearly passed out. When I hit the word influenza he burst out, get me some!

I’ve been blessed with a wonderful crop of volunteer Mullein. Not only has it been a mainstay in what used to be our field transformed into a pasture….it has been my constant companion in my vegetable garden this year. I can’t get rid of this friend, nor do I want to. It’s growing in the isles, in the beds and some is even growing in the herb garden! I wanted to give room to my strawberries so I pulled a bunch up last weekend when I was cleaning up the garden. I pulled quite a bit up and hung it to dry.

I also left several mature plants for fresh use. Honey has a Tyramine sensitivity so he can’t have anything dried….I know, it’s a real pain my rear end. No dried spices, no dried veggies for him…..but, I try my hardest to accommodate his food issues. If I don’t they knock him out with a migraine….and I hate for that to happen. As you can imagine, I’m quite use to running to the garden even in the winter to scrounge some fresh herbs to use in cooking.

I also managed to harvest some fresh Mullein flowers for infusing in EVOO.  This spring I had a horrid ear ache from sinus drainage. Of course I pulled out my trusty old herbal books. I keep a good variety of dried herbs in my medicine chest, but  you have to narrow your choice down to what you have on hand. Because, don’t we all know that illness or trauma of some kind always hits after 7PM and on the weekends especially with children!!!! Mullein flowers were suggested for ear ache in Rosemary Gladstar’s Family Herbal and of course it’s in all my other books, but that’s the one I pulled off the shelf.  Which by the way is an excellent guide for beginners as well as a old stand by for the old sage.

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By the way it worked! I used a few drops of the oil in my aching ear and by morning the pain was completely gone. Since I was in a hurry to silence the pain this spring I did a quick infusion by simmering the oil and flowers over a very low flame for 20 min’s. Then I used the warm oil and allowed myself as much as I needed for the pain to subside. This wonderful little delicate flower has a place on my medicine shelf now.

After pulling up quite a few plants in the garden, I laid them out, sorted them and then brushed each dry leaf to get any dirt particles off. (And I just love my tables on the deck for drying plants and veggies, they allow the air to flow through.) The leaves of Mullein remind me of Lamb’s Ear; fuzzy and soft. However they do tend to give me a little rash, so I wash well after touching. I made small bundles and hung them in our dry, dark, cool basement. They resemble small bunches of tobacco leaves hanging to dry, just smaller.

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I guess you might be wonder if the Mullein helped Honey recover from the “Swine Flu”? He credits it for his quick healing. Within the half hour of drinking an infused tea….(I’ll get to that), he broke out in a sweat and his fever broke. It was at that point that he was on the mend….albeit, a slow mend that took the entire week of sleeping……now my man loves a good nap….but I’ve never seen a man sleep that much. I think he slept day and night for 3-4 days. His body was healing and it needed rest.

And since I am not a technical person by any stretch of the imagination…..here is a link on Mullein.

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As a student of The Herb Mentor for the past two years I’ve learned so much. It’s been an invaluable resource for me to access at will and to learn as much or as little as I wish. I haven’t been around as much this year as I was my first year. My life has been all about cows this year and learning all that I can in that realm. However, most of the same principles apply to my cows as they do to humans and I’m happily treating my bovine girls with herbal remedies.  Anyway, as I was saying….I just discovered that The Herb Mentor has some video’s on You Tube. Here is one of my teachers, John Gallagher (the owner & originator of The Herb Mentor) showing you how to make different teas…..I know, how hard can it be to make a cup of tea?

A cup of tea is not the same as an infusion or a decoction. When I made Honey his Mullein tea, I made an infusion because he needed more of the plants healing qualities. I poured boiling water over the chopped fresh leaves (about 2-3 Tbsp for 1 cup) and let it steep for 20 min’s. Trust me when I tell you the taste of chamomile tea is quite different from chamomile infusion. Teas are in my opinion more for enjoyment. Infusions and decoctions are medicine! And we all know that medicine is usually not very pleasant.

If you still have fresh herbs that need to be harvested now is the time. Wait until after the dew has evaporated and cut them. I use kitchen string to tie and then I untwist paper clips and hang them upside down on a mesh screen in our dark, cool, dry basement. I usually forget them, until I need them. Then I’ll store them in a paper bag whole until I need them.

And just in case you need more information on drying herbs (because I’m not very technical or detailed….KISS….Keep it simple…without the stupid!), here is a nice article by Mountain Rose Herbs that describes the process. If you sign up they will send you updated articles that might be of help to you. I always buy my herbs, spices and teas from MRH (at least the ones I don’t grow or those I use in bulk). I know I can trust them to be pure, fresh and delicious!

Happy Harvest Season!!!

Oink Oink Oink

I guess we’re all freaking out over the scare tactics that our government is using over this swine flu. I’ve known at least a handful of people who just recently had some kind of flu. Whether it was the swine flu or not, who’s to know. Honey just got over a horrible flu….like I said, who knows if it was from a pig or a chicken or a cow! He was a pretty sick puppy though. (our 21 yr old son has never seen his dad this sick, ever)  And several other moms that I was in Germany with also got  sicker than a dog. I fought it off with my homemade Echinacea tincture, Vit C and brine juice. Yes, you read that correctly…brine juice. I finished up a jar of my brine pickles but kept the juice and the garlic and I made sure that I drank some and ate the garlic.  It’s full of Vit C and is antibacterial.

When the scare came out over the Avain flu or was it SARS?, it was later disclosed that drinking the juice from Sauerkraut would ward off this evil. But it’s not just any Sauerkraut, it’s brined Sauerkraut. If you don’t have any brined ferments sitting around, Bubbies from your local health food store is always a good substitute.

Why Sauerkraut or other Lactic Fermented foods?

In 1881, Dr Blanc a Parisian physician said, “Cabbage is the physician of the poor.” Cabbage has been used as poultices, to fight intestinal diseases, are used to lower fever and rheumatic pains, reduce tumors, treat asthma, chronic constipation, and sciatica, just to name a few. When cabbage is brined with salt, it becomes Sauerkraut. It’s recommended eating 1/2 Cup per day for optimal health benefits.  For more information on lactic fermentations, see Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon, Making Sauerkraut by Klaus Kaufmann and Annelies Schoneck, Truly Cultured by Nancy Lee Bentley and Wild Fermentation by Sandor Katz.

While Honey was raging with fever of 102.8*F, I was reading “Health is Your Birthright” by Ellen Tart-Jensen. And I was running down different herbs…I came across Mullein…”The Mullein oil in mullein tea is a valuable destroyer of germs and viruses and has even been known to help get rid of warts. It is also high in mucilage. Because of these nutrients and it’s slippery consistency, mullein is a great decongestant and is very helpful in ridding mucus from the lungs and sinuses. It soothes the membranes in the throat and entire intestinal tract and may act as a mild laxative. It has been used for coughs, asthma, influenza, and urinary tract infection.” He asked me to make him some tea. So I ran outside and picked some fresh Mullein, chopped it up and poured boiling water over it, letting it steep for 5-10 minutes. Once he drank the tea, he began to sweat profusely and within 20 minutes his fever broke. He believes that Mullein was his life saver.

Make sure that when planting your garden this year you include cabbage, cucumbers and plenty of herbs for medicine.  You’ll never know when you will need them.

Eat What is Good

This is what I get to see when I’m up early. Saturday I was out working by 6:30 AM trying to beat the heat of the day, and I looked across the street at the old barn….the moon was still above the horizon. I ran to get my little point and shoot Nikon, Coolpix. It delights me to see the splendor of God in nature. I look for His evidence everywhere. Scripture tells us that if we do not praise Him, the rocks will cry out…I’m amazed that even creation knows it’s Creator! As I’m working in my garden, I give out little shouts of praise for the amazing things I see. How a tiny seed can fall to the ground and sprout up into a beautiful flower that no one intentionally planted. I had one of these surprises on Saturday as I was working, I spotted a lemon balm plant that transplanted itself some 25-35 feet and in JUST the right place along the fence line. I found volunteer Mullein in JUST the right places of my new herb garden! I celebrate this marvel with thanks to the Creator and whispers of joy! Scripture tells us that “he makes it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower, and bread for the eater.” Isaiah 55:10

One verse that lead me to the diet I’m now eating as a “cure” for the Chronic Lyme Disease that exist in my body is the one promoted by the Weston A. Price Foundation and written about by Sally Fallon in “Nourishing Traditions“. It’s found in Isaiah 55:2

“Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good, and your soul will delight in the richest of fare.”

This diet is truly the richest of fare…grassfed meats, raw dairy including butter & cream. Fermented foods that are life giving with probiotics. Chicken skin that is loaded with Omega 3 fatty acids that doesn’t burn….and thus my skin doesn’t burn either. You are what you eat…ever hear that??? Of course you have. What you sow, thus shall you reap! What goes into an engine is what gives it power. And it was this scripture that directed me to eat only what is good. As a result my body is healing. I still have bad days when the neurotoxins and biotoxins are overwhelming my body, but that’s a matter of detoxing and flushing them out. Each day I see manifestations of God’s power in my life. I see His desire for me and for my well being. How Great Is Our God!

So Welcome To My Garden!

Volunteer Mullein

I spent 3 hours cutting an edge on my herb garden. I planted a new bee balm which is my all time favorite herb!

I was so tickled to find my first Indian Eggplant! When I was in India, I learned to love eggplant. They have these tiny little eggplants and I found mine from The Cook’s Garden. And I just put in my order for seeds to plant in my hoophouse this winter. And to put in a second crop of beets and greens before our first frost…Oct 16 (my b-day)!

Isn’t the contrast beautiful? God planted these little Zinnias around my cabbage. Pink & Green who would have thought!

I love having flowers in the garden. They attract bees of all kinds for pollination.

I planted the marigolds, but the Zinnias are all volunteer!

I picked about 5 pounds of green beans the other day and a pound on Sunday. They are so sweet and delish! Boomer, our lab LOVES green beans. I don’t know how he knows, but he smells them and begs on the other side of the fence. I throw him a couple and he is soooo happy!

The corn is to die for!!!! Even though the crows picked through the small plants, what I salvaged is just out of this world sweet!!!!!!!

Some of the corn is over 8 Feet tall!!!!!!!!!!

Jalepeno are ready as well as the Tomatillos. I didn’t plant any Cilantro but today while I’m out I’ll pick up some at the health food store. Can you say SALSA!!!

Then to my surprise I found pickles…I mean cucs.

A bunch of cucs! Enough to make a small batch of brined fermented picles!

I also have Watermelon & Cantelope that are doing great!!!

Tomatillo

The carrots are amazingly sweet! That’s due to a neutral soil…acid gives tart carrots.

The borage is attracting so many honey bees!!!! Yeah, save the honey bees!

This has to be the kick in the seat! My greatest growing challenge were Sweet Potatoes!!! They died in the bed I carefully made for them…but lookie here…..in my compost I have the best looking Sweet Potatoes!!!! And more on the other side along with tomato plants too! How can you not believe in a Creator God, when little miracles like this happen?

The other side of my compost box…tomatoes and sweet potatoes and some yukon gold too. I’m really going to have to dig around in there for these nuggets of gold!!!


My Growing Challenge Update~July

My garden is really doing nicely this year. We’ve had quite a bit of rain in the mid-atlantic region. My folks who live on the Eastern Shore of MD haven’t had rain for at least three weeks. Mom said that she finally pulled some tiny quater sized beets the other day for dinner. My beets have been delicious and yesterday I had a good tennis ball size! We’ve been eating them nearly every meal. I love fresh beets. I’m afraid there won’t be any left for fermenting….oh well. 🙂

I found an unwelcome guest in my garden yesterday. Deer ticks!!!!!! Well, you know how I feel about them. I believe they were actually on my beet tops. I saw a little tiny speck on my shirt and thought it was dirt, but it was moving. This is the tiniest I’ve seen yet. It was smaller than the head of a pin like a speck of pepper! I crushed it with a rock. Also when I was rinsing the beet tops I saw another go down the drain. Please, please be very careful and aware of them. Their bite can be deadly! Or it can leave you lifeless and wishing you were dead! Here’s a picture of the latest one that was on my hip. Oh and by the way Lyme Disease is in every state and on 7 continents! Don’t be deceived by the CDC, it is “incurable” if not caught very, very, very early on after the bite. However, I am a living miracle, I am nearly 100% recovered. Praise God!

OK, on with the garden challenges. Mine this year was to grow some different plants from seed indoors. I’d never had any success with this, but this year I did. My greatest challenge was the peppers. I planted Sweet Italian Peppers and Hot Hungarian Peppers. After months or maybe just one month of trying to get the seed to germinate, they came up. They grew indoors by my south facing window and did fine….until I put them in the ground. Then they just sat there and didn’t grow. So I transplanted them yet again to a better bed with more room to stretch out. Ah, they are growing. They are still small but they are doing just fine.

As you can see, the store bought organic Jalepeno is bigger, but I’m really pleased that they are alive! Now I know where the term “late bloomer” comes from. Late Bloomers are just fine in my book.

Another angle, with my crow pans. The pans and eyeball have worked. That’s for sure another of my Growing Challenges….keeping the crows out.

What’s left of my corn after the crows picked through it, is finally tasseling…..maybe corn by July 4??? Maybe.

My bed of Butter Beans and Tomatoes. The Marigolds are so lush and lovely. I planted them early, actually in April and they are doing much better than the ones I didn’t get in until May.

This is my first year growing Tomatillo’s. They are so cool! Like little lanterns hanging in the garden.

My volunteer Zinnia’s growing along side the onions and leeks.

Also another Growing Challenge…look at them onions!

And leeks too!

After I ordered these we figured Honey is allergic to Tyramine…that includes onions! YIKES! I’m going to have to find a way to eat all these!

Another Growing Challenge, I am growing vertical this year. Everything that can go up is going up to save space! These are my cucs.

Even my watermelon plants are growing UP! I strung string for them to climb. Then I’ll use pantyhose, (because there’s no other purpose for them in my book), to hang them in and tie them to the trellis. 😀

I’m so happy. I think this is a volunteer Mullein in my herb bed.

My herb bed is blooming full speed ahead now.

Another Growing Challenge. I started Borage from seed and it’s really growing! All the perennials that I got at Alloway Herb Farm are doing great.

Borage

Beautiful volunteer Zinnia! I love the delicate center of these hardy flowers.