Three Autumn Medicinal Herbs to Harvest Now

20170929_113435This year I was able to harvest over thirty different medicinal herbs from my gardens.  There are three of them right now that would serve you well for the winter if you can find them, and if not, plant some next year!

20170929_114035The first one is Burdock.  There are three kinds of docks; yellow dock that grows in the marshes and on the sides of roads.  Curly dock is the same, it loves willow trees.  I have some popping up in my yard unexpectedly.  Then there is burdock.  They will all work the same.  Burdock has those annoying round burrs.  I harvested mine before their growth.  I planted seeds in the spring and had a beautiful crop.  The roots won’t let you pull them completely which assures that you will have some more next year.  Perennials are a beautiful thing and this perennial could save your life.

Docks have pretty amazing blood cleansing abilities.  They are used to detoxify the body and to kill cancer.  Their long tap roots are eaten in many cultures.  Just chop them up like carrots or parsnips.  They are also available in the health food store at times in the produce section.

The leaves of the burdock are green which tells us that it is specific to organs as well.  They are very nutritious and will make a lovely tea to help cleanse the liver, gallbladder, and kidneys as well as the entire lymphatic system.  I dried mine in a large box because they were so huge.

You can add both leaves and roots to a canning jar with rum, vodka, brandy, etc. and let brew for four weeks but don’t strain it as you want it as strong as possible.  Put one teaspoon in a shot glass of orange juice to take in the mornings as an immunity booster and preventative.  Enjoy the tea with other green herbs like mint and lemon verbena.

20171017_171507Rose Hips contain the highest amount of Vitamin C of any fruit and are specific to Arthritis and as an anti-inflammatory.  They contain anthocyanins for heart health and the prevention of cancers.  We harvested a lot of roses off of nearly-hundred-year old bushes during the year.  I always leave some of the roses.  One, they look beautiful, and two, they will produce hips which contain their seeds and are a delicious fruit.  These can be dried in paper bags and used in extracts or teas.  Or for fun they make a lovely jelly or liqueur.  They take down swelling quickly and taste delicious.

The third medicinal plant is the humble onion.  The onion contains over 150 phytochemicals, quercetin (anti-inflammatory and pain reliever), and saponin (soap to help clean the organs and blood) and is anti-viral, anti-biotic, anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, anti-yeast, and kills the flu quick.  Forget chicken soup, if the household is coming down with colds or flu make French onion soup with lots of onions and garlic!

These three autumn plants will keep you healthy, strong, and feeling your best to take on the winter days ahead.

If you prefer to use plant medicines already made you can do so by ordering from my website http://whitewolfherbs.com.  My daughter and I handcraft powerful medicines that we know will work!  You can find the burdock in our Detox and rose hips in our Arthritis.  Thanks for supporting traditional herbalists!

Early Crops for Spring

radishes

“Take me home, country roads, to the place…I belooongg!”  I was belting out my favorite John Denver song while tilling the sweet ground.  The few inches of leaves (from my neighbor’s trash last fall) and compost that I put on before the fierce winter weather did the ground good.  It is dark and fragrant.  The moisture stayed in many parts of it.  This winter has been the most moisture we have received here in a long time and though I am still cold, it is nice to have so much damp ground.  The pastures last year were so dry that hay spiked in price, animals went hungry, people panicked.  The air is sweet with cool snow.

I raked back the majority of the unbroken-down mulch to the side.  I gently tufted the soil with a rake, not turning it (too many nice microorganisms workin’ for a livin’ down there!), just loosening the top.  Mulch will return once the plants are up.

I made an impromptu chart on the back of an index card during a sudden moment of gardening inspiration in January.  I listed all the seeds to be planted in April (my early crops), all the ones that are planted third week of May (summer crops), and the ones that will be replanted the end of July and August (late crops….same as the early crops).  I have eleven raised beds so I had to do some fancy finagling to get everything to fit.  So I gave each bed a number and set to work jotting down what should be planted where.  What will have time to finish growing in order to put in summer crops?  Where will I have space to put in late crops and still have room for perennials and medicinal herbs?

chard

Collard greens, Swiss chard, two kinds of kale, radishes, and two kinds of lettuce went into bed 1 which will be followed by tomatoes and peppers with greens continuously grown around them.

In a brief moment of gardening brilliance I set  up three tomato cages and planted peas around the perimeter in a circle in lieu of a trellis.  The peas and a few red potatoes and the most beautiful scarlet carrots went into bed 3 to be followed by soybeans and lettuce.

dragon carrots

The limited potatoes are because I purchased them from the nursery then left them on the car floor.  Where they were then trampled by various teenager’s feet and piles of this and that.  The remaining potatoes are shriveling and look rather pathetic but I still intend to plant them today in the potato barrels.

Cabbage and cauliflower went into bed 4 nestled in with surprise onion shoots from last year.  I don’t have the heart to pull them out.  I will be lucky if the delicious cabbage and cauliflower ever transpire, we have a short growing season and bugs that love them so I don’t have anything planned for bed 4.  Just a nice, long luxurious growing season for the cruciferous delicacies I love.

cauliflower

The garlic is coming up with frost burned tips, slow but sure.  I do hope they make it!  One cannot survive in the kitchen without a smidge of garlic.

Onions went in to bed 8.  The possibly dead…possibly sleeping…Cabernet Sauvignon grape vine slumbers (hopefully) next to them.  And in a fit of ridiculous hopefulness, Brussels sprout seeds joined the onions in bed.

brussels

The snow gently covered them for the last two days since I planted.  Today should shine bright and cool.  We will be nearing temperatures in the 70’s by the weekend and early germinated shoots ought to be sticking their heads up to peek at their new world.  I will have my face to the sun, singing, “Take me home, country roads…..”

Planting Onions (right side up)

yellow_onion1

How lucky we are when we can find a mentor.  Debbie is a Master Gardener and willing teacher.  And since I was not raised on a farm or with any pass down farming knowledge, it has been all trial and error for twenty years!  Mostly error.  Every week that I go to her house and stand in her greenhouse in all its tropical luxury or outdoors among the cattle and rolling hills, I learn so much.  So many things that would seem obvious coming to light.

We planted onions last week.  In a 10×10 bed she stuck the thermometer in and it registered 40 degrees. We gathered up the bags of onions.  Every four inches we punched a little hole a few inches deep with our fingers.  Four inches in every direction went an onion.  She asked me if I knew which way to plant them, what side faces up?  I was so thankful that I did.  Sometimes I feel like a complete kindergartener in the soil but then I am happy in those moments when I can puff out my chest and say, “Yup!”  I have planted my fair share of upside down daffodils, tulips, onions, and garlic over the years.  I think I know better now!  I rather fear that in a month or so she will know which side of the bed I planted.  I imagine her beautifully straight rows on her end and the crooked grid on mine!  Onions every which way!

Roughly 20 minutes of water a day if there is no moisture.  Perhaps doubled that in the heat of summer.  In late summer the green tops will topple and the onions will be complete.  Now I need to know how to cure them and keep them all winter.  Mine turned to water after a month!

We are back from our trip and after redecorating my lair, I am getting out in that garden.  Need to pick up a soil thermometer.  Doug hasn’t had time to put in the drip lines yet so a low sprinkler on the early crops should be sufficient until he has a sunny weekend.

I can already smell the caramelized onions….