I made 2 trips to Bellefield this week. Here are my musings:
Trip 1, Tuesday
The weather has been hot and humid. Labor Day came late this year and I wouldn't be surprised if it was a record day for heat---try 39C! When you looked outside, no one was out. Not only were all the shops closed, but it seemed everyone was picnicked out. Not much fun having a picnic with ice cream melting down your arm ;P
I spent Labor Day weekend working, but I was able to go for a jaunt to Bellefield on Tuesday. Although there had been a roiling (but passing) storm on Monday night ---indeed, I had put metal to the pedal to get me and my bike home before it rained and had just made it---[tuff if you ain't fancying that English!) I decided to go and get some Yarrow at Bellefield.
I wanted to get some Yarrow to make myself a tincture. Nope, not fond of making tinctures, but lately I've gotten into the swing of it, especially as I think I might have a gut infection. I've been taking Echinacea tincture for now, although I have some Yarrow tincture that will be ready soon. I wanted to make some more Yarrow tincture and I plan on making one with Marigold as well.
As it had rained, some of the plants were wet. That also meant the mosquitoes were about. Great! More bug bites for me! I started collecting some yarrow leaves as soon as I got to the field, not sure if I'd find any flowers. I looked about and collected some large Plantain leaves and a few Dandelion leaves. Amazing how plants regrow back quickly, especially so-called "weeds!" I noticed there were several plants with Red Clover flowers that had sprouted and there were quite a few nice lookin' leaves for the pickin'! I vowed to come back, because the leaves were wet, plus I wanted to pass by the alcohol store to get some 40% alcohol to make a tincture.
I was able to find several crushed down Yarrow plants that had still decided to send up their flowers. I appreciated all the flowers I found, bemoaning the fact that the field had been aplenty with Yarrow flowers and now all was gone, gone gone. I even found one pink Yarrow and was so delighted :)
Again, I thanked my blessings that I was able to find enough Yarrow flowers, which is really where the medicine is concentrated. I told all the flowers as I was cutting them off from the plants that I needed their medicine to heal my gut infection...They all seemed more than willing to help a gal like me out ;)
I noticed that the Evening Primrose plant I had spotted last time around was gone. Seemed someone had come and plucked her up. But I did notice this beautiful bouquet of low growing Wild Asters (low growing because they had been crushed down, remember). See pic below.
Hm, and what was this? Looked like nettle. Was it really nettle? I had seen some plants before that looked like nettle, but they were all in seed. When I had touched one plant, it seemed to be stingless.
Well, only one way to find out.
I touched the leaf. Nope, nothing. Maybe it was dead-nettle?
I touched the stem.
I looked more closely. Yep, stingers alright. I got picked again, and again, as I clipped at 3 nettle plants.
Yippee! I had found stinging nettle!! I knew she grew wild, but this was the first time I had found her!
I looked at the time. 5:15. OK, 15 minutes more and then I would bike to the alcohol store.
I stopped to take a look at these tall plants in seeds, growing beside the Jewelweed close to where the stream was located.
Yes, yes! They were all nettle plants! Stinging nettle plants! Yipee!
I looked closer. They were not all in seed. There were a few smaller plants that hadn't formed seeds.
Aha! Lucky for me!
Yes, you don't want to get nettle when in seed. She'll irritate your kidneys instead of healing them. BUT, what you can do is to cut the plant, when it is seed, so that it will have time to regrow, and then you can harvest her later. Nettle is in the mint family, so all you have to do is find where there are two little leaves growing, and cut the stem just above where the leaves are growing. It could be really low on the plant, close to the base where she's growing out of the ground, or higher up. Just make sure you cut off all the parts that have seeds.
That's what I did. Since I know I'll be coming back to Bellefield and these plants won't be hacked down because they are growing close to the water and not on the field (which is where they'll put up the condos), I cut several plants to take off the bits with the seeds. There were many plants growing in this one area, some almost as tall as me (they must be about 4-5 feet tall).
I collected the plants that were not in seed and got stung quite a few times as I didn't bring any gloves with me :0 But I will next time! I know that there are tons of nettles growing on the path leading to the other bridge, so I'll check out those plants next time around. I'll probably do the same thing and chop off their seeds---although you can tincture the seeds to use as medicine.
I have nettle growing in a few containers, no way is she growing as tall as these wild beauties are! If you aren't growing nettles, however, you should be. Susun Weed wrote a book called Healing Wise, on just 5 plants and nettle was one of them. She's considered a nourishing plant and you can dry her leaves and drink an infusion (or tea) every single day.
Here are a few benefits about drinking nettle tea every day. Actually, after finding my prickly friend, I think I'm going to write an article about her benefits.
You can also eat nettles like spinach by boiling them for 2-5 minutes. All the stingers will be neutralized, don't worry ;P
And then there's nettle, infused in oil and used to help with dandruff, dry scalp, and balding/losing hair (in both men and women).
Trip 2, Thursday
I had said that I wanted to go back to Bellefield, and I most certainly did! I checked on the nettles as I was coming up the path. Wow, I really hadn't noticed the thick stems on those nettles! You can definitely see that nettles are in the mint family with those thick, square stems (yes, square stems = plant is in the mint family. Cool botany tip). My plants growing in the pot seem like babies compared to these huge giants! Anyway, I'm sure glad that I found tons of nettle and I think I'll be able to harvest them again in October. Well, we'll just see, now won't we!
Passed over the bridge and went straight to the field. There had been another brief shower yesterday, I believe, as the Red Clover flowers seemed just slightly wet. Another wow, because I can't believe I'm collecting Red Clover in September! In previous years, where I was collecting in other fields, by August all the plants were gone. I suspect that it might be because the plants got trampled, that they are now regrowing in. I collected some of the flower heads that were still green. Funny I should do so as my herb teacher told us the brighter, the more potent medicine! But I feel that the buds are vibrant, too, just like rose buds, only their energy is different than the flowers in full bloom.
I wasn't so attracted to collecting Red Clover leaves this time, but I did find a bunch of Dandelion and some Plantain leaves. I saw some thistles, not sure if they are Bull Thistles or Canadian Thistles, but haven't been too keen on the juicing lately. While I was most reverent to the thistle who volunteered for the juice experiment, I felt it wasn't exactly right somehow. Perhaps I'll have to take some thistle seeds from another plant and make sure they get spread around. You know, offer something back, because that thistle plant never got a chance to make baby seeds. Not sure exactly. Will have to ask other thistle plants about using them for a juice, or maybe just take some leaves and not cut the whole plant down as I did. Meditate, meditate...
Met a friend while out in the field. I was just about to investigate those nettle plants on the path when friend and his doggy showed up. He said they are definitely going to build condos right where we are standing, that they have already started putting in phone lines under the ground (thanks for that, I didn't think I'd be hauling up roots here in Bellefield anyway!). I suspect that they will leave the little path with the 2 bridges. Good thing, too, because after we parted ways, I went to take a good look at them nettles yonder (as Mr. Wilson, might say ;)).
Oh yes, all nettle, all tall, mostly in seed. Some had brown seeds and were pretty much dying back, others had white seeds. I was about to leave when I spotted a smaller, baby Nettle growing in front of the taller ones. Oh goody! I got on my dish gloves and collected her. Then I noticed a few others and collected some of those. Then I started pruning back some of the seeds on the tall Nettles. I felt funny suddenly, conscious of myself when a woman and her dog passed by. There I was, out in the "wild," with dish gloves and pruning nettles! Too funny! I do have a thick pair of gardening gloves, ya know. I use those dish gloves when I prune the nettles in my pots. I just grabbed those when I was heading out the door. They got a fine hole in them so I won't be using them anymore, you'll be happy to know ;)
On getting myself home, I made a Marigold tincture. I had already told the plants in the 3 pots that I would be needing their medicine and I had already planted several other plants in their honor. Those plants are coming through just great, and after harvesting the Marigold for my tincture, that smell and me wanting to give back made me think I just might sow some more! The real medicine is in the flower, but I used the leaf and some of the stem as well to fill a 1-liter mason jar.
You should remember that the benefits of a plant depend on the type of menstrum used, in other words, how the medicine is prepared. In the example of Calendula, she's known as a superior vulnerary for skin issues, such as bites, stings, wounds, burns and even diaper rash. That would be her use externally, and the menstrum would be an oil.
Marigold Vulnerary Oil
Use her flowers and leaves, place them chopped and slightly packed to the top in a mason jar. Pour olive oil over them to the top of the jar, cap, let sit 6 weeks and strain. Use to heal skin issues.This oil could then be turned into a salve, using beeswax or candilila wax. To do:
Grate beeswax so that you have 1 ounce. Use this amount of beeswax for every 1 cup of Marigold oil. Place both in a pot and let the wax melt. Test the firmness: scoop a bit of the liquid mixture onto a spoon and place the spoon in the freezer. After 5 minutes, take out and see if the texture is to your liking. If not, add in a bit more beeswax to harden or more oil to make it thinner. Have your jars or containers at the ready BEFORE you make this recipe, because that hot oil/beeswax will harden QUICKLY. Having a pot with a lip/spout also works wonders, but you can also transfer the contents to the pot to a measuring cup. Now pour into your containers, let cool, cap and store in a cool, dry place. Use on chaffed skin, chapped lips, baby's diaper rash, dermatitis, burns, sores, wounds, cuts and scrapes. Carry some with you in your bag/purse. Great to have on hand as part of a natural, first-aid kit. FYI: Check out Mountain Rose Herbs for candilila wax and beeswax, also sold in pastilles. Candilila = bee friendly, esp. if you identify as a vegan :)
Using Marigold internally, you could dry her flowers and leaves and make an infusion with her or you could tincture her in alcohol. What for? Internally, she has strong antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties, useful for healing chronic infections. She's also used as a febrifuge (which means she has cooling energy). Her astringent and antispasmodic properties make her an excellent emmenagogue, useful to bring on late menses and help with menstrual cramps. She's also a boon to the liver, helpful as a cholagogue to stimulate the flow of bile and help with fat digestion.
The dose for tinctures varies, you should know: it depends on the person (e.g., personality, weight, adult or child), the ailment and its severity, the herb that is being used, and also on the philosophy of the herbalist/natural practitioner (for example, some will work with smaller doses on a more energetic level while others will use a standard dose or even a higher dose and work on a physical level). It may be as little as 1 drop (e.g. poke root) for strong medicine or as much as several dropperfuls hourly or even less than hourly, especially for acute conditions. 5-15 drops can be just fine; often 1 dropperful or 30 drops or 1 tsp is recommended.
Chop flower heads. Take off leaves from stems and chop. Add to mason jar of your size, slightly packed. Pour 40-50% alcohol to the top. Place on lid and screw cap and let sit 6 weeks. Strain and store in a dark amber bottle.
I found an interesting friend, hanging out on the edge of the doorway, close to the screen. He wanted to be let out. I wasn't even sure that he was an insect until he moved! He reminded me of the earth element, stable and patient. He waited until I snapped a few pics of him and then, off he flew back into the open! Check his pics below :)
Next week, thinkin' to go root bound, that is, to get me some roots. Dandy? Maybe. Burdock and Yellow Dock? Oh yeah. I'll be getting my workout ;)
Keep you posted? For sure! 'Til then, keep it sunny, sunshine!
Sometimes you feel like foraging, sometimes you don't. I sorta, kinda did, but not really. I did collect some Mugwort (a whole shopping bag full!) and some Prunella/Self-Heal, but that was about it. I toyed with the idea of going to Dandyfield or the woods, but I'm thinking about going tomorrow or next day instead. The weather looks promising, with an iffy chance of a passing shower, so all looks good.
Instead, I tended to my container/balcony garden. The success, I think, of my so-called "green thumb" is that I fuss over my plants. Not every day perhaps, but as often as I can. What that fussing entails is removing dead or yellowing leaves when they appear, dead-heading flowers, ensuring adequate water and food, and monitoring plants for signs of disease (and treating accordingly).
Actually, I just got around to staking my Borage plants, and they've started to go to seed! So much for that green thumb :P But they are easy plants and I leaned them up against the wall meantime, although this gardening task was long overdue!
I pruned Wormwood, I just love her smell :) Gave water to the ones that needed. I planted some more Marigold seeds because I've been taking the flowers and leaves to make myself an oil. It's a very easy recipe to do, and I use this a facial oil whenever I get acne or for reddened skin, as well as for contact dermatitis (anywhere) or help heal cuts, burns and sores. Marigolds have both antiseptic and vulnerary properties, so try making this easy oil for yourself:
Marigold Healing Face & Body Oil
Chop Marigold's large leaves with scissors into small bits. Small leaves are fine as is. Take out petals from flowers. Put leaves and flowers slightly packed into a mason jar to the top. Pour olive oil to the top of the jar. Place on lid and screw cap and let sit 6 weeks. Strain out oil (I like using a cloth nut milk bag) and store in a dark bottle in a cool, dry place.
Variation: You can use ONLY flowers (no leaves) to make this oil as well. as the medicinal properties are most concentrated in the flowers.
The second recipe I made today was an Italian herby oil. I pruned my Marjoram, Savory and Rosemary plants, and got the idea to infuse them in oil.
Herby Italian Oil
Place fresh Italian herbs of choice into a mason jar, slightly packed. Any combo is fine: oregano, marjoram, savory, thyme, rosemary, basil, etc. Pour olive oil over the herbs to the top of the jar. Place on lid and screw cap and let sit 6 weeks. Strain out liquid and store in a sanitized bottle (such as an old olive oil bottle or a bottle specifically for use for oil). Use as you would olive oil: pour over salads, use to give a dash of Italian flavoring to your cooking, or store some in the fridge in a small glass dish and use like you would butter.
Variation: Instead of the olive oil, use apple cider vinegar with "mother" in the recipe. This will make for an Italian Herby Vinegar which you can then use as a dressing over salads.
I hope you like these recipes---I've started re-categorizing my blog diary entries to make it easier to search them for a particular plant/herb. Having a website or blog, if you know from your own experience, takes some time to develop and build. It's a work in progress, and I'm happy to say it's slowly coming along. Of course, there's plenty a-work to be done! :)
On that note, going to make it a short one today. Nope, won't be going out foraging as it stormed last night. Grrr. OK, so we needed some rain. Mother Nature knows best :)
Take care of yourself, sunshine...ya hear :)
Curiosity Got The Cat: