February 9, 2015
Whether you’re an experienced gardener or a novice, looking to be self-sufficient or supplement your salad bowl, we all want a bumper vegetable crop – but it can be tricky to achieve. A polytunnel is a great way to up your game and help you grow the veggies you’ve always dreamt of, so here’s a guide to putting up a polytunnel, and growing your own veggies.
Putting It Up
Putting up a polytunnel is a lot easier than you might think! You can choose to have it erected by a professional, or you can do it yourself – either way this definitely isn’t a job for a bad-weather day! In particular, you want to choose a day that isn’t too windy. It’s also important to put it up in warm weather, as the polythene will hand more tightly on the frame and make the job easier. A standard polytunnel has a framework constructed from hoops of aluminimum (or other metal) tubing, covered in a large polythene sheet. Assembly is pretty simple; first you’ll lay out the footprint and put up the frame, then you’ll dig a trench around the outside of the frame and use it to secure the sheet, before fixing the cover to the frame, and adding the doors.
What to Sow, When
One of the most important things to think about when trying to achieve the best possible vegetable crop when using a polytunnel is knowing what to sow and when. In spring you can sow early crops of lettuces, carrots and herbs. In summer all the half-hardy plants – the aubergines, cucumbers, peppers, chilies and tomatoes plus the more tender herbs such as basil and coriander can fill the beds. In autumn, winter salads, overwintering brassicas and oriental greens are ideal, while in winter you can enjoy cut-and-come leaves, spinach and chard and sow your onions. Peaches and nectarines can also be brought inside to avoid peach leaf curl.
For a bumper crop of veggies proper irrigation is vital. Overhead watering systems might sound attractive, but the environment tends to be humid anyway and as you are growing a wide range of crops means some are too wet and some too dry. For something a little lower tech but potentially more effective, irrigation tubing at bed level is a great option. You can also use this method to adjust the height of the water spray so plants that need to stay dry (say to avoid rotting) will, and those that need more water will be equally catered for.
February 3, 2015
Bee-balm or Monarda which is the Latin name, is a beautiful wildflower native to North east North America. It is known for the popular beverage Natives call Oswego tea, and is also cooked in stews, and used to flavour salads. Being aromatic the essential oil makes great perfume and keeps insects and flies away.
Monarda fistulosa has beautiful tubular lavender-purple pinkish flowers. The common name is known as Wild Bergamot, not to be confused with the citrus bergamot orange – Citrus bergamia L. used in EARL GREY tea, but it smells similar and is now sometimes combined. English Settlers that came to North America named it that, because they thought it smelled just like earl grey tea, and introduced it to England in 1744. Having a high geraniol content, it smells like geranium flowers mixed with citrus and mint.
Monarda didyma has showy red flowers that smell like citrus and mint. The leaves make a wonderful tea dried or fresh. The common name is Bee-balm because it attracts bees, along with hummingbirds and butterflies. It is also called Scarlet bee-balm because of the colour of the flowers. The M. didyma species has a higher thymol content that makes it smell more like citrus thyme.
The stems are square like some mints, with paired grey green leaves that is rough on both sides. It prefers moist, light soil. Being a mint family member it likes some shade from the hot afternoon sun. Use all Monarda species the same way. The essential oil has a very pleasant fragrance and is used for coughs and colds. Enjoy in a tea, tincture or in a culinary masterpiece!
||Bee balm/ Wild Bergamot
||Monarda didyma (Bee balm) Monarda fistulosa (Wild Bergamot)
||Lamiaceae (Mint Family)
||Perennial- pick herb from spring until it flowers in July-August
||circulatory, digestion, respiratory, nerves, lymphatic, skin, urinary, reproductive
||Respiratory: infections, colds, flu, nasal congestion, coughs, fever, swollen lymph
Digestion: digestive catarrh, indigestion, constipation, gas, bloating,
Urinary: UTI, incontinence, infection
Female reproductive: spasms, cramps, PMS, balancing
Nervous system: relaxant, stress, depression
External: wounds, inflammation,
||antimicrobial, antibacterial, anticatarrhal, antidepressant, antifungal, anti-inflammatory, antispasmodic (digestive, general, respiratory, uterine,) antiviral, anxiolytic, appetite stimulant, astringent, warming carminative, cholagogue, circulatory stimulant, decongestant, diaphoretic, diuretic, digestive stimulant, stimulating emmenagogue, relaxing, secretolytic, stimulating expectorant, febrifuge, nervine, rubefacient, relaxant, stomachic, tranquilizer, uterine relaxant, (neural, peripheral vasodilator), vulnerary
||Essential Oil Yield: 0.4%-0.6%
Monoterpene alcohols: geraniol 90%
Phenol: thymol(found in M. didyma)50%
||Mild remedy. Do not use during pregnancy or consult with a professional.
||Tincture: 2-4ml Tea: 2 tsp. infuse
December 2, 2013
Typically more men lose their hair, but it does affect some women although usually it is less severe. Although male pattern baldness is considered a genetic condition there are some herbs that are beneficial. These types of herbs work by preventing the conversion of the male sex hormone testosterone into dihydrotestosterone (DHT) which is a hormone that kills off hair follicles. The DHT hormone is a substance that also plays a roll in prostate enlargement in men. There seems to be a correlation with the kidney bladder prostate system and male hair loss so it would be beneficial to take herbs as a preventative method.
Synthetic testosterone is different than herbal versions and I would never recommend that kind of juicing to anyone.
Nutrition also plays a role and mineral deficiency is a prominent factor.
Nutrition is always important and it would be beneficial to add kelp, bladder wrack sea weeds in the diet or add beneficial supplementation like liquid trace minerals, liquid iodine.
Herbs for Hair Loss Prevention
Saw palmetto (Serenoa repens)
This herb prevents the conversion of the hormone testosterone to DHT. It is a number one choice to take for treatment and prevention of benign prostate enlargement.
Licorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra)
Licorice also prevents the conversion of testoterone to DHT. Use either internal in a formula or external in a shampoo in a tea or tincture form.
Horsetail ( Equisetum spp.)
Horsetail contains silica which is important for hair and nail health and has other nutrients like silicon and selenium.
It is also beneficial to rub the scalp in small circular motions to increase blood flow circulation and stimulate the hair follicles with or without essential oils and carrier oils. Essential oils may also be added to shampoo.
Essential oils for Hair Loss:
Black currant oil
December 7, 2012
Classed under yin tonics because of its ability to tonify lung yin, American ginseng treats dry cough, inflammation, irritation and insomnia. Asian ginseng is considered a yang tonic in Chinese pharmacopia. Modern research has found Oriental varieties have a higher proportion of glycosides, the exception is Japanese ginseng which is closer to American ginseng. American Ginseng is more expensive than Asian ginseng.
Used for centuries by the Native Americans American ginseng went largely unnoticed by early settlers because its long-term restorative qualities were lost among the short-term instant eliminating purging type herbs.
Ginsengs are adaptogens meaning they help the body adapt with any stressors. It is an long term immune tonic and not a short term immune stimulant like echinacea, although this variety treats dry cough and cold symptoms.
Make your own American ginseng tincture, it is cheaper and healthier than herbal pills.
Learn about Asian Ginseng http://earthelixir.ca/2012/12/07/diy-asian-ginseng-tincture/
Learn how to make a tincture here: http://earthelixir.ca/2012/01/10/make-your-own-herbal-tinctures/
||American Ginseng root
||Perennial- older root +5 year old picked in the Fall
||endocrine, adrenals, immune, nervous, lungs, digestion, stomach, reproductive systems
||Endocrine tonic: for fatigue, stress, malabsorption,
Nervous system tonic: debility, exhaustion, insomnia, convalescence
Immune: tonic, boost nourish,
Digestion: stomach upset
Liver: cleanser and protector
High cholesterol and diabetes support.
Lowers blood fats, lowers sugar levels
Heart: protects and nourishes
||restores and strengthens, Adaptogen, adrenal tonic, immune tonic, male/ female reproductive tonic, antiallergenic, antihepatotoxic, anti-inflammatory, aperient, cardiac , hypertensive, hypolipidemic, nervine, anxiolytic, relaxant, anti-toxic, stomachic, pancreatic, diaphoretic, antineoplastic, vasodilator, warming carminative, blood pressure normalizer
||Essential Oil 3%: saponin glycosides: ginsenoside, panaxosides 5-7%; camphor substance, arabinose, starch, glucose, panaxin, panacic acid, panacene, panaquilin, ginsenin, sapogenin, sitosterols, mucilage, polysaccharides, 18 amino acids, resin, trace minerals: copper, zinc, selenium, iodine, manganese
||Do not use with high fever or damp cold indigestion
||Tincture: 1-4ml Decoction: 3-10g 3 x a day empty stomach –
3 weeks take 1 week off cycle
October 26, 2011
Basil is a must grow in my herb garden! Even though it is an annual and must be planted every year, it is worth it to eat it fresh. Basil is easy to grow from seeds, which is good because I like to eat alot of it! I love making all kinds of pesto. If I grow too much, which is unlikely, I make pesto and put the leftovers in ice cube trays to freeze them, and then pop them out and store them in the freezer for later use.
Here is a basic PESTO recipe: Serves four
2-3 cloves of garlic
1-2 cups of basil
(You can add 1 cup spinach, dandelion leaves, garlic mustard greens or any kind of greens you can sneak in there) 1 cup spinach or greens
1/2 cup of parsley
1/3 cup of pine nuts or walnut pieces or nuts of your choice
1/4 cup – 1/2 cup of olive oil
squeeze of lemon juice (optional for lemon basil pesto and use lemon basil)
sea salt and pepper
Mix all ingredients in a blender or food processor
Add to pasta, toast, potatoes, roasted vegetables, sandwiches
Tastes like summer! YUMMY!@!