What to plant this spring? Here are some MUST haves for the budding Herbalist.

 

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An old herb garden looking alive and potent.

 

When I first started learning about herbal medicine, I had NO idea about how much medicine we have at our fingertips. I also had no idea how medicinal our food could be if we ate things that weren’t necessarily found on our grocers shelves. Trying to incorporate a little bit of herbalism into your every day, or even better – into your kitchen, helps your body to stay healed and grow stronger as you age. Eventually, your body will be chock full of vitamins, minerals and virus fighting medicines without much effort at all.

Of course, not all plant types are going to be found or thrive in every environment SO take some time to get to know these easy growing fellows below. If you find them to be easy to care for, spread your wings and try growing your own at home.

It’s only February BUT looking forward to spring and looking into my seed stores gets me excited to start planting and reaping the benefits of home-grown medicine. I look forward to adding nettles to my ferments, drying herbs in my dehydrator and making skin salves to pass out to my friends and family. I certainly miss all of the classes and students I had in Vancouver, I might have time to squeeze some teaching in again this spring in Calgary.

As always, when using any type of medication, make sure that you consult with your GP and do your research before ingesting unconsciously. Your body deserves a little curious research before undertaking a new regime.

 

Aloe Vera

You can purchase this plant at nearly every home garden supply store. Even Home Depot. Because you aren’t going to be ingesting this plant I feel that you are ok to be a little less questioning of it’s origin.

Why do you want to keep Aloe Vera around? Simply, there are so many topical benefits that there isn’t a reason NOT to. Snap a sample of a well-grown leaf off and you are on your way to healing cuts, wounds, burns, eczema and inflammation.

Marsh Mallow

You can find seeds or starters for this plant at select growers. I order my seeds from Baker Creek Heirloom seeds or Vesey’s. These are pretty hardy plants – but watch out for wet feet!

There are a number of great uses for marshmallow both inside and out. You can take the root internally to help treat inflammation and UT irritations, gastritis or peptic ulcers. Topically, you can use a poultice, salve or cream to treat bruises, sprains, muscle aches, insect bites, slivers or skin inflammation.

Fun food fact: The leaves of the marshmallow plant are edible! Add to salads, boil or fry.

Pot Marigold

These hardy ladies will grown in almost any soil condition. Use a tea consisting of marigold petals to increase circulation and ease varicose viens. A poultice of marigold stems will aid in removing corns and warts.

Camomile

You probably know this as a great fruity tea! Camomile works well in aiding digestive issues and also has a soothing effect in its aroma. This helps reduce stress and induce sleep.

Echinacea

 If you’re living without it, you probably shouldn’t be. This beautiful flower has amazing antibiotic properties that relieve allergies and help prevent viral and bacterial infections. The roots, beneficial in treating sores, wounds and burns when applied as a poultice, salve or cream. She grows well in well-drained soil with a lot of sunlight.

Lemon Balm

By far, the easiest herb I have ever unintentionally grown. The leaves give off a lovely lemony mint scent that cannot be mistaken. Crushed leaves used as a poultice help relieve pain from herpes, sores, gout and bug bites. The leaves infused with hot water can treat colds, fevers, indigestion, depression, headaches and insomnia.

I grew this herb for years in the wet wet wetness that is Vancouver BC!

Peppermint

Nearly another weed, as easy to grown and impossible to kill as Lemon Balm. peppermint is high in manganese, vitamin A and vitamin C. Leaves ground into a salve or cream help to sooth and relax muscles.

Sage

Another herb that is nearly impossible to kill is Sage. When consumed it can help to ease indigestion, flatulence, anxiety and excessive sweating.

 

Here’s to spring, and happy plantings. Stay tuned for my inevitable posts containing the trials and tribulations of trying to sustain plant life in the Rocky Mountains.

 

Sasha

 

 

 

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Homemade – Vanilla Extract

Many of you may know that I am a Master Herbalist as well as a Vegan Chef and overall foodie. One thing I adore is homesteading. Why? Well, it allows me to be super creative and in control of my food as well as reduce the amount of waste that comes from my kitchen.
Food waste has to be one of my biggest pet peeves. After mega shopping malls and GMO’s that is.
Today I made Vanilla Bean Sugar which is SO delicious. You should try the recipe HERE. After that process I had some extra vanilla beans left over. I simply cannot throw these things out!! They’re extremely costly and still completely useful in their ratty pieces.
So, I checked my pantry for any spare bottles and happened to find an nearly empty Vanilla Extract bottle…Bob’s your Uncle – I decided on Vanilla Extract.
Extracts are easy to make – you could call this recipe your first adventure in Herbalism if you like – because it is.
Once you’ve made this simple extraction, you will be itching to start on making your own oils, salves, lotions and medicine!
But, lets start with the cooking component first.
Ingredients: 
2 oz pure, Russian Vodka
1.5  tbsp chopped/leftover vanilla bean pods
Method: 
Add pods to glass container, pour vodka over top seal with lid and label with date.
Shake mixture at least 1once daily for 30 days. Once 30 days are up, you will have your vanilla extract.
This bottle was 2oz. I used just under that much Vodka.
Add the Vodka & the lid here.

BOOM! You’re done! Apart from shaking and waiting, this is your extract. Some side notes and benefits of this tincture are:  *Reduces Nausea *Weightloss Aid – metabolism regulator *Anxiety depressor *Wound healer – topically *Soothing during menstruation *Aids in enzyme synthesis *Calcium, Magnesium, Potassium, Iron, B-complex