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‘Bucket Oh Herb’- An inexpensive way to grow herbs in your home year-round.

‘Bucket Oh Herb’- An inexpensive way to grow herbs in your home year-round.

Herbs, herbs, herbs, and more herbs please! I want them inside, outside, on my porch, in my windowsill, in the garden, in the fields…all over! I can’t get enough of the herbs and one inexpensive yet attractive way to have an abundant source of herbs in your home all year long is what has been coined an Herb Bucket, or what I now call, “Bucket o Herb”. Here I will describe how to create ‘bucket o’ basil’.

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Materials needed:

  • 1, 6” diameter bucket, or any size of bucket you want!
  • 1 packet of open-pollinated basil seed.
  • Hammer
  • Nail
  • Organic potting soil
  • LED Grow Light

Not everyone will need a grow light, this really depends on how many herbs you’d like to grow. For small gardens, you can usually get away with just using light from the window. But if you’re looking to grow enough food for your entire household, the growlight will have a major impact.

As for the rest, we all have buckets or bowls of some sort lying around, don’t we? You don’t, well you can easily get some from a garage sale, friend, or even for at a local thrift store. The one I’ve pictured here is from Walmart that I picked up for $1.00. Score! Imagine 3 or 4 of these lined up on your kitchen window sill with your favorite cooking herbs: basil, sage, cilantro, dill… 

Before you add soil to your bucket flip it over with the bottom side up and punch 5 or 6 holes in it with a nail (and a hammer!). This creates drainage which is essential to the health of a container plant. Once you have your holes made flip the bucket back over and fill it to the top with good organic soil that is already moist/wet (but not too wet). Leave about 1 ½ inches of space between the soil and the top of the bucket. Now grab your seed packet and pour a handful of basil seeds into the palm of your hand. Pinch up as many as you can and sprinkle them starting from the center of the bucket around in a circle until you get to the outside of the bucket. Create a disk like pattern when sprinkling your seeds. Estimate sowing about 20-30 seeds for a 6” diameter bucket. I got this idea from Johnny’s Seeds. You can buy herb disks from them for $3.95 or you can create your own disk-pattern yourself and have LOTS of seed left over to make more bucket oh herbs! When it matures you will have a BIG bush of basil that will provide an ample amount to cook with. Lightly tamp down the seed so you have good seed to soil contact. Cover with ½ inch to 1 inch of soil. Tamp down soil lightly for final seed to soil contact. Your soil is already moist(see previous comment about that!) so you don’t need to water the seeds and risk washing them away.  Place a piece of saran wrap over the top of the bucket to help retain moisture while the seeds germinate. It’s still chilly here in Colorado so I placed my ‘bucket oh basil’ on my stove top to allow the pilot light to help keep it warm as basil likes warm temps for germination. Once your basil germinates and it is touching the plastic saran wrap you can remove the wrap!

Got Weeds?

Got Weeds?

Weeds. We spend countless hours attempting to remove these pesky plants from our yards, gardens or fields, but isn’t it interesting how they seem to persevere?
Perhaps we should look at weeds in a new light — some are in fact among the most wholesome sources of food and medicine available to us. From toilet paper to medicine, from food to sunburn relief, weeds provide us, as well as animals, with so much. Knowing this might stop us dead in our weed-stalking tracks!

Below I’ve listed four types of rascally weeds and some of their nutritional and medicinal uses. Each type offers much more than what I’ve shared here, so I encourage you to look them up in your favorite herb or botanical book and learn more. Please note, if you have sprayed them or if they have been in close proximity to a road where they have been exposed to car exhaust and fumes, then please do not consume!
Please also be sure to positively identify the plant before consuming.

lambs-quarter

Lambs-Quarter (Chenopodium album): More nutritious than spinach, grab this delicious green before it goes to seed as it will become bitter. Offering a slightly nutty flavor, you can add it to your pesto, make a tincture with it, or add it to your salad mix. It is loaded with calcium and iron, as well as vitamins A and C, and other delightful and essential nutrients.

dandelions

Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale): Besides making wishes with the seed heads, dandelion leaf and root is very supportive for cleansing your liver and gall bladder and ridding your body of any unwanted toxins. Slightly diuretic, dandelion is also very nutritious and tastes delicious in salads or your favorite herbal tea.

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Plantain (Plantago major): a very low-growing perennial weed, plantain leaves are edible and can be enjoyed steamed, in your salad, or brewed into tea. The leaves get bitter as the plant matures, so grab the early shoots for your calcium and other essential vitamins. Plantain is also fantastic for treating any skin disorders such as mosquito bites, cuts and irritations. Crush the leaves between your fingers and rub the juice from the leaves over the injured area.

plantago

Mullein (Verbascum Thapsus): towering high above many other plants and stretching tall through mounds of snow in the winter, mullein is a biennial that products a prolific amount of seed that is a steady food supply for birds and other creatures throughout the winter months. Mullein is one of the best allies for our lungs and is supportive for treating coughs, asthma, and any other upper respiratory issues. Many also know mullein for its use as an earache remedy for humans and animals. And let’s not forget one of my more favorite uses of mullein—as toilet paper! Remember that next time you are out in the woods and gotta go!

Bless those weeds!

Herb spotlight: Lemon grass (Cymbopogon citratus)

Herb spotlight: Lemon grass (Cymbopogon citratus)

She’s got more than just a lemon zing!

I’ve walked by my big pot of lemon grass everyday this summer, multiple times a day. But it isn’t until THIS day that my heart called to give a little ‘shout out’ to this special plant. Perhaps it’s the fact that the was covered in snow from our first snow fall of the season; a reminder that each gardening day here beyond September 1st is a gift from the gardening gods.

Lemongrass

Against all odds:

Part of why I adore lemon grass so much is because it really shouldn’t be able to grow here at 8300 feet in the mountains of Colorado. Generally growing wild and abundantly across south east Asia and beyond, this tender perennial and tropical loving plant isn’t really a fan of high and dry climates. But thanks to Tammi Hartung of Desert Canyon Farm, in Canon City, Colorado, her adapted and incredible lemon grass is what I grow here at Spirit Horse. I keep lemon grass well watered through the warm summer months and bring her inside during the cold winter. She is worth it!

Lemon grass is a good friend. Her delightful lemony aroma is full of citral, i.e. citronella, hence why it is used in insect repellents, but it does more than fight bugs! It tastes deee-lish! I harvest lemongrass year round. Most ‘authorities’ will say only use the lower half of the stalk. I use the whole thing! Be sure to select whole, flat leaves and only use the parts that are vibrant and strong. Remove any dead, wilted, or woody parts.

Known in Ayurvedic and Traditional Chinese Medicine as being supportive for the digestive system, lemon grass is also used to treat colds and menstrual challenges. In Dr. Sharon Tilgner’s book, “Herbal Medicine From the Heart of the Earth”, she suggests blending lemon grass with yellow dock, alfalfa, dandelion, and nettle to create a blood building formula. She states that lemon grass provides iron as well as assists with the absorption and assimilation of iron. Enjoyed in Thai soups, curries, and more, research is now showing that lemon grass is supportive for fighting cancer and has a host of other health benefits. I enjoy lemongrass in herbal tea, such as Spirit Horse Herbals Windhorse green tea herb infusion. It tastes delicious with rose, lavender, and many other herbs, especially bitters, giving the overall flavor a nice lemony zing!

Herb spotlight:: Oregon grape root (Mahonia repens)

Herb spotlight:: Oregon grape root (Mahonia repens)

For the past 5-years I have walked and played alongside oregon grape root in the Sangre de Cristo mountains. It’s an abundant and beautiful plant that graces the forest floor and intertwines its roots among aspen and pine trees, uva ursi, arnica, aster, and so much more. Today was the first day though that I headed out with the intention of harvesting oregon grape root for medicine. And I had a specific client I was harvesting for, too!

My big ‘ol pup has been suffering from an acral lick granuloma for many years now. I’ll report on that journey and process in another post, but suffice it to say today, it has been quite the journey. For the last 3 ½ months I have been working with Bernie on a very specific healing program to see if we can lick this granuloma (pun TOTALLY intended!) once and for all.

Between herbs, antibiotics, acupuncture, chiropractic, cheer-leading, prayer, trial and error, and lots of support from very caring humans, Bernie is close to fully healing his leg. Goldenseal and other anti-bacterial, anti-microbial, and anti-septic herbs have been a huge part of the program. But all along I’ve had this Knowing that oregon grape root, the very plant that Bernie and I have walked amongst so many times in the woods, would be very helpful as part of an ally in our program. Today was the day we went harvesting!

Bernie would like you to know that he was on the look-out, too! And that he found some great things. And ROLLED in them! Gotta love those dogs~

Here’s some more information on this incredible herb.

About oregon grape root:
Oregon grape root contains the alkaloid berberine which is also found in Goldenseal.
Oregon grape is a great alternative to the endangered Goldenseal and grows abundantly in the forest near me.
The species I am going to work with is Mahonia repens. It grows small and low to the ground in sub-alpine environments such as the Sangre de Cristo’s. Other varieties such as the Mahonia fremontii can grow up to 10-feet tall. No luck for me! I have to hunt and dig around for this prized little plant.

Parts used: root bark

I’m am working with Oregon grape root and Bernie for its anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial, alterative properties. It supports liver congestion which is probably one thing Bernie is dealing with for lots of different reasons. It is a blood purifier, and is a bitter for the digestive tract which will be helpful to help move all of that lingering, low-level, yucky infection OUT! It has a specific picture working with wet, inflamed, mucous like issues. In Dr. Sharol Tilger’s book, “Herbal Medicine From the Heart of the Earth”, she states that it is specific for low grade internalized heat or infectious conditions. That is Bernie all the way!

This plant grows wild and it is often used in cultivated gardens. Consider bringing some into your own garden, or getting to know her in the wilds near you. I’ve made it into a tincture and I’ll be sure to report back with the progress of Bernie and oregon grape root.

Is your dog suffering from a lick granuloma? Have you tried everything under the sun and still can’t figure out how to support him or her? Please feel free to contact me and share your story with me. I’d love to be able to support you with some of my ‘tried and true’ experiences. Here is to healing!

Herbal Tea with Lavender

Herbal Tea with Lavender

Nothing beats a hot cup of tea on a cold winter day. Add some lavender to that tea and experience the bliss.

Lavender is an incredibly calming and healing herb. I’ve often found myself boiling a big pot of water on the stove and throwing in lavender flowers in the wate and letting it simmer for hours infusing the house with the sweet scent of lavender.

One of my other favorite ways to enjoy lavender is in tea.

Part used: dried lavender flowers

My favorite herbal tea blend with lavender is:

  • 1 part lemon balm
  • 1 part oatstraw
  • ¼ part lavender flowers

Lavender is loaded with essential oils and is thus very aromatic. A little big goes a long way. Plenty of times I’ve out done myself with the lavender. Whoops! So, I generally use a lot less lavender relative to the other herbs in the tea so it doesn’t over power the other flavors.

I recommend 1-2 tsp of dried herbs per 8 oz of water. Pour hot water over the herbs and let it steep for 10 minutes. Strain the herbs through a cheesecloth or strainer and enjoy!

This blend is very calming, good for digestion, and uber nourishing for the nervous system.