Introducing Miss Dandelion

Now that we have established that Miss Lavender and Miss Rosemary are sisters to Lamiaceae family, we look back to realise that Miss Chamomile had another true sister, who is well known around the world, but I am so upset to say that she is just not fairly treated, and some would say that she is the black sheep of the family, and just a ‘weeeed’, and that is just not true. Miss Dandelion is a real gal, no wimp and very adaptable to wherever she is found, therefore I’ll stand by her anytime because she has so much more to offer than we think.

Miss Dandelion, which grows to 15cm to 25cm (6″ – 10″) and is native to the regions of Europe and Asia, but due to the travels of man, she has spread along with him, and although she is sadly perceived as a ‘weed’ (nasty people), she is truly a gift. Oh by the way, we must not forget that she has versions in Russia – Taraxacum kok-saghyz Rodin, which grow to 30cm – 12″, which was harvested during WW2 for latex and a Chinese dandelion – Taraxacum mongolicum, which grows to 25cm – 30cm (10″ – 12″).

The Russians called Miss Dandelion, the “elixer of life” and was considered to be a “life infusion”. It was greatly used by the Russian aristocracy and was the favourite remedy of Russia’s most famous Herbalist and Russian Orthodox priest, – Panteleimon the Healer.

The Dandelion is sometimes called ‘Lion’s tooth’, and where did this name come from? When the French saw this plant they looked at the leaves and noted that the leaves look a lot like a set of lion’s teeth, therefore they called it ‘dent de lion, meaning lion’s tooth. Mr Culpeper notes the other rather frank and vulgar French term given to it as, ‘Piss-a-beds’, and although somewhat coarse, this term comes from it being an excellent diuretic. Mr John Gerard noted that her flower was “double, & thicke set together, of colour yellow, and sweet in smell … but bitterer in taste than Succorie.”

Dandelion, which comes by many other names such as Puff Ball, Royal Herb, Old man’s clock, wetweed, swinsnout, wild endive and Prince in Paupers Clothing, and many more, has the botanical name of Taraxacum officinale, which can be found either as T. officinale folia, which is dandelion leaf or T. officinale radix, which is dandelion root, two parts of the same plant that have many benefits. The flower is sometimes used but much less. There is a ‘Red-seeded’ dandelion – T. erythrospermum.

The Weed File – Detective work

She has a copy cat, who is called by the name of Cat’s ears, Hypochoeris glabra and H. radicata and another couple of imposter’s called Hawkbit, Leontodon saxatilis, and Hawksbeard, Crepis capillaris and to be fair, they are not really fakes because they are what they are, its just that they look very similar, but don’t have the same gifts. Who knows what true benefits they may have, and no-one has discovered them.

Dandelion

She has flower stems that do not branch with a single large flower up to 3.5cm – 5cm or 1 3/8″ – 2″ diameter flower. These stems as well as the leaf stalks are ‘hollow’ that once they are cut, produce milky sap and her leaves are ‘hairless’ with a point at the tip and the lobes are backward pointing – runcinate. This ‘hollowness’ is not found in the others, so this is important.

Cat’s ear

This girl has sparingly branched flower stems, that only have one flower each. Her leaves are ‘hairy’ in a ‘bristlely’ way and due to the ends of the leaves looking somewhat like cat’s ears, that is where she got her name of course.

Hawkbit

She has unbranched flower stems like Miss Dandelion with a single flower, but her stems are solid and not hollow. Her leaves are hairy and there is a ‘forking’ in the hairs making a ‘T-shape at the tip.

Hawksbeard

She has very branched flower stems that have lots of leaves on them, that produce many smaller sized flowers. She is the only one who is a ‘annual’ as the others are perennials.

A few things to note: If you are getting any of these plants growing in your garden, yard or paddock, it means that the soil is becoming compacted, so aeration and loosening up of the soil will ‘naturally reduce’ them, therefore there is no need to use chemicals and saves money. Also, it is said that ‘True Dandelion’ is healthy for horses, but the others are not and are said to cause ‘string holt’.

How to use Dandelion

Dandelion has many uses, but not quite like her sister Miss Chamomile, as principally its the chamomile flower that is used, and it is lovely don’t you think, but with Miss Dandelion we can use the whole plant, specifically the leaves and the roots. Apart from the medicinal uses of Dandelion, it has many culinary uses – for example, salads, vinegars, syrup, in soups (leaves) or on soups (petals), mustards, in and on breads, muffins, pizza and fritters and various herbal teas, gardening, in shampoos and even for dying.

Herbal teas

Dandelion tea comes generally in two forms, either from the leaf or the roots, both can be delicious and have therapeutic affects. Usually the roots are roasted but the leaves can be fresh, dried or fermented.

Dandelion ‘leaf’ tea

This can be made out of fresh, dried or fermented dandelion leaf

  • Put 2-3 teaspoons of dried leaves or 5 – 6 freshly chopped leaves per cup,
  • Pour in boiling hot water
  • Steep for 5 – 15 minutes (Longer is stronger)
  • Add a sweetener if desire such as raw honey, stevia or erythritol
  • Enjoy

Dandelion and Liquorice Root tea

1) Infusion

  • Put in 1-2 teaspoons of dandelion root tea per cup
  • Add 1-2 teaspoons of liquorice root per cup
  • Pour in boiling hot water
  • Steep for 5 – 15 minutes (Longer is stronger)
  • You can strain out the dandelion and liquorice root or leave it in there
  • Add a sweetener if desired, such as raw honey, stevia or erythritol
  • Enjoy

2) Decoction

  • Put 2-3 teaspoons per cup into a saucepan
  • Add 1-2 teaspoon of liquorice root per cup
  • Pour in the water – 250mls per cup
  • Bring to boil and simmer for 15 minutes (Longer is stronger)
  • You can strain out the dandelion root or leave it in there
  • Add a sweetener if desire such as raw honey, stevia or erythritol
  • Enjoy

How to make Roasted Dandelion Root Tea

If you are trying to make your own dandelion root tea, so you can have a caffeine free beverage, it is best to use roots from the third year, but they can be used younger, if you can’t wait, say, about a year or two.

  • Simply dig them out
  • Wash them clean
  • Chop the roots up into small bits, 6mm / 1/4″
  • Dry them out for 4 – 14 days (until hard and brittle)
  • Place them into a tray suitable for roasting
  • Spread them out evenly over the tray
  • Slowly roast them in an oven at 94C / 200F until brown similar to coffee
  • Seal in an air-tight jar with a label
  • Grind the roots as you need them

Bacon and Dandelion salad

Ingredients

  • 250 grams of fresh young dandelion leaves
  • 110g of diced bacon or bacon bits
  • Packet of croutons
  • 5 tablespoons of your preferred vinaigrette
  • 2 teaspoons of finely chopped garlic
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Optionally, you can add finely chopped parsley, or red onion, and cottage cheese, or use lemon juice instead of vinaigrette

How to make

  • Wash and lightly chop up the leaves and throw them into a bowl
  • Fry up the bacon, garlic and croutons in ghee or similar until lightly browned
  • Place the fried bacon, garlic and croutons into the bowl with the leaves
  • Toss until mixed
  • Pour the vinaigrette over the contents
  • And toss again and serve fresh

Also, have you tried dandelion flowers dipped in batter and fried?

And what about juicing the leaves in a vegetable juice, instead of kale or spinach?

Dying Colours with Dandelion

The leaves of the dandelion can be used for dying a pink/magenta colour and the roots are supposed to dye a yellow brown colour.

Gardening

Whilst most are fiendishly out to poison her, and therefore, poisoning themselves and their animals, she really has gardening uses such as feeding yourself and the family nutritiously, and therefore one of the best places to keep her is in a deep pot, because she is such a strong minded girl and likes to travel, and she can get a bit determined when set free.

The Easiest

The simplest gardening tactic is just to throw some seed into a ‘tall’ container of potting mix with some water and let her grow and enjoy her flowers. Also, keeping her in a pot means she can be kept close to the kitchen door or on the balcony, for example, for easy collecting.

Gardening for Pets

If you can legally keep rabbits where you are, so please check with your local authorities as you can get into a lot of trouble; you can grow dandelions to grow your own food for them. Plus, this can be fed to Guinea pigs (oh so cute) and gerbils, really anything that likes leafy greens.

Fertiliser – a natural source copper

  • Dig out 3 large dandelion plants, roots, flowers, leaves and all
  • Roughly chop them up and put them into a bucket
  • Just cover over enough with boiling hot water, approximately one litre
  • Cover the bucket and allow to steep for 1/2 an hour
  • Strain and when cool use immediately, as it doesn’t keep

Dandelion leaves can be used as a compost activator to.

They normally don’t make good flower arrangments, but if you try, put them into water straight away. Or you could just pick a couple and hand them to your girlfriend or put them behind her ear and dazzle her with all your knowledge about this flower.

How to grow Dandelion

If you are growing for salad greens it is better to refresh your plant each year to prevent the leaves from getting bitter, plus, to encourage more nutrition and faster and bigger leaves, constantly cut off the flower stems, as this directs the energy into the leaves instead of the flowers. Also, the French dandelion, a cultivar, has the biggest leaves, if you are very keen to eat lots of leafy greens.

From seed

  • Due to dandelion having such a long tap root, plant the seed in tall pots such as those used for tree seedlings, don’t use flat seedling trays.
  • Dandelion likes reasonably nitrogen-rich soils
  • Dandelions can grow just about anywhere, except for in snow and ice, and maybe the ocean?, but they do come to life after a snowy winter. (I have seen thousands of them coming up just after winter near Moscow, just wonderful)
  • Just simply prepare your tall container
  • Sprinkle some seeds over the top
  • Rub them in
  • Water them in
  • And wait

From root

Dandelion can be progagated from the root, so unless you have a severely damaged root, you should be able to replant from a piece of the root system, this is similar to growing comfrey.

Maintenance

Dandelion is typically not affected by pests and diseases, but if there is nothing much else around for the bugs to eat, it can get severely attacked.

Collecting

There are three different possible stages to collect from the dandelion, if you are harvesting the ‘whole plant’ collect it before it flowers. If you are after the leaves for salads or juicing for example, then pick the leaves when it is flowering and three, the best time to collect the roots is late autumn when you see the above ground part of the plant dying down.

Drying

When drying for storage, make sure that they have been thoroughly washed and cleaned and properly dried out 4 – 14 days, that is, becoming brittle, if you are going to store the roots. Depending on you climate, this may take from a few days to two weeks. If you have fat roots, then cut them up into thinner pieces, as this guarantees more even drying. If dried thoroughly they should last a year or two. Throw out if you see mould. If you wish to make a coffee substitute, then follow the instructions mentioned above for making Roasted Dandelion Root Tea.


Herbalism.

The information below is for informational and education purposes only. So please do not “self-treat”. When seeking any ‘therapeutic’ advice always see a Health Care Professional first.

Parts used:

Leaves, roots and flowers

Dosage:

Leaf: Minimum to maximum of dried leaf is 12.0 – 30.0g per day

Root: Minimum to maximum of dried leaf is 9.0 – 15.0g per day

Main actions:

Bitter tonic, choleretic, mild laxative, anti-rheumatic (root), cholagogue, and mild diuretic

Indications:

Leaf: Oedema, hypertension, digestive liver insufficiency, dyspepsia, constipation, gallstones, cholecystitis, plus, Gout, and hot flashes

Root: Digestive liver insufficiency, dyspepsia, flatulent colic, anorexia, constipation, gallstones, cholecystitis, gall bladder dysfunction, plus, Rheumatism, chronic skin disorders, and hot flashes

Constituents:

Leaf: Sesquiterpene lactones, carotenoids, triterpenes, coumarins. potassium (4%) silicon

Root: Sesquiterpene lactones, carotenoids, triterpenes, taraxacoside,  phenolic acids, inulin, potassium (2%)

Safety Concerns:

No major problems found from normal use, if taking therapeutically, use under a qualified heath care professional if you have gallstones or inflammation of the gallbladder.

Adulterants:

The leaf is rarely adulterated , sometimes with Leontodon autumnalis and the root has been adulterated with Cichorium intybus



Please remember, this blog cannot and should not replace a health care professional, and is for informational and educational purposes only and is not for medical advice or treatment, and no cure is implied in anyway. If you have a known serious condition, or are pregnant, please consult your health care professional, before use.

Kind Regards,

Russell a.k.a Herbal Panda

Website: http://www.theherbarius.com.au

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Email: theherbalist@theherbarius.com.au

Sales: sales@theherbarius.com.au

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“Are you eccentric enough to make the World turn differently?” – Herbal Panda

The ever fragrant Rosemary.
The photo is taken from another garden I personally manage.

If ever Miss Lavender had a sister, as Miss Chamomile is really like a cousin belonging to the Asteraceae Family, it would be Miss Rosemary, I mean, she is literally from the same family, the ‘Lamiaceae’ family, so how can we argue. But as every sister is, they have their differences and therefore different preferences for style, colour, shades and hues, and here Miss Rosemary typically has dainty blue to pale lilac flowers that attract those ‘busy bees’, both the honey and native bees who buzz their way around Miss Rosemary’s flowers. Yet, she is not so well known for her flowers as beautiful as they are, it is her leaves they want. We should mention that she does have other flower colours which must be noted, such as white, pink and a darker blue, and so lovely, and these come from her various cultivars. Her flowers as good as they are, just haven’t caught the Herbalist’s eye as much as her leaves, which have the real efficacy, and this girls no ‘bimbo’ just flashing her colours, she has something to say and do.

Rosemary’s dainty blue/pale lilac flowers with her dark green/light green near linear revolute leaves

Lavender and Rosemary have the same heritage in that they both have a Mediterranean culture, where lavender came from the rocky hillsides of the Mediterranean and rosemary came from the seaside of the Mediterranean. This is probably why the name “Rosemary” comes from the Latin – Ros marinus, meaning – ‘Dew of the sea’, and the flowers smattered around the leaves could look like dew/salt drops just hanging there; what is your thinking?

Said to be written in cuneiform thousands of years before Christ, and then the next mention comes from the ancient Egyptians who used it in their burials, and after that the next mentions of rosemary was from the ancient Greeks such as Pliny the Great and Pedanius Dioscorides and the Romans. She even made it over to China after about 200 years, then to Merry Old England ‘officially’ around the 1300’s, and then America around the 17th century and from there she spread globally.

How to use Rosemary

The herb rosemary has literally many uses other than just culinary uses, which are fine, because hey, it tastes and smells great, and why wouldn’t you. So lets look at a few of them, there are bodily uses, such as, perfumes, in cosmetics, toiletries, soaps, shampoos, hair rinses for a hair tonic and conditioners. In potpourris, and used either in the dried leaf, in oil form or as a water and sprayed. To promote sleep, place a handful of dried leaves into a cloth sachet and put it under the edge of a child’s pillow. Rosemary is an excellent Mood Tonic, and dried bunches can be tied up in the air to act as a fly deterant and as a sachet again, it can be place into closets as a moth deterant as well. And finally have you tried ‘Spice balls’ for some unforgettable and wonderful aromas.

Medicinally, it can be used in herbal teas, liniments and a chest rub, in a wine (this is similar to a tincture), used as an essential oil, as a douche, and a warm douche for the vagina, or you can add the prepared liquid (decoction) for a Rosemary bath, Ahhhhh, I’m melting.

I won’t supply any recipes for meat dishes as there is just so many out there that are wonderfully made and easy to follow. Well, don’t let me stop you, off you go, find something yummy, and then write back and tell me about it.

Rosemary Tea

So easy to make:

  • Place 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of dried rosemary leaves, or 2 to 3 teaspoons of chopped fresh leaves into a herbal tea infuser and place it in a cup
  • Pour in boiling hot water
  • Cover to keep the volitile oils in
  • Steep for 5 to 15 minutes (longer times will be more bitter)
  • Add a little sweetener such as raw honey or stevia or erythritol

Rosemary Honey

  • Place a handful of chopped fresh rosemary leaves into a glass jar
  • Gently warm up some raw honey to thorougly cover the rosemary leaves
  • Make sure the leaves are fully mixed in and covered
  • Seal with a lid and place in a warm spot for at least 1 to 2 weeks
  • Warm gently to help strain out the leaves, and rebottle and label
  • Use it on buttered toast or whatever you like, so long as it tastes great

Potpourri

Potpourri Uplifter ingredients:

  • 1 cup of dried rose petals, plus a few buds mixed in for good looks
  • 1/2 a cup of dried rosemary leaves
  • 1/2 a cup of dried orange slices
  • 1/2 a cup of dried lemon slices
  • 1/2 a cup of lavender flowers and some leaves
  • And a spritz or two of Bergamot oil

Mix carefully and spritz it a few times whilst mixing gently and enjoy.

Note: You can make these from fresh ingredients and then dry them in the oven at 93C or 200F for two hours or until fully dried out.

Rosemary Liniment:

  • Place 50grams of chopped rosemary leaves into a glass jar
  • Pour 500mls or 1 pint of alcohol such as vodka over the leaves
  • Seal the bottle and place in a cool place
  • Shake the bottle vigorously each day
  • After 1 week, strain and label the bottle with its name
  • As needed rub onto stiff muscles and sore joints

Rosemary chest-rub

  • Put 3 to 5 drops of Rosemary essential oil into 2 teaspoons of almond oil
  • Rub onto the chest for relief of respiriatory distress

Rosemary hair rinse

  • Place a handful of squashed or well chopped rosemary leaves into mug
  • Pour in boiling hot water, and cover
  • Allow to steep for 15 to 20 minutes
  • When cool enough to use safely, and after shampooing
  • Strain and run the rinse slowly through hair, and thoroughly massage the scalp and gently rubbing the hair as well

Rosemary bath

The process shown below can used for other herbs such as lavender as well, which is more calming and less stimulating. It is easier to put in 30 drops of essential oil into a bath, but by making a decoction from rosemary leaves is far superior.

  • Place 4 handfuls of rosemary leaves into 1 litre of water
  • Bring it to boil and then simmer for 20 minutes
  • Strain out the leaves and pour into a already prepared bath
  • Optionally and better, you can add 4 cups of Epsom salts, which really does help
  • Soak wonderfully for 20 minutes

Rosemary does help to stimulate the vascular system whilst helping with the mood.

Gardening uses

Rosemary can be used as a ‘filler’ or a ‘thriller’ in both large pots and in gardens. Prostrate Rosemary, or creeping rosemary, R. officinalis prostratus, can be an interesting version to have in your garden due to its ‘prostrating/hanging’ branches. Or if it grows well in your area, rosemary is excellent as a hedge, beautifully screening out unwanted neighbours, whilst attracting bees and fragrance to your home. Rosemary is also a very good companion plant, working well with sage. Some veggies that companion plant with rosemary are beans, cabbage, cauliflower and carrots. Rosemary helps to repel most sap-sucking insects and is great for attracting ‘predatory’ insects to your garden, enabling more ‘organic’ control of pests.


How to grow Rosemary

From seed

  • Fill a suitable seed raising container with seed raising mix
  • Sprinkle some seed on top of the mix
  • Lightly rub you fingers over the top, gently rubbing the seed into the mix
  • Spray water lightly over the seeds and mix
  • Keep the mixture just on the moist side but not wet
  • Place a bag over the container, keeping the bag clear from the seed
  • It will take approximately 3 months before they germinate
  • Once they have begun to grow i.e. put out a few leaves, plant them into larger containers or in a suitable place in your garden
  • From seed, rosemary will take a ‘Very’ long time before you get a substantial crop, so I probably wouldn’t try

From cuttings

Cutings are the best and fastest way to get things going, saving you heaps of time.

  • Find a healthy rosemary plant
  • Find one with young healthy branches
  • Don’t use old woody branches
  • Unflowered cuttings tend to work better
  • Take off cuttings at about 8cm to 12cm long
  • These can be cut from the same ‘branch’, just don’t plant them upside down
  • Carefully strip off 4 – 5cm of leaves from off the bottom
  • Fill some pots with ‘cutting’ mixture
  • Push a hole into the mixture with a dibbler, a stick will do
  • Push the cutting into the mixture, at least one to two bare nodes into the mix
  • Press down and around the cutting to firm it in
  • Water the cuttings in carefully
  • Watering lightly every day for two weeks
  • Then water about every second day for about a month
  • At this stage you should have a reasonably healthy root system
  • Repot into a larger pot or plant into your garden

Also you can propagate through root division or by air laying.

Maintenence and Prevention

Rosemary tends to have five main pests or diseases, and they are:

Spittle Bugs

Small brown sap sucking insects called Spittle bugs, these leave small foamy white excretions, normally not a serious problem, but when you see them, hose them off with a jet of water and these foamy excretions from your plant.

Aphids and White fly

Sap suckers such as aphids and also white fly can harm your plant, and although you can use some chemicals on them, it is better to hose them off with a good jet of water, especially if you intend to eat the stuff.

Root Rot

Root rot is a sad one, as generally it is now impossible to fix. So the best thing to do is give the plant a eulogy and then throw it in the bin. Root rot is usually prevented by planting in well-draining soil and don’t water it too much. Pots and raised beds work well with rosemary.

Powdery Mildew

Powdery Mildew is often due to high humid conditions, poor ventilation, and moist and shady areas. Generally the best way to treat powdery mildew is a fungicide spray, so unless you have a natural version, you may not want to eat from it after that.

Prevention

This starts at planting, rosemary prefers lighter and low acid soils, so a little lime may be useful here. Do not plant your plants too close together and allow about 1 – 1.5 metres apart (3 – 5′ apart). Don’t plant in shady areas or damp places in your garden.

This large and healthy Rosemary is in an open and sunny position with plenty of drainage, and gets watered once a week

Collecting

Most of the leaves are collected in the mid-morning once the dew or moisture has dried off as this helps to prevent mould and mildew forming during the drying process, storage and ruining the supply later on.

To pick its leaves go out into your garden or wherever you planted it, (don’t pick your neighbours unless you’ve asked) and take some garden snips and carefully cut off a branch. Place them into a suitable container or basket, but don’t squash them or damage them in any way, and don’t pick everything off, just cut off enough to do the job, that is, a few sprigs to stick into your lamb roast, for example.

As your picking them, beware of damaged, sick or diseased leaves and make sure your leaves are free from defects, such as, brown edges and yellow or dead leaves as these will ruin your pick, and won’t be as effective. Also, be aware of debris such as unknown leaf matter, dirt, dust or ash, or any other matter that should not be there, plus insects such as aphids and spiders and insect eggs that can be found on these branches.

Drying:

The leaves need to be dried quickly in a well-ventilated room and not in the sun as this may cause the loss of the volatile oils from time and heat. Spread out the leaves onto brown wrapping paper or paper towelling into a thin layer. Make sure that they are not piled on top of each other and the air can get around the leaves. The leaves once dry, should retain their colour and aroma and remain whole, looking the same as the original pick. Be aware that bugs may crawl out from the leaves, so be kind and provide a way of escape for them.

If your worried about something getting on the dried leaves, whilst drying them, then drape a light mesh over the top without touching them.

Storage:

Store your beautiful smelling rosemary leaves in a sealed bottle, it can be clear, but must be kept out of the sunlight, and in a cool place away from heat, otherwise keep in an amber coloured jar and still away from heat. Either way, make sure that the bottle is labelled with its contents and dated. They will keep for at least two years like this. If you see any mould throw it out.

Macerating:

Macerating rosemary is best to be done in a glass due to its higher oil content.


Herbalism.

The information below is for informational and education purposes only. So please do not “self-treat”. When seeking any ‘therapeutic’ advice always see a Health Care Professional first.

Parts used:

Leaves and top sprigs

Dosage:

Minimum to maximum of dried leaf is 1.5 – 3.0g per day

Main actions:

Carminative, spasmolytic, antioxidant, antimicrobial, circulatory stimulant, and hepatoprotective

Indications:

Improves memory, concentration, and mental performance, enhances phase 2 liver detoxification, a cardiovascular disease preventative, tension headache, and debility. Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s – cerebral antioxidant, ADHD, slows ageing process. Topically – myalgia, sciatica, neuralgia, wound healing, and hair loss – alopecia

Constituents:

Essential oil – cineole, alpha pinene, camphor; phenolic diterpenes – carnosol, carnosic acid; rosmarinic acid, flavonoids, and triterpenoids

Safety Concerns:

Don’t take with mineral supplements

Adulterants:

This is uncommon



Please remember, this blog cannot and should not replace a health care professional, and is for informational and educational purposes only and is not for medical advice or treatment, and no cure is implied in anyway. If you have a known serious condition, or are pregnant, please consult your health care professional, before use.

Kind Regards,

Russell a.k.a Herbal Panda

Website: http://www.theherbarius.com.au

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Email: theherbalist@theherbarius.com.au

Sales: sales@theherbarius.com.au

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The very well known and popular sister flower to Chamomile is the delightful Miss Lavender, she doesn’t come over too strong, yet she is such a pleasure to be around and have around, everybody wants her as friend, and so she should be too. She is one of the best companions to have around when there is deep sadnesses and outward griefs, suggests Mr. Nicholas Culpeper, and here she is a worthy and good friend, especially in her oil form at this time.

Lavender or Lavandula angustifolia, or its synonyms Lavandula officinalis or Lavandula vera, which has many varieties, and has been widely used around the Mediterranean maquis (French), or Macchia (Italian), where the hillsides abound with rock and much native shrubbery, rocks and plenty of sun and dry weather for thousands of years. It should be noted that lavender is also a native to the Canary Islands (Spain), France and also to India, but now it is grown in many parts of the world, showing its great desirability.

Historically, it appears that it was used by the Ancient Egyptians, Arabs and Phoenicians, and then it was used by the Greeks and the Romans, and after that, it was brought over to England via the Romans through their conquest of that country, and then maintained by the monks within their gardens. Later on, it was grown in Surrey and Kent until the war there, but it is still grown in Norfolk, near Norwich, and probably in every other English country garden since. (And I don’t blame them!)

The word lavender comes from the medieval Latin ‘Lavandula’, across to the Anglo-Norman, ‘Lavendre’ all meaning ‘to wash’, as it was used by the Romans in their baths, probably with a floating duck. Many history buffs would have heard the term, ” Who will buy my lavender”, which was shouted amongst the many sellers of flowers.

How to use Lavender

Lavender has been used in numerous ways such as body soaps, shampoos, bath gels, shower rinses and other cleansers and detergents. Culinarily in jellies and vinegars and crystalised in confectionaries, plus the adventurously use it in biscuits and cookies. Lavender can be used with meats, such as, pheasant or venison, and I wonder if there is some chef somewhere who has used a flame thrower on them? (Remember, it is similar in appearance to Rosemary, and comes from the same family, therefore may have similar uses.)

Around the home, the flowers can be used in both washing the clothes and in the clothes drier, to instil a lovely fragrance into your clothes and bedding, or fragrance yourself by taking a bath in them or using the essential oils. The essential oils can be used around the home to repel bugs and insects off surfaces and off your family as I do, plus it can be used on its own or mixed with other oils, such as tea tree oil, to help with insect bites, such as ants, midges and mosquitos.

Due to its wonderful fragrance it is placed into cloth sachets and made into a sleep pillow and placed in or near a person’s pillow for restful sleep. It is used in many potpourris and perfumes, ‘well that was obvious’, as well as candles and furniture polish.

Medicinally, it has many uses, of which I will go into further along, but for now, I will break up some of the information mentioned above into more ‘useful’ advice.

Lavender tea:

Which can be made from both the fresh flower and the leaf tips at the top or from dried flowers. When using fresh lavender, just place a couple of small sprigs into a cup of hot water, cover and allow to steep for 5-15 minutes depending on how strong you want it, (15min is more therapeutic and stronger), and enjoy with a little honey, or stevia. When using dried flowers just use one teaspoon in a cup of boiling water, cover and allow to steep for about the same time, and sweeten if necesssary, and drink slowly.

Lavender bath:

To make a simple lavender bath, just grab appproximately 30grams of lavender flower and the tips if you have them, and place them into half a litre of water and bring to boil. Once it has reached boiling, take it off the heat, then strain out the leaf and flower matter and add to your bath water, and soak to your hearts content.

Lavender liniment:

Type 1) Bring to boil half a litre of water and half a litre of apple cider vinegar, then place two cupfuls of lavender flowers into the ‘just’ boiling water, turn off the heat and stir in, cover and allow to steep over night. Strain out the flowers and bottle with a label. Half a cup of this can be used in a lavender bath or you can rub it on as a liniment for dry skin, sore muscles and joints.

Type 2) Place 50grams of lavender flowers into a medium sized sealable jar with a lid, then pour in half a litre an alcohol solution such as vodka, and leave in a cool place out of the sunlight. Then allow the flowers to soak i.e. macerate each day, giving the bottle a good shake each day to assist the macerating process and after about 8 days, strain out the flowers and place into an amber bottle and label. Rub onto affected areas as needed.

Lavender oil:

This easy lavender oil is made from just 60grams of lavender flowers and one cup of olive oil. This same formula and process can be used for many versions of herbal type oils that can be used for massage and to help provide forms of relief, depending on what is the goal in mind.

Ingredients:

  • 60grams of Lavender flower
  • 1 cup of Olive oil, (Almond and Sunflower oils can be substituted.)

Equipment:

  • Heat source i.e. a stove/hotplate or similar
  • 2 litre glass, ceramic or stainless steel saucepan (Do not use iron or aluminium)
  • Scales suitable to measure 60 grams
  • 1 measuring cup of 250mls
  • Container to measure into
  • Bowel to squeeze into
  • A spoon for stirring
  • Temperature gauge to measure from at least 43 C to 49 C (110 F to 120 F)
  • Jar or bottle big enough to store the Lavender oil into
  • Cloths, 1 for straining and 1 for squeezing
  • Label and pen to write on the label, to label the bottle with the amount and date
  • Some form of press is beneficial, but not necessary (Just squeeze harder)

Procedure:

  • Place 60grams of Lavender into a saucepan
  • Pour in 1 cup of olive oil over the flowers
  • Slowly bring to the required temperature (see above) Never boil!
  • Maintain the temperature for 2 hours, whilst stirring regularly. You can actually heat for a whole week stirring daily, ‘the longer the stronger’
  • Heat until the flowers feel ‘crispy’, each herbal flower will be a little different
  • Strain out the plant matter into a clean cloth
  • Fold the cloth up and place into a press
  • Squeeze until you have extracted the oil
  • Pour into a suitable jar and seal and label
A simple Lavender Oil Recipe

Please remember, that this is only a quick and simple method, not the best and most preferred, but it is a good place to start learning, and you can still use the oil for massages etc. It is not an “Essential Oil” as that is made very differently and is many times stronger and should be used with more care.

Culinary

Lavender Biscuits

Ingredients:

  • 50 grams of stevia/erythritol, you can use sugar, but honestly best not to
  • 100 grams of butter (not margarine)
  • 175 grams of self raising flour
  • 1 Tablespoons of fresh lavender flowers
  • 2 Tablespoons of fresh lavender leaves

Procedure:

  • Mix the sweetener and butter until light and creamy
  • Add the leaves and the flour to the butter mixture
  • Knead until it forms a dough
  • Roll out onto a floured board
  • Sprinkle the flowers onto the dough and roll in gently
  • Cut into a shape you like
  • Place them onto a greased baking sheet
  • Bake in an oven for 10 to 15 minutes at 230 C /450 F until firm and golden
  • Remove and cool on a wire
  • Enjoy,
  • ‘Disclosure’, well honestly, not everybody enjoys them

Potpourri

A Purple Potpourri:

Mix together an even and balanced mixture of

  • Lavender
  • PinCushion flower
  • Larkspur
  • Blue Salvia
  • Bachelor’s Buttons
  • Globe Thistle

Collecting

Most flowers are collected once they have bloomed and are in the early stage of maturity and in the mid-morning once the dew or moisture has dried off and this is to prevent mould and mildew forming during the drying process and ruining the supply later on.

To pick its flowers go out into your garden or wherever you can find wild growing lavender to collect the flowers, (don’t pick your neighbours unless you’ve asked) and take a small sharp knife or some garden snips and carefully cut off the flowers or you can pick the flowers by hand, picking them directly behind the the bud or taking some of the sprig depending on what you are to do. Place them into a suitable container or basket, but don’t squash them or damage them in any way.

As your picking them, beware of damaged flowers and make sure your flowers are free from defects, such as, brown edges and dead petals as these will ruin your pick. Also, be aware of debris such as unknown leaf matter, dirt, dust or ash, or any other matter that should not be there, plus insects such as spiders and caterpillars and insect eggs that can be found on these flowers.

Drying:

The flowers need to be dried in a well-ventilated room and not in the sun as this may cause the loss of the volatile oils. Spread out the flowers onto brown wrapping paper or paper towelling into a thin layer. Make sure that they are not sitting on top of each other and the air can get around the flowers. The flowers once dry, should retain their colour and aroma and remain whole, looking the same as the original pick. Be aware that bugs may crawl out from the flowers, so be kind and provide a way of escape for them.

If your worried about something getting on the dried flowers, whilst drying them, then drape a light mesh over the top without touching them.

Storage:

Store your beautiful smelling lavender flowers in a sealed bottle, it can be clear, but must be kept out of the sunlight, and in a cool place away from heat, otherwise keep in an amber coloured jar and still away from heat. Either way, make sure that the bottle is labelled with its contents and dated. They will keep for at least two years like this and if you see any mould throw it out.


Herbalism

The information below is for informational and education purposes only. So please do not “self-treat”. When seeking any ‘therapeutic’ advice always see a Qualified Health Care Professional first.

Parts used:

Flower

Dosage:

2.0 – 4.0grams

Main Actions:

Carminative, spasmolytic, antidepressant, and anxiolytic

Indications:

Anxiety, insomnia, excitability, nervous dyspepsia, mild depression, flatulent colic, intestinal colic, plus, Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), and tension headache

Constituents:

Essential oil – lineally and linalool

Safety Concerns:

If allergic to Lavender

Adulterants:

Sometimes it is adulterated with similar species



Please remember, this blog cannot and should not replace a health care professional, and is for informational and educational purposes only and is not for medical advice or treatment, and no cure is implied in anyway. If you have a known serious condition, or are pregnant, please consult your health care professional, before use.

Kind Regards,

Russell a.k.a Herbal Panda

Website: http://www.theherbarius.com.au

Email: theherbalist@theherbarius.com.au

Sales: sales@theherbarius.com.au

The beautifully fragrant Chamomile, she could be considered the darling of the herbal flowers, so well known by so many people, and she would be next to her other well known darling flower, Miss Lavender. The fragrance is right there in the bud, or from the moment you open the container the fragrance flows up into your nose screaming out beauty and gentleness, and chamomile is just so wonderfully gentle.

Chamomile grows wild in North America and in Europe, but it also grows in many other countries as well, and has several varieties, and they are German Chamomile, (Matricaria recutita) otherwise called camomile, or wild chamomile, then there are two varieties of Roman chamomile, (Chamaemelum nobile), which is also known as garden chamomile, low chamomile, whig plant, mayweed or ground apple, due to smelling like ‘apples’. Plus, (Chamaemelum nobile ‘Flore Pleno’), which is a ‘doubled flower’ and is more ‘compact’ than the standard Roman chamomile.

Also there are two lesser known chamomiles, which are the Chamomile treneague, which does not flower, and can be used as a no-mow lawn, and the Dyers chamomile, which is used for its dying ability.

The two chamomile’s principally used in herbalism are German chamomile and Roman chamomile. German chamomile is generally considered stronger and better for mucosal surfaces, and Roman chamomile is a little more bitter, soothes the lungs better, and can be used to speed up menstrual flow if needed, but may have more of a possible allergic reaction, such as dermatitis.

Chamomile’s most useful known action is that it is a ‘mild sedative’ therefore it is a relaxant, so much so it can be given to small children who are fretting. It relaxes the nerves, yet without much influence on sedation or side-effects.

How to use Chamomile?

Herbal Teas:

The most popular use of Chamomile is a herbal tea or Tisane, it is great also for the elderly and those convalescing, and this is how you make it:

A Chamomile tea is beautiful in every way
  • Take one heaped teaspoon of chamomile flowers, fresh or dried
  • Put it in a loose tea infuser
  • Place it in a warmed cup and pour in 250mls of just on boiling water
  • Cover and allow to stand for 3-5 minutes
  • If desired you can add a little raw honey or stevia, a slice of lemon, a slice or two of ginger or even fennel seeds

Culinary:

The flowers can be place in different types of salads, to add the colour of white and yellow, also they can be frozen in ice blocks to place into drinks.

Babies and Breastfeeding:

If you want to calm your baby from colic, teething or to encourage sleepiness, one can make a similar brew as mentioned above, but, it will need to be at “1/2 a teaspoon” not a whole teaspoon, to a ‘teapot’ not a cup, and this can be drunk in small quantities over the period of the day. Or, given via a bottle. Please note: always check for any possible allergic reaction, just to be safe.

Gardening uses:

Most only collect the flowers to make with a herbal tea, but it should be noted that some collect the leaves as well, these leaves can be used with the flowers in an infusion, which can be used as an accelerator to assist in decomposition and as a spray to help prevent dampening off. This infusion was made by bringing to boil 600ml of water and adding a handful of the flowers and leaves, then covered to help keep the volatile oils in and allowed to stand for half a day. Then strain and place into a suitable spray bottle for dispensing.

Potpourri:

An example of a Bath Potpourri you may like to try:

  • Rose Petals
  • Lavender
  • Chamomile
  • Peppermint
  • Comfrey
  • Lemon verbena
  • and Bee Balm

And Other uses:

Apart from its obvious and delicious use a tea beverage, it is used primarily as a herbal medicine, but it is also used in medicinal and pharmaceutical preparations, cosmetics, and its essential oil is used in perfumes.


How to grow Chamomile

Both German and Roman chamomiles are easy to grow, depending on where you live, that is, hotter or colder as most seed planting times will differ, if you are in more hotter and drier climates, then you should plant around autumn and winter, but if you are in cooler climates then plant from spring to early summer.

German chamomile grows as an annual that grows to approximately 30-50 cm high and Roman chamomile is a perennial low growing herb that matts.

From Seed:

  • Fill a tray or container with good seed raising mix, which is usually mostly sand
  • Sow your seed onto seed trays and cover with about 5mm (1/4″) of some of the seed raising mix
  • Lightly water the mix and keep it slightly moist (you can keep a hessian bag laid over the mix to keep the moisture in.)
  • They should start emerging approximately 2-3 weeks later
  • Transplant the seedlings into either pots or into the garden when you have four good leaves and water in well and protect from heat if necessary until established
  • The seed can be directly planted into the garden and thinned out to at least 20cm apart
This seed packet contains Roman Chamomile from a local hardware store

From Cuttings:

The double flowered chamomile and chamomile treneague must be propagated by cuttings or division and collect the cutting either during spring and autumn, and the cuttings are generally easier because they have ‘aerial’ roots. Simply make a hole into the potting mix with a dibbler and then carefully place the cuttings into the holes without damaging the roots and water in.

Maintenance:

Chamomile loves a sunny position and slightly acidic well-drained soil, and since being relatively hardy and easy to grow, they can grow in less than desirable places. Chamomile does benefit from some liquid fertiliser at the beginning of its growing season and make sure that the ground does not dry out therefore mulch well.

Diseases and Pests:

Due to being highly aromatic by nature, Chamomile is relatively free from pests and disease


Collecting

Most flowers are collected once they have bloomed and are in the early stage of maturity and in the mid-morning once the dew or moisture has dried off and this is to prevent mould and mildew forming during the drying process and ruining the supply later on. But Chamomile and another flower called ‘Everlasting flower’ are a little different, and so with these, you need to collect the flowers ‘as’ they are starting to blossom, not after they have fully bloomed as with all the rest.

To pick its flowers go out into your garden or wherever you can find wild growing chamomile to collect the flowers, (don’t pick your neighbours unless you’ve asked) and take a small sharp knife or some garden snips and carefully cut off the flowers or you can pick the flowers by hand, picking them directly behind the the bud. Place them into a suitable container or basket, but don’t squash them or damage them in any way.

As your picking them, beware of damaged flowers and make sure your flowers are free from defects, such as, brown edges and dead petals as these will ruin your pick. Also, be aware of debris such as unknown leaf matter, dirt, dust or ash, or any other matter that should not be there, plus insects such as spiders and caterpillars and insect eggs that can be found on these flowers.

Drying:

The flowers need to be dried in a well-ventilated room and not in the sun as this may cause the loss of the volatile oils; spread out the flowers onto brown wrapping paper or paper towelling into a thin layer. Make sure that they are not sitting on top of each other and the air can get around the flowers. The flowers once dry, should retain their colour and aroma and remain whole, looking the same as the original pick. Be aware that bugs may crawl out from the flowers, so be kind and provide a way of escape for them.

If your worried about something getting on the dried flowers, whilst drying them, then drape a light mesh over the top without touching them.

Storage:

Store your beautiful smelling chamomile flowers in a sealed bottle, it can be clear, but must be kept out of the sunlight, and in a cool place away from heat, otherwise keep in an amber coloured jar and still away from heat. Either way, make sure that the bottle is labelled with its contents and dated. They will keep for at least two years like this. If you see any mould throw it out.

Macerating:

Chamomile’s macerating time is relatively short, literally only a few days if you are making a tincture from the flowers. Chamomile makes an excellent glycerin extraction, which is good for those wishing to avoid alcohol.


Herbalism.

The information below is for informational and education purposes only. So please do not “self-treat”. When seeking any ‘therapeutic’ advice always see a Health Care Professional first.

Parts used:

Flowers, which have not fully blossomed

Dosage:

Minimum to maximum of dried flower is 0.9 – 1.8g per day

Main actions:

Anti-Inflammatory, spasmolytic, carminative, mild sedative, antiulcer, vulnerary, and diaphoretic

Indications:

Travel sickness, restlessness, anxiety, insomnia, nervous dyspepsia, plus, Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), food sensitivities, flatulent colic, flatulence, gastrointestinal tract colic and inflammation, diarrhoea, teething and infantile colic, gastritis, peptic ulcers, GORD, topically for dermatitis, mouth ulcers, and wounds

Constituents:

Essential oils with dicycloethers, bisabolol, matricine, flavonoids, coumarins. best to use when rich in bisabolol

Safety Concerns:

Allergic to Chamomile (Think Ragweed)

Adulterants:

Presently ‘None Known’



Please remember, this blog cannot and should not replace a health care professional, and is for informational and educational purposes only and is not for medical advice or treatment. And no cure is implied in anyway. If you have a known serious condition, or are pregnant, please consult your health care professional, before use.

Kind Regards,

Russell a.k.a Herbal Panda

Website: http://www.theherbarius.com.au

Name Logo

Email: theherbalist@theherbarius.com.au

Sales: sales@theherbarius.com.au

HHAI Logo

German Chamomile 40 g / 1.41oz

Certified Organic German Chamomile. Includes Postage and Handling in Australia of $3.65

A$9.65

My own crop of lemon grass, with flowers of Aloe vera, poinsettias, and yellowed flowered lantana in the background

To continue my series of herbs that you can grow your own, namely culinary herbs the next one I would like to add is Lemon grass. This tough and hardy herb, is also an easy one to start with. Lemon grass or East Indian variety (Cymbopogon flexuosus) and the West Indian version (Cymbopogon citratus) is well known in Asian cooking can add a wonderful zesty citrus/lemon flavour to your stir fry or Asian soup. It is not one of those one-off crops where you’ll need to constantly replant, but something you can harvest over the years and at your own rate. In other words, “oh I really feel like some Chinese tonight, hey honey, do we have some lemon grass?”

Which is which?

To be specific, there are actually dozens and dozens of varieties of lemon grass found in many countries, and most would be fine, but here are two of the most common. To identify the East Indian lemon grass, used in both cooking and teas, look for the purple tinged one at the edge of the leaf or stalk etc., and it can also grow to 1.5 metres or 5′, and West Indian version, which can be used in cooking, teas and perfumes, only grows to about 90cm or 3′. I would personally just use whatever is easiest to get ahold of and go for it.

Which part do I use?

If you are making a tea/infusion or a decoction, cut off a leaf or two, finely chop them so that you have around about a tablespoon, place it in boiling hot water and allow to steep covered for about 10 minutes, and drink. For a stronger flavour, place the chopped lemon grass into room temperature water, and bring it to boil, then allow it to simmer for 10 to maybe 20 minutes, add a sweetener and enjoy. It can go well with lots of other herbs such as, chamomile, lemon balm and lavender. Why don’t you try a combination of your own and let me know. I often use it in a herbal tea with Lemon balm, Ribwort and a small squeeze of lemon juice.

To use it in cooking, dig down into the base of the clump, and pull out a few stems right from the base. Chop of any roots and leaves, peel off a few layers and your ready to chop. Don’t use the leaves in the cooking as they are quite tough, even a bit spikey and way too chewy when trying to eat your meal, and yep I’ve tried it, spent most of the time picking every little bit out.

Lemon grass seed head with tree and power lines in the background.

How to grow it.

Lemon grass is reasonably tough and hard to kill, no not impossible, but hard. It loves summers that are wet, and cool drier winters, with good drainage as it doesn’t really like it’s roots sitting in water. It’ll grow in just about any soil, but it does prefer rich soil with a little compost or manure, as it is a ‘grass’ meaning it likes nitrogen. Probably the only real concern is frost, so don’t put it in hollows that collect cold air, or areas of still air.

Although just fine in the ground and lemon grass can add interest to any garden honestly, so you could place it in hard to maintain sections, but my preferred choice is to use a large pot, near or conveniently close to the kitchen. Choose a pot or container approximately 30cm or 12″ in diameter, or bigger if you want a bigger clump. Mine was just chucked into an old rectangular black storage tub, I added a little potting mix and I occasionally throw in some fertiliser, and water it from time to time, and there you are, free lemon grass year after year.

From division

The easiest and quickest way to get your lemon grass going is from division. Depending how rough you are, break off a chunk of the clump, this can be one small individual piece or even one large group of stems, and so long as you have sufficient roots in good condition. Simply place the base of the stork of lemon grass with its roots into the mix and water it in well. Give it reasonable care for the next few weeks until it is settled and beware of winds and other weather conditions, which may knock it over for example. This can be remedied by simply putting in a stake and tying a little bit of cloth around them both.

From seed

Unless your region is very cold, you can plant seeds from spring to autumn, if you are very cold, plant either spring or summer, either way, don’t plant during winter as it really doesn’t like it, and it won’t germinate.

To get going fill almost to the top of a 100mm or 4″pot with vegetable potting mix and gently press down the mix, with your hands, then make four small holes about 75mm or 3″ apart at 6mm or 1/4″ deep with your finger and drop in 3 – 4 seeds per hole, cover over and water in.

Always price around for your seed, some are cheap and some are expensive.

Your cute little seedlings should pop out in about 14 – 21 days, if the temperature is above 20 C. If you have too many, just thin out the weaker looking ones without damaging the good strong ones. Place the container into full sun to part shade, water regularly and give it a little fertiliser every now and again.

As your lemon grass gets bigger all you need to do is transfer it into a larger container, add some fresh potting mix with some compost or manure, water it in and away you go, even more lemon grass to enjoy or share swap or trade with your neighbours.



Please remember, this blog cannot replace a health care professional, and is for informational and educational purposes only and is not for medical advice or treatment. If you have a known serious condition, or are pregnant, please consult your health care professional, before use.

Kind Regards,

Russell a.k.a The Herbarius

Website: http://www.theherbarius.com.au

Email: theherbalist@theherbarius.com.au

Sales: sales@theherbarius.com.au

With this selection of blogs, I want to give attention to culinary herbs that you can grow for you and your family, that have great health benefits and can grow in a small area such as a patio, veranda, carport or landing for an apartment. I addressed parsley last time, and this week I have chosen chives, (Allium schoenoprasum). Mine are presently out in flower, sadly not as full as they could be, but, I thought I would choose this one anyway. Because there real and I don’t have to find someone else’s photo.

My little pot of Chives, of which I keep eating from, otherwise it would be much bigger

Chives are probably one of the most commonly known culinary herbs and when used in cooking they are used principally used to add onion flavour, but without the stronger onion intensity or in some cases repeating. I also add chives into my cooking because it is another way of sneaking in greens without great effort, plus nutrition, as most, if not all herbs are typically higher in vitamins and minerals than larger fruits and vegetables. They are nutritional power packs, allowing us to physically eat less yet get more.

Chives is a native to continental Europe and including Britain, but now grows world wide in any regions tha are ranging from temperate to hot, and regions that get very cold it is best to bring it inside out of the cold, although they are usually frost-hardy.

Back in the middle ages, it was called the rush leek, from the Greek word schoinos – rush and prason – leek.


Culinary uses for Chives

Such a simple herb, so why not grow them? They really take very little space and care and last years, producing free food and flavour for very little effort, and have a beautiful mauve colour in a cute ball shape. Therefore, they can make an interesting addition, both for colour and shape to a garden. Pests generally don’t like them due to their sulphur content, yet bees love them, sounds like a win-win to me.

From a culinary point of view they make great additions and can be used in many recipes. I often use them in mashed potatoes or sweet potatoes, plus omelettes and other egg dishes or just in plain ole scrambled eggs in the morning. In the morning, I just wander out into my carport grab a selection of herbs, parsley and chives are often the main choices, bring them into the kitchen, finely chop them and lightly cook them just before I throw in the scrambled eggs, and voila, a yummy breakfast, better than any dry cereal I my book, and can fit into many diets, from Vegan to Keto.

Eggs and Chives, just wonderful

Chives can be added to salads to add a little zest or bite, mixed into egg sandwiches, sprinkled onto soups and casseroles for colour, aroma and flavour. I have chopped up some freshly picked chives and added it into homemade ricotta cheese. The flowers can be eaten raw and fresh, put into salads or you can place the petals in a butter or a vinegar. The unopened flowers are used at times in asian cooking.

Chive Butter

Ingredients

  • 100grams or 4 oz of unsalted butter
  • 4 tablespoons of freshly chopped chives
  • 1 tablespoon of freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • Celtic or Himilayan salt for taste
  • A pinch of pepper

Process

  • Soften the butter enough to allow easy blending of the chives
  • Evenly mix in the chives and butter together
  • Beat in the lemon juice
  • Add salt and pepper to taste
  • Place and cool down in the fridge
  • When cool but still soft enugh to spread it is ready for use
  • Should last 3 – 4 days in the fridge

Storage

Chives don’t store really well, and if you are storing them in a bottle they will need to to dried, but won’t keep for a long time. But they do keep in the freezer all chopped up in plastic bags for about six months.


The Herb Files

The most common mistake with chives is that it gets mixed up with another chives, what?! There are specifically two plants often called chives, they are similar in some ways, but they are still reasonably different. They are Garlic chives and Onion chives, both get called chives, but they are different. Onion chives have a round tubular stem that is hollow, with a pale purple flower, although one species does have a white flower, whereas garlic chives has a flat blade like stem, with fragrant white flowers. The leaves for both are used in cooking, but the bulb of garlic chives is not edible. The main difference when used in cooking is that onion chives give a ‘onion flavour’ and ‘garlic chives’ gives a garlic flavour, amazing isn’t it! But for thos who want a gentle garlic flavour instead of garlic itself, then you can use garlic chives.

Beauty in a bundle

Gardening with Chives

Apart from the obvious culinary uses, chives can make an excellent decorative or ornamental border around flowering and vegetable gardens, placed in rockeries, gaps in rock walls and in or on ledges and edges. As they grow to 15 to 30 cm/6″ to 9″ high and in clumps that are approximately 15cm/ 6 ” wide with their flowers being a beautiful long-lasting pale purple or lilac. When planting in garden beds etc., plant with plenty of blood and bone or good seaweed fertilisers, plus itis a good idea to mulch around the plant to keep it weed free. Chives has very little pest and disease problems, but does have occassional attcks from aphids. Use a natural spray or if you are careful you can hose them off.

Simple Garden Edging

Companion Planting

If your into companion planting you can plant chives along side roses tomatoes, carrots and grapes as well as fruit trees.

How to grow it

Chives like a well-draining soil that is light but slightly moist, but during hotter months thya may want extra watering. They can grow in full sun but don’t mind just a little shade at times.

The easiest way to get started is during spring is to ask a friendly gardening neighbour if they have any chives, and if they do, ask them if you can have some by dividing a small sample off the original clump. Simply plant this into a pot about 20cm or 8″, water it in and just wait a couple of weeks before attempting to start harvesting. Yes, they really are tough plants to learn on.

Although not organic, at least they are cheaper in this world of ‘everything costs heaps’.

To grow from seed, and you have hot summers, only plant from autumn to spring, but if you have a more milder summer, then you can plant from spring to autumn.

To plant your seeds, prepare a container such as a tray, window box or pot with good vegetable potting mix, then push a few holes about 6mm or 1/4″ into the mix with your finger and about 15cm or 6″ apart, (as you won’t need many plants anyway, and four is heaps for a family, unless you are going to sell or trade them) and drop a couple of seeds into each hole. Once you have done that, simply cover them over, and gently water the mix. Keep the mix slightly moist, and all going good, they should be popping out of the ground in about 2 – 3 weeks, unless it quite cold there. Thin out if you have too many. Harvest the leaves close to the ground as you need them, and to keep them fresh or grow more if you intend to dry or freeze them for later use.

Some tips

If you have rather cold winters, bring your pot of chives inside to take care of it. Also, it is a good thing to divide your bunch of chives about every two years.

Tech stuff

From a more technical perspective, 50 grams has approximately 40% of your daily needs of vitamin A, and just under 50% of your daily needs of vitamin C. Plus, more than your daily needs of vitamin K, and over 10% of folate. It also has other vitamins such as: Thiamin, Niacin, Pantothenic Acid, Riboflavin, and Vitamin B6.

It has minerals such as, Calcium, Iron, Magnesium, Phosphorus, Zinc, Potassium, Copper and Manganese. Plus, good ole dietary fibre, yeah!


Please remember, this blog cannot replace a health care professional, and is for informational and educational purposes only and is not for medical advice or treatment. If you have a known serious condition, or are pregnant, please consult your health care professional, before use.

Kind Regards,

Russell a.k.a The Herbarius

Website: http://www.theherbarius.com.au

Email: theherbalist@theherbarius.com.au

Sales: sales@theherbarius.com.au

A mini forest of Parsley

Honestly, there are herbs everywhere, and why can I say this with such confidence, and unless you live where there are no plants, you will have a herb somewhere, because all plants are herbs.

So let’s get back to the point, if you have a store nearby that sells gardening supplies and/or you have access to a computer that has internet access, well, you should have no excuse not to order some herb seeds and anything else you need, unless you have no money. At first, I would suggest herbs that you can use in cooking or at least some form of food preparation, and this will depend entirely on you and your families likes and dislikes. Culinary herbs are not just good for cooking and flavour, but, they are actually very nutritious, high in vitamins and minerals and other wonderful constituents beneficial for your health.

A common herb that is used in cooking is parsley (Petroselinum spp.), and there are at least three main varieties, the common or curled leaf parsley (Petroselinum crispum), the Italian or flat parsley (Petroselinum crispum var. neapolitanum), and the German parsley or Hamburg variety (Petroselinum crispum var. tuberosum). So you can buy the variety you prefer or be adventurous and buy all three. Either way, just hurry up and buy something. Times-a-wasting.

Preparation

The soil has to be rich, as in rich in humus, such as well composted vegetable matter and animal manure, and suitable natural fertiliser, which is optional, but you may need some later on. Also, it needs to be moist, not soaking just moist to touch and doesn’t become water logged. Most vegetable potting mixes are generally fine, just buy a quantity version, because if you skimp now, it will come back somewhere else. After a year you will need to repot the parsley with fresh potting mix, as the mix will become exhausted, especially if you want it to be highly beneficial.

My own happy little bunch of Parsley

How to grow your Parsley?

In hotter climates, you can plant all year round, unless very dry or hot, then don’t plant during summer. In temperate climates you can plant from spring to autumn, and in cool to cold climates only plant during spring and summer.

Method 1. Go and buy some seedlings, this is the quickest and easiest method, but the more expensive. So, if your local store has vegetable and herb seedlings, you could go down and buy a punnet or container of seedlings and plant them into a container with the potting/soil mentioned above. You won’t need too many as one decent parsley plant will you give lots of product and four to six plants will give you more than you’ll ever need. But hey, why don’t you trade the excess with a neighbour, and butchers use lots of parsley.

Dig a slightly wider hole than the size of the seedling, gently remove the seedling by turning upside down the punnet, gently hold the stem at the base of the plant and lightly squeeze the underneath plastic from different directions, and then push on the very bottom and then carefully pull it out, tickle the roots and make sure that they are not in a clump at the bottom, slightly spreading the roots and place this new baby into his spot, push in and firm up the potting mix around the plant and then do the next one the same and once you have them all in, give them a good but gentle watering. Here is a tip, do not allow the potting mix to build up around the base or what they call the crown of the plant, it must sit just above the mix. Make sure you place the container in a sunny position, and then give it a good watering once a week. If you have a hot dry region you may need to give them a little watering every couple of days for the first week, just to get them established. Either way, keep the soil slightly moist.

Some cheap parsley seeds from the local discount store

Method 2. Grow the seeds in a container indoors or at least in a protected area out of the sun. Seeds don’t need sunlight to germinate, just the right temperature, and moisture etc. Fill the container almost to the top with potting mix, simply sprinkle a few seeds on top and rake them just into the mix about 5mm or 1/4″ gently water and cover with a clean rag or hessian bag or similar, even plastic works, and if all is well, they should start emerging in about 3-4 weeks, just keep the mix and cloth slightly moist. Once they start coming up, remove the cloth and keep out of direct sunlight until they strengthen. Any sickly or excess ones thin out. Remember you only need a few plants and you need space between them, say 15cm to 30cm. Once they are healthy and growing well move them out into the sunshine.

Method 3. Plant them directly into the ground. But make sure that there are no more frosts around. Make sure the soil is rich and well tilled and soft for at least 10cm or 3″ deep and slightly moist. Make rows or holes about 5mm and sow into these and lightly cover with the soil and gently add water. You could even place a hessian bag or cloth over them to keep the soil moist and prevent it from drying out. Once they start emerging, remove the cloth, and continue care with watering and weeding etc., until established, then once growing well start harvesting your wonderful parsley.

Benefits of Parsley

It is a low calorie food yet is extremely nutrient dense, being high in vitamin A, which is great for eye health, vitamin C and very high in vitamin K, which helps with bone health. It’s great for iron, plus calcium, folate and potassium, and lesser amounts of magnesium and manganese, along with some fibre. It also is very high in powerful antioxidants, such as the flavonoids – myricetin and apigenin and others. Also carotenoids, such as beta carotene, zeaxanthin and lutein, which help to reduce risk of some diseases, and the vitamin C is also an antioxidant.

Please remember, this blog cannot replace a health care professional, and is for informational and educational purposes only and is not for medical advice or treatment. If you have a known serious condition, or are pregnant, please consult your health care professional, before use.

Kind Regards,

Russell a.k.a The Herbarius

Website: http://www.theherbarius.com.au

Email: theherbalist@theherbarius.com.au

Sales: sales@theherbarius.com.au

Ribwort

Now where to start?

In my last blog, I mentioned that you may have herbs basically at your own back door and not know it. For many people this is true, no matter where you are in the world, but for some this isn’t true. So what is at least one answer to deal with a lack of useful herbs, that’s easy, you import your herbs, no I don’t mean ordering a plant or cuttings or seeds online, although this is okay, and you may have to do this, but what I am suggesting first is to literally go and find a herb in your area, that’s not illegal to take of course, or at least you should ask, and then shove it in a pot a grow it yourself.

A simple place to start

A common herb, which is found in many countries and found close to or reasonably near to civilisation and most would declare a weed is “Ribwort” or it’s botanical name is Plantago lanceolata. Yes I know, it is not a very flattering name is it? But, it is simply excellent for upper respiratory issues as it’s actions are expectorant, demulcent, astringent, anti-inflammatory, anticatarral, antiseptic, mucus membrane tonic, and wound healing. And this being a list of so many human aliments, why wouldn’t you want such a useful herb right there. Which can be used for common conditions such as coughs, rhinitis, sinusitis, nasal catarrh, laryngitis, plus topically for wounds from cuts and abrasions, boths fresh or slow healing, haemorrhoids and mouth ulcers, and that is just for starters.

The Weed File

Plantago Lanceolata does have a few look-a-likes or close brothers if you will, the common one it is confused with is typically called Plantain, which has nothing to do with the thing that looks like a banana. The easiest way to recognise ribwort from plantain is th esize of the leaf, ribwort is long and skinny, and Plantain is broad and wide. Thankfully, they both function the same and mixing them up poses no safety issues.

Some other similar species with possible mix ups are Buck’s-Horn plantain (Plantago coronopus), Sago weed (Plantago cunninghammii, P. drummondi)

Some different species that can be mixed up especially as young plants are: Wireweed (Polygonum aviculare), Corn Spurry (Spergula arvensis), Purple Calandrinia (Calandrinia menziesii)

So how do I do this?

First you need to go and get it, typically it is found where man has interfered with the environment and people traffic through such as foot paths, road sides, fields and vacant lots. Plus it is found more often in areas or groun that tends to more moisture, meaning, if water was moving on top of the ground or just underneath, that little spot tends to stay damper for longer, it is near low lying areas or creeks or slightly more shaded areas, then that is where it is likely to be.

Take with you either damp paper or clean damp cloth and a long philps screwdriver or some other pointy object, locate the plant and use that pointy object to loosen around the roots and lift it out. Roll the damp paper or cloth around the plant and take it back home.

Planting Ribwort

Ribwort is just so simple to plant and care for, Prepare container that’s about 150mm or 6″ in diameter, with some good potting mix, or good soil with compost, and slightly moisten the mix. Then poke a hole about as deep as the root system and just put it in the hole and with your fingers, press around it to stand it up, water inand keep the soil moist from then on, and there you are, it’ll just keep going and going. Always just sitting there, fresh and ready to be used. Personally, I would suggest always keeping it in pots, so as not to spread it all over the country side as this will encourage others to use herbicides, and we frankly just don’t need more poisons.

From seed

Ribwort is quite easy to grow from seed, and you can obtain this seed from the plant itself or buy then online. With any plant which some will call weeds, you may not be able to buy into your state or region.

  • Simply prepare a container with potting mix
  • Make a few holes in it
  • Drop a few seeds into the holes
  • Cover over
  • And well water in
  • In a short while up they come and your away

Maintenance

Ribwort does get pests such as aphids and some moths and other diseases, generally these are not so serious and so long as it is given basic care, that is, some water every now and again, and a spot of fertiliser, it will be fine. Of course it won’t survive snow and ice, but some seed can survive at times until spring.

Due to having a ‘tap root’ it tends to indicate, that the soil in that area has or is becoming compacted, therefore a simple help to remove it out of your lawns and fields is to open up and loosen the soil. This is why regular cultivation, that is, loosening it up reduces it population.

Here’s my very own Ribwort that I have had for several years
A closeup of the leaf for further pictures see the gallery

How do you use it?

So how would you use it for coughs or a sore throat, for example; simply cut off two of the fresh leaves about the same size as the photos above, chop them up a bit with a knife, chuck them into a cup or mug, pour in some freshly boiled water and cover, and wait a 10 minutes. You don’t have to, but you can then strain out the leaves add a suitable sweetener if required such as stevia, raw honey, monk fruit or erythritol, and drink. To help, and not too hot, you can gargle it as well.

You can make a similar tea as above out of the seeds, just use one teaspoon instead of the leaves, or use one tablespoon of dried leaves.

It can add many additional herbs to this simple recipe above if you wish, such as lemon balm or lemon grass, parsley or oregano, even sage, who knows really? An excellent herb to add is echinacea root, which is stronger than the echinacea leaf. In this case, I would make a decoction of the root by boiling it for 30-40 minutes, then add the Ribwort (or any other herbs) once you have turned off the heat, and leave it covered for about 10 minutes. Then drink slowly, but try to finish the drink before it gets cold, as hot teas seem to soothe sore throats and softens mucus.

Culinary Uses

The young leaves can be used in salads, with a slightly bitter taste, older leaves are not very good for salads, butu are fine for teas and decoctions.

The seeds, husks and flower heads are edible and are an excellent source of fibre for your diet. The famous ‘psyllium husks’ sometimes called Fleaseed, Plantago psyllium, is in the very same family as ribwort. The seeds due to their mucilage content can be placed into hot boiling water, which then turn into a jelly-like consistency, these can be added to fruit drinks and smoothies to add a thickener.

If your a rabbit or similar such as a guinea pig you also can eat ribwort.


Collection

The leaves can technically be harvested at any time, but for used in fresh salads only choose young ones, but for herbalism, teas and decoctions it is better to be collected just before or during blossoming time. Don’t remove all the leaves as you don’t want the plant to die off, and you may need some later, only harvest no more than 1/2 to 2/3rds of the plant maximum. Always make sure that the leaves are free from defects, such as insect bites, discolouration and any fungi, plus any chemicals, sprays and other poisons.

Drying

Simply place the leaves on a dry, clean kitchen towel, or paper towel in a well ventilated room, once the leaves are completely dry, place them into a sealed glass container and label. If kept dry, clean and cool and in a dark place, it should keep for up to two years. If you see or smell mouldiness then throw it out.

Herbalism

The information below is for informational and education purposes only. So please do not “self-treat”. When seeking any ‘therapeutic’ advice always see a Qualified Health Care Professional first.

Parts used:

Leaf and flower and seed head

Dosage:

6.0 – 12.0 grams

Main actions:

Expectorant – global, demulcent, astringent, anti-inflammatory, anti-catarrhal, antiseptic, mucus membrane tonic, and wound healing

Indications:

All types of coughs, nasal catarrh – rhinitis, sinusitis, laryngitis, slow healing wounds – topically, haemorrhoids, and mouth ulcers

Constituents:

Anthraquinone glycosides, phenolics, and tannins

Safety concerns:

Pregnancy and lactation, in high doses, otherwise none known

Adulterants:

Adulterated with similar species of Rheum



As I continue this blog I intend to add more useful, yet easy to grow herbs, which you can keep at your back door, veranda, patio, carport or even on the landing of your apartment. So follow along as there’s so much more to discover.


Please remember, this blog cannot replace a health care professional, and is for informational and educational purposes only and is not for medical advice or treatment. If you have a known serious condition, or are pregnant, please consult your health care professional, before use.

Kind Regards,

Russell a.k.a. The Herbarius

Website: http://www.theherbarius.com.au

Email: theherbalist@theherbarius.com.au

Sales: sales@theherbarius.com.au

Have you ever wondered?

Why am I writing this blog?

I don’t know if you have ever wondered, but I have often wondered to myself, what would I do if the power went out for quite some time, for example, for a week or two, or maybe more even and something went medically wrong, it could be a nasty accident, a woman giving birth or an illness getting around, or simply a bad cold with a sore throat and lets say a headache thrown in for good measure, what would you do for medications? With our local chemist or super market just down the road, a bad cold is quite easy to treat and get back into life. But, is dependence on the local chemist, that is, the pharmaceutical industry really isn’t a good thing. There are many benefits that the pharmaceutical industry has given us. I personally have used there products many times, from simple bandaids to various pain killers to help myself to get by, and I guess they like it, and it helps them be what they are – a business, but is it really a wise or good thing, in the end, to be ‘so’ dependent, I think not.

Now before you read too much into what I’m saying, am I asking you not to buy medications or worse still not to see a doctor, absolutely not, this could be very harmful or life threatening, and if you need medical advice, or you have a medical emergency, go and get help as fast as you can. They produce some pretty amazing things, and when you need those pain killers, especially when your really hurt bad, you’ll be glad that they were there, but what if the power went out for two weeks, what would you do to treat yourself or a loved one?

If only you could just walk out your back door and right there was something that cost you nothing, yet could do you and others so much good, and possibly for free. Well, often there is something there, we just don’t realise it, because we have never been taught. That sore throat, that nasty scrape, that tummy bug, there really is help on hand.

Two examples:

1) My son was living away from home and in the big city and when I visited him one day, he had a sore throat and sniffles and was feeling miserable, and I wondered to myself, “what can I do for my son?” “Hang on a minute I thought, there has to be something growing here somewhere”. So off I went, and I just literally walked down the road less than a hundred metres and there was some Ribwort (Plantago lanceolata) for you technical buffs, very similar to Plantain (not the banana), “aha”, I said, “just what I’m looking for”, so I grabbed a few leaves and went back to his kitchen and chopped them up, threw them into some boiling water, added a little sweetener, and gave it to him to drink. Later on, I grabbed a few of the small plants growing just down the road and plant them into a long rectangular plastic pot, watered them in for good measure, and now he has his own, right at that door source of herbal help, at no cost, and ever ready to go. His medicine cabinate was growing outside. 

2) My daugther texted me one day, “Dad, what can you take for a sore throat”, now I could have just ask her why didn’t she go down the road and buy some cough lollies to sooth her sore throat. But no, I didn’t for two reasons, one, knew she wanted  a ‘natural’ source, and two, I wanted to teach her how to find and identify the source. So I drove around and found the plant, took several photos and sent them to her, so that she could help herself out and others in the future. Yes I wanted to empower her, like the old adage, “give a man a fish and feed him for a day, teach him to fish and feed him for life”. 

 

A nice crop of White clover, can you spot the bee? White clover has much to offer and it grows in many places and is killed off as a weed,

This level of ease and simplicity is really there, and yes it does exist, we all just need to learn and stop putting ourselves down, give ourselves a fair go and get ourselves educated, for what we are looking for, and how to use it. A bit of simple education and away we go.

So, come along with me on a journey of discovery and adventure as I present various herbs, and what are just some of the things you can do with them that are probably just at your back door or at least down the road. There will be many lessons learned by all of us, and I do mean to include my-humble-self in this, not just the readers, as not only am I learning how to blog, but how to do my best to present to you the reader, how to discover these plants for yourself, how to safely identify them correctly, and how to use them in different ways for your benefit.

I enjoy input and suggestions from others, so if you think I could do something better, just spin me a line and I’ll certainly consider it. Or if you have something encouraging to say then that would be nice too. If you have any questions about the herbs or methods or recipes that I present, just ask and I’ll do my best to answer them. If you cannot find any of the herbs that I write about, then in most cases I can post them to you. Just let me know what you interested in and I will to get the price of the item or items your interested in and the cost of postage, at the best price I can find and let you know.

I little about myself

I am happily married with four adult children and have already reached half a century, so it’s easy rolling from now on, and feel like I am restarting my life over again. Due to starting so many new things and frankly I encourage you to do the same.

I have always enjoyed the ‘Bush” as we call it here in Australia, and I have always loved adventure and to explore. I use to love going on camping trips when I was a boy, where I would go fishing with a close friend over long weekends. I went to the scouts one night if that helps any and would often go riding off on my own for hours to my mother’s distress. My heritage has farming and horticulture in its background and my parents successfully owned and ran a plant nursery in which they grew seedlings for herbs, vegetables and natives.

When I was young and foolish and wasn’t most of us, I honestly didn’t care enough about what I ate and what I did, but over the years after slowly doing more and more damage to myself, I started to change my views to how to live and what to eat. So now I am very conscious of what one should eat and how one should live. Up to now I have completed Statements of Attainments (SOA’s) for Advanced Diplomas in Natruopathy, Herbal Medicine and Nutritional Medicine, which involved four years of fulltime study and since then, I have completed a Diplomas in Master Herbalist and also Clinical Nutrition Consultation.

Next year I intend to continue further studies into other modalities, and honestly, I hope to continue studies in Natural and Alternative Medicines, for the rest of my natural life. These ‘continuing studies’ will involve much travel, and meeting people of different understandings, knowledge and experience in Traditional Medicine.

Here I am observing traditional medicine in Udaipur, Rajasthan India

I have recently started an online business selling herbs and herbal teas (tisanes) and can provide you with individualised herbal remedies for many indications. I have called my business, “The Herbarius”, which simply means ‘The Herbalist’, because I believe that Herbalism, the simple the use of herbs, and Nutrition, is the ancient and proper method for health and healing is still one of the best methods to bring about vitality to people everywhere.

Please remember, this blog cannot replace a health care professional or medical care, it is for informational and educational purposes only and is not for medical advice or treatment, and no cure is implied. If you have a known serious condition, or are pregnant, please consult your health care professional, before use, and a person should take medical advice where necessary.

Russell a.k.a. The Herbarius

Website: http://www.theherbarius.com.au

Email: theherbalist@theherbarius.com.au

Sales: sales@theherbarius.com.au

“Saving money is digging out to Freedom” – Herbal Panda