Growing herbal teas

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I love my hot drinks so it seemed a natural extension of what we do with our food to grow my own herbals teas. I was paying $3 – $4 a packet for them, they are now off the shopping list. I haven’t experimented with any blends as yet but would like to in the future. I often drink fresh leaves but for convenience I also dry alot.

Lemon Balm: Calms anxiety & stress

Feverfew: Good for arthritis and migraines. Does need a bit of honey as quite bitter.

Parsley: Good for flushing out toxins, as a diuretic and for joint pain

Sage: For joint pain also good for feelings of stress or agitation

Marshmallow: Is supposed to be good for asthma, chesty coughs and bronchial conditions, I have made some but haven’t tried this yet.

Strawberry leaf: High in magnesium, thought to lower blood pressure slightly

Mint: Promotes sleep, is good with lemon balm for anxiety, nervousness. Put sprigs of each in a pan with water and simmer for 5 minutes.

Rosehips: High in Vit C and a nice fruity taste.

Rosehips for tea and skincare

Rosehips

A great site that has all the info on herbal teas is http://www.teabenefits.com, they discuss the benefits and also possible dangers / contraindications for all.

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Another week in the life of…

I haven’t had much time to come online this past week or two, I have been busy but also not 100%. The new cold weather has caused my fibro to flare and I’m a bit yucky! However, I only have 7 working days left and I am soooo looking forward to that! I have lots of jobs lined up – I overheard my husband telling someone I am retiring, gosh, I do hope so 🙂 Lol, somehow I think the lack of money won’t mean a long retirement, and I also think I will be so busy here I’ll be wanting to return to work!!

So, I haven’t really been doing much at home other than cooking meals and occasional freezing or drying. I have, however, come up with a recipe for herbal tobacco which we have been using very successfully for two weeks – not smoke-free quite yet but certainly nicotine and chemical free. And while I know that is nothing to be particularly proud of after 40 years of smoking I think that is pretty darn good!!

I went to another town this week for work and brought home a large bag of quinces to make quince paste over the weekend, I am looking forward to trying that and quinces are very cheap at present (if you can find them).

We were given goat this week, two large roasts and my husband has been eating that. I have stuck to vegetables and minestrone every night, I cannot eat goat…or rabbit, or deer.

We went and got our first two loads of firewood and another coming this afternoon so hubby has been busy with that. Also while we were out looking for blackberry bushes the other day I came across an old, disused wooden beehive which was just laying dismantled amongst long grass, so I took it to do something with. I have no idea what but thought the parts looked interesting.

I also made a deodorant bar and a face mask, both of which I have tried before. The face mask – a small piece of banana mashed with a little cream, is about as good as you will get. It’s rich in feel and leaves skin feeling very soft.

The deodorant: 3 tablespoons of coconut oil, melted and added to 6 tablespoons of cornflour & 6 tablespoons of baking soda; few drops of teatree or lavender oil. Mix till all dissolved and pour into a plastic container used as a mold. To remove just dip container briefly in hot water. This made a 200g bar, I just keep wrapped in a cabinet.

And I made a Calendula and Lemon Balm Salve (put on it’s own post).

In the garden I have planted more winter vegetables, picking figs and drying them, plus all the vegetables for our meals as usual. The vines have all died on the pumpkins so they need harvesting and drying. The raspberries are just finishing their autumn fruiting, the sunflowers have faded and drooped badly and the garden needs a good tidy up this weekend. My workmates have mentioned they would like to come and see it….lol, I was horrified! While we grow alot of food we are not particularly tidy doing it so we need to sort that first!

Calendula and Lemon Balm Salve

I found this recipe on Ecocrazymum.com last year and have only just managed to find some beeswax locally. My husband suffers from eczema so I have been wanting him to try it rather than prescribed creams, and it would appear to be a handy salve to have on hand. The list of ailments it is supposed to help is long:

  • Diaper Rash
  • Cuts & Scrapes
  • Minor Burns
  • Bug Bites & Stings
  • Psoriasis
  • Topical Thrush
  • Inflammation
  • Itching
  • Eczema
  • Chapped Lips
  • Cold Sores
  • Dry Skin
  • Athletes Foot
  • Warts
  • Cracked Heals
  • Sunburn
  • Stretchmarks
  • Hemorrhoids
  • Shingles
  • Muscle Aches & Menstrual Cramps
  • And so much more!

Ingredients:

  • 2 Cups Olive Oil
  • 3/4 Cup Dried Lemon Balm & Calendula (Just throw in a couple handfuls of each until you get 3/4 cup- try to use equal parts of each.)
  • 1/2 Cup Beeswax
  • 3 TBSP. Coconut Oil
  • 2 TBSP. Shea Butter
  • 5 Drops Tea Tree Oil
  • 5 Drops Lavender Essential Oil
*I do not add preservatives. Many of the ingredients contain natural preservatives, so your salve will have a shelf life of 1-2 years.
Directions:
  1. Add dried herbs, olive and coconut oil into crock pot and heat on low for 3-4 hours.
  2. Strain oil through cheesecloth and return to (clean) crock pot on low heat.
  3. Microwave beeswax and shea butter in 1 minute increments until fully melted.
  4. Immediately add melted beeswax and shea butter into crock pot & mix well with wooden spoon. If the wax starts to harden up turn the crock pot up to the high heat setting and stir until completely liquified.
  5. Add in tea tree and lavender essential oils and mix well.
  6. Pour mixture into small containers with lids and keep lids off until salve becomes solid.

This made over 3 cups of salve. I didn’t have shea butter so excluded this. I managed to pick up little blocks of 50g beeswax for 50 cents each from a local apiary which I was really pleased with. I also altered the method – simmering the oils and herbs for 2 hours over low heat in a double boiler, straining then adding the beeswax and returning to heat, adding essentials oils when finished. I will add to this at a later date to say how we have found it

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Easter weekend jobs……and I do love my dehydrator :)

This weekend has been flat out. My husband decided to go ahead with a job he has been putting off, extending the fern garden. So, I helped with that and weeded the vegetable garden.

I picked a pile of tomatoes, figs, the last of Black Boy peaches, zucchini and some herbs. I bottled figs (4 jars) and peaches (5 jars), made barbecue sauce, baked a yummy cake.

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And I dried “stuff”…a whole new world has opened up! This has to be one of the best $60 I have ever spent – my secondhand dehydrator has been going flat out since I bought it 5 days ago 🙂 I never realised how many tomatoes you could get in a jar when dried, or figs!

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The reason why the petals is, I wanted to save the sunflower ones before they die off, had no idea what I was going to do with them so looked on the net for inspiration. I think I may have found a new hobby….soap making 🙂

I saw this photo and read the instructions, this just looks beautiful. Calendula Soap ( http://slowlivingessentials.blogspot.co.nz) I have calendulas. I have lots of flowers and a new toy so that started me off on a tangent around the garden!

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Who can afford such luxury from shops but the cost of making it is not great AND it would make great presents. In my spare time I have been checking out soapmaking blogs 🙂

I found a pile of marshmallow in an unused corner of the garden, around the back of the fig tree. Marshmallow is good for asthma and dry cough, so picked that and dried it.

So, a busy weekend, a productive one. I just realised though…I GOT NO CHOCOLATE, not one single mouthful. Or a hot x bun. I best do something about  that tomorrow!

Thick Mint Sauce Recipe

After searching for ages I found a really nice recipe for mint sauce. This is a richer, thicker mint sauce than others I have tried which always disappointed.

1 litre of malt vinegar

800 g brown sugar

1 – 1 1/2 cups cups of finely chopped mint

Bring the sugar and vinegar to the boil stirring to dissolve sugar. Simmer gently for 5 – 10 minutes (till a little has evaporated), then cool till just warm. Add mint, stir well, then bottle into sterilised bottles.

I wasn’t sure if this was going to be very economical, it cost around $4 to make. It filled one wine bottle and a recycled mint sauce bottle, the original mint sauce had cost $4 something.

mint sauce

I usually dry herbs in the oven but a friend has loaned me a dehydrator – never used one before and have been thinking of trying to buy a secondhand one.

Lemon Balm – for anxiety, stress and sleep

Lemon Balm is another herb I make into a tea. It works well for frayed nerves, anxiety and is thought to aid sleep. It grows into a small bush and will self sow if left to go to seed.Image

It smells like lemon furniture polish, tastes a little better than it smells (I quite like it) and really does work quite well when feeling frazzled. Lemon balm oil is often used in burners to calm.

As for all herbs just research on the net if unsure of it’s safety to use for yourself.

I make my teas in ice cubes to just add to boiling water and seep for few minutes, using either of the strainers shown below. I just find this easier than drying.Image

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Feverfew – for migraines

I used to suffer from terrible migraines, often twice a week and severe. They seriously impacted on my life. Doctors tried me on all sorts of medications with little success. I discovered Feverfew in a natural health shop, took one a day for several months and from the first day I had no more. I have suggested this to quite a few people – some it helps, others not. The ones it has worked for, like me, swear by it.

When I decided to grow my own medicine cabinet Feverfew was the first on the list. I bought one little plant and have had it popping up in spots in the garden ever since. It grows in pretty little bushes and I always leave one to seed.Image

To use feverfew I either pick a few leaves and have in a sandwich with something nice, or I use as a tea. (With all my herbs for teas I actually pick a good sized bunch, blend with water and freeze in ice cube trays, store in small bags). This is a little bitter but not unpleasant and it will usually stop a headache when I feel it coming on.

As with all herbs one should check on the net to find if there are any contraindications or side effects one should know about.

Parsley and Sunflower Pesto

I love pesto, but there isn’t enough basil at present to make some. I had seen recipes for parsley pesto in the past so searched the net. I adapted a recipe and used sunflower seeds because pinenuts are expensive, sunflower seeds are not (and I will have my own soon)Image

4 cups of packed parsley

1 1/2 cups toasted sunflower seeds

3 cloves garlic, finely chopped

3 tablespoons lemon juice

1 tsp lemon zest

3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

3.4 tsp salt

1/2 cup parmesan

Pulse sunflower seeds in food processor till rough crumbs. Add parsley, salt, lemon zest & juice and garlic, whiz till finely chopped and blended. Add parmesan, then pour in oil slowly while blending till the desired consistency.

This is delicious. I have left some out for using, the rest has been spooned into ice cube trays and will be bagged when frozen.

Drying and freezing herbs

Usually I just dry my herbs but a tip I got off Pinterest was freezing them in ice cubes. I do some in water and others in olive oil, depending on their use. The water ones I use as a tea with an old vintage tea leaf holder, or in smoothies. The ones in oil are verrry handy for cooking.

I have a mountain already in the freezer of coriander, oregano, basil, rosemary etc but just started on the parsley. I also have kale and spinach done this way for smoothies. I love this as couldn’t use it all up before and would have to replant often.Image

Soapwort for hair – not tea!!

This is the first summer we have grown more than just a few straggly herb plants in odd pots around the place. Hubby built a raised garden in the front lawn and we grow herbs in that, and strips along the front and back. i wanted to grow enough to dry /store to last a few months or so…we grew enough to last a year I think. I also researched a little and grew some for herb teas…and I planted plantain and soapwort. Plantain is good for sores, cuts, sprains etc and also as a tea, it’s supposed to be good for anxiety, nerves etc. Soapwort I wanted to try as a shampoo for my rather unruly curly /fluffy locks.

So I planted all these seeds (around 12 varieties common in a kitchen garden) and an odd one came up I believed to be plantain, the other didn’t at all. Instead of checking which this was I assumed – and let it grow, slowly nipping off odd sprigs of it to drink at odd times. It was some time later I had a funny feeling I should check on the net exactly what this was…to find I had been drinking soapwort, which thank god is not poisonous but a strong brew will induce vomiting!!

Anyway! As a shampoo this is fantastic, I love it. I will never buy commercial shampoo again. It doesn’t strip oils, leaves it silky and shiny. I strip the leaves off , put in a large pan and cover with water, boil until its foamy, cool, strain, bottle and freeze what I won’t use straight away. I just take small bottles out of the freezer as needed. The fresh stuff is green, the frozen turns brownish but it still works as well.

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