Bloodroot, an at-risk medicinal plant

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Bloodroot

This weekend I was fortunate to attend a medicinal herbs workshop at the Ozark Folk Center State Park in Mountain View, Arkansas. If you are not familiar with this park, it’s a fantastic place. They work to preserve the heritage and traditions of the Ozarks, everything from folk music, traditional methods of making soap, brooms, textiles, pottery, wood baskets, buckets, leather, guns, metal goods, and of course, herbal medicine. They offer classes and exhibitions throughout the year.

Did you know that over 82 percent of the world’s population considers herbal, or traditional, medicine their primary means of health care? You might scoff at this, and think it only applies to third-world countries, but that is not the case. In most European and other developed countries, doctors are trained in the use of herbs to treat their patients in conjunction with modern medicine.

Somewhere along the way, we have been fooled into believing that traditional medicine is less effective, less safe, less trustworthy than modern medicine, but that is simply not true. With the rising cost of health care in this country, drug shortages, drug-resistant pathogens, the lack of family doctors, terrible side effects, and the lack of research to develop new drugs (unless they cost $7 or more per pill), the take-over of your personal health care by insurance companies and our government, it is wise to learn as much as you can about treating yourself and your family with traditional medicines. If your grandma could treat an illness or minor injury at home, you probably can too.

The bloodroot pictured above is an at-risk medicinal plant. Used to treat rheumatism, asthma, bronchitis, and other lung ailments, this valuable medicinal is at-risk of being lost due to over-harvesting for shipment overseas, loss of habitat, and urbanization. A great group working to save our traditional medicinal plants is United Plant Savers. Find out more about them, and how you can help, by visiting http://www.unitedplantsavers.org

I am so excited about my new-found herbal knowledge! I will be posting more information about the workshop and some of the wonderful people who are working hard to preserve our traditional medical knowledge and valuable medicinal plants in future posts.

Blessed be,
Kelly

Spring Gardening

Spring peas

Spring peas

February was unusually cold for us here in Arkansas. My peas, which I planted the first of February, did not sprout until the first of March.  I had started thinking they might have rotted, but it seems I was lucky, and they are growing nicely now.  I planted all of my peas along the fence line this year, so I will just tie them to the fence as they grow rather than trellising them down the middle of the bed like I did last year.

turnip sprouts

Turnip sprouts

I planted carrots, cabbage, beets, broccoli, cauliflower, turnips and radishes about a week and half ago. So far, only the turnips and radishes have sprouted, but I am hopeful I will see sprouts from the others maybe next week.  Carrots maybe the first week of April. We’ve had an odd spring cold snap, so that may delay things another week or so.

Green onions with seed heads

Green onions with seed heads

I left a few green onions to overwinter for seeds.  They are putting out seed heads now, maybe in another month or two the seeds will be ready to harvest.  I let a yellow onion go to seed last year and collected the seed. I planted some in February and I am seeing sprouts already. I know most people grow onions from sets, but it is really pretty easy to collect your own seed and grow them.  You do need a fairly long growing season for yellow onions, about 6 months, but they can take some frost and cold temperatures, so as long as you have 6 months of unfrozen ground, you can grow onions from seed.

Yellow onion seedlings, planted about 3 weeks ago

Yellow onion seedlings, planted 3 weeks ago

We had quite a good rain last night, but I am hoping it dries out enough by Sunday for me to get my potatoes planted. I have expanded my patch just a bit, and I have some Kennebec white seed potatoes and some Norland Reds. I think I probably have too many seed potatoes for my space, so I may put a few into one of the raised beds to use for new potatoes. I have been waiting for a shipment of plants from a mail order nursery, but I am afraid they are going to be too late for them to get a good start before the hot weather hits us. It may be a bit chilly now, but I know it won’t last for long!

Live and enjoy,

Kelly

 

Ice Storm

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I guess the Arkansas groundhog was wrong, because winter definitely grabbed us with her icy claws last night. Luckily, we had a lot of rain today, and the temperature was just above the freezing mark, so most of the ice was washed off the roads.  You can see the cedars are bowing under the weight of the ice.  The glaze on the chain link fence was a good quarter inch thick all around. Boy, am I glad my peas haven’t sprouted yet!  I think we are expecting highs in the 50s tomorrow, so hopefully this will all be gone tomorrow, but it will definitely be too wet for working in the garden this weekend.

Enjoy life,

Kelly

Seedlings

 

Seedlings

I potted up my seedlings this weekend – broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, cumin, and basil. Here’s a picture of my little cauliflower babies!  My peppers still have not sprouted – I think the back room is simply too cool for them to germinate.  I will probably need to try to start them here in the house and hope they don’t dry out too badly. I have a nice hot pepper seed mix to start, and the basic bells and chili peppers, but I really need to get moving so they will be ready when the ground warms up here.

Enjoy life,

Kelly

 

2013 Gardening

Today I planted 8 rows of English peas and 4 rows of snap peas.  1 row of spinach, 1 of lettuce and 1 of onions (from seed). Broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage seeds that I started indoors last weekend are sprouting.  Still no sprouts on the herbs and peppers I started, but it may be a bit cool in the back room.  If I don’t see anything this week, I will try bringing them into the main part of the house. I dug a few parsley and dill “volunteers” and put them in pots to take to the girls at work. I have a few sweet potatoes that were sprouting just fine in the kitchen, but now that I have put them in water, they don’t seem to be growing much. *sigh*  I’m sure I’m being impatient.  I am so ready to get the garden started!

How the Mighty Have Fallen

Saturday afternoon I was in the garden as usual, harvesting some parsley seed, when I heard one of my dogs yelping and squealing. When I went to investigate, I found he had been hit by a car.

Chester is definitely a member of the family. He is about 4 years old and all of about 5 pounds. Chester doesn’t know he’s a little dog, though, and it’s really funny to watch him chase my neighbor’s two big Labs out of our yard, or bark fearlessly at the vultures that constantly fly overhead, taking advantage of our bluffside updrafts.

I have never worried about our dogs being hit by a car, since we live at the end of a long dead-end road, but Saturday proved nothing is certain. Sadly, whoever hit him didn’t even stop, and by the time I got to the road, there wasn’t a car in sight. I think the car must have just clipped Chester, because it really wouldn’t take much to kill a little dog like that, so probably the person never knew they had hit him, but it still makes me mad.

So here is a picture of poor little Chester, after surgery to repair his leg which was broken in three places! He also has three pelvic fractures, which don’t require surgery, but will require him to be confined for some time while they heal. Also lots of bruising – poor guy! Hopefully, he will be back to his normal fearless self soon. Now to pay off the $900 vet bill – ouch!

Enjoy life,
Kelly