Grow Your Own Apothecary Garden
You're listening to a sustainable world radio. Podcast sustainable world radio. Brings you in depth interviews news and commentary about positive solutions to environmental challenges. Solutions that adhere to the permaculture ethics of earth. Care people care fair share. Are you interested in learning more about permaculture projects around the globe. How to plant a food forest restorative design or ethnobotanist than stay tuned for sustainable world radio. I'm your host and producer. Chill clue ta my guest. Today is the latest dean. Elena has the last. Decade is an organic farmer and native plant gardner elena and her partner danny or the owners of night heron farm an herbal medicine company and see sa. Elena danny also grow organic. Cut flowers for market and offer a flower. Csi as well. Elena believes that growing and producing local medicine as a way to contribute to a more. Just and sustainable world. You can visit elena online at night. Heron farm dot org welcome to sustainable world radio elaine. I'm so glad to have you here. Oh thank you so much for having me. it's so exciting and i Know that you grow your herbal offerings in what you call a magical oak woodland garden. Can you just tell our listeners. A just a few things about your farm that you'd think we'd like to know sure so we grow out the crow five probably just about two miles inland from the coast We're about twelve minute. Drive away from the coast. And so we're really influenced by the coastal fog the marine layer And the side. We live on the north facing side of the mountain. So we're surrounded by a really healthy mature oak forest that has survived a number of wildfires at this point So we are carved out basically the only to flat sunny spots on the property that we rent and have slowly been feeding the soil and creating pretty wild eclectic garden so we have a mix of native plants and a lot of the food that we eat and then the medicinal plants that we use for teas and tinctures all in the same garden and aesthetic is very wild and it's very informed by the forest since it really just you know five or six feet away from a pretty and diverse with land so our garden is home to a lot of really cool in fact and butterflies and wild birds that are really attracted to what is kind of a messy very organic looking garden. Oh that sounds wonderful. And i wish i could be there Live after covid. We will definitely. I'd love to come out and see it. And how many different herbs would you say that you grow their. Oh gosh Well some things we have just one or two of that are more experimental or for personal use and those are really incorporated into kind of are dense foods scape and then we also have a few more straightforward rows of medicinal plants of the same species. So i wouldn't say probably Maybe like twenty five or thirty. Different kinds of medicinal plants Not all of them that we're using to make products that we sell but some of them just because we love them or do we want the near us. Were using them for ourselves as well. It must be so nice to be out there in that semi wild herbal garden. And i bet you can just really feel that. Medicinal plant energy. Yeah it's so sweet and it's so wonderful to feel like we're also making a home for a lot of the woodland animals like we have a quail family that lives in her garden and take stuff baths and eats the camomile all the time and we have living right about us and it definitely feels like A really dumps and diverse part of the forest and a lot of ways. That's okay you have very calm. Quayle we all. We always joke that. The gophers are just meditating underground. Because they're eating so many really calming just plant wink. Gosh yes the gopher in my yard is chow down. I it was the Nicotiana the night blooming tobacco and then he went for the mother war. I think it was called the eighth that whole thing. So maybe that was an antidote for the tobacco. I don't know but so today we're going to be chatting a lot about some of your favorite herbs and also how to start an apothecary garden but before we go in that direction. I just wanted to ask you. Why are you an advocate. Why do you suggest that people Grow some of their own herbal medicine. Yeah that's a great question I think a lot of the same reasons the same reasons that it feels so special to grow even some small part of your own food It's just such a really lovely and inspiring process from planting a seed to being able to make yourself food or medicine. And i feel like our all of our human lineages go connected to the plant world and and being part of that just feels like part of the healing of medicinal plants me We're super fortunate. That i think than just in the last five years or so. There's become a lot more Small scale organic or farms that do sell their dried herbs in bulk around the country and so it used to be that very often. You were importing herbs from abroad and they were maybe kind of old and not as fresh and I think even that has changed in the last little while so the argument of you know bill more local the better still certainly exists. But maybe isn't quite as pressing. So i just feel like a huge part of it is just being able to work with the plants and i feel like both myself and my partner. Neither of us went to herbs school. We did a apprenticeship. August more earn firm where we learned a whole lot but a lot of what we've learned. Just come from working with these plants in the garden and watching where they grow and how they grow and understanding those habits as a clue to how they work in our own bodies so you can learn a lot. from from growing the clamp. That's so wonderful. So it really is for people who have never grown any medicinal herbs. I just wanted to bring up that culinary. Herbs are quite low. And i've i've found that often they're one in the same absolutely. Yeah i think a part of me. When i first started to grow a lot of these plants it was just. It's always exciting. If you're a plant nerds grow new clemson. So i was most excited by the kind of like tricky obscure plants and it took me a while to kind of come back around and realize that a lot of the culinary herbs that are really readily available and easily to grow or just as strong medicine like rosemary and basil and culinary sage percy's launch either all incredibly healing plants to exactly and we'll learn about some of those in in a bit so before we start talking about plans. I'd love to chat a bit about growing practices for medicinal herbs and you mentioned something You came to an herbal exchange meeting Which was a group we started. That was really fun and you gave a wonderful talk. And you mentioned. I think it was benevolent neglect. When you grew medicinal or i always think that. When i'm like i'm not gonna water you tolsey. Sorry can you tell us what that means. Yeah yeah i'm glad you remembered that Yeah so with medicinal herbs in particular a lot of the plant chemicals that are really medicinal and healing are initially the plant Response to structure its attempt to heal itself. So in fact if you you know limit the water or don't worry too much about amending the soil. You're creating an environment. In which the medicinal plants will really be challenged to grow and heal themselves and those same chemicals are also what worked in our body as medicine. So we're so fortunate but a lot of these medicinal plants are so so easy to grow and their madison actually is stronger and more potent if you benevolent neglect them as you said so not worrying too much about like letting there be periods of drought and not worrying too much if bugs or birds or nibbling on your plant because all of those experiences actually really make medicine stronger interesting and so as far as soil preparation because we know that so important when we're growing at least annuals right emmanuel vegetables how would you prepare. Say you have a little patch In your yard or garden. And you wanna gruesome medicinal. How would you prepare the soil for that. Yeah so most plants grow just aren't going to need as much for as the vegetables that we grow In general they just a little closer to being there. They're wild plant cells and so they do really well and Less rich soil than vegetables. Do we still add either compost or really aged manure In this area where we live and grow horse old horse minorities is readily available and people are actually really happy if you come in got it from their places But we we make our own compost and then we supplement with really aged men are so we'll add that to the soil The garden that we started with was pretty intense really dense clay. Like i remember when we first moved to replace. We had to pick ax into the soil to even open up. The crust of the earth. And i was a little intimidated by dot coming from the south east. I grew up in north carolina where the foil is just really rich from being a forest for so long but the clay here is really responsive to compost. And we've just made really really lovely soil only with compost in our home guard on So we'll open the earth we either with. We have a little walk behind tiller or just a shovel or fading fork and then layer pretty generous like four to six inches of compost or old manure and the soil. And then stir that into the soil either by hand or with the work behind tiller And begin to add water. So we'll irrigate a little bit and get the soil microorganisms kind of woken up and ready to go so. I think it makes more sense when you're thinking about building healthy soil to think about feeding microorganisms in the soil. Because that's really what what you're doing if you're using regenerative or organic growing practices So make organisms love that rich wet soil So compost has just been our best friend and we started with pretty rough soil. And it's just gotten better and better every year. Oh that's so great. Yeah awesome especially like i said them and decimal herbs that just don't require as much feeding we've also started to plant into where we haven't added any compost. We have in the past but maybe we didn't over the winter we just cover crops and that's been working well too so but i would recommend adding compost. When you begin. That's great to know. And then do you ever add any like amendments as you're growing the plants or compost tea or anything or not so much. You know what. I really don't I would for struggles compost. Tea is really amazing But for the herbs once the ground we really kind of just let them do their thing. It's easy gardening. I love it and then as far as cover cropping can you. I would imagine you could grow like a cover. Crop lake Oats or something and then actually harvest for your medicine as well absolutely we do. Yeah so milky haute are yes from our winter. Cover crop We do a a winter. Rest for all of this oiling. Our garden other than a little bit that we reserve just grow some winter veggies So we do a mix of fava beans which then will also eat in the spring and peas and not oats and so as far as watering. We share a mediterranean climate. And we know that not. All listeners are in a mediterranean climate but just as far as watering goes do you have a rule of how dry you actually let the herbs get or do you do it by feel or what's your What do you have any tips for ya i do. I feel where we live is just so variable So here in southern california since we're coastal influence. A lot of april may june july and be quite foggy and maybe the fog will break in the afternoon and we live in finland it can also get quite hot in the summer. So it's kind of all over the place so i always do it by feel So all we mulch our most of our garden. And so i'll reach under the molds which is just this thick layer of either wood chips or straw that protects the oil surface from drying out. So it conserves water and again just makes a happier home for all those micro organisms so reach under there and generally. I won't irrigate until the top two inches. Feel dry to the touch. So i definitely let the garden soil dry out before i water and in fact i think it's not just a really essential best practice in this area where we need to be really conservative with our water use and again that is watering and the introduction of a certain amount of dressed for the plant makes them stronger even in the summer. When it's getting quite hot we probably just era gate mews drip irrigation We irrigate really hot. Maybe every five days but when it's kind of just a normal summer day we're probably irrigating just once a week and sometimes even stretching it out if it stays foggy for most of the morning and is kind of dewey will maybe just irrigating every ten days more in the spring and fall. And how long do you run. the irrigation. Usually about three hours. That would save on water. Absolutely yeah so. I think the rule of thumb and even most veggies are like this but A deep throat. Infrequent watering is a much better With urinate than an everyday shallow water It's good preventative. Health few because a lot of summer diseases and a lot of insects are attracted to overly moist conditions and a garden. So you're being proactive. Keep your guard in a little drier. I'd better go turn the hose off. Now i'm kidding. I think i i'm guilty. It's you it's yeah feels like you're showing love to the plants. They giving them water but yeah it's actually good to let them dry out a little. Is there anything else you wanna share with listeners. About growing their words before we move on. Not worry i mean it it. It's really as simple as we just said. They really do. Well a little world for themselves. They're very easy and so for harvesting. Do you prefer dried or fresh plant material to make your medicine I a part of me prefer fresh. But i don't really think that there's a difference in their medicinal activity I love fresh things. I just love the experiences putting fresh living plants into a jar but with dried plants. If you dry them well which we will talk about Your it's just as good as fresh material in that. That is really the hard part. Right is drying well. And i have tried all ways. Do you have favorite ways to dry plants to ensure that they don't get moldy. Yeah that that was probably. But i felt the most intimidated about when i first started growing. Medicinal herbs because Yeah i was just so worried about things or rotting and it took me a while to trust myself But it really is something where you can really use and trust your senses to let you know when plants are fully dry. So we it's really important. I would say the most important thing to remember about drying clamps is that they should be dried out of the sun. They should be in a totally dark environment. So we harvest a lot of our plant when it's sunny and warm especially for our leaf and flower crops. The heat of the day. We'll bring a lot of those essential oils to the surface and makes the medicine than just a lot stronger but once they're taken away from the plant to dry. It's really important to keep them in a cool dark environment so or not not necessarily cool. I shouldn't so a dark environment So we turn our greenhouse into a drying shed in the summer by covering the entire structure was really thick light-blocking tarts so there's really no son getting in and that's the most important thing is just not to draw your herbs in direct sunlight It's also really important to us big screens. So that there's airflow all around the plant and we do only one layer of plants on a screen so we never do sic piles of plant because especially a lot of herbs that are really high and volatile oils. Like tolsey or lemon bombs if they're To densely sack can rock really quickly. Because there's all that oil and they'll be So that's really important to do. Just a single layer and it's all about touch to after a certain point like people get very technical but really your sensors can tell you. One plant is fully dried and a dry plant of plant. That's ready to be stored will really just crumble off the stem to the touch. So we harvest toll plants will remove the stems after they're dry in a process that's called garbling and so. We know that it's time to do that. When the leaves. Chris naturally crumble off the stem and wash the plant material before you laid out to dry or not no. We don't know the times i've done that. It seems like they don't dry as quickly. And i've had mold totally. Yeah i mean yeah. There's definitely insects and dirt and all of these things but I think it's better not to wash herbs. I oh my god are good for you and do you Save seeds at all from your plants. Yeah yeah we definitely do A lot of what we grow our annual herbs and they're really clamping themselves but so we also let things go to seed in our field. Because i would say we just rented a new field That is closer to the coast where we're also growing medicinal plants We're still killing there but in our older more established gardens. We're not really telling anymore so. A lot of plants just reappear every spring on their own But we you save seeds as well a lot of the minimal urge that we grow are really vigorously seed producing and they're really easy to save the from. I love this colangelo colangelo barge and come free just pop. It's like oh hi friends your back. It's great no know. A lot of medicinal herbs are basically just weeds. And they'll come back over quick and whether you want them or not. But i will let let's start talking about your ideal apothecary garden and we know that people live in different regions so these plants may not be able to grow where you are but there's usually similar plan that would grow in your region because i really believe that the medicine we need is outside of our door And so how do you Elena decide what to grow in your garden. Yeah we are really focused on. I would say in particular on plants that really help our bodies to deal with stress and anxiety. It just seems like a lot of the plant. That people need in this moment that i think also just in in modern life as it is right now So we have a lot of plant for stress and anxiety and for changing how our bodies are triggered by stress. We have a lot of plants for sleep And we're so fortunate that there's even with just like eight or ten plants in your garden. You can have a pretty diverse amount of medical actions available to you because a lot of medicinal herbs have multiple uses. Which when i first started to learn about them was felt pretty intimidating or overwhelming or confusing. That plant could do so many different things on some of them kind of seemed opposite. But i think that's really just a reflection of the complexity of plant bodies of our human bodies and something else. I should also say is kind of no matter. What a book says the plant goes. You should always listen to your body. I and if something does or doesn't feel good you should really honor that and pay attention to that So that aside we have really focused. We rent where we are So in the future a lot of much more long lived perennial herbal medicines. That i'm really excited to grow when we're somewhere more permanently. But in the meantime we've mostly focused on really easy to grow annual herbs with a diversity of of function lusa. Let's let's talk about some of your favorite herbs to grow. What do you want to start with. What's one of your faith. My favorite plant is tulsi or holy basil Toasty is originally from india. But in our experience has done really well even first farming up in northern california on the coast where it's quite cool and foggy basically year round and even though toasty is a tropical herb it did really really well even in that climate So i've tolsey is just so easy to grow and even just one plant will provide you with so much medicine through a growing season It's also just a really lovely plan and definitely one of the most beloved plant by pollinators in our garden. The tulsi is always covered with native. Bumblebees and foraging honeybees and things small. And it's just the hyperactivity. During the growing season a lot of medicinal herbs are really really supportive to pollinators as well. So if you're including medicinal herbs into an existing landscape or adding few your vegetable garden. They're also just amazing companion plants for the plants. You might already have around you and just make your. Your garden goes to them not much more diverse and welcoming to insects But he is just such an amazing every day or i think most of the plants that i wanted to talk about today are all plant that you can take publicly. So they're plants that you can't take too much of And they are really complementary to any kind of pharmaceutical or over the counter medicine that you might be on. They're not gonna mess up any sort of care regimen you already have. They're just a really great addition And tulsi is just this amazing or where you are able to take it every day. It works better and better in your body. It's one of the attack. Dejan the easiest to grow so dr jones are kind of medicinal herbs that is relaxing and soothing here nervous system but maybe even more importantly will actually work within your endocrine system and your hormone regulation to alter how your body responds to stress in the first place so their plants. That will help. Well you're having a stress reaction but they're also plant that the more consistently you're able to take them the more robust your response to stress will become And i think those are just such important plant for all of us have in our daily lives right now Obviously a lot is happening in the world right now and stress over time is actually really harmful to all different kinds of our bodies. Systems are nervous Our digestive system our immune system. And i think the more that we're able to support healthy stress response the better off. We are and pulpy as just such a simple way to do that. Tolsey seats he is delicious. And you can just grow one little toasty plant outside your front door on your porch and walk outside and sniff enough t to drink. Every day get their amazing and just being around the plants and with the rumors of the plants. I stress reliever yeah. It's supposed to be as one of the cornerstones of ours. Vedic medicine and indio which is just such a profound many thousands of years old way plant and human interactions and tulsi is really really revered not healing tradition for kind of being the mother of all plants and and yeah just such a special plant. I know tulsi wonderful. And i know there's a few different types you can grow. Yeah yeah so we most of what we grow in our garden is a kind. What is it called temperate polcy and so it's an annual but there's also several perennial forms of colty There's a bush fear that is originally from africa and a few different kinds of perennial tolsey from india. As well and grow they all taste really different. They hope i think pretty similar properties but it really traditional vague preparation would probably have at least three kinds of tulsi in it. Well i think we're going to be doing A whole episode on tolsey on the plant report. So if you're interested in tolsey tune into that podcast and you'll get to hear more about this amazing plant. It's one of my favorites. I have to say yeah so special. So what's another plant that you really Adore and would would suggest that people grew in their gardens. I think the other. If i could only grow to plants in my medicine garden it would probably be pulled fee and then kolenda Klenge is just so easy to grow. It will really grow anywhere will become a weed and your garden if you let it go to feed and it's just has a lot of different functions and bodies so it's really multipurpose. It's really great her first aid if you use the pedals into esteem or a bath or an oil that you would apply topically on. Your skin has a lot of really wound healing properties. The a lot of the chemistry and klenge is connected to stimulating cellular regrowth in regeneration. So it's a really good ally for healing from cut or scars or surgery And if you take it internally at has a lot of those similar properties of of supporting your body's ability to heal itself It's also a really strong and saddiq herb. Which is an important thing to include in any sort of self care or limp system is the part of our body parallel tour circulatory suspend and it's part of our bodies way of removing or flushing toxins and pathogens from our body So having plants that really support our body's ability to cleanse itself is really important for our health. I should say that i. My experience is mostly in growing east plants. And i've been able to learn so much from books and from people and the plants themselves. But i'm not clinical herbalist by any means So that clinton inside Our lymphatic system is is really interesting because it's a part of our body that's really connected to movement but doesn't actually have an organ that propels that movement if that makes sense so like our circulatory system has our heart. Our nervous system has our brain system has our lungs. The lymphatic system doesn't have a central oregon that's creating movement and so clamps are especially important at helping that because it's really important that our bodies has for expelling something harmful lendl is just an awesome immune supporting herb to. And you know what i didn't know you could take it internally because i've just made oil out of it which i love. And so for lymphatic support which you read the oil on those areas or internal internally ingested both both army thing So colangelo really great as a topical oil where you can infuse kolenda you can take the oil internally like if you infuse klenge into an olive oil for example Or you can tincture with either vinegar alcohol and and take that internally a new way to use it i love it. I have all these babies popping up all over the place. It's great. yeah yeah when you eat kolenda flowers. They're really bitter to the taste and also a clue there's this Really wonderful way of looking at herbal medicine that's called the doctrine doctrine signatures and this understanding. Where or how plants grow interacting with one another. What they look like what they taste like are all clues to how these plants can work in your body and austin a taste of bitterness is connected to our digestion and our liver so cauliflowers taste bitter which is also a clue to the fact that they're really good for your digestion again because of that kind of bright moving for interesting so i assume that you were using the fresh flowers in your medicine making or both. Yeah we also dry a lot so that we have i mean. The appeals of drying herbs. Is that then. You have access to them during the cold season so we dry a lot of kolenda. I love that plant in. It's so cheery and like you're saying the pollinators go nuts for. Yeah yeah. I just think of it like it's such little son faces and so i just think this really warming circulatory energy and what other plants Would you would. You can europe Garden so another plant. That i think of as quite essential is yaro which is native where we eleven california It was also native where i lived in grew up in north carolina. There's also a kind of yaro that is in europe It seems like a a plant that can do well in a lot of different situations. Probably not a really really hot dry climate but yaro is an awesome planted included an apothecary insects. Love it. it's actually a plant that is really attractive beneficial insects that will help keep any sort of testy insect population under control in your garden. So it's just a really good organic. Gardening practices include yaro in your planting It's also a really great plant for first aid because of able to stop bleeding really quickly Even from pretty deep cuts. So i think it's a really good plant to be able to recognize and the would and have available to you in your home garden So if you're in any sort of a situation where you need to stop bleeding quickly. The fastest easiest thing to do is just make a pull. This which basically means to match up the leaves and flowers to get some of the moisture extracted than you can chew it and stick it on a cut or use a mortar and pestle if you have a little more time But it's also a really great. Immune system herb. So it's really antibacterial antiviral which is another reason. Why it's good to apply to a fresh wound But it has that same effect taken internally as vinegar or as an alcohol t shirts really good for your immune system To kind of trigger an immune response through this kind of warming property that the plant house and so naro and you may have said this already. And i missed it. But you're using the flowers you can use the leaves and the flowers who okay good to know and then what about for colangelo the flowers flowers yep and then the tolsey is the leaf leaf and flower Yaro i didn't know i've seen it growing. I don't have any growing in my garden. So i'm definitely going to get some seeds. Yeah and it's really. It really takes over so especially if you have a place where it's allowed to spread it's really good at propagating itself. I think that's really good if you have urged that you love to utilize and you just love being around them to have plants cover the bare soil always Superior to having that soil just uncovered. Absolutely yeah yeah. And so many medicinal plants just are waiting for an excuse to take over. Oh okay so any other plants that come to mind that you dislike. Yes i want in my herb garden. Yeah i really value rosemary. So we were talking about culinary herbs it can also be medicinal and i think one of the best examples of that is rosemary Which does it. Rosemary as also from mediterranean climate so it does really well in california In a lot of other places where it rains a lot more you might actually want to keep rosemary somewhere where it stays a little drier if possible To kind of mimic that mediterranean environment. But rosemary is just aromatherapy is important and i think for me. It was kind of an underrated part of herbalism when i started learning more about sanson their actions. But i've really come to understand. That sent is just one of the ways that our bodies can shift most immediately So rosemary's has this really wonderful fragrance and is really connected to our heads and our brains so at the plant would actually brings oxygen in your blood and towards your head so it's a really great plant. Have around if you are prone to headaches for example It's also a really great plant for your immune system for that same reason just kind of shing and refreshing and re oxygenating your blood And the plant that kind of feeds your brain so we have a a formula that we make that is for mental clarity and focus and rosemary is a part that it's a it's an herb that's really connected to your mind And it's also has a lot of properties that are It's considered a nervion. Which is kind of medicinal herb that is really calming and soothing and rosemary in particular a lot of people have success treating Mild to moderate cases of depression with rosemary. That's good to know so. Yeah it's a culinary herbs that i think that most of the culinary era but it's actually also a very powerful herbal medicine. I know in that free grins. It's so lake. Pungent and strong and uplifting. So i could see how it would energy. I talk about plants for like days. It's basically that's how i ended up even doing a podcast because my partner kevin was like oh my god all you do is talk about permaculture implants when it you like. Do a radio show on it. That was like fifteen years ago. And i'm like oh my god that's a great idea. Oh so any other plans that you want to Spotlight today yeah so plant but is quite easy to grow and a lot of different climates is ostra gonda which i feel has received a lot of attention. Lately is one of the superfood herbs It is related to tomatoes and it has really similar growing requirements. So if you're in a place where it does grow pretty well. It's probably also really easy to grow. Austral gonda and i mentioned that tolsey is an herb from the arabic tradition and india and i would say offcial gonda is probably the most important healing or not tradition It's another adapted. Jim those kinds of plants. That i mentioned before that not only calm and soothe you in the moment but also shift how your body response to stress in the first place And another really sweet element about ostrogoths. Is that if you take off your gonda before you sleep. It promotes deep and restful sleep and also kind of creative or visionary dreaming so if you're trying to work more but the dreamworld in your life i should gonda is. We're really great plant for that as well so like other plants. I'm talking about a route harvest. Which is still annual. So it's a plant that you would plant in the early spring. And then once the fully ed's has died back or slow down in late fall or early winter. That's the traditional time to do route harvests. Once the growing energy of the plant was returned to the ground. So it's a plant that you're able to dig author the first year of growth And you want to. You want to dasha gonda not any later than two years after. You've clanton it because at that point the roots get pretty old and more hippies. Or they're not as potent But it's a really easy plant to save seed from again and replant every year or if you allow it to set the that will always come back in your garden. I know i love russia. Gonda what a great word. What a great name. yeah i know. There's so many plans. And i would just do you want to mention any others that you were being grow. Keep asking me another plan. But i would really recommend everyone. Growing is lemon balm it's really easy to grow. It is in the mint family which is a family where the client how the tendency to take over so be warned of that And another plant that will self seed really easily. If you it to succeed and lemon balm is you can treat it as an annual. But it's really more like a biennial so it should come back once or twice after the spring that you've plan put up It's this really beautiful electric green org and it makes a really delicious tea. And it's one of the best herbs for calming anxiety and really helping to settle your stomach and your mind and it's also a really good herb for kids it. It's really sweet tasting so kids really like to drink the tea or they'll be really into vinegar or alcohol. Tincture of lemon balm. 'cause it's really tasty So it's one of the plants that we use a lot for my eight year old niece. Who kind of get zuma's over the course of a day and have kind of a hard time winding down and being ready for sleeping at night So it's a really great herb to have around for kids in particular. That's good to know. Yeah because often herbs don't taste so good right. yeah. I feel like medicine is famous for being very intense. Pacing and lemon balm is just a delicious tea and similar to all the other plants. We've talked about really the more well other than shonda. The more you pick the leaves and flowers the more they'll grow. They all really love to be pruned. So lemon balm are lemon balm kind of goes dormant once there's one frost in our garden So we usually have lemon balm available in our garden from say early march until late november and in not time with family doing full above ground leaf our best every month. it's just an incredibly vigorous productive plant. So wonderful. I wish we could continue talking about plants for like ours. I think we really wanna talk about how you make medicine with them. But lastly is there one other plant that you feel like you wanted to mention that we didn't have time for i think the yeah. I think that's final plant. That i would consider an essential apothecary. Plant is chamomile which I feel like a lot of people. Chamomile reminds them of their grandma. Like it's just this classic sleepytime he really beautiful flower again annual but will sell the'd to come back again and again in your garden and there's these lovely delicate yellow and white flowers that use only the flower of cameo and it makes kind of bitter t. It's nice to meet with honey and again that bitterness is an indication of that connection to digestion. And it's another plant that is just really calming and mellowing to your belly and your digestive system and your mind and your nervous system. Which is why. I think why called weepy times. He because it is a plant that will kind of help your body to realize them wind down and be able to sleep. I know even talking about it makes me relaxed. Yeah it's it's just one of the most beautiful medicinal herbs to my love it and it also is Really good for your skin as well. Yeah yeah oh yeah. I'm so glad you said that. Yeah we often will make herbal oils and include that as a sav or as a face cream ingredients because it is really good for your skin. But let's talk a bit about medicine. We're raining ourselves in from continuing on with the plants and we're going to talk a bit about medicine making and so some of the ways that it sounds like the medicines that you like to make one of them that i would love to hear about his herbal. Honey's yeah yeah. Honey is the the best medium for making us son so in general if you're making a fresh tincture of anything. The general rule of thumb is a one to two ratio the one park fresh plant material to price that volume of whatever you're extracting into and that can be alcohol hyperloop alcohol that can be apple cider vinegar. It can be any kind of carrier oil. It can be honey and we make all of our medicine in big half gallon jars and so it's very easy to do. A firm firmly packed half jar of plants and then simply poor. Whatever we're extracting into to the top of the jar and honey is just everything is immense germ which is a fancy word for the the That you're using these are all preservative so it's very you can rest assured that anything that you make us. An herbal medicine will be quite long lasting But honey is just one of the best ways to take medicine. it's delicious it extracts. Really well Either if you allow the herbs to sit in honey at room temperature for a few weeks or if you're making medicine say like an offshoot. Gonda honey i would actually recommend using a double boiler and very very gently warming the honey allowed to the root herbs to infuse a little better Always be careful. Not to overheat honey. Especially if you're using a raw local honey because honey itself just has so many modeste my whole properties and is so healing on its own so wonderful and it tastes so sweet and good with the herbal edition in there with the herbal Our other favorite way to make medicine is as an optimal. So that's the non alcoholic option for tinkering where we infuse herbs into apple cider vinegar and honey and not really traditional preparation and it's so delicious. The tartness of the vinegar with the sweetness of the honey is just so yummy. I try. I bought your adapt optimal It was it was so good with tulsi in it with the honey and all right. It's kind of that opposite. Flavors that just come together so nicely and so the oxygen moles and the herbal teas and herbal vinegars are another thing that you can make tinctures all of these than do have medicinal qualities so for people who are trying to avoid alcohol. There are other choice absolutely. Yeah and then could you tell us. Is it the same rule so for an oxymoron. One part plant two parts vinegar and then you add honey at the end or do you out in the beginning. You can do both the way that we usually do it because you have to ultimately you'll have to strain the plant material out of whatever you're extracting into and it's a lot easier to strain plants out of vinegar out of honey so we usually will make appear really strong herbal vinegar and then once we've strained that which means for us Pouring through two layers of cheesecloth and then really really firmly squeezing out the herbs that remain in the cheesecloth. We'll add honey after that and it's really tear case i would say we generally do about a quarter part honey into vinegar. Yom it sounds great. And are you do when you'd make optimal or teamsters Do you combine lance or. Do you do separate you know plant you. You can really do either I love take simple. Which is what a one plant pink. Sure call it because then it feels like you really get snow with that particular plant. Feels like in your body but combinations are also really wonderful and a lot of plants just complement each other so well so you get a much more Diverse medicinal action in your body. If you're making Formula sounds like basically with the tincture. You're just using alcohol instead of the apple cider. Vinegar exactly yeah the same ratios apply So exciting and then savage or another great way in lindemans which i really like make just rub on and take in that oils as well. Right like colangelo comfy oil. I love doing that. Yeah that's a wonderful combination. Yeah yeah and i love to make south so if you make an oil and then you stick into your taste with beeswax dot a really awesome waste take medicine because your skin is your biggest oregon. Really poor us and anything that you're putting on your skin is also going into your body. All these ways of integrating the herbs into our lives are so exciting. And i know that your company recently started a flower. Csa which is really cool. i haven't heard that And so could you just tell listeners. What see for those who may not know what a is and then what made you start a flower ac- as well as the herbal csi that you offer. Yeah thank you for asking that. Csa's stand for community supported agriculture. And it this relationship. That feels really reciprocal. Because you're committing to a longer term relationship with a farm. Generally a csa is a anywhere from a you know. Eight or ten weeks to a full year commitment with a particular farm and you're agreeing to participate in cycles of Scarcity in abundance within the farming season so traditional. You don't even really get choice about what you get once a week It's really about what the farm is is abundant and at that time. So it's a really sweet way to begin to understand us analogy even if you're not able to have garden of your own and it's also a really important economic relationship for the farmer. Because it's a way of assuring that you will have this long term commitment from your customers and so with we do an herbal cfa and we do a cut flower tsa and with both of those relationships it really does feel like the people who are participating are such an important and meaningful part of the plant that we grow and so it's just it feels like a really sneak connection The flowers a we just rented a new field and started to grow cut flowers. And it's been a really lovely experience. I mean in the midst of a pandemic felt quite creepy to begin tip produce. What a part of me sees as kind of like and i say this very lovingly but more frivolous Plan but it's just been so sweet to see how important flowers and beauty are two people and Of course because of who we are also talking a lot of medicinal plants into argued case so they can have the second lices t and you know it's so nice to to source your flowers and herbs from a local grower that you can actually see their farm because often herbs can be adulterated with other things that you were mentioning earlier. They come from far away and may be stale and the same with flowers. I believe the cut. Flower industry can really Use a lot of toxins absolutely. Yeah commercial cut flower growing really poisonous and really really water intensive and just like we do with our medicinal herbs. We try to water sparingly as possible in our flower field and really challenged the plants to learn how to take care of themselves. So it's much more It's it's it's much more resource effective The i love what you just said about the plants to take care of themselves. I read an article when i was probably in my twenty years ago. And this woman was a farmer in oxnard california who was growing. She was from the philippines. I believe she was growing all of the tropical trees. That from her childhood in oxnard. The interviewer was talking about her beautiful garden. He said well. How do you get the papayas to grow here. And she said 'i stand underneath the tree with the michetti and say you don't grow the papaya down you go on. I always thought that is a different kind of plant communication. That yours is more loving. I'm sure yeah. We usually don't threaten death and so we're in a time of change right now right. We talk covert and just here in the states politically and i'm wondering what you mentioned this a bit. I think with the plants you talked about. But what right now is your go to erbil ally. Yeah i would say. Tolsey is our our biggest or It's what we drink tea every day. And it's so connected to your heart and i feel like for yeah. You mentioned the political moment here. In the united states. I feel like the the social and cultural revolution. That we're going through right now. Is really demanding that we keep our hearts really open and listen to the experiences of others and have the strength to honor those experiences and acknowledge our mistakes and pocius such an important plant for any sort of work like that. It's just such an emotionally supportive and nourishing herb. And i feel like it can really bring courage so elaine. I noticed on your website that you mentioned herbal reparations. And i'm curious if you'd want to share that with listeners. Yes so the last few months have been such a reckoning for us in the united states really reflection on both past and present moments and what we future to look like. And so my partner. Danny and i you know we're very small business. It's just the two of us and We've always wanted to farm in a way that reduces harn. So that's why. We've always chosen to farm organically and to really allow wildness to come in around the edges and signed a home gardens and we started to try to think more about what that means in the economics of our small business. And so we've always wanted to keep or herbal medicine as affordable as we can so that it can be as accessible as possible but we also realized that we want it to be much more forceful about creating the kind of world Both economically and socially that we would like to see and so we started to think a lot. More about what reparations could look like within our business model so the idea of being a part of returning resources to those in the united states from whom they were taken or stolen and herbal medicine has a long tradition of that people came and saved people came from africa with incredibly intimate knowledge of herbalism. And that was used by by plantation owners and people without credit or acknowledgment and the same per indigenous people in the united states so we really wanted to create a model within our herbal business. That reflected the huge debt that we owe to people of color in within herbalism. So it's our way of trying to return some of the resources we've been so fortunate to have access to so we've started off the herbal siesta. That we release once every other month he's started to offer a few of those at no cost to People of color both we can sick or locally and we've also just made and are about to release a formula that is specifically for the grief that bodies and our heart polls and being able to work with that greece and Release it and grow with it and that is a picture that will be either free or at really. Minimal cost to people of color. So it's just one of the ways that we feel like we could more More accurately acknowledged an honor. The the many lives that came before on. Oh i love that. That's so kind and Necessary in these times. So thank you for doing that. Oh yeah it's our it's our pleasure. It feels truly like relief that we can do so lane. It's been so much fun talking with you. I've really enjoyed it. And i wanted to remind listeners that you are online at night heron farm dot org and i'm curious if there's anything else you wanna tell us today. I don't think i would want to add you. Just want to reemphasize easy. It is to grow these plants. And even if you just have a little postage-sized stamp of their or postage-stamp sized little plot no matter how tiny or non-existent your yard is if you have a pot that you can set in sunny place in your window or on your front steps. It's so possible to grow some of these plants and they just make life much better. They do they do and it it. It's fairly easy very forgiving. Exactly they're so easy to grow. Yeah there's no reason. I feel like so often on meet people who are like. Oh i don't have a green thumb. I kill any plan. I've ever met and i'm just like you. You didn't tell that dried rosemary. To rate is very hardy. Yeah you would be able to grow it and then never get rid of it so there you go exactly well. I really appreciate you taking the time today to us about this important subject and we're all thrilled to learn from you thank you. I'm so honored. 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