Our herbal medicine journey has been a long time in the making, but it really started to take off in about 2012. It started with some random online learning here and there, then an online course.
I ordered my first seeds to plant in my first garden. Seeds of Change had a close out deal with a bunch of random seeds for $5, including shipping. Can't lose there right? In that bunch of seeds were some calendula flowers. Little did I know that those bright yellow flowers would create a business that we now run full time as a family.
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The very first salve I ever made was with these golden beauties. Today we are going to use them as part of an herbal oil infusion. Along with some local lavender buds and organic comfrey. Our Lavender Lemongrass Salve is popular starting in the spring, as gardeners are released from their cold, wet/snowy winter, into the soil they have been planning for all winter. The seeds come out, but so do the dry, cracked, and sore hard working hands.
You could just buy our garden salves here but why not make your own? And we are going to share with you the recipe.... the very recipe that we use to make ours down on the farm! Because after all.... give a man a fish and he eats for a day, teach a man to fish and he eats for a life time.
While we are sharing the QUICKEST method of infusing an oil with herbs, please do plan ahead as it takes 2- 5 hours of simmering on the stove. We suggest a great cup of tea, maybe our latest favorite, La Pine Licorice, and a good book while you wait.
I just learned this new fabulous way to strain oil infusions! It worked so fantastic! I don't know why I didn't think of it before. Normally I would use an unbleached cheese cloth, wait for it to strain and then squeeze it good. A French press works so much better! I highly recommend it. The oil cleans off from it just fine and its much more sustainable. It also save's money to boot! We recommend this French press here if your in the market for one. Without further ado, the recipe for infusing garden salve oil - which you will need to make the rest of the garden salve recipe.
Garden Salve Infused Oil
Makes approx. 1 cup
1 cup Organic Olive Oil 1/4 cup dried Organic Calendula flowers
1/8 cup dried Organic Lavender Buds 1/8 cup dried Organic Comfrey
1.) Add olive oil, dried organic calendula flowers, dried lavender buds, dried organic comfrey oil to a double boiler.
2.) Infuse on stove top 2-5 hours.
3.) Strain using an unbleached cheese cloth or French press.
SEE The Recipe
Now that you have your garden salve oil infused we are ready to roll the salve making process. I start by getting my work area cleaned up, washed down and then covered with some dry paper that can be tossed when I'm done. If wax is spilled on here its easily cleaned up and makes a great fire starter. Make sure to dust out those tins too... some times they get little things that settle in them while in storage.
Once you are set grab your pour pot, we use this one and hope to add this one soon. Add your newly infused oil (measurements below in recipe), bees wax, coconut oil and cocoa or shea butter.
It's time to heat the mixture up on the double boiler. Heat until your oils and bees wax have melted. Give it a good stir to incorporate it. Next add your essential oils. You want to add these at the VERY end so that the heat doesn't evaporate them out of your salve before you pour it. If something comes up and you need to step aside. Leave the oils simmering on the stove and place the essential oils in the mixture when you get back. A little extra cook time won't hurt your oil and bees wax. After your essential oils are added give it a good stir with a wooden skewer or some other non-metal utensils reserved for working with bees wax. Pour your salve into it's new containers and let cool. After they cooled place the lid on top and make sure to label with the ingredients as well as the intent of use and any precautions.
Lavender Lemongrass Garden Salve
Makes approx. 6.5 oz (6- 1 oz tins, 3 -2 oz tins)
1/2 Cup Infused Olive Oil 1.25 oz (1/4 c. pellets) Bees Wax
1.1 oz (1/8 c.) Organic Coconut Oil .20 oz (3/4 tsp.) Cocoa Butter
10 drops Lavender Essential Oil 5 drops Lemongrass Essential Oil
1.) Add infused oil, coconut oil, bees wax and coco butter to double boiler, reserving essential oils for later.
2.) Melt on medium high heat until all the oils and wax are throughly melted. Time will vary according to how thick the bees wax is (ex. bricks of bees wax vs. pellets).
3.) Prepare and set out containers salve will be poured into. Metal tins or heat resistant glass are best. Some ideas might be: small canning jars, metal tins, other containers designed for beauty care products.
4.) Once oils and wax are throughly melted, stir well with wooden skewer or some other non metal utensil reserved for bees wax projects.
5.)Add lavender and lemongrass essential oils. Stir essential oils in well.
6.) Pour carefully into selected salve containers. Let cool. Place lids on cooled salve and label with ingredients and intended salve use.
What can you grow on 2 acres? We're on a mission to find out from tomatoes to green beans and chamomile to borage. We have plans to make use of every bit of our land to grow edibles to feed our family and our tea customers tea cabinet.
This year we planted a test plot of borage and it did super well! What is borage? Its a plant that tastes like a cucumber but has beautiful blue star shaped flowers. We are sharing our harvest and more details about this bee attracting plant in this weeks youtube video! Check it out below!
We missed a week of videos! Our apologies! We had our computer die on us and spent the week replacing it and then re-doing files that were lost. We are slowly getting things put back together.
How did your week go? Are you enjoying the fall weather? Hopefully there has been a bit of sunshine your way! It seems like we have had big dark clouds pouring huge amounts of rain on us. So much that it actually left a trench down our drive way.
Today though, it was beautiful, it was perfect out there. Not too hot and not too cold which bright blue skies and sunshine! A great day to get this tincture made before our milky oats start forming viable oat seed, drying out and being more useful for chickens than medicine.
Milk oats are the green seed starts on top of oats when they sprout. We blend oats into our chicken's feed and for what ever reason they left a bunch out in the garden. They buried them as they scratched around. When we planted our zucchini the oats in that area sprouted up. So while we didn't put them there or intend them to be there we are turning this problem into a solution.
Milky oats are great for feeding the nervous system, providing support during stressful times and situations as well as helping out during times of depression. These situations may be long term or just short term stress. Milky oats help with mood issues and assist with sleepless nights. They help the body cope and adjust to changing situations. Milky oats can help balance the endocrine system, and assist skin issues.
When making a tincture the alcohol helps to pull out the chemicals (known as constituents) from the herb and making it more potent. The tincture is then taken by dropper-fuls according to each persons situation and as needed. Its a handy little tincture to have around. Directions in video below and full recipe below video.
Milky Oats Tincture Recipe
1.5 cups Milky Oats (green oats not forming a viable seed)
2.4-4 cups Vodka 80 proof or higher
1.) Remove milky oats from oat stem.
2.) Pat dry if necessary.
3.) Process in food processor with 1/2 cup of vodka to break up the milky oats a little so that they tincture easier and stronger.
4.) Pour processed oats and vodka in a pint jar.
5.) Top off with remaining vodka to fill jar. Place lid on and tighten.
6.) Shake it up so that the vodka gets around all of your Milky Oats.
7.) Label jar with ingredients and ratio of ingredients. Also with the date you made it and/or the date it will be done. Tinctures are best after 6 weeks or more.
8.) After 6 weeks strain out the milky oats and tincture is ready to use. Store in amber tincture bottle and/or canning jar out of direct sunlight in a cool place.
BRRRR! How is the weather where you are?
Here..... well, its almost freezing! We seemed to have about a week of fall and then the winter switch got flipped. 30 miles from us it was snowing! Fall on the farm means getting ready for winter. We seem to be having troubles keeping up with that here.
This week though we brought in some herbs from our greenhouse and garden so that we could have some during the winter to use fresh in cooking and in making tea. Lemon balm, anise hyssop, rosemary and chamomile.
While at a second hand store I found these adorable tea cups with herbs all along them and thought what better use than to put herbs in them too.
Below is a short tutorial and video on how to make your very own! Just plant - even if its in a tea cup and in your kitchen. Its a space everyone can have a little living green in their home and there is nothing like fresh herbs in cooking or in your tea pot! Cheers!
Tea Cup Kitchen Garden
What you need:
1 tea cup, coffee mug, or small pot of choice
1 small plant per cup, mug or pot
1/4 cup or so of a well drained potting mix (something with peet moss and vermiculite is great!)
Handful of small gravel, small river rock or other similar material
1.) Fill container (cup, mug or pot) about 1/8 to 1/4 full of your rock of choice. The smaller the better. The rock is going to drain the water so that the roots don't sit in water and rot. Sand works also and some research also says that adding some activated charchol will really help with the drainage.
2.) Place plant on top of the rock inside your container of choice, making sure any roots are pointed downward.
3.) Add soil mix around the plant so that the plant stands up.
4.) Water a little tiny bit not more than 1 tsp for a small cup. Decorate the top with remaining rocks if you wish.
trouble shooting drainage issues
- Remove plant and planting material. Drill a small hole with a dremel and diamond bit. Repot as before. Make sure to put a plate or other water catch under your cup.
- Change up the soil adding more sand and peet moss to help with draining.
- Make sure your plant is the right size for your container. You may need a larger container or smaller pot.
I'm smiling because even though its really, really hot, muggy and the sky is filled with thick smoke these zinnia's are still beautiful. They make me happy every time I see them. Do you want to know why?
These beauties all came from a little packet of seed. Of course you say... all flowers come from seed. You see this gal grew up just outside of the city, while my mom had a tiny garden once or twice, and the fruit trees that came with the property, it wasn't until I met my Farmer that I really grew anything. In fact I KILLED EVERY HOUSE PLANT that came in my reach. I didn't bother planting anything at all, inside or out.
But there was this one book that lit a spark, and then the health needs of my family and myself. And then this deal on a packet or organic seeds and an ABUNDANCE of beautiful flowers. No they were not these flowers but these ones are growing just as abundantly. And SO many different colors! They are just beautiful, and useful, and make the garden and the house look pretty. And I didn't kill them.
These little flowers are a proof that if you keep trying eventually that black thumb will turn green. By the way I still kill every plant in the house, so I stick to my outdoor plants.
In-between these flowers are some lemon balm, its there hiding and grows much slower than the flowers. Today though, we were running low on lemon balm tincture. Those little bottles (1 oz) don't go very far and they are super expensive at $12 a bottle.
$2 for lemon balm seed, a mason jar and a few dollars of vodka net me a whole canning jar full of tincture with plenty of lemon balm for a few flavorful dishes in the kitchen. Join me in this video as I walk you though our process of harvesting lemon balm and how to use it. Recipes are typed out below the video.
Lemon Balm Tincture
1 C. Fresh Lemon Balm, Chopped
2+ C. 80-100 proof quality Vodka
1 small canning jar and a lid
Gather your lemon balm removing the stems from the leaves. Chop the leaves up to release the oils better in the lemon balm. Fill your jar half way up with lemon balm. More is always better than less but you want plenty of room for the leaves to move around. Fill the jar the rest of the way with your vodka. Place the lid on the top and make sure to label it not jus with the name of the tincture but also the ingredients and the date that it was made. If you want you could add the date that it should be finished to the top also. I love to use a dry erase marker paired with a white plastic reusable canning lid. Give it a good shake to mix it up and then place in a cool dark spot for 6-8 weeks. Give it a good shake once a week to make sure the alcohol is getting all the way around the leaves.
Lemon Balm Cream Cheese
1 C. Organic Probiotic Cream Cheese
2 Tbl. Lemon Balm
Let cream cheese soften at room temperature. Chop 2 Tbl. of lemon balm and mix into cream cheese. Its great on fruit, toast or anything else you might use cream cheese on. Sweeten it to make a great desert toping.
Lemon Balm topped fruit
1 C. fruit of choice (we used a peach, watermelon would also be great!0
1 Tbl. lemon balm, chopped
Sprinkle lemon balm over fruit of choice. Fruit salad would be great also!
Fresh Lemon Balm Tea
2 Tbl. Fresh Lemon Balm, chopped
6 oz boiling water
Place chopped lemon balm in a french press, tea ball or directly in cup. Pour hot water over and let steep for 3-7 minutes or to taste. Strain leaves from water and enjoy!
We started this gardening journey with putting our chickens in the garden to till it up, yet before even that we took you along with us as we built our chicken tractor, chickshaw, chicken thing. Then we had you with us as we built our soil block trays, showed you our soil blocking method and planted our seed. Its time to move those babies out to the garden and watch them grow! Join us this week as we move our basil out with the tomatoes. Soon we will be adding herbs for tea and for culinary use including chamomile, tarragon, lemon balm and more! Join us every step of the way as we share the happenings of the farm with you once a week on Youtube!
Thanks for being part of our farm family! Cheers!
Seed Panting season.... check. Packet of seeds.... check. Water.... check... soil to plant them in check....
How come it is that I plant ALL these seeds and only half of them come up. Now I have to replant. How come it is that I have to thin all these seeds that do come up and just toss them to the animals? What a waste.
Enter soil boxes and soil blocking. No more wasted seed, no more wondering if they are going to come up or not. Join us on our YouTube channel this week to learn how to mix soil blocking mix to use in your soil blocking trays we made last week. Elliot Coleman style. Who is he you ask? He is THE Organic gardener who has this growing thing down pat. He grows year around in Maine and has been for years, he makes a great living growing things in the snow. And his secret? Getting those seeds a good start. Lets get planting!
Bachelor Buttons. Chamomile. Green Beans. Squash. Basil. Lots of Basil.
There is so much going on in our green house that I ran out of seed trays to start our garden seeds. Our garden space has been tilled and weeded by the chickens and is waiting the machine till to straighten it out before we start planting, amending and mulching. Gardening season is truly here and even more so this year down on our farm! We have started expanding the herbs that we grow so that we can bring you even fresher tea and more local tea than we have been the last three years.
You too can grow your own food and tea! We would love to help! This weeks video is on how to make your own seed planting trays. These guys save you on money for so many reason!
#1 They are reusable
#2 They old up better than the black plastic ones
#3 You use less seed because you don't have to thin out plants when you use this method.
Check out the video and we will have an additional one on how to do the soil blocking early next week. Have a fantastic weekend and keep on growing!
Do you know that person who lives in a tiny duplex in town and grows their own food in their tiny back yard? No? Don't have one of those huh? Well we use to be that family until we were blessed with almost 2 acres of our own. Now not only do we hand blend tea on our farm using the best that Oregon has to offer but we make an effort to grow as much of our own food as possible.
From eggs, to lamb to produce and beyond. This week we are taking you around our farm to show you what has been 'springing' up! Thanks for stopping by and checking out our virtual tour. Maybe some day you will be growing your own food too! We would love to have you join our journey!
Do you already garden or raise animals for food? Share with us in the comments, we would love to chat about it!
Last week we built a portable chicken coop and this week on our Farm Channel we are putting the chickens in their new area surrounded by electric poultry netting. They will till, fertilize and debug the space for our future tea garden. Check it out below!
Welcome to our Family Tea Farm!
Howdy from our farm to your home! It is said that the, "farm is the nursery of the family," and that "the family is the nursery of the nation." We hope you enjoy your visit to our blog as we share with you the happenings on our little "nursery". Thank you for following us on our journey and watching us GROW! Read more about our farm HERE.
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