• Tea bud and leaves. Tea plantations, Sri Lanka
    Herbs & Ingredients

    Tea, before the cuppa

    Have you ever seen Tea (Camellia sinensis) growing? I never realized the Tea plant is an evergreen shrub (to small tree) that can be harvested for 40-100 years, depending on the variety. The young shoots, leaves and buds, are usually picked by hand as machinery is too rough on the tender leaves and may damage them. There are four basic categories of Tea- white, green, oolong, and black-  and each uses a different method of processing after harvest for its different qualities. For green Tea, the leaves are quickly heated, either steamed or pan-fried, then dried to prevent oxidation of the leaves. This allows the Tea to retain its green…

  • closeup of jerusalem artichoke flowers
    In the Herb Garden

    Perennial sunflowers you can eat

    Our last harvest of the year, Sunchoke (Helianthus tuberosus, also called Jerusalem artichoke). A species of sunflower native to eastern North America, Sunchokes were originally cultivated as a food source by Native Americans. Their tubers can be dug until the ground freezes and with proper storage can last through Winter. Europeans must’ve really taken to Sunchokes after trying them during the colonization of the east coast. They were shipped back home and are now more commonly eaten there than they are here in the states. Normally tan/brown-skinned, we grow a variety that was bred in France to have red skin with fewer bumps. “Tompinambour” is the French name for Sunchoke-…

  • ripe mangoes on a tree
    Herbs & Ingredients,  Natural Skin Care

    The answer? Mango butter.

    When you want one effective, natural bodycare ingredient that can be used many different ways, most people think of Shea butter, right? But if you have nut or latex allergies, you probably steer clear as Shea butter has been known to cause reaction. A perfect substitute is Mango butter, the fatty acid that’s expeller-pressed from the seeds of mangoes. Similar to Shea butter, it’s semi-solid at room temperature and melts on contact with skin, quickly adding moisture to soften and soothe without feeling greasy. (–> here’s a cool video showing a woman breaking open a mango seed and scooping out the butter- unfortunately, I don’t see a way to get subtitles…

  • clawfoot bathtub
    Herbs & Ingredients,  Natural Skin Care

    Immerse Yourself in Plant World

    Guess we need reminding, since life can be so distractingly busy: To be healthy, we need to spend time outdoors. Nature is good for you, and many studies have been done to lend scientific proof. This article, “How Nature is good for our health and happiness“, explores a 30-day study where people felt better both physically and mentally after being outside every day. It also talks about how feeling that connection to Nature motivates people to protect it, helping the health of the environment. But what can you do when you’re stressed, frazzled, grumpy, overwhelmed or burnt out, and seriously do not have the time or energy to get out…

  • In the Herb Garden

    Is there a Hoophouse under that Cucumber vine?

    Yes, wow! Bolivian Cucumber (‘Achocha’ or ‘Caihua’) grows like no cucumber I’ve ever seen. Planted on one side of the hoophouse, it grew across the top to the other side, then out both sides and over the top on the outside. We’d never heard of Bolivian Cucumber (native to Bolivia/Peru) until we were given a few seeds last year. We grew them this year for fun, just to check it out, having no idea what a beautiful monster it would grow up to be. So vigorous! Covered in flowers which attracted all kinds of insects, then loaded with little cucumbers. It slowed down during the heat of Summer luckily, or we’d…

  • The Latest News

    50% off Gardener’s Salve

    Gardener’s Salve, for the dry, chapped, cracked, or irritated skin of working hands. I’m updating this blend but have a few of the original left in stock, so I’m offering them at half-off regular price: $10.00 each while they last! Packaged in a recyclable tin that was manufactured in the U.S. 1.75 oz (50 g) net wt.  — Ingredients — White Sage*: Anti-fungal, antibiotic, anti-inflammatory. Comfrey^: Helps promote growth of new skin cells. Echinacea^: Antibacterial, antibiotic, and anti-inflammatory. Plaintain*: Soothes inflammation and accelerates healing of wounds. Meadowsweet*: Helps relieve muscle and joint pain. Extra Virgin Olive Oil*: Conditions and moisturizes. Virgin Coconut Oil*!: Highly emollient and moisturizing. Watermelon Seed Oil: Light textured, highly moisturizing and emollient. Candelilla Wax: Vegan substitute for…

  • closeup of bright yellow st. johnswort flowers
    Herbs & Ingredients,  Recipes & How-To's

    Surviving the change of season

    A belated Happy Autumn to you! And as if I wasn’t already feeling low enough about Summer’s end, the season change has brought me a throat virus. My throat is like my early-warning signal . When I start getting run down, a sore throat is always the first symptom. If I pay attention to it (start going to bed on time, make sure I’m eating well, load up on herbal tea with elderberry syrup, take a hot soak in the tub), it usually resolves without becoming anything more than a sore throat. But if I don’t pay attention and let it go for a couple days… Well, it worsens and…

  • Natural Skin Care,  The Latest News

    Everything balm for everybody

    Been working on new labels and new photos for our farm-made skin balms. Hope I’m heading in the right direction with “everything” balms. Just seems like if you have to buy one product for your face, another for your cuticles, another for your feet (etc,), the only one getting real benefit is the manufacturer. I like keeping things simple, and would rather have one product I can use for everything. So I’ve designed these balms to soothe and protect *all* your skin—face, hands, cuticles, elbows, knees, legs, and feet. And coming soon is a new blend that will be aroma-free, containing no essential oils. Then we’ll have an everything balm for…

  • assortment of herbs with mortar and pestle
    Herbs & Ingredients,  Natural Skin Care,  The Latest News

    There she goes (reformulating) again

    Maybe I make it harder than it has to be. But, you know, I want my skincare creations to be perfect and for me that means ingredients that are organic, fair trade, and from as close to home as possible. Which means I have to say goodbye to Watermelon seed oil. I’m hooked on this oil! It’s light, it’s nutritious, so beautiful and so good for skin. Unfortunately, I can’t find it organic. So I’m reformulating my balm recipes and bringing in organic Safflower oil and organic virgin Sunflower oil, two lovely oils I’ve worked with before but kindof forgot as I got caught up with the more exotic options.…

  • In the Herb Garden

    Bee Balm harvest, Happy farmer!

    A life-changing event happened for me a few weeks ago. Herbalist Tony(a) Lemos (director of Blazing Star Herbal School) saw my photo of a Bee Balm plant I’d identified as having powdery mildew and told me I was mistaken. It wasn’t the disease powdery mildew but part of the natural leaf pattern and perfectly fine to use. It took me a little while to process this. Actually, my brain is still turning it over. For years I’ve been rushing to get what Bee Balm I could harvested before what I called “the funk” (whitish spotting) appeared on the leaves. Then, I’d chop the plant down. To think I’ve been wasting…