• Herbs & Ingredients,  Natural Skin Care

    How to use Sage Balm

    Herbal balms are a simple, natural way to care for your skin. Similar to herbal salves which are made with oil and wax, balms also contain vegetable butter, making them extra rich and moisturizing. Balms can be used for both healing and beauty. I use them all the time for everything from daily moisturizer to gardening nicks and scrapes to seriously dry hands and feet. Garden Sage is a great herb to use topically, alone or in combination with other herbs. Because Sage has antiseptic properties, it can be used to treat cuts and wounds. Sage is also antibacterial and anti-inflammatory, and has been shown to help with acne as well as…

  • sage leaves closeup
    Herbs & Ingredients,  Recipes & How-To's

    Kitchen Herbalism: Sage

    When you think of herbal medicine, do you think of Sage? Garden Sage (Salvia officinalis), the same Sage that’s on your kitchen spice rack, is antibacterial, anticatarrhal, anti-fungal, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and antiviral. It’s thought of as “cleansing” and has been used throughout history to treat illness and wounds, but is also used as a tonic reputed to bring good health and longer life. It contains minerals and vitamins that are known to have disease preventing and health promoting properties including potassium, zinc, calcium, iron, and vitamin A. Fresh sage leaves are a good source of vitamin C. Sage stimulates cell renewal and increases blood circulation, which is why you’ll see it as an ingredient in skincare…

  • sage leaves closeup
    Herbs & Ingredients,  The Latest News

    Sage, Winter’s green

    December = Nothing to do in the garden, devouring each seed catalog as it arrives in the mail. No snow yet so I can still see some green out there including Chives, Lemon Balm, and Sage. Garden or Common Sage (Salvia officinalis) has become one of my favorite herbs since I’ve been gardening. Partly because it’s so easy to care for, I admit (Low maintenance perennials are gold, Jerry! Gold!). Sage is also really beautiful, and it’s a medicinal as well as culinary herb. If you think next I’m going to say I also adore it because bees love the flowers, you’re right! Sage makes a tea that’s especially nice this time of…

  • calendula oil
    Herbs & Ingredients,  Recipes & How-To's

    Herbal Alchemy: Calendula oil

    al·che·my: a seemingly magical process of transformation, creation, or combination. Herbal oils are a good home remedy to keep on hand, useful for everything from skin moisturizing to first aid. Infusing herbs into oil is actually a simple process, but every time I decant the resulting colorful (and sometimes fragrant) oil it seems like magic had a hand in its creation. If you’ve never tried making your own herbal oil, Mountain Rose Herbs has a helpful blog post with directions for both the solar infused and quick heat infused methods. If you’d like to try a different technique that’s closer to how true medicine makers do herbal oils, herbalist Kami McBride…

  • calendula petals in oil
    Herbs & Ingredients,  Natural Skin Care

    Calendula brings the Glow

    Cold, grey, and rainy today. I’m thinking about cozying up with one of my favorite plants, a golden beauty long associated with fire and the Sun, Calendula. Calendula officinalis is her botanical name, but she has been known by many different names including Pot Marigold, Merrybud, Marygold, Summer’s Bride, and Ruddles. Calendula’s petals, leaves, and stem contain carotenoids which are vitamin A precursors with antioxidant activity. Used topically, it’s excellent for all skin types, and especially good for sensitive, dehydrated / dry, chapped / inflamed skin, wounds and burns. I use Calendula in one of my skin care blends for its ability to improve skin’s condition by refining pores and encouraging cell renewal.…

  • Herbs & Ingredients,  In the Herb Garden

    Calendula is not (only) for you

    It’s starting to make me uncomfortable, seeing herbs described and defined by what they can do for us. And if we think they’re especially useful, they’d better watch out- we’ll hunt and gather them to extinction. Plants were not put here for people, as the old story tells. They were living on this planet for eons before we came along and were keeping pretty busy without us. Calendula flowers, for example, provide nectar and pollen for bees and butterflies. Calendula roots form active partnerships with fungi, benefitting the soil. The fact that Calendula has so many health and beauty benefits for people doesn’t mean that we have more rights to it than any…

  • Herbs & Ingredients,  Natural Skin Care

    Shades of Green

    Gathering together some of the herbs used in my salve and balm (pictured left to right: Lemongrass, Green Tea, Chickweed). Aren’t they beautiful? I love all the different shades of green. The aroma is pretty plantastic too! Seems obvious, doesn’t it, that Paradise would be plant-based and full of herbs.

  • Herbs & Ingredients

    Beautiful, Bountiful Basil

      The big heat of Summer is here, the time that Basil begins growing with beautiful bounty! We’ve just started delivering bunches to the co-op and I’m happily munching as much as I can. I’m a pretty serious Basil hound, using fresh leaves like lettuce and smearing pesto on anything I can. Good old sweet ‘Genovese’ Basil is my standard, but it’s fun having the different flavors of different varieties so we also grow ‘Lemon’ (makes an incredible sun tea), ‘Dark Opal’ (a purple-colored variety of Italian Sweet Basil), ‘Thai’ (a spicier Asian cousin that holds its flavor better when cooked with heat) and ‘Sacred’ (native to India, also called ‘Holy’ Basil or ‘Tulsi’). Basil has been traditionally used as herbal medicine, and is good…

  • essential oil bottles
    Herbs & Ingredients

    Less is More

      My journey to plantland started with aromatherapy. I cringe now thinking about how heavy-handed I used to be with essential oils. They take so much plant material to produce. And you don’t really need much for it to be effective. Less is more!

  • Rosa mundi closeup
    Herbs & Ingredients,  In the Herb Garden

    The Solstice Tide

    Summer Solstice is on June 20th this year, but you can already feel it in the air! The sky is still light at 9:00 at night and the garden is overflowing with roses. Heirloom roses are better than gold to me– they smell incredible (seriously, better than any rose scent you’ve ever smelled) and are really useful in herbal medicine. (yes, yes, you can eat them too) Today I’m using rose petals to make a richly moisturizing skin salve for my dry, cracked, achy gardening hands. Combined with red clover, violet, marshmallow, and meadowsweet, this salve will be exactly what my summertime skin needs. Happy Solstice! And remember, it’s always a good idea to salve up…