E-journal · Herbalism

Just Journaling … yarrow flowers & working on the land.

I collected a bouquet from the garden in the mountains, a place we have worked on collectively for a while now.

This place is a collaborative project and the work is on going. Here is one day, a family work day, with the help of my sister & dad collecting rocks, my mom using power tools, and myself enjoying the scent of these medicinal flowers.

In this tarot deck, Yarrow, which represents the Ace of Air also stands for affirming limits & boundaries.

From the Herbcrafter’s Tarot.
Gardening

Adventures in the Woods

Only recently I began thinking of this place as a forest. Previously it seemed to be just a forgotten corner of the farm where we are caretakers.

Now as I walk the trails we maintain I see that so many other animals benefit from them too. Our cats, of course, love to run around on the trials but so do wild (& rare) wild deer that I have only been able to catch glimpses of, guinea pigs, snakes and birds too.

Today I went out foraging for plants for my garden project – aloe vera and an ornamental purple plant called wandering dude.

Sitting on the ground and digging around I see that this “forgotten” corner of the land is full of life.

Between the invasive plants and fruit trees planted by generations past has become a natural nursery for wild herbs and native saplings – a forest of diversity for the future.

DIY Health

Grateful for the Sun

A few years ago I began to learn of about the benefits of vitamin D and the necessity of sun exposure for all humans. That was when I lived in the Pacific Northwest of the USA, in the cloudy, rainy state of Oregon. Having grown up in California where most days are sunny, moving to Oregon and living through the nearly sun-less winter affected me & my moods very profoundly. Most winters I was mildly depressed and every year got a cough or cold. Eventually I learned to cope by spending winter in sunnier locations and eventually moved away. I love Oregon and all the greenery of the PNW but, I just need sun!

Oregon winter – cold & grey. & me, cold but still being active and outdoors ~ 2012

At first it was an intuitive thing, I didnt know the specifics of vitamin D or that I was deficient. But with time I got more information about vitamin D deficiency and learned that it is very common – many natural doctors attribute low vitamin D to a variety of ailments from depression to the likelihood of illness from exposure to pathogens. Modern naturopathic research is suggesting that people with sufficient levels of vitamin D are unlikely to become seriously ill from this current pandemic as well as the common cold & flu.

So, yeah, vitamin d is important and the very best way to accumulate vitamin D is by being out in the sun without sunscreen. Sunshine is free and available (almost) all year depending on where you live. And in the depths of winter eating vitamin D rich foods or taking supplements if necessary is recommended.

Ideally we would all be able to travel a bit to catch more sun for a while during the darkest months of the year – solar pilgramages! For me, living in a place with more sunny days was the solution. For those who love where they live or don’t want to move, consider adding foods with more vitamin D to the diet and just taking time every day for sun exposure, even when it’s cold out.

Me, on a fall day, catching the last rays of sun & doing some yard chores. Spending time outdoors, in the sun and in little or no clothing is essential to a healthy and happy life, for me at least.

I’m so grateful that the sun shines, what about you?

E-journal

Garden Journal :: herbs of autumn + reading list

The autumn equinox has passed and was celebrated during many days along with my partner’s birthday on the 25th. In the garden the summer fruits like cucumber and tomato are in their last weeks while the leafy greens are being seeded for fall and winter to come.

Basil, lemon balm, and marigolds are all going strong and keeping the garden landscape beautiful during this transitional time. All around the garden in the surrounding hedge rows the trees are turning yellow and loosing their leaves. The sun has changed course and every day is at more of an angle which makes for interesting lighting and photography opportunities.

Reading List ::

As the morning sun is slowly making his way over the mountains, I am spending these chilly first hours each day with a cup of tea, often a cat (or two, or three) nearby, and a book as I continue on in my studies. I wanted to share my herbalist reading list with you all::

– Planetary Herbalism by Michael Tierra — my fav. herbal reference book ever! I go to this book again & again to check out remedies for symptoms as well as research new herbs. There are no pictures in this book, so it isnt for identifying. But what I do love about it is that this book ties western herbalism in with Traditional Chinese herbalism as well as Ayurveda. I found it via thrift books.

– del Cuerpos a las Raíces by Pabla Perez & others — this book is a bit eclectic and was originally published as a zine years ago. It contains stories, interviews, and herbal profiles about medicinal plants common all over & local to Chile. In some ways it is an ethnographical study of herbalism in rural Chile, in other ways it is quite a radical perspective of rural ladies using their herbs and their powers to heal themselves.

– Botànica Oculta : Las Plantas Mágicas — my honey gifted me this book for the New Year and it is quite fascinating. Both magical and medicinal properties are listed for each herb as well as a bit of theory about plant alchemy which is a subject I am just starting to dive into. This book is available in English & many other languages too!!

E-journal

Crafting with Moon Magick

Maybe it is the changing of the seasons. Or maybe it is the influence of the homesteading and green witch videos I have been watching lately. Either way I have been busy each day crafting, preserving, and making medicine.

Echinacea :: root medicine

Three springs ago I planted Echinacea seeds which bloomed into flowers each successive summer. Now it is fall here and I am beginning to harvest the roots because their immunity-supporting medicine is most potent after 2 or 3 years growing.

During the three days surrounding the full moon I have been preparing all kinds of medicinals – marmalade and teas and this immunity supporting tea with Echinacea roots & leaves as well as orange peel harvested in winter. In order to charge the tincture with the healing vibes of this most recent full moon in Virgo, I left the tinctures (sealed) outside in the garden to soak up the rays of the full moon.

Medicinal Marmalade

Since moving to this farm I have gotten to know a truly magical tree that lives on the edge of the woods. This tree is called Hawthorn and is abundant with medicine – flowers in the spring and bright red berries in the fall. Last spring I collected and dried a huge jar of the flowers and now I am working on recipes to encorporate the heart healing medicine of the berries.

Besides hawthorn, quince and rose hips are also in season so I made a marmalade with all three plus a little ginger & cinnamon to add some extra warmth as I we plan to eat these during the winter months.

I will post the recipe for this marmalade and pictures of the final product soon. Until then I wanted to share a few of my favorite magical channels that have been inspiring me, my herbalism practice and crafts lately:

Gardening

Garden Journal :: Late Summer Bouquets

Zinnias for happiness, Dahlias for beauty & mystery, Goldenrod to bring inside the brightness or the sun and blue sage foliage for grounding & protection.

Call it a bouquet or a sculpture made of flowers, anytime one makes art there is the possibility to infuse life with meaning 💐🌻🌼

For drying, for salads, for indoor decoration 🌿🌼 these are just some of the gifts for the garden in the magical time when summer transforms into fall.

And speaking of fall which is quickly approaching, these past few days I have been spending time each morning harvest & processing. I am drying herbs, making tomatoe sauce, and medicinals jams – trying my best to save and savor the abundance.

These hours in the morning become my own little rituals. A way to connect with the place where I live and be in the now moment, while simultaneously preparing for colder months ahead when flowers and fruit will be scarce.

Vara de Oro – Golden Rod flowers
Gardening

Garden Journal :: milpa // the three sisters 🌽🥒☀️

Since forever diverse plants have grow together and that is the way they thrive. Humans picked up on this long ago and began planting in association – some crops grow together better than others and this might change depending on where you live.

Over the years we have experimented with different combinations. First we went with the classic milpa/sisters trio of beans, squash, and corn but the beans always got lost in the under growth. This year beans were planted in the vegetable beds and here in this garden we have red corn, wild quinoa, and cayote – a kind of squash/melon native to Argentina.

It also seems important to mention that there is a lot of a plant called Spanish Needles (a “weed”) growing all around and we mostly just let it be. Spanish Needles, aka Farmer’s Friend, Bidens pilosa is an edible weed also considered a pioneer plant and builder of healthy soil. The leaves and flowers are edible too 🌿🌼

Most likely this combination will evolved and maybe next year we will try to add a few other plants, maybe amaranth and sunflowers to this plant association 🌻🌽🌱

Gardening · Herbalism

Making Herby Pesto : with wild greens and other “weeds”

Traditionally pesto is made with fresh basil leaves, nuts, olive oil & grated cheese but there are many alternative recipes that I am going to share with you in this post, including pestos made with edible weeds and garden herbs. Today I will be sharing my recipe for pesto made primarily with a common garden weed: Amor Seco or Spanish Needles – Bidens pilosa.

The recipe::

then I will explain step by step:
-1/2 cup roasted peanuts
-3 garlic cloves
-3 cups fresh Bidens pilosa or dandelion leaves
-3 sprigs of an herbs like oregano or rosemary
-3 sprigs of fresh basil or cilantro
1/2 cup olive oil or sunflower seed oil
-Optional: 6 – 8 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar (only if you will be using within thr next few days)
-1/4 cup hard cheese (like Parmesean) grated.

The process::

First I went out to the garden and picked 3 cups of fresh Amor Seco which is growing in abundance and will soon go to seed. I tried to collect mostly leaves with some flowers, avoiding the stems and stalks. The entire plant is edible but the leaves & flowers are best. Next I grabbed a few sprigs of other herbs – I chose basil and oregano but you could also pick rosemary, sage and cilantro.Back in the house I chopped the fresh leaves and put them in the blender. You can of course use a food processor or chop up the herbs super finely by hand which will take around 10 minutes.If you are using a food processor, add the greens, and all the other ingredients to the food processor little by little.If like me you have a blender and not a food processor, add the chopped greens and fill the blender with twice as much water, blend for several minutes then filter out the water with a tea filter or cheese cloth. Be sure to press the water out as much as possible. For regularl pesto with basil, a food processor is ideal but with more bitter, wild greens, blending with water helps release a bit of the bitterness without losing the nutrients or flavors.Next, toast your peanuts, pecans, pine nuts or whatever seed you wish to use.

Chop the nuts or seeds well and either add them to your food processor or – if you used a blender- to your herby paste made by the blender. Then add the oil, minced garlic and all the other spices listed in the recipe. I also like to add balsamic vinegar only when planning to eat right away or within a day or two.&& that all! I like to put the pesto in a cute ceramic bowl to accompany a variety of meals from steamed vegetables to pasta dishes – this pesto is delicious on anything!

The flowers are also edible:

And small butterflies love them too.

Gardening

In the Flowers

In a couple of weeks we will have to mow this field and transform this section into the lawn-landscape that the owner prefers. Mowing down these flowers isn’t something I am excited about but, I accept this as part of my duty as a landscaper and part of our trade for getting to live here.

So, before that time comes I wanted to appreciate and share this field of flowers as the wildlife refuge that it is 10 months out of the year:

If you want to see a bumble bee go to a standof thistles and wait.

For now this is just part of the job of a landscaper …

… that is until the permaculture revolution takes hold of this planet (once again).

E-journal · Gardening

November, December: my time in California

5 weeks in my hometown went by so quickly! I feel there is so much left to do. But, maybe this is normal for all gardeners and those who work on projects that will take years, or decades to be completed.

And the work days on Rabbit Ridge::

This year my family bought a few acres of land in the Sierra Nevada mountains of California. Back in summer I visited the land for the first time and this trip we focused on a few key projects in what will someday be a food forest and cabin.

Like so many projects I write about on this blog, this project is a work in progress and will possibly never be completely finished. I wonder if it is even possible for a food forest to be completed as the objective is to create a living and evolving ecosystem. This is all to say that this post is … to be continued!