Herbalism

Learning from the Herbs

What was the first plant you connected with?

Personally, I am super grateful for the common herbs for being my introduction to gardening.

Especially I thank the “gateway” herb – Marijuana who opened my eyes to the plant path and widen my conciousness to include all life as beings.

Even the most common herbs: basil, rosemary, and sage (as pictured here) have much wisdom to share.

The best way to learn is by interacting with the plants themselves: harvesting, drying, and using them in meals. Luckily these three herbs are easy to grow & found in nurseries and gardens just about everywhere.

Other tools, like books, classes (both in person & online) and walks with an herbalist friend are also important to the practice of learning. Here are three of my favorite and most used books:

So, let me know, what plants introduced you to gardening and/or herbalism. Leave a 💚 of it was cannabis too 🌿… Here are a few of the responses I got over on my Instagram page:

E-journal

Firewood

Leaving the forest for a little while, a trip to my homelands called me away — But I’ll be back.

Just before leaving we began dreaming up plans: little projects of sharing this space and transforming the forest we caretake, us & others.

So here I am, collecting wood and taking walks along with my best friends in these Sierras, cats & kids included on the bestie list, of course!

More than simply collecting wood and appreciating the scenery, we are learning to actively participate in the ecosystem that surrounds us.
We are also planting seeds for future projects.

Mystery seeds that we aren’t sure exactly what they will grow into, yet 🌱

Travel Log

Natural Building

Flashback to Mexico, 2016 when I was had first contact with buidling with natural materials.

The mediums was cob, a mix of sand, clay and straw and remains my favorite building technique to this day.

I documented the experience in a zine I had at the time which was my collage-travel-log of woofing in central America.

Soon after I met Jona who taught me a lot more about building with Earth & many other things. Together we embarked on a long long journey which ever continues!

Photographs taken by Jona // Huertos Presentes of our last big bioconstruccion project in Argentina ~2019
~2019 — installing windows and using recycled bottles in cob walls.

After a few year break we began again to build with cob to improve the wood stove we use to heat our house – it is still a work in progress but you can see how it is going::

Have you ever built with cob? Let me know about your experiences in the comments 💛☀️

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

Weaving with Willow 🌿

Basket making is a future goal though during the herb-drying season, woven trays are super useful! I really have to thank this instagram and tumblr for filling my feed with endless inspiration for artistic and useful projects using materials made directly from nature. It is a funny thing, that social media reminded me of something so ancestral: making use and making useful things with the resources that grow naturally around us. 🌳

Online you can find all kinds of tutorials for making baskets but I always go with this wild weave – this one is new and needs to dry but the ones I made last summer are holding up just fine. All you need is lots of fresh willow and time.

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).

Gardening

Forest Gardens :: a never-ending work in progress

I have been blessed to have had the chance to be a part of two food forests in the past few years. One of them, the forest garden I will focus on for this blog post, is a collaborative garden in my parent’s backyard. Over the years my mom and I have planted a small medicinal garden and orchard in this suburban setting. It is our familial food forest and a constant project with no clear end.


I call it a food forest or a front yard – backyard garden but we certainly don’t grow all of the food we need in this space, no way! We started gardening in this suburban yard three years ago, we’ve planted fruit trees, herbs, and tended to the trees already going here and have lots of plans for future additions.


The previous owners composted, planted roses and installed a creative rainwater encashment system that diverts all the rainwater from the roof directly into the soil instead of the sewer as most homes in the area were designed to do. All of these remains and two greywater systems have also been added to the water-wise landscaping. More than anything we have planted and seeded perennials, both native and adapted plants to green the landscape, provide shade for humans, shelter for animals and medicinal that we use in many ways.


The success of this garden, as with any garden, depends on working with the landscape, adapting to the conditions of hte climate & making small, thoughtful changes. Not all gardener’s work in this fashion, others may prefer to destroy everything, plow, flatten, and begin with a fresh (though desolate) slate. But that wouldn’t be forest gardening.


Forests grow in layers, by building upon what is already there. Forest grow out of the compost of fallen logs and leaves. The soil at a forest’s floor is plowed by insects, birds and mammals who bury seeds for later. Humans are seed burying creatures too and can be an integral membr of the forest (or garden) too, if we choose to be. Learning how to be a part of a garden, instead of master of the garde, is a life ong learning experience.


For both my Mom and I the lessons of tending to this garden have been unique. My mom has learned to live with the sometimes untidy look of a well mulched garden and the transition from a purely ornamental to a functional, medicinal space. Many decorative plants remain and that has been my personal challenge, to learn to appreciate ornamental plants that have no culinary or medicinal use. With time I’ve come to appreciate that decoration and beauty are medicine for the eyes and soul. I’ve learned that any garden design must include beautiful flowers and foliage in amongst the medicinal and edibles.


Of course there are many edible, medicinal flowers like nasturtium, lavender, roses, calendula and much more. And even non-edible flowers like hydrangeas have a climate enhancing effect when planted in a garden. Most flowers are useful in flower arrangements. Bouquets make a thoughtful gift and the production of organic cut flowers has been a positive side-gig for many gardeners over the centuries.

Gardening

The Gardener’s Path

Everywhere I go, I want to be close to a garden – and, hopefully – interacting with that garden in some way. But sometimes I get too plant-minded and end up ignoring the humans around me. Slowly, I am working on that, learning to come out of my shell and bring others into the garden.

This weekend I had the opportunity to work with my closest family members on a terrace garden and pathway. My mom and I worked on the terraces themselves and my sister and dad focused on bringing materials from downhill with the help of a wagon.

By the end of the day I was very impressed with how much got done as a result of this teamwork.

And am making plans for another family work party on the land soon! Next time we hope to plant some native & drought resistant herbs!!

This post, just like this blog, is an ongoing project and always being revised and updated. On that note, I will be updating this post soon with more pictures & paragraphs on gardening soon.