Posts Tagged ‘Spring’

Hello to all my fellow bloggers out there! I’m sure everyone has now heard of the gigantic storm that has ravaged the south, over 150 tornado reports are spread across 5 states over the last 24 hours. Everyone is O.k here in our neck of the woods, although we had a good scare last night with at least 5 tornadoes in our vicinity. Last night found Bear and I out in the midst of the rain, wind and lightning  trying to strap down the solar panels that had been conveniently forgotten until then! I must say that was not the best experience of my life, I kept telling Bear that if a Tornado was to come thru, a few straps on a board would probably only serve as more shrapnel, but he was quite insistent that we risk our lives at 12:00 at night amongst the strobe light like display occurring all around us…what fun. Later that night, after various phone calls with minute by minute updates on the various tornado’s paths, we rushed to a neighbor’s house to borrow their basement after hearing that one of them was about ten minuets away. That had to be the most amusing tornado warning I’ve ever been through, what with being huddled next to a bow flex with three kids, two dogs and our aunt, uncle and cousin who didn’t get to the shelter until about five minutes After the warning was over! Jokes were flying, dogs were cuddled up against the children and the five year old boy seemed to want to lasso the tornado and ride it to school the next day!(he even had a rope!) When we finally figured out the danger was over (it took a while because we didn’t see the radio sitting in the middle of the floor until we were about to leave), we made our way out to the car in the yet again pouring rain, only to find it locked! After about a minute and a half of trying to unlock the car, we finally made it home soaking wet and exhausted! What a night!

Now, on a more somber note,  I must stop here to mention with great respect a local hero whom I still don’t know the name of. Last night around 11:00 pm a 21 year old girl stopped by the home of an elderly gentleman who had been incapacitated with a stroke. Because of the coming storms, she chose to sit with him throughout the night in his single wide trailer. Their bodies were found earlier this morning in the tiny bathroom that was all that was left of the structure. Our hearts go out to the family of this brave young woman, who comforted her friend until the end. If I ever find out the name of this generous girl I’ll be sure to post it here so that her story will not be forgotten.  

Alright, onto the surprise! Though this was definitely not the way I pictured this reveal, I can’t hold it off any longer, that just wouldn’t be fair! So, without further adieu, I present to you RavenOak Medicinals, an Etsy shop dedicated to the health and wellbeing of both people and the planet! The farm is finally coming together, and with it comes a bounty of both wild and cultivated herbs just asking to be made up into teas, tinctures, vinegars and brews! I’m proud to share with you the first small line of health giving products becoming available at    http://www.etsy.com/shop/RavenOakMedicinals . 

Hops and Chamomile in my Sweet Dreams Tea


Garlic Vinegar is macerating now and will soon become availible for purchase for those of you who dont wish to try the recipe at home. A Blend of Yellow Dock and Dandelion in Apple Cidar Vinegar. Cleansing and Nourishing to the body!


All of my packaging is made from either recycleable, reusable or Completely Compostable materials , why not extend the No Trash Zone to hoseholds everywhere!


My Spring Tonic Tea is delicious chilled and served with a sprig of fresh mint! Cleansing and Tonifying to the body!



 YaY! Now I can check one more item off of my New Year’s Resolutions list! And, since I’m so excited about this, anyone who leaves a comment on this post and shoots me an e-mail with your address within the next two or three days will receive a Free Sample of my Spring Tonic Tea! Consider it a thank you for putting up with my erratic posting and crazy procrastination!


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Spring is in Full Bloom...

….Entertaining visitors, brewing teas, planting(and planning) gardens, a little baking and spring cleaning makes for a very busy couple of weeks! Spring is now upon us in full and with it the crazy Georgia storms blowing swiftly through the state. Tulips and late Daffodils are blooming as well as a plethora of wild fruits (such as Blackberries and Dewberries) and wild mustards, only to be battered by the gusting winds and driving rains. Never fear, however, though it may look brutal, Mother Nature knows exactly what she’s doing! It seems this Spring is going to prove to be both productive and plentiful…Which brings me to the topic of this post.

Due to a very large (Surprise!) project, the posts may become somewhat erratic. As you may know, I have to chase down an Internet signal at various cafes and I’m sad to admit, sometimes a Mcdonolds. So, seeing as how I will be working very hard on my super amazing Surprise project, I may not have the time to find that elusive Internet signal. I apologize in advance for any inconvenience this may cause, but never fear! Boredom shall not find you for there are plenty of talented Bloggers out there (remember my links page?),check them out in the case of my absence and you will not be disappointed! Until next time…y’all have a great day!


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I must sincerely apologize for the complete lack of my normal Saturday post! The end of the week proved to hail a whirlwind of activity and the blessing of the company of old friends. To be quite honest, I must admit that on Friday evening I stayed up until about 6:30 in the A.M, I really felt like I was in High School again! Then Sunday showed my home full of the laughter of both children and men (you know they act like kids most days anyway;) and my new stove got broken in in a most appropriate way for a homestead…two whole batches of cookies!-all of which were consumed within the hour:)

But now I shall make up for it with this collection of wild medicinal (and of course edible!) plants, all of which can be found growing throughout the wilds of Georgia and I’m sure most of the southeast! I also had the pleasure of taking a wild weed walk in my mom’s Secret Gardens, so these pictures are a culmination of both her homestead and mine. So once again, won’t you join me on the farm, and in my mother’s gardens as we walk with heads pointed down to the ground exploring the bounty of our lawns!

The first in the series is common in most areas of the country in one form or another- Chickweed! This diminutive plant is both edible and medicinal in nature; having the properties to Treat coughs, hoarseness, constipation, kidney related disorders, and is now revealing itself as an effective antihistamine! With a whole host of vitamins and minerals including Ascorbic-acid, Beta-carotene, Calcium, Coumarins, Genistein, Gamma-linolenic-acid, Flavonoids, Hentriacontanol, Magnesium, Niacin, Oleic-acid, Potassium, Riboflavin, Rutin, Selenium, Triterpenoid saponins, Thiamin, and Zinc, this plant is a treasure waiting to be discovered!

























One easy way to identify chickweed is the tiny star shaped flowers, which upon closer inspection reveals instead of ten petals, five deeply cleft petals. It also has a line of hair running along a creeping purplish green stem, this particular variety is called mouse-eared chickweed, and is fuzzier than the variety shown above.


















This beautiful weed is called Ground Ivy, it makes a lush green ground cover and grows in areas grass doesn't like...but be careful, it's related to the mint family and tends to take over! Thankfully, it's medicinal and edible so it adds greatly to the useful lawn. It makes an excellent spring tonic, aiding in relieving congestion and inflammation of mucous membranes associated with colds, flu, and sinusitis, stimulating the appetite, treating allergies, digestive disorders, gastritis, acid indigestion, and diarrhea. These are just a few of it's many benefits. It is also an appetizing salad and soup green adding a great host of nutrients to the meal!






















Since it is a member of the mint family, it's stem is square, hairy and creeps along the ground forming a mat, it's leaves are heart shaped and scalloped. The leaves, stems and flowers can be harvested year round, since it is a perennial.
















Do not, under any circumstances, confuse ground ivy with this plant! This is called Delphinium and is very poisonous!some distinct differences include the serrated leaves, rather than lobed, and the more compact nature of the entire plant instead of the creeping nature of Ground Ivy. Remember, always properly identify before you even touch a plant, let alone harvest it!


















Despite appearances, no this is not a strawberry leaf! This ancient plant is called cinquefoil, otherwise known as Five Finger Grass. Purely medicinal in nature (I tried a leaf and neither the texture nor taste is appetizing in the least, so, though you could probably eat it as a salad green...well, let's just say I told ya so 😉 It's medicinal uses include treating Diarrhea, Menstrual Cramps, Mouth Inflammation, PMS, Sore throat and used as an astringent skin wash. In the old days, this herb was almost considered a 'cure all', it's scientific name; 'Potentilla' can attest to that...see 'Potent' in its very Latin origins!





















A close-up of this precious groundcover, notice the five serrated leaves on a single axis.











Hmmmm....is this one of those 'what is this' closeup pictures you sometimes find in the back of a magazine? Nope! This is a most amazing resin from a very common plant...the Pine! Members of the Pine Family grow almost everywhere in America and most, if not all, are medicinally interchangeable to varying degrees of success. The Native Americans used this as a very valuable food supply in the winter when fresh vegetables were scarce. Because of it's very high vitamin C content, it's very useful in treating scurvy; the severe vitamin C deficiency commonly found in malnourished countries.





















Another amazing quality of Pine sap (and pine needles) is it's ability to treat just about any form of influenza, and though I've not come across a case, I'm almost certain even the bird or swine flu could not stand up to this resin's healing properties! More research is defiantly required in this area and if you come across any vases I would be delighted if you shared! On another note, pine sap also makes an amazing healing and drawing poultice for splinters, glass, spider bites and other small wounds. There are a great many old-timey pine sap slave recipes out there so I'll not take up more space with another one, simply know the knowledge is there for the taking!





















I was overjoyed to recently learn (from my brilliant mom:), that this curious looking wild plant I've been wondering about for over a year now is actually the ancient healer Fumitory! This beautiful little plant has been used in medicine for thousands of years and just it's name brings images of monastery cottage gardens, ancient monks tending the healing plants in times such as King Arthur and Robin Hood lived! Many times I'm sure the smoke of this plant has graced the halls of catholic churches and has even been used to purify sick rooms and quarantine areas!




















Internally, Fumitory is useful as a digestive tonic, treating gall bladder and Liver conditions, along with Being gently laxative and sedative in it's nature. Externally, it has been used to treat skin conditions such as rash, eczema, and other inflamations.














Thanks so much for joining me once again as we explore the bounty nature has provided for us! Last weeks it was a salad, this week a healing potion…all from plants freely given to better our bodies and minds! Ahhhhh…..I love Spring!:)

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Signs of spring are popping up everywhere in the SouthEast! Early wild pears are blooming, the peach trees are beginning to leaf out, and my hands are now perpetually dirty! I Love IT! As I scrambled my eggs this morning with the Dandilion leaves left over from my root digging session, I decided that with new growth popping up all around me it was time to do a weed walk. Though I wish I had a video camera, pictures from the farm are going to have to do. This list is by far not a complete over veiw of the wild goodness availible in Georgia this time of the year, simply a couple of my favorites along with various poisonous look alikes to stay away from, Now come along and walk with me on the farm…Its a great day outside!

The Notorious Dandilion! We all know it, some of us like it, some of us hate it, but we all have to admit we've made a wish on the seed heads a time or two! Though its been talked up and down in various other "weed eater"(Lol;) Blogs, I had to include it because the picture just makes me smile! All parts of this wonderful plant are edible. Its leaves are great stir fried, steamed, scrambled with eggs and any other way you could eat spinach. The blossoms make great additions to salad and some like them fried though I've not tried them that way yet. The Root is the real powerhouse, being a liver tonic, blood cleanser, iron builder and all around spring do-gooder. Try it chopped like carrots and steamed (with Butter!), sliced into a savory warming soup for the chilly spring nights, or dry it and grind it for a coffe substitute. (Done in this manner, I usually mix mine in my coffe for a slight chicory like flavor. I still have yet to experiment with Dandilion Wine!


This Delicious weed is also great any way you would fix spinach. I like it in an oriental style stir fry! The health Benefits of Yellow Dock are very similar to dandilion and combined create the best spring cleansing tonic out available. Be careful, though, the roots effects could be slightly laxitive as well as diuretic(i.e. makes you pee alot:), but thats just part of the cleansing effects.

The middle section of the yellow dock leaf can be bitter, which is very good for it's digestive effects, but I just can't bring myself to 'like' the bitter flavor. To solve this problem, I just cut the middle out before I cook the leaves. You can munch on a few middle pieces before a particularly heavy meal to prevent indigestion!

This wild onion is absolutely unique in taste, like a cross between a sweet onion and garlic all wrapped up and concentrated in a quarter sized bulb. The flavor is so strong it usually only takes one bulb to flavor an entire dish. The curly tops (a great way to identify them) are like chives and can be used in all the ways chives can, my grandmother likes to dry them and munch them for a viamin packed snack! I have had great success with treating colds and weak flu like symptoms by cooking chicken noodle soup with about three bulbs of wild onion, so Im assuming it probably has at least some of the antibacterial and infection fighting properties of garlic along with all of the micro-nutrients wild species can provide.

Dont Confuse this plant with wild onion or garlic, It is Poisonous! This is a daffodil, or narcissus, and can sometimes be found in the same areas as wild onion. Wild onion usually has more slender, rounded leaves and either curly or very pointy tips. The Daffodil has flatter, more blue tinted leaves and is only edible to squirrels or chipmunks.

Henbit is a great little pot-herb full of micro nutrients, a relative to mint. Toss some in that Dandilion root and wild onion soup!

One great way to identify Henbit is by its beautiful purple tinged tops and it's suqare shaped stem. It's leaves are also kind of fuzzy and soft. The square shaped stem is common in all of the mint family.

Cleavers is a wonderful little herb that loves to hang around henbit. You can identify cleavers by the seven or so leaflets emerging from a very long and creeping stem. You can also see the tiny, very sticky hairs all over the whole plant. Cook or Dry the plant before using because the sticky hairs can irritate your throat, Believe me, I know from experience;)!

Don't confuse cleavers with this very Un-Edible weed, from the wild pea family. From a distance it can look similar, but it is not sticky at all and the leaflets occur opposite each other on the stem instead of in a circular pattern. It also likes to hang out with cleavers, so be careful. Dont try to eat anything wild from the pea or bean family, they are notorious for being poisonous!

Fresh or dried cleavers are alterative, anti-inflammatory, astringent, diaphoretic, diuretic, tonic and vulnerary. It is also very cleansing to the entire body which makes it useful for treating cancer patients or those with a buildup of toxins.

This plant was called white man's footprint because it has spread everywhere the European explorers travelled. Besides being edible, it is also very useful for treating wounds, spider bites and to draw out a splinter. The most effective application is a poultice created by chewing a leaf or two and applying directly to the shallow cut, scratch, or bite. I succesfully treated my cat in this manner after I walked in to find a very large black widow spider hanging from it's paw!

You can properly identify plantain by the very pronaounced ribs on it's leaves and very dark green color. This is the lance leafed variety but there is also a wide leaf variety that has'nt made an appearence yet. Though it is edible and very nutritious, I would only save this for a life or death survival experience because the leaves are more stringy than celery!

As I said before, this is but a hint of the availible  bounty in your lawn!  As more plants peek their dainty heads out of the soil and the seasons begin to change creating all the transformations spring brings, we will continue to document wild plants and their uses, along with uses of the different parts like root, flower and seed that havent been covered today. Who knows, maybe I’ll find a video camera and we’ll go on a real weed walk!

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 Well everyone, it seems the groundhogs were right! Though it’s only the 15th of February, I can already tell that spring is, well springing into action! Three factors go into this reasoning; first, there is the dirt beneath my fingernails that refuses to be washed away, second, the mysterious nicks and cuts on my hands that always appear, and third the forgotten pack of seeds in my pants pocket that, every year inevitably gets washed with the laundry (for some reason it’s always radishes!). Ok, well maybe it’s four factors…Allergies have returned (early) to ruthlessly ravage my every waking moment! But I can’t pay attention to my pounding head, my stuffed nose that makes every  ‘N’ sound like a ‘D’, or even my watery eyes, No! whatever nature throws at me, there is one thing that must prevail….Gardening!  
So despite these achy muscles and ballon-like feeling in my head, Bear and I went Valentines day shopping, no, not for lingerie, for plants! (insert giddy excitement here) We finally found the time this weekend to build raised bed number two, this one six foot by four foot, and again, seventeen inches deep. Once again filled with a mixture of organic material (i.e. Grass clippings, shredded leaves, spoiled hay) and good garden soil. After two days of planning and configuring, this is what I managed to stuff into 24 square feet:

8 Georgia collard plants-12 inches apart
1 broccoli plant -12 inches 
15 spinach plants-6 inches apart
1 four foot long row of chives
2 four foot long rows of carrots
8 heading iceberg lettuce plants-8 inches apart
1 big beautiful purple Kale plant-15 inches is the spacing but I stuck it in a corner:)
13 onion sets, stuck between rows and wherever I could find room
4 pansies, also stuck in corners and wherever there was room
2 four foot long rows of radishes
1 four foot long row of sugar snap peas
Various Nasturtium seeds, stuck wherever there was room
California poppy seeds strewn around the broccoli plant.

The completed Raised Bed

Most of the spacing is taken from an intensive planting guide, I’m hoping that the plants are close enough together to shade out any weeds, though a thick layer of mulch will be applied, on top of the nourishing layer of compost spread yesterday. All of the flowers included in the mix are both insectory (meaning they will attract beneficial insects ) and edible. The nasturtiums will actually repel some leaf munching insects and I’m planning on adding some sweet alyssum as a living mulch later on. In other words, I’ve tried to pull out almost all the stops on the organic gardening pathway, including companion planting, which we will discuss on a later post. So hopefully, fingers crossed and prayers to agricultural gods everywhere, this garden wont have near the problems my others have had!

Iceberg lettuce

   Now it’s time to get back outside (hence the reason for my shortest post ever:). It’s a warm 63 degrees here in Georgia today with nice, sunny skies and a cooling gentle breeze…time to work on raised bed number three!


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