Mosquito Beaters

marigolds

Yellow marigolds.

Summertime and the living is easy. What a delightful time to be outdoors- until you hear that all too familiar, high-pitched whine circling above your head. This whine is very quickly followed by itchy whelps appearing on exposed areas of your skin. She has arrived and she does not travel alone. She’ll have no less than a hundred “sisters” with her.

Commercial repellents do have some advantages, but many consumers worry about the long -term effects of chemical toxicity from continued use. This is where summer’s annuals and perennials can help, especially if you locate them near your favorite outdoor areas.

Citronella, with its powerful, lemony scent, is easy to grow. It repels mosquitoes by masking other odors. Allow lots of room for this annual, it can reach a height of 6 feet by the end of summer.

Marigolds, also deter mosquitoes with their strong scent. Plant marigolds in full sun, and enjoy their color until the first frost. You can also plant marigolds in large planters and place them on the deck or patio.

Geraniums, produce geraniol oil, which is a natural alternative for chemical insecticides, Their bright, cheerful blooms are an added bonus.

Catnip, loved by cats, hated by mosquitoes, it deters the insects through production of the oil nepetalactone. Grow catnip in containers and place it near chairs and tables.

Lavender, a beautiful herb that produces an essential oil which repels mosquitoes. Add a few drops of lavender essential oil to a spray bottle filled with distilled white vinegar. Spray outdoors areas before entertaining. You can also spray yourself as well.

Peppermint, has strong, natural oils in its leaves that irritate insects. Crush the leaves of fresh peppermint and rub them on exposed areas of skin.

Rosemary, pleasing scent to us, and offensive to mosquitoes. Break off a few small branches and rub the needles on your skin before going outside. You can also buy rosemary essential oil, and add this to water or white vinegar in a spray bottle.

Mosquitoes have been on Earth for millions of years, and they’re not going anywhere. Neither are we, so it’s an uphill battle- us-versus-them. Smart gardeners and those who love the outdoors, know it’s a battle, one they are winning.

Blessed be, sweet ones.

~ Meadow Walker

http://forum.mysticalmagicalherbs.com

From the Herb Basket

bay tree

Bay tree with flowers

Bay is a long-lived and slow-growing pyramid shaped evergreen tree. According to folk lore, a bay tree in the garden or grown near the front door keeps away evil as well as thunder or lightning.

During the Crusades, ladies embroidered flowers of borage onto scarves which they gave to their chosen knights before they went into battle. “I, borage, bring courage.”

In the middle ages, many plants were renamed ‘ Mary’s Gold ‘ in honor of the Virgin Mary.

Comfrey’s other name, knitbone, is a clue to its traditional use in poultices to encourage the healing of broken bones.

Cured in salt, vinegar and sugar, fresh ginger is used in the Japanese raw fish dish, sashimi.

ginkgo leaves

Ginkgo leaves

Ginkgo dates back to the time of the dinosaurs, long before the evolution of flowering plants. It is now extinct in the wild, and only the domesticated variety is prescribed in western medicine.

Hyssop is grown as much for its beauty and its ability to attract butterflies and bees, as it is for its culinary and medicinal uses. Hyssop is an ancient herb that was attributed with cleansing properties in biblical times, and even used in the treatment of leprosy. Purge me with hyssop and I shall be clean as snow. I heard this once, long ago.

Anti- Inflammatory Juice: This juice takes advantage of the more than 20-anti inflammatory compounds in celery, which was discovered by renowned herbalist James Duke. One cucumber, four stalks of celery, one apple, pass all ingredients through a juicer or whirl in a blender with a little water. Drink immediately.

Meadow Walker

~ Blessed be, sweet ones.

All photos by Azul.

 

 

 

 

No Need to Panic

Dear Subscribers and Friends,

I’ve gotten a few emails recently from people asking if there is an herb or herbs to protect them from Ebola. No, there is not. I have visited several other websites and most of them are advising the same thing I will be suggesting in this article.

Cut out sugar, soft drinks, especially diet sodas. If at all possible, cut back on white bread, fried foods, and fast foods. Eat whole grains, fruits and vegetables, eggs and low-fat cheese. If you smoke, you should quit. Limit alcohol to one or two drinks per week. Get enough sleep, exercise, find a way to reduce stress in your lives.

I take Vitamin C each day, and have taken it since I was 15 years old. I also take Vitamin D, and eat 2 pieces of fresh fruit each day. I also drink a lot of herbal tea. A healthy immune system is something to strive for. Make sure your children and elderly parents drink plenty of water, eat well, and get enough rest.

Ebola will be here for awhile. It’s a topic of conversation no matter where you go, or whom you speak with. Maintain proper hygiene. Wash your hands, don’t put objects in your mouth, don’t share eating utensils.

There is no vaccine, so our only line of defense against this plague is a healthy immune system. I would suggest you not panic or give into fears. Live for today, and the next…Chance favors the prepared mind. Go about your daily business, makes some preparations, stock up on bottled water, wholesome foods, and vitamins.

Take anti-bacterial wipes with you when you go out in public. Wipe down shopping carts, door handles, etc.

If anyone has questions, or wants to make a comment, please leave the question or comment on this thread. Either I, or Azul will answer. We’re just ordinary people like everyone else in the world. We don’t have all the answers, but this forum is here for a reason. We love people, we love herbs, and we want to help if we can.

Sometimes, just discussing things openly seems to lessen the apprehension and fear.

Blessings to those who come here to Mystical Magical Herbs.

~ Meadow Walker

In addition to this blog, we have now created a forum which is open to the public. We are hoping our subscribers and readers will join this forum and become a part of this community. We’ll still have this blog and will be moving it as part of the new forum. Registration is free, and there are no monthly fees.

If you’re interested, click on the link below. Hope to see you there !

http://forum.mysticalmagicalherbs.com

All About Lovage

Lovage-herb

Lovage is such a useful kitchen herb, I’m surprised more gardeners don’t grow it. It has a distinctive flavor- much like that of celery, only stronger. It can grow to a height of 4 feet in rich soil, and it doesn’t seem to mind partial shade. It does like moist soil, and will respond to frequent watering by sending out tender and dark green leaves. A three inch organic mulch will keep the soil evenly moist and deter weeds. Straw, hay, pine needles or cedar chips will do nicely, and as this mulch breaks down it will help to feed the plants.

You can start lovage from seeds or buy 3 inch plants a garden center. Lovage seeds are hard to find. Check with Bakers Creek. They sell lovage seeds online. Or you can ask a friend for some of the rooted shoots that spring up from the mature plants.

Lovage is a perennial and will produce abundantly for about five years. Be prepared to replace the plants as they become woody and strong tasting. Lovage produces a beautiful seed head of pale yellow flowers in late summer. You can allow the seeds to fall, and if left undisturbed will readily self-sow the following year. Use the leaves in soups, stews, stir fry, stuffing, etc. Use them sparingly as the leaves are very pungent.

When drying whole stem lovage swags/bunches, hang loose bundles tied with string or twine high up in a warm, airy room. When dry, discard the tough stems and crumble the leaves into storage containers. Add a leaf or two to potato salad, meatloaf, meatballs, or cream of potato soup.

lovage flowers

Lovage – pretty in the herb garden and the bees, butterflies and birds love the flowering seed heads.

~ Blessings on this day of Lammas, sweet ones.

Meadow Walker

All photos by Azul.

Guide to Medicinal Herbs

Aloe: Apply the fresh gel from the leaves to minor burns and sunburn, blisters, scrapes, and minor wounds. Helps to promote healing and prevents infection. Do not take internally.

Arnica: Make an tincture of the flower heads and apply as a poultice or compress. Witch Hazel and apple cider vinegar make the best tinctures. Add a handful of the flower heads to a few ounces of the vinegar or hazel, let steep overnight, and use this liquid for sprains and sore muscles. Do not take internally.

Barberry: Prepare a tea from the dried roots and drink 1 cup daily for antibacterial and laxative effects.

Calendula: Great for stings, bruises, scrapes and burns. Add 2 tablespoons of dried calendula to a 1cup of witch hazel. Let it steep overnight, strain out the calendula, and use this herb infused liquid as an antiseptic spray or lotion.

Catnip: Make an infusion of dried or fresh leaves and 8 ounces of boiling water. Drink this infusion when needed for a calming effect or to aid in digestion.

Comfrey: Make a compress or poultice from the leaves and apply to bruises or sprains. Or add dried comfrey leaves to olive oil or grape seed oil and use as an ointment to treat minor burns or abrasions. Do not take internally.

Eucalyptus leaves: Make an infusion from the leaves and inhale the vapors as a decongestant and to relieve flu and cold symptoms.

Fennel: Make a tea from the seeds or leaves and drink one cup daily to relieve gas and upset stomach.

Garlic: Add peeled cloves to olive oil and let it infuse for 7 days. Use this oil to treat skin infections, and minor burns.

Parsley: Use fresh or dried parsley for making a soothing tea that will relieve constipation and help heal minor infections.

Peppermint: Chew fresh leaves for bad breath, or add fresh or dried leaves to one cup of boiling water for a refreshing tea that will help with stuffy nose or sinus.

Rosemary: Use the dried or fresh needles for tea, or as astringent for oily skin or acne. Crushed leaves can also be used in a poultice for cramps and sore muscles.

Sage: Brew the leaves for tea, or use the sage water for disinfecting minor skin infections. Add 1/2 cup of fresh or dried leaves to a quart of water. Cover and let stand for 10 days. Pour off the leaves and use this antibacterial liquid for scrapes and little nicks on your finger tips.

Thyme: Used dried leaves for a soothing tea, or as a gargle for sore throat. Use thyme in steam inhalation to relieve a stuffy nose.

This article is not intended to replace advice from the medical profession. As with all herbs, consult a health care professional before using.

Blessed Be- Sweet Ones

~ Meadow Walker

When real food and herbal medicine is outlawed- only outlaws will have them.

 

The Back Porch

sliver queen corn

A generous friend stopped by this morning and brought me 4 dozen ears of Silver Queen corn. For those who have never tasted sweet, organically grown corn, you’ve missed out on something special. Perfect, pearly rows of delicious goodness, so fresh when you press down on the kernels, you can see the corn milk. Not only did my friend bring me the corn, she helped to shuck it. It was cool enough to sit outside, and so we sipped coffee on the back porch and chatted while we worked.

Unfortunately, summer is so short and demanding that most of us do not have time to make complicated dishes to freeze for winter. The first dozen ears will go into boiling, salted water. I’ll blanch these for about ten minutes, place the ears in an ice bath, pat them dry and place them in a freezer bag. On a cold and snowy night, I’ll thaw them, cook them briefly and enjoy a taste of summer once again.

For the remaining ears, I’ll blanch them as well. Once they’ve cooled from the ice bath, I’ll cut the kernels off the cobs and place the corn in freezer bags. In a few of the bags, I’ll add a little finely chopped thyme. Be sure to label the contents.

For those of us who live in the south, fresh corn fritters are a treat anytime. Some of this Silver Queen corn is destined for fritters. Here’s the recipe:

2 cups of whole kernel corn, 1/2 cup of yellow corn meal, 1/2 cup plain flour, 2 tablespoons of melted butter, 1 egg, 2 tablespoons of sugar, 1/4 cup of milk, 1/8 teaspoon each, salt and pepper. In a large mixing bowl, add the corn, corn meal, flour, sugar, butter, milk, and the seasonings. Stir well, and cover the bowl. Let stand at room temperature for 15 minutes. In a large skillet, heat a cup of vegetable oil. Slowly drop teaspoons of the batter into the hot oil. Fry on one side, and turn the fritters over to cook on the other side. About 3 minutes on each side. Drain on paper towels and serve hot. Some cooks sprinkle confectioners sugar on the fritters or add a dollop of maple syrup.

Nothing was wasted from the Silver Queen gift- her husks, silk and cobs went into the compost bin. And so, she served a dual purpose- food for me, and later on food for my soil. Thank you, Silver Girls.

Blessed be ~ sweet ones.

~ Meadow Walker

Vacations and Gardens

Nothing is sadder than coming home from vacation to a yard full of dead flowers, vegetables and herbs. Unless you’re lucky enough to have family, neighbors or friends look after the plants, then you’ll have to make some preps before you leave.

The day before you leave, water everything deeply. Hopefully, you have a 3 inch layer of mulch throughout the garden, beds and borders. If not, then water all the plants slowly, so that the water sinks in the soil near the root system. Slow watering will deliver gallons of water deep into the soil where the plants need it most.  Do the watering early in the day, so it does not evaporate in the sun and extreme temperatures.

Take down all hanging baskets, water them well, and place them under a tree, shrubs, or a shady carport. Somewhere shady and cooler will help them survive longer than hanging up in the sun. You can place trays filled with water under the baskets/planters and this will water them slowly. It may rain while you’re away, and it may not.

All potted herbs, flowers and vegetables should be moved into a shady area. Even sun-loving plants will survive in the shade for 10 days or more. Better shade and cooler temperatures than a blazing hot sun beating down on them all day. Water everything slowly, and if you have time, mulch the soil on top of the pots. Just a thin layer of mulch will help hold in vital moisture in the soil.

Now would be a good time to do some pruning and harvesting of the herb plants. Cut some branches and snip some leaves and lay them on paper towels on the kitchen counter. The house will be cool and dark, and they’ll dry while you’re away.

Houseplants will need some attention as well. If the pots are small, fill the bathtub with an inch of water and place the pots in the tub. The water will be absorbed through the bottom of the planters. Wipe the pots off when you return and place them in a brightly lit area. They may look a little pale, but they’ll recover quickly. Big planters should be watered completely until the soil is soaked. They’ll be fine while you’re away.

Pick all the vegetables that are ripe, and water tomato and pepper plants deeply. Same for cucumbers and squash. Some gardeners pick off the small squash and cucumbers before they leave. This way the vines will keep producing instead of going to seed.

Trees, shrubs, perennials and ornamentals could use a deep watering as well. It’s a lot to take care of before you leave, but if you don’t water, you may not have anything alive when you get back.

Have a safe vacation, enjoy yourself and your loved ones. Perhaps the Fey will turn on the sprinkler while you’re away.

Blessed be ~ sweet ones.

~ Meadow Walker