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What's in your garden?


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I've only got rosemary, because the weather here is brutal and I'm quite terrible at growing anything. I'm going to plant a bay tree, as I went to get bay leaves yesterday and the store had none, which is a travesty. We have a few gum trees, but I haven't investigated the specific species that we have. I need to find out what the local First Nations lore is around our flora.


I'm considering mugwort, but then the question is which mugwort, as there are several - with the European variant Artemisia being used for absinthe - and the old writers appear to often be unclear about species, so I'm wondering about the distinction between common mugwort and wormwood, but that'll be research for another day.


I'm wondering about fresh herbs vs dried ... and then there's drying - bunches of certain herbs being good for keeping evil away, as well as bugs, and you need to grow-your-own to have that kind of quantity.

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Dried herbs hanging in bunches all over your house upside-down are wonderful for scaring off bad energy ... and bad people. AND look very decorative and witchy!


Fresh herbs are MUCH more medicinal, and more flavoursome. You can, however, preserve most of the medicinal qualities of herbs for the future by creating a spagyric extract, as opposed to a tincture. Tinctures only preserve the ingredients that are soluble in alcohol, spagyric extracts go a bit further. Creating a spagyric extract:


Pack a glass container with as much of the freshly picked herb as possible. Dark glass is better, because light degrades some of the chemical ingredients. Crush them down hard in the jar. When you cannot possibly pack more in the foliage should be slightly bruised. Slowly, carefully, add the best quality and highest percentage ethyl alcohol you can find, though if you're a snob you can go something with a name, like Glenfiddich or Courvoisier. But while they are more satisfying, simple "white lightning" will do the job better.


Leave in a cool, dark place for a month or so, somewhere like the cupboard under your laundry sink or your kitchen sink.


Strain it carefully in medical-clean equipment, keeping both liquids and solids. Crush the solids back in the jar once it's been sterilised - they should crush down lower, this time. Cover with the same liquid it was covered with before. If the foliage floats, press it down with a couple of thicknesses of waxed paper or baking-paper or something (not foil!) and weigh that down with glass fermentation weights. Then reseal, place in the cool dark spot again, and wait another month. Do this a minimum of six times. By this time the liquid should be almost black. Allow what's left of the solids to air-dry, then put them in a crucible or super-clean ceramic bowl and burn them to white ash. This ash will contain a lot of the minerals of the plant that you simply don't get in tinctures. Bottle the liquid and add the ash to it, again, dark glass to prevent it degrading in the light. Shake very well before each use, so that you get an even amount of suspended ash particles in each dose.


One thing I would love to do if I had acreage, would be to grow vast crops of herbs that I love, such as oregano, thyme and lavender, harvest huge amounts of one at a time, and cover the hard-floors - not carpeted floors - inside my house with it, as was done in Mediaeval times. Fresh herbs on the floor, replaced every few days and getting walked-over, release their perfumes into the air, which is nice for us, but absolutely necessary in Mediaeval times, when baths were few and far between. There were many references to strewing-herbs, as they were called, and the servants who were employed solely to cultivate, cut and spread them, as opposed to the gardener who grew the veggies and if you were high-status the flowers ass well. Strewing herb gardens were tucked away behind as something shameful, but necessary. 🙂


Queen Elizabeth I used to like it if her night clothes were spread over growing herbs on sunny days so that they smelled nice at night.

Edited by Nisaba
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Oh that's so interesting to read about strewing-herbs. I must grow some - I have space. I'm sure there must be some hardy varieties that will do okay. The rosemary is certainly robust.


Spagyric extract sounds like quite a process - I'm not sure I'd trust myself not to end up with botulism. I've friends who are into brewing and sourdough and fermenting all sorts of things, and I'm quite mystified by their skills. Compost is about the limit of my ability to conjure with microbes and at least the soil can sort out my mistakes given enough time.


I used to have most wonderful herbal, an inch-thick tome with lovely illustrations and details about culinary and medicinal uses and counterindications...  borrowed and not returned, I think - I must try and get another copy.

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Nisaba, that was a very interesting post.  I did not know that about Medieval times or about Queen Elizabeth and her night clothes.  Interesting!  


We grow rosemary, peppermint, thyme, lemon thyme, lavender, oregano and sage in our 'herbal garden' and in our vegetable garden we also have garlic and basil growing, due the amount of what we grow of them.  


Rosemary is great as a kind of tea--boil some water and put the rosemary in it.  Let it steep for a few minutes (2 to 5 generally) and then drink it.  I know it sounds odd, but it is tasty and good for you too!    It is a great pain reliever and also a great memory booster too.  It is also great if you have stomach issues (digesting foods) or if you've eaten too much at a meal.  Much better to try instead of many of the prescription medicine or OTC meds people buy.  Plus, I am told rosemary and thyme tea go really well together.  I have not yet tried that though.  I also like peppermint tea--pinching off my peppermint leaves and allowing them to steep in hot boiling water too.


btw, for those people who have dogs, rosemary water poured on your dogs fur will help to repel fleas and tics too.  Just boil rosemary in water for about 20 minutes or so and then allow it to cool and pour it over your dogs fur.  You can also allow the rosemary water to cool off enough for them to drink, and its not harmful to dogs, but always check with your pets vet first of course.  I often give my neighbor much of our rosemary and she makes it into a tea for her dog that has arthritis and also for flea and tic control..  The dog will drink it and it has shown to help her.    


Great herbs for keeping bugs and pests away, rosemary repels mosquitoes and flies as well as tics and fleas and spiders!  I will put a cutting of rosemary in each of our window sills to help keep the spiders away and other bugs.  Living by the water, we seem to get a lot of spiders specifically and other bugs too, but they don't like rosemary!    Lavender is also great up close to your house or patio as it repels moths, mosquitoes and flies too.  Peppermint is REALLY an excellent bug repellent too-- very effective against most bugs and spiders too.  (Can you tell I strongly dislike spiders?--at least in my house or on my porches!)  Basil is also a great herb to put in a pot on your porch for bug control, too.  All are such pretty plants too!  Your porch will look very nice with these great plants....and wonderful to eat as well! 🙂

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Right now I have here in my flat (in pots): rosemary, common sage, thyme, lavender, mugwort, peppermint and rose geranium. I also have other plants, but these are are good smelling ones. I have a small fennel sprout, but no idea if it'll ever grow big enough for me to plant it for real. We'll see.


It's been raining a lot here so much sage leaves are not looking very nice. I'll soon have to harvest some. 


My flat has a nice balcony with plenty of room for vases. I want to get small trees that can grow in pots, but so far haven't had the time nor the money to do so. 

I love plants and gardening, I dream of having a real house with a real garden someday!

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Our garden and the herbal garden has done very well for us this year.  We had a bumper crop of everything we have planted, except for our corn.  Sadly, this is the 2nd year in a row we planted corn and did all we knew to grow delicious corn only for it to fail.  Our corn cobs were beautiful to look at, but the kernels were so hard you couldn't enjoy eating them.  So we are saving them for winter feed to give to the squirrels and deer that come into our yard.  However, everything else has made up for that loss.  We made up over 40 bags (I use freezer bags instead of canning jars) of tomato sauce, each 16 ounces.  We also made about a dozen of whole tomatoes and froze those as well, and of course, we ate a lot of the tomatoes and are continuing to do so!  Plus, we have given a lot of them away.  Our zucchini plant is still going strong, growing zucchinis for us and we put up about 20 bags of zucchini slices and I have also shredded some that I use in soups and quiches.  The pepper plants only provided us with green peppers, though we bought plants that promised various colored peppers.  No matter, we also have a boat load of them cut up and frozen and have been eating a lot of them.  Our garlic was harvested and looks absolutely gorgeous!  We have just finished the last of our home grown garlic from last year and I think this year we may plant even more come October for next year.  The hot peppers also did very well and the husband made his hot pepper sauce as well as pickled a lot of them.  We grew french style green beans this year and put up 24 bags of those as well as eating more then we froze.  LOVE fresh green beans!  YUM.  And, then our herbs....the sage is beautiful this year, with huge leaves, like I've never seen before!  The rosemary also grew into small bushes and I've shared them with the neighbor and a few other people as well.  Our mint is gorgeous, the thyme and oregano is equally large and I've got to go out and trim more of these back and save them for future use.  Our basil  really did well,  and they all grew into such large bushes and overtook their part of the garden that we were able to make up 18 containers of pesto!  We still have one very large basil bush left and have been taking from it as the need arises.  I'm sure we could make 2 more pestos with it, but we are running out of freezer room.   We have been very lucky this year, even with all the rain we had, which was a lot--and more then we normally get.  It was an awfully wet summer for us, but apparently the veggies and herbs were thankful for all the rain.  Glad something was!  lol!  


Marinoracles, I've never tried to grow mugwort before.  What do you use it for?  

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