Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Roses Roses

Roses are blooming and nothing could be prettier. I have several large rose bushes shown here on my property line. I have no idea what they are but they are slightly aromatic with beautiful buds on them. I also have several somewhat aromatic roses in front of my house. Their color is a beautiful pinkish red. I am cutting flowers and buds from both of these roses to dry for later use. Because I am interested in distilling roses I just bought several roses that I am told are very aromatic. One is the Kasinlik rose that is grown in Bulgaria for oil. Another is a David Austin Golden Celebration. This one and a Mr. Lincoln I planted right off of my deck so that I can enjoy the aroma with my morning coffee or evening dinner. A fourth one I bought unfortunately the clerk at the nusery pulled out the tag so I don't remember what it is. I resisted the pressure at the nursery to buy their super duper organic fertilizer. I'll fertilize these roses with manure from my chickens instead. Using what we have on the farm is important to me.
With these four highly aromatic roses I am hoping for enough blossoms for distilling next summer. Until then I will be collecting petals and buds for crafts. Last year I strung small rose buds on a string that I draped over a table lamp so the heat from the light released the aroma of the roses. This year I will dry petals for potpouri. Dried rose petals add a nice flavor to black tea. You can also make a strong tea from the petals to use to wipe the face clean at night. Rose can be very hydrating for the skin. Two things I've not done with roses is make wreaths or rose beads. These are crafts I might try during the winter months when I am longing for the aroma of roses. Until then I will enjoy cutting and drying fresh roses!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Skin Care from your Kitchen and Herb Garden

I'll be teaching a class this Monday night, June 23 at the Gardens on Spring Creek. This is a new botanical gardens in Ft. Collins encompassing 18 acres. We will discuss various herbs that are used for skin care such as calendula, plantain, lavender, chamomile, rose, fennel and lemon balm. Students should bring a washcloth as we will go through a 5-step process of skin care including cleaning, facial steam, facial mask, astringent or toner, and moisturizing. If you live in Northern Colorado you might want to sign up for this class.
For more information go to:

Friday, June 6, 2008

Preserving Chives

Have you ever tried to dry chives for culinary use? Well I have and they taste alot like paper when they are dried. I guess they have to be freeze dried to preserve the flavor. What I do now is to cut the fresh chives with a scissors into small pieces and put those into a sandwich bag for the freezer. Kept this way the flavor will be preserved and you can use them all winter (if your bag is big enough). Be daring and toss some chive flowers in there too. Keep them in the door of your freezer so they are handy as you prepare meals.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Plantago (Plantain) in the Garden

I’ve never done much with plantain because I didn’t have a lot of it in my yard. After moving here though I have found it growing prolifically throughout disturbed soil. There are two varieties of this herb that is sometimes called rib grass. Plantago major has roundish leaves that lie close to the ground while Plantago lanceolata has narrow leaves that stand upright. We have the lanceolata variety here which I find much easier to harvest. Plantain has many benefits. It is great for cuts and insect bites gotten outside where it is easy to pick a leaf and wrap it around the injury as a dressing. For this reason it has been called ‘nature’s band-aid’. An added benefit is that it stops bleeding and is anti-inflammatory. It is also good as a tea for lung problems such as bronchitis. Seeds of this plant can also be used as a mild laxative as would psyllium be used. It has also been used as a diuretic and for diarrhea. Its use as an antitoxin is less common. It is not native to North America and the Native Americans would refer to it as “white man’s footprint” knowing that Europeans had been there with seed. I’ve been picking and drying this herb a lot lately and plan to use more of it over the coming year, probably adding it to my ‘Knuckle Balm”.


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