Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Garden Pictures for Wordless Wed

This time of year is when all the hard work pays off and we are harvesting all we can. Here are some tomatoes rippening on the vine, a large zucchini plant, purple sage, echinacea, and of course Longs and Meeker Peaks that we enjoy seeing almost everyday. I hope you too are enjoying this time of year.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

ChokeCherry Find

My husband came home from work with a bagful of chokecherries he picked so we had to figure out something to do with them. The most obvious use of chokecherry is as a syrup to be used in the winter for coughs (as well as being delicious on ice cream, pancakes, drinks or anywhere else you would use a syrup). Typically choke cherries are very bitter and astringent in taste, but these are actually very sweet; possibly because they were growing by a stream and getting more water. Chokecherries are very high in ellagic acid. Since I have been reading lately of the benefits of ellagic acid in skin care I wanted to find some use for these fruits for skin, perhaps a face mask.

Face Mask


3 tablespoons chokecherry juice

1 tablespoon bentonite clay

2 teaspoons avocado oil

Mix to a nice consistency and smear on your face. Now enjoy a cup of tea while the mask sets on your face. After 10 minutes or so use a wet washcloth to wipe the mask off your face.

Chokecherry Juice

To make a juice put chokecherries in a saucepan to fill about 2/3 full. Fill with water almost to the level of the top of the cherries. Bring water to a gentle boil for 30 minutes or so. Put cherries through some type of press such as used to make jam. I use a device used to make applesauce. Allow juice to drain into a separate bowl while skins and seeds remain behind.

Chokecherry Syrup

For chokecherry syrup I mixed 3 cups of juice with about 3 cups of sugar and simmered that for about 30 minutes. This produced a very thick syrup that would work great for pancakes. For a cough syrup I will use 3 cups of juice with 1 1/2 sugar and also add a few tablespoons of vodka to that as well. The lower amount of sugar might not be enough of a preservative. You could also freeze this until you want to use it.

The seeds however contain poisonous glycosides (hydrocyanic acid) and should not be eaten by humans or animals; unless cooked or dried first.

Chokecherries are native to much of the US and were used extensively by Native Americans for a number of health complaints. These include as a poultice to stop bleeding and to treat skin sores and burns, as a tea or infusion for stomach cramps, fever, diarrhea and dysentery. Both the fruit and the bark are used medicinally. The cherries also a a good food source for both humans and animals. Chokecherry jam and pies are quite common and chokecherries were an important ingredient of the pemmican made by many Native Americans as a dried food for winter.

The purple color of the cherries is said to make a good purple-red dye. This is something I might save some berries for to try dying some mohair. Last summer I planted quite a few chokecherry bushes so by next summer I may be loaded with cherries.

Here is a good write up on chokecherries for more information.

Monday, August 3, 2009

My New Rock Garden

Over the past year we have dug into the raised bed against the back of the house to put in a hot tub and a deck. This left a large area of weeds - one of those "I'll get to it someday" areas. Well, my brother and his family visited us last week and my hard working sister in law wanted a project we could do together. Now when someone makes an offer like that I am smart enough not to suggest scrapbooking or going through old photos. Yes, I suggested moving heavy rocks around which worked well since she is younger than I.

First we (or rather she) pulled out all the weeds and moved some rock out of the area. We then put in the cut flagstone path that goes up to the water faucet on the back of the house. We already had the flagstone as well as the other flatter "moss" rock (its really lichen, not moss) from taking down a water fall by the garden pond that we had filled in earlier. We laid the various flatter stones into the ground leaving spaces for plants between them. This is an area I do not want to think about watering so that was taken into account when selecting plants. I also only wanted low growing plants.
Several types of sedum were transplanted from other areas in the yard. A trip to the neighbors yielded some violas and garlic chives. Then from the garden center I bought creeping thyme and Roman chamomile.

Some sand was used to fill in the spaces in the walk to keep the flagstone from shifting too much. Since this area is close to the faucet we put a stand to hold the hoses in the front.

I'm hoping these plants set down good roots and not too many weeds grow. It rained heavily after we finished and I'll make sure the new plants get a good amount of water for the next few weeks. I have a few other flat rocks laying around that I can use to fill in more of the spaces too.

Well, you'd think this would be enough for one person to do, but she insisted on weeding some of my other beds too. Thanks Angela, it was great to see you (and Kelly, Kyle, Emi)!


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