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Our Front Yard Sprucing!

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Well it is time to start sprucing up the front yard. It has been about 5 years now and all our energy has gone to making a food forest in the back yard for our family to enjoy. But now everything is established and pretty much taking care of itself.

So on to the front!

When we first moved in to our home, we made a small little planter in front of the house and to be honest, we were quite proud of ourselves. I mean, it did make a difference in our eyes and that is all that matters, right?! But as we sat and thought about what we wanted for the front yard, we realized we barely made a dent.

We knew what we wanted, but had no idea how to get there. We knew that we were about to embark on a whole new project with fun new challenges but again, didn’t know how to exactly get there.

What we did know was…..

We wanted to create not a food forest like the back yard but a medicinal herb forest for the front.

We went to visit Diane’s herbs in Fallbrook ca, to get all of our herbs and plants and to gain a little inspiration because holy moly is she an incredible lady. I mean, when she talks you just get sucked into her. She is this amazing wealth of knowledge that you just want to absorb like none other. The first time we went we ended up staying two hours just talking with her and picking her brain. She showed us her little “shed” filled with dried herbs hanging from the ceiling, jars and jars of beautiful dried herbs, salves,  and honey sticks. I was in absolute heaven.

For this project she helped us lay out where all theses incredible plants need to live in order to be happy. She just knew exactly where to place every. single. one.

And let me tell ya, these plants are HAPPY!

We now have this beautiful medicinal herb forest filled with varieties of medicinal herbs that will continue to nurture our family, as well as, those around us. These herbs were placed on this earth for a purpose and by golly, we will use them as intended.

A little bit about the process we took to plant these beauties.

As you can see in some of the pictures we had this incredibly big bush as you walked up to our front door. We just got kind of tired of looking at it, so away it went. Not easily, let me tell ya, but it went alright! Then we and by we I mean, solely my husband, dug out the beautiful, thick, healthy grass that was just seeded And we created the new shape of the planter.

Then we, again just husband, laid compost over the whole area. Then we got to planting. The fun part!

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The mixture we used for the planting soil was perlite, sand, and a soil mixture. We mixed that up and placed in the hole where plants were going to go. BUT we also added…IMG_6418This to our mixture as well. Bone meal, garden tone, greensand and ground up egg shells, We used just a small amount of each of the plant foods and a palm size of egg shells in each hole before planting.

 

 

Then we planted all our new friends.

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In Progress!

 

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I mean how can your heart not just fall in love with all these colors. We cannot wait until they all grow in and bloom. Oh did you want to see more, here you go.

 

 

Oh wait and here is more…

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We, (husband), added drip line to all the plants to keep them extra happy and healthy with out us having to go water them by hand.

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When we first bought the house
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Our first planter
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Before our new project, look at that grass!
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After
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Isn’t it just beautiful

I just need to say that none of this would’ve come to life if it weren’t for my better half. He did every single part of this project and I couldn’t be more grateful. First he gave us our food forest in our back yard and now he gave us a medicinal herb forest in our front. Thank you my sweets, it came out absolutely beautiful.

Happy planting!

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Composting Like A Mo Fo

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So I guess when we do something day in and day out, we don’t realize that it could be completely foreign to someone else. Let’s take composting for example, well not for example because this whole post is going to be about composting but you get it. Anyway, for composting, we have a bucket under the sink, we throw our kitchen scraps in it without thinking anymore because it’s now apart of who we are. We take it out to the compost bin or to the chickens, again without thinking. Then someone asks as question like, can I put moldy fruit in my compost? My response is, um duh! Then I realize it may not be part of everyone’s daily routine and I should stop being a dick when I respond! So here it is, let’s get down and dirty about composting, I won’t be a dick I promise.

What is compost?

Composting is a way of recycling organic matter such as kitchen scraps, coffee grounds and leaves using an aerobic environment, which means the presence of oxygen is needed to thrive. Compost is used to fertilize plants and brings much needed good bacteria back to the soil.

What do you do with it?

Compost is made up of two parts, nitrogen and carbon. The ratio between these two elements really make a difference wth the way your compost will react. Most times when you set out to build a compost pile you think of this big pile of steamy beautiful goodness. But in reality you are wondering what in the world you did wrong. Don’t worry, we will talk about a sure way to get that steamy pile of goodness. There are a few methods to composting. I am going to talk about one here but first let’s find out what we can put in compost shall we.

What the F goes in compost?

Nitrogen material:

Coffee grounds

Banana peels

Egg shells

Avocado peels and seed

Fruit (All except citrus fruits)

Veggies

Tea bags

Carbon materials:

Napkins

Newspaper

Leaves

Straw

Sawdust

…I mean the list can really go on.

Here is what NOT to put in your compost:

Meat

Dairy (besides the egg shells)

Onions

Tomatoes

Citrus fruits (oranges, lemons, limes….)

Can moldy foods go in the compost bin?

YES!!

That is what the food is going to be doing anyhow so throw it on in there yo!

But what about the flies?

One trick you can use is throw some shredded paper on top. Or lay some newspaper on top of each layer. This will not only keep the fly issue down but also the smell.

So, let’s move on to how we actually make this beautiful stuff for our garden. I am going to talk about, “Quick Method Composting” Are you ready?

Quick Method Composting

With this method we are going to make a mixture called Drunken Compost! Why is it called that? Because it’s fun, thats why!

First thing is first, find yourself a pile of compost. Preferably a 3 foot high pile. If you are impatient like we are, gather yourself up some leaves and some coffee grounds. This is really the basics of what you need. Now I am sure you may be thinking to yourself, “where do I find that many leaves and that much coffee grounds?” Well, start a raking yo! Rake your yard, rake your neighbors yard, rake the whole damn neighborhood. Don’t shake your head and giggle, this is how we acquired ours. My husband, after working his buns off all day, went around the neighborhood and gathered us up some leaves. Hey man, if you want it, you find a way.

Coffee grounds, seriously, any coffee shop should be cool enough to save their grounds for you to pick up at the end of the day. Just give them a call the day before or that morning. Make sure you give them plenty of time to gather some up. They won’t just have a plethora for you at a moments notice. Now on to the mixture.

Drunken Compost Mixture: 

1 12oz can coca cola (yes that is right coca cola, the kind you drink)

8oz ammonia

1 12oz can beer ( and you are right again my friend, BEER)

Sprayer We use this sprayer

What!?! Are you serious?

Yes, yes I am. Let’s break each of these ingredients down shall we.

Coca Cola: The sugar in the soda will attract much needed micro- organisms that help break down the materials in the compost. The acidity in the soda helps with this process as well.

Ammonia: Is a super high in nitrogen. Nitrogen is what helps heat up the carbon material within the compost pile. So this is where your heat will come from.

Beer: The yeast in beer helps to break down organic materials, particularly wood materials.

On with the mixture…

Mix this weird concoction in a sprayer. You do not want to just dump the ingredients listed above on your compost, you want a spray of evenly mixed ingredients.

Once you have your pile and you mixture made, start spraying your pile with the drunken mixture as you turn your compost. What does turning your compost mean?

I gotcha, see I told you I wasn’t going to be a dick!

Turning means you are going to use a shovel or a pitchfork and shovel your compost into a new pile. You want to start with the outsides of your compost, that way they are now on the inside of your new pile. You want each part of your compost to experience the warmth that is being created so that it breaks down properly. With composting you want to make sure you have enough room for two piles. Throughout this process you will be moving your pile back and forth.

 Now leave it to sit for four days.

After four days you are going to make this mixture again and turn your pile once more, spraying each turn with the mixture. Now let it sit for two days.

After two days make your mixture, turn your compost and spray each layer.

Repeat every two days for a total of 20 days.

This spray is considered nitrogen.  While you turn your pile, you have to add a nitrogenous material in between. This is what keeps it hot. And heat is what you need to create good pile of compost. If you would like a ratio, which many of us need. You need 80:20 ratio carbon to nitrogen. To put things into perspective, the leaves are carbon and the coffee grounds are nitrogen. Newspaper is carbon. Kitchen scraps are nitrogen.

As you turn your compost and as you get closer to 20 days, your pile will begin to steam. And BAM son, you just made yourself a pile of steamy goodness that all your plants are going to thrive with.

A little note before we go…

Sometimes your pile is not broken down 100%. It’s cool yo, just sift it out over a wheelbarrow or bucket before you use it and throw the chunks back into a new compost pile to further decompose.

Happy Composting!

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How To Build An Herb Spiral

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We have been dying to build an herb spiral for about 4 years now. About 3 years ago we got all the bricks we needed for this project but then life happened and our bricks just sat and stared at us. But after being patient, two kids and a puppy later we did it Y’all. We built our muther f-ing herb spiral and it is beautiful.

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Are you wondering what an herb spiral is?

An herb spiral is an incredible way to utilize one space for multiple plants. Not only are you utilizing a circumference space but you are utilizing vertical space as well. An herb spiral is a spiral shaped planter built out of bricks, stone, rocks, whatever tickles your fancy. You build the spiral up, fill it with sticks, compost and straw and then plant your ass off. With an herb spiral you can plant, plants that don’t need a lot of water but a lot of sun at the top of your spiral and plants that love to stay moist and need shade, all in the same area! Let’s dive a little deeper so you know what I am talking about.

First things first, find yourself a crap ton of bricks, stone, or rocks.

Find a spot in your yard that will allow you to build a 3-5 ft. circumference.

Level out the spot as best as you can. Take a 2×4 place over the circumference and use a level to even out the spot.

Lay down cardboard and newspaper. This is going to prevent weeds from growing.

DON’T SKIP THAT STEP!

Now, find your spiral by placing your bricks (or your choice) accordingly. You want to make sure that the opening of the spiral faces north.

In order to build up, you want to count 3 1/2 bricks from the bottom, that’s where you’ll start your next brick layer. Once you’re done with the second layer, again you will count 3 1/2 bricks (from your second layer) and start your next layer. So on until you reach desired height.

As you build your layers some bricks may feel unstable and move, place some straw under the bricks until they become secure.

Once you finish the spiral, fill in the middle with sticks or large rocks. Then fill it in with straw. Wet it all down once filled.

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To plant, just open up a spot by moving the straw, fill it with soil, place the plant inside and cover with straw. Plants that need sun will go towards the top. Plants that like shade will go on the back side of the spiral closer to the north side.

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Boom son, you just built yourself an herbs spiral. Fill that sucker with whatever herbs you choose. Originally we planned on kitchen herbs but our time at this incredible nursery, called Diane’s nursery in Fallbrook Ca, lead us down a medicinal herb path. So we filled our spiral with: Insulin, feverfew, dandelion, lemon balm, dill, chamomile, ashwaganda, rue and lemongrass.

The looks of an herb spiral could feel a little more intimidating than it really it. Just dive in and have fun with it. Once we stopped thinking so hard about how the hell to build the spiral, everything just started flowing.

Happy herb spiraling!

 

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Medicinal Herb Series: 6 Benefits of Lavender

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Medicinal herb series: Lavender

Oh my, let’s talk lavender for a second shall we. I mean, there is nothing quite like it. The fragrance just fills the air with this delicate aroma. The flowers stand tall and proud. The deep purple color just pops against the muted green leaves. It is just a heavenly plant that is filled with medicinal properties that you should not be without. Let’s do it to it.

Growing lavender

Lavender, or lavendula angustifolia, part of the mint family. It is a drought tolerant plant that loves full sun. Allowing for adequate soil drainage can help keep this plant happy and thriving. Lavender is a bush that grows best in zones 5-9. It is a hardy plant that makes any space in the garden a beautiful pleasant space to be in.

Growing lavender is also a fantastic way to bring bees into your garden. They love the lavender flowers and the more ways you can bring bees into your space the better…. am I right, or am I right, y’all.  Besides the bee benefits, let’s talk about all the other incredible uses for lavender and why it is a must have for your cabinet.

6 Benefits of lavender

Sleep Aid: Lavender is a fantastic sleep aid. It helps rest the mind from the daily chatter. It allows the body to fall into a restful sleep, as well as, fall back to sleep easier when awaken.

Reduces anxiety and stress: Lavender helps relax the mind and body during times of high stress and anxiety. Lavender is a grounding herb that allows one to stay centered.

Used for minor cuts and burns: Lavender is an antibacterial, antimicrobial and an antiseptic. Rub some lavender Essential  oil on minor scraps and burns to help relieve the pain almost immediately.

Reduces headaches: Diffusing lavender oil or taking Lavender internally can help decrease headaches.

Anti-depressant: Lavender helps increase the serotonin levels in the brain that give us that “happy feeling.” By diffusing lavender or by taking it internally one can lower the feelings of depression. This is a great go to for mamas that are dealing with baby blues or postpartum.

Skin care: Lavender is used in a lot of skin care products. It helps rebuild the cells within the skin allowing for a beautiful peaceful glow.

How to use lavender

Essential oils are a fantastic way to get all the benefits of lavender. Essential oils can be used topically with a carrier oil if needed. Rubs some on the temples, chest, neck and or bottoms of feet. It can be taken internally by placing a drop in a veggies capsule or in 4oz of water and drinking. Or it can be used aromatically through a diffuser.

Tinctures are our go to. Tinctures are to be taken internally by placing a dropperful under the tongue and holding for 30 seconds. This allows all those beautiful properties of this herb that we just talked about to enter into your blood stream faster. Visit our shop to purchase our lavender tincture.

Lavender salves can be used on the bottoms of feet or on chest to help promote sleep and reduce anxiety.

Lavender tea is a great way to relax the body after a long day or to be sipped on while sick.

Lavender is one of those herbs that can be found everywhere. Please do your research when using essential oils. You want your essential oils to be distilled in the purest form, especially if you are going to take it internally. Remember the FDA does not regulate essential oils, so what you buy from the store may not be lavender. The bottle can read “therapeutic grade, organic, 100% pure” as long as it contains at least 5% essential oil. The remaining 95% can be chemicals, carrier oil, or synthetic oil. So buy from a reputable company that provides third party testing. Click here to read why we use the brand we use.

Tinctures are available in our shop for purchase. It is one of more popular tinctures and for a good reason. There is not a night that we don’t take a dropperful to help us relax before bed. In fact, I took two dropperful today when both the kids were driving me to the point of ripping all my eyelashes out! Hey, you gotta do what you gotta do right?!

If lavender tickled your fancy, you gotta check out our medicinal herb series on chamomile. 

Happy Lavendering!

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Medicinal Herb Series: Echinacea

Medicinal herb series Echinacea
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Photo credit /milkandhoneyacreage

Echinacea

Let’s talk about Echinacea for a second shall we.

This incredible little herb needs to be at the head of your medicinal herb cabinet, especially during cold and flu season. Any form of echinacea needs to be ready at all times. Be it tincture, tea or capsule. I feel like at some point we have all taken echinacea because we have heard that it helps support your immune system.

But what you probably haven’t heard are all the incredible properties that echinacea holds, immunity boost being just an added bonus. Let’s dive into our medicinal herb series and check out all the amazing things this little plant can do.

Growing Echinacea 

Echinacea, also known as, coneflower thrive in prairies and open areas. It loves moist soil and full sun. Echinacea has deep tap roots that store water for times of drought. It blooms during summer but stays attractive during fall and winter.

And I mean, how beautiful are those flowers. So bright and cheerful.

Medicinal properties 

Like most medicinal herbs that mother nature provides us, echinacea holds incredible healing properties in more ways than just one. While it has made it’s name for the powerful immunity boosting properties it has, it can also help protect the body from nasty ailments. Here are some ways to use echinacea.

Immune booster: Echinacea can reduce the duration of the common cold by 60%. It boosts the immune system giving your body a fighting chance against colds and flus.

Helps fight cancer: The biological compounds of the plant give it this superpower that helps fight cancerous cells. I encourage you to do deeper research, but the Natural Institute of Health (NIH) put this herb to the test and it came back with tremendous results. (1)

Pain reliever: This herb can be used to relieve pain from, headaches, toothaches, stomach aches, sore throats, herpes or sores and wounds. Just to name a few.

Anti inflammatory: Echinacea is a high anti inflammatory herb, it it suggested that individuals with Rheumatoid Arthritis take it daily to help reduce inflammation. It can help with back pain, caused by inflammation, as well.

Mental health: Echinacea is highly regarded when it comes to mental health. It is one of the first herbs that was used to help treat symptoms of ADD/ADHD. Echinacea also helps reduce anxiety, depression and mental stress. It helps clear the mind of clutter.

While echinacea is an herb that you must always have on hand, high doses of echinacea can result in some side effects such as nausea and dizziness. The proper dosage of echinacea is around 20 milligrams a day. (2)

How to use Echinacea 

You can take echinacea daily by capsule, tea, or tinctures. The best form of any herb is a liquid form such as a tincture. A tincture allows the medicinal properties of the herb to enter your blood stream faster, allowing it work more efficiently.

Just like any medicinal herb, they are meant to be metabolized by the body. There is no quick fix when dealing with natural solutions. The biggest rule of thumb when it comes to natural healing is to take the amount of time you have suffered from an ailment and turn them into months. For example, if you have struggled with inflammation for 3 years, it will take roughly a 3 months to give your body the proper amount of time to heal.

Mother Nature provided us with everything we need to heal our bodies. She put them here to help guide us and keep us healthy.

Medicinal herb series are fun, join us over here to read about rosemary, lavender or sage.

Happy Echinaceaing!

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