Plants & Uses

Culantro

  Culantro, Eryngium foetidum, is very distinct from cilantro, in spite of having a similar name. It does have a similar flavor and scent. Close your nose, though, and from its appearance, you would never confuse the two plants. In the same family as cilantro, Apiacaea, culantro […]Read the full article...

I Didn’t Know I Could Grow: Pomegranates

Somewhere along the line I was brainwashed into thinking there was a list of certain plants I could grow. Frustratingly, that list included things I can’t grow: European pears, sweet cherries, and most stone fruits; at least not without a lot of fuss and spraying and disappointment. […]Read the full article...

Reishi Mushrooms, Gut Bugs & Weight Control

Yesterday this popped up in my BBC World Latest Headlines feed: Mushroom Used in Chinese Medicine “slows weight gain.” Yep. It was reishi. Reishi is about to get a lot more press than usual. Anything having to do with weight loss is a sure thing to get […]Read the full article...

Reishi Mushrooms

Reishi mushrooms, Ganoderma lucidum, have been used for centuries to promote health and longevity and are known as” the mushrooms of immortality.” I inoculated several oak logs over a year ago and put them in a shady spot behind my compost bin, partially nestled into the soil. […]Read the full article...

Yahooo! Oyster Mushrooms!

Again, THRILLED. I went out this morning to see how much the shiitakes had grown overnight and was amazed to see one of the logs of oyster mushrooms had also fruited. I may have done a mushroom dance. Look at those delicate gills, the soft, felty caps, […]Read the full article...

I’m Plotzing!

I can barely contain myself. Something I’ve been waiting for years to happen has happened. In fact, it’s something that helped bring about the formation of this blog six years ago. Deanna and I had been friends for ten years at that point, but somehow we never […]Read the full article...

Making Lemon Balm Tincture

If I were stranded on a desert island one of the first plants I’d go looking for is lemon balm. It would help keep me calm, and considering I was stranded on a desert island I would be in need of a heaping helping of calm. It […]Read the full article...

Chicken Of The Woods

It sounds like a (bad) joke: What kind of mushroom grows in a chicken run? Answer: Chicken Of The Woods! When I posted this photo to our Facebook page asking for help identifying the mushroom that sprung up overnight on a cherry log next to the chicken […]Read the full article...

How-To: Passionflower Tincture

Besides being appreciated for its fantastical blooms, passionflower (Passiflora incarnata) is used medicinally to calm anxiety and improve sleep. It’s thought to increase levels of GABA (gamma-Aminobutyric acid). GABA regulates the excitability of neurons in the brain. GABA is also suspected to regulate the production of melatonin, […]Read the full article...

Chokeberry: The Next Superfood?

With three times the antioxidants of that other superfood, the blueberry, Aronia melanocarpa, or chokeberry, may be poised to become one of the next superfood sweethearts of the nutrifood industry. Why wait, though, when you can have a chokeberry in your own backyard? If you’ve never heard […]Read the full article...

Juneberry

I can’t believe I’m saying this, but it’s almost June. If you don’t believe it either, the proof is in the ripening Juneberries. I planted three Juneberry (Amelanchier) bushes three years ago. They’ve had a slow start not being in full sun, but they’re finally looking like […]Read the full article...

Tulsi (Sacred Basil)

My master gardener training this year included sessions at the Memphis Botanic Gardens led by garden employees/experts. At the end of a tour of the new herb garden, the leader shared her favorite if-she-could-only-have-one herb: tulsi, or sacred basil. Back home, with my copy of Horizon Herbs’ […]Read the full article...

Milk Thistle

The seed of milk thistle (Silybum marianum) contains silymarin, thought to be useful in treating diseases of the liver such as cirrhosis, jaundice, and hepatitis.  It has also shown promise in the treatment of Type 2 diabetes, and it may be helpful reducing the toxicity of poisonous […]Read the full article...

Hairy Bittercress

I visited my sister last week and she invited me to look over a bare garden bed in her backyard in which she had sown several kinds of seeds.  Being a normal sort of person who doesn’t research seedling identification, she didn’t know if what was sprouting […]Read the full article...

Henbit

Henbit (Lamium amplexicaule), also known as Greater Henbit or Henbit Deadnettle, is a member of the mint family.  Like many in that family, it does not taste mint-y. Henbit is still edible, fresh or cooked.  Nutritionally, it’s tough to find information on henbit.  Many sources simply quote, […]Read the full article...

Catchweed Bedstraw

Catchweed Bedstraw (Galium aparine) is a member of the madder family. I grow Red Madder (Rubia tinctorum) so I was familiar with the velcro-like teeth covering the leaves of members of this clan.  You can see them somewhat in this photo: Those little fibers are tenacious grabbers.  […]Read the full article...

Chickweed

Like most gardeners, I’ve picked my share of chickweed (Stellaria media) out of my garden beds. I’ve done it without even knowing what it was called or anything about it.  Never tasted it, either. My curiosity eventually kicked in, though, so I identified it, found out it’s […]Read the full article...

Making Rosemary Tincture

Continuing my tincture-making spree, I made rosemary tincture. Rosemary is an herbal powerhouse.  It contains antioxidants, known to combat free radicals. I’d heard about free radicals and antioxidants forever, but never knew quite what they were so I looked it up.  Free radicals are molecules with unstable […]Read the full article...

Wonderberries

I like novelty in the garden.  Weird stuff, in other words.  If the seed catalog makes it sound odd enough, it goes in my cart. Last year I planted wonderberries, and this year they planted themselves. Wonderberries are small, pea-sized berries grown on short, tender shrubs.  A […]Read the full article...

Ginseng 2012

  In March of last year, I wrote a post about the first growth of ginseng from that winter’s planting of ginseng rootlets and seeds.  It was my first attempt to grow ginseng, and I was thrilled that the rootlets had come to life. It was a […]Read the full article...

Making Motherwort Tincture

Motherwort (Leonurus cardiaca) is a heavy-hitter in the medicinal plants game.  It is used, among other things, for the heart, for anxiety, and for women’s health.  You can read more about it here. I planted motherwort seeds last Spring.  They germinated and produced a few plants, which […]Read the full article...

Elderberries

Years ago, like most college students, I lived by myself in a cabin at the edge of a big woods. Let’s try again. Years ago, like most college students, I spent my summers walking along fencerows picking elderberries for homemade jam. No? Maybe that’s why none of […]Read the full article...

Heirloom Red Okra

I ran into a neighbor friend at the market early this summer and she offered to bring me some red okra seeds. Of course I agreed. She walked over one day soon thereafter with an envelope with over a dozen nice round seeds.  To help them germinate […]Read the full article...