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Herbalist's Journal > MARCH 2010



                  "In like a lion...out like a lamb"


March 1 ~ Spring cleaning begins in earnest today. As usual, I'll tackle the smallest jobs first--to give me a sense of accomplishment, so as to not be overwhelmed by the really big messes.  I burn a rosemary incense in each room as it is completed because it smells good, it is an anti-bacterial--and the lore surrounding rosemary is that it keeps homes calm from emotional  outbursts and is good for marriages.

   Today is also St. David's day--the traditional day to start Leek seeds indoors or in a hot house.

March 2 ~ It has been a weekend of family celebrations and I was grateful to have several bottles of homemade Elder and Valerian Fizz left over to drink with festive meals. There is nothing like the taste of summer in the midst of cold, snowy weather.

March 5 ~ Spring cleaning has many benefits--including finding TONS of herbal supplies that I was just getting ready to re-order. These were still in the box from when I ordered them over a year ago. Now I can organize and put things where they belong--but I am also inspired to make a few products. The inspiration comes from the really "light" feeling from cleaning/throwing things out---and from the bright sunny/warm weather that is suddenly upon us.

March 6 ~ I have been obsessed with Herbal cookbooks lately. Not that I don't have "enough" already--but I keep finding out about new ones. It is very pleasing that herbs in foods are taking on such a mainstream popularity. We may all get healthier and happier in spite of ourselves.  * Note of caution--it is possible to become overwhelmed by so many cookbooks that you actually never use ANY of them. To get the most out of them, pick TWO and alternate making all the recipes in them you like--until you are done--then move on to another book. This does two things--helps you get organized for grocery shopping needs and allows you to quickly weed out books you really don't like. Give those away. Someone else will like them.

March 7 ~ In spite of my daily spring tonic, I have a bad case of indigestion.  Part of it is due to the seasonal change and its effects on the body...but to be honest, I have been abusing food for the last week (especially the Easter candy I bought not to eat, but to "display" for decoration). So I woke up with upper digestive gas pains. Luckily, I had some anise, dill and caraway seeds. I gave them a mild crush, put them in a tea ball and added them to my regular tea. I am happy to say I am belching my way to feeling comfortable.

March 8 ~ The snow has melted back revealing daffodil shoots!! Because of differing depths of snow in the front yard due to places the plow  dumps snow and where snow/ice fall off the roof, my spring bulbs all bloom at different times--giving me a really prolonged bloom time without having to deliberately plant mid to late season bloomers. Sometimes nature takes care of all the details by default.!

March 10 ~ There is an old saying that by Feb. 1, you should still  have half of your stored harvest  and wood left. Well, we were on track, but now some problems.....because it was so wet last summer, the few veggies that did do well (squash and onions)--the looked GREAT--but they were also a bit waterlogged and are both showing moderate to severe signs of spoilage already---will have to throw them all out. Also have been reading from multiple sources that we can not use last years potatoes to plant this year's crop due to the last summer's blight. Luckily, they are still good to eat--but we'll have to eat them all, pretty quickly, to make up for the $ lost in having to buy new seed potatoes.

So now, I have mold spores from rotting foods in my root cellar. as soon as it gets warm/dry, I'll throw open the cellar door for several days and spray/scrub my shelves with herbal tea of chamomile, rosemary, oregano, thyme ) all major anti-fungal/bacterials) and let it all dry thoroughly. Herbs are always there to save the day!

March 12 ~ Kids love Smoothies- or their Indian counterpart, Lassis. My grandson has some sniffles, and has a "sensitive palate", so sneaking herbal remedies by him is not always practical--but they are hard to pick up when disguised in thick, tasty drinks-especially since dosages for kids are so small.

March 14 ~ The last of my seed orders arrived yeasterday. I keep toying with experimenting with garden layout--to keep things exciting-but often fall back to the boring layout when actual gardening time starts and I feel rushed. However, I never commit things ot paper--so this year, I am putting the plans in black and white so I do not have to do any thinking when I'm under pressure and time constraints to get things done. One year I did a really nice spiral design. Things grew well and it was pleasing to look at it---but a real pain to weed/hoe. There is something satisfying about coming to the end of a row when hoeing--- I advise against those complicated types of designs unless you have a good back!

March 17 ~ It has been sunny and warm for days and now the chives and garlic mustard is peeking up from the soil--enough to nibble on. So wonderful to taste something absolutely fresh.  Thinking about food a lot lately and have ordered several cookbooks--some of which have been around for years, though i never heard of them and selling on Amazon.com for only a dollar or two! My favorites so far are two by the same author- Sharon Kebschull Barrett--Desserts from an Herb Garden  & Morning Glories- Breakfast, Brunch and Light Fare from An Herb Garden.  I look for recipes that think outside the taste box and that are EASY and can be played with. These books fill that bill.

March 18 ~ BURDOCK !!!!!!! This plant I have a definite love/hate relationship with. Today, it is on the side of hate. Nice/warm day to get the yard spruced up--and get rid of dead burdock. Even when dead, it is hard to pull up and even being careful--you CAN NOT escape getting the burrs in your hair/clothes. It is the roots of burdock that are the most useful, but on these dry plants, they are no longer good--so this is a task with NO reward other than removing them so my 4 year old grandson does not become entangled in the future and making my life even more stressful! Another few weeks, I will come around and go out to dig the fresh spring roots of second year plants, and the love affair will start anew.

March 19 ~ With several days of warm sun under our belts, all the greens are plentiful enough to cut for salads every day now. New dandelion leaves are not at all bitter, yellow dock leaves taste lemony, garlic mustard tastes GARLICKY. some people say you can nibble new nettle shoots without getting stung--but my nettles are a tough lot and they come up ready to do battle--so even these fresh young shoots are steamed or dried. Medicine gathering starts in the next few weeks--if the weather holds--stay tuned!

March 20 ~ SPRING !!!!!!!!!!!! Spending the day outside tidying up the yard and picking greens and putting out my garden flags. This is the first sunny/warm first day of spring I can remember--probably very deceptive, but I will enjoy it while it lasts and not let these early warm days dupe me into over enthusiasm for an early start to gardening.

March 24 ~ So, as I was saying a few days ago.....we had some snow overnight and it is sunny, but chilly and damp. Soup anyone? Weather that keeps changing lures us into under dressing, which is why so many people get sick this time of year. Soups and casseroles take the chill off and warm you to  the core. Take all those new spring greens--and add some ones that just popped up like violet  leaves--to a base of potatoes/carrots and some veggie broth--and you have a nice tonic, warming soup.  I am making a big pot to last me until Monday when Passover cooking starts. Until then, I'll take it easy on my digestive tract, not spend so much time in the kitchen--because next week, with so many food restrictions and the forcable eating of matzoh, will cause havoc !

March 26 ~ A combination of events has made it possible to actually have a greenhouse installed. It may be happening pretty soon! Aside from the fact that most gardeners dream of a greenhouse, this will allow me to grow several herbs that I either now have to grow as annuals (since I have no appropriate space in my home to overwinter them) such as Eucalyptus, Bay, various Rosemarys, Passion Flower..... Also, I can now grow lettuce/salad greens all year....and won't need grow lights after all and can start more plants and more finicky  plants from seed. As this progresses, I will add on even more stuff I can do and I'm sure I will outgrow, in my mind, the capabilities of this greenhouse before it is even finished. That is what gardeners do--dream big!

March 27 ~ Dealing with computer problems today made the ongoing spring cleaning downright enjoyable. The way the light shines this time of year is very unforgiving--showing every speck of dust and illuminating all of the cobwebs! I dealt with the computer mess with a nice warm cup of catnip and lemon balm tea------and--used the leftover tea to damp mop my dust bunnies.  It is a bit antiseptic and smells nice.  If I am under stress, I become more efficient and try to kill two birds with one stone!

March 28 ~ Grandson complained of an "itchy eye".  My first line--and usually last line, of defense is a straight tincture of goldenseal and echinacea on a cotton ball, rubbed on the eyelid. Kids, adults, animals--it almost always works.

March 29 ~ Passover is early this year, so while I usually am able to go out and dig a bit of horseradish root for the seder plate, the horseradish leaves aren't even up yet.  There are several bitter herbs that could be used in its place--such as hyssop, but they are not up yet either----except for dandelion leaves/roots. They will do just fine.  Parsley is also on the plate and that actually is already up. The Hagaddah, the Seder book that outlines the format of the meal, is very descriptive as to why certain herbs are used--bitter herbs to symbolize the bitterness of slavery, for example.  Another holiday where herbs are of central importance--and so entwined with religious/cultural traditions.

March 30 ~  Spring cleaning continues--sort of.....I have decided i simply do not have the time to do it as well as I'd like this year, so....I have modified my expectations. Instead of a thorough scrubbing down , I'm going to settle for a big purge--lots of throwing out and in those areas, after getting rid of stuff--lots of books/knick/knacks, etc... I will damp dust with some diluted essential oils. Now the  stress is which scents to pick. It is important to take the use of a room into account when using incense or oils---lavender or patchouli in a kitchen or dining area is NOT appetizing.


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