Monday, May 11, 2015

Using the Herbs in Your Garden by Judy Dunning

Drying Herbs

Calendula
Now that you have had a few months growing time it’s time to think about drying some of your herbs.  If you prefer working with dried plants, there are many ways to dry the herbs you’ve picked. You’ll see fairly consistent results if you lay your herbs flat on a framed screen in a warm, dry place, ensuring that air will circulate to all sides of the plant. So if you have a room with a ceiling fan or good cross-ventilation that would be the place.  Avoid drying herbs in direct sun, as this will affect the color and flavor of the plant and your finished product.  Some people swear by using a food dehydrator on a very low setting (while this is certainly the quickest method, it’s not exactly the most natural or energy efficient). 

If you want to use a dehydrator it is best to have one designed for herbs as they are usually bigger.   Others rely on nothing fancier than some twine and a well-placed nail from which to hang the bundled herb – a technique closest to the historical method of hanging bundles from the rafters. This may be the historical way to do it but keep in mind they didn’t have paper bags in those days.  I think you will have spiders and dust for your efforts.  My favorite method is if the herb has a high moisture content such as basil, mints, calendula, and lemon balm then the method of laying them on screens is very good but if they are heartier plants, such as rosemary, thyme and sage, they will dry just fine by putting them in paper bags.  With the paper bag method you need to shake up the bags once in a while so that everything dries evenly. The drying time depends on the moisture content of the plant and can take anywhere from a couple of days to two weeks. Also remember to write on the bag what’s in it.  You may think you will recognize the contents by smell but sometimes drying changes the smell. 


Trading Herbs


If you have no garden to call your own, try approaching a neighbor about arranging a barter. Gardeners often have more plants than they know what to do with. In exchange for providing you with their surplus herbs, you might offer to give them half of whatever you make. If they don’t have a particular herb you want to concoct something out of, you could propose a similar deal for the next season: they provide the garden space and the watering, you buy and plant the seeds, and you both divvy up the results. Now let's make something! 

Spring Tonic (Stinging Nettle Infusion)

1 ounce dried stinging nettle leaves
1 quart water (boiled)
1 quart size glass jar

Place dried nettle into a glass container that will withstand boiling water. Pour boiling water over the nettle leaves and infuse, covered for 4-10 hours or overnight. Strain into a quart sized jar and store in the refrigerator. The infusion will only keep for a couple of days. An infusion of nettle is more concentrated than a tea. You can drink 2 – 3 cups of the infusion each day for a week. After that, drink as you please. The infusion is dark green with an earthy, grassy taste. Drink it over ice for optimum flavor. If you prefer, use local honey to sweeten it. Some folks add salt or a bit of lemon to their drink which gives it a different flavor. You can also re-heat your infusion and drink it warm.


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Thursday, March 5, 2015

Recap of Spring Marketplace and "Herbs for Supporting Cancer Recovery"

What a great evening! We had about 70 people, a variety of herbalists with information, herbal formulas, and more, and and a great presentation by Charlotte Tenney, Thank you to everyone that came out, we hope you all met new folks, learned a little something, and took home new ideas and excitement for what's going on locally. We'll be doing it again June 3rd so mark your calenders now.

Our May meeting on Wednesday, May 6, will be a continuation of our "Herbal Basics 101" class. Check back here, sign up for our newsletter or follow us on Facebook for details.



Sunday, February 8, 2015

2015 Nettles Festival Saturday, February 21, 8 AM - Noon


Trees for Health volunteers, members of the San Diego Herb Guild, professional herbalists and student herbalists are all invited to come harvest nettles in the Trees for Health Garden on Saturday, February 21st. The Trees for Health Garden is located on Balboa Drive just south of the Camp Fire Boys and Girls Camp and just north of Quince Drive. Follow this link for a map.

Once you have harvested what you need, please be prepared to stay and help clear the garden of nettles for at least one hour. The park allows us to grow the nettles as long as we remove them in a timely fashion. You may start later than 8 AM, but may miss the best nettles.

Please check in with Joanne Odenthal when you arrive. Joanne will be wearing a straw hat, green shirt and yellow volunteer vest - and a name tag. Everyone there to harvest MUST have a name tag prior to starting. (We need a record of who has joined the fun!)

Bring water, a hat, your own gloves and a bag for your harvest. 

Questions? Contact Joanne Odenthal via email.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Cinnamon Species and their Pharmacological Activities

The genus cinnamon (Cinnamomum spp.) comprises about 250 species worldwide. The bark of many species is used as a cooking spice, in perfumes and fragrances, as a food preservative, and in traditional and modern medicines. True cinnamon (C. verum syn. C. zeylanicum) and cassia cinnamon (C. aromaticum syn. C. cassia) are most used as a spice. From studies published from 1982 to 2013, some results include the following:

Antioxidant effects
Anti-inflammatory actions
Antidiabetic effects
Anticancer activity
Cholesterol- and lipid-lowering effects
Inhibiting formation of advanced glycation end products (AGEs)
...and more.

Read the full article here.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Trees for Health Update

Balboa Park 2015 Celebration

Come explore the Trees for Health garden on April 25th as part of the Balboa Park 2015 Celebration. There will be tours given by local herbalists plus exhibits for those interested in holistic health. Pacific College of Oriental Medicine, Self Heal School, and Bastyr University will all be present, plus more. For those who get there while supplies last, there will be certificates for a free acupuncture session at the Pacific College of Oriental Medicine Clinic. Festivities begin at 11:00 AM. and continue until 3:00 PM. Put it on your calendar and check back for more information or Join Our Newsletter by entering your email address in the box to the right.

We're Expanding

The Trees for Health Arboretum will be expanding into the area north of the garden towards the Boys and Girls Campfire Camp. Eventually there will be a native oak circle in the area. Since oaks are very slow growing, the field will be planted with beneficial natives and drought tolerant plants, including milkweed or butterfly weed, Asclepias tuberosa.



Come Join Us!


If you are interested in helping in the garden: Friday morning from 7:30-10:00 a regular work party meets in the garden. If you are interested in joining us, just show up. Rain cancels. If you want more information, email us and express your interest in the Trees for Health Arboretum.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Just in Time for Cold and Flu Season

Herb Clip from American Botanical Council

Pelargonium sidoides is a scrubby little plant with deep burgundy 
flowers that is native to South Africa. It's an extremely effective cold and flu remedy. There's one in the Trees for Health garden in Balboa Park. The studies in this article focused on Pelargonium sidoides effect on acute respiratory infections. Read the full article here.


Friday, December 5, 2014

Versatile Aloe Vera Has Been Used for Thousands of Years

Most people know that aloe vera is a great natural remedy for skin issues, in particular sunburn. Its moisturizing and healing properties have made it a staple skin treatment in indigenous cultures dating back to the ancient Egyptians in the 16th century BC. Aloe vera contains both vitamins and minerals including vitamins A, B, C and E. It also contains calcium, magnesium, zinc and chromium. There are many ways to use aloe vera - topically or as a supplement in the form of juice, softgels or capsules. Read more here.