Saturday, September 29, 2012

Health Benefits of Calendula

This post is for my sister Jen.  She has huge marigolds growing in her garden and recently harvested 4 of her plants.  She had almost a grocery bag full of flowers and still had a bunch left in the garden!
Pacific Beauty
What is Calendula?
From Wisegeek,
"Calendula is the genus name of a flowering plant more commonly known as the marigold, which is not only an attractive border plant, but is edible and has useful medicinal properties as well. Be warned, however, if you want to collect and dry your garden marigolds for herbal uses, that a number of other plants are also called 'marigolds'. Make sure yours are true Calendula officinalis before drying or eating them. Calendula flowers and leaves are edible and make an attractive addition to salads and soups. The flavor is usually slightly bitter and can add a tangy or tart flavor to your usual greens.
Calendula has a long history as a healing herb, most notably for the healing of wounds. It has antiseptic, antibacterial and antifungal properties that prevent infections, and it can support coagulation and scab-formation in sores that resist healing. For this reason, it is contraindicated in wounds that need to remain open until all the infection has drained away, since it may cause premature scabbing that would necessitate reopening the healing wound. Calendula can be applied as a poultice - a warm mash of the flowers held in place with a cloth - over wounds to stop bleeding, aid healing and prevent infection, and was a common battlefield first aid during the nineteenth century and beyond. Calendula was also widely used in tinctures, or herbal extractions with alcohol, and infusions, or teas made from the dried herb."

Health Benefits of Calendula
My favorite source, Herb Companion says:
"Used since Roman times, calendula (Calendula officinalis) has a centuries-old reputation as a wound healer. The bright yellow and orange blossoms contain volatile oils, tannins and resins that calm inflammation; speed healing; and have antibacterial, antifungal and antiviral properties.
In recent studies, calendula has been proven to help heal venous leg ulcers, which are notoriously slow-healing wounds caused by poor circulation. Calendula often is a primary ingredient in herbal salves for skin rashes, diaper rash, minor cuts and burns, and chapped lips. A strong tea made from calendula blossoms makes an excellent footbath for athlete’s foot, a facial wash for acne, an eyewash for conjunctivitis, a mouth rinse for aphthous ulcers (canker sores) or a vaginal wash for yeast infections."

It's a pretty Awesome plant!

Grow your own Calendula (Marigold)
Calendula is easily grown from seed and may be sown directly in the garden from early spring on into summer, with plenty of time left to get a good harvest of flowers. Tolerant of poor soils, calendula will grow in partial shade or full sun. The plant requires regular watering. Sometimes known as “pot marigold,” calendula is easily grown in pots on the doorstep or in window boxes. Ideal for children, the seeds are large and easily handled, and germination is almost assured even if planted by the inexperienced gardener. Sow about ¼ inch deep and pat down the row. Keep weeded and thin to 6 inches to 1 foot apart. The first flowers are produced only 40 to 50 days after seed germination. 

Calendula is also a great Companion Plant

 Linking up HERE.

*Don't forget, October 4th at Back to the Basics! The Salsa Garden Giveaway!

Friday, September 28, 2012

I Love Friday! Aloha Blog Hop at Back to the Basics!

Yes!  It's Friday!  There is so much going on this week and I'm trying to keep everything going at work (even though I still feel like I'm on vacation).

I'm hosting another giveaway on October 4th!  The Salsa Garden Giveaway...Yippie!  I'll announce the details here and at Mary's Kitchen.  Grow your own Salsa Garden step-by-step HERE.

In case you were wondering, I'm still on my Herb kick!  I've explained Basil and Lemons, Chamomile, Fenugreek, Echinacea and Mugwort.  
Next up...Calendula!

And now for the hop!
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Local Sugar Hawaii What Jean Likes

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Happy Aloha Friday!
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Thursday, September 27, 2012

Health benefits of Mugwort

Good Morning!  I meant to share this info with you earlier in the week but I lost track of time.  Here we go!

Mugwort, aka wormwood, sailor's tobacco, felon herb, chrysanthemum weed, traveler's plant, and St. John's Plant (not St. John's Wort) is a very potent and beneficial herb.

What is Mugwort?
"Many herbalists used mugwort to treat a wide range of symptoms including digestive problems and menstrual irregularity. Folklore also held that mugwort placed under the pillow or burned in the bedroom would bring vivid, intense dreams. This may well be true, since thujone, the toxin in mugwort, is also found in wormwood, the primary ingredient in absinthe. The plant was also traditionally used to flavor beers and wines, and some cooks included it as a bitter ingredient in savory dishes." Source

Health Benefits of Mugwort 
Mugwort can be used as an antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, antispasmodic, diaphoretic, diuretic, haemostatic and to promote healthy digestion. 

Mugwort can also work to relax and sooth anxiety and stress.  Additional benefits include relief of exhaustion, nervousness, and mild depression. 

For women, Mugwort can help stimulate or regulate menstruation and can be used for painful menstrual cramps. 

Want to Grow your Own?
From Wisegeek, "The plant can grow up to 18 feet (6 meters) in height, and it has hairy angular stalks which are tinted with purple. The leaves are deeply segmented and often serrated, and the flowers are small, with a purple to red color. Mugwort can be found wild all over the world, and sometimes volunteers itself in cultivated gardens as well. Since it is highly tenacious, this can be disruptive, and gardeners who do not want mugwort in their gardens should be aggressive about eliminating it. The flowering period ranges from July to September."
Tip:  If you want this one in your garden and you don't want it to take over, it's important to have deep sound borders around it. Once they start they will grow rapidly, and can be difficult to control. 

Growing from seed is very simple.  I use peat pellets for almost all of my seed starting.  Plant the seed and cover with approx 1/4 inch of light soil.  Seeds germinate in 4-10 days.  Once the seedling has grown 3-5 inches, transplant to it's permanent home.

Happy Planting!

Monday, September 24, 2012

I'm Back!

Hello!  I am back from my travels.  I had a wonderful time with my family.  Every day it was something new and exciting.  I've got plenty of photos, recipes, crafts and more photos to share...Later!

I need a day or two to get back into the routine of work (sleep) and blogging.  For now I'll leave you with a teaser.  We decorated plates!

Just a reminder, the SUPER Seed Sale at Mary's Heirloom Seeds is still going on.  The chinese mosaic beans are now out of stock and there is only 2 packs of German Giant Radish seeds left. Purchase herb and veggie seeds together and receive a free extra seed pack and if your order is over $35 you'll receive another pack.  Yep, 2 FREE packs and free Priority shipping!

Stay tuned for more Herbal Health Benefits!  Tomorrow I'll tell you all about Mugwort.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Health Benefits of Echinacea

Many of you know that I own and operate an Heirloom Seed company called Mary's Heirloom Seeds.  After several year of research on topics such as health (pretty broad), nutrition, organic vs. conventional, organic gardening...AND much more...I realize there is so much more to learn!  The more I learned, the more I wanted to grow my own garden.  The more I read about gardening and seeds it became apparent to me that the only way to grow was using heirloom seeds.  Read more HERE.
Baby Thyme in Peat Pellets
I am no expert but I've picked up quite a bit of information on the health benefits of herbs.  Much of what is listed below comes from several amazing website that have helped me personally. I've decided to start with the seed varieties available at Mary's Heirloom Seeds because I have done the most research on those herbs.  Enjoy!


Echinacea Purpurea
The most commonly used (commercially) species of echinacea are E. Purpurea, E. Angustiflolia and E. Pallida.  I'm going to tell you about Echinacea Purpurea.  For more info, check out The Herb Companion.

About Echinacea
According to The Herb Companion,
"E. purpurea, a favorite garden perennial with its brilliant late-summer display of large purple daisies on 3- to 4-foot stalks, was introduced into En­glish gardens as early as 1699 and has been under cultivation ever since. Unlike the other echinaceas, this species has a fibrous root instead of a taproot. The leaves are oval, tapering to a sharp point, with irregular teeth. It is the most widespread species of echinacea in North America, although not the most abundant, occurring in moist soils in woods, at edges of thickets and prairies, and near springs, often as a solitary plant or in small populations."

Also from Herb Comanion, "No single chemical has been found responsible for echinacea’s ability to stimulate the immune system; in fact, whole-plant extracts seem to be more effective than those containing an isolated compound. Certain polysaccharides, flavonoids, ­essential oils, caffeic acid derivatives, isobutylamides, and ­cichoric acid all may play a role in producing echinacea’s effects."

From Health Guidance, "It is also commonly used as a laxative. It is also commonly thought of as a treatment for the common cold, though it is believed that this came about through a misunderstanding – some Native Americans used it to treat symptoms of the common cold rather than to treat the colds themselves.
 One potential active substance is the compound 'phenols' which are also common in many other plants. Phenols have many anti-inflammatory and anti-clotting qualities and it is phenols that are believed to make olive oil such a beneficial thing to consume, however they may also be related to endocrine-disruptive chemicals; in other words they may actually have some negative effects. Meanwhile Echinacea also contains polysaccharides which can improve mood via the production of feel good hormones as well as helping to improve cardiovascular health and crucially immunity."

-Immune Booster
-Mild Laxative
-Mood Enhancer
-Cardiovascular Support

As with any herb, there may be potential side effects or drug interaction.  With that in mind, it is important to do your own research to find out what id best for you.  The is not intended to be medical advise or a "cure."
Now that we have that pesky disclaimer out of the way, on to Growing your own!

The planting instructions on each seed pack reads:

Seeds can be sown in cool or warm conditions, covered very lightly (depth of ½ inch) and kept reasonably moist until seedlings emerge. Echinacea, also known as coneflowers, enjoy a sunny location with fertile soil with good drainage. If your soil isn't particularly fertile, work in a little compost.

How about a bit more info!  From Garden Guides,

"Plant echinacea seeds in early spring, as soon as the soil can be worked, and when you still expect another frost or two. Sow the seeds 1/4" deep and 2" apart. When the seedlings are an inch tall, thin to 18" apart. Rabbits and hedgehogs think new echinacea shoots are a tasty treat, so protect your seedlings if these animals are known to visit your garden.

Alternatively, you can plant your seeds about 2 months before your first fall frost. This gives the plants enough time to become established, and although they won't come to bloom the first year when you plant them this late, they will give you a much better bloom period next year.

Regular weeding is a must because echinacea doesn't compete well with weeds, but other that that, plants require very little care. Expect blooms from June to October in most areas. Echinacea will be one of the last plants in your garden to go dormant."

I hope you enjoyed all of this information I have gathered.  I'll share more herbs with you over the next few days and weeks.  If you have an herb you are interested in please feel free to let me know.  I'm in the middle of a SUPER Seed sale at Mary's Heirloom Seeds so please bear with me!

Happy Herbing!

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Remember Me?

Yep, it's what's her name from that one gardening/health/DIY blog.  
 Last week was the birthday week so I kinda fell off the planet.  Headfirst!
Baby Lucy getting bigger!

I'm Back!  Sorta!  I'm going out of town next week, we have a SUPER sale at Mary's Heirloom Seeds going on, Lip Balms to create AND a household to run...but I plan on sharing quite a bit of good, healthy info over the next few days.

Purple Opal Basil

I've been on an Herb kick lately.  No, not the "happy" kinda herbs that are only kinda legal in a few states for medicinal purposes.  I'm talking about herbs like Basil, Yarrow, Lavender, Dill and Mugwort.  It turns out that these babies are also medicinal!
Fine Verde Basil

Check out the Health Benefits of Lemon and Basil to get you started.  Next, check out Chamomile and Fenugreek.  These should get you started.  Tune in tomorrow for more herbaceous discussion.
Mary's Basics Vegan Lip Balm

Sunday, September 9, 2012

September SUPER Seed Sale and a Winner!

September is a SUPER month!
I've decided to offer a SUPER Seed Sale.  More than half of the Heirloom seed varieties at Mary's Heirloom Seeds are on sale.
-Shipping is FREE
-Orders over $25 are upgraded to Priority shipping
-Orders over $35 will also receive 10 FREE Peat Pellets 
-10 Free Peat pellets with purchase of the Family Garden Pack
Peat Pellets (dry)
*We will be unavailable to fill seed orders between Sept 19-23

All order placed between those dates will be shipped on Tuesday, September 25th* 
Amana's Orange Tomatoes

If 10-50% off wasn't enough,  Refer a friend and receive a free seed pack of your choice once their order is complete!

For all of you Homeschoolers, we have 2 variety packs available which include detailed growing instructions and educational information.

Both the Education Pack and the Mini-Education Pack also include plant markers and 2 free Flower packs for a very reasonable price!
Purple Beauty Bell Pepper

And now for the WINNERS!  I had the pleasure of hosting a giveaway at Mary's Kitchen this past week to celebrate 100+ followers.

The winner of the In the Kitchen Garden pack is Pamela at Pamela's Heavenly Treats!  Woohoo!
I decided to add a runner-up to receive a seed pack of their choice.  Joyce W. at Education Jump-Off is the runner-up!  What will you ladies do with your homegrown herbs?

Please check out the SUPER selection of Heirloom garden seeds and Organic sprouting seeds at Mary's Heirloom Seeds.  The SUPER sale goes through September while supplies last!

Friday, September 7, 2012

Happy Friday! Joining the Aloha Blog Hop

Good Morning!  My birthday is next week so I've been a bit MIA lately!

Today I am sharing a few of my favorite Halloween Projects from around the web.  I love Halloween!!!
Craft Gossip
Hostess with the Mostess
Jean's Crafty Corner

Last but certainly not least, Martha!

Paper Decorations

HAPPY FRIDAY!!  Enjoy the Hop!

Aloha Friday Blog Hop

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Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Organic Food and Why it IS Healthier!

Many of you may have read that there is a new study out that claims there is "no evidence of a health benefit attached to organic foods."
Before I get into that I'd like to point out that Grunenthal told people that Thalidomide was safe for pregnant women.  Now, 50 years later they are apologizing for the birth defects that their drug caused.

The FDA says that Propecia, a drug for hair-loss, is safe for men.  However, one of the side effects is severe depression even after the patient discontinues use of the drug.

When Monsanto was blamed for Colony Collapse Disorder, which has killed Millions of Honeybees around the world, their answer was to Buy the Research Firm.

With that said, It is very important that we all do our own research.  People lie.  More importantly, companies with millions (and billions) of dollars at stake will do and say just about anything to sell you something.  Whether you need it or not!

Now, just because something is "organic" does not mean it is healthy.  Sugar is organic but to some it is poison.  As one yahoo article states, "The new study in the Annals reported that consumption of organic fruits and vegetables did reduce exposure to pesticide residues by roughly 30 percent overall. For whatever it's worth, pesticide levels were generally within the allowable limits for safety for the conventionally grown foods."

Reduced pesticide exposure by 30 Percent!!!  I would say that would be Healthier!
Dwarf Pak Choy
In an article at Eating Well:
"It’s a difference in soil fertility, says Mitchell: “With organic methods, the nitrogen present in composted soil is released slowly and therefore plants grow at a normal rate, with their nutrients in balance. Vegetables fertilized with conventional fertilizers grow very rapidly and allocate less energy to develop nutrients.” 

I won't even go into GMO food because I've discussed them MANY times HERE.

I didn't see in this article about the effect to our environment between organic and traditional methods.  The current administration in Washington has rid the planet of over the counter asthma inhalers (Which have saved my husband's life) but they allow pesticides to be sprayed by the hundreds of gallons everyday.  

According to Kids for Saving the Earth, the potential side effects of pesticides are:
-Birth Defects
-Neurological effects
-Hormone Disruption

I'm not saying I only eat organic.  My garden is as Organic as it can be.  I use NO pesticides or chemicals.  We try and eat as healthy as possible and we don't eat out.  Sometimes we are in a hurry and I'm famished but I'd rather whip something up at home than poison myself with crap fast-food.

The moral of the story?  Don't believe everything you read.  Don't be a sheep!  Do your own research and do what you think is best, not what someone else tells you is best.