Posts tagged flowers

The Magic of Mullein

From soothing your cough to flavoring your liqueurs, Mullein has a lot of uses, some of them you’ve never heard of. The seeds are cheap and they are easy to grow; simply put in a pot full of soil and water. And if you don’t want to grow Mullein, there are many sources for it online, most of them inexpensive. There are about 250 genuses of Mullein, which is a member of the Figwort family. Mullein is also called by about 30 common names including Velvet Dock, Candlewick Plant, Cow Lungwort, Hags Taper and Aaron’s Rod. These cultivars grow all over Europe, Asia and the Meditteranean. They are also widely cultivated in North America and can sometimes be found growing wild. Very common varieties include Moth Mullein, Dark Mullein, Wooly Mullein and Common Mullein. The cultivar I have used the most and whole heartedly recommend is Verbascum Thapsus or Common Mullein. This particular cultivar has been naturalized all over the US, mostly in Hawaii and also in Australia. So it can be grown almost anywhere. I highly recommend planting Mullein in your garden and using it year round. I have recipes and guidelines for you to use when making use of the plant so bookmark this page for after your plants are growing and blooming. You can use Mullein for many things during every stage of it’s growth so it is well worth the few cents it costs to buy a packet of seeds.

Mullien was considered a magical herb in antiquity and it was given to Ulysses to protect him from the magic of Circe, who had changed his crew into pigs. The soft fine hairs on the leaves and stems of this plant makes a superb tinder and it was used this way throughout history. Hence, the popular name, Velvet Plant. These same soft hairs protect the herb from moisture loss, creeping insects and grazing animals because the down irritates mucus membranes. So this plant has few enemies in the garden, making it even easier to grow. So here are my hints on how to cultivate Mullein and how to use every part of the plant in every stage of it’s growth.

Read the rest of this entry »

Comments (1) »

Natural Safe Ways to Freshen the Air

The smells inside our caves can get pretty rank, even if we’re really clean and neat. I am constantly cleaning myself and the trash alone makes the living room smell like a dumpster. And then there’s the cat boxes in the bedrooms, the left over lingering odor from several cooked meals a day, the smelly shoes that my sister loves to leave all over the place.. etc.. You get the picture. You know it in your own home. The temptation to grab the Lysol or the Febreze is almost overwhelming. I am guilty of this, too. When the cats make a mess or my father spills his coffee, I reach for a can. The couch actually smells like a Febreze factory. But I am a hypocrite because I am a believer and a promoter of natural living and this is a far cry from natural. Chemical fragrances are dangerous. I have already done a post on that and you can read it HERE. So why would I use them? Oh, they are convenient and I am so busy. It is much faster to grab a can and spray than it is to devise another solution at the moment. But it really isn’t all that hard to fix this problem and I am going to start doing it this weekend.

In the past, I have also turned to candles and incense. This has been a time honored international tradition that we borrowed from the Middle East and Asia. But it’s a dangerous one. The smoke from these burning scents are dangerous for our lungs, sinuses and overall health. I discovered my chronic sinus problems at the time were caused by the smoke from the incense I loved so much. So I just don’t recommend Incense. Candles have been proven to cause cancer in much the same way cigarettes do. It is not a good idea to stand around burning candles or to suck in the fragrance from a burning candle, no matter how lovely that fragrance is. So I am not going to recommend using candles or incense to solve odor problems.

But I do I have some great ideas for odor control. Some require recipes while others require a simple change of habit. Some of the things we get used to doing day after day make the matter worse. I, myself, get into habits and patterns that I am reluctant to change because I think it’s going to be hard or tiring or take up too much time. Don’t wait until you are sweating over the broom or the vacuum before thinking about making a change. Get started while you are sitting around or planning your day. The most important part of any change is making the mental note and the decision to do it. We gear up for change, toy with it in our minds, work up the energy and determination needed for it. But the decision to start is a big step. Once you focus yourself on the change needed, you will eventually find yourself just doing it. So let’s get started today!

Read the rest of this entry »

Comments off

Easy Spring and Summer Flower Projects

Isn’t it just wonderful that Spring has finally arrived? If you are in a part of the country where Spring is taking it’s time, you will just have to get an early start on the melt! There is nothing more cheery and lovely about Spring and Summer than flowers. April brings the rains and May brings the flowers, or so goes the rhyme. There will be blooms everywhere, if not today then very soon. And those blooms need to be captured and made use of; don’t leave them to rot on the ground! I have great simple and cheap ideas for decorating your home with flowers for Spring and Summer. Bright yellows, blues, greens and whites. Lovely brash, happy colors to make your home just glow with cheery sunlight.

Be prepared for some very simple ideas and projects. These could actually cost you very little or even nothing at all if you have old containers in your home that are packed away and flowers growing in the garden outside. Otherwise, you can get containers and other items at the flea market or thrift store and pick flowers in the neighbor’s garden (with permission, of course!). So get out the floral supplies from last year and clear the winter decorations from the table.. you are about to make some great decorations that will help you welcome Spring with open arms.

Read the rest of this entry »

Comments off

Snacking in the Flower Garden

I have been to many an office party in a fancy hotel conference room, haven’t you? Even if not, I am sure you have had those fancy salads they serve, filled with flowers, fancy lettuces and vegetable leaves. There, among the Romaine, Arugula and Spinach, you have seen yellow, red or orange blooms. What on earth are they? You don’t see them in the grocery store and you don’t see them in most restaurants, but they are obviously ok to eat, and even downright delicious! Even though it’s not common on our menu, the truth is, many cultures use flowers in their traditional cooking. The Italians use squash blossoms and the Indians use roses. Flowers can be spicy, herbacious, floral and/or fragrant. And what they can add to your food is amazing.

As I noted, many of us have eaten flowers in salad. Some of us have had teas made of blooms, like Roses and Dandelions. But they can actually be obtained easily and sometimes for free and used in a many inspired ways that can improve your food. You can use the blooms from chives, garlic or basil in pasta, vegetable sauces and in soups. You can make milk based desserts like custards or ice creams out of Roses or Carnations. You can pickle the buds of flowers like Nasturtiums or Cloves. The ideas are endless as are the recipes. Here are the different flowers that are good to eat with a few interesting recipes thrown in:

Read the rest of this entry »

Comments off

Summer Project: Homemade Dandelion Wine

Here’s some summer fun for everyone. If you’ve never made your own homemade wine, don’t be mistaken, it isn’t easy. But, then again, it isn’t hard, either. It does take a bit of effort, a few tools and patience. But there is a big plus: the dandelions are free. Feel free to pick any kind of dandelion you can locate, from your yard, the neighbors yard, wild fields or someone’s garden. It actually doesn’t matter if it’s a pretty one or a ratty one, but be sure they haven’t been treated with pesticides or fertilizers. It’s worth the money if you have a local organic farmer that grows them or florist that has organic flowers; the cleaner, the better. You can sometimes buy them dried in health food stores but fresh is much better. What you will need is fresh blossoms and it doesn’t matter what genus or strain of flower. Wild or cultivated. Just pick or otherwise obtain fresh flowers and you are ready for wine!

Read the rest of this entry »

Comments off

Sustainable Gardening with Self Sowing Plants

Here’s an idea! Plant your garden in with plants that self sow. This will save you money on seeds, on the time spent replanting and make the entire process sustainable over the long term. I am sure you are asking yourself, what plants are these and are they worth planting? Well, I think you’d be surprised to find that many of them are desirable plants, both perennial and annual, and lots of them are flowers. Also among the numbers are herbs and wildflowers, both not only contributory to the beauty and aroma of your garden space but also an addition to your culinary selections. Some of them are used in remedies I have written about on this blog.

The easy propagation of these plants are what make them so magical. Plant it and nurture once only and a new crop of seedlings appear year after year, every single spring, without much more help from you. A lazy gardeners dream! Most of them need some nurturing after first planting, including watering, mulching, weeding and watching for bugs. But once they are in place their part of the garden morphs in a way, becoming a perfect bed for future generations. Oh, joy!

Read the rest of this entry »

Comments (1) »

Edible Flowers

Rules & Recipes for Gathering & Eating Flowers

The Rules:

First of all, do not eat flowers if you have asthma, allergies, or hay fever. And eat only those that have been grown organically and have no pesticide residue. If you gather flowers locally, check with the landowner to find out what pesticides or fertilizers are used on that land. Do yourself a favor and start a garden of just the flowers you like to eat and keep it organic and clean.

The best time to collect flowers for consumption is during the cooler times of day when the Sun is not wilting them or making them drop petals. Early morning is good but wait until the dew has evaporated. After a rain is fine but allow the flowers to dry before using. Early evening is a nice time, too, but be sure to avoid areas rich with flying insects like mosquitoes and gnats. Wash and dry the flowers after collecting no matter what or when to rid them of dirt, pollution, bugs and other outdoor residues.

Try to choose the healthiest flowers and avoid those that look limp, wilting, broken, missing a lot of petals or discolored in some way. As a general rule, you should remove the stamens and styles from flowers before eating as the pollen can detract from the flavor and some people are allergic to it.

Read the rest of this entry »

Comments off