Posts tagged plants

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.

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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!

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Natural Remedies for Arthritis

As winter fades and spring arrives, we want to get out and get active. We just feel like having fun and playing games outdoors. Walking, gardening, fishing, swimming, water skiing, whatever your poison, you need to need to get rid of your pain so you can start doing it. Arthritis gets bad in the winter, but it doesn’t matter as much as it does the rest of the year. We are indoors, sitting or just doing easy things around the house, going to bed early, sometimes sleeping late. We just aren’t as active so treating the pain is easier. You can tolerate more stiffness, too.

But how do you handle the pain and stiffness? How long can you take NSAIDs without upsetting your system and getting sick to your stomach? Do you switch to Tylenol whent the stomach pain starts? And then you have to be careful about how much and how often or risk hurting your liver. There is no easy solution. It seems like everything you can take for pain has a big price tag. Stomach ulcers, liver failure or addiction to stronger relief like Oxycodone or Codeine. Way too much to worry about when you’re just trying to get moving again and everything hurts.


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Dump Your Dish Detergent!

There is a new product out there that you guys should know about. It is a new natural dish scrub made from various natural elements like corn and peach pits. This in lieu of using sponges or greenie meanies or other items meant to be used with dish detergent. These new little goodies do not need detergent to work. I can vouch for that because I have used one of them and am so far very impressed. First of all, let’s get the endorsement thing straight on the front end. These people linked to my blog because I had an article on the dangers of dish detergent and they found this valuable to their customers. They did not ask me to review this product on the blog. But I did ask if I could try one and they did send me one for free. And that is the end of my relationship with them. But here is what I thought when I used their product.

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Herbal Tobacco

Making homemade herbal tobacco may be a good idea these days with cigarette taxes going through the roof and people trying to quit. Herbal tobacco is not as addictive as leaf tobacco and can be used to help wean the habit off of cigarettes and then easily just stop. In my next post, I am going to address herbs that can be used to help with nicotine withdrawal. If you combine herbal tobacco as a substitute for commercial cigarettes and also use the right herbs to help ease the pains of withdrawal, you might be able to quit painlessly And, as a bonus, herbal tobacco is lot less expensive and nobody’s taxing herbs right now.

So if you’d like to take a stab at making some herbal tobacco and rolling up your own smokes, then I have a few recipes for you to try. Do not be fooled into thinking that smoking herbs is going to be any better for you in the long run because drawing smoke into your lungs on a consistent basis is bad no matter what. So you should stop doing it as soon as you get off the hard stuff. Try to use the most natural rolling papers you can find or smoke the stuff in pipes. You could make cigars out of herbs but it would be a tricky thing, drying out leaves in a consistent manner, curing them and then rolling them into logs. It’s possible but it takes talent.

And remember that tobacco is actually a herb, as well. It has been used throughout history in many a manner, even as a healing property. So it is not inherently evil. However, the addictive properties of many herbs, which include poppies, datura (jimson weed), marijuana, salvia, naked ladies and deadly nightshade (belladonna) as well as tobacco, should be fair warning to treat them with respect and not abuse. They can do wonderful things under the right conditions and for the right reasons, but they all have the ability to turn you into a slave. So treat herbs with care and these herbs, in particular, with a lot of care. Do not overdo.

So if you are ready to take a shot at herbal tobacco, then here are the recipes. And next week I promise to post the herbs you can take at the same time to help quell the nicotine cravings.

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Summer Craft Project: Sunflower Wreath

Summer Wreath Project: Sunflower

This is a design of my own that I came up with a few years back and have made every other year or so since. It is a really pretty wreath when finished and it brightens up any room. It doesn’t involve a lot of expensive ingredients and all of it is easy to find in craft stores and even Wal-Mart. Cheer up the sunroom this year with this lovely wreath.

What you will need:

Large Eucalyptus Leaves
Yarrow
Lemon Leaves
Floral Wire
Wire Wreath Base (the larger the better!)
Cattails or Bottlebrush Anthers
Spanish Moss
Floral Picks
Floral Glue

Simple Instructions:

Using floral glue or hot glue gun, grab handfuls of the Spanish Moss and attach it to the wire frame with the glue. Bunch it so that it does not stick out of the sides or straggle. Also pad it down (taking out extra if need be) to make it lay flat and not be “bumpy”. Wire it in if need be to make it lay flat. But also make sure it is thick and covers the wire frame completely. I have found that wrapping the bunches of moss and the wire frame over with the floral wire helps to make it even and tight.

Next, sort out the large Eucalyptus Leaves and bunch them together in a group of 4 of 5. Wire them together and then tack them to the wire frame. Tack bunches closely together all around the frame so that it covers the frame. Allow the leaves to point in different directions to give the wreath a full and fluffy look.

Group together the anthers in bunches of 5 and wire together as a group. Tie in two groups of 5 anthers on each side of the wreath, measuring on average 1/4 length from the top and the bottom of the wreath sides. Make them even to the eye. You should have two bunches of anthers on each side. See photo for clarity.

Plug in the large Yarrow heads at the very top and very bottom of the wreath. Make sure they are balanced and then wire them in. Push Lemon leaves in behind the Yarrow all the way around to make them look like Sunflowers. Glue them in with the glue gun or floral glue or use the floral picks.

The finished wreath smells fantastic and looks gorgeous when fresh. It dries gracefully as well, I have one that is several years old that is still hanging. This wreath loses its smell about every 2 years so it’s a good idea to make a new one every so often. Have fun!

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Organic Pest Control

There is a rising interest in growing organic food here in the USA. There are number of things contributing to this interest, the biggest of which is the recession. People want to save some money and grow their own eats. But there are other concerns that drive the interest, too and these include the food scares we’ve had enough of over the past year, from Ecoli on peppers to salmonella in tomatoes. More people are concerned about the planet and trying to cut down on eating meat, which has been named as a big source of CO2 and methane and so are looking to grow their own, safer and greener, food. I am sure there are other concerns driving this trend, including my own which is simply to have inexpensive, safe, organic food for my vegan diet.

Along with growing organically comes the big concern of how to control pests and diseases. The preponderance of pests that eat up the garden and diseases that fell the best intentions are the sole reason why mankind created tons of chemicals that poison everyone to begin with. If we could just grow a healthy, productive garden by plugging in a seed and letting nature take it’s course, we wouldn’t be in such a quandary. But after years of trying, failing, succeeding and struggling with one garden after another, I can tell you that the bugs will come, the disease will appear and environmental factors will rear their ugly head and put an end to your veggie dreams. So how do you grow vegetables organically? It’s just not as easy as it seems, believe me.

What I am going to try to do in this post is touch the tip of the iceberg with some tips and solutions for common problems you will face when trying to start the organic garden. This will be the first of many posts to come throughout the summer, as the topic is huge and can’t be covered in a single article. But today I will give some basic tips on how to keep those bugs and diseases out of your veggie stash.

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