Monday, February 21, 2011

Around Ye Old Urban Homestead

Getting in under the wire for the Urban Homesteader's Action day, here's what I've been up to on my urban homestead this weekend.

It was crazy mild on Friday, so I biked to the garden to check things out. Here are two of our plots.
And the other two. Everything is still under a blanket of snow, but it won't be long before things are lush! We sheet mulched as many beds as we could last fall, which should make for an already-prepped, easy start to the season.

Winter is actually a good time for certain kinds of plant ID, if you know what you're looking for. This stand of last season's Evening Primrose stalks and seed heads stands out so much more obviously at this time of year than when in a field of growing tall grass and other plants. Now I know where to look for new growth, this spring and summer.
Not all is dead or dormant. I was thrilled to see stinging nettle shoots pushing their way up out of the ground under a paper bag of leaves. Hello you beauties!

After I pruned the currant and gooseberry bushes and tidied up around the wild roses I'm trying to encourage to take over, I took a few moments of rest before my feet got cold and I made my way home under the setting sun. The rest of the weekend turned cold, so I was content to stay warm inside with hot herbal teas and infusions.
I tinctured some fresh growth of willow twigs I harvested.
You can just make out the constituents extracting out into the alcohol. It's so pretty.

I've got homemade crackers in the dehydrator.And a pie fresh out of the oven. I've been hoarding the strawberries and elderberries I froze last summer, but it's time to tuck into and savour them!
Hope everyone had a lovely weekend!


Chile said...

What a lovely crop of snow! :)

Do you use the willow tincture in place of aspirin?

Amber said...

Yes, snow is one thing we 'grow' really well in these parts Chile! :)

This is the first time I've worked with willow, but yes, my plan is to use it instead of aspirin.

My understanding is that it is less damagaing to the stomach when used this way. One source I read mentions that willow use could lead to irritation though, so as with everything, I will use it in moderation.

I made a decoction of some of the twigs this weekend for a headache and was amazed at how well it worked.

I don't know what species of willow I used. One was a weeping willow and I collected twigs from another type as well. I plan to go back and get a proper ID.

Traditionally willow bark is used, however many contemporary herbalists use the new growth of twigs, buds and leaves. It's less damaging to the trees. Sounds like a good practice to me.

Liz said...

I'm an idiot! I've found a few recipes on the net for homemade crackers made in the oven. Why didn't I think of the dehydrator?!

Ottawa Gardener said...

Everything looks lovely and it's nice to see someone making a willow brew.

Amber said...

Liz, this is my first batch ever of crackers in the dehydrator. They're awesome!! I can't believe I haven't been making them this whole time. Lots of fun.

Hi Ottawa Gardener. Thanks! I'm excited to add willow to my herbal medicine cabinet. I think it will be a wonderful ally. :)