Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Wildcrafting Wednesday and Other Things

I'm reading Common Herbs for Natural Health byJuliette de Bairacli Levy.

It's a lovely little book, filled with lots of herbal lore from Juliette's unique perspective and wisdom gathered from years of travelling, learning, practicing and teaching.

Something I found particularly fascinating, was how she used herbs in the garden to improve the health of her plants, treat diseased plants and manage pests. She explained that every year she would replenish her stock of dried herbs and whatever was leftover from the previous year she would sprinkle around the base of her plants growing in the garden.

I love that she treated her plants with herbs, like you would treat people! Excited to give it a try, I collected what was left of my store of last year's herbs and brought them to the garden. I sprinkled them around some newly planted seedlings, and some gobo (the cultivated variety of burdock) that is getting eaten by flea beetles. I'll post an update on how it turns out.

I processed all the herbs I harvested last week. I dried the raspberry and violet leaves and put them into jars this morning. Some of the horsetail was turned into a syrup and the rest was dried. The nettle is almost dry and it too will be stored in jars. The cleavers went into an alcohol tincture and the honeysuckle flowers in honey.

I needed to make room in my place because I went out again this morning. Today I harvested more nettle and violet leaves as well as wild roses, plantain and a bit of red clover. Wednesday mornings are quickly becoming my favourite time of the week!

I did end up making some posters about comfrey that I put up in a couple of places in the garden. (I totally cut and pasted from Wikipedia and then forgot to cite my source. Oops!)

Interestingly, I had a conversation with a fellow gardener last night about invasive plants and I mentioned that dog strangling vine had made it into the allotments, and as far as I could tell, had no redeeming qualities. She then started talking about comfrey and about horribly invasive it is. I took the opportunity to tell her about how much I love the plant and all its uses. She was surprised that there were so many benefits to the plant. I told her I was on a mission to change people's minds about comfrey!

Then, this morning while I was at my plot, I ran into a neighbour while he was scything down the big patch of comfrey growing on his plot. I mentioned it to him and he told me that comfrey is apparently a great fertiliser for the garden. Now, I don't know if he got that information from my poster or not. I happen to know that he is a Master Gardener, and he knows a lot about gardening, so it's entirely possible he was onto comfrey already. Either way, I was happy to chat with him for a bit about the glorious and blessed comfrey! Then he gifted me with two sweet potato plants, which totally makes up for whoever it was that came into my garden and lopped off the top of my chicory plants that I was letting go to seed, so I could save the variety which is especially grown for the root, for making coffee. Now I'm going to make a sign for what's left of my chicory plants!

Note: The ADG hesitates to mulch with comfrey that is in flower as it is possible that the flower will put down roots. I tend to fly a little more fast and loose with my comfrey mulching, though I suspect the more careful approach is the wiser one.