Archive for April 2012
Reposted from our friends at herbcompanion.com
Freelance herbal writer, community herbalist and medicine maker Jennifer Heinzel hails from the cold city of Minneapolis, Minnesota. Visit Thymes Ancient Remedies to read more from Jennifer.
“Golden lads and girls all must, as chimney sweepers, come to dust” —William Shakespeare
Dandelion was one of the most loved and “esteemed plants of the herbalist,” especially by the famous Arabian herbalist Avicenna, and was referred to as “blessed medicine” in the 18th century in Europe. Though a native to Greece, it has been used medicinally and as food throughout the world, but more so in Germany, China and England. Across the world it has been loved by foragers and herbalists alike, such as Rosemary Gladstar who is “convinced, [that dandelion] is one of the greatest herbs of all time. The entire plant is restorative and rejuvenating.” Besides its popular reputation by historical and current-day herbalists alike, there is no other herb in the United States that is so “well known, so easily recognized, so much hated, so systematically singled out for extermination—and so little understood—as the dandelion.” Despite most people in the U.S. seeing the dandelion as only a weed, it is “ironically just those long, tenacious roots which contain the major portion of its wealth in natural minerals and alkaloids!” So before you spray your lawn, think twice about exterminating this restorative herb.
The dandelion (Taraxacum officinale), which is a part of the Asteracea family, ironically has many folk names for being such an aggressive, but medicinally useful, weed. Some of the more famous names include wild endive, blow ball, lion’s teeth, goats beard, fairy clock and peasant’s cloak, though it’s more interesting how the dandelion got its name. It started as the Latin Dens Leonis, to the Greek Leotodum. Once it crossed borders again to France, it changed to the French’s dent-de-lion, and lastly to the current day English version dandelion. Also, true to its name, the dandelion possesses long, lion teeth-like leaves that emerge from the taproot (usually around 2 to 12 inches long), forming a rosette of green leaves.
This is an historical profile of the tenacious dandelion.
Photo courtesy Edible Communities Publications
Some of the first records of dandelion being medicinally utilized were of the Egyptians, described by a Greek scholar 300 years before Christ. However, it was the Arabian physicians of the Middle Ages who first “officially recognized the plant’s medicinal properties and named it Taraxacon, from the Greek taraxos, for ‘disorder,’ and akos for ‘remedy.’” Another folk name-related medicinal use comes from the French name for dandelion,“piss en lit”, or literally “piss in the night.” Dandelion has strong diuretic properties and was commonly used by 18th century French squires for gout.
The uses of dandelion are as vast, boundless and varied as its folk names, including China’s more than 1,000-year use of it in the treatment of breast cancer, to being very “effectual for the obstructions of the liver, gall and spleen.” It was also noted to effectively treat jaundice and urinary infections, according to the famous English botanist Nicholas Culpeper. One of the most medicinally concentrated parts is the root (for when fresh leaves are not available). The roots are best dug up in the fall or spring of the second year. This was traditionally done so by the French-Canadians; Icelanders fried the roots as well. Another way people knew of dandelion, though not to my surprise, was as a magical plant. The dandelion was believed to increase a person’s physhic powers. In the 16th century a man named Matthiolus recorded that “magicians say that if a person rub himself all over with [dandelion], he will everywhere be welcome and obtain what he wishes.” Also in this century in England, John Evelyn noted that the leaves of the famous bitter green had “been sold at most Herb Shops about London for being a wonderful Purifier of the Blood.” Another famous English herbalist, John Gerard, compared dandelion to chicory (called ‘succorie’ at the time), because it was another coffee substitue, and “thrived especially in gardens and ‘highe ways much troden.’”
Another famous herbalist of the 19th through the 20th centuries, Maude Grieve, stated that dandelion tea is “efficacious in bilious affections.” In fact, most herbalists believe that the beneficence of such of tea is almost boundless. In Eastern medicine, they traditionally used dandelion to heal liver complaints; they also used the coarsely ground root to heal snake bites and to inhibit the growth of tumor cells in a mixture along with kelp and gotu kola.
Being so rich in vitamins and minerals, it’s no wonder that dandelion is so widely used and grown throughout the world. Dandelion is very rich in protein, magnesium, phosphorous, iron, niacin, riboflavin, magnesium, potassium and vitamins A, B, C, D, G and E. The leaves, amazingly enough, contain 7,000 units of vitamin A per ounce. In comparison to lettuce being 1,200 units per ounce of vitamin C, and to carrot being 1,275 units per ounce is quite astounding. With dandelion containing many vitamins and minerals, it’s no wonder that it treats many disorders such as anemia, IBS and sluggish bowel. It also improves the health of all digestive organs, including the liver, gallbladder and kidneys, and treats blood sugar problems. Dandelion treats the nutrient-deficient ailment anemia very well, since anemia is caused by a deficiency of nutritive salts present in the blood. With dandelion’s high levels of potassium, iron and vitamin B, this especially helps in the treatment of anemia, because this ailment is also caused from a the lack of iron, B-12 and folic acid.
Dandy-Lion in the Ecovillage of Findhorn, Scotland
Photo by Jennifer Heinzel
When it comes to improving the health of digestive organs, no other herb can beat the dandelion. All parts of the dandelion are medicinal—the leaves specifically are a diuretic, which helps in the treatment of gout and other bladder related-ailments; and the two-year roots, when dug up in the fall, are the best age and medicinal quality. At this time, all of the energy and medicinal properties are concentrated in the roots, including the compound inulin. Overall, the dandelion is a very good liver and gallbladder cleanser and decongestant,. It enhances the health of all other organs as well. Current-day European herbalists use the juice of the dandelion root, specifically, in the treatment of diabetes, liver disease and other liver-related diseases such as eczema and arthritis. As a side note, dandelion can also externally be used to treat warts, old blisters and hard pimples. The split stem was used by Native Americans to treat stings.
Lastly, the glandular activity, which is stimulated with the juice of the entire plant, is used by European herbalists and is used to improve lymph drainage,when mixed with other herbs such as mullein, cleavers and calendula. Along with improving the intake of nutrients—being a nutrient-dense herb in its own right—the dandelion also improves the health of all digestive organs, and thus improves all digestion-related-ailments. Therefore, it can improve appetite, ease sluggish-bowel,and improve the assimilation of nutrients. A Belgian study, using a five-herb combination with dandelion, showed that more than “95 percent of IBS sufferers were pain-free after 15 days of treatment and also improved regularity.” Dandelion is a blood purifier, removes poisons and toxins from the blood and helps the kidneys and liver remove toxins.
Having mentioned historical ways to take this medicine, many people prefer taking it as a decoction or as a wine. Having done none of these much, I much prefer to eat my medicine. My favorite way to eat the dandelion is in an omelet and here is my own recipe:
Wild Green & Dandelion Omelet
• 2 to 3 fresh local eggs
• Sweet peppers, chopped into small squares
• 1 to 2 handfuls fresh dandelion greens, cut up
• About 3 sprigs lamb’s quarters, ripped up
• 1 to 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
• 1 sprig tarragon, chopped
• About 3 chives, cut up
• Goat cheese
1. Scramble the eggs in a bowl with a fork. Pour into a heated oiled or sprayed pan. After about 1 minute add the sweet peppers, dandelion greens and lamb’s quarters. Then, after 1 to 2 minutes later, add the garlic, tarragon and chives.
2. Flip one side of the omelet to cover the other half of it. Turn off the heat and cover with goat cheese (or another cheese based on personal taste), salt, pepper and salsa. ENJOY!!
+ For more information on folk names, traditional uses and a Dandelion Wine recipe, see Pamela Jones’s book “Just Weeds.”
+ For more information on obscure ailments dandelion treats and traditional uses, see Juliette de Bairacli Levy’s book “Common Herbs for Natural Health.”
+ For scientific studies related to dandelion, see Kathi Keville’s book “Herbs for Health and Healing.”
+ For dandelion tea recipes, see Rosemary Gladstar’s book “Herbal Recipes for Vibrant Health.”
+ For a dandelion root coffee recipe, visit Mountain Rose Herb’s website.
The best time to water plants is usually in the early morning, both to maximize the efficiency of water used and to promote healthy flora.
Mornings tend to be cool and without strong winds, so the amount of water lost to evaporation is much less than during the middle of the day. Yes, evenings are typically similar, but if plants stay damp overnight they are more likely to be damaged by fungal and bacterial diseases. Ideally, use a drip or soak system instead of a regular sprinkler, which wastes a lot of water and drenches the leaves, which are prone to damage as well as disease.
Most experts recommend substantial, infrequent watering for established plants, typically a total of about one inch of water per week (including rain). One or two applications a week encourages deeper rooting, which promotes stronger plants. To avoid shocking tender greenery, try to use water at or near air temperature (collected rainwater is best).
With population growth and climate change putting increasing pressure on freshwater supplies, it is becoming more important than ever to save water.
The Jerusalem Artichoke: (via Wikipedia)
also called the sunroot, sunchoke, earth apple or topinambour, is a species of sunflower native to eastern North America, and found from eastern Canada and Maine west to North Dakota, and south to northern Florida and Texas. It is also cultivated widely across the temperate zone for its tuber, which is used as a root vegetable.
The point about them is they really are a slacker vegetable. Because you do nothing with them whatsoever. You don’t have to feed them, water them (unless drought). The harvest is large and they don’t take up much room in your garden. They patiently grow in the back of the garden, minding their own business. Apparently they attract butterflies.
They are called fartichokes because they have the property of generating lots of gas. But there are ways around this effect. Watch the video to find out how.
Reposted from our friends at blissvilleliving.resetyourways.com
At this time of year, you can’t go clicking too far on the internet without reading about dandelions and their virtues. While I won’t reiterate the fact that they’re worth their weight in calcium, potassium, and vitamins A and C what’s already out there in cyber-space, I’d like to share an easy and nutritious spring time drink that will allow you to use up all those sunny yellow flowers in your yard right now. It’s fun to get the family involved in the collection process too!
I haven’t always loved dandelions. I may have been programmed from childhood to associate them with ‘bad’, something that invaded and took over lawns. One spring not too long ago, I paid a certain child five cents a piece for each dandelion carcass turned in. That ended up being not to my favor. I think I had to write her a check. THAT’S also the reason for our current dandelion relocation program, we’re short on dandelion supply and have had to look elsewhere for them. Yes, I have been spotted digging up dandelions and transplanting them to a nice little dandelion garden on our hillside.
I printed out the original recipe last year from learningherbs.com. Since then, I’ve learned that violets (yes, the ones that take over lawns) are high in vitamin A and C (by the way, you can also eat the leaves raw in salad). They also happen to look very pretty in the jar with the yellow dandelion flowers, don’t they? Sure does make a good conversation piece when people see it.
We only make 1/2 gallon at a time. Here’s how:
Fill 1/2 gallon mason jar 1/2 way with dandelions and violet flowers.
Add the juice and rind of two – three lemons.
Fill to the very top with water and cap tightly.
Let steep in a sunny location for a day like you would sun-tea.
Strain through muslin (we only use butter muslin – you’ll never use anything else for cheese making once you try it!) and really squeeze all the moisture out.
Add honey to suit your taste. We don’t add honey to the pitcher, only directly to the serving glasses as needed, but do as you like.
On a side note, Daughter made several batches of this for me during the last cycle of my detox and I recovered to ‘normal’ a lot quicker that the first two cycles.
Reposted from our friends at cheftessbakeresse.blogspot.ca
It’s shelf stable 8-10 years and makes a breakfast cereal that’s a cross between a carrot cake and a rich pudding. It’s a sin…yet it’s healthy!
It’s hard to imagine it looks like this in a jar right?
Chef Tess’ 6 Grain Carrot Cake Breakfast Pudding (in a jar)
1/2 cup Freeze Dried Pineapple or Freeze Dried Apples
1 cup Dehydrated Carrot (brand matters here, theirs are puffed when they dry them so they hydrate right)
1/2 cup instant non-fat dry milk
1/4 cup Powdered Butter
1/2 cup dehydrated honey or sugar
2 tsp coconut powder flavoring and 1T vanilla powder flavoring (optional)
2T Instant Vanilla Pudding Mix
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp Saigon Cinnamon Or any cinnamon really. (We tried it with regular cinnamon off the shelf and it worked great)
2 cups 6 Grain Rolled Cereal
Place pineapple and carrots in a quart jar. Top with powdered milk, butter, honey, flavorings, pudding mix, salt and spice blend. Shake the dry ingredients down into the carrots and pineapple. Top with the 2 cups of 6 grain cereal. The jar will be full. Top with an oxygen absorber.
Bring 5 cups water to a rolling boil. Add contents of the jar to the water and stir. Lower heat to a simmer and cook 10-12 minutes. Turn off heat. Cover and sit 5 minutes (to be sure pineapple is hydrated). Serve warm. Drizzle with milk, honey or syrup if desired. Top with chopped pecans or any nuts as desired as well. Note: high fat nuts are not included in the meal in a jar. This will give you an extended shelf life of 8-10 years.
The bins are all in place and the plumbing is attached. We had a test run of the fill and siphon systems. They appear to be operating well. We ran into a small problem however. The pump is not working well. It appears there is water getting into the workings and it shorts out. So the next priority is to find a cheap but powerful pump to replace it.
Another issue seems to be the manifold system designed to balance the water. It worked better as a theory. But with some tweaking it can be made to work as intended. Most notably the filter stems inside the bins, designed to keep debris and fish out of the manifolds, seem to be too restrictive of water flow. Removing them worked much better. We will all more cuts to the stems to allow better water flow. Failing that we might just put some kind of screen or mesh over the openings to do the same thing.
Here are a couple of pictures showing the final setup.
Also this afternoon the temperature outside was about +5c when I checked the thermometer inside…
Hello friends. Since this is the first greenhouse we have built there were bound to be some complications and learning experiences. I was surprised at how few there have been thus far. Maybe we should be worried lol. The main one so far has been the realization after the build that we should expect much nastier weather than the day it was built. When we were done, ee marveled at our accomplishment and immediately began looking forward to a long and prosperous summer…
…summer in Winnipeg. Yesterday and today the wind was getting pretty nasty, not even as bad as it can get. The greenhouse was shaking and wobbling. But thankfully it didn’t go all Wright Brothers on us. So we added some weight to the base. Also the wind popped a bunch of the slats we used on the beams (joists?) to fasten down the poly. We thought we were being so clever using staples and avoiding nails. POP! POP POP POP POP! Thankfully there was no rips or damage.
We had some 1x6x5 treated fence boards lying around. So we nailed them down on the roof in place of the old slats. The slats on the sides were for the most part ok. But we nailed them all down just to be sure.
Lesson learned: Nails over staples for an outdoor project.
We’ll go out and take some pictures later. For now we are spending the afternoon constructing the first of two aquaponics setups for the greenhouse. We’ll try to get some photos of the work in progress.