I LOVE BORAGE! Yes, I am that excited to share this info with you. Borage is an old plant that has a number of medicinal properties and culinary uses. It is beautiful!
What is Borage?
Borage (Borago officinalis) is an annual herb that grows quickly but self-seeds, so it continues to reappear year after year. ***Those reappearing plants are what I call free food***
So how can we use it?
-Companion Planting in your garden
It is a companion plant to Tomatoes, Peppers, Cabbage, Squash and Strawberries.
The borage companion plant is said to repel tomato worms and cabbage worms because borage attracts beneficial insects, such as bees and tiny wasps. As we know these are great plant pollinators, but they also repel garden pests. Additionally, borage works well in the garden alongside many types of herbs and flowers
-Attract Beneficial Insects
Another way that you can use borage in your garden is to attract beneficial insects and pollinators.
Honeybees, bumblebees, and butterflies love those pretty, bright, blue flowers. Grow borage in pots near your vegetable garden or along a fence close to your fruit trees.
-Eat the flowers!
These flowers are delicious and add a delicate touch to a homegrown salad
-Eat the volunteer sprouts that pop up each year
These volunteers are FREE FOOD and can be eaten as a garden snack or brought inside, rinsed off and added to a salad or meal
Borage plants provide and abundance of leaves that can be continuously harvested to supplement your feed bill
If you end up with "too much" borage or you pull out the volunteers, you can always add them to your compost to provide organic matter for future gardens
A crushed borage poultice can help with bug bites, bee stings, swelling, bruising, rashes, and boils. With summertime being a busy time in the garden (and bug bites), Borage is a handy herb to have on hand.
Borage tea has many uses. Herbalists use borage tea to reduce fevers, relieve stress, and stop coughing. As an added bonus, it's a refreshing iced tea on a hot day.
If you are unfamiliar with tinctures, we have a few recipes on our blog. I prefer using dry herbs for my tinctures.
-Borage Salve with Calendula and Lavender
This recipe combines three potent, healing herbs to create the perfect salve for skin problems. You can use hemp or olive oil for your calendula, lavender, and borage salve. I like using olive oil. You could definitely add Borage leaves to our Calendula Infused Oil recipe if you like to "tweak" recipes
The leaves need to be mixed with lemonade, adding a hint of cucumber to your drink. This would be a great addition to our Basil Lemonade Recipe. A refreshing, naturally PINK drink with a hint of cucumber sounds delicious!
If you have additional questions, please feel free to ask!
Spilanthes oleraces, Toothache Plant, is a medicinal herb that's been used for generations to manage the pain of toothaches. Both the leaves and the colorful flowers can be used.
Toothache plant is a native plant to Brazil and Africa. In warmer climates, Toothache plant is a tender perennial. In areas with frost, grow as an annual.
Growing Toothache Plant from seed
Toothache plant is quite easy to grow and is resistant to disease, insects and even rabbit.
For transplanting: sow seeds indoors 6 weeks before your last frost. Seed should be sown 1/4 inch deep in individual containers to keep from crowding. Keep soil moist but not waterlogged. A heat mat would be helpful if you are starting seeds indoors during winter or early spring.
Direct sow: Plant seeds 1/4 inch deep in well drained soil after your last frost date. Space seeds out approx 6-12 inches apart.
Toothache plant can grow in full sun.
Harvesting Toothache Plant
Both the leaves and the flowers can be harvested from the Toothache Plant. Once the plant reaches 1 foot in height, it should be ok to start harvesting.
Leaves and flowers can be used fresh or dried. To dry, use a dehydrator or allow to naturally dry in a warm, dry spot with plenty of airflow.
Store fully dried plant matter in an airtight jar and label your container.
If you have additional questions, please feel free to ask!
Sow Basil seeds indoors 2-4 weeks before your last frost day OR sow seeds outside when soil is warm and temperatures do not drop below 65 F during the day. Seeds should be sown less than 1/4 inch deep in moist, well-drained soil.
Basil seeds usually germinate in as few as 5-7 days. Make successive sowings of basil seeds for continuous summer harvests.
From seed to harvest, Basil is ready in as few as 45 days. Basil can grow in full sun as as little as 6 hours of sun. Space Basil plants about 12 inches apart or interplant basil between larger plants such as Tomatoes and Peppers.
Water basil when soil is dry to the touch and try to water soil and not leaves. In warmer months, Basil will need more water.
Basil is pretty pest tolerant but you might see the occasional flea beetle marks or leaf miners. Aphids can usually be sprayed of with a water hose.
One healthy, well pruned Basil plant can produce around 1/2 cup of leaves every week. If you're limited on space, there are even dwarf varieties such as Dwarf Greek Basil.
Once mature, harvest basil leaves regularly to promote healthy growth. It is usually recommended to harvest from the top of the plant, using scissors or fingernails. Try to cut as close to the stem as possible.
Pinching off flowers is recommended to keep a continuous harvest all summer long. Flowering is also called "bolting" and the plant will put forth more energy for flower production. If you wish to save the seeds, allow your plants to bolt.
We make quite a few organic herbal remedies here including tinctures, salves and herbal syrups. Today we made more Organic Elderberry Syrup using organic dry elderberry. *One of the benefits of making syrup is that it's ready to consume in a few minutes to an hour compared to making tincture which can take 3 to 8 weeks to "brew."
"Health benefits of the elder plant include naturally improving colds, the flu, sinus issues, nerve pain, inflammation, chronic fatigue, allergies, constipation and even cancer. (2) When used within the first 48 hours of onset of symptoms, the extract has actually been found to reduce the duration of the flu with symptoms being relieved on an average of four days earlier. (3) During the 1995 Panama flu epidemic, the government actually employed the use of the elderberry to fight the flu.
It gets better. When it comes antioxidant power, elderberry is higher in flavonoids than blueberries, cranberries, goji berries and blackberries. (4) I’m sure you’re getting the picture that this medicinal berry is a real powerhouse for good health. Let’s examine exactly why."
Dr. Axe lists the many benefits of Elderberry including
1. Major Cold and Flu relief
2. Sinus Infection Aid
3. Lower Blood Sugar
5. Natural Laxative
6. Encourage Healthy Skin
7. Ease Allergies
8. May Prevent Cancer
Elderberry syrup can be used to flavor other homemade concoctions, as an herbal tonic or even drizzled over toast or yogurt.
Make Your Own Organic Elderberry Syrup for Flu Prevention
Pour water into medium saucepan and add elderberries, ginger, cinnamon and cloves (do not add honey!)
Bring to a boil and then cover and reduce to a simmer for about 45 minutes to an hour. At that point, remove from heat and let cool enough to be handled. Mash the berries carefully using a spoon or other flat utensil. Pour through a strainer into a glass jar or bowl.
Discard the elderberries (or compost them!) and let the liquid cool to lukewarm. When it is no longer hot, add 1 cup of honey and stir well.
When honey is well mixed into the elderberry mixture, pour the syrup into a pint sized mason jar or 16 ounce glass bottle of some kind.
That's it! You just made homemade elderberry syrup! Store in the fridge and take daily for its immune boosting properties.
Standard dose is ½ tsp to 1 tsp for kids and ½ Tbsp to 1 Tbsp for adults. If the flu does strike, take the normal dose every 2-3 hours instead of once a day until symptoms disappear.
I hope you have enjoyed another educational article from Mary's Heirloom Seeds!
Another one of my favorite heirloom varieties is the Thai Roselle, also called Jamaican Sorrel, Florida Cranberry or Red Thai Hibiscus. This is another unique variety that would make a great addition to your garden! From Mary's Heirloom Seeds, "A valuable plant for making cranberry-flavored bright red beverages, jelly, pie and tea. Much grown in Asia and the mid-east as the flavor is wonderful. A tasty sauce can be made by boiling and sweetening the fleshy calyxes; the leaves are also used to make a drink. The entire plant of this Hibiscus is red and very beautiful. Start early, unless you live in the far-south. Citrus-flavored flowers are delicious on frozen deserts. Also called Jamaican Sorrel, Florida Cranberry and Hibiscus"
Roselle was called “Florida cranberry” in the 1890s. The flowers and young leaves are edible and have a citrus tang.
Hibiscus, of which Roselle is a variety of, is a tropical plant, but if started indoors it can be grown successfully in more northern climates. You want to start your Thai Red Roselle around the same time you would plants like peppers, tomatoes and eggplants. Since this is a heat-loving plant, you want to give it as much of a head start as you can.
Thai Red Roselle is susceptible to aphids, so either use an organic spray or companion plant to control insects. Roselle branches should be pruned when they are 12-18 inches tall to help control height. These plants can reach up so 6 feet in height.
From esgreen, "Botanically speaking, it's Hibiscus sabdariffa L. (family Malvaceae) and it’s the bushy H. sabdariffa var. sabdariffa that produces the edible products.The edible parts used to make “juice” or tea (actually, an infusion) look like reddish dried-up buds. In fact, they’re not flowers but calyces. It’s the calyx, the red, fleshy covering enclosing the flower’s seed pod, which is used for flavoring, cooking and food coloring. The flower of this variety of sabdariffa is yellow, white or light pink.
Roselle(Hibiscus) has been used in folk medicine as a diuretic and mild laxative, as well as in treating cancer and cardiac and nerve diseases. Although information is limited, the potential for hibiscus use in treating hypertension and cancer, as well as for its lipid-lowering and renal effects, are being investigated.
Although roselle is being studied, it hasn’t yet been proven to have the healing powers of bael fruit. It is high in calcium, niacin, riboflavin, vitamin C and iron, as seen on this Purdue University page. And the beverages have no caffeine. In East Africa, "Sudan tea" is consumed as medicine to cure coughs. In Guatamala, roselle is believed to cure hangovers. In Senegal, a roselle extract is said to lower blood pressure. In India, Africa and Central America, infusions made from roselle calyces or seeds are prescribed as a diuretic, to stimulate bile production and to treat fever."
After sharing our DIY Calendula-Infused Oil we received so mach positive feedback and questions about Calendula. Mainly "What is it used for?" I use our homemade Calendula Oil for any sore spots, scratches and bruises, cracked heals and definitely for my "homesteader hands" after a long day in the garden.
I have another batch I've made and added Lavender essential oil to the mix *after* I have removed from heat and before I pour into glass jars. It's amazing!!! ABOUT CALENDULAFrom Herb Wisdom, "Calendula has been considered beneficial in reducing inflammation and promoting wound healing. It has been used to treat a variety of skin diseases and has been seen effective in treatment of skin ulcerations, eczema, juvenile acne and dry phthiriasis. Improvement has been seen in as little as 3-4 days of treatment according to the Universitatea de Medicina si Farmacie.""Calendula cream is good for acne and nappy rash. An infusion is good for digestion and relieves colitis and symptoms of menopause. As an anti-fungal agent, it can be used to treat athlete's foot, ringworm, and candida. The tincture applied neat to cold sores encourages healing.
Calendula contains chemicals, which have been shown in animal studies to speed up wound-healing by several actions that include increasing blood flow to the affected area and promoting the production of collagen proteins. Calendula also possesses anti-septic and anti-inflammatory effects due to its flavonoid content. In mouthwashes and gargles, calendula soothes sore throat or mouth tissue; in solutions, it has been uses to treat hemorrhoids.
Compresses of calendula blossoms are helpful for varicose veins. Results from recent animal and laboratory studies show that calendula may also have some anti-infective properties, particularly against fungal infections and against viruses."
It's AMAZING the natural healing properties available in some of the plants we grow. Calendula is a beautiful flower I grow in my garden every year. The bees love it and now we know it is beneficial for healing!
Last year I started making my own Calendula Infused Oil. At first i was a bit frustrated because I didn't see many specific instructions. You know, with real measurements. So I've created my own recipe that works for me. It's really easy to "tweak" this for your personal liking.
I use Organic candelila wax (or carnauba wax) in my recipe. This is a vegan wax. That being said, the wax is completely optional. Without the wax, the oil is not very firm but it's still amazing on your skin.
**The wax is completely optional** If you want a firm salve, use bees wax or canauba wax. I use Candelila wax or carnauba on occasion. If you are just trying to make a smooth oil, feel free to omit the wax.
1 ounce of dried organic Calendula flowers is approximately 1 1/3 cups.
If you want to GROW your own Calendula, we offer Calendula seeds. If you want to make this recipe NOW and not wait for harvest, we offer organic, dry Calendula flowers We also just added organic carnauba wax to help you get started! TOOLS: slow cooker large glass jar (quart-size ball jar) fine mesh strainer or coffee filter **strainer is much easier**
Directions Add organic calendula, coconut oil and olive oil to your slow cooker. Cover and set on low for 6-8 hours. *If you do not have a slow cooker, you can add the ingredients into a large glass jar. Place the jar in the oven on a very low setting for 6-8 hours*
Waiting and stirring while the oil is infused
After 6-8 hours, strain out the oil from the flowers. Add the oil back to the slow cooker and stir in the candelila or carnauba wax. Stir occasionally and let mix for approx 20 minutes or until completely dissolved. Pour infused oil into a clean, glass container. I used several half-pint jars for future use. Label each jar with ingredients and date.
Store in a cool, dry place and out of direct sunlight. Use on sore muscles. Great for "homesteader hands" after working out in the garden! DIY and SAVE with Mary's Heirloom Seeds
First let me start by saying that there is no quick fix or perfect concoction that works for everyone to boost Metabolism. There is no magical "cure." What I have learned along my journey is that incorporating different herbs, herbal remedies and making simple changes can have a positive effect on your health.
For people with underlying health issues, it is best to ask your doctor or health practitioner before starting any new herbal supplementation.
1. HAWTHORN In a study about Hawthorn, researcher found "There was a significant change on the weight loss, BMI change, blood
pressure decrease, glucose, cholesterol, trigliseride, LDL, HDL and
cholesterol/HDL after consumption of Hawthorn vinegar"
The antioxidants in hawthorn are thought to boost heart health by
strengthening blood vessels and stimulating blood flow. Keep in mind
that scientific support for the potential benefits of hawthorn is
Hawthorn is also used for digestive complaints. It is also used to reduce anxiety, as a mild sedative and for menstrual problems.
2. GINGER Ginger is well recognized for its thermogenic qualities, meaning that it
tends to slightly increase body temperature as it's being digested.
From progressive health "Ginger can improve digestion by increasing the pH of the stomach and
stimulating the digestive enzymes. Because ginger also has a high fiber
content, it increases gastrointestinal motility. The combination of these two effects means that essential nutrients
are absorbed quickly while the non-essential foods that cause bloating
and constipation are excreted quickly."
From our previous article Boost Your Health with Organic Herbs, "Ginger (Zingiber officinale)
has scientific backing as an anti-nausea agent. It may offer other
benefits to those stricken with infections diarrhea. Alcohol extracts of
ginger are active against bacteria that infect the intestinal tract (Salmonella typhimurium, Escherichia coli, Vibrio cholerae Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Helicobacter pylori), skin and other soft tissues (Staphylococcus aureus), and respiratory tract (Streptococcus pyogenes, Streptococcus pneumoniae, Haemophilus influenzae).
Ginger has antifungal activity against the yeast Candida albicans. It
also discourages intestinal worms. Because studies have shown that heat
deactivates the antibacterial effect, it may be best to consume ginger
raw, or in tincture or capsule form."
3. CINNAMON A 2012 review of several recent studies concluded that the use of
cinnamon had a potentially beneficial effect on glycemic control. One
study published in 2009 found that a 500 mg capsule of cinnamon taken
twice a day for 90 days improved hemoglobin A1C levels — a reflection of
average blood sugar level for the past two to three months — in people
with poorly controlled type 2 diabetes (hemoglobin A1C levels greater
than 7 percent).
For those of you looking to boost your metabolism to lose weight, cinnamon might help!
Bonus, Cinnamon contains large amounts of highly potent polyphenol antioxidants. Cinnamon has been shown to lead to various improvements for Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease in animal studies. Cinnamaldehyde, the main active component of cinnamon, may help fight various kinds of infection. Cinnamon oil has been shown to effectively treat respiratory tract infections caused by fungi.
It can also inhibit the growth of certain bacteria, including Listeria and Salmonella.
***Not all cinnamon is created equal.*** The Cassia variety contains significant amounts of a compound called coumarin, which is believed to be harmful in large doses. Ceylon (“true” cinnamon) is much better in this regard, and studies show that it is much lower in coumarin than the Cassia variety. 4.CAYENNE Capsaicin is the compound in cayenne peppers that gives it heat and
boosts your metabolism. Capsaicin is found in the membranes of the
cayenne inside the pepper. Capsaicin can also help aid in digestion,
stimulate kidney function and help ease pain.
When you eat spicy foods such as cayenne pepper, your body's heat
production rises, which can cause a slight increase in your metabolic
rate, notes the University of Maryland Medical Center
From our previous article Boost Your Health with Organic Herbs, "Cayenne pepper's bright
red color signals its high content of beta-carotene or pro-vitamin A.
Just two teaspoons of cayenne pepper provide 47% of the daily value for
vitamin A. Often called the anti-infection vitamin, vitamin A is
essential for healthy epithelial tissues including the mucous membranes
that line the nasal passages, lungs, intestinal tract and urinary tract
and serve as the body's first line of defense against invading
5. TURMERIC Turmeric has been reported to increase metabolism by increasing bile production within the body, as well as lowering blood sugar levels. More than 13 other peer-reviewed studies have also reached similar
conclusions, finding that turmeric intake is directly associated with
increased healthy fat loss and decreased insulin issues. Turmeric has been used in both Chinese and Indian medicine for thousands
of years. Western researchers are finding that turmeric may be useful
in lowering inflammation, fighting infections and specific cancers,
treating liver disease, healing skin wounds and beneficial in treating
digestive issues. Disclaimer: Information on this website is based on research from the internet,
books, articles and studies.
Statements in this website
should not be considered as medical advice. These products are not
intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any illness or disease. For
diagnosis or treatment consult your physician. These statements have not been evaluated by the food and drug
Have you ever considered the "medicine" available to you, grown in your own backyard (or farm). From Basil to Coneflower and even Thyme, there are so many reported health benefits of many common (and not so common) herbs and flowers. We're starting with Basil as it is probably the most common herb and arguably the easiest to grow.
Sow seeds outdoors when soil is warm and temperature does not drop below 65°F. Can also be started indoors 4-6 weeks before planting out. Make successive sowings for continuous summer supplies. Pinch back flower stalks as they appear to keep plants from bolting. Prefers rich well-drained soil. Basil has few pests, but occasionally pests such as aphids, flea beetles, and Japanese beetles will feast upon it. I use a spray bottle of water or water with neem oil to detach aphids. Grow in full sun (6 hours or more). Germination: 5-7 days
"One of the primary medicinal uses for basil is for its anti-inflammatory properties. This effect stems from eugenol, a volatile oil in basil that blocks enzymes in the body that cause swelling, making basil an ideal treatment for people with arthritis.
Basil, especially as an extract or oil, is known to have exceptionally powerful antioxidant properties that can protect the body from premature aging, common skin issues, age-related problems and even some types of cancer. The herb also contains the flavonoids orientin and vicenin, which are plant pigments that shield your cell structures from oxygen and radiation damage.
Both fresh basil and basil oil have strong antibacterial capabilities. In fact, basil has been shown to stop the growth of many bacteria, even some that had grown resistant to other antibiotics. Basil can be applied to wounds to help prevent bacterial infections. Also, by adding basil oil to your salad dressings, you can help ensure your vegetables are safe to eat.
Basil oil can be used to treat constipation, stomach cramps and indigestion as well as the cold, flu, asthma, whooping cough, bronchitis and sinus infections. It is also a great source of magnesium, an essential mineral that helps the body’s blood vessels relax, which can improve blood flow."
In Ayurvedic medicine, Holy Basil is used as a tea or a tincture. Among its many medicinal uses are lowering cholesterol, as an immune booster, and lowering blood glucose levels NOTE: These claims have not been substantiated by the FDA and are not intended as medical advice
Before I get into any more tincture recipes I thought I'd share another one of my favorite herbs. Feverfew is actually a flowering plant. It can be grown for it's medicinal properties or as an ornamental.
The word "feverfew" derives from the Latin word febrifugia, meaning "fever reducer." Feverfew is used most often today to treat migraine headaches. [UMM]
Feverfew has also be used for Asthma, Arthritis, Psoriasis, digestion and Menstrual cramps.
From Mary's Heirloom Seeds: Chrysanthemum Parthenium Feverfew is easily grown from herb seeds, and it is a hardy perennial with deeply cut leaves and lovely daisy-like blooms that measure 3/4 inch across. It is native to Southern Europe, but today it can be found in many areas of the world. A synonymous botanical name is Tanacetum Parthenium.
Feverfew is a medicinal herb with a long history of use. The leaves are dried and used as an herbal remedy for migraine headaches. The Feverfew herb contains parthenolide which can relieve mild spasms and is an anti-inflammatory. Some people take it to relieve the pain of rheumatoid arthritis.
To grow Feverfew: Germination: 7-14 days Start seeds indoors in colder climates.
Transplant once first true leaves are developed. Give each plant around 8-12" of space once started and thin as needed. Feverfew will readily self-sow after going to seed.
Soil should be well-drained and moderate. From Seed to Harvest is approximately 85 days.
I'm currently working on a "herbal reading list" for just about anyone interested in growing, eating and using herbs. Stay tuned!