Old Ways Herbal, Juliette Abigail Carr

Vermont Herb School, Apothecary, Clinic, & Family Herbal Wisdom


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Garden Tip of the Month: Growing Milky Oats!

Oat is a short-season, cool weather crop.  Once the weather gets hot it does its baby-making thing and goes to seed, which means you missed the milky stage.  Oat is direct-seeded as soon as the ground can be worked, which in my climate is April but for many people is March.  I often plant oats the day I plant peas or soon after; the minimum soil temperature for germination is 45 degrees F, and in the mid 50’s you start to get poor germination and you’re likely to run out of time to get your oats to the milky stage before hot weather hits.

Where to Plant Oats

Cover Crop Oats make a great spring cover crop, so consider planting them in a spot that went weedy last year, or in an area new to cultivation.  Oat is in the grass family (Poaceae) and it does reasonably well against all the nasty invasive grasses I’m always fighting to get out of the gardens.  I think of it as an in-and-out crop, like peas or radishes, in that it’s there and gone before my heavy hitter crops like corn and tomatoes are even a twinkle in the season’s eye.

Microclimate Oats are kind of tall so you can use them to create interesting microclimates for early season crops.  I plant short-season Brassicas north of the oats, because it’s sunny when the weather is cool, and by the time the oats are tall enough to cast shade over the Brassicas, the weather is warm enough that without a little shade I’d be fretting about the broccoli bolting before it sets nice florets.  Avoid this for the long-season Brassicas like cabbage and brussels sprouts because the oats will be cut down long before those crops are ready.

Soil

Moist soil for germination!

Succession Planting Oat is a great tool for succession planting, as it lays down a beautiful nitrogen-rich weed-free layer of mulch for your hot season crops.  I always plant my hottest hotties in the oat patch in June–last year it was watermelon, and let me tell you it was BEAUTIFUL not having to weed the watermelon.

How to Plant Oats

I recommend tilling the ground in the fall for a few reasons: 1. you can get your seed in the ground literally as early as possible in the spring, mud be damned; and 2. it buys your crop a head start against last year’s weed seeds, especially grass.

If you didn’t till in the fall, know that you will most likely have to make a decision in March or April to either prep the bed by hand or wait until the ground dries out enough for the tiller–but then you’re gambling on the soil temperature for germination, which is often well into the high 50’s by the time the soil dries out, around here anyway.  To prep the bed by hand, turn the soil with a shovel, weeding as you go; when the soil is as turned as it’s going to get, follow instructions below.

1. Before planting oats, use a scuffle hoe or stirrup hoe to make the soil as level and fine as you can get it, even if the soil was recently tilled.  The more level and fine your soil is, the better your oats will germinate.  If you don’t have the right hoe you can use a hard rake, but then please get yourself a good hoe with your tax refund.

2. Sow your seeds (sow your cultivated oats, I suppose!) by scattering them thickly across the surface of the soil using both hands or a seed spreader.  The birds are going to eat some of your seeds, so really, spread them thick.

3.  Use a hard rake or your hands to spread the oats as evenly as possible.

4. If you’re sowing a large area, walk across it gently to ensure good contact between the oats and the soil.  If it’s a small area, you can pat them down with your hands.  You don’t have to bury the oats, they’ll germinate just fine on the surface as long as they are pressed into the soil.

Consider a scarecrow, bells, or old CD’s on strings to keep the birds out of the oats, although there’s a certain amount of seed that the seed-eaters will take as their due for their brethren who eat pest bugs, mice, rabbits, etc. and protect our gardens.  Once I scared a fawn out of my oats, where her mother had hidden her for the day.  That was neat, even with the crushed plants.

Interested in making medicine with your Milky Oats?  Read the full article!

Join us this summer for the Medicinal Gardener Course: a season-long garden adventure, monthly Sundays starting in May on our organic farm & forest gardens!

For more on making safe, delicious herbal remedies at home, come to the Home Medicine Maker Course, monthly Saturdays starting in May in our Botanical Sanctuary forest classroom!

The Home Herbalist Course offers a deeper investigation of using herbal medicine to its utmost potential.  One Sunday a month starting in May in our Botanical Sanctuary forest classroom!

 

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New: “Quick Question” Consultations

Announcing “Quick Question” Mini Consultations!

“Quick Question” consultations are available for people with simple, straightforward questions that can be answered within 15 minutes.  They are available for both first time clients and existing clients.  If more time is needed, the client may choose to continue into a full consultation, as they prefer.

Clinical consultations can help guide you to self-empowerment on your healing path.  My practice specializes in supporting the health of women and children from conception onward.  I am honored to see clients of all genders when their wellness goals fit into my areas of expertise.  Please click here for information about my practice to consider whether my perspective would be helpful as you maximize your health.


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Clinic Hours Expanded

Great News:

Starting April 15, I am expanding my clinical hours to include two clinical days every week!

 

That’s double the availability to schedule health consultations!  Hopefully, this will get rid of the wait time for an appointment.

 

Clinical consultations can help guide you to self-empowerment on your healing path.  My practice specializes in supporting the health of women and children from conception onward.  I am honored to see clients of all genders when their wellness goals fit into my areas of expertise.  Please read more here to consider whether my perspective would be helpful as you maximize your health.

 

Mimosa

My mimosa tree blooming in the living room!


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Announcing Radical Family Herbalism Column in Plant Healer Magazine

I’m so thrilled to announce my new column in Plant Healer Magazine, called “Heart & Hearth: Radical Family Herbalism.”  I’m so honored to be joining this vibrant community, and I hope you will enjoy the column!

The glorious Kiva Rose Bell Hardin introduced it on her blog better than I ever could, as follows:

“With so much attention given to “official” certification and hierarchical professionalism, it feels important to support the traditional roles of unofficial community provider and home practitioner.  There is something very radical about such self-empowered herbalism, and we do not know of anyone who practices, embodies, teaches, and expands the notion of Home Herbalism better than Juliette Carr, Good Medicine Confluence teacher, and founder and teacher of the excellent Old Ways School of Plant Medicine herbal courses. She will cover all kinds of relevant topics, including women’s health care and the use of herbs for children.”

 

If you’re not already reading it, you can subscribe to Plant Healer Magazine through the link in the sidebar (which supports my work) or directly through their site.  They are hands down the best herbal publication available, with a thorough, non-hierarchical, diverse approach to herbalism that really gets me fired up, in a gloriously beautiful package with lots of bonus freebies.  It is a gift to read.


Medicinal Gardener Course

Medicinal Gardener Course

Come get your hands dirty in this season-long garden adventure. This course digs deep into principles and techniques of organic gardening. Hone your skills to coax medicinal plants into being, while protecting veggies from insects and increasing yields.

More Info

 

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Garden Tip of the Month: Starting Medicinal Plants from Seed

Starting seeds is a cornerstone of my herbal practice, not to mention my sweet sideline as homestead queen.  I highly recommend growing this skill, as it quintuples your access to strange and interesting plants.  There is a great, wide, green world of herbs and flowers out there beyond the garden center, and it can be yours for a small investment in supplies, a bunch of practice, and the willingness to try again.  Here is an article on starting fussy medicinal plants that I hope you find helpful!

Starting Medicinal Plants from Seed

Soil

You’ve got the moisture level right when the soil clumps in your hand.


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April Workshops Scheduled

Free Medicinal Plant Walk

Celebrate Earth Day with a calm amble to meet the medicinal weeds of spring in Brattleboro.  We will discuss how to find them, medicinal uses, and safety concerns.  Children are welcome. Sunday, April 22, 4-4:30 PM, Brattleboro location TBA

Although this event is free, RSVP is required.

Medicinal Herbs in the Vegetable Garden Intensive

Just in time to plan your gardens!  This all-day intensive provides an in-depth discussion of growing medicinal plants in the home garden.  We will focus particularly on using medicinals as companion plants in the vegetable garden, as well as creating microclimates for optimal cultural conditions and on spring and fall maintenance of perennials.  Other relevant topics will also be covered. Sign up period for this class closes March 30.

April 7, 11 AM-3 PM, $80

Sign up, worktrade, and everything else under the School of Plant Medicine menu!

 

Plant Walk

Medicinal Herb Gardening Intensive at Old Ways Herbal