Old Ways Herbal: Juliette Abigail Carr, RH (AHG)

Women & Children's Herbal Clinic, Vermont Herb School, & Ramblings on Family Herbal Wisdom


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Starting Medicinal Seeds: March Garden Tip

Get ready to start seeds!

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

Seed Set-up


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Identifying Lookalike Forest Plants: June Wild-crafting Journal

Solomon’s Seal and Blue Cohosh are blooming! 

This is a great time to practice differentiating look-alike plants.  Remember that Solomon’s Seal blooms from all its chakras, with flowers all down the stem, whereas Solomon’s Plume only blooms from it’s head, with the flowers protruding from the end of the stem.  Another friend that is sometimes confused with Solomon’s Seal is Uvularia, or wild oats.  Appreciate its diminutive size, flexibility in habitat–dappled sunlight or deep forest–and small, sweet yellow bell of a terminal flower.  Solomon’s Seal is on the United Plant Saver’s At-Risk List; in other words, don’t harvest it unless you have a ton–just love it growing right where it is.  If you don’t have a huge, super abundant population, you might try using willow, turmeric, meadowsweet, or black birch instead.

In terms of Blue Cohosh, it is not Black Cohosh, nor is it wild Columbine or Rue.  Check out the buds and blooms and be like “oh yeah totally, I get it, so different.”  Now is the time, my friends–follow the same plants through the season to see how they differ from their cousins.  Fun fact: the people who gave Blue Cohosh its scientific name agreed with the rest of us that those leaves look really similar to Meadow Rue–Blue Cohosh is Caulophylum thalictroides, or “looks like thalictrum” (the scientific name of Meadow Rue).  So fun.

Read more about the importance of ethical wild-crafting here.

 


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Long, Cool Spring Survival: June Garden Tip

This cold, rainy weather is very weird for the Spring to Summer transition.  I’m making the most of it by transplanting perennials like crazy and dropping plenty of cover crop seed.  Use this time to harden off your plant babies and finish up whatever cool weather tasks you didn’t get to this spring.  Have you dropped clover seed on your garden paths?  Did you plant enough lettuce, kale, peas, and cabbages?  What about that flowering hedge you never seem to have time for–it’s the perfect April weather!

Despite the frost date, be careful setting your starts out into cold soil–it will shock the roots and set the plants way back (or kill them).  Setting out into cold soil is more dangerous than setting out on a hot day!  This spring weather is definitely an exercise in patience and trust.

In the meantime, enjoy plenty of tea from the abundant fresh herbs–here’s a short piece on tea to set the mood–and what’s the difference between infusions and decoctions, anyway?


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Iced Tea & Ice Cubes: July Medicine Journal

It’s hot, and delicious tea herbs are abundant!  Take a cue from the weather and keep the fridge stocked with herbal iced teas.  If you’d like to relish these teas again after the flowers have faded, try herbal ice cubes and popsicles for a year-round treat!

Right now, my family is enjoying homemade lemon balm, hibiscus, & tulsi iced tea, with borage & lavender ice cubes (from last summer).  We’re all feeling very cool and relaxed.

Learn to make your own herbal ice cube treats here, in my article Preserving Water-Soluble Magic Beyond the Growing Season!

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High Summer: July Wild-crafting Journal

High summer is all about the herbs of the field.  Harvest your St John’s Wort flowering tops now, as the flowers hold all the life phases at once: buds, blooms, and seeds.  Harvest the late roses for syrups, oxymels, sugar and salt, dried for tea, and every other delicious thing under the sun.  Rose hips will be coming soon, as will bee balm, goldenrod, & the wild mints, so get ready–July is a busy time for bees and medicine makers!

Read more about the importance of ethical wild-crafting here.

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Supporting Garden Allies: August Garden Tip

Nourish the workers! 

Allow stands of blooming wildflowers to flourish near your garden to attract pollinators and predatory insects.

Small basins to collect water in the garden provide a mid-meal break in blistering heat to beetles including ladybugs, as they fight the good fight on your behalf–and the birds like it, too, as they scour your garden for tomato hornworms and the like.

A rock pile near the garden can provide welcome shade for pest-eaters like small lizards and snakes.

And finally, cooling herbs like lemon balm, borage, chamomile, and mint make
delicious iced tea to reward yourself for caring for your plants in the heat!  You can also turn tea into versatile ice cubes for later use, recipe here.

Happy weeding!


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Time to Dig Roots! September Medicine Journal

Get ready for roots!

One of the most common questions I’m asked is when to harvest roots.
Autumn is the perfect time to dig roots, as the plant has stored up lots of good carbohydrate energy to get it through the winter.

The most fortuitous time of the fall for digging roots is the dark of the moon following the first frost, usually mid-September around here.  Purple- or red-tinged leaves are a good sign that the plant is focusing on drawing down into itself for the coming winter.

This is an especially appropriate time of year to dig the first-year roots of biennials like Burdock: often second-year roots are degrading quickly by fall as the plant’s energy is focused on setting seeds, but first-year roots are at their peak.

Look for healthy plants and happy digging!

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