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Our new home in Cerrillos, NM has some amazing qualities. The sun room is my favorite room in the house. Sun all day long! Faces east, south and west. Plants that I’ve grown in Colorado gardens are growing much more vigorously here, indoors, and herbs that I normally would not bring inside are all doing incredibly well.
Lemon Verbena grew best in Colorado when planted into a compost-rich, well nourished garden in full sun. Here, it came inside in a large pot just before it started getting chilly at night – normally when the lower leaves would begin to yellow and fall. Somehow the timing was perfect, and it continued, for months, to grow into this lush, fragrant shrub. Never had any luck growing it inside in Colorado. I cut it back a few weeks ago, and it has already started sending up new, bright green shoots all over again!
Lemon Verbena – Heavenly Fragrance!
I dried the Lemon Verbena foliage to make an amazing tea blend: Oolong, Lemon Verbena and Roses. One of my favorite morning teas. Wonderful dessert tea.
My favorite calming blend is Chamomile, Lemon Verbena and Roses, a delicious nervine and digestive blend that is fragrant and soothing. I add coconut milk and honey.
Milky Oats (Avena sativa)
I’m now growing oats (Avena sativa) from seed in company with with the Lemon Verbena I cut back. Fingers crossed for a milky oat tincture in the not too distant future! Milky Oat tincture is one of the best remedies for stress.
In this instance, I used the space in the pot to grow Avena on one side and start some perennials in peat pots on the other – both as an experiment. Avena growing nicely and Catmint germinated and sprouted already! Lemon Verbena sprouting all over the place. Crazy good!
In August or September, I transplanted my cayenne pepper into a pot with some amazing organic soil from a local rock yard. Not sure what motivated me to bring it inside – probably chilly falling temps and a desire for more Cayenne! It’s been blooming and fruiting ever since! I counted 40 peppers recently that are still growing and ripening. Cayenne is one of my all time favorite herbs. Cayenne-infused honey coming soon! And a spicy dried pepper blend, too. Delicious! I have managed to make a Hot & Spicy herb blend that includes hot n spicy oregano from an earlier garden and some of my recently harvested cayennes.
More than 40 Cayenne peppers coming on! Must have been some small pollinators in the sun room!
I harvest the cayenne as they ripen and we use them all the time in our food! Cayenne is an amazing heart herb. Here is the “Hot and Spicy” culinary blend I made – all ingredients from my organic gardens, namely, Hot n Spicy Oregano, Cayenne, Nettle, Rosemary, Thyme, Lemon Thyme, Summer Savory. Very flavorful and nourishing!
Calendula and other edibles from seed
This is Calendula, my favorite herb for skin care. Calendula is also amazing to ingest as a medicinal herb to heal the digestive tract. So far, these seedlings look really good! They’ve grown a lot just since I took this photo! Go Calendula!
I also started chickweed and a wild arugula known as “wasabi arugula”. Both are coming up and just about to start leafing and vining. I have grown chickweed in pots before….once it gets started you have to harvest pretty often to keep up with it. Super nutritious with a mild flavor that blends well with other greens in a salad. Fingers crossed that the wild arugula really tastes like wasabi. Because Wasabi Mashed Potatoes.
Deep window ledges and beautiful light
The deep window ledges are so welcoming to sun-loving plants. Here, in the south facing living room window, aloe and a scented geranium enjoy growing together.
Desert Roses (Adenium) – something new and interesting
My brother got me interested in Desert Roses (Adenium). He has an amazing collection that mesmerized me when I visited him a few months back in Florida. Since it’s a desert plant, I felt it would be appropriate to order a few of them for my sun room. We are living in the high desert here, after all. They are doing a-ok, I think. Such a beautiful plant, especially when in flower. Very drought tolerant. I have to be careful not to overwater.
Oh, Kitten Kitty!
I have to say, my cat really likes the kitchen and sunroom. Lots of bird activity outside, unlimited sunshine, fragrant herbs and plants…the perfect feline hangout.
Rose Geranium and Rosemary for fragrance and balance
Rose Geranium is such a vigorous plant. It loves the sunroom! Rosemary does, too. Periodically I trim back these plants and distill their essences into hydrosols. Both Rosemary and Rose Geranium have healing properties for skin and hair. I swear my hair has gotten darker after misting with Rosemary hydrosol every day for several weeks. Rose Geranium has a calming effect on the central nervous system and is also highly beneficial for all skin types. Both are healing and cleansing for the environment as a room spray.
I gave the Rose Geranium a good trim and distilled a batch of the most fragrant hydrosol ever. Probably because I pre-infused the plant material in 1/2 gallon of purified water for 24 hours prior to distillation.
Chamomile likes growing in the sunroom
One of my other favorite herbs is Chamomile. Very healing for the digestive system, calming as an evening tea, and fabulous as an infused honey for both culinary use and as a healing topical remedy. This is another herb that I repotted toward the end of the season and brought inside. Now it’s blooming away in the sun room! Who knew?
So, that’s what I’m growing in NM. Outside, I have some gardens started along with some large planters and a vermiculture project that are still in the planning stages. Will definitely be seeding in some native wildflowers to see if we can create a more diverse ecosystem.
I look forward to greeting some of my favorite perennials in the Spring:
Onoethera macrocarpa, Penstemon pseudospectabilis, Globe Mallow, Catmint, Rosemary, Clary Sage, Aster and others. I even have a Passiflora that seems to be especially fond of this environment. It’s still green and leafy, even after repeated cold nights. Learning experiences all over the place.
1. Spend more time with your Parasympathetic Nervous System. Have more fun! Become acquainted with feeling deeply relaxed and rested.Enjoy relaxing.Do it often.
Spend more time with your dogs, cats, donkeys, horses, birds or other animal companions. Chances are THEY know how to relax and enjoy life. Learn from them!
Fun & relaxation = Healing & restoration
2. Drink more water. Drink deeply and be thankful for water’s presence in every one of your cells. Be amazed at water’s ability to transport nutrients into and toxins away from your cells.Send some protective prayers to the water in your cells and all the water on Earth.
3. Take a walk in a beautiful place.Even if you feel cranky, take a short walk in a beautiful place. Or walk through your garden and make a bouquet! You will feel better afterwards.
Remember, your lymphatic fluid only circulates when you are moving.
4. Take your vitamins and minerals every day.Our bodies run on chemical reactions that are happening in our bodies 24/7, 365, my friends. How does that happen? Ideally, from a constant supply of vitamins, minerals, enzymes, essential fatty acids and other crucial nutrients that fuel the amazing cellular exchanges that provide us with energy. Yes, we carry on, even while being undernourished…but life is so much better when you’re well nourished at the cellular level!
Lily’s cells are well nourished and it shows!
5.Increase vitamin C intake.Humans, unlike almost all other mammals, do not make their own Vitamin C.We need a LOT more than the RDA (a mere 60 milligrams!), which is the minimum dose required to prevent Scurvy.Really?Is that your preferred level of health?Linus Pauling took 9,000 mg of Vitamin C per day.I recommend working up to 5,000 mg/day for everyone.Why?Vitamin C is the universal detoxifier, it’s highly anti-viral, anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory and is, literally, a lifesaving nutrient.Find your upper limit for this vitamin and take a little less than that amount every day.
6.Develop mindfulness and awareness.Take Yoga, Tai Chi or Feldenkrais classes.Get some body work, a foot massage, a gong session, or acupuncture, and let your body know you care. Move with awareness as you are gardening, doing housework, or walking.
7.Eat more greens and berries.Raw greens are incredibly nourishing and cleansing.Arugula salad with Walnuts. Pesto on Pasta, Pesto on Pizza, Pesto on Roasted Vegetables.Wilted Dandelion Greens!Berries are loaded with antioxidants and bioflavonoids.Berries with coconut whipped cream!Berries on pancakes. Raw Blueberry pie. A bowl of berries.
8. Take a magnesium bath. And take some magnesium capsules. Many important functions in the body require the presence of magnesium. Soils are depleted. Most people are deficient. Low magnesium levels = sluggish metabolism = stress on organ systems… And magnesium deficiency often goes hand in hand with the epidemic of low Vitamin D levels we are seeing today, even in people who live near the equator. Maintaining optimal levels of Magnesium and Vitamin D are crucial for achieving vital good health and resistance to disease.
9. Eat foods that work best for your body.Focus on those foods that = good energy for you.I recommend eating at least one large salad per day.We get organic dandelion greens, arugula, kale, cilantro, parsley and bok choi at Sprouts and Vitamin Cottage. Start by adding more raw greens, and keep adding on more vegetables as you discover more delicious ways to prepare and consume them.
10.Consume 1 tablespoon of chia seeds each day.I add mine to coconut water along with my liquid vitamin and 1/4 tsp of sodium ascorbate (Vitamin C).You can consume chia in any liquid, or blend with coconut milk to make chia pudding.Chia contains all of the amino acids and offers amazing healing for the digestive tract.Happy Gut = Happy Nervous System.
These really are the top 10 ways I support myself throughout the year.They are pretty easy to do, especially whenyou find yourself losing weight, feeling less inflamed and moving with greater ease and with more energy and vigor.I don’t have time for inflammation – I’ve got gardens to build!
Wishing you Organic Gardens, Good Health, and Peace in 2019.
Helpful links and resources:
Andrew Saul – Megavitamin Specialist. www.andrewsaul.com/. Accessed 21 Feb. 2014.
“DoctorYourself.com: Andrew Saul’s Natural Health Website.” DoctorYourself.com: Andrew Saul’s Natural Health Website, www.doctoryourself.com/. Accessed 21 Feb. 2014.
https://www.facebook.com/jeffrey.dach. “Vitamin C Saves Dying Man – Jeffrey Dach MD.” Jeffrey Dach MD, jeffreydachmd.com/vitamin-c-saves-dying-man/. Accessed 30 Oct. 2016.
http://www.youtube.com/channel/UC9Eid1BsSI7h18SKfAzv43Q. “Lecture on Vitamin C by Brilliant Suzanne Humphries.” YouTube, YouTube, 3 Feb. 2015, www.youtube.com/watch?v=y0LLX0sgwAU. Accessed 16 May 2016.
Levy, Thomas E. Curing the Incurable: Vitamin C, Infectious Diseases, and Toxins. Livon Books, 2002.
Levy, Thomas E. Primal Panacea. MedFox Pub., 2011.
Pauling, Linus. How to Live Longer and Feel Better. W.H. Freeman, 1986.
Pedersen, Mark. Nutritional Herbology: a Reference Guide to Herbs. Wendell W. Whitman, 1998.
Smith, Lendon H. Feed Your Body Right: Understanding Your Individual Body Chemistry for Proper Nutrition without Guesswork. M. Evans and Co., 1994.
Smith, Lendon H. Feed Your Kids Right: Dr. Smith’s Program for Your Child’s Total Health. McGraw Hill, 1979.
Wallach, Joel D., and Ma Lan. Dead Doctors Don’t Lie. Legacy Communications Group, 1999.
“Welcome To Orthomolecular.org.” Welcome To Orthomolecular.org, www.orthomolecular.org/index.shtml. Accessed 21 Feb. 2014.
Did you know? You can protect yourself from colds and flu in the most delicious way!
Elderberries support respiratory, digestive and immune health!
This particular batch also has a generous amount of ginger root and is sweetened with Neem Honey!
The dark color of elderberries = powerful bioflavonoids which are responsible for it’s highly nutritive properties.
“Elderberries have high concentrations of bioflavonoids which appear to inhibit the action of this [viral] enzyme, thus deactivating viruses and rendering them unable to pierce the cell wall and replicate.”
Not only for viral infections, Elderberry has shown powerful healing capabilities for treating urinary tract infections, seasonal allergies and digestive disorders.
So delicious!!! Now available at my Etsy shop!
I make this in small batches, so only four bottles are now available.
When life becomes overwhelming, find a safe place and take care of yourself.
When I’m going through stressful times, a lot of my “good habits” can fall by the wayside. Basic and important habits, like taking my supplements and staying hydrated.
Motivation and solution for hydrating? Coconut water is wonderful, or …
Magic Cherry Soda!
1 oz cherry juice concentrate 1/2 c coconut milk (or other milk of choice) 1/2 c carbonated water or more, depending on fizzy preference 7-9 drops vanilla stevia 1/8 tsp sodium ascorbate (Vitamin C) Delicious and replenishing! Anti-inflammatory, too! The sodium ascorbate is super important for enhancing the anti-inflammatory properties of the cherry juice, so don’t leave it out!
It’s important to drink pure water throughout the day. We have a Big Berkey water filter that makes any water taste delicious. It’s one way to make sure the water we are drinking and cooking with is free of heavy metals, chlorine and other toxins.
Having something appealing to drink often helps me talk myself into taking my supplements.If I have something delicious to sip, then swallowing all those capsules becomes easier.Gotta keep those vital chemical reactions going in the body! Vitamins, enzymes and minerals interact in our bodies to create detoxification, repair, healing and energy! They are all required for good health! ALL of them! Take your vitamins!
“Good” Comfort Foods
Sometimes I make poor food choices when I’m stressed.This can only lead to further misery in the form of digestive upsets or body-wide inflammation, so even if I’m maxed out emotionally, I try to maintain focus and feel satisfied from eating whole “easy” foods, like carrots or apples. Or what about a bowl of blueberries? My husband is super helpful in this regard because he certainly doesn’t want me to have more inflammation.Nothing like a crabby spouse to make stressful times even more unpleasant!
Comfort food is sometimes simply required, so I try to keepa list of our favorite comforting recipes on the refrigerator or in the notes on my phone. That way, when I’m feeling cranky and can’t think of something good to eat, I can reference the list.
These are a few of our favorites:
Organic popcorn Red pepper slices Grapes Cole Slaw Chia pudding Avocado Pesto on Tortillas – made with cilantro, parsley, dried nettle and hempseed Posole Saag – chard, kale, nettle, arugula, spinach or other greens Soup with lots of garlic Mushroom gravy on cauliflower rice sprinkled w hempseed Carrot raisin salad with hempseed Overnight oats w blueberries and hempseed Broccoli salad with tahini dressing and banana peppers and hempseed
I also have a Pinterest board with lots of delicious vegan recipes.I seek out and collect vegan recipes specifically because I avoid eggs and dairy like the plague. And I like to eat a LOT of greens, fruits and vegetables. Turns out there are zillions of amazing and super delicious egg and dairy-free recipes out there in every category!Thanks, all you crazy vegan bloggers! Following are a few of my favorite blogs that offer up loads up free recipes:
Cannabis is a nourishing and medicinal plant that has been cultivated world-wide throughout the history of our planet.
Cannabis sativa, more commonly known as marijuana, has been used by people since long before the recording of history. During the Neolithic period, ancient people used every part of the plant.
The stems and stalk provided fiber, which was used to make rope and clothing. The seeds were used for their nutritional value as a source of omega three and omega 6 fatty acids and high-quality protein. The leaves and flowers were used by healers.
The first written reference to the medical use of cannabis was in China in 2700 BC. It was written by Emperor Shen Nong, “the Divine Farmer of ancient China”. He is considered to be the first person to create a written record of classical Chinese herbal medicine. He introduced the custom of drinking marijuana tea, recommended for more than 100 ailments, including gout, constipation, rheumatism and malaria.
The first botanical illustration of the plant in Western literature appears in a manuscript of Dioscorides in 512 AD. Dioscorides is best known for his Materia Medica, which is the basis for our modern pharmacopeia.
So now we know that Cannabis is actually a serious medicinal herb
We grow a lot of nutritious foods around here, and always include a high-CBD Cannabis plant in our greens garden. I encourage everyone to grow their own organic Cannabis. Why? It’s delicious, highly remineralizing and nourishing, and there is no “high” when leaves are consumed fresh (my dogs love the leaves)!
Use the fresh leaves to make a highly nourishing, medicinal pesto:
1 c packed fresh Cannabis leaves 1 c packed fresh Basil leaves 4-5 cloves Garlic 2 tbs dried Nettle 1/2 c walnuts
Process lightly in food processor, then add
3-4 Tbs Lemon Juice 3-4 Tbs Olive Oil Salt to taste Cayenne to taste
Process again to desired texture. This is some Serious Goodness!
Dry the leaves and make Cannabis tea
Simply harvest a basket full of leaves, allow to dry, and then make tea! It has a slightly green, nutty flavor on it’s own, or you can infuse it with Twig or Black tea. Delicious!
Anti-Inflammatory Blueberry Smoothie
8-9 fresh cannabis leaves 1 c blueberries 1 c coconut milk 1 Tbs chia seeds honey or stevia or maple syrup if you like it sweeter
Blend and enjoy!!
My friend freezes the Cannabis leaves in serving sized packets so they can make smoothies all winter. No high, just nourishment at the cellular level.
Coconut Oil Infused with Cannabis
Fill a jar 1/2 full of fresh Cannabis leaves and buds, lightly packed. Pour melted coconut oil over herbs, making sure to completely cover herbs, and allow to infuse for 4-6 weeks. I leave mine sitting in the sun. Strain when in liquid form at the end of your infusion time, and always test this and any other Cannabis formula you are ingesting with small doses at first. Since this formulation contains buds, it will contain some THC. Always start with small doses.
This oil infusion, made with high CBD cannabis, is an excellent sleep inducing formula for humans (1/4 tsp before bed) and has potent anti-inflammatory properties.
Dogs can benefit greatly from small, regular doses of cannabis infused coconut oil. Remember – Always test products on yourself before giving a fraction of your dose to your dog.
Herbal Elixir for Nervous and Digestive Support
Blended with other herbs, high CBD cannabis can create a powerful formulation to support the nervous and digestive systems. One of my favorite formulas uses the fresh and fragrant flowers of Meadowsweet, Valerian and Chamomile in combination with fresh Cannabis. Infuse equal parts of these flowers + Cannabis in Brandy + Honey (50/50) for 2-4 weeks. Very relaxing, and amazing for the digestive system since both Meadowsweet and Chamomile are digestive herbs. Great bedtime formula!
Phoenix Tears, Rick Simpson Oil, or Medicinal Cannabis concentrate:
Fresh plant material and a long infusion time = my own process for making a very powerful Cannabis concentrate. I encourage everyone to grow their own organic Cannabis or find a friend who can grow it for you. It’s a vigorous plant that requires full sun and deep waterings. Each plant gets quite large (6-8′ tall x 4-5′ wide), and provides generously. Be ready for it! Harvesting even one plant can seem a little overwhelming to new growers.
At harvest time, around the end of September or early October here in Zone 5, you can simply grab a 1/2 gallon jar and go out to the garden. Use your good garden clippers to cut the pinecone shaped buds and pack them lightly into the jar. Cannabis is ready to harvest when the buds become sticky. The resin is medicinal!
Leave 3″ above the top of the lightly packed herbs.Cover the organic buds completely with Everclear, cap tightly and sit in a sunny or warm location for 6-8 months. Make sure you have covered the herbs completely with the Everclear. Leave some room for the alcohol to move around the herbs when you periodically shake the jar. Also note that even though you are using fresh plant material, it will absorb the alcohol and swell slightly, so leave a little room. The 1/2 gallon jar of infusion will yield approximately 1/2 pint of the tar-like concentrate.
Name of Plant:
Beginning date of infusion:
Ending date of infusion:
Note the ounces of plant material and amount of Everclear used.
(all the above info is available on line – just enter the name of your cannabis strain)
Even though all of the instructions for Phoenix Tears that I’ve seen in my research use dried plant material, it just made sense to me as an herbalist to try it with fresh Cannabis.Supposedly the THC (also highly medicinal) doesn’t get activated unless the plant is dried or heated, but I guarantee there is THC in my version, as I have experienced it for myself, even with high CBD plants.
Infuse for 6-8 months
Keep in a warm location and shake on occasion. After 6-8 months, the infusion becomes very dark green. Pour the liquid and plant material through a potato ricer and press as much of the liquid as possible into a large measuring cup or bowl. Yes, it requires some effort, but you want to capture every drop of that infusion!
Compost the leftover plant material.
On a nice day, take your crockpot or rice cooker outside (to an electrical outlet) and carefully pour in the pressed Cannabis infusion.Keep the heat setting on the lowest temperature and be ready to check in on the evaporation process all throughout the day.This can take a couple days, depending.If it does take more than one day, unplug the crockpot at night and put a lid on to keep insects out.
Never ever light a match or lighter in the vicinity of the Everclear solution!It’s highly flammable, which is why I suggest doing this process outside, and never on the stove.
It will take a number of hours, but the alcohol will evaporate and you will be left with about 1/2 pint of a very dark, tar-like substance, which is the powerful medicine of the cannabis plant.
It’s tricky to remove this substance from the crockpot, but a small spatula coated in coconut oil works pretty well.To remove every last bit, you can add a small amount of coconut oil, or other good oil of choice to the crockpot to thin the black concentrate a bit.It’s super sticky – like tar.
Dosage: Start with very small doses!Dip a toothpick into the concentrate at first. Later, dipping your finger into the resin and licking it off will work as your cannabinoid receptors become accustomed to the medicine. Spoiler alert: It tastes terrible!!!!
Yes, you can get high from ingesting this concentrate, so go slowly and pay attention to how you feel with each increased dose.The idea is to keep a continuous supply of healing cannabinoids in your body at all times. Healing can occur more deeply and profoundly when our cannabinoid receptors are filled.
Using dried plant material will also work.
You can use dried plant material in almost the same way, and probably with similar results. In fact, a few of us are getting together to make a batch of Phoenix Tears using dried plant material and a much shorter infusion time. I will keep you posted!
Always use organic Cannabis. I suggest growing your own or find a friend who has room to grow some for you! You do not want to concentrate fungicides, herbicides or pesticides into your healing cannabis medicine.
As the famous herbalist, Michael Moore, said about Cannabis, “It’s just another damn herb!” That’s true! And it’s an herb that has a lot to offer in the way of nutrition and healing!
We moved to Berthoud in August of 2015. We knew we would be starting over on gardens and such, and were feeling a little overwhelmed due to the large sloping back yard. Fortunately for us, at the very beginning of our first Spring here, 2016, Berthoud Local offered a permaculture class – perfect timing! Minds blown! We immediately scheduled a consult with the presenter, Avery, and as a result installed all of our gardens with permaculture features, first incorporating a large mulch basin in the front-south facing garden for collecting and filtering the rainwater from our roof. This front garden is planted around this mulch basin with xeric or low water, heat loving perennials – penstemons, iris, buckwheat, catmint, geraniums, hyssops, comfrey, saponaria, veronica, rugosa roses, sages and more. These plants LOVE growing around this mulch basin!
July of 2016
In the center of the garden are two large rugosa roses, zone 3, very hardy, low water once established. A purple flowering comfrey is planted between the two roses to collect nutrients, provide flowers for bees and other pollinators, and also to provide an ongoing supply of nourishing mulch. A few more of these comfrey plants are placed near trees and fruiting shrubs throughout the property. Below, the orange hyssop and pink saponaria are well established their first full season.
Greywater from our washing machine is channeled to irrigate the two garden beds closest to the front porch. We use the Magnetic Laundry System – no detergent! Highly recommended.
Here are the two beds fresh installed in August 2015 just after we moved in. We added the greywater system later, in the Spring of 2016, after taking the Permaculture class.
In the back, we installed a sloping swale that receives greywater from the shower, running under the deck, across 3 gardens and into a deeper swale that runs the length of the lower portion of our sloping yard (below). The area under the deck is graded, so rainfall is also directed across these gardens. Along the lowest part of the property, we dug a 50 foot swale about 18 inches deep. We then filled 1/2 the lower swale (below right) with tree limbs and the other half with compost, soil, and more compost. We always add glacial rock dust and mycorrhizal fungi to every garden we build.
There are 9 sections of this swale that are planted with pollinator-friendly hollyhocks, lavender, hardy and beautiful fruiting roses, comfrey and fragrant herbs. Across from the swale and next to the fence we planted Elderberries, Hawthorn, Goji Berries, Clematis, hardy climbing and rambling roses, ornamental grasses and mullein, mints, sages and other hardy perennials aimed at creating a fruiting, flowering pollinator-friendly hedgerow.
Still a work in progress, I’m looking forward to seeing a more mature and abundant garden this Spring and Summer!
…when you nourish your 4-footed friends at the cellular level with whole foods, enzymes, vitamins and minerals!
Lily loves raw greens and garlic, and it shows! Happy cells!
There was a time when the idea of supplements for dogs or cats seemed a little crazy or fanatical to me. Now I can’t imagine preparing a meal for my little friends without digestive enzymes and greens, aka vitamins and minerals. I’ve seen many out-of-balance dogs and cats recover and thrive when switched to whole foods and supplements. Canines and felines can respond very quickly and favorably to herbs and nutrients, especially when combined with a whole food diet. That’s the whole entire reason I became an herbalist! And because my little dog, Lily, is immune-impaired due to a birth defect. I’ve learned a lot from her!
Miracles can and do happen from simply feeding nourishing, bioavailable food. Older dogs and cats can lead comfortable and pain-free lives and remain active into their later years. Ideal body weight is achieved effortlessly on a whole food diet.
Whole foods for cats = Balanced, beautiful, playful cats
This is the bad news: Conventional dog and cat foods are much more disease-inducing than the most processed human food. All dry dog/cat food is exposed to high heat, damaging any nutrients that once existed in the usually inferior ingredients. There are zero enzymes in heat-processed food, so instead of replenishing your friend’s enzyme stores, it actually taxes and depletes them. Dogs fed dry/canned food often present with allergies, anxiety, ear infections, body odor, dental issues, digestive disorders, fatty tumors and worse. Cats suffer dental issues, constipation, irritability, thyroid imbalances, dehydration and urinary issues, including kidney failure, due to dry food diets. Felines are obligate carnivores with short digestive systems and, as such, require high protein, enzyme-rich, bioavailable food – the opposite of dry cat food. Seriously. Dogs and cats often become overweight and/or develop fatty tumors due to the rendered, damaged fats in conventional dog and cat food. How did we come to believe that crunchy brown nuggets with unrecognizable ingredients and an indefinite shelf life = good food? Not to mention the dyes, preservatives, and other chemicals that are almost always present in dry or canned foods. My animals do not receive any baked treats, ever. Not one biscuit. Our dogs are on a whole food diet! Heat processing, aka baked treats = Damaged oils. Damaged oils = damaged cells and a lifetime of inflammation (or worse) for your dog or cat.
The good news: You can design a convenient, whole-food diet for your dog or cat that is digestible, species-appropriate, and nourishing! I can show you how! Raw, freeze dried and/or dehydrated foods such as Only Natural Pet Easyraw in combination with home prepared meals can be affordable and incredibly nourishing. You will save on vet bills – guaranteed. Well nourished dogs are happy dogs, usually calmer and more attentive, more beautiful, energetic, and vital. More fun! Cats, too! Dogs and cats love whole foods and can be switched over the course of a week or several days… even overnight! Other foods that I feed my dogs and cat, in rotation with home prepared meals:
Sojos Grain Free – just add water, and then your own protein – eggs, fish, meat. You can even add friendly grains and/or legumes. Wonderful food!
Sojos Complete – meat included, just add water. We rehydrate a quart jar of food and keep it refrigerated. Pour in 1/3 jar of the dehydrated mix, fill the jar with water, let sit overnight to completely rehydrate. Between the two 22 pound dogs, this lasts for 3-4 days, when fed at the evening meal. Morning meals are often home made.
Stella & Chewy’s Freeze Dried Dinners – Great 95% meat source for dogs! Fantastic for cats, too – just crumble 3 patties in a jar, cover with broth or water and allow 45 minutes (or overnight) to rehydrate. Add a raw egg yolk and a tiny amount of powdered greens, and you have 2 or 3 days’ worth of cat food. Schisandra loves the Rabbit and Pheasant formulas. Keep refrigerated once rehydrated. For dogs, add to friendly grains, legumes and/or vegetables, or use as a treat. Our dogs usually receive 50% raw minced vegetables/50% Stella & Chewy’s patties.
Ziwipeak Air-Dried Food is a nutrient-dense food for dogs or cats. Mix it with Sojos Grain Free food, or with your own vegetables. Great as a treat, or to use in rotation with other proteins. Ingredients in the Venison formula: Venison Meat (min 65%), Liver, Tripe, Heart and Kidney (min 19.5%); Chicory Syrup; Green-lipped and Blue Mussel* (min 4%); Hoki Fish Oil; Lecithin; Kelp; Vitamins and Minerals; Parsley. Naturally preserved with mixed tocopherols. Organ meat is so nutritious for our animal friends!
Primal Freeze Dried Food is a favorite around our house – with the dogs and cat. I usually keep two Primal proteins on hand to maintain a good rotation schedule. Variety is the spice of life!
These are just a few ideas, and some of the foods my friends enjoy the most.
Beautiful Gena LOVES eating whole foods, including greens and egg yolks.
We live in such toxic and stressful times right now. Our pets are being exposed to lawn chemicals, dryer sheets, cleaning products, car fumes, stress hormones, pesticides and herbicides with every walk or ride through town. Most dogs and cats have been or are on some type of medication – usually antibiotics or steroids, and are being over-vaccinated, any of which can lead to allergies, digestive issues, and deeper, more serious imbalances.
Switching to whole foods and supplementing for cellular health can = miraculous healing and well being for your four-legged friends. Supplements, along with whole foods, are a must to facilitate digestion, strengthen immunity, support organ function, maintain musculoskeletal stability, and contribute to the detoxification process.
My dogs eat a lot of raw vegetables, including broccoli, cabbage, sweet potatoes, carrots, lettuce and, in season, fresh herbs from our gardens. Sounds like a lot, and I guess it is compared to most dogs. In addition, I include a powdered green herbal blend, Vitamin C and digestive enzymes with every single meal. I highly recommend raw, organic vegetables and greens for all dogs. Cats, too, in tiny amounts. We eat a lot of vegetables around here, so we’re always chopping greens for a salad, red peppers for Cauliflower Pizza, sweet potatoes for Rosemary Fries, or broccoli for Tahini Broccoli Salad…so it’s no biggie to just chop some extra for my four legged friends. Combine good, whole food with healing supplements, and you have yourself a winning combination!
Start with these Supplements:
Sodium Ascorbate (Vitamin C):
Sodium ascorbate is the form of Vitamin C recommended for dogs and cats by Dr. Wendell Belfield, DVM in his books How to Have a Healthier Dog and The Healthy Cat Book. My observations and research indicate that Vitamin C is a must for every day supplementation, and a must have for emergency situations. Life saving!
Yes, most animals (except humans and guinea pigs) manufacture and store their own Vitamin C. A goat that weighs roughly 140 pounds makes 13,000 milligrams per day when in good health and a supportive environment. When faced with life threatening disease or toxic challenge, goats can and do produce as much as 100,000 mg of vitamin C a day. It’s a nutrient that is vital to maintaining a strong immune system. Vitamin C plays a huge role in joint health and an animal’s ability to repair and rebuild. It’s anti-viral, anti-inflammatory, and works with other antioxidants, like Vitamin E, to remove toxins from the body. Dosage and consistency are important. Animals who are stressed or recovering need higher than recommended dosages (see below).
Vitamin C is a universal detoxifier of chemicals, viruses and bacteria and supports joint repair and rebuilding. Dr. Belfield saved the lives of many dogs and cats, including dogs with “incurable” distemper and entire catteries with “untreatable” feline leukemia, by dosing them with sodium ascorbate and/or IV Vitamin C treatments. Giving Vitamin C on a daily basis is one of the best ways to support your friend’s health. Yours, too.
Dr. Belfield recommends the following dosages:
Small dogs (10-25 lbs) 500 – 1,500 mg/day in divided doses Medium dogs (25-40 lbs) 1,500 – 3,000 mg/day in divided doses Large dogs (45-80 lbs) 3,000 to 6,000 mg/day in divided doses Xtra Large dogs (80-120lbs) 6,000 – 8,000 mg/day in divided doses
Cats: 500 – 1,000 mg/day in divided doses
We order the 3 lb jar of NOW Sodium Ascorbate powder from iHerb or Lucky Vitamin because we humans take 8,000 – 10,000 mg per day ourselves. Vitamin C makes everything better and brighter for our cells.
1,000 mg of Vitamin C = 1/6 tsp. NOW brand Sodium Ascorbate
In the wild, canine and feline diets consist of raw foods teeming with enzymes, making it highly digestible and bioavailable. Dogs and cats have short, acidic digestive systems that were designed to absorb nutrients quickly and completely. Enzymes are naturally occurring in all raw foods, including raw vegetables and greens. I’ve noticed big improvements in both of my dogs and my cat since consistently adding enzymes to every meal. So even though I feed mostly freeze dried or dehydrated food which is enzyme-rich and digestible (always rehydrated), I still enhance with digestive enzymes and minced raw vegetables and greens.
Schisandra loves her greens and enzymes! Just look at her!
Enzymes are the “messengers” in the body. They allow for and speed up the zillions of chemical reactions that are taking place 24/7 within our bodies. Without enzymes, these reactions would not occur fast enough to sustain life. Three of the most significant ways enzymes work in your body include food digestion, making new cells and generating energy. In other words, enzymes keep us alive and kicking. I add Animal Essentials Plant Enzymes and Probiotics to every meal I feed my dogs and cat. In Clover Optigest is another excellent product that I often rely on.
Greens are incredibly healing on so many levels. Rich in vitamins and minerals that are essential to cellular activity and health, greens and green blends are a must. There is a very complex environment that exists inside our bodies… consisting of chemical and electrical reactions that digest, exchange nutrients, carry waste, allow for repair and rebuilding and create the energy that moves us through life. Chlorophyll is a molecule that closely resembles the blood that flows through our veins. Plants photosynthesize and turn sunlight into nutrients. In summary, greens provide life force and vitality. Greens with every meal! I mean it!
Lil and Schisandra enjoying each other’s cellular well being.
The first green blend I ever gave my dogs was Dr. Harvey’s Multi-Vitamin. Great stuff! My little dog, Lily, often got 1/2 tsp of this green formula mixed with broth or an egg yolk several times a day when she was ill. It speeded her healing process and she LOVED it! Inspiring!
Now that I’m an herbalist, I formulate and rotate a variety of nutritive and medicinal herbs as my dogs’ green blend. I keep Schisandra’s feline formula pretty consistent, with a few variations.
Guess what? You can make your own canine/feline green blend by mixing equal parts (by volume) of all organic wheat grass, barley grass, nettle, rose hips and nutritional yeast. Great for dogs and cats! With this formula, you will be providing all of the essential vitamins and minerals, including C (rose hips) and the B complex (nutritional yeast). Give 1/2 tsp with each meal. This is whole food nutrition, y’all! I mean it!
Dr. Wendell Belfield, DVM, recommends Vitamin C in the form of sodium ascorbate powder. Instead of rose hips, you can add one part sodium ascorbate powder to your green blend. We order the NOW brand sodium ascorbate powder from Lucky Vitamin or iHerb. We take it every day! A must have to prevent or treat viral or bacterial infections!
Schisandra owns the bowl where her kitty greens are blended.
Supplements I find helpful:
N-Acetylcystine is the precursor to glutathione formation. Sounds complicated, but simply know that glutathione is a precious detoxifying chemical in the body, and is formed in the presence of N Acetylcystine. My holistic veterinarian recommended this for Lily, and I take it myself. In this toxic world, it’s always good to support the detox pathways in our bodies. The dose recommended to me by my holistic veterinarian is 500 mg/day for Lily (22 lbs). We use the NOW brand. I give this during times of stress or if Lily shows signs of imbalance or seems “off.”
Ozzie maintained mobility with Seven Forests Liquidambar
Seven Forests Liquidambar is an AMAZING supplement for dogs with joint issues, hind end weakness, or who are healing from musculoskeletal injuries. This supplement gave my big Shepherd, Ozzie, an additional two years of good mobility in his later years.
Max enjoys an active life with Seven Forests Liquidambar
My mother in law’s dog, Max, lost his ability to jump onto the couch or chair after injury to a hind leg. With this supplement, Max is now back in action, and able to enjoy being next to his beloved human again.
A dog who had suffered a fractured hind leg in an auto accident was taking a long time to recover. Once this dog was started on this supplement, pain was dramatically reduced and recovery noticeably speeded.
A 10 year old Retriever was falling frequently and had become generally unstable. She was switched, overnight, to a dehydrated, whole food diet and given Seven Forests Liquidambar. Soon she regained stability and maintained it for several more years. With Ozzie and Max, both older dogs, this supplement became a part of their everyday nutrient intake, and it made a world of difference for them in their senior years. Lily, who is 10, takes it, too. One tablet in her morning meal.
Only Natural Pet Immune Strengthener
Over the years, I’ve gotten amazing reports on this supplement – often in regard to dogs recovering from cancer. My own dogs and cat receive this supplement every day. I give Lily (22 pounds, 10 years old) one whole capsule with her morning meal, and split another cap between Frederic (24 pounds, 2 years old) and Schisandra (4 year old, 12 pound cat). Yes, my cat likes this supplement.
The ingredients are simple and support immune health:
This is a great combination of antioxidant nutrients (Vitamins A, C, E, NAC, CoQ10), medicinal mushrooms (Reishi, Shiitake, Maitake), adaptogenic herbs (Astragalus), and minerals that are important for a strong immune system (selenium). Cat’s Claw is anti-viral, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant. Green tea is well known for it’s rejuvenating, antioxidant properties. N-Acetyl-L-Cysteine is a precursor to glutathione formation, which is a very important molecule in the detoxification process. My dogs and cat like this formula and respond very well to it.
I keep several different homeopathic remedies on hand at all times, having seen them work for my own dogs and many others. Newton Homeopathics formulas are quite amazing. I give 2-3 drops of the Newton Homeopathic Detoxifier to my Lily every day before her first meal, while she is sitting on her “bucket,” waiting patiently for her lunch or breakfast to be prepared. Rescue Remedy is the other remedy I keep on hand especially for Frederic, as he becomes nervous when we travel and stay at unfamiliar locations. A couple droppers of Rescue Remedy calms him down and this one dose when we first arrive allows him to enjoy the rest of our visit.
I can’t say enough good things about Spirit Essence Safe Space for Cats. This remedy has helped many cats stop peeing outside the litter box, adjust to changes in the household, and become more resourceful, calmer, more confident felines.
Blessings to you and your four legged friends!
References and Recommended Reading
Belfield, Wendell O., and Martin Zucker. How to Have a Healthier Dog: The Benefits of Vitamins and Minerals for Your Dog’s Life Cycles. Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1981. Print.
Belfield, Wendell O., and Martin Zucker. The Very Healthy Cat Book: A Vitamin and Mineral Program for Optimal Feline Health. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1983. Print.
Bernard, Michelle T. Raising Cats Naturally: How to Care for Your Cat the Way Nature Intended. Lincolnton, NC: Blakkatz Pub., 2003. Print.
Frazier, Anitra, Norma Eckroate, and Anitra Frazier. The New Natural Cat: A Complete Guide for Finicky Owners. New York, NY, U.S.A.: Plume, 1990. Print.
Kidd, Randy. Dr. Kidd’s Guide to Herbal Cat Care. Pownal, VT: Storey, 2000. Print.
Kidd, Randy. Dr. Kidd’s Guide to Herbal Dog Care. Pownal, VT: Storey, 2000. Print.
Puotinen, C. J. The Encyclopedia of Natural Pet Care. Los Angeles: Keats Pub., 2000. Print.
Tilford, Gregory L., Mary Wulff-Tilford, and Mary Wulff-Tilford. Herbs for Pets: The Natural Way to Enhance Your Pet’s Life. Laguna Hills, CA: BowTie, 2009. Print.
Zucker, Martin. The Veterinarians’ Guide to Natural Remedies for Cats: Safe and Effective Alternative Treatments and Healing Techniques from the Nation’s Top Holistic Veterinarians. New York: Three Rivers, 1999. Print.
Zucker, Martin. The Veterinarians’ Guide to Natural Remedies for Dogs: Safe and Effective Alternative Treatments and Healing Techniques from the Nation’s Top Holistic Veterinarians. New York: Three Rivers, 1999. Print.
I keep thinking I will blog about another subject, but my attention always turns back to the garden because my first-year perennials are showing some amazing growth. Some are blooming out of sequence, which often happens with first year gardens.
Roses are blooming! So today’s blog includes more specifics about some of the roses I grow and why. I do like to go on about the roses!
And, I will also be talking about plant groupings and some interesting color combinations I have been inspired to put together.
First, the roses
I’m no stranger to Rugosa roses. I grew Hansa roses in our Longmont gardens next to the driveway in a fairly hot and dry location. With consistent and regular deep watering, they did quite well. I noticed that Rugosas are planted and bloom quite prolifically in the huge berm that goes down the middle of Ken Pratt Blvd in Longmont. These roses can take that kind of environment if watered consistently. They do well in tamer gardens, too.
Technically, rugosas are species roses native to eastern Asia. They do best in rich soil and full sun. Their nutrient requirement is usually met by generously adding compost, aged manure, mycorrhizae and glacial rock dust when planting. These roses are care-free, bloom all summer and produce a nourishing, delicious fruit – rose hips. Rose petals are also very healing and nutritious. Rose-infused honey is fragrant and delicious, and amazingly healing when used topically.
This is Rosa Rugosa Rubra. Most rugosas are Zone 3 roses, which makes them extra-hardy in our Zone 5 locale. So if there is a sudden cold snap in October or November following warm weather, these roses will barely notice. Most are quite vigorous. Pay attention to the height and width in the description, and plan accordingly. I like to read about roses at Heirloom Roses and High Country Roses.
Always read up on any new roses you are considering for your garden.
I’m especially excited about my newest Rugosa, Moje Hammarberg. OK, it’s a strange name, but back in the day, roses were named after significant people in the rose’s country of origin – in this case, Sweden. Look up “Roses named after people” and you will see how many folks have been immortalized by having a rose named for them, and how far back this tradition goes. Way back!
Back to Moje Hammarberg – I’m looking forward to seeing and tasting the large rose hips that are purported to taste like plums. Look at the incredibly beautiful roses and the number of buds. Very fragrant, too! Oh snap!
A couple years ago, I discovered one of Euell Gibbons’ books that had a no-cook recipe for rose hip jam. At that time, there was a huge organic rose bush covered in hips in my own back yard, so I took the opportunity, collected and cleaned several pints of rose hips, and made the jam per Euell’s instruction (only less sugar). Turned out to be amazingly and delightfully delicious! Euell’s chapter on roses describe the highly nutritious properties of rose hips. After tasting the jam, I developed what some might call a minor obsession with growing roses that fruit. I will include this delightful and nourishing jam recipe in a later blog along with some of my other favorite and delicious herbal formulations. Don’t miss that one!
So to summarize, with the rugosa family, you get incredibly fragrant, beautiful, medicinal blooms all summer, tasty nutritious hips in the fall, a constant supply of pollen for the bees, and lush visual beauty for your garden. Moje has already sent up a vigorous new shoot in my garden, confirming that my idea of growing a hedge of this particular rose might be the way to go. You go, Moje Hammarberg!
Another group of old and charming roses are the Gallica roses. One particular Gallica that is outstanding, super productive and hardy is the Apothecary Rose. It’s a Zone 4 Gallica that dates back to the thirteenth century. That’s right! It’s a very old rose. It blo0ms once in early summer with an amazing profusion of large, fragrant, stunning flowers that the bees line up for. I use the petals for infused honey, hydrosols and Rose Elixir! Most recently, I combined dried Apothecary roses, lemon verbena and organic black tea to make an outstanding morning blend that is SOOO delicious! I add coconut milk and honey.
Bees adore and frequent the Apothecary Rose. I collected some of the whole rose blossoms for drying and using in formulations. Amazing, no? Generous and medicinal! Thank you, Apothecary Rose!
Now, let’s talk about some of my favorite perennial combinations:
First of all, I was inspired to plant a collection of pink flowering hot/dry perennials together: Pink Hollyhocks, Echinacea pallida and Pink Muhly Grass are framed out with a tall blue lavender and an unusual white lavender. Next year, all should be blooming together! All love this hot/dry full sun garden. Perfect! Pink Muhly grass is purported to throw out a cloud of dramatic pink “flowers” toward the later part of it’s flowering cycle. Fingers crossed! Or maybe next year.
I also have this stunning deep pink yarrow nearby, Achillea millefolium ‘Rosa Maria’ On the other side of this same garden is a grouping of orange flowering perennials! Orange flowers are so charming and bright, especially as the morning sun shines across the garden and the bees arrive for their first visit of the day.
One of my favorite orange flowering hot/dry plants that is currently blooming is this Horned Poppy, Glaucium flavum. This is one of those ever blooming perennials that the bees love. It does require a few minutes of deadheading every other day to keep it blooming from mid-summer until frost. I’m a big fan of deadheading everything from California poppies to Larkspur to Catmint – they will all rebloom numerous times if seed pods are removed in a timely fashion. It’s one of my favorite activities in the garden! Gives me a chance to hang out with the bees and smell the roses wafting on the breeze. Sadly, dragonflies have disappeared altogether due to the tragic misuse of pesticides here in Berthoud. More on that later. Next year, a beautiful assortment of pink and orange flowers will be blooming all together – those mentioned above, and in addition, Penstemon palmeri (pale pink, fragrant), Penstemon pseudospectabilis (hot pink), St John’s Chamomile (Anthemis sancti-johannis) (bright orange), Digitalis Obscura (dusty apricot), Butterfly Weed (Asclepias tuberosa) (orange) and Totally Tangerine Geum (luminescent tangerine orange). There are other colors and textures, but this is the first time I have purposely grouped common colors together and included lots of orange!
One of the strategies I use to fill the garden with interesting combinations is to obtain small plants and grow them together in a pot. They seem to grow and mature more quickly this way, and often I will actually plant them together in the garden in late summer or early fall. Growing them in a pot like this gives me a chance to observe how the plants grow, and, while they are potted up, I can move them around to various locations to see which environment best meets their criteria. And by the time fall rolls around, they have well developed root systems that can quickly take hold and establish in cooler fall temps.
In the below photo, I have Queen Anne’s Lace, blue sage and Rabbitbrush. I will keep the sage and Queen Anne together, and grow the Rabbitbrush in the farther reaches of the yard, where Pampas Grass, Russian Sage, Pink Hollyhocks and Lemon Queen Sunflower will also grow. The Queen Anne will be beautiful blooming in combination with the blue sage, along with dark blue Larkspur, Orange Hyssop, lavender Wood Betony and orange California Poppy – all full sun. Such interesting textures and beautiful colors to anticipate!
Both Queen Anne’s Lace and this particular Sage are known to freely reseed, which is fine by me. I can always share the small plants with other gardeners, or move some to other locations in the yard. Since I deadhead on a regular basis, it’s rare for anything in my gardens to get out of control, even Nettle.
This Brown Eyed Susan, Rudbeckia triloba, is very attractive to bees. I didn’t know it would get this tall and wide, so will move it in the Spring. This is an example of a combination that isn’t working for the neighboring plants. The flowers are darling and very long lasting. I got this plant at Desert Canyon Farm in Canyon City, one of my favorite places to buy organic plants. I had hoped it would grow and harmonize with a blue Spiderwort and a white-flowering Husker Red Penstemon, but a new plant will have to take it’s place in the Spring because it’s just too large for the space. Charming plant, though! I will find the perfect location for it since it’s so adorable and the bees love it! So much taller and wider than any of my other Rudbeckias! One of my current favorite plants is this humble Goldenrod. It will get much taller and wider down the road. Goldenrod has many medicinal properties, and does not cause allergies! It has the following herbal properties and so much more: anti-fungal, anti-inflammatory, astringent and antiseptic. Highly beneficial for the kidneys, Goldenrod both nourishes and restores. I love the tiny, perfect flowers.
Below are some small sprigs of Goldenrod in a collection of other antibiotic herbs that are going to be a part of a “fire cider” – a blend of vinegar, honey, horseradish, garlic and medicinal herbs. Wonderful to keep on hand for any flu or cold, or to take preventatively. Delicious when used in a salad dressing. I will discuss this and other formulations in a future blog about my favorite herbal recipes. Herbs are so amazing!
Some herbs start out small the first year, but come back full force and with great gusto the following year. St. John’s Wort and Celandine are two examples, and this particular Oregano (below) is one more. This is a beautiful variety that dries well. I always keep a dried bouquet of it around, along with some of those adorable hops oregano flowers. So sweet, and the color lasts for years.
Below is the FIRST bumblebee I’ve seen in my gardens since the pesticide fogging began in our town. I also saw one dragonfly earlier this week… in past years there would have been dozens in many sizes, shapes and colors, but almost all of them are gone now. They may make a comeback if our elected officials get a brain and figure out that larviciding is way more effective and safe than spraying neurotoxic pesticides into our environment. Otherwise, this town is doomed to be overrun with mosquitoes, wasps and dead bees. Tragic. And completely avoidable. I bought these zinnia seeds from an organic grower on ETSY! At least my garden is safe for our pollinators.
Penstemon pseudospectabilis has made a showing here in September, just blooming as I am finishing this blog post. I’m so looking forward to next year when it will bloom with abandon on it’s normal schedule (June). Such a beauty! This plant, too, has many medicinal properties. One of my favorite penstemons.
And here are some combinations that I am planting now to create a mixed hedgerow across the back yard in that crazy swale we built – it’s a ditch of sorts, 18-24 inches deep, that runs the entire width of the back yard. The slope of our property lends itself to this type of gardening, providing the swale and the entire lower section of the yard, with extra moisture that travels down the slope to be stored directly in the earth. We will also be routing the grey water from our shower into this area.
There are 9 deep pockets of soil all along this swale. Each pocket or section measures 4′ x 3′. The front edges of the swale gardens are edged with logs, perfect for dramatic, draping or adorable ground covers. Using vigorous ground covers along the fronts of new gardens helps keep the weeds out while providing a living mulch and much joy when they bloom.
Each section will be planted with two, three or four perennials to create a mixture of colors and textures. I am always keeping colors in mind as I assign plants to spaces. Here we have pink hollyhocks and garden sage. I’m thinking of adding an early blooming yellow flowering Celandine to this section. All three of those plants enjoy full sun or some shade and can compete with and adapt to each other. If the hollyhocks get too leafy, I cut them back in a respectful manner so that everyone gets enough sun. Imagine next spring and summer! Pretty!
This grouping is almost complete with a beautiful fall blooming purple aster in the back, a lovely, spreading purple-flowering campanula that blooms mid-summer, and a Lavender in the front of this garden. Adding a trailing Veronica (lavender) or perhaps a deep purple Pulsatilla will fill out this section of the swale nicely. I also have an orange butterfly weed that needs a new location…that would also be be stunning!
Along the back fence will be another type of hedgerow, this one with much more substantial shrubs, vines and fruiting bushes. Already planted are two elderberries, a lilac, two Hawthorns and a Goji Berry. All get quite large, and are planted 12-15 feet apart, 4-5 feet away from the fence.
Between the Lilac and the first Elderberry, we will be planting this stunning Clematis Polish Spirit on a very tall trellis that is firmly attached to the fence. The clematis will grow on one side and onto the adjoining fence, while Darlow’s Enigma Rambling Rose fills in on the other side.
Hopefully they will meet in the middle! Both are long-blooming and vigorous.
Darlow’s Enigma rose blooms from early summer until frost and is exceptionally fragrant and attractive to our pollinator friends, the bees. “Vigorous” doesn’t begin to describe how large and beautiful this rose becomes in just a couple seasons, especially with support. I can almost smell the fragrance wafting across the back yard!
This is a photo of a Darlow’s Enigma that grew on a large pergola in my Longmont garden. Love this stunning rose!!!
Darlow’s Enigma reaching for the sky
We will finish planting along the fence, filling in with Rosa Canina, Rosa Glauca, and some tall ornamental grasses. Toward the front of this long garden will be lower growing, yet substantial shrubs, such as Blue Mist Spirea, Russian Sage and perhaps currant or gooseberry shrubs.
Much of the inspiration for our gardens comes from a lovely book, The Garden Awakening by Mary Reynolds. She weaves together permaculture and sustainable gardening strategies, inspiration and awareness to create a very encouraging and helpful book in these troubled times.
I have been deeply saddened by our town’s decision to use neurotoxic, endocrine disrupting pesticide fogging to control mosquitoes. The extreme and completely unnecessary protocol adopted by city council has done severe and obvious damage to the ecosystem that once existed here in Berthoud. Dragonflies, one of the more voracious mosquito predators, have been wiped out with only a few survivors in my neighborhood. Same for bumblebees and other pollinators. Honeybee populations have also suffered, and have been seen dead or dying the morning after.
I believe our ecosystem can recover if immediate measures are taken to adopt a larvicide only policy similar to that of the cities of Denver and Boulder. This can be done easily and efficiently, and is infinitely more effective than fogging.
It’s shocking to me how widespread the use of chemicals has become in our town, our homes and our gardens. These herbicides and insecticides end up in our water, in our homes, and in our bodies when used year after year, season after season. There are much better ways to control weeds and unwanted insects, and I expected more from the Town of Berthoud, since it is called “The Garden Spot of Colorado.” How can folks garden organically and feel safe about eating the food they grow when the entire town is fogged numerous times each summer? That is the pattern that has been laid out for us, but we can say no and come up with more creative, practical, effective and ecological solutions. Praying for wisdom and a new, improved city council!
Growing and consuming herbs and nutritive greens and berries is one of my greatest joys in life. There are a lot of herbs and berries that LOVE growing here in Colorado, and here are just a few:
One of my favorite, magical, must-have-in-my-garden herbs is Lemon Verbena. It’s not a showy herb, although I do love the wispy flowers it sends up. I grow it for the heavenly, mind-altering, divine fragrance and flavor of the foliage. Even the stems are incredibly fragrant. And the flavor is lemony and delectable, especially when infused with black tea and purple rose petals. So delicious!! My plants are growing with great abandon this year, so thankfully I should have plenty for tea and pillow-stuffing.
Lemon Verbena growing in my organic garden…Heavenly!
Lemon Verbena has an affinity for the mouth and throat, so it makes an amazing tea for a sore throat or dry scratchy cough. I have, on occasion, combined it with chamomile and plantain, steeped for 30 minutes and served with honey and coconut milk. Heavenly!
And where would I be without Chamomile? Chamomile infused honey is divine! Also great for topical application if you can resist eating it. Makes a great canine calming remedy, too.
This strawberry plant is super productive and vigorous! It’s a Dutch hybrid that I got from Annie’s Annuals and Perennials. The strawberries are large and delicious! It’s taking off and sending out runners in all directions. I have two of the runners rooting into pots so that I can locate more plants in other areas of the garden where they can really spread out. I see some strawberry sherbet in my future!
So darn delicious!!!
I also acquired a beautiful little Alpine Strawberry from Annie’s. The fruits are small, and the flavor is quite concentrated. I collect a small handful of these every day. Usually I share with my husband. Sometimes I eat them all at once. And sometimes the dogs get a taste! Charming little fruits!
Smell, yet concentrated flavor and nutrition in these Alpine strawberries.
Here we have a gathering of nutritive and medicinal herbs: Violet, Plantain, Rosemary, Echinacea, Cannabis, Thyme, Stella Plantain and Lemon Balm are pictured here. We often chop these herbs into a salad. Lemon Balm, Rosemary, Echinacea and Thyme are often infused into a medicinal honey – sometimes all together. Always good to have on hand! And delicious! Great on pancakes!
One of my favorite herbs is Yerba Mansa (below). It’s actually quite easy to grow here in Colorado when watered well in it’s first year. It spreads by sending out long runners. This is a very powerful antibiotic herb that can be used in place of the endangered Goldenseal. Harvest a few clumps when the plant is in bloom, and tincture all parts, including the root.
Yerba mansa leaves and root.
A beautiful herb for respiratory imbalances is Elecampane, or Inula helenium. I grew this in Longmont, where it reached 3′ in height and bloomed for several months during late summer. Little did I know what would happen in my Berthoud garden…
Here it is in Berthoud (below) reaching six feet into the sky! Who knew??
The Elecampane root is the most commonly used part of the plant – very aromatic. The root can be dried and powdered, tinctured, or infused into honey. Another generous and valuable garden beauty! Give it room!
And then there is Verbena hastata…A beautiful and charming medicinal plant – classified as a neurotrophorestorative – it helps restore and tone the nervous system. Tincture the flowers and upper leaves to create a strong medicinal tonifying formula. These can also be dried and infused as a tea. Both tincture and tea are quite bitter. Combine with California Poppy, Skullcap and other nervine herbs for a wider-reaching formula to calm and support the nervous system.
The beautiful color, shape and tiny perfection of the Verbena hastata florescences is breathtaking. The entire plant has a calming energy, don’t you think?
Sunset Hyssop (Agastache rupestris) is a very fragrant plant with edible flowers that can be added to salads or even used to decorate cakes. An infused honey made with these delightful flowers is tasty and medicinal, good for sore throats and digestive imbalances.
The whole plant is fragrant, smelling something like root beer. Charming!!!
Rosa rugosa “Purple Pavement” from High Country Roses is just getting started. Classified as a zone 3 rose, it grows to 3′ x 3′, repeat blooms, is very fragrant, and produces large red hips in the late summer/fall. Once you have tasted rose hips, it becomes a priority to grow roses that fruit!
The bees LOVE rugosa roses!
Rugosa roses do not like chemical fertilizers, such as Miracle Grow. Use Age Old Grow Organic plant food! It’s amazing stuff. And of course, glacial rock dust and mycorrhizal inoculant.
The lavender spikes below are the flowers of Wood Betony (Stachys betonica), an herb that was highly prized during the Middle Ages. Considered a magical herb, it was used in protective spells as well as in herbal formulations to treat everything from toothache to “the bites of mad dogs”. Some herbalists recommend harvesting the leaves before the plant blooms, others harvest during the bloom cycle. I have dried the leaves and used them as a substitute for black tea. Quite tasty!
Wood Betony enjoys growing in my Colorado garden.
Bee Balm is another medicinal plant that is also quite pretty and floriferous.
Preparing flowers for an infused honey…. love the color and fragrance.
Echinacea, Valerian Flowers, Lemon Balm, Mallow, Oregano, Prunella, Bee Balm, Chamomile and a California Poppy…gathered to make a medicinal elixir with honey and brandy. We use this elixir as a preventative during cold and flu season, taking 1-2 droppers per day. In the case of cold, sore throat or flu, we up the dosage to 4 droppers throughout the day along with adding lots of fresh garlic to our food!
Coming next year: currants and other fruiting shrubs, plantings of Blue Mist Spirea for the bees, and Russian Sage and Red Yucca because we’re in Colorado and they like it here!
I am a Clinical Herbalist and Nutritional Consultant living in Madrid, New Mexico with my wonderful husband, two little dogs and a big cat. An avid gardener, I grow many organic herbs and nutritive greens. My practice revolves around creating health through whole-food nutrition, nutritive herbs, lifestyle and self-awareness. I offer consultations to improve the health and well-being of our four-legged friends, as well as their humans. We can work together via Skype, in person,or over the phone. Let's create health for ourselves and our animal companions! Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org