Sunday, December 21, 2008

Mullein Tea

I did a post a while back about how much I like the mullein plant in my garden. Now I want to tell you another thing that makes this plant great: mullein is herbal medicine as well. It's main use over its history is for lung ailments, such as bronchitis and even tuberculosis, but has also been used to make treatment oils for earaches and infections.

I have collected the leaves of some of the mullein in my garden for the last two years, because every year, guaranteed, I will get bronchitis. And nothing will touch it and it will go on for over a month, unless I start treating it aggressively. Once I began using mullein, I noticed a drastic reduction in the length of time it took for my bronchitis to go away.

Well, the inevitable has happened and I am currently facing a brewing case of bronchitis. So, mullein to the rescue! I have a jar of leaves that I dried this spring (very easy to dry - just pick them, lay them on a cookie sheet for a few weeks until they are crispy instead of leathery, then pack them into a sealed jar for storage). For lung ailments, you drink a tea made of these leaves, and the flowers if you have them. The flowers are actually more potent, but hard to store. Also beware, the seeds of the mullein are toxic. I'm not sure what they do, but it is best to avoid them.
For the tea, I crush the dried leaves into a coffee filter. You have to be very careful not get any of the leaves outside the filter as mullein leaves have tiny hairs that can irritate the mucus membranes.
I tie off the filter with a plastic twist tie that I re-use for this purpose and steep the bag in boiling water for at least 5 minutes to ensure a good potency. Other sites suggest at least 10 minutes, but, eh.
The tea ends up looking like chicken broth, and you know what? It is delicious! It tastes like wildflowers and honey. If you get a chance to use the flowers, it is even better. But, you are only supposed to drink a cup every few hours. I make my tea more potent than what some sites have suggested, using a couple tablespoons per cup vs teaspoons per cup.

I also sweeten it with local honey if I have it, because honey has its own herbal properties that enhance the work of the mullein. If I don't have honey, I use dark brown sugar, because I like it and it melds well with the mullein flavors.

I drink a cup or so immediately and save the rest for later in the day. To this batch I have even added a little dried Creeping Charlie. Yep, Creeping Charlie, the bane of my garden, just happens to be quite an amazing little herbal remedy itself! Among its laundry list of remedy potential is decongestant. Just what I need! I started collecting it this spring after reading what it can do. It also is fairly tasty and blends well with the mullein flavors.

And you know the best part of all this? These medicines are FREE! Most of us throw these medicines away every year as we weed our gardens and don't even realize it. I am spending part of my winter researching other potential remedies that I can collect next year with my son and a friend that is also into herbal remedies. Let me know of any that you know of, especially ones that you have used yourself!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Iceland Gardens

Nature's garden at Skaftsfell National Park

Cement fence with Icelandic poppies

Icelandic poppy in Iceland!

Backyard garden in Hofn

So jealous of this backyard!

Roadside memorial garden

Backyard garden in Reykjavik

Awesome garden statues in Keflavik

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Turkey Meatballs with Wine Sauce

I had a work party to go to and needed a dish to bring. I wanted something that could be a meal dish or h'orderves. Meatballs would sure fit that bill. I have my very own recipe for meatballs that I just LOVE!

Turkey Meatballs

2lbs ground turkey
1 sleeve of saltines
3 TBS rosemary
1 TBS Italian seasoning
1 TBS thyme
2-3 eggs
1-3 small cloves garlic minced
1/2 sweet onion minced
a couple of dashes olive oil
Salt and pepper

I do not eat mammals, but poultry is fair game! I thawed out 2lbs of ground turkey. Nothing like meat in a tube!
Pre-heat the oven to 350°. Mix all the ingredients together and roll into balls. I chose to roll them into small balls that could be picked up with toothpicks, but you could make them as big as you like. place them on a cookie sheet. They can be very close to each other. Bake until they are completely cooked.

These are DELICIOUS!
And they go really well with spaghetti and sauce.

Speaking of sauce, my husband thought a sauce might be nice with these, so I made one up for them.

Wine Sauce

1/2 bottle Madeira wine
4oz rice vinegar
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1-2 tsp soy sauce
2 TBS stone ground Dijon
1 TBS cornstarch dissolved in water

Put the first 4 ingredients in a saucepan on medium heat. Simmer until the liquids start to concentrate. Add the Dijon and the dissolved cornstarch. Stir over heat until thickened.

Serve with the meatballs, or any other meat that might go well with a wine sauce. It is fantastic!

These were a big hit at the party. People were asking about the meatballs and the sauce. I rock!

Monday, November 17, 2008

All Bulbs Planted!

I finished up a lot of garden chores yesterday -- emptied the rain barrel and put it in storage, emptied all the compost buckets into the veggie garden, emptied ceramic pots for storage over the winter, and I planted the last of my bulbs yesterday. Now it is the long winter wait for spring when I once again will see all those beautiful bulbs bloom. Seeing the first blooms really helps me shake off the winter blues. Don't get me wrong, I love winter, but only for the first few months, after that I just want to go to sleep until it is over. The only way I stay awake is cook and bake! So stay tuned for recipes!

Saturday, November 01, 2008

New Approach to Bulbs

Now that my garden is so full of tulips, I am finding that when I try to plant more tulips, which has to be done in the fall when the tulips are invisible, I am digging up tulips that I have already planted! I have tried marking areas in the spring, but the summer is long, and I usually un-mark the areas during that time. I have tried maps, but without specific distances, it only gives me a vague idea as to where things are planted.

I have decided to experiment with a new approach. I bought a couple mixed packs of tulips from Menards, purple mix -- I'm hoping for some nice ones. I always save the pots from my garden plants, so I had a lot of them. In each of these pots I planted one tulip bulb. I also packed compost around the pots.

I sprinkled bone meal over the top of the pots and covered the whole deal with leaves. To ward off curious squirrels, I sprinkled cayenne pepper over the leaves. I started using cayenne pepper as part of my bulb planting routine a couple of years ago. It works pretty well at keeping the squirrels out of newly planted anything!
I am hoping that the tulips will sprout in the spring and I will be able to transplant them where ever I see a gap. If this works, I will be using it in larger scale in following years to fill out my garden without disturbing the current occupants. I figure my vegetable garden will be a good place to overwinter them as I won't be using it during the winter anyway!

Friday, October 24, 2008

Tulips 2008

Last weekend I spent weeding the crap out of my garden so that I could get my newest tulip haul into the ground.Altogether this year I had a modest 285 bulbs to plant in my garden. I got some from Brecks, but the majority I got from Menards. They had a great selection, as always. I managed to score a few new varieties:
Upstar -- a pink peony tulip
Margarita -- a purple peony tulip
Bastogne's Parrot -- a multi-toned red parrot tulip
Orange Toronto -- an orange gregii, multi-stemmed tulip
Allegretto -- a two-toned peony tulip (yellow and red)
and my favorite one from Menards--
Elegant Lady -- a two-toned lily tulip.

I can't wait to see Elegant Lady bloom. If it looks just like the picture, I will totally be kicking myself for not getting more!

The tulips I got from Brecks:
Rai -- a purple and green parrot tulip
Gemstone -- a rare, blue centered species
and one that I have tried to order for the last three years --
World Expression -- a two-toned, red and white tulip.

As you can see, I also got a few other bulbs, but it is always the tulips that I really look forward to. The other bulbs are just fillers.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Working on Overseas Garden Post

I am still going through all my trip pictures for an overseas garden post.
But in the meantime I thought you might enjoy some of my pictures from Iceland.

Thingvellir National Park

Geysir Park


Marshmallow field



dry pond by glacier


Oraefajokull (glacier)

glacier flow

glacier flow with JD and SSB

glacier creeping over smooth mountain

ancient lava field

ancient lava field

butte and lake


Icelandic farm with glacier

Icelandic farm

Smokey Bay

cool silos

Saturday, August 30, 2008

The Forgotten Garden

I got back from my trip last week Tuesday. It was a fantastic adventure! Iceland, Scotland, Ireland, Wales and England. SO much to see and do -- waterfalls, mountains, oceans, geysers, glaciers, amazing rock formations, castles, sea birds, dolphins, riding the train and ferry, blooming heather, Stonehenge, and, of course GARDENS!!

The climate in most of the places that I visited were mild and rainy, great conditions for growing things. I took lots of pictures. LOTS of pictures! And they will be coming once I sort through the 5027 pictures and video that we took!

There were enormous, gorgeous gardens at the castles that we visited, but even the homes and businesses had fantastic gardens as well. Every garden I saw gave me ideas for my own garden back home. I couldn't wait to get started.

But first... I have a new adventure! Taming the jungle that three weeks neglect made of my garden.

Hardly looks as though it could even be the same garden that I left (see previous post).
My vegetable garden looks even worse. I lost just about everything but the tomatoes and peppers.
Oh well. It was worth it!

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Last Week In June

I was very busy last weekend so I didn't get a chance to post the pictures that I took of my garden, so I'm doing it today.
Lychnis coronaria. I got it at a local department store nursery several years ago. It is doing a wonderful job of multiplying and looks great with the variegated dogwood.

Pennycress. It is considered a weed by most, but I find it to be a very lovely garden plant. It has 3 stages. In the spring it is covered in tiny white flowers, much like baby's breath. The flowers turn into green coin-like seed pods. And finally there is this stage, the green seed pods mature into golden coins. This plant is an annual, but is easily propagates.

Delphinium. Of course, the delphinium. They are always fantastic.

A wide shot of the main garden. It still needs work, which is good, because I'm not ready to let it go on auto-pilot yet.

But, I must admit that it is lookin' pretty good!

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Peony & Clematis

I forgot what these two peony are (the one pictured above and the one below are two different varieties), but I thought one was supposed to be Sarah Bernhardt -- neither look very pink to me, they are more wine color.

But still very beautiful. I have decided that I need more peony because there's not much else blooming in my garden this time of year, and they just pack such a punch, much like tulips.

The gazebo is starting to come together. Remember last year I planted clematis to climb the legs of the gazebo? It was worth it. All the clematis made it and have almost climbed to the top of their legs.

Comtesse de Bouchard was a spur of the moment choice that is really proving to be wonderful fate. I am in love!