Saturday, December 22, 2012

NAFTA and TPP Have Failed Us

The NAFTA experiment has been a failure. Almost two decades after starting to implement NAFTA we have seen none of the benefits promised. We were all told there would be overall increases in gross domestic products for all. However, participating countries are seeing lower wages, greater income inequality, higher prices for food, medicine, housing, gas etc. Additionally these same countries are seeing increased environmental degradation and more and more regulating laws that are protecting big business and keeping small business and individuals from flourishing. Large corporations are taking over farm land around the world, including the United States, and displacing small farmers. The NAFTA legal framework has created a situation where it trumps local and national laws. (I am sure that was not a mistake in wording.) This legal framework favors large corporations.

There is current negotiation going on to expand these rules to include more countries via the Trans-Pacific Partnership. The Trans-Pacific Partnership, or TPP, is a secretive regional free trade/investor rights initiative led by the United States, Canada, Mexico, Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Chile, Malaysia, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, and Vietnam, with an open-docking clause allowing for additional countries to join. In theory, the TPP seeks to increase trade in the region by opening up markets and reducing barriers to trade.  Participants aim to conclude negotiations by the end of 2013.
So far these negotiations have been behind close doors without citizen or congressional oversight but with 600 corporate advisors. There is concern this economic globalization is not going to be responsive and accountable to the people and the environment. To learn more go to the Fair World Project. You will see how NAFTA is allowing "Big Money" to call the shots all around the world.

Tell your representatives that you think NAFTA has failed. Tell them NAFTA and the TPP need to take citizens, small business including small farmers and environmental needs into account. You can locate your rep and or senator here. Let your voice be heard.

Organic Corn Seed That Resists Fertilization from GMO Corn

Usually I tend to shun most hybrid seed for heirloom seed or my own home grown seed. Once in awhile I will buy organic hybrid seed. I am curious about a hybrid corn seed that is now available. 

Blue River Hybrids is now offering a hybrid corn that resists GMO contamination. The corn is called PuraMaize®. 
It was developed through traditional selective breeding. The PuraMaize gene blocking system impedes GMO fertilization by strongly favoring its own PuraMaize pollen. They say it is highly effective in protecting corn from GMO field drift. 
PuraMaize has been thoroughly tested over multiple years. In side-by-side field tests with GMO corn, PuraMaize either eliminates or virtually eliminates contamination. Blue River Hybrids has conducted three years of replicated testing at 20 locations, with consistently positive and reliable results.
If this interests you, you can find more data at their website.

Things to mention: 
1) I don't know much about Blue River Hybrids other than what little data they provide. If you dig up interesting information on them, please share it. Good, bad or indifferent.
2) We really want to be able to grow non-hybrid (open pollination) seed without worrying about GMO contamination.  However, perhaps this fills a niche for certain farmers, while the rest of us continue with GMO labeling laws and ordinances to keep people from growing GM food in our community. 

For those who feel in a free country we should be allowed to grow anything we want: I would say that is true until it hurts and causes damage to others around you. If folks want to grow GM food, they need to do it in a manner that does not cause genetic contamination of their neighbors.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Inspiring, Interesting Information

For a rewarding experience watch this extraordinary movie (now free) called Thrive Here.  

If you like the movie, check out a nightly radio show called Coast to Coast on your local radio station. They keep folks updated on the same inspirational and educational information that you will view on the movie Thrive. 

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Things to know About

Global Meditation: Millions of people all over the world to join in meditation & prayer this December 21st.  There are various reasons people are picking this date. However, the main thing to realize is that there are MILLIONS of people who will be praying and meditating on this date for peace and harmony. Depending on which website you visit you will be given a variety of times to join in meditation/prayer. Basically, people will be praying and meditating all day long. So if you want to join in and be that 100th monkey that propels us towards good will with all our sisters and brothers be they two legged or four legged or no legs at all, please consider spending some time in prayer or meditation that day. We are the ones who create our future. Here are a few of the various sites promoting it and each one has a focus, but all are focusing on peace and harmony.

 Are You a Do It Yourselfer?
Open Source Ecology: A Network of Farmers, Engineers, and Supporters Building the Global Village Construction Set  If you don't know about this website and you are a do it yourselfer, it will amaze you. The Global Village Construction Set is a modular, DIY, low-cost, high-performance platform that allows for the easy fabrication of the 50 different Industrial Machines that it takes to build a small, sustainable civilization with modern comforts.

Dr Oz Going to the Dark Side: You may not watch Dr. Oz, but he has been leading millions of people to a healthier life and telling them to eat organic. He was changing a lot of peoples lives for the better.  I was saddened by his recent change of heart. It makes me wonder if he might have been bought out. Less than two months after telling millions of TV viewers that organic food is “worth the investment,” America’s most popular TV doctor is singing a different tune. In the December issue of Time magazine, Dr. Oz described organic foodies as “elitist” – part of the 1% - and claimed that conventional foods are nutritionally equivalent to organic foods. Read more here. If you do watch Dr. Oz and you are unhappy with his telling us organic eaters we are the 1%, don't bother emailing or calling his show, email and call his advertisers and tell them you are unhappy with what he has said and ask them to quit advertising with him. This is what will get the shows attention.

GMO Salmon Still Not approved by FDA: Yipee! Aquabounty is the only U.S. company publicly seeking approval for a genetically modified animal that's raised to be eaten by humans. So far the FDA has not approved their application. This is great. It has worried other companies that have either applied or were going to apply for applications on genetically modified animals they want to sell in the United States.
Already, biotech scientists are changing their plans to avoid getting stuck in FDA-related regulatory limbo. Researchers at the University of California, Davis have transferred an experimental herd of genetically engineered goats that produce protein-enriched milk to Brazil, due to concerns about delays at the FDA. And after investors raised concerns about the slow pace of the FDA's Aquabounty review, Canadian researchers in April pulled their FDA application for a biotech pig that would produce environmentally friendly waste. You can read more here.

Sign Petition to Stop Agent Orange Corn: 

If you want to know more about this GMO corn, go here.

To sign the petition, go here.

Smart Grid Not So Smart

The Smart Grid: Have you been keeping up with the "smart meter" fiasco? These electrical meters our utility companies have been putting on many houses read more than your electrical usage. Billions of tax payer and rate payer dollars have been used so far to put these meters on our houses.  They claim they are to benefit the public but they are primarily to benefit the utility companies by reducing their operating costs and increasing profits by firing meter readers. (This was done with federal stimulus funds that were supposed to create more jobs.) 

The public is starting to stand up and say they will not accept these meters. They are an invasion of peoples privacy, security and have potential health risks. The utility companies claim these meters are an answer to our energy problems, but they do not address the need for renewable, sustainable electricity that could create a cleaner and healthier future for all of us. They simply increase the bottom line for the utility companies.

Nationwide, some 3 million homes have smart meters, digital electricity gauges equipped with wireless communications, according to the federal Department of Energy (DOE). According to the utility industry's Institute for Electric Efficiency, about 65 million smart meters will be working in U.S. homes by 2020.

•Accuracy: In both California and Texas, higher bills led to independent audits of smart meters and lawsuits by utility customers.

•Security and privacy. Smart meters can communicate when power demands go up or down at individual houses, leading to  people being rightly concerned about a burglar knowing when the house is empty or occupied. For this reason, the Energy Department and most states require rules that prohibit sharing such data in smart-grid designs. However,  firms such as Google and Microsoft are marketing software to manage home power that will rely on smart-meter signals. This makes folks  worry about private data leaking to the open market. Many of us perceive these meters as a surveillance tool. They invade our personal space only to benefit a third party such as information miners, intrusive law enforcement and commercial interests. These meters can reveal data such as what and when you use appliances and how many people are in a household at any given time.

•Health & Safety: These smart meters are radio-frequency-equipped boxes that are installed on your house and emit electromagnetic fields. The biological effects of EMFs are little understood. The potential for damage is high while the public receives little benefit. The utilities are receiving all the economic benefit from this boondoggle. Scientists, physicians groups and citizens are voicing their concerns about the possible negative health effects of these meters.

There have been reports of smart meters exploding and starting fires. You can read more about it here.

Some people have had unexplained symptoms start after their new meter was installed by their utility. Read about this here where they are collecting data on health problems due to smart meters.

I suggest you  watch these videos "Getting Smarter About the Smart Grid" here.
You can also read the report called Getting Smarter About the Smart Grid"  here.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Things You Might Want to Read More About

This is bad, but good to know about. Fracking Causes Cow's Tails to Fall Off: There is evidence of cows losing tails as well as dying due to  chemicals linked to fracking.  You or your animals may be ingesting some of the meat from these chemical laden animals in your food supply. You can read about it here.

The rest of these are positive and also good to know about.

Peru Bans GMOs: Peru last week approved a 10-year ban on importation, production and use of GMO foods in the country. Click Here.

Russia Bans Monsanto's GMO corn:  Russia has suspended imports of Monsanto’s genetically-modified corn in light of a French study which linked the crops to cancer. Click Here.

Bees Are Super Smart:  It seems bees have cognitive abilities. Read this fascinating article on bees and how smart they are. Click here. You have to sign up to see their articles, but it is free.

Monsanto Trying to Get Immunity From Fed Law in Ag Bill

A Monsanto rider, whose official name is the “farmers assurance provision" has been slipped into the multi-billion dollar 2013 Agricultural Appropriations bill, would require - not just allow, but require - the Secretary of Agriculture to grant a temporary permit for the planting or cultivation of a genetically engineered crop, even if a federal court has ordered the planting be halted until an Environmental Impact Statement is completed. 

All the farmer or the biotech producer has to do is ask, and the questionable crops could be released into the environment where they could potentially contaminate conventional or organic crops and, ultimately, the nation's food supply.

Unless the Senate or we consumers can stop them, the House of Representatives is likely to ram this dangerous rider through any day now. This is Monsantos's response to successful lawsuits brought by the Center for Food Safety on behalf of organic and non-GMO farmers and seed growers that have attempted to block planting of genetically engineered sugar beets and alfalfa while the USDA conducted a court-ordered review of the dangers of contamination.

Tell Your Representative to Strike Sec. 733 from the Agriculture Appropriations Bill!
Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.) has sponsored an amendment to kill the rider. But even if DeFazio’s amendment makes it through the House vote, it still has to survive the Senate. Tell you representatives to support DeFazios ammendment to throw out the “farmers assurance provision"  and that  you do not want the Ag bill to pass with the biotech protective “farmers assurance provision"  in place  and to vote down the Ag bill if they have to. You can easily do this at this site. or you can  look up your representative and send them a personal note at this site.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Boycott Companies Who Fight Our Right to Label GMOs

These companies (many who sell organic food as part of their brands they own) were the companies who paid to keep proposition 37  (The law in California to label GMOs) from becoming law.  We need to boycott them. We also need to contact them by calling and emailing to complain about their behavior as well as post our complaints on their facebook pages. I have listed some key facebook pages for you to link to and tell them how you feel.  Here is what I am putting on most facebook pages. Please feel free to use it. "I can no longer purchase your product since you do not support labeling of GMO food and your parent company (parent company name here) even paid money to fight such labeling in California. Why are you scared of us knowing there are GMOs in your product if you think it is safe?" 
Be careful ,this is not spam from the facebook criteria I read about, BUT one of the companies tagged me as spamming them and facebook blocked me from posting for 15 days. From what I can tell, it was Orville Redenbacher who tagged me as a spammer. So really boycott them as they fight dirty! I have not figured out a way to contact facebook to let them know, I was not spamming and the company simply did not like my view of them. Let me know if you know how to contact facebook about it.
If you find errors or want to add more facebook links below, please do. I spent a long time on this and I am sure there are omissions and errors. I would like to know about them.
These are the companies who Denied us the right to know if GMOs are in our food!
To make this easy for you, I have listed the company with an underline, their brand names in bold and then highlighted the ones I know are organic or they sell as "natural" or that I think you might buy in yellow, as well as listing key facebook links in blue highlight.  If you are in a hurry, just note the brands highlighted in yellow and do not buy them. If a restaurant is offering them, such as boca burger or garden burger, tell the restaurant you won't buy it and ask them to remove it from the menu.
Parent Company          Donation ($)          Brands/Products
Abbott Nutrition $3,918 Similac, Ensure, Glucerna, EAS, EleCare, Jevity, Metabolic, Nepro, Optimental, Osmolite, Oxepa, Pedialyte, PediaSure, Perative, Pivot, Polycose, ProMod, Promote, Pulmocare, Suplena, Survanta, TwoCal, ZonePerfect
BASF Plant Science $1,642,300.00
Bayer CropScience $1,618,400.00
Bimbo Bakeries USA $320,516.72 Sara Lee, Arnold, Entenmann’s, Thomas’, Ball Park (buns), Bimbo, Boboli, Brownberry, Francisco, Frienhoffer, Mrs. Bairds, Oroweat, Stroehamann, Tia Rosa
Bumble Bee Foods, LLC $270,426 King Oscar, Brunswick, Beachcliff
Bunge North America $5,193
Campbell Soup Company $179,545 Campbell soups, Pace, Pepperidge Farm, Prego, Swanson, V8
Cargill, Inc. $143,575.49 Truvia Natural Sweetener, Shady Brooks Farms turkey, Diamond Crystal Salt, Liza oils and dressings, Nature Fresh oil, Peter’s Chocolate, Wilbur Chocolate, Honeysuckle White turkey, Sterling silver premium, Rumba meats, Good Nature port
Coca-Cola North America $1,164,400 Dasani, Evian, Fuse Healthy Infusions, Smartwater, Dr. Pepper, Just Juice, Nestea, Monster, Vitaminenergy, Powerade, Minute Made Juices to go, Capri-Sun, Five Alive, Glaceau Smartwater, Glaceau Vitaminwater, Honest Tea, Odwalla, Simply juice
ConAgra Foods $1,076,600 Chef Boyardee, Banquet, Egg Beaters, Healthy Choice, Hunt’s, Snack Pack, Reddi-whip, Wesson, Pam, Hebrew National, David Seeds, Kid Cuisine, Marie Callender’s, Orville Redenbacher’s organic, Slim Jim, Alexia Foods, Lightlife, Hunts Organic
Croplife $5,000 Croplife
Dean Foods Company $66,143.16 Silk, Garelick, Horizon Organic, Lehigh Valley, Tuscan, Swiss, Shenandoah’s, Reiter, Meadow Gold, Robinson Dairy, Model Dairy, Alta Dena, Swiss Premium, TruMoo, Alpro,  Silk, White Wave (from what I can tell - Land O' Lakes is owned by Dean) Land O’ Lakes $59,321 Butter, Saute Express, cheese, spreads & margarine, eggs, half & half, whipping cream, cocoa & cappuccino mixes, sour cream, milk, Silk, Horizon Organic
Del Monte Foods Company $484,125 Del Monte brand canned foods
Dole Packaged Foods Company $125,681 Dole brand canned fruit
Dow Agrosciences LLC $1,184,800.00
Dupont - E.I. DuPont De Nemours & Co. $4,025,200.00
General Mills, Inc.$519,400 (plus $388,798 from General Mills) Betty Crocker, Bisquick, Gold Medal, Good Earth, Haägen Daz, Pillsbury, Yoplait, Cheerios, Cinnamon Toast Crunch, Fiber One, Lucky Charms,  Hamburger Helper, Cascadian Farm Organic, Muir Glen, Good Earth, Larabar, Liberte Greek yogurt, Nature Valley
Godiva Chocolatier, Inc. $30,666 Godiva chocolates
Heinz $10,444 Heinz, Classico, OreIda, SmartOnes, T.G.I.Friday’s, ABC, Golden Circle, Wattie’s, Lea & Perrins, Nurture
Hero North America $58,028 Hero brand nectars and fruit preserves
The Hershey Company $283,753.06 Almond Joy, Reese’s, Mounds, Kit Kat, York, Twizzlers
Hormel Foods Corporation $94,380.71 Farmer John, Valley Fresh, Spam, Not.So.Sloppy.Joe, Herbox, Saags, Lloyds, Jennie-O, Dinty Moore, Chi-Chi’s, Di-Lusso, Stagg Chili, World Food
House-Autry Mills, Inc. $1,077.27 House Autry sauces (cocktail, honey mustard, tartar, and “Bold & Zesty Dippin’ Sauce”); chicken, pork, and seafood breading; hushpuppy, biscuit, cornbread, and corn meal mixes; onion ring coating mix
Idahoan Foods $7,181 Instant mashed potatoes, hash browns, and casseroles
Inventure Foods, Inc. (SNAK) $10,846.39 Jamba Juice, Burger King, T.G.I.Friday’s, Nathan’s Famous Hotdogs, Rader Farms, Poore Brothers, Tato Skins, Braids Pretzels, Bob’s Texas Style
J.M. Smucker Company $367,604.16 Crisco, Dunkin’ Donuts, Folgers, Jif, Adam’s Peanut Butter, Café Bustelo, Crosse & Blackwell, Dickinson’s, Dutch Girl, Eagle Brand, Hungry Jack, Kava, Knott’s Berry Farm, Medaglia D’Oro, MillStone, None Such, Pillsbury, Smucker’s, Recharge, Red River, Smucker’s Toppings, Smucker’s Uncrustables, WhiteLily
Kellogg Company $632,500 Cheez-It, Famous Amos, Keebler, Special K, Pringles, Austin, Mother’s Cookies, Carr’s, Gardenburger, Worthington, Frosted Mini-Wheats, Rice Krispies, pop-tarts, Chips Deluxe Cookies, Eggo, All-Bran, Nutri-Grain, Frosted Flakes, Crunch Nut, Krave, Coco Pops, Fruit Loops, Corn Flakes, Corn Pops, TownHouse, Kashi, Bear Naked, Wholesome & Hearty (Gardenburger), Morningstar Farms / Natural Touch
Knouse Foods Cooperative $131,409.01 Lucky Leaf, Musselman’s, Apple Time, Lincoln, Knouse Food Service
Kraft Foods $34,404 A-1 Steak Sauce, Alpen Gold, Cadbury, Capri Sun, Cheeze Whiz, Chips Ahoy!, Cool Whip, Cracker Barrel, Crystal Light, Dentyne, General Foods, Gevalia, Honey Maid, Halls, Jell-O, Kraft, Kool-Aid, Oscar Mayer, Maxwell House, Miracle Whip, Nabisco, Newtons, Nilla, Nutter Butter, Oreo, Philadelphia, Planters, Ritz, Stove Top, Tang, Tolberone, Trident, Triscuit, Velveeta, Wheat Thins, Halls cough drops, Boca Burgers, Back to Nature

Mars Food North America $5,773 Wrigley’s, Uncle Ben’s, Flavia, Klix, Aterra Coffee Roasters, Bright Tea Co., CocoaVia, Seramis, Wisdom Panel, Dolmio, Ebly, MasterFoods, Raris, Royco, Suzi Wan, Winterfresh, Starburst, Skittles, Orbit, LifeSavers, Eclipse, Altoids, Dove, 3 Musketeers, Combos, M&M’s, MilkyWay, Twix, Snickers, Kudos, Galax, Pedigree dog food, Whiskas cat food, SEEDS OF CHANGE (AN ALL ORGNIC SEED COMPANY- DON'T BUY THEIR SEEDS!)
McCain Foods USA, Inc. $50,592.94 Anchor, Babycakes, Brew City, Chef Sensations, Flavorlasts, Golden Crip, Harvest Splendor, Moore’s, Ovations, Redstone Canyon, Smiles, Sweet Classics, Taste Travelers
McCormick & Company, Inc. $64,645.53 McCormick herbs and spices, seasonsing mixes (i.e., McCormick fajita seasoning), extrats and food colors, Grill Mates, seafood breading, batters, sauces, and rubs
Monsanto Company $4,208,000.00 
Morton Salt $14,879.01 Morton seasonings (e.g., Season-All), meat curing, sea salts, and Rust Raze products
Nestlé USA $1,169,400 Carnation, DiGiorno, Hot Pockets, Lean Cuisine, Abuelita, Nestle Toll House, La Lechera, Libby’s Pumpkin, 100 Grand, Baby Ruth, Bottle Caps, Butterfinger, Skinny Cow, Crunch, Wonka, Nips, Nescafe, Coffee-mate, Taster’s Choice, JuicyJuice, Nesquik, Dreyer’s, Drumstick, Edy’s, Haagen-Dazs, Push-up, Buitoni, California Pizza Kitchen, DiGiorno, Lean Pockets, Stouffer’s, Tombstone, Gerber Organics, Perrier, Poland Spring, S. Pellegrino, PowerBar, Tribe Mediterranean Foods
Ocean Spray $60,546 Juices, juice drinks, Craisins, cranberry sauce, fruit snacks
PepsiCo, Inc. $1,716,300 Frito Lay, Tropicana, Quaker, Gatorade, Izze, Mountain Dew, AMP Energy, Seattle’s Best Coffee, Tazo iced teas, SoBe, Aquafina, Brisk, Lipton, Propel Zero, Miss Vickie’s, Sabra hummus, Sunchips, Tazo, IZZE Sparkling Juice, Naked Juice, Naked Juice Coconut Water, Mother's Cereals, Nut Harvest Nuts, Sabra Hummus, Stacy's Pita and Bagel Chips, Aquafina, Tostitos Organic, Tropicana Organic
 PepsiCo (Donated $2.5M): Naked Juice, Tostito’s Organic, Tropicana Organic
Pinnacle Food Groups, LLC $69,307.71 Bird’s Eye, Armour, Duncan Hines, Aunt Jemima, Mrs. Butterworth’s, Vlasic, Voila!, Celeste, Mrs. Butterworth’s, Hungry-Man, Aunt Jemima, Lender’s, Snyder’s, Husman’s
Reily Foods Co. $13,214 Blue Plate, Bonus Blend, Carroll Shelby’s Chili, CDM, French Market, JFG, La Martinique, Luzianne, Old Dutch Dressing, Presto, Swans Down, Try Me Sauces, Wick Fowler’s Chili
Safeway (Member of Grocery Manufacturers Association, which donated $2M)“O” Organics
Sara Lee Corporation $246,766 Sara Lee desserts, Sunbeam, Hillshire Farms, Ball Park Franks, Jimmy Dean, Deli d’Italia, Deli Perfect, Galileo, Hornimans, Java Coast, Kahn’s, Mr. Turkey, Natreen, Pizza d’Oro, Pickwick, Sara Lee deli, Steamers, Sunbeam
Smithfield $14,286 Smoked hams, fresh pork, bacon, sausage, lunchmeat, Lean Generation, Recipe Ready
Smucker’s Donated $555k R.W. Knudsen, Santa Cruz Organic
Sunny Delight Beverages Company $93,795.90 SunnyD, BlenDs, EnchanceD, LimiteD
Syngenta Corporation $821,300.00
Unilever $467k Ben & Jerry’s

Thursday, November 1, 2012

The Future of Food

Another movie on genetically engineered food called  "The Future of Food." You need to watch it if you have not seen it in the past.  Free to watch until November 5th. See it here! Send it to others also.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Emergency - Herbal First Aid Kit

Due to the recent catastrophic storm, many of you are wondering how to be prepared. Every situation will bring a different set of circumstances, but one thing you can do is have some basic neccessities on hand.

Water, food and shelter. 
Think about what could happen in your area and ask yourself if you have adequate water, food and shelter. I keep ten gallons of water in containers at all times. If I don't use it, I replace it every year. I also have a hand pump on my well as well as the electric pump. I have an abundance of canned and dried food that I make anew each year. If the electricity goes out, my frozen food will be of no help at all unless it is freezing outside, in which case, all the frozen food moves outdoors. Especially make sure you have protein food available such as canned tuna, salmon, sardines, beans (Need to eat grains with beans to get all your essential amino acids.) You will need water to soak and cook any dried beans/grains you are planning to eat. Also need a way to cook that food. (gas stove, wood stove)  Dried fruit is good for calories. Nuts will provide essential fatty acids. You need to store nuts with shells on as shelled nuts go rancid quickly.

Don't forget about your animals. Since I have goats who drink a lot of water, I need to have a lot of clean water available for them. Think about how much water and food you need for animals in a power outage that could last for a week or longer.

If it is cold out, will you have shelter, how will you stay warm? Come up with a plan depending on what is available to you. I have a wood stove that I can both heat with as well as cook on.

Then we think about first aid supplies. Being an herbalist, I have a different looking kit than some folks. I won't go into detail on how I use these as that would take hours I have listed what I like to have on hand for those of you who are herbalists and know how to use them. These are the things I use most often. They certainly do not cover everything that you might need or want. Consider what your specific needs are and what you know how to use. Taking a first aid class is useful if you want to be prepared for accidents during an emergency. If you want to learn how to use first aid herbs, seek out herbalists in your area. I teach classes in my area. Most localities have an herbalist around who can teach you how to use both prepared products as well as herbs growing outside your back door.

My first aid kit includes
Organic goldenseal powder and Tincture as styptic, antimicrobial, general astringent. I realize this has become expensive if you don't grow your own. You can use a mix of geranium powder and oregon grape 50/50 to make something similar in quality and less expensive.

Erigeron/cinnamon oil to stop internal bleeding

Bach Rescue Remedy or other similar flower remedy or Devils Club tincture  for stress and anxiety

All purpose healing salve

Mucilaginous herb such as slippery elm or marshmallow as a vulneray for healing of external or internal skin and mucous membranes.

Capsaicin or cayenne salve/oil as a counter irritant as well as for continual pain or continual itching: Should only be used by folks who know how to use it.

Trauma oil or similar product – St. John’s wort, Calendula, Ruta and Arnica for external use on bruised areas as well as tendonitis

Bug repellant made from essential oils
Eye wash  (use sterile saline or in a pinch ad 1/4 teaspoon sea salt to each cup boiled (cooled) water.)

Eye wash/drops to be added to sterile saline when needed for eye irritants or abrasions. These need to be sterile.

Styptic powder- yarrow, and/or goldenseal

Peppermint oil for itching

Lavender oil as an antiinflammatory and antimicrobial oil as well as for its nervine effect when inhaled.

Clay for an external drawing medium

Charcoal for internal use in case of food poisoning, or other oral poisons that can be bound with charcoal.

Calendula succus or super concentrated calendula tincture as a healing and antimicrobial spray on wounds of all kinds.

Nervine of your choice: most nervines act as antispasmodics for muscle spasms, they lower blood pressure, they alleviate stress, anxiety and assist in getting and staying asleep.

Echinacea Tincture for immune system support internally or on bites, stings and wounds externally.

St John's wort oil for bruising, burns (only after area is no longer hot), hemorrhoids,  inflammation, nerve pain such as sciatica or tooth pain and internally for inflammation.

Hydrogen peroxide for puncture wounds and herpetic lesions. Do not use hydrogen peroxide on wounds other than puncture wounds.

Epson salts for any infected wound that needs debris or pus drawn out of it.

To Find Them Any Fresher You Would Have To Grow

 General tools
1st aid scissors
band aids
eye cup
Sterile gauze - lots of it - some in prepared squares and lots as rolls
Safety pins
Safety razor blades
Antiseptic towelettes - lots of them
First aid tape – can make into strips for tape sutures
1st aid book
pocket knife - good and sharp
sewing kit (needle, thread,scissors)
dental floss - can be used for a lot of things where you want clean, strong thread
flash light
duct tape

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Growing Medicinal Herbs

It starts with Intention: The most important thing that you have control of is your intention. This is at the very essence of what you are doing. Everything around you picks up your intention be it beneficial or malevolent and this effects your environment. Plants will pick up your intentions and react to them.

Most herbs are easy to grow. If you want them to thrive, you do need to be sure they have the appropriate soil, light, temperature, water and amendments such as compost and  minerals.

The soil, the air, the weather, other plants around it, will affect the vitality, the flavor, and the strength of your herbs.

Soil: A well-drained loamy soil is the type of soil we want for the majority of our herbs. If you don’t have such a soil, you can modify it with amendments. Nature is a process of recycling. Nutrients continually get recycled. In our gardens we take nutrients out in the form of food and medicine. If we do not replenish them with amendments our soil gets depleted. We need to feed our soil which in turn feeds the plants.

The best thing we can do to nurture our soil is to amend it with compost.

Compost: Your compost is best made with things from your own farm or yard. I will use mine as an example. The main part of my compost is bedding from my goats. This bedding has their urine and manure in it. I also use chicken manure from my chickens that is mixed with sawdust from the bottom of their coop. I don’t get a lot of it as they are free range and only in their coop at night. Other additions are leaves from the many trees in my yard, garden and yard debris from weeding, kitchen food debris, entrails or other body parts from animals that have died or have been butchered. I layer these items. I do not dump huge amounts of leaves on the pile. I collect them over a period of months and layer them between weeds and animal bedding. I also make sure the compost stays moist enough but not so wet that the nitrogen is running out of the pile. This means I may need to use overhead watering or a cover on the pile depending on the weather.

If you do not have enough compost, you can spray compost tea around to try and help your plants. Spray it directly on the plants as well as on the ground around the plants. The tea needs to be made aerobically. I suggest going to Elaine Ingham’s site for information on compost tea.

Fertilizer: My compost is largely my fertilizer. If more is needed, you can use such things as watered down urine (Yes, you can use urine, but be careful what you use it on, how often and when. Also make sure it is used fresh and watered down.), fish meal or other sources of natural nitrogen.


Find out if any minerals are missing in your soil. The best thing to do is test your soil for mineral content.

Kelp is a general all purpose source of minerals, especially microminerals. Be careful not to overuse it as there is a bit of sodium in it. It is too expensive for most folks to overuse.
Calcium is often added to soil in the Willamette valley here as we have a lot of rain. The rain leaches the soil of calcium. Although as your soil is nurtured and if you do not till, you will have less minerals leached out. 

Different types of calcium:
Lime: Calcium carbonate  - will raise pH of soil making    it more basic
Gypsum: Calcium and sulfur – will not alter pH of soil
Dolomite: Calcium and magnesium -  will raise pH of soil
Oyster shell: A slow acting source of lime/calcium

Rock phosphate – Source of phosphorus. Leaves often get purplish coloration if there is not enough phosphorus.

Potassium -  Wood ash from your wood stove is a cheap source. Alfalfa is another source. Growing plants need adequate supplies of potassium to enable enzyme activity, photosynthesis and water movement. Potassium helps to build plants with solid stems and stalks and good bud formation. It also promotes disease resistance and protects growing plants from effects of the cold.

Know the Type of Plant You Are Growing

Annual: 1 season. Usually propagated by seed. They tend to do better in rich soil. Examples would be calendula, oats, shepherd’s purse, blessed thistle, lobelia, chamomile, opium poppy, milk thistle, spilanthes, fenugreek, viola, dill, basil, chervil, cilantro, summer savory, borage, nasturtium

Biennial: 2 seasons to set seed then, usually, they die. Usually propagated by seed. Has a tap root to store energy for the 2nd season, sometimes roots are used at the end of the first season. Sometimes aeial parts are used the first year (sometimes second). Sometimes seed is used second year. Examples would be burdock, parsley, celery, angelica, caraway, cumin, mullein, garlic

Perennial:  Plant lives many seasons, propagation by seed, root division, and cuttings. Plants die to ground in winter if it is cold enough and emerge again in spring. Examples would be yarrow, marshmallow, ladies mantle, yerba mansa,  lovage, aralia, chives, Greek oregano, lemon balm, uva ursi,  absinthe, astragalus, mints, wild yam, echinacea tarragon, California poppy…

Small woody shrubs: Long lived perennials. Wood helps the plants survival. Propagate by cuttings, layering, seed. Examples would be rosemary, sage, lavender, roses , hyssop, winter savory, thyme, chaste tree.

Large woody shrubs: Long lived perennials. Wood helps the plants survival. Propagate by cuttings, layering, seed, usually not by division. Examples would be siberian ginseng, cramp bark, elderberry…

Trees: Long lived perennials. Propagate by seed or cuttings usually. Examples would be hawthorn, linden, cascara…

Herbs that do well in shade/partial shade: Most herbs need sun or partial sun. Herbs that will be okay in shade as long as it is not continual are peppermint, lemon balms, angelica, lovage, valerian, sweet cicely, siberian ginseng. Look to understory shrubs and trees to see which will like shade. For instance goldenseal. ginseng and black cohosh grow beneath deciduous trees and need about 80% shade to do their best. Other plants that like shade are devil’s club, Spikenard, blue cohosh…

Herbs that like wet feet: Most herbs like their feet to dry out. Continual moisture usually produces rusts and rots. So be careful if you have a wet area. Only put bog and marsh loving plants in these areas. Drosera, pitcher plant, skunk cabbage are plants that like wetness. Devil’s club does well in partial wetness such as the base of a moist ravine or along a creek.

Top Pick List - These herbs are fairly easy to grow in the Willamette Valley & herbs I use a lot.

My pick of medicinal herbs for you to grow in the Willamette Valley. I picked these for their ease of growing here as well as for how useful they are as a medicinal herb.

Calendula: Annual, 12" apart, 24" high, rich soil, well drained, full sun/partial shade, sow seeds direct in the soil as soon as ground can be worked, in greenhouse 23 days from seed to transplant. Flowers are collected for medicine.

Echinacea: Perrenial, 12” on center, about three-four feet high, sow seed in fall, winter or very early spring , likes lime, likes full sun, voles like to eat the roots. The roots, flowers and seed are collected for medicine. Some folks use the leaves, but I only find them useful fresh for wasp stings.

Marshmallow: Perennial, 15" space on center, deep fertile sandy loam is best, full sun, good drainage/dry, 400#/acre, harvest in fall or winter when mucilage is high, higher in dry soil. The flowers, roots and leaves are collected for medicine. Especially the flowers and roots.

Comfrey: Perennial, start from piece of root, get Siberian if you don’t want it to seed,  will grow anywhere in any kind of condition. But best in loamy well fed soil. The roots and aerial parts are used as medicine – mostly externally.

Garlic: loamy well fed soil, need soil to be loose enough to grow good bulbs, need to add compost,  needs steady water but not water logged. Stop watering before harvest to dry it out. Bulbs are used as medicine.

Yarrow: Perrenial,  5# seed/acre - 6-12" spacing, any soil but better medicine in poor soil, pH 4.5-7, full sun. Aerial parts – flowers and leaves used as medicine.

Nettle: Perennial, rhizomes, so start from digging up a clump or seed,  will grow in a matt as has rhizomes, likes to be near running water, likes nitrogen and moisture, best dappled shade but okay with full sun. Aerial parts prior to flowering and the seed as well as the root are used as medicine.

Saint John’s Wort: Perennial, only grow in groups of other plants,  start from seed, likes slightly acid soil, full sun, sow seed on sand/soil mix douse w H2O occasionally. Top 4-6 inches of flower buds and flowers used as medicine.

Valerian: Perennial, start from seed, 4’ tall, 6 “ apart or more, moist, rich loam soil, ph of 6-7.  Full sun to partial shade, 1 ton per acre. Roots used as medicine

Blueberry or Huckleberry: start from seed or cutting, likes acidic soil, shallow roots so needs plenty of water and use compost and mulch of sawdust each year, full sun to partial shade. Some huckleberries prefer shade. Leaves and fruit used as medicine.

Oregon grape: woody perennial, sow seed in clay and keep moist – geminates in 2nd or third year. Better to dig up small plants that are growing off a mother plant. Will grow in full sun or partial shade. Root bark and stem bark used as medicine.

A passion for organics