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

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Willamette Valley Canola Testimony Example

Canola Testimony - an example for any farmers or gardeners wondering what they should write (Use this link HERE for information on how and where to send testimony before November 2nd. Individuals as well as farmers can send testimony.)

My name is Sharol Tilgner - I am an organic farmer.

I am contacting you regarding my farm, Wise Acres LLC in Pleasant Hill Oregon. 84537 Proden Lane, Pleasant Hill, OR 97455  

My farm is 25 acres. My family has been farming in Oregon for 4 generations.

I am testifying in relation to the possible increase of the canola boundaries in the Willamette Valley. I am against any increase in the boundaries here in the valley.  In fact, if anything I would like to see all canola banned in the Willamette Valley period.

This is why:
I grow a variety of crops including many in the brassica family. I am concerned about cross pollination from canola onto my brassica plants. I collect my own seed each year for replanting the next year. I find that by doing this over the many years, I have been able to create plants that are well adapted to my specific soil, weather, and pests. If my plants are cross pollinated by canola I will no longer be able to collect this high quality seed that makes such wonderful plants which have genetically been picked by nature over the years for resistance to local pests and good growth and production for my locality. I will have to rely on market seed which I find is no where near as good. I  have to work harder taking care of plants when they are grown from market seed and can not get as high a quality of product from them. Additionally, I only buy organic seed which limits my ability of where I can purchase seed. For these reasons it is necessary for me to grow and use my own seed. I will not be able to use my seed if it is contaminated by canola.

Additionally, I am concerned about the increase in pests that monocropping canola will create in this environment. Currently, no one is monocropping any brassica plants near me and I hope it stays that way. Allowing a tax subsidized plant to be grown in my area may increase the probability of that happening.

Additionally, I do not want another weeds to have to deal with. Canola has been seen in the irrigation ditches and along highways in areas where it is grown. It does not stay on the farm that grows it. I understand from farmers living in areas where canola is grown as a monocrop that it becomes quite a pesty weed and will necessitate more weed extraction time on my farm. Being organic means I have to put more time and money into physically removing the canola from my land. This is an unpleasant idea for me.

Lastly, I am averse to this plant being grown here as 96% of the seed is genetically modified. All genetically modified crops that can contaminate organic farmers crops are a threat to us. They will contaminate our farms and put organic farmers out of business in the Willamette Valley.

Please do not extend the canola boundary's. I do not want canola anywhere near my farm.

Sharol Tilgner

Update on GMO Canola in Willamette Valley

Many of us have been working hard to stop the Oregon Dept. of Agriculture (ODA) from expanding the Canola boundaries  out through most of the Willamette Valley. There are various reasons it concerns us

1) 94% of canola is genetically modified
2) It will cross pollinate and contaminate many of our mustard family crops 
3) It will become a weedy pest as it moves all through the Willamette Valley 
4) It will bring in more mustard family pests for neighboring farmers to deal with.

One particular person has made it her current full time job. She has created a website that is very useful. At her website you can find everything you need to know. Here is a letter from Kim and various links from her website. I have slightly abbreviated my friend's letter and made a few notes of my own. 


Did you know the expansion of canola can harm the farmers that grow your food crops, as well as your ability to garden and save seed?  Have you given your testimony yet? 
Right now, our community is faced with a serious risk to our food and seed farmers.  The Willamette Valley is one of the last five great seed-growing regions in the world and has been a protected zone since the 1990's.  The Oregon Department of Agriculture (ODA) is trying to allow canola to be grown on thousands of acres in the Willamette Valley.  This goes directly against the scientific research done by OSU, where the findings clearly demonstrated that canola would be harmful to our vegetable seed, clover seed, fresh market and organic farmers.

An unprecedented coalition of farmers is against this change. They have told the ODA of the economic harms they face, and supported expensive legal action that stopped planting of canola this fall.  However, we're not in the clear yet.  Our farmers need your help.

On Thursday, the ODA announced that they were extending the public comment period to November 2nd.   At the September public hearing, only 7 people testified pro-canola, versus 64 against. It appears the ODA is extending the time to gain more testimonies in favor of canola. (We can use it in our favor to send more testimonies against the canola expansion.)

Organic farmers experience a double risk from the expansion of canola acreage.  The ODA has provided no restriction on GM canola and cannot restrict it by law. (Let's change that law.) Please help us preserve organic agriculture and make sure your voice is heard.  Please forward this letter to your friends and family, and help educate them about this serious risk to Oregon farmers and agriculture.  Your farmer thanks you!

Click here for our website with a ready-made testimony form:(Choose consumer testimony, or farmer testimony, as appropriate.)

More information on how growing canola is harmful to our farmers:

Our farmers thank you for your help.

Eat well,

Kim Goodwin
Oregonians for Farm & Food Rights


Thursday, October 11, 2012

Genetic Roulette Movie Available for Free Again

Jeffrey Smith is allowing a full and free viewing of his movie "Genetic Roulette" again from Oct 10-17. In the remaining critical days before the election, the vital information in this documentary is extremely important to voters in California who are facing a barrage of misdirection from the biotech industry to influence their choice on Prop 37 for labeling of GMO food. Send this link to your friends and family in California to watch. You can watch it at this link.  This preview is for one week only. So watch it now.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Great Short GMO Movie

This is one of the better GMO movies out as it is short and to the point.   Watch it here:

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Genetically Altered Cows Make New GMO Cow Milk

A genetically modified cow that produces milk thought by the frankenscientists in New Zealand who created it, to be less likely to cause allergic reactions in children.

Up to 3% of infants are allergic to cows' milk in their first year of life. Some scientists in New Zealand decided to make a genetically modified cow that produces milk without beta-lactoglobulin - a whey protein that can cause milk allergies in some people. However, I would point out that is not the only reason people react to cow milk or milk in general.

An interesting thing happened when they made the genetically engineered calf. The calf has no tail. The scientists say that could not possibly be related to their genetic manipulation. However, we know there is often collateral damage to plants that are genetically modified. This research certainly makes me feel like that lack of tail is proof that there may also be collateral damage to cows when you mess with their dna. I don't think the scientists can rule it out. You do wonder what else is changed in the cow or the milk it produces. (By the way, the calf had not yet given birth and was not old enough to make milk, so the scientists forced it to make milk with hormones.)

Of course, what I am saying, is why not just use breast milk from mom if we are talking about infants under 1 years of age?  It is true that mom's milk does not contain the beta-lactoglbulin that cows do, but that is not the only difference. Babies should be drinking their moms milk, not cow milk. If mom is having trouble making milk, there are herbs to help her. If mom does not want to breast feed, what is mom doing with an infant anyway?

I have all the parts given me by nature .
I am one of the many people who can not drink or use cows milk. I will skip on the frankencow  milk myself. I am happy with my goat milk. By the way, my goats all have their tails and none are on hormones. I suggest we make sure the milk we buy in the future comes from local folks whose farms we have visited. Make sure they don't have frankencows or frankengoats being raised there.

You can find the BBC report at this link.