Wednesday, 28 July 2010

Nature deficit disorder and the inner child

I spend far too much time on the internet. It has pretty much replaced watching the TV (which actually, I never did much of) to the extent that if you took my TV away, it would probably take me a week to notice! I know I need to curb some of my online time, but occasionally I come across something wonderful which makes it worthwhile.

Not sure how I found this, I think it was via a Twitter 'tweet' from someone I follow. It's a wonderful audio interview and gorgeous slideshow with writer and bushcraft enthusiast Karen Wilde. She talks in such a compelling way about about the essentials of bushcraft, nature deficit disorder, sustainability, and listening to our inner child when it tells us to play outdoors more.

Image from www.wildscape.co.uk

I think it's worth 30 minutes of your time. Point and click to http://www.wildscape.co.uk/essenceofwild/wildelycreative

Tuesday, 27 July 2010

More on nettles

I love nettles! I guess some of the attraction is that most people hate them because all they can think of them is that they sting and they're a pesky weed.

Image from Wikipedia


But they can do so much more. They are a sign that the ground is fertile, they can add fertility back to the soil, you can compost them, you can make a fabric from them (not tried that yet), you can eat them, you can drink nettle tea, you can make a nettle tonic and so on.

I've blogged about nettles here, but I also came across this blog post today which has some nice pictures and information that might get you interested in nettles too!

http://naturalpathways.wordpress.com/

Friday, 16 July 2010

Gentian Flower Remedy

Are you dispondant? Give up too easily?  Maybe Gentian flower remedy will help!  Nice little video...

Tuesday, 13 July 2010

Agrimony flower essence

Last Saturday I spent a fantastic day Springfield Sanctuary where I made, amongst other things, Agrimony Flower Essence (Flower Remedy). I'll write up more about that shortly, but this evening I came across this short YouTube video about Agrimony and it's qualities which I thought I'd share.



Monday, 12 July 2010

Dandelion Flower Oil

Back in May, I was at a friends place just outside Warwick and noticed the profusion of Dandelions. Being a good year for Dandelions, they were clearly calling out for me to do something with them, so after a bit of research, I decided to make some 'double-infused' Dandelion flower oil.

As with a lot of internet-based research, you can often end up with more questions than answers! Looking up Dandelion flower oil, there were the people who made it using the 'cold' sun-infused method and those who said heat or warm-infused was better! I asked my herbal mentor, Sarah Head for advice and she said try both - well that was the decisive answer I wanted!

There was more than one site that suggested that unless the flowers were dry, there was a strong chance of the oil going rancid before the flowers had infused properly if you used the sun method, so I took the cautious approach and just did the regular 'warm' double-infused method that I have previously used. The other advantage of this method is that it's all done and dusted in a few hours and can be used immediately - no waiting for weeks if you're the impatient type!

Preparing the flower heads.

Heating the flowers in oil.

Oops - nice colour though!

In a nutshell, the method is as follows:
  • Take your harvest (in this case, Dandelion flower heads) and divide it into two equal piles.
  • Put one pile into a bain-marie or double-boiler (I used a glass bowl inside a pan of boiling water) and pour on enough oil (I used Olive oil in this instance) to cover the plant material.
  • Heat for 2 hours, keeping an eye on the water level in the bain-marie or base pan, to ensure it doesn't boil dry (the reason for the bain-marie is to ensure the oil does not get too hot and burn which would ruin the infusion).
  • Pour the oil/plant material through a sieve and discard the plant material.
  • Put the remaining plant material back into the bain-marie and pour the single-infused oil over it, topping up if necessary with fresh oil.
  • Heat again for 2 hours.
  • Again, pour the contents through a sieve and discard the plant material (onto your compost pile?).
  • You can then bottle the oil, but be aware that there is likely to be some water/moisture at the bottom of the oil which will reduce the lifespan of the oil if not decanted.
  • Once cool, label your container and enjoy your oil!
What's it good for?

Dandelion flowers are said to contain a mild pain reliever, so the oil has been used as a folk remedy for painful, swollen joints, as a healthy breast massage oil (it is said to be excellent at softening breast tissue), and as an all-around gentle and soothing massage oil. Being male, it's use as a breast massage oil is of limited use to me, but my wife knows it's there if needed, but I do sometimes get a little bit of joint pain. It's also an excellent general massage oil and is said to increase your self-worth - something I could do with. 

Greenwoman's blog commented, "Dandelion oil is also a lovely pain reliever, helpful in soothing arthritic joints, back tension, sinus headaches, stiff necks, and weepy swollen skin sores. I personally can attest to the way it soothes sore muscles, especially in the neck, as I just used it last night after a day of carrying around heavy potted plants. It doesn’t have a numbing effect–rather, it helps the body relax a bit, easing that tightness that can be so painful."

I've used it on my skin were I have some eczema and it's been helpful, although in fairness, other herbal treatments have been more effective for me, but using it does help tremendously with relaxation. It's a very luxurious oil to use - sort of 'heavy' aroma (that's not a bad thing), rich in colour and readily absorbed into the skin.

Links & Further Reading:

Greenwoman's Blog.
Herbal oils for breast massage - naturalbloom.com
Gardeners path - fun with dandelions
Ener-Cycle - dandelion infused oil and salve

Thursday, 1 July 2010

Drying herbs with Susan Weed

Here's a nice YouTube video filmed by one of the participants at a Susan Weed herb workshop. Specifically, she talks about harvesting, drying and storing herbs. I didn't realise that complete plants, when dry and stored in brown paper bags, would keep so long!
The interesting stuff starts around 1:35.

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