How to make leaf mold

It's that time of year again, when the garden is winding down just as the leaves are falling and filling up the yard! I know it's a pain in the butt and a lot of work, but I look forward to the leaves falling because they are so great for the garden!

Leaf mold pile, How to

Not only do leaves make great mulch, but they help insulate the plants for winter and protect the garden. They also give insects a place to hide over winter which could be bad or good depending on the types of insects! 

You can also use fallen leaves to make leaf mold. If you spend any time in the woods you'll notice the forest floor is covered with a thin layer of really dark earth. This is the breakdown of fallen leaves and helps improve the structure of soil while supporting plant growth and helping the soil to retain moisture.

You can use your Autumn leaves to do the same thing on a larger scale and use it in your garden and landscaping. This is similar to compost except you're only using fallen leaves and it takes a super long time compared to compost!

How to: plant a butterfly garden

I don't know if you've heard, but the monarch butterfly is decreasing in population lately. They have declined by 85% in the last decade. Now Monarchs are different than other butterflies in that they only have one host plant for the caterpillars and it happens to grow in ditches in a long roadside so it's often treated as a weed and destroyed. That plant is milkweed, more on that later.

butterfly on flower in butterfly garden

However it's not just the monarchs! Over 450 butterfly species have declined in population since 1972! Butterflies are crucial pollinators (along with bees) for many produce crops. No pollinators equals no food! We already know there's problems with the bee population and now... here we are with butterflies!

Get Started Using Medicinal Teas

When you talk about medicinal teas or teas with natural health properties many people immediately think they need to grow, dry and blend their own teas. That couldn't be further from the truth! You can walk into any large grocery store and find at least a dozen different herbal teas available in tea bag form!

Various brewed herbal teas and herbs for natural healthcare

I'm not talking Whole Foods, Fresh Thyme and Trader Joes. Kroger has a great selection of herbal teas as does Walmart, Target, Meijer, Albertsons and most other large grocery stores. Admittedly the small stores might not carry many, but they should have a few. Those first 3 stores I mentioned will have a huge selection available!

Some of the most common herbal teas are peppermint, chamomile, ginger and hibiscus. You can usually find several blends also like detox, immunity and energy blend.

7 ways to use rosemary as medicine

I grow many different herbs and one I cannot be without is Rosemary (Salvia Rosmarinus or Rosmarinus officinalis). Rosemary is actually a member of the sage family and has needle like (almost pine looking) leaves on woody stems. Most people grow it as an annual since it's not cold hardy but it is actually a perennial. One of the most common kitchen herbs, it also has many medicinal uses.

Rosemary  herb. healing properties

Though rosemary is mostly known for its prominence in cooking, it has been in use otherwise as far back as 5000 BCE. It was grown in ancient Egypt for use in burial rituals and also used in Greece and Rome. In the 14th century, rosemary was used to make one of the first alcohol based perfumes in Europe.

Throughout history rosemary has symbolized remembrance, being using in many different cultures burial ceremonies. More currently, it holds a place in a often quoted line from the movie Practical Magic. "There are some things I know for certain: always throw spilled salt over your left shoulder, keep rosemary by your garden gate, plant lavender for luck, and fall in love whenever you can.”

Rosemary is a natural anti-inflammatory, is antifungal, has antimicrobial properties and is high in anti-oxidants. It can be used to improve the mood, lessen anxiety, reduce fatigue, improve memory and stimulate hair growth. 

How to grow petunias from seed

Petunias are a garden staple, known for their colorful flowers and great for gardens or containers. They come in more colors and types than you could count! They do great in full sun but because they tolerate shade well they are often placed close to homes where they spent part of the day in the shadow of the house. 

Petunias growing from seed

I have been growing petunias for many years. I like using them in the garden but they're also great in planters. Since they spread out so well, they can be used as a pot filler. Their colorful blooms attract lots of pollinators like butterflies and bees. Since your vegetables need pollinators, it's a good idea to welcome add to the garden!