Foraging violets and brewing tea

I like to do a little foraging every year in early spring. I'm ready for my garden to start producing and it's entirely too early, but the warm weather has me itching for garden activities! So I do some foraging since many native plants are ready to be harvested before the garden even gets planted. Plantain is plentiful this time of year as are wild violets. Violets are one of my favorite flowers to forage and use for teas and syrups because not only do violets taste good and have some amazing healing properties, but they turn everything a beautiful purple color!

Wild violet flowers & a cup of violet tea

While these pretty little flowers are one of the first blooms of spring, they don't last long so pick them while you can. In fact, harvest as much violet as you need for the year because they won't be back till next year! (ethically foraging them of course) Violet has been used for centuries for it's many healing properties.

Both the flower and the leaves of the wild violet are edible but the stems are not. The flowers and leaves can be eaten raw or cooked. Violet leaves contain fiber, vitamins A & C and have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. They are used to encourage healing and soothe the digestive, respiratory and urinary tracts. I think the easiest way to take violet is by making violet tea or tincture. 

Medicinal uses for mint

My herb garden has a tendency to take over the rest of my garden! I blame myself of course. It seems like I plant a lot of herbs that sort of run wild and spread, especially the catnip, lemon balm and valerian! The one herb that I managed to plant correctly though is mint. That's actually a rather unfortunate situation though because while my mint has remained perfectly contained in it's planter, I would actually love for it to spread a bit!

10 medicinal uses for mint herb/tea

I have been growing mint for about 8 years now. I've had the same plant the whole time. It's been so long that I can't actually remember what variety of mint I planted, but it does work very well in both foods and medicine. Mint is a perennial and will last for many years with very little care. It also has a tendency to spread and take over the garden as I discussed in 9 Herbs that want to take over your garden.

Though mint is mostly known for its use in candy and dental care products, it's oldest reference has to do with it being used like currency because of it's high value. In ancient Athens mint was used to perfume the arms.

Mentha (also known as mint, from Greek míntha, is a genus of plants in the family Lamiaceae (mint family). It is estimated that 13 to 18 species exist, and the exact distinction between species is still unclear. Basil, catnip and lemon balm are also members of the mint family and all are pretty well known for their medicinal qualities. 

Mint is a natural anti-inflammatory, has antimicrobial properties and is very high in antioxidants. It can be used to soothe the stomach, ease the pain of a headache, reduce oil production on skin or take the pinch out of a bug bite. 

Quick and easy low tunnel to protect seedlings against a late frost

This is the crazy time of year when you just don't know what the weather is doing. It feels an awful lot like spring but I know that it any second the weather might turn cold and we might get a sprout killing frost. However, I'm impatient and I already have some seeds in the ground, so how do I protect my seedlings from a late frost? 

Low tunnel DIY

I have a very quick and easy way to protect them that costs only a few dollars and can be thrown together in minutes. You only need plastic, some braces and something to hold the plastic down on the edges so it doesn't get blown off. The best part is, you can buy almost all your supplies at the dollar store! How's that for frugal gardening?

MYO Carpet freshening powder

Many of you have already heard the story about the stinky rug spots from the cat issue. I did find a solution for that smell but along the way I tried a whole bunch of natural solutions to get rid of carpet odors. Some of them worked a little, others not at all. One of the home cleaning solutions worked pretty well, even thought it was up against some nasty smells! This is the DIY smelly carpet powder I want to talk about today.

Natural carpet powder for pet smells

It was a cheap and easy way to remove smells from stinky rugs and I started using it throughout the house on my carpets. I especially liked it because it was non toxic and I always had the ingredients on hand!

If you read the story about the cat odor you'll see that I came up with a natural spray on solution that wipes out cat odors from cat pee. That's a particularly tough smell to eradicate! Unfortunately this powder wasn't quite strong enough to wipe that out, but it almost handled it and impressed me enough that I decided to give it a go on other smelly surfaces.

How to grow Love Lies Bleeding Amaranth

I have been growing Amaranth for about 8 years now. I prefer Amaranthus caudatus the Love Lies Bleeding variety for it's long ropes of flowers and seeds. I first starting growing it as a feed source for the chickens, but I found it so beautiful and easy to grow that I have continued to grow it every year. It makes a striking centerpiece for my garden!

Growing love lies bleeding amaranth

The love lies bleeding variety of Amaranth is an annual that grows 3' - 4' in height. It is possible to grow as tall as 8', but I've personally never seen that. It's characterized by the long ropes of blood red flowers and red tinged stems with green leaves. It grows easily from seed and prefers full sun. Both the leaves and seeds of the Amaranth plant are edible.

I kind of hesitate to admit this but...I have never eaten the seeds or the leaves of the amaranth plants that I've grown. Crazy, I know since I am one of those 'eat the weeds' people. Somehow this plant got pigeonholed in my garden as a animal feed plant and an ornamental. I promise I'll try it this year! Till then though...this is how I grow amaranth.