First Time Medicinal Herb Garden

Simple success with just one herb is a great inroad.  Start by planting some seeds of at least one of these easy medicinals in a pot on the windowsill or in a prepared bed in the garden. Richo Cech Easy not Peasy Why is this introductory collection of herb seeds needed?  A little bird told me that new growers…

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Beyond Seed Cleaning Screens

Stainless steel seed cleaning screens

The screen used is industrial grade stainless steel, and we have chosen the most robust stock. The wood used is clear grade Port Orford Cedar, which is bioregional to us, is the hardest of all Cedar species, has a hardwood-like pattern of grain, and emits a delightful aroma, especially when newly worked.  The wood itself is antiseptic, repels bugs…

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Pressing Herbal Tinctures—Lessons Learned and Questions Answered

Red Tincture Press

Early disasters.  Pressing tinctures was my first herbal job, and I approached it quite enthusiastically, but soon realized the benefits of—finesse.  The press was a handmade affair, bolted to the wall, fitted out with open pans that could be jacked together to squish a large, loaf-shaped object that was actually the macerating tincture surrounded by a carefully folded-over pressing…

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How to Make Elderberry Syrup

Hand-squeezing-black-elderberries

According to herbalists, Elderberry syrup is a great preventive for colds and flus, an antiviral (helps prevent viruses from replicating) and immune stimulant. European Black Elderberries (Sambucus nigra) are the best type to use.  Here is a simple recipe for making the syrup at home:  1) Use one cup (appx 100g) of dried black elderberries. 2) Place the dried…

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True Alkanet — The Saga

Alkanna_tinctoria_flowers

Before me stood two test-tubes, one full of olive oil, the other containing pure grain alcohol.  I dropped a fragment of Alkanet (Alkanna tinctoria) root into each, and watched as the fragments drifted down, trailing in each case a tail of bright red pigment, like barnstorming biplanes emitting colored smoke at a county fair, eliciting excited “ahs” from a…

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The Lucky Buckeye

Aesculus_horse_chestnut_flowers

For the home herbalist, the easiest and safest way to use the plant is by making a poultice of the seeds. RICHO CECH On the walk home from school, there on the corner of Hutchinson and River, stood a stately tree with heavy arms holding aloft a rounded crown of green, an English Horse Chestnut tree that made in…

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A Deeper Look at Forest Roots

Sandy loam, a substance created by the breakdown of minerals (rock) mixed with the breakdown of carbon (tree or grass detritus). Sandy loam is what we all want, because it is the best all around substrate for growing the plants we love the most: Goldenseal, Ginseng, Black and Blue Cohosh, Wild Yam, Twinleaf, Bloodroot, Stonerooot, Mayapple — the entire…

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Origins of Aloe vera

There in Misali, I was discovering my own circular route, from childhood familiarity with Aloe vera in America, to the splendid diversity found in Africa, and eventually… back home again. RICHO CECH The popular story goes that long ago, somewhere in North Africa, grew a smallish yet handsome, robust and edible aloe, plump of leaf and yellow of flower.  This unique plant…

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