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Find something you are passionate about and stay tremendously interested in it.Julia Child
Archives for January 2019
Be the change you wish to see in the world.Ghandi
When I was a vegetarian, I kept chickens. As a chicken keeper, and consumer of their eggs, I felt responsible for not only the welfare of my birds, but also for their waste. Being a gardener, what would have otherwise been pollution, was instead put to work in the garden as a valuable resource.
Today, I no longer have my chickens. And I choose to eat plants.
The idea of adding in animal products like pig manure or blood and bone, into my garden now seems incongruous.
Frankly, a year ago, it wouldn’t have bothered me. Now, I’m uncomfortable inviting factory-farmed waste into my garden, in the same
But is it possible to create a thriving, abundant, verdant garden, quite lierally, without all the crap?
As vaguely ridiculous as a plant-based garden sounds (because aren’t all gardens, plant-based? I mean what do you call a garden without plants?) I set about planning a garden without animal inputs.
Thankfully, if you are looking to cultivate a plant-based, or cruelty-free garden, there are so many options! Even if you are somewhat partial to poop, or choose to maintain livestock these strategies will help your garden too.
Maybe I’m just too simple for my own good, but there is nothing really more satisfying than making and using your own compost. Your waste is incedibly valuable and if you don’t already think so, it’s time to change your mind.
Compost is really just a fancy word for controlled, rotted organic material.
Anything you eat or use that was once alive (including your junk mail, hair, paper towels, seaweed, nutshells, even old cotton or wool clothing) can be composted and the nutritional value returned to the soil and plants.
The details of composting will be covered in a future post! There is so much to know!
I have three compost tumblers. I feed each in turn, with bin one feeding until I reach about a cubic metre in volume, while the other two are turned and matured. I much prefer composting in a closed container. The compost stays relatively free of ants, snails, slugs and slaters (pill bugs) not to mention rats and snakes! The contents don’t dry out and the heat is retained.
I had a big fancy porcelain compost bucket to sit on my benchtop and collect all our kitchen waste, but when it cracked I didn’t miss it much! It was heavy even when empty and would take a few days to fill. With the lid on, I would often smell it before I could see it was time to empty it. I switched to a smaller, open bucket. I can fill it in a day and it is an eyesore, so I empty it regularly!
Some plants give plenty back to the garden where they have grown.
I’ll be writing about these useful plants in the coming months, but the most commonly known and cultivated fertilizing plant would have to be Comfrey.
Comfrey is an excellent soil conditioner as its roots penetrate deep into the subsoil to access nutrients more shallow rooted plants simply can’t reach. A fast-growing comfrey patch will provide you with plenty of mulch, rich in silica, nitrogen, magnesium, calcium, potassium and iron. Comfrey leaves contain as much protein as legumes, 15 to 30%. Its leaves can be added to slow-moving compost piles as an accelerant, and its leaves submerged in water make a pungent, but effective compost tea.
Cover crops are also described as “green manure”. Typically, crops like alfalfa, hairy v-tech, buckwheat, clover, fenugreek or ryegrass (or a combination of those plants) are grown. Cover crops smother weeds, prevent soil erosion, keep the soil “alive” and add organic material
Once sown, the crop is not allowed to flower or seed. Instead the plant is mowed or tilled back into the soil.
Typically, cover crops are planted at the beginning of winter. But here in Western Australia, I plant mine early summer. That way, if an unexpected heatwave zaps them, I’m not crying over plants that never had a chance to harvest.
I let the cover crop grow for about 6 weeks before I till it back into the ground, sprinkle with worm castings then smother with mulch. This keeps my soil alive and enriched until it is cool enough to plant again in the autumn.
Different plants have different nutritional needs. Growing the same plant, such as tomatoes, in the same plot, season after season depletes the soil, resulting in poor plant health. Poor plant health means a lessened resistance to pests and diseases.
Crop rotation ensures that whatever one plant has taken from the soil, the next plant will replace. Crop rotation can get complicated (and again, a subject for a future post!) but the basics are simple.
- Fruit – Tomatoes, aubergines, tomatillos, the list goes on!
- Root – Carrots, beetroots, turnips etc.
- Legumes – Peas, beans and pulses.
- Compost – Optional, but recommended! You can skip straight to Leaf after Legumes.
- Leaf – Lettuces, kales and all leafy greens. Follow planting with fruits and continue the cycle.
This is another area that can get detailed quickly, and again, a subject for a future post!
Companion planting recognises the beneficial relationships that some plants share with each other. By leveraging these relationships, the need for
The most famous of these relationships is the traditional Iroquois system known as the Three Sisters, comprising corn, beans and marrows. Corn is planted first, and when about 15cm high, climbing beans are planted at the base of the corn and pumpkin interplants with the corn patch.
As the Three Sisters grow, the bean nourishes the corn, the corn provides the bean with a growing trellis while the pumpkin covers the and cools the surrounding soil, suppressing weeds. The system reduces or eliminates the need to add fertilisers to the soil.
I have decided to include worms as part of my plant-based garden. Worms are great composters, chomping through an impressive amount of our kitchen waste, shredded bills and leaf litter.
When planting, I always have a bucket of castings my side to add to the soil to give the seedlings a great start to their life in the garden bed. The concentrated worm wee can be added to your watering can as a regular tonic for the soil and the garden.
Next week, I’ll take you through my worm farm set up.
Brewed Probiotic Tea
Where you have compost or castings, or comfrey or weeds, you can brew your own probiotic tonic. Probiotic tea is basically Kombucha for plants. You can read all about brewing your own Probiotic tea here.
These days, I include my spent kombucha mothers into my probiotic tea, where they eventually break down and add to the brew.
So there we have it! Seven plant-based, creulty-free strategies to create a thriving edible garden without animal inputs. So you use any of these in your garden? I would love to hear from you, please leave a comment below.
Smell the roses. Smell the coffee. Whatever it is to make you happy.Rita Moreno
A few years ago, I purchased a gorgeous,
I planted it in a sheltered spot, in my sandy soil, but with a generous helping of compost. I doted on it, eagerly anticipating the fragrant white flowers that would be followed by red berries in the winter, each berry with two coffee beans inside.
But, one particularly hot summer dashed those dreams, and my beautiful coffee tree’s leaves burned, it withered and died.
I live just outside of the “Bean belt” the space between the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn, where the subtropical coffee tree thrives. I believe coffee trees perform much better in the hills of Perth, if they can be planted in a more subtropical microclimate.
I don’t drink a lot of coffee (it makes me jittery), but I love it.
My new favourite way to consume coffee is using this Green Coffee, Cardamon and Pink Grapefruit Body Polish! With just 4 ingredients, this mildly exfoliating polish not only smells amazing, but it is also stimulating and makes my skin feel awesome.
Green coffee is simply hulled and dried coffee beans that have not gone through the roasting process. Green coffee is much higher in anti-oxidants than roasted coffee, and its ingested extract is reputed to have a positive effect on your metabolism, weight loss, memory enhancement, liver health, blood pressure and blood sugar and cholesterol.
Did you know that you can absorb caffeine through your skin?
I discovered this when using a henna hair treatment that had a healthy dose of coffee added to the blend, for colour and to presumably mask the pungent smell of the henna. The treatment was meant to sit on my scalp for a few hours, but I rinsed it out after just thirty minutes. I developed a throbbing headache, much like the ones I get when I would have a strong coffee or two.
Green coffee has about 5 times less caffeine than roasted coffee, so I haven’t had any trouble with this recipe! It does feel stimulating, but not buzzy.
There is some evidence that caffeine absorbed via the skin has an anti-inflammatory effect. This finding prompted the addition of caffeine to all kinds of skin care products from eye-gels to caffeine-infused weight-loss tights.
I’ll tell you straight up. This body polish won’t miraculously make you skinny.
Green coffee smells grassier and more floral than its roasted counterpart, much less overpowering, but still distinctly coffee. You can find green coffee at specialty coffee roasters, cafe supply stores and even at some whole goods stores.
Thankfully, have a much easier time growing cardamom in my garden. It does need to be well watered and kept in dappled shade to ensure its tender leaves are not scorched by the sun. Mine have yet to fruit, but the leaves are deliciously aromatic. A single leaf added to cooking rice flavours and perfumes the dish.
Like green coffee, there
Cardamom is the third most expensive spice after saffron and vanilla, the small green pods smell deliciously spicy, resinous, sweet and aromatic. It pairs beautifully with the green coffee.
I buy whole cardamom pods at my local independent grocer who has an amazing array of spices. You can substitute pre-ground powder if you can’t find whole pods.
Ahhhhh pink grapefruit. I bet you can almost smell them right?
Pink grapefruit is one of my all-time favourite scents, sparkling, fresh and uplifting. This recipe uses the zest, but don’t let the fruit go to waste!
Pink grapefruit is one of the lowest calorie fruits, high in fibre and dense in nutrients like Vitamins C & A, Potassium, Thiamine, Folate and Magnesium. Plus, it’s delicious!
If you are not fortunate enough to have a tree of your own, pink grapefruits are in season year-round in Australia. Like all citrus, Pink grapefruits don’t ripen once picked and they can take up to 10 months to ripen on the tree. Choose fragrant, heavy fruit. Since we will be using the zest in this recipe, it is essential to source pesticide-free or organic fruit.
The fourth ingredient is simple, Epsom salt (magnesium sulfate).
If you are a gardener, you’ve likely used an Epsom salt solution to fertilize and improve flower blooming, to enhance a plant’s green colour and help plants grow bushier.
The Epsom salt has a couple of functions in this recipe, firstly as a preservative, to prevent the other ingredients from spoiling. Secondly, Epsom salts are also absorbed through the skin and are reputed to help with aching muscles, stress reduction and skin repair.
You can find Epsom salt at the supermarket in the medicinal aisle.
Green Coffee, Cardamom and Pink Grapefruit Skin Polish
250g Green Coffee Beans (pre-ground if you don’t have a coffee grinder)
5g of Cardamom pods (or 10g of pre-ground Cardamom powder)
Finely grated zest of 3 pesticide free, Pink Grapefruits.
300g of Epsom Salt
Add cardamom pods to a coffee grinder with the green coffee beans.
Set aside in a bowl. In a blender, add the pink grapefruit zest and process with the Epsom salts until the mix resembles wet sand. Add the processed cardamom and green coffee and blend to incorporate.
Put in a sealed jar and keep in a cool, dark dry space. It will keep for ages and the perfume is best after a few days once everything has a chance to blend.
To use, grab a generous handful and use in the shower. I use this on my thighs and bum, elbows and shoulders a few times a week. I leave on for a few minutes before rinsing off.
Please avoid using this polish on more delicate skin like your face or breasts.
You can add this mix to an amount of oil before you use, but it’s not my preference because I hate being in a slippery shower, getting the oil residue on my towels and cleaning up after! As soon as I dry off after my shower I apply body oil anyway.
If you suffer mild dandruff, this polish can be even used in your hair, as the Epsom salts can cleanse the scalp. Rub a small handful through wet hair and leave on for a few minutes. Just be sure to rinse your hair thoroughly.
You could also use this polish as an uplifting bath soak, just secure a handful in some muslin cloth tied with
If you notice any irritation at all, discontinue use.
I hope you give this a try, be sure to get in touch and let me know what you think!
The human body has no more need for cow’s milk than it does for dog’s milk, horse’s milk or giraffe’s milk.Dr Michael Klaper
For years, I had been an unhealthy carb and dairy vegetarian, ironically eating few fruits and vegetables.
One of the biggest challenges with embracing plant-based eating was giving up dairy.
Not that dairy and I ever really got along in the first place!
As a young kid, I had a milk allergy that lasted until I was in school. I remember my mum buying goats’ milk in a tin, which was likely all that was available at the time. I can still remember how goaty-gross it was.
Truth is, beyond infancy, humans don’t need milk, of any kind, at all!
Buuuut, I like milky drinks.
Fast forward to 2019 and finding plant-based food is easier than ever, especially when it comes to milk substitutes.
While it’s not hard to find substitutes for dairy, actually enjoying them is another matter! Some brands are ridiculously sweet, the health benefit of the milk void by all the sugar! Others are so watery there’s no pleasant mouthfeel at all.
Then there’s the price. Three dollars a litre for the ordinary stuff in tetra packs that you can keep in the cupboard, and up to six dollars a litre for more premium brands, organic nut
I attempted making my own nut milk, but I was astonished at the waste. It seemed all the nutty goodness ended up in the straining bag.
“Use the excess nut pulp in muffins!” the recipes would cheerfully recommend. I put my pulp in the freezer, awaiting the moment I would have a use for an ingredient which had already had all flavour literally squeezed out of it.
I ended up adding it to my nut
Could I make a nut milk that used the whole nuts?
No soaking? No straining? No fuss?
I began experimenting.
I wanted easy, creamy nut milk that tasted great, with as little waste as possible.
First, I tried blending almond butter with water. It didn’t taste great. But, it worked… for about half an hour until the milk “split” the water quickly separated from the almond.
I should have realised I needed an emulsifier, something that will bond the oily nut solids to water. Luckily, I had the perfect solution already in the pantry…
Soy lecithin works as an emulsifier by breaking down the oils into smaller particles. It is extracted from soybean oil and contains calories, fat, omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, vitamins E and K, and choline. Soy lecithin can assist in reducing cholesterol levels while boosting the brain’s function.
I have used soy lecithin here, but will likely switch to sunflower lecithin once I have used my stash up. If you have a soy sensitivity or want to avoid possible genetically modified soy, use the sunflower lecithin. Sunflower lecithin is extracted without the chemical process that soy goes through, so it’s worth considering. Sunflower lecithin is, of course, harder to find and more expensive than soy lecithin. I have read varying reviews on the taste, so please let me know what you think if you have tried it for yourself.
You might also be a bit surprised by my choice of sweetener for this recipe, but I urge you to give it a try! Mesquite powder, ground from the pod of the mesquite tree, is an ingredient traditionally used in Tex Mex and BBQ cooking.
Mesquite powder is high in soluble fibre, meaning it blends well with the milk, can make you feel fuller for longer and it won’t cause blood sugar spikes. Mesquite is also gluten-free, has a low glycemic index (25), high in protein with measurable amounts of calcium, magnesium, potassium, iron and zinc.
So a few disasters and a few wins later, I think I’ve got it!
“Instant” Nut Milk Concentrate (makes 10 litres)
- 150g cashews
- 100g blanched almonds (skins off)
- 50g macadamias
- 2 tablespoons of soy lecithin granules
- OPTIONAL: 1 tablespoon of mesquite powder to sweeten
I start by blending the macadamia nuts with the soy lecithin granules. Pause to scrape down the sides of the blender to ensure the smoothest mix.
Once you have a fine paste, add the blanched almonds and blend until smooth, finally add the cashews and the mesquite powder if you wish to sweeten your batch of nut milk (you can always add it when you blend the milk concentrate with the water)
You will need a powerful blender and a bit of patience to get a smooth paste. Take a sample of your paste from the blend it and just smear a little between your forefinger and thumb. If it feels grainy, keep blending. It might be a bit crumbly, that is fine.
When you are satisfied that all ingredients have smoothly blended, scrape your paste into a sterilized jar and keep in the fridge until needed.
This concentrate is essentially a nut paste and should keep in the fridge for a few months. However, any moisture that finds it’s way in the mix will cause it to spoil. Discard if you notice any mould or fuzzy bits in your jar.
Preparing your Nut Milk from concentrate.
Boil a litre of water and cool to room temperature. Add 30g (about a dessertspoonful) of the nut milk concentrate to your blender, then add the litre of water. Blend for at least a minute until the milk is frothy and no lumps of the concentrate remain. Decant milk into a clean bottle (you can use a fine sieve to catch any largish particles if you wish) and keep in the refrigerator. The milk will stay fresh for 5-6 days.
You may notice after a few hours a fine layer of sediment settles at the bottom of the bottle. A quick shake before use will re-incorporate the mix.
The best part is, this recipe makes 10 litres of raw, whole nut milk. If you want richer milk, you can play with the recommended quantities. Add more or less to taste.
This whole nut milk froths nicely for your hot drinks, it is cost effective (even when using premium, organic raw ingredients) and there is no waste. No tetra packs!
Just 10 litres of nut milk, ready to go, any time you need!
Milky drinks have typically been my gateway to sugar and lots of coffee. I have included a few recipes below that are a bit different to your typical flavoured
Melt 50g of vegan dark chocolate, or more to taste (check the label for milk solids) and add to 200ml of warmed nut milk and blend 30 seconds. Sweeten to taste.
I like to top my Hot chocolate with a little cinnamon or even a pinch of chilli powder for kicks!
Green (Pandan & Vanilla) Milk.
I make this for my boys, as they are huge fans of Star Wars: The Last Jedi. During his self-imposed exile on the planet Achc-To, Luke Skywalker harvested the green milk from the
I’m hoping my version is tastier.
And I’m sure its easier to make! Pandan has a distinct flavour, grassy-vanilla-nutty that works really well with the nut milk flavour. Add a few drops each of pandan extract and vanilla essence to the nut milk, stir and serve.
Hot brew a litre of Dandelion tea, using 4-5 bags or more if you want a strong flavour for 5 minutes. Blend the hot tea with the nut milk concentrate and extra mesquite powder for sweetness, and chill.
I have to admit, this one is an acquired taste! My kids will tell you it tastes like milky dirt. More for me!
I would love to know what you think of this recipe, please be sure to leave me a comment after you’ve tried it for yourself!
First comes thought; then organization of that thought, into ideas and plans; then transformation of those plans into reality. The beginning, as you will observe, is in your imagination.Napoleon Hill
It was about the time that we renovated our house two and a half years ago that the garden started to decline. That summer was brutal, a series of 40 C days. We weren’t living at the house, my regular garden routine was eclipsed by more pressing issues like removing peeling paint, juggling the schedule of over a dozen tradespeople, packing, and cleaning, cleaning, cleaning.
Then, when it was done, we flew to New York.
And when I came back I was feeling restless. I had just turned 40 and my so-called mid-life crisis was right on time!
Contrasted with my lovely renovated house, my garden was a huge letdown. The form-ply we had used to make the raised beds was crumbling, the heat had finished off most of my plants and I was starting to resent the time, the effort and the sheer volume of water my garden needed.
Also, my aesthetic has changed. While my garden wasn’t especially ugly, it was scrappy, cheap and cheerful.
I now want something beautiful, resourceful and thoughtful. A foundation for a new bountiful beginning!
So where to start?
1. Evaluate our existing space.
We have a reasonable sized urban block, with some issues, or as I prefer to say features.
- Slope – Our block slopes away from the front verge, a drop of 4 metres to the back fence. If you want a nice flat space, it needs to be carved out from the slope and retained.
- Soil – Our house was built in 1989, on a new estate of reclaimed sand dunes. Yes, it is lovely being so close to the beach, but our soil is essentially beach sand. No nutrition at all.
- Wind – Perth not only the windest city in Australia
,it is also apparently the third windiest city in the world! Typically, we get hot easterly winds in the morning, and cooler sea breezes by late morning or afternoon. Either way, it’s rare that we have a still day.
- Sun – Perth is officially the sunniest city in the world! I learned very quickly in my early planting days that when a seed packet recommended planting in “full sun” they did not mean the 8 hours of direct, searing sunshine that we experience on average every day.
- Water – Although Perth gets more rainfall in a year than London, it is usually all during the cooler winter months. In the summer, it is dry for weeks and sometimes we can go for months without a drop of rain. Understandably, we have water restrictions that are strictly reinforced.
2. What do we want?
- Wicking beds – My raised beds have always been thirsty for water, manure, mulch and effort! Wicking beds will solve many of these issues as they will be evenly watered, contained and I can much more easily know my efforts are going exactly where they need to, rather than literally draining away. My current raised beds are also long and wide, sometimes making them difficult for me to work without physically getting into the garden bed, tricky if I’m also trying to avoid existing plants.
- Greenhouse – Design and fit a purpose-built space. At the moment it is crammed with bits and pieces collected over the years. I want more bench space, zones for cultivating seedlings, and cuttings. I need a good system for storing all the potting mixes and garden tools.
- Mushroom room – Cultivate and grow our own mushrooms! As we are eating plant-based meals, my interest in mushrooms has grown and would love to experiment more with these delightful fungi.
- Wood fired oven – This has been on our list for a while. A great space where we could cook all our delicious, homegrown produce!
- Garden Storage – I don’t have a specific space for my garden tools. We have a shed that we use for storage, but despite being well organised, it simply doesn’t have the space for bulky garden tools and equipment.
- Utilise unused spaces – we have a few odd spots that could use a creative purpose!
- Re-lay the turf in the backyard. – Almost ten years ago we laid astroturf as a playing surface for the kids. Now they are older and no longer use the play equipment, but we have an outdoor cinema that they love, and we know that astroturf will last us another good 10 years or more! The existing worn astroturf may be repurposed on the floor of the mushroom house, or as a base mat for the wicking beds or even as a weed mat in the greenhouse.
- A water feature – we have French Doors in our dining area that open to the cat run and a hot outdoor mini-courtyard with a view of a weatherboard fence. A water feature would cool the space, look amazing and the sound of trickling water would hopefully mask the sound of the neighbours’ thumpy-thumpy creepy-
We also want to …
- Cut down our watering. It takes almost two hours to water the entire garden by hand!
- Get a bore and reticulation – I know this seems to contradict the point above. But the parts of the garden that aren’t wicking beds will need to be watered regularly too. We purchased our home fully reticulated and ended up removing most of it as we re-landscaped the slopes to terraces. Scheme water is precious and the water pressure is terrible across our gradient. We know from our neighbours that the bore water quality is excellent, with great pressure too.
- Reduce our inputs – I would love to reduce our reliance on introduced (and expensive) resources like manure and mulch. I need to get my worm farm ticking over again so it can provide us with the castings we need.
- Increase privacy – Thanks to the weird shape, aspect and slope of our property, we have 5 other houses that share a fenceline with us. We also have an elevated position, I can assure you I don’t like being able to see into their yards any more than they like being so visible to me! A bit of screening will also offer protection from the sun and wind.
3. What stays? What goes?
There are going to need to be some plants relocated and I will likely move some and pot others up to be sold on Gumtree or given away. We will do a garden survey and determine what goes, what stays.
Our council provides us with a skip bin each year and we have already used our quota! Removing all the unwanted stuff from the greenhouse might involve a few trips to the recycle dump. Alternatavly, I’m always amazed at what people are willing to take for free listings on Gumtree!
4. Who’s going to do what?
Are we going to do all this work ourselves? Recruit professionals? In all likelihood, it will end up being a mixture of both.
Obviously, the bore and the reticulation will require specialised tools and expertise!
Fortunately for me, Husband is a great designer and project manager. When renovating, he was was the one who kept everything running on time and budget and had the design brain that reconfigured the floorplan, designed an awesome kitchen, bathroom and laundry spaces.
Husband laid the last round of turf and could do again even though his availability is limited. He is keen to give the wood-fired oven a go too, and there will be paving required there as well.
I have zero carpentry skills, but I am keen to have a hand in constructing the greenhouse and mushroom room. Ideally, work could be done on both at the same time. My Dad has all the expertise and tools so I’m hoping to get his help once I have a design together.
5. How much is it all going to cost?
Ah, the $64,000 question! (Let’s hope it comes in cheaper than that!) Of course, the total expense depends on what materials we choose and the amount of work we can do ourselves. I don’t have a huge budget for the garden, and some projects will have to wait until we have the funding to do them.
I will start gathering quotes next week, many of the trades I contacted take this hot time of year off to holiday!
Cleaning up costs nothing, but I anticipate the biggest expenses will be in the following order,
- Bore and reticulation,
- Wicking bed infrastructure & landscaping,
- Pizza Oven and paving,
- Greenhouse & Mushroom room,
- Water feature.
6. Where do we start?
I can start tomorrow
As far as the big projects are concerned, I would make sense to start with the bore and reticulation once we have finalised the reworked garden plan. It’s also likely that this will be the costliest item, with the most earthworks.
I would hate to get all my new wicking beds in place, only to have to move them for the laying of reticulation! Same goes for the laying of the astroturf.
Also, the existing solenoids for the existing reticulation are located in the exact spot where I want to put the mushroom house.
So it seems the items of biggest expense as I listed above, might also be the best order of works.
7. How long is all this going to take?
Of course, if time and money were not constraints, we could have all our plans pulled together in a few short months. But, I’m going to be generous and give us a year before I hope it’s all done and dusted.
Note that I haven’t even talked about what to plant here, the infrastructure and foundations have to come first.
But I am thinking that a hedge of carob trees along the back fence would be a good idea. They can be trimmed to shape, thrive on neglect and grow to over 15 metres tall. They are also evergreen and don’t drop leaves. And after about 6 years, they fruit delicious carob pods…I think I just convinced myself there!
With al the big stuff out of the way, it’s time to get down to the little tasks. I am using my January Garden Journal pages to do exactly that! For the last week I have been somewhat housebound with a headcold, so it has been the perfect time to ponder! Besides, given the heat outdoors January can be the best time to really think about what I want in the year ahead!
If you haven’t already downloaded your pages, sign up below and download them today!
What are your garden plans for the new year? I’d love to hear from you!
isaid to my body. softly. ‘i want to be your friend.’ it took a long breath. and replied ‘i have been waiting my whole life for this.
This year, I am introducing a new category to A Farm of Your Home blog, Apothecary!
Plant based remedies and body care have been a passion of mine for many years and something I wish to explore further this year.
I am not a doctor or health practitioner, yet many plants have long enjoyed a reputation for healing and encouraging wellness. Obviously serious, persistent ailments require the attention of your chosen medical professional.
I personally believe that health comes from the inside out. I don’t believe in miracle cures or silver bullet solutions. Our bodies are complicated systems, with layered and nuanced functions that impact on the other.
My medical experience that sparked this interest has been with acne.
Currently, beauty is valued over wellness in our society.
Warped, I know.
Yet this was clearly reflected in the treatment I sought. The cost was often high, in terms of actual money spent on medications, and the effect these medications would have on the rest of my body.
For years, I consulted with specialists, took every pill, slapped on every potion and lotion with little long-term success.
In fact, many side effects were pretty awful and too numerous to mention.
In many instances, one problem would be solved, and another created. My acne would disappear, but my skin was so dry and delicate, my eyelids and lips cracked and would bleed at the creases!
My skin was the enemy. The treatments were aggressive and punishing.
I knew people would stare and the not-so-nice ones would feel free to comment as if I wasn’t already well aware of the terrain of my own face!
I came to regard my skin as a bit of a useful social filter. The superficial people had no time for me, but the genuine people did and were able to see past my acne-mask. I discovered physically beautiful people aren’t spared neuroses about their appearance either.
When consulting with doctors, specialists, dermatologists, I was very rarely asked about my diet or my environment or how I felt. One dermatologist recommended I get my face sunburned so it would peel. Another cheerfully told me to eat as much chocolate as I wanted because my diet had nothing to do with my skin.
Obviously, that advice was bonkers. Upon reflection, I was likely dehydrated, underexercising, overheating, stressed and eating so poorly that my skin protested!
My acne could have been much reduced with little intervention if those areas had been addressed before reaching for the prescription pad.
But it has only been years of living in my own skin, experimentation and observation, that I feel more confident in a whole body, inside out, more than skin deep approach!
And so I encourage you to do the same. Pay attention. Experiment and observe your own body and do what works for you.
My skin now is very sensitive. After years of skin-assault, it needs gentle, loving care! I’m in my 40’s and I have wrinkles. Yes, pimples still show up. I know nothing I do is going to wind back the clock and make me look 25 again and that is ok.
Finally, I’m happy
Every Friday, I’ll be sharing apothecary remedies and preparations for you to try. Where possible, I will be sourcing plants from my own garden, and seek out organic, whole ingredients. When it comes to topical preparations, I think less is more. I hope you’ll try the ones that appeal to you and let me know what you think. If there is anything you would like to try in particular, let me know!