Mugwort (Artemisia vulgaris) is a herb with some ancient history. I’ll be writing a post about it soon but for now, here’s another use for it – ‘strong bones vinegar’. Mugwort contains a lot of calcium and magnesium, making it useful for strengthening bones and improving muscle function. As the two often go hand in hand, this is a good combination. A bit of caution: some folks are allergic to Mugwort, usually the same ones that have a Ragweed allergy. Mugwort can also affect pregnant women, so be careful here too please. If this is your first time dealing with Mugwort, take precautions. Handle the fresh herb for a little, wait for a while and if you’re not sneezing up a storm and your eyes aren’t red and watery in about an hour, you should be good to go. How to do it: Making herbal vinegars is just too easy! Here’s how to make this one… You need 2 things
A bowl of sleepy goodness Our ‘year of firsts’ continues at Ligaya with our first Hops harvest! Last year, our friends at @haphazard-hstead posted on their Hops harvest with some great advice on when to pick them. So I’ve been waiting until the signs were right and decided that today is the day. I’ve been waiting for the flowers (or cones) on the bines (no, that’s not a typo, they’re really called that) to open and dry out until they are like parchment and bounce back to their original shape when compreseed. It took only a few minutes to harvest a good bowl of full Humulus lupus flowers as our vine is relatively small, not one of the monsters that can grow. We’ve been using it for some much needed shade on our verandah over Summer. There are many varieties of Hops, it’s a plant thats been widely domesticated. Our varierty is known as ‘Pearl’ and is the one that German settlers bought over in the early days
There’s so many folks I run into lately who are suffering from constant pain. Most of them are on some heavy duty pharmaceuticals and don’t like it. I decided to jump the gun a little today and make up some Wild Lettuce (or Prickly Lettuce) – Lactuca serriola tincture for them. Actually, I’m not allowed to use the word ‘tincture’ so, let me say ‘Prickly Lettuce infused alcohol’. I think that should be OK. By ‘jumped the gun’, I mean that I made it a little earlier than usual. The plant is at its most potent when flowering. The patch we collected from today had a few flower heads forming, so it was close enough. I’ll make more later. Mercy, as always, was full of advice about which bits to use. She’s usually right about most things, so I took her word for it. We made up what will become a litre and a half of potent, pain killing liquid
‘True Comfrey’ (Symphytum officinale) is a common herb in Europe. The other common variety is ‘Russian Comfrey’ (Symphytum x uplandicum) in many cases. This is, in turn, a hybrid of two varieties. The ‘x’ in its taxonomic name means that it is a hybrid. ‘True Comfrey’ will self seed prolifically, while the ‘Russian Comfrey’ we often buy as Comfrey is a sterile hybrid but is far more vigorous. Our ‘True’ Comfrey has white to pink flowers, while Russian Comfrey has blue to purple flowers. Of course, ‘True Comfrey’ has a red/purple variety, just to make it all the more confusing. If you want to know which variety you have, wait until it flowers. That’s the easiest way. Otherwise, True Comfrey has more of a stem at the bottom of the leaves and this extends onto the main stem. This is called ‘decurrent’ in plant lingo. But is it worth all the fuss? Probably not. Purists will only accept S. officinale
Recently, I have been posting a lot of stuff on Facebook. I like it because it so immediate. On that esteemed platform I have created an informal little group called Gawler Kitchen Herbalists to look at local, wild herbs and plants that we can use for remedies and food. I did it because there is a broad and deep range of knowledge on the subjects of remedies and food locally, but a lot of attention has been taken by traditional European and American herbs that are read about in books from the UK and the US. Stuff that the health industry has sold them in the past. I can’t see the point of buying exotic, imported herbs from the Amazon, or somewhere north of Ulan Batur when so much is free, here and (in season) now. Our group is set up to encourage local knowledge and interaction at a personal and community level. If you’re living around Gawler, or, in
A great nettle harvest.