Rate us at our Local Business Google+ page.

Ever Heard of Herbalism for Plants?

Is herbalism exclusively for animals and people? Why not herbalism for plants?

I’ve never heard of anyone else using herbs to treat plants. There’s lots of information about how to use plants to treat people (and animals), but not for using plants to treat plants. And why not? Certain plants have affinity for certain other plants, especially for certain trees. Certain fungi grow around only very specific trees. It isn’t a huge leap of the imagination to think that these plants benefit each other in some ways, even fostering good health when one or the other is stressed.

I’d just spent all day pruning and cleaning up an apple tree that had been neglected for about five years. All looked very nice when done. Except one thing. There were signs of borers at the base of the trunk. So many of them that the outlook for this tree’s survival is likely slim. You can click on the photos to enlarge them.

 

photo of damage from  apple tree borer

borer damage

 

Comfrey grows well beneath fruit trees. As the plants die back each winter, the broad leaves add nutrients and humus to the soil. The roots of Comfrey have impressive healing powers, affecting regrowth of skin and tissue and mending of bones.

As I tried to decide what to do about the damage the tree had suffered, I thought of comfrey’s medicinal virtues. Fresh root is best, but I don’t have any growing yet so I resorted to dried. I put some in the blender, along with some water and a shot glass full of “Super Tonic” for good measure. Super Tonic is a Dr. Christopher formula great for all sorts of things that might ail a person, but the taste is equally potent. I, personally, can’t take it without wanting to throw up. But my eldest swears by it and doesn’t find the flavor so disagreeable. My herbalist friend Dena gave me a bottle of it years ago and we do pull it out from time to time when the really tough bug strikes at home. You can find the recipe on this page of forum discussions about it.

A jar of comfrey plaster

Comfrey root all ground up and mixed with water and Super Tonic.

Before applying the plaster, I scraped away all of the spongy dead wood and scraped out the holes that were soft enough. The damage is so extensive, I’ll be truly impressed if this saves the tree.

apple tree base after debriding borer damage

Trunk base after debriding the dead material away.

Then came the plaster. I used an old basting brush to apply it. If you’ve ever used comfrey to make a sort of cast around a broken pinky toe, you’ll know it smarts. The Super Tonic would bring that sting to a whole ‘nother level. I hope the tree knows it was for its own good…

apple tree with herbal remedy applied to base of the trunk

After the plaster was applied.

It’s not supposed to rain for at least a few days, so hopefully this will have time to dry and harden into a sort of “skin” for it. Now we wait and see what happens. The rest of the tree looks great, so I hope this works.

Have you ever used herbalism for a tree? If so, please leave me a comment about the experience.


[br]

Subscribe to our monthly mailing list!

Beta Readers
As it Happens News

View previous campaigns.

Rate us at our Local Business Google+ page.

Recover an Apple Tree

We have an Arkansas Black apple tree overgrown by brush and saplings. Is it possible to recover an apple tree after it’s gotten overgrown?

Pruning it has been on my list of things to do for a few years now. Today I finally got around to it.

Here’s how it looked before:

overgrown apple tree

Overgrown and crowded out apple tree.

The first thing I did was pull up all the honeysuckle, catbriers, and blackberry bushes trying to crowd it out. The honeysuckle was the worst. It had started going up into the tree and would have only been a matter of time before it choked it to death.

Before pruning apple tree, after clearing underneath.

Before pruning, after clearing underneath.

I added fertilizer over the root zone. The only kind I had on hand was a general purpose garden mix (organic), so that’s what I used. I did have a feather meal, but I didn’t think it would need only nitrogen. I might add some later after I do a little research to see if it’s a good idea.

Nitron's 4-8-4 fertilizer

Nitron’s 4-8-4 Organic fertilizer.

And here’s how it looked when I was finished:

Arkansas Black apple tree after pruning

After pruning and clearing away underbrush and trees crowding around.

The horizontal sticks you see in the apple tree are forked branches of the sassafras trees we cut down from nearby where they were growing too close. I used them to spread the main branches of the apple tree. Ideally, this would have been done while the tree was younger to train it to grow with more of a spread all along, but I think doing it now will help a lot still.

An Arkansas Black apple isn’t the best for eating fresh. They’re very tart. But they make great cider and are great pollinators for other varieties that are good fresh. One of the issues with growing apples in the Ozarks is cedar rust. We have so many cedar trees here that it’s hard to grow apple trees without them getting infected. Arkansas Black is a resistant heritage variety, so it does well.

After all was said and done, it turns out that the tree has been invaded by borers. This is likely going to kill it. But I performed some surgery on it and plastered the base with herbs and hopefully that will help. If you’re interested in my experiment with using herbalism for a tree, I’m working on a blog post about that. When it’s done I’ll come back and make this a live link. (Be sure to check back – The post about my remedy for the apple tree is scheduled to go live on Jan. 28)

So now it’s just a matter of waiting to see how it does this spring and summer. Hopefully it’ll survive to produce apples again and we’ll get to try making some cider.

Have you ever tried to recover an overgrown apple tree? If so, did it work?


[br]

Subscribe to our monthly mailing list!

Beta Readers
As it Happens News

View previous campaigns.

Rate us at our Local Business Google+ page.

Plants with Strange Names

Devil’s Walking Stick. Strawberry Wahoo. Green Dragon. Jack-in-the-Pulpit. Fire-Pokers… All plants with strange names.

Sometimes my friends and family think I make these names up.

seeds from strawberry wahoo and devil's walking stick

Seeds from Devil’s Walking Stick (the nearly black ones) and Strawberry Wahoo (the red ones)

 

I remember coming home one day after running errands in town. I always drive really slow on the dirt road leading to Wild Ozark, and not just because the road is rough. The reason that motivates me to go slow most of all is so I can look on the sides of the road for interesting plants. Anyway, my mom was with me on one of these days and by the time I realized what I’d seen, we’d overshot the spot by a good distance. I shouted “Strawberry Wahoo!” and put the car in reverse. Poor mom probably thought I’d lost my mind.

But I backed up and found the bush. It’s actually a small tree sort of shrub. When she saw what I was talking about, she said “I think you just made that name up.”

“No, really,” I protested. “It’s really what it’s called.” My name for it combines a couple of the common names into one, but technically I think “strawberry bush” and “wahoo” work better together so we know exactly which plant I’m talking about. Euonymus atropurpurea is likely considered a more specific name, though, I admit. But I think I’d have sounded just as mad shouting that out as anything else.

photo of strawberry wahoos

Hanging wahoos

Similar words were exchanged when my husband and I passed what I’d mistakenly said were “Red Hot Pokers”. Actually, that’s a different flower than the one I saw, but “Fire Pinks“, which is what these were is just as odd a name because these flowers are nowhere near pink. They’re definitely red.

Then there’s the Devil’s Walking Stick. I spotted that one one day on our way off to somewhere once, and it too brought the raised eyebrows of “I think you made that name up”. I really like the Devil’s Walking Stick a lot because it’s one of the ginseng cousins, belonging to the Aralia family along with American ginseng, American Spikenard, and Sarsaparilla too. The only thing in common with any of these, though, is the way the flowers are arranged in a loose, airy, ball on the end of each flowering stem. All of the plants of this family flower in the same arrangement. The Devil’s Walking Stick I found looks more like a small, skinny tree than a shrub. Later in the year after the stem started sagging, I was able to pull it down so I could collect the seeds.

I’m not sure whether I’ll be able to sprout and grow the seeds of either the Devil’s Walking Stick or the Strawberry Wahoo, but if I can, I’ll have these to offer at the market too. So you can have some plants with strange names too. Both of these are native to the Ozarks and interesting conversation specimens even if you don’t find the medicinal uses of them interesting. I have some American Spikenard, Jack-in-the-Pulpit and Green Dragon seeds I’m hoping will germinate in spring, too.

Be sure to sign up for our mailing list for the nursery if you want the price/availability list when I get it ready. You can do that over on our Ginseng Habitat Nursery page.

What are your favorite plants with strange names?


[br]

Subscribe to our monthly mailing list!

Beta Readers
As it Happens News

View previous campaigns.

Rate us at our Local Business Google+ page.

Random Nature Connection – Old Things and A Force to Be Reckoned

Is Nature a force to be reckoned with and hopefully conquered? This post is a prompt to think about our relationship with nature. Join us!

old ford tractor

I won’t have an essay today, just a few thoughts about this photo and the connection it represents to me. I’d love to hear your thoughts, too. If you blog, feel free to link to your post about this photo or topic in the comments below. This is the 5th Random Nature Connection post in my series.

A Force to Be Reckoned

This old tractor is one of my favorite photo subjects. It looks pretty no matter what the season out here. But it’s an “old thing” and it rarely sees much activity anymore. Back in the day when my grandfather used this tractor to cultivate his fields I doubt the people thought much about reconnecting to nature. Nature was still very much a part of everyday life, and I imagine that connection wasn’t looked upon with fondness most of the time.

Nature was a force to be reckoned with and hopefully conquered. But it was also something that people worked with, knowing there were limitations on what could or could not be expected to yield in the battle for dominance.

Join Me!

Use this photo or another and link your blog post in the comments below. Here’s a tweet you can use to invite others:

Join me for ! http://www.wildozark.com/a-force-to-be-reckoned/ 


[br]

Subscribe to our monthly mailing list!

Beta Readers
As it Happens News

View previous campaigns.

Rate us at our Local Business Google+ page.

It’s A Good Day to Plant Seeds in Winter

seeds being planted at Wild Ozark

Yesterday I took a break from figuring taxes (yes, I’m still working on taxes) and went outside to enjoy the warm-ish winter’s day and plant seeds. On the seed list today:

  • American ginseng
  • Echinacea purpurea
  • Echinacea tennesseensis
  • Comfrey (officinale)
  • Poppies

These plants all need to be seeded while it’s still cool outside so the seeds can be exposed to the cold, damp soil before sprouting. It could be done by putting the seeds in a bag of sand in the refrigerator (this is called stratification), but I’ll just plant them into pots and keep the pots outside where they’ll get cold exposure. Fresh ginseng seed would need two winters, but the seeds I buy have already been stratified, which means they’ve already spent one winter outside so they’ll sprout after this one.

Day before yesterday I planted some Cowslip (primula veris). This one is not a native plant, not to the Ozarks nor to the United States. However, it’s a good medicinal plant and I wanted to have some on hand for my sustainability/preparedness peace of mind. There are other plants that are native (lobelia inflata, mullein) that also have some of the same benefits (antispasmodic, cough, sedative) but I wanted to have this one, too.  While the lobelia is valuable in it’s antispasmodic capacity, and I wildcraft it here at Wild Ozark and use it in formulas with much success, it can be fairly easy to use too much. The consequence of that mistake is violent vomiting which squeezes the lungs. This action supposedly can also be beneficial to expel excessive mucus from the lungs but I’ve never tried it and am not sure I’d want to without someone on hand to give me a breath if it caused my lungs to collapse (seriously).  I use mullein quite often to make syrups for the kids and love the gentle way it works to loosen phlegm and quiet coughs at the same time. I’m curious to see how well the cowslip works in comparison to these other plants.

Why the poppies? Well, because they’re beautiful, of course. And they attract bees for pollination…lots of good reasons to plant poppies.

These plants, while not woodland plants or ginseng companion plants (except for the ginseng, of course), will also be part of the offerings brought to market in April. (Except the poppies. Those are being seeded directly into beds where they’ll stay.) We’ll have them at the farmer’s market in Huntsville, Arkansas on Tuesdays if you’d like to stop in. I can legally ship plants by mail now, but these will be too young yet and I’m not set up with boxes and packaging for that anyway. Maybe one day soon. For now we will just fill orders and sell from the market venue.

The links I gave to the plant information goes to the electronic version of “A Modern Herbal” by Maud Grieve, originally published in 1931. This is one of my favorite resources for medicinal herbal information.

I’ll be drawing up an availability list with prices soon. If you want to get on that mailing list, be sure to fill out the form at our nursery page and send it to me.


[br]

Subscribe to our monthly mailing list!

Beta Readers
As it Happens News

View previous campaigns.

Rate us at our Local Business Google+ page.

Life in the Dead of Winter

I enjoy seeing signs of life in the dead of winter. This week hasn’t been the typical dead of winter. Today was a beautiful day, sunny and nearly 70*F, and I became tired of figuring taxes. Time to go outside and move rocks around in the garden. I brought the camera to get some pics of bits of green contrasting with the sandy browns of our soil and the darker hues of dead brown leaves. I knew there’d be some life in the otherwise dead zone.

green onions

The green onions (above) grow somewhat all year long. I love having them ready to use anytime, but some times of the year, like now, a bit more trimming and cleaning up of the greens is required.

thyme

Thyme (above and below) still manages to stay looking pretty beneath the curled up cover of dead elm leaves.

thyme closer

Wispy tendrils of wild onion reach out from beneath this rock in my garden (below). These work like chives if you snip up the green parts. I’m sure I wouldn’t enjoy having so many of these around if I were trying to graze milk goats or cows, but I like the abundance of wild onions and garlic around here.

wild onion

Aside from taking pictures of the living things, I moved a heavy rock into place where I needed another step. It took quite a bit of maneuvering to get it where I wanted it, but it works perfectly in that place. Now I’m one rock closer to being finished with the garden path starting at the gate going down to the lowest terrace. It’s not a very large garden, in fact it’s very small. I can’t imagine trying to move enough rocks to make a large one of the kind I see in my imagination!

big rock step

 

 


[br]

Subscribe to our monthly mailing list!

Beta Readers
As it Happens News

View previous campaigns.

Rate us at our Local Business Google+ page.

The Nature of Still Water

We’re holding our breath here this morning at Wild Ozark, waiting to see what happens when the lines on the mountain thaw.

See, we’d insulated all the lines under the house and figured, hey, it shouldn’t freeze now under there tonight – let’s see what happens. Well, we forgot about the nature of still water in cold weather. If we didn’t leave a tap open, the water would no longer be flowing anywhere in our lines… it would become still.

And it did what still water does.

Now we most likely have a solid line of ice in the lines all the way from the tank at the top down to the house at the bottom.

The other natural thing that water does when it freezes is expands.

ice lifting rock

That’s why those little ice shards are lifting rocks. Because it’s expanding. But the thing about those shards is that it expands upwards because there’s nothing standing in the way except the weight of that little rock. To the sides of whatever little puddle of water froze, there is the surrounding earth keeping it contained, and that earth is stronger than the freezing water. Inside a water line, the thing standing in the way is the wall of the water line. And the ice is usually stronger than the plastic used to hold that water, especially when the plastic has been exposed to sunlight for a few years, causing it to become less flexible.

We don’t get our water from a well or a municipal water tower in the area. Our water comes from a spring about 500 yards above us on the mountain behind our house. It’s held in a 1500 gallon tank about 300 yards above the house on the mountain below the spring. This arrangement comes with a bit more maintenance than you’d find in most set ups. Keeping it flowing during winter is critical.

So, when it all thaws out I’ll take a little hike up the mountain to see what I find. This has happened once or twice before in the last 10 or so years. It’s always a spectacular show. I’ll bring the camera with me, just in case.

The Verdict

Update at 1144: Whoo-hooo! We got lucky. No leaks. I did bring the camera though and took some photos of the spring and cave out that way. Couldn’t get too close to the cave because the rocks I would have had to cross were slippery with ice and algae. I’ll post those when I get a chance later and leave the link here for you.

 


[br]

Subscribe to our monthly mailing list!

Beta Readers
As it Happens News

View previous campaigns.

Rate us at our Local Business Google+ page.

Random Nature Connection – Abundance in Nature

farkleberry

Vaccinium arboreum

Abundance in Nature

The other day as we were out scouting for new springs on the mountain, (springs new to us, not springs new in existence and another form of the abundance in nature out here), I looked at the shrubs around me. The airy, twisty trees looked familiar and my excitement grew as the realization dawned on me. It was a large collection of huckleberry bushes and trees. And there were so many leftover berries on many of the bushes! This year must have been a particularly abundant year for them. There were even enough that all the bears (we have lots of bears here) and birds had left a few for me to sample.

In the past I’ve brought home starts from other locations in the effort to get these growing at our own land and none of them ever took. I’d become resigned that to get any wild berries I’d have to forage farther from home than I like. So I was quite elated to find these.

Tasty!

Of course I tasted one of the not-so-shriveled berries to see if it was good and tasty. And it was.

As I looked around and surveyed the patch, I was struck by the abundance. And by the abundance potential. In my mind I pictured how many berries must be there during prime season. There’s enough here for wildlife AND for me!

Now I can’t wait for the season to arrive when I’ll go back on the mountain with a small pail to gather enough for some jelly. They’re not tasty enough to eat handfuls of them fresh, but are tart enough to promise the most delicious of jellies.

Wild Fruit Jelly

Last year our wild plum trees had an abundant year. I made about a dozen jars of wild plum jelly and loved every jar I managed to hold back instead of giving away.

My favorite kind of jelly is mayhaw, a fruit of a hawthorn tree that grows wild down in Louisiana where I grew up. I’ve missed that jelly since moving up here and after reading one of the comments over at Dave’s Garden, I am most eager to try the huckleberry jelly. That commenter said it was better than mayhaw. I find that difficult to imagine, but I’m certainly willing to test it and find out.

Forging the Nature Connection

Foraging, harvesting and preparing foods and treats from our own land helps me to feel connected to nature. Even if you don’t own land, you can learn about the plants that grow in the area where you live. When you have time, make trips to your nearest wild areas to see what you can find. It’s not a good idea to sample plants you’re not certain about, though, because many of the berries are either toxic or inedible, but by becoming familiar with what’s around you it’ll help to foster that connection. Even knowing what is not good to eat is a helpful knowledge to have. There may be someone in your area who can help you make sure of plant identification so you can safely sample some of nature’s wares.

About the Huckleberry

These huckleberries grow on small trees. They’re commonly called “farkleberries” or “sparkleberries”, depending on the local terminology used to describe them. They are a species of the blueberry genus (Vaccinium arboreum). Each fruit is fairly small, maybe 1/4″ or slightly larger or smaller. They taste similar to blueberries, but not as moist and not as sweet.

Here are some links if you’d like to learn more about the Farkleberry:

http://plants.usda.gov/core/profile?symbol=VAAR

http://davesgarden.com/guides/pf/go/31655/#b


[br]

Subscribe to our monthly mailing list!

Beta Readers
As it Happens News

View previous campaigns.

Rate us at our Local Business Google+ page.

Torture of Taxes, Podcasts and Frozen Water

Today I’ve been undergoing the torture of  taxes,  podcasts and frozen water . I’m doing taxes for the business, repairing broken podcast audio files, compiling good nature blog links, and making the chickens happy today. Compiling the good nature blog links has actually been a pleasant task, though. And at least the water job ended with me feeling victorious. Taxes are turning out to be another matter entirely.

Ugghh! Taxes

Why can’t the language and rules for the IRS be simple? And why can’t there be some special simple provisions for businesses that make less than $1000 in a year? Ha, maybe that kind of business is a very small niche, but it would be oh so helpful if such provisions existed for poor little bootstrap companies like ours.

It is tax time and I’ve been spending the day trying to figure out how to do them. I didn’t know filing would be so different when it comes to having an LLC business versus a single proprietor home-based business. Ugh. Too many things I didn’t know, but I’m glad I’m at least not past any deadlines I didn’t know I had until today. Of course, a person should SHOULD NOT begin businesses without some forethought into things like this, and there should be better record-keeping than I’m prone to do… I suppose a new item or two was just added to my New Year’s resolution list. I wish I knew more about bookkeeping now.

photo of laughing dog

Podcast Woes

I just found out today that none of my podcasts were working. They’re all at the Fantasy website. It worked for a while, but at some point, probably with the most recent website updates, the recordings disappeared. Well, now they’re back.

Nature Blogs

I’ve been collecting URLs of various nature blogs I find, as I find them. What I’d like to also start adding are links to authors or websites featuring fiction inspired by nature. If you’re such an author, or know of one, let me know and I’ll add your link to the index page too. The Nature Blogs index is going to be one of those constantly updating pages on this site, much like the Ginseng Articles and Headlines page is.

Making the Chickens Happy

Today I decided to uncover the water line that feeds the chickens and dogs and cats to see why it was still not working. As I suspected, it was still icy underneath the tarp and blankets I’d used to try and insulate it from the cold. Apparently, once it froze underneath the cover it did an admirable job of insulating the ice. It required a blowdryer and some time, but now the water is flowing again. The chickens all gathered to celebrate and have sips as the bucket filled.

 


[br]

Subscribe to our monthly mailing list!

Beta Readers
As it Happens News

View previous campaigns.

Rate us at our Local Business Google+ page.

Ginseng, strawberries, and Google+ listings

Handy wild strawberry/ginseng comparison graphic

Yesterday I posted a handy image for those of you trying to tell the difference between wild strawberry and first year ginseng. I keep forgetting that when I post a new page to this website, post subscribers don’t see it.

So here’s the link to it. Please pin this photo to your Pinterest boards and share it to your favorite social medias. Just since posting it last night there’s been nearly 30 +1’s and a few reshares through Google +.

Google Local Business Listing

Speaking of Google+, I’m waiting on the postcard with our verification code to arrive. Once it gets here, if all works the way it’s supposed to, we’ll have a Local Business Listing on Google that won’t divulge our home address. Since we don’t have a public place of business, this page will list the hours and days we’ll be at the farmer’s market in Huntsville this spring. As we begin to go to craft shows and other festivals, I’ll post those dates and locations there too.

Reviews/Ranking at Google+

Your reviews will help us get better ranking with Google. Since we haven’t set up shop anywhere in real-life yet, we haven’t had any personal interaction or sales encounters to give us the opportunity to ask for reviews. But many of you have shopped online with us! So if you’ve ordered anything from our website and was happy with your experience, please head over to our page and give us a few stars or a review! We don’t have any at all yet… and I’m not exactly sure how to leave a review myself, lol, so if you have any clues please comment below and let me know. Of course, if you were unhappy with your experience shopping with us, I’d sure like a chance to make it better. Please email me and I’ll get to work on that right away.

Ginseng Seeds

Also, Dennis Lindberg from Ozark Mountain Ginseng sent a newsletter out to say he still has seeds and some rootlets available if you didn’t get yours ordered earlier. Our seeds are still in the refrigerator (what’s left of them) and they haven’t started sprouting yet. I’m planning to pot some more up for the market on the next warm spell. Soon they will, and you can still plant them but you have to be careful not to break off the tiny little root sprouts when you do. If you break it, the seed will die.

ginseng seeds


[br]

Subscribe to our monthly mailing list!

Beta Readers
As it Happens News

View previous campaigns.