Tuesday, August 16, 2016

August Garden Flowers - the Yellow & Orange Edition

The garden is awash in orange and yellow blooms!  I counted more than 25 types of orange and yellow flowers, including herbs, veggies and wild flowering plants.  Here's a sampling of what is in bloom in our garden right now (mid August)...after a long drought this season, these vibrant flowers are still blooming surprisingly well.

NEW Fall 2016 Workshops Posted!

Wow!  The new line-up of classes at Little City Farm for the Fall 2016 (and some Winter 2017) is now posted. Loads of new topics and intensive series of classes, to gain hands-on skills for more self-reliant living!  Check out our workshop page here.

We are excited by a whole series of great Herbal Medicine Making classes this fall, including Autumn Wellness Remedies (immune boosting tinctures & fire cider); Winter Health Remedies (cough syrups and more); DIY herbal shampoos; herbal gift-making near the holiday season (felted wool soap, herbal salves and balms, herbal bath bombs & soaks).

There are a number of Soap Making workshop dates (sign up soon to claim your spot, these workshops fill up quickly!), as well as Goats Milk Soap Making - all favourite workshops around here.

Also our usual popular classes on Wild Edibles Foraging and Lacto-Fermented Foods are back for the fall season, with a focus on autumn plants and harvest.

NEW! And new this fall, a series of Waldorf-inspired Art Classes for both children (10 Thursday afternoons from Sept-Dec), and adults (6 Wednesday evenings in Oct-Nov)!  To bring mindfulness, appreciation of nature, joy and calm into our homes through the creative use of natural art materials.  Read our facilitator bios here, and more details to register for these exciting art classes.

NEW! Finally, coming this January 2017 - a 6-Part Organic Gardening Intensive, led by our famous local organic farmer Angie Koch from Fertile Ground Farm.  We are really looking forward to this session, which is limited to 10 participants so that this small group can work through individual garden plans and take 6 weeks to gain intensive organic gardening knowledge.  Sign up here!

Saturday, August 06, 2016

Local Superfood Spotlight: Purslane

We love wild foods here, currently harvesting the last dandelion greens, lambs quarters, plantain, and loads of wild grape leaves.  Purslane (Portulaca oleracea) is another wild food that is abundant, but many people are not so familiar with.  It grows wild on the edges of our garden and once it arrives it is plentiful (though not entirely invasive as it's easy enough to pull up by the shallow roots).  But it is delicious (like a rich spinach or chard) and needs to be used - plus, the health benefits of this local superfood are abundant:  it is rich in fibre, vitamins and minerals, and contains a huge amount of omega-3 (some say more than any other leafy plant!).  It is good for our skin, urinary and digestive systems. It also has a perfect combination between antioxidants, omega 3 fatty acids, potassium, calcium, magnesium and carotene.  

A friend shared her purslane lemonade suggestion with us.  Since we love making herbal lemonades, and herbal-rich smoothies, this made a great addition to our summer drink selections.  Here is our variation on the purslane elixir.  If you can't find wild purslane it can also be grown indoors or in a greenhouse/garden bed as a microgreen. 

Purslane Elixir

You will need:
1-2 lemons
honey or maple syrup to taste
large handful fresh purslane
2 cups water
2-4 ice cubes

1) Put 2 cups water into blended.  Add juice of lemons and handful purslane, and ice.  Blend on high until smooth (about 1 minute).
2) Strain drink for lemonade consistency, or don't strain and drink as a rich green smoothie.  
3) Sweeten to taste.

Rose Water - with local organic roses

We got a bouquet of lovely deeply scented roses from our local organic fruit & flower buying club (check out The Good Peach if you live in our area!).  We don't usually buy cut flowers, for many reasons - they are expensive, they are usually not organic and fair traded, and we grow many flowers in our own garden to supply summer bouquets. 

However, these roses were gorgeous and from a local organic farm, so to have them in vases around the house during a birthday week was a treat.  But once the blooms were open it seemed a shame to simply compost these blossoms, which were still incredibly vibrant in colour and scent.  I separated all the petals and dried them on old window screens.  Then steeped them in witch hazel to make a rose water, to be used as rose water toner or added into a facial lotion.   After only a day the witch hazel was already glowing with a vibrant deep pink colour.  Simple, lovely, great way to quickly preserve roses before they neared their end.

I large bouquet (12 roses) made 1 full litre of rose water.

Rose water is a beneficial facial cleanse and skin toner that has been used for centuries.  Rose water has anti-inflammatory properties, aids in healing skin irritations, eczema, dermatitis, hydrates dry skin and also tones oily skin, helps reduce the signs of aging on the skin, and so much more.  It also helps with gently healing cuts, scrapes, scars and scratches.  It's cooling on a hot day as a facial mist and leaves you feeling refreshed.  Rose water is so simple to make and great for any skin type.

Making Rose Water

You will need:
1 litre mason jar, lid and ring
1 dozen fresh roses
witch hazel (1 litre)

1) Separate rose petals from the stalks (ideally when flower blooms have just opened).  Let wilt or dry slightly. 
2) Gently pack into clean mason jar, cover with witch hazel by about 1-2 inches.
3) Shake jar gently to infuse and distribute.  Add more witch hazel as needed to cover petals.
4) Let stand on kitchen counter (out of direct sunlight) for at least 2 weeks.  Shake jar every few days.
5) When infused, strain witch hazel and compost flowers.
6) Store in dark glass bottle with mister top (to use as rose water).  Or add rose water to lotions.
7) Keeps indefinitely.  Label your jars FOR EXTERNAL USE ONLY.

Herbal oils (solar infusion) Summer Medicine Making

These gorgeous medicinal herbal oils have been infusing for just over a month.  Instead of infusing them in our sunny kitchen window as usual, I decided to set them into the sunny greenhouse and see what the difference would be.  Such incredibly vibrant colours!  Luscious vibrant oils, making potent medicine here.  Pictured are calendula (orange oil), mullein flowers (yellow oil), and st johns wort (the red oil).

Solar Herbal Oil - Medicine Making Method
You will need:
  • clean glass mason jar with lid and ring
  • herbal flowers (organic dried, or freshly picked but slightly wilted) to fill jar by half
  • olive oil to cover flowers by 1-2 inches

1) Place flowers in clean mason jar.  Fill jar about half way full.  If using fresh flowers, let wilt slightly first.
2) Cover flowers with olive oil by about 1-2 inches.  Let oil settle, then top up as needed.  Flowers need to be covered to avoid mold growth during steeping time.
3) Shake jar gently to disperse oil throughout flowers, and dislodge any air pockets.
4) Set on a tray (to catch oil drips) and into sunny window.
5) Let infuse for at least 4 weeks.  Shake jar every few days so herbs don't settle on the bottom.
6) When infused, oil should be a rich vibrant colour.  Strain oil, compost herbs.
7) Store finished oil in dark glass bottles in a closed cupboard (cool, dry dark location).
8) Use in making herbal massage oils or medicinal salves.

Flower Birthday

And then someone turned 8!  The birthday theme was flowers & fairies (or flower fairies), and the cake was decorated by our (not-so-little anymore) budding herbalist herself...

Our homestead was transformed into "Bergamot Hollow".  There were flower crowns, fairy wings, a garden scavenger hunt, wood-fired pizza from the outdoor oven, and this lovely flower topped cake.  All befitting an 8 year old with a dreamy imagination and love of the earth.