Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Found: Lung moss!

I have been looking for Lung Moss (Lobaria pulmonaria) for quite some time. I first heard about it in my spinning circle. One of the older women told me how she dyes with what she called Tree Lungwort and gave me a small quantity of this lichen. I tried it and loved the color! It is the brown one in the picture.
And then the name caught my attention; I know the Lungwort and was wondering whether the Lung Moss could also be a medicinal lichen. My favorite herbal, David Hoffmann's Holistic Herbal mentions it as an expectorant, used in irritable respiratory conditions, such as bronchitis and asthma. It is specifically indicated in children's coughs. Lung moss has healing and soothing properties for the mucous tissue. On the internet I also found that it has recently been found that the lungwort lichens contain antibiotic chemicals that are effective against the kind of bacteria that cause tuberculosis and many other chest infections. I'm making it into a tincture and will try it out on either myself or a guinea pig :)
Many medicinal plants reveal their properties by how they look. Lung moss is a great example; I find an amazing similarity to the lungs. If you enlarge the photo by clicking it you can see the bronchial tubes and even the alveoli!
I found this lichen while walking along the River Findhorn. I had been looking up at the trees trunks (almost tripping several times...), knowing that the air is very pure out here and the oak trees are fairly old: the ideal conditions for Lung Moss to grow. Just when I was giving up on finding it I recognised it. I have experienced this before when I'm looking for a herb without having seen it before. When I spot it my heart jumps and I just know that this is the one! Today I will go back to the river and hopefully find more.
I don't take it from the trees, as it takes several years to grow, but collect what has fallen.
The River Findhorn is such a beautiful and magical place!

This post was shared Wildcrafting Wednesday at The Woodwife's Journal

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Growing peas and beans in toilet rolls

Someone asked me how to sow in toilet roll tubes. Well, that's actually easy peasy :).
1: Collect enough toilet roll tubes - this may take all winter. Here in the Findhorn Community it just takes a few weeks :)
2: Find a low seeding tray
3: Fill the tubes with seeding compost in the bag or in a bucket with compost, by pressing with the fingers of both hands on either side of the tube. Make sure to give a good amount of pressure and leave 2 cm (1 inch) space at the top.
4: Put them upright and side to side in the tray and drop one pea or bean in each tube
5: Top up the tubes with compost and press again
6: Water (just moist, don't overdo it!), wish them well and wait...
7: Once the plants have grown two or three pairs of leaves and the roots are visible, plant them with the tubes. This works so well, because the roots stay undamaged and healthy. The cardboard will disintegrate and feed the worms. I use this method for bigger seeds, like peas, sweet peas, broad beans, runner beans and corn.

When the peas look like this, you can plant them. Enjoy!

Monday, 13 February 2012

Hairy bittercress: a tasty and healthy addition to salad

This tiny weed, Hairy Bittercress (Cardamine hirsuta) is probably around in your garden this time of the year. It germinates when it gets colder and grows in winter! It loves disturbed soil, so it tends to pop up where you have been digging or weeding. Don't throw it on the compost heap, because it's edible and actually quite nice. It tastes a bit peppery, but not too hot and is a great and healthy addition to salads, or in couscous. Harvest before it flowers. Just lift the little rosettes, cut the roots off, rinse, chop and enjoy! This fresh energy and it's vitamine C is exactly what we need right now.

This post was shared Wildcrafting Wednesday at The Woodwife's Journal

Thursday, 9 February 2012

Making tinctures: a tutorial

Around Christmas I blogged here about digging up roots and cleaning them to make them into a tincture. A tincture is an extract of a herb in alcohol. In this case, I used Meadowsweet. I chopped up the roots and put them in a clean jar. Then I added vodka, enough to completely cover them. Because everything that is not covered in alcohol, can get moldy.
The tincture has been in a cupboard for six weeks, so it's time to separate the herb form the alcohol. I use a sieve and a clean piece of cloth. Old cotton sheets work great for that. I use a glass measuring jug, so I can see what the tincture looks like and how much I have. The procedure is very simple: I just empty the jar in the sieve and see the tincture running!

You can see the tincture is beautifully clear and has a deep red colour. I try to press out as much of the good stuff as possible. You need some strenght for this! I have seen tincture presses on the internet, it would be great to have one...
I pour the tincture into a clean jar and label it. I like to put a date on the label; tinctures keep quite well (most of them at least three years) but not forever. I always keep them in a dark place, away from sunlight.

Meadowsweet (Filipendula ulmaria) likes to grow in wet places. The flowers are creamy white. They look fluffy, almost fragile and have a distinct sweet smell. Insects love them! The roots are of a very different nature. They form a strong mat that makes it difficult to dig them up!

Like Willow, Meadowsweet has salicylate salts. In the 19th century, this has been recognised as a painkiller and made into acetylsalicyd acid, called Asperin. Pure asperin can harm the stomach. Meadowsweet doesn't, because it has other compounds that work soothing on the stomach tissue and even relieve heartburn. It is a pain reliever and works anti-inflammatory. And has another bonus: it helps the body detoxing by getting uric acid and oxalic acid out. That is why it is used on joint pains that are associated with acidity.

I will gather the flowers in summer and make them into a tincture too and mix the two.

This was shared at Wildcrafting Wednesday

Thursday, 2 February 2012

Sock yarn blanket is progressing...

I thoroughly enjoy working on my sock yarn blanket. I did 55 squares so far, making them into big squares of 36 (yes, I know you only see 25, I decided to make them a bit bigger) that I will sew together later. I received leftover sock yarn form many people, is various colors. Where I have too much, I send them to others via Random Acts of Kindness on Ravelry. It's a great way to use us all these small bits!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...