Hal's Hat

Hal's Hat

Friday, January 20, 2012

Butterfly garden...

One of the things I do in the garden world is to talk to Jeremy, the Brit, on his show About the House. (It's AM radio folks. Listen live if you don't know how to do AM on your radio. ha.) Every couple of weeks, I'll talk about some seasonally appropriate gardening topics. This week I've decided to bring up an entirely over-used, but awesome, topic- the butterfly garden. Part of why everyone wants to talk about / plant them/ enjoy them is because they do so well here in the Midwest. It features annuals that can be grown from seed and re-seed themselves, perennials that (if not native exactly) will become very comfortable in your KS garden and a few shrubs for structure and year-round interest.
We have lots of sun and soil that is not overly fertile (it's usually perfectly fertile, just lots of clay). Butterfly plants love this setup.
Add wind protection for the butterflies. Never use chemicals or pesticides (a granular time-release fertilizer when you amend your soil is ok). Add a place for the b'flies to get water- either a hollowed rock that holds water or a place to put moist soil will do. 

-Low Maintenance (no fancy pruning required)
-Xeric or simple water requirements (would like regular water until established, please!)

A Simple Plant List

Shrubs to ground the bed:
Buddleia, ‘Black Knight’ (wonderful dark purple butterfly bush- 5-6’H) (from plant)
Not "Black Knight" buts still nice.
Rhus typhina (Sumac), ‘Tigers Eye’ (from plant)
Perennial Flowers from plant: I mark these as "from transplant" because they will bloom reliably the first year from a plant. A seed start may take two years
Achillea (Yarrow), ‘Paprika’ (plant)  
Coreopsis gradniflora, ‘Zegreb’, ‘Early Sunrise’ (plant)
Echinacea purpurea, ‘Magnus’ (seed or plant)
Lavendula, ‘Hidcote’ (plant)

Asclepias tuberosa (Butterfly weed) (plant) food source
Monarda (Bee Balm), ‘Raspberry Wine’ (plant)
Sedum, ‘Vera Jameson’ (shorter and less likely to topple over) (plant)

From Seed:
Bronze Fennel (direct sow) - food source
Echinacea purpurea, ‘Magnus’ (direct sow or plant)
Larkspur (direct sow) - nectar
Liatris (Gayfeather) (plant, from seed) – nectar
Sunflower, Mexican Sunflower (direct sow)

There are lots of other wildflowers (annuals, perennials) that you could plant if you want things that direct sow and reseed: bachelor buttons, cleome, cosmos, poppies, nicotiana, zinnia

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Seed Catalogs...

(this is a repost of my blog for Lawrence Landscape)
Seed Catalogs- January 5, 2012
It is seed catalog time folks! If you are like me, you will begin to be inundated with tons of catalogs, seducing you with pictures and tips and ideas for this next season’s garden. Be careful! Needless to say, my eyes are bigger than my “plate”. To save you money and frustration, let me give you some rules to follow.

  • How many seeds do you have left over from last year? If they have gotten too warm, wet or are really older than a year, they are probably not viable. Feel free to do a germination test!
  • Be honest about how many plants you can fit in your space! How many square feet do you really have in full sun where the soil drains well? BE HONEST.
    • All vegetables and many annual cutting flowers require the same full sun site. I include them with my seed buying (zinnias, marigolds, nasturtiums, bachelor buttons, cosmos, etc.).
    • All of that space has to be water accessible. It’s nice that you have a broad sunny strip of easement. But can your hose or drip system reach out there?? Vegetables require deep, regular soaking for highest yield.
    • Also, follow the spacing/ mature sizing listed for each plant you will put in. I mean, do not crowd your broccoli or your squash- it will wreck your yield and/ or promote fungal growth!  If the seed packet says it needs to be planted 36” apart, plan on that spacing. Base your spacing on the mature size of your plant. I often shove in some smaller annuals or herbs around larger vegetables to beautify my plot. But I do not crowd out my major producers.  (Example: I love summer squash and zucchini but it is a huge space hog. Do I have the space for it?)
  • What do you eat most of and is really expensive locally?? Tomatoes? Basil? Eggplant? Zucchini? For me, I must have and eat an enormous amount of greens (lettuce, spinach, chard), beets, tomatoes, basil (I pesto it up), zucchini. However, what of my favorites is very affordable locally? Squash and zucchini, regular bell peppers and green beans. Potatoes, onions are inexpensive for me locally.  I also love to grow all my own herbs because they are too, too much to buy- I use a bunch of herbs! THIS IS YOUR MASTER LIST.
Not all of this will you want to start from seed.
  • What grows best directly seeded (or needs repeat sowing)? Lettuce, greens, beans and peas, roots like carrots and beets, dill, basil, cilantro. For me: beans, lettuce, greens, beets, herbs.  Also, many old fashioned cutting flower varieties are only available from seed. If you are having a cutting garden, make sure you consult your MASTER PLAN! Do you have room?
  • What do I need LEAST of (that do great from transplant)? Examples include: cherry tomatoes, Thai hot peppers (amazing but who needs 18 plants of this??) or any exceptional “one off”, eggplant (for me personally). I also don’t need 18 thyme plants. I buy these from my favorite farmer’s market booths! 
Laurel’s Master list- based on four 4’ x 10’ raised beds (and a little cheating with some pots)
Tomatoes- paste tomatoes (8) (S), slicing tomatoes (4) (N)
Basil- one long row (8-16 plants) (S)
Beans- pole beans (Blue Lake or some other long bean) 1 long rows (DS)
Beets- 1 long row (DS)
Chard- 1 row (DS)
Lettuce- 2 rows Buttercrunch, 2 rows leaf (interplanted with Bean and Peppers) (DS)
Spinach-2 rows (DS)
Cilantro- interplanted with other hot season veg. (N)
Peppers- bell (4), jalapeno (4) (N)
Arugula- 2 rows (DS)
Zucchini- 1 long row on a trellis (DS)
(DS)- direct sow, (S)- from seed, plant start, (N)- buy start from nursery
What did I forget??? Herbs.
Thyme (S)
Basil (S) already mentioned: Purple Ruffles, Boxwood Basil and Genovese
Rosemary (N)
Lemon Balm (S)
Yarrow (S)
Italian Parsley and Cilantro (N)

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Anti inflammatory

This is the beginning of a longer conversation about this topic: anti-inflammation food, supplements, herbs, etc.
First question (for many): why do we need anti-inflammatory anything?

Apropos of nothing: myrna, squash!
--Part of the answer is diet. Our diets consist of lots of processed food. Even unprocessed food can be grown in ways that add to inflammation in our bodies (pesticides, preservatives, GM seeds, etc.). Inflammation is linked to basically every single disease that shortens your life. So, strokes, heart disease are big ones- arteriosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) and blood that doesn't circulate well. Slower mental functioning, even learning disabilities, depression, and all age-related decline is linked to inflammation. Obesity, arthritis and diabetes (type 2) are affected by inflammation. Also, many skin issues are caused/ exacerbated by inflammation in the body (dermatitis, eczema sometimes). Basically, human decline is made worse by diets that inflame.

--Why does our diet inflame our bodies? One answer is an imbalance between Omega 6 oils and Omega 3 oils. Omegas 6 are very available to us with nut and bean oils (soybean oil is the most prominent in fast food and in our American diet). Also, highly refined and hydrogenated oils are used to preserve things and make boxed food. Omega 3 oils are unstable and scarce- coldwater fish, flaxseed. That seems simple... it can get so so so complex.

--These are essential fatty acids- our bodies do not make them and we must get them from an outside source. Omega 6 oils increase cell proliferation and blood clotting as well as complicated hormone creation. Omega 3's stop blood clotting. So we eat and get a ton of Omega 6 oils in everything we do. Our ratio really needs to be 1:1 for them or 1:2 (O6:O3). Get what the issue is? This is why people pop fish oil like it's going out of style. Here is a Dr. Weil bit of documentation on it.

dr. weil's creation. not mine. but good info.

 What do I do to limit inflammation in my body?
--I take a high quality fish oil supplement. Because of the risks of tainted fish (especially in coldwater oily fish), it is best to use a highly purified oil from a quality source. I take Mega EPA from Vitacost here. This is a good ratio for EPA to DHA. Higher EPA is reportedly being found to lower inflammation, cortisol and lower symptoms of depression more rapidly. Really, all the info I've found tells me there is NOT a definitive answer about how much EPA v DHA. But DHA is vital to brain development. EPA for lowering stress hormones and inflammation. My recommendation is 3:2. Widely available sources support this.
--[To further complicate matters, I need to bring up web information sources here. Many web sites that are vitamin based are trying to sell you supplements. Duh. But they often have good information on them. Often doctors and wellness practitioners are great sources and speak from experience in a holistic way. Sites that I take with a grain of salt include hippy, healer, fringe sites and weight lifting sites. Both of these can offer vital info for me but are often so highly charged that the information is more opinion than fact. Sybil, a good friend of mine, asked about a new inflammation fighter called FlameOut. The only info I could find was on weight lifting sites because the charge of this supplement is to offer a reversed ratio of EPA to DHA. Giving tons more DHA, which is supposedly more useful to men and folks with higher muscle tone. Interesting. That being said, if you are drawn to a supplement and feel like the recommendation is a good one (weight lifting or hippy healer), try it out.]
wki picture of turmeric plant!
--I also take Turmeric. Just like you add to the Indian dish you are making. Turmeric the spice. It is a wonder "blood pressure lowering" addition. It is an old fashioned anti-viral, anti-fungal, anti-inflammatory that has been shown to lower rates of Alzheimers and lower people's c-reactive protein (this is why you take NSAIDS like ibuprofen). Many people take this as Curcumin (the active ingredient in turmeric)- a therapeutic preparation of turmeric from a lab. I just take turmeric because it helps lower all sorts of weird stuff that pops up (strange fungus, etc) and is supportive of the liver. This also has a good affect on my skin. Much of the reason I take anti-inflammatory supplements is because aging (you're not 17 anymore?) skin gets thrown out of whack by the smallest things- a night of too many drinks for instance! Turmeric is very skin friendly- it is even reported to impart some of its lovely color to your face. Not yellow but you get the point, no?!? It is good for joint pain and arthritis and abolishes free radicals in the body. Also, most of the information I've read suggest that not only is it a liver support but it supports BILE production. Any of you with gall bladder issues need to take note! You need to foster your liver and work on your bile production- bile is produced by the liver for the benefit of the gall bladder. (If you have non-critical gall bladder issues, get thee to a health food store and consult some good holistic sources. You can help yourself before you have to get an operation! No more processed food!)
anti-inflammatory- good fat, oolong tea, blackberries

Alright, that's a lot of words. I hope someone cares about this. I vacillate between feeling like I want to share this info and feeling like it is way way too much for anyone to care about or read. Not that it is emotional sharing but still, it's information and lots of it.
For my last act and chapter, I'd like to offer this: it is always a better idea to try to get your nutrition and support from food sources. Things made in a labs, isolates, are isolated (duh) from their context. That means that they can easily be sources of overdose or cause reactions in our bodies that we didn't expect. Eating/ drinking your herbs is simpler, cheaper usually and safer. It's not always possible (I just can't buy and eat enough cold water fish- I will always take fish oil supplements. And those are very whole anyway) but I try. Here is a great recipe using black eyed peas and turmeric (enjoy the website too. Rebecca Woolfe, mommy blogger and her mommy, the good cook).
xoxo- Laurel

Here is a P.S. I am not trying to be judgmental about food. Eat what you like. But it is a choice and I, personally, am trying to become NOT ADDICTED to processed crap. It is an addiction and a cycle. So I feel ya when you fall prey to the Taco Johns. Shut up- that is NOT a bag in my car. Gawd.

Next time: burdock and cod liver oil. My skin looks a lot better than it did 6 weeks ago. That ought to get your attention. Also on tap: healthy fats. I eat a lot of fat, always have. Fat doesn't make you fat. High cholesterol food does not cause high cholesterol. I eat fat cuz then I don't eat crap. I eat half an avocado, cheese, nuts and then don't crave ice cream. It's good. I also eat butter. It's pure. I trust that. Hearts!!

Friday, January 6, 2012

Found stuff from Hal's empty journal....

This is from the back of one of my dad's notebooks:
Table of weights and measures

The head of the Buddha- 4 lbs
4 lbs of butter- 4 lbs
2 pails of rain water- 16 lbs
"Coruscant" as a word- .500 mcg
"Unsettled" as a word- .250 mcg
Angel feather (small)- 500 mg
Dust from a Fritillary's wing- .005 mcg
Cold, rainy December Sunday afternoon- 4 lbs
Defeat- 75 lbs to 1 tonne, depending
Winning- minus 4 oz (levitational magnitude of 1)

Now, it feels like my dad was quoting up here. Hmm. Don't know.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Dairy v. Yogurt

Wow, I actually got a lot of reaction (all positive, thank you) to the last post! So let me clarify something, to the best of my knowledge and experience.
Milk (cow, pasturized) is not the same as yogurt or kefir. Dairy sensitivity is a common issue for many, many people (usually people of color, Semitic, Asian and anyone not of Northern European descent). It is the lactose and the milk sugar (it's what makes babies lap up milk- it's naturally sweet). So you can take out lactose (that weird, expensive Lactose Free milk) or you can add cultures to it (Acidophilus/ bifidus milk, as I mentioned yesterday). My family does not have an allergy. Pookie is simply sensitive to it and we are adults, so not made to digest milk sugars. So we use the acidophilus type. It makes it more yogurt-like.
Yogurt and kefir is usually made from cow milk.  [I can recommend and love Goat and Sheep kefir and yogurt from now until eternity. It is so digestible and wonderful. But mommy needs a new pair of shoes, occasionally, and has to grocery shop at ONE store, not three. It's really expensive and is only available at the Merc- much love! It is also really strong tasting- and that means that for most people it won't fly.] It is fermented and has almost NO milk sugar. If you are avoiding dairy, please do not avoid fermented dairy. All of the bad stuff is gone from this kind of dairy. Even people with yeast-overgrowth in their systems benefit from a strong, daily dose of unsweetened yogurt/ kefir. If you have taken antibiotics, take kefir or yogurt as part of your daily routine.
---Also, in babies, you can add L. Reuteri (as I mentioned yesterday) to aid in their dairy digestion. If a new baby is having gassy, colicky fits, keep breastfeeding but add probiotics (especially Reuteri) to mommy and baby diet. Add a lot of it (teaspoons a day for both) and do not stop for months. Really, studies show that it's the continued addition of the bacteria that helps. I bet there will be a normal flora population by 6 months old.
Ultra Pasteurized
Another issue in the milk department, that can be avoided, simply by knowledge: Ultra-pasteurized. When you buy Horizon Organic milk or half n half or cream, most times it is Ultra-P. This is done to prolong the shelf life of unstable dairy. (All dairy is time sensitive, right?) The issue is for shipping mostly- you are not buying local milk from local cows. This is a national brand people. Now, my biggest issue with this, taste notwithstanding (a bit different), is that it isn't good for any of us to drink cow milk form 2,000 miles away. Our cows here eat good stuff that helps our immunity to seasonal allergies and also the amount of fossil fuels it takes to ship milk cross country is outrageous. Iwig dairy is a family-owned local Wamego dairy which is available at Dillons and Checkers in Lawrence, maybe at the Merc too. One of my most favorite food books is Barbara Kinsolver's Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life. She illustrates why ultra-pasteurized dairy is weird. It cannot be made into cheese. The most basic cheese is mozzarella. Simply heat it, add a few things and it will eventually become a basic cheese. But not if you use ultra-pasteurized milk. It will never come together. Uh, the molecular structure has been changed? That cannot be really good for us. Too much science. I just wanted cream.
Another commenter, rubigimlet, mentioned she uses colloidial silver to kick her recurrent sinus infection. My dad believed in colloidial silver for just that reason- the nasal spray. It is for a sharp, yearly kick in the sinus pants. But I want to add a word of caution here: it is highly anti-micorbial. It will naturally kill everything in its path. Our consumerist society now puts it in everything from socks to cutting boards. With every wash, colloidial silver goes down the drain into our watershed and pollutes and kills everything. No joke. Do not buy things with CS in it, if you can avoid it!! As with most things, moderation is not the problem, overuse is the problem.
Cheers xoxo

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

So I gave up, and gave in....

I gave in to being busy and working outside. And being a mom and moving and redoing my childhood home. It's now New Year-ish and this sh*t is REAL. I mean, it's still going on heavy duty. The construction of my mom's side was so slow and is still just dragging through the mud. Those guys....
But Andiy, owner at floraandfauna salon, suggested I invest as much energy writing on my own blog to writing on the professional, not-my-company blog. Sooooo. Yep, I want to do it. 
In keeping with the original intention of the blog, much of what I'm thinking of and processing is herbal/ health related. I DO have two small ones that are constantly falling prey to something. Here is a rundown of the fall and winter herbal remedies I've been utilizing.

  Comfrey Oil: I use this on any owie. Diaper rash (Pookie), knuckles raw from washing in anti-bac soap at school (Myrna), sores, skin abrasions, even the old C-section scar that gets yucky feeling. I also found a gal making a traditional Boo Boo salve at Lola Giant this year. This salve will always have St. John's Wort oil (nerve healer, natural sunblock, magic), comfrey oil, plantain oil (not always but often), maybe some scented essential oil like lavender, etc. This is a life saver for knuckles and booties. To make, use good quality olive oil. Harvest comfrey at height of bloom time (Father's Day and a re-bloom in fall often) and soak, infuse in oil for many weeks (6) in a dark cabinet. Do not allow space at the top- it will mold. Do not be put off by the smell- it is a healer. Use a solid jar and canning lid.
Hal had a real affinity for Comfrey. It grows everywhere in our yard. If you're interested and in the 'hood, come let me give you a start. It is a bit invasive! It's in the Borage family (boraginaciae). Please only take Comfrey externally. If you must take it internally, know that it has been shown in (questionable) lab tests to be harmful to liver/ kidneys. Here is what I told both Duckie and another herbalist I follow on Facebook: Comfrey heals what ails, and, also, put comfrey on anything that needs comforting. Anytime you have a freaky large wound and are worried about shock, fear (yourself or the person with the wound) and bleeding, stuff it with crushed comfrey. It will staunch wounds until you can gather yourself to take the next step. I was hit by a car as an 8 year-old, got a huge wound on my thigh, refused to go to the hospital and was treated with comfrey. It worked in my case. 

Rosemary Oil: another infused oil. This one is dicey but I have a fantasy it works. I made a great one, many Christmases ago for my dad. He said it relieved arthritis and stiffness from his joints. It's a heater. And it is pro-circulation. (Side note: I'm kinda vain. And I have spider veins. It runs in the family- both parts) So I mix this oil with lotion as my daily leg moisturizer. I like it. I have no other proof that it does anything beyond help move blood around.

Vitamin D in capsule form. Take this, all of you who take vitamins. The RDA, again kind of a crock from a regulatory agency that does not really recognize supplements as helpful, recommends that people get 400 mg. However, most everyone says at least 2,000 mg a day is more like it. I give my kids a small capsule, infrequently. It is a remarkable help in fighting infections and ailments.

Probiotics. CHOIRS OF ANGELS! I do not mean just acidophilus/ bifidus. Those are fine but are often turned to sugar in our intestines. I do feed the girls acidophilus milk because they both seem healthier with it. The reaction to dairy can be messy if it is just normal dairy. Get my drift?
               Firstly, consider taking probiotics to aid in the health of your guts. Mending broken gut flora aids in allergic reactions, sensitivities to food (wheat, milk, diary, etc), fights cancerous cells, aids stomach acid production and thus digestion, fights influenza and other nasty viruses, fights stomach bugs and diarrhea. 
               Secondly, eat fermented food. Sauerkraut, soy sauce, natural unsweetened yogurt (Unprocessed! No powdered milk. No sugar.), Kefir. OMG< we drink a lot of berry flavored Kefir. I really do add sweetening to my yogurt- honey or jam. But I don't buy yogurt with it mixed in.
               What kind to get? My sis says to get Walgreens mixture which is L. Reuterti and another very useful, hard to get type (Rephresh). But I, having small ones, got the powdered Reuteri. I put spoonfuls into milk, yogurt, applesauce, mac and cheese.... It is for kids because of the nature of the L. Reuteri strain. However, it's transmitted through breastmilk and it is necessary for adults. So, I'm still taking it. Thanks Dad- he got this for me when Myrna was first born. I didn't realize how necessary and useful it was at the time. When you undergo any sort of hard work and/ or trauma, your gut flora is weakened. When a baby is born C-section, s/he is provided with only a fraction of the amount of helpful gut flora that a baby that goes down the birth canal gets. Really. And this might be the CAUSE OF COLIC??? I'm serious. It's being tested. It's enough to hand it out at all births, if that is the case.
This is a brief herbal rundown of what I've used this Fall for treating crappy stuff that goes around. I also used a whole bottle of kid's glycerine Echinacea tincture. Because, land sakes, the kids were sick for like 6 weeks alternating. It helped though. We also had a bout of hand, foot and mouth virus move through the 'hood (one of the kids at babysitter care, then to us with a mild version and then to Mandy with a HUGE version). Very strange one. So when I say that probiotics help fight viruses, I mean it. Take it all the time!

Topics to come: Anti-inflammatory supplementss, herbs, etc. I really eat this diet (as much as possible) and take supplements to assist.