All I Need To Know About Life…

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All I Ever Needed to Know...

Herb Gardening Class
Northeast Community College in Norfolk
April 25th – 6:00 pm – 9:00 pm
Call (402) 844-7000 to register

This class will focus on basic gardening skills along with learning about herbs that grow in our area and their uses. We’ll have hands-on demonstrations and lots of information on getting your herb garden started this spring!

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Black Gold

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All last summer and winter these beds were covered with black plastic in preparation for spring.  Raspberries had been there for eight years and several types of grasses were starting to choke out the plants.    We selected young, healthy plants and moved them to their new home, then took out the old ones with as much debris as possible.  We had to do some adjustments to the row size and path size before they were covered and the plastic anchored down with bricks.  The summer heat burned the grasses and seeds.  The dirt under the plastic this spring is like compost, so rich and beautiful.  These beds are the new, roomier home of this year’s Calendula crop.

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Freshly uncovered row and one in the background still covered.

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All three rows uncovered and tilled – still work to do on the paths.

PS – Last year was not a good year to transplant anything due to the drought.  We’re hope the raspberries will do well this year – so far, so good!

The first warm day in northeast Nebraska

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Today was marvelous, glorious, wonderful, delightful – there was a smell of green in the air on this first warm day in northeast Nebraska.  It was warm enough for my granddaughter, who was born in January, to experience sunshine and a gentle breeze on her face for the first time.  Seeing her joy and amazement made the day all that much better.  Her older sister and brother played in the dirt, making “worm castles” while we worked in the gardens getting them ready for spring planting.  We all got a taste of spring today and we’re hungry for more, please.

Happy Weed Appreciation Day!

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Weed Appreciation Day

Every day is weed appreciation day at Red Road Herbs! What most people consider a weed, we think of as a food and medicine. To us, the definition of a weed is only a matter of location.

Decanting Tinctures

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Getting Ready to Decant Tinctures

These tinctures have been “brewing” since last fall’s harvest of roots – Echinacea, Dandelion, Mullein, Burdock and Elecampane.  There’s also some Nettle seed, Mugwort leaves and a few last-of-summer Honeysuckle blossoms.   Herbs are tinctured for at least one month, but can be left for several months.

The best time to decant (strain the herbs from the liquid) is during the full moon.   The moon’s gravitational pull works to extract the constituents of an herb into the liquid.  Alcohol tinctures also serve to preserve the constituents for years, even decades!

The best way to store your tinctures is in dark bottles.  Recycled Grolsch beer bottles with ceramic tops are great, but any jar or bottle with a lid will work.  Dropper bottles will make dosage easier and can be purchased at most health food stores.  Clear bottles can also be used if your tinctures are stored in a dark place.

We don’t use a mechanical press, just a firm squeeze in some cheesecloth.  The plant material is composted.  Be sure to LABEL tinctures with name and date.

Tinctures are an easy way to make and take herbal medicine.  They take up less room to store than dried herbs and the dose is by the dropper instead of by the cup.  If you’re using an alcohol tincture and don’t want the alcohol, it will evaporate when added to boiling water.

Want to learn more about how to make tinctures and other herbal medicine?  Contact us to schedule a class.  We’d love to have you visit our gardens!

Phone – (402) 640-0744 – or http://redroadherbs.webs.com/classes.htm

March Full Moon – Worm Moon

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• Full Worm Moon – March – As the temperature begins to warm and the ground begins to thaw, earthworm casts appear, heralding the return of the robins. The more northern tribes knew this Moon as the Full Crow Moon, when the cawing of crows signaled the end of winter; or the Full Crust Moon, because the snow cover becomes crusted from thawing by day and freezing at night. The Full Sap Moon, marking the time of tapping maple trees, is another variation. To the settlers, it was also known as the Lenten Moon, and was considered to be the last full Moon of winter.  ~ Farmer’s Almanac

March Herb of the Month – Nettle

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Nettle is our official pick for March Herb of the Month – also our Weed of the Week for the last week of March.  Nettle is one of the first plants to come up in spring and for good reason…Nettle is a blood purifier, also called a spring tonic or liver cleanser.579236_544923902218582_914371737_n

Nettle is often a hated plant because of it’s well-known ability to sting the bare legs of any passerby.  There’s an old saying “Nettle in – Dock out” which is a reference to the common “cure” for Nettle sting – rub the juice of Burdock leaves on it.  I sure wish I would have known that as a child!

That sting is actually one of the medicinal qualities of Nettle.  The leaves are purposefully applied to the skin to decrease the pain of arthritis.

Nettle is chocked full of nutrition due to it’s high mineral content and Vitamin C, which helps absorb the minerals.  They can be cooked  fresh like spinach or made into a delicious soup (recipe below.)  Once cooked, juiced or dried they lose their sting.

Nettle can also help allergy sufferers when started early in the spring as a preventative to the symptoms.  It is noted that drinking Nettle tea daily at the first of spring reduces or alleviates the symptoms of seasonal allergies.  Adding honey boosts the effects!

To add a boost of vitamins and minerals, Nettles are the go-to herb, for people and for plants.  Soak Nettle in rainwater for about 4 weeks then dilute it –  1 part “tea” to 10 parts water – use as a liquid fertilizer for the roots of your plants.

As if all those uses weren’t enough, Nettle is also used as a beauty treatment to strengthen hair.  A rinse made from the tops of Nettle plants going to seed is applied to hair to darken it, condition it and treat dandruff.

If you have a chance to get some fresh Nettle this spring try this recipe for Nettle Soup we found in The Curious Gardener’s Almanac by Niall Edworthy:

Melt a pat of butter then add a large chopped onion and 8 handfuls of freshly washed Nettle.  Cook until tender and add 2 tablespoons of flour.  Cook a few more minutes, stirring constantly.  Add a quart of vegetable or chicken stock and bring to a boil.  Simmer 5 minutes.  Either pour into a processor or use hand processor in the pot for a few seconds to blend very well.   Reheat, season well and serve.   Alternately, cream can be added before reheating.

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