Wednesday, February 24, 2010

A Rose is a Rose is a Rose and an Herb~

When we think of roses we often think of the delicious smell, romance, beautiful bouquets, everything except "herb" and the many ways it can and is used to benefit our better health.

If you have a rose garden, by all means utilize the /culinary and medicinal options that are there for the taking.

If you don't have a rose garden/bed...then make it a project, whether large or just one or two bushes will bring beauty, joy, and a plethora of new and exciting projects into your life.

Remember, when planning to use your roses as culinary ingredient's, never put pesticides or any chemical product on or in the soil around them.

Some ways to use roses in the kitchen:

Rose Petal Cooler~

Petals from 3 or 4 roses
5 cups water
1/2 tsp. lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon of Stevia or 3 tbsp. sugar
Boil water. Add rose petals and lemon juice to the boiling water, turn off heat and let stand for 6-10 hours.( I do this at night ad let sit until the following morning )Drain into a pitcher. Discard petals. Add stevia/sugar to the rose water and stir. Let cool in the refrigerator or freezer. Serve.

A pretty touch for a special treat is:
Place rose petals in the bottom of ice-cube trays and fill with water that has been filtered. Freeze and use cubes in the Rose Cooler above.
Rose Petal Salad~

Romaine lettuce, rose petals, Goat cheese and walnuts make a lovely and tasty salad.
Rose Water for your face and bath~

1 cup rose petals
2 cups boiling water

Pour water over rose petals and allow to sit until the water is cool.
Pour water off of petals and into a clean jar.

Use the water in your bath, a splash for you face, or in a spray bottle for your bed and linens.

Keep water in the frig for longer life and better sensation.
And...nothing compares to a cup of hot Rose-Hip tea.

If growing roses for tea the Rosa rugosa is the best choice.
As soon as the bloom falls from the bush, simply cut the little pod (hip)that produced the bloom, it can be used fresh or dried....the hips must be cut open and the seeds removed whether using fresh or dried. ( if using dried, cut and remove seed before the pod is completely dry, otherwise the seed is hard to remove.

Make tea as you would any other herb tea by steeping the hips in boiled water.
Add your favorite -lemon, sugar, honey or Stevia to taste.

Happy Gardening...with roses.

Bea Kunz

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Growing and Using Wheat Grass

Wheat Grass or Wheatgrass is known and revered in natural health circles.

If you opt to grow your own, be certain to get organic wheat seed.

Sage Hill Farms grew it for the first time last year and we had a beautiful crop.
It is one of the herbs on a wholesale account for a pet treat company.

There are two methods of growing wheatgrass; one, sow it in a open field plot and start harvesting when it is about 5" high. Two, it can be grow easily in small table top containers on your kitchen counter or table...even though it is a winter crop it still needs sun and light.

This years crop is a wee bit late because of all the rain and snow...but, it is up and beautiful.

Wheatgrass benefits are usually found in the main component of the plant, which is chlorophyll. The chlorophyll has a very high level of magnesium, which if incorporated in the diet retinue, helps amplify the efficient function of the heart and the entire cardiac system. Women especially benefit from increased levels of magnesium in the body as their uterus is revitalized and purified. According to health experts, magnesium does wonders for the lungs and the entire respiratory system.

Besides magnesium, wheatgrass contains high levels of iron, sulphur, calcium, phosphorus, zinc, potassium and cobalt. Wheatgrass also has concentrated levels of Vitamins A, B and C.

There are also some indirect wheatgrass benefits that are important in keeping you healthy. The juice derived from wheatgrass is used in therapeutic treatment of skin and teeth disorders. Not only is the juice good if taken by mouth, but it is also very effective if applied and rubbed gently on the skin. When applied, skin diseases like ulcerative colitis, circulatory diseases, especially in the lymphatic system, and skin anomalies like tone, moisture and flexibility all improve.

It's a good thing~

Bea Kunz

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Herbs To Be Cautious With~

Not all herbs are edible or safe if used in the wrong way.

Some are considered "Poisonous" and should be regarded as so.

ACONITE....all parts are poisonous, the roots are especially potent. they have been used as a deadly dip for arrows, spears, and animal traps.

It is used in minute quanities in homeopathic preparations as a sedative and pain killer.

ARNICA....It is used also in homeopathic medicine for epilepsy ad as a healing ingredient for wounds.

DEADLY NIGHTSHADE...Never grow this plant in a gardne where children have access to...the berries are sweet and tempting, but deadly.

MEADOW SAFFRON...( naked ladies)

HEMLOCK....All parts are poisonous but the seed(fruit) and leaves are most potent.
THORN APPLE the plant that Digitalis is take from

All of these are used in medicial treatments in very controlled amounts and under supervision of a doctor.

Never, under any circumstance use any of these in culinary ways.

EatWell and BeSafe~

Bea Kunz

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Size Matters~In The Herb Beds

Sage Hill Farms grows for market so we have many beds and many different size plants growing at once.

The Kitchen garden or Cottage garden is a totally different plan.

These are designed both for visual beauty and for easy access.

When planning either, keep in mind the size of your chosen plants when they are fully developed. Make sure you place them where the smaller plants will not be over grow by the larger ones.

Ground hugging creeping thyme will not do well right next to a rosemary shrub.
The rosemary will grow large and spread and eventually overtake the thyme.

You can however control a lot of the growth by trimming and shaping the rosemary.

A good plan on paper before you begin to plant will save you much backtracking and redoing.

I have a small Kitchen garden by my back door.
Measures about 5x7 space. Inside this space I have one rosemary shrub, located to the back and up against a brick wall and the steps to the back door.

I placed garlic chives next to the rosemary, oregano on the outer side and Lemon thyme along the edge and down the side of the walkway.

This gives me easy access to my most used herbs for most cooking times.

Happy Gardening~

Bea Kunz

Monday, February 15, 2010

Herb Gardening Shares~

When planning your garden, remember to place your tallest growing plats to the north. This will allow the smaller plants to get the benefit of the sun during all available times.

Mound your rows a bit, affords better drainage and avoids soggy soil. ( soggy roots)

Many think that seedlings must be started in trays and then transplanted to the garden at the proper time. This is perfectly fine if you wish to do it...but, not a must....most anything that can be grown can be sown right into the garden soil.

Then-thin the seedlings according to the individual instructions for each plant.

Don't be shy when it is time to thin the seedlings...otherwise you crop will not grow and produce as it should. Thinning also aerates the soil for the remaining plants.

Happy Gardening~

Bea Kunz

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Gardening Shares to Live By~

People garden for many reasons, personal satisfaction, exercise, visual beauty, and to put food on the table.

I garden for all of the above reasons.

I get plenty of exercise, much joy and satisfaction from my work, the beauty of my gardens are open for all the community who happens by, and...the results from the edible garden is good health that can't be had any other way.

All of this is something that can be shared and enjoyed by many, what more could I need.

February is a perfect time to get your ducks in a row for your gardening plan.

Be it small or large it takes planning to be successful and end up with a project that brings the results above.
But, even your plans can be simple and uncomplicated.

Healthy soil, healthy plants/seeds, a bit of understanding about chemical negatives in the garden, and a few good books if you are a new gardener...or just visit this blog and my website a lot.

I do the no tilling gardening, raised beds with organic products , heirloom seeds, and transplants that have been started by organic methods.

These four things will give your garden the best chance of survival regardless the challenges it is faced with.

Less insects, little to no weeding, strong sturdy plants, no washing away of the soil, even stray animals tend to avoid raised beds, what's not to love.

The beds here show the winter view when they are covered and dormant, then the late spring/summer look after they have filled in and flourishing.

So...first step is to decide where you will put the garden, what you plan to grow and how much. Most things will do just fine in less space than what is suggested on a seed box. Some things like runners ( cucumbers, melons, etc.) need a bit more space if you let them use ground space...these can be trained to climb...with the exception of the melons, they are a bit too heavy for any stake I've found. Plus, they need the coolness that the ground provides at a certain stage.

Herbs can be grown right along with the vegetables ( companion planting ) see last blog entry. Remember, if you are growing herbs just for your personal use one or two plants of most things is more than enough. Herbs are prolific and the more you cut the more they grow.

Looking forward to hearing about your plans for the spring garden~

Bea Kunz

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Companion Planting~with Herbs

Companion planting is an age old and tested tradition for better insect control in the garden, both herbal and vegetable.

The many beneficial results range from more vigorous growth, a higher yield, repelling pest, to attracting predators to common pest.

Herbs work especially well as companion plants.

Following is a list of plants and the benefits they offer to the garden as an inset patroler.

GARLIC-deters Japanese beetles--but don't plant it near the pea and bean family, it will inhibit their growth.

GARLIC-planted near roses will give you more depth in color to the rose.

TANSY-controls ants

POT MARIGOLD-asparagus beetles.

ROSEMARY-bean beetles and carrot fly.

CATNIP-flea beetles.
( contains Nepetalactore-an insect repellent. Steep in water and use as a spray for plants.)


HORSERADISH-potato bugs


NASTURTIUM-squash beetles.




It's always a good idea and can be a space saver to scatter herb plants throughout the vegetable garden, just be sure to get the right plant for the right companion job...kinda like picking a husband.*smile*

A suggested book for good information on this topic.

Great Garden Companions

( A Companion Planting System for a Beautiful, Chemical Free Vegetable Garden.)
by Sally Jean Cunningham-Rodale Organic Living Books.)

One of the best I have read in awhile.

Hope you are having thoughts of spring and another year in the gardens.

Bea Kunz

Saturday, February 06, 2010

Sunday Special~

Depending on one's personal belief system, Sunday will have different meanings for each of us.

For me and my family it is a day to slow down, reflect, focus on home and family a bit more closely perhaps than the rest of the week.

My favorite part of Sunday is knowing that we all have the same agenda for that one day...a meeting of the minds and heart.

No rushing, no appointments, no stress. you ever think that maybe, if we applied the same mentality to Monday-Friday, we just might have a kinder week. I can see the reasons why not, but , we are in charge of our thinking and most actions start with a thought.

I always carry this thought with me from Sunday going into Monday and a new week.

" Please God, help me to remember Sunday and the benefit that slowing down will bring to this day."

Another special part of our day is "food"...where we have family we have good food.

Our food should be as nourishing as our love for each other.

We choose organic and chemical free as much as possible....we pray that you do also.

Blessings for your special day~

Bea Kunz

Take Action

We all have a stake in clean air, please sign this petition and make your voice a matter of record. Our good health and that of the generations to follow depend on it.

Thank you,

Take Action

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Beyond Herbal~

Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) has introduced The Household Product Labeling Act (S. 1697), which would require household cleaning products to carry labels that list all of their ingredients.

“Moms and dads have a right to know whether harmful chemicals are present in their kitchen cupboards,” Franken says. “When my wife, Franni, and I were raising our own kids, we were constantly concerned with what we used to wash their cribs, their pacifiers, the floors and surfaces they played on. This is just a commonsense measure to help parents keep their kids safe and healthy.”

Current law requires product labels to list immediately hazardous ingredients, but there is no labeling requirement for ingredients that may cause harm over time.

Toxic chemicals in household products produce harmful health effects—the main reason we recommend natural and organic options.

The bill would make information readily available to consumers. HR 3057, the House companion bill, was introduced by Rep. Steve Israel (D-NY).

In a 2007 report, Women's Voices for the Earth, an environmental advocacy organization, compiled information about the health risks of common household cleaners.

According to the "Household Hazards: Potential Hazard of Home Cleaning Products" report, certain chemicals found in cleaning products have been linked to increased rates of asthma, reproductive problems, and developmental delays.

The report said that some of the potentially harmful ingredients include: glycol ethers (found in several types of Pine Sol and Formula 409 cleaners), phthalates (found in many laundry detergents and fabric softeners), and monoethanolamine (found in many types of Tide, Dreft, Ivory, Gain, and Cheer detergents).

Earl said that fragrances added to cleaning products also pose health risks.

"A lot of us associate a clean home with a certain smell, like a lemony smell or a pine smell," she said. "And unfortunately, depending on how they've been manufactured, phthalates may have been used in creating that fragrancy scent, which can in turn cause health problems."

A note from Bea at Sage Hill Farms~

All we need under our sink or in our cleaning closet is a few simple and safe products to make our home sparkling clean, disinfected and filled with a healthy and aromatic scent.

1) Plain old White Vinegar
2) Baking Soda
3) A or as many as you like...Essential Oils...(always use a therapeutic grade)

Deodorizing: Kitchens and Bathrooms, etc.

The kitchen and bathroom are often a source of odors and bacteria. use the following mixtures to freshen, deodorize, and disinfect the air, work areas, cupboards, bathroom fixtures, sinks, tiles, woodwork, carpets, etc. These blends are safe for the family and for the environment.

Since the oils separate easily from water, always shake well and keep on shaking the bottle as you use these mixtures. They will deodorize and clean the air instead of covering the odors.

Single oils: Rosemary, Lemon, Eucalyptus , and Lavender.

Blends: to one quart of water~

2 drops rosemary
4 drops lemon
3 drops Eucalyptus
4 drops lavender
Shake well and put in a spray bottle.

3-4 drops lavender
5-6 drops Purification with 1 quart of water
Shake well and put in a spray bottle.

Pine with chamomile, lemongrass, or clove

You can also just add a few drops of the pure oil to a soft clean cloth and wipe down the entire kitchen and bathroom.

These cleaning methods freshen the air, kills germs and bacteria, mold, dust mites, and any other creepy invader that might be lurking and waiting to attack.

And the biggest plus is the wonderful aroma it imparts...fresh and clean and lovely.

Add a drop of essential oil to your dishwater ( dishwasher if you use one ) not only does it clean and disinfect, it too will fill the kitchen with a wonderful aroma. Lemon oil is perfect for this.

I can't think of a single household task that you can't use essential oil to complete. From cooking to awesome, safe, and affordable.

What's not to love ?

Make it a Fruitful February~

Bea Kunz

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

February in the Herb Garden~and Kitchen~

Yes ! It's February and one month closer to spring planting time, I'm getting excited already !

Not too much happening in the gardens right now except new shoots of all the greens that have been hiding under the snow.

Soooo, I managed to harvest enough to make this delicious skillet cake below.
You really must try it.

Do you find that most of the foods that are proven to be so good for us are sometimes a bit bland on their own....beans, salads, whole grains, pasta, soups and some stews.

By using a blend of herbs in all of the above foods we can transform them into meals with zest and flavor to talk about.

Bay Leaf...adds depth to beans, pork and lamb.
Chives...fresh or dried, wonderful in cream soups, egg and fish recipes.
Cilantro...dry beans, couscous and shrimp.
Dill...adds zing to sour cream, yogurt and creamy chowders.
Rosemary...potatoes, white beans, pinto beans, black beans and mushrooms.

There is no one way to use herbs, just jump in and experiment according to your likes.

Let me know if you try the recipe below.

Skillet Vegetable Cake

1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/2 yellow onion, finely chopped
3 medium russet potatoes, thinly sliced
Salt and pepper to taste
1 bunch size amount of Swiss chard, kale, or spinach , thick stems discarded, leaves coarsely chopped
1 cup grated Gruyere cheese

Preheat oven to 350°F. Heat butter and oil in a (10-inch) seasoned cast iron skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and onions and cook until onions are translucent, about 5 minutes. Spread onions evenly in the bottom of the skillet and remove skillet from heat.

Arrange a third of the potatoes in a single layer on top of the onions in the bottom of the skillet, sprinkle with salt and pepper, top with a third of the greens and scatter a third of the cheese over the top. Repeat the process to layer the ingredients two more times, ending with the cheese.

Cover skillet tightly with a lightly oiled piece of aluminum foil and bake until potatoes are easily pierced with the tip of a knife, about 1 1/4 hours. Gently remove foil then return skillet to the oven and bake until cheese is bubbling and browned on top, about 15 minutes more. Set aside to let rest briefly, then slice into wedges and serve.

Serves 8

Layered potatoes, cheese and tender greens make a lovely skillet cake. This can be the perfect side to accompany a roast chicken or to serve with a cup of soup for a warming lunch.

Have you ordered your spring seeds for the garden ? Please make them organic and Heirloom.

For your dried herb, blended seasonings and teas, please visit Sage Hill Farms on the Internet.
( great special during the month of February )

Happy Cooking~

Bea Kunz