Kia ora folks, just a heads up that this is your last week to order plants until the new year. It’s too risky sending plants during the xmas rush, couriers are way too busy to take the care with plants that I prefer. So hustle hustle!
If you grow white sage you may find at this time of year your plant is getting a bit “leggy”.
The very tall wands that are coming out – if the leaves are tiny at the tip – will flower. Unless you want to save seed, it’s best to cut this out.
This is what the flowers look like if you’re curious.
You can dry the stem you’ve just cut because the base of it should be fairly bushy. Dry it whole with the leaves hanging upside down. If you are drying for the purposes of making a smudge stick, don’t let it dry completely before tying up, wilted really is what you’re after.
On other stems you can tip prune which will encourage more leaves out of the laterals (the bit between the stem and a main leaf) giving you a thicker smudge stick come harvest time.
This is what will happen after some time.
The coast of California is where Salvia apiana comes from. I’ve got a theory that in it’s natural habitat it probably gets blasted by wind and stems breaking is a common occurrence (good news for those that live by the coast). Because if you have it in a sheltered position and don’t tip prune it at all, particularly in the early days~ this is what happens. One long plant.
There’s hope yet for these guys though, find the lowest active lateral and trim from there.
So don’t be afraid to give your plant a wee trim here and there, now is a good time, whilst there’s plenty of growth action happening you’ll get a stronger plant for it. Make sure that any pruning you do is on a fine day with another one forecast for the next day.
Dry upside down, out of sunlight. This picture is blurry (sorry!) but you don’t want them any drier than what it looks here to make your smudge sticks.
Here’s a link to making your own smudge sticks using ingredients other than/as well as, White sage. Please note on what is said about common sage (Salvia officinalis), not to be burnt!
I’ve just come back from a wananga with Robert Guyton at the Oxford Street Community Gardens in Masterton~ and I’m feeling all very inspired as well as comforted by the fact that good things do take time – more so with gardens and forest gardens than even cheese!
Of course I knew this, we all know this, but it’s good to get reminded now and then…
One thing Robert talked about that I was going to bring up on here (I have several drafts) and that is of aphids.
They’re having a bit of a field day here at the moment. I think because we had a relatively mild winter here (so we’re told, I though it was cold enough!) so their cycle didn’t really get broken.
I’m all for squashing them. They love white sage and calendula, actually I’m not sure what they don’t like! But at least squashing them on the aromatics you have nice smells whilst you’re at it.
When squashing you’ve got to do it every three days for at least a couple of weeks if you want be effective. You’ll always miss some and the poor blighters are born pregnant. If you have plants in pots you can dunk them in water and rub the aphids off. If you have well sturdy plants you can try blasting them off with the hose. And repeat. Check for ants as well; they are industrious farmers that literally farm/manage aphids for the sweet substance they excrete after sucking your plants.
Robert Guyton talked about some plants he has in profusion on his land, for example Alexanders (Smyrnium olusatrum), Cow Parsley (Anthriscus sylvestris) and (gasp!) Hemlock (Conium maculatum). All Umbellifers/Apiaceae and all attractive to hoverflies, and hoverflies loove aphids. Dill, you may flower!
Now that is a long term solution that I am into. Ladybird larvae also eat aphids. You are not going to get these predatory/beneficial insects if you spray with chemicals though so put them away. Please!
It will take some time but Nature will find its balance, that’s what it does… you could almost say it’s an expert~
Another grey day required me to go out and find the pretty things in the garden…. enjoy~
Hey, how’s it going?
I’ve been celebrating sunshine by sowing seeds (albeit still with heatpads and glasshouses!). How are your garden plans coming along?
Are you building a new herb garden or wanting to fill in some gaps? Looking for plants for your food forest or some companion plants for the vege patch? I very well will have the herb for you. Always pays to ask even if you can’t see it here on my website.
Now. There’s one herb that I’m not advertising on my website because I’m not actually sure if I’m allowed to sell it… So if you’re reading this and know the plant I’m going to be talking about, you’ll be as excited as I was when I clapped eyes on this plant in a friends garden…
It’s Aconitum napellus, AKA Monkshood, Helmet Flower, Turks-Cap, the Aconite in your homeopath kit..
This is the quintessential plant of the occult. An infamous herb that the Christians of the 15th century loved to peg onto witches. “How is the ointment with which you you rub your broomstick made?” Seriously, this is one of the questions asked in a witches trial, the answer they’re looking for is “Yes sir, I made my flying ointment out of Aconite and Belladonna”. They (they being the witches of course) also made an ointment out of Aconite and other beastlies that would put witches in a “sabbatical” state in which they could leave their physical body to communicate with the spiritual world. DO NOT TRY THIS AT HOME KIDS!!
From the roots to the seeds this plant is poisonous. It is also quite gorgeous with tall spikes of purple flowers quite similar to delphiniums. If you’re at all interested (and I suggest you should be) here is a list of other gorgeous poisonous plants.
Unlike a lot of other herbs, Monkshood does best in rich soil and some shade. It’s dormant during the winter so make sure you remember where you’ve planted it. If you do have young children make sure they are well educated of its dangers or err on the side of caution and wait til they’re older and wiser before introducing this plant to your garden.
If you’re interested in this fascinating plant use the contact from on the right near the top to get in touch with me.
Right, I’m getting back out there whilst it’s still sunny; can you believe day light savings is next week already??!!
Things have been going a bit tits up here at Stoney Ground Herbs. I’ve been throwing blame about but have now cottoned on to what actually is the issue.
We are now living in a completely different climate that we have ever lived in. My gardening and Stoney Ground Herbs has always been in temperate New Zealand, coastal and warmer. Eketahuna is in the bronx of the cool/mountain climate. I somewhat foolishly haven’t adjusted my growing practices to reflect the differences between coastal and mountainous. And in actual fact, without some massive tunnel houses a lot of my plants aren’t going to be ready until November. My mother plants are still adjusting to the change so I have limited stock for some plants and none at all for some of my stock standards…
Very limited stock;
- Oregano vulgare
- Purple sage
- Lemon thyme
- Vietnamese mint
- Bergamot, wild
- French Tarragon
- Pineapple sage
Plants that won’t be available this year;
- Rose geranium
- Common sage
- Nutmeg geranium
- Creeping thyme
- Thyme, English winter
- Summer savory
- And I’m thinking I’m going to flag the tomatoes this year as well as the zucchini.
In so saying though I do have new plants available!!
- Basil mint (I love this herb, the taste is great but mainly because it sounds slightly bedazzling!)
- St Johns Wort
- Greek oregano
- Silver Posy thyme
Give me a bit and I’ll start updating my website accordingly.
Other changes are that courier prices have gone up so I’m having to change my costs accordingly. Whilst we’re on the subject of couriers they just get too crazy busy during the Xmas period so I will not be sending any plants after the 10th December until the new year.
Here’s to learning curves!
This year I’m planting according to the moon, not just any moon, but our moon, marama.
Haha! Don’t worry, I’m still on the same planet as you – (most of the time) and I’m well aware there is only one moon for us earthlings.
I’m following Maramataka Māori, the Maori lunar calendar for fishing and horticulture. Maramataka means literally, turning of the moon.
(Artwork by Wiremu Barriball of Revolution Aotearoa)
When Europeans arrived in Aotearoa (the ones that knew these sort of things) they were well impressed with Māori horticultural practices; neat, weed-free and obviously productive. Of course Māori weren’t vegetarian and they lived in a mixed economy of gardening, gathering and fishing.
Long long before “gardening by the moon” became hip and before even your grandparents or great-grandparents talked about planting with the moon (lucky you). Māori were walking the talk with Maramataka. In fact the moon and the cosmos were reference point and guide in all aspects of pre-european Māori life. Matariki didn’t start happening in the 1990’s.
So. In my admittedly complete amateur understanding of Maramataka – like most cultures, time was cut up by the cycles of the sun and the moon. (Month = moon. My bet is women cottoned onto the rhythm of the moon before men!). But instead of breaking the month up into weeks then days, Māori had a different name for every single night (which also typically marks a day) in a lunar month.
The lunar month starts with Whiro. Ko te rā i muri iho ō tā tō Pākehā new moon (the day after the new moon on the calendar) and ends with Mutuwhenua… E hara i te rā pō pai tēnei kua hinapouri te ao e ai ki ngā kōrero ō neke rā. It is not a good day at all: The world is in darkness!
It takes a bit of working out if you haven’t been brought up knowing Maramataka and I’m going with the very basics. I imagine that, especially back in the day, it would have slight variances between iwi’s depending on the Tohunga’s readings of the Matariki stars at the start of the year and a lot of other nuances non-related to fishing and horticulture. (Please, if you know more, enlighten me and others in the comments section below!)
My journey has just begun, literally, two days ago. when I bought my seed potato and thought I better start planning when I’m going to start everything.
Last year I noticed I had pretty rubbish outcomes with seed I sowed during the new moon but had much better luck during the last quarter. I’ve acknowledged moon calenders and they’ve been pretty useful for reminding and planning of things to do in the garden. Koangas Garden Guide (by Kay Baxter) has been my guide, but not my ruler!
Then I read a book earlier this year called Moon Gardening by John Harris, head gardener of Tresillian Estate in the UK. He explained really simply, the moons effect on the water table. (Rises as the moon is coming up to full – waxing, whilst the water table drops when the moon is waning and at its lowest during new moon).
I recommend this book if you can get your hands on it. In it, the author mentions how a television crew came from New Zealand to interview him about moon gardening and he over-heard a crew member murmuring to a mate “Why’d we have to come 18,000 km’s to hear about something the Māori have been doing for hundreds of years?” Fair bloody call. White validation?
Anyway, the good man devoted a whole chapter to Maramataka Māori.
I also have a booklet called NGĀ PŌREAREA ME NGĀ MATEMATE O NGĀ MĀRA TAEWA, Pests and Diseases of Taewa (Māori potato) Crops. You can get this through Tāhuri Whenua the National Māori Growers Collective. This, amongst other good things to know has the Maramataka Maori (Te Āti Awa version) in it. And it is from here that I’m getting my info from.
I’m not going to go over the whole Maramataka here but you can join me on my journey…
Right now (the 4th August 2018) it is Tangaroa piri a mua – the 23rd day after the new moon. He rā pai tēnei ki te ono kai, ki ngā mahi hī ika koura. A very god day for planting, fishing, crayfish and eels, especially from noon until sunset.
According to Maramataka Māori it’s a pretty good day for planting (and fishing) from midday til sunset three nights before last quarter, called Korekore tūroa (which was the 2nd August). and we’re all good for sowing and planting and fishing until Mauri (a couple of night before new moon), the 9th August, E hara i te rā pai tēnei he oro mauri te kai ka omo. Not a very good day for planting or fishing. fish, eels and crayfish are very elusive.
I have sown white sage, licorice, thyme, motherwort, common sage and spillanthes so far (with use of a heat-pad). With dill, parsley, chervil, shiso, savory, tulsi and catnip to go. It’s a bit early for some but I always like to push the boundaries! (My early potatoes will go in next month).
Another book I highly recommend if you’re into this sort of thing is A Tohunga’s Natural World, plants, gardening and food. by Paul Moon. Gardening from a Tuhoe Tohunga’s perspective.
I’ll be updating on here on how I go and what I’ll be doing next according to the Maramataka. Have you done this/do this? Please comment below on how it works for you~ ngā mihi!
Specialist hand crafted tinctures made from organic herbs.
A super easy way to take your herbs as a health boost or to facilitate your healing.
Are you familiar with tinctures? Have you tried tinctures? Have you been finding what you’re looking for?
For me personally, tinctures are the way forward for taking herbal medicine. Herbal teas are wonderful and are best for chronic conditions. But if you’re offering me a hot drink I’d be hoping some good strong coffee is on the menu! (Black, no sugar if you’re asking..)
Tinctures are highly concentrated liquid herbal extracts which keep for many years. The chosen herb is macerated (soaked) in alcohol, usually vodka, for two to four weeks, shaken twice daily, strained then taken by the drop or dropper-ful. Tinctures are good for acute situations and are taken in a small amount of warm water, tea or juice. It’s a minimal amount of alcohol that you are having, the most would be three teaspoons (for an adult) over the course of a day. Tinctures can be made with an apple cider vinegar base which keep for a year, more if stored in the fridge.
So I’m telling you all this for good reason, because I’ve started making tinctures using my organic herbs here at Stoney Ground Herbs home base. I make small batches to ensure quality and strength. It’s fun and feels like the way forward for SGH. So far I have available…
- Calendula, Calendula officinalis ~ Antiseptic, anti-inflammatory, lymphatic cleanser and nourisher…. $25
- Chaste Berry, Agnus castus ~ Hormonal balancing, particularly for women (not recommended if pregnant or breast-feeding)….. $25 (berries are organic but outside sourced)
- Feverfew, Tanacetum parthenium ~ Migraines and headache relief…. $20
- Nettle, Urtica urens ~ Spring tonic, cleansing, boost and enrich breast milk (definitely recommended if pregnant or breast-feeding)…. $20 (available in non-alcohol form too)
- Peppermint, Mentha x piperita ~ Wonderful carminative, particularly for digestive issues…. $20 (available in non-alcohol form too)
- Rosemary, Rosmarinus officinalis ~ Improve concentration and memory, circulatory stimulant…. $20
- Sage, Salvia officinalis ~ Drying; mothers milk, heavy periods, night sweats, premature ejaculation, excessive saliva…. $20
- Sweet Violet, Viola odorata ~ Dispel anger, affinity with the throat, cancer supporter…. $20
- Yarrow, Achillia millefolium ~ externally for bruises and wounds, internally for indigestion and cramp…. $20
As more plant material becomes available more tinctures will become available. On my website you can find my tinctures under the “Products” drop down menu. Or you can be instantly taken there like magic here.
They are also taken to flavour cocktails, either by the drop or spritz. Take you bartending skills to another level! (I’m thinking lemon verbena, vietnamese mint…)
If I don’t have something you’re after please ask~
Dream away my friends and if those dreams aren’t big enough or bright enough maybe you need some mugwort…
The name mugwort doesn’t seem very dreamy though does it (more beer-y), lets change it to cronewort, a name that some people whom work with the healing properties of plants prefer to call Artemisia vulgaris.
Use it in a dream pillow to encourage clear techni-coloured dreams, possibly prophetic (not recommended for childrens dream pillows!). Cronewort has a long history with magic; on one hand to ward off evil, on the other to divine the future.
“Being such a powerful herb, mugwort has long been thought to predict the future. If you want to determine the course of a relationship and don’t want to pay a psychic or fuss with tarot cards, test this old fashioned technique; Plant two mugworts side by side in well drained soil in full sun. Designate one as you and the other as your intended…If the plants grow toward one another, everything will be wonderful in the relationship. If they bend in opposite directions, problems will inevitably arise (staking is not allowed).
So as not to make self fulfilling prophecies and create a sense of doom in an otherwise happy relationship, it’s best to apply this technique to the lives of your friends and then boldly make predictions about them based on the results. Create a whole row of divining mugworts, and expand your focus to foretell the course of a business deal, predict whether a nephew will stay in medical school, and augur the possibility of a year-end bonus – anything that can be predicted negatively or positively by the plants growing apart or together. the law of averages states that you will be right at least half the time, and in the meantime you will have amazed your friends with your herbal prowess.” Mary Forsell author of Herbs.
Medicinally cronewort has similar actions as the other Artemisias (Southernwood and Wormwood)… bitter tonic, stimulant, anti-bilious and emmenagogue but also has the action of a nervine tonic due to its volatile oil (so don’t boil it!). This makes it a grand remedy to regulate periods, reduce period pain and PMS.
Mugwort has been used alongside acupuncture for over three thousand years in the form of moxa. I don’t know a heck of a lot about acupuncture aside from the basics and that my friend Nicky Walker in Kapiti is an acupuncturist (unabashed plug here http://www.nickywalker.co.nz/). Here is a fascinating article about moxa/mugwort and acupuncture.
I have just started growing mugwort this year so will have plants, dried herb and tinctures available in 2019.
I don’t usually talk about the homeschooling part of our life and here I am mentioning another of our “field trips”. They’re just so interesting lately!
So this time we went to Stonehenge Aotearoa in Carterton for a guided tour with emphasis on Matariki. What a freakin’ cool place! Have you been there?
It’s not trying to be a replica of Stonehenge in Salisbury, England. It is our very own Stonehenge made to the specifications of our southern skies including sunrises and sunsets. Everything has been thought of, Kay Leather and Richard Hall have done a terrific job and have so much knowledge. Totally recommend going there and having a tour so you can get a full grasp of the amazing-ness of it all.
Any-hoo; why I am writing about this trip is because they have a beautiful statue of Artemis, which made me immediately think of Artemisia plants. plants which I’m just a little enamoured with at the moment. You know what’s funny though, is through doing some quick research, the plants associated with the Goddess Artemis are actually (according to Wikipedia) Amaranth and Asphodel, but amaranth comes from South America….hmmm, I dinnae know about that one. AND, that the Artemisia plants are actually named after this quite amazing woman from way ago called Artemisia ll of Caria whom was a botanist as well as an army commander and specialist in grieving for her husband/brother (yep, both one and the same). Here’s another article that is quite interesting about Artemis and Artemisia plants with a feminist bent. I think there’s a pretty valid reason why I love these plants!
What are these plants? There are approx 180 species and I’m not going to name them all even if I could. The most common ones here are Wormwood (A. absinthium), Southernwood (A. abrotanum), Mugwort (A. vulgaris), and French tarragon (A. dracunculus). There is also the annual Sweet Annie (A. annua) and Roman wormwood (A. pontica). All of which have some type of medicinal/household/culinary/spiritual use. There are many others that are just plain gorgeous; Marshwoods in Invercargill sells a few of these (the ornamentals).
I’ve only just acquired Wormwood and Mugwort this year. The more I learn about them the more excited I get about having them available to use and to sell. (Which unfortunately won’t be this season- they aren’t big enough to propagate from yet).
Wormwood is a bit dime o dozen, if you look for it you’ll see it at the front of driveways in its big blazing silver glory. I’ll bet in many gardens (not all!) little is known of its history and uses…
According to ethnobotanist Murdoch Riley (author of Maori Healing and Herbal) Wormwood was brought to Stewart Island (Rakiura, Aotearoa) from Australia in the 1860’s by a Scottish captain William Sherburd. “Captain Wormwood” as he was affectionally referred as, introduced it to The Neck solely for the relief of consumption (TB). All the families were given slips of Wormwood to grow with the recommendation of chewing a bit before every meal or to make the bitter tea (with the exception of Rue Ruta gravelons, wormwood is the bitterest of herbs).,
Wormwood slowly inched its way up New Zealand; a plant was recorded as being found in Canterbury by a botanist in 1871 and in Wellington in 1877.
Of course New Zealand is a young country and Wormwood has been used since way back when. In the 14th century it was recommended to be strewn in the chamber to keep the fleas away (you can still do this but perhaps the dog kennel or chicken coop would be more useful). It was also laid among “stuffs and furs” to keep away moths and insects. Seems most Artemisias can be used to keep moths away from stored linen etc.
Was also the herb to have on hand if biting sea dragons were a problem in your area… I believe they the Ancients are referring to the Weever fish which is still an issue today. Other poisons that Wormwood was reputed to counteract were/are; hemlock and toadstools.
The leaves and flowering tops of Wormwood are used medicinally. It’s primary use these days is that of a bitter, which has the effect of stimulating and invigorating the whole of the digestive process which in turn helps the whole body. Which is particularly relevant for todays diets which are more sweet and salty than bitter. Go here and here for more info as to why we need more bitters in our diet.
So as well as being a bitter tonic, Wormwoods other actions are; carminative, anthelemintic, anti-inflammatory, anti-bilious, anti-microbial, emmenagogue, heptatic, stimulant.
If you hadn’t guessed from Wormwoods botanical name… Artemisia absinthium was used to make absinthe and vermouth.
In the nineteenth century it was banned from alcoholic drinks due to all those crazy artists in Paris – nahh! Not just them, everybody else that drank loads of absinthe too.
The oil of Wormwood is a psychoactive and when mixed with alcohol it stimulates the cerebral cortex, causes havoc on the neural system and if taken in large doses can lead to coma and convulsions. Now that would bring a bummer to the party.
It was also used instead of hops in the making of beer but the Artemisia most well known for that purpose was Mugwort, Artemisia vulgare.
This post for some reason has taken me ages though so we shall continue with Mugwort in the next one…