Lemon Mint

I harvested the lemon mint today! I did not cut it all today. I left a few stalks to go to seed so I can sell it this fall in the seed store.

It makes great tea and spice for cooking! I especially like lemon with chicken.

I rinsed it and laid it out on a screen for drying. I might hang some herbs to dry this year too. I do have the wire strung under the porch roof just for that purpose but this is drying on a screen. I will turn it a few times every day.

I collect large screens whenever I find them at garage sales and so forth. They are a great way to dry herbs, flowers and seeds!


Goldenrod is one of those wild flowers that people take for granted and consider a weed. So did I, until this year. I have begun to do a lot of research into medicinal herbs, focusing on what I have growing here. We have been blessed with so much growing here in the way of medicinal herbs, right at our fingertips! Goldenrod is one of them!

Goldenrod (Solidago) flower tea is used to treat most urinary tract problems, as well as inflammation of the intestines and kidney problems, especially kidney stones.

It is antiseptic, anti-inflammatory and antifungal making it useful for healing all kinds of sores and wounds externally.

The chemicals in goldenrod are specifically effective against infection from the Candida fungus, which causes all kinds of yeast infections and oral thrush in the human body. Goldenrod tea is also effective in the treatment of chronic sore throats, in alleviating chronic congestion in the nasal passages as well as in treating problems such as diarrhea and other digestive disorders.

Goldenrod tea can also be used as a mouthwash or as a douche for the treatment of yeast infections in the vaginal cavity.

Another "weed" that turns out to be a great herb. I have some drying now for tea and plan to cut and dry a lot more before winter comes. I am putting it in my immune boosting winter tea

Drying Herbs

It's the middle of July!! Yikes!! I still have a lot to do! One of the things I have to get moving on is drying the herbs for winter use. I grow a lot of herbs for the ktichen and to use medicinally. That is lemon balm drying on a screen above.

I prefer to dry them naturally, in the outside air, rather then use a dehydrator, oven or microwave. I have read a lot of bad things about drying herbs in the microwave. Many sites say the microwave partially cooks the herbs and doesn't leave a lot of the natural oils intact, so I am staying away from that. This is much easier anyway. Even though it takes longer to achieve the desired result, it's not MY time being used, so I don't mind.

This is yarrow drying on a couple of screens. I have a lot of screens for drying things since I have an online seed store. The screens are a great way to dry seeds and herbs. I am hoping to get all the herbs dried before I need to start drying large amounts of seeds on them. I need more screens!

I can also hang herbs to dry. A few years ago I strung wire under our large porch. This is only half of it. There are three strands that run the entire lengh. They are high underneath the roof so out of the sun, wind and weather. Half of our porch is enclosed with glass above the chair rail and this is where the screens are set up, also out of the wind and weather but they do get the morning sun for a short time. They get air circulation from the open part under the chair rail. It's a good set up for drying things, unless the raccoons pay me a visit. (They come by occasionally just to tear things up a bit and keep me from becoming too complacent.)This is also where we plan to hang the tobacco to dry this year.

I tie the herb stems to coat hangers and hand those up onto the wires with my handy hooked stick. I just screwed a hook onto the end of a broom handle and it works great! We will do this with the tobacco, as well.

This is the set up. I also use open wire basket drawer things for drying smaller amounts of seed on paper towels.

This is parsley, dried and ready for the jar. I plan to keep my dried herbs in sealable glass jars on a shelf in the kitchen. The kitchen is usually the coldest room, in the winter anyway. The heat from the wood stove never reaches it. I have previously kept them in the freezer but will not have room this year.

I don't wash them before cutting, preferring instead to rinse them with the hose the day before so they are dry and fairly clean when I cut them the next morning. Clean mulch helps to keep them clean when rinsing. I use shredded computer paper for this and it works great!

I still have a lot of herbs to dry yet. Tomorrow I plan to cut a lot of prunella vulgaris (heal all, self heal) to dry and some echinacea, oregano, thyme, cilantro, lavender, St. John's Wort, hibiscus, choc mint, more lemon balm, more mint and a few others. I am going to need  
more screens!

Chichiquelites (solanum nigrum)

I like to experiement in the garden. Growing unusual, often old and forgotten, plants is a joy. I never plant those ordinary annual flowers people seem to buy in flats and stick in their gardens and I like to grow heirloom vegetables, who's seed I can save to grow from year to year. This saves me a lot of money in seed each spring.

One of the things I have discovered this spring are chichiquelites, also known as garden huckleberries (
solanum nigrum). I got these seeds in a trade and, having never heard of them previously I did some research.

I am always looking for good to eat and easy to grow quickly, fruits for wine and pie making. These sounded perfect! They also make good jam, but we don't eat a lot of jam so I will be using them for pies and wine.

They need more sweetening than blueberries, but I am ok with that. I will add a bit more sugar.

They are easy to grow from seed, not requiring stratification. I know this because I have some seedlings sprouted on my seed windowsill. I have heard from other growers that they grow quickly, without a lot of care, into huge shrubs covered with berries. This is what I am hoping for. I will can and/or freeze all that I can get, if we like them. I will also collect more seeds to grow again next year. They will apparently reseed themselves anyway but I prefer to plant them from seed myself. Being a close relative of the poisonous nightshade berry, I would prefer to know exactly where they are growing.

They have medicinal uses, as well. This is a quote from Wikipedia regarding solanum nigrum:
"The plant has a long history of medicinal usage, dating back to ancient Greece. This plant is also known as Peddakasha pandla koora in Telangana region. This plant's leaves are used to treat mouth ulcers that happen during winter periods of Tamil Nadu, India. Chinese experiments confirm that the plant inhibits growth of cervical carcinoma (Fitoterapia, 79, 2008, № 7-8, 548-556)."

I am hoping for great things from this new and little known berry!