Herbal Love

We are fortunate to have an abundance of herbs, wildflowers and trees on the land. This year we decided to dry as many as possible and make up some herbal tea blends for winter. We are only starting to delve into the fascinating world of healing herbs and there is so much to learn.

We are very fond of the American band The National and decided to name our different tea blends after a few of their songs. To tell you the truth we are not sure we would have survived all the hundreds of hours of work on renovation and building our house if it was not for the silky smooth voice of the lead singer Matt Berninger keeping us company. Like dark chocolate, deep ruby wine and coffee he has kept us sane and safe. So this tribute makes a lot of sense.

Sleep well beast 😴

We dried all the different ingredients in our dehydrator. Here in the West of Ireland it is difficult to dry them any other way as our summers are always a bit unreliable. Our first blend is named after the song “Sleep well beast” and as the name suggests it brings you relaxation and good dream. It consists of lemonbalm, lavender, camomile and rose petals.

Wasp nest 🐝

The second blend is for regulating hormones, alleviating hot flushes and improving moods and would be beneficial for most women and in particular anyone going through the menopause. We named it after the song “Wasp nest”. It consists of fermented raspberry leaves, lady’s mantle, sage, fennel, red clover and honeysuckle flowers.

Cold girl fever 🤒

To chase away cold and flu and to alleviate any symptoms if you do get ill we made up a mixture named after the song “Cold girl fever”. It consists of meadow sweet flowers, lawn daisy, fennel, plantain, mint, sage, yarrow, honeysuckle flowers and raspberry leaves.

Racing like a pro 😎

Our next blend is named after the song “Racing like a pro” and as the name suggests it gets you rearing to go. For this blend we added one ingredient that we did not grow or forage ourselves. It is the South American plant Yerba Mate that has many health benefits and contains caffeine for a nice lift but it leaves you less jittery than coffee. To the mix we also added lemon verbena, rose pelargonium, calendula, mint flowers and leaves, sweet cicely, strawberry mint and fermented black currant leaves.

Yerba Mate

If you plan to make your own herbal tea mixes we suggest you do some research as some herbs might not be suitable for everyone. For instance if you are pregnant, breastfeeding or on medication, you will need to look into if certain herbs are off bounds.

We did make up one last blend that is brilliant for detoxing the body and is named after the song Bitters & Absolut. It consists of Birch leaves, dandelion leaves and nettle tops. With all the different herb teas it is important not to drink the same one every day for a long time. Take a break now and again and swap between the different mixes. Although it can be tempting to display your teas on a shelf in the kitchen, the best place for them is in a dark, dry and cool cupboard where the medicinal properties will be preserved.

June

 

20200630_131321-501031832.jpg

June saw a lot of wet and windy weather and there was a great risk of blight forming on any crops in the potato family. We decided to try out a natural all in one tonic and remedy.  You start by picking a bucket full of horsetail plant and let them steep for a week in water. We used a large flat stone to keep all of the horsetails submerged and ended up with a very smelly mixture. We strained out the horsetail and boiled the liquid for about ten minutes to prevent any spores from growing. Horsetail is an ancient and fascinating plant.

Read more

Wild times in May.

May has seen an explosion of colour on the land and plants and wildlife woo equally for our attention. An inquisitive young Coal-tit found his way into the conservatory and had to be rescued. He spent a few moments relaxing outside the door and was a great target for the camera before he flew off on new adventures.

20200607_11252031058743.jpg

Read more

The pledge of the Polar Bear teeth.

In the early nineteen nineties one of us was helping a friend clear out an attic in Utrecht, Holland and came across the stuffed head of a Polar Bear dating from about the eighteen twenties. The Bear’s head had probably spent over a hundred years hidden away in the dark and now it was crumbling to the touch and sadly ended up in a skip. We found it incredibly sad, that a majestic, splendid and very intelligent being was destined for this fate. We managed to rescue the two canine teeth from ending up in landfill and have kept them ever since.

20200518_122126-1808300114.jpg

Read more

Artwork

A note to our regular readers; This post is rather off topic with what we usually write about so consider yourselves warned! Although there are quite a few images relating to gardening and plants so you might enjoy it anyway.

IMG_3187 (1)

Painting in acrylics of bumblebee on oregano plant.

Read more

April

 

Like many of you we have moved through April at a slower pace than usual. There are so many treasures to marvel at in the natural world and we hope that at the end of the current situation more people will be able to connect with nature at a deeper level. It is time to stop abusing the planet and to understand that we are only a small part of the web of life.

Read more

March

DSC03656

It has been a beautiful month in the garden and now more than ever we realize the importance of supporting the local eco system by encouraging nature to run wild in most parts and use part of the land for growing food and medicinal plants. With the increasingly grim reports of the virus ripping through communities and countries, we have found solace in the simple acts of engaging with wildlife and plants. We believe that life cannot go back to the way it was before this pandemic as capitalism has stretched the natural resources well beyond limits. This is the time for starting a more harmonious relationship with nature and we are great admirers of Mary Reynolds and her ARK project that is gaining strength throughout the word. You can read about it here.

DSC03642

We think humanity has a real opportunity to steer away from mindless overconsumption and build strong communities by producing food locally, eat what is in season, have holidays close to home, work from home when possible and share ideas and skills in new and creative ways. Many small local businesses are struggling at the moment all across the world but when the lock down is lifted we need to support all of the wonderful people who work hard to create a sustainable and vibrant local community. We must put Mother Nature first. We believe it is time to shift our aims and values away from “what can I get?” and concentrate on “what can I give?” We think Jane Goodall sums it all up pretty well in this video.

DSC03696

 In February over one hundred frogs came back to visit our small pond where they were born and now the water is absolutely teeming with tadpoles.

DSC03652

DSC03641

In the annual vegetable garden we have been harvesting kale and sprouting broccoli every day for the past three weeks and started to clear the beds for the spring planting season. For many years we lived in places without a garden and back then we “grew” most of our vegetables inside. Sprouting is a great way to add nutrients and colour to our diet and we wrote about it in a post a few years back. For information about sprouting and tasty recipes please visit the wonderful Sproutpeople website. If you are at home this might be an ideal time to explore this easy and cheap way of producing food.

DSC03630

The lockdown in Ireland has given us time to study from home but also all work together on putting up a small poly tunnel for tender crops and seedlings. It has been lovely working together for a common goal.

DSC03634

DSC03675 (2)

Around our main circle spring is well on its way and we have been busy weaving a low fence around our cardoon and artichoke beds. We cut back a lot of our bamboos and coppiced some ash trees for materials. This should stay in place for at least five years. We still have one fence to complete.

DSC03682

DSC03684

East

DSC03686

South

DSC03688

West

DSC03690

North

We hope you will all stay safe and well in the challenging weeks and months ahead. Our hearts are with all the frontline workers in hospitals and in food production and distribution. We are staying at home and living as self-sustainable as possible to try and stay out of their way. It is not a sacrifice but a privilege to spend time close to nature and with each other as a family. We are very lucky to have running water, a home to call our own and a piece of the earth to be the guardians of. Many many people in poorer countries are not so lucky and for them the crisis of this virus will be much more devastating. We need to give them as much solidarity and help as possible.

DSC03616