I have to admit I’ve felt very consumed and overwhelmed lately. I am trying so hard to keep up with my herbal studies, joining a free herbal challenge from @herbandloreapothecary on Instagram, mainly set up as a way to help interested herbalists with topics, discipline and guidelines for further learning; which has been a great way to motivate me to keep up my ongoing herbal studies. Between trying to complete challenges, post photos and document my journey on Instagram, while also keeping up with events both for my husband and I, and my children; which includes keeping it all straight and scheduled, there has been very limited time for me to do blog posts.
My Instagram profile page, @annesbackyardherbal, has really turned into a sort of mini-blog for me, but it is so difficult to balance all of these various ways to share and communicate my herbal and personal experiences. The other thing that I don’t feel has been helping is living in dreaded Wisconsin where the weather just does not ever want to give us a true spring. As I watch other herbalists and gardeners sharing photos of beautiful bouquets, baskets & extracts of Dandelions, Chickweed, Violets, Cleavers, and Calendula; I am left with leaves, that at the moment barely poke out of the ground. The minute there is hope of seeing colorful petals about to open, the weather turns cold and it rains for days. Very discouraging!
My free time has been consumed lately with reading a few different books, both literature and references. Right now there is a focus on botany and learning the basics of plants and their morphologies. It’s fascinating and the one thing that has really stuck with me is that plants are these amazing living structures that take nutrients and minerals from the soil and energy from the sun, converting them into something we as humans can consume. Natures’ amazing green factories, of sorts, which use their roots, stems and leaves to process compounds that otherwise would not be accessible in a usable way for our bodies. Plants are our source of healing, nourishment and the way we sustain ourselves. Wow, what a magical world the environment growing right out our backdoor can be!
The book that has been my botany reference so far was written in 1875 and is called, Gray’s New Lessons and Manual of Botany by Asa Gray. My husband gifted it to me and what a treasure it is. The information is still applicable today, and it has been a wonderful tool for visual learning. Drawing is definitely the best way to connect with the plant’s structures and help me document what the text is explaining. Between the simple drawings and footnotes explaining the terms for the different shaped seeds, leaves & flower parts; it has provided all the basics needed to understand beginning botany.
It is now seed starting season and just like every year, I plan to add some new herbs to the garden and one tomato plant (Purple Russian)! My absolute favorite website for ordering seeds is Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds due to their quality and always gifting a free seed packet with each order! Unfortunately, they do not offer the variety of herb seeds to cover all of my desires, so my second choice is Strictly Medicinal Seeds.
So far the seeds that have actually sprouted and look promising for surviving to transplant this summer are: Mugwort, Dandelion, Wild Lettuce, Chickweed and Yellow Dock. A few of these were introduced from playing the game, WildCraft, by Learning Herbs. The others are just ones that are discussed a lot online which encouraged me to consider them for this year’s garden.
Dandelions, with their plethora of benefits and amazing ability to add nutrients/minerals(nutritive herb) & detox the body, are finally an herb that is definitely a “must add” to my harvesting and crafting this year. Sadly, there are many around but not much in our yard. This motivated me to start a plant as well as spread seeds in my garden. Yes, you heard that right, I actually want Dandelions and went to the effort of actually spreading their seeds on purpose. Everyone should learn to fall in love with this amazing plant and start using it at least as an alternative to regular old lettuce in their salads; flowers and all!!
Other plants that have been started from seed, since they don’t necessarily return year to year(annuals), are Sage, California Poppy, Calendula, Toothache and Holy Basil/Tulsi. After about a year of crafting herbal products and feeling fairly successful selling online in my Etsy store: AnnesBackyardHerbal (I’ve reached a little over 100 sales!) it has been a learning experience I am using to collect data as a way to better understand what people desire most and what is just not really sought after. Since it is my goal to make small batch, quality products from my garden herbs; or one’s that I personally have safely, conscientiously & naturally foraged in wild areas, it matters greatly to me that I am not overproducing just to have variety. Doing this the first year of selling did give me a clearer picture of what to evaluate and change for this next season.
Since I am not a clinical herbalist, my desire is to not pedal my products or force them onto anyone. Anne’s Backyard Herbal LLC is my way of making extracts available for those who are seeking them due to either being recommended something from a qualified clinical herbalist/naturopath/physician or after doing personal & extensive research for herbal wellness products that will suit their unique needs and body types. After this point I hope to be an herbal crafter that they can seek out a well-made herbal product from when they do not have the ability to make them on their own or have them on hand to offer to clients.
As many of the past posts have mentioned, my main motivation for crafting herbal extracts initially was to help and manage my own personal issues like menorrhagia, problem skin, anxiety, IBS and PMS issues like cold sore breakouts. Once finding effective results, unlike I had ever before with medicines, birth control or other topical treatments; especially without negative side-effects, they have been life changing for me. As my journey continues, it is key that my documentation on here does as well. Even if I do not write as often as I would like to.
Below are a few recent monographs I have completed along with some new products, herbal terminology and botany information. My work and studies will never be complete and sharing the information I gather and record is my way of trying to help others who also have a passion, love or curiosity about herbs and gardening! #alwayslearning #alwaysgrowing
Some new herbal monographs (Chickweed, Blue Vervain & Goldenrod)…
Botany studies so far….
New salves that I have been crafting with my herbal oil infusions, organic beeswax, organic shea butter, linaments & essential oils….
And some of my herbal terminology I have been writing down over and over to try and get it to sink in better….