Crumbly Bokashi goodness


The last Bokashi dog poo digester was full yesterday, It is time to pull up the first and see if our theory works.

A bucket of surprising goodness
A bucket of surprising goodness

The good new is that it does! Even over winter, the action of anaerobic bacteria, followed by worms and other soil critters, turned a 20 litre bucket of dog poo and Bokashi bran into about half a bucket of good stuff.

No smell, no yucky liquids, just crumbly goodness!

This was once smelly dog poo...
This was once smelly dog poo…
No smell, no slime...
No smell, no slime…

As a general precaution, I wouldn’t sprinkle it on our annual vegetables. It’s source material is poo, after all and there are many variables to consider: soil temperature, variations in bacteria on the bran, time, composition of the dig poo etc.

I think its best to either bury it beneath perennials or put it through a second stage of composting such as worms (who just love eating all the microbes,) or a hot, aerobic compost pile.

Liquid gold!


Bokashi gold!

I’ve been fiddling for a while trying to work out a way to extend the Bokashi liquid that we buy from the shops.

I’m happy that I’ve finally got a system that provides consistent results.

It is ridiculously simple. All it takes is –

1/4 cup of commercial Bokashi liquid

1/2 cup of molasses

5ml of Seasol

2 litres of filtered or rain water.

All you do is mix them all up, put them in a container of the appropriate size, leaving the lid a little loose, or use some other way to release the gas that builds up such as a daily ‘burping’.

Leave the container in a warm place for a couple of weeks (the time wil depend on the temperature).

You will notice small bubbles forming on the surface. This is carbon dioxide that comes from the activities of the microbes in the mix as they eat the molasses and Seasol and breed like crazy. This activity will also cause the liquid to heat up a bit too.

You may notice a little sedimentation at the bottom of your container. I assume this is solid waste from the critters in the mix. When you see this, or a layer of cloudiness at the bottom, your mix is ready to go!

At this stage, the result is as good as the liquid you buy in spray bottles.

Now here’s a thing…If you leave the liquid for longer (in my case, over a month), the liquid thickens considerably and can be used in the same way as the liquid that forms in the bottom of the Bokashi buckets.

So there you go. You can extend the life of your bottle of Bokashi liquid greatly using this simple method.

Hooray!

Lavender


Everyone who was ever a kid knows Lavender! It’s that purple plant in the garden that your Grandmother and her friends always smelled of. It’s the one your Mum tied up in little bags and put in the clothes drawer. Lavender has been a part of most of our lives, but how to use it as a remedy when we are ill?

It’s probably no surprise that Lavender helps us to relax. It’s used in pillows, as oils and as teas for just that reason, but how does it do this?

If I was to summarise the effects of Lavender, it would be by saying that it has an amazing effect on tension in the mind and this translates into a whole range of remedial actions.

Like Lemon Balm, Lavender is a cooling relaxant (If you remember, I wrote a while back that most of the mint family are warming relaxants). You may see it listed in some places as a stimulant, but I reckon that this is because it promotes the free flow of energy and blood by stimulating peripheral circulation and easing the mind, making us feel more energized in some situations.

It has a great effect on the autonomic (involuntary) nervous system and helps that to relax. I mentioned before that Lavender’s effect was on the mind. Well, (here we get a bit technical) the autonomic nervous system translates unconcious thought into physical action, so if the unconscious is relaxed, the body will be too.

It opens the mind so that its contents can be moved out. I’ve found that exposure to Lavender or the Bach Remedy ‘Crab Apple’ can help people who feel like they need to fast or purge. Both these remedies help people who feel in some way ‘unclean’.

How else can Lavender help ease physical symptoms by relaxing our mind?

Tension headaches and tightness in the neck and shoulders that come from anxiety and stress can be relieved. Nausea and stomach ache from stress. Related too are dizziness and fainting from, exhaustion from too much thinking, ruminating and meditating.

We can use Lavender to help those who are perfectionists, detail oriented but whose perfectionism comes from anxiousness and too much thinking about something. It helps us sleep when our minds are too busy.

Being rich in aromatics, Lavender can help us with gum infections and bad breath, coughs and respiratory congestion. Direct contact with the oil is a well known way to relieve pain (I believe it was the first oil to be ‘discovered’ by modern science and that it gave birth to the field of aromatherapy.

I’ve mentioned that Lavender complements Rosemary in its effect on blood sugar. Lavender improves the conversion of sugar stored in the liver into glucose, giving rise to more energy. Rosemary has an effect more like insulin, reducing blood sugar levels when they are too high.

Lavender can help us relax, increase our energy through easing our mind and letting it flow. It also gives us energy through its effect on blood sugar, this is why it’s a bit of a contradiction when you read about it in some books, it is a relaxant and a stimulant.

Fascinating hey?

Tinctures by the Folk Method


The Folk method is the easiest way to make a tincture…
Step 1: Gather and clean your herb
Step 2: Slice, chop or blend the herb into small pieces
Step 3: 1/2 to 3/4 fill your jar with the herb
Step 4: Fill the jar with your chosen alcohol
Step 5: Make sure all of the bubbles are removed
Step 6: Seal it up and give it a good shake
Step 7: Label the jar appropriately
Step 8: Put in a cool, dark place
Step 9: Shake daily for a week or so
Step 10: After 1 month, strain and bottle

Hooray! Youve made your first tincture!

Tinctures by the Ratio Method


The Ratio method can help get your tinctures more consistent. There’s a few more steps than in the Folk method, but if you can bake bread, you can do this �

Step 1: Prepare your herbs
Step 2: Weigh the bowl you will be using. Set the scales to 0 however you do it on yours. We want to weigh the herb. Mine is a button that says ‘tare’.
Step 3: Weigh your herb.
Step 4: Measure the correct amount of alcohol ( I’ll explain the ratio later).
Step 5: Chop the herbs. I cut coarsely, then add to a blender.
Step 6: Add the alcohol and mix thoroughly ( the blender does well here).
Step 7: Pour the mix into your jar
Step 8: Label and put in a cool, dry place.
Step 9: Shake daily for a week or two.
Step 10: After 2 weeks to a month, strain and bottle.

There’s a couple of vague bits there, but this is just the general idea. I’ll post on details shortly.

Parsley


A kitchen helper that can help the doctor too!

Parsley (Petroselinum sativum) is a well known kitchen herb that has useful medicinal properties.

Both the flat leaved and the curled leaved (P. crispum) varieties can be used for the same purposes.

The whole of the Parsley plant can be used, root, leaf and seed. Seeds are the most potent part of the plant, being high in useful oils. The root is the next most useful, and the leaves the least, though their ease of harvesting and availability make them the most commonly used part.

Parsley’s most common use as a remedy is for helping the bladder and kidneys. It is rich in Sodium and Potassium, elements that regulate the balance of fluids. Here Parsley excels but normalizing that balance, reducing or increasing each as needed to reach it. Parsley also contains an oil that is specifically good for the kidneys. It is suitable here too as it helps maintain the small vessels of the body, of which the kidneys are full.

It is a diuretic, helping move fluids through the urinary tract. This makes it excellent for all of the ‘-itis’ problems of the urinary tract, cystitis, nephritis etc, as well as for high blood pressure and fluid retention.

According to one source, if you have a ‘crawling in your urethra’, Parsley is the remedy you need!

Parsley is also used for easing stomach gripes and colic, it’s carminative properties help cases of gas.

I’ve read too that this herb helps maintain proper functioning of the adrenals and thyroid, but I haven’t been able to follow that up yet.

Another traditional use of Parsley is for softening areas that are hard and dehydrated. It’s high Sodium level helps draw water to these areas.

This wonderful herb, usually relegated to kitchen duties, has a stimulating effect on the uterus, but should not be used by the inexperienced.

Also…if you have a case of ‘Tarterous slime” then Parsley is for you!

Mints


Mints are a confusing, promiscuous lot, readily hybridizing and taking over our gardens. There are many cultivars that change the look of the species slightly, yours may have slightly differently coloured flowers or leaves than those described here, but the main features will be, essentially , the same.

They have great medicinal and culinary properties and are great friends.

I’ll be posting pics of each type of mint I can find as they flower, for the colour, arrangement and position of the flowers are important guides to telling them apart.

Mints are creeping plants with a strong smell, square (usually hairy) stems and underground runners. leaves are in opposite pairs.

Each photo will have a description in its caption.

Don’t forget to check back, as this is a work in progress…

July mushroom grow: A quick guide to growing oyster mushrooms


DSC_1008
Unimpressed cat, for scale.

Good day, fellow fungi freaks.
As this years mushroom foraging season draws to a close, I have re-started my oyster mushroom cultivation to fulfill my fungi food needs. Not as successful as previous grows, but every attempt is a learning experience,regardless of it you have overwhelming success, failure or anything in between…

Follow the link to the original post on my blog:
July mushroom grow: A quick guide to growing oyster mushrooms