What is Comfrey.. And Why I Bought it Off Amazon.

You guys this was crazy but it worked! I was very skeptical when another homesteader over on IG recommended a great source for comfrey.. from Amazon! It wasn’t even expensive like I’d assumed it would be. Ill leave the link to the roots I purchased at the bottom of this post.

When the roots showed up I was in awe. I wasn’t sure if I’d get live plants or cuttings, but root sections wrapped in damp paper towel is what I found. Of course I planted right away. The seller even gave me some sprouted crowns!

The package came with a nice typed up set of instructions which said it can take up to 60 days for the cuttings to sprout. The roots I planted in horizontally came up in about a month but the crowns I planted vertically and they came up within 10 about days! I’m just totally blown away at the quality of these plants. They are not picky about their soil and grow quickly. Two things me likey.

So at this point you might be wondering what comfrey even is and why this crazy lady is raving about it. So here’s what I know from my research.. Comfrey is a biodynamic accumulating perennial. Lots of big words huh? Let’s brake it down.

Biodynamic accumulator: Sends down tap roots deep into soil and pulls vitamins & minerals up from deep and stores them in their foliage.

Perennial: plants that come back every year. So you only have to plant once.

Basically its a permaculture and organic gardening powerhouse. A must have for any homestead. Because, it can be used in so many ways for all the goods things stored in its leaves and roots and is extremely sustainable. From teas and salves to compost tea, it can even be used a green mulch, just chop and drop it around any plants you think need an extra boost. The amazing wound healing properties promote cell division and healing. A comfrey compress on a sprained ankle or even a poultice to draw out infection can do wonders.

One last fun fact about comfrey; it attracts and feeds beneficial insects earthworms. A++

There is just nothing this plant cannot help with. I’ve seen many examples of comfrey being planted in fruit tree guilds to help feed the tree. In future I’d love to have fruit trees on our homestead and with such barren dry soil comfrey will be a must.

Comfrey spreads by root division as well as seed so it can multiply very rapidly. It can become a nuisance if left to spread somewhere unwanted. Luckily I purchased the “Bocking 14” Russian Comfrey which was developed to be sterile. Meaning this variety is unable to be spread by seed. Making the spreading easier to manage. But honestly I’d be ok if it went crazy. And I can still take my own root cuttings. Plus chickens love to eat it so at this point I can’t have too much.

I stuck some in both gardens to help balance the nutrients in the soil naturally with the help of worms and compost. I hoping to give some comfrey salve a try this winter I hear it’s great for cuts and scrapes.

Most of what I’ve learned about comfrey has come from Paul Wheaton. Check out his webpage and YouTube channel for tons more info. I also find that Justin Rhodes of Abundant Permaculture has tons of great into about comfrey on his YouTube Channel (go check it out!)

Reach out if you have any questions about my comfrey and I’ll keep you updated!

Peace & Love

Q

Buy Comfrey Here!

Sources:

“Wonderful Multi-Purpose Comfrey Plant” Permaculture Research Institute

Permies.com- Paul Wheaton

5 Easy Seeds Anyone Can Save.

Saving my own seeds was an infatuation that turned true love. I never thought I’d stick it out or find so many plants that have such easy seed saving processes. I truly thought it would be so much work, and it just wasn’t. So I’m now fully obsessed and moving forward, I will always harvest my own seeds. The way seeds form truly fascinates me and I love watching them develop just as much as I do a fruit on the vine. Nothing says sustainability like not having to buy certain seeds from the store ever again.

There are tons of easy to save seeds out there but here’s the ones I started with and continue to save every year. You’ll be wowed at how simple it is and maybe chose a few to start saving yourself.

1. Marigolds

A must have for any garden for the two simple reasons that they provide for pollinators and bring that glorious golden glow to the garden. When the blooms get dry on the plant simply pluck them off and set somewhere to dry.

You’ll get hundreds of seeds per head, trust me you’ll be giving them away you’ll have so many. And you’ll have seeds to plant for years to come. I’ve stored them in paper bags over winter and my germination is always very high.

Marigolds are a wonderful companion plant to just about any fruit/vegetable plant. Currently I have them in my three sisters gardens (corn, beans, pumpkins), with raspberries, chives, tomatoes, cucumber, celery, they grow well just about anywhere.

2. Bachelor Buttons

Another must have. If you’re planting a food garden, flowers are a must. These tall airy plants self seed fantastically and the beneficial bugs love them. Will basically pop up and grow by itself almost anywhere. The flower heads should be left on the plant until they look like the one below.

They get a sort of straw flower feel after they lose their petals when ready, you’ll see the seeds are jammed in under that fluffy center. Be sure to keep an eye out because once they are ready they’ll be dropping seed with any light breeze. So get them off and set aside to finish drying out.

Like marigolds I usually leave the seed heads intact over winter up but you can totally separate the seeds out and store them anyway you’d like. The point is all these seeds are simple to save and store.

3. Basil

This herb is a given. If you garden, you have basil. If you don’t you are missing out friend. From it’s medicinal to culinary uses basil can be used all across the board and the bees will thank you.

Canning tomato sauce? Don’t forget to plant basil with your tomatoes. They love the shade the tomatoes provide and bush out like crazy if you continually harvest. Another self seeder these seeds will pop up anywhere with ample moisture. Keep a close eye once the flowers on the plants dry up since the tiny black seeds scatter easily.

4. Dill

I’ve only recently started growing dill and I’m blown away by the ease of it all. If you’ve ever made homemade pickles you know home grown or at least local dill is the way to go. Plus its gorgeous, absolutely gorgeous.

The seeds will form once the flowers die and you’ll be able to pick a beautiful seed head. I remove the seeds and store in seed packets so they take up less space.

5. Chives

These whimsical plants belong in all gardens in my opinion. Their little clumps spread easily and come back every year. Once the purple flowers fade you’ll know they are ready. Inside you’ll find dozens of little black seeds. Simply snap off the heads to collect and save.

The girls and I eat most of our chives while in the garden. They’re a perfect snack with a little spice and pair wonderfully with fresh picked spinach. But let’s be honest, they are best in a salad!

So there you have it. Seed saving isn’t as daunting as it might seem. As a tip, avoid hybrid varieties for seed saving. Sometimes the seeds you harvest won’t be true to the parent plant, so stick to heirlooms to be safe. If you’re feeling extra inspired here’s a few other varieties just as easy to save:

– zinnia

– cilantro

– parsley

– radish

– kale

– mustard

Now get seed saving!

Peace & Love,

Q

Prepping the homestead for a road trip.

As I sit here, sipping my coffee and avoiding the inevitable and lengthy list of to-dos that must be done before Wednesday, Im wondering why we agreed to this trip in the first place. I’m leaving my garden and my animals for two whole weeks. I’ve given my self a head cold from the stress of it, a talent I’ve had since I was an adolescent going on any family vacation. Like really Q, chill out. We. Will. All. Survive. Operation ‘Plant as much as I can before Wednesday’ is behind schedule. I’m not done packing.. for five people. And I’ve lost my favorite essential oil roller..

but baby this vacation and I need each other! The chance to show my growing family the place I love so much. See the inside of my grandparents house one last time. To fish all day, swim and lay in the sun. To spend 16 days and 16 nights with Spencer, no work all play? Done and done. Buh-bye homestead I love, I’ll be back for you..

Everyone needs a vacation right? To get away from their reality and live differently for a bit?

For a homesteader, a vacation is a scary adventure with unpredictable outcomes. Will the garden die? Or get swarmed by bugs? Will my chickens get slaughtered by the resident coyotes? Or will my goose finally succeed and I come home to fresh goslings? There’s are so many unknowns.. lucky for us we have some great best friends who’ve been there and done that with us on all things homestead. Without them, this trip would not be possible. I don’t say that lightly, they are literally the only people I trust with my babies, both plant and animal. They’ll be watering my gardens with love and shepherding my feathered flock. And for that I say, thank you thank you thank you & amen!

Because everyone needs a vacation guys, even a homebody homesteader mama like me.

It’s not easy either. I feel a little crazy, dragging our little family halfway across the country. And I’m sure Spencer will be tearing me from the garden kicking and screaming come Wednesday morning. Maybe it’s not the best call to head out in the middle of June? Major planning and timely execution got us to this point. From installing drip irrigation in one garden, in ground irrigation repairs in the other, building a new chicken run & treating the flock for mites, planting hundreds of starts & thousands of seeds, and a whole lot of mulching everything in sight I think we’re going to be ok.

Maybe the shelling peas will rippen before we leave, maybe it’ll be after. And it’s ok. That’s the best benny of house-sitting for a gardener, you get to reap the harvest while they’re gone. And of what plenty there will be. I might miss out on peas, spinach, and kale. When I get back the cucumbers, watermelons, and pumpkins will be vining around, maybe the raspberries will be ready, and I’m sure we will be rolling in salad greens and radishes. And all the while we’ll be teaching our kids to swim, eating fresh caught fish, soaking up family time, and recharging our souls for this life we love.

Here I sit still sipping coffee, writing this when I really need to get back to it. But I’ll definitely finish my coffee first. Then I’ll be logging as many hours in my happy gardens as I can before departure.

Peace and Love, Q

Elderberry Syrup

This is straight up nature in a bottle guys. Only 5 super ingredients make up this immunity boosting syrup. Once a quite expensive remedy, elderberry syrup can now be made, by you, in your own home.

This time of year it’s all we can do to keep our families protected from not only the elements but the dreaded flu season. Is it just me or is there something going on with this glorified “flu” vaccine? Call me crazy but it’s not working. Since my oldest daughter was 2 I’ve taken my family on a journey of natural solutions. From DoTERRA essential oils to this sickness kicking syrup.

I source all my ingredients carefully making sure I find the best ingredients for my family. All of them can be found on Amazon and most can also be found at your local health food stores.

It takes only a short time to throw together and the aroma it puts off is strong and beautiful. It can be taken once daily as an immune supplement or every 2-3 hours when you’re sick. If you do take it as a daily supplement I suggest taking the weekends off as to let your immune system regulate itself. Best part is you can literally put this on your waffles at breakfast, ooOo or maybe crepes?

So here it is y’all enjoy!

  • 2/3 C dry whole elderberries
  • 3 1/2 C water
  • 2 TBS ginger root
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp cloves
  • 1 C raw honey
  1. Add berries, water, and spices to saucepan.
  2. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover.
  3. Simmer 45-90 minutes or until cooked down by almost half. Remove from heat.
  4. Strain berries from liquid squishing the juice out of the berries as you go.
  5. When cool enough to handle, but not yet cold, add honey and stir until dissolved.
  6. Pour into glass jar/bottle and store in refrigerator.
  7. Dosage: children 1-2 tsp, adults 1-2 TBS

Pretty easy, eh? Let me know what you think about it. My kids love it, but some other don’t, even if it’s an acquired taste for you or your family, just know this stuff does only good for your body and works wonders on a stubborn cold. And it looks pretty dang cute in a jar like this in the fridge. I can’t tell you how many conversations have been started from this bottle of purple beauty.

Gotta get back to seed inventorying. Happy garden dreaming y’all!

Peace and Love,

Q

Summer Snipets. And What I Learned About Me. 

We’ve been a little blog MIA lately enjoying all the sunshine! Here’s a little photo story of what’s been going on here on and off the Gardner Homestead. 

Our hen Margox hatched our first ever batch of   homegrown chicks. All 7 chicks are growing up fast. 

First time seeing those tiny feet!

Spencer and I lucked out on some KID-FREE time and went to see Smash Mouth. Save to say I was wayyy more excited than my hubs. 

Our little Murphy girl is a walking, running, babbling adorable toddler now. How did it happen so fast?!?

Oh Ireland, my Ireland. Please stop growing up so darn fast! Love, Mom

If we harvest nothing else, there’s always onions.

Thank you to whichever previous tenant planted the beauties. This our third summer here, is the first year they’ve had a full bloom. 

See that cute spud? Yeah he and his siblings froze to death in Mid-June. They’ve finally bounced back…

Happy 4th of July from these Gardner girls. 

What’s a homestead without a messy backyard full of chickens?

This baby is chore partner, she’s always by my side (or on my back!)

Kato’s first time packing. Deaf dogs need jobs to right?

Getting lost in my hop jungle, our third season with these Willamette Hops is sure to be a big producer.  Can you say home brewed IPA? 

Exploring the Metolius River trails with my tribe of toddlers and dogs. 

My little Irish earthlings

Symbiotic hiking partner, she’s a versatile baby. She gets a free ride, while providing never ending cuteness, drooly kisses, and keeps me in shape!

Some of that 4th madness! Shhhh…

I can’t survive a summer without these, my favorites!

Exploring our natural world close at hand.

Planting beans for nitrogen to feed the corn
1/2 Farm girl 1/2 daddy’s little princess
Giving some summer lovin’ to my favorites
Ireland saw her first play, The Little Mermaid

The peas, oh these lovely purple peas. 

Weekly harvests are almost over.
Ladder rack rabbit tractor? Oh, yeah!

One thing I’ll never do again is plant the hops so close to the house. They’re a harbor for bugs and insects, some good and some bad, but all of them right at my back door 🙁


Like I said, I knew there would be onions. So far we’ve harvested radishes, onions, lettuce, kale, zucchini, and shelling peas. 

That’s just a little of what’s happened this summer. Trust me there’s more but I won’t bore you with it here. Head on over to IG to see our full homestead photo diary @thegardnerhome. 

Oh yeah, and if I know anything about me it’s that I love summer, case and point for this short update. I’m spending more time with family, less time with technology, and that’s OK. Keep an eye out for some of our new projects and plans… YouTube Vlog? 

No spoilers yet!

What have you been up to on or off your homestead this season? 

Peace and Love,

Quincy

Hello world!

I began this blog over a year ago in the hopes of changing my families life for the better. To get us back to basics. To learn those homesteader skills,  those do-it-yourself hacks, and farming strategies our grandparents and great-grandparents had passed down them. That was normal for them, their everyday life. It was their usual, and now it is ours.

Over the course of the last year my family raised or own meat (pork, chicken, rabbit), grew our own vegetables (no matter the catastrophe it was), began to eat an all organic diet, we’ve decluttered our lives with much more to go, we’ve preserved food, we even bought a vehicle in cash; it may be rusty, but we own it, and it hauls my wild pack of kids and dogs fantastically, we have learned to grow fodder to supplement the animals diets, learned to grow and breed meat rabbits, and learned to raise and butcher broiler chickens. To top it all off the farm stud and I finally tied the not in 2016, it has been a year full of changes and new experiences.

This is only the beginning for us. We’re learning to be self sufficient one day at a time. One project at a time. One deep breathe in at a time. I can’t wait to see what we will learn in this year. Want to join the journey with us? Follow us here at our blog! www.thehomessteadgardeners.com

Find us on Instagram @thegardnerhome

Or on Tumblr @homesteadgardner