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

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

Simply Delicious Homemade Pesto.

Hi y’all! If you love pesto you’ll love this recipe, if you also love preserving your herb harvest this post is for you.

Before this summer I never how simple and fun making homemade pesto was. Even better if you have your own right outside your back door, am I right?

All you need is a food processor/blender and cute jar to stuff it in and you’re set.

Ingredients:

  • 3 C fresh basil leaves (packed)
  • 1/4 C pine nuts
  • 1/2 C organic olive oil
  • 1 tsp lemon zest
  • 2 tsp lemon juice (fresh squeezed)
  • 2 cloves garlic (minced)
  • 1/3 C grated Parmesan (fresh if possible)

Directions:

  1. Clean off any bugs or dirt from basil and rinse under water if needed (pat dry)
  2. Add basil leaves, pine nuts, lemon zest & juice, garlic, and Parmesan cheese to food processor and blend until well incorporated.
  3. Drizzle in oil and let emulsify and blend in well.
  4. Voila! Pack your yummy pesto into a jar and store in your fridge.

Make this pesto with any and all varieties of basil you choose. So far I’ve done sweet, Thai, and cinnamon… lime and purple are next up. I even started more seeds and took a few cuttings for indoor winter basil. Add it pizza, pasta, toast or anything your heart desires.

Cheers y’all!

Peace and Love,

Q

Preserving Garden Herbs for Winter. 

Winter is coming. Anyone out there a Game of Throne-ers like us…? Yes? No? Well anyway…. winter is literally just round the corner here in the PNW, we'll not really since it's fire season here and fires are raging not far off. But with all these fresh herbs filling my house and garden I can't bear the idea of not having some around to lift up my stews and season our meals. Oh those long cold days. How wonderful that sounds right about now. So heres just a few ways I'm preserving my herbs:

  1. Drying
  2. Freezing in olive oil
  3. Infusing in olive oil & vinegar
  4. Pesto!
  5. Extracts and tinctures.

So most of you probably know how to dry herbs, but if not here's the short and sweet version. Bundle and tie herbs together and hang upside down, preferably somewhere away from dust and moisture. Once dry remove leaves from stems, crush or leave whole and store in an air tight container.

  • Currently hanging: Greek oregano, chives, lime and Thai basil. Today I plan to put up some pineapple sage to dry also.

  • Finished product: Greek oregano

Note: With all of the following recipes be sure to pick of any bugs and shake off any dirt hanging on so they/it won't end up in your finished product. I also rinsed all my herbs in cold water and patted them dry.

One of the best ways to preserve that fresh taste is to freeze an herb in olive oil. At the time I did this I had an over abundance of basil so that's what I did plus I love the flavor and olive oil is my chosen cooking oil other than the animals fats. So I simply cut up my basil with some herb shears, covered the bottom of my ice cube tray with the cut herbs and poured the oil over to cover.

  • After freezing overnight.

When it comes to infusing oils and vinegars it's as simple as stuffing a jar full of dried or fresh herbs and pouring the liquid over the top. Make sure all the plant matter is covered in the case of olive oil so as to avoid mold. I infused olive oil (any other oils work also; avocado, canola, etc.) with all kinds of basils and oregano. I infused vinegar with the basil also. These will both be used for salad dressings and cooking in the winter. Put them in a dark place to infuse for a couple months. If using fresh herbs you may encounter some cloudiness in your oils due to the water in the leaves. If so just leave off the lid for a day or so (if it's warm out) and the water particles will quickly evaporate. Below are a few of the infusions.

  • Vinegar left and olive oil right.

I don't know about you but I love pesto! And anyway I can get it cheaper than the store is right up my ally. Most of the ingredients are common stock for most kitchens, simply source yourself some pine nuts and you're on your way! I found a few great recipes on Pinterest.
Hint: fresh basil from the garden works best!

  • If you want this to last I suggest doing a double batch in order to freeze some and eat some fresh. As you can see mine is halfway gone… Can you say yum?!

Extracts and tinctures sound harder than they are and some recipes call for a little more measuring than I chose to do. I made it simple like Shaye from The Elliott Homestead with her echinacea tincture. I stuffed my jars full of these herbs and dumped vodka on them. My currents extractions and tinctures consist of echinacea tincture (recipe courtesy of The Elliott Homestead as I stated above) and chocolate mint extract. Very soon I'll be making my own homemade vanilla extract for which I might consult an actual recipe since it seems it needs to be a little more exact. As for the mint and echinacea I did as follows. Prepare clean jars. Clip fresh herbs. Leaves and stems (echinacea also the blossoms). Stuff in jars. Pour vodka completely over foliage so it is entirely submerged. Fasten with air tight lid. Boom.

  • Pow Wow Echinacea
  • Freshly stuffed jar of Echinacea.

  • After a few days the flowers will lose their bright color

  • Chocolate Mint extract

  • I highly suggest labeling everything you extract, tincturize, or infuse. Herbs lose their form and color slightly and it can be hard to tell what's what after a few days. Been there, done that. Labels are you friend!

Well there you have it! Many ways to save those fresh herbs. From freezing over night, drying for a weekish, or waiting those few months to use your yummy garden goodies you'll be set for winter. It's well worth it folks. Make sure you prune your herbs regularly so they stay around longer and don't bolt. Once they do save those seeds folks! Aaaaand don't forget to start more herbs for your fall garden, if you treat them right you may be able to keep them inside for the long haul!

Purple basil anyone?

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