Archive for the ‘medicinal’ Category

I am trying an experiment, based on what I think I read in Gardening When It Counts: Growing Food in Hard Times by Steve Solomon.

I filled bottles with compost tea and put the bottle upside down “above” the plants. The tomatillo seems to be doing the best.

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The rest of the plants still look a little thirsty, especially the squash.

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Also, after seeing what my friend Karina has done with growing plants in pots, I planted some plants in containers. Hopefully, I will be more succesful than in the straight soil. I planted tomatillo, tomato, and creosote. The seeds from the creosote I gathered myself in the desert. Creosote is truly the pharmacy of desert plants.

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I went for a hike last weekend to see what the desert is currently producing.  There are no pods yet on the mesquite,  and no wildflowers yet.  However, I did see several Ocotillo plants in full bloom.

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Above: Blooming Ocotillo plant.

According to Herbal Medicine of the American Southwest by Charles W. Kane the bark and flower can be used to dislodge phlegm, sedate a cough, provide relief to hemorrhoids, encourage circulation for prostatitis and simulate menses. Being a real man, I had no idea what “simulate menses” meant, and had to google it.  I discovered it means “the monthly flow of blood and cellular debris from the uterus.”  Why anyone would want to simulate this is beyond me. 

I have been using myself as a guinea pig for all the medicines I have been gathering.  Luckily I don’t (currently) have hemorrhoids or an enlarged prostatitis.  I would also expect it would be difficult to find a woman who is willing to volunteer to drink plant bark in order to, you know, simulate the return of Miss Scarlett.  But I am going to collect some of the flowers and bark anyway.

As a coincidence (I am reluctant to call it a sign) the Ocotillo plant I photographed above was right beside the petroglyph photographed below.  I have long wondered if the central character in this panel represents a woman going through her monthly cycle. 

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Update:  This link shows how to make Homemade Sanitary Pads.

A while back I declared a truce with the gophers.  They, however, did not see my white flag.  Last week, they went at one of the two agave plants I have in the backyard. 

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Upon my return (I was gone for a week) I found one of the agaves dug out from underneath.  The agave is now in 6 parts.  The roots have been thoroughly gnawed.  I assume the plant is going to die, but the nice thing about agaves is they are like Abe Vigoda and take a while to die.  I have replanted the different parts to see if I can salvage any of the plant.  The stems that aren’t going to make it I am using by rubbing on my skin, giving me a nice glow.  (Sidenote: The agave nectar is a thousand times better for my dry skin that the expensive lotion I have been buying from the store.)   

I think the gophers attacked the plant’s roots because the agave was weak from overwatering.  I had recently pruned the mesquite tree behind it and also planted a brittlebush beside it.  Both activities involve a couple of deep watering.  I think the water caused root rot on the agave and the gophers saw a weakness.  This is the first time the gophers have committed a frontal attack on one of the plants in the yard.

While I was trimming the mesquite trees this weekend I was stung by a bee. I have always been nervous about bees since I was stung as child and swelled up like Charlie Sheen’s head.   Also, once in Oaxacca I ate a bunch of grasshoppers and woke up that night covered in hives, and sweating bullets. I figure if you are allergic to one type of insects, you should best avoid the whole bunch. But I did not swell after this bee sting, I did flick versus slap the bee at first hint of sting, which helped (thank you survivorman). 

I debated using creosote to clean my wound. I decided against this as I wanted to see what happened with just the bee sting.  I did, however, use creosote for another purpose.  After prepping soil and getting seeds in the ground for tomatillos, squash, bush beans and the pole beans, the backyard had a lot of insects flying around.  My guess is the liked the manure.  So I started a smoky little fire with paper, cardboard, and creosote to run them off.  It worked amazingly well and smelled kind of nice too.

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The Arizona Desert Botanical Garden is going to have their spring sale on March 18 and 19th.   I am getting ready by figuring out what plants they will most likely have that would be good to have growing in the backyard for when civilization conks out. 

Thanks to itsadisaster over at the American Preppers Network Forum, I found the great Desert Harvesters website.   Along the left side of the Desert Harvesters site is the list of trees that provide food and also tons of great information.  

I will be looking for..

  • Ironweed
  • Mesquite (already two in the backyard).  The Velvet Mesquite is the best type of mesquite tree to plant.
  • Palo Verde.  The Foothills Palo Verde has better tasking (sweeter) seeds than the Blue Palo Verde.
  • Prickly Pear (good for fruits, but this plant is so easy to find, do I really want to use precious space in the backyard on it?)

 

shots from 4 years ago, trees purchased at last sale I went to.

I have succesully turned Brittlebush and Creosote into medicine.

I have yet to actually try either of the medicines yet. I am a little scarred they might kill me.

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I cut a large hole in the top of two thin rectangular boxes and dried the leaves and stems in the boxes.

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Creosote on top and Brittlebush below.

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I put a paper towel between herbs and cardboard because I am not sure if cardboard would hurt the herbs. Is there some kind of weird die in cardboard?

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Brittlebush after dried.

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After crunching the plants up in my hands there was a lot less of each. I had not gathered nearly as much as I thought I had.

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Creosote is being stored in the old tuna can and Brittlebush is being stored in the clay pot.

I am looking forward to the weekend.  I had to work last Saturday, which made the last two weeks go long.  I have not been able to do many experiments in the last couple of weeks, so I spent more time doing internet research.    This weekend’s plans include the following:

  • Turn Brittlebush leaves into medicine.   A couple of weekends ago I went for a hike and saw the desert has a ton of brittlebush right now.   I gathered some leaves and have dried them out, so now I think I am supposed to mash them up or something.  While doing research I learned the sap from brittlebush can be used as incense and/or gum, which I think is pretty cool, so next time out I might see how much sap I can gather.

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Brittlebush in AZ Desert Botanical Garden

  • Build a solar still, which will involve digging a wide hole.  One is supposed to dig in a place that would have water in the soil, but as I am doing this in my backyard, I am going to supplement the water still but putting in weeds and sucking the water out of the plants. 
  • Use shadow of stick to figure out which way is west.
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    • Prep for the no grid water for the weekend experiment.
    • Gather water bottles.
    • Gather pine needles for composting toilet.
    • Begin gathering some Creosote Bush stems.  According to Survivorman, one can burn the stems in a fire and the smoke can be used to clean (or rather disinfect) oneself.  The plant makes its own chemicals that make animals and insects not want to eat it, and these same chemicals can be used to disinfect oneself if you don’t have any water.  It is also one of the few desert plants that can be used for toilet paper in a pinch (bad pun intended).     One a side note, the plant is a virtual medicine cabinet for many other uses as well.   Maybe make some tea out of it?  Creosote is so good at repelling harmful stuff, I wonder if it would work on Zombies?

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    Creosote in AZ Desert Botanical Garden