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[Herbal Rootlets]: No. 109 – Candied Mint Leaves

Posted in Uncategorized on May 27th, 2020 by KristineBrown — Be the first to comment!

Got mint?! Besides harvesting and drying them for tea, chopping and adding them to salads, and freezing them in ice cubes, candied mint leaves are a great way to use them up! This is a delightful treat to make with your abundance of mint leaves! You can use any kind of mint – Peppermint, Spearmint, Chocolate Mint, Lemon Balm, and Bee Balm leaves are just a few that taste great candied.

These can help to soothe upset stomaches, freshen breath, or use to decorate cupcakes.

To make the candied leaves, you will need:

Fresh mint leaves, clean and dry
1 egg white
Granulated sugar

Fresh peppermint leaves, an egg, white sugar, and a fork on a wooden cutting board

2 bowls
1 spoon
1 fork
1 whisk or fork
Waxed or parchment paper
Cookie sheet
Tin or glass jar to store them in

Start by whisking the egg white until it is bubbly.

Dip the leaves one by one in the egg white then in the sugar. Using a spoon to help coat the herbs makes it easier to cover them well.

Peppermint leaves covered with egg white and sugar, ready for the oven

Place the herbs on the wax paper covered cookie sheet.

Place in a warm oven (around 225 degrees) and dry gently for about 20-60 minutes or until completely dry (this can take a lot longer when it’s more humid).

Remove from the oven and let cool.

Once they are dry and brittle, store them in between layers of waxed/parchment paper in a tin or glass jar.

Candied Peppermint leaves in a wooden bowl

 

Peppermint leaves covered with egg white and sugar, ready for the oven

Candied Mint Leaves

Use up some of your mint leaves to create a delicious candied treat that can soothe upset stomachs, freshen the breath, and decorate cupcakes.
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 1 hr

Ingredients
  

  • Mint leaves
  • 1 Egg white
  • Granulated sugar

Instructions
 

  • Preheat oven to 225 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Whisk the egg white until it is bubbly.
  • Dip the leaves one by one in the egg white then in the sugar. Using a spoon to help coat the herbs makes it easier to cover them well.
  • Place the herbs on the wax paper covered cookie sheet.
  • Put the cookie sheet in the oven and dry gently for about 30-60 minutes or until completely dry
  • Remove from the oven and cool
  • Once they have cooled and are dry and brittle, store them in between layers of waxed/parchment paper in a tin or glass jar.

 

[Herbal Rootlets]: No. 108 – Continuing Herbal Studies with Kids through the Summer

Posted in Uncategorized on May 21st, 2020 by KristineBrown — Be the first to comment!

Parents are sighing a collective sigh of relief as school concludes for the year.

No more sticking to a schedule, dealing with online meetings and Google classroom.

No more worrying about getting your kids to finish their assignments and trying to figure out if all the assignments were accounted for.

At the same time, you may be asking yourself – now what?!

Yes, the school year is complete but now summer is here. And with summer generally comes summertime activities such as sports, swim lessons, play dates, and more.

Unfortunately, many of us are still being restricted to stay at home so summer camps, group outings, and summertime curriculums are all gone for the moment.

What can we do to entertain our kids now? Or at the least, to guide them into a pattern of curiosity and learning when they can’t join in a group activity that helps to foster that.

I’m going to give you some ideas on how to get your kids outdoors and into nature for this summer! And at the end of this article, I have a free gift coming up for the month of June that you’re going to love.

School’s out, now what?

With the weather warming up and many states going into different phases, outdoor time is becoming more available. Whether you can head out to a park or just explore your back yard, here are some fun things that can be done to learn about the plants that grow around you.

I’m going to add lots of links here to free articles and printables that I’ve created in the past that can help you out.

1. If your child loves flowers, they might enjoy keeping a record of when each herb blooms. They could do this in their own journal or you can print off my Herbal Bloom Chart for them to fill out.

2. Go outside and see what plants you can find! You can start off with my free Spring Scavenger Hunt printable or if your child is into making lists, try Building Your Backyard Herb List

3. If your child likes to study one thing at a time, consider picking a herbal mascot – one plant to study for a week, month, season, or year. You can read more about how to Choose Your Own Herbal Mascot and print off my free Herbal Mascot printable. Use the Herbal Profile Template printable to write down more in depth information about your herbal mascot.

4. Does your child enjoy reading? I’ve listed some fun herbal story books that can help to pique their interest in herbs. Read all about Summertime Reading and Herbaling and how to use these books to learn more about the herbs they talk about.

5. Simply take your child outside to play! Natural Outdoor Play is a Gateway to Herbal Learning and being outside will encourage their natural curiosity to learn about what they discover when they are outdoors.

6. If your state allows for small gatherings, consider Throwing Your Own Herbal Party to get your friends involved in herbs. When it’s a shared activity, kids often get even more excited to learn.

7. Here are 35 Activities for a Screen Free Week which can be incorporated into your daily routine anytime you need to distract your kids from the computer.

As you can see, the ideas for encouraging your child to learn about herbs are limitless! Sometimes the hardest part is just getting them outdoors – once that happens, nature takes over and does the rest!

June 30 Day Challenge

Are you like me and need a bit of extra encouragement or motivation to engage your kids?

I feel ya!

It’s always helpful to know that you’re not alone!

That’s why in June, I am offering a free 30 day challenge to give inspiration daily on learning about herbs together with your child.

Every day in June, I’ll send out a quick little email giving you a tip/challenge to incorporate some herbal learning into your day – activities that can take anywhere from 5 minutes to an hour – that will help to encourage you and your child to explore herbalism at your own pace.

For extra motivation, I’m even going to be offering a free gift to the person who participates the most in the challenge!

For more information and to sign up for the challenge, head to this page for all the details. A few days before the challenge starts, you’ll get another email giving a quick run down of some things to have on hand (that can generally be found around the home) to make the challenge super fun and simple.

[Herbal Rootlets]: No. 107 – The Uses of Yarrow

Posted in Uncategorized on May 14th, 2020 by KristineBrown — Be the first to comment!

Do you have Yarrow growing in your garden and you’re curious about its medicinal properties? Read on to learn all about this lovely perennial herb.

The Basics of Yarrow

Yarrow’s botanical name is Achillea millefolium. She is a member of the Asteraceae family, the Aster subfamily, and the Chamomile, or Anthemideae tribe. Yarrow is found in Europe and Asia. Sources vary on whether Yarrow is native or naturalized in America. According to one source, there are 10 varieties of A. millefolium that are native to the United States. In all, there are about 500 varieties of Yarrow worldwide.

Yarrow is a spreading, clumping perennial that grows from rhizome root that is covered in fibrous roots. Growth starts out as a basal rosette, with leaves spiraling around.

Feathery leaves grow 2-8 inches (5-20 cm) in length, can be bipinnate or tripinnate, a deep green, often with pale petioles that can be red tinged near the base. Leaves are pubescent, another word for hairy.

In mid to late spring, alternate leafed stalks grow from the base with inflorescences at the end, growing to a height of 6-36 inches (0.2-1 m). Each inflorescence has 4-9 translucent bracts with clusters of 15-40 disk flowers and 3-8 ray flowers. Ray flowers vary from white to pale pink, with cultivars ranging in “hot” colors of red, pink, orange, and yellow.

Fruits are achene-like cypselae, are dry, one-seeded and surrounded by a calyx sheath.

The Native Americans rated Yarrow as one of their most important herbs and with good reason,  Yarrow has many uses, which we’ll talk about in a little bit.

Energetics, Nutrition, and Constituents (oh My!)

Let’s start off with an experiment. Do you have Yarrow growing in your garden? If so, break off a piece of the leaf and flower and chew them one at a time. What tastes come to mind when you chew them? Bitter? Pungent? A hint of sweetness? How does your mouth feel? Does it cool down? Dry up? Yarrow is generally described as bitter, pungent (or acrid), sometimes sweet, cooling and drying. The aerial parts of Yarrow are used for medicine, including the flowers, stems, and leaves.

Nutritionally, it might surprise to learn that Yarrow has quite a bit to offer. She contains average amounts of dietary fiber, carbohydrates and protein, and low amounts of fat. She also contains vitamins A, C, E, thiamine (B1), riboflavin (B2), niacin (B3), inositol (B8), calcium, choline. chromium, cobalt, copper, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, selenium, silicon, sodium, tin, and zinc.

Yarrow contains many constituents including amino acids: asparagen; coumarins, essential oils: proazulene, azulene, borneol, camphor, cineole, eugenol, linalool, pinene, sabinene, and thujone; flavonoids: achillein, apigenin, luteolin, quercitin; acids: formic acid, isovalerianic acid, salicylic acid; polyacteylenes, sterols, and tannins.

The Medicinal Actions of Yarrow

Medicinally, Yarrow is analgesic, anodyne, antifungal, anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, antispasmodic, aromatic, astringent, carminative, cholagogue, circulatory stimulant, diaphoretic, digestive, diuretic, emmenagogue, expectorant, febrifuge, hemostatic, hepatic, hypotensive, nerve relaxant, odontalgic, parturient, stimulant, stomachic, styptic, sudorific, tonic, urinary antiseptic, urinary decongestant, uterine stimulant, vasodilator and vulnerary. Is there anything Yarrow can’t do?!

Let’s take a look at what all this means…

Diaphoretic means she helps the body to sweat, which is helpful when trying to break a fever. Yarrow is great for helping to reduce fevers through sweating. Yarrow is also considered to be a febrifuge, another word for fever lowering. A tea of Yarrow flowers and leaves is usually taken to reduce fevers. See the recipe section for a herbal blend that is great for fevers.

Hypotensive refers to lowering the blood pressure indicating she is good for helping people who have high blood pressure. Yarrow is also considered a vasodilator, helping to open blood vessels which can also help to lower blood pressure and increase circulation.Yarrow is best combined with some other herbs such as hawthorn and linden flowers.

Previously, we learned that an astringent herb is drying in nature and generally contains tannins, causing a local contraction of the skin, blood vessels and other tissues, thereby stopping the discharge of blood, mucus, etc. This makes Yarrow useful in toning blood vessels. Yarrow makes an effective skin cleanser and toner because of the astringency. Yarrow tea made with flowering stems is said to be beneficial to oily skin.

Because Yarrow is a styptic and vulnerary, she is useful for stopping bleeding, just like other herbs such as Plantain and Shepherd’s Purse! During the United States’ Civil War, Yarrow was used to treat wounds and was referred to as Soldier’s Woundwort. Hemostatic is another word used to describe Yarrow’s wound staunching abilities.

An antimicrobial is a fancy word meaning Yarrow kills germs! This makes it perfect for cleansing wounds. Making a tea and washing a wound using Yarrow will help to wash out all the germs and keep the wound from getting infected. This was undoubtably important during the Civil War when Yarrow was used to stop bleeding and cleanse wounds.

Also, we know that an anti-inflammatory reduces heat, redness and swelling associated with inflammation. The next time a cat scratches you, try making a poultice and applying it to the wound. The Yarrow poultice will help the scratch to not swell and become painful.

Diuretics help the body to rid itself of excess fluids by increasing the rate of urine production by the kidneys are diuretics. Yarrow is great to take for cystitis (inflammation of the bladder) and other bladder ailments. She helps to flush everything out of the bladder. As a urinary antiseptic and urinary decongestant, Yarrow helps to reduce bladder infections and clear out stagnant urine.

You probably have an idea what bitter means: something that doesn’t taste all that good. In the herb world, a bitter refers to an herb that gets the digestive juices flowing. The tannins that are drying make you think ‘yuck!’ when you drink it and cause your mouth to water. This stimulates the stomach to start digesting.

And finally, the word hepatic. Hepa– refers to the liver. Therefore, Yarrow is good for liver support! Yarrow is great at cleansing and toning the liver!

Yarrow is stimulating to the uterus and should be avoided by pregnant women. Some people do find that Yarrow can cause photosensitivity, dermatitis, headaches, and dizziness. If you are using Yarrow and experience any of these effects, discontinue use.

When choosing Yarrow at a plant nursery, skip the hot pinks, yellows, and other brightly colored flowers as the white flowered plants contain more medicinal value.

Want more ways to incorporate Yarrow into your child’s learning? Check out The Next Step, my year long course that teaches kids how to use herbs medicinally in a fun and engaging way.

Does Yarrow grow in your garden? What is your favorite use for this wonderful plant?

Herbal Parenting Hangout – Week 6

Posted in Uncategorized on May 14th, 2020 by KristineBrown — Be the first to comment!

I’ve been hosting a Herbal Parenting Hangout through the American Herbalists Guild each Wednesday evening and this is our last week!

I’ve had such a blast that I hope to host some more in the future. I’d love for you to join us! Bring your stories and tips, questions, and concerns about balancing work, schooling, and all things herbal during this unprecedented time.

If you’d like to join us, sign up for my newsletter (the link is on the left and you get a free issue on Cacao for signing up) and I’ll be notifying everyone when the schedule has been set up.

Each week, I try to recap and create a PDF with all the books and links we discussed in the hangout. You can access this week’s here.

Herbal Parenting Hangout – Week 5

Posted in Uncategorized on May 7th, 2020 by KristineBrown — Be the first to comment!

I’m hosting a Herbal Parenting Hangout through the American Herbalists Guild each Wednesday evening through May 13. I’d love for you to join us! Bring your stories and tips, questions, and concerns about balancing work, schooling, and all things herbal during this unprecedented time.

Each week, I try to recap and create a PDF with all the books and links we discussed in the hangout. You can access this week’s here.

[Herbal Rootlets]: No. 106 – Making A Hydrosol With Kids

Posted in Uncategorized on May 7th, 2020 by KristineBrown — 2 Comments

Hydrosols are a fun activity that you can make with kids. It’s easy and creates a versatile product that can be used in a variety of ways while capturing the essence of the plant.

What are Hydrosols?

Hydrosols are a product of steaming plant material with water and collecting the resulting scented water that contains the plant’s essential oils.

One example of a hydrosol is Rose water. Rose water was originally made from the damask roses. It has been used for centuries to add flavor to foods and beverages in China, India and the Middle East. It has also been used since ancient times in cosmetics.

Today I’m offering up this simple tutorial so you and your kids can have fun making your own hydrosols at home. Please be careful when making as you have to work with steam. This recipe is for making a Rose hydrosol but you can use this for any aromatic plant including Basil, Thyme, Rosemary, Peppermint, Lavender, Elderflower, and Calendula. If you do not have fresh available, you can use dried materials but remember you’ll need quite a bit of dried material to make it.

You will need:

Fresh Rose petals, the more fragrant the better

Clean brick

Enamel Canner with lid

Glass measuring cup

Ice

Ladle

Water (rainwater is best!)

Place the canner on the stove. Add the brick to the middle of the canner and set the glass measuring cup on top of it.

Sprinkle rose petals all around the brick, filling the bottom of the canner to the top of the brick with petals.

Pour enough water to cover the petals and place the lid on upside down so that it curves into the canner instead of right side up.

Turn on heat and bring to a simmer. Add a handful of ice to the lid of the canner and wait about 1 minute.

Carefully remove the lid, setting aside (do not spill the ice water into the canner) and ladle the water inside the glass measuring cup out and pour it into a bottle.

Replace the lid and keep repeating this process for the next 10-20 minutes until the liquid no longer is fragrant.

Bottle your water and label.

Hydrosols should be used fairly quickly. Try to use within 6 months and for longest stability, store in the refrigerator.

Some Uses for Your Hydrosol

Use as a toner on your face after washing

Gargle  as mouthwash

Dabbed on wrists and temples to cool and refreshen

Add 1 Tbsp. to bath water with 1/4 c. powdered milk

Substitute for vanilla in recipes

Mix with glycerin to treat diaper rash

Add to scones and cake recipes for subtle flavor enhancement

Spray into the air for an air freshener

Spray on your pulse points as a natural perfume

Add to lotion or cream recipes in place of water for a subtle scent

Use as a linen spray to freshen your linens

Use as a cleaner

Apply to help clean a wound

Apply to burns

As you can see, hydrosols are very versatile and easy to make! This is a great activity to do with your children while you are learning about herbs.

Do you use hydrosols? Have you ever made any yourself? Share your experiences in the comments!

Herbal Parenting Hangout – Week 4

Posted in Uncategorized on May 1st, 2020 by KristineBrown — Be the first to comment!

I’m hosting a Herbal Parenting Hangout through the American Herbalists Guild each Wednesday evening through May 13. I’d love for you to join us! Bring your stories and tips, questions, and concerns about balancing work, schooling, and all things herbal during this unprecedented time.

Each week, I try to recap and create a PDF with all the books and links we discussed in the hangout. You can access this week’s here.

[Herbal Rootlets]: No. 105 – Determining Shelf Life

Posted in Uncategorized on April 30th, 2020 by KristineBrown — Be the first to comment!

I get a lot of questions asking about the shelf life of dried herbs and herbal preparations so I thought I’d take time to answer these questions in this week’s newsletter.

If you’ve studied herbs for any length of time, you’ve probably be given numbers for determining the usefulness of herbs. However, it’s important to take into account where you’ve acquired your herbs and preparations before staying with the general ‘rules’ of shelf life.

Leaves, barks, berries, flowers, and seeds

Let’s start with dried herbs. The general rule of thumb is that more delicate plant materials such as leaves and flowers are generally good for 1-2 years. Harder parts such as seeds, barks, and roots last for 3-4 years. This will depend greatly on how they were stored. Keeping them in a cool, dry, dark location will greatly increase their shelf life. Also, where you got your herbs from will make a difference as well. Commercial sources are often already 6 months old by the time you purchase them, if not older. Purchasing from a local grower or growing and drying them yourself will help to extend the shelf life.

To determine if they are still viable or not, use your senses. When you first are packing your herb, take a moment to assess it. What is the color of it? What does it smell like? Taste like? Look like? How does it taste in a tea (if used as such)? Write this information down in a notebook along with when/where you purchased/harvested it and how much you purchased. Then when you are doing inventory, compare notes. Does your dried Calendula still host bright orange and yellow petals or have they faded to a tan? Is the Lemon Balm still lemony when you crush it and smell it? and taste it? Does the tea still taste the same or is it blah? And most importantly, when you make use of it, is it still effective? All of these observations will help you to determine if the plant is ready to be composted or ready to be used.

Tinctures, glycerites, syrups, and vinegars

Tinctures are a bit different in nature. Since the herb is preserved in alcohol, most stay potent indefinitely when stored in a cool, dark location. A few, such as Shepherd’s Purse defy that rule and generally lose their potency after 1 year. Again, try the tincture and see if you get the same results as you did when it was freshly made. If yes, it’s still good, if no, time to compost it.

Herbal vinegars and honeys are similar to tinctures. They generally last indefinitely when stored properly. Keep them in a cool, dark location in your pantry, there is no need to refrigerate them.

Glycerites tend to not hold their value indefinitely. Typically they last for a few years at the most, with many herbalists finding after a year the potency drops significantly. Considering they are less potent to begin with, this can be the difference between an effective herbal remedy and a dud.

Syrups also typically only last for only up to a year, and often only about 6 months. Again, note the taste and smell when you first make it and then once a month, pull your syrups out of the refrigerator and check them. If they smell or taste off, it’s time to compost them.

Oils and salves

Herbal oils and salves generally last 6-12 months, again dependent on how they are stored. I prefer to keep my oils in the refrigerator for a longer shelf life. A quick sniff test will let you know if your oil has gone rancid. Again, smell your product and note its scent before storing then smell it each time before using it. When it smells off, it’s time to discard it.

Other factors

Other factors to consider in the storage of your herbs is your location and storage space. For instance, my home is not air conditioned and living in the midwest, we get hot, humid summers. We also do not have central heat, using a wood stove to heat during the damp, cold winters. I store my dried herbs in a cabinet in my office, which can get pretty hot during the summertime and pretty cold in the winter. Because of this, I know my herbs may not last as long as someone who has the humidity and temperatures controlled in their home. Because of this, I make sure to grow and harvest the herbs I need every year or I’ll need to purchase them.

If your only storage location is in your kitchen next to the stove, that will influence the life of your herbs as well.

Annual herbal check-ups

You should try to go through your dried herbs and preparations at least once a year. Personally, I like to do this in the late winter, early spring so that I know what I’ll need to harvest and grow in the upcoming year.

This is a great activity to do with your kids, as it will teach them how to determine if the herbs they are using are still good or not. It also can teach about the cycle of life, and composting your spent herbs is a great way to help close the circle and return the plants to the earth they grew from.

Hopefully this helps you feel more comfortable in the storage and use of your herbs.

Do you have any tips or stories about your herbal pantry? Please share them with us in the comments below!

Want to learn more about how to store your herbs? See my previous article on my tips here.

Herbal Parenting Hangout – Week 3

Posted in Uncategorized on April 24th, 2020 by KristineBrown — Be the first to comment!

I’m hosting a Herbal Parenting Hangout through the American Herbalists Guild each Wednesday evening through May 13. I’d love for you to join us! Bring your stories and tips, questions, and concerns about balancing work, schooling, and all things herbal during this unprecedented time.

Each week, I try to recap and create a PDF with all the books and links we discussed in the hangout. You can access this week’s here.

[Herbal Rootlets]: No. 104 – Dandelion Drop Biscuits

Posted in Uncategorized on April 23rd, 2020 by KristineBrown — 1 Comment so far

Delicious Dandelion Drop Biscuits from Herbal Roots zine

This is a happy little accident that I created when making Dandelion Fritters – I had too much flour to liquid ratio (because I am bad at following recipes) and ended up with a firmer than usual batter.

It’s very versatile and you can add Nettles, Violet flowers and leaves, and/or Chickweed to the batter, depending on what you have available.

I love adding springtime greens to our meals because they are highly nourishing, full of many vitamins and minerals.

Kids will love making these and can often be tasked with picking the flowers and leaves for you.

Dandelion flowers and leaves, and Chickweed in a basket

You can substitute out any of the flours or milk for the flour and milk of your choice.

1/2 cup Coconut flour

1/2 cup almond flour

1 clove Garlic, minced

1/2 cup chopped dandelion leaves (and/or Nettles, Chickweed, and Violets)

1/2 cup dandelion flower petals (about 20 flowerheads)

1/2 red onion, minced

1/4 tsp sea salt

1/4 tsp black pepper

2 eggs, beaten

1 cup canned whole coconut milk

Chopped up dandelion leaves and flowers, chickweed, and red onion

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Combine the flours together along with the salt and pepper.

Red onion, Dandelion and Chickweed, and flour in a bowl

Add in the garlic, onion, and dandelions. Stir to combine.

Mixture stirred together with egg

Add eggs and mix together well until mixed and crumbly.

A thicker batter that looks like drop biscuits

Stir in milk, once combined they will be thick just like homemade drop biscuits.

Roll into 9 balls of equal size and place on a cookie sheet.

Golden brown Dandelion Drop Biscuits

Place in the oven and bake for 18-20 minutes or until biscuits feel firm to touch.

Flaky Dandelion Drop Biscuits

These biscuits are flaky and delicious – the red onion gives them a hint of sweetness.

Flaky Dandelion Drop Biscuits

Dandelion Drop Biscuits

KristineBrown
Give your ordinary drop biscuits a delicious twist by adding nutritious wild edibles such as Dandelion, Violet, Chickweed, and Nettles to your biscuits!
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 20 mins
Course Side Dish
Cuisine American
Servings 4

Ingredients
  

  • 1/2 cup coconut flour
  • 1/2 cup almond meal flour
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup chopped dandelion leaves (and/or Nettles, Chickweed, and Violets)
  • 1/2 cup chopped dandelion flowers (about 20 flowerheads)
  • 1/2 red onion, minced
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 cup coconut milk (I use canned whole coconut milk)

Instructions
 

  • Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. 
  • Combine the flours together along with the salt and pepper.
  • Add in the garlic, onion, and dandelions. Stir to combine.
  • Add eggs and mix together well until mixed and crumbly. 
  • Stir in milk, once combined they will be thick just like homemade drop biscuits.
  • Roll into 9 balls of equal size and place on a cookie sheet.
  • Place in the oven and bake for 18-20 minutes or until biscuits feel firm to touch.

[Herbal Rootlets]: No. 103 – Violet Science Activity for Kids

Posted in Uncategorized on April 17th, 2020 by KristineBrown — Be the first to comment!

Science with Violets

Did you know that Violets can be used to create a litmus test? This is a great activity to do with kids to get a mini-science activity into your day.

Are you starting a garden this year? If so, you can expand this activity to use the Violet infusions to test the acidity/alkalinity of your soil.

Fresh Violet flowers
Boiling water
Lemon juice

Baking soda

Soil you want to test

Violet Litmus Test

Fill 1 large jar with Violet blossoms. Cover with boiling water and let sit overnight. Strain off the Violets.

In 2 half pint size jars or smaller, fill halfway with Violet water.

In 1 jar, add lemon juice until water turns purple/red. This is your acid indicator.

In the second jar, add baking soda until it turns green/yellow. This is your base indicator.

Use the rest of the violet water to add your test soil (or any other items you choose to test) by pouring it into as many other jars as you need to complete the tests.

To test your soil, pour a few additional jars of Violet water and add a tablespoon of soil to each. You may wish to test various areas of your yard or even compare it to compost and/or potting soil.

Stir the soil into each jar, rinsing your spoon between jars. Let everything settle then compare the soil jars to the indicator jars.

Herbal Parenting Hangout – Week Two

Posted in Uncategorized on April 15th, 2020 by KristineBrown — Be the first to comment!

I’m hosting a Herbal Parenting Hangout through the American Herbalists Guild each Wednesday evening through May 13. I’d love for you to join us! Bring your stories and tips, questions, and concerns about balancing work, schooling, and all things herbal during this unprecedented time.

Each week, I try to recap and create a PDF with all the books and links we discussed in the hangout. You can access this week’s here.

[Herbal Rootlets]: No. 102 – Introducing Your Kids to Herbs

Posted in Uncategorized on April 8th, 2020 by KristineBrown — 1 Comment so far

Introducing Your Kids to Herbs

Curious how to introduce your kids to herbs?

Are you a mom or dad who has just learned about how awesome herbs are?

Or have you been studying them for awhile and now want to incorporate the medicinal uses of herbs into your household?

Maybe you want to use herbs in your everyday activities and meals but your kids are balking at the idea of taking an herbal syrup because they are used to bubblegum flavored medicine.

Does any of this sound familiar?

One of the most asked questions I get asked is “how do I introduce herbs to my kids? How do I get them excited about using herbal medicine?” so I decided I would write a bit about that today.

First of all, you have come to the right place!

I have devoted the last 11 years of my life to helping teach herbalism to kids as a fun activity.

And this is based on 25 years of parenting and incorporating herbs into our everyday lives combined with my journey into herbal medicine myself.

Often when we get excited about something, we start to make it a big deal which makes kids take notice, for better or worse.

Younger kids, ages 2-8, are often more likely to follow right along, because they love to mimic what mom or dad is doing. So many early childhood toys are geared to chores: play kitchens, play vacuums, play brooms and dust pans, play lawn mowers, etc. because children learn by observation and this age is all about observing their parents daily activities.

Once kids hit 8 or 9, they start to really have their own interests, with that hint of independence coming in to play. They may still observe their surroundings, but they are also exploring things that are not so familiar to them.

And once kids are teenagers, it can feel like they reject their parents’ influence altogether, searching for their own way in life, making this a daunting time to offer any of your own interests, as a parent, into their lives.

So, let’s take a look at these age categories and how you can introduce herbs to your kids without rejection.

A young boy and girl use clippers and a basket to harvest catnip

The Younger Years – Ages 2-8

This is a big age range that presents a lot of growth and changes. This age often wants to ‘help’ so offering to let them help you make herbal remedies is a great way to introduce herbs to them.

Keep your message short, talk about nutrition that herbs can offer as you are making an herbal salad, dandelion fritters, or elderberry syrup for pancakes and colds.

Let them sample the herbs when they are pleasant tasting – lemon balm and other mint plants are a great way to start.

Stress the importance of asking before they try something on their own, letting them know that most plants help our bodies, but some might make us feel worse than better.

This is a great age to teach them through stories and songs. Make it a daily activity to sing songs about the herbs or tell stories throughout the day.

If you grow a garden, let them help you out in the garden, from planting to weeding to harvest time. They will be empowered from these activities, taking pride and ownership in nurturing plants along.

This also makes using the herbs a big deal, knowing they tended the garden and then made the medicine from the plants in their care.

Teach them corresponding stories and songs about the plants in your garden and make it a ritual to sing those songs or tell those stories as you tend the plants.

Talk about the medicinal uses of the plants as well, in small snippets.

Create crafts from the plants – do plant rubbings, plant dyeing for play silks, plant impressions in clay – that they can reflect back on the individual plants and recall their uses.

A young girl sketches a New England Aster flower.

The Middle Years – Ages 9-12

This age group starts with a sudden shift. Your happy little helper may no longer be interested in working side by side with you in your daily activities.

They are starting to develop their own interests and activities. Tie this into herbs whenever you can.

For instance, someone who loves to be outdoors might like to go on plant walks, looking for herbs in the woods, fields, or parks near your home.

They may still enjoy creating their own garden, if so, talk about herbs that can help them with any health issues they may have.

As an idea, if they seem to get a lot of stomachaches, introduce them to plants that can help such as chamomile and peppermint.

Even ginger can be grown in a pot on the back patio or in a sunny window.

If they like to draw, enroll them in drawing classes that teach them how to draw plants.

Science enthusiasts would love to try experiments with herbs, from growing plants in various types of soils to litmus papers that can be created from violet.

Little cooks might enjoy cooking recipes from herbs – old fashioned marshmallows, herbal jellies, herb infused cookies and ice cream, herbal popsicles, and more can be created with herbs.

There are so many ways to incorporate herbal fun into this age group. They may also enjoy learning through word searches, crosswords, and other herbally oriented activities.

A teen girl follows a recipe in an herb book to make some tea.

The Teen Years – Ages 13-18

This age can be so hard! And indeed, of all the age groups, it’s the one I hear the most from their parents. Teens are most self absorbed at this age, worrying about their looks, others’ opinions of them, and the struggles of the teen world dynamic.

It’s a time of growing and seeking independence from their parents and so they often push us away.

It’s a delicate balance for some at this age. Consider their worries and struggles from their point of view.

Girls often are into make-up, face masks, shampoos and soaps, and perfumes. They may struggle with acne and try to cover it up.

Boys often worry about acne and body odor, and being physically fit if they are athletic.

These are things to focus on when you introduce herbs to them.

Bath and beauty products, commercially, have a lot of chemicals that can be horrible for our skin, which absorbs those chemicals and sends them to our livers.

Showing your young woman how to make her own natural products using herbs and other natural materials can create an interest.

Also, sharing ideas how to keep her liver strong and healthy so she can have clear skin is another great approach.

Your young man may also be receptive to learning to support his liver herbally to reduce acne as well as learning about nourishing herbs such as fermented raspberry or blackberry leaf and stinging nettles infusions for building strong muscles.

Both may also be interested in herbal adaptogens that help to strengthen their bodies and herbs such as rosemary, ginkgo, and gotu kola for increasing brain power, especially those who are more study oriented.

A young girl sits at a table outside under a tree reading some children's herb storybooks.

But How Do I Get Started?

Wow, all of this sounds great, you may be thinking, but how do I start learning about the specific herbs to teach them???

If after reading this article you are still feeling this way, may I suggest enrolling in one of my online courses?

I have worked hard to start building a curriculum based around my 130+ issues of Herbal Roots zine, designed to help you break down herbal learning in easy to digest chunks.

I currently have three year long courses: New to Herbs Course , The Next Step, and The Native Medicinal Plants Journey, as well as a botany and drawing course, The Science and Art of Botany.

Plans are in the works to launch more courses, and I’m developing a Teen Herbalism Course that I hope to launch later this year or early next year.

Looking for other forms of inspiration? Join me on Wednesday evenings at a virtual hangout with likeminded parents who are looking for inspiration. Hosted by the American Herbalists Guild, this hangout is a gathering place for us to share our stories of what works and doesn’t, get tips and ideas for incorporating herbs and herbal learning into your daily routines, and join together with other parents online. For more information on dates and times and to sign up, head here.

If you have a teen that’s interested in herbalism, I’d love to hear what topics they are interested in, so please email, message me, or leave a comment letting me know!

You are Not Alone!

I’ve been there. I know what it’s like to want to offer your kids knowledge but not know where to start.

I homeschooled two of my children for 10 years and I’ve seen all the ages and stages of growth. I’m currently in the teen years, working to keep their interest in herbs up.

It’s hard, trust me, I know! My goal with Herbal Roots zine is to help you, the parent, to get your kids excited about herbs so that they continue to learn about them throughout their childhood.

And so that they continue to incorporate herbs into their lives when they grow up and have kids of their own.

Tell me, what are your struggles and biggest obstacles when it comes to teaching your kids about herbs?

What has worked for you and what has completely bombed?

I’d love to hear your stories and struggles, please share them with me either in a comment or in an email.

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