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Day 108: Herbs In the Backyard

I've been on an herbal remedy kick lately. I've always been interested in the medicinal aspect of herbs, but it hasn't been until lately that I've really started studying them for real. I regularly snip oregano, thyme, and chives from my garden to add to sauces and soups. When we moved into this place I was thrilled to find a gargantuan rosemary shrub out back.

Imagine my jubilation when I uncovered herbal medicine growing wild right outside my own back door!

Over the summer I had, quite by accident, discovered the "weeds" we had been dutifully digging up from the horses paddock was actually chicory. Chicory makes a great tea (one of my favorites, in fact). I was sad to realize that although I drank chicory tea quite regularly, I couldn't even recognize the living plant it came from. That's what spurred me to learn more about the herbal remedies hiding in plain sight.

I ordered two fabulous books: Rosemary Gladstar's Herbal Recipes for Vibrant Health and Backyard Medicine by Julie Bruton-Seal and Matthew Seal. Both are invaluable, and the latter has fabulous pictures make it so easy to identify the herbs.

Amazingly, I've discovered two more medicinal herbs growing on my property: common mallow and stinging nettles (mallow is pictured above). I feel like a mother hen, protecting these plants from my sniffing dogs, little feet, and the lawn tractor.

Common mallow is related to marsh mallow, and can be used as a tea for indigestion, sore throat and cough. It also supposedly makes a great poultice for insect bites, bruises, abrasions, and such. I can't wait to try it out.

Stinging nettles really do sting. In fact, when we first bought the property the place was overrun with it. We found out the hard way when the kids went tearing through the waist-high brush and returned covered in hives.

But nettles are very nutritious, high in vitamin C, iron, and many minerals. It makes great tea, and can be stewed or pickled. I'm a bit cautious to try this one because of the stinging barbs, but sources say by boiling the nettles for 2 minutes the stingers are neutralized. I'll build up my courage to try them.

I wonder what other secret finds I'll discover in my own back yard?



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