Turn Your Brownthumbs Green > With Herbs

Below are examples of popular herbs that can turn any brownthumb green! Not only are the herbs easy to work with, they are perennials, which means your herb friends will return year after year.

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Lavender
Perennial. Thrives in full sun and dry soil. Plant from seed in the Fall or use cuttings. You can also find plant ‘starts’, available at most Farmer’s Markets. Lavender is known for its fragrant leaves and is a hardy herb. Try infusing water or vodka with lavender for an added level of delicious.

Oregano
Perennial. One of the most, hardy plants around! Oregano loves direct, full sun and well-drained sandy soil. You can grow from seed in the Spring or use cuttings. Oregano does really well with weekly cutbacks and is rambunctious in salads.

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Eggshell Seed “Starts”

Starting seeds in eggshells is a practical, sustainable, fun, and super precious greenthumbing experience! Plus, it is a great project for kids (and seniors!!).

 You Will Need:

  • Empty eggshell halves (make sure they are rinsed with soap!!!)
  • Cardboard egg carton
  • Pre-moistened seed start mix
  • Seeds (I’ve started everything from flowers to veggies in eggshells)
  • A windowsill where the seeds can germinate or a grow light setup
  • Love, patience and good wishes

Start with a dozen eggs. Gently crack-open the eggshell at the top and drain out the raw egg to create an eggshell “pot”. Don’t be alarmed if your cracked eggshells have ragged edges, this will work just fine and will offer tons of personality. Perfectionism in the garden is no fun!

Make sure you wash the shell well with warm water and soap. I learned this the hard way after a terrible bout of salmonella a few years ago. Oy. Set aside to dry. Use a tiny pin to gently create a drainage hole in the bottom of the eggshell. When the shell is dry, fill each empty shell pot with organic seed-starting mix and place the eggshell pots in the cardboard eggshell carton. Please do not use Styrofoam egg cartons!

Gently, and with love, drop a seed or two in the shell according to the sowing instructions. If you don’t have a grow light, leave the eggshell seed starts in a sunny south-facing window. The seed start soil mixture should be kept moist but not drenched and you can use a a spray bottle for simple water flow adjustments.

Once your seedlings begin to appear, besides jumping for joy and sending everyone you know photos of your new adorable seed babies, and they have grown their first robust set of leaves, they are ready for transplanting into earth/soil.

Whether you have a windowbox, container garden or plant directly into Mother Earth, gently crush the shell and please be careful of the roots. Place in soil and cover base of growth, fully burying the shell. Eggshell seed starts thrive once planted in their final growing space. Plus they keep pests away due to their sharp edging and provide ongoing nutrients to baby plants.

So there you have it. Ditch the plastic and toxic seed starters for a more sustainable option.

NYC Girl Gone Jungle

After many years of urban food garden facilitation in NYC and Brooklyn, I have moved to be closer to nature in Costa Rica. I’m living on the land at Puerta a la Vida and it’s Pura Vida. Lush, vibrant, and full of earth Qi. Today we had our first meeting discussing the future of the growing operations and I can’t wait to share more.

Earth Qi in Costa Rica

DARK Act

Congress is considering the Deny Americans the Right to Know – or DARK – Act, which would block all states from requiring labeling of genetically engineered foods. Even the name of the Act is is ridiculously shady.

Big Food lobbyists – including the industry front group Grocery Manufacturers Association – are pulling out all the stops to get this bill passed. I just added my name asking my representative to oppose this reprehensible bill. Will you add yours too? Take A MOMENT, your future self thanks you!

Bugging Out

Don’t bug out just because it’s buggy season… and definitely do not purchase over the counter bug spray that features a host of chemicals and potential health hazards. D.I.Y. bug spray is not only cost-effective, it’s a healthy and non-toxic option. In addition to that, it’s more sustainable and Mother Earth loves that!

In a dark glass spray bottle, mix the following ingredients:

  • 15 drops Organic Lavender Essential Oil
  • 15 drops Organic Lemon Eucalyptus Essential Oil
  • 10 drops Organic Citronella Essential Oil
  • 4 tablespoons Organic Vanilla Extract
  • 1/4 cup Organic Lemon Juice
  • 1 cup filtered water

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Shake, shake some more and shake contents again! You’re now ready to spray. Happy Summer!

*Using dark glass prevents essential oils from oxidation.

Scientists: Earth Endangered By Fact Resistant Humans (New Yorker Satire)

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MINNEAPOLIS (The Borowitz Report) – Scientists have discovered a powerful new strain of fact-resistant humans who are threatening the ability of Earth to sustain life, a sobering new study reports.

The research, conducted by the University of Minnesota, identifies a virulent strain of humans who are virtually immune to any form of verifiable knowledge, leaving scientists at a loss as to how to combat them.

“These humans appear to have all the faculties necessary to receive and process information,” Davis Logsdon, one of the scientists who contributed to the study, said. “And yet, somehow, they have developed defenses that, for all intents and purposes, have rendered those faculties totally inactive.”

More worryingly, Logsdon said, “As facts have multiplied, their defenses against those facts have only grown more powerful.”

While scientists have no clear understanding of the mechanisms that prevent the fact-resistant humans from absorbing data, they theorize that the strain may have developed the ability to intercept and discard information en route from the auditory nerve to the brain. “The normal functions of human consciousness have been completely nullified,” Logsdon said.

While reaffirming the gloomy assessments of the study, Logsdon held out hope that the threat of fact-resistant humans could be mitigated in the future. “Our research is very preliminary, but it’s possible that they will become more receptive to facts once they are in an environment without food, water, or oxygen,” he said.

Root Rage: Maca

Just in time for Valentine’s Day – Lepidium Meyenii, AKA Maca. Maca Root is said to be THE aphrodisiac of the Incas, and is traditionally employed in the Andean region for its supposed libido enhancing and fertility strengthening properties. Maca has also been shown to improve sperm production, sperm motility and semen volume. Incan warriors would often consume Maca before long journeys and battles and is still used today for its ability to help strength and endurance.

In addition to its sexy factor, Maca root contains significant amounts of amino acids, complex carbohydrates, vitamins B1, B2, B12, C and E and minerals, including calcium, phosphorus, zinc, magnesium and iron. This tuber is also a an effective antioxidant with anti-cancerous properties. Maca continues to be sacred to its people and has been used as food and as medicine in South America for centuries.

So, skip the “not tonight honey I’m too tired” and get your Valentine’s Day started with some Maca Root.

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A) Maca (Lepidium meyenii) A1) racemose inflorescence; A2) fruit in a silicula; A3) dried root; B) arracacha (Arracacia xanthorrhiza); B1) leaves; B2) umbel inflorescence; B3) fruit; B4) cross-section of the fruit

Organic Gardening Education

Teaching people how to grow food has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. Getting people back in touch with the flow of nature and all of it’s goodies is a deep honor. If you are not in the BK/NYC area and would like to learn how to grow your own food, veggies and annuals/perennials, I’m offering Skype sessions on the basics of Organic Gardening. If you’d like a more in depth education with a certificate, Greenthumber’s rejoice!!!

Registration is now live for Cornell’s Organic Gardening Online Course. Course starts February 24th!

“This online course was developed in response to a strong interest in organic gardening from people across the country and is intended to examine the basics of small-scale organic gardening. The topics and depth of information offered will help new gardeners learn the basics and feel comfortable getting started, while also offering more experienced gardeners the opportunity to expand their knowledge base. Students will walk away with a wealth of resources to look into for further study

The course has a strong foundation in soil health and its impact on plant health and a whole systems approach to gardening. The course also explores various techniques for growing different kinds of garden plants – annuals and perennials, food plants and ornamental plants.”

Raised bed vegetable garden

Herb Highlight : Stinging Nettle

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Nettle Leaf – Lady Greenthumbs

Pictured above is the stinging nettle, Urtica dioica, which has a vibrant and rich medicinal history. In medieval Europe, it was used to help people poop and to ease joint pain.  Stinging nettle has also been used for hundreds of years to treat painful muscles and joints, eczema, arthritis, gout, and anemia. I often suggest using nettle for skin problems as it helps with inflammation in addition to treating urinary problems during the early stages of an enlarged prostate, for urinary tract infections or for hay fever. I also like to use nettle in compresses and creams for treating joint pain, sprains and strains, tendonitis and insect bites.

Please use herbs with care and under the supervision of a health care provider. While the use of herbs is a time honored approach to strengthening the body and treating disease they can trigger side effects and can interact with other herbs, supplements, or medications.

Tree Walk and Talk

This Saturday, September 21st, The Battery Conservancy is hosting a “Tree Walk and Talk” with William Bryant Logan at Battery Urban Farm. Bill is president and founder of Urban Arborists Inc., and award-winning author of “Dirt: The Ecstatic Skin of the Earth”, “Air: The Restless Shaper of the World” and “Oak: The Frame of Civilization”. The Tree Walk and Talk  will explore urban orchards, trees and the soil they call home. This starts at 1pm, Volunteer hours are 10-1pm and Farmstand hours are noon – 4pm.

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Image © Marisa Gross Photography – Tree World | 2004