One of the requested blog topics was about healing herbs and another about wild foods which gave me the idea to name a page on agroshare this name!!
So today I was going to talk about a plant that grows everywhere around here in Collinsville, on Sand Mountain and in the southeast. I picked this one herbal tree first because I have several on my property and did not know until last year it has many benefits! A link is included below to read about some of them. I have never made tinctures or harvested herbs or remedies from my property but I have been going to seminars, conferences and classes for the last three years to learn how to do these things. I am going to post these classes on our events page as they come up! I hope to be taking an on-line course in medicinal herbs next year so I will be able to offer some less toxic solutions for some of our medical problems. I am fully aware that herbs are medicine also and must be used as such. And I want to learn how to help people use them wisely!!
Another name for this plant is Persian Silk tree. Some consider this tree invasive. Like all plants that were not native here we have to consider controlling its growth and spread. Below is another link describing its origin.
I am going to add some of the herbs I am learning about on my own farm. First I want to add comfrey. It is an herb I have heard about for a long time and can be put under fruit trees as part of a fruit guild. When one is growing trees as part of a permaculture plan putting a guild under the trees can be very beneficial.
Now I realize that in the last sentence I may have some new concepts for people. So definitions are in order. We have discussed permaculture on other parts of our page but this is one definition you may want to understand a little better so you can understand a fruit guild.
Thinking tools, that when used together, allow us to creatively re-design our environment and our behavior in a world of less energy and resources.
I am going to include several links so that you may better understand permaculture. I use this system when developing systems on my farm. I also equate it with treating my patients by looking at the whole patient including their home life, social life and patterns of living. I think that is why permaculture has always appealed to me as I learned more about it. If you go to the page link below you can click on each part of the flower you see to learn more about each design principle.
So this leads us to comfrey! Comfrey is a shrub that grows in parts of Europe, Asia, and North America. It can grow up to 5 feet tall. It produces clusters of purple, blue, and white flowers, and it’s famous for its long, slender leaves and black-skinned roots.
I finally got some comfrey from an herb conference I went to this summer. It has hung around my yard all summer almost dying from lack of water, being root bound and then being dug up by our puppy, Blue. So I finally got it into my garden down by the creek and now I can hardly believe how it looks! It has doubled in size and lost all the the nearly dead leaves!
I am very excited it has survived. I am trying to use my creek garden as a nursery now for all my herbs so they will grow larger for planting later around my fruit trees. It does not seem to like full sun though. But it may have just been they way it was being treated! The google search on comfrey says it can grow in most environments.
Comfrey prefers a sweet soil with a pH of 6.0-7.0 and grows best in rich, moist soil in full sun, but will tolerate some shade.* It will grow well in clay, light sands or loams — whether in dry or wet areas. Strong growing and deep- rooted, Comfrey adapts well to most any environment.
So this may be why it grows well under young fruit trees as there is a lot of sun and not much shade.
An article in Mother Earth News talks about how comfrey helps with healing wounds. https://www.motherearthnews.com/organic-gardening/comfrey-leaves-zmaz74zhol
So what good is it to fruit trees?
Probably the most commonly used mulcher plant in permaculture designs is comfrey. It’s hardy, perennial, easy to care for, and its leaves do in fact make excellent mulch. Cool!! So I will try this next year after we plant new fruit trees this winter. I will post and let folks know how it goes!
Lemon balm (Melissa officinalis), balm, common balm, or balm mint, is a perennial herbaceous plant in the mint family Lamiaceae and native to south-central Europe, the Mediterranean Basin, Iran, and Central Asia, but now naturalized in the Americas and elsewhere.
Mint family plants have a square stem. This is how you help identify the plant. This plant I also got from an herb conference and it was also dug up by my puppy, Blue. As soon as I transplanted it in my creek garden it came back and did well.
I will include a link to explain the benefits of lemon balm as an herb. I am just learning about these herbs and I do not currently teach how to use these but I send you to links with current information as to their benefits.
When I take the leaf in my fingers and pinch them back and forth a very fresh lemony smell comes out of the leaf. That is another way to identify this plant.
Another plant that is supposed to be easy to grow and can be used for a delicious mint tea is spearmint and other flavors from the mint family. This one came from the Collinsville Trade Day. It can be invasive so you must grow it where you want lots of mint! I have been told you can contain it in beds and keep it cut when it tries to run away out of the bed. We have had a hard time getting it established so now I have it in my herb nursery at the creek garden. I am excited to finally have some mint growing! We plan on putting it around our porch under the eaves where it gets lots of water from the rain coming off the roof. I can tell this plant looks similar to the lemon balm above. It also has a square stem.
This plant smells like spearmint and not lemony like lemon balm which helps one identify the plant.
Stinging nettle is also an herb I have started and my puppy, Blue did not dig this one up! Likely because it did sting her! I am very excited about this one as well. I planted it and it has grown 4-5 times its size in just 3-4 weeks! There is actually a medical treatment called prolotherapy and stinging nettles may be able to be used as something similar to prolotherapy.
Prolotherapy is an alternative therapy that can help repair ligaments. It’s also known as regenerative injection therapy or proliferation therapy. This treatment is meant for injured joints and connective tissue.
I had a family medicine MD use this therapy on me when I had a chronic tendonitis in my R arm, called tennis elbow. He said it would hurt more for three days and then go away for good and it did! I had had the tendonitis for about a year or more when he did the prolotherapy. I have thought about that therapy ever since. I previously would have to go to Honduras or some other long distance location to learn about this therapy called prolotherapy! So I have seen where stinging nettle may be able to help with the same issues. I will attempt it on myself first and then see if it works! I feel like it might be an alternative for folks who have tendon pain that persists and it might help reduce opioid use in some folks!