- Making Infused Oils
- Field Trip to Honey Dew Homestead
Infused oils can be used to soothe bug bites, small cuts, scratches and rashes. They are amazing natural remedies for many minor ailments. If you already have an herb garden why not put it to good use? Many of the common ingredients found in essential oils can also be found as common weeds like Yarrow and Plantain. If you need help identifying common weeds we recommend the following link.
In class we focused on infused oils and salves with Comfrey, Plantain, Calendula and Yarrow. Comfrey is used to help promote new skin cell growth, and should only be used on surface wounds. The herb will promote the surface to the wound to heal without allowing the skin cells to heal from the bottom up by filling in the gash or puncture. When used inappropriately, you will end up with a partially healed wound… not fun. You should also refrain from internal use of Comfrey products.
Plantain is great for insect stings and bites and is very effective at drawing out toxins from stings. Yarrow has traditionally been used to help stop hemorrhaging. During Civil War times it was used on the battle field. Calendula oil has many antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. Infused oils can be combined to help serve multiple functions and are great household remedies for minor ailments.
How to make herb-infused oil:
- Prepare your jar. Make sure the jar is clean and very dry. Any water in the jar can lead to spoilage.
- Fill the jar to the top with herbs. Make sure that your herbs are very dry again, this will help keep the oil from spoiling.
- Pour oil over the herbs slowly. You can use a variety of oils, but make sure that the oil is good quality something you would eat because it is going to be absorbed into your skin. Using a chopstick or knife, move the herbs around to make sure all air pockets are filled with oil. Add enough oil to completely cover all the herbs, filling right up to the brim of the jar.
- Cover the jar, give it a few shakes, and put it in a sunny spot on your porch or in your backyard. The jar should sit between 3 to 6 weeks.
- Strain the oil into your storage bottles through a cloth-lined strainer.
- Cover and label your bottles. The oil should last at room temperature for up to a year; two years if you add a capsule or two of vitamin E, a natural preservative.
This week the class was lucky enough to visit a suburban homestead located in Williston VT. Markey Read and Tim King have designed and managed an amazing property that is literally a gardeners heaven. They grow vegetables, perennials, fruit trees and even a rice paddy. Markey and Tim can grow it all.
Markey’s vegetables are a marvel. She uses raised beds to maximize space and encourage her plants to grow upward. Markey fits a lot into a little space, crowding plants far closer than any seed packet would ever advise. However, Markey illustrated that the distances found on seed packets are appropriate for industrial applications so that farmers can cultivate their crops with a tractor. Since not many home gardeners use tractors, that leaves us free to experiment a bit with plant spacing. One thing to note is that you will need deep raised beds for success with this gardening method. You will also need to keep an eye on your plants to make sure that they are not developing diseases from the mildew family. So if you have limited space in your garden this may be just the trick you need.