Earth Allies: Microorganisms

Living SoilLiving soil contains billions of living microorganisms that affect soil and plant health. These include bacteria, fungi, protozoa, and nematodes.

A teaspoon of fertile soil can contain up to one billion bacteria. Bacteria help the soil decompose  organic matter, retain nutrients in the soil, compete with disease causing organisms, and break down soil pollutants. Some bacteria help transfer nitrogen into the soil from legumes, improving soil quality.

In our age of sterility and control, bacteria have gotten a bad name, but in truth all healthy ecosystems, including our own bodies, contain much beneficial bacteria. Provide beneficial bacteria with plenty of organic matter and you will have happy worms, dirt, and plants –which means a healthy and bountiful garden.

Woodland FungiFungi, microorganisms that are slightly larger than bacteria, serve a similar function. They help decompose carbon compounds, making the carbon available to plants and soil microbes, and help retain nutrients in the soil. They bind soil particles into aggregates, making the soil more porous to air and water. They provide food for other microorganisms, compete with plant pathogens, and decompose some types of pollution.

Open a rotting log and you can see fungi at work, their long white strands eating away at the decomposing matter. Fungi in the soil, however, are too small to see with the naked eye.

One type of fungus is called mycorrhizae, meaning fungus root. These fungi form a symbiotic relationship with plants roots, improving the roots’ absorption of water, air and nutrients. In turn, the fungi receive sugars from the roots. Good soil containing lots of organic matter, water, air, and microorganisms leads to healthy mycorrhizal growth.

Vegetable RowsProtozoa, another microbial soil ally, primarily eat bacteria, releasing the fertilizing waste product ammonium in the soil and simultaneously stimulating bacteria populations. They also provide a food source for nematodes, an unsegmented worm.

Nematodes are primarily beneficial, though some feed on roots and can kill a plant. Beneficial nematodes feed on protozoa, bacteria and fungi as well as other nematodes, including the harmful varieties. Like protozoa, they also release ammonium into the soil as a byproduct of their feeding. They distribute bacteria and fungi through the soil as they travel through their earthy domain.

Remember that the health of your garden does not solely lie in the hands of our earth allies. You must work just as hard as they do to reap the benefits of a healthy and prospering patch of land.

This Article was Adapted from Sacred Land by Clea Danaan

All Images from Google.com

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Natural Peach Flavored Gelatin

Greetings everyone!

Today’s video details a great way to enjoy a light dessert while we soak up the last days of summer.

It’s delicious, nutritious and is a lovely use for ripe peaches.

I would recommend substituting the sugar for equal parts honey or rapadura (sucanat).

I also recommend experimenting with other types of fruits, and discovering new combinations.

Enjoy.

Click here for more videos by Cooking with Dog.

Herbal Profile: Greater Plantain

Greater plantain (Plantago major) is a perennial herbaceous plant that is very common in the United States and Europe. It grows very well in compacted and disturbed soil such as along roadways and paths. The peculiar characteristic of growing in areas upset by humans led to the name of “White Man’s Footprint” in America.

This lovely plant is not only medicinal, but highly nutritious and has been used as food and medicine for millennia. It is a great source of vitamin A, C and K as well as calcium.

Mature leaves can be dried for later use in a dehydrator or by simply tying them in small bunches and hanging in a well ventilated area.

Whole PlantainThe Properties of Plantain: (See the Herbal Terminology Post for Definitions)
Analgesic, Anti-Inflammatory, Astringent, Demulcent, Diuretic, Expectorant, Hemostatic

Uses for Plantain include:

Medicinal: Helps with wound healing, sores, rashes, stings, diarrhea, dysentery, bladder problems, gastrointestinal ulcers, ringworm, and hemorrhoids.

Cosmetic: Used as an astringent to tighten pores and help balance oily skin.

Energetic and Spiritual: Plantain is an herb belonging to the element of Earth and is in tune with the planetary energies of Venus. It is used to promote healing when kept around the home and helps keep negative energies at bay when carried or hung around the house.

Rubbing the feet with plantain leaves is said to invigorate the body and spirit.

Culinary: The young tender leaves can be used raw in salads, but the mature leaves become very tough and should be prepared in a similar way to spinach.

Plantain DetailsApplications of Plantain:

Infusion: steep 1 teaspoon fresh or dried leaves in ½ cup of water. Take 1 to 1 ½ cups a day a mouthful at a time, unsweetened. This method is useful for diarrhea, dysentery, bladder problems and gastrointestinal ulcers. This method is also great for use as a toner on the face.

Poultice: mix 1 teaspoon of fresh or dried leaves with 1 teaspoon of bentonite or kaolin and enough water to form a paste. This paste can be applied topically to help heal wounds, stings, sores, rashes and even ringworm. This method is also great as a tightening mask for the face.

If you do not have clay available, simply chew the leaves until a paste is form and spread onto the afflicted area.

Contraindications:

There are none known, but use with extreme caution during pregnancy and while breastfeeding.

Always check with a healthcare practitioner before beginning herbal treatments.

Information Pulled from:

The Herb Book by John Lust

The Master Book of Herbalism by Paul Beyerl

Cunningham’s Encyclopedia of Magical Herbs by Scott Cunningham

The Complete Illustrated Encyclopedia of Magical Plants by Susan Gregg

Notes taken on an herb walk in Boulder, CO with herbalist Cat Pantaleo

Images from Google.com

Vaginal Health Tips

Vaginal health is an important topic for many people, but you’d be surprised how misinformed people are.

I personally feel this comes from the stigmas imposed on our bodies by society, and the internalized guilt associated with them.

I work in an environment where people tell me about their bodies, and I can’t believe how many people apologize for sharing details with me (especially females).

Everyone has a body, and everyone’s body has functions necessary for survival. It isn’t gross, it isn’t dirty, and it isn’t inappropriate.

Your body is your temple, and should be respected, not looked upon with guilt or shame.

Love your body, it is extraordinary.

Now that my little rant is over, let’s move on to some tips on surviving with a vagina by the ever-amazing Laci Green.

In this lovely video she shares some tips for dealing with yeast infections, periods, and urinary tract infections. They use holistic and natural methods, and are effective.

The only amendment I would make is to be somewhat cautious with tea tree oil as it can irritate the skin in those with sensitivities. It is generally safe for most people to apply undiluted, but definitely test it on a small patch of skin before using it neat.

Enjoy these tips when things get a little out of sorts, and most of all love your bodies.

Click here for more videos on sex, body health, feminism and many other topics by Laci Green.

Essential Oils in the Bedroom

Elegant BedroomThe bedroom is a place to sleep, or to play. It all depends on you and your mood. When aroma and romantics come together we have “aromantics,” which is such a big subject that whole books have been devoted to it.

If romance is on your mind, Ylang-Ylang, Jasmine, Rose, Palma Rosa, and Clary Sage are all appropriate oils to use around the bedroom.

To keep it smelling romantic at all times make up a special mix to use separately from the general house blend. Spray it in the air and on the carpets.

The recipe that follows is a recommended synergistic blend, but you can combine whichever oils you like to create a romantic atmosphere.

The Romantic Bedroom Synergistic Blend

8 drops Palma Rosa
1 drop Ylang-Ylang
2 drops Clary Sage
2 drops Nutmeg
4 drops Lime

Mix in these proportions.

For general bedroom use, ideal scents are Chamomile, Geranium, Lavender, or Lemon. A diffuser will help you to sleep if you place one drop of Chamomile, Clary Sage, or Lavender on it.

Pretty Wardrobe 1Bed linens can be washed and stored with essential oils, see the Using Essential Oils in the Laundry Post if you are interested.

Wardrobes can benefit from fragrance as well. Place cotton balls in the corners with a favorite scent on it, or one that keeps moths away such as Lavender, Lemongrass, Camphor, Rosemary, and Citronella.

Remember you don’t want to infuse the clothes with essential oils as this will interfere with your perfumes, so choose something that will be light and simply freshen the air.

This article was adapted from:
The Complete Book of Essential Oils and Aromatherapy by Valerie Ann Worwood

All images are from Google.com