Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Cocoa (Resources Post)

Resousces Posts are "wiki-posts" they will be updated.

Theobroma cacao - Köhler–s Medizinal-Pflanzen-137
I hope this post will inspire you to buy "the right chocolate", but eventually less, for your and your loved ones' health from now on and for supporting a more sustainable & fair society.
  • General Information ( + social aspects )
  • Climatic & Growing Conditions (tropic understory plant: humid, shady, warm - indoors/greenhouses for experimenters)
  • How To Grow & Permaculture Aspects
  • Seed Saving (Video, fresh from ripe fruits)
  • Powerful medicinal 
  • Reasons to grow Cocoa  - Cocoa in Permaculture ( mulching, fertilising, understory for tropic food forests
  • Maplink (none yet, add your practice to Growstuff -  and leave a comment, pls) 

Our beloved cocoa is a powerful medicinal superfood, called "Food of the Gods" by the Aztecs and estimated to be the second most healthy material you can put into your body, after water.... which clearly depends on the preparation method; the original drink was made from cocoa, corn, vanilla and cayenne pepper.

For many readers of this blog, growing cocoa will be an exciting optional indoor experiment for the curious, but this post also aims to inspire to buy consciously: list of fair trade chocolate brands

After a heavy story of exploitation, that followed European colonialization, you can support valuable sustainable projects worldwide which aim to liberate underprivileged families from poverty in a sustainable way.
Eat less but better, also to save your health: cocoa is one of the plants that teached monoculture practices that even heavy use of pesticides will not make things better on the long run, but for cheap chocolates, heavy doses are still used...

First, a very optimistic (but actually commercial) video that introduces you to organic growing techniques, fertilising and harvesting practices - it is very clear and well done, embedding it does however not mean that I endorse or want to advertise the specific related product.

In bullet points, from all resources linked here and more, as I see aspects fit most effectively

  • Originated in South America, gone global in areas suited for tropical plants (57 countries, 4 $billion of world economy, map (commercial giants) another one by the Guardian)
  • Cocoa trees live up to 200 years, grow 6-8 m high, bear fruit after 5-8 years (if you are lucky), most productive for 25 years, longer in truly sustainable conditions 
  • Flowers and bears fruit all year long; more flowers at end of season
  • 5-7 months to progress from flower to ripe fruit
  • Self-incompatible, except Amelonado variety  (see below and February calendar sheet #plant sex) -> plant many seeds from different pods from different trees and experiment with hand pollination ( June sheet) if you are unlikely to host tropical rain forest pollinators like midges!
  • Matured fruits ripen over 2-3 weeks, harvest ripe and not overripe for propagation via seeds
  • Vegetative propagation will guarantee same genetics, but not create the 2 m deep taproot
  • Varieties to mention: Criollo (especially good taste) Forastero (higher yields, hardier), Amelonado (self-compatible) and Trinitario, a 300 year hybrid that is very suited for cultivation. 
  • To process sweet chocolate, a previous fermentation process that inhibits seed germination and involves alcohol reduces the high bitter contents

Climatic & Growing Conditions 

Well, imagine a thriving rain forest...

Warm ( Zone or indoors)
Optimum temperature 65- 90°F (18-32°C) Flowering only occurs at or above 68°F (20°C), temperatures below 50°F ( 10°C) may harm, even light frost may kill the plant
Shady, not direct sunlight
Very fertile soil
Avoid wind ! (Canopy...)
Delicate plant: - cut and discard diseased areas to avoid pesticides

How to Grow 

University of Florida Extension service ( link)
Background information (delicate plant) Worldagroforestry PDF
Grow Indoors (Wikihow, ehow)

Sustainable Cocoa Production ifc.org
Manual fao.org

More background information about the cocoa plant and growing conditions on  reproduction (fruits, flower & pollination) (via this premies thread)

Permaculture Aspects

Cocoa (Wikipedia) is originally an understory plant in rain forests, alas perfect as understory plant in tropic permaculture food forests (...permaculture learns from nature and aims at dense planting for sustainable high yield production. Canopy: Banana, Plantain, Coconut and Rubber )

As mentioned in the video above, its is a great mulching plant, just drop chopped healthy parts to the ground to fertilise the soil. Or experiement with cocoa + coffee plant based fertilisers )

"Initial" thread on companion planting on premies

Seed Saving

For those who do not live in tropical areas, it can be a fun experiment to order some fresh fruits with friends and grow some plants indoor.

A funny, great and practical video with lots of tips and experiences:

Tip: Order some fruits ( example links come with the video) and give it a try !
Cut the fruit around its waist to harm no seeds, squeeze and open it -  peel single seeds and off you go...to growing...

Powerful Medicinal

We need to remember that in case of chocolate as we usually consume it, only dark chocolate with over 70% cocoa content, preferably organic and consumed in moderate doses, will bring the desired benefits in a healthy way. Unprocessed cocoa beans are low in sugar (1%) but have a high fat content (54%). Please see the bullet-list below as indicating tendencies for those interested in traditional medicine, not as specific medication advice, except mood elevation ;).

  • Rich in antioxidants - protects your heart, against cancer and other destructive diseases like early ageing, especially atherosclerosis
  • Mood elevating #serotonin and dopamine (most people know this one, but it is not only the quick effect of sugar, prefer dark chocolate though...)
  • Stimulant (Mainly theobromine, check Wikipedia for a list of stimulating substances)
  • Flavonide mix that effectively lowers blood pressure and even gently benefits the vascular system 
  • Aphrodisiac:  Methylxantine blocks the receptor of adenosine
  • Rich in minerals, especially potassium, magnesium and Vitamine E
  • More ingredients to mention: caffeine ( low doses), theomobromine and phenethylamine - overall it is about the gentle mix
  • Softens skin and increases blood circulation externally, both as cocoa powder and butter

Side note - Attention: 
Soils that are high in calcium may lead to high cadmium contents, lead is another problematic contamination factor. 
Do not feed chocolate to your pets, most of them cannot process theobromine !

Explore an extensive hub page on the benefits of cocoa on Medicine Hunter.

--------------- Other Languages --------------

For a spanish medicinal post on Cacao, that links to other languages, visit

ABCPlantasmedicinales (links to: English (links to seeds4all.net), French, Italian, Portoguese )

---------- References------------

More reference articles, not including directly downloaded scientific studies:

http://www.gesundheit.de/ernaehrung/lebensmittel/gewuerze/kakao (german)

http://www.senioren-ratgeber.de/Ernaehrung/Wie-gesund-ist-Kakao-257955.html (german)

http://www.greenforce.cc/was/ueber-kakao/studien/ (german)


Disclaimer: The author does not take responsibility for the contents summarised or linked here ! I research deeply and am curious about an overlay of benefits as stated by traditional medicine and scientific research. Only such aspects are mentioned in posts on this blog. (Sometimes links that were listed higher up in searches or listed in Wikipedia articles actually turn out to be the most profound ones - you are very welcome to comment resources you estimate better, to update this post !)

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Lettuce (Resources Post)

You find a summary card #SeedSaving for printing & sharing, a great video on saving lettuce seeds, a selected article on how-to grow and a map link. This is a wiki-post: it will be updated & improved with more or new resources.

Seed Saving

Lettuce offers an ideal entrance to seed saving - or for inspiring potential new seed savers to join in:

If you save seed from only a few strong plants, worst case only one, next generation(s) will not suffer from inbreeding depression, which is perfect for beginners. The short plant life cycle of lettuce allows even the impatient minds of our times to re-connect to nature's "true magic" - abundance.

Generally however, seed savers aim to improve the quality of following plant generations by saving from an appropriate population and especially strong and healthy plants with preferred characteristics:  E.g., if you live in a warmer climate, choose strong and healthy lettuce plants which bolt late, to foster the characteristic of bolting late; then mix and share your seeds with others who saved seeds from the same variety and selected for the same preferred traits. ( On May's calendar sheet you find detailed explanations #selection )

You are very welcome to print this card for yourself and eventually you want to give it to friends together with some seeds you have saved from your own plants as a gift that helps to spread the seed saving practice in an inspiring and personal way ! 
Please remember that there is a copyright on the image though, so share the digital version directly from here or with a link to this post - this helps to connect new seed savers to all the related information provided on this website.


Permaculturist James Prigioni shared a great video on saving large quantities of lettuce seed, quickly, with the simple help of a tarp and a strainer.

How To Grow 

Growing Lettuce is a detailed article on all you need to know about growing lettuce varieties from spring to fall on Mother Earth News.


Growstuff (Direct link: Lettuce) allows us to connect to others who grow and save seed from the same species, for a start, and thus to support the co-creation of an important open source database.

Such mapping projects have the power to connect us both on a practical local level and raise awareness of being connected as "one global family, united in caring for food security".

If we put ourselves on a map to connect to other growers and seed savers, we support ourselves and the seed saving movement effectively: 
The more of us join in, the sooner we can find seed savers next to us. Inspire friends and other local gardeners to save from the same varieties - and join the map.

In its early stages this project does not yet allow us to search by varieties, but the co-created database goes open source:
It can be used, by Growstuff, but any commons initiative too, to build yet missing features for more fluent and professional seed exchange of specific varieties on top of it, so it is a valid start !

Link repeated: Lettuce

Monday, September 29, 2014

Carrots (Resources Post)

This is the first of a new series of posts on selected plants, in which I bring wonderful resources to your attention and add quick summaries for your convenience. Such posts are wiki-posts, which means they can or will be edited and updated with additional resources I find. The series and this blog can truly start, because the desired open source platform for connecting growers and seed savers on a local and global level is on its way ! Read more about it below !

How To Save Seeds
Here is a wonderful video on how to save seeds from carrots by Heritage Seed Library.

How To Grow

...and a link to an in-depth article on how to grow carrots on Mother Earth News

The "Revolution" is MAPPED

You as a grower and seed saver are doing important work for co-transitioning to The More Beautiful World Our Hearts Know is Possible.

With GROWSTUFF going Open Source, we seem to soon have "the" platform to trust in, for taking seed saving to the next level by connecting us. (We have 3 weeks left to contribute some money to help them go Open !!)

Put yourself on the map, find seed savers around you, tell everyone close to you who grows plants and might be interested - and it can take off !


Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Weeds that Heal: Goldenrod - Solidago

            (currently visiting my parents... - 
if you have enough space, you can create several smaller bundles ) 

genus: Solidago 
family: Asteraceae

Goldenrod is a potent healer, actually, one of the Native Americans' favourites, with a long list of healing properties.
The name "solidago" means "making whole" - so its high time to dissolve any bad reputation:
Goldenrod pollen does not cause allergies, as is widely believed: it sticks to the plant & is too heavy to fly far enough; Instead, its mostly ragweed, which flowers at the same time, that causes allergies and goldenrod is meanwhile even used by herb companies for products that aim to cure hay fever and other allergies.
Invasive ? Yes, but that allows us to cut them during flowering (before they go to seed) and dig up some roots to create various healing applications - without hesitation !
(Please do always remember to be far more cautious when you forage from less abundantly growing wild plants - take care that the patches you take from can still expand after your harvest !)

Covered in this article:

Solidago Canadensis

  • Growing Conditions
  • Medicinal Properties (*)
  • HowTo: Goldenrod Tea / Drying
  • HowTo: Goldenrod Tincture
  • HowTo: Goldenrod Vinegar 
  • Seed Saving

  • Bees Love Them !
  • "Liberty Tea"( instead of black tea  after Boston Tea Party)
  • Edison used it to create rubber

  • Growing Conditions
- Successful / invasive across North America, Europe & Asia, 
but as it is very beautiful and blossoms long into autumn, still a beloved garden plant in Europe.

- Perennial, propagates vividly via runners, else mostly insect pollinated;
- Bees love them - together with wasps, beetles and butterflies.
- Flowers from midsummer until frost;
- Many species - Canadian Goldenrod is most successful, luckily they share nearly the same medicinal properties and Canadensis is said to taste best, together with Solidago Odora.

  • Medicinal Properties (* please read disclaimer below )

Wound healing
Chew (#Outdoor survival) or otherwise create a paste from fresh, or dried leaves and blossoms for applying to wounds to improve healing; also for insect bites. A paste from dried, powdered roots works fine too.

Kidney inflammation and stones
- tea can remove smaller kidney stones 
- tea can heal kidney inflammation : create a strong tea, several tablespoons upto a handful for the portion of tea you plan to drink and let it soak for up to 30 minutes.
( Please contact a doctor too, especially with chronic problems ! *)

Generally for urinary tract problems
Again tea, infused vinegar helps to support the immune system in general

Sore throat
Native Amercians chewed leaves & created syrup;
Mouth inflammation: Tincture or strong tea  as mouth rinse 
Anti-inflammatory ( fever / cold / flu  )
also for allergies, as it helps to shrink mucous membranes 

Gout / Arthritis
Rheumatism / Joint pain
tea and tincture

Skin Problems, especially eczema
tea and applying masks 

As with all herbal remedies: do not consume doses for acute healing for more than 2-3 weeks:
If your problem needs longer treatment, exchange with another plant/tea with a similar action spectrum after some weeks, make sure to stop or remove causes and investigate if your symptoms might relate to another root cause !

Strongly diuretic - be sure to drink much water, as with most herbal teas;

Complete list of healing properties, according to my favourite german herbalism site & webmd:
astringent, diuretic, blood purifier, anti-inflammatory, cystitis, bloating, inflammatory bowel disease, diabetes, diarrhea, insect bites, kidney semolina and small stones, kidney disease, edema, disorders of the urinary secretion, wound healing, rheumatism, gout, dropsy, reoccurring tuberculosis after latency, enlarged liver and asthma

  • HowTo: Goldenrod Tea / Drying
Harvest the plant during flowering: 
Dried leaves, stems and blossoms are used for goldenrod tea;
some harvest the complete plant (read below for roots), some only the upper third. 

Dry them hanging upside down in small bundles, in a dry and shady room.
(The one I was allowed to use is so shady that it was hard to take a good picture without additional additional lighting ;) ) Once they are dry and brittle, you can continue to dry them in paper bags until you can crumble them.

If you are late, harvest the plant with roots ( the power and healing ingredients draw back into the root system toward winter ) - dry roots cleaned and separately from the remaining plant.
Store them in glass containers or powder them; 
Boil roots in small pieces with dried leaves and blossoms for tea.

Powdered roots can also be applied to wounds as paste (mix with a small amount of water) .

  • HowTo: Goldenrod Tincture
Fill a glass jar /container with fresh chopped plant parts ( leaves, stems and blossoms, eventually cleaned root parts too )

Fill the container with strong alcohol ( schnaps, vodka or other hard liquor, aim at organic) to the very top and close it.

Let rest for six weeks, then you can pour it through a strainer into - eventually- smaller bottles.
For acute treatments, you will need larger doses ( several ml, several times a day) and thus prefer to use tea, unless you want to get drunk ;)

  • HowTo: Goldenrod Vinegar 
A nice present and ideal for supporting your immune system and disease prevention by using  the vinegar every now and then.
Fill a glass jar with fresh chopped plant parts, as described for tea and fill it up to the top with pasteurised apple vinegar - but use some plastic foil that covers your filled container, if you use a metal lid, as corrosion might occur.
Let rest for six weeks.

  • Seed Saving
Harvest plants, including roots, which you can use as described above #drying, when the plants have gone to seed - as late as possible.
 ( I will update this post with a picture here )
Depending on weather circumstances during harvest: hang them upside down in small bundles for further drying, you can continue to dry them completely in paper bags, if that is more convenient.

You can either shake the bundles over the area where you want them to grow the following years during autumn - or clean the seeds as to your personal preferences (described on the August page of the seed  calendar here on seeds4all.net )


(*) Disclaimer

Herbalism is an old and powerful science of healing - but until proven by current scientific standards, any medicinal information given on this site can by law not replace to get advice from a doctor, especially in case of chronical or unclear symptoms. Though all articles are thoroughly researched, the author does not take responsibility for any outcomes.


More Information / Literature / Resources used in this article :
(Perfectionist that i am i read many more books(in), posts and saw many more videos - these are just the ones i liked most)

Brill, Steven w. Evelyn Dean / Identifying and Harvesting Edible and Medicinal Plants...
Harper, 1994

Storl, Wolf-Dieter / Der Selbstversorger / Gräfe & Unzer, 2nd edition, 2013


Becki Baumgartner   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ctRuEugu76U

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Garden Wonder-workers: Nasturium - reasons to grow them (and share their seeds)

Image by Pierre-Joseph Redoute (copyright expired) 

Tropaeolum majus
Garden nasturtium, Indian cress or monks cress

 (explicitly researched for its medicinal effects, grows in many shades of yellow, orange and red) 

  • Stunningly beautiful
  • Edible (flowers, leaves & seeds - super-tasty, peppery)
  • Medicinal herb (*) (natural antibiotic, antifungal, blood purifying....)
  • Great Companion plant (curcubita, brassica, radishes, improving their growth)
  • Deterring / subducting pests from surrounding vegetables / attracts beneficial insects
  • Self seeding (but share seeds, to inspire others..)
  • Easy to grow (ideal for introducing children to gardening & prolific)

  • + Seed Saving Tips 
One of those plants, that "has it all" - see below for a more detailed description of each aspect.

  • Stunningly beautiful

Nasturiums touched a certain string in me at first sight and since then - their clarity and liveliness, combined with a shining contrast, but yet tenderness, the beautiful and seldom round shape and fine light veins of their lively green leaves... they give me a direct feeling of cheerfulness and serene strength - I love how they can be planted to grow cascading over e.g. stone borders and tend to spread like carpets. 
But that describes mostly the surface, which covers a tasty universal remedy....

Link to more images on Google ( see them spreading...)
In case you are afraid your nasturtiums will spread too much, there is a great solution: eat them and share them ! 
They are perfect for sharing (fresh or dried, not just seeds), as everyone will benefit from them.

  • Edible 
Both flowers and leaves are edible, and delicate that is, perfect for spicing up your salads.
The containing pre-stages of mustard oil give them a peppery note.  
Somewhat like "hot watercress", which is responsible for the name confusion, as the botanical name of watercress is nasturium  officiale, while the nasturtiums we are talking about share the botanical name tropaeolus majus.

Seeds can be pickled as caper replacement or ground as pepper replacement.

Dry leaves and flowers and add them to mild herbal tea mixes to create a powerful medicinal tea. ( Pure, it would be too strong for your stomach) 
(Tip from Peter Schultes, german video )
Recipe links #google  ( and a few # pinterest - ....what about adding yours  )

  • Medicinal herb 

- antiviral
- antibiotic
- fungicidal
- expectorant
- blood purifying 
- high in Vitamin C

It has been used through history, from Incas via European monasteries.... to treat
- bronchitis, 
- influenza, 
- inflammation of the sinuses
 -sore throat, 
 -constipation and 
- urinary tract infection. 

- helps against premenstrual syndrome (anticonvulsant). 

- helps against acne

In 2013 nasturium majus was chosen as medicine plant of the year by a german University. 
Nasturium majus can possibly (partly) replace antibiotics and thus reduce resistance against their excessive use. It is tested as effective remedy against resistant hospital bacteria. (!) 
 Especially if combined with horseradish  (another favourite..) it has the potential to replace antibiotics for bronchitis, inflammation of the sinuses and urinary tract infections.

..An undervalued universal remedy...but ideally, as always, use it to prevent illnesses.

(The paragraph above picks up seemingly "vague" phrases from several german articles (referenced below) .  
Seeing the the strict german laws and the level of acceptance of medicinal plants / alternative medicine by conventional medicine - it describes the results of official scientific studies - they are to be seen as a real praise, coming from that viewpoint.)

  • Great Companion plant 
Great companion plant for all 

brassicas (cabbage, kale, broccoli, cauliflower, kohlrabi, brussels sprouts, mustards ), 
radishes and the 
curcubita(ceae) family (squashes (pumpkins, zucchini, gourds...., cucumbers, melons)), 

improving their growth.

Also as barrier around tomatoes and cucumber, around beans and corn, as well as planted under fruit trees.

  • Great Pest deterrent / subducts pests / attracts beneficial predators

Deters whiteflies, wooly aphids and cucumber beetle, as well as other curcubita family pests.
Great trap for aphids - especially in combination with ladybugs, to eat them.
Attracts bees, butterflies and more beneficial predatory insects.

Be careful with companion planting and experiment by planting nasturtiums near your vegetables first, e.g. along the border of a raised bed, instead of in-between them. Because yes, they will attract many kinds of insects, and it depends on the balance of your garden and its surroundings how this will work out.
You can remove nasturtium parts which have attracted many insects though, or introduce some ladybugs - great for exploring !

  • Self seeding Easy to grow  
- tolerates poor soil

- germinates easily 
(scratch over sandpaper for scarification, until color changes, then soak overnight,;sow after last frost for direct seeding, or start indoors six weeks before)

- grows quickly and abundantly ( if you feel they grow too quickly for eating and drying for tea, they are beautiful for decorating your home, too !)

- tolerates shade, ideally 6 hours of sun (but might bleach in full sun during hot periods)

Ideal plant for introducing children to gardening, as the master gardener and author of the first article linked under references describes from first hand experience. With one plant, as you can see from this article, they can be introduced into the whole world of holistic gardening, eventually accompanying their parents who still explore;  Then onwards, plant by plant, in curious flow-mode.

Originating from the Andes in South America, but also grown in Middle America, tropaeolum majus grows naturally as perennial in warmer climates around the world, but self-seeds in colder climates.

 ...And you can always save some seeds:

  • Seed Saving Tips
Mrbrownthumb describes in his article, supported by images, that nasturtium seeds seldom ripen on the plant, instead tend to fall off early. While you can pick up fallen seeds when you lift up the leaves,  if you can find them...it makes no difference to germination success to pick yet green seeds from the plant and dry them. 

(*) Disclaimer

Herbalism is an old and powerful science of healing - but until proven by current scientific standards, any medicinal information given on this site can by law not replace to get advice from a doctor, especially in case of chronical or unclear symptoms. Though all articles are thoroughly researched, the author does not take responsibility for any outcomes.



Taste, botanical classification

Medicinal benefits:
heilkräuter.de (german) http://www.heilkraeuter.de/lexikon/kapuzine.htm
University of Würzburg, medicinal plant of the year 2013 http://www.presse.uni-wuerzburg.de/einblick/single_special/artikel/kapuzinerk/
welt.de: (german) http://www.welt.de/gesundheit/article110238096/Kapuzinerkresse-kann-sogar-Antibiotika-ersetzen.html

Bayrischer Rundfunk. (german) http://www.br.de/fernsehen/bayerisches-fernsehen/sendungen/gesundheit/kapuzinerkresse-100.html

Companion Planting:
Golden Harvest Organics: http://www.ghorganics.com/page2.html#NASTURTIUMS:


Seed Saving: 
mrbrownthumb: http://mrbrownthumb.blogspot.co.at/2007/08/when-i-collect-nasturtium-seeds.html

Friday, March 21, 2014

March : Plant Life Cycles and Population Sizes

You have probably already planned your garden and visited March early, as suggested on the winter sheets.

Here is the link to a list of suppliers to trust in once again:
"Heirloom Seed Suppliers"

Companion planting chart on permaculturenews.org

So, from how many plants should you save, to maintain genetic diversity ?

Sometimes quite many ! But this is something I love especially about seed saving:
that it connects us to each other  and sharing ( surplus ).

And the ideal plant to start to save seeds from, partly because it grows so quickly, partly because it tolerates to save from very few plants, is ...lettuce !

Ideally, you enjoy to take notes about your plants. Admittedly, a computer file is most practical, but cards can be more fun :)
Here is a list of plant life dates...repeated from February's preview:

Post edited and image sizes adapted in September 2014

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Essential Plant Sex

 February, Part 1 for small screens: Explore what you need to know about pollination to become a successful seed saver....

preview to March card:

Friday, January 31, 2014

Seeds as medicinal superfood

Organic high quality seeds can be powerful healers - if you keep them away from heat and prepare them in a way that makes their nutrients available to your body.
Be it sprouted, like in the how-to card below, ground, soaked or as cold pressed oils.
Just don't cook or roast them - and while sunflower and sesame pate are wonderful, check that they are not made from roasted seeds.

If you are knew to seeds as medicinal food, I would recommend to start with this article about "the ten healthiest seeds" as inspiration to explore more.

Aside from their medicinal effects, seeds are also super-tasty! This allow us to integrate them creatively and step by step into our diets.
I thought you will probably like new recipes for new powerfoods at hand - so I have listed the seeds below, then their effects, shortened, followed by a link to a search on pinterest.

This list will be updated with other articles and links over time - selected articles are always welcome in the comments !

Chia seeds are strong energizers and very effective for weight loss plans, a powerful inflammatory, high in Omega 3 fatty acids ( "short-chain") and antioxidants; (chia recipes)

Hemp seeds, peeled , split or as hemp seed oil, both contain virtually no THC, but powerful immune system regenerators and anti-cancer nutrients. (hemp seed recipes)

Pomegranate seeds, again full of antioxidants,  preventative & for treatments of arthritis and arteriosklerose, powerful youth keeper. ( pomegranate recipes)

Flax seeds, preferably ground without heat for balancing hormones and also as powerful anti-inflammatory medicinal; ( flax seed recipes)

Pumpkin seeds, as oil or ground seeds, l-tryptophan as mood booster, can prevent kidney stones, fight parasites + especially for men. ( pumpkin seed recipes)

10 apricot kernels a day ( ground) as powerful protection shields where new to me ! Amygdalin atacks cancer cells, it is bitter and also active in bitter almonds -  (Apricot kernel recipes)

Sesame seeds as oil or cold treated seed paste, tahini, especially for skin power and thus consumed to slow down symptoms of aging; (sesame seed recipes, hummus)

Sunflower seeds and oil, high in Vitamin E ( neutralize free radicals, phytosterols and magnesium, reduce asthma, reduces cholseterol levels, help to prevent migraine and heart diseases (sunflower seed recipes),

Cumin seeds for digestive balance, immune-system booster, antiseptic effects, high in iron - liver protection, against asthma and arthritis ( cumin seeds recipes)

Grape seeds are said to prevent heart diseases through lowering blood pressure and kill cancer cells. (grape seed recipes )

It is a wonderful awareness ride to collect more health knowledge - where-ever we are born, nature has prepared a pharmacy directly in front of our doors, supposed there is some healthy nature around.

Some of you might feel overwhelmed when you start to learn about medicinal plants from zero: Again, I would recommend pinterest: It allows you to collect all those links which arrive in your stream once you have liked some facebook pages or other outposts of inspirational free education streams with interesting updates. Pinterest is ideal here because such posts and articles are nearly always image-based. By and by you will learn to know single plants better, until you reach the point where you realize that you know remedies more and more often - but are still at the start :)

I collect my links in a folder (board) "Natural Health" - being still new to the topic, but it is soon time to divide it into subtopics, i guess. That is the moment when you can re-check how much you still know about the plants mentioned and re-read some articles.

And here is your simple How-To card for growing sprouts ! 

Sprouts are really easy and super-healthy, but be sure to rinse well and take your time to read about the specific seed variety you are going to sprout online before you start as there are some differences to be aware of.
Sproutspeople offer you tons of valuable information - and though a strainer and a pot are in principle enough - maybe you enjoy some fancy equipment for sprouting.

To stay on the very, maybe overcritically safe side, read this wikipedia article before you start your sprouting journey - and avoid to eat more than 550 g sprouts a day on a regular basis.
Something that is unlikely to happen to me - though i love sprouts, and yes, start with small amounts of seeds for sprouting, unless you plan to cook with them.

They are also a nice present for friends, in a nice glass, from the fridge through the winter night, for a dinner salad - ideally with healthy oils !

Enjoy sprouting and to explore more healthy seed recipes !

(Update: 3.2.2014: some corrections)

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

January (1) Before you order online: Open Pollinated Plants, Heirlooms and Hybrids

Post updated in September 2014: now you can put yourself on a map and if all of us do it, soon find other seed savers !

PART 1/2

 Which seeds to order, grow and save - which to avoid for seed saving. 
(In basic terms)

Oh, those seemingly endless varieties - it is still seed ordering time !
As you plan to save seeds from the plants you will grow:
choose only seeds which are marked "OP".
No matter if you want to save money, take control over your food quality, be part of a peaceful revolution or all of them: only seeds from "open pollinated" plants will grow true-to-type and thus work for seed saving.

If you can, take some time to explore and select seldom tasty varieties, and grow them to be part of maintaining them:


The third description you often find in seed catalogs or on seed packets, is "hybrid" - avoid them for a start.

Hybrids are crossings between two not closely related parent varieties and often very prolific plants.
Nature can produce hybrids too, when bees cross your broccoli with your cauliflower, for example. 

But for seed saving, hybrids are not suited, as the following generation grown from saved seeds from these plants will not carry the same, if any harvest at all.

This is why saving pure seeds requires protection from cross-pollination for many plants once they start to flower, which is explained on the "April" calendar sheet. This again is the reason why many people hesitated to go deeper with seed saving - but with the calendar you will realise that all methods are simple and can be realized from cheap materials;  And once you got infected by the magic of re-connecting and co-creating toward abundance, you will see that it is big fun.

You will even learn to cross plants and create your own hybrids, but if you want to choose plants to save from, and don't plan to experiment for a start, skip hybrid plants if you order seeds.


Enjoy to explore trusted sellers online , in search of special plants you want to grow, dreaming up your garden over the year.

If you want, get inspired by "Ark of Taste " and the slow food movements' list of especially tasty threatened culinary varieties, all of them heirlooms - old varieties which have been around since more than 50 years. Regional varieties, but the movement is international.


#together: Inspire friends to grow special varieties

Humanity is at the start of becoming aware of the importance of seed saving, so it is likely that there is no seed bank or seed library next to you yet. You will learn in March, that several species require a quite large plant population to save from, which can easily be done if you convince some friends to plant the same variety and save from their best plants, too.

When I created the calendar I deeply desired a platform that would allow to find everyone who grows and saves from the same variety and facilitate exchange. It would make the movement increasingly aware of its size on a global level, and once it has grown ( become well-known) allow us to find others on a local level too. 

When I update this post (September 2014), Growstuff already provides you with embedded maps, to see on a global scale who else is growing and saving form the same species. This is an important development for the seed saving movement, especially as they go open source. But you can not search for specific varieties yet. We should absolutely share what we grow and save from there though, to empower the developments and find others who grow close to us soon ! 

Yet, I still recommend to convince your gardening friends to organise your seed saving, mixing and sharing of specific varieties through Facebook groups, or similar simple social tools, but I will be happy to update the calendar once our desired platform is ready for convenience !

Tell your friends, who are or might be interested in growing their own food, medicine - or other flora - about your most recent "gems": the more of you plant a variety, the better you can start local seed saving.   

#share & inspire each other:  Create (shared) visual online bookmark lists 
for your plant wishes and choices  

Once your friends are interested, a visual bookmarking tool becomes kind of necessary... pinterest is indeed a handy tool: curious gardening friends instantly love it because they  can find a lot of pre-selected content for related topics.
And you can create shared folders there.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

January (1) Quick start: Save seeds from ripe organic tomatoes...


 Action 1 : Save Tomato Seeds (Quick start)

First, find some super-tasty organic, open pollinated tomatoes to kick off your seed saving journey - from a friend, a local organic farmer or farmer's market. Preferably a seldom variety, to support its maintenance and continuous improvement. 
Once you have found your seed tomatoes: Let them become really ripe to save their seeds.
Nearly over-ripe - soft, but still edible.
If they are truly organic, that should not take too long, some days at room temperature.

How-to cards are meant as "all-you-need summaries" for your actual saving process .

At the end of this post you find an additional abstract about "Organic or not ?" A discussion that reaches wider, but is relevant for seeds. Please take your time to read it, decide your path ( plus a  suggestion to label sources as clearly and openly as possible. ) 


Quick intro to seed saving: example tomato seeds

(text that is cut is focussed in a following image)

Tomato seeds are fermented, a special wet harvest treatment. 
Basically: set aside for some days before rinsing and drying to invite and host a beneficial fungus. 
Experts agree that you should do this for two vegetables: cucumbers and tomatoes for two reasons: 

1. It breaks down the germination inhibiting gel sack. 

2. It prevents some seed-borne diseases.

Quick tip: Margaret from "a way to garden" (see links below) describes that you can also dry enough single seeds without removing gel sacks - and probably sow more - and some fine plants will emerge. But you will miss the benefits mentioned above)  

They look beautiful - let's embrace the smelly part some days later, and decant...

Cucumber seeds can not be harvested from the green fruits we eat -  seed cucumbers need to be left on the vine far longer.

Funnily our statistical favorites are actually more cumbersome for saving their seeds than all others, where it is not smelly and just about some different cleaning procedures, and off to dry. 
But on the other hand....both tomatoes and cucumbers are very easy to grow....
And altogether, saving their seeds takes just some minutes. Just some more breaks in between.


..and: I wish you a joyful creative cooking experience and delicious meal 
from your deseeded tomatoes ! 



Articles, selected:

Inspired gardening:
awaytogarden: How to save seeds from heirloom tomatoes

Urban / small space gardening #seed saving:
VerticalVeg: How to save tomato seeds (includes video)

( select from playlist)

A necessary discussion:

Organic or not ??
For those who want to grow organic:

An honest word here: It might happen, that you buy vegetables which are labeled organic, but turn out to be: not organic.  

The further away we live from trusted farmers, the more saving seeds from ripe "organic" fruits can become a testing, trying, and experimentation field. Unless you know your source is 100% trustworthy and that the variety you choose is open pollinated, be prepared to be an explorer in the field of testing organic promises.  
You might find out that your organic tomatoes where grown from hybrid seeds, after growing them, because they don't carry a lot of beautiful fruits like the ones you saved from. 
This should be less probable if you choose heirloom varieties.
If you are in doubt about the quality of your organic food and the explorer in you is not excited by easy experiments to test-grow, eventually in parallel to growing organic varieties from surely organic and open pollinated seeds:  

It is better to invest in some packets of organic seeds from trusted sellers to start from, if there is no seed bank or seed library close to you yet.

If you can convince some friends & neighbours to grow the same varieties, it becomes really simple to maintain healthy populations: all of you save from your best fruits, then you just need to meet up, mix and share your saved seeds.

Your organic traders should ideally sell fruits grown from such seeds too, if they are truly organic -  and for very sure fruits free of any chemical treatments, be it to slow down the ripening process or inhibit germination. 

But generally, views differ strongly about chemical treatments and purity questions as to my "on-ground research" -  I personally want my seeds to be 100% organic. 

It seems appropriate that we all stick to one rule: 

Let us label very clearly and be honest about our sources. 
This helps altogether to save truly organic seeds separately from e.g. necessary compromise approaches.

Post has been updated in September 2014