If you’re ill with a type of respiratory infection, try this herbal remedy.
This week, several counties in our area called off school because so many kids were sick. I’m ill myself for 2 weeks now with bronchitis.
The worst parts is the cough, especially when it comes to sleeping. Once I started drinking this tea before bedtime, I’ve been able to sleep better.
Anytime I’m sick I go to my apothecary cabinet, which has herbal preparations I’ve made, like tinctures. Many are made with common culinary herbs, like thyme, which I grow in my garden.
I’m not sick too often, but when I am, I get to try all these herbal preparations. This time around I’ve discovered the power of thyme.
It’s About Thyme
Thyme is a go-to herb when it comes to infections of the throat, bronchial tubes, and lungs.
This includes any uncomplicated illness like upper respiratory infection, colds, flu, bronchitis, strep throat, and sinus issues. Any more serious or chronic illness, check with a doctor first.
The English doctor Nicholas Culpeper from the Complete Herbal,
“It is a noble strengthener of the lungs…it purges the body of phlegm and it is an excellent remedy for shortness of breath…”.
The medicinal properties of this common culinary herb include: antibacterial, antiseptic, antispasmodic, decongestant and relaxant.
Thyme works by helping clear mucus congestion, opening up the lungs and stimulating blood flow. It is a respiratory antiseptic, which gets rid of germs and therefore the symptoms they produce.
Thyme is also a great herb for digestive issues.
Thyme can simply be made as a tea and it works wonderfully this way. It is so easy and actually tastes pleasant too! So much better than drugstore cough medicine.
The best honey will be local and/or raw. Beware cheaper grocery store honey may not be honey at all, but rice syrup. Manuka honey is supposed to be an extra healing type of honey.
If you’re using fresh thyme, use 1 tablespoon of thyme.
After drinking the tea my lungs do feel like they’re more open and I feel like my cough has decreased since starting the tea regimen.
It actually tastes pretty good and tastes more lemony than it does thyme.
Thyme is a very safe herb and said to be safe for children and pregnant women (Grow It, Heal It. Hobbs & Gardner 2013.)
Please note, I must disclaim. Anytime it comes to your health, check with your doctor and decide what is best for you or your child.
On the list of winter flowering shrubs, is witch-hazel (Hamamelis sp.).
In the US we have two native witch hazels, Hamamelis virginiana and Hamamelis vernalis.
Virginiana starts flowering in October to November.
Vernalis flowers later starting in December. Vernalis also holds onto its leaves.
My witch hazel shown in the photo is vernalis. This photo was taken in the beginning of December while the flowers were at their peak. The flowers didn’t fade until mid January.
Vernalis is also known as Ozark Witch hazel. ‘Christmas Cheer’ is a H. vernalis cultivar.
Asian witch hazels flower later than native American species. They flower late winter and early spring.
There is a Japanese witch hazel, Hamamelis japonica, and Chinese witch hazel, Hamamelis hollis. Hamamelis x intermedia is a hybrid between the Japanese and Chinese witch hazel.
There are many cultivars and hybrids of these asian species of with-hazel such as ‘Arnold Promise’, ‘Old Copper’, ‘Aphrodite’, ‘Rubin’, ‘Orange Encore’.
Many of these were bred to flower late winter and early spring. They were also bred for an increase of fragrance, and for other bright colors of yellow, gold, and orange.
The native species of witch hazel, to me, would be the best choice.
However, any witch hazel species can provide nectar and pollen to pollinators when there is a flowerless landscape in fall, winter, and early spring.
This makes them a good choice for the wildlife garden.
Witch hazels also have a nice yellow fall leaf color. It has a smooth, gray colored bark.
Witch hazel Pollination
Since witch hazel flowers in colder months when there are few or no pollinators around, it has a harder time being pollinated.
When there are some warm late fall or early spring days, some pollinators may come out to pollinate them (likely native bees who can tolerate cooler temps than honeybees). There are likely no other flowers out, so the pollinators appreciate them.
There is a species of a winter owlet moth, that is active during cold nights, which has co-evolved with witch hazel. This is how witch hazel has an increased chance of being pollinated and setting seed. This moth has other food sources, so the moth isn’t dependent on witch hazel, but the witch hazel is more dependent on it.
If you’re a gardener, there’s always some kind of gardening that can be done any time of the year. While I won’t be doing any kind of outdoor gardening in January, I will be doing lots of garden planning and designing sitting inside by the heater. Here is the list for January’s Garden Chores.
1. Rest and Recuperate
Enjoy not having to mow the lawn, watering plants, or weeding. The colder months are a time to recuperate, relax, and rest from outdoor chores. Now that the holidays are over and the new year is settling in, a little more peace and quiet can feel nice. Be as rested as possible before the warmer months rev up.
A garden can still be enjoyed during the winter. I love watching birds at the feeders and seeing how snow lays over the garden. Even when there’s lots of snow on the ground I like to bundle up and go outside for a walk to observe the garden. Also think, is there anyway you can create a better winter garden? A winter garden is probably most observed from the windows in your house.
Pick out some garden or nature books you’d like to read. This is a good time to learn about something new you’ve thought about doing in the garden such as building raised beds, setting up irrigation, planting some new native plants, or growing a different type of vegetable or fruit.
3. Reflect on 2018
Make a list of tasks you completed this year in the garden. Write down any important observations you noticed. I have created a free PDF worksheet you can download. It has questions to help you think about your garden this year and next.
4. Plan for 2019
Make a list of tasks you’d like to accomplish in the garden this coming year. You can be as broad or as detailed as you like. Your list can include more ambitious projects like putting in a new pollinator garden, or be as simple as weeding and mulching a garden bed you didn’t get to last season.
Days warm enough to work outside can pop up unexpectedly. I like to have a task list ready for that day it’s nice enough outside to get something done. Getting things done early in the season is nicer, because it’s cooler outside and I’m more rested (and enthused!) from being inside during the winter months (aka cabin fever).
It’s a good time to shop for new garden tools and supplies. If you know of something you’d like, watch for sales. Many garden companies have sales in the spring. If you begin now, you’ll have time to research for supplies that’ll work best for your needs.
If you plan to purchase any kind of seed or plants, plan to order in January or February for first selection.
For spring projects, you may like to plan to any purchase materials you can early and have them ready to go for that warm day you can get outside. This way you can beat garden center crowds and save time.
5. Create a Garden Journal
For the first time in 2018 I had a garden journal and I really enjoyed writing down everything I did and my observations. I feel like it will be a handy guide to look back to. What I think I’ll find most interesting is comparing weather patterns. As I plan for 2019’s garden I can also look back and see what I thought at that time worked and didn’t work. The book is also a record of when I planted certain plants and what tasks I completed during the year.
This year I had ‘A Year in the Garden’ by Timber Press (a favorite gardening book publisher) and really like how it is laid out. It is not year-specific so it can be used any year.
On warmer winter days I still like to get outside for a little bit and clean out the garage and shed. It’s also a good idea to at least check for rodents, leaks, or anything needing repair.
If you have lots of seed packets, it’s a good time to organize and take inventory before ordering more. Seed packets fit perfect in these Homz clear plastic storage bins which I’ve used for the past couple of years.
Are you ready for the holidays! I’m now taking orders for made-to-order holiday outdoor containers.
I’d love to make you a holiday container like this one!
The cost for the container includes the pot, soil, live greenery, some extras like lotus pods, red dogwood twigs, and/or dried hydrangea blooms, a ribbon in your choice of colors (red, red white green, silver, burlap, or blue colors), and delivery in Lexington. Cost $125 plus tax
Container should last until beginning of January. These are made to order, so put your order in soon and I can have them made in a few days.
You can choose some add ins: 3 white birch logs $30, faux red holly berries $10, pinecones $10, magnolia leaves $50, cotton stems $40, or decorations like a mini sign, Santa, reindeer, bird, bells, etc. $10-$25. If there is something specific you’re looking for, let me know and I can give you a quote.
I use natural soaps and cleaning supplies around my house, but many pre-made natural soaps can be costly. Some of these I’ve seen are $5 and $7 a bottle or more. Some also claim to be ‘green’ while still containing harmful ingredients. The best part is when you can easily make your own natural products for little cost.
I’m going to share with you a way to make your own all natural hand soap very inexpensively. Once you have the ingredients on hand, you can make the soap at home as you need it instead of running out to the store. You no longer will feel the urge to stock up on soap when it’s on sale either. Plus, you’ll be reducing the amount of packaging entering and exiting the waste stream.
Foaming hand soap uses 5 times less soap than gel hand soaps since water is mixed in with the soap. This is another reason why the foaming hand soap is frugal. The soap works great too. Always gardening, I’m constantly washing a lot of soil off my hands and to me this soap gets the dirt off easier.
Purchasing the ingredients will take cost upfront, but once you have them they’ll last a really long time.
The first part is figuring out the bottle you want to use. You can simply reuse a foaming hand soap bottle/pump you already have, save the pump and outfit one onto a mason jar, or purchase these foaming soap dispensers you screw on a mason jar.
I recently purchased these foaming pumps by Jarmazing Products and so far they have worked well. I like them because I can use them with a glass jar I already have, like the quart size mason jars, which I don’t have to refill it as often. It also looks nice and I like a heavier glass jar instead of plastic. The investment for this bottle was less than $5.
You will need:
I like the scents rosemary, peppermint, lemon, lavender, and eucalyptus a lot. Mix and match for a custom scent you really like.
You basically want to keep a 5 part water/1 part soap ratio.
The recipe I used for a quart size mason jar:
For a pint jar or smaller bottle, half or third the recipe.
I like this recipe even more than foaming soaps I’ve bought because the soap feels better and not as drying. With this recipe you can make a cup of hand soap for around $0.50, more or less!