June 10, 2016

ROSEMARY - PLANT OF THE MONTH FOR JUNE

I have grown Rosemary in my garden as for the last 15 years. The only time I've been without it was was the year that our winter was so harsh that all the Rosemary in Tennessee was killed by the cold. I grow it in containers and in the ground and DO NOT TAKE IT INTO THE HOUSE IN WINTER. Taking it in is a sure way to kill it! Those little Rosemary Christmas trees you find at the big box store are rarely going to survive inside all winter. My friend told me about Rosemary hedges in Maine - so I think it will survive our Zone 6 winter. Resist the urge to buy Rosemary in winter. Instead, purchase a plant in spring and plant it in a sheltered place outside. Mine is against the side of my house, mostly because it is the sunniest place in my yard and convenient to reach for snipping a branch when I want to use it.

With all that said, Rosemary wants to be in as much sun as you can give it (half day for me - my yard is shady) and once established, I let God water it. It is a Mediterranean plant and loves hot and dry.

Besides it's culinary uses - wonderful on Chicken and fish, it has medicinal uses as well. Below is a quote from Mercola.com about healthy uses for Rosemary.

"It was an old custom to burn rosemary in sick chambers, and in French hospitals it is customary to burn rosemary with juniper berries to purify the air and prevent infection. Like rue, it was placed in the dock of courts of justice, as a preventative from the contagion of gaol-fever." 
Gaol, or jail, was where a number of prisoners contracted a typhus-like, highly infectious disease. The physicians of the period may have been on to something, because modern-day scientists have identified rosemary as an herb with anti-bacterial qualities.

It begs the question: if rosemary's link to memory and infectious disease was understood 500 years ago and beyond, what might Renaissance scholars have known that we forgot?

Health Advantages of Rosemary

Such historical anecdotes may have helped prompt scientists to compare the effects of essential oils with commonly used antibiotics. One of the more recent studies found that rosemary and oregano oils:
"Resulted in the same amount of growth in chickens as the antibiotic avilamycin, and that the oils killed bacteria, too. Additional findings have shown that essential oils help reduce salmonella in chickens, and another study found that a blend of several oils can limit the spread of salmonella among animals."2
Science has churned out multiple studies to substantiate many of the early health claims of this fragrant herb, finding that besides being an excellent source of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds, benefits include:
  • Enhanced memory and concentration  Scientists say they proved for the first time that the fragrance of rosemary enhanced memory during a study published in 2012 in Therapeutic Advances in Psychopharmacology.3
  • Diabetes protection  Greek and Mexican oregano, marjoram and rosemary were determined to be a natural way to keep glucose levels in check.4
  • Neurological defense  A review concluded that "carnosic acid (in rosemary) may be useful in protecting against beta amyloid-induced neurodegeneration in the hippocampus."5
  • Prevents brain aging  Carnosic acid, a compound in rosemary, was effective against brain aging in a Japanese study.6
  • Cancer protection  Compounds in rosemary were reported to have antiproliferative effects on leukemia and breast cancer cells.7 Another review reported it to be beneficial against inflammation, and tumor-protective.8
  • Macular degeneration protection  Carnosic acid was found to be a protective agent against this most common age-related eye-related problem in the U.S.9
Read the rest of the report here : The Health Benefits of Rosemary 

June 3, 2016

SPECIAL PEOPLE IN YOUR LIFE??

I posted the following on Thistle Farms Facebook page in response to the question "Do you have a special woman in your life?" If you have a special person (woman or man) in your life? Post a comment and tell us about them. 

 Yes! I have a special woman in my life! She was my grandma on my mother's side. She was not educated in the eyes of the world (she could barely write her name) but she knew God's world by heart! I learned how to cook squash blossoms when squash blossoms were not cool! She taught me how to garden - I own a plant nursery now - thank you Nannie! She was responsible for leading all my cousins to Jesus. She would let me climb the huge Oak tree in her yard when I came for 2 weeks every summer. My mother would have had a fit if she had known! She was poor in monetary things but we always had a bed to sleep in, good food on the table and a warm house to live in. I really mean warm - no air conditioning that I can remember. There were always chickens in the yard and eggs in the refrigerator. I loved the barn. It was dark and cool and smelled like horses. There was a spring where we would put the milk to cool and I like to look for salamanders. The yard smelled like ground ivy - I love that noxious weed to this day! I was forty years old when she died and I felt like my childhood died with her. Thank God for Grandmas. I am a grandma myself now and I pray that I too will be remembered as the grandma who didn't "fit in the box".


Here is what is left of Nannie's house. It has been abandoned for nearly 30 years. My granddaddy died when I was 10 and she married again later. Her husband Sam was a preacher and share-cropper and this was the house where I played as a child.  It was way out in the country then - civilization has crept in and paved the road. .  


May 27, 2016

A Lot of Bees Died This Winter! We Can stop This From Happening!

I've talked to many of you in person at my little Back Yard Nursery. We have talked about how Roundup is killing us as well as the bees. I got this article in my E Mail box this morning and want to pass a section of it on to you. You can read the whole article here
We are killing ourselves as well as the beneficial insects when we spray Round Up and Sevin. Both are known carcinogens. Not only do we kill the bad bugs but we kill the butterflies and bees too. Dish Soap in a spray bottle of water will get rid of Aphids and Japanese Beatles. There are other ways to get rid of weeds too. Read below or go the whole article link above. 

Glyphosate May Also Be to Blame

Neonicotinoids are not the only chemicals the bees have to worry about. Glyphosate, the active ingredient in Monsanto's Roundup herbicide, may also play a role in bees' deaths.
As stated by GMO expert Don Huber, P.h.D.,, professor emeritus of Plant Pathology at Purdue University, there are three established characteristics of colony collapse disorder that suggest glyphosate may be at least partly responsible:
  1. The bees are mineral-deficient, especially in micronutrients
  2. There's plenty of food present but they're not able to utilize it or to digest it
  3. Dead bees are devoid of the Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium, which are components of their digestive system
In many cases of bee die-offs, the bees become disoriented, suggesting endocrine hormone disruption. Glyphosate is a very strong endocrine hormone disruptor. Huber also cited a study on glyphosate in drinking water at levels that are commonly found in U.S. water systems, showing 30 percent mortality in bees exposed to it.
While the majority of glyphosate is sprayed onto agricultural crops, it's even used in city parks, which means bees may get little reprieve. In 2014, for instance, New York City agencies applied glyphosate to parks and other areas 2,748 times, and that is likely an underestimate.10
A Freedom of Information Act request found pesticide information related to Central Park and other parks that are managed by non-profit conservancies (and not by the city government) has not been made public. The bottom line is that bees and other pollinators are being exposed to pesticides and other chemicals virtually everywhere they turn.
And in all likelihood, it's not one or two chemicals that are the problem but many. In 2013, researchers analyzed pollen from bee hives in seven major crops and found 35 different pesticides along with high fungicide loads.11 Each sample contained, on average, nine different pesticides and fungicides. When the pollen was fed to healthy bees, they had a significant decline in the ability to resist infection with the Nosema ceranae parasite, which has been implicated in bee deaths.

How You Can Help Bees

To avoid harming bees and other helpful pollinators that visit your garden, swap out toxic pesticide and lawn chemicals for organic weed and pest control alternatives. Even some organic formulations can be harmful to beneficial insects, so be sure to vet your products carefully.
Better yet, get rid of your lawn altogether and plant an edible organic garden. Both flower and vegetable gardens provide good honeybee habitats. It's also recommended to keep a small basin of fresh water in your garden or backyard, as bees actually do get thirsty.
In addition, you'll want to grow your own pollinator-friendly plants from organic, untreated seeds. If you opt to purchase starter plants, make sure to ask whether or not they've been pre-treated with pesticides.
Keep in mind that you also help protect the welfare of all pollinators every time you shop organic and grass-fed, as you are actually "voting" for less pesticides and herbicides with every organic and pastured food and consumer product you buy. You can take bee preservation a step further by trying your hand at amateur beekeeping.
Maintaining a hive in your garden requires only about an hour of your time each week, benefits your local ecosystem, and you get to enjoy your own homegrown honey.

May 20, 2016

Plant of the Month Hardy Banana Tree

Good news for those of us who live in less than tropical growing zones! We can grow a banana tree without having to uproot it every fall and drag it into the basement or garage. There is a banana tree that is hardy to zone 5. It has pretty flowers and fruit but don't try to eat the fruit - it's all seeds!
Here is what one dealer had to say about BasJoo Banana trees "this Hardy Banana you’ll get a defining tropical look. And, yes with proper mulching, it can withstand temperatures below zero. This extremely vigorous banana grows many feet in a season and in time forms large clumps that can reach up to 13' in height. Also known as the Japanese Fiber Banana, it makes a fine container specimen. If grown inside, it will tolerate varying conditions of temperature and light with ease. Although it does produce bananas, they are inedible. Simple to grow, give it plenty of water, fertilizer and sunlight."

 Here are pictures of the tree, the flower and the fruit and yes, I have them for sale at my Greenhouse! Check my website for days and hours to come shop. 
Mature Trees

Bloom

Another Bloom


Fruit