A Call for Arms

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Do you want to learn more about growing medicinal herbs?  Garden and technology help is needed to get us through the abundance of spring and summer.   We are looking for passionate individuals to help our work efforts at Guerrero Street Gardens.  In return we offer a unique experience of socially aware, politically charged and ecologically restorative work for the heart, body and mind.  No experince necessary, only a willingness to learn and work with the plants.  To become involved in the local medicine movement please write to us and inquire about a part-time internship.

Plant A Seed

OG Calendula Seed

Seeds are magic.  Hold one in your hand and you might mistake it for a grain of sand, a fleck of dirt, nothing very impressive.  Yet a seed is a compact package of nutrients, enzymes and genetic information needed for plant reproduction. With soil, water, sun and a little TLC, in about two weeks (sometimes months or years for wild herbs) a seed will transform into a seedling, or baby plant.

Under a waning Aquarius moon we planted seeds today.  Inula helenium, Arcticum lappa, Althea officinalis and Echinacea angustifolia was written on little signs as we prepared rich dark soil for the little guys.   A general rule of thumb for seeding is to bury the seed twice as deep as the seed is thick. We scratched the dark earth held in seed trays, dropped in one or two seeds and tamped down.  Tamping is the act of securing the seed tightly into the soil by pressing down.  Many small seeds like Valerian (Valeriana officionalis) and Maca (Maca peruviana), are so little they can be placed on the surface of the soil, tamped and covered with a thin layer of fine soil.

Many seeds have special needs.  To propagate Elderberry (Sambucus nigra) I soaked the berry overnight in cool water.  In the morning I separated the seed from the berry’s flesh.  To simulate an overwintering, I am storing the seeds in my refrigerator for about 90 days.  Oregon grape (Mahonia aquifolium) prefers a cool shaded environment while Tulsi (Ocimum sanctum) enjoys consistent warmth for germination.  Almost all seeds want consistent moisture to germinate, so regular watering is crucial.

Plant propagation can occur from a seed, cutting, rhizome or root division.  However only a seed provides a new and unique set of genetic information.  In this way, seed collection is an important part of a sustainable garden because it provides a strong genetic pool and the security of new plants.  Seeds can often be collected from the flower or fruit of a plant in fall and stored in cool, dark conditions until late winter or spring of the next year.

Horizon Herbs is a fantastic source for organic medicinal herb seed.  Their website is packed full of information on propagation methods, tips and picture of tiny herb sprouts. So cute!

In a medicine garden seeds are the solution to future dis-ease.  The Echinacea we planted today will be harvested for its root in the fall of 2017.  There is foresight, excitement and so much potential in seeds.  Future blooms, future medicine.  As we round the bend of winter,  I am sowing seeds in my mind too.  It all starts with a seed.

Pictured: Seeds of Oregon Grape (Mahonia aquifolium) and Calendula (Calendula officinalis).

Winter

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There is a secret spreading across the hills and valleys of this city.  It started with the cherry trees.  The plums are next.  Apples are soon to follow.  I get the feeling of great potential this time of year.  My mind wonders from one excitement to the next as I thumb pages of seed catalogs.

It feels a bit discouraging to scan the garden.  Most of our crops are perennial and thus are still in the midst of a long winter’s nap!  With the little rain we got this week oxalis and a wild lily have flushed the garden with an unwanted green and yellow.  Echinacea is entirely under ground — easily mistaken as dead to the untrained eye.  Mullein appears to have frozen in time, no noticeable growth.  Vitex has lost most of her leaves and looks more like a couple of sticks in the ground than a bush.  Yet Self-Heal keeps the faith alive, she slowly spreads green runners and leaves across the dark earth.  I’m surprised at the array of yellows and oranges from a calendula patch I planted late last summer.  I saw a bee today!

It smells like January in the morning when the morning fog sits low and the wind starts to pick up.  But where is the rain?   The garden tasks are fewer but with a greater impact.  I pruned the fruit trees, grape vine and extended the garden beds a bit.  The sun makes a low sweep across the sky, leaving much of the garden in full shade.

Slowly the days grow longer but for now I use the sun moving west as a reminder to wrap up work in the garden.  I spend a few hours a day on the computer; I am working on a plan to sustain the work I do at Guerrero Street.

Support Radical Mycology

website-sidebarAs part of our garden pharmacy, we hope to eventually grow medicinal mushrooms at Guerrero Street Garden.  Mushrooms, and their underground network of mycellium support the growth of strong healthy plants and have been used globally for centuries to make potent medicine!  Mushrooms are incredible tonics; they can help reduce stress, illness and even fight cancer!  However, most medicinal mushrooms found in commerce are shipped from China.  At GSG we want to see local mushrooms make local medicine.

Our source and support of locally grown medical mushrooms comes from Peter and the Radical Mycology network.  He is currently running a crowd funding campaign to help fund the writing and publishing of a unique book on fungi to create positive personal, societal, and ecological change.  The book will include info on mushrooms for cultivation, bio-remediation, food and medicine.  Support the mycelial network with a donation, or by spreading the word like spores with friends on facebook or twitter.

Check out the crowd funding campaign here.  As we approach the mushroom season, let the rain begin!

Build a Relationship

Rule #3: Find a place you trust, and then try trusting it for a while.

Build a relationship with land. Learn the patterns of the sun, see the plants move though the seasons.  Learn to recognize seeds.  Plant something you want to see grow.

Plants are teachers.  We cannot think less of them merely because they cannot get up and move.  We must learn to respect all life forms.  Admire plants.  Tend to them often.  If you forget, the plant will most likely find a way to survive without you.  But it will be happy to see you when you decide to come back.  Don’t give up on the plant.  The plant never gives up on you.

Enjoy a flower.  You always have time to stop and smell the flowers.  Especially if a plant tugs for your attention out of the corner of your eye.  Mark says you should always stop what you are doing to go see the plant in that moment.  Bring home a bouquet!  Allow your engagement with plants to entice your senses.

Notice the season.  Where are we in the cycle of life?  Each part of the year has a purpose, are we using the ebb and flow of the earth in our favor, or are we fighting against it?  Urban life can be disorienting in this sense.  A connection to the natural world can help us get in sync.

Perhaps you know what it’s like to fall in love?  Everyday I fall more in love with this city.

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