Sunday, February 4, 2018

Time for Thyme

Thyme, Thymus vulgaris
Small, demure, hardy, reliable and under-used all describe Thyme, Thymus vulgaris. Nothing flashy about this herb, steady as she goes is an apt description for her. This tiny leaved, robust flavored herb gives an edgy flavor to winter cooking. Thyme honey off the spoon or in a cup of tea for a sore throat. Thyme oil, whoa...way too strong for the home medicine chest. I learned this the hard way when I put a few drops of thyme oil in a bath for my son when he was 10. That was over 29 years ago, and I still remember his squeals as he jumped out of the tub."Ants are biting me! Ants are biting me!"A perfect description of the burning sensation of thyme essential oil on the skin even diluted in a bathtub full of water!

An easy herb to grow, simple garden thyme, is a small, woody shrub growing 1'x1', loves the sun and well-drained, even gravelly, soil. Easily started from seed, cuttings or pegging a stem down and covering with earth until roots strike, this member of the mint family owes it's robust flavor and scent to volatile oils found in the leaves. After years of consideration, I no longer use essential oils in my practice preferring the natural scent of whole plants in my cooking and medicine making. In the mild NW climate one can harvest thyme any time of year.

A culinary herb of high regard, used whole and fresh or dried, thyme's tasty contribution to foods is a delight. For a quick breakfast or tasty side at dinner try these easy potato latkes...

Potato Leek Latkes
Shred 2 potatoes into mixing bowl
add the following:
1/2 cup finely chopped leek, onion or chives 
Latke ingredients ready for milk & eggs

3-4 chopped dandelion leaves, 
parsley as you like
1-2 tablespoon fresh thyme stripped and minced
2 eggs
1 cup of milk
2 tablespoons flour
a pinch of salt and dash of pepper
Mix thoroughly and fry on a hot, greased skillet until potatoes are done
Enjoy with applesauce and sour cream or yogurt

thyme enhances the flavor of potato dishes adding warmth and pizazz to your nourishing winter menu. A member of the mint family, thyme's warmth supports digestion when a warming element is called for. Used on a regular basis in food, thyme aids digestion and strengthens immune function.
Thyme, Thymus vulgaris, Garden thyme
Thyme Honey
Cut 1-2 hands full thyme and strip leaves from stems
Fill small jar with thyme 
Fill jar again with honey 
Macerate in warm place for at least 1 month. 
Best made in summer when thyme is growing fast for use in winter when thyme growth slows 
Thyme honey off the spoon or in a cup of hot water as tea relieves a sore throat, relaxes the trachea and clears congestion when a cough persists and gently strengthens the body's ability to fend off outside pernicious influences. 

By having 1 or 2 thymes in the dooryard garden you have food & medicine close to hand. There are many species and varieties of thyme to add to your garden. In a future post we'll take a look at them and how they can enhance your garden experience.
For now, be sure to get outside every chance you can and enjoy the green blessings of the winter season.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Welcome! Lots changing at RavenCroft Garden...thanks for coming by

In May 2016 a triskele garden was planted at RavenCroft to acknowledge the movement we felt in the land and ourselves.

Today, that movement is manifesting in renewal of our commitment to Integrated Earth Medicine and community centered herbalism ala RavenCroft Garden and EagleSong-Gardener's vision of a place where natural health, herbal medicine and living with heart and soul, earth and soil is a daily practice.

Healing from the Ground Up  April through November.  A 9-month herbal apprenticeship for women and men. America's first community-centered herbal apprenticeship.

LIA: A Live-In Apprenticeship for women is accepting women in 2018 who desire hands-on experience exploring/deepening their relationship with themselves and the earth.

Plant Medicine Rambles Around the Salish Sea  Plant Medicine Rambles are much more than walks singling out individual plants and reducing them to what they're "good" for or how to harvest them, although, we will do some of that! There is so much more...

Summer Herb Camps:  Take one camp in an area of your personal interest or all take all nine days for a mini-apprenticeship in cultivating life...You'll learn basic skills necessary for living with heart and soul on this blue and green planet hurtling through space. Three 3-day experiential weekend camps cultivating a sense of being in place:

  • May 4, 5, 6, 2018: Garden Camp in the beginning there was a garden...
  • July13, 14, 15, 2018: Herbal Medicine-Making Practical skills for bringing herbal medicine to life...
  • August 3, 4, 5, 2018: Artisan Food Camp where you'll experience culture rising from the earth with all of your senses!
Summer camp has never been so messy, fun and informative...

We're glad you came by...

To learn more about EagleSong-Gardener and RavenCroft Garden please leave your email address here. You'll receive Recipes and Remedies and an invitation to our new website launch party coming this spring!

Stay tuned...

Green Blessings,


Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Twenty six...

That's how many plants we identified in the Maple Tribe eco-system we visited while foraging nettle last weekend!
Maple Grove with ephemeral ground cover 4/15/17

The scent of fall leaves slowly becoming humus in the warming earth was intoxicating!

Gathering nettle for the winter store is an uplifting spring excursion. Fresh air, sunlight, all makes for an innervating experience that shakes winter from our bones...

Going outside and playing...
Every chance you can nourishes heart and soul!
The gathering basket...

Bleeding Heart

Twenty-six Maple Tribe plants by common name:

1. Waterleaf
2. Shotweed
3. Jewelweed
4. Huechera
5. Dandelion
6. Bleeding Heart
7. Corydalis
8. Wild Cucumber
9. Big Leaf Maple
10. Salmonberry
11. Snowberry
12. Nipplewort
13. Nettle
14. Red elder
15. Cleavers
16. Indian Plum
17. Sword Fern
18. Licorice Fern
Maple Grove looking east 
19. Vine maple
20. Himalayan Blackberry
21. Thistle
22. Lady fern
23. Buttercup
24. Conk
25. Burdock remnants
26. Sedge

Did you make it out nettling this spring?
What did you see/find in your quest?

Stay tuned...Hawthorn flowers and leaves are coming soon!

Monday, March 27, 2017

Solving the "Problem" with Lemon Balm!

Lemon Balm, Melissa officinalis
Wow! Equinox, the mid-point between winter and summer solstices has come and gone! Now, nature's full expansive force is an energy to reckon in the course forward...I love this time of year! The generative potency is palpable, especially for those who garden!

Yesterday, I was in the garden and found so many allies emerging. We are headlong into the season of divide and multiply...the garden being the one place that this type of math is exponentially enjoyed!

One plant in particular in the dooryard garden was ready to jump the container...

Lemon balm, Melissa officinalis. A frisky garden grower if there ever was one. A plant that garners the rage of many gardeners for her so-called promiscuity. You see, this plant incites the bees to ecstasy and while they dive deep into her open blooms they contribute to the abundance of seed that can and, I might add from personal experience, become a problem in many a garden! Melissa means "bee" in Greek. And, to this day, there remains a strong affinity between plant and insect!

Like most "problems" when one has more information different behavior can eliminate or at least manage the severity of the "problem"! Well, lemon balm proliferates primarily through seed unlike other mints that run. That is, some mints' habit is to push growth in the form of stolons, creeping horizontal plant stems or runners that take root at points along its length to form new plants. While Melissa has stolons of sorts, they are not wont to extend from the mother plant at a very fast rate.

Lemon Balm lifted and ready for dividing
Melissa prefers the bee aspect of the birds and bees pollination ritual. A clumping perennial, her roots stay closer to home. She prefers to scatter her progeny far and wide by seed, overtaking many an innocent's garden!

This can be a nightmare, as many of you may know from experience. Myself, being driven from more than one garden by unruly residents, I am happy to say, years ago I found the "perfect solution", "fix" "cure" to this mundane gardening inconvenience.

It goes like this...When your lemon balm is about to set seed, that is when in full flower, cut the plant to the ground. Not one or two inches from the ground. Cut the lemon balm all the way to the ground*. Bundle the stalks up, this may be an armful for an older plant and head for the shower! Yup, take that leafy green armload of herb into the shower with you. The delight in having a garden is the abundance of plant material one has and the extravagance in how many ways you have to engage the energies of those plants!

Now, turn on the hot water, get in there and STOMP! As the heat lifts the scent out of the crushed leaves into the air, be prepared to engage a mind altering, heart lifting experience! Upon performing this nuanced ritual of early summer garden control, a friend described his experience as psychotropic! This is natural scent therapy at its finest...Once this ritual was revealed to me in the grip of a wild moment of frustration with an unruly, innocuous appreciation for Melissa exploded exponentially.

A sleeper of sorts, neither flamboyant nor showy in any way in the garden. Almost invisible in her demeanor. You know, one of those plants that make every one else look good as the green foil but alone is quite invisible! This hot water ritual broke Melissa's secret chamber wide open.

After the lemony shower, I felt refreshed, mentally alert but not on edge. Upon further investigation, I found lemon balm is a favored herb for gently opening the surface of the body relieving heat. Mild enough for use with children and the infirm for cooling relief in fever. When my son had measles, we gently swabbed his skin with Melissa made as a short infusion. A short infusion can be drunk or used as a soothing wash. The scent alone brightens the countenance of one who is not feeling their best.

Melissa is known for improving immune function, calming distress, strengthening the nerves. A favored quote regarding Melissa's attributes: "Melissa officinalis dispels melancholy and uplifts the spirit". This language invites use. A short infusion, is an infusion made in a covered pot that only steeps 5-10 minutes before use. Remember, the essential oils in plants are intended to safe guard the plant from ingestion by other creatures. With this in mind, a short infusion serves to extract a small amount of volatile oil. By pouring the tea and allowing it to rest a bit before sipping or swabbing, the oils dissipate leaving a pleasant beverage or wash through which one can enjoy the health benefits the herb possesses.

This is an herb for every garden! Especially those with afternoon shade. We'll explore Melissa officinalis in more depth as we grow on...

Melissa divisions in their new home in the East Hedge
amidst black currant, elderberry and Josta berry

Lemon Balm: Melissa officinalis
Plant Class: Herbaceous perennial
Etymology: Balm or balsam -with sweet smelling oils, Melissa, bees
Propagation: by seed, summer cuttings and spring and fall division
Flowers/Fruit/Seeds: Clusters of small pale yellow flowers in the axils of the leaves
Parts used: Leaves and flowers
Leaves: Opposite, heart shaped leaves with serrated edges, give off a heady lemon scent when bruised and have a delicate lemon flavor
Flowering Season: June to August, can be harvested up to 3 times in long growing seasons
Distribution: widely grown in the Mediterranean and France and over much of North America. Prefers warm climates.

* When cutting mint family plants, the stubble left behind (by those refusing to cut to the ground) are sharp needle-like stalks which inflict painful, penetrating wounds! Trust me on this! Cut your mints at ground level...they will grow back!

Saturday, March 4, 2017

2017 Hedge Medicine Workshop

West Hedge at RavenCroft Garden

March 10-11, 2018
Saturday-Sunday 10am - 4pm
$150.  includes: all instruction, 2 local foods lunches, Hedges of the World slideshow, hands-on practicum. Work with an expert arborist and herbalist exploring social forestry, and learn new/old ways to manage urban forests.

Payment options:
Send $150. check or money order to:

EagleSong E Gardener
PO Box 837, Monroe, WA 98272
PayPal $150. to EagleSong E Gardener

What is a hedge? What benefits do hedges bring to landscapes, large and small. Is this ancient tradtition applicable in our modern world? Whether you are a farmer, gardener or forager; an herbalist or ethnobotanist or aspire to be...this weekend course is for you. Feel the tools in your own hands while crafting hedges, fedges and podges. Walk hedges at a 1 acre site and see possibility for your garden or farm. Hear how hedges improve diversity and habitat for everything from birds and mammals to cattle and salmon. Practicing herbalist, EagleSong-Gardener and arborist, Dana Harper of Legendary Trees will be your guides through the weekend looking at hedge medicine, planted hedges, tools and tending, magic and medicine of the hedge... 
This is an experiential weekend engaging the whole person whilst listening to the the language of the land!

Hedge row management,...resources transforming!
The biomass created in hedgerow management, pruning of fruit trees and berry bushes, normal deadfall are all part of an integrated land use practice, I call social gardening or integrated earth medicine.

When living elements of a place move in a cyclic manner with nourishment as the prime objective, a sense of abundance begins to pervade the landscape.

Many hands...
In this fun engaging weekend you will learn how microbes and fungi transform wood and debris into nourishment for land and plants, when and how to use what kind of mulch, which plants, shrubs and trees will help you achieve your goal with the most efficient use of your effort...You'll see the "lazy bed" method of gardening at work, stacking functions and funneling your activity into an abundant, verdant garden for your health and pleasure, making that "space between" a vital, productive middle ground.

Gardens, like life, are in a constant state of emergence when allowed to move through the natural rhythm of succession. Creating property boundaries that define edges while remaining permeable and productive is the province of great hedges.
Here in that odd place "between", fruits, berries, perennial herbs and the great weeds take up residence!  

Visit the Facebook Event Page to learn more...
Mulch for garden beds this season! 

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

2017 Workshops, Apprenticeships, Plant Medicine Rambles are taking shape...Check It Out!

New beginnings!

Healing From the Ground Up 

Herbal Apprenticeship 
returns to RavenCroft Garden
Monroe, WA

After a long sojourn...(more about that in the weeks and months to come)

The Barn at RavenCroft

Healing From the Ground Up

was the first Community~Centered Herbal apprenticeship offered in America! Beginning in 1996 as a CSH - Community Supported Herbal apprenticeship, the realization that Culture Rises From the Earth, morphed the apprenticeship into a CCH - Community~Centered Herbal apprenticeship. Today, perhaps, more than ever, an earth centered, woman-honoring tradition of herbal practice is finding her way home...

Apprentices in the Living Labyrinth

"After a long journey, I am very excited to be breathing life back into this much needed wise woman herbal apprenticeship in the Northwest." EagleSong Evans Gardener

Stay tuned for updates, recipes and remedies as winter unfurls toward spring...

The flumdiddley kitchen at RavenCroft Garden

The gardens, outdoor kitchen and living Labyrinth create the container for hands-on learning ala RavenCroft Garden. Come visit for an Moon Circle, a day workshop or a year apprenticeship. Join us for a journey through time as we remember who we are and what we're here for...

Joy, Hazel, and Handsome enjoying the nettle patch...

You’ll find more 2017 Herb classes, Workshops, Plant Medicine Rambles, Moon Circles in the sidebar to the right...take a meander and enjoy the blog posts...

May our green paths cross in the year ahead...
For now, breathe deep and enjoy the season where ever you are...

Green Blessings

Smokey Rascal aka The Shadow

Monday, April 4, 2016

Springing into Blue Podded Pea Soup

The beautiful blue podded peas are just 4-5" tall in the garden, now! We've been growing the Capucijner peas for several years. Hardy, beautiful, productive and edible as shoots, blossoms and dried peas, what is not to love?

Well, the reason I have them, is that my friend, Alison, another inveterate gardener, did not find them to her liking..."tough, too little return for the space and I plant peas to eat peas", she said, "not soup months later!"

I was more than happy to receive the small handful, that was Alison's entire harvest, some 5 years ago! The bi-color, tasty edible flowers and the blue pods fascinate me. The bonus...being an open-pollinated heirloom this pea is easy to grow and fun to save from year to year. I jumped at this opportunity to travel with the blue podded pea for a spell...

Blue pea shoots moving to earth...

Leeks, lovage and sorrel with Blue Pea seed from Ed Hume

Ready to learn more about the flavor and eating qualities of this Pisum sativa cv, I set a cup of peas to soak for cooking into soup. The dried peas are really hard and need an overnight soak to thoroughly soften while cooking. It took a few tries as we were getting acquainted. At first, I did not care for the toughness either. Now, I appreciate how coaxing tenderness out with long soaking really helps.

Lots of food fun in here!

After a visit to a fun French cookbook by Ginette Mathiot on loan from my friend, Johnnie; I headed out with basket in hand. Ginette's recommended leeks, lovage and sorrel are robust in their spring vigor in the dooryard garden and ready to join the peas simmering in the pot with onion...

Let's take a quick look at the herbs growing in the garden close to the house filled with quick and tasty fruits and vegetables and fragrant, colorful flowers.

Tiny leeks ready to plant
Leeks ready for soup!

Leek, in the allium cultivar group Allium ampeloprasum, can be easily grown from seed or you might find seedlings at your local nursery in pots. To plant seedling leeks, cut roots and tops back by half and then plant out in a nurse bed 2" apart in each direction. There, they grow until the size of a fat pencil. Next, transplant out 6-8" apart in their final site, dust with a thin top dressing of compost, water in, mulch and let grow on through fall and winter for spring eating. Leeks are hardy plants and a renowned symbol of the tenacity of the Welsh people, those folks from whence my ancestors came!

Lovage early spring growth
Lovage, Levisticum officinale, a member of the edible branch of the Apiaceae family,  an old-fashioned herb rarely seen in gardens today. Lovage is a reliable, hardy perennial with a flavor reminiscent of celery but more intense. At 6'-8' with interesting, textured foliage, lovage is a structural element for the back of the garden as well as a tasty addition to soups and stews. Lovage leaf, stalk, root and seed have been used in many cuisines throughout North America, Europe and Asia for centuries. While an interesting taste to brighten spring cooking after winter's heavy foods, remember, lovage's aromatic character reminds us to use a light hand in recipes...

Sorrel, Rumex acetosa

Sorrel, Rumex acetosa or her dainty wild cousin, Rumex acetosella carry the refreshing, sour taste raw or cooked to spring meals. An easy, carefree perennial, sorrel is a reliable addition to the table come spring. Fresh and light in flavor, this plant is a steadfast member of the dooryard. The sour taste has a cooling, moistening effect in the body making sorrels tasty, fare for encouraging the spring rhythms of clearing and lightening winter from our bodies as we prepare for the warm, movement filled season ahead!

Sorrel turned out to be the secret ingredient in the adventure of finding a Springing into Blue Podded Pea Soup recipe!

While I'm enjoying this conversation, a goat hoof needs tending. It won't be long, come back and sit a spell for the recipe and the next episode of Springing Into Blue Pea Soup...

Until can read more about peas and, in particular,
Capucijner Blue Podded Peas here...

Make time to go outside and play! If play doesn't cause Spring Fever, then it's a sure cure!!