Most of us brave souls who stay through the winter in northern Michigan experience a little SAD after the holidays. This is the time of year when the only thing green and still living has just been unceremoniously dragged out the door. Suddenly the house feels especially empty. Now the shorter, colder days have forced us indoors, where we can quickly get bored, less productive, more sedentary, and – if we’re not careful – even sickly.
Having survived and thrived through many a long winter, I do feel somewhat qualified to tell you that, to embrace this season of solar sequestration with alacrity, you need a plan that includes one of the following: an ambitious project, an engaging hobby, a lofty goal – and you need (and this is my secret to success) houseplants. I’m quite serious! Scientific studies have shown that indoor plants improve our air quality, our blood oxygen ratio, our productivity, and our outlook – all key ingredients to our survival.
Did you know that houseplants actually do more to beautify our body’s “interior” than our home’s interior? You could never pick a better partner to be cooped up indoors with for four months of the year. Within 24 hours, indoor plants can remove 87% of toxic volatile organic compounds (VOCs) like formaldehydes and benzenes from your home. In addition, they reduce respiratory distress by returning 97% of the water they take in back into the air, increasing the humidity in our home during these dry winter months. I group mine together in each room on boot trays filled with pebbles to create a micro-climate – a miniature rain forest to combat forced-air and wood heat.
It is hard to conceive a more symbiotic relationship than that of humans and plants. When you breathe, your body takes in oxygen and releases carbon dioxide. During photosynthesis, plants absorb carbon dioxide and release oxygen. In recent years, I learned that I had developed allergies to nearly everything in my environment, indoors and out. Formaldehyde was the first allergen identified. It is ubiquitous – found in everything such as most cosmetics, lotions, shampoos, detergents, and in furniture, rugs, grocery bags, construction materials, etc. After listening to a TED talk on “How to grow your own fresh air” I learned that I could eliminate these toxins from my environment, simply and inexpensively, and without suffering the side effects of allergy medications. Listen to Karmal Meattle describe the results of his findings with NASA: www.ted.com/talks/kamal_meattle_on_how_to_grow_your_own_ fresh_air.html
Consider this fact when making your New Year’s resolutions to get healthy this year: When detoxing your body, approximately 70% of it occurs through breathing, 20% through perspiration, 8% through urination and 2% through the bowels.1 Wouldn’t it make sense then, if you want the most internal bang for your buck, to skip the “total cleanse” and get some house plants instead?
“Health …is the complete and full union between soul, mind and body; and this is not a difficult…ideal to attain, but one so easy and natural that many of us have overlooked it”, Dr. Edward Bach.
Dr Bach, (1886-1936) was an English physician who became increasingly dissatisfied with conventional medical systems of treatment and went on to study immunology. He was more interested in the people he treated than their disease and concluded that with illness, personality is more important than symptoms and should be considered in determining treatment. Dr. Bach believed that illness was the effect of disharmony between the body and mind and the symptoms were the outer expressions of a negative emotional state.
While working at the London Homeopathic Hospital (1919-1922), Dr. Bach merged the earlier principals of homeopathy by Dr. Samuel Hahnemann with his own knowledge of traditional medicine to develop the Seven Bach Nosodes. These were oral vaccines which cleansed the intestinal tract with excellent effects on the general health of the patient.
In 1928 Dr. Bach used the plants, Impatiens, Mimulus and Clematis, as he did his other oral vaccines, prescribed them according to his patients’ distinct personality and discovered quick and positive results. By 1930 he was seeking out and preparing more flower remedies with continued success in treatment. In 1932 he revealed his first of twelve remedies; 1933 brought the seven helper remedies and 1934 the final nineteen remedies to complete the program. These thirty-eight remedies were to cover all characteristics of human nature and all the negative states of mind which trigger illness. Dr. Bach died in November 1936, at the young age of 50. Today the Bach Centre at Mt Vernon, Oxfordshire, England continues the work of Dr. Bach, training, advising students and preparing the mother tinctures.
And so…These remedies, as clearly stated in all Bach literature, are not meant to take the place of medical attention but to work in subtle harmony with “conventional” treatment. The essences are safe, with no chance of overdose; will not interfere with any other form of treatment; have no side effects and can be used as often as needed until symptoms are gone.
Dr Bach divided the thirty eight remedies into seven categories which embody essential conflicts which inhibit us from “being true to ourselves.” 3 These categories are: fear, uncertainty, loneliness, insufficient interest in present circumstances, over sensitivity to influence and ideas, despondency or despair, and over-care for the welfare of others. Within each category, there are specific forms which can be treated with one or more remedies, such as fear- in the form of terror, everyday fears, fear of losing one’s mind, etc. Bach’s (and others) books contain descriptions of the remedies and the emotional and mental issues for which each is needed so the reader must recognize how s/he feels at that moment. It may be difficult as the descriptions are not always complimentary and depict the need in the most negative state, so it may be useful to ask a friend who can be objective to help pinpoint the best remedy.
Once your remedy has been selected, it is recommended to take two drops in a cup of water and sip at intervals, holding the dose in your mouth for a few moments before swallowing. One may also apply drops directly to the tongue or rub behind the ears, temples or wrist or add to lotions, oils or bath water. Usually these remedies work “undramatically and gently” so one would easily adapt.3 If no change occurs in two weeks you may need to review the remedies to add or change your choice.
In producing a remedy, blooms are picked for peak extract and preserved by mixing a1:1 combination of extract and brandy which becomes the “mother”. Drops of the mother are then diluted with additional brandy and bottled as stock, then further diluted with water when used.
The remedies are divided as: twelve “Healers” (e.g., Chicory, Clematis, Vervain…); seven “Helpers” (e.g., Gorse, Heather, Olive..); a second set of nineteen “Healers” (e.g., Aspen, Crabapple, Holly…) and a first aid “Rescue Remedy” comprised of Cherry Plum, Clematis, Impatiens, Rock Rose, and Star of Bethlehem; which is used quickly after an emotional shock, accident, or illness.
Dr. Bach’s aim was to help people understand themselves and use that understanding to benefit others. The best way to help others is to become all we can be, “to realize our own true nature- our greatest potential for good.”1 Bach believed that good health is simply a state of mind, thus if we are strong spiritually and mentally, we are able to deal with the external world with clarity, flexibility and balance.
Bach Flower Remedies for Beginners. David Vennels, Llewellyn Publications, 2001.
Illustrated Handbook of the Bach Flower Remedies. Phillip M Chancellor, Vermilion, 1971
The 38 Flower Remedies. Wigmore Publications Ltd. 1993
“The Spirit of Dr. Bach, the Bach Flower Therapy”. BachWiki, 2/21/07
Description: It is a biennial plant which grows a rosette of leaves in the spring and summer, while building up the stout taproot, which stores large amounts of sugars for the plant to flower in the second year. The leaves are dissected and the flowering stem grows to about 1 meter (3 ft) tall, with an umbel of white flowers. The carrot is a root vegetable, usually orange in color, though purple, red, white, and yellow varieties exist. It has a crisp texture when fresh. The most commonly eaten part of a carrot is a taproot, although the greens are edible as well. Different cultivars of carrot have different shaped taproot.
Origin: It is a domesticated form of the wild carrot Daucus carota, native to Europe and southwestern Asia. The domestic carrot has been selectively bred for its greatly enlarged and more palatable, less woody-textured edible taproot. The wild ancestors of the carrot are likely to have come from Iran and Afghanistan, which remains the center of diversity of D. carota.
In early use, carrots were grown for their aromatic leaves and seeds, not their roots. Some relatives of the carrot are still grown for these, such as parsley, fennel, dill and cumin. The first mention of the root in classical sources is in the 1st century. The modern carrot appears to have been introduced to Europe in the 8–10th centuries. Some believe there is evidence that carrots were eaten by the ancient Egyptians, Greeks and Romans.
Cultivation (how and where grown): Carrots grow best in full sun but tolerate some shade. In order to avoid growing deformed carrots it is better to plant them in loose soil free from rocks. The seeds, which are 1-3mm in diameter, should be sown about 2cm deep or sown on surface. Carrots take around 4 months to mature for eating but flower the next year if left in the ground. Carrots seeds are very small and seedlings are difficult to thin. To deal with this in home gardens, carrots seeds are often mixed with sand to space out the seeds, or mixed with radish seeds to grow two harvests in the same space. Once the radishes are harvested, the carrots grow at the appropriate spacing. Carrot flowers are pollinated primarily by bees – honeybees or mason bees. Carrots are used as food plants by the larvae of some Lepidoptera species, including Common Swift, Garden Dart, Ghost Moth, Large Yellow Underwing and Setaceous Hebrew Character.
Carrots are grown in temperate climates and China, Russia and the United States are the largest producers. Eastern carrots from Iran and Afghanistan were purple or yellow. Western carrots developed in the Netherlands were primarily orange. The color orange was an emblem of the House of Orange and the struggle for Dutch independence.
Fun Facts: The city of Holtville, California, promotes itself as “Carrot Capital of the World”, and holds an annual festival devoted entirely to the carrot.
Nutrition: The domestic carrot gets its characteristic and bright orange color from β-carotene, which is metabolized into vitamin A in humans when bile salts are present in the intestines. One hundred milligrams of carrots contains over 100% of the RDA of vitamin A. Lack of vitamin A can cause poor vision, including night vision, and vision can be restored by adding it back into the diet. However, only 3% of the β-carotene in raw carrots is released during digestion: this can be improved to 39% by pulping, cooking and adding cooking oil. Massive overconsumption of carrots can cause carotenoids, a benign condition in which the skin turns orange. Carrots are also rich in dietary fiber, antioxidants, and minerals.
Different colored carrots contain different nutrients.
Orange carrots contain beta carotene, with some alpha-carotene, both of which are orange pigments. High in Vitamin A essential for well-being, healthy eyes. These carrots are from Europe and the Middle East.
Yellow carrots contain xanthophylls and lutene, pigments similar to beta carotene, which help develop healthy eyes aid in the fight against macular degeneration and may prevent lung and other cancers and reduce the risk of astherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries).
Red carrots are tinted by lycopene, (another form of carotene) a pigment also found in tomatoes and watermelon; lycopene is associated with the reduced risk of macular degeneration, serum lipid oxidation, helps prevent heart disease and a wide variety of cancers including prostate cancer. Originally from India and China.
Purple carrots (usually orange inside) have even more beta carotene than their orange cousins, and get their pigment from an entirely different class, the anthocyanins, these pigments act as powerful antioxidants, grabbing and holding on to harmful free radicals in the body. Anthocyanins also help prevent heart disease by slowing blood clotting and are good anti inflammatory agents. Some people say these will be the next superfood. These originate from Turkey, and the Middle and Far East.
White carrots lack pigment, but may contain other health-promoting substances called phytochemicals, natural bioactive compounds found in plant foods that work with nutrients and dietary fiber to protect against disease. One might say these are the least healthy of carrots. They originate from Afghanistan, Iran, Pakistan.
Black carrots contain anthocyanins, part of the flavonoid family with antioxidant properties. Flavonoids are currently under investigation as anticancer compounds, as free radical scavengers in living systems, as well as inhibitors of LDL (the bad) cholesterol and the black carrot anthocyanins are especially active. It has anti-bacterial and anti-fungicidal properties and oil made from its seed can help control scalp itchiness and provides essential nutrients for hair growth. The ancient black carrot has been making a comeback, not so much for culinary purposes but as a source of natural food colorants. These originate from Turkey, and the Middle and Far East.
Culinary Uses: Carrots can be eaten in a variety of ways. They may be pulped, chopped and boiled, fried or steamed, and cooked in soups and stews, as well as baby and pet foods. A well-known dish is carrots julienne. The greens are edible as a leaf vegetable, but are rarely eaten by humans. Together with onion and celery, carrots are one of the primary vegetables used in a mirepoix to make various broths.
The north Indian carrot is pink-red and sweet. In India carrots are used in a variety of ways, as salads or as vegetables added to spicy rice or daal dishes. The most popular variation in north India is the Gaajar Kaa Halwaa carrot dessert, which has carrots grated and cooked in milk until the whole mixture is solid, after which nuts and butter are added. Carrot salads are usually made with grated carrots in western parts with a seasoning of mustard seeds and green chilies popped in hot oil, while adding carrots to rice usually is in julienne shape.
Ever since the late 1980s, baby carrots or mini-carrots (carrots that have been peeled and cut into uniform cylinders) have been a popular ready-to-eat snack food available in many supermarkets.
The sweetness of carrots allows the vegetable to be used in some fruit-like roles. Grated carrots are used in carrot cakes, as well as carrot puddings, an old English dish thought to have originated in the early 19th century. Carrots can also be used alone or with fruits in jam and preserves. Carrot juice is also widely marketed, especially as a health drink, either stand-alone or blended with fruits and other vegetables.
Medicinal Uses: Carrots are high in Vitamin A essential for well-being, healthy eyes. As a folk remedy, the roots are used to treat digestive problems, intestinal parasites, and tonsillitis or constipation.
Variety grown or eaten at local schools: Purple Haze, Snow White, Amarillo, Napolini, Cosmic Red, and several others
Impact on Culture: The carrot is said to be the second most popular vegetable after potatoes. The word “carrot” has become a common slang word that means “reward” in the English language, such as in the expression “Dangle a Carrot” in order to motivate someone.
Appearance in Literature: The most famous book about carrots was a children’s book published in 1945 – “The Carrot Seed” by Ruth Krauss. It has been in continuous publication for over 60 years. It is a story about persistence and optimism. The book opens with the words: “A little boy planted a carrot seed. His mother said, ‘I’m afraid it won’t come up.” Despite the skepticism of his parents and, particularly, his older brother, he persists and “pulled up the weeds around it every day and sprinkled the ground with water.” The book concludes simply “And then, one day, a carrot came up just as the little boy had known it would.” However, the singular carrot is so large that it fills a wheelbarrow.
“The Carrot Principle” by Adrian Gostick and Chester Elton is a well-known management book that talks about how to use recognition rewards to reduce employee turnover and achieve organizational goals.
2014 Recertification News: The 2014 recertification process will begin on Jan. 6, 2014 and end on Jan. 31, 2014. You must have all of your required hours entered into the VMS by December 31st to be eligible to re-certify.
Gardeners know that feeling, when you open your mailbox to find the new seed/bulb/plant catalogue has arrived. Having a subscription to a garden magazine can be a treat all year long. Here’s a brief overview of five interesting periodicals.
FINE GARDENING – I began receiving this magazine about eleven years ago after my neighbor, Grace, loaned a few issues to me. I love the Readers Tips, the Pronunciation Guide, and the step by step guides for pruning, planting and design in each issue. The photographs are always beautiful. Some titles from the December 2013 issue include “Rip it Out”, “Battle of the Grasses”, and “A Different Approach to Crop Rotation”. I have saved every issue for reference as I work and rework my own yard.
GARDEN GATE – This is the most economical of the five magazines being reviewed. Great design tips with before and after photos as well as layouts for plantings that one could easily follow to replicate at home. There is always a “weed watch” or “pest watch” side bar which is very helpful. I enjoy the “What’s New” and the “Ask Garden Gate” sections. “Plant Now or Wait”, “Panicle Hydrangea”, and “Garden Greener” are three of the featured articles in the December 2013 issue. The back cover leaves the reader with a meaningful quote and a stunning photograph.
HORTICULTURE – The September/October bi-monthly issue of this periodical includes articles on harvesting edible native plants as well as fall vegetable crops, hydrangeas, wall shrubs and ornamental grasses. It seems to lean a bit more towards written rather than graphic information, but is equally as interesting and enlightening as the other magazines.
ORGANIC GARDENING – I like this magazine for its more “well rounded” articles but I almost feel it should be called “Organic Living” as its topics range from canning to gourds to cooking with healthy spices and defending weeds. I liked the article on how to grow and use gourds for creative vases, candle holders and center pieces. Many interesting areas to ponder! It is also bi-monthly.
MOTHER EARTH NEWS – This bi-monthly first appeared forty-three years ago, back when some of us were in the midst of hippy-dom…and thus, they say as their slogan, “more than a magazine…a way of life”. For those living the earthy life (no offense intended), there are many topics addressed; solar power, building with earth and straw, self-reliant living, efficient windows, and working dogs. Other articles cover growing summer grains, winter crops and great places to live. I enjoyed the “Country Lore: Reader’s Tips” for some useful tidbits.
All Master Gardeners, Trainees, Spouses and Friends are invited to join in our Annual Volunteer Recognition Dinner.
The Event includes a dinner of heavy hors d’oeuvres, socializing, Silent Auction to raise funds for scholarships, celebrating the accomplishments of 2013, Awarding hours and MG of the year, Association Election, and more. It is a warm and wonderful event and we are inspired by our Master Gardener Community.
The Events will be held at the Gilbert Lodge at Twin Lakes Camp, 6800 N. Long Lake Road.
Reservations are required, invitations have been mailed. Click here to register online. Call Matthew Bertrand 231-256-9888 for a last minute seat.
September MG Meeting: Ciccone Vineyard and Winery
On September 3rd, the Master Gardeners’ met at Ciccone Vineyard and Winery. Starting with the vines nearest the tasting room the owner, Tony Ciccone, led us through the many and diverse aspects of viticulture.
The vines closest to the tasting room showed symptoms of Powdery Mildew. Tony explained the process of detection and treatment. First, Tony discussed the need for knowledge of the types and timings of diseases that affect grapes. When asked about treatments, I found his answer most interesting. Tony proceeded to explain that to treat properly, vigilance is the key. The vines and the weather are observed daily. If the vines are showing any problems, he goes straight to the treatment records. These records include dates and times for spraying and weather. Using this information, he determines whether the problem is new, improper spraying, or a weather change.
Moving on through the vineyard, we learned about the importance of microclimates for specific grape varieties, the difference between European and New World varieties, and the process of veraison. Veraison of the grapes is commonly called ripening, but Tony added a much deeper understanding. As the grape ripens, the levels of sugar rise and the acidity decreases. The increase in sugar levels provides food for the yeast allowing for the creation of alcohol.
Tony led us through the banquet facilities and the magnificent views. A deep love of viticulture became clear when asked about his children working at the vineyard. He said “I told them don’t come to get rich. It’s all about work. The big vineyards buy grapes to make more wine. I make wine from the vines I prune myself. Our grapes are picked by hand. It’s not the most efficient, but it makes for the best wines.”
Finally, we retired to the tasting room to enjoy samples of the wines created by the Ciccone Family. It was an all-around pleasant time of learning and linking with fellow Master Gardeners. Thank you to the Ciccone Family for hosting and especially to Tony for being our guide.
October MG Program: The Revolutionary Gardens Conference
The morning began with a warm welcome, complete with a thoughtful gift bag filled with goodies such as tulip bulbs. Educational handouts were provided on a number of topics. A delightful continental breakfast was served. It was a casual atmosphere, time to chat with old friends and meet new ones. After the morning lectures there was a delicious buffet luncheon and we dined outside on the veranda. The lecturers, Andrea Wulf, Peter Hatch and Warren Byrd, all gave excellent presentations. Ms. Wulf’s lecture has piqued my interest and has prompted me to order her book “Founding Gardeners, The Revolutionary Generation, Nature & Shaping of the American Nation”. The fact local fauna was used in our forefather’s gardens as a statement of national pride, appeals to my sense of planting native so I want to read more about it. It was a wonderful conference.
Master Gardener Association of Northwest Michigan members make our world more beautiful by participating in gardening projects, educational programs, activities and CONNECTING A COMMUNITY OF GARDENERS THROUGH LEARNING!
8527 East Government Center Drive (Suite 107) – Suttons Bay, MI 49682
Phone: 231-256-9888 :: Email: firstname.lastname@example.org