Lack of posts

I must apologize for the lack of new posts on this blog…my computer died about a year ago and it is hard to post blogs in the 15-30 minutes the library allows you to use their computer. But the good news is that in the next 3 months (maybe sooner) I will have a new computer and will be able to start posting again! I hope some of you have stuck with me through this difficult period and will begin reading the blog posts when I am able to resume them! Thanks all


Tomato Issues

Blosson End Rot

Blossom End Rot – Photo by A13ean Use licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution

Last year when we planted our tomatoes we had high hopes of having sufficient fruit to make a ton of spaghetti sauce to get us through the year. What we didn’t know is that the soil we had was not good enough. Our plants grew tall, almost 6 feet. They were full and bushy with tons of small fruit and flowers. But before the fruit could grow full size and ripen…the bottom end, the blossom end furthest from the stem developed a black, sunken, leathery patch!

Upon research I learned that the condition is known as Blossom End Rot. This is most commonly caused by soil lacking in calcium and lack of consistent watering. It can also be triggered in the earliest set fruits if the soil is too cold or the plant is not sufficiently hardened off.

There are all kinds of chemical fertilizers to handle this issue, and if that is the route you want to take then please ask questions of the people at your local nursery or plant store. They should be able to direct you. But for me personally, I do not eat anything I cannot pronounce (meaning applied to the plant, absorbed by the plant, then consumed by me) or known to be chemical (man made).

What I have done is to dig the hole for the plant slightly deeper than is normal. At the bottom of the hole I added powdered milk, lime, and crushed eggshells. About ½ inch of dirt was then placed above that, and then the plant. Around the base of the plant I sprinkled crushed eggshells to slowly leach additional calcium into the soil with each additional rainfall. The crushed eggshells also have the added benefit of stopping slugs from approaching the stem of the tomato plant, as they do not like the feeling of slithering over the sharp edges of the shells.  Through the season I can add powdered milk to the surface of the soil if it looks like even more calcium is needed.

To help combat the water end of the issue we have installed a sprinkler system (not perfected yet) and deeply mulched all the tomato plants to help protect the moisture from evaporating. As I write this we are in a heat spell with temps over 95 degrees Farenheit. The plants are looking great, the mulch and watering system seem to be working well. Our fruits are nearing full size and not one sign of the blossom end rot is here so far!

Check out my previous post on Tomatoes – Solanum lycopersicum

Why Garden Now?

The 2012 Garden

The 2012 Garden

Around this country, in fact around the world this is a time of great upheaval and change. The economy of almost every nation is at risk, and the everyday people of the nations are in even greater jeopardy. In Europe…Ireland, Portugal, and Spain (among others) have hit a period of economic turmoil. In Greece they are fighting a period of austerity to be ‘saved’ financially by the European Union.

As ordinary citizens we are being forced to find new ways of surviving this period. Many of us are without jobs, and even without unemployment benefits. Many of us may lose homes, spouses, families, security, and/or all loving support. One of the things that I have been advocating for several years is the return to the coping methods of the WWII period. It was strongly encouraged during this period to grow what was then known as a Victory Garden.  If people are not hungry, they can cope with other issues with more clarity of mind, and less despair.

Back in June of 2010 I wrote and published the following piece on just this subject….

“During World War II when food and so much else was rationed, people made their ration stamps for food go further by growing Victory Gardens. Today when there is so much pressure on us all to cut back our family budgets, going back in time and revisiting the Victory Garden seems a wise idea. If we just shuffle through our memories from last summer we would dredge up the salmonella scare on fresh fruits and vegetables. By growing our own, we eliminate that threat to our families. Two very good reasons to plan a garden now…. plant it…. tend it…. and harvest it.

It is time to stop complaining about rising food costs and try and do something for our own benefit for a change. It is time to stop looking to the government and big brother for the next fix. Our new president is doing everything in his power to help the American people come through this economic crisis. They are even planting a garden on the White House grounds this season…If the Obamas can do it, why can’t you?

An idea I was toying with was encouraging everyone to write Mr. President, request him to remind people about the Victory Gardens of the WWII era, and ask him to encourage the American people to follow his lead in just that effort. The rest of us can go to our local Town Councils and ask for Community Garden Space to be made available. We can grow more than we need, and knock on the single mothers door down the street, or the aged guy in the apartment complex where your elderly mother lives (you know the kind of people I mean!) and share your produce. Some food banks even accept produce that is locally grown, call, and find out if your excess can feed someone else this year. Someday you may need the same help!

Many of us have already cut expenses to the bone…. we own no credits cards, no loans, drive as little as possible, cut the car insurance back to state legal limits, have cut off cable or satellite TV, and have started our own Victory Garden…. We are making the effort to conserve…how about joining us?

Some sites that have recipes from that time period are listed below…

            Barefoot in the Kitchen … wonderful list of recipes used during the Depression Era

The 1940’s Experiment offers a large number of recipes also…

Colleen Moulding has put together a site of Frugal Recipes from Wartime Britain

My husband and I have been working on expanding our garden. We have done a ton of hard work, and have more to go. The garden has doubled in size since last year. The varieties of plants have grown, and some plants neither of us have ever grown are experiments in the garden this time. Come help us sort through a garden of fresh produce…medicine and food from one source! All summer maybe I can share our plants, our trials and solutions, and our eventual outcomes!

Alternative Treatments for Asthma

Alternative treatments for Asthma are many…from herbs to homeopathy, from breathing exercises to meditation, etc….But most of the ‘accepted’ Western medical doctors are hesitant to accept the possibility that these methods can help in conjunction with their prescriptions, let alone do the job alone! There is insufficient research done on any of these possible treatments for most doctors to endorse their use; and as long as there is insufficient research being funded and conducted it will remain the same! Also the research needs more than funding and conducting …it also needs to be accomplished by people who are not prejudiced before hand by Western medicine to keep the results pure!

Lifestyle Changes:

Dietary Changes: There have been limited numbers of studies that show that diet influences Asthma significantly. Therefore fixing specific issues could contribute just as significantly to its treatment!

  1. Increase Water consumption: Drinking water may seem a little too simple, but…..water will help thin out the mucous secretions that increase during an asthma attack, making it easier to clear the lungs and bronchial tubes.
  2. Milk elimination: Milk has been shown to be one of the leading dietary causes of allergies, which are one of the leading triggers of an asthma attack! When I was growing up it was considered general knowledge that consumption of milk (or other milk products) could increase mucous production!
  3. Coffee may help in an attack: Because coffee (black coffee no sugar or milk added) is a stimulant it can often encourage the lungs to function more normally. It will help to break up the mucous and alleviate the tightness in the chest and throat. But this is not necessarily recommended for daily use!
  4. Ensure daily consumption of magnesium in the diet: Magnesium has bronchio-dilating effect in the body. Studies have shown that magnesium levels are often low in people experiencing Asthma. Food sources of Magnesium are: almonds, spinach, cashews, soybeans, peanuts (including peanut butter), potato, blackeyed peas, pinto beans, brown rice, lentils, kidney beans, bananas, etc.
  5. Supplement with Omega-3: Omega-3’s are believed to decrease inflammation. You can increase the Omega-3’s in your diet by eating it in Salmon, scallops, cauliflower, broccoli, spinach, walnuts, almonds, kale, tofu, shrimp, tuna, mussels, sardines, etc.’
  6. Increase antioxidants in the diet: Antioxidants tend to stimulate free radical activity; they in turn help to decrease inflammation! These can be found in the Vitamins A, C, and E among other sources! Some dietary sources include…blueberries, blackberries, strawberries, cranberries, Kidney beans, pinto beans, avocados, pineapple, cherries, kiwi, plums, artichokes, spinach, red cabbage, sweet potatoes, broccoli, green tea, walnuts, pecans, hazelnuts, and oat products (like oatmeal)

Increase Exercise: Often exercise can cause an asthma attack, but in good asthma management the goal is to return the patient back to normal or near normal activity, and that includes exercise. Just try to tell a child they cannot run, and jump, and ride their bike! I dare you! Regular exercise helps the Asthmatic in multiple ways including, but not limited to the following benefits: stress reduction, increased energy, and sleep improvements. Exercise also lowers your risk for obesity and heart disease, common problems with adult asthmatics!!

  1. Recommended types of exercise include: volleyball, gymnastics, baseball and wrestling, and any other exercise that allows occasional breaks in the activity!
  2. Use of precautions: Use common sense when exercising….never exercise when you feel ‘off,’ and use some of the following suggestions to prepare for each session: Stretching exercises to help warm up, avoid allergen areas (…use an exercise pad when working out on carpet, avoid areas where there is high pollen or car exhaust). Breath through your nose, rather than your mouth. 

Move: This may seem extreme, but if you live in a very moist, humid location moving to a dry, hot atmosphere may just seem to cure your asthma! Try vacationing in different locals….desert southwest, mountainous areas, by the sea, in a city, out in the country. Where are you the most comfortable? Consider if this dramatic a change may just be worth the expense! In lieu of an actual move try some of these ideas:

  1. Find a good, dry exercise area, such as a local gym
  2. Avoid high allergen areas
  3. Make sure you sleep with your chest and head elevated!


Acupuncture: Acupuncture has been used to treat Asthma because it balances the positive and negative flows of energy in the body, and that is precisely how Acupuncture is believed to work. Asthma is believed to be an imbalance of these opposing energies, with acupuncture restoring the stability to normal levels.

It is believed by many to restore lung function and to reduce the severity of an asthma attack should it occur. Research however has not been able to prove the effectiveness of acupuncture in asthma, but rather the results are inconclusive. The most recent Cochrane Collaborative Review feels that the information thus far does not allow recommendation of this treatment.

Aromatherapy: Essential oil blends can reduce the severity and occurrence of asthma attacks, and help relieve them once they commence! The best time for aromatherapy treatments is between attacks since you do not want the scent to make the problem a worse issue.

E.O.’s to use:

To reduce Bronchial Spasms: chamomile, lavender, rose, geranium and marjoram

Decongestant and Antihistamine: peppermint and ginger

To Encourage deep breathing and to allow lung expansion: Frankincense and marjoram

These Essential oils can be incorporated into chest rubs, steams, humidifiers, the bath or in massage oils.

Biofeedback: Biofeedback is the use of electronic devices to help the patient control or influence normally automatic body functions such as heartbeat and breathing. In controlled studies it has shown to have benefit for most patients, where they maintain control of their asthma while reducing their inhaled steroids.

Herbal Medicine: Many herbs will decrease the inflammation and relieve bronchio-spasms.

Homeopathy: Homeopathy uses very small amounts of natural substance to stimulate the body’s immune function and natural defenses. Each person, and each asthma attack is different so the choices here are prescribed as a tailored approach to each patients needs.

Massage: Massage is believed effective due to the relaxation in the whole being that can be achieved. It can be done using aromatherapy massage oils to enhance its effectiveness. Massage can retrain the muscles to a state of relaxation and reduced stress. Although not well studied, massage can be beneficial by relieving a known trigger for asthma attacks, stress. Additional research is needed in this area.

Pulmonary Therapy (Breathing Exercises): It has been demonstrated that people with asthma that use Breathing Exercises can reduce their use of medications by up to 86%. At Sydney’s Woolcock Institute of Medical Research and Melbourne’s Alfred Hospital conducted this research and released their findings in the August, 2006 edition of Thorax.

Relaxation Techniques – Meditation: It has been found that people who practice meditation and the resulting relaxation have a marked decrease in asthma symptoms and attacks. Meditation can eve help to bring an active attack under control. Often the fear of the attack will trigger panic which will make everything worse. The meditation can counteract this phenomenon.

Yoga: Through gentle stretching and exercise Yoga helps to relax the body and the mind, allowing improvement in circulation and respiration. It will relieve tension and assist the body in its own healing.

Folklore: These are for entertainment only!

            Own a Chihuahua: in Mexican Folk Medicine it is believe to cure asthma!

To cure asthma: Drill a hole into a black-oak tree at the height of the patient’s head. Place a lock of hair in the hole, and drive a wooden peg into the hole to hold the hair in place. Now cut the peg and hair flush with the tree bark. When the bark has grown over the peg and hair, hiding it from sight and the hair has re-grown, the asthma will be cured!

Asthma could be cured by tying a live frog to the patient’s throat. When the frog died the disease was “completely absorbed” by the frog.

Kill a steer, cut open its gut, and place the patient’s feet into the abdomen. When the entrails have cooled the asthma will be cured.

Boil the comb of a hornet’s nest and sweeten it with honey, take to cure asthma!

Chihuahua for Asthma

Chihuahua for Asthma


A rescue inhaler for asthma
A rescue inhaler for asthma

Asthma is a condition of the lungs that causes an obstruction of the airways. If feels like there is an inability to take in air, but it is actually the inability to release the spent breath. Although it meets many of the requirements for COPD, it is not one of the conditions included in the COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease) umbrella, since that includes diseases that are considered irreversible, and asthma is considered reversible.

An Asthma Attack is a sudden onset of the acute symptomology defined as asthma. Its symptoms include wheezing, coughing, chest tightness, shortness of breath and mucous production. A blue discoloration of the nails and lips may occur due to lack of oxygen exchange!

There are different types of Asthma that can be identified by the symptoms, causes of onset, and response to treatment that occurs.

            Brittle Asthma occurs in two types that are distinguished by reoccurring, severe attacks

            Status Asthmaticus is when the Asthma Attack does not respond to standard treatment

            Exercise-induced Asthma occurs with exercise, it tends to occur about 15 % of the time

with top athletes, and most commonly in cycling, mountain biking, and long distance


Occupational Asthma is caused by workplace exposure to irritants in the air. Most of the

time this type of Asthma will go undiagnosed or unreported completely. It can be brought

on by exposure to animal proteins, enzymes, flour, natural rubber latex, and certain


In an attempt to manage asthma symptoms it is vital that the ‘triggers’ that cause sudden attacks be identified and avoided. Some typical triggers are smoke (including cigarette), pet dander, aspirin, mold, air pollution, and other allergens. Once identified total avoidance is key to successful treatment, often allowing the prevention of medication being prescribed.

Where trigger avoidance is not sufficient to avoid an asthma attack medication is often recommended. There are several types of medicines used; quick-relief to stop sudden onset symptoms, and long-term control to prevent symptoms at all if possible.

The quick-relief drugs include the rescue inhalers that more and more people carry on a daily basis. The long-term medications also use a metered dose inhaler on occasion, but long-term incorporates the use of oral medications for control of symptoms.

When all else fails oxygen is administered, and/or Magnesium sulfate may be administered intravenously for its bronco-dilating effects. In the past drugs such as theophylline were used on a regular basis, but now they are not considered as effective as the inhaled beta-agonists.

In the next blog I will be looking at some of the alternative treatments now being utilized to manage the symptoms of Asthma…some of them are as old as the hills, some are new, some are old used in new ways!

Happy New Year! Redirection…

Happy New Year!
Happy New Year!

After posting everyday for a solid year I needed to take a break, now I need to start this New Year fresh, with new ideas!  So once a week (or so) I will post about a condition, disease or disorder. It will include a description of the situation being presented and aspects of the accepted Western medicine treatments. Also to be discussed will be alternative treatments. It is my hope to present a practical and different approach to the well discussed subject of healing! The next few posts to follow the condition post will discuss plants used in the treatment of aforementioned malady.  

Christmas Star – Euphorbia pulcherrima

Christmas Star
Christmas Star

Red leafed flower with poignant history
Reminds of life’s passion at Christmas time
Symbolic of seasonal light, glory


By Stephanie Eve Kane Arado


This plant, indigenous to Mexico is probably the most recognized flower associated with the Christmas season. It was held in such high esteem by Montezuma, the emperor of the ancient Aztecs that he had the plants potted and brought into the mountains where he reigned. The plant did not do well there (it does not tolerate below 50 degrees Fahrenheit), so had to be brought in frequently!

The Poinsettia has been referred to as the Christmas Star because of the resemblance of the bracts that surround the true flowers to stars. The bracts (or leaves) are pointed and circle the center yellow flowers in a radiant pattern. Among the Aztec the flower represented purity.


In Mexico there is a sweet story of how the Poinsettia came to be. According to the legend a young girl was on her way to celebrate the Christ child’s birth, but she was too poor to afford a gift. So she picked a bunch of scraggly green plants to present to him. She placed these before the alter and they blossomed with bright crimson star shaped flowers. This was a reminder that the most humble gift, given in love is perfection.


Among the Mayan people (at one time) these flowers were considered sacred. The Aztecs used the red bracts to produce a red dye. As a folk medicine it was used to treat skin issues, warts, and toothaches.


There is one other myth that needs dispelled. This plant is not a toxic killer…to people or pets!

In 1919 an urban legend was born after a child died after ingestion of the plant. The cause of death was never proven, but it never happened again! The latex of the plant can cause issues for those sensitive to it causing irritation to the skin, eyes and mucous membranes. If sufficient quantity is consumed it can cause nausea and vomiting, but NOT death.

Possomhaw Holly – Ilex deciduas

Possumhaw Holly
Possumhaw Holly

O reader! hast thou ever stood to see
The Holly-tree?
The eye that contemplates it well perceives
Its glossy leaves
Ordered by an Intelligence so wise
As might confound the Atheist’s sophistries.


By Robert Southey (1774-1843)

 This native of low, wet woods can be found throughout the southeast United States. It is one of the deciduous hollies, meaning it loses its leaves come winter. It is state listed as Threatened in Florida. The largest specimen found to date is located in South Carolina. It measures 3 feet around, and 42 feet tall!


The berries are generally considered toxic to humans. The low level toxicity causes nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. But all manner of small mammals, songbirds, and gamebirds, as well as deer find parts of this bush good eating. The deer being the only one to eat the twigs; all the others find the berries to be a delicacy.


Because of those same berries it is often planted as a winter ornamental, and a wildlife attractant. The branches with the berries have been collected to use in Christmas decorations. The wood of this shrub is not considered useful due to its small size.


Hollies in general (including this one) were used by the Alabama Indians. They took the inner bark of the tree, made a decoction from it and applied this to the eyes.  

Persimmons – Diospyros virginiana

Persimmon fruit
Persimmon fruit

Mr. ‘Possom is a farmer
And his crop? Persimmon trees!
Many a woodland stocks his product
And he grows his crop with ease.

How he loves those ripe persimmons
Sweet as syrup, smooth as silk —
Like a gourmet loves his entrees
Like a baby loves his milk.

By Reverend John F. Dorsey (1916- )

This slow growing fruiting tree is native to Eastern North America. It can often be found in dry woods, old fields, and clearings. This deciduous tree is becoming less frequently found in the wild and is listed as of Special Concern in Connecticut and Threatened in New York.

The earliest reference to them that I have found was by Hernando De Sotto who first found them in Florida in 1539. The settlers quickly learned not to eat them until after the first frost, which took away the astringent aspects and rendered the fruit sweet. Later, during the Civil War, when times were tough, the seeds would be used as a coffee substitute by boiling them. And for those of you who like beer and other fermented foods, try a southern Appalachian idea of fermenting the ripe fruit to make beer!

The Cherokee are credited with some of the earliest baked breads using the persimmon fruit, which they served to the Europeans. The Asian persimmon is rarely cooked as they get astringent with heat, but the native American persimmon is often baked into puddings, pies, & breads. Jams and Jellies are also common from the fruit.

This tree also contributed to the ancient medicine wisdom of the south. The unripe, very astringent fruit would be boiled into a decoction and taken internally to stop bloody stools. The Cherokee used a decoction of the inner bark to treat thrush, sore throats and as a wash for warts or cancers. A few twigs boiled and cooled is a good wash for poison ivy and its kin, taking away the itch and finally drying out the blisters.

There is an old use of the persimmon that I have always found fascinating. Take fresh persimmon seeds and split them open. In the center you will find the little whitish sprout…the shape of this sprout was believed to predict the weather for the coming winter. If the sprout looked like a knife it would be an icy, cold winter. If it looked like a fork it would be a mild winter. And if the little sprout resembled a spoon, get the shovels ready ‘cause snow was sure to blow!

Meadowsweet – Spirea alba var. latifolia

White Meadowsweet
White Meadowsweet

Through grass, through amber’d cornfields, our slow Stream–
Fringed with its flags and reeds and rushes tall,
And Meadowsweet, the chosen of them all
By wandering children….


By William Allingham (1824-1889)


This perennial shrub of the Rose family is native to Northeastern North America and can be found growing in wet areas such as edges of marshes, bogs and ditches, along streams, and wet prairies. In Kentucky, and Tennessee it is considered Endangered. While in Ohio it is listed as Extripated (locally extinct).  The plant was imported into parts of Europe; Belgium, Denmark, Estonia, France, Germany, Ireland, Latvia, Lithuania, United Kingdom. In Belgium and Latvia it is listed as Invasive, and in Lithuania as potentially Invasive!


In herbal medicine of the Ojibwa Indians a tea of leaves and flowers was used to ease childbirth. Early settlers used the inner bark as a pain killer, much like other early aspirin like herbs (willow. etc). Unlike willow or poplar, which also contains Salicylates, the properties and strength of the aspirin like effects is consistent from plant to plant. In minute amounts Meadowsweet can also be used on stomach issues. The Blackfoot Indians used a tea as an enema and a vagina douche to treat infections.


The leaves smell like almonds and have been used to keep linens fresh and nicely scented. The leaves have also been use in making an astringent skin tonic. The leaves have been dried and used as a China tea substitute, supposedly tasting much the same as the original. The early settlers ate the roots.


In magic use this plant and its flowers are used to promote love, balance and harmony. Among the Druids the Meadowsweet, Vervain and Verbena were their three most sacred herbs. The use of fresh flowers on the alter has been frequent when casting a love spell, also use the dried petals in love mixtures. The fresh flowers were often included in wedding bouquets. In Welsh Mythology, Gwydion and Math created a woman out of oak blossom, broom, and meadowsweet and named her Blodeuwedd (“flower face”).