Tuesday, November 12, 2013


I attended a wonderful event on Sunday at Knopp Branch Farm near Edna, TX. The event was organized by Ali Miller of Naturally Nourished in Houston, TX. The event focused on whole food as medicine to keep us well. 

FARMacy” will focus on reconnecting to sustainable family farms and renewing a commitment to real food. The hands-on educational opportunity will include lectures from Houston’s top wellness experts and local food producers.
The day will also feature a community harvested and prepared lunch experience by renowned Chef Monica Pope of Sparrow Bar + Cookshop and Anna Roth, trained chef and daughter of Knopp Branch farm owners Donna and Ernest Roth. The meal will be showcasing a seasonal menu using farm-fresh herbs and produce, hosted at the beautiful Knopp Branch Farm in Edna, Tx.

FARMacy Curriculum

Food As Medicine: Why Food Matters! Learn the role of metabolic function (processing of nutrients and their role in organ functionality) and your body. Discover the powerful nutrient density in organic and sustainably produced foods and discuss the differences between the two. Learn about ways to meet your nutrition prescription on a daily basis with realistic applicable tips and recipe demos from leaders in the Houston Community!
Enthusiasm was the word of the day!

The Anatomy of the Garden : The way food grows can be directly correlated with the function of the human body. From the soil, or our digestive system, to the roots- our vessels. Learn about aerobic vs anaerobic methods of soil composting and the synergy of whole foods.
Beautiful, nourishing greens!

Herbal Medicine Making: What are GMO’s, how do they affect us and what is their role in the ecosystem? How can we use food to heal? Discover how powerful knowledge can be in your wellness. Discuss the properties of herbs and the healing qualities of local, unfiltered honey. Make a miel, an herbal honey, to take home and build your immune system during cold and flu season!

This is where I came in. I did a presentation on the benefits of herbs, how to enjoy herbal tea as  preventive medicine, and discussed how many healthy and healing herbs can be grown locally. I was pleased there was so much interest in using simple herbs, teas and soups for good health.

Local Lunch: Chef Monica Pope of Sparrow Bar + Cookshop in Houston will discuss flavor blending and the importance of local foods. Taste the difference in sustainably produced foods in the beautiful farm setting. Be a part of farm to table movement by physically harvesting parts of your lunch!
Can't get much fresher than this!

Farm Tour: A perfect break in the day to take in all the sights, sounds and smells of Knopp Branch Farm. Learn about their story, their history, and their commitment to sustainable agriculture and community outreach.

Conscious Omnivore: Learn about traditional eating and consumption of animal proteins with respect and reverence from a snout to tail philosophy. Learn about the impact your diet choices can have on your health and the health of the planet. Discuss the differences between grass-fed vs grain-fed and wild vs farm raised proteins and the role of organs, bone broth, and gelatin in a holistic treatment to disease. Learn about fermenting your own foods and growing your own probiotics for food preservation and immune boosting support. (Even if you are a vegan this tier of curriculum will be of value with the emphasis on food preservation techniques and sustainable consumption)
A fabulous day was had by all. New connections made to our selves and others. Thank you Ali Miller for creating a place for this to happen!
Until Next Time,

Monday, October 28, 2013

Simple Steps to Creating a Child Proof Yard

I've invited a guest blogger to post for The Herb Cottage. I hope you enjoy and find the article useful!


Encouraging our children to get out and play in the yard is definitely a wonderful thing but it requires a few preparations where child safety in the yard is concerned.


There are a lot of possible dangers out in the yard and unless we find and eliminate them before our children begin going outside, there is easily a risk of getting hurt. The question is what can parents do to help ensure our children's safety when they are out supposedly having a great time? The answer to this question can be summarized in a few simple steps.


Create Space - In order for our children to play safely, they will need the space to play in. This might require giving the yard some attention and clearing out an area that can be designated for playing. The amount of space that can be cleared will depend on the overall size of the yard to begin with but any cleared space is better than no cleared space.


Pay Close Attention to Detail - This is probably the most important step of them all as it will involve thoroughly checking every square inch of the yard prior to it being opened to your children. When younger children are in the picture, you will want to be aware of plants and flowers that might be in the yard as well as any water fixtures that might be protruding from the ground.


Plants and flowers can be quite dangerous to children who are at the age where they eat everything. Poisonous flowers and plants should be removed completely and disposed of properly. And water fixtures pose a hazard in that they can be tripped over and can actually hurt a child quite badly.


Pools and ponds, as well as tall grass in a yard, can also be hazards to younger children. The pools and ponds are fairly self-explanatory so if you have either in your yard, consider fencing it off and child proofing it separately from the rest of the yard. Tall grass can be dangerous, in that it can hide snakes and spiders that can really hurt your children. Keep grass mowed regularly and avoid this from becoming a concern altogether.


Space to create - Children are very curious individuals and providing them with a safe place to be creative can be very advantageous. Children love to build, dig, and discover things on their own so giving them an area to do just that will be a winner for any child. Consider providing your child with a sandbox or an area of the yard that can be designated for doing all of the digging that they want. This step is more of a proactive safety measure than anything else.



Create a safe place for your child to play and enjoy the peace in knowing that your child is safe and secure out in their very own play area today!




Catherine Green, an environmentally-friendly individual of a beautiful TruGreen yard. Catherine loves gardening and writing. Blogging is her newest hobby which has now allowed her to inform the public on the importance of “Going Green”.  Catherine also loves to be informed on the new trends in environmentally friendly products!



Monday, September 9, 2013

New Organic Gardening Book

I just finished reading a new e-book on Organic Gardening. It is available on amazon.com

Here's my review:

Grow So Easy; Organic Gardening for the Rest of Us

Grow So Easy takes the mystery out of growing vegetables without the use of chemical pesticides, herbicides or fertilizers. She gives viable alternatives to using toxic substances in and around the garden. Many turn out to be less costly than the chemicals found in garden centers and can be found in most kitchens.

Pat Muccigrosso has a great wealth of experience and knowledge about gardening and growing organically. She has been gardening and experimenting with crops for some 30 years. She shares her knowledge easily with the reader. The tone of the book is friendly and encouraging, explaining how anyone can grow a vegetable garden using her methods. She is not afraid to let us in on her mistakes as well as her successes.

The book can be used as a reference book where you can go to the section on Cucumbers, say, and find out what's causing your problems and how to take care of them. Or, you can read the book, as I did, from the beginning and get a good overview of her approach to gardening.

While she encourages new gardeners in their endeavors and has information about planning and starting a first garden, there is plenty of useful information for seasoned gardeners, as well. Pat is like the neighbor you could go to with questions about your first garden, intelligently discuss the state of affairs in your current garden or chat about new ideas you'd like to try next season. 

Once you have your crop harvested, you can use the recipes at the end of each chapter to help you use your produce. Since Grow So Easy is an e-book, there are useful links to web sites with further information on pests and diseases you might encounter in the garden. 

Pat lives and gardens in the Northeastern U.S. and that is the area she is familiar with. However, even if you garden in the Southern U.S., the West Coast or a even colder zone than Pat, the information in the book is relevant and sound. You may have to adjust the seed starting and planting dates for your gardening zone, but the same pests and many of the other problems show up everywhere and can be dealt with as discussed in the book.

Grow So Easy is a bit of a misnomer, however, since once you get into the book and learn from Pat what it takes to combat Cucumber Beetles, Stink Bugs or Vine Borers, you learn pretty quickly that gardening isn't for the squeamish or lazy. Vigilance is the key to keeping your organically grown garden healthy and bringing crops successfully to the table. Pat meets all the challenges found in growing food with aplomb and good humor and knows you can, too. 

Until Next Time,


Friday, July 5, 2013

Food Storage Information

We've all had to do it- toss food out because we thought it was bad. No one wants to get sick or make anyone else sick. But, was the food you tossed really bad? We all know about those dates on packaged food- 'sell by' or 'best used by'. Those dates are more about quality than health. The milk in the dairy case needs to be sold by a particular date so it has a long enough shelf life in your refrigerator for you to use it up before it spoils. That package of cookies or pasta should be eaten by the 'Best Used By' date for freshness, before it becomes stale.

So, how do we know what foods are safe to eat past such warnings? And what about frozen food that's been in your freezer for months?

Here's a terrific web site to help you with these issues:

Food Keeper

Enjoy your food!

Sunday, June 9, 2013

The Olla Revisited

This week I decided it was time to refresh the container that has the Olla in it. I had a great crop of salad greens all Winter which finally played out about a month ago. I've been thinking about what to plant in the container and finally decided on Holy Basil, aka Tulsi.

I like to use Holy Basil as tea. The flavor is unique and difficult to describe. Also, Tulsi is known for its medicinal properties as an adaptogen. A adaptogen is an herb which restores balance to the body. It  does not over-stimulate nor inhibit normal bodily function. Another feature of an adaptogen is that it helps us deal with stress better.

So, I like to drink Holy Basil tea on a regular basis. It grows as easily as other types of basil here in Texas. It gets nice and big and you can let it flower without worrying that it'll die out.

So, here is what I did this week:

I had already cleared out the dead plants, which also removed some of the soil along with a mass of roots. You can see how low the soil level is. I leveled the soil and added enough new mix to bring the soil level up to the neck of the Olla. You can see in the next picture the new soil level.

I planted 4 new Holy Basil plants of 2 different varieties: Vana and Kapoor. I'm curious as to the difference in them.

Then, I decided to mulch with the hay that I have been using in my potato tub. It should help conserve moisture in the Olla tub.

 And, that's it. I watered the soil really well and filled the Olla. Now, I only have to keep the Olla filled. In a few weeks I'll have enough Holy Basil to start harvesting for my tea. And, as the summer goes on, I'll have enough to dry and save for the winter.

Happy Gardening to you all. Stay cool, drink lots of nice herby tea and wear your hat!

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Old Homestead Gardens

It sure has been a while since I posted from this blog site. I've been active on many other social network platforms, but somehow, I neglect this blog area. I'd like to change that behavior and to start, I'd like to tell you about a new project I'm working on. 

My project involves researching plants found on abandoned homesteads and property that would indicate where a house had been located. I realize I am not specifically looking for native plants, because I think people, women especially, would have brought plants from other locations that reminded them of “home” or other family members left behind. They also would want plants that flowered, but were very low maintenance. After all, life wasn't easy in early Texas and there wasn't a lot of time for the leisure activity we call gardening!

I’ve only just begun my research and am looking for books, narratives, even personal accounts, etc. of homestead life in Texas. If any of you would possibly know of any sources I could investigate or have information perhaps passed down from family members, I would greatly appreciate it. 

So far, I've thought about Crinum Lilies, old roses, iris and reseeding annuals that would be either not native to the area or in greater profusion than would be found elsewhere in the area.

I hope some of you have some ideas for me!! 

Until Later...

Good Gardening to You!