Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Supplement feeding cattle in the dry

I wish we had luscious green grass for our cow year round, but like most places, we only have green grass for short periods.  In winter, we don't get much rain at all, and our sub-tropical grass species die off with the cooler weather.  This is when we need to feed our house cow extra hay and grain to supplement the meager offerings in our pasture.  Read the rest over at my house cow ebook blog.



eight acres: supplement feeding (hay or grain) for a house cow and other cattle

Buy my ebook "Our Experience with House Cows" on EtsyLulu and Amazon, or email on eight.acres.liz at gmail.com to arrange delivery.  More information on my house cow ebook blog.





Reviews of "Our Experience with House Cows"





Gavin from Little Green Cheese (and The Greening of Gavin)


Monday, May 23, 2016

More about our big Gus the Great Dane pup

Little Gussy puppy is nearly four months old and he's already 15 kg and growing quickly.  I had some great responses to my last post about training Gus, so I wanted to update and explain some of the things we do with our dogs to encourage obedience.


eight acres: big dog update
nearly as big as Taz

Mealtimes
Dogs must sit and wait for a command "tucker" before eating their morning meal.  We also teach them "don't touch" before eating.  This command then applies to food and animals (chickens, cows etc) and anything else they shouldn't eat.  We will also be teaching him that we can take food dishes and bones away.

Dog Food
As I wrote back here, the dogs are fed minced offal with grated carrot, green vege (currently choko), seaweed and eggs.  If we run out of the homemade food, they get a grain-free dog kibble (dog nuts!).  Gus eats TWICE as much as Taz and sometimes steals her food (although she's started eating way quicker than she used to).  We have a few sources of beef offal (apart from our own beef) and may get a licence to shoot roos to feed to the dogs in future.  The dogs also get a bone each in the morning as we're leaving for work (helps to distract them and good for doggy teeth).


eight acres: big dog update
Gus demonstrating the front-clip harness (and sitting)

Walking with humans
We take the dogs for a walk in the morning.  Lately Taz has got the hang of "walk behind" and will stay with humans instead of running ahead (it looks like it takes all her self-control to achieve this, and she was not able to do it until recently at age 2).  We have a front-clip harness for Gus, and so far it really works, any time he tries to pull on the leash is just turns him around.  I still think is going to be important to train Gus to walk with us as Taz now does, because when he is fully grown he will probably be strong enough to pull us along.  I feel the same about halter training house cows.  If a 500kg jersey cow doesn't want to come with you, pulling on her halter won't help you!


Doggy Playtime
If you haven't seen dogs play before, you might be surprised how much growling and biting there is (some great photos here on Ohio Farmgirl's blog).  It can turn nasty though (as one person commented, sadly her large dog didn't get on with their other dogs and had to go), so we do need to keep an eye on this as Gus grows.  I'm trying to maintain Taz as the alpha dog by feeding her first and giving her lots of cuddles, that way Gus might respect her as the leader.


eight acres: big dog update


Not spoiling dogs
I totally agree with the comment about dogs ending up in shelters.  It seems to be around one year old that people realise their big spoiled dog is going to be a terror.  Barking, jumping and other bad habits need to be discouraged when they are young.  The best way to stop jumping is to put pup on a leash and stand on it when he tries to jump.  I've been doing this at mealtimes.  When Gus bites my hand I yelp at first, and second time he gets a smack on the nose, he has learnt not to do that anymore.  Taz has also taught him some manners when he bites her too hard, she really tells him off.


eight acres: big dog update


Any other thoughts about training, feeding and living with big dogs?

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

How I use herbs - Gotu Kola

Here's another herb that is growing in my garden, quite wild now, but I don't know really how to use it.  Gotu Kola (Centella asiatica).  Its also known as Spadeleaf and Indian Pennywort.  Here's how I grow it and here's what my herb books say I should do with it!

eight acres: how to grow and use gotu kola


How to grow Gotu Kola
This herb seems to like damp soil and shade.  It sends out shoots,so it spreads easily, but is not deep rooted and invasive.  This makes it easy to propagate by transplanting some shoots. I haven't seen it flower yet, apparently they are small so maybe I missed them.  Its been in my garden for a few years, since I took a clump from Pete's parent's garden.  It does die back in winter when we get a frost, but then reappears in spring.  I keep it in a pot with the mint and other herbs, as that's the easiest way for me to keep the soil damp enough.



eight acres: how to grow and use gotu kola


How to use Goto Kola
You know this is a special herb when you see that Isabel Shippard devoted nearly six pages to it in her book "How can I use herbs in daily life?".  Gotu Kola is known as a longevity herb, but more specifically it is used for:

  • Skin healing as it stimulates collagen production (good for wounds and ulcers)
  • Strengthening veins - used for varicose veins and poor circulation
  • Nerve tonic - calming, reduces anxiety, improves memory
  • Anti-inflammatory - used for rheumatism (as an infusion/tea)

With two cautions:
  • Can cause sensitivity to sun exposure
  • May reduce fertility
Gotu Kola can be eaten fresh in salads, made into an infusion or tincture from either fresh or dried leafs.  Dried leafs can be made into a paste for topical application.  Fresh or dried leaves could be used to make an oil infusion and salve.

Do you grow Gotu Kola?  How do you use it?


How I use herbs - Mint, Peppermint and Spearmint

How I use herbs - Aloe Vera

How I use herbs - Basil

How I use herbs - Ginger, galangal and turmeric

How I use herbs - Marigold, calendula and winter taragon

How I use herbs - Soapwort

How I use herbs - Comfrey

How I use herbs - Nasturtium

How I use herbs - Parsley

How I use herbs - Borage

How I use herbs - Herb Robert

How I use herbs - Purslane

How I use herbs - Chickweed

How I use herbs - Neem oil

How I use herbs - Rue, tansy and wormwood

How I use herbs - Brahmi

How I use herbs - Yarrow

How I use herbs - Arrowroot

How I use herbs - Lucerne (afalfa)

How I use herbs - Lavender

How I use herbs - Rosemary and Thyme

How I use herbs - Oregano or Marjoram

How I use herbs - Sweet Violet

Monday, May 16, 2016

Activated charcoal soap and salve

Since I started making my own soap, I've been enjoying trying new recipes, especially adapting them to use beef tallow.  See my post Sustainable soap - 100% tallow! for most about why I want to use up the tallow rendered from our own beef.

I already sell 100% tallow soap (pure and simple), pink clay soap (pretty pink), lemon balm soap (green herb), neem oil soap (stinky neem) and coffee grounds soap (true grit) in my Etsy shop, and just recently I added my new black magic charcoal soap.  See the links at the end of this post for the other recipes.




When I read about how this lady found that activated charcoal soap helped with adult acne, I really wanted to make some and give it a try.  I have had acne on and off since high school, and it really bugs me.  I found a a recipe for ctivated charcoal soap here, and then adapted it to suit tallow, with 25% coconut oil for suds.  It makes a really nice face wash, although I can't say its cured my acne completely.

I ordered activated charcoal powder here (if you are going to make a few recipes with it, then buy the powder not the capsules, I couldn't be bothered opening them all to get enough out for soap!).  You don't need much at a time, so a 150g jar should last for a while.  (Here's a similar product on Amazon - affiliate link).






Around the same time I saw the soap recipe I also saw this recipe for a charcoal drawing salve, which is supposed to be useful for skin conditions that need "drawing" like acne, boils and skin infections. I made my basic herbal salve, and added activated charcoal, bentonite clay, lavender and frankincense essential oils. It smells lovely. It does look grey on my skin, so its best to use at night (although it does also smudge on my pillow case).


Activated Charcoal Soap
500g tallow
250g coconut oil
250g olive oil
142g caustic
2 Tbsp activated charcoal
2Tbsp bentonite clay
Eucalyptus essential oil

See this post on Lovely Greens for general instructions for making cold process soap.


Activated Charcoal Salve
100mL olive oil (can be infused with skin healing herbs such as calendula)
10g beeswax 
2 tsp activated charcoal
2 tsp bentonite clay
30 drops essential oil (e.g. 15 drops lavender, 15 drops frankincense)
2 drops vitamin E

See instructions here to make salve.  Add the charcoal and clay powder after melting the beeswax in the oil, otherwise its hard to see if the beeswax is dissolved as the salve turns black!





What do you think?  Are you keen to try activated charcoal soap and salve?



My other soap posts:

Natural soap using beef tallow


Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Leibster award - 10 questions

I was recently nominated for a Leibster award Kev at An English Homestead.  This is just a bit of fun between bloggers, and the Leibster awards have changed a little compared to when I last saw them, now they include 10 unique questions to answer.  Kev has asked some good ones, so I'm happy to join in.  The hard part is thinking of my own 10 questions for my nominated bloggers, but more about that at the end of this post.  First I better answer Kev's questions:





1. If you had a big lottery win what would you do with it all?
I would like to say something unselfish here and spend it on something or someone else, but it depends how big the win was!  I would love to buy a property closer to the coast to catch more rainfall and for easier access to the beach.  If I had money leftover I would love to help city children to experience farmlife.


2. How do you think you'd fair in a zombie apocalypse?
I reckon we'd do well.  The self-sufficiency stuff that we're interested in is great for survival prepping as well as being frugal (as I wrote about prepping back here). We are fairly remote on our property (probably wouldn't even know it was a zombie apocalypse) and we have been isolated before (when much of SE QLD flooded in early 2011).  I think we have enough food growing and enough skills to get by.  I also think that community is important, and assuming that our neighbours were not zombies, we would all be able to work together to look after each other (see Permaculture principle "integrate rather than segregate").


3. If you had six months warning do you think you could grow all you needed to feed yourself and your family?
Yes, although we would have to eat differently (eating what we grow).  I wouldn't bother with grains, it would be veges and meat.  I would be looking for sources of protein for the chickens - such as meal worms or compost worms.  We would then have the vegetable garden (which produces year round in the sub-tropics), beef, dairy, chicken and eggs.







4. What's your perfect night in or out?
We prefer to stay home, only because we have so much good food here, there's no point going out to eat the local fried food at the pub!  Dinner with like-minded friends is always nice.  We go to bed pretty early, so lunch is even better.

5.If you had to pick a different career what would you do instead?
I kind of wish I studied to be a vet, it would be so much easier to live and work in a rural area.  

6. What advice would you give your younger self?
To think about where I wanted to live when choosing what to study (instead of just what interested me).

7. What's your most hated food?
Liver.  I have tried really hard to like it, but its just repulsive to me.  Although I can eat it if I make pate (50% butter!) - recipes here.






8. The last thing you really laughed hard at?
I don't know, I laugh all the time, usually at animal antics, having a puppy is pretty funny!

9. Is there a time you've made a massive fool of yourself in public that you laugh about now?
There's probably a few on my blog.  I tend to say (or write) things before I think them through entirely.  Its my way of checking the logic out loud.  Later I will realise that I missed something and I had it all wrong, but its too late.

10. If you had a warning label what would it say?
Warning: known to start multiple projects simultaneously and may not finish them all.


My five nominations
These bloggers have so much to share about growing, cooking, farming and living frugally, I have learnt heaps from all of them, and now I want to ask them ten questions...

Emma from Craving Fresh

Fiona from Life at Arbordale Farm

Ohio Farmgirl from Adventures in the Goodland

Chris from Gully Grove

Leigh from 5 Acres and a Dream



My ten questions
I kept a few of Kev's questions and added a few of my own...


1. If you had a big lottery win what would you do with it all?

2. How do you think you'd fair in a zombie apocalypse?

3. If you had six months warning do you think you could grow all you needed to feed yourself and your family?

4. What life-skill should every child have to learn in school?

5. If you could live anywhere in the world, where would you go and why?

6. What advice would you give to someone who wanted to live more self-sufficiently?

7. What's your most hated food?

8. What is your favourite quote/saying?

9. Is there a time you've made a massive fool of yourself in public that you laugh about now?

10. If you had a warning label what would it say?


Thanks Kev for nominating me!  I look forward to reading the answers from my nominees.  What did you think?



Monday, May 9, 2016

Wet aging our beef (and BBQ show and tell)

Our home butcher doesn't like to age our beef for more than 3-4 days as he has quite a complicated system to rotate his mobile cool-rooms to each customer.  If he let us hang our meat for longer he would need more cool-rooms and would have to put his prices up, so we don't mind fitting in with his schedule.  This does mean that our beef is not as tender as if it was hung for longer.  Some people will hang a beef carcass for up to two weeks!

eight acres: how to wet age beef
wet aged rib fillet

 We have found a couple of different strategies to still get tender meat.  Both involve what is known as "wet aging" the meat.  Wet aging means aging the meat in vacuum packs after it is butchered, as opposed to dry aging which is hanging the meat in a cool-room before its butchered (read more about it here).  This is a technique that has only been possible since plastic bags and vacuum sealers have been available.  The first few times we had beasts killed we wet aged all the good steaks (rib fillet, eye fillet, sirloin, rump) in vacuum bags in the spare fridge for about six weeks before freezing them.

This most recent time we were in a bit of a rush and the spare fridge broke down, so we just put all the steak in the freezer.  We weren't sure if the wet aging actually made a difference or if it was worth the effort.  Well the first eye fillet we ate answered that question!  It was tough.  Not inedible, but not as enjoyable as those cuts usually are.  We started getting some of the good cuts out of the freezer and leaving them in the fridge to age before we used them.  We even sealed the two remaining eye fillets from that first pack and aged them too.  When we opened them up again a few weeks later the meat was tender and tasty.  That's when we knew it really was worth the effort.


eight acres: how to wet age beef
our aged rib-fillet cooked to perfection

If you butcher at home and can't dry age the meat for long, then you have the wet aging option if you get a vacuum sealer (which makes your meat last longer anyway).  For the cuts that you don't cook quickly or that you mince, it doesn't matter so much, but for the good steaks, it is worth doing.  If you don't have the fridge space to age everything before freezing, you can just keep a few steaks in the fridge aging before you use them (we have steak once or twice a week, so we just get another pack out of the freezer each time we eat one).

Seeing as we are talking about steak, and Ohio Farmgirl recently shared her smoker and explained some of the American BBQ culture, I thought I would also take this opportunity to show you our BBQ.  I know, I know, its just a "gas grill" and not a proper American BBQ, but its pretty handy!  Because you can put the lid down, and it fits our big roasting dish, I use it to cook nearly everything in summer (in winter I use the woodstove).  That way I hardly ever use the electric stove in our kitchen for anything other than storing our baking trays and the kitchen never overheats in summer.  I make roast meat and vegetables, bread, cakes, biscuits, quiches, steak and sausages all in the BBQ.  We got the biggest size so we could fit a turkey in there (which we did the day we bought it!).


eight acres: how to wet age beef
our BBQ (now I notice the nasty oil stain beneath it,
we only keep it on this veranda because it was already stained,
otherwise its probably better to keep it on the gravel outside)

I would love to also have a smoker like OFG, and we've been thinking about either building a permanent smoke house or something more portable.  I think we can also put woodchips in our BBQ, but I haven't tried that.  I love smoked food, especially cheese and fish and bacon.

Have you tried wet aging?  How long do you hang your beef for?  Have you smoked food in your BBQ?

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Knitting and crocheting update

I put my knitting away over summer because its just too hot to think about wool, and usually with the longer days there's not much time so spend sitting around.  Now as we come into winter (although our forecast is for 28degC today!  But I will pretend it is getting cooler!), I have sorted out all my half-finished knitting and crochet projects and I'm ready to start working on something again.


eight acres: ready to start knitting and crochet - having a tidy up of unfinished projects and all my knitting stuff!
Crochet ruffle scarf

I find knitting and crochet relaxing.  I like to be doing something with my hands while I watch TV or talking in the evenings and I like to be producing something useful (I love sewing, but its a bit anti-social and loud).  I am currently working on a pair of crocheted socks from this pattern.  Fiona from Arbordale Farm gave me some lovely bright NZ wool when she came back from holiday last year and I thought it would make a nice pair of socks, but I also didn't feel like knitting (see my knitted sock effort here), so I found this crochet sock pattern.  I think I actually prefer crochet now, its less fiddly than trying to keep all those stitches on needles and if you drop your one loop you just unravel a bit and don't have to spend half and hour trying to sort out all your stitches (or lose the whole thing).  I also find it easier to hold just the one hook instead of two (or more) knitting needles.  So I think I will be doing more crochet in future.

eight acres: ready to start knitting and crochet - having a tidy up of unfinished projects and all my knitting stuff!
Crochet socks - up to the hard part!

When I was tidying up my knitting and crochet stuff I found a knitting book that I bought last year and hadn't read yet.  (If you are in Brisbane, heads up, there is a bookshop near the Fortitude Valley station that sells all books for $6, I bought WAY too many books there and its probably lucky that I moved away when I did).  Anyway, I had a quick read and this is a really good book, I'm tempted to buy the rest in the series.  Its called Custom Knits Accessories: Unleash Your Inner Designer with Improvisational Techniques for Hats, Scarves, Gloves, Socks and More, by Wendy Bernard (affiliate link).  What I like is that she explains how the pattern is put together, so you can modify it.  I am TERRIBLE at following a pattern (or a recipe) and I really appreciate that she explains how to use stitch dictionaries (which I also own) and how the yarn choice will change the final result, as I never follow the instructions.  The best part is that she explains the maths behind sock patterns.


eight acres: ready to start knitting and crochet - having a tidy up of unfinished projects and all my knitting stuff!
Some good knitting books

It turns out no matter whether you're knitting or crocheting socks, the maths used to work out the heel flap and gusset are the same.  Now instead of trying to interpret lines and lines of pattern (and I think I cast on the wrong number of stitches, so I'm screwed anyway), I can just work it out to suit my foot.  So I might end up doing some more knitting from this book, and there are two others in the series, both about knitting larger items, so that might help me finally knit a vest that fits me (I didn't share the last attempt, but lets just say it didn't work out).

I do need to finish the alpaca wool shawl that I started knitting in a lacy stitch from my stitch dictionary and then had to unravel because I must have dropped a stitch early on and it was coming apart.  I am giving it one last attempt before I just give up on the lacy stitch and knit it on big needles in stockinette stitch!  I also finished a crochet scarf in alpaca wool last year, and I don't think I shared it with you (sort of based on this pattern).  I just crocheted trebles for the whole thing and the pattern was one treble into the first stitch, then two trebles into the next stitch, then one again and so on, and the same for each row, which produced a ruffle.  I would have liked it wider, but I ran out of yarn.  Its lovely and soft, but quite different to the other alpaca yarn I'm working with on the knitted shawl, I don't know if that's due to the way it was spun or the animal itself.


eight acres: ready to start knitting and crochet - having a tidy up of unfinished projects and all my knitting stuff!
Alpaca lacy knit shawl

Finally, I wanted to show you how I organised my knitting needles!  I have never bought a new knitting needle, they have all come from the op shop or the markets, but I have quite a collection now and they kept falling out of the cupboard whenever I opened it.  I found this bag at the op shop, I think its supposed to hold bottles of wine... but its perfect for knitting needles as it has three long compartments.  I have needles in one, crochet hooks and "in-the-rounds" in another, and my mini-sewing bag in the last one.  When I go to the op shop I've been keeping an eye out for cosmetic bags, the ones you get when you buy those "great deals" from department stores and end up with random cosmetics that you don't need (haven't done that for a while!).  I find they end up at op shops, empty and clean (never used I suppose) and they are perfect for neatly tucking away a knitting or crochet project, keeping the yarn, needles and pattern together so you can figure out what you were doing six months later.  They would make good pencil cases too.  The spotty one has a pair of scissors, a measuring tape, pins, needles and a pencil.  The other two contain the unfinished socks and the shawl that I'm working on.


eight acres: ready to start knitting and crochet - having a tidy up of unfinished projects and all my knitting stuff!
Organising my knitting and crochet stuff

eight acres: ready to start knitting and crochet - having a tidy up of unfinished projects and all my knitting stuff!
Perfect length for knitting needles

What are you working on at the moment?  Crochet vs knitting, which do you prefer?  Any good pattern tips?  And how do you organise your knitting needles?!

See below Amazon Affiliate links for a few knitting books that I find useful including the one I mentioned above.  If you buy through these links I get a small commission at no extra cost for you.  If you're reading this on email or blog reader, you will need to visit my blog to see all the links.


        



Previous posts about knitting and crochet:

Learning to knit and "mancrafts" 

Monday, May 2, 2016

Farm update - May 2016

April was dry, so Eight Acres is starting to look brown and dusty, but Cheslyn Rise is still green from the 75 mm we got in March.  The temperatures have been relatively warm and we haven't lit the woodstove yet.  We had two long weekends, one with a visit from Fiona and hubby from Arbordale Farm and a morning out at the Nanango Show.  The second spent sanding the LAST TWO ROOMS and then no more sanding, that thought it definitely helping to keep us moving.  Gus is already 10 kg and getting better at playing with Taz, I think she likes having a mate.




Food and cooking
The past three weeks Pete and I followed a "detox" diet, with the first week vegetables only, no meat!  Second week we were allowed fish and chicken and the final week we could include lamb and beef.  This was support with supplements and liver tonic from my naturopath.  We both noticed more energy after the first week and have increased the amount of vegetables on our plates in the long term.  It surprised us how much we had to cut up to fill up in the first week and how much we usually rely on beef, because we have to much of it.  Probably not getting enough fibre or vitamins that way.  We also didn't have sugar, wheat, caffeine or alcohol for the three weeks.  I didn't have any chocolate and I'm aiming to stay away from it, as its the one thing that really tempts me.




Land and farming
We had a bit of time in the long weekends to explore our property and scope out firewood and garden ornaments for future use.  Our perennial pasture is growing really well and its time to put the cattle into that paddock, but we have fences down all over the place due to our recent dam building activities, so that's another job on the list.



Chickens
The chicks that we hatched in February are now big enough to free-range during the day, which is making life easier as they were eating a feeder full of food each day, and now they are out foraging they don't eat as much grain.  The hens have slowed down a bit, but we still get enough eggs for us to eat 4 a day between us.



Cows and cattle
So far we have seven calves from our nine angus-cross cows.  One looked like she was going to calve any day, but the other one may not be pregnant.  We sold the angus steers at the local cattle sale and did quite well (made the paper!) so its a bit quieter now with just the cows at Cheslyn Rise.  They were very easy to muster as they have learnt to follow the ute for hay.  Not much else to report at Eight Acres, we are feeding hay as there's not much grass for the dairy cows.  And still milking Molly once a week.



Garden
I'm getting ready to plant for winter, as I wrote in this post, but we are still harvesting chokos, and gathered eight huge pumpkins that were a little easy for the chickens to access.  And I grew more capsicums that ever, so I credit that to the bees too.





House
It was pretty amazing to walk into the house the other day and see all my bathroom fittings in place, just as I had imagined them.  It looks exactly how I was hoping and I'm really happy with it.  The builders and tiler and plumber have done a wonderful job.  We are just waiting for the electrician and plaster to finish, then we are left with the painting, everything is going to have to be covered up very carefully to avoid splashes!  We also started sanding the master bedroom and lounge room, which are our last rooms to paint, and we've ordered the floors, I'll write more about that decision soon.





Permaculture - Use edges and value diversity
Here's what I wrote last time I reviewed Use edges and value diversity.  This is appropriate because we are currently on the edge of the season, where we are still harvesting from summer, but planning what to plant and how to manage our winter crop, its a transition and a very productive time, like any other edge.  I also notice that we value diversity more now that we have bees.  We used to think that we had gum trees, we knew that some were ironbarks, now we realise that there are several different species of ironbark as we are noticing that they flower at different times.  Every different tree on our property is an opportunity to feed bees through the year, just another reason to value diversity.



Create
Its getting cooler and I've got the crochet and knitting out (more about that later).  I've started a crochet sock pattern with some lovely NZ wool.  I'm hooked again!




Support me
I tried the charcoal soap that I made in March and I love it!  I don't know if its the charcoal or the clay, but it foams up really nicely.  I also made a charcoal drawing salve with frankincense essential oil, which is great for skin. I've added the soap to my Etsy shop and will do the salve soon too, and I'll post the recipes later in May.  I also had a chance to experiment with salt in soap, I made one batch with salt added at trace and another batch with salt dissolved in the lye, I can't wait to compare them (and one batch of plain tallow as I'm running out).





I haven't had time to check out many blogs this week, just the old favourites, so I don't have anything to share this month.

How was April at your place?  What have you got planned for May?

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

How I use herbs - sweet violet

To be honest, I've had Sweet Violet (Viola Oderata) in my garden for about a year now and I'm not really sure how to use it.  It smells lovely when it flowers and I've managed to keep it alive through winter and a hot dry summer.  I thought this was a good opportunity to learn more myself.


eight acres: how to grow and use the herb Sweet Violet in the sub-tropics


How to grow sweet violet
I bought this herb as a small plant in a pot.  It spreads as it grows, so its pretty easy to propagate by division.  I've read that it also grows from seed.  The plant seems to flower here in autumn, and dies back a bit when we get a heavy frost.  I do have to remember to water it in summer, but otherwise its seems pretty hardy.  I've planted it in a shady spot.  Apparently it grows wild in some areas, but I think our climate is too harsh.  It would be a great herb to forage if you have it locally.


eight acres: how to grow and use the herb Sweet Violet in the sub-tropics


How to use sweet violet
I haven't been actively using my sweet violet, but I'd like to start, here are a few things that jump out at me from my herb books.  Firstly the flowers:

  • good nectar for bees (ours forage year-round)
  • edible and can be added to salads
  • the aroma is calming
  • make violet vinegar using apple cider vinegar and lots of flowers
The leaves are also useful:
  • mild expectorant action - treatment for colds and congestion as a tea
  • will also reduce fever and induce sweating
  • the tea can be used externally to relieve swollen joints (e.g. rheumatism) and eczema (here's a recipe for a balm made with violet leaves)
  • it seems to also have some anti-cancer properties, slowing the growth of tumours
I'd really like to try this violet leave soap recipe too.

I also notice that sweet violet is related to the pansy (Viola tricolor), which I didn't know had herbal properties.  That's a good excuse to grow some pansies!  


So I guess that answers my question about sweet violet!  I'll keep it in mind when I next have a cold, and its another great skin herb in my garden.  And next time I see flowers I will think about eating them instead of just smelling them!

Do you grow sweet violet?  How do you use it?


How I use herbs - Mint, Peppermint and Spearmint

How I use herbs - Aloe Vera

How I use herbs - Basil

How I use herbs - Ginger, galangal and turmeric

How I use herbs - Marigold, calendula and winter taragon

How I use herbs - Soapwort

How I use herbs - Comfrey

How I use herbs - Nasturtium

How I use herbs - Parsley

How I use herbs - Borage

How I use herbs - Herb Robert

How I use herbs - Purslane

How I use herbs - Chickweed

How I use herbs - Neem oil

How I use herbs - Rue, tansy and wormwood

How I use herbs - Brahmi

How I use herbs - Yarrow

How I use herbs - Arrowroot

How I use herbs - Lucerne (afalfa)

How I use herbs - Lavender

How I use herbs - Rosemary and Thyme

How I use herbs - Oregano or Marjoram

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