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Orna is spending the late summer of 2009 as writer-in-residence at Newforest Institute in Brooks, Maine. As part of her time there, she will be doing a community presentation about natural medicine on Tuesday, Sept. 8. Community dinner starts at 6 p.m. and the talk begins at 7 p.m. The event is free, with donation requested for dinner. More details coming soon!

onions

By Orna Izakson, ND, RH (AHG)

There are two ways to start your first garden. The long way is to go to every garden center in walking, biking, driving distance, order and pore over every seed and plant catalog in existence, and spend a lot of time reading in the library or at the bookstore before getting a smidge of dirt on your hands.

The short way is to just get outside and get dirt on your hands.

I’m a long-time gardener and avid reader and noodler, so I took the long way. Then one day two friends dug a big oregano and some strawberries out of their garden for me and said “these need to be in the ground by tomorrow.” And that’s what got me out of my books and into the dirt.

By all means, order and read every catalog, and borrow or buy lots of books. Each contains a ton of information that will otherwise take you a long time to learn. But in the end you can’t garden from a book — you have to garden with your knees in the soil.

So here’s a step-by-step plan for getting your first garden going, the easy way. Continue Reading »

By Orna Izakson

Permaculturists have been searching for a sound-bite definition of their practice for years, and the process hasn’t turned up much that explains the concept well to the uninitiated. Jude Hobbs, a Permaculture instructor and landscape designer in Eugene, Ore., has a list with dozens of different attempts.

The concept is fundamentally about making everything fit, reassembling the pieces of life — food, community, animals, people — that have been shattered by the modern, industrial world. It’s about recreating a world that functions sustainably, recycles everything and works for people and the environment. It’s not just about gardening, but because food is a critical component of life, it’s therefore a critical component of a sustainable life.

Lofty as that sounds, permaculture is tremendously practical, dealing as it does with the basic stuff of living. It can be as simple as growing grapes above the hot tub so you can relax in shaded luxury while enjoying the fresh fruit of the vine. It can be planting herbs just outside the kitchen door to facilitate their fresh and medicinal uses in home-cooked cuisine. Continue Reading »

flower power

By Orna Izakson

Rosa (Rose)

Rosa (Rose)

Gardening is the world’s most popular and enduring recreational activity, feeding the spirit and the body, reducing dependence on the florist and the supermarket, and, when done organically, curtailing the use of toxic pesticides and chemical fertilizers. Gardening feeds the senses with scent and color, and feeds the body with exercise, fresh air and the freshest—and therefore more vitamin-packed—foods.

But gardens can also feed your health in other ways: By growing your own medicine, you can reduce your trips to the doctor and pharmacist. Garden plants can help with everything from infections or insomnia to healing wounds and broken hearts. Best of all, you can grow these gems in a floriferous landscape that keeps the neighbors happy and boosts your property values.

Here is a small sample of the many flowers that do double duty in a vase and in your medicine cabinet: Continue Reading »

NF echinaceawelcome to gardenmedicine, home to information about creating beautiful landscapes that feed your eyes, your body and your soul. on these pages i’ll discuss growing and using specific medicinal plants, shrubs that can help your garden be more productive, herbs that feed the pollinators on which we depend, and flowers and weeds that help keep you healthy.

you’ll also find extensive links to resources for herbal and gardening information, as well as herbal and gardening educational programs.

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