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I started this blog to hook on to Herbology website and we have since switched it back to my old blog address. follow me there, if you like:)

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Terry Hollembaek, of Nancy’s Meadow Herbs, gave a wonderful presentation, on his thoughts about sustainability.


Terry suggested to feed the organisms that live in the soil, not the plants. He advocated for keeping a deep layer of fluffy straw on your garden beds, never allowing the soil to be exposed to the radiation from the sun. He says not to dig, plow or till your soil. He believes composting in the usual manner is a waste of time, and that we should just throw our compost offerings on the beds themselves, tucking them under the straw, if we think it is too unsightly on top. Terry also advised us to just let our weeds and grasses grow amongst our plantings, as they are a valuable habitat for predator insects, which will feed on our damaging types.  He sighted studies where it had been shown that there was 60% less bug damage to crops in a garden where the weeds had been allowed to grow around it. Terry said we could just tuck the whole plant under the straw to compost when it was in the way, or before it sets seed.

Terry was an engaging and knowledgeable speaker, who presented a convincing case for his sustainability thoughts. He went into great detail about how microbes, fungi, worms and other soil dwellers did their own job of composting our offerings. He also shared many examples and tidbits along the way. He shared that to further enhance and encourage decomposition of bones and egg shells, for the garden, to first soak them in vinegar for awhile:) This is sustainable for us now that we have constant batches of vinegar brewing both at Eric’s home and mine. Comfrey Cottages 1 and Too (2) lol! He also threw out there, that in India, it is a government law that any trees planted in its cities, must be a fruit bearing tree! How cool is that? Wouldn’t that be lovely to be able to walk around town, in the right season, and just pick a fresh fruit if you desired?

Seed germination, was another subject he talked about. We have all seen directions for, or tried ourselves, cold stratification by using the refrigerator. Terry said he had great success just doing fall or very, very early spring plantings of seeds like chervil, dill, cilantro, and dandelions. He expressed thoughts I had before, that the refrigerator just doesn’t completely mimic natures freezes and thaws.

Terry also spoke of the 10 Rules of Landscaping. Saying you can never have too much variety, suggesting lots of places to sit, plant close together and other bits:)

He spoke about natural farming in Korea, and Janong Farms. I loved this part of his presentation and the site is well worth a look through:)

One Straw Revolution, by Masnobu Fukeota, is a book, Terry recommended highly. He told us the story of Masnobu and how he changed his family farm around from traditional farming methods to totally sustainable and organic methods. The website is another one to thoroughly enjoy, with a nice video.

Ruth Stout, was another writer Terry spoke about. Her No Work Gardening book was highly recommended. Ruth is the “Mulch Queen”!

So if you see an event with Terry as one of the speakers, I suggest you go to it!

Terry’s wife gave a presentation on micro greens, that we had to miss. Poor Eric had been at work daily for three weeks and we just had to go get him laid down in our hotel room!

Herbal and Honey Hugs to all who visit Comfrey Cottages xx

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One of the presenters at the Herb Day event, was Dianne Noland. Her presentation was on floral design and how to make hand-tied bouquets and vase arrangements. The only herb I saw were a couple of bay leaves… but she did provide many tips and had an unusual way of working her designs…

floral design to music

Thank you for visiting Comfrey Cottages xx

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The third Saturday in January, is the time for the yearly Herb Day, hosted by the University of Illinois, Urbana – Champaign. The event is held at the Holiday Inn and Conference Center, in the city of Urbana. Eric and I went for the first time, two years ago, enjoyed ourselves, immensely, planned on going last year, but the weather conspired against us. I was so disappointed as Susan Hess was scheduled to be one of the speakers! Well, this year, when Eric and I started making plans to go, he offered to treat us to overnight accommodations, which I readily accepted! It takes us two hours to drive there, so after leaving our home at 5:30 AM and attending the conference until 4:00, it was going to be a treat not to drive home in the cold and dark, like we did last time. Besides, Eric’s best buddies from college, Jackie and Brad, live close to Urbana and it would give us a chance to visit longer with them:)

There is a nice vendors room and we went there first, after checking in to the event, and getting our name tags and notebooks with the schedule of events and flyers about each presenter. These notebooks are just chocked full of recipes, information and nicely done pieces about each speakers speech. So we have 45 minutes. Let’s go stroll through the vendors area.

One of my favorite vendors Is Carolee Snyder and Chris Ferguson of Carolee’s Herb Farm. Eric and I have this farm on our list of places to visit:) We both got one of these gorgeous t-shirts, Carolee designed.


Farmbrook Designs were another vendor. Made me resolve to try my hand at the art form of hypertufa this year. There were such lovely pieces! 



There was a total of 15 vendors, and something for everyone:) From beautiful art work, to plants and seeds, tools for gardening, sheep poo fertilizer, books, lotions and potions and more!





I will be telling you more about Herb Day over the next few days.

Herbal Hugs to all who visit Comfrey Cottages!

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and life on earth, as we know it. I would like to share with you the fact that the House of Commons will be debating the subject of neonicotinoids. From The Independent:

“The House of Commons is to debate the impact on bees and other insects of the new generation of pesticides that has been linked to bee mortality in several countries.

The Government will be called on to suspend all neonicotinoid pesticides approved in Britain, pending more exhaustive tests of their long-term effects on bees and other invertebrates. The subject will be raised in an adjournment debate in the Commons next Tuesday on a motion tabled by Martin Caton, the Labour MP for Gower.”

Beekeeper Phil Chandler shared this link on how to write your MP, with your opinions. There is much more information on that link also, and I invite you to explore it thoroughly. There is a link there, where you can ask your MP to support an Early Day Motion about this suspension of neonicotinoid usage.

Thank you for visiting Comfrey Cottages. And thank you for caringxx

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Herb Garden Plan


Snow on the ground, 4 degrees Fahrenheit outside, so what’s a body to do but…  design an herb garden, which we will be planting in the spring.  I wanted to incorporate many “weed herbs”, but also incorporate others herbs and edibles in my design. After hours, upon hours of making graphs,( in order to match up soil, light,  growing room, etc plants with others needing the same thing), I came up with the above plan. Eric (Comfrey Cottages Two) and I will be putting in the above design in at his gardens. This works out just lovely as I am across the road at my son Tommy’s house almost daily tending Dylan, so Comfrey Cottages Two is as convenient as my own gardens:) For anyone who hasn’t room to garden or keep bees, I highly recommend considering if you could do so at a friend or relatives home, that might be nearby. So, I am re-exploring the garden design. I spent a good bit of time yesterday getting some seeds ordered and will be looking for the plants of a few of them.

Earlier this year, Eric, my hubby and I went to Burlington, Iowa to the junior college. Once a month from April through September the Southeast Iowa pigeon club, hosts a large flea market kind of affair, on the college grounds. We love to go over as you never know what you will find! On one of our trips, we  luckily found a little portable greenhouse for seed starting this year. Similar to the one in the link, only ours has a zipper. Now for the perfect place to put it…

Hugs to all who visit Comfrey Cottages




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Woke up this morning to a bit of a problem, physically, that made me miss seeing my Dylan and Zoey today:( Maybe something I ate.. who knows! But what makes it a stressy kind of day wasn’t that I felt under the weather, it was because of our 4-5 year old, Earl of Seven


I noticed first thing this morning that Earl just wasn’t himself. He was acting uncoordinated, brushing into things, missing when he leaped, restless, whiny. But, I couldn’t figure out why. Pupils were equal and responsive, and looked just like the other cats eyes looked in the morning sun. I did a thorough body palpitation bit, flexing his joints, checking his responses to stimuli, etc etc. Outwardly, I could see nothing wrong with his ears to cause unbalance. No recordable pain responses anywhere. Eating-check, drinking- check, jumping-check, walking-check. Take a temp- check. Follow him to the box and check out his bodily eliminations. All seems the appropriate amount, color, etc. Exposure to a chemical? I don’t see how. Nothing in the house he could get and I use very safe, natural cleaning products. Not even one plant in the house, too many big trees surrounded us.I am flummoxed and getting a bit uneasy. It appeared his back legs would slide a bit, he would walk through a doorway and head would rather glance the door jam… What the hell is this? I decide to make a vet appointment. I drag my not so well self off to the vet with a very freaked out puddy cat.  The vet finds… nothing! Ugggh! So we are home and he actually is resting a bit without me sitting near him so I am thinking it is time to relax, not clean, cook, nothing, just chill a bit. What say you? Clean or go take a nice long soak, and enjoy soaping up with one of these lovely soaps my friend Marci shared with me

I agree the soak it is! Marci has been such a sharing, generous friend and has just today shared exquisitely detailed directions on making soap. Just visit her blog Herbal Nature and see what she has shared:) I am so grateful for her for posting all about soap making:) On my list to do soon, the proper way, this time:)

Now clean and relaxed from the tub, I think it is time to evict Patrick Starr from my roosting spot and relax with a double tea bag cup of chamomile, and have a shot of valerian flower extract tincture as a chaser:) My nerves are a wee bit fried. I do so worry about my furbabies:) I will keep you posted on how he does.

For the meantime, I am hitting the couch and will soon be smothered by a purring, furball. It might be…


Wisteria, Hyacinth Bouquet, or maybe Violet Joy



or Dandelion, or maybe Rose Marie’. Or any combination!


Earl seems to be a bit more comfortable resting at the moment. I open the closet for him in case he felt like a hidey hole, as cats do when feeling poorly. Guess he must not feel as bad as I do just watching him as he hasn’t went and hid. Sigh.. will keep you posted.

Big hugs to all who visit Comfrey Cottages



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I always knew that how I transported my herbal aid supplies was not ideal. I used to just throw this and that in a basket if I were heading out in the woods or to the park with the kids. Looking back it is probably a good thing we never had anything besides a very minor scrape or bump to deal with as my haphazard basket, probably wouldn’t have met our needs very well. I am still gathering/making things for the herbal medicine kit, and am amazed how many times it has already been useful. Just yesterday we had a splinter under a fingernail, an issue needing dandelion tincture and a minor burn, in my little village!


When you click on the picture to enlarge it, you will see the tools and herbal helpers I used. I love the little blue flashlight. It is a very powerful light that is just the right size and is useful for these older eyes when I am examining something up close, like the splinter. The lovely old magnifying glass has been passed down on my mother side of the family. I love its design, connection to my ancestors and the nice long cord to drape around my neck so I don’t drop it or loose it. Another useful tool for the older eyes 😉  The chamomile tea was used to calm down Lily, the victim of the splinter:) Then the pine salve was put on the area were the splinter was under her nail, to help draw it out, with a bandage on top.

I will continue adding some things to the herbal first aid kit and replacing things as they are used.

And my last ethno botanical book from my wish list came in! In love:)


My last news, but not least, is I have a new grandpuppy! lol This is Dylan, my soon to be 3 year old grandson, with new puppy Zoey:)


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So this morning I was exploring another new to me site, when I ran across this one, The Self Sufficient Gardener. I am very impressed with the content of this site, and wanted to share with you all:) The page I just linked you to, has some text posts and podcasts leaned toward the medicinal uses of plants. Jason Akers site is one I am sure I will be exploring more, and thought you might enjoy it also:) I giggled at his video The Passion of the Bumblebee

Well, enjoy exploring the site! I know I will:)

big herbal and honey hugs to all who visit Comfrey Cottages

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Today finds me in my home apothecary.  I started by making a Muscle Injury Ointment recipe.


It was nice to be able to go to my herbal oil cabinet and see that I had made, this last season, from either wild crafted or home grown herbs, the three oils I would need. Plantain, Comfrey and St. John’s Wort. I had also, previously poured some of our own melted beeswax into little molds that each end up being the perfect amount for this particular recipe, 1 tablespoon.


So I melted the beeswax and then added the three oils, in the given amounts, into my little cast iron pan.


After the melted beeswax and the 3 oils were mixed together well, it was time to remove the pan from the heat and let it cool down. Then a small whisk was used on the mixture and lavendar essential oil was added and it was re-whisked and put into containers and labeled.

The next recipe I made was one for both a sunscreen and a burn ointment. This recipe calls for using only one oil. St. John’s wort oil infused in sunflower oil. I learned that sunflower pressed oil and shea butter are the highest plants in natural spf’s! So in this recipe, was made using shea butter instead of beeswax. The same method as above was used. I melted the shea butter, added the oil, cooled and whipped with lavender essential oil.




I ended up using 3 tablespoons of the shea butter, to get the consistency I wanted, and putting the pan in the freezer for a few minutes to hurry up the setting up process before I whipped it.


This is my herbal first aid kit, with the additions of the two new ointments and a thermometer.


I started 6 new tincture extractions,  Chamomile, Fennel, Burdock, Yellow dock, Catnip and Elderflower. Again, from herbs I either grew or wild crafted last season:)


When these tinctures are finished I will be making some more recipes and bottling some of them as is, to include in the kit. This is a work in progress, so stayed tuned for more additions to the kit:)

The ethno-botanical books are just lovely and I am so thrilled to have them


Very happy to have received Maude Grieve’s, A Modern Herbal. I refer to the online site constantly, so excited to have it in book form:)


Well, that is what is happening at Comfrey Cottages today! Big herbal and honey hugs to all who visit!

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