The medicine of Oregon Grape teaches us to stand in our own power, and not rely on our environment or others to bring us happiness. This is especially poignant in the month of February when society tells us that, on Valentine’s Day, we must seek happiness and love outside of ourselves.
The root of Oregon Grape, taken as a tincture or tea, can help with digestion, and can balance many issues that cause stomach and GI upset. The flowers and berries are edible, but should be consumed sparingly.
Immense gratitude to all of the plant wisdom found throughout Ktunaxa Ɂamakis wherein Ishtadev Niwas Ashram and Farm is so blessed to find itself.
the size, color, purpose and growing traits! Seed companies usually include detailed descriptions and pictures for each variety, so you’ll know what to expect in the garden. There are three main types of seeds to consider when looking at varieties for purchase; Hybrid, Open-Pollinated, and Heirlooms.
Hybrids are the result of crossing two varieties to create a plant that contains the benefits of both parents, however it is not possible to save seed from hybrids, nor to locally acclimatize them to your growing conditions. Hybrids work great in large-scale and mechanized systems, however may not be the best choice for long term sustainability.
Open-pollinated seeds contain a lot of genetic diversity and although they show some variation when grown, this variation ensures that the crop can adapt to climate change and weather extremes. The seed saved from open-pollinated varieties will grow true-to-type, meaning you can expect similar growth, traits, and yields every year. The added benefit to being able to save your own seeds is that every year you will be saving from your best plants, and as a result will be acclimatizing the crop to your own specific micro-climate! Of course, you'll also have your own seed, which saves money and increases your self-reliance.
Heirlooms are also gaining popularity, and for good reason. Heirloom seeds are simply open-pollinated varieties that have been grown in a specific location for many generations. Passed down by family members, heirloom varieties will have significantly acclimatized to their region and will have developed a chosen trait over time, such as a purple carrot!
Whatever type of seeds you choose, there are many excellent companies that sell a large variety of high-quality seeds that will ship to your door. We encourage the use of open-pollinated seeds, especially heirlooms in order to preserve rare and valuable varieties.
We’ve had great success Saltspring Seeds, West Coast Seeds, and especially Rare Seeds.
So, what’s next? We have to determine how many seeds we need before we order! There is a valuable resource to be found in the book titled How to Grow More Vegetables. The master charts contained within the book outline the volume of seed required to plant a pre-determined area, as well as optimal spacing, and details on how to grow every crop from seed to harvest. Typical yields are also included, so if you are aiming to grow 100 lbs. of potatoes, you’ll discover how large an area is required to do so!
Seed shopping is one of our favorite tasks, and we encourage you to take your time and enjoy the process. Before you know it, it’ll be time to sow those seeds!
~ by James Christie-Fougere and Sharon Coombs
“Uva-ursi” is Kinnickkinnick’s Latin name, which directly translates into “Bear Grape" or "Grape of the Bear”. Potent medicine for January, as we ourselves sit in Winter's grape/egg-like tamasic state of inertia, or unrealized potential and hibernation, dreaming of Spring and new growth into being.
Kinnickinnick likes sunny, dry slopes, sandy & rocky soils, riverbanks, and is ground-cover in coniferous forests. The thick, evergreen leaves of bearberry can be gathered early spring through late autumn. In the winter, if needed, they can be harvested from under the snow. When harvesting, give thanks and be mindful to take only what you need.
In terms of medicinal uses, Kinnickinnick's are manifold. The leaves can be made into a tincture and are predominantly used as a urinary antiseptic for urinary tract infections. The leaves' anti-microbial actions help to kill bacteria in the urine. The leaves are infused by steeping them in water just above the boiling point to make a tea and then is drunk as a tonic. This infusion could also be used as a mouthwash for canker sores or weak gums.
It has also been made into a decoction by boiling the plant material in water, and then drunk for colds and Tuberculosis. This decoction could also be used as a wash for broken bones. Moreover, decoction of Kinnikinnick has also commonly been used as an eye medicine for sore eyes.
There are many ways that the Kinnickkinnick is/was used by First Nations, from dried leaves smoked as a part of a ceremonial smoking mix in Indigenous pipe ceremonies, to the leaves being chewed on to suppress thirst. In daily living, Kinnikinnick fruit berries were also mashed to create a sealant on baskets.
A great first step to designing a garden is deciding what to grow. By focusing on foods we enjoy eating, we'll have more motivation and excitement in growing these foods in the garden. To answer the second question, we need to do a bit of research. We all live in different climates, and not everything we're used to eating on a daily basis can be grown in every region. Once we have a list of foods we most like to eat, we can narrow that down to foods we can actually grow at home. Check out this link and enter your postal code to get a good idea of how long your growing season lasts, and when your first and last frost dates occur.
Once you know your growing zone, you can make educated decisions on crops that will likely be able to survive and reach maturity in your climate. Many seed companies list the compatible growing zones for food crops, taking the guesswork out of which crops can be grown.
The last question should be answered from the heart: how much of your food do you really want to grow? If it's just a few staples, great! Want to grow your entire diet? Don't be too quick to dismiss such a goal, it's definitely possible! When answering this question, don't worry about the logistics, we'll get to that in the next issue!
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