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Aloe Vera (Liliaceae) is a succulent plant with no stem, just thick fleshy leaves containing special sacs full of gel which oozes out when the the leaves are cut or broken. It flowers rarely and grows 2 to 3 ft tall.

Aloes should grow 3 years before you attempt to collect the gel.

They are not cold hardy except in some southern climates they can survive outside if caution is taken for protection.

Potted Aloe VeraI grow them in pots and move into a sheltered location before the first frost.

The gel of Aloe Vera is anti-inflammatory saponins and antimicrobial, vitamins C and E, soothing salycilic acid and minerals.

This plant is a must to have on hand for sun exposure, bug bites, burns, eczema,shingles, and other skin rashes that need speedy relief and healing.

It’s often mixed with cucumber juice and in this form can be drunk to help immune function, digestive function, and conditions like irritable bowel syndrome and Chron’s disease.

It is wonderful to break a leaf and apply the gel directly to the face and arms after being in the sun and/or water.

Aloe Vera doesn’t like too much water and thrives in a location where filtered sun is available…loves the shade in the afternoon. Also likes being left in one location…not too much moving around.

A good thing!

Our health is most often a direct result of what we eat, breathe and lavish upon ourselves.

Now please don’t go for the clicker, I’m not going to pound you with what you should be doing…..my belief is if you don’t like where you are, you will find a better place.

I’m here to guide and help you if you so desire.I hear folks say so often that making changes to a healthier way of eating is too expensive…….well, let me tell you, it is a lot less expensive than the doctor bills and the funeral cost.

Eat HealthyEating and living healthy is so simple and so much fun, once you commit. Granted you have to be willing to cut back (way back) on a few major items in your diet. Those being: refined sugar, bad fats, processed foods and colas. Aim for eating as much home-grown/locally grown foods as possible. Stay away from GM foods (genetically modified) and high fructose corn syrup.

Now just a little hint on how to start. Don’t buy or bake anything with refined sugar for 2 weeks. Instead eat fruit and drink plenty of water. By the end of the second week, your taste for sweets will have changed completely (if you don’t cheat). Once you get the refined sugar out of your system, it will react to it as an invader, you simply will not want it. In some cases it will take longer and some never are able to break the habit (and it is a habit) completely. But at least you can downgrade to a few well made goodies a week, versus sugar laden junk.

When excess salt is removed from our food and we get a taste of the real food underneath, ahh.. the pleasure of eating has only just begun.

Seasoning with herbs and herb blends can help you do that.
The same herbs can take the place of fatty seasonings as well.

I’m well aware that some foods just have to have some flavor from a good type seasoning other than herbs.. My favorites are; olive oil, almond oil, coconut oil, and a good grape-seed oil for high heat cooking.

Please be aware that olive oil turns rancid when it reaches a certain high heat…so it isn’t good for frying. You know, frying isn’t all bad, it’s what you fry in and how you fry that makes the difference.
(When heating oil for frying…never allow it to smoke, if it does, toss it and start over.)
(Never allow the food to sit in excess oil and soak it up.)
(Never re-heat fried foods.)

So, do you agree that the simple changes could put you on the road to a better life with your health.

And if you really think about it, our health is all we have…once that’s gone, everything else really doesn’t matter. You can’t have a joyful, fun filled, satisfying life if you’re unhealthy.

Once you start and discover the good side……it will become a passion, and that is worth having!

Please feel free to ask questions or make donations of your own ideas. I’m a very receptive lady to others opinions.
I may not always like or use them, but I will take them and consider them carefully.

 

I believe I speak for many of us gardeners when I say….bring on the warm weather already …please!!! She pleads while watching from the office window, the huge, beautiful, snowflakes falling from the sky!

Sage Hill has a lot of new projects to share once spring arrives and construction can take hold.

Beds and plots are all in tip top condition and ready to plant.

We are also growing some things in the greenhouse this year that are new to our growing list, follow along and see our success…or not !

Lemongrass and ginger are two of the newbies. Going to be an interesting summer. 🙂

garden ready

Some reconstruction happening on the SH website, still much to be added and changed.

A new blog for your pleasure and need to know things, ‘good things.’ 🙂

I found this article to be very good reading, most of it we all know, but kinda updates all that knowledge and puts it into better focus.

http://www.fooddialogues.com/foodsource/topics/biotech-seeds?gclid=CN-9saTf3rUCFQ4GnQodljMACA

Ok, while waiting for spring I’m headed out to wander in the snow 🙂

Enjoy, whatever is happening in your world today~

Bea Rigsby-Kunz
Culinary Herbalist/teacher/speaker

Top Authors Give Proceeds to Middle School Gardening Project

(Jasper, AL) April 28th, 2013 – Top authors from across the world will come together on Facebook this Saturday to raise funds for a gardening project for students at Curry Middle School located in Jasper, AL. The project is Sponsored and coordinated by Bea Kunz of Sage Hill Farms.

“The project will be ongoing from year to year with different students and teachers participating,” states Kunz. She goes on to say, “I am thrilled to be a part of any project that enlightens or peaks an interest in better foods for better health.”

Kim Mutch Emerson, owner of Master Koda Select Publishing, LLC got wind of the project and gathered authors together from around the globe who were excited to offer the proceeds of their sales on Saturday, April 27th to this worthwhile project. For a preview of the books being offered you can visit this blog: http://dragontargeseries.blogspot.com/2013/04/charity-event-one-day-host-of-authors.html

The benefit event will include games and contests for the attendees and takes place on Facebook this coming Saturday, April 27th from 10:00am to 3:00pm Eastern time. The public is welcome. Proceeds from the book sales will go to the Curry Middle School Organic Gardening Project. To join this worthwhile event, simply go to this link and click join: https://www.facebook.com/events/485963738123325/

For more information or to donate to this non-profit project contact Bea Kunz on her website at https://sagehillgardens.com/ or Dr. Thomas Kyzer, Assistant Principal at Curry Middle School, Jasper, AL.

Tablescape

Simple greenery is one of my favorite Table-scapes for the summer.

Rosemary is also one of my favorite herbs for the summer usage…as you see-makes a lovey table piece, a small jar filled with the heady stems on the kitchen just speaks “home.”

How many households doesn’t look to the grill for easy and delicious summer foods. Vegetables on the grill is my best loved way of eating and serving them…squash, tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, potatoes, and white corn…any and all take to the grilling like a June-bug on the rosemary.

Soak a few sprigs in clean water and toss onto the veggies or meat( rosemary, not the Junebug )…keep the rosemary soaked to impart the full flavor.

Good and good for us…

EatWell-BeWell

Bea Rigsby Kunz
32 Old Petersburg Pike
Petersburg, TN 37144
931-438-8328
https://sagehillgardens.com

Fresh rosemary for sale…as well as basil, fennel, oregano, peppermint, stevia, sage, tarragon, and thyme .

herbs past and present

Many of you know me as a Culinary Herbalist, herb grower, gardener, and advocate for “Truth In Labeling, ” and promoter of all around better food habits for good health.

In the next few months I would like to introduce another subject dear to my heart and something I embrace and practice. (Herbs…for medicine.)

Let me qualify one thing clearly…I do not sell medicinal products, nor do I give medicinal advice.

My goal is to share information that will peak your interest and motivate you to look at all options for getting and maintaining good health. This can and should be a combination of practices. Herbal medicine, Western medicine, food choices, lifestyles, and spiritual health. Balance is what truly brings about the very best health.

From ancient times, herbs have played a vital role in the healing traditions of many cultures.
The alternative way of looking at health care, of which Herbs, past and present represent-can be just as valid today as they were 5,000 years ago.

Next post will look at Origins of Western Herbalism~ stay tuned .

Bea Rigsby-Kunz
Culinary Herbalist
https://sagehillgardens.com 


Disclaimer….Any and all herbal articles from and by Sage Hill is offered totally as educational information only. We do not intend this information to be viewed as medicinal advice for any given treatment.
Sage Hill does not sell Medicinal products nor do we give Medicinal advice.

The Concept of Sustainable Agriculture

Sustainable agriculture integrates three main goals: Environmental health, economic profitability, and social and economic equity.

Sustainable promotes the principle that we must meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.

Sustainable means to be constantly aware of our actions toward the soil, water, air, energy, and the human connection to all of these concerns.

For far too many years we have been depleting our major resources and replacing nothing.

Giving back, putting back, better than what we take is the only way to ensure that next year or in ten years or 100 years, the earth will still be caring for us as it has for all of time.

Happy growing!

Bea Kunz

NOTICE: You may reprint this article by giving credit back to the author and by using it as written.

Finding Your Balance

The total surface area of land cultivated to grow genetically modified crops increased from 4.2 million acres in 1997 to 331 million acres in 2009. As of today, the United States is the largest producer of GM foods, accounting for 45 percent of the world production, followed by Brazil and Argentina, with 16 and 15 percent of the world share respectively.
**This data is at least 10 years old…with the most recent government move to allow, encourage  with   our presidents blessing…MORE GMO foods into our farming industry.

Keep in mind….NO long term research or Testing on any genetically modified foods prior to releasing into the mainstream food chain.

Advantages of Eating Locally and In Season~

Most foods on average travel 1,500 miles before it lands on our dinner table. Globalization of the food supply has dealt the environment, our communities, our health and our taste buds a very serious blow.

Air pollution and global warming, loss of family farms and local community dollars are just a few of the negative consequences of food globalization.

We, our children, and our grand children need to understand how our food system works.

When we know and understand the process only then can we act effectively for change.

It’s not always easy to find local and fresh foods, but it is worth whatever effort we have to put out to do so.

For those who can’t grow their own food, and there are many, search out any farms or farmers markets in your area. Be willing to eat whatever is in season in your area. This will make the search much easier and our bodies much healthier.

Many places are starting to offer fresh food co-ops, and while these may not be today’s harvest they are still fresher and safer than the local supermarket.

All across the USA, thousands upon thousands are seeking better food options.

Many of the large brands are now offering organic. Be aware that everything that reads organic…isn’t. There are many, many loop-holes that allow big companies to cheat, and cheat they do.

Companies and brands that are really organic will make it clear and easy to understand their product and packaging. There are many foods on the market now that are organic, we just have to be selective and not as trusting as we would like to be. We also have the option of internet shopping; this gives us access to many natural and organic foods that we might not find locally.

Read labels, understand the ingredients and what they mean.

Sugar is a good example of how misleading words can be. Any word on food packaging that ends in “ose” is a sugar. And the word “sugar” may not be on the ingredient listing at all.

Happy cooking!

Bea Kunz

NOTICE: You may reprint this article by giving credit back to the author and by using it as written.

Growing by the “Raised Bed” Method
~Why and How

A raised bed method of gardening has taken root and for many it’s a simpler and safer way of growing. From small kitchen gardens to fields of produce for market, raised beds are here to stay.

Some major reasons to consider the raised bed method:

1) When you build and enclose a raised bed, you have just cut your maintenance in half. There will be fewer weeds (if any), well draining soil, few if any pests, and the elimination of foot traffic – which is the biggest reason for compacted soil. Because of these three improvements you will have a highly attractive and higher yield garden.

2) Raised beds can be enclosed with garden timbers (cedar, redwood and cypress) brick, block and rock will all fit the plan perfectly. I like 4x 8 size beds for the ease of working it from side to side without constant moving from one side to the other.

Now, for the layering process. Just think of it as making a Dagwood sandwich.

The area where your garden will be should be cut as close to the dirt as possible with your lawn mower.

Build your frame around the plot to your desired size.

You are now ready to build your soil.

Fall is the best time…..let it compost over the winter.

1) Right on the freshly mowed site, layer about 10 sheets of wet newspaper (no glossy colors) or cardboard. Wetting the paper or cardboard will hold it in place and speed up the process of composting.

2) On top of this add 4 to 6 inches of barn manure in some stage of composting.

3) Add to the manure 3 to 4 inches of dried leaves, grass, and other yard clippings.

4) Add 1 to 2 inches of peat-moss to the top.

Repeat this layering process until you have a depth of 12 to 24 inches. More if you wish.

The more layers you build the higher your soil line will be. Twenty four inches is the standard for most. You don’t want your soil line higher than the frame of your bed.

Once your beds are layered, water well and cover with a plastic tarp if so desired. Check from time to time and don’t allow the beds to dry out for long periods of time. (I leave mine open so they get the rain water and the natural weather cycles….it all helps the process.)

This method attracts microbes, earthworms, etc., that do the same work as a garden pick and tiller, and fertilizers at the same time. Come spring, just plant right into your ready made soil.

Remember too that you can compost all your kitchen scraps such as peeling from vegetables and fruits, coffee and tea grinds, and egg shells. Do not compost meat, bones, oils, or any cooked food. This will rot and draw animals and insects to your garden.

You can add these kitchen waste products directly to your beds, but I prefer to have a compost pile and process it separate from the beds.

For a healthy garden site always rotate your crops yearly and in the case of cucumbers, tomatoes, and eggplants, every 2 to 3 years. This stops pest from setting up house-keeping and over-wintering to wait for the new crop.

A good step to take before you start to build your beds is to have an idea of what you will be growing so you can add material to your beds that a certain crop might need. (Sand, blood/bone-meal, etc.)

Companion planting is a perfect crop practice. We will cover this in another segment.

Happy growing!

Bea Kunz

NOTICE: You may reprint this article by giving credit back to the author and by using it as written.

Growing Stevia Sweet Herb

Stevia is considered easy to grow but it does have some basic requirements. Stevia rebaudiana is one of about 154 members of the genus Stevia. A member of the Sunflower family, stevia is a small herbaceous subtropical perennial shrub that grows to 2 maybe 3 feet tall.

Stevia grows best in cooler climates but for some strange reason it has done well for me in middle, southern Tennessee. During the growing season it supposedly thrives best at between 60 and 85 degrees. Here in our part of Tennessee, we range more in the 90’s during the average growing season.

It grows as a perennial in frost free zones but otherwise can be grown as an annual.

Stevia rebaudiana is the only member of the genus containing the sweet compounds.

When you are planning to try your luck at growing Stevia, look for plants that have been grown from cuttings with a high stevioside content. Cuttings are more reliable than seeds, so I would highly advise cuttings for the first try anyway.

Plant outside in early spring after all danger of frost has passed. It requires a minimum of 12 hours of sunlight to remain green and growing. If it doesn’t get enough light it will flower too soon. Full sun is best but not extreme hot weather (if that makes sense). I have read that filtered sun from noon to 4 p.m. is really good in the southern states. Mine is growing right smack in the middle of an open field…next year I will plan for a better location.

Sandy Loam soil with plenty of organic matter is great. A layer of mulch works after the soil heats up and stays hot. And I would certainly advise growing it in a raised bed…but then I grow everything in raised beds…just makes life for the plants and for me much better!

Be very careful when working around the plant, it is brittle and easily broken.

Stevia requires a consistently moist soil…but not waterlogged. I use a manure fertilizer worked into the soil before planting.

Above all else avoid high-nitrogen chemical fertilizers; they produce large leaves and no flavor.

Happy growing!

Bea Kunz

NOTICE: You may reprint this article by giving credit back to the author and by using it as written.