Lavendula and All Her Uses — April 26, 2017

Lavendula and All Her Uses

Happy Hump Day! Another cold, wet & rainy day at MileWide Ranch.  Today, we’re going to chat about Lavendula.  Below are three species of lavender that we are growing.

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Lavandula Heterophylla – Sweet Lavender: This particular lavender can grow up to 4 feet with it’s blooms.  Lavandula Heterophylla is not suitable for cooking as it contains a high content of menthol, but makes for a beautiful specimen plant. Suggestion would be to plant in groups of 3 or 5, and be sure to give them plenty of room.  Sweet Lavender blooms in early spring until the summer heat hits.

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Lavandula Dentata – French Lavender: This species of the flowering plant grows up to 24″, she has large blooms from spring to first frost and has a beautiful clean smell, her leaves have scallops or dents thus referring to the dentata name.  This particular lavender is typically not used in culinary, also French Lavender is used as essential oil in perfumes.

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Lavandula Angustifolia – English Lavender: This speicie can grow up to 6+ feet tall, the plant is hardy, and has sun and drought tolerant qualities, she is a long blooming plant. English Lavender is a beautiful ornamental specie that can also be used in culinary dishes and drinks.  Lavadula Angustifolia is the popular choice for making oil/bath oil, soaps, lotions, herbal teas, lavender infused water, non-alcohol and alcoholic drinks.

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With summer fast approaching I can’t help but be excited for all the wonderful herbs that will be in full bloom just waiting to be picked and made into something delicious or medicinal!!  One particular drink that I am going to make for the crew will be Lavender Lemonade check out a recipe HERE, and what would be better than fresh squeezed lemons & lavendula picked fresh from the garden on a hot summer day?

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Pair the lavendula lemonade than with a lovely lavender honey shortbread cookie! Shortbread cookies in general are one of my favorite little snacks to indulge in, add a touch of honey and crush lavender and your tastebuds will thank you! Here’s a yummy recipe from The Baker Upstairs for these delicious little goodies: Lavender Shortbread Cookies.

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As many of you know, there are medicinal uses with the lavendula herb, the most popular is the essential oil.  Lavender oil is believed to have antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties which can help with minor burns and bug bites.  Research also shows lavender essential oil is useful for treating anxiety, insomnia, restlessness and even depression.  You can also use the essential oil as an insect repellent, as well as prevention of hair loss.  The Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database rates lavender as possibly effective for treating alopecia areata.  There is evidence that lavender can promote hair grown by up to 44% after 7 months of treatment.

So to recap, lavender has many uses in the home, from making soothing refreshing drinks and delicious edibles to making essentials oils for various ailments to include: pain relief of tense muscles, joint pain, rheumatism, sprains, and back pain.  Lavendula essential oil can also treat various skin disorders such as acne, psoriasis and eczema.

Check out a few of these links for more info on the medicinal benefits of Lavendula.

13 Surprising Benefits of Lavender Essential Oil

University of Maryland Overview of Lavender

Health Benefits and Side Effects of Lavender

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Heirloom Tomatoes — April 19, 2017

Heirloom Tomatoes

Happy Hump Day!  Today we’re going to talk about heirloom tomatoes, my opinion, by far the best tasting tomato!

A few pictures of our heirloom tomatoes on the ranch here at MileWide Nursery.

 

I was never a big fan of eating tomatoes, I used to remove them off burgers, and pick them off salads, I never thought they had a taste, it was more texture than anything.  One day I was waking through the local farmers market and saw these outrageous looking tomatoes, I had to stop and ask the farmer, and thus I was introduced to Heirloom Tomatoes and my life was changed forever.  These funny looking fruits are so sweet and juicy, each color and shape seem to have a unique taste and texture, all that will leave your mouth happy and wanting more.

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One of my favorite dishes to make, quick, simple and absolutely delectable is the Caprese Salad.  First start with any fresh (organic) heirloom tomato, I personally love any tomato from the Heirloom family, however I love picking fresh tomatoes from our garden. We’re currently growing Rose de Berne from Rare Seeds, a sweet & juicy fruit with a dark pink hue.  Next use fresh mozzarella, they are bountiful at your local market as is fresh basil.  There are different varieties of basil, one we grow on the ranch is the Genovese Basil which is a classic Italian basil with large dark green leaves.  This particular basil is great to use in pestos and Italian dishes, such as our Caprese salad that we’re about to make.

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To recap our ingredients are: heirloom tomatoes, fresh basil, fresh mozzarella, extra virgin olive oil, Himalayan salt, black pepper and I like to splash a dash of Vinaigrette along top just before serving.

Slice your heirloom tomato on the thick side leaving the seeds and gel as this is where allot of the flavor is.  Next, slice your mozzarella the same thickness if not slightly less than the tomatoes.  Be sure to rinse your basil and use only the leaf.  Now you’re ready to plate, lay one tomato slice, then mozzarella, then basil until you have the desired amount of servings (a serving is tomato/mozzarella/basil).  Sprinkle lightly with Himalayan salt and black pepper, drizzle desired amount of Extra Virgin Olive Oil and lastly, if you like, lightly drizzle Balsamic Vinaigrette.

Below are some links to receipts using heirloom tomatoes:

Heirloom Tomato Recipes

Smoked Cheddar Grits With Broiled Heirloom Tomatoes

Heirloom Tomato Salad With Ricotta Salata Cream Sauce

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How To: Propagate Succulents — April 12, 2017

How To: Propagate Succulents

Happy hump day! Now that we have introductions out of the way, let’s start with the fun “how to” posts.  Today we will focus on the beautiful succulent plants, what are they and how do you care for them?

Succulents typically have thick, juicy & fleshy leaves, they thrive in dry warm climates. Although succulents do not require a lot of attention, you will need to ensure proper watering for best growth and flowering.  Don’t be fooled, succulents still  need a little tender loving care so beware, don’t let your plants sit in water too long as the roots will start to rot and your lovely plant may die.

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Most succulents will not endure freezing temperatures as the water which is stored in their leaves will turn to mush or the plant will die, hence why they thrive in warmer dry climates.  Your succulents will tell you when they are lacking in sunlight as their color will be dull or green.  When fully blushing the plants can range in colors from pinks, oranges, purples, some red and some almost black making arrangements bright and colorful.

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Let’s chat about propagation and how you can add to your already beautiful plant, or garden.  The Sedums and Echeverias can propagate with either a leaf or a cutting, the Aeoniums will propagate from a cut.

To propagate from a leaf, gently twist the leaf off the stem, try to get as close to the stem as possible.  If you’re cutting, first be sure your pruning shears are sharpened, you can either cut off a leaf close to the stem or cut off a new shoot.  Once you have your leaf/cut you’ll want to give them ample time to dry, between 1-3 days, the cut area will be callused at this point.  Although these plants don’t require a lot of water, the cuts do!  Be careful of placing your cuts in the soil so as not to over saturate, a suggestion would be to add perlite & stones to the soil.  Although times may vary, your cuts should start to root and new leaves will grow within several weeks.

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Check out these links for more helpful & detailed info:

Propagating Succulents

Propagating Succulents II

Photos below courtesy of MileWide Nursery.  All our plants and trees are for sale, leave a comment for more info.

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Spring 2017 at MileWide Ranch — April 6, 2017

Spring 2017 at MileWide Ranch

It’s cold & raining this morning on the ranch, but that doesn’t mean the work stops! Today’s post is simple, I’m sharing the beauty of mother nature here at MileWide ranch from our beautiful trees and flowers, to our herbs and all our little critters running around.

Living on the ranch has been an experience especially coming from the city.  During my time in Southern California I was quickly feeling like I was suffocating.  Everywhere I turned there were thousands of people, at any given moment you can hear sirens from fire trucks or ambulances, the sound of cars and trucks speeding by honking, the noise was every where, it was all noise.

My first time to Humboldt was a religious experience. Driving through The Avenue of the Giants brought tears to my eyes, I had to pull over and stop at the visitor center.  I couldn’t help but look in amazement while staring up at these huge giants, the stories these trees could tell!  After spending time and actually hugging trees, I made my way to my camp site at Big Lagoon.  How could it be that I pitched a tent amongst the Redwoods, yet 100 feet to my right was the ocean? Incredible!

There is something very therapeutic about being out in Mother Nature, I quickly forgot about the city and threw myself into the Humboldt Lifestyle and for the time I was here, I was happy.  For the first time in many years I felt a sense of peace and calmness in my life and all I had to do was sit back and take it all in.  The trees, the flowers, the tall wild grass, the animals and critters signing amongst the woods.  Truly is heaven.

I share with you my brief story in hopes that whomever is reading this, if you too are feeling anxious, or overwhelmed by city and/or country life, take a moment out of your day and look around you, look at all the beauty that is surrounding us.  Take a walk in the park or in the woods, have a picnic by yourself and take it all in!TreeHuggingTreeofLifeDSC01134

Citrus on our Rind — December 1, 2016

Citrus on our Rind

With the weather cooling down and our greenhouse being a haven for warmth, we stumbled upon some tasty citrus in need of harvesting.

The trick to harvesting citrus is to get to the fruit before the freeze does! Freezes can affect the taste and amount of juice produced. Although taste is your true indicator of ripeness, choosing fruit with the most vivid of its ripe color is an obvious suggestion. Unfortunately, citrus does not continue to ripen after it has been picked so should there be any green on the fruit just let it be till the next time you stroll by and it will be ready to go! If the next time you visit the fruit has wrinkled you’ve waited a bit too long. Twist gently or snip off the tree without causing trauma to the branches. If stored in a cool moist space, your undamaged citrus can last for up to several weeks.

Happy Harvesting!

Clementine’s Cider of Fire — November 14, 2016

Clementine’s Cider of Fire

Clementine’s (Em’s) Cider of Fire

Ingredients
Quart size jar
Cheese Cloth or Wax Paper

*Horse Radish 1/2 cup shredded
*Garlic 1/4 cup crushed gloves
*Onion 1/2 cup chopped
*Tumeric 1/2 cup shredded
*Ginger 1/2 cup shredded
*Jalapeno 2 med. chopped
*Lemon 2 med. juice & zest
*Honey (once finished)
*Apple Cider Vinegar
Rosemary!
Hawthorn Berries!
Clover!
*-main ingredients !-because we’re fun


In case you didn’t know, there is a perfect way to get the cold weather out of your bones and a warm comfort into your soul. All this and much more is possible with Fire Cider! Fire cider is a homemade, all natural cold and flu preventative. The combination of health boosting veggies/herbs soaked in vinegar and the warm spices help keep seasonal bugs at bay. The beautiful thing about making your own fire cider is that you don’t have to play by the rules; Add more of your favorite ingredients to make the cider your own. If you ask us gals, the more garlic the merrier! The method of consumption varies. Some prefer to take their fire cider in a nice warm tea, or just as a shot alone, others even use as marinade/dressing for a salad. No matter how you take it your final product will be a concoction that gets rid of sinus congestion, provides antioxidants, supports immunity and digestion, and is down right delicious!


Directions

Put all chopped/shredding ingredients into quart sized jar and fill with vinegar. The vinegar should cover all ingredients entirely and then some due to expanding. Place a cheese cloth or wax paper between lid and glass. to ensure the metal lid to the jar does not touch any of the liquid. Besides for the daily shake, put cider in a cool dark area and let it sit for a month. Once a month has passed, shake well, then strain out all ingredients and add as much honey as your taste desires. VOILA, HEALTH IN A JAR!

P.S. Once strained we’re going to attempt to use our leftover veggies and roots in a stir fry…We’ll be sure to let you know how it tastes!

Olive Harvest 2016 — November 9, 2016

Olive Harvest 2016

from the perspective of a first timer

8am – The sun lifted its head out from behind the mountain and the fog slowly cleared from the valley. Dew drops on each little olive sparkled in the morning light. In the trees fourteenth year of existence and only second time being harvested their size was somewhat intimidating. They had a fairly manageable height to them, but their girthy thickness was quite the surprise. Each little nook and cranny contained a precious bundle of gleaming olives eager to fall off, into our buckets then eventually through a press, into a bottle and onto our table.

 

5pm- After a long day of strategically placing catch cloths under several dozen olive trees we were finally nearing our last trees to be brushed. For those of us lacking experience, there is quite the intimacy involved in brushing an olive tree; From having to stick your entire body under a tree to shimmy the tarp below the long protruding branches, to taking a very tall branch and completely bending it into arms reach. Quickly work turns into a game. The game where you aim your best and predict where your olive bundle will land only to occasionally miss and go picking for olives in the patches of grass. But oh, how can I describe to you the sound!? What a glorious sound! The sound of the “olive fingers” scrapping through the leaves and the sound of the olives plop! plop! plopping! off the stem and tumbling into an empty bucket or helping hand.

With a truck full of six hundred pounds of olives our work was done and it was time for us to fill our bellies with a delicious homemade stew.

 

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