Saturday, February 28, 2009

Garden Tour

Today I visited 4 gardens in the Valley of the sun. Here are a couple of pictures that I took. Enjoy.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

The beginning of my Gardenette


I am so excited to have bought almost all the makings for my lil' raised garden today. It is going to be a a 4x8 raised garden in my back yard with a drip system already in place in my back yard so we will just altar that to drip or spray in through my garden. This is my first raised garden, actually it is my first garden ever. I am a little nervous but I think that I can handle it.

Well, 3 months later and still nothing grows in my garden. I am waiting for our arizona planting season which will be in October. We have been feeding the organic soil with lots of compost and it looks wonderful. The birds are starting to feed on some of the stuff that we have thrown on top and havent stirred in yet and our little chaweiner dog loves jumping in there and pulling out veggie pieces too!
Speaking of our chaweiner... have you ever known a dog to love fruit and veggies? it is crazy how much she loves apples and watermelon, uncooked red and green cabbage, mixed greens, beans and carrots. I get a kick out of it

Thursday, February 19, 2009

I am so excited! Today Brit taught herb class at SWIHA, (she is an herbalist who owns and herb shop in Gilbert, AZ) She handed out a pamphlet from Peter Big Foot's Reevis Mountain school of self reliance. My class has an opportunity to go spend time with Peter Big foot very soon but I am also booking a two day and two night retreat there for my boyfriend and I. I will be so excited to share on my blog, the adventures of this retreat and class outing.

Peter Big Foots web site is Peter BigFoot is best known for is walk across the Sonoran Desert, relying only on the land. He didn't bring food or water. He walked 85 miles in 15 days. AMAZING. He teaches a survival class that I wish I could afford to take. Maybe some day.

Two of my latest books that I have aquired are:

Sacred Plant Medicine the wisdom in native american herbalism by Stephen Harrod Buhner

The Herbal HandBook a users guide to medical herbalism by David Hoffmann

both books were advised reading from my herbalist teacher Joanne. David Hoffmann actually wrote the Text that we are reading in class.

Another event that I can't wait to share on my blog will be the SOUTHWEST CONFERENCE on BOTANICAL MEDICINE which I will be attending in April.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

A few days have passed since my last entry and I can't stop thinking about that little garden. My vision now is different. I dream about what I can do to help the garden, to help the children. I want to feel the dirt and the weeds in my hands. I want to plant seeds. I want to watch the transformation and hear the gasps and gratefulness from the children. I feel very lucky to be part of this project.

I don't know much about gardening. I do not have a green thumb. I am not nervous, I am excited. I can do this, I will do this and it will be good. I will get so much back from this... I will learn about me, about gardening and about service.

There are things that I will understand and know that I am unaware of. This ugly little garden isn't so ugly to me anymore.

I can't wait to go back and start my intern there. I can't wait to transform it. I went to a book fair and bought books about gardening. This experience thus far has provoked me to dream about my own back yard and raised garden and compost. So many ideas, where do I find the time?

Saturday, February 14, 2009

grounds for healing journal

9:15 am

Its Valentines Day. I am supposed to meet my classmates at Grounds for Healing, but I am having trouble finding it. I am in an unfamiliar neighborhood. The neighborhood is run down and there is trash in the yards of quite a few of these homes, the home directly across from this school that I am sitting at has a couch and garbage piled a couple of feet high in their front yard.
I think I must be lost.
I leave to get into an area where there is more people, I pull up to a fast food restaurant and call a class mate and she tells me that it must be at the school, to go back and wait, she says that she will be late.
I go back to the ugly little school; I drive around the school and do not see any garden. I do not see any classmates either.

It is now 10 minutes until we are all suppose to meet.
I can’t be the ONLY early bird.
I drive around the other side of the school and I see this woman in her vehicle. She must here to let us into the “secret” garden.
I continue to write in my journal after I park near her.
The school has bars on the windows.
Wow, what a place for a school. Surrounded by garbage filled yards and bars on the windows. I am not sure what is in store for me.
A few more classmates show up, we walk towards the “garden”, The garden lies on the side of the school, down a wide pathway past the dumpsters. Along the pathway is a mural painted by the students of the school.There is a gated area at the end of this pathway the gate is unlocked and to get in to the “garden” you must try and avoid the puddle of water in the entrance. The gardens water source is badly damaged and there is flooding. Weeds, oh my gosh! There are so many weeds.
The woman there that unlocked the garden gate is named Linda. She instructs us to fill out some paperwork. I look around and see all these cats. Wild, skinny, dirty cats. I smell their urine in the garden. As I fill out my papers, I glance around and think about the expectation of the garden that I had when I had signed up to volunteer here.

It isn’t at all what I had expected. What I had envisioned was this beautiful garden, partly indoors or like a greenhouse, raised beds with smiling children kneeling at them while digging to plant seeds. It was a quiet and peaceful garden, so beautiful and clean, I could even hear the birds chirping and the buzz of the bees. I could almost smell the fragrance of all the herbs and flowers and the fresh turned soil.

This garden however, was flooded, smelled like ammonia and full of weeds.There was trash that scattered about and stray cats that used it for a litter box. There were more weeds than any other plant and it was so cold,damp and overgrown.

How could this be the garden to help heal small children who had experienced trauma?

How was this garden going to be healing to anyone while it is in this condition? Now, I understood my purpose here more than ever before.

Linda speaks of the children who come here. They are 99% below poverty she tells us. They have seen and experienced horrible things and this garden has been a sort of refuge for some of them.

It has been here for 10 years and use to be nothing before that, no grass or trees or plants of any kind existed before it.

There are some painted rocks the surround the garden; she tells us that they are painted by kids who have lost a family member to violence.

As I fill out my paper work and watch a stray cat lap up a drink from the flooded earth, I listen to a story that Linda tells of a little boy who was awaken in the middle of the night and then lined up with his siblings to watch his father shot in the face 7 times.

Then to be told by his fathers’ killer that he, like his siblings would be next, the killer promises he would return on their next birthday to kill each one of them. This is a story of one of the little boys that at one time came or still comes to this garden.

The same garden that I sit in, surrounded by leaky pipes that flood the grounds, with the smell of cat urine, filled with weeds and some trash, that lies behind an ugly little school with bars on its windows and the garbage filled yards of the homes that surround it.

Friday, February 13, 2009

My neice had asked me where she could buy herbs that she trusted. I told
her some local areas but here is a website to another trusted company.

One thing that is being taught in my herbalism class is who to trust and not trust when buying herbs. From quality and ethics there is so much to learn, There is way to wildcraft that will not harm the herbs that are on the endangered list and this would be one company that is very ethical in the way that it harvests and wildcrafts, not to mention a great quality products.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

2/7/2009 Cave Creek class trip

Wow, what a gorgeous day it was today. I learned so many new things and new plants. I learned a little about spirit medicine plants and our relationship with them as humans .

Hearing some of this stuff a few years ago would have made me laugh, now I just listen and say "wow, really?" Some of it is so beyond me but like I named this blog.... it is a journey and I am on board, willing to learn what I can... and when I really really listen.... it makes soooo much sense and I begin to understand and then and only then I decide that maybe my ridicule in the past was ignorance.. no "maybe" about it.

I wouldn't call myself a tree hugger yet, in fact... I am not even sure what one is. However, I think I am on my way. It is a wonderful wonderful experience that is going on here.... I had no idea how very closely we are related to the plants. Their purpose, their communication, their journey's, their relationships to us and to other plants. All I can say is that I have so much to learn and the learning will never cease. There is way too much to learn about these wonderfully giving plants that we share this world with.
One of the most intriguing concepts that I learned today was that these plants do NOT depend on us... we depend on them. As simple as that is to grasp, as blatant as that is.... it is amazing to really think about that. We need to protect and love and listen to our plants- without them, means to be without life.
Shelter, shade, medicine, nutrition or food for all living creatures, ceremony, heat, and more.
Two books that I am going to share with you I actually haven't read yet but they were suggested to us by today's guides on our hike, they are listed below.
  1. The Secret Life of Plants by Perter Tompkins
  2. The healing power of plants by Eliot Cowen


  • The sap from trees can and has been used for healing from cough syrup to carpal tunnel.
  • The Creosote bush has properties to heal many things including dandruff to tumors.
  • The Mesquite Tree can be used for fuel,dye or chewing gum.
  • Prickly Pear can drain fluid from a blister by applying the pulp, it can drain the toxins or poisons from a sting or a bite. You can scramble it in eggs or use it as first aid.

These 3 plants are considered the 3 essentials in healing.

I only touched a few of their many uses.


Did you know that the Jojoba's leaves can orient themselves to get more or less sun by turning their leaves?

Did you know that the more aromatic the plant means the more medicinal?

Did you know that the AMAZING (one of my favorites) creosote AKA chaparral AKA Larrea tridenta AKA greasewood plant leaves can be dried and powdered and used as a antiperspirant?

or heated like a poultice can relieve abdominal pain after childbirth; aching feet and joint pain?

Or that the leaves also relieve toothace, gas, headache, tuberculosis, impetig, UTI, diabetes autoimmune diseases and PMS just to name SOME of its cures?

Here are some more suggested readings from the guides

"The Scalpel and the Silver Bear" Alvord, Lori Arviso, M.D.

"A Rendezvous with the Clouds" Fleming, Tim, M.D.

"Earth Medicine Earth Food" Mehl-Madrona, Lewis, M.D.

Time for me to study! Hope you find this blog helpful, interesting or get some type of positve experience by reading it.

jHerban Chicaj

Chuparosa "humming bird bush"

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

I want some earth....

I want to plant herbs. I want a garden of herbs in my back yard but more than that, I want a plot of land. I want it organic and I want to share with the community. That is a little dream that I had today. It may pass, but for today... it is a dream.

Monday, February 2, 2009

On my last post I mentioned a few herbs of the week... this is what I have learned about a few of them
Brittle brush is a mild stimulant, you can collect the twigs in the late fall and in the spring you can collect the flowers for a salve and use it for minor aches and pains. The leaves have been picked and used for tea, sitz bath and smudging. The leaves have also been used to ease tooth and gum pain in small children.

a picture of brittle bush or Encelia farinosa

Creosote Bush or Larrea tridentata
Uses: antioxidant, antiseptic, anti-microbial, hair tonic, arthritis, blood, skin, tumors, cysts.
used by Pima, Papago, Seri, Cahuilla
Creosote has very resinous leaves and is considered one of the best healing plants. Creosote could very well be one of the oldest plants on earth, in California one was carbon dated to 1300 years old. It was used by the Tohono oo dam people to treat the flu, colds and parasites, used for menstral cramps, skin sores and dandruff and its fresh leaves put into shoes to help with arthritis of the feet. Creosote was used for blessings by burning the leaves for incense or smudging.
The small resinous leaves slows down water loss in the plant and also protuects itself from the ultra violet rays and is a strong anti oxident.The resin acts as a sunscreen to protect the plant in the harsh dessert but can also be used as a sunscreen for humans too.

a picture of Creosote bush Larrea tridentata AKA chaparral and a Tohono O'odum woman

The Tohono O'odham and Pimeria Alta

I am a new member of United Plant savers

More TRUSTED websites below:

A very trusted place to buy your herbs and more

Brigette Mars website (Good RAW food recipes)

Deborah Frances ND website

Rosemary Gladstars website

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Herbs of the Week

Taxonomic Relatives of the Composite Family

  • Brittlebush Encelia farinosa

  • Globe Artichoke Cynara scolymus

  • Chamomile Matricaria recutita

  • Goldenrod Soidago canadensis

  • Pot Marigold (Calendula) Calendula officinalis

  • Wormwood Artemisia absinthium

  • Yarrow Achillea millefolium

  • Mugwort Artemisia vulgaris

Taxonomy: System of classifying organisms into natural related groups based on shared features or traits.

Composite Family: Relating to or being a large family of flowering plants that bear many small flowers united into compact heads resembling single flowers.

We will take a field trip to the Desert Botanical Gardens for this next class. What I will have to share with you afterwards, I am unsure of-

but I think that it must be about TOXONOMIC RELATIVES OF THE COMPOSITE FAMILY.... :)

Tonight I did some reading from one of my text books "Medical Herbalism" by David Hoffmann, FNIMH, AHG.... It named plants containing anticancer compounds, they were listed as follows:

This information was found on page 25

Cuymnosperm Families

Cephalotaxaceae, Podocarpaceae, and Taxaceae

Angiosperm Orders and Families

Magnoliales: Annonaceae

Ranunculales: Menispermaceae

Myrtales: Thymelaeaceae

Celastrales: Celestraceae

Euphorbiales: Euphorbiaceae

Sapindales: Apocynaceae

Liliales: liliaceae

The World Health Organization (WHO) website

This organization supports and actively promotes traditional medicine. The Traditional Medicine Program was established by the WHO in 1977. Traditional medicine would include ayurveda and traditioanl Chinese medicine and is knowledge based on the experience and observation of generations.

websites to visit