Right now, it seems like spring is just a far off promise. The cardinal in our yard is singing his little heart out, but I'm still looking at my winter boots.
After spending so much time indoors, with recycled indoor air and way less sunlight all winter long I go searching for things to remind me that there is still hope for spring.
Can you tell that I'm getting a little squirrel-y?
Enter Canada Blooms 2014. Canada's largest annual horticultural and floral exhibition always lifts my spirits. Being married to landscape construction-turned-horticultural wizard, we always make the show a priority. I just love the earthy smells, the colors of fresh hyacinths and tulips, the giddy energy in the air and the incredible walk-through displays. My favorite part however is picking seeds!
In general, we try to aim for plants that are not super high-maintenance, and are drought, mildew and heat resistant with good yields. Last year we had a beautiful crop of Red Russian Kale from Urban Harvest. A Canadian company known for carrying a large selection of heirloom fruit, vegetable, herb and flower varieties, all of their seeds are also 100% organic certified. As much as I like to support my local greenhouses, I love knowing that I am helping to encourage organic producers to carry older, unique varieties rather than the standard few varieties you typically see in commercial seedlings. From a political point of view, small companies and individuals growing and saving unique cultivars decrease the absolute dependence on government and large-scale seed companies for supplying most (if not all) seeds for home and commercial food production. I always liked to go against the grain.
This year, we are trying our hand at Red Hot Rocket peppers, Lipstick sweet peppers, Tiny Tim cherry tomatoes, Eva Purple Ball tomatoes, Black Beauty zucchini, spaghetti squash, Pumpkin Winter Luxury Pie, Cippolini Yellow onions, Buttercrunch lettuce and a 5 Mustard Green Mix (including
Mizuna, Arugula, Tatsoi, Red Mustard). We will also be giving our favorite kale a large reprise - it's just so good in salads, stir fries and smoothies!
If you are interested in growing your own garden and are looking for some inspiration, check out this awesome video - Roger Doiron - A Subversive Plot: How to Grow a Revolution in Your Own Backyard. I watch it every spring to get fired up about my own small revolution.
While most people are familiar with Nepeta cataria driving their feline friends into a perfect frenzy, what many of us are not aware of this herb's medicinal benefits.
Here's why I keep catnip in my house:
Fun fact: Did you know that catnip acts as an insect repellent and in some studies was shown to be more effective than DEET?
To use catnip as a tea, add 1-2 teaspoons of the dried herb to 1 cup of boiling water and let steep for 10 minutes, straining before drinking. The dried leaf can also be applied topically as a poultice for swelling, bruises and other minor skin irritations. Catnip is thought to be safe for most people when taken in cupful amounts (as in a tea).
1 Catnip. Natural Standards Comprehensive Database. Date. 2010 February 10. Retrieved 2013 February 18 from: http://ezproxy.ccnm.edu:2076/nd/Search.aspx?cs=&s=ND&pt=100&id=831&ds=&name=CATNIP&searchid=39719329
2 Kathleen Keeler.[Herbalist] catnip vs catmint (is catmint dangerous). 2007 April 3. Message posting on online thread. Retrieved online 2013 February 18: http://lists.ansteorra.org/pipermail/herbalist-ansteorra.org/2007-April/006662.html 3 Godfrey A, Saunders P, Barlow K, Gowan M. Principles and Practices of Naturopathic Botanical Medicine. Volume 1. Toronto: CCNM Press; 2010.
4 Erlich SD. Infantile Colic. 2010 March 31. University of Maryland Medical Center. Article retrieved 2013 February 18 from the University of Maryland: http://www.umm.edu/altmed/articles/infantile-colic-000094.htm
5 Smitherman LC, Janisse J, Mathur A. The use of folk remedies among children in an urban black community: remedies for fever, colic, and teething. Pediatrics. 2005 Mar;115(3):e297-304. Article retrieved 2013 February 18, from the Journal of American Academy of Pediatrics: http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/115/3/e297.long
6 Birkett MA, Hassanali A, Hoglund S, Pettersson J, Pickett JA. Repellent activity of catmint, Nepeta cataria, and iridoid nepetalactone isomers against Afro-tropical mosquitoes, ixodid ticks and red poultry mites. Phytochemistry. 2011 Jan;72(1):109-14. Article retrieved 2013 February 18, from PubMed Database: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21056438
7 Feaster JE, Scialdone MA, Todd RG, Gonzalez YI, Foster JP, Hallahan DL. Dihydronepetalactones deter feeding activity by mosquitoes, stable flies, and deer ticks. J Med Entomol. 2009 Jul;46(4):832-40. Article retrieved 2013 February 18, from PubMed Database: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19645285
8 Webb CE, Russell RC. Is the extract from the plant catmint (Nepeta cataria) repellent to mosquitoes in Australia? J Am Mosq Control Assoc. 2007 Sep;23(3):351-4. Article retrieved 2013 February 18, from PubMed Database: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17939520
9 Bernier UR, Furman KD, Kline DL, Allan SA, Barnard DR. Comparison of contact and spatial repellency of catnip oil and N,N-diethyl-3-methylbenzamide (deet) against mosquitoes. J Med Entomol. 2005 May;42(3):306-11. Article retrieved 2013 February 18, from PubMed Database: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15962779
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Dr. Keila Roesner is a Naturopathic Doctor. When not treating patients she is also an enthusiastic barefoot-strolling, music-loving, yoga-doing kitchen wiz - who also happens to be a wrestling fan.