Help Save the Monarch Butterfly with Asclepias Tuberosa, Butterfly Milkweed

Help Save the Monarch Butterfly with Asclepias Tuberosa, Butterfly Milkweed

Butterfly Milkweed (Asclepias Tuberosa) is a native plant that creates a wonder area of your garden for monarch butterflies. The Growers Exchange wants to encourage our gardening friends to set aside a sunny space in their gardens to help these majestic butterflies thrive and slow the decline of their population. Monarch’s exist because of milkweed plants.

The bad news: there can be no question that natural habitats, areas where monarch butterflies live, are being destroyed at an alarming rate. Habitat destruction, defined as changing an area in which a plant, animal or other organism lives to the point where that species can no longer survive. The destruction is generally described as either actual destruction, degradation or fragmentation. In the case of the Monarch butterfly, the major threat to their survival is the loss of milkweed habitat, which is an essential plant in their life cycle. According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the counts of Monarch butterflies are trending down sharply, and their migration is now under threat.

The monarch butterfly population has declined over 80% in the last 20 years.

The good news: restoration of habitat can be achieved with very little effort on the part of concerned gardeners. You can easily offset this loss of a critical host plant in your own yard by planting milkweed, the vital host plant for Monarch butterflies. (more…)

The Benefits of Growing Your Own Ginger Plants

The Benefits of Growing Your Own Ginger Plants

Many people may recognize ginger root in the store, or the powdered ginger spice in a bottle, and yet wouldn’t be able to identify a ginger plant. This exotic plant (Zingiber officinale) grows best in fertile, moist well-draining soil with warm temperatures. The stout, yellow rhizomes (ginger root) can be due in late summer to early fall. Ginger is a beautiful plant that can grow about 3 feet tall, with purple and pale yellow flowers that arise on separate shoots directly from the rhizome. Turmeric is a close relative of ginger. (more…)

An Overview on Using Herbal & Essential Oils for Your Skin: How They Work and Which Ones Work Best

An Overview on Using Herbal & Essential Oils for Your Skin: How They Work and Which Ones Work Best

Herbal & essential oils have become an increasingly popular way to treat a variety of ailments. They have potential uses for everything from improving a person’s mood to helping someone feel more relaxed and fall asleep more easily. Some essential oils even relieve the symptoms of pain and inflammation, heal irritations on the skin, and boost the immune system.(1) People choose to use essential oils in a variety of ways, such as aromatherapy, and topical application (through the skin) is one of the most natural and most common methods.

Topical Application of Herbal & Essential Oils

Topical essential oils are typically either applied directly to the skin (known as “neat” or “undiluted”) or via a carrier, such as a lotion or another type of oil. To realize how essential oils penetrate the skin, you must understand the anatomy of the skin. All skin has four layers, which are comprised of the stratums corneum, granulosum, spinosum and Basale. The palms of the hands and soles of the feet also contain a fifth layer of skin known as the stratum lucidum. (more…)

White Sage is a Winner With Us! – How to Make a Cleansing Stick

White Sage is a Winner With Us! – How to Make a Cleansing Stick

What is a White Sage Cleansing Stick?

Have you ever seen someone burn a rustic-looking bundle of dried herbs to cleanse their new home or work space? Well, that herb was most likely white sage. Though some people may find this practice a little odd, burning sacred herbs as a safeguard against evil or negative energy actually dates centuries back, to Ancient Babylonian practices. In most recent history, Native Americans continued this ritual throughout North and South America, and burnt this culturally-sacred herb to ward off negative energy and rid their homes and temples of bad spirits. The botanical word for sage, ‘Salvia’, actually comes from the Latin words, meaning “to heal”, and its medicinal properties as well as its natural ability to repel insects (like ladybugs), is probably at the root of its mystical history. (more…)

How to Grow an Eco-Friendly Balcony or Rooftop Food Garden

How to Grow an Eco-Friendly Balcony or Rooftop Food Garden

You have the opportunity to reduce your greenhouse gas emissions, improve your health, reduce waste, and save water, even if you live in a city. How?

By building your own balcony or rooftop food garden.

By 2050, it’s estimated the world’s population will increase by more than 35 percent. To realistically feed everyone, the world’s crop production would need to double.

But placing that burden entirely on farmers when more than 55% of people now live in urbanized areas isn’t practical – nor is it necessary! Step out onto your balcony or patio, and you’ve found a perfect setting to grow food. (more…)

Grow an Edible Flower Garden

Grow an Edible Flower Garden

Love growing vegetables and herbs, why not choose these edible flowers to grow indoors or outside? Get the most out of your garden, whether it’s an expansive garden or a few flower pots, by combining the tastiness of vegetables with the beauty of flowers. While not all flowers are edible, here are some favorite and tasty flowers that are easy to grow inside, or in your garden, for a rich and aromatic experience.

What Are Edible Flowers?

Whether cooked, steeped, or eaten raw, each of these flowers is edible. However, be cautious when eating flowers. There are many more flowers that are poisonous or inedible. Make sure you know what you’re eating. Be sure you choose an herb that hasn’t been sprayed with pesticides and appropriately prepared. Not all edible varieties are edible raw, while some are best served fresh or as a garnish to your salad.

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The Amazing Flight of the Monarch Butterfly

The Amazing Flight of the Monarch Butterfly

Humans are a fickle bunch, and try as I might, they are hard to figure.  Say one thing, mean another.  Say one thing, find out it wasn’t true.  Commit to one thing, then change courses.  Not saying I’m any different, but the dependability of nature (well maybe not weather) is something that brings me a lot of comfort.  Cycles that repeat;  you sort of come to depend on them.  Geese come south, geese go north.  Jenny wrens nesting in the same clay pots they used the year before.  My mother in law’s daffodils emerging in late February, as they have been since she planted 30+ years ago.  Even the sturgeon have decided the river is clean enough to make a comeback.  We brought them to the brink of extinction, then we decided to bring them back.  See what I mean?  Fickle.

Well there is one cycle that is truly a wonder:  the migration of the monarch.  Their life cycle is equally awe inspiring but let’s focus on this trip!  There are so many wondrous aspects of this flight, described as ‘epic’, so let’s start with this:

The monarch migration is the longest known insect migration on earth.

Chew on this:  a monarch can leave Nova Scotia, Canada and travel to the mountains west of Mexico City, which works out to somewhere around 3,000 miles.  A butterfly, mind you.  Miracle? (more…)

Surprising Facts About Your Favorite Herbs and Spices

Surprising Facts About Your Favorite Herbs and Spices

Ever since humans discovered the many, powerful uses of herbs and spices, they’ve been fascinated by their smells, their tastes and their medicinal purposes. What many people fail to realize, is that the simple herbs and spices that are growing in their gardens and sitting in their kitchen cabinets have had important roles in the history of human civilization. Before modern refrigeration, spices were one of the only ways that people could keep their food from spoiling or enhance its flavor.

Herbs were around before the advent of contemporary medicine, so mixing plant ingredients together in a homeopathic remedy was the only option for relief from some illnesses. From the opening up of the spice trade in Asia in the Middle Ages to the misdirected spice seeking voyage that led to America, spices and herbs have played a powerful part in our legacy as a people. Here are some of the most storied tales of the most popular herbs and spices used today. (more…)

Create Your Own Herb-Infused Oils

Create Your Own Herb-Infused Oils

Congratulations on growing your own fresh herbs! As you’re harvesting your fresh herbs you may be wondering of different ways to use them. One of our very favorite culinary uses for fresh herbs is to create Herb-Infused Oils. It’s relatively easy to create your own oil that’s at least as good if not much better than the expensive stuff at high-end grocery stores or specialty food shoppes, and at a fraction of the cost.

Use these delicious herbed oils on almost anything:

  • Marinades for meats, fish, and veggies
  • Perfect as a salad dressing
  • Drizzle over bread, risotto, pasta or any other grain dish
  • Stir fry

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Herbs in Cocktail Drinks – From Mixology to Mocktails

Herbs in Cocktail Drinks – From Mixology to Mocktails

A Cocktail Herb Garden

When it comes to cocktails, most people probably focus on the alcohol that goes into them. While alcohol is one of the major components in cocktails, you can take yours to the next level by adding various ingredients. Things such as garnishes, rims adornments, herb infused syrups, and bitters can dramatically change the taste and flavor of a cocktail. However, herbs remain the most underrated when it comes to mixing cocktails. The good news is that you don’t have to be a connoisseur of drinks to come up with a great herbed cocktail or mocktail drink. Here are some of the herbs you can add to cocktails and how to go about it. Read below for the best herbs for cocktails to grow in your garden! (more…)