Tag Archives: plants

Wake Up And Smell The…Spruce?!

Black Spruce, Latin name Picea mariana, is my new BFF.  I’ve never met a Black Spruce in person, but I’ve been spending my mornings with its essential oil and I think it’s making me a better person.

Native to North America,  Black Spruce is a coniferous evergreen and slow-growing tree that grows up to 25m tall. The needles (and sometimes the twigs) of the tree are used to make its essential oil. Essential oils are concentrated liquids extracted from plants. Black Spruce oil has an uplifting, clearing and purifying fragrance that seems to wake me up and calm me down at the same time. I learned about Black Spruce essential oil at an Aromatherapy seminar that I recently attended in San Rafael, California taught by Kurt Schnaubelt and Monika Haas of the Pacific Institute of Aromatherapy (PIA).

The seminar was a fragrance lovers’ dream. Oils would be introduced, pictures of the plant would be shown and then, for the pièce de résistance, smell strips would be passed out and enjoyed. (Mostly enjoyed, a few of the oils weren’t as pleasant to smell.) We learned and talked about over 50 oils, including some I’d never heard of in my long decades of using these amazing plant extracts including Cape Chamomile, which smells like Spring and Hyssop decumbens, so light and friendly an oil, that I now count it as a favorite.  Continue reading


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Down on the Farm with Justin Huhn

Mano Farm is quiet, lush, and beautiful.  It’s also home to All Good Things Organic Seeds,  the only organic seed company in Southern California.  Last month, I met with the farm’s co-founder Justin Huhn to talk about seeds, seed saving, organic farming and plants for my podcast Sustainable World Radio.  Justin took me on a tour of  the farm and shared his knowledge about some of the unusual plants residing there including Czech Lavender, Purple-Throated Mullein, and Korean Licorice Mint.

(photo courtesy of Justin Huhn.)

Justin Huhn- Friend of the Flowers on Mano Farm

We visited the yurt where seeds are dried, fermented, and processed for saving and walked through the medicinal herb garden and food forest. During my visit with Justin, I renewed my admiration for comfrey; it’s  a living fertilizer and friend to trees and soil.  We sang the praises of  the much-maligned Dandelion, a wonderful medicinal herbal medicine and tasty bitter green.  And last, but certainly not least, I learned that you should never harvest Burdock seeds without a wood chipper, lots of dedication, and a hazmat suit.

Click here to listen to A Conversation With Organic Farmer Justin Huhn.

Seed Saver, Organic Farmer

Justin enjoying the bounty of the farm. (photo courtesy of Justin Huhn.)

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