I had a great time last weekend at the Florida Herbal conference in the Ocala National Forest! I know some of you might be thinking...wasn't she at the Food Blog Forum the weekend before that? Two week ends in a row away from her family?! How could she? Well, we all should! Especially if you homeschool your kids like me :) It is hard to get away, but I have found I need to do it for my own sanity, so I seek out these educational trips and thankfully my parents can help out with watching the kids if my husband is traveling for his work.
The first talk we listened to was called "Growing Herbs in Florida's Climate", led by Jim Steele, owner of The Herb Garden. What I learned from this talk is that herbs grow the best in spring and they do better in a cool, dry climate in general. I've been telling my husband not to use Miracle-Gro because it's not an organic fertilizer and I found out from Jim that it does nothing for the soil. It only makes the plant grow bigger in a short period of time but then you have to keep using it because the soil does not retain the nutrition from it. So if you use Miracle-Gro, please stop!
Go buy organic potting soil or you can buy the individual nutrients and make your own organic soil. When I did a raised bed for a school garden project I just used Black Cow Cow Manure, Peet Moss, and Vermiculite. I wasn't there to water every day and the plants did well even though I planted them late in the season. There was no fruiting but they grew like crazy. My husband still thinks that I was lucky to have these results and he doesn't want to spend the money on raised beds with fancy soil so long as our garden is producing.
Wild Fermentation. She also talked about making Water Kefir, Milk Kefir, and Kombucha and the basics of stocking a "clean eating" pantry. She gave us a very useful handout that listed the various herbs, how to use them as food and for what ailments. If you post a comment this month I will email you a copy of the document if you ask me :)
Emily Ruff, who is the Director of the Florida School of Holistic Living and also the event manager for the Herbal Conference, was speaking about "Food as Medicine" in the photo below. She prepared several snacks made with herbs. One thing she mentioned that I had not thought of was putting green powders in applesauce! The sweetness of the applesauce hides the bitterness of the greens. I use apple juice with the green powders all the time for my kids, so now I will try it with the sauce.
The last few photos are from the "Eat the Weeds Walk" with Deane Jordan. Most of the weeds he showed us would be something to sustain us should we be lost in the woods. I didn't take notes so I can't even tell you the names of the weeds below, but the pictures turned out really nice.