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Thursday, June 30, 2011

Watermelon Cubed?

One of my favorite websites is instructables.com. It gives you instructions on how to build, make or do almost anything. It is a great way to save money and be more productive.  You can find fun science projects for home school, recipes, and many other things. The latest project I want to take on involves a watermelon, a box, and awesomeness. How can you get cooler than a cube watermelon?
Photo from instructables.com

Click on this link to see how to make your watermelon into a magical cube. I think these are so awesome. Now I only want to have square fruit. Regular round circular fruit will not suffice. It has to be square or I won't eat it!

OK, I got a bit carried away there. I should like fruits of all shapes and sizes. No need to be prejudice against regular fruit, but you can't tell me that if a square watermelon showed up at your door you would welcome him with open arms and laugh at his jokes even when they weren't funny. You would give him the benefit of the doubt and try to make him like you. You wouldn't do those things for a regular oblong melon would you? Square is where it's at.
Photo from snopes.com

We at backyard farming seem to be a little behind the loop on this one as I have seen articles on CNN from 2001 that discuss the phenomenon of square watermelon selling for more than $80 each in Japan. This urban farmer website uses the idea of making square watermelon to sell seeds. In addition snopes.com has verified that the existence of cube watermelon is in fact true. Regardless, it is one of the coolest things I have seen in a while.


Tuesday, June 28, 2011


by Jennifer

"Soon-to-graduate" spinach plants encircle a kiddie tomato plant in a space-saving maneuver.

How many of you grew up with older siblings, and remember anticipating how much more space you'd have when they grew up and moved out? How many of you who are now parents alter your children's sleeping arrangements and room sharing as their changing needs require?

Oh, you do, too? Then you already have a grasp of interplanting. In gardening this is the concept of combining crops for maximum use of space. Here is an effective pairing: plants that mature quickly with those that grow slowly -- radishes with carrots, for instance. Seeds of both can be sown at the same time in the same row. The radishes will be ready for harvest before crowding the carrots. 

Another method of interplanting is staggered sowing of different season crops. This is what I did with my spinach patch, where I later transplanted my tomatoes right alongside. Spinach is a cool-season crop. I planted those seeds in March in the garden plot. By May, when it was time to plant the tomatoes, the spinach was just getting into a groove, showing no signs of bolting (the seed-producing end of the plant cycle, usually brought on by high temperatures). 

I could have removed all the spinach to make way for the tomatoes. Instead, I cleared just enough soil to plant them deeply, keeping most of the spinach plants intact. This pairing rewarded me with a stellar harvest as the spinach kept producing over the next month.  

This picture shows my garden bed at peak spinach production. (Look closely around the tomato cage rings, and you can discern that plant's foliage above the spinach.)

Two weeks later, the spinach started to bolt, and I harvested it all. Here are the growing tomato plants ready to fill their space:

Crop season and rate of crop maturity are two factors of interplanting. Other factors are:

• Plant size. Small, ground-hugging plants like radishes can be planted near taller ones, like beans.

• Light needs. Shade-tolerant plants like spinach and lettuce can be planted very near tall plants like broccoli, or where they are partially shaded by squash leaves. Keep this in mind for fall plantings of cool-season crops. You can plant another crop of lettuce where a summer plant is still producing.

• Depth of roots. This was another factor in the success of my spinach/tomato roommates. Spinach forms shallow roots and tomatoes, deep, so they never competed for water. Incidentally, the basil starts I planted near the spinach didn't fare nearly as well as the tomatoes, and perhaps this is the reason. Like tomatoes, winter squash, pumpkins and asparagus form deep roots. Shallow rooted plants include lettuce, corn and cabbage. (Source: Oregon State Extension)

What are some of your successful plant combinations? How do you maximize your garden space? We love all of your ideas!

Monday, June 27, 2011

HIlling Potatoes

One of my greatest childhood memories from living on the farm has to do with potatoes. I don't think I remember one instance but rather many times that my Grandpa and I would go out to the potato field and dig up some new baby potatoes out of the potato field. We would bring them back to his house. Grandma would be shelling fresh peas from the garden into a big bowl. For dinner she would make creamed baby potatoes and peas. You can't find anything in the world that tastes fresher and cleaner. I want to have baby potatoes so I grow potatoes in my garden. At least I attempt to grow them.

Our potatoes are big enough that we were able to hill them up for the second time this season. When hilling (or earthing up) potatoes you draw earth up around the vines of the potato plant. There are different schools of thought on when to do this but we usually do it when the plant gets 8 inches high, and then 2 more times as the plant gets about 8 more inches above the soil. It is easiest to hill potatoes in the morning as they tend to be more upright and perky. If you do it later in the heat of the day they tend to droop more. I have found the easiest way to do it is to gather all of the vines together like you would a pony tail and hold with one hand. This should cause them to point up in the air. Then with the other hand throw dirt around the vines. We have probably added an additional 8 inches of soil around the potatoes.

Here are a few benefits that your potato plants will get from hilling.

  • Gives potatoes extra room to grow and provides ideal loose soil for growth.
  • Keeps the potatoes from being exposed to sunlight which can make them poisonous.
  • Potatoes don't like being waterlogged. Hilling allows potato rows to shed water so they aren't waterlogged.
  • The hilling process kills weeds that thrive in the loose soil created for potatoes.
What suggestions do you have regarding growing potatoes?


Saturday, June 25, 2011

“Growth Ponzi Scheme”; the death of sustainability

I would like all 800 of our followers to read a 5 part series of articles. You can access part 1 at:

You can then access each successive part by clicking right above the title of each article. 


You may ask what this has to do with backyard farming. I think most of our readers are familiar with the term “sustainability” which we use frequently in backyard farming. These articles encapsulate our most fundamental problems related to sustainability, not just sustainability of food production, but sustainability of the economy. I also believe that most backyard farmers are rational, industrious, and productive people – you produce food after getting home from work instead of watch stupid sitcoms, mindlessly surf the web, or endlessly Facebook network. As such, I believe backyard farmers are an example of a rational personal response that the author of the articles did not suggest. That rational response is personal preparedness – improving personal productivity, getting out of debt, and increasing self sufficiency. This is not a solution to the “slow-motion car wreck” described by the authors but it is a way to cope with it. 

Friday, June 24, 2011

Great Grinds

Somewhere around 50% of American's start their day with a mug of it, but I would guess that 99.9% of those consumers make waste of it's remnants while thriving on their morning-time caffeine rush. 

Coffee beans are a hidden gardening treasure sitting in your workplace coffee filter until tomorrow's new brew.

Packed full of Nitrogen, Phosphorus and Potassium, coffee grounds can be tilled into compost, garden beds or even interior plant pots. This organic amendment will help stimulate beneficial microbes in the soil, but also act as a natural pesticide.  Slugs, snails and pillbugs are deterred by caffeine, so spread your grounds throughout the garden (2-5 lbs/ 1000 sf) and reap the rewards of your recycled and organic fertilizer/ pesticide. 
Don't be alarmed if you see some green or blue-green fungal growth, it is actually a beneficial fungus for the microbial activity. 
Not part of the 50%?  Me either... but bring a box to your workplace every day to collect your coworkers grounds, or ask your local donut shop for any before they throw it out.      
What do you recycle into your garden/ compost on a regular basis that most people just throw in the trash?

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Strawberry Sandwiches

In the spring and summer our meals tend to shift and change. We are busy in the yard and don't have time to prepare elaborate meals. After working and playing outside the last thing we want is a hot meal from the crock-pot or oven. We are always on the prowl for some new recipes, especially ones that use produce from the garden. This one was such a hit with the kids, I just had to share it.  (notice the little baby hands in the picture, just waiting to grab the sandwich)

Strawberry Sandwiches
Mix a little bit of honey with a brick of cream cheese
Spread cream cheese on whole wheat bread
Slice strawberries, place on sandwich

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

A Weed is but an Unloved Flower

A weed is but an unloved flower.  ~Ella Wheeler Wilcox

I'm loving my weeds right now. My daughter Maya is turning 8 soon, and I had birthday pictures on my mind. The morning was cool, the sky was blue, the grass (weeds) were vibrant green. I had Maya throw on a simple white dress and I straightened out her bed head. Sometimes impromptu unscheduled pictures work out the best. I am so pleased with these pictures of my beautiful daughter and my beautiful weeds. 

(Notice my cute little red chicken coop below)

Maya will play "model" for about a half hour, then she morphs back into the spunky, silly, funny girl that I adore.

How is your weed situation?


Monday, June 20, 2011

A Diem to Carpe

By Uncle Dale

My daughter shared with me one of her favorite quotes from movies. It is from “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs.” I have never seen the movie but when she shared the line with me, it was forever stuck in my mind – “a diem to carpe.” I like it better than carpe diem – seize the day. So now each morning, regardless of the season or weather, I jump out of bed, go out onto my deck that overlooks my backyard farm and exclaim to myself “a diem to carpe!” I have a day to seize as I look on our chickens and horses, our fruits, vegetables, herbs, and flowers, our lawns, pastures, woods and ponds, and the timeless and historical Antietam Creek. 

Rebel and Peaches graze the lush pasture by the barn in the cool morning mist.

Another of my favorite quotes captures what we are trying to accomplish. The Mormon Prophet Brigham Young said to his followers who were pioneering a whole new ecosystem in the Great Basin of western North America, “The soil, the air, the water are all pure and healthy. Do not suffer them to become polluted. Strive to preserve the elements from being contaminated. Keep your valleys pure, keep your towns pure, keep your hearts pure, and labor as hard as you can. Adorn your habitations, make gardens, orchards, and vineyards, and render the earth so pleasant that when you look upon your labors you may do so with pleasure and that angels may delight to come and visit your beautiful locations.” That last line encompasses everything we do at Antietam Glen. It is a sublime pleasure when angels in the form of our children, grandchildren, relatives, friends, neighbors, and unseen angels - father and mother - come to visit our beautiful location.

 Last night’s rain nourishes the garden.

You don’t need a large property to do what we are doing. My son, daughter-in-law, and granddaughter live in inner city Arlington, Virginia where my son works at the Pentagon to keep us safe. They own one unit of a duplex on an extremely steep hill. Their terraced yard is small but they have turned it into a veritable Garden of Eden.  Fruit, vegetables, herbs, and flowers adorn their habitation. As we eat dinner on their terrace surrounded by this sanctuary, I am just as content in the middle of the city as I am at our country property.

 The layers go to work to make eggs.

My sister and brother-in-law work tirelessly in suburban Sandy, Utah (aptly named) to turn their backyard farm into Eden through raised beds. They are serenaded by the neighbor’s suburban layers just on the other side of the fence.  Michael and Marisa have perhaps the greatest challenge as they struggle to make their acre of desert “blossom as a rose.” But they have thousands of assistants as “deseret” (honeybees) work alongside them.  

So I admonish each of you to seize the day and adorn your habitation. Make a garden, orchard, and vineyard. Render the earth so pleasant that your angels will come and visit your beautiful location.

Families come and go at Antietam Glen but the creek flows on forever.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Readers Question: Buying Feed in Bulk

We love your blog and would love to ask a question to any of your chicken farmers.

We have a small organic chicken farm (100 chickens) and currently get organic feed in bags from a local farm.   We would like to buy in bulk instead of bags.  The issue is how to pick up the feed and store it in our barn away from mice and rats.

We are looking to buy a trailer and possibly build some sort of box to transport the feed and attach a hopper to dispense the feed.  We wanted to know if any of you had any ideas/hints/advice.

Thank you,
Farmer Monica

If you have suggestions for Farmer Monica, leave a comment! 

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Immune Boosting Echinacea

 Echinacea is also known as purple coneflower, and it happens to be one of my favorites in my flower bed. Taken internally, it is used to boost the immune system, fight colds and flu, and fight infection. Echinacea is great to boost an immune system that has been compromised by a prolonged illness, surgery or antibiotics. Since it does boost the immune system, those with autoimmune diseases should stay away from it.  Used externally it can speed wound healing and reduce inflammation.  Try making an echinacea tea for a skin toner for sun damaged skin or to help with eczema.
Studies show that echinacea itself does not cure diseases, it helps the body resist and fight the illnesses, making it stronger. Those using echinacea, tend to fall ill less often, experience milder symptoms, and recover sooner.

When making echinacea preparations, you use the root. I have echinacea growing in my flower beds and I want to keep it that way, so I have to buy cut herbs from the health food store. 

Use it as a tea for topical applications, as a tincture, or fill your own capsules if using internally. 

Echinacea is safe in normal doses for children and nursing mothers, but refrain from using it while pregnant. 

Do you have any experiences with echinacea?


Tuesday, June 14, 2011

The Art of War Against Weeds

"For to win one hundred victories in one hundred battles is not the acme of skill. To subdue the enemy without fighting is the acme of skill."
From "The Art of War" by Sun Tzu

If you have taken any classes in business you have probably heard Sun Tzu quoted. I like to use "The Art of War " as a guide on how to fight the evils that we find in our gardens. If our plants or the protagonists in the war stories of our gardens then certainly the biggest of many antagonists is Mr Weed.
I think there are two main philosophies in the war against weeds, proactive, and reactive. A person employs a reactive method when they go outside and see that their garden has been overrun by morning glory and dandelions. The action that is taken is to start pulling weeds. It works but it can be labor intensive.

I like to use Sun Tzu's philosophy by being  more proactive and subduing the enemy without fighting. There are a few methods that come to mind for subduing weeds before they can get a foothold in our garden. 
  • Cover your naked dirt: I think the best method for limiting weeds is to make sure they don't have a place to grow. Once I know where my plants are growing I make sure to cover the ground so weeds are less likely to get a foothold. 
    • Mulch: I like the idea of putting down mulch that will eventually break down and add to the composition of my soil. Straw is my personal favorite. I also like to use grass cuttings. Be sure that your grass cuttings are weed free if you are going to add them to the garden. 
    • Landscape Fabric: Landscape Fabric can be used to cover your dirt so weeds can't grow. I don't use fabric or weedblock but I know people who find them to be effective. I don't like a lot of them as many are plastic and not biodegradable. If you are going to use landscape fabric, find one that is biodegradable and it can break down into the soil. 
    • Other covers: We have used newspaper in our garden in the past and it works great, you can also use cardboard, bark, sawdust, and probably other things that I have not thought of.
  • Gardening methods: Certain gardening methods inhibit weed growth. Many square foot gardeners or vertical gardeners don't have as many weeds because they have so many plants in a smaller place and weeds just can't compete very well. The desirable plants choke out the weeds. Raised beds also help reduce weed growth.
  •  Watering Methods: the use of drip irrigation methods helps inhibit weed growth.Since the drip lines water only a small area around the plants, many weeds will die of thirst.
In the fight against weeds, try to employ some of these methods so you have less weeds. These proactive methods will require less work than letting weeds getting established.Which of these methods work for you? What are some of the things you do to stop weeds in their tracks. Share your ideas and help others find success in their gardens.


Friday, June 10, 2011

Me Like Pretty Picture

Sometimes a pretty picture is s good as a long article. The following graphic was taken from the Mother Nature Network. Check out their website. They got their information from the National Gardening Association which is a great website and resource for gardeners.

Click on Graphic to Enlarge
 I like seeing the amount of homes with food gardens increased by 7 million households from 2008 to 2009 which was a 6% rise. I wonder why gardening is getting more popular. Are people realizing the satisfaction of gardening, or is it a function of a bad economy and necessity. Is there anything in the graphic that strikes you?


Thursday, June 9, 2011

What I Learned from Eighties Teen Movies....and Then Forgot

The moral of the story in every eighties teen movie is that you don't appreciate what is right in front of you. You know the story. The emotionally deep, nice, geeky guy likes cool rich girl. The guy uses his best friend who is a girl to help him get the rich girl, then at the end realizes his friend is the one that he really likes. He didn't appreciate what was right there in front of him.

How often do we do the same thing, looking at the good things that might be out of reach and ignoring those good things that are right in front of us? I had an experience that reminded me to appreciate what is in front of me this week. I always plan on taking my kids hiking so they can enjoy the beauty of nature yet I rarely find the time to drive to "the mountains" to hike. My brother and his family visited us from North Dakota this week. I woke up to find that he had left. I asked where he was and was told that he went on a hike. When he got back he told me of the wonders he found hiking behind my house. The next day we all put on our best walking shoes and climbed the hill behind our house. We saw lizards run across our path. There were desert roses blooming with beautiful orange flowers. Four antelope were startled by our approach and we watched them run until we couldn't see them any more. Interspersed between the dry brown grass and gray sagebrush there was Indian Paintbrush dotting the landscape. I spent quality time with my kids and we had a great time.

This is the hill behind our house. It is bigger and steeper than it looks. Those are all 15 foot tall juniper trees on the hill.

Below are some of the views we saw from the top of the hill. The orange arrow in the first picture shows our house.
(click image to enlarge)

Life is an eighties movie. It is important to notice the good and beauty that is right there in front of you. Try not to always look for something good to happen down the road. Don't say to yourself "life will be better when ______." Enjoy the journey of life now, and look around you for the beauty of nature, or life, or family. Stop reading this article, walk around your house/apartment/office, or go outside and find something good or beautiful that is around you now. What can you appreciate now? You will find something. Once you do, come back and comment on what you found.


Wednesday, June 8, 2011

A Big Box to Love

by Uncle Dale

This is an article I never thought I would write but face it; backyard farmers go to grocery stores even though they hate it. I am embarrassed when friends catch me or my family at these stores but we are there out of necessity - they have low prices and our budget it limited. However, in the northeast, we have a big box even I love – Wegmans. As one newspaper headlined, “Wegmans is not just a store, it’s an experience.” Google “best grocery stores” and Wegmans is at the top of most lists.

I first experienced Wegmans when I had lunch with a coworker. Dale - “Where should we go?” Dave - “How about Wegmans?” Dale - “Isn’t that a grocery store?” Dave - “Dale, you have to see Wegmans.” When I entered Wegmans, I thought to myself “goodbye Walmart, your days are numbered.” Wegmans caters to every economic class from those on the most limited budgets to those who are looking for the most exotic food produced locally and around the world, for example 400 different types of cheese.    
As a backyard farmer, what I really like is that Wegmans features not only local produce, but also local farms. Displays of fruits, vegetables, and meats are set up for specific farms. Wegmans brings local farmers and consumers together. I visited with one of the farms that sells at Wegmans. It was a small farm – only 20 acres. They were happy with their relationship with Wegmans. Wegmans sends out a field representative regularly to check the farm for quality. A computer system is then set up where Wegmans solicits produce they are looking for and the farmer indicates what they currently have to offer.  It works smoothly. Wegmans is trying to raise the awareness of consumers towards local food. 
In addition to groceries, Wegmans is a restaurant with seating for up to 300 in various types of settings from board room to outdoor seating. Dozens of cuisines are offered, (no McDonalds) and you can watch chefs prepare some of the items. The recipes are available on how to make it yourself. I hate grocery stores but I love Wegmans.

I would like to read your comments on where you do your shopping as a backyard farmer. 

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

First Eggs!

The girls are 4 1/2 months old now, and we just got our first eggs!!! I don't care how many times you've had new groups of chickens, getting your first eggs is thrilling! I squealed with delight as I admired the deep olive color of one of our eggs, and comment on how cute and little they are (the first ones are normally quite small.)

Out in the garden, we harvested our first batch of radishes.
These are the French Breakfast radish. You can let them grow longer and they will be long and thin. We like to pick ours earlier so they aren't as spicy. 

So what is going on at your backyard farm?


Monday, June 6, 2011

More on MyPlate

By Uncle Dale

I am more cynical about “MyPlate” than Michael is. I look at the recommendation from USDA over the years, click here and see the dumbing down of Americans. We stopped reading a long time ago and now graphics have to be so simple that they are pointless. 

 Americans will glance at the plate and say, “Ya, that’s what I eat” and will not bother to read and follow the recommendations.  For example, a Big Mac, french fries, apple pie, and a milk shake fit on MyPLate. I appreciate everyone who follows this blog because you are people who take your diets seriously and understand what your plates should really be covered with, particularly food from your own back yard.
If I look behind MyPlate, I also see the vast influence of various food organizations as they fought to keep from being diminished or excluded from the plate. MyPlate is so meaningless that no food lobby can complain. 

By the way, my family is currently in gross violation of MyPlate since we are completely covering our plates with strawberries.  

Another food story in the news is about Facebook billionaire Mark Zuckerberg killing his own meat. I don’t have a problem with that because I have killed my own meat. But oh! I wish that with his clout in the public eye, Zuckerberg would have decided to grow his own food instead of just killing it. Think of the great example that would have been set for everyone if Zuckerberg would have organized or commissioned a large community garden adjacent to the Facebook campus where all of his employees could relax and grow their own food. It could have even included some pastured broilers that he could kill and eat at his leisure. 

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Kill What You Eat

Here is my new life plan.

1. Start some new fangled social networking site.
2. Become a Billionaire.
3. Institute one major goal to accomplish each year thereafter like learning Chinese,or killing my own meat.

Sound familiar? Recently Mark Zuckerberg, one of the creators of Facebook, posted on his Facebook account that he is going to start killing all of the meat that he eats. According to this CNN Money article he killed a goat and a pig in his back yard. Then he sent them to a butcher who cut them into parts and sent them back to him ready to cook. Zuckerberg is also is limiting waste waste by eating all parts of the animal.

 Uncle Dale Harvesting Chickens

I am fascinated by the rise in popularity in sustainable foods and eating local. It has gotten so popular that billionaire tech giants are posting about there experiences with killing food and they probably think they are extremely original by doing so. This practice is not new nor groundbreaking. Many of our readers and contributors already produce and kill/harvest some or all of our food.

The idea of killing my food appeals to me in some ways although I know some of our vegetarian readers find the idea reprehensible. It would be extremely hard for me to kill an animal. Maybe the fact that it is not easy is a reason it should be done. I think that killing my own meat would cause me to be more thankful to the animal that gave it's life for my families sustenance. I even wonder if it would make me a little less likely to eat as much meat as I do. Would it cause me to waste less of my food as well?

Where do you stand in this regard? Are there benefits to killing your own food? Is this something you would do if you had the means? Are you against it completely? Let us know.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Food Pyramid is Ancient History

We can finally eat healthy now! The evil food Pyramid that has ruled over our lives has been banished. No longer do we have to live in the bondage of our evil pyramid masters.

If you aren't already aware, the USDA has banished the Food Pyramid to the dark and musty corners of historical quaintness. You might wonder what is going to fill it's place as our guide through the strange and meandering paths of nutrition. Don't worry, they have given us a new hero to light the way and lead us to health. It is called.......... wait for it ......... MyPlate. Here it is in all it's glory.

 You can read more about there guidance on their website http://www.choosemyplate.gov/ . There are some good sugestions on the site. Here are a few of them.

Balancing Calories
Enjoy your food, but eat less.
Avoid oversized portions.
Foods to Increase
Make half your plate fruits and vegetables.
Make at least half your grains whole grains.
Switch to fat-free or low-fat (1%) milk.
Foods to Reduce
Compare sodium in foods like soup, bread, and frozen meals and choose the foods with lower numbers.
Drink water instead of sugary drinks.            

It seems that the suggestions are good. I wonder how much money went into creating this as I could have come up with this graphic and the suggestions in 45 minutes. What I would like to see is some encouragement to get everyone to grow their  own fruits and vegetables in order to limit our reliance on big business. I would also like to see an emphasis on teaching people how to form community gardens in order to make healthy foods available to those that often can't afford them.

In addition, how about we use the see through rule. If you rub your food on paper and it makes it clear, don't eat it. (Thanks Homer Simpson) Another problem with the food plate is the fact that I sometimes eat dinner from a bowl, and I also have square plates. How will I figure out how to divide my food when I am not eating off of a round plate? 

What do you think about the new guidance from the USDA? Where would you like to see more/less emphasis.


Thursday, June 2, 2011

Crazy for Catnip

Did you know that I'm an herbalist? 

The reason I became an herbalist was so that I could help educate others on alternatives to western medication. Don't get me wrong, I think modern medicine is great, but sometimes you just need an alternative,  an alternative without side effects, something that is all natural. I have failed you guys, F-A-I-L-E-D!!!  I haven't done any articles educating about herbs.

(Raising my right hand) I vow that I will be better about sharing different herbs. I promise to occasionally featuring an herb or essential oil.

For starters I will choose catnip. You may be saying to yourself, "seriously, catnip? you mean the  Mary Jane,  wacky tobacky, bud, grass, pot, herb, indo, killaz, Smoke, dankity dank, diggety dank, purple kush, purp slurp, white widow, white rhino, cannabis, canny banny, left handed tobacco, sativa, blueberry yum-yum,  the drug for cats?"
Catnip is a stimulant for cats, and you can find some really funny videos of cats and catnip on youtube. For humans, it is actually a relaxant. It is a mild sedative, and a cup of catnip tea could help you get a restful nights sleep, it is safe for children as well. In our family we use it mostly for the digestive system (tummy aches). It is a natural antacid, so it is good for acid reflux and stomach distress. Catnip and fennel combined are a great combo for colicy babies.

When I have an upset stomach, I just pick a few leaves off my plant, chew them a little and swallow. Warning: It does not taste good!  I had a friend over, she had an upset stomach, so I gave her a few leaves to eat,  soon after I found her practically throwing up in the garbage (she was expecting it to taste good). Since then, I have harvested and dried the catnip leaves to put into capsules. We make a catnip tincture for the kids, the glycerin makes it taste good to them, and it is easier for them to swallow than the capsules.  Catnip should be avoided when pregnant.

I have a catnip plant growing like crazy in my window. It is super easy to grow and to harvest.  So go ahead, next time you have a stomach ache, instead of looking in the medicine cabinet, try a little catnip.