Welcome back, I've missed our little visits in the garden. Today I share with you an herb that is of great use in your evening teas. These modern times cause far more stress & upset in everyday life. It can effect your sleep needs, in turn effecting your day of productivity. Have I mentioned Panda has a bit of an issue in the evening? No? Well, she is a bundle of energy when the sun goes down. It comes out of no where, making her lose those much needed long hours of sleep for her growing body. She just can not seem to calm down when I tell her lights out. Oh that child... I will be all snuggled down and she comes bouncing in my room intent on talking a mile a minute, laughing & giggling about the happenings of her day. I swear, that child.. I can ask about her day all I want with nay much of a word coming from her but let that sun go down and....well. It just won't do. She now has a bottle of Melatonin to assist in the times she is in need... She has such an early hour to wake, before the sun has even begun to greet the day. I knew something had to be done with her evening energy bubble. It takes effect in just a short period of time. Calming her enough to make the Sandman come along. She's a night Owl, that one. In the cloak of the night, her energy abounds.
But that is not the herb I am sharing with you in the garden. This one has the same calming effect but is in more natural form of harvest & dosage. You grow this rather stinky plant for it's roots. Due to it's scent, I prefer to keep it out of the way. FAR away in the back of the garden. Surrounded with pleasant scent flowers in hopes to alleviate it a tad, should it be brushed or should the sun warm it's oils into release.. Besides, melatonin is fabulous but neither you or I, can "produce" such a thing at home. Despite the natural ingredients, it's just not the same..
Oh, yes. Back to our plant. This, is Valerian... A friend to the night and in times of stressful woes.
A little fun fact for you. Not only was this herb used during World War II, in England, to relieve the stress of air raids, Valerian can have curious effects on some animals. Cats become frisky on smelling it, and an oil prepared from Valerian and aniseed is used by gypsies to quell unfriendly dogs. Horses, too, are known to like its scent, as are rats and mice, for whose benefit it was once used as a bait in traps. I have yet to try it, but I do believe the winter mice we encounter of this old cottage, will play into a bit of experimentation of Valerian baited traps.
What is it about our society that continues to push pills & chemicals on every little thing that ails you?
Looking for the "medical facts accepted by the Board of Medicine", I found this site* to share a middle road view on the use of Valerian. is used for sleeping disorders, restlessness & anxiety, & as a muscle relaxant. Certain data suggests that Valerian has an effect that is calming but doesn't cause sleepiness the following day.
The part you harvest & use is the root. Once the flowers & leaves die come late summer or early fall, you dig up the root, being careful to dig a bit away from the base being the root has "tendril" shoots.Think of it as a bit like an Octopus.
Wash the dirt off and clip any stem or such from above it. Dry off gently & let dry for 2-3 months in a cool dark spot. Be sure to cut it into small diced pieces as one would with Comfrey root, to ensure even drying & ease in prep/use for dosage. You will want to check on them often, turning for even air flow. Make a weekend ritual to go to your "herb drying closet" to check on them and tend for their even drying.
Once completely dry, store them in a dark glass jar with lid. You may also cover clear jars with newspaper or paper mache them with a dark material so light can not weaken the contents potency.
Of course if you want it powdered, it is FAR easier to grind the small diced pieces then it is a chunk of dried root. Now if you have ever browsed in the box tea section of the grocer, you most likely have seen the Celestial seasonings teas. THIS herb is in their "sweet dreams" blend. Mixed with mints for better taste. You can do the same of course being mint should already be in your medicinal garden. Key thing to point out is the box tea does not tell you the proper method of making. Standard hot water brew only. THAT would not leave the oils I mentioned above for the effect of purpose.
Never use boiling water with your Valerian. It will destroy the beneficial oils contained within it. The active ingredients of this herb are volatile oils. Hence, to reap the health benefits, valerian root tea should never be prepared with hot water. Or otherwise, much will be lost during preparation.This needs a clod brew method. Dosage for tea is 1 tspn. of Valerian root to 1 cup water. Boil water and let it cool down to a lukewarm temperature. Let the root steep for at least 4-5 hours. Now do you understand why we have been using Melatonin with Panda? Making the tea is not efficient in this home. besides, she really does not like the taste. I have better luck with the quick dosage.
You should look more into the use of Valerian being I can not give you every bit & tad of information. But for the Herbal garden, this is simply a must have.
Now I must finish up this picket fence and garden bench being the rain has subsided for the day. I do believe this warm weather is here to say, making a lovely long garden season.
No worries, I'll be sure to have you over when it is finished. After all, I am upcycling the materials for the bench as well. The idea came to me when I realized we were a fence section short when enlarging the original area with the Potter's shed. Not too mention, the Captain brought home a piece from work which he had planned for the first Bonfire of the year... But I snagged it from his pile with not a single ounce of guilt.