African Blue Basil

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If I had to pick one plant that is my favorite this year it would be this one.  The picture above is after I cut about 1/3 of it off (it was covering nearby plants).  This plant is amazing!!

African blue basil is one of a few types of basil that are perennial. It is a sterile hybrid of two breeds of basil, unable to produce seeds of its own, and is propagated by cuttings.

Scientific name: Ocimum kilimandscharicum × basilicum ‘Dark Opal’

Rank: Hybrid

The bees love it.  And not just honey bees.  There are so many bees (bumble bees, honey bees, carpenter bees, etc) that I cannot even count them when I walk by.  This plant is just gorgeous, huge and even smells good.

This basil will not come back from seed, so I plan to clip several pieces before winter and root it inside for my spring garden next year.  This plant roots like crazy!!  It takes abut 5 days in a cup of water and it will throw some serious roots out!!

IMG_4202In fact, there are so many bees on this plant it buzzes.  This particular section is right by my herb garden which is on the way into my house.  I walk by it every day, sometimes several times a day and it always makes me smile!!

No matter what this small bushy herb is always in bloom with tons of flowers, so once the bees start coming they will be back every day to get pollen and nectar from the new blooms of the day!

I guarantee that this plant will always have a place in my yard, in fact, next year I will have some in my herb garden but even more in the butterfly garden in the front – because I know it is so loved by the pollinators as well as me!!  Hope you find some to add to your garden, or if you are near me come by & snip a piece to root for yourself!!

 

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Introducing Jade & Kerria

These sweet girls arrived at our place on Wednesday morning about 4am.

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Needless to say, we are smitten!!

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They are super cute, very attached to one another, and they love to get scratched and loved on!!

img_2449Both are girls, Jade is the brown one, first born, Kerria is the black one and second.  Both named after flowers!!

I am afraid both may end up staying, so hard to say goodbye when they are so cute and might make great mamas!!

Kombucha

So you know that I love to ferment!  And while I have been making Sour kraut for a while, I recently (April/May) was introduced to Kombucha.  I just want to tell you I love this stuff!  My kids love it, my husband thinks I’m crazy, but what’s new?  I love the energy it gives me, yes I can tell!  I love to experiment with different flavors, and I love drinking it knowing it is good for my gut!

So, (Kristen this is for you) here is my Kombucha making process.  Elizabeth taught me my first class, and then I read a bunch of things online about it and have tweaked it here and there.

First, you need a gallon jar.  My advice, if you have not been saving them in your garage for years, it to go buy a jar of pickles from SAMs for 7$.  Eat the pickles and voila, you have a jar.  Or you can go to Walmart and buy an empty jar for about $14.00.  Either way you are about to make money for your family.  If you want to drink Kombucha and not make it, expect to pay 3-5$ for a single serving bottle!  And good luck finding it in the middle of no where like where I live!

Next, get a starter Scobi from a friend, or buy a “high priced” individual serving bottle from somewhere.  {If you get a starter from a friend, skip this next paragraph}  Pour your bottle of store bought Kombucha in the gallon jar, cover the lid with a coffee filter – rubber banded on the top of the jar and put it in a warm cabinet for 3-30 days (above the stove is great).  Yes, three to thirty days.  In my house this process takes about 3 days, because I have fermenting particles in the air because we ferment and eat lots of fermented stuff.  If you are new to this, it might take up to 30 days.  Check on it often – eventually you will grow a Scobi.

 

 Scoby – symbiotic culture of bacteria & yeast

Your scobi will grow as big as your jar is wide, and will grow thicker with each batch of Kombucha.  I will separate mine, like a hamburger bun, and gift one layer to friends, or give it to chickens to eat.

 

The scobi is making a seal on the top of your Kombucha allowing it to ferment and work it’s magic!!

Once you have your scobi, you will feed it.  You need to make the tea.

I use 4 cups of DISTILLED water – not tap water.  Tap water has chlorine and such and will kill the bacteria and good stuff.

I bring 4 cups of DISTILLED water almost to a  boil with 1 cup of sugar.  Still while it is heating until all the sugar is dissolved.  Then you can turn off the water right before it starts to really boil.

Then I add 4 family size tea bags and steep for 5 minutes, or until I remember to take the tea bags out.  Then I let it cool.

Add the tea mixture to your jar once it is room temperature and fill the rest of the way with the rest of your gallon of distilled water.

Let this sit in a warm dark place (over the stove is where mine sits) for 7 days.  Sometimes i forget and it is 8, sometimes i do it early and it is 6.  But generally I wait 7 days.

Then you take our your scobi, set aside.

Pour your kombucha into jars (I use quart and 1/2 gallon)

I save 1 cup of the Kombucha as  a “Starter” for the next batch.

Set bottled Kombucha aside.

Then I put scobi and “Starter” back into my jar (I wash it out sometimes, sometimes I just use it again.  I think it is fine either way)

And then you feed again with the tea mixture.

Meanwhile you can put your Kombucha in the fridge as it is.  Or you can flavor it.  If you want to be “lazy” you can buy fruit juice to add to provide your flavor.  I do not want what is in fruit juice.  I also do not want it any sweeter than it is normally.  So I flavor like this:

Pumpkin Spice Tea, Chai or Peppermint – steep 1-1 1/2cups of water with 2 tea bags

Blueberry – add 1/4 cup of frozen blueberries

Grapefruit – add frozen 1/4 of a slice of grapefruit

Mango – add 1/4 cup frozen mango slices

Get creative with what you like.  Each variation offers different benefits and vitimins and nutrients.  Plus each taste different.  My favorite is grapefuit – I LOVE IT!!

Next would be Chai or Pumpkin Spice – they are really good too.

Whole family loved Blueberry.


FAQ:

Do not use stainless steel utensils, wooden or plastic and same with pots & bowls :wooden, glass or plastic.

Do not use tap water

Be careful washing everything and putting Kombucha right in or scobi – the chlorine in your water and the ingredients in your soap could kill good stuff.

You can go longer than 7 days, up to 30 – it will become alcoholic at some point.  You are fermenting like wine.

Kombucha help your gut, it even curbs my snack desire/appetite.  It is not a meal replacement but it impacts my day tremendously.

 

 

Soap Booth Fun

Had such a great time this past weekend at the Athen’s Organic Open House!!

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I loved that Stacie and my mom both got to come and help me!  Also loved having Jacob there to answer bee keeping questions as well as giving a presentation!!

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Some of my soaps

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Soap dishes (by Eli), cookbooks for ETBA and headbands!

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Fruit infused water for customers!

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Try to always have fresh flowers!  Love them!

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More soap!

The weather was perfect spring sunshine!

Hoping to start selling my soap here at Athen’s Organic this week, too!!