Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Herbal Vinegar Hair Rinse

While going through The Bountiful Container cover-to-cover (this books is awesome, thanks Fern!) I came across their instruction for making herbal vinegars. To sum up it involves soaking herbs in vinegar to extract culinary or medicinal properties into the vinegar, herbs are strained out at the end. I don't cook much with vinegar (yet) but I was entrigued by the recommendation of using it for a natural hair rinse. Further online and book research says:
  • Hair and skin naturally are slightly acidic
  • Most hair and skin products are alkaline
  • The regular use of hair and skin products upsets the natural pH balance of hair and skin
  • Using vinegar as a rinse for hair and skin can correct the pH balance
Well, I'm up for using my green children in new and fun ways, so I decided to try it out. The most common recipe I found is to soak 1/4 Cup herbs to 2 Cups of apple cider vinegar (reportedly the best because it is closest to natural hair acidity, but any type would work) for 2 weeks.

Chop up 1/4 Cup of herbs, get your vinegar and your measuring cup. I used parsley (reported to intensify dark hair and make hair shiny) in this batch.

I used an empty wine bottle since glass won't affect the vinegar. The funnel held the herbs while I used a wood paint brush handle to push them down the bottle neck. This was little time consuming and can be frustrating. On another batch I used a jam jar which didn't give me any trouble. I also did a batch in a Pacifico beer bottle which has a standard opening but a very wide neck which I was able to stuff herbs into easily by funneling them with my hand and pushing them in with a finger.

After the herbs are in add the 2 Cups vinegar, then toped it with a bottle stopper. The mixture should be left to soak in a dark location for 2 weeks, and shaken once a day. I keep mine in the closet, when I dress in the morning I see them and remember to shake the mixture up.

When the 2 weeks are up strain out the herbs, most instructions recommend a brown coffee filter but a fine mesh strainer worked just as well. These last two photos are a different batch than above, made with lavender (reported to cleans out oil, encourage hair growth, and sooth the scalp).

It would be a good idea to label your herbal vinegar if you're making several. Also mark the date, a couple of resources mentioned herbal vinegars should be used within 6 to 12 months, although I am not entirely sure that is the case.

To use: wash hair with shampoo as usual. Mix 1 Tbsp of herbal vinegar with 1 Cup warm water and pour over hair, massage into scalp. The vinegar scent will evaporate as hair dries but the herbal scent will stay. You do not need to rinse out the vinegar, but if you really dislike the smell you may. I have found it easiest to pour the vinegar into a mug and take that into the shower with me, when I'm ready to use it I hold the cup up to add the water from the shower.

So far I have been using a herbal vinegar I made with lavender, rosemary (reported to encourage growth, make hair shiny, intensify dark hair, condition hair and reduce dandruff) and parsley for 2 weeks and I love it! I have been using the herbal vinegar instead of conditioner and I think it's a lot better in many ways. My hair feel softer and cleaner, it gets less oily between washes (I wash it every it every 2 days), I need less mousse to control the frizz (which is now not even very noticable if I forget to mousse), and according to friends it smells nice. I have to rely on my friends reports for the scent, my hair is too short to pull up to my nose for a sniff :\

A few days ago I had to use a regular conditioner instead of my vinegar and afterwards noticed right away that my air was not doing as well. It felt heavy and oily. I am now going to be sticking the herbal vinegars!

The experiment continues, I have made a few comparisson batches using lavender and parsley with white vinegar and with apple cider to see how much difference there is between them. If it's not noticable I'll be using white vinegar in the future since it's much cheaper! I need to collect more of my herbs to try out the different uses and properties. I have collected several glass wine and beer bottles to store them in and looking for more small sized ones to makes gifts in the future.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

I can be a pollinator too y'know

this had better be mightier than it looks!

The other day I decided to act on the good advice of Mr Brown Thumb and help my strawberry plants out a bit. So far the strawberries I've been getting from my two plants were... less than thrilling. Downright tiny! Could it be from incomplete pollination? I'd had many bees and wasps when my radish and broccolli had flowered but since removing them not as many. Time to take matters into my own hand?

tiny. and also nibbled by caterpillars /:|

So a paintbrush and few swooshes later the existing flowers were pollinated...

And only 7-10 days later I'm thrilled with the results! Strawberries at least double the size I had been getting :) I also used the same method again last night for more new blooms on the plants. Oh I can't wait to eats zem!

Monday, June 21, 2010

Momma, We Have SONGBIRDS!

ok, we have a songbird :)

For some time I've noticed a yellowish bird among the sparrows visiting our feeder, not every day, maybe once a week if I was lucky. It is about the same size and very similar coloration, I figured it was a hybrid and never thought much of it.

Since the Cosmos have been blooming I noticed that yellowish bird jumping around their stems, and appearing much brighter.... Then Yesterday walking up to the gate six feet away I very cleary saw it perched on the dill next to the cosmos - American Goldfinch! HA! Finally a bird that's not a sparrow or mourning dove (not that I don't enjoy them). This is really exciting to me. Now to add more songbird flowers for next year....

...and to hurry my arse up and get a new camera to snatch a pic of it!

Friday, June 18, 2010

More Bouquets

I have so many flowers blooming in my parent's yard that I may have started going over-board in picking bouquets.... There are currently 4 at home, 2 on my desk, and 1 each on a couple of coworker's desks...and the occasional one to a friend's house... At least I can find nice little vases at the 99 Cent Store :) hehehehe enjoy:

just a wittle big for my office...

but perfect for the dining room!
sunflower 'Autumn Beauty' and Meus abbas 'Grumpy'

Lots of Statice (lasts forever! almost), zinnia Cut and Come Again and larkspur Shades of Blue (which are actually royal purple and lavender? o.O). Also a few random calendula and ranunculus.

See other buoquets and flowers: Mother's Day, June Bloom Day, Flickr

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Tomato Wilt - Year 2!

Last year each of my tomato plants eventually got some form of wilt or blight. And despite using sparkling new soil from the nursery and disinfecting each pot - it's baaaaaaack!

So far it's positively in my first three tomato plants - two Jelly Beans and a Brandywine. I've suspected it for weeks but didn't want to admit it, but the Brandywine got so bad it was time to put it down :( And not a single tomato did it produce.... The Jelly Beans however have tons of tomatos on them, they seem to be stronger at fighting the wilt though I know they probly only have another couple of months. It is very likely my stupid fault because I added extra to raise the soil level in the pots a couple weeks after planting...and I think I just re-used some soil from another pot I was re-planting. *doh* No disinfecting at all....

I also suspect my Yellow Pear tomatos in their humungo pot are catching some sort of wilt but I don't know how as I am 100% sure they got sparkling new soil and did NOT get re-used soil.... I must watch them carefully....

Anyway, I had to very carefully remove the fallen tomato plant to not disturb it's mates in there...

mmmm.. Carrot Scarlet Nantes and Basil Purple Petra....

At least a couple of carrots were ready as well (and stunted from tomato roots of course).

And there's the new squash baby. It's a mini-scalloped type... I can't recall the exact variety at the moment. Anyway, it should do fine in a container this size. I've another one in a similar sized container as well. Hope I get many yummy squashes!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

June Bloom Day 2010

In my backyard container garden:

Sweet Pea Princess Elizabeth

Mums & Oriental Poppies

more Oriental Poppies

Nasturtiums Alaska

and Sweet Alyssum Oriental Nights

And in my parent's front yard:

Sunflowers Autumn Beauty
dey bring beeeeeees!

Larkspur Shades of Blue, Zinnia Cut and Come Again and Desert Bluebells

Cosmos Seashell Blend and Shasta Daisies

Statice, Zinnia Cut and Come Again and Calendula

ok, I know a pic of this bed is already up but for some reason it's just my favorite <3 I think it may be the color combination...

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Free Sea Shells = Free Mulch & Calcium

I took a walk with some friends last week at Manhattan and Hermosa Beach. Washed up shells were all over the waterline. Manhattan had broken pieces of larger stronger shells that were worn smooth by the sand and waves. Hermosa had tons of perfect little half shells in many different colors. Remembering that I need to mulch several containers and that crushed clam & oyster shells are sometimes used as a calcium source for tomatos of course I gathered some up!

There's a mix of the large beautifully weathered shell pieces mixed with decorative glass pebbles. They are proving very good at trapping moisture in the soil without heating it up in the sun. The Lemon Cucumber should do well with them... BTW that's another tomato cage painted red with Rust-O-Leum for contrast.

I am saving the smaller half shells for crushing when I'm ready to pot more tomatos. John also collected some of them when I told him why I was gathering them. We crushed his straight away since he's been planting so many tomatos he might mix them into the surface. The shells were placed in the mortar I bought at Fiesta Hermosa from Mystic Bottle Studio Pottery. I' ve been admiring his work for some time and finally had a purpose for it :) It's really worth checking out.

First just press the pestle down on them to break them into smaller bits, then grind them by rocking the pestle back and forth with some pressure. It takes some effort but finally a small handful of shells grinded in several little batches turned into about 1 1/2 to 2 tablespoons of fine crushed shell and powder in about 20 minutes. Not bad.

It would be wise to sanitized any shell used for adding calcium to the soil. Either soaking it in a 10% bleach solution (before crushing) like other garden equipment or baking at a high temperature for several minutes should do it. Personally I'm gonna try baking it.

Any other home recipes for enriching tomato soil anyone know of?

Mary's Gardening Calendar