homestead hacks: weeds, flowers & how to use them part 2

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Purple coneflower, aka Echinacea purpurea, also known as my favourite floral centerpiece, is a natural pollinator attractor, a medicinal and a cottage garden staple.

This year, I’m using it for more than my floral centerpieces. The benefits are too impressive. University of British Columbia research suggests that regular consumption will reverse or alleviate inflammation.

I knew it for diminishing cold symptoms, if one regularly consumes it on the first signs of a cold. That sounded good enough to me. But now there is suggestion that regularly consuming the tea will assist in all sorts of anti-inflammatory scenarios. Yup. I’m in.

To make the tea:

Pour boiling water on a teaspoon of dried coneflower petals and a teaspoon of ginger. Add lemon juice and honey for your taste preference.

Photo by Elias Tigiser on

White clover, aka Trifolium repens, is the stuff I played with as a kid, searching for a four leaf clover. (Not a lot of four leaves since they’re called ‘tri’folium, though two of my kids found one each in our orchard this year).

I purchased seed, on purpose, to seed a significant portion of the front yard, alongside the garden paths. My purpose? A nitrogen fixer for the fruit orchard, and it grows anywhere, no matter how poor the soil quality is and I have poor quality soil.

White clover is useful for medicinal reasons. When I’m treating my gout (which I have yet to treat) or eye infections (also haven’t had), I’ll remember I don’t need to consult the doctor (our in-house doctor probably won’t appreciate my less conventional approach).

I can use it for a tea for diminishing the symptoms of a cough, cold and fever too. I will be trying it for this purpose.

To make a clover tea, dry 1 cup blossoms, dried mint, and a wee bit of honey.

butterfly perched on the yellow petaled flower during daytime
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Calendula, aka Calendula oficinalis, is a stunning burst of sunshine. I grew more of this flower this season so I can share with a soap-making friend, also because it adds gold to my gardens.

Marigolds are classically not difficult to grow. They are difficult to keep when hens are free-ranging. I plant, they eat, I plant, they eat.

I make massage oil for our family. Again, with its anti-inflammatory effects, I’m in. 

The cold infusion method to making your own calendula oil:

Dry calendula flowers. Add to a carrier oil, like olive or almond oil. Allow to sit in a jar in a warm place for four weeks.

aromatherapy beautiful blooming blur

Lavender, aka Lavendulan angustifolia, also known as one of my favourite flowers, reminds me of Italia.

According to, lavender oil is the only essential oil you need. And to smell it, we all know why. It is calming and pleasant. I add dried sprigs into jars of Epsom salts and used that for sore muscles in the bath. I have found I had a mess in the tub though. So I put them in a sachet now.

Apparently it’s useful for bug bites to reduce itchiness and swelling. I’ll have to try that after my son and I tent in the backyard.

To make your own lavender essential oil:

Cut lavender sprigs and tie with string. Hang upside down for a week or two in a dry, warm location. Add to a clean jar with almond, safflower or olive oil as a base. Set in a warm sunlit location for two weeks. Strain when finished.

Too easy really.

close up of white flowers

Photo by Pok Rie on

German chamomile, aka Matricaria chammomila, is a dainty, compact version of a Shasta daisy.

Except it’s not a Shasta daisy, just resembles one. I’ve used it for tea. If you’re looking for a tasty tea, I wouldn’t recommend this one.

An anti-spasmodic, useful for gastritis, it is used for tea to treat stomach ailments.

I’ll try it as an oil and hair moisturizer instead.

German chamomile hair moisturizer:

Combine equal parts rosemary oil, lavender oil, German chamomile oil, and almond oil.

(Since I can’t grow almonds in these parts, I’ll buy that ingredient. The rest of them, I’ll dry first, then add oil and create my own.)