Happy July — it’s ‘National Blueberry Month!’ According to ancient tradition, the blueberry was considered more than just an antioxidant and anti-aging super food. Long believed to be a Native American fruit, the blueberry was thought to bring an arsenal of personal protection to whoever ate it with that same intention in mind. It is still believed by some to offset the negative energies associated with the ‘evil eye’ and magically enhance our own inner defense systems (when eaten with that specific goal). If you ever feel under attack, these fruity forces can bring that battle to an end. Crush some fresh blueberries, dip a finger into the blue juice, and mark a Star of David on a piece of plain white paper. Keep this talisman in the kitchen, and don’t forget to wash that finger right away!
By Ellen Whitehurst for Astrology.com
7 Reasons Why You Should Grow Your Own Food
Not that being part of a trend is ever a good reason to start or learn something new, but if it helps you move forward by being part of the “in” crowd, then you really need to plant your own edible garden this year.
That’s right, having your own vegetable garden is now trendy. In fact according to the 2009 Edibles Gardening Trends Research Report conducted by the Garden Writer’s Association (GWA) Foundation, over 41 million U.S. households, or 38 percent planted a vegetable garden in 2009. And, more than 19.5 million households (18 percent) grew an herb garden and 16.5 million households (15 percent) grew fruits during the same period.
The study found that there was a growth in edible gardening from both experienced gardeners and from an influx of new gardeners: 92 percent of respondents had previous experience and 7 percent (7.7 million households) were new edible gardeners.
And one-third of the experienced gardeners grew more edibles in 2009 than in the previous year. The GWA indicates that given the strong response for plans to grow more edibles into 2010, the vegetable gardening trend will continue and there will likely be a new high level of edible gardening activity this year.
Another survey done by the American Gardening Association showed a 19 percent increase in new hobby country farms and urban edible gardens in 2009 over 2008.
So, aside from its popularity, do you need some other reasons to grown your own food?
- The GWA’s survey found that the main reason given for increasing or maintaining edible gardening last year was to supplement household food supply — to help them save money on food. That alone is a very powerful reason.
- There is nothing more local than food grown in your own backyard, your windowsills, or on patio containers.
- Growing your own fruits and vegetables means that you know exactly what does and does not go into your food and exactly where it comes from.
- You will get healthier in a number of ways. Not only will you end up eating more fruits and vegetables, but you will be getting added exercise. Did you know that you can burn as many calories in 45 minutes of gardening as you can in 30 minutes of aerobics? And, working in the garden reduces stress.
- You will get a bigger variety of your favorite fruits and vegetables because you can choose from hundreds of different varieties and you can grow the things you like the best.
- You can teach your children or grandchildren where their food actually comes from and that it doesn’t come from the supermarket but from the soil, the earth that we all depend on.
Pomona lived in ancient times,
a nymph whose merest touch would green
an orchard, would fill its boughs with fruit.
Oh how Pomona loved her orchards!
The rest of nature left her cold, but
fruit trees! apples! pears! These were
Pomona’s great delight, her fiercest joy.
She bore a knife, but not for hunting:
no, hers was used to trim a hedge
of rose or cherry-wood, or to prune
a fruitless tree, or graft an aged apple
so that it burst forth anew.
Orchards were her secret nurseries
and trees were her beloved ones
who never thirsted, never withered.
Oh! to live among Pomona’s trees!
Oh! to be loved as much as that!
The Roman Goddess Pomona was honored as the spirit of fruit trees, and also as the gardener who tends them. For many people, connection with nature occurs primarily through gardening. Even in urban areas, a pot of marigolds on a balcony will brighten the darkest day. The connection between people and plants is one that has always illuminated myth and ritual. Although few rituals exist today to celebrate the great productivity of plant and animal life each summer, we can build our own with friends and family. Eating the first corn, cutting the first ripe tomato, grilling fresh fish in the open air: if done consciously, these can become rituals of thanksgiving and love to the earth that sustains us.
By Patricia Monaghan
Herb of the Day
Botanical: Anamirta paniculata (COLEBR.)
Family: N.O. Menispermaceae
—Synonyms—Levant Nut. Fish Berry.
—Part Used—Dried fruit.
—Habitat—India, Ceylon, Malabar.
A poisonous climbing plant with ash-coloured corky bark, leaves stalked, heart-shaped, smooth, underside pale with tufts of hair at the junctions of the nerves and at the base of the leaves, the flowers are pendulous panicles, male and female blooms on different plants; fruit round and kidney shaped, outer coat thin, dry, browny, black and wrinkled, inside a hard white shell divided into two containing a whitish seed, crescent shaped and very oily.
—Constituents—The chief constituent is the bitter, crystalline, poisonous substance, picrotoxin; the seed also contains about 50 per cent. of fat.
—Medicinal Action and Uses—The powdered berries are sometimes used as an ointment for destroying lice; the entire fruits are used to stupefy fish, being thrown on the water for that purpose. Picrotoxin is a powerful convulsive poison used principally to check night sweats in phthisis by its action in accelerating respiration, but it is not always successful. It was at one time used to adulterate beers, increasing their reputation as intoxicants; it is an antidote in Morphine poisoning.
—Preparations—Fluid extract, 1/4 to 1 drop. Picrotoxin, B.P.