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Everything You Need to Know About Lavender

Lavender

Lavender is one of my most treasured plants here at Naturally Knotty Farms. It versatility, beauty make it a staple here on the farm. Up here in the northern climates, it is best to grow English Lavender because of it’s hardiness. Any other type will not survive our harsh Canadian winters. There are several different types of English Lavender (too many to list here), but I’m sure you will find one that suits your needs. French Lavenders are not well suited to our Canadian climate.

Planting & Care of Lavender

When growing Lavender, be sure to choose a site with well-drained soil and at least 6 hours of sunlight. The roots do not like to be wet, so if your soil is heavy clay, be sure to add ample mulch into the hole before inserting your plant. Plant 12″ apart or more depending on the variety of Lavender you have chosen.

New plants are small and may require some mulched straw around the base of the plant to help it survive our winters.

Container or Indoor Lavender

Lavender will grow well in pots in the right conditions. Choose a pot that is 2″ – 5″ larger than the root ball. The pot must have good drainage and choose a growing medium that drains well. A soilless mix works best; peat, vermiculite and perlite will work well and can be found at any reputable garden center. If roots are soggy for any length of time, a root rot will quickly develop and will kill your lavender.

Container-grown lavender can be outdoors all summer long. During the summer the plants will need plenty of water and fertilizer. Apply a liquid fertilizer of 20-10-20 about once a month. After bringing them inside in the fall, give lavender a lot of sunlight. Stems will weaken without enough sun. Artificial light indoors can work well and you may be rewarded with mid-winter blooms.

Pruning

Pruning lavender, whether in pots or in the ground, will keep them attractive. as much as 1/2 of the stem length can be taken off without any damage to the plant. Frequent pruning may delay blooms, so it is best to prune in early spring before blooming or late fall when the flowers are done. A small hedge of well-clipped lavenders make as excellent border for a small herb or flower garden.

Harvest

One of my favourite aspects of growing Lavender, has to be harvesting! The lovely, fragrant blooms are especially easy and rewarding to harvest as they hold up well with little care. Choose to harvest when the flowers are out, but not fully open. Harvest in the morning just after the dew has dried. This is so the essential oils (what gives the plant its fragrance) won’t lose their quality when exposed to the heat of the sun. It is best not to pick when the plant is still wet as it will take longer to dry. Cut the stalk below the flower, where it meets the leaves and the stalks tied in bundles and hung to dry in a dry, airy, warm place without any direct sunlight.

You may choose to leave the dried flowers on the stalks as a decorative piece or, as I do, remove the flowers from the stem. Store your flowers in a dark, air-tight glass container for use later.

Uses

Medicinal Uses

This plant has been highly regarded for its medicinal properties for years. Just smelling the fragrance is said to relieve headaches and it has been believed to cure everything from cramps, migraines, tremblings and even a broken heart. Personally, I have found Lavender Essential Oil on my temples as the best way to relieve a migraine. It is also great for easing the itch of a sting or insect bite. I also use the essential oil as a sleep aid by rubbing it on the ball of my big toe at bedtime. The fragrance of the flower is said to be calming and can ease anxiety or stress.

Lavender Dream Pillow

Dream Pillow

  • 1/2 cup dried Lavender
  • 1/2 cup dried Hops
  • 1/2 cup dried Lemon Balm

Mix all ingredients and fill a small cotton or muslin bag. Place under your pillow for a restful sleep.

This also make an excellent gift for anyone recovering from illness or injury.

If your child struggles with Anxiety, give them a bag to carry in their pocket.

Cooking

Yes, Lavender is classified as an herb and is edible. As most of you know, I make Lavender Jelly with some of my dried flowers. I will share the recipe if you comment below. Lavender pairs well with Lemon, so adding it to your sugar cookies, lemon bars or other lemony deserts will create a delicate floral hint to your baked goods.

Lavender Sugar

Lavender Sugar

  • 1 cup of granulated sugar
  • 1 tbsp dried lavender

Add lavender to a food processor and grind to a fine powder.

Add in sugar and mix to combine well.

Store in an air-tight glass jar.

Making your own lavender sugar is so easy, you might find you always want to keep a jar of it at hand. It can be added to beverages (try it in lemonade or tea) and baked goods, as well as whipped cream and butter. 

This recipe can be easily scaled up or down. If you make a large quantity, it’s easiest to do in smaller batches in the food processor.

There are many other ways to incorporate lavender into your cooking or baking. Lavender cookies are a simple sugar cookie lightly flavoured with lavender and they are dreamy!

lavender lemonade

Lavender Lemonade

The perfect, refreshing drink on a hot summer day!!

Steep 1/2 cup of dried flowers in a quart of boiling water for about 5 minutes. Strain & use the liquid to make up part or all of the liquid when making frozen lemonade from concentrate. Garnish with a sprig of fresh lavender to impress your guests.

Crafts

You can use lavender sachets in your drawers to keep your clothes smelling fresh or make a larger sachet to cover your electric heating pad. Add the dried flowers to your bath water for a relaxing soak after a long day, stressful day.

The possibilities are endless. Please comment below with your favorite way to use lavender.

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Best EVER Pizza Dough

Pizza Dough Recipe

This Pizza Dough will impress your fussiest dinner guests! Pizza is a quick, simple dish with endless possibilities.

Pizza has always been a huge hit in our house, mainly because of the versatility. This recipe was an experiment last summer when we had way too many tomatoes in the garden and I was desperately seeking ways to use them.

A basic pizza dough recipe requires water, eggs, flour & yeast. I substituted the water for crushed tomatoes and the recipe was born.

I use my own dehydrated jalapenos to add a little zest to the dough, but you don’t have to do this.

In the summer, I use fresh ingredients to make the flavors pop! 2 tomatoes will replace the 500ml jar of processed tomatoes, 1 diced jalapeno and as much or as little fresh, diced herbs as you like.

Pizza Dough
Best Ever Pizza Dough

The Best Way to Dress Your Best Ever Pizza Dough

Follow these simple steps to create your very own show-stopping pizza:

  1. Gently spread your sauce making sure to get right to the edge, but not on your crust.
  2. Liberally apply your cheese (I use a blend of cheeses) Your cheese should also go right to the edge.
  3. Have your toppings prepped and ready to go while your dough is rising.
  4. Chopped onions, peppers, mushrooms are all fairly standard pizza toppings, but you can get creative!

Pizza Variations

  • Meat lovers Pizza – diced ham, pepperoni, bacon
  • Rancher’s Choice – grilled chicken, bacon, onion, spinach. Use Ranch dressing in place of pizza sauce.
  • Cheesy Garlic Bread – Bake dough for 10 minutes, spread garlic butter & cheese, bake for additional 3 minutes or until cheese is melted.

Best Ever Pizza Dough

Not just a bland, ordinary pizza dough. This one is full of flavor, texture & can be adapted to suit your taste.

  • 1 500 ml jar of processed tomatoes (drained of extra fluid)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp Instant Rise Yeast
  • 2 tsp dehydrated jalapenos (optional)
  • 1 tbsp Italian Seasoning
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  1. Warm your oven by turning it on for about 5 minutes, then turn it off, keeping the door closed.

  2. In the food processor, add tomatoes & eggs, blend well.

  3. Add seasoning to the tomato, egg mixture

  4. In a large mixing bowl, combine tomato mixture, yeast & flour. Blend in all the flour to make a sticky dough

  5. Lightly dust the counter top with flour, turn out dough, scraping the bowl clean.

  6. Dust the dough with flour and begin kneading. Add more flour as you knead until the dough is no longer sticky and forms a ball.

  7. Oil a mental bowl and place dough ball smooth side down, then turn over to smooth side up.

  8. Cover with clean tea towel & place in warm over to rise (approximately 45 minutes)

  9. Prep your pizza toppings, including pizza sauce

  10. When dough has doubled in size, punch it down & turn onto lightly greased pizza pan.

  11. Using 2 hands, gentle shape dough to your pan, creating a crust around the edges.

  12. Place back in the warm oven for another 15 minutes to rest.

  13. Add sauce, cheese & toppings to your pizza

  14. Bake at 450 (F) for about 15 minutes or until cheese is melted & crust is lightly toasted.

This is not your average Pizza Dough.  This dough is light and packed with flavor!  

Yield:

1 – 16″ pizza (regular crust)

OR

2 – 12″ pizza’s (thin crust)

You can substitute any seasonings to create a Greek flavor or even an Asian flare. The possibilities are endless! 

Be sure to follow us on Facebook for more ideas on creative pizzas!

Have your tried this recipe? Leave us a comment below and tell us what you think!

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30 Surprising Uses for Apple Cider Vinegar

30 uses for Apple Cider Vinegar

Written by: Helen West, RD on August 30, 2016

30 Uses for Apple Cider Vinegar
Photography by Aya Brackett

Apple cider vinegar is a kitchen staple that has several impressive health benefits.

Interestingly, it also has a ton of different beauty, household and cooking uses.

Apple cider vinegar uses include cleaning, washing hair, preserving food and improving skin function.

It can also be used in all sorts of recipes, including salad dressings, soups, sauces, hot drinks and more.

Here are 30 ways to use apple cider vinegar.

1. To Lower Blood Sugar

ACV is claimed to help diabetics control their blood sugar levels.

Some studies have shown that consuming vinegar after a high-carb meal can improve insulin sensitivity by as much as 34% and reduce blood sugar levels significantly (1Trusted Source2Trusted Source3Trusted Source4Trusted Source5Trusted Source6Trusted Source7Trusted Source8Trusted Source9Trusted Source).

However, if you’re on medication for diabetes, you should check with your doctor before taking apple cider vinegar.

2. To Help You Feel Full

Apple cider vinegar is sometimes recommended as a weight loss aid.

This is because it may help you feel full.

Some short-term studies have shown that consuming apple cider vinegar may help you eat fewer calories, lose weight and reduce belly fat (10Trusted Source11Trusted Source).

However, its long-term effects on weight loss are unknown and likely to be small unless other dietary and lifestyle changes are also made (2Trusted Source).

3. To Preserve Food

Just like other types of vinegar, ACV is an effective preservative.

In fact, people have used vinegar as a pickling agent to preserve foods for thousands of years.

It works by making the food more acidic, which deactivates its enzymes and kills any bacteria in the food that may cause spoilage.

4. As a Deodorizer

Apple cider vinegar is known to have antibacterial properties.

Because of this, it’s often claimed that apple cider vinegar can eliminate bad smells.

There isn’t any research to back up these claims, but you can try it out by mixing apple cider vinegar with water to make a deodorizing spray.

This makes a natural alternative to odor neutralizers.

You can also mix it with water and Epsom salts to make a foot soak, like this. This may help get rid of unwanted foot odor by killing off odor-causing bacteria.

5. To Make a Salad Vinaigrette

One easy way to use apple cider vinegar is to make a simple salad dressing.

Homemade salad dressings can be much healthier for you than store-bought ones, and they’re often tastier too.

6. To Lower the Risk of Cancer

It’s often claimed that ACV can help lower your risk of cancer.

In test-tube studies, vinegar has been shown to kill cancer cells (12Trusted Source13Trusted Source14Trusted Source15Trusted Source).

Some observational studies, which can’t prove causation, have also linked consuming apple cider vinegar with a decreased risk of esophageal cancer. However, other studies have linked it with an increased risk of bladder cancer (16Trusted Source17Trusted Source).

Overall, there is insufficient evidence to make any claims regarding the effects of apple cider vinegar on the risk of cancer.

7. To Make an All-Purpose Cleaner

Apple cider vinegar is often a popular choice for a natural alternative to commercial cleaning agents. This is because of its antibacterial properties.

Mix 1 cup of water with half a cup of apple cider vinegar, and you’ll have a natural all-purpose cleaner.

However, it’s worth noting that although vinegars such as apple cider vinegar can kill some bacteria, they aren’t as effective at killing harmful bacteria as commercial cleaning agents (18Trusted Source).

8. To Soothe a Sore Throat

Apple cider vinegar is a popular home remedy for sore throats.

It’s thought that its antibacterial properties could help kill off the bacteria that could be causing the problem. However, there is no evidence to support its use in this way.

If you try this at home, make sure you mix the vinegar with water before gargling.

Or try this Fire Cider to boost your immunity to the common cold & flu.

This is because apple cider vinegar is very acidic and has been known to cause throat burns when consumed undiluted (19Trusted Source20Trusted Source).

9. As a Facial Toner

Anecdotally, apple cider vinegar is claimed to help remedy skin conditions and reduce the signs of aging.

As such, many people like to use apple cider vinegar to make a skin tonic.

The general recipe is 1 part apple cider vinegar to 2 parts water. This is then applied to the skin using a cotton pad. However, if you have sensitive skin, you may want to make a more diluted solution.

10. To Trap Fruit Flies

Fruit flies can be a pest.

Interestingly, it’s really easy to use apple cider vinegar to make a cheap fruit fly trap.

Simply pour some apple cider vinegar into a cup, add a few drops of dish soap (so that any trapped flies sink) and you’re good to go.

11. To Boil Better Eggs

Adding vinegar to the water you use to boil or poach eggs can help you produce consistently good eggs.

This is because the protein in egg whites firm up more quickly when exposed to a more acidic liquid (2122).

When you’re poaching eggs, you want the egg whites to firm up as quickly as possible so that the eggs keeps their shape.

Using vinegar when boiling eggs can also speed up the coagulation, or clotting, of the egg whites. This can be useful if the shell cracks while the egg is being boiled.

12. As a Marinade

Another way to use ACV when cooking is to make a marinade.

In fact, apple cider vinegar is a popular ingredient in many steak marinades, as it gives the meat a nice sweet and sour flavor.

Combine it with wine, garlic, soy sauce, onion and cayenne pepper to give your steak a delicious flavor.

13. To Wash Fruits and Vegetables

Pesticide residue on fruits and vegetables can be a concern for many people.

That’s why some people like to wash their fruits and vegetables in apple cider vinegar. The hope is that it’ll remove more of the chemical residues than water alone.

Although it’s not entirely clear if it will remove more pesticides than simply washing with water, it may help kill any dangerous bacteria on food.

For example, washing foods in vinegar has been shown to remove dangerous bacteria like E. coli and Salmonella (23Trusted Source24Trusted Source25Trusted Source).

14. To Clean Dentures

You can also use apple cider vinegar to clean dentures.

Although there’s no consensus on the best method to clean dentures, it’s thought that the residues left by apple cider vinegar could be less harmful to the skin in your mouth than other cleaning agents (26Trusted Source27Trusted Source).HEALTHLINE NEWSLETTERGet our twice weekly Women’s Wellness email

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15. In the Bath

For the same reasons people like using apple cider vinegar as a homemade facial toner, they also like using it in the bath.

If you want to try it, add 1–2 cups of apple cider vinegar to your bath water and enjoy a soak in your tub.

16. As a Hair Rinse

An apple cider vinegar hair rinse is said to remove product buildup, detangle and add shine to your hair.

Try mixing 1 part apple cider vinegar with 1 part water and pour the mixture over your hair. Leave it in for a few minutes before washing it out.

If you have sensitive skin, then you should try doing this with a weaker dilution first, as the vinegar is quite acidic.

17. As a Dandruff Treatment

Massaging diluted apple cider vinegar into your scalp may help get rid of dandruff.

It’s unclear how effective this is, but the theory is that the acid in the vinegar could help stop the growth of the fungus Malassezia, which may contribute to dandruff.

18. In a Sauce

Apple cider vinegar can be a great ingredient for a tangy sauce for your food. Try adding it to tomato-based sauces to give them a fuller flavor.

19. In Soup

Adding vinegar to soup can help bring its flavors to life.

If your favorite homemade soup tastes a little bland, try adding a little vinegar to it at the end. Add it gradually until the soup tastes great.

20. As a Weed Killer

Another great use for ACV is as a homemade weed killer.

Spray undiluted vinegar on unwanted weeds in your garden to get rid of them. You can also try mixing it with soap and lemon juice to see if that makes it more effective.

21. In Homemade Cakes and Candies

Apple cider vinegar is a popular flavor and texture enhancer in baking, especially when making vegan treats that can’t include eggs.

It can also add extra flavor to homemade candy and caramels, like in this recipe.

22. In a Hot Drink

Mix 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar, 1 teaspoon of cinnamon, 1 tablespoon of honey and 2 tablespoons of lemon juice into 12 oz (355 ml) of hot water for an alternative hot drink.

23. As a Mouth Wash

Apple cider vinegar is often said to be a useful alternative to commercial mouthwashes.

Its antibacterial properties may help with bad breath, although there aren’t any studies examining how effective it is.

If you try this, make sure you dilute it well with water (the usual amount is 1 tablespoon for every cup, or 240 ml, of water), as the acidity of the vinegar could damage your teeth (28Trusted Source).

24. To Clean Your Tooth Brush

To have really clean teeth, it’s worth considering how clean your toothbrush is.

Given that apple cider vinegar has antibacterial properties, you can use it as a homemade cleaner for your toothbrush.

To make your own toothbrush cleaner, mix half a cup (120 ml) of water with 2 tablespoons (30 ml) of ACV and 2 teaspoons of baking soda and mix well. Leave the head of your toothbrush in the mix for 30 minutes.

Make sure you rinse your brush well before you use it, as the acidity of undiluted vinegar could damage your teeth.

25. To Whiten Teeth

Apple cider vinegar is acidic, so some people like to use it to remove stains and whiten their teeth.

To try this, rub a small amount of apple cider vinegar onto your teeth with a cotton swab. The results aren’t instant, but repeated use could remove stains over time.

However, be wary of this method for teeth whitening. Be sure to rinse out your mouth really well afterward, as the acid can damage the enamel on your teeth (29Trusted Source).

26. To Treat Acne

Dabbing small amounts of diluted apple cider vinegar onto pimples is claimed to be a good way to get rid of them.

However, undiluted apple cider vinegar is strongly acidic and putting it directly onto your skin can cause burns (30Trusted Source31).

27. To Get Rid of Warts

As with acne, ACV is claimed to be a natural agent for getting rid of warts. It’s likely effective for removing warts from skin due to its acidic nature.

However, be aware that this method is very painful, and some people who’ve tried it have required a local anesthetic (32Trusted Source33Trusted Source).

28. As a Natural Deodorant

Wiping your underarms with diluted apple cider vinegar is said to be a homemade alternative to commercially produced deodorants.

That said, although it’s popular in some circles, it’s not clear how effective it is.

29. As a Dish Detergent

Rinsing your dishes in apple cider vinegar could help kill off any unwanted bacteria and keep them clean.

Some people add it to their dishwater, while others even put it in their dishwasher.

30. To Get Rid of Fleas

ACV may help prevent your pet from getting fleas.

It’s thought that spraying a mixture of 1 part water and 1 part apple cider vinegar onto your pet will create an environment that fleas won’t want to hang around in.

31. Anything Else?

Apple cider vinegar is an extremely versatile household item that has a ton of different uses.

It can be a cheap and easy way to tackle many problems around your home.

How do you use your Apple Cider Vinegar? Share your tips in the comments below.

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How to Make Fire Cider – Natural Immune Booster

How to Make Immune Boosting Fire Cider

Written by: Andrea Scarborough, Naturally Knotty Farms

Fire Cider
Fire cider harnesses the beneficial properties of onion, garlic, ginger, and herbs, plus vinegar and raw honey for a nourishing drink with a little kick.

I first discovered a recipe for fire cider years ago. It didn’t sound like something I wanted to try immediately, but when I read about the immune-boosting benefits I decided to be brave and give it a try. Years later, it’s a staple at our house around cold and flu time.

Fire cider is a traditional recipe that contains garlic, onion, ginger, cayenne, vinegar, and raw honey. The original recipe calls for horseradish, but for the sake of the kids I typically substitute echinacea root.

Fire Cider

Fire cider harnesses the beneficial properties of onion, garlic, ginger, and herbs, plus vinegar and raw honey for a nourishing drink with a little kick.

How Does Fire Cider Taste?

Judging by the ingredients in the recipe, you might not expect it to taste very good. I didn’t either and I was quite pleasantly surprised by the taste. I’ve even tried it on salads as a dressing and it has a mild peppery and sweet vinaigrette flavor.

In the winter months, I sometimes take a teaspoon or so of this a day or use it on salads. If illness hits, I’ll take that dose every few hours or add a tablespoon to hot water or herbal tea a few times a day until I feel better.

For the kids, I reduce the cayenne or leave it out and they don’t mind the taste too much since the honey helps balance out the vinegar taste.

If you try fire cider and like it, I highly recommend Rosemary Gladstar’s Medicinal Herbs book as the reason I first discovered this remedy.

Fire Cider
Garlic, Onion, Jalapeno, Orange, Ginger, Apple Cider Vinegar

Spicy Fire Cider Recipe

An old herbal remedy that uses the germ-fighting properties of onion, garlic, ginger, and herbs. plus vinegar and raw honey for an immune boosting and nourishing drink with a little kick. 

Ingredients

  • 1 medium onion (peeled and roughly chopped)
  • 1 bulb garlic (peeled and roughly chopped)
  • 3 inch piece of fresh ginger (grated)
  • 1 TBSP dried echinacea root (optional)
  • 1 orange (sliced, optional)
  • 1 jalapeño (sliced, optional)
  • apple cider vinegar (organic, with “the mother”)
  • raw organic honey
  • 2 tsp cayenne pepper

Instructions

  • Place onion, garlic, ginger, and echinacea root, orange, and jalapeño if using in a quart size mason jar. Make sure garlic is at the bottom and completely submerged.
  • Add enough apple cider vinegar to cover the ingredients. Use a fermentation weight to make sure all ingredients are below the liquid level.
  • Cap tightly and leave in the jar for 2-3 weeks, preferably in a sunny or slightly warm place.
  • After 2-3 weeks, strain and discard the herbs.
  • After straining, measure the apple cider vinegar left and mix it with an equal amount of raw honey and add the cayenne pepper.
  • Store in the refrigerator and take 1 teaspoon as needed daily or when illness strikes. I’ve taken as much as 1 teaspoon an hour during illness until I felt better.

Notes

Don’t worry about the garlic turning green — it’s a normal reaction for garlic immersed in an acid. 

Do you make your own Natural Immune Support? Tell us about it in the comments.

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