Saturday, April 29, 2017

Easy Compost Tea

     It's the time of year where people are venturing out into their gardens after a long winter. Or in the case of us Floridians, after a long, hot, drought. What better way to celebrate the change in seasons but with compost? Seriously, compost! You know, that mushy mess you've been stirring, trying to turn it into healthy plant food. One of the best ways to nourish your garden is by utilizing compost and brewing compost tea.

What in the world is compost tea?

     Compost tea is a liquid fertilizer for your plants. Most gardeners consider it “liquid gold.” It's super rich in nutrients, well-balanced, and organic. By brewing compost tea, you enhance the already amazing effects of your compost by adding oxygen. Compost tea helps to increase plant growth, provides fast-acting and quickly absorbed nutrients, provides beneficial organisms (like bacteria) to help boost your plant's immunity, helps suppress diseases and ward off pests, and goes a long way to replace toxic garden chemicals. The best part about compost tea, however, is that if you compost, you can make it year-round, for free!

What do you need to start?

     To start brewing all you really need is well-finished compost (compost that has been broken down into tiny particles. The best place to find this is at the bottom of your compost bin. You don't need much to make a decent batch of compost tea.), a 10-gallon bucket, and a water source. You can also aerate your compost tea by adding a pump to keep the tea moving around, providing a continual oxygen boost. Also optional is a commercial catalyst that can help jump-start the growth of all the beneficial microbes present in your compost.

What to do

     The first step is to fill your bucket 1/3 of the way full with your compost. Then you add water to the top of the bucket. Now if you're using tap water, make sure that you have let it set out for at least a day to get rid of the chlorine, which can kill all those beneficial microbes you want to grow. After adding your water, let the tea steep for 3-4 days, stirring occasionally. After this time, strain the liquid for use.

     You can brew this simple tea, or you can boost the nutrient quality of it by adding a sugar source and/or more nutritious substances. The sugar source, like unsulphered molasses, provides food for the microbes. Powdered seaweed, or fish emulsion, are great to help boost the nutrient quality of your tea. You can also let your compost tea sit for up to a week to make it concentrated.

How to use this tea:

     You can use compost tea in several ways, the easiest of which is by simply pouring it, undiluted and/or unfiltered, onto the soil around your hardy trees and shrubs. You can also dilute it for use on your more delicate or container-bound plants. 10 parts water to 1 part tea is a good start for diluting. You can also use it as a foliar spray, directly on the leaves of the plant. For this you should dilute the tea and add 1/8 tsp of oil to the mix to help it adhere to the leaves.

I hope you enjoy making your compost tea! Feel free to ask questions or comment below! I also enjoy seeing pictures of your amazing gardens!


HGTV: How to brew compost tea:
Home Composting Made Easy: How to make compost tea:
Mother Earth News: How to make aerated compost tea :

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Basic Nutrition for a Happy Pup

     Dogs are a man's best friend. And woman's too! So how do we keep our best friend happy and healthy? One solution is to take great care in their diet. I usually recommend making your own dog food, then supplementing with, good quality, store bought foods. However, even if you just use store bought food, learning the basics of your pooch's nutritional needs can help you help them live a long, happy and healthy life.

To start, here's a basic introduction to nutrition for dogs.

     There are 6 major classes of nutrients: proteins, fats, carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals, and water. A well balanced diet contains a good amount of all 6. For energy needs, we count calories which are determined by proteins, fats, and carbohydrates. Vitamins and mineral are essential for proper immune and bodily functions. Water, is by far one of the most important nutrients as most life on earth is made up of at least 70% water.

     Proteins provide the building blocks of cell growth, repair, and maintenance. In domesticated animals, proteins are mostly used for the maintenance of fur and hair. They are made up of 20 amino acids, 10 of which are produced in the body. The other 10, termed “essential amino acids,” must come from the diet. Arginine, histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalnine, theronine, tryptophan, and valine are these essential amino acids. If the diet is lacking in just one of them, the body cannot make proteins effectively. Animal proteins are much more bioavailable, and therefore easier for the body to use, than plant proteins.

     Fats provide the most concentrated form of energy as well as fatty acids which are essential for maintaining normal, healthy cells. They also help in absorbing fat soluble vitamins such as the vitamins A, E, D, and K. Not to mention, fats just taste good. However, there are two fatty acids that are super important for normal cellular activity, omega-3 and omega-6. Most animals need more omega-6 than omega-3 to maintain health.

     Though most commercial dog food is largely made up of carbohydrates, dogs don't really need to consume carbohydrates for energy, they get that from protein and fats. However, whole grains provide more than empty carbs. They can provide essential vitamins and minerals as well as fiber. Carbohydrates also come from fruits and vegetables which offer many more nutrients as well.

     Vitamins and minerals are essential for daily function of the body. Having a diet deficient in any of them could cause major health issues. Both vitamins and minerals are needed in small amounts, but the important thing is to remember the balance. Balance is especially important with minerals because if you have too much of one, you might interfere with the absorption and usage of another.

But what does this all mean?

     When you're buying dog food, make sure that the listed ingredients are whole foods. Ingredients are listed in order of quantity, largest amount to least amount. Check to make sure the meats are listed first. Try to find food that lists a specific type(s) of meat and not a generic “meat” meal. Aim for products that use natural preservatives such as tocopherols (Vitamin E) and Vitamin C. Natural antioxidants (rosemary extract) can also be used as preservatives. Avoid by-products (meat or otherwise), sweeteners, artificial colors, artificial flavors, and artificial preservatives.

     If you decide to make your own dog food, there are a few other things to keep in mind. First, raw food is a great thing to add in to your dog's diet. The canine digestive track is naturally able to fight most food-born illnesses off. However, dogs are one of the more domesticated animals in the world and sometimes need a little extra help. I recommend making a dog food of 70% cooked and 30% raw for maximum nutrient absorption. What works best for my home is spending one day a week cooking a little extra food for the pup and keeping that refrigerated. I also take some time, that same day, to mix up a bit of raw food, pre-portion it out, and freeze the portions. When I go to bed at night, I pull out one portion and place it in the fridge for the pup's breakfast. I mix the raw and the cooked together each meal. I also sprinkle in some tasty, nutritious herbs, such as nettle or turmeric. These herbs help increase vitamin and mineral intake as well as add to the flavor of the meal. A quick internet search can help you find several recipes to try. Having several good recipes on hand is a good way to make sure your furry friend gets all the best nutrition possible.

I hope this entry has helped introduce you to a good bit of the basics of canine nutrition. If you have any questions or comments, please leave them below!


On the Web:
The Bark: Canine Nutrition Basics:
Pet Education: Nutrition and Feeding Dogs:

Dr. Kidd's Guide to Herbal Dog Care by Randy Kidd, D.V.M., Ph.D.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Lemon Poppy Seed Loaf

     It's Spring! That means that all the green things are growing, all the animals are frisky, and it's time to savor the sweet tastes that come with all of this excitement. One of the flavor combinations I have always associated with this time of year is Lemon Poppy Seed. So I figured that I'd share my favorite recipe for Lemon Poppy Seed Loaf. It's a bright, cheerful sweetbread and can easily be eaten as breakfast, or a snack. One thing my husband and I enjoy is using this bread to make french toast.

A bit about Lemon and Poppy Seeds:

Lemon is well known for being high in vitamin C. It's also jam packed full of other vitamins and minerals including vitamin B6, niacin, and potassium. Lemon is full of antioxidants to help fight cancer. It also helps prevent diabetes, high blood pressure, and constipation. It improves the skin, teeth, and hair. Lemons are amazing little powerhouses of healthful goodness.

Poppy Seeds are rich in several vitamins and minerals including calcium. They help prevent vomiting, treat asthma and other breathing issues, reduce LDL levels while raising HDL levels, and can help prevent heart disease and/or stroke.

Lemon Poppy Seed Loaf

The Cake:
2 cups Gluten Free, All Purpose Flour (my favorite)
2 tablespoons Poppy Seed
1 tablespoon Lemon Zest
¾ tablespoon Baking Powder
1 tablespoon Baking Soda
¼ teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon Coconut Oil
1 tablespoon Organic Vanilla Extract
½ teaspoon Ground Chia Seed
¾ teaspoon Ground Flax Seed
3 tablespoons Water
¾ cup Raw, Local Honey (or Agave Nectar)
½ cup Plain (or Vanilla) Greek Yogurt (Soy or Coconut Yogurt would work too)
2 tablespoons Fresh Lemon Juice
3 tablespoons Plain or Vanilla Almond Milk

The Honey Glaze:
1 ½ cups Raw, Local Honey
¼ cup Fresh Lemon Juice
½ cup Plain or Vanilla Almond Milk

Mix the ground Chia and Flax seeds with 3 tablespoons of water. Set aside for 10-20 minutes, or until it forms a gel. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees, and lightly coat a 9x5” pan with coconut oil (or cooking spray). Whisk together the flour, poppy seeds, lemon zest, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In a different bowl, mix remaining ingredients, including the chia/flax mixture. Mix together both bowls, starting and ending with the dry ingredients (1/3 of the dry, ½ of the wet, etc). Pour the batter into the pan and bake for 40-45 minutes (optional: cover the batter with foil for the first 30 minutes to prevent excessive browning). Let cool for about 10 minutes. While the loaf is cooling, mix together the ingredients for the glaze in a saucepan. Bring the glaze to a boil, over medium heat, continually stirring. Boil until the mixture is reduced by ¼. Let cool and pour over the cake. Enjoy!

I hope you enjoy making this tasty springtime treat! If you have any questions or comments, please leave them below!


Home Remedies for You: Poppy Seeds :

Organic Facts: 15 Amazing Benefits of Lemon :

Monday, April 3, 2017


     There are a handful of herbs that have gained almost a cult following in recent years. St. Johns wort, ginko biloba, and echinacea all come to mind. All three are even listed in the top most popular herbalsupplements, a list published by Johns Hopkins health library not to long ago.

     There are several different species of echinacea, but the two most commonly used medicinally are Echinacea purpurea and E. angustifolia. The common name, here in America, is Purple Coneflower. Echinacea grows well in disturbed soil, preferably rocky, in prairies, open fields, or by railroad tracks.  The most commonly used parts of this plant are the roots and leaves, but the whole plant can be used medicinally. If you are specifically trying to use echinacea for it's Immunostimulant properties, it's best to make or find a double extraction tincture as the necessary constituents (natural chemicals) are extracted by both water and alcohol. Most online tutorials for double extraction tinctures involve mushrooms, but you can use echinacea in the recipes, instead of the mushrooms, and have no problems.

Medicinal Uses:

Summary of actions- Immunostimulant, depurative, vulnerary, lymphatic, sialagogue, antiseptic, mildly antibiotic, bacteriostatic, anti-viral, anti-fungal, and anti-tumor.

Traditional Chinese Medicine- Known in Chinese Medicine as Zi Zhu Hua, echinacea is seen as a blood cleanser that also stimulates, restores, and dissolves. It works on both the lung and spleen meridians. It's used to activate immunity, restrain infection, clear toxins, reduce inflammation, resolve tumors, relieve pain, promote tissue repair, cause sweating, release the exterior, scatter wind heat, dredge the kidneys, enliven the lymph, and restore the stomach.

Immunostimulant- Echinacea has a great, and well earned, reputation as a preventative herb. Most of it's use as a supplement is for the prevention of colds and flu. Part of this is due to it's anti-viral and antibacterial properties, but mainly this is due to how well it stimulates the immune system. In fact, the University of Connecticut performed a study that determined that echinacea reduces chances of catching a cold or flu by over half. This same study also concluded that echinacea reduces the duration of the same infection by at least one full day. Echinacea does this, not by attacking the bacteria/viruses directly, but by enhancing our own immunity so that our immune system is better able to kill off bacteria, viruses, or even abnormal cells like cancer.

Cancer- Not only does echinacea help our immune system fight off infections, it also stimulates our body's tumor necrosis factor, or TNF, which is important to fighting off cancer. Recent studies have stated that echinacea shows promise, along with several other natural remedies, in the fight against cancer. So much so that it is becoming fairly common for medical professionals to recommend echinacea alongside of conventional therapy.

Painkiller- The Great Plains Indians of North America witnessed ill animals consistently searching out and eating the roots of echinacea plants. This lead to the use of echinacea in their native practices. Mainly, it was used as a painkiller for pain in the bowels, headaches, snake bites, sore throat, measles, toothache, tonsillitis, and stomach ache. It's also effective as a painkiller for herpes and gonorrhea. You can either drink a tea made from the plant, or rub the crushed and moistened plant onto the area where you are experiencing the pain.

ADD/ADHD- Children and adults that suffer from ADD/ADHD are more prone to anxiety, depression, and social phobias. Echinacea has been shown to help relieve those symptoms. However dosage is key. If you take too strong of a dose, it could actually worsen those same symptoms, so use echinacea for your anxiety only under the supervision of a trusted doctor and/or herbalist.

Cautions and Warnings- Since this herb is so stimulating to your immune system, if you take it consistently for a week you should take a break from it for the next week. If not, you could overwork your immune system and put yourself at risk for a more severe infection. If you have pollen allergies to any of the plants in the Asteraceae family, you may have allergic reactions to echinacea. Also, if you have an autoimmune condition, this herb could overstimulate your immune system and cause a flare-up. Please use only if absolutely necessary. The Mayo Clinic states that echinacea is safe to take during pregnancy or while breastfeeding, however most herbalists will not attest to this, use this herb with the utmost caution.

     I hope you enjoyed this post. If you have ever used echinacea or have any questions, please feel free to comment below.


Dr Axe: 9 Echinacea Benefits:
East West Healing Academy: Echinacea:
Herb Wisdom: Echinacea purpurea benefits:
Johns Hopkins Medical Library: Herbal Medicine:,P00181/
Medicine Net: Tumor Necrosis Factor:
Mountain Rose Herbs: DIY Double Extraction:
Mountain Rose Herbs: Echinacea purpurea root:
Mr. Ginseng: Echinacea:
Wellness Mama: Echinacea:


Greetings from the Bat Lady!

     Welcome to Bat Lady Herbals.  I have been fascinated by herbs and various herbal uses for quite a few years now.  Plants are amazing t...