In this Meetup we will be saying goodbye forever to a row of oleanders and adding some natives and blackberries. During and After our hard work we will have a demo on making an herbal salve that you can add to your first-aid kit to accelerate healing of minor cuts, bruises, mosquito bites, etc. As always, we will share our wonderful food and company together again.
During our day Tanya Kucak will be making herbal salve and you can participate in or observe the process at any point. By the end of the Meetup you will have learned how to make locally sourced herbal salve for about 50 cents an ounce (plus the not-insignificant cost of containers!) and be able to take home a container of salve.
For our work portion we will be removing a row of Oleanders that I planted about 15 years ago. My inspiration comes from years of visiting Vasona Park and seeing the rows of wild blackberries. They are thriving in a shaded area along the West side of the park. My goal is to start these bushes so that they take over where the oleanders once were. We will also preserve some other native plants and add some new ones. Please bring Shovels, Axes, Picks, and other things to help get down to the roots.
The area is along the side of a busy street. It gets late afternoon sun but is mostly in the shade. The goal is to transform this area by keeping the Native plants and adding berries which will be both native and edible.
The Oleanders were sawed off with a Chain saw this spring but as you can see they have grown back and are thriving again. There are native California manzanita and rosemary that are staying. But the Oleanders need to go! So our task will be to dig out the main root system, use axes, and remove the main root ball. After this will will add some compost and good soil to condition them for the new berries.
If possible please bring any of these items:
- For the work part: Pick, Shovel, Spade (Fork), Axe, Chain
- For the herbal salve: 1 qt double boiler (or double-boiler inserts), Heavy Duty Mixer (Vitamix-like), Electric or propane burners, Folding tables, net tents or mosquito netting, your own container if you have a small clean glass jar or metal tin (1-4 oz.) -- we'll have plastic containers or 4 oz. mason jars.
Bag for collecting harvested food
Some food items from your yard to exchange with other members (if you have any)
Potluck item that either contains something that you have picked from your yard/urban farm -- OR -- something that you would like in the future to come from your yard/urban farm.
If you do not have any of the above then it is OK -- just bring yourself and some good positive energy
1) A bit of work
10.30 - 1.00 Removal of oleanders and replant in the side yard
Herbal Salve Lab will be happening at the same time in the back yard:
10:30am (0:30) Prep: haul everything in, set up and sanitize work area, prepare dishwashing stations, etc. Ideally, 2 straining stations and 2 heating stations to expedite processing. Set up mosquito netting or something similar to keep contaminants out of salve while processing.
11:00am (0:15) Pulverize herbs and oil in blender. (2 batches)
11:15am (0:30) Strain herbs from oil, using muslin or cheesecloth in a strainer over a bowl. Allow some time for cleanup. Measure volume of strained oil. Weigh appropriate quantity of beeswax.
12:00 (0:30) Carefully heat oil in double boiler over low heat and melt beeswax into it. 30 min.
12:30 (0:15) Test the consistency of a spoonful of the mix with icewater. Add beeswax or oil if necessary.
12:45 (0:30) Ladle 2 oz. of salve into each container. Immediately wash all equipment that has come in contact with the beeswax mixture!
Wait for salve to cool before putting lids on containers, 60+ minutes. Protect containers with netting tents to keep bugs and debris out!
Containers can't be moved until the mixture has set, and lids can't be put on containers until it has fully cooled. If lids are put on while the salve is warm, condensation can form. Moisture can lead to mold, which will ruin the salve.
2:15-2:30 Put lids on containers after salve has cooled.
2) Potluck and Socializing*
1:00 pm LUNCH - People can get a plate and eat some lunch now, or take a break from other activities anytime during the day.
3) Herbal Salve Discussion
2:00 pm After lunch and while the salve is cooling, Q & A on salve making details, herb selection and preparation, etc.
*During the potluck we will have time to discuss the following:
Q & A about gardening/farming. Anyone can ask anything about a gardening or farming topic for others in the group to give their insights.
News and updates from our members: each member can share his/her progress on urban farming projects.
Ongoing discussion on our Urban Farmers Coop group.
Crop sharing-- Everyone who has harvested something from your yard please bring it and exchange it. Take home what you DID NOT bring.
The Urban Farmers Coop events are working/learning sessions where we all pitch into a project at the host's location.
Here is what we do:
We meet to help out a fellow host farmer.
We do some work, exchange ideas, and learn something at the same time.
We bring food from our gardens so we can share with each other the wonderful foods we are raising.
After the meeting, we all take home something that we did not bring.
See you then!
SOIL TESTS: These mostly show the soil is Acidic or slightly acidic. The area has been pretty much left alone and the Oleanders were very healthy.