Seedybeans Blog

Celebrating the Humble Harvests of High Desert Homesteading

Making Winter Medicine

Harvesting rosehips on a cold winters day

For the first time this season I got a cold.  Nothing serious but it made me really appreciate the medicine my garden has provided for me this year.  Over the last month I have been sipping my brews of dried herbs, giving away my precious Osha honey (made from Osha harvested in the mountains this fall and honey from our beloved bees) and of course making tinctures of this and that.  Here are a few of my favorite garden medicine recipes and links to some darn good medicine makers here in New Mexico.

Preping Calendula oil & Rose Hip Oil

Garden Teas– Really the easiest way to use herbs through the year is to pick them, dry them, and drink them.  You will want to dry herbs in a cool, dry, dark place—I usually just hang them under my porch where the wind blows through and the sun never shines.  I also have a few old window screens I got for cents at the habitat re-store.  The beauty of New Mexico is that drying herbs is a cinch.  Our dry climate is perfect.  Just be sure you don’t harvest herbs when wet (24 hours after watering or rain has touched them).

Great herbs to grow and dry for tea: (mind you these are my favorite as I am a woman of childbearing age and these are my greatest allies)

Mint-Mentha  piperita (any kind, but grow the one you love to use)

Lemon Balm-(Mellisa officinalis)

Lavender-(Lavandula augustafolia)

Calendula-( Calendula officinalis)

Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis)

Borage(Borago officinalis)

Hops(Humulus lupulus)

Wild herbs worth gathering– (I actually have invited all of these into my garden, or they have arrived there and I love them and let them be.)

Nettles(Urtica dioica)

Raspberry Leaf( Rubus idaeus)

Red clover( Trifolium pratense)

Comfrey( Symphytum officinalis)

Dandelion-( Taraxacum officinalis)

Rosehips-Rosa rugosa

Gathering forest Medicine in the summer time

Garden Oils-

I don’t know about you, but my skin is so dry, especially in the winter, probably accredited to our wonderful woodstove.  I cherish it as our only heat source, but it is drying nonetheless.  So a few years ago I started just washing with oil and salt.  It feels fancy but is really cheap and easy to make.

Herbal oil & salt wash

I fill a container, about 1pint with Epsom salt

Pour herbal oil over it and let it seep in to cover the salt

Add a few drops of my favorite essential oil – I change it every batch but my favorites are Lavender, Rosemary, Grapefruit, Tangerine, and Lemon Verbena.

That is it.  I just put it on a washcloth and wash

Preparing Herbal Oils

I use both fresh and dry herbs to make these oils deepening on the season.

I have found that with fresh herbs the oils can go rancid, so covering with cheesecloth instead of a lid is imperative for good oils.


I usually just chop up fresh herbs and jam as much as I can into a glass jar.  My favorite is Comfrey leaf, as it is wonderful for healing of the skin, bones cuts and bruises. I then pour oil over the herb (I use Grape seed, but Sesame, Olive, Almond, etc.. are great) fill the jar to the top with oil and push the herbs that float up back down with a clean chopstick.  Cover with cheesecloth and a rubber band.  Label with ingredients and date and let sit on the shelf for about 6 weeks.  You can also put them in the sun and the go a lot quicker and some say the sun is the power that draws out the medicine.  if you put them in the sun, 2 weeks should be plenty of time.  You then strain herbs out and store oil in a glass jar with a lid until you are ready to use it.


I do the same thing with dried herbs and have found Calendula flowers and Lavender flowers do wonderfully with this technique.

Dried Osha root

Osha Honey

Osha is a magical root, strong and cleansing.  My favorite lore about this herb is that in the spring, when the bears wake from their long winter naps, they dig up Osha Roots, chew them up and bath themselves in the purifying herbal wash.  For this and other reasons, people call it Bear medicine.  It is a great protector, carried to ward off snake bites, and wrong doing, placed over doorways in homes and on new born babies.  I love this root and it’s pungent medicine and this year, a dear grandpa showed us his secret gathering place.  It is super important to be humble and conservative when gathering this root, as it has been over harvested and is rare to find, not to mention a great gift that should be treated with the greatest respect.  I will never tell where I found it, but will say I am deeply grateful and intend to share it’s medicine with many.

Coffee(Herb) Grinder

I wanted to make honey out of Osha this year because when I am sick,  all I want is Osha lemon ginger tea, with honey or course.  (though I haven’t had my precious honey yet, as I am pregnant and Osha and pregnany don’t mix well)  So all I did wash and dry the roots, I then ground them into and fine powder in my coffee grinder (actually I have two grinders, one for coffee and one for herbs, they don’t mix well)

Ground Osha Root

I mixed our honey harvested this summer from our freinds the bees, with the powered root of Osha and put them in little jelly jars.  As it steeps together they create a pungent beautiful medicine that can be taken by the spoonful when you are feeling sick with colds or tummy aches.

Little jars, 1/3 filed with ground osha root, awaiting honey (in the big jar)

Osha Tincture– Similar to the honey,  grind the Osha root and fill up a pint glass jar with it.  Then covered it with high quality 100 proof vodka.  Label it and put the lid on and let the tincture sit for at least 2 weeks.  When the strength you desire is attained, strain the liquid from the herb and store in a dark glass jar (old tincture bottles, boiled to sanitize, work well)

My recipes are really casually written but that is only because I have read many a recipe and had success enough to be comfortable and casual.  If you all would like further recipes and reading, please look into my favorite herbalist and their incredible plant wisdom.

Rosemary Gladstar-

Michael Moore-

Susan Weed-

Kiva Rose-


1 Comment»

  kyce wrote @

Oh I love your salt oil recipe–totally inspires me.

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