Monday, March 12, 2012

Growing my own ingredients

I have this one toddlerish tendency, and no, it’s not the daily naps (unfortunately), but rather my insistence on doing things myself.  If I can make it, cook it, or experiment myself, that’s what I’ll do.  It’s partly independence, but mostly not wanting to be ignorant and robotically dependent on some faceless entity for my every need.

It didn’t take me long to start incorporating my own products into soaps and bath products.  Although I can’t put this much of “me” in most of my soaps, here is a bar of cucumber-mint soap to illustrate.  It contains my own garden’s cucumber, pureed and frozen for winter soaping, yogurt I made, and inside is a slice of loofah that I also grew.  (For the record, it’s not my own mint sprinkled atop this particular batch.  My harvest wasn’t big enough to last the winter.)

Is the finished product superior to other soaps?  Of course! ;-) So maybe no one lathers up and says, “Was this cucumber hand picked?” but there is a personal satisfaction in using the best ingredients and my customers do appreciate the unique, natural touch.

Sadly, it’s not feasible or even possible in my climate to grow all the herbs that I would like.  While I do have a generously-sized city yard, tilling up the lawn for rows of chamomile and lavender beds and ten different kinds of mint isn’t the Mister’s idea of landscaping, and besides, he likes to mow grass.  (I know.  Seriously, what a party pooper!)

I have increased my use of herbs substantially, exceeding what I harvested last year.  Maybe someday I’ll be able to grow them in massive quantities, but I’m just planning a modest increase this coming summer.  I’ll grow my usual mints, calendula, lavender, etc., with a couple of new ones.  My most exciting addition is my very own comfrey, an herb renowned for its healing capabilities.  I use it mainly in facial steams and herbal balms.  If it grows as invasively as advertised, I may never have to order dried comfrey again!

Just this morning I discovered that my lemongrass seeds have sprouted.  Aren’t baby plants adorable??

8 comments:

  1. Lovely post Amy. Isn't it just great getting that extra 'kick' out of adding an ingredient that you have grown yourself. Mint, chamomile, calendula and lavender plants I have had success (also on a small scale) with, but my lemongrass starts promising and then I somehow kill it. Working on it though as I love lemongrass.
    xx

    ReplyDelete
  2. On our farm I use our pig lard, our cows milk and our own eggs to make soap. So satisfying ! And yes comfrey is invasive byt the purple flowers are amazing. Just pick a spot where it doesn't matter how much it grows and go for it!

    Your soaps are beautiful. I'll be back

    ReplyDelete
  3. I so want to grow some mint!
    And the lemongrass, congrats on the sprout!

    ReplyDelete
  4. @Cynthia--I bought a lemongrass plant last year but forgot to harvest it before frost. I'm trying to grow them from seed this year, so far, so good!

    @Donna--Lucky you!! I wish I had my own animal products to use, but alas, my town is about as backwards as possible when it comes to raising animals in city limits. (I can't even legally have rabbits!) But I've been able to barter for some stuff. ....it's on my to-do list to get the city to change some things... :)

    ReplyDelete
  5. I love being able to add a little something from 'myself' to my soap, although I have only added yoghurt I have made so far. I do have some herb plants growing in my garden and quite a few aloe plants starting to look healthy too. It is very satisfying isn't it.

    I can't understand your Mister wanting to mow? Grass can be such a pain to grow and keep nice. I suggest you just dig a small new garden bed here and there occasionally... and by degrees he will get used to it ;)

    ReplyDelete
  6. Hi!! I love using things I can grow and it sounds like you use a lot!! I just use my aloe vera!! xo Jen

    ReplyDelete
  7. @Tanya--I think a riding mower adds a lot to his mowing enjoyment. :) And yes, I am planning on two new flower beds this summer, which will make 11!

    @Jen--funny, I never thought to use aloe vera. Thanks for the idea!

    ReplyDelete
  8. Love your homegrown soap! It has such a beautiful minty color to it!

    ReplyDelete