By Mindy McIntosh-Shetter
As an organic gardener and one of Native American heritage, I love to do things as natural as possible.
When my children were babies that included cloth diapers, homemade baby food and breastfeeding.
Back then I was viewed as a little weird but now these behaviors are becoming more common and in doing so more acceptable.
My “back to nature movement” was not limited to childrearing but also to my home and garden. I took down walls because I wanted a home that was more open and natural looking. I did not want to be limited by four walls.
I ripped my carpet up and laid hardwood because of the chemicals inside the fibers. My cleaning supplies were the basics. No toxins for my family. My germ killer was vinegar and my all-purpose cleaning solution was baking soda, hand soap and elbow grease.
My garden and lawn followed the same pattern. Weeds were dealt with hot water, vinegar and salt. Lately I have been leaving the weeds. This is just another source of food I can harvest. This approach saves me time, saves my budget, and provides additional nutrients at no cost. As far as I am concern, it is a win win situation. But the one thing I have struggled with was finding a rooting hormone beyond water.
Good, clean water is a great rooter of all things. Do not get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with water rooting but sometimes one needs something stronger. At this point, this is where old-time medicine and modern-day agriculture meet or we think of it as modern-day agriculture.
Rooting hormones have been around for years. The old-time ones were made from natural ingredients that were found in the forest or wooded areas. While there was a lot of experimentation going on to discover these, it was found that simply dissolving something in the rooting water could reduce bacteria and fungal problems. One of the best things to use what also the substance that relieved pain and that was willow bark.
This “bark” is turned into a tea that is used as a rooting hormone. The reason that the term “bark” is quoted is the fact that this tea does not use the bark but instead the new growth that is produced in the spring. If you are not sure what is young look for green or yellow stems.
Once you have harvested your stems, the next step is to strip the leaves off the stems and cut the stems into small pieces. Place your cuttings in a large glass jar. Once the jar is about ¼ full with stems, then fill with water. Place in a sunny location and let steep for three to four weeks.
After the liquid has steeped for the required time, it is time to strain the liquid. Place the cuttings in the compost pile or bin and pour the liquid into another container. Once that is done, it is ready to use.
This rooting hormone can be used in place of water for water rooting or used to water cutting that are growing in a rooting medium, such as soil, sand or perlite.
So until we blog again, while we as a society may grow we will repeatedly learn that the ancestors new best.