Greetings fellow gardener!

First off, let me simply say once more a sincere and heartfelt thanks for shopping with us. It is only through the continued support of gardenres like you that we can continue to bring nothing short of "Great plants, Great service, Great prices, Real value" to the gardeners of Greater Cincinnati and also continue our mission of teaching an understanding of nature to an urban & suburban landscape desperately in need of it.

Since the begginning of human history our species has been using plants for the basis of it's sustenance. At some point we started eating meat probably because weather dried up our plant supply and one of our ancient ancestors observed a larger predator drive a smaller predator away from a kill and got the bright idea to do the same.

Monkey see, Monkey do, and boy do we ever!

I'm quite sure our ancient ancestors did the same thing we do and ate what tasted good first and when that ran out started eating less desirable but still edible items.

Speaking of very tasty and delicious stuff and before I get any deeper into conceptual wandering...

One of my neighbors runs an agricultural educational program for children that teaches back to basics understanding of nature and how to live with her and prosper.

It's called Homemeadow song farm and is about 1/4 mile up the road from us.

On February 10th they're having a Honey sale which includes homegrown honey & products made there from beeswax & the like.

Did you know that honey is the one food that doesn't spoil? Archaeologists have found 3000 year old honey in tombs that had not spoiled!

It's pure heart, soul, and hope for the future.

Here's her promo for the event..

Honey Be Mine Sale February 10 2 to 5 p.m.
Love is in the air! Come celebrate the gifts of the little honeybee, a most beautiful creature of love and light! Give those close to you a little sweetness with our own pure, raw, sticky and sensuous local honey; it is the best you have ever tasted! Bask in the glow of warm living light with our honey-scented hand-dipped beautiful pure beeswax candles. Soften the barrier between you and the outside world with calendula flower and beeswax healing salve. This is good for those relationships in which you have burned or rubbed raw; so make amends this year!

Stop in and visit! We will be serving cookies and hot chocolate. And we will have some other surprises too: beautiful handcrafted pottery, felted creations and valentines as well.

Homeadow Song Farm
5038 Gray Road
Cincinnati, Ohio
web site:

If you like honey you're sure to find something delicious and inspiring at her sale. :)

Now for a couple of things about this issue.

Due to the nature of some of the points I make with this issue I originally intended to send it out in censored form with the uncensored version available as a weblink.

As a small business person and student of history I find some recent legislative events so disturbing I have made some points from the perspective of that aforementioned "student of history" that might disturb the faint of heart or mind.

Recent conversations with some of our regular shoppers who have all been telling me "oh, I'll go for the unabridged version", and also that I've been writing a lot of "fluffy" stuff of late that I was beginning to feel like one of those "tell ya to sell ya" garden guys on the radio. It really only gets heady for about a paragraph and then it lightens up and follows through to a happy logical gardening conclusion.

I've been working on this one off & on for over a week now and I'm getting a headache editing and re-editing and feeling each sentence's potential reaction to this demographic or that, that I've just decided to send it out there for whatever it may be worth and the sake of my own sanity. :)

After all, we're all thinking adults here right?

We the people shape the future. Please never forget that. :)

Now back to the monkeys down by the waterhole.

On occasion I'm sure our eating habits got down to the barely tolerable taste wise out of sheer survival until we'd sampled just about anything that grows, walks, swims, crawls, flies, burrows or climbs.

From Hunter/gatherer to small agrarian family groups then larger groups leading to specialized skills to support the ever growing community eventually leading us to this age of specialization where one cannot hope to learn all that is known in one's own field in the course of a lifetime.

For myself I chose the more rounded approach of the Jack of all trades, master of none, yet oft times better than master of one. :)

I truly believe, however, that there are some skills humankind would be better off without. Bureaucracy for the sake of bureaucracy comes to mind. :)

Through the entire process of growth and learning, good, bad or totally pointless, one thing has remained constant. The plants are the foundation of the food chain. They're the ones that convert solar energy into organic forms that get passed around the rest of the food chain until they finally die and rot to feed the plants that make the food they serve in the house that Jack built. :)

In a nutshell, plain & simple, you may buy it at the grocery, but food, my friend, and medicine, comes from Nature. Period, end of comment.

As participants in the cycle of the way of all organics we are inextricably tied to those processes, and they, to us.

At some point in the dim & distant past our ever hungry ancestors apparently noticed that some things tasted better together than they did separately and that some things they ate cured or caused particular ailments, thus the discovery of the culinary art as well as medicine and poison.

Since the industrial revolution mainstream western logic has been to turn away from nature in favor of extracted, distilled and overly concentrated versions of what our ancestors would have picked from their garden or the wild, or even synthetic versions of naturally occurring compounds.

I think that's about as short a history of human dietary habits as my brain can come up with in short order. :)

Understanding where we've come from and where we are is, in my opinion, the only way to have a sighted clue as to where we wish to go from here.

The post WW2 mindset of better living through industrial byproducts and mass consumption of synthesized "organics" has yielded nothing short of ecological disaster in our biosphere and in our bodies.

Several years ago I wrote a short series of articles featuring some popular culinary herbs here in the garden newsletter. If you'd like to browse through them they're a fun little romp through the herb garden and I've got them posted at .

There's also a couple of other interesting tidbits I had on the hard drive at the time such as a list of herbs as related to their magical properties and some mid 19th century remedies for various ailments. Boy, did they ever like turpentine... eessshhh.. :) You have to bear in mind that what eventually became our modern pharmaceautical industry was born of that era.

Over the next couple of months I'll be writing a short series of articles featuring "medicinal" herbs. I put "medicinal" in quotes because that is a term commonly used to describe a number of plants our ancestors used as medicine. However, in the United states today, due to an apathetic population more concerned with convenience today than with freedom tomorrow we have allowed the giant chemical companies, or more factually, the disconnected billionaires who have controlling interest therein, to buy the FDA, the health care industry, and the ruling bodies that govern it.

What they have done is to make it illegal to use anything other than a "drug" to treat anything classified as a "disease". Only those compounds licensed as "drugs" can be legally used to treat anything classified as a "disease".

Ever wonder why virtually every ailment conceivable is now being reclassed as a disease?

So the damn greedy bastards can force you to pay through the nose to treat it because only a licensed "drug" is allowed by law as cure for any "disease"!

The entire system has been restructured so that only those with mega millions can even dream of affording the licensing process.

At least for now we are still allowed the freedom of information to share amongst ourselves of plants that can be useful in our diet to promote a healthy lifestyle by living in harmony with nature. The exercise one gets while gardening to grow those plants only serves one all the better. :)

Before I go any further I will once again reiterate that any information I may present during the course of these writings is just that. Information.

Funke's makes no claim as to the effectiveness of any plants we may sell for any other purpose than that of a garden ornamental of historical or cultural significance.

We strongly encourage that you think before you eat, drink or smoke. I will do my very best to do accurate research and list sources for deeper information of responsible scientific examination of of any items you may wish to include in your diet.

In light of that statement we will carry a broad selection of those plants of historical and cultural significance referred to in the common language as "medicinal herbs" for the spring 2008 planting season.

I can't tell you how much it breaks my heart to have had to have written those last few sentences.

I am honestly not sure how long I can continue to attempt to operate a business in the climate of fear that we, the apathetic voters & consumers have allowed the ruling class to create amongst us in their attempt to limit our freedom and enslave future generations to their will.

By now you've probably noticed the latest postings from the gestapo popping up on the doors of businesses encouraging neighbors & shoppers to turn their neighbors and local business owners over to the state if they light up a smoke.

That's how it starts. Create a climate of fear, toss the informant rats a piece of cheese for turning their neighbors over to the state and the next thing you know the secret police are lurking around every corner. It gets sold as something for the public good and a bunch of dupes fall for it. As a small business person it scares the hell out me that voters could pass a law that wasn't even written when it was put on the ballot thereby giving the "state", or more factually, the billionaires who own the state, a blank check to write whatever they want into law because it was passed by the voters.

If we the people of Ohio are so blatantly stupid as to allow such activities to succeed we can kiss what little of a democracy and bill of rights we have left goodbye and we might just as well turn our kids over to the "state" for induction into totalitarian slavery.

One quick quote for your perusal and ponderence and I'll get back into some herb stuff...

"..the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to greater danger."

-- Herman Goering at the Nuremberg trials

Lets face it, if we kill the bill of rights due to utter complacency, apathy, or sheer stupidity at the polls, future generations of Americans will have nothing short of what the German people had during the Nazi era. You have to remember that like so many change oriented politicians Hitler rose to power by telling the people what they wanted to hear until they voted him all the way to Chancellor and by then it was too late. The stormtroopers spread out like wildfire easily enslaving a population disarmed some years earlier under the guise of "crime prevention" and "public safety". Sound familiar??

Don't think for a minute that it couldn't happen here.

That's one of the reasons I've been trying to teach gardening & understanding here in the newsletter over the last ten years or so.

At least folks will have some practical experience that will enable them to feed & heal themselves if need be.

It's win/win, if you need the know how, you have it, if you don't need the know how you can still live far more economically and healthily than if you followed the path of the average processed food & drug user/addict.

Herbs can be very tasty as well as therapeutic when included in one's diet.

One of my long time favorites is plain old Garden sage, Salvia officinalis.

I've got a large stand of it that's been in my kitchen garden since I moved into my house back in '85.

Here's what it looks like in the dead of winter. I snapped this pic late morning Wednesday.

It looks a little ratty but it's still got handfulls of great foliage for the steam pot. :)

Here's a short feature I wrote back in 2000 when the newsletter was just starting to toddle.


Sage - Salvia sp.

Sage has been highly valued in many cultures for thousands of years. The genus Salvia comes from the Latin verb "salvere" which means to be in good heath, to save or to cure. The Romans considered sage sacred and actually harvested it in ritual fashion dressed in white and after making a sacrifice of bread and wine would approach the plant with bare feet to harvest this precious herb.

The Chinese were rumored to trade tea three for one by volume for sage with the Dutch in the 1600's due to it's medicinal properties.

Sage is relatively easy to grow. It likes sun but will do in half day morning sun as is the case with mine. I have in somewhat loose well drained soil on the east side of my house planted up against the foundation. It has been reliable and hardy there with utter neglect. I did water and feed it some for the first couple of years :)

Culinary uses include using the flowers in tossed salads. The leaves can be used dried and crumbled as a sprinkled seasoning. On many a Thanksgiving I've stuffed the family with my sage dressing :)
I start out with a pot of boiling water and toss handfuls of fresh sage leaves in with some chopped onion. Once it's cooked down a bit I dump in a couple of loaves of toasted bread and fluff the mix with a big fork. After I've had some whatever's left goes in the bird and baking pans to brown for the meal :) mmmmboy! makes me hungry just thinking about it!

I also recently saw a recipe I'm dying to try where you dip fresh sage or basil leaves in batter and fry them 'til golden brown just like fried vegetables.. I'm kind of an "on the fly" cook that seldom follows a recipe verbatim but if you'd like the fried leaf recipe written out drop me an e-mail and I'll send it to you :)

Medicinal uses for sage....

The seed of Clary sage (Salvia sclarea) infused in water can be used as an eye wash to remove foreign material from eyes painlessly.

Leaves are used to aid digestion and as an antiseptic and are also used to help combat diarrhea. The leaves are often taken as a sage sandwich.. Sage tea and wine are used as nerve and blood tonics. Sage tea is also used to reduce sweating, soothe cough and colds and since sage contains estrogen it has also been used to treat irregular menstruation and menopause.

Of interest to partygoers :)
Clary sage beer was once revered for it's intoxicating properties :)


Right around the time I originally wrote that feature I discovered another tasty, and healthy, recipe for a nice lunch or evening snack by stirring raw sage leaves with onions in a skillet with butter over low heat until wilted and spreading the mixture on toast as a sage & onion sandwich. Delicious if you like sage & onions like me :)

I've also found that boiling the leaves in water and then breathing the steam is great for cleaning the sinuses.

Another member of the Salvia genus recently experiencing popularity and some degree of notoriety is Salvia divinorum which basically translates as "sage of the seers".

It's a native of the Oaxaca region of Mexico and has been used by the native shaman there since before recorded history.

In recent years it's become popular amongst those in "modern" cultures looking for a party.

From what I've read about it if that's what you're looking for go have a beer or a bottle of wine instead, you'll have a much better time partying with your pals.

In typical western culture fashion internet sites have popped up selling "enhanced" leaves and extracts of this plant to increase potency of the active ingredient, Salvinorin A.

Since it's only released from the leaves at about 240 degrees Celsius (464 farenheight) I'm guessing they're using something similar to the old isomerizers popular amongst the hippies back in the 70's to distill oils and then soak leaves in them.

In my opinion that's one of the major problems our society has when encountering psychoactive substances used for clarification and understanding of the greater universe by native seekers around the planet. We want it all, we want it now, more is better, to heck with the cost, blame any problems on somebody else and forget about tomorrow.

We would do well to learn from those who live in close harmony with their environment and stop bastardizing the wonderful healers nature has put there for us.

A well written and in depth article about Salvia divinorum I found on wikipedia had this to say about the plant's usage by the culture that uses it in the wild, " Mazatec shamans crush the leaves to extract leaf juices from about 20 (about 50g) to 80 (about 200g) or more pairs of fresh leaves. They usually mix these juices with water to create an infusion or ‘tea’ which they drink to induce visions in ritual healing ceremonies."

That article is located at . It is extensive. The writer did their research well and all sources are documented and linked.

One of the things about this plant that interested me was a quote "The most commonly reported after-effects include an increased feeling of insight and improved mood, and a sense of calmness and increased sense of connection with nature"

I also found the following quote from that article that I think should be taken into consideration before jumping to conclusions in the controversy surrounding this plant.


"Therapeutic potential
Aside from individual reports of self-medicated use in the treatment of depression,[42][43] research suggests that Salvia divinorum, in line with the studied effects of other k-opioid agonists,[44] may have further therapeutic potential.

Thomas Prisinzano, assistant professor of medicinal and natural products chemistry at the University of Iowa, has suggested that salvia may help treat cocaine addiction

“ You can give a rat free access to cocaine, give them free access to Salvinorin A, and they stop taking cocaine.”

Masis 2007-02-28 (US Media)
Professor Bryan L. Roth, director of the National Institute on Mental Health’s Psychoactive Drug Screening Program, has said

“ We think that drugs derived from the active ingredient could be useful for a range of diseases: Alzheimer’s, depression, schizophrenia, chronic pain and even AIDS or HIV.”

Viren 2007-08-23 (US Media)
Clinical pharmacologist John Mendelsohn has also said

There may be some derivatives that could be made that would actually be active against cancer and HIV […] At the present time, there are a lot of therapeutic targets that have many people excited.”
An ABC news story which reported on this went on to suggest “the excitement could vanish overnight if the federal government criminalizes the sale or possession of salvia, as the Drug Enforcement Agency is considering doing right now.”[43] A proposed Schedule I classification would mean (among other things) that there’s no “currently accepted medical use” as far as the United States government is concerned.[45] Scientists worry that such legislation would restrict further work.[46][47] Mendelsohn said scheduling salvia could scare away a great deal of research and development into salvia’s therapeutic promise.[43]"


It is also mentioned that much of the anti salvia D. controversy is being funded by politicians with deeps pockets leading straight back to large distilleries and state beer & wine associations afraid of losing BIG money if people can grow what they perceive as a threat to their market.

They just don't get it do they?

This is an explorative, not a party plant.

The potential as a treatment for cocaine addiction could be a godsend in urban areas where the bastardized forms of the innocent coca plant are rampant.

My closing point about Salvia divinorum is don't let apathy and disinformation lead you to give up your right bestowed by nature to cultivate your own food & medicine and for God's sake teach your kids to work with nature as nature intends it and stay away from bastardized forms of healing herbs.

In my hours of reading I was unable to find any data that even vaguely suggested any harmful effects from this plant in it's natural form.

We will have Salvia divinorum plants for sale in limited quantities at competitive prices.

Even though we're not required by law to do so, in the spirit of social responsibility I'm putting "adults only" on them and setting the bar at 21 and over.

As I continue my research across our selection I will follow suit with any that would appear potentially harmful in the hands of the young or the foolhardy.

Well, that's it for this issue :)

Next issue, Ashwaganda (Withania somnifera) an adaptogenic healing herb from India.

Have a wonderful week my friend and may nature bless you deeply. :)

'til next time,

Happy gardening!

Your garden pal,