Saturday, July 21, 2012

Bachelor's Buttons (Self-Sowing Annual #2)


Bachelor's Buttons (also known as cornflower) have small daisy-like blossoms that practically float above their narrow gray-green leaves. The plants range in height from 8 to 32 inches tall. Bachelor's Buttons bloom in early to mid-summer and do not suffer from insects or disease. While bachelor buttons are known for their ‘cornflower blue’ they also come in the colors of pink, lavender, maroon, red and white.




After your first year of Bachelor's Buttons, don't buy seed again. Their seeds are super easy to harvest. The seedpods open up when the seeds are ripe. Watch your plants and as the seed pods begin to open, pick them and extract the seeds to use for next year’s plantings. That's all there is to it!

Caring for Bachelor's Buttons

 

Bachelor’s buttons require average, well-drained soil and full sunlight. Some garden books suggest that the seedlings can be started indoors however, others say that they do not transplant well. If you wish to start seedlings in a location other than where they are planted, try the wintersown method.



 Winter Sowing Bachelor's Buttons

 


Winter sowing means that you plant the seeds in the winter and put them outside to endure freezing temperatures, snow and ice. Winter sown seedlings are very hardy.

Prepare a clear plastic container by poking holes in the bottom and in the lid. Put one to three inches of dirt in the base of the container and thoroughly wet the soil. Sprinkle the seeds on the soil, press them into it gently, and water. Place the lid securely on the container and place outside (tape the lid on if necessary). Water the container whenever the soil dries out. The seedlings can be transplanted as soon as they have their first true leaves.

Direct Seeding in the Spring



Prep the soil in the early spring as soon as the weather permits working it.

 All you have to do is loosen the soil with a rake, scatter the seeds across the soil, then lightly cover with a thin layer of dirt and pat gently. Just be sure to keep them moist, they like the water!

How to Extract Cornflower

(If consuming cornflower extract internally, consult a certified naturopath or herbalist for correct dosages.)

Cornflower is an ingredient in herbal remedies, cosmetics and skincare products. According to LiveAndFeel.com, "it contains active substances like tannin and potassium salts; cornflower has astringent, weak diuretic, bitter-tonic anti-inflammatory and soothing proprieties." The point is, cornflower extract is a potent tincture made from the flower and can be prepared at home. Here's how:

1. Wash the flowers thoroughly and allow to dry completely. You will just be using flower heads without the stems.

2. Chop the flowers finely. The flower heads should be minced into very small pieces when you are done.

3. Pour the chopped flowers into the glass jar. Pour the vodka into the jar, covering the flower material completely. There should be two to three inches of alcohol above the flower level.

4. Screw the lid tightly onto the jar. Shake up the herbal mixture vigorously to thoroughly mix.

5. Allow the mixture to soak for four to six weeks in a cool, dry place. Shake your jar every few days to continue extracting the active ingredients from the cornflower material.

6. Remove the jar from its resting area after the soaking period. Unscrew the lid, and using your cheesecloth, strain all of the plant material out from the liquid.

7. Put the funnel into the mouth of one of you medicine bottles. Pour the strained liquid into each of the bottles and seal tightly.

8. Store the cornflower extract in a cool, dry location. It should keep for up to one year or longer.


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