The Lymph and Immune Systems – Helping the Immune System Function – Your Own Body’s Protection From Disease 3-30-20

A recent post on FB asked how to help the immune system. Beyond taking probiotics to beef up the naturally occurring or missing beneficial micro-organisms that line the gut, eating toxic free food, and drinking lots of good clean water, here are some of my recommendations (after working on the writing of a book on the immune system for a couple of years):
Remember the lymphatic system in the body contains many cellular immune components and a liquid circulating, collecting toxins and things, which need to circulate in order to work. So, if you don’t get up and move around about every hour, and get the muscles working (which pump the lymph through the body, it doesn’t have a pump like the heart for blood) you don’t get the benefit.
So, though about 80% of the body’s immune system is in the microbiome of the gut (friendly micro-organism – probiotics, and prebiotics – the fibers these micro-organisms eat) the immune system depends on the cleansing aspect of the lymph. Lymph is a thick liquid that circulates around every cell in the body – which draws away the metabolic waste and toxins coming out of every cell. Without that, the cells clog up with toxins and stop functioning optimally.
So, keep moving. Drink enough good water to flush out the metabolic waste and help the kidneys detoxify.
Don’t smoke or intake a lot of toxic stuff like too much alcohol, GMO food, antibiotic laden meats, or breathe bad air if at all possible. These impact the immune system’s ability to work.
Helping the immune system function properly are the things which are doubly important now that we have viral load in the environment.
Exercise can be strenuous – like running, walking, bicycling, gym workout, swimming, etc. Or you can get on a rebounder (mini-tranpoline) and gently bounce a few minutes every hour if you know your immune system is compromised.
Otherwise, just get up, walk around every hour for a few minutes, and let the body circulate lymph.
There are some herbs which help the lymph circulate better. A tincture of ‘Cleavers‘ – a wild herb growing low to the ground in much of the Southeast – is one of the most important ones. (Here are a few more that help the lymphatic system drain: Right now it is coming up all over my garden as springtime is when it shows up.
You can collect it, make the tincture yourself, let it steep for about a month, shaking it regularly, strain the plant matter out of it, and put it in a dark glass container. A dropper-ful a day is what I put in my coffee every morning.
You can also make a massage oil with some of the herbs listed above, only making oil instead of alcohol extract tincture, and encorporating it into your formula. Massage is particularly good if you have swelling because the lymph is what draws away the excess liquid of inflammation. Use it to massage the area pushing from lower on the body towards the center of the body to help the lymph drain in that direction, especially for extremities like the arms and legs. For the head move it with massage from the face down the neck towards the heart.
Posted in Antiinflammatory herb, Coronavirus, detoxification, Emergency Preparedness, Gardening, Gut health, Herb gardening, Immune booster, organic gardening, Self-Sustainability, Uncategorized, Wild crafting and wild plants | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Handling Anxiety Naturally in These Troubling Times. 3-23-20

Few people in this country have ever experienced face to face disasters of such magnitude as we are facing with international corona virus. Even people who survived Vietnam are in their 70s. The troubles in our society that have hit us have been such things like hurricanes but they have been fairly localized and not generally so personal as a pandemic. It can be really scary and filled with unknowns and fearful consequences from something you can’t feel or see (a virus is pretty tiny).

So, if you have never experienced something how do you prepare for it?

We see a lot of advices on the news and social media, but much of it is based on supposition because the studies on the virus are incomplete and filled with holes. As a result people panic, go to the store and pile the carts with toilet paper (if you can find it) and every other imaginable thing, much of it unneeded and later wasted I think, but then it’s so new. I saw in Aldi’s last week carts lined up piled with toilet paper (before they ran out), and snacks. I just had to laugh. These people have NO CLUE. How in the world Cheetos is going to save you from a virus just made me smile. People turn to comfort food.

But I was a Girl Scout and learned the big lesson – Be Prepared. If you don’t know how to do that, that in itself that can be upsetting. So, let’s put that over there on the shelf and find ways to become causitive so you can act responsibly for your own survival and that of those you love.

We need to focus on the important things, most importantly knowledge of how to survive. Having this knowledge has made me very not scared, and happy to help by sharing knowledge and calmness. It isn’t hopeless or that horrible. We get our attention focused on just the things that will do us in, and not on what we can do about it. This is called ‘worry’ and it is dispelled when we have real solutions.

Knowledge is power and if you have the knowledge of something, and apply it, you can’t be the effect of it.

I have spent a lifetime learning all these things, what to do, how to do it. But right now many don’t have the time or resources to learn how to garden, or make your own medicine (although I have given you below the simple herbal medicines you can use to be knowledgeable and sites to look into if you wish to learn.) Just having a few things you can get and take will give you a start.

If someone’s anxiety is not just based on the current situation, and you have an underlying but hidden source for this condition, I’ve laid out almost everything you need to study and work out what can restore you to calmness and confidence physically, and a bit of spiritually too.

Not everyone has a background of learning the skills of survival in troubling times, or how to do many of the things that can be learned. As a result, people have come forward asking for help with anxiety issues. These kinds of stress can hit the nerves and make you feel like you are coming apart at the seams. But you don’t have to suffer, and you sure don’t want to fall into the habit of taking psych drugs because they don’t ultimately work, make you feel like you’re half dead and cut off, as well as long term toxic effects on the rest of your body. Luckily there are lots of great plant medicinal herbs that work to calm and focus your mind and herbs. And they rarely have any side effects or toxic effects on you. So you don’t have to come behind them and do massive detoxing later.

I did some research for someone and decided you might benefit from this information. Because you probably can find many of these plants in your area, or find a company that will ship you what you need. Herbal, plant, and supplement medicine is powerful and has worked well for me for decades so it isn’t just a bunch of weeds, it’s really good stuff.

How to take the herbs: I take herbs in several forms depending on what they are for. I use essential oils either in a carrier oil (to dilute the powerful essential oils) like olive oil, or put it in a diffuser to smell and get the oils into the body directly for their beneficial effects. Lavender essential oil a few drops at a time are great tapped into a little hard stuffed 2″ pillow I take to bed with me and place on my nighttime pillow so I can smell it. It’s terrifically soothing and helps me sleep. But it can be put into a diffuser

But teas such as Chamomile, Lemon Balm, Catnip, Hops, or Passion Flower alone or in combination are delicious and so soothing. And they can be drunk almost without limit with no side effects. With a little raw honey which is also soothing, and some lemon if you like, can calm the nerves and help with anxiety. Green tea contains L-Thionine which is in itself very soothing and anti-anxiety.

Making tinctures with many of them and taken a dropper full at a time in water, juice or tea is an easy DIY way to get the nerve-calming effects into the body. I do this with St. John’s wort, Valerian root, Lobelia, Reishi mushroom, Ashwagandha, Kava kave and Vitex which all work well. You can make these from commercially dried plant matter or grow them in your garden and make them directly yourself. Tinctures are easy to make with an herb and alcohol. Here are a couple of nice tutorials to help you learn this simple method of taking herbs:

And more detailed explanation:

Some also can be powdered and put into capsules DIY. I just dry the herbs or mushrooms in my dehydrator (or low temperature in the oven), powder them in a little hand held coffee grinder, and have a little device from Mountain Rose Herb Co. which fills capsules 24 at a time. I get my capsules in bulk from I-Herb from the NOW company about $9/1000 empty capsules, very ecoomical. I like “0” size for most of my herbs and take one or two capsules of the herbs that indicate to me.

Turmeric with pepper makes a great anti-inflammatory herb which also helps with the physical side of anxiety which handles low level pain. This is one of my favorite encapsulated herbs.

Often people with anxiety have vitamin, mineral and protein deficiencies in the form of amino acids, as well as Omega 3 oils which are often needed to absorb the vitamins and minerals. If you can find a health practitioner who does kinesiology (muscle testing) this is a fine way to check quickly for what the body needs. I use it often.

Do a little research of your own by reading the sites I have provided below, and get familiar with the various kinds of herbs and supplements.  Start with a few of the teas and see what works for you. You can get help from a local herbalist or naturopath if you want advice. A nutritionist can test you for deficiencies too. Most people are magnesium deficient in our current low nutrition food but this is easily remedied. Magnesium deficiency can in itself cause anxiety and depression.

Here is a list of good nerve calming (nervine) remedies:

Anxiety remedies

Any of the nervine herbs: passion flower, catnip, mimosa, St John’s wort, chamomile tincture or tea, lobelia, hops, lavender, valerian root, reishi mushroom, turmeric with black pepper, ashwagandha, lemon balm, kava kava, vitex (chastberry), (tincture or double extract), and others at this site:

Helpful oils and supplements: CBD oil, magnesium, l-theonine (green tea), low levels of D3 and B12.

Here are many sites which cover these remedies. I hope you find them interesting.

These herbs, vitamins, and minerals are all soothing to the nerves, help with anxiety, sleep, etc. I’d first start with tea like chamomile, catnip, lemon balm, hops and see how you do. Lemon balm with any kind of flavorful mint is a lovely delicious tea just for a start. Get some magnesium supplement like Kalm Assure (powder form, tastes like orange Tang, make sure you stir it lots when putting in water but good for nerves and sleep). Take D3 and B12. I get the B12 sublingual (under the tongue) at Costco – I take 2 and take it with a B complex for the B2 which helps it be absorbed.

Other ways to fight anxiety: regular exercise and fresh air. Moving the body in itself is soothing and comforting. Drink enough filtered or otherwise good water. I am a distributor for one of the best under the sink filter systems that leave in the good minerals but even take out radiation and all the bad stuff – contact me personally on the site for more information. I stay away from bottled water because most of it is expensive, has PCBs (from the plastic) in them, and the bottles are an environmental disaster. Even a Zero Water pitcher is better than tap water.

Take calming detoxing baths on a regular basis for their healing power. I take a very hot bath with 1 cup Epsom salt (a great magnesium source), 1/2 cup hydrogen peroxide (gets oxygen into the body, also very beneficial), 1/4 cup baking soda (alkanizes the body and helps with muscle tension etc.), and some nice bubble bath and maybe a few drops of Lavender Essential Oil (a lovely nervine herb). and soak in it for at least 40 minutes letting it cool naturally as it draws the poisons and toxins out of your body that can in themselves cause anxiety.

One reason for anxiety may be hormonal imbalances. We live in an era when hormonal disruptors are in our food (soy is a big one but any GMO foods are loaded with glyphosate, RoundUp, which is very hormonally disruptive), the packaging (outgassing from plastics is just one) for everything, and many kinds of contaminants and pollutants all around us, and this hits bodies differently. Some people are very subject to their bad effects. These can throw our entire systems out of wack, and this in tern can cause symptoms of anxiety, depression, and worry. Not just women suffer from this. It’s a human problem.

To balance hormones: I like MACA powder (hormone balancing food), Vitex (especially for women), Angelica (an herb best taken in capsule form, hormone balancer, aka ‘Dong Quai” in Chinese medicine), Evening Primrose (capsule form), are all good to help put things in harmony. There are others but these are my favorites. A combination of hormonal imbalance, deficiencies, toxicity, and lack of proper nutrition can be a double whammy on the nerves so be good to yourself and take care of yourself.

The spiritual side of life is very important. Take some time with a friend and find reasons to laugh. Get a change of environment – walk in the woods or with nature, get your hands in some dirt in your garden (scientifically proven to help with anxiety and depression), go to someplace you have never been and look around, preferably some place really beautiful. I love botanical garden walks for this reason, or a trail hike in a park. We have a great state park nearby called Fort Yargo that has a big lake and a trail all around it. Lovely. But look around and see what is in your area.

Get off your couch, take a container of home filtered water, some money, put on a hat, and go. All the national parks are still open so maybe you can find some place that is quiet, beautiful, and listen to the birdies.

Hope this helps

Diann Dirks, Herbalist, 50 year organic gardener, consultant


If you are interested in furthering your survival skills to improve your happiness and ease in life, here are some ways to do it: I have armed myself with field guides for edible wild plant and foraging skills, a big garden for food and herbs, a lot of knowledge about plants and how to grow good organic foods, and know how to make my own medicine. Skills are important about survival. The internet is loaded with great Youtube videos of every imaginable skill. Lots are in there about gardening, exercise, crafts, and places to go. I enjoy some of the channels – one of my favorite is “My Self-Reliance” that features an adorable dog named Cali. It brings me peace every time I watch.


Posted in Antiinflammatory herb, Coronavirus, detoxification, Emergency Preparedness, Gardening, Herb gardening, Living a happier life, Mood lifting, anxiety, and depression solutions, organic gardening, Self-Sustainability, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Face Mask Patterns and Improved Virus Killing and Protection –  Corrected and Improved 3-22-20

With face masks almost impossible to find now, be self-sufficient and make your own. Here is a bunch of options on making face masks yourself. See links below. These can be made by hand sewing. You don’t need a sewing machine. Also think great simple project to teach your kids how to hand sew.

I’m told fabric masks aren’t as efficient a filter as the commercial medicinal ones, so I figured out how to make them much safer. Thieves oil essential formula (available from DoTerra distributors but also other essential oil perveyors) can be added to high percentage alcohol (think Everclear, pure grain alchohol or moonshine) with a pinch of Epsom salt to emulsify the oil into the alcohol. Witch hazel is also an emulsifier. It’s also available thru Young Living essential oils and a few other sites.

If you are making these masks for the use of others than yourself, do not spray them or use any essential oils or other things to the masks. Let people do their own thing with them.

If Thieves Oil isn’t available, Tea Tree Oil, Clove Oil, Cinnamon Oil, or other anti-viral essential oil can be mixed or substituted. And there are other good mixtures on the internet which can help protect from viral infections. I personally like Thyme, Oregano, Lemon Grass, and Olive Leaf essential oils as well. Thieves Oil just has a very ancient success rate having been used since the plague pandemics in Europe hundreds of years ago.

Some use a mix of aprox. 20 drops of essential oils per oz. of alcohol which is sufficient to create a nice film on anything it’s sprayed on. This sprayed onto the surface of the fabric mask, then allowed to dry, to let the alcohol evaporate off, leaves a film of the oil to kill virus and bacteria in the air. I’m also told that adding the alcohol with oil to water with some witch hazel to help emulsify it is a way to stretch it for use.

Also, finding elastic for attaching to the ears is now pretty hard. I’m told Eastic Cordage can be found on the internet, or ponytail bands can be cut and used. Or sew thin bands of the same fabric as ties. I don’t have a link for that but I’m told it is available with a bit of a google search.

Use 100% cotton fabric and wash the sizing out of it before sewing. And take care to wear gloves and face mask when sewing and preparing them – especially for nurses. And make a note of that to them when giving them out so they know it is safe to use. They might still want to wash them too but at least you are not contaminating them.

Also, for general protection if you have an ionizer air purifier, use it. This captures particles and they fall to the floor. Then vacuum or clean the floor and surfaces with a citrus all purpose cleaner. Collect orange, lemon, and/or grapefruit peels, soak in vinegar for a couple of weeks (I use a quart mason jar, filled 3/4 full of the peels, then fill up with vinegar and cap with a plastic cap or a sheet of plastic under the metal cap). Then strain and add a Tablespoon or so of dish soap, which makes an effective DIY terrific floor and surface cleaner.

You can also use this citrus cleaner on any surface in your house except stone or marble (it will pit those surfaces) to kill unwanted disease causing germs. It smells nice too. Just keep in a mason jar and add to a regular spray bottle as needed. You can add a few drops of essential oils like Tea Tree oil or more of the Thieves Oil to make it more potent.

Using a smudge stick around the house (white sage is traditional) has been proved scientifically to knock out virus and bacteria in the air. These smudge sticks can be found at:  or you can make them yourself. This site gives which plants you can use for this air cleansing as well as how to construct them. I personally have not used this technique but I have done quite a bit of research on it and have seen scientific studies that confirm their effectiveness. I always suggest people do their own research when trying something new. Check out this site for the science behind smudging: .

Here are the face mask links:……/90294353_101576579……/how-to-sew-a-face-mask.……/sewing-masks-for-nurses/…

Be safe and use your heads to protect health. Good luck.

Posted in anti-viral herbs and substances, Coronavirus, detoxification, Emergency Preparedness, Immune booster, Self-Sustainability, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Face Mask Patterns and Improved Virus Killing and Protection 3-22-20

With face masks almost impossible to find now, be self-sufficient and make your own. Here is a bunch of options on making face masks yourself. See links below. These can be made by hand sewing. You don’t need a sewing machine. Also think great simple project to teach your kids how to hand sew.

I’m told fabric masks aren’t as efficient a filter as the commercial medicinal ones, so I figured out how to make them much safer. Thieves oil essential formula (available from DoTerra distributors but also other essential oil perveyors) can be added to high percentage alcohol (think Everclear or moonshine) with a pinch of Epsom salt to emulsify the oil into the alcohol.

If Thieves Oil isn’t available, Tea Tree Oil, Clove Oil, Cinnamon Oil, or other anti-viral essential oil can be mixed or substituted. And there are other good mixtures on the internet which can help protect from viral infections. I personally like Thyme, Oregano, Lemon Grass, and Olive Leaf essential oils as well. Thieves Oil just has a very ancient success rate having been used since the plague pandemics in Europe hundreds of years ago.

I’m thinking mix aprox. 20 drops of essential oils per oz. of alcohol is sufficient to create a nice film on anything it’s sprayed on. This sprayed onto the surface of the fabric mask, then allowed to dry, to let the alcohol evaporate off, leaves a film of the oil to kill virus and bacteria in the air.

Also, if you have an ionizer air purifier, use it. This captures particles and they fall to the floor. Then vacuum or clean the floor with a citrus all purpose cleaner. Collect orange, lemon, and/or grapefruit peels,  soak in vinegar for a couple of weeks (I use a quart mason jar, filled 3/4 full of the peels, then fill up with vinegar and cap with a plastic cap or a sheet of plastic under the metal cap), strain and add a Tablespoon or so of dish soap, which makes an effective DIY terrific floor and surface cleaner.

You can also use this citrus cleaner on any surface in your house except stone or marble (it will pit those surfaces) to kill unwanted disease causing germs. It smells nice too. Just keep in a mason jar and add to a regular spray bottle as needed. You can add a few drops of essential oils like Tea Tree oil or more of the Thieves Oil to make it more potent.

Here are the face mask links:

Posted in anti-viral herbs and substances, Coronavirus, Permaculture, Self-Sustainability, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

In Quest of Beauty 2-20-2020

I think we know when we are an artist. The way we express that isn’t important. It’s a way of living. A way of seeing, and how that comes out of us by way of a medium, or art form is unimportant. I know many artists who flow from one medium to another and other than learning how to use them, learning the tools and the techniques, it’s an effortless passage from one to another. Sometimes we are bound by the barriers of one medium and search for another that lets us communicate what we need to say.

I think of John Lennon who was a masterful musician, but also wrote music and lyrics, performed, and did films with the other Beatles. Each is a different medium.

For me it’s a process of rethinking craft – using my hands with tools and resources to create new visions of the interaction of life force and the physical universe, thru the physical universe of motion, energy, thought processes, objects, textures, life forms and the processes that lead one’s vision from the ordinary into the exquisite or the interesting, from convention to extraordinary.

When I was a little girl my mother taught me how to sew. She taught me how first to hand sew and I made my doll clothes and quilts. Many years later I added to that spinning fiber, weaving, art quilts, designing and hand making 1700’s clothing, making baskets, and many other fiber arts. I am always thinking of new ways to use fibers to create things.

Just today, watching a Youtube video on Visionaries in American Craft where someone had made a long narrow weaving that was beautiful, the juices started flowing. I realized I have an Inkle loom used for making sashes for 1700’s clothing which I had never considered could be a loom for art weaving. Now I’m all excited about the possibilities and thinking how I can load the loom and what I can use for the fibers in it. I’m rethinking the craft.

An artist’s path is strewn behind them (us) with the examples of that process in terms of artistic product, but the life force and creation of the artist is the important thing. If we do our job well, that object or sound or motion leads another down the path.

I was standing in the Uffizi Museum in Florence, Italy in 1978 in front of a renaissance painting by Leonardo DiVinci of the Holy Family, in brilliant renaissance colors. I stood there transfixed for some time, entranced, not only by the pure beauty of it, the masterful expression of it in oil, the pure beauty of the rendition, the colors, but as I reached and admired it I could feel the thoughts as he painted it. His intention of the subject was there still in that canvas, the images came forth like a movie in spiritual film. He truly was a master.

Being a museum junkie, I have been exposed to master artists in many many media. And they all have that characteristic of having just below the surface that conveyance of intention, of thought process, of a walk down the aesthetic pathways of creativity. I can feel the problem solving of getting the thought into the physical thing so it comes forward as one views it from outside of the artist’s processes. And sometimes it also conveys the physical presence of the artist, the effort of it, the feeling of harmony like a dance and its sensations on the body, or the hands on the clay, or the blade on wood. But always the aesthetic band of thought. It’s so high and fine, it transcends the physical which in comparison is crude and harsh. Yet an artist can translate the window to his soul into it and change the physical stuff into something else.

There is a working with nature and its beauty in harmony, nature’s kindnesses – the interworking of all of life on the physical universe in harmony and balance including the human, you and me – in its expression in life forms and rock and water, atmosphere, weather, fragrances, color, texture and rhythm. Many artists I know think the most beautiful things on this planet are nature. I agree we can’t really outdo nature for its power of beauty. It’s pure.

There is an elevating of wave length to the aesthetic band – operating outside the bands of matter, energy, space and time to rise back to pure life and aesthetics then molding things to imbue them with that marvelous wave length above solidity.

Being an artist is a combination of seeing beauty and creating it with a sense of wonder and newness. It’s seeing how things could be, changed. Or how things fit in the new ways of looking at them.

For the people viewing those things that are the off shoots of the creative process, the foot prints of where the artist has walked – leaving a pathway to the wavelength – a hole in the physical universe into the aesthetic dimension – pure life force – pure beauty, they can see to various degrees that wavelength and hopefully it resonates within them and elevates them.

Beauty can be so many things. It doesn’t have to be precious. It can be startling, the juxtaposition of unlike things that create an effect and that effect molded by the artist. Like the combination of sweet and salty, of bitter and savory, of acrid and sweet.

An artist is someone who takes their time, energy and intellect to give you a window into their universe.

One outcome of art is the spark it leaves in your own universe, to invite you to explore your own visions of beauty and spark of life. To goad you into creating too, in your own unique way. To value that uniqueness. And to value the vision no matter how startling or different, or strange. I have seen photography of horrible things that jar one into seeing the stark beauty, to shift viewpoint.

Making something that does this uses the focus of the physical universe to convey the perceptions that capture imagination and spark creativeness in you. And the variety of that is unimaginably vast. There are no upper limits to that reach.

Not all works of art will resonate with you but if you reach out to try to follow the aesthetic sense – to pervade it to see and feel the intention of the artist or their vision, to feel the life aesthetic energy and see what the artist imbued it with, is the doorway into understanding, and being inspired.

An artist is there to wake you up to the elevation of being, pure being, thru their creations. You add your own magic and dance harmoniously  –  or not.

Not all creations will resonate with you. After all, we don’t like everyone we meet, or like every location we travel to, or every aspect of living. But chances are, if you take the time to experience art in its many manifestions, whether classical art like paintings and sculpture, but any media or craft form, or a garden, or park like the Grand Canyon, something will elevate your senses, brighten you. Sometimes when I hike thru natural environments I find myself becoming hyper sensitive to perception, to the life around me, to the beauty of every little and large thing around me, like I’m floating above the body and happy.

I find myself loving and seeing textures – like the patterns on a leaf or a lichen on a rock, the color, the history of a geological formation and the forces at work, the space around a mountain, the movement of water in a stream, the sounds around me – wind in the trees, birds and insects, the smells of fresh air and trees, the feeling of an uneven pathway beneath my feet, the sinuous curve of the trail between the trees and the rocks, each perception a revelation that makes me focus on only now. Art does this for me too.

I love the feeling of a well woven hand made fabric, the feeling of a beautiful piece of pottery, see the gouge marks on a stone sculpture and the overall effect it creates.

I had a Japanese friend who lived downstairs from me when I lived in Los Angeles where I had my pottery studio. She asked me to make her some tea bowls. I worked very hard to make perfect pieces and presented her many of them. The one she chose was the one that I thought was a mistake, where some glaze had somehow splattered on the inside of the bowl, serendipity, immediate in time. It wasn’t made by a machine. For her it had meaning. To her it was a treasure because of that. It was not conventional, it was from ME.

Hand crafting and individual art pieces are an alternative to convention, to the cheap stuff of modern life, soulless. The thing made by hand says this was made by a human who was a creator, who put life and beauty into this, consideration, time, energy, and life force.

For me, who is inspired to make something, I see it as ‘this is something I could do, something that can be done, with this raw material. I don’t think – I don’t want this or that. I think I want to create an effect and see where this raw material can take me. I gather the materials and work with them and see what effect I can make of it.

I am a gardener among many of my fancies, and a fiber artist and basket maker. I see the Japanese honeysuckle climbing up the supports I have saved for my peas and think – I could make a bunch of baskets with that. And I have grape vines that need pruning, wonder what that combination of basket fibers would yield? Add in some willow branches for the backbones of it, and what could I make with that? then I can feel the blood flowing, the juices moving me.

For the person working in crafts, the world is just full of resources to make things. Repurposing is one of my favorite games. Taking on what has been discarded, what others would consider junk, or un-useful stuff, I see opportunity. Putting some pruned branches into a basket adds interest. Incorporating some bottle caps into jewelry with an eye to color or shape elevates it from junk to the makings of something amazing. Weaving some seed pods into a fabric or a found feather can take something ordinary, making it delightful. It’s all in the choices and aesthetic sense of the artist.

I don’t judge my own work with others in mind. I think ‘Can I make this better, can I bring out more of the beauty, is it finished?’ That’s about the only downside of art – the endless attempt at the exact effect. When to consider it a ‘done’ and not try to over work something that is just right. When to quit.

When I had my pottery studio in L.A. in an 80year old redwood carriage house behind a Victorian mansion, facing the alley, I had a fenced in area where I had my kiln. I would work for weeks till I filled it with pieces, then I would stay there all night firing the kiln as it often took 2 days. It was like giving birth. I would be tired and sore by the morning. Then it would have to cool off so I wouldn’t blow up my pots by opening it too quickly and expose too much of a temperature change to the pots. But after several hours of cooling, I would open up the top and start taking out pieces one by one. Each one was like meeting a new friend. What I had intended, what I anticipated with each one came as a surprise in the finished product. I’d hold it in my hands and turn it, feeling the glaze, the shape, looking at the colors of the glaze, and feel it spiritually. Each one was a kind of child. Not all were pretty, I had favorites, and some that would hold brushes or be utilitarian. But always there would be those that I knew were good.

So, instead of continually reworking the same pot, the lesson was keep making pots and keep working to reach that sense that this was IT. But then usually when I reached that in a specific form, I’d tire of it and move on to new things.

However, I sold my pots, and later I had people tell me, who had bought them over the years, that they still had those pots, even when most everything else of their material things had gotten lost, broken, or left behind. But my pots stayed with them as treasured objects. To me this was the ultimate validation. Sometimes people would see things in my pots that I didn’t see. So, don’t despair, your work will always be better than some junk made in a Chinese factory a thousand at a time. It has a uniqueness and a feeling that you put into it.

To me art is as much a part of living as breathing, eating, sleeping, working to make money, only more so. Creating something beautiful and meaningful to me IS living.

I can’t tell people to be creative or how to be so, it doesn’t work that way. I’m a teacher, and all I can do is expose my students to ways to create effects. What they do with it is entirely an expression of their individuality, of them as spiritual beings. But to me that is beauty in itself because I see the ultimate beauty as a spiritual being. I can validate, encourage, guide where there is a struggle to create an effect, because technique is something that needs to be perfected and practiced to master. Each media has its limits and technology. You can’t cheat on how hot you fire a pot because if it’s too hot it melts, if too cool the glaze doesn’t mature. If you leave an air hole in the clay it will explode. There are things to learn.

I can question their thinking to get them to focus and know their direction. Sometimes the alternative thoughts to a creative person in themselves can be overwhelming – too many choices. This can be a stop. I can get them to try new things and see where they lead. To incorporate those new things in what they already know. This is exciting and sometimes exhilarating.

I can encourage patience when learning new skills because some things are just hard to do. I took a print making class one year at my friend’s school in Maine (Waterfall Arts, Liberty, Maine) with a well known print maker using copper plate. I was only there for two weeks visiting. I realized soon after a couple of days that this was a lifetime pursuit and decided to focus my attention on another class of bead making with glass and photography and printing photos in a darkroom. So sometimes you have to gauge your own limitations too.

When I teach organic gardening here at my garden – Hillside Gardens, Auburn, Ga. – I tell my students to go out into my garden and observe things, and come back and tell me what they saw. Some say ‘it’s pretty’. Some say ‘your lettuce is yellowing’, some say ‘there are bugs eating your kale’, and some say ‘I feel the harmony and feel the plants are thirsty’. By the end of the internship which is a 6 month commitment, I ask them to do the same exercise, and the amount of perception and awareness they bring to me is astounding. One on one, they are amazed at what they saw, how much they understood, and how connected they felt towards everything. How they understood the processes involved, the relationships between the soil, the life forms in it, the plants, and how they interact. Familiarity and working with a media brings about expanded perception entirely apart from what is taught. You make your own mistakes, and learn. It’s the same with any art media. As you work with the material of it, with the tools, with experimentation and trail and error, what works, what doesn’t, how far the rules can be stretched before no product is forthcoming, and how the possibilities expand to what can be done. Some artists spend their whole lifetime with one media exploring and bringing the craft or art form to new heights. Many work with multiple media and explore many avenues of creativity.

I have found that creative people are endlessly curious and interested. Not interesting, interestED. Always fascinated and passionate and often driven. They work because doing their art or craft brings them such joy and meaning.

I had a sign in my pottery studio in L.A. “Studio, the place an artist uses to explore”.

Whatever media you choose to work in, or learn, in your quest for beauty – however you define that or see it – I wish you well because it is my opinion that the artist is the builder of civilizations, injects life into any society, and is one of the most valuable members in it by virtue of the fact that the artist is creating the combined soul and quality of a culture. The artist creates patterns of beauty and value in the human existence. So, go out and create, and be ever mindful that what you create today impacts your world tomorrow, so always think how it will affect the world in a hundred years. Will it be better? We hope so. That is our aim.


Diann Dirks

Posted in Art and creativity, Basket making and fiber arts, Cording, fiber and ripe plant, Dealing with People, Gardening, Life's Lessons, Living a happier life, Uncategorized, Yarn, hand spinning, yarn processing | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment


With the attention now on the Coronavirus a particularly virulent and some are saying lab created pneumonia that is coming out of China, people are asking themselves what can I do to prevent or fight it if it comes here.

The first and best way is to prevent being infected. Keep your hands away from your face, your eyes, your nostrils, or putting them in your mouth. Teach your children this particularly as they are more vulnerable.

Wash your hands often with ordinary soap and water, not antibiotic soap or that gel that is everywhere. Soap works much better. Keep clean, wear clean clothes, wash your food, especially fresh produce with vinegar water, and boil your water making tea. Do not use a microwave to cook any food or heat water – the radiation in a microwave actually turns anything it heats into something that burdens the immune system since it reverses the polarity of the substance thus irradiated and now the body doesn’t recognize it as food but as an invader. This came from an experiment done by the Navy a number of years ago. Cook on a stove or oven, slow cooker, or other non-radiating cooking tool.

If you are to prevent illness, you must put extra attention on strengthening your immune system and preventing infection.

Antibiotics don’t handle virus. A virus isn’t a living organism. It is more like a parasitic mechanism that insinuates itself into the DNA of a living cell, takes over, and uses it as a host. It doesn’t itself have life but it uses the life of the cell to infect and replicate.

Antibiotics kill bacteria. Sometimes the beneficial bacteria in the gut actually fights virus and so taking an antibiotic when you have a virus can actually inhibit the natural immune system in the gut that would help fight a virus. So, if you don’t know if it’s a bacterial infection when you get sick, don’t automatically take an antibiotic.

There are medicines coming from the plant family that inhibit or prevent either the infiltration of virus into the cell or the prevention of the replication process to spread it. And some just keep it from harming the body. Not all is known about this process. But virus affects the immune system, the body’s response to an invasion, by the creation of substances called cytokines that draw white blood cells to an area and this causes inflammation.

If too many cytokines enter a given area it actually over-does it and strangles the area with too much liquid or white blood cells and this can actually cause more damage than the virus. This is called a cytokine storm.* So, it’s important to know which herbs can increase the cytokine activity so you don’t over-do it.

But in formal and informal herbalism there are many beneficial plants and foods which fight the effects of virus on the body and this is the subject of this article. Because growing, making remedies and keeping them on hand can come in very handy in simple home remedies, or to fight and protect against really aggressive virus like the corona virus (or Hepatitus A,B,C, Herpes, HIV, AIDS, pneumonia, meningitis, malaria, shingles (a kind of herpes), and various influenzas, some nastier than others).

In the case of an epidemic, there may not be space in a hospital or the ability to get outside help so knowing this might one day be life saving. Keeping on hand tinctures which last a long time, often over 12 years, dried herbs for teas and infusions, and other preparations can save vital time as well. The list below is quite thorough, but you don’t have to have all of them, just as many as you have time for and space. Or that you can grow in your garden.

Many of these plant medicines can be grown in a home garden, harvested, made into tea, infusions, oils, steam for inhalation, washes, syrups, tinctures using alcohol, vinegar, or glycerine, powders encapsulated to pill form, or eating them directly. I personally grow most of these herbs in my garden and make many forms of them for my own use. It’s fairly easy to do, and fun. If you can get hold of a dehydrator, that’s one of the easiest ways to preserve herbs by drying them. Or put some of the herb in a jar and add alcohol to cover it which is a ‘tincture’.

Probably my favorite go-to anti-viral is Elderberry as a tincture in alcohol or as a syrup. This is particularly good for upper respiratory virus that causes colds or the flu, but also can be used for harsher virus.

The other favorite is Olive Leaf Extract taken either as a tincture or extract in powder in capsule form. You can purchase this in many health food stores. I take a tablespoon of the elderberry syrup first thing and maybe 2 or 3 times more a day. The olive leaf extract I take 3 capsules immediately feeling out of sorts, and one per waking hour thereafter. For a common cold or flu, I rarely need to take these two for more than 2 days before I’m well.

I also make sure to drink lots of pure water during this process to wash out the waste the virus causes in the cells because it’s this waste that makes you feel so terrible, sore and miserable.

And if possible, I take a detox bath at least once in a week or more often if possible.

Detox Bath – fill a tub with as hot a water as is tolerable. Add some form of calcium if it’s city water with fluoride to neutralize the fluoride as this is highly toxic in itself. To the hot water add 1 cup Epsom Salt, ½ cup Hydrogen peroxide (the oxygen in this helps the body fight the infection and aids the immune system), and ¼ cup baking soda (which alkanizes the body to help the immune system work better – an acidic body has a harder time fighting it). You may add a few drops of Lavender Essential Oil (relaxing), and some bubble bath for pleasure. Stay in it for about 40 minutes and let the water cool down naturally. As it cools, these ingredients draw out the toxins from your body. To speed the detoxing process, you might like to rub your skin with a rough wash cloth or a loofa sponge which opens the skin pores and lets the toxins out easier. Drink plenty of pure water while you’re in the tub because you need to replace the moisture you sweat out during the bath.

Warning or considerations:

Note these herbs are not always appropriate for your particular body. If you feel worse taking them after a few hours, go to another of the below herbs as Elderberry can increase the cytokine presence in your body, especially if you are pregnant and the make you feel worse after a few hours.

Also, Echinacea can be over-done. Never take it more than 2 to 3 weeks. Take a week break before continuing its use. This is a particularly strong immune booster but it can foster cytokine production or mess up the normal immune system operation if not given a rest. I put a dropper full of the tincture in my coffee in the morning and another at night when I’m taking it. Then quit altogether for at least a week before continuing.

They can be taken in many forms so go over the websites listed at the end to be sure you are using them correctly. I have provided a lot of information to go over. This article is just hitting the high lights.

Virus Fighting Herbs and Immune Boosters: (with the forms they work as)

Astragalus root – powdered capsule, tincture

Black Currant – juice, tincture, powdered in capsule

Basil – Sweet – tea, tincture, essential oil

Basil – Holy – aka Tulsi – tea, tincture

Calendula flower petals – oil, tea, tincture, infused oil

Cats Claw bark and root – powdered capsule, tincture

Dandelion flower – tea, tincture, oil, essential oil

Echinacea – tincture, essential oil

Elderberry –  (aka Sombucus) tincture, syrup

Fennel – powdered capsule, tincture, tea

Garlic – raw, oil, tincture, vinegar, powdered capsule

Ginger – powdered capsule, tea, lozenges, elixir

Ginseng (Red) – powdered capsule, tincture, tea, infusion

Green Tea – extract, tea, tincture, powdered capsule

Horehound – cough drop, lozenge, or powdered in capsule. Especially good for coughs.

Lemon Balm – tea, tincture, essential oil, infusion

Licorice – powdered capsule, tincture, tea, infusion

Olive Leaf extract – powdered capsule, tincture

Oregano – essential oil in carrier oil such as olive, tea

Peppermint – essential oil, tea, infusion

Pau D’Arco – tincture, infusion

Rosemary – essential oil, tea, oil, infusion, tincture

Sage – EO (essential oil), tea, infusion

St. John’s Wort – tincture, tea

(Best to use 2 or three of these together – Green Tea, Pau d’Arco, St. John’s rot and Colloidal silver – for best results)

Nepeta nuda (Russian herb)

Non-plant substances:

Colloidal Silver



Vitamin C (or vitamin C foods)

Vitamin D3

How to use:

Tea – 1 Tablespoon of herb in 8 oz. of boiling pure water – steep 5 to 15 minutes.

Infusion – 1 Cup herb in 1 quart boiling water, steep covered 7 hours, strain, refrigerate or drink warm no more than 1 cup in a day.

Infused Oil – wilt fresh herbs or use dehydrated herbs ½ cup in 2 cups carrier oil such as Extra Virgin Olive Oil or Jojoba Oil in double boiler, raise heat till oil is simmering but never boiling for several hours, strain, keep in refrigerator.

Use topically or few drops on the back of your hand and lick off.

If using the essential oil form, add about 20 drops to 1 oz. carrier oil

Tincture – in a quart mason jar, fill half way to filling up to inch below the rim and fill with at least 80 proof (40%) vodka – let stand for 4 weeks, strain, keep in dark glass jar or bottle (I like using repurposed dark wine bottles tightly stoppered).

Vinegar – a kind of tincture – fill jar with herb, leave tightly lidded for a month, strain, place in dark bottle as tincture, add tablespoon to liquid of choice and drink.

Powdered Capsule – place fresh herbs in a dehydrator and leave till crisply dry, powder in hand held coffee grinder or mortar and pestle, fill empty gelatin capsules, keep in tightly lidded glass jar well labeled.

Lozenge or cough drop follow directions.

Essential oils can be purchased thru various reputable companies. I like Bulk Apothecary myself.

Syrups – Infuse herb of choice – 1 cup per quart of water 7 hours overnight (see above), strain. You can simmer this infusion further and reduce the amount of liquid to 2 cups. Add equal amounts of local honey when warm, till fully dissolved. To prolong shelf life, add an ounce or so of Brandy. Label and keep in dark jar or in the refrigerator.

Colloidal silver comes as a suspension. Purchase from a reputable dealer and follow directions.

Probiotics can be taken in supplement form or make your own water kefir, kombucha tea, fermented vegetables, kimchi, sauerkraut, kvass, kefir, yun, or other fermented foods. Be sure to increase the amount of fiber foods such as fresh fruit, beets or beet powder, or other prebiotic to feed the beneficial microbes in the probiotics.

Some of these substances will resonate with you more than others. Some of these herbs can be purchased in bulk from Bulk Apothecary, Mountain Rose Herb Company, I Herb, Pure Bulk and other reputable botanical providers. Search ‘bulk herbs’.

But for best most fresh and nutritious herbs, grow as many of these as you can in your own organic soil in your own garden, harvest fresh and immediately use or preserve, because that way you know exactly what you are putting in your body. A large number of these herbs are also culinary herbs but I prefer not to use ‘spice’ herbs from the grocery store as you don’t know how long they have been sitting in a warehouse loosing their power to heal. If you can’t grow your own, purchase them from one of the above herb suppliers. Or get them from a local grower.

The immune system is a powerful part of our bodies residing 85% in the gut microbes, another large percentage in the lymph system which requires physical activity and motion to move the ‘lymph’ a thick liquid  that touches every cell in the body, but moves by muscle contraction thru a series of valves, and by the use of several kinds of blood cells such as T-cells and white blood cells. So, if you are sick, don’t just lay down. Get up and bounce or walk or do mild exercise several times a day (having someone keep you steady if you feel weak or use a rebounder bouncing little trampoline) to keep your lymph circulating and detoxing the metabolic waste produced by virus. Drink lots of good water, with a bit of Himilayan or high mineral natural salt (not sea salt which often is now contaminated with micro particles of plastic – better mined sale from ancient sites).

Do not take anything with sugar as this depresses the immune system and often feeds the pathogenic (disease causing) microbes which help the viruses. That means no sweets, no sugary soft drinks or fruit juices, no candy. Sorry but that stuff feeds the infection.

Here are the references which can help you further understand how to protect yourself, and more about the herbs above and their actions in the body. Look up any words you don’t understand or are unsure of their meaning.

15 Impressive Herbs with Antiviral Activity

Use Antiviral Herbs to Boost Immune System & Fight Infection

Top Ten Natural Anti-Viral Agents

5 All-Natural Flu Remedies That Actually Work

When Not to Use Elderberry: Using a Little DiscernmentAnthocyanins from blackberries, blueberries, raspberries, and strawberries  *This is the article that talks about cytokines and what they do.

Stay well and share this with people you love.

Diann Dirks    2-16-2020


Posted in anti-viral herbs and substances, Antiinflammatory herb, Coronavirus, detoxification, Emergency Preparedness, Herb gardening, Immune booster, organic gardening, Self-Sustainability, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Are You a Seed Romantic? 2-7-2020

Ever since I was 3 years old, when my pioneer stock mom gave me my first 3’x3’ bed of my very own to plant, I’ve been in love with seeds. She helped me prepare the soil (love dirty hands), pick what I wanted to grow (really her choice, what did I know?), and showed me how to take this tiny little speck and make a plant from it. That experience has stuck with me all these years with a great deal of fondness.

s I recall it was radishes, hollyhocks and something green (I was 3 remember). Every day she would take my hand, and we’d go out to my little baby bed and watch for them to come up. When they poked out of the soil, I couldn’t believe it. And as they grew, it became more and more exciting to me. Later she made little dolls from the flowers with tooth picks. I was hooked.

So, over the years even when I had no place to plant anything I’ve grown plants. In little apartments in L.A. with only window sills for them, but always I made room.

Seeds are my friends.

People give them to me. I collect them from everywhere. I buy them, trade them, swap them, save them, and in general surround myself with unbelieveable bio-diversity. Because this is our future. We’ve lost 90% of the edible varieties of food on this planet in the last 100 years. There is a war against seeds by globalist agriculture and this is DANGEROUS to humanity (and animal kind as well).

If you wanted to control the world, you would have to control food. As our planetary population grows and we keep doing things to ruin or loose top soil, poison the water, and otherwise mess with the natural cycles of rain, if you were in some corporate board room, this spells opportunity. Control what we grow, where we grow it, control how much it costs, how it is distributed, and which areas it’s legal to grow on, and you have the people of the world by the short hairs. It’s the ultimate control point of a society – for profit and power.

So, big corporations like Monsanto, Bayer, General Food, and a host of others you probably wouldn’t recognize, have been buying up the little seed companies family run or localized, and limiting what is available. They also control the huge seed production for mono-cropping agri-biz especially corn, soy, cotton (for seed oil), potatoes, etc. down to about 5 kinds that are hybridized and used. When you alter the natural process of plant propagation by lab genetic alteration, so a plant can’t have a pure future and its wisdom and knowledge are lost or betrayed, we put survival on the line. This madness is a recipe for famine and human depopulation (all well planned).

Meanwhile weather has become weaponized, using geo-environmental engineering, chemical and nano-particle metals like aluminum, barium and strontium stratospheric spraying to create weather or suppress it. Some of it is called geo-engineering by the climate control people. It’s called ‘chem trails’ by people watching the sky fill up with feathering lines of jet exhaust (which isn’t the same as regular exhaust, which dissipates a few minutes after spraying). Chem. trails stay in the sky for many hours, feather out, and blend together eventually turning a blue sky into murky grey. Those particles ride in the stratosphere for long periods of time raining down and polluting the soil and the water for years. The aluminum in chem. trails when living in the soil slow or inhibit the germination process of seeds as well as toxify the food grown from them.

But enough ranting about the evils of chem. trails.

My point is that our food, soil, water are slowly being contaminated and lost to these bad practices. But instead of curling up into a ball at the effect of this evil, I look at how we can do something constructive about it.

How to ensure our earth can support life even if these unethical and harmful practices continue. How can you and I do something effective against what is intended by people doing them.

I am a big fan of Gandhi. He successfully fought the British and their suppression of India’s cotton industry – David and Goliath. When the Brits took over India, it was the source of the finest cotton in the world – quality, beauty, strength – at a time when cotton was not a common fabric and was hard to produce. It was one of India’s survival exchanges with the rest of the world. As was so often true, Britain hit a country at their key and critical survival points in order to steal the profits for the Crown and aristocracy. He won that struggle by the way. But he didn’t do it with big impressive PR moves.

Once when asked why didn’t his movement bring all its resources together and have a huge demonstration which the press could take up and forward. He said that then all their resources would be just one news cycle and be lost to time. Instead by demonstrating to his people that one person acting peacefully by growing and processing small crops of cotton, spinning the fiber, and weaving it for his own clothing teaches them that thousands or millions of housewives can do that quietly in the privacy of their own homes, thus undercutting the British Empire’s political movement to steal India’s cotton industry. At that time it was illegal to grow and process your own cotton or make your own cloth – that all the fiber must be sent to England to be spun and woven, thus to be brought back and sold in India at huge profit to the English cotton industry, skimming the cream for themselves. But hand spinning and weaving behind closed doors was a huge act of revolt and protest done non-violently. That by showing them you can do this yourself the British couldn’t control, arrest, or suppress all those little households of women.

The same goes for the millions of gardeners around the country passing their family’s heirloom varieties forward to the next generation, sharing them, trading them, swapping seeds with neighbors and clubs, we keep these varieties alive, which would be eliminated and removed from the biome * of the planet by the seed companies. (* Biome – The genetic reservoir (as a single element) in the overall genetic collection of life on planet earth, one variety at a time.)

There are some wonderful heirloom seed companies around that have resisted the pressure to sell out. Bakers Creek Heirloom Seed Company, Seed Savers Exchange, and a collection of companies (there are many others on the internet, to name just a few) –  which are keeping bio-diversity alive.

But no way can this handful of little companies do it all. That red cabbage out there in your garden your grandmother grew, saved since pioneer times, is a treasure. That little club of neighbors you belong to that have a seed swap in the spring is fighting back. Support the seed companies, but save the seeds of your local varieties just as daringly.

In Japan after WWII, a very educated man named Masanobu Fukuoka *, who worked for the Japanese Government as an agricultural inspector and other related jobs watched as Western agricultural practices destroyed the delicate farming land around the island of Shikoku in southern Japan. His father had a Mandarin Orange orchard on hilly land, and a rice paddy. Then his father died leaving him the orchard and rice growing land. So, because land is about the most valuable thing in the tiny islands of Japan, he quit his job and went to live on the farm. For 4 years he observed and used the existing technology being used in his area and watched it fail, but figured out how to do everything with a minimum of work, resources, and loss of topsoil.

But around him people were abandoning their land because it became so non-productive people couldn’t support themselves, so the area depopulated. He took on that land as people left, and started using some techniques which later were published in his book “The One Straw Revolution”.

In it, he restored the earth and fertility of the land around him by taking all the straw from his rice production and returning all of it to the beds, with no tilling, plowing, weeding, or any chemicals at all, and he got 22% more yield as a result of all he changed.

And here’s why I brought this up. He realized he could do all his sowing in one sowing a year for both summer and winter crops by making something called “seed balls”. He mixed dry clay powder, rice flour, seeds, compost finely sifted and a bit of water. By using his hands in a circular motion, the mixture formed little marble sized balls. These were then dried in the sun, and later dissiminated around the abandoned fields and along the road margins.

The seeds he used germinated under specific conditions and by careful timing and keeping careful records he found just the right sweet spot in the schedule when he could sow the balls into the fields and cover them with 8” to 10” of dry rice straw thrown out onto the field covering the seed balls. The kinds of seeds in the mix would be determined by the needs of that field – plants that would produce food, flowers for the bees, nitrogen gathering plants like clover, and plants that might protect against erosion like a grass or a succulent.

By doing it that way, the birds didn’t eat the seeds because they were covered with straw and hidden in little balls of clay and soil, waiting for just the right moment to germinate. It’s a brilliant but simple means of delivery – the compost feeds the germinating seeds, the clay holds in the moisture and provides minerals, the rice flour acts like a glue to hold it in a ball until the seeds germinate, and the moisture is only in the seed ball just long enough to hold it together until it hardens by drying. Lying in the field, the ball with its seeds doesn’t come to life until rain is absorbed by the clay and compost, holding the moisture which awakens the germ in the seed, (germination), and as the seedling comes to life, it is fed by the nutrients in the compost until its little roots can establish in surrounding soil. Meanwhile the straw covering it protects it against wind and hungry birds. By the time the nutrients in the seed are diminished by the germination process, the roots are able to sustain and feed the plant and the plant is established, protected by the overhead straw. The straw breaks down thru the growing season, giving nutrition to the surrounding soil, holding in the moisture and improving the top soil.

He’d put these dried seed balls in a fabric shoulder bag and walk down the roads throwing the seed balls into the margins and onto the barely viable and poor soiled fields, nobody the wiser. Then after a rain, a completely dead field would suddenly burst with seedlings and later produce food plants and pollinator attractors, nitrogen capturing clover (self-fertilizing), and moisture holding aerial plants (the top above the soil parts of plants that thru shade keep in moisture). The natural grasses hide the fact of productive fields, only showing green at first, while the clover fertilizes it, the dead organic matter from the dying annual plants rots down adding to the top soil, and the clover, being perennial, holds in moisture and nitrogen.

He successfully took over about 27 acres of abandoned land doing this technique and it became so successful people came first from all over Japan, later the world. He managed to produce on land that had been abandoned, doing so basically by himself, in an area when most agriculture is very labor intensive and community based. But because most of the people had left the area, he figured out how to do it alone. The rice he switched to only needs to be flooded for 4 days and is planted not by first seedlings, in a base of worked soil as mud, and hand transplanted (the traditional way) but by seed ball, no plowing or any special preparation of the soil.

He grows both summer and winter using different grains and clover, and has the added yield of white clover seeds as another product. By carefully choosing grain seeds that only germinate at the right season and time, not all together, he could put all the seeds in one seed ball, but which hold off germinating until the right season for that grain. So, he put summer rice and winter grain in the same seed ball, disseminating only one time in a year for both seasons. This in itself is revolutionary practice.

He didn’t need any money for fertilizers or sprays because he didn’t use any of them. All needs were met by the components of the seed ball. The native predatory insects and spiders took care of the prey pests, and the fact that the clover took up any unused space between the crops crowding out the weeds making herbicides unnecessary as well with no need to weed. Everything he did used less time and energy and work, money, and attention, as well as restoring the soil. When he started, the top soil was almost gone. Many years later, it was reported to be over 6” deep without adding outside soil.

So, back to my love of seeds.

I have e-massed a lot of extra seeds over the years. I have about 40 beds and containers where I grow annual plants – vegetables, herbs, flowers – and I never could grow them all. I share a lot, I swap a lot, I sell some of them (rare kinds), but there are only so many square feet of growing space. So, the seeds I don’t use and don’t give away or swap for (which also comes from the fact that I grow only heirloom seeds and save all I can every season) pile up.

Here is this resource of abundance which in the 3rd ethic of Permaculture is ‘equitable and fair use of abundance created by the first two ethics – which are 1. care of the earth, 2. care of people. It means that there is more that can be used by myself, and can be set aside to trade for things I can’t myself produce. Or which I can use for charitable causes and teaching.

What better way of using those seeds which have gone out of their usual high germination rate because of their age, than making seed balls?! (How to make them and use them.)

In Permaculture there is the concept called ‘Guerilla Gardening’. This is the beautifully sneaky practice of taking otherwise unused land and making it yield production. Mr. Fukuokoa did this with abandoned fields and road margins. In England permaculturists have been taking over vacant spots around towns and where only weeds survived. In New York, permaculturists have taken the space between the streets and sidewalks which only yielded hard pounded dirt and weeds, and make beautiful productive gardens from them. In Los Angeles, a whole area in the warehouse and truck distribution center has been turned into a food production area. This area had been a ‘food desert’ from lack of available fresh produce. Guerilla Gardening in E. L.A. Ron Findlay gardener TED talk

This practice has taken hold of the consciousness of certain people all across the planet turning unused land into ways to feed people and restore the earth thru Permaculture Design techniques.

Guerilla gardening starts with identifying spaces that can be turned from junky refuse dumping spaces to little pockets of beauty and reward. Then the collection of abundances of unused seeds are transformed into little bombs of life making gardens where only wasteland existed before. This has had the added benefit of upgrading property values, improving the community spirit of neighborhoods, teaching children where food comes from, and in some cases even turned gangland kids into gardeners.  It has made former dangerous areas safe and attractive.

Flinging that handful of little clay marbles onto a spot along the road or trail or in a park, or abandoned block in the city is an act of faith in the future, and in the generosity of life. Who knows what magic that little bundle of seeds will bring to a human or animal as the seeds are given the chance to do their life’s work.

And who knows how doing that may save a kind of plant once placed into a space that one day will see it blend with other plants compatible and companionable and give bio diversity to a little corner of the world otherwise abandoned and unnoticed.

Meanwhile, the things we do to preserve heirloom open pollinated heritage plant varieties is critical at this time. That one kind of bean or lettuce or other food or herb plant thru your loving work can get it to produce seeds, then you can process and save the seeds and label the. Now it’s possible to share and spread the plant, and it may make the difference between it living beyond your lifetime or being lost. A few minutes used now can have long term implications and effects. Think of the years and years of care that were spent by careful people to ensure that plant still exists. It’s kindness passed forward and survival ensured by taking responsibility and loving into the future.

Taking space in your garden to grow that plant for next year likewise is an investment not everyone can make – availability and care are critical elements in that plant being passed forward. That little plant and her seeds may be all that stands between it being grown in a hundred years or turning to dust never to be seen again. It’s an act of love. Much like planting a tree you will never really see the benefits from yourself, but having faith in a future that is beneficial for your children’s children. In Permaculture Design we design for effects into the 7th generation beyond our own. It’s how futures are made.

Diann Dirks


Auburn, Ga.






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