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This is the beginning of the Sovereignty Gardens journey.

Hello, and welcome to my blog!

I’m so glad you are here.

Sovereignty Gardens is on a mission to awaken the innate connection to plants that exists within us all. My connection with plants began at a young age and has never left. I believe that the plants around us are here to help us, to be used by us. We have evolved in conjunction with our local plant life. What does this mean for you?

My journey with plants began many years ago, and became even more important when I became a mother. What we eat, touch, and apply to our bodies has an impact on our overall health and well-being. What does this look like for you?

Our daily use of plants has an impact on the world around us. Food we eat is derived from plants. Medicines we use are derived from plants. How does your use of plants impact the world around you? The world not directly around you? Is your food trucked or flown into your local grocery store? Do you know the origins of the medicines you consume? What do these questions bring up for you?

Human life is interwoven with plant life, and all life on Earth. What does that feel like for you?

My goal with Sovereignty Gardens is to empower people to think about and use plants mindfully on a daily basis. Whether this means growing food, or harvesting local medicine plants, or planting a pollinator garden. We, as humans, have the innate power within ourselves to do these things, to live in collaboration and communication with our local flora and fauna.


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Native Plant Gardening

There is a new trend in the world of plants – native plant gardening. What is it? Should you care?

Native plant gardening refers to the use of local, native plants which are a part of the natural landscape in a specific area.

“In the past, we have asked one thing of our gardens: that they be pretty. Now they have to support life, sequester carbon, feed pollinators and manage water.”

With the ecological world facing a host of threats from the way humans are living, some scientists and gardeners alike are sharing a glimmer of hope with the movement of native plant gardening. Entomologist Doug Tallamy has written extensively about this topic including in his book “Bringing Nature Home”. In this book, Tallamy refers to an initiative called Homegrown National Park as being park of solution to the widespread insect declines seen in North America in recent decades. Homegrown National Park is an effort to regenerate biodiversity through the planting of native plant gardens in people’s own backyards. The small area of each backyard is combined into a collective large-scale ‘national park’, spread across the country.

While there is a whole host of stressors facing insect populations in North America, habitat loss is only one. Planting a native plant garden won’t entirely save all insects, all the time. But it will ensure that there are safe, suitable sources of food located across the landscape, thus increasing the ability of certain insects to survive.

When faced with the stressors of the modern world, it is a strong show of hope to plant a native plant garden. It shows an understanding of the current state of the world, and a desire to make things better. Native plant gardening is a way to move forward into a new version of the world where humans and nature can co-exist peacefully, right in our own backyards.

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Herbal Pregnancy

Many people growing babies want nothing more than to give their child the best start in life. This can start at any time. Pre-conception, throughout pregnancy, and post-partum are all ideal times that we can benefit from our plant allies.

There are plants which are nourishing to the body, providing an influx of nutrients. One strong example is stinging nettle, which provides a high number of vitamins and minerals, including iron and vitamin K. Vitamin K helps to clot the blood, an important factor in the immediate post-partum period.

Raspberry leaf can aid the uterus in doing its work, and therefore has been traditionally recommended in the time leading up to childbirth and in the immediate post-partum. Raspberry leaf can increase contraction strength, providing for a more efficient labour and in the post-partum period.

There are some herbs that lend themselves particularly well to post-partum recovery. Calendula can be used as an anti-inflammatory, especially in combination with soothing chamomile. Comfrey also increases new cell growth, particularly useful for regrowth of damaged tissues after birth. Each of these herbs can be drunk as a tea or used in a sitz bath blend.

Keep an eye on the garden shop to see some of these herbs & blends becoming available!

*This is not intended as medical advice and a medicinal practitioner should always be consulted regarding use of herbs during pregnancy and lactation.

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Seed Starting Time

It’s the most wonderful time of the year!!!

Seed starting time.

As we begin to feel more sunshine lingering throughout the day, and the snow begins to melt (fingers crossed), I get this overwhelming desire to start seeds.

While it may still seem early, there are some plants that benefit from being started indoors in late February/early March. The extra time gives them time to germinate and grow slowly into little plants that can tolerate our northern climate. Vegetables that can be started early include sweet and hot peppers and eggplants. Other plants such as perennials or native plants also benefit from the additional growing time inside; think Echinacea or milkweed. Plants started this early may also benefit from the additional warmth of a seedling heating pad which warms the soil to aid with germination and growth.

A little bit later on, perhaps 6 weeks before the last frost, is a good time to start tomatoes. Tomatoes tend to be vigorous in their growth, and I have tended to end up with some monstrous plants before the soil has warmed up enough to plant them outside. This creates more work for the gardener overall (more soil, bigger pots, more watering), so timing your planting with the last frost date in your area is a good idea. Here in eastern Ontario, Canada, we like to follow the May 24 rule as being a safe date for tomatoes and many other plants to go in the ground.

Plants that grow quickly such as beans and squash may not need to be started indoors. While you can, start them, beans tend to grow extremely quickly, and squash do not like having their roots disturbed. What you gain by planting indoors may be lost by a difficult transition to the outdoors. If you end up having to wait for warm weather a little later than usual (a colder spring), you may end up with huge beans or root bound squash inside. Starting these seeds outside in the ground after the soil has warmed and danger of frost has passed is a good idea.

Seed starting is so exciting and it’s easy to get overwhelmed. It’s important to plant what can be managed easily indoors so it doesn’t become too much work and take the enjoyment out of it, and also to remember that the season is long, and some plants would prefer to be planted outside anyways.

Find some seeds and seed starting soil mixture and try planting some seeds in an old egg carton or some small pots. You’ll be amazed at how seeing a little bit of green shooting up from the soil can give us hope that spring is on its way. A little later on this little plant will provide you some much appreciated, self-grown, food or medicine!

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Calendula for Baby Skin

Within weeks of being born (during a harsh Canadian winter), my son’s skin was dry and damaged. My newborn never had newborn skin. I can distinctly recall a patch of skin on his left arm that had grown thicker than the skin on his other arm. After achieving no success running through all the different baby skin care products we could find, we visited the doctor.

Severe eczema was the diagnosis.

We were given prescriptions for one cream for bad flare-ups, and one daily cream for the face and one daily cream for the rest of the body. We were told to stick to five minute baths with lukewarm water, and to apply all creams within three minutes of getting out of the tub. Bath-time was becoming a nightmare.

Eventually, once I caught my breath, I started to research different ways to help heal my son’s skin. We tried lots of things. Oats. Honey. Various oils. In all of this research, I kept reading about calendula (Calendula officinalis).

Calendula is a cheerful, bright flower, gentle enough to use on baby skin. Properties of this plant include it’s anti-inflammatory and wound healing benefits. We sourced some seeds and started to grow the plant indoors in early Spring, and later transferred the seedlings to the garden in late Spring.

The plants were very hardy and began blooming in May and are still blooming mid-October. I harvested multiple rounds of cheery flower heads this growing season for the purpose of being used on my son’s (now toddler) skin. Growing calendula was exciting and fruitful, and has provided ample ingredients for healing dry, damaged skin.

We haven’t used an eczema cream in weeks. Stay tuned!