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The name “essential oil” is somewhat misleading. First, any essential oil consists of many different substances. The proportions of these substances can vary widely. And they are only "oils" in the sense that they're generally not very soluble in water.

Simply put, essential oils are the life blood of plants.

Anna probably knows more about this than I do, but to the best of my knowledge the substances in essentials oils are not part of the photosynthesis process that sustains plants. They do serve many different purposes like e.g. discouraging herbivores.

When you pinch a leaf from a plant and it oozes some "juice," that is the oil.

The liquids in plants (and animals) are mostly water.

While some essential oils can be harvested by pressing (like lemon oil), many seem to be harvested by (steam) distillation or solvent/CO2 extraction. Often these processes are followed by fractional distillation to purify them.

These juices contain molecules so tiny they can get into the entire body within twenty minutes when placed anywhere on your skin.

Actually, skin absorption) varies wildly between body parts and substance. The soles of the feet generally have the thickest skin and are slowest to absorb substances. It also depends on e.g. the concentration of the substance, its molecular weight and solubility in water. One of the functions of our skin is to protect us from the outside world. That wouldn't work very well if it just let anything through. While I have been unable to find good references, I would expect the mostly non water-soluble components of essential oils to penetrate the skin rather slowly.

Finally, essential oils can be taken internally.

Some can, and some should not. For instance, essential oils can contain substances like eucalyptol and camphor which are toxic when ingested in large doses, where "large" means in the order of 0,5-2 grams per kg of body weight. One should always check if a product is suitable for ingestion before doing so.

For most toxins one can say that "the dose is the poison", so a couple of drops is probably not acutely poisonous. But for most substances the effects on humans have not been studied since it is impractical to do so.

For example, place a drop of Lemon in your glass of ice water to cleanse toxins

The human body is a complex and versatile chemical plant. Our organs (mainly the liver and kidneys) are very well capable to clean our bodies of metabolism byproducts and a large collection of other toxic substances. Some are expelled in solid or liquid waste, others are stored. It is a myth that we need "detoxification".

Any substance where ingesting a single drop would have a significant effect on the human body chemistry would have to be very reactive. Lemon oil contains mostly (70%) d-limonene which, by the way, is broken down by the liver when ingested. Looking at the structure and chemical formula it doesn't look particularly reactive. It is considered inert by the FDA. Can you name any harmful substances present in the human body that would react with and be disabled by limonene or any of the other substances in lemon oil?

Comment by Roland_Smith Sun Aug 28 20:02:28 2016

CAUTION!!! Be very careful of ingesting same. Some of those essential oils are contraindicated if you are taking certain medications. Also, make sure you check with to see if there are any conflicts.

As far as topicals are concerned, some folks may be allergic to some oils so test it out before you douse yourself.

My tai chi master says using essential oil of oregano cured his toenail fungus. So not all are bad, but you do have to be careful. Better safe than sorry. :)

Comment by Nayan Sun Aug 28 11:48:24 2016
Maybe you could cut the roll in half so it will go twice as far, assuming the extra material hanging out the sides has no function.
Comment by Chris Fri Aug 26 15:48:16 2016
We have a green "Concord" for lack of a better name, it's 100+ years old and is yellowish when ripe, and delicious! Some old timers call it a White Concord.
Comment by Nita Fri Aug 26 14:53:14 2016
Might be wrong here, but this looks like it could be a wild muscadine/scuppernong vine.
Comment by Anonymous Fri Aug 26 13:29:55 2016

Hi Anna and Mark and all,

I have not done it yet, but it seems to me that cutting an opening in the front housing of a regular rotary mower would make a great cut anything 'weed wacker'.

And with spare parts easily available and plenty of horse power.

Has anyone else tried this?


Comment by John Fri Aug 26 11:22:23 2016
I covered my brussel sprouts with window screening which made for good aeration and a little shading plus you can see the plants. When I tried row cover, some sneaky harlequin bugs got in, laid eggs and created a big problem which I couldn't see.
Comment by Katherine Thu Aug 25 21:20:39 2016
Julie! Thanks for the idea. Self-rising flour makes the catepillers explode! How funny!
Comment by Nayan Thu Aug 25 15:28:08 2016

Hi Anna and Mark,

Browser 'trouble'.... I notice that the browser wars are heating up here as well.

Since I dumped non-Linux software, I run multiple browsers. Usually at least one will work. I even had a old version of Chrome running for a while. It is sad to see the differences in the same site displayed on different browsers.

I am typing this on your site using Dillo. By far my favorite. Particularly the older versions.

For PIG browsers I have SeaMonkey and Firefox loaded. I start them from the command line with a script that kills their history on start up. This seems to help a lot.

I have one on line bank site that seems to like SeaMonkey so far.

I think the talk about a 'secure' website is simply not true. I think the people saying such things have fuzzy brains! Banking on line. What a joke!

The only security is getting good a growing stuff like you and Mark.

Lots of fun :).

warm regards, John

Comment by John Thu Aug 25 11:12:43 2016

Instead of remay, even the lightest of which does increase temperatures underneath, I've had success with insect netting. Johnny's carries a variety, but I prefer the ProtekNet from Dubois Agrinovation. I've used it on many things, including my young trees to protect them from Japanese beetles.

For my Brussels sprouts, however, I don't cover, and if the cabbage moths get bad, I sprinkle the leaves with self-rising flour. The caterpillars ingest it, and when the sun hits them, they, uh, explode.

Comment by Julie Mason Thu Aug 25 10:27:16 2016
I use Agfabric19- 0.55oz, 10'*12', Lightweight Garden Fabric/Row Cover for Insect Barrier and Summer Shading,Seed Germination that I got off of Amazon. I take black plastic 3/4 in hose and cut them to fit my 3-foot-wide raised garden beds and then place them about four feet apart. Then I drape the row cover over it. My cabbages are doing great with no insects getting to them and with sufficient ventilation even in this 90 degree heat, to keep them cool. Of course I also don't have critters (other than birds) jumping around on them due to having the garden fenced.
Comment by Nayan Thu Aug 25 09:12:45 2016

The Facebook page for Snapped is where the director will announce where to see it after she finishes the editing process.

Comment by mark Wed Aug 24 20:54:20 2016

This makes me sad, I was excited about this technique. I wonder if screen tent mesh might work?

Comment by Michael Wed Aug 24 18:31:56 2016

I planted two lovage from seed a few years ago. They turned into monsters after two years; they shoot out faster in spring from the ground than anything except maybe japanese knotweed, then get taller than me and attract lots of bees with their flowers. This year they also attracted so many black aphids you could hardly see the green of the plant under the bugs.

I think pretty much the only two things we use it for are for flavoring soup or stock, and my kids like cutting and using the hollow stalks for straws. The mother of a friend of my wife's says she cuts straws from her lovage for her friends when they visit, the better to drink tomato juice with. The celery taste of the lovage goes well with the tomato juice apparently.

Comment by Holly Gates Wed Aug 24 12:04:19 2016
I was looking at your hammer and seeds seem much larger than what I got from my Amaranthe . What species or brand of seed did you use to get such large cities?
Comment by Anonymous Wed Aug 24 07:05:02 2016
Any possibility of seeing the finished product of "Snapped" and if so, where? I know ETSU is holding the Southern Film Festival again this year. Will it be in there?
Comment by Nayan Tue Aug 23 07:27:55 2016

Recently I visited the remains of a Roman bath house in Heerlen in the Netherlands. One of the exhibits was a cross-section of a Roman road that had been dug up nearby.

The road bed was made out of local limestone. To make the road, a trench was dug. This was filled with a layer of fist-sized limestone pieces which was well compacted, with a thinner layer of finer limestone pieces and dust on top, also compacted. That road had existed for hundreds of years and had been repaired many times, so it was difficult to tell how thick the road bed was originally.

But from other archaeological finds it was estimated that 4-6 in of fist-sized rocks was used covered with 1-4 in of smaller rocks and dust. The road surface was concave (higher in the middle) to make water run off. There were ditches on both sides of the road.

As I understand it, similar thicknesses are still being used today for driveways et cetera. But then with geotextile under it.

It is very important to compact each layer after it is laid down. The stones need to form an interlocking network.

Compacting could be an issue in your case. You're probably not going to get a road compactor on your property. But a vibration plate would also work, and you should be able to rent one of those and transport it with your truck.

Assuming a bulk density for compacted rock of 2000 kg/m3 (125 lb/ft3) you would need in the order of 1.5 ton of rock per yard of road for a 10 ft wide and 10 in deep roadbed.

Comment by Roland_Smith Sun Aug 21 18:43:13 2016

This is my first year as a beekeeper and i was informed by my bee club to treat for the Varroa mite . i have 6 hives and I'm using Apiguard. What would be a high Varroa count after four days of treatment? I have 6 hive and the numbers are high one hive is around 350 mite count the others are below 80. each day the numbers are lower. should i be worried and what should i do to help the hive with the high count. Loss in the Varroa world.


Comment by Jake Sat Aug 20 16:04:50 2016
Looks like you have a rainbow of fruits and vegetables!! They all look wonderful.
Comment by Sheila Fri Aug 19 21:40:29 2016

Thanks, everyone, for your comments! In relation to the top support, I don't think it should be necessary since these trees have a pretty sturdy root system. In fact, many of them are on MM111, which is a pretty big tree if left untrained. So they shouldn't act like grapes or other vines, which require support for their full lives. My training system is more of a guide for me to tie limbs to than a full-time support.

Of course, time will tell. I could be wrong....

Comment by anna Fri Aug 19 11:52:30 2016

Great comments, everybody!

Mom --- I do strip the blighted leaves early on in the season because they spread blight spores. But at a certain point, I figure every tomato is infected and the plant is better off with every bit of green it can get. We're in the latter stage at the moment. :-/

Mike --- Thanks for sharing your experience! It's fascinating to hear from a gardener in Africa! To answer your question, these are Martino's Romas, which have been at least slightly blight-resistant. Being determinate, they tend to give us masses of fruit before the plants entirely perish, at least.

Chris and Donna --- I suspect you're right. We meant to try a plastic hoop house type structure this spring, but life got in the way and the project never happened. Maybe next year....

Comment by anna Fri Aug 19 11:50:25 2016
Maybe someday with some mechanical help but it still might not drain.
Comment by mark Thu Aug 18 19:58:00 2016
Coll article. How often do you inspect your huves?
Comment by Mango Thu Aug 18 03:11:33 2016
Any possibility of digging a ditch on either side of the "road" to drain off the excess water and then maybe build up the road a bit? I realize that's an enormous amount of work, but...
Comment by Nayan Wed Aug 17 20:50:27 2016
In SW Ontario I can only produce harvestable heirloom tomatoes in a greenhouse. Well worth the investment, it also provides a structure for trellising the plants. I only have success with blight resistant hybrids in the field. I've had moderate success with "plum regal." Mountain series has been very blight tolerant as well as "Matt's wild."
Comment by Chris Wed Aug 17 13:35:59 2016
I was just in Lancaster PA and noticed that on many of the Amish farms the tomato's were in tall covered plastic tunnels with the bottom open for ventilation. Maybe that could solve your blight problem. You could control the watering.
Comment by Donna Wed Aug 17 11:22:36 2016

Hi Anna & Mark,

I've been following your blog for some time now, and I stand in awe of how much you guys have achieved. I've been at this self-sufficiency gig for about 20 years now, and am still far from the level of self-sufficiency you've reached. We're on a 1.7hA (+-4 acre) smallholding in the southern part of South Africa, warm-temperate (no frost) climate with around 800mm/y of rain (if El Nino and all the other climate surprises leave us alone!) clay soil. I am in the clearing-and-construction phase of getting ready for pastured chickens (inspired, in part, by your writings/pictures on the subject) -- our previous flock got taken out by a neighbour's dog, and the a subsequent bout of health issues meant I was not able to do much about it for some years. So back to basics over here ;)

Tomatoes/blight: Blight is an ever present danger for me -- Tomato fruiting time is also the humid time of year for us, so blight happens. I don't like the idea of Bordeaux mix building up Copper levels in the soil, and besides, it was only marginally successful the one time I tried it. Timing the Tomato planting is sometimes partially successful for me, but depends too heavily on the weather for that season. Some seasons we get lucky and the blight gives us a pass, but mostly not. So mainly I am looking for blight-resistant varieties as my best hope. I might have to breed those if nothing else turns up. ;)

I'm curious what variety those Tomatoes are you showed in your recent post - yield looks very good (and I'm a sucker for pear-shaped Tomatoes!)

Comment by Mike Wed Aug 17 04:08:00 2016
You know what's wrong here guys? Mark said he was "wrong"... a clear violation of Man Code. NEVER admit, especially when it comes to machinery, that you EVER made a wrong choice! This will be held over you for eternity!!!
Comment by Eric Tue Aug 16 21:16:45 2016
When I first moved to my property 17 years ago I got a DR trimmer mower for the weeds and grass that were literally 6 feet high. The property was originally cow pasture. It cut through those weeds like a hot knife through butter. Unfortunately the spindle that holds the "string" kept breaking so I ended up getting a riding mower instead since I'm mowing about 1.5 acres. Using the square string really did make a difference however.
Comment by Nayan Tue Aug 16 17:20:17 2016
A DR field and brush mower is the way to go. I regret selling mine even though I made a good profit.
Comment by Errol Hess Tue Aug 16 16:09:12 2016

I have tried to just strip off the blighted leaves, but many times that leaves the tomato plant in worse-looking shape. Is the blight carried on the leaves, tho? When they are so dry they crumble, maybe they do spread the blight.

Another option is to pick the tomatoes green and let them ripen, either in the sun, or in a partly shaded, not so blazingly hot location. Amazing how green tomatoes do eventually ripen!

Comment by adrianne Tue Aug 16 14:52:56 2016

We bought a trimmer mower about a month ago. I'd never heard of them until I saw your post on the subject.It was a godsend for us. Last weekend I plowed through a bank of weeds that was literally seven feet tall like it was nothing. There is no way we could have taken them down with our lawn mower.

The trick for us was getting the heavy-duty square string. Made all the difference for us.

Comment by Ken Tue Aug 16 08:44:40 2016

I recently bought an updated Yardman 6.75 HP push mower (not self-propelled) to replace the 15-year-old Yardman that had 6 HP. The only reason it needed to be replaced was due to the deck having rusted completely through and my inability to find a replacement deck. This new mower, despite it being slightly more powerful than the old one, craps out repeatedly under high grass. My old mower was like the Energizer bunny... it just kept going and going and going. I'm now trying to figure out how to put the old mower engine on the new mower's deck.

Moral of the story: just because it's new, doesn't mean it's going to work better.

Comment by Nayan Mon Aug 15 19:50:12 2016
I do not know where to find them, but in Minnesota we had a head that mounted on a weed-eater that used chain saw chain. It lasted forever and weeds, brush, and saplings could not stand before it. On a machine like this it would be dangerous if you were careless but very effective.
Comment by wewally Mon Aug 15 19:43:12 2016
Is Anna slacking off with her fancy Scythe?
Comment by Eric Mon Aug 15 17:00:09 2016
Good point....I've since trimmed that area a little better than the photo shows.
Comment by mark Mon Aug 15 15:57:27 2016
I haven't yet done this, but I'd imagine that top support might be a good thing in case of high winds. Without the usual globe shape, I'd think winds could more easily take down branches.
Comment by Terry Mon Aug 15 15:25:46 2016

Wow--never thought of espaliering even out in a field just to enable covering (easier picking too). Brilliant!!!

I'm also envisioning metal barrel on each flat side of the tree, lifted on a pile of rocks, with spaces to insert wood & start a fire. Then if it's a really cold night, heat the water during the day, before covering for the night. Effort, yes, but once set up, just leave the closed barrels. What do you think?

Comment by Terry Mon Aug 15 10:22:19 2016
I installed professional grade landscaping fabric between my concrete raised beds about 10 years ago. I did double the 50 foot fabric because, at that time, my beds were only 25 feet long, but it's held up remarkably well, without putting anything on top of it - not gravel, mulch, nothing - and it sits in the sun all the time. The worst that has happened was when some dirt leaked out from the concrete beds and weeds sometimes get lodged in there and grow but it's easy to pull out. I'm thinking maybe that kind of landscape fabric might be helpful, especially if you put rock on top of it.
Comment by Nayan Mon Aug 15 10:10:03 2016