Discovering Backyard Remedies

The Coronavirus Took Me Off of Auto-Pilot.

All of a sudden, things that we never gave a second thought, that were always readily available, like toilet paper, became scarce. And that wasn’t all. Meat, produce, canned goods, medicines like Tylenol, etc… all were scarce. Amazon restricted orders to essentials only, with longer than normal ship times. And even though these items have returned, and our lives are slowly looking more ‘normal’, I was left with the healthy fear that we are not prepared. I don’t want to forget that feeling.

So Now We’re Doomsday Preppers.

Sike. But my survival instincts have been sparked. A lot of people’s have. That’s why we’re seeing a surge in things like bread-making again. In our family, we’re doing little things to become just a tiny bit more self-sufficient. Things like restarting our garden after a 4 year hiatus. I’m canning vegetables and fruits again. We’re getting our meat from our local slaughterhouse instead of from chain grocery stores. We’re even searching through our own yard to see if we have herbs and plants that have additional uses.

Turns out, our yard is a treasure trove of medicinal herbs and plants, and I bet yours is too.

The kids had the idea of seeing if any of the weeds in our yard could be used for remedies. Cool idea! So I bought the book The Lost Book of Herbal Remedies (this is not sponsored) and downloaded the app Picture This-Plant Identifier (neither is this). Then we went outside and started taking pictures!

Within five minutes, and just outside our front door, we identified 4 plants with medicinal properties that we’ve always treated like weeds. I use the Picture This app to take apic of the plants, and it identified each one.


We left the Curly Dock and Spiny Sowthistle alone. But we did pick the Purple Dead-Nettle and Ribwort Plantain. Let’s start with the Purple Dead Nettle.

Purple Dead Nettle Tincture

A tincture is a concentrated herbal extract made by soaking the leaves (dried or fresh), or roots in alcohol for 6-8 weeks. The alcohol most commonly used is 80 proof (40%) alcohol, most commonly, vodka. But check each recipe. Some call for specific types of alcohol.

The Internet is FULL of tincture recipes, and every single one of them is a little bit different. The basic recipe I use is from the Academy of Culinary Nutrition. 

  1. To make this tincture, the kids rinsed and dried the purple dead nettle, chopped it into smaller pieces, and filled a canning jar halfway with the plant. Then I poured vodka over the plant until the jar was full, and the nettle was completely covered.
  2. Before sealing the jar, place a piece of parchment paper between the jar and the lid, so that the alcohol does not dissolve the seal.
  3. Label the jar, and including the name, when it was canned, and when it should be opened.
  4. Place the jar in a cool dark place for 6-8 weeks. After that time, strain into a dark medicinal jar using cheesecloth or muslin. Shake the jar daily for the first week, then periodically every week after.
  5. Store in a cool dry place, the tincture has a 7-10 year shelf life.

So what’s the point of picking and storing a bunch of weeds?

These little guys are full of medicinal properties. Purple Dead Nettle is an anti-inflammatory, antifungal, antibiotic, astringent and diuretic. It has also been used for allergies.


As the kids and I find more of these and make more home medicines, I’ll share with you what they taste like, whether or not they work, and the ones that are definite keepers. Do you make tinctures and other home remedies? Share some of your favorites in the comments!

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