I learned something new about a little herb that grows wild right in my own back yard. What’s really cool is that I learned about it from my apprentice, Kendra Lucero. Kendra’s mother is an herbalist and so she grew up learning a lot about herbs. Needless to say, I welcome any knowledge she can share with me on this subject because I also love herbs.
A few weeks ago Kendra was helping me garden in my back yard. She was pulling weeds when all of a sudden she said, “Oh, you have cleavers!” I knew nothing about cleavers. When she showed me the weed … uh, I meant herb … I got excited. I had been pulling that pesky plant up and discarding it every spring. Now, Kendra shared with me that it was not just a weed but a very remarkable little herb. I wanted to know more! I wanted to do something with it!
I’m still researching all that is good about cleavers but I learned that it’s great for the lymphatic system. I also read that it is safe for pregnancy when used properly. It can even lower blood pressure without slowing the heart down or other side effects. This was particularly good news since my husband and I both take herbs and exercise to keep our blood pressure low.
So today I decided to “harvest” my newly discovered herb. It’s a sticky little plant that clings to your clothes as well as everything else but it has shallow roots and is very easy to pull up. It didn’t take very long to fill up about 2 grocery bags full of the sticky plant. The next step was to clean out any unwanted debris that clung to the cleavers as I pulled it up.
That process didn’t take long. After I “cleaned” out all the unwanted and dead debris, I spread it out on the trays in my Excalibur dehydrator. The fact that it stuck to itself was actually helpful at keeping it on the tray.
I made sure the settings that I used on the dehydrator were for “live food” so that heat would not destroy anything of value in the herb. I love my Excalibur for its ability to do this. In the picture below you can see the top shelf is a little bit dryer than the second shelf. I had started the top shelf several hours earlier than the lower shelf.
It took about 24 hours to get all the moisture out. You will need to make sure the herb is was dry enough to grind into powder. The dryer the herb, the longer it will stay fresh.
Next I used my little mini blender to grind it into powder. But you could also use a coffee grinder.
At this point, you could make tea if you wanted to drink it as a tea. I wasn’t sure I would like the taste, so I decided to package it in pill form. To do that, I used gel caps and a pill making contraption called the “Capsule Machine” that I ordered from the Bulk Herb Store online. Making my own herbal pills has saved us a ton of money and it is fun to do, too. But that’s another topic. Here are some pictures.
This was a fun project! It is also fun learning about cleavers. I look forward to discovering all its benefits and giving it a try. I hope you enjoyed reading about this neat little herb. Thanks for reading!