Ok, so to be honest, great things are not happening in the perennial bed. Transplants died in our hot, dry spring, weeds overtook the beds while I was away, seeds never seemed to germinate... I will add more seed directly outside to the same spots next spring, and maybe overwintering will help some of them out. For now, I don't have a lot to work with. Except, of course, for what was always there to begin with.
Plantain, Comfrey, Rose Hip, Raspberry Leaf
And the few transplants that took:
Jacob's Ladder, Lady's Mantle, Speedwell
An internet search on plantain (the easiest thing to start with- a simple weed) brought up some pretty basic instructions to make infused oils and salves. The most basic, CALENDULA - COMFREY SALVE RECIPE
I don't have any beeswax (or calendula), so I was thinking of just doing an infused oil, skipping the salve steps. But further reading, through a blog's comments, led me to believe that I already have a good alternative, and access to an even better alternative in the future.
It seems that my beef tallow will work nicely as a salve in place of both the olive oil and the beeswax. Isn't that handy? And bear lard is supposed to be even better. Right up my alley. For now I will use the tallow, and render bear lard at my next opportunity.
Here's what I did.
Pick a bunch of plantain and comfrey leaves. Chop them up roughly and put them in a baking pan.
Add tallow. The tallow is very hard in the jar, and has a beefy aroma. I added a drizzle of olive oil after all, and some rose petals.
Stir and bake at 170°F (my lowest oven setting) for 3 hours.
Strain through cheesecloth. (I didn't let it cool first, as it would start hardening).
Reheat the oil.
Add vitamin E. Mix through.
Pour into jars.
It hardened to a lovely shade of green, with just a tiny bit of sediment at the bottom of the jars. It smells pretty good, not really rosey, but not beefy either. It's still a bit stiffer than I would like it, about the consistency of chapstick. I'll add more olive oil to the next batch. Must save more cute little jars!
Another one of those things- if it's so simple, when did it become so hard? What shall I try next?