This little pot of Healing Skin Salve by Ella’s Botanicals is currently saving my life. When I last wrote I was suffering from a bandage-related allergy but the actual tattoo wasn’t too bad — a little itching here and there but nothing unbearable. Well, shortly thereafter things took a turn with the allergy calming considerably and the tattoo… the tattoo went rogue bringing pain and itching to my arm that was really uncalled for. How rude! Oh the itching! As a lifelong allergy sufferer who has experienced several bouts of full-body hives, I had no idea a patch of skin could itch like that!
Of course, I am speaking in the past-tense here with a lot of trepidation because only a few hours have passed since my last bad attack of The Worst itching Known to Humanity. It could come back at any minute but until then I am enjoying the most marvelous sweet, sweet relief.
You see, when I got my tattoo I was given a rundown on tattoo aftercare including a card in case I forgot anything. The instructions were to keep the tattoo as dry as possible and wait until this Thursday (tomorrow) before applying a water-based moisturizer. I followed those instructions to the letter at first. But by yesterday morning I was in so much pain, and the tattoo so dry and awful looking, I knew I couldn’t wait any longer. Some of the information I read online said that keeping a new tattoo too dry can be as damaging as getting it wet. In the comments, Amber suggested applying a Burt’s Bee’s product called ResQ Salve that contains lots of healing herbs like comfrey and calendula but which is oil-based rather than water-based. I high tailed it to the health food store anyways to see what they had. They didn’t have that product but they had a ton of salves. I looked at the water-based moisturizers but couldn’t find anything containing the kind of healing and soothing ingredients I was looking for so I decided to break with the original instructions further by going with the oil-based skin salve that looked the best.
I believe in following expert advice and rules when they make sense but I also have a healthy relationship with dissent and know when to trust my intuition and try things my way. I’m not a tattoo expert. This is my first one! But I know my body, I know when things have gone awry with it, and I have a lifetime of experience in which ingredients and products work best for me. Since yesterday afternoon I have applied the salve several times and have noticed a huge difference in the quality of my skin, which has gone from painfully cracked and dry to smooth and on the mend. I woke up at 6am this morning in agonizing itch but I think that was because my arm got too hot underneath the covers. Since then it has calmed down considerably and I am enjoying the first real relief in days.
Obviously I think the Ella’s product is good. It’s working. It smells great with a lavender/rose scent that is light, not overwhelming. I’ve had a lot of experience with salves and even make my own from time-to-time (my personal recipe is in the You Grow Girl book) and the Ella’s has the best texture of any product I have made myself or purchased. Getting a mix that melts easily when you touch it without being too greasy and wet in the jar is not easy. The Ella’s is just right making it safe and easy to apply to my pretty, but giant scab.
They did it once a few years back and now they’re doing it again. ReadyMade Mag is looking for contenders for their next Gardening Challenge. Here’s the deal: You send ReadyMade photos of your current “garden” space and plans with innovative but thrifty ideas to alter the space. ReadyMade gives you $300 to make it happen and the results are published in the spring issue.
Illustration from of ReadyMade mag.
Update: Despite the August 1st deadline there is still time. If you submit today (August 4) or tomorrow (August 5) they will still be considered.
Question: I am having a problem with some tomato plants in my back yard. The plants are growing good and strong and small green tomatoes are begging to grow. I looked at the bottom of one tomato and it is turning black. Can you please tell me what is causing this. There are several tomatoes on the vines of this plant, but only one tomato has this black section on it.
- George K.
Answer: Hi George,
Your black bottomed tomato sounds a lot like blossom end rot. I don’t have a picture of it to post but a quick search will bring up countless photographic evidence for identification. The reason I am ruling out other problems is because you describe your plants as healthy. Blossom end rot appears as a blackened, sunken spot on the bottom of green or ripening fruit. The plant itself rarely shows any signs of a problem. In fact some stricken fruit is found growing on plants that are exceptionally leafy and health. This particular brand of the condition is a symptom of excessively fertilizing with a high nitrogen fertilizer. In that case, much of the plant’s energy goes into producing big, healthy leaves, leaving little else for fruit production.
Blossom end rot is a very common condition said to be caused by a calcium deficiency, however in general the problem is not caused by a lack of calcium in the soil but inconsistent watering, drought, and uneven soil moisture making it difficult for the plant to draw nutrients up through the roots.
From your description it sounds like your tomatoes are growing in-ground however this problem is especially common for container grown plants since containers dry out quickly and can be difficult to keep consistently watered.
The good news is that the problem is easily fixed — future tomatoes grown on the same plant aren’t doomed to be diseased if you follow the advice below.
General Tips to Avoid Blossom End Rot
- Amend poor soil by adding lots of organic matter like compost. This will provide better nutrition for the plants and make for soil that holds moisture well.
- Water tomatoes deeply, but less frequently. This means give them A LOT of water when you do water rather than watering regularly but in small quantities.
- Water more often once your plants start to produce fruit, continuing to water deeply each time. Tomatoes are a watery fruit, your plant will need lots to grow healthy fruit.
When Excessive Nitrogen is the Problem
- Cut back on high nitrogen fertilizers like fish emulsion.
- Add kelp meal or liquid seaweed to ergular waterings. You can even spray the blossoms with this mix when they first open.
Tips for Container Gardeners
- When growing in a container, grow only one tomato plant per pot.
- Choose a container that is appropriately-sized for the plant. Small busing and dwarf tomato plants will do in a hanging basket but most tomatoes have very deep and ample roots requiring lots of space. Garbage bins are the way to go.
- Grow tomatoes in plastic pots when possible. Plastic retains water much better than terracotta, a difference that will become much more noticeable at the peak of summer drought.
Today is the solstice and tomorrow is supposedly the longest day of the year, two days I have been looking forward to for months and will likely be looking forward to come next December. Low and behold the weather has cooperated. Skies are currently clear and sunny. You could even call the current temperature “warmish” something I have not been able to do for over a week now. We’ve had torrents of rain nearly everyday recently and the temperatures have dipped so low that I’ve been forced to pull out sweaters I thought I had seen the last of until September. This turn in the weather has left me very worried and anxious about the kind of summer ahead, so the return of the sun has lifted my mood substantially this morning, even if the forecast is calling for 40% chance of showers.
I shake my fists in your general direction Environment Canada!
While I am known to complain, “This flower is wilting” once or twice or thousands of times when the temperature and humidity rises above a comfortable level, I really depend on the intensity of summer to make me feel even marginally positive about the future coming of winter. I want to sweat like a pig and really suffer from the heat so that when I look into my future through the haze of high smog days and the salty, stinging sweat burning my eyes, a future engulfed in snow and ice almost looks good. What I do not want to experience is a repeat of that grey, cold, and rainy summer a few years back. All of the sun-loving plants like tomatoes and peppers under-produced and the basil rotted on the spot.
Now, THAT would quite possibly be the worst thing to happen in America.
But so far only I am complaining. The plants have been loving the constant stream of showers. Everything is lush and beautiful — you can practically sit and watch the mint and tomatoes grow an inch. I already have a first hot pepper developing on the ‘Chinese Five Color’ plant, a personal record I am sure. And when I think about all the time and water I have saved over the last week I realize I should just shut up and enjoy it before the inevitable drought and crippling heat arrives and I find myself whining about the endless buckets of sloshing water and my horrible humidity hair.