Sheep Sorrel-also called Sour Grass


by Jennifer Odom

When I was eight I thought of a plan to become rich.

It was the sour grass. Daddy taught us how to identify its tall red stems with their red grainy seed-tops.

Sheep-sorrel, some people call it, and it grew in the back field, the same field where we explored for arrow heads, and two sisters later pastured their horses.

Daddy showed us we could pluck and chew the stems to get the tart lemony juice, a fun thing to do while we played in the yard.

So I decided that I could get rich by manufacturing sour grass juice.

Well, it was a short-lived idea.

But that doesn’t mean someone isn’t capitalizing on sour grass. No sir, some people claim sheep sorrel can fight cancer. (

To be sure, my blog is not medical advice, and there are experts such as those at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center who refute those cancer-cure claims.

But whether its medicinal value is true or not, sour grass a terrific weed in other ways, handy for salads, soups, for curdling cheese, and in making wine. I once pondered whether the stems would make a good substitute in rhubarb pie.  But nah, probably too woody. In a pinch, though, it would keep you from starving. Herbalists claim all its plant parts are useful, the leaves, stems, flowers, and roots.

It’s March right now in central Florida, and fields are covered with this red-topped plant. Found in acidic sandy soil, the same kind blueberries like, it’s a real pest to blueberry growers. Maybe the blueberry growers should join up with the herb-collectors for free weeding help.

A member of the buckwheat family, this native of Eurasia and the British Isles is also known as Rumex acetocella, and spreads vigorously via underground rhizomes.

Let caution prevail if consuming it. Sheep sorrel contain an abundance of oxalates, and according to Wikipedia, should be avoided by people with kidney stones and anyone taking diuretics where it can lead to diarrhea and a dangerous loss of potassium from the body. Memorial Sloan Kettering claims it may cause an upset stomach and abdominal cramps, and the oxalates can damage your liver.

Regardless, sheep sorrel’s a beautiful plant, and will always remind me of my dear old dad and my plant to get rich off of sour grass juice.

Orchids, No Longer Afraid


by Jennifer Odom

After the confident way Suzanne Farnsworth of Sazanna’s Orchids demonstrated repotting orchids and snipping of the keikis (pronounced kay-kees) which is the Hawaiian word for child, maybe I could do it too. It didn’t seem such a scary operation.

This little keiki (or shoot) has roots and is about big enough to clip from the parent and transplant.

I’ve always heard, “Just forget growing orchids, they’re too complicated and finicky. Orchids are tricky to grow, and you’ll just lose out.”

But, like with other plants, it’s less about the green thumb and more about understanding the plants. And Suzanne gave the visiting Master Gardener group plenty of tips.

For example, keep the plant out of direct sunlight, but give it nice bright light, (enough light to read by). For the phalaenopsis planted in sphaghum moss, don’t give them too much water, just  1/2 to 1/3 cup. Orchids do not like wet feet. And do not use soft water. How often? If you stick a finger in the medium and find it too dry, then water it.

 It’s perfectly fine for the roots to grow out of the pot. That’s how they act. In fact, many varieties are grown on a metal hanger for support, with their roots completely exposed, just like in the jungle! They also need air movement, the more the better. It cuts down on disease. Make sure to feed them  orchid food according to package directions. 

Is the orchid plant loose in its planting medium?

It’s about time to repot it, which comes around about every two years. Use the proper bark medium made of sequoia, sponge rock, and charcoal.

Do not use pine or oak. Oak and pine bark are going

Don’t plant the orchid too deep.

to rot too soon. Peat moss will retain too much moisture. Just buy the mix, which is available at Sazanna’s in Weirsdale, Florida or wherever orchids are sold.

Orchids grown on a mount such as cork, cypress boards, or redwood cedar are more natural than in pots. After all, they hang on trees in the jungle. (If you must use a pot, some of Susanna’s customers prefer clear pots for phalaenopsis orchids so they can enjoy the beauty of the roots. And too, says Susanna, the roots have a relationship with light).

Another trick Suzanne revealed is that when she must make a cut, such as separating keikis, or trimming up some roots while repotting, she uses a brand new sterile razor blade. Any tools must be cleaned so disease is kept at a minimum.

On all cuts Suzanne uses a light dusting of cinnamon powder which acts as a natural fungicide. Yes, regular old spice-cabinet cinnamon.

When dealing with young plants, an inverted u-shaped wire can be inserted into the medium to prop up bent leaves until they develop the proper memory for shape. But all orchid plants are delicate and can snap like young asparagus if handled roughly.

Because of that, when staking a flower stalk that is hanging low, you will have to do this in stages over a period of days or weeks. A quick change in direction can break them. Use a brown or green twist-tie to blend in, but do not twist. Wrap the stem smoothly and gently, remembering that the stem will grow in girth and you don’t want it to strangle.

Wrap the twist tie smoothly. Avoid garish red or yellow that take away from the plant’s beauty.

Maybe now you’ll feel more confident too, and venture out to find an orchid or two to play with. Until you try it, you’ll never learn to understand their beautiful ways.

And stop by Sazanna’s. She’d love for you to see her beautiful greenhouse and the gorgeous varieties for sale.

Sazanna’s Orchids & Supplies

15730 S Hwy. 35

Weirsdale, Florida 32195



Suzanne shows visitors that the real orchid root lies inside a surrounding spongy layer.

And God said, Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed, and the fruit tree yielding fruit after his kind, whose see is in itself, upon the earth: and it was so. And the earth brought forth grass, and herb yielding seed after his kind, and the tree yielding fruit, whose seed was in itself, after his kind: and God saw that it was good. And the evening and the morning were the third day. KJV Gen. 1: 11-13