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Plant friends, you probably know my brain broke a little bit last year when Dr Elle Barnes explained plant science and how the smells we know and love are actually something called VOCs, or volatile organic compounds, that plants use to communicate with each other. I had another mind-blowing experience as I researched my book Growing Joy and learned that scent and smell is one of the most powerful senses for memory and feeling. No wonder candles and essential oils are so popular! For this episode, our guest Chris Satch, a dear friend and Bloom and Grow's repeat guest, breaks down and dives under the surface to explain the what's and why's behind essential oils. Time to get exploring!

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In this episode we learn:

  • [00:50] Introducing Chris
  • [02:48] How is this episode about essential oils?
  • [05:44] How Chris became the plant parent he is today
  • [07:50] What is essential oil?
  • [09:32] What makes up the essence of a plant?
  • [11:13] What are VOCs and what are their different functions?
  • [13:38] The truth behind the smell of freshly cut grass
  • [14:37] How Maria has been engaging her sense of smell in the garden
  • [15:35] How plants can attract or repel pests based on their smell
  • [17:20] How do secondary metabolites work? What is the natural function of caffeine?
  • [19:36] How do you make your own essential oils?
  • [20:08] What is the process of enfleurage? What are the basic components of enfleurage?
  • [22:04] What is cold pressing or cold extraction best used for?
  • [22:44] How does the distillation process work for essential oils?
  • [23:16] The advantages and disadvantages of steam distillation
  • [26:39] What is one mistake people make when extracting essential oils?
  • [28:14] What is the extraction method? Why don’t some people prefer extraction? 
  • [32:31] Where to get the best fertilizers for all your garden needs
  • [34:58] How to grow a year-round garden with foolproof seeds
  • [36:57] What is the most accessible method to make your own essential oils?
  • [39:42] Extracting lavender essence at home using steam distillation
  • [41:44] Applying the extraction method at home for lavender essential oil
  • [44:00] Chris’ recommended method for beginners
  • [46:46] What are the different compounds that make up our favorite and not-so-favorite scents?
  • [51:39] An easy way to further enrich and explore your growing garden!
  • [54:36] Chris’ favorite essential oils and plant essences
  • [56:04] What are some benefits of hinoki essential oil?
  • [57:55] Can all plants produce essential oils?
  • [01:00:21] Why are scents personal? How is smell related to memory?
  • [01:02:17] What are scented plants that you can add to your collection?
  • [01:05:52] Where to get your plant consultation spot with Chris!
  • [01:06:56] Easy and simple ways to explore your sense of smell in the garden!
  • [01:08:17] Different ways to use essential oils at home and while traveling
  • [01:11:06] Maria’s favorite essential oils and their uses
  • [01:14:15] Closing remarks

Mentioned in our conversation:


Here are links Chris provided for further research!

Check out Chris's blog on the subject:

Active ingredients chart:

Thank you to our episode sponsors:

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