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Posts Tagged ‘grow

04
Jan
12

12 Medicinal Herbs I Grow and Use Often

Images left to right from top: comfrey leaf; thyme; dill flowers; dried hops flowers; St John’s wort flowers; potted kawakawa; broad-leaved plantain; yarrow flowers; yarrow leaves; lemon balm; feverfew; aloe vera; peppermint. 

There are masses of websites with info on medicinal herbs and quite frankly most of them are rubbish. Written by writers, not by doers they run of a list of ‘facts’, historical details, and an dizzying list of healing properties. What they don’t do is offer actual, real walk-out-into-the-garden-and-use details.

Here are a list of herbs I grow and use the most that don’t need a medical, herbal or botany degree to use or recognise. All have scientific backing. All are super easy. I’m not a herbalist, just a very keen gardener. I believe you should see a herbalist for the proper internal use of herbs (lots of active ingredients in plants can cause all sorts of issues).

Comfrey

I had monumental back and hip problems having a baby. My doctor suggested using comfrey poultices because my tailbone ached for months after. For me, it was a miracle cure. I scrunched up a couple of leaves, put them in a cloth and poured hot water of it and sat with it on the sore bit for 15 minutes a night. I was cured–could walk properly, carry my child and wasn’t constantly in pain. Sore knees, sprains, strains? Go find yourself some comfrey.

Thyme

For sore throats and mouth ulcers I boil the jug and pick a handful of thyme, or use the dried thyme I’ve collected. I let the thyme steep for 30 minutes and add a spoonful of salt. Tastes much better than store bought alternatives and works just as well.

Dill

I collect the seeds of my dill each year and they’ve been a godsend with a windy baby. After the first couple of months I stopped using gripe water (active ingredient is dill), and made herbal teas with crushed dill seeds and gave her tiny sips.

Hops

I have a tin next to my bed of hops, rose petals and lavender. When I’m having trouble getting to sleep I open it up and waft away with the delicious scents.

St John’s wort

St John’s wort is mostly associated with depression, but that’s a whole medical aspect I’m not prepared to get into here. But looking at those brilliant sunshiney flowers will definitely lift your mood. I use St John’s wort for burns and bruises by making a tincture which you can read about here. Warning! Weed alert: grow St John’s wort in a container.

Kawakawa

I battle winter colds with a kawakawa, lemongrass and ginger tea. Kawakawa is a native of New Zealand with a peppery bite. I collect and dry the ingredients and store them in an airtight container. I also chew on the leaves if I’ve got a toothache. Use the kawakawa leaves with lots of holes, the insects are showing you which leaves contain the most medicinal compounds.

Plantain

Insects love to bite me. Luckily I have lots of plantain growing everywhere. I grab a leaf and rub the underside on bites and it takes the itch right out of it.

Yarrow

There tends to be lots of cut fingers in my household–bloody DIYers. Beautiful white yarrow grows as a weed in my garden and wrapping a furry green leaf around the afflicted digit stops the bleeding.

Lemon balm

Brewed into a tea, lemon balm is marvellous for headaches, anxiety or when friends arrive feeling a bit down. It’s also said to be helpful to drink if you have a coldsore. I haven’t had a chance to test that yet.

Feverfew

I used to eat a leaf a day to ward off migraines. They taste pretty awful so I’d roll them into a ball and cover them with honey or mashed potato or peanut butter or just about anything to cover the bitterness. This is a longterm strategy, it will take about a month of continual use before the active compounds start kicking in. I haven’t taken it while pregnant or breastfeeding and suggest you don’t either.

Aloe vera

Sunburn, skin irritations, after-waxing redness? Aloe vera is my summer go-to plant. Grab an aloe vera spear, slice off the spikes, slit in half and rub juicy, refreshing aloe vera innards all over the skin. Instantly cooling, really soothing.

Peppermint

Nausea is the mindkiller-when you’ve got it, it’s very hard to think of anything else. Use peppermint for a zesty herbal tea to ease the quease.

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11
Jan
10

Growing New Zealand Yams / Oca

Back in November on my scavenger hunt to Taranaki, I found some oca (Oxalis tuberosa) tubers sprouting. I had never seen them growing before, didn’t know a thing about them other than how tasty the little blighters are, but jumped in anyway and bought a couple of punnets. I had a newly-developed bed and so popped them in there until I worked out what to do with them. It’s only taken about six weeks, but finally I’m catching up on just what makes a little oca grow. Continue reading ‘Growing New Zealand Yams / Oca’

03
Nov
09

Growing magic beans

heirloom bean varieties New ZealandTo me, seeds are mini miracles. When I hold them in my hand I get terribly excited by all that potential inside them. And eating something that grew from a little seed I planted and nurtured is simply incredible.

Some seeds themselves taste delicious and some just look beautiful – some are both. I have twenty varieties of different beans at home and no two look the same – spotted, speckled, stripey and squiggly in a range of colours, shapes and sizes.

If you’ve never dabbled in the wonders of seeds, beans are a great place to start. They’re keen beans, they grow fast. Satisfyingly so. They’re easy – soak them overnight in some warm water, then direct sow them into your garden keeping them moist. In seven days you should see them coming up. Be vigilant for slugs though!

Magic beans

Our modern beans are derived from plants that once grew wild in Central and South America. But we’ve been cultivating beans for ages and archaeologists have found traces of domesticated types that date back more than 7000 years. Heirloom gardeners have hundreds of varieties of bean to choose from. So I’m just going to focus on a few of my favourite shelled beans, all available in New Zealand, some of which have been available through Seedy Sunday. Continue reading ‘Growing magic beans’

02
Nov
09

Generosity: The other part of the how much to plant equation

generosityI always hear about people so sick of zucchini at that certain time of year.  Stories about sneaking it into muffins and scrambling to find as many uses as possible until they’re thoroughly sick of the sight of it. Then they do the same thing later with something else – silverbeet for example. Sound familiar?

What I can’t work out is why they simply don’t give it away. Or at least trade it for something else. 90% of New Zealand’s vegetables get bought at supermarkets – they can’t tell me everyone they know has a glut of zucchinis. If that’s the truth, they need to get out and meet more people.

So my big piece of advice is grow what you can. If it’s more than you can eat then give it away. Be generous – people will love you for it. Leave big bouquets of salad leaves on people’s doorsteps. Send herb clippings to your neighbour. Take your broccoli seedlings to work. Give your left over lemons to the food bank. Take your spare beans to Seedy Sunday. Trade some of those zucchinis for some new potatoes with the gardener down the road.

I do all these things regularly and I want to do them more. I love it. It makes me feel great. It makes me feel part of my community and it stops me from feeling isolated or sad. People love it and I feel like a better person. It’s a win win win situation.

Don’t be scared of planting too much – just don’t let your extras go to waste.

31
Jul
09

Emilia Hazelip’s Synergistic Gardening

Emilia Hazelip Synergistic garden bedsI’ve taken procrastination to whole new levels on this one and for that I apologise. We showed the Synergistic Garden video by Emilia Hazelip at the May Seedy Sunday.  Finally, I manage to get the notes up and a couple of links for your edification.

I have to admit, I’ve become a little obsessed by these beautiful beds, all curved and mounded in sweeping lines. I also love the very way they are constructed, in sort of gentle sweeping movements. Due to my terrain I’m not able to do them at my house, so I’ve been eyeing up other people’s gardens to work on.

Anyway, here are notes on the video including links to some other pieces on Emilia…

Continue reading ‘Emilia Hazelip’s Synergistic Gardening’

28
Apr
09

Everybody has space to grow vegetables…

gutter_gardensSometimes you just have to get a bit imaginative with it, like this Alaskan resident.

Using old guttering  provides the perfect depth for lettuce, spring onions, radishes, some cute little Parisian market carrots and most of your herbs. It’s easy maintenance and a great way to recycle.

How does your garden grow? (Juneau Empire via Make)

(via Lifehacker)

23
Mar
09

Ground is Broken for White House Kitchen Garden

Obama White House GardenWASHINGTON (AP) — Twenty-six elementary schoolchildren wielded shovels, rakes, pitchforks and wheelbarrows to help first lady Michelle Obama break ground on the first day of spring for a produce and herb garden on the White House grounds.

Crops to be planted in the coming weeks on the 1,100-square-foot, L-shaped patch near the fountain on the South Lawn include spinach, broccoli, various lettuces, kale and collard greens, assorted herbs and blueberries, blackberries and raspberries.

There will also be a beehive.

Read the rest of the article

(via Transition Towns Kapiti)




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