Natural Pharmacy

The natural health and well-being movements have been growing steadily as we are all realizing the benefits of living with nature rather than against it. There ‘s a natural pharmacy to be found all around us.

While I appreciate the amazing medical breakthroughs and necessary pharmaceutical drugs we have available now, I am also a great believer in looking to nature for a few remedies here and there. Especially since the big pharma stand to increase their profits by billions due to the so-called pandemic and their vaccination rollout.

I could rant on about that all day but for a little calm and peace 🙂 let’s check out just a few of the herbs that we can grow at home….

NB: Please don’t self-medicate unless you’re 100% certain you have the right plants and that their consumption won’t interfere with any prescribed medication or allergies.

BASIL

Culinary: Perhaps the most common use of basil today is its addition to tomato dishes and many people refer to it as the tomato herb.
Medicinal: Basil belongs to the same family of plants as mint and is considered to be a good digestive aid. Herbalists use it to help cure headaches, constipation and sickness.
Cosmetic: It has also been used cosmetically to add shine to dull hair.
Growing Tip: Position basil plants with peppers and tomato plants and they will enhance each other’s growth.

►A small cup of basil tea after a meal aids digestion.

BAY

Culinary: Add bay leaves to stews and casseroles.
Medicinal: Bay is known to have powerful antiseptic qualities. A traditional folk remedy for rashes caused by poison ivy, poison oak, and stinging nettle is a poultice soaked in boiled bay leaves
Cosmetic: Not really cosmetic but laurel was, for many centuries considered to be a symbol of success/prosperity.
Growing Tip: Bay trees will grow up to 15m if they are left to their own devices! Grow in large pots and containers. They need very little maintenance.

CELERY

Culinary: a nutritious and useful vegetable, it will also double up as a herb. The stems can be eaten fresh or cooked and they make delicious soup. Leaves can be added to soups and salads for flavouring.
Medicinal: Celery is used in Ayurvedic medicine for bronchial problems, including asthma, wind and as a nerve tonic. Seed sold for cultivation shouldn’t be used medicinally.
Growing Tip: Some types of celery are best grown in trenches so the plants may be earthed up later in the year, although many varieties will successfully grow on flat ground. Either way choose a sunny spot.

►Growing celery at home means you can make wonderful soups without going shopping. Wholesome, heart-warming and very nutritious. (And, I’ve heard it’s been used as an aphrodisiac!!)

CHAMOMILE

Culinary: Recipe idea: Chamomile tea is widely drunk as a mild sedative
Medicinal: Chamomile has mild sedative properties and has, for many years, been made into a soothing and calming tea. It aids digestion and alleviates symptoms of the common cold.
Cosmetic: Chamomile is also used in cosmetic preparations including hair lighteners and shampoos.
Growing Tip: Chamomile, like most herbs, will be better left to its own devices most of the time. It is also a good companion plant as it tends to repel bugs.
►Chamomile has been found useful for reducing joint inflammation such as arthritis and easing menstrual cramps

Amazing ay?!! And these are just four out of hundreds of herbs that exist on our planet just waiting to help us. Start growing your natural pharmacy today! (quick download Herb Books here)

Peace and good health.

Linda x

P.S.

I grabbed this text from my newly updated Healthy Body Hacks download listed here if you’d like to read more.

Growing Kale

Kale is a real honest-to-goodness superfood.

It contains iron, Vitamins K, A and C and is also high in calcium. Well worth growing for use later on in the year, when you want to boost the immune system so you can avoid winter colds and flu.

Kale is part of the brassica family and a particularly hardy crop, tolerating cold better than many other crops. Sow seed according to the growing recommendations on your seed packet and pick leaves when they are young and tender.

A healthy kale plant will keep growing right through the winter and is a wonderful source of vitamins.

Recent research has shown kale to be a powerhouse of vitamins and minerals and, although it’s a fairly ancient crop kale is fast becoming the next ‘superfood’.

Grab a few baby plants from your local garden centre to get them going quickly.

I started some kale seeds in a greenhouse, then re-potted the small plants and put them outside. Because we get a fair amount (slight understatement!) of rain in Cornwall, I’ve not really had to water them but I would suggest they should have a fair amount of water, although never waterlog them.

This is what they’re doing after just a few weeks and in a few more weeks, I think I’ll be picking a few leaves here and there.

I want to keep them going for cropping in the winter. I’ve never grown kale in pots before so we’ll see what happens!

This variety is ‘Dwarf Green Curled’

Starting some winter crop seeds now will give you some awesome nutritious and organic veggies in the cold months of the year.

Happy Gardening!

Linda x

P.S. Thompson & Morgan (UK) are a well-established company and have a number of different kale seed varieties. I think I’ll go for this one next time. (400 seeds for around £3)

Kale ‘Dwarf Green Curled’
Brassica oleracea

Attractive, dark, tightly frilled leaves

Exceptionally hardy

Grow Parsley at Home

Growing Parsley (petroselinum crispum):
(biennial)

Parsley has traditionally been used as a food garnish and flavouring, for head-dresses and even for adorning tombs during ancient Greek times.

It is probably the most under-used herb in the garden but is rich in vitamins and minerals, particularly iron. Gram for gram, parsley has more vitamin C than citrus fruits.

There are a number of different varieties. The most commonly used are the curly leaf and Italian flat leaf types which are added to many recipes, as well as being an attractive garnish.

Parsley originally grew wild in Mediterranean areas, but has been cultivated throughout Europe and America for many centuries.

In recent years, the remarkable properties of parsley have been well documented and the herb is freely used in professional and home kitchens although there is still a temptation to use it only as a garnish.

Parsley is effective in freshening the breath after eating garlic.

Growing:

Parsley likes to grow in a sunny spot, and thrives in a rich soil. It grows well in containers and can be dotted around the garden to grow with other herbs and vegetables. Varieties of parsley differ so much that it’s hard to tell they come from the same family sometimes. Try growing flat leaved and tight curly leaved varieties to compare.

Buy ready grown young plants from a nursery or garden centre to get your crop going quickly. But these plants are often started in forced conditions and are not hardened to cold nights. It’s unlikely the plants would survive if put out too early. Keep plants on a sunny windowsill and keep well watered. They may be transplanted a little later in the year, although a healthy parsley plant will keep green and fresh right into the winter months on a sunny windowsill.

Always ensure pots are well-drained, but parsley needs to be kept moist, so water regularly.

Choose a well-drained sunny spot outside. Parsley will tolerate some shade but the soil will need to be rich in nutrients for it to thrive. Dig over the ground and remove and perennial weeds and dig in some well-rotted manure or rich compost, if available.

From seed:

Parsley will grow readily from seed, but can take more than six weeks to germinate, so it needs to be started in a clean compost where the seeds won’t be drowned with weeds. Some growers soak the seed for 24 hours before planting to speed up the germination process.

Sow a few seeds in pots, and keep warm and the soil moist. When the plants come up, thin to one plant per pot. The seedlings you remove could be planted elsewhere, but consider how many parsley plants you may need. The thinnings may be better off in the salad bowl.

Seeds can be planted directly outside, but not until the weather is warmer. As parsley needs a long growing period, it’s generally better to start them in early spring in a greenhouse, or indoors.

When all danger of a frost has passed young plants can be transplanted into the garden, and containers can be put outside. Parsley is a heavy feeder, resulting in iron and mineral rich leaves. If your soil could be lacking in nutrients, parsley will benefit from a regular organic feed.

Start using the leaves when the plants are at least 8 inches (20cm) tall. Use all through the year. During the second year of growth, parsley will produce flower and seed. The seeds can be collected when ripe.

Parsley has a long tap root and tends to look after itself fairly well once it settles in, but it should never be allowed to dry out. Water regularly in dry weather.

Storing:

For seed collection: Hang flower heads upside down in a paper bag when the seed has started to form. Leave in a dry airy place until the seeds drop from the rest of the plant, then store seed in a sealed jar. Remember to label the jar and store out of direct light.

Parsley leaf can be dried: Hang the whole stems or lay on racks to dry, then crumble leaves and store in sealed jars. Label and again, store out of direct light. Whole stems of parsley can also be frozen.

Medicinal uses for Parsley:

Because of its high iron content, parsley is thought to strengthen the blood. It also has high quantities of vitamin C and is therefore a healthy herb to use as a vegetable. Parsley also freshens the breath and is a must-have with garlic bread!

This text is an extract from Growing 20 Everyday herbs.

Happy Gardening!

Linda x

P.S. Traditional Cornish Parsley Pie Recipe Here

“Gardening by the Moon”

Gardening by the moon isn’t a new idea. In fact new ideas tend to have driven out the traditional ways of gardening that have been feeding generations before us.

Choosing the right time to plant your vegetables can be tricky, but using the moon as your guide will help solve those problems.

Keep a moon chart with your gardening calendar

If you are going to be gardening by the moon this year, I would recommend grabbing a reference book and then perhaps downloading a moon chart for the year. I found this book on Amazon – I haven’t read it myself but it’s on my wishlist!
Moon Gardening: Ancient and Natural Ways to Grow Healthier, Tastier Food

General Gardening By The Moon

*Sowing: always choose a constellation appropriate to the crop you are sowing (i.e. favourable to fruit, root, flower or leaf plants) and preferably sow in the morning.

*Planting and pricking out: choose days when the Moon is descending and also, if possible, when it is opposite a constellation appropriate to the crop that you are growing (i.e. favourable to fruit, root, flower or leaf plants) and preferably in the afternoon.

*Weeding In wet weather: if possible, weed in the morning in a Fire or Air sign when the Moon is waning. In dry weather: weed in the evening, if possible, and in an Earth or Water sign when the Moon is waxing.

*Watering: To avoid plants developing shallow roots, instead of watering little and often, water them generously but less frequently. The ideal time to water is when the Moon is in the descendant and in the constellation of Virgo, Gemini or Libra.

*Mulching: mulch helps to fertilize and protect the soil, and limits the evaporation of moisture and weed germination. It is best to mulch when the Moon is waxing and in an Earth or Air sign.

*Aeration of the soil: This should ideally be carried out when the Moon is ascending Soil decomposes and breaks down more easily (via worms and micro-organisms) when the Moon is descending.

Vegetable gardening by the moon

Green Salad:
Until July, sow in a Water constellation when the Moon is waning in order to prevent the plants from going to seed.
During the autumn, sow green salad in a Water constellation, but when the Moon is waxing.

Potatoes:
Plant on a day favourable to ‘root’ plants.
To raise seed potatoes, plant when the Moon is in the sign of Taurus.
To avoid producing Green Potatoes, earth up when the Moon is in an Earth constellation and when it is waning.
To remove the eyes (buds) from potatoes that have been lifted and stored so that they will keep longer, choose a time when the Moon is waning and descending.

Cultivating the Soil:

The work of ploughing, planting, pricking out and spreading compost or manure is best carried out when the Moon is descending.

On light, sandy soil, if possible, combine the descending Moon with the waxing Moon.

On heavy clay soil, if possible, combine the descending Moon with the waning Moon.

“All these gardening by the moon gems are taken from my annual copy of ‘In Tune With The Moon’ But of course, these kind of books are annuals so a more general approach may be easier (see the book above) and then acquire a moon chart.

Happy Gardening!

Linda x

Growing Cherry Trees

The biggest offender of growing cherry trees in your garden is the weather. They are very particular about their climate.

-They don’t like long hot summers.

-They need a chilling out period during the winter.

-They don’t need a late frost!

The other garden enemy of the cherry tree is birdlife. Fruit trees will guarantee a huge garden bird population flocking to your garden.

But if you want to eat the cherries you will have to guard against the birds. They can strip a tree in less than half an hour. See below for ways of keeping the cherries for yourself!

Preparation

If possible, decide on the site for your tree/s some months in advance of planting. Soil Ph should be between 6.2 and 6.8. Check and adjust accordingly.Land must be well-drained. Cherry trees can’t tolerate wet feet.

Check the site throughout a rainy spell:
Dig a hole 2 or 3 feet deep. If the rainwater stays in the bottom of the hole for any length of time, the land isn’t well-drained enough for growing cherry trees.

Dig over the soil, remove all weeds and dig in well-rotted animal manure if available.

Choosing a cherry tree

From the small wild cherry thousands of years ago, our enjoyment of cherries has developed and we now expect to eat sweet varieties whenever in season.

Wild cherry trees can pop up all over the garden. Thanks to the birds spitting out the pips on their own doorstep! Tut!

This system can work well if the birds stay up in the heights of the old wild cherry trees, because they tend to ignore the garden cherry trees tucked away in the vegetable plot. That’s the theory but it doesn’t always work like that.

Browse your local garden centre catalogue or drop into a local nursery to have a look at the varieties available in your region.

Because cherries are sooo particular, many varieties have been developed to cope with different temperatures and viruses.

When you buy your cherry trees check instructions for:

Pollination requirements: as a rule sour cherries – the wilder varieties – are self-pollinating. Sweet cherries generally need cross-pollination and should be planted near a compatible variety.

Regional Compatibilty: Double check the variety is suitable for your region. Extreme temperatures will require a very special variety.

Planting Instructions: Growing cherry trees in your garden requires a little fore-thought. They are trees after all! There are a few dwarf varieties on the market and these may have specific planting instructions.

This is a cute patio version available from Thompson & Morgan (UK)

Cherry ‘Hartland’ (patio) Prunus avium
Sweet Cherry, Patio fruit tree

*Has a compact growing habit
*Superb for small gardens and patio containers
*Firm, dark red fruits with excellent flavour
*Self-Fertile – Eating Cherry

I had a look on Amazon but choices were limited. They have plenty of artificial trees and some cherry seeds but artificial trees don’t produce cherries and seeds take forever to grow into fruit-bearing trees! It may be worth a look but I think a local supplier may serve you better.

Planting

As mentioned above, instructions should be double checked before you plant your cherry tree.

Here is a rough guide to growing chery trees in your garden;

-Dig a large hole in your prepared soil, 18-24 inches (45-60cms) depending on the age and variety of tree.

-Tease out the roots of your tree, unless instructions state otherwise.

-Place the root ball at the bottom of your hole and fill in with soil. Press down firmly. When all soil has been packed back in the hole, use your heel to firm the tree in place.

-If required, place a stake in the ground next to the tree. This should be done before planting the tree so as to minimize damage to the roots.

-Water well.

Growing cherry trees – After Care

It’s easy to forget to water trees in the garden. New trees, especially fruiting trees, need lots of water until they are established. During hot summer periods your cherry trees will still require water to ‘swell’ the cherries.

Netting

Netting is considered dangerous to birdlife and it’s true, birds do get caught in nets sometimes, although there are wildlife friendly nets available at most garden centres and suppliers.

Or build a cage type affair to put over your trees when they start fruiting.

Build a square wooden frame that will sit over your tree and stretch very fine netting round all four sides and over the top. The very fine netting will stop the birds getting caught up, and you can enjoy a healthy crop of cherries.
This system works well when growing cherry trees on a small scale. If your trees are big or you have many of them, other methods such as bird scarers may be more appropriate.

The Harvest

Pick the fruit as it becomes ripe. Eat fresh off the tree or bake cherry tarts and pies.

Fresh cherries will store well for a number of days in a cool place.

Growing cherry trees successfully does need a little time and energy – but worth every delicious mouthful.

Happy Gardening!

Linda x

Pots of Superfoods

If all the grow your own thing is getting a bit overwhelming, or you don’t have time or the resources to grow all the crops your family needs to survive, opt for the best options and grow your own superfoods!

There are so many fruits and vegetables we can grow that are packed full of the good stuff…

Broccoli – has long since been recognized as a superfood and it’s one of those veggies you can eat on it’s own, although it’s always nice with a cheese sauce of course 🙂 There are dwarf varieties available that you can grow in containers or pots on the balcony or patio. Don’t try and grow huge heads of broccoli the first time you try it. Let the first head grow to a medium size then cut and eat. The plant should produce more small heads of broccoli and will keep you in florets for longer!

Spinach – again, since the days of Popeye, spinach has been recognized as a power packed veggie. Although the amount of iron the body can actually ingest from spinach is another issue. However, all green leafy vegetables have quantities of vitamins and minerals that are invaluable, especially during the winter months. Look around for varieties that you can grow in a small space. A small area of garden or a few pots on the kitchen windowsill are easier to maintain, and an enjoyable distraction from the washing up!

Watercress – if you can possibly find a way of growing watercress, you can almost guarantee a strong enough immune system to see you through changes in environment, weather and most other adverse conditions. If you have a water feature in your garden, maybe it could be adapted to growing watercress.

NB: if you find watercress growing wild, the water could be contaminated with animal droppings or agricultural chemicals that may or may not affect the taste of the plant but will affect it’s properties and cause illness.

But hopefully you don’t have sheep grazing near your water feature so it’s worth a try doing it at home.

Parsley – contains more iron than most vegetables, gram for gram, and can be grown indoors or out. Grow a few small plants in a fairly large pot ( make sure it’s well-drained ) and use good compost as parsley is a heavy feeder… hence all the goodness in the plant! Truly a superfood 🙂

Berries – berries and more berries. Where do we start? As soon as I get to grips with one kind of berry, yet another appears and is so much better than the rest. I think the best way to handle this berry dilemma is by growing what you like to eat.

Blueberries are very popular and little power houses of goodness. You can grow them in containers and they are readily available in most big garden centres and online garden stores. And the the fruits are usually quite expensive to buy in a supermarket, so it makes sense to grow your own if you like them.

And of course strawberries. It’s really worth thinking about investing in a strawberry planter if you haven’t got a garden patch available. And you can often be eating strawberries for many months as there are hybrid plants that produce fruits for longer than just one season. The ‘Albion’ variety, which is an everbearer/all season type, claims to produce fruit from June to October, and another new hybrid to try is ‘Finesse’ which doesn’t put out so many runners and produces more fruit.

There are hundreds of fruits, vegetables and herbs that can be grown in small spaces and will take hardly any time to maintain. The simple fact that there are so many choices available can be overwhelming. The best policy is to grow what you like to eat, and if you like to eat superfoods, include some of them in your gardening project.

Have a day out at your local garden centre and get inspired!

Or, if that isn’t an option try online. Amazon is a good place to start browsing for seeds and plants. This link will take you to their home and garden section .. then simply type into the search box what you’re looking for.

Home and Garden at Amazon

Happy Gardening!

Linda x

Beetroot and Health

2000 years ago, the Romans didn’t terrify themselves by Googling their symptoms when feeling icky.

When the soldiers went off to battle, they were given borage, the herb of courage, along with other herbs and natural feel-good stuff. And when it was time to have some fun, beetroots came to their aide.

The evidence of beetroots pictured on Roman walls would have been baffling if we didn’t know, now, that beetroot has a high ‘boron’ content. Boron has been proved to affect – in good ways – the hormonal system. Oh those guys!

So, time to re-balance those wayward hormones… 🙂

Beetroot is one of the easiest crops to grow in a moderate climate and the roots can be stored through pickling and made into all manner of delicious meals.

The following text has been unashamedly snitched from ‘Growing Winter Food’.

BEETROOT

Beetroots have been cultivated for many years although before the 17th century they were grown mainly for the leaves in the kitchen garden and the roots were grown specifically for medicinal preparations. Beetroot was considered to be an effective aphrodisiac. It contains the element ‘boron’, which has since been scientifically proved to have an effect on hormones.

The round purple/red root we eat today is just as nutritious, if not more so than the leaves. If you like the idea of using beetroot leaves in place of spinach or other greens, grow a line just for the foliage and another line for the roots.

It appears that beetroot was originally a seaside plant found over large coastal areas in Europe and Asia. The plant is well adapted to the vegetable garden and is probably one of the easier crops to grow in your garden.

Seed:

When you buy your seeds, make sure you know what you’re buying! Some beetroot seeds will be better for foliage than the roots. Try both if you have the space, or for root crops, select a good cropping everyday beetroot to start with.

If you can’t find a variety specifically for the foliage, grow a small line of any beetroot seed and use some of the plants for leaves and leave the rest to develop roots. When you remove leaves regularly the plant will produce more leaf and won’t put energy into developing the root.

The seeds are ‘multiple’ and will need thinning out later on, however thinly you sow them.

It may be possible to sow the seed in individual bio-degradable pots, but generally all root crops are better sown directly outside in the vegetable patch. If you transplant them, they tend to fork or split and won’t develop into healthy roots. If you do try using bio-degradable pots, remove the weaker seedlings to leave one in each pot as soon as they are large enough to handle. Soak the soil in water first so you don’t dislodge the plants you are leaving to leave to grow on. Firm the soil gently round the plants after thinning and water.

Planting:

Prepare your soil first. Beetroot doesn’t like an acid soil, so check your ph first if you aren’t sure. Add lime or any other organic material to re-balance the soil if necessary a month or so before sowing the seed.

Choose a sunny well-drained spot in the garden and dig over to a good depth. The cleaner and more prepared your soil, the better root crops develop. Remove any perennial weeds, large stones and non-organic debris and then rake over the surface to a fine consistency for your seeds.

Seed should be sown after all danger of a frost has passed. With a raised bed system and a plastic cloche type covering, you could start them a little earlier, but the seed won’t germinate well if it’s cold or doesn’t have enough light. Sow seed thinly in shallow drills, preferably positioning one seed cluster every few inches or so, leaving about 12 inches between rows. Cover with soil. Check on the manufacturer’s growing recommendations on your seed packet before you start for variety and regional variations.

Water gently after sowing and keep soil watered regularly in dry weather. Remove any weeds as they appear.

After a few weeks, your seedlings will need thinning out. Choose a wet day, or soak the ground first with water. Gently remove weaker seedlings leaving 4-6 inches of growing room for each plant. Again double check on your seed packet for spacing advice.

Firm the soil gently round the plants left in the ground. Water again if needed.

Keep beetroot plants healthy by watering regularly in dry weather and making sure they are weed-free.

They are a hardy root crop and fairly resistant to bugs and disease. Although all young plants will need protection against slug and snail attacks.

Harvesting:

The roots can be pulled and eaten as soon as they are golf ball sized. Make sure they are all collected before the first frost in the autumn or winter unless you have found a frost resistant variety. Try not to leave them too long as they can become woody and lose some of their flavour. Collect when they are quite small if you intend to pickle them.

Use a fork to gently loosen the soil around each beetroot before you lift it to prevent any damage. Remove the leaves by twisting them rather than cutting through the root.

Leaves should be collected regularly but never strip one plant of all its leaves. Take a few from each and the plants will stay healthy and cropping for longer in the season.

Storing:

Beetroot is generally stored in the form of pickled beetroot or it could be simply bottled as you would bottle any other vegetable. Bottling requires special equipment, but pickling can be done with just a large pan and some jars.
The roots can also be stored in the fridge for a week or so, or in a dark cool place for a few weeks. Keep an eye on them because they don’t tend to store as well as other roots. They could also be stored in a vegetable clamp if you are using this method to store root crops.

Vitamins:

Beetroots are high in dietary fibre, folate and vitamin C. The dark pigment actively helps fight free radicals in the body. Beetroots have been consumed in soup form for many years and are believed to be the secret ingredient to longevity.

Beetroot is packed with minerals and vitamins and all in all an excellent vegetable to include in a healthy diet. The high natural sugar levels make it one of the more sweeter tasting root vegetables, with an earthy after-taste. Delicious and nutritious and well worth including in the vegetable garden.

Happy Gardening!

Linda x

For the Love of Flowers

Be nice to yourself and indulge in one of nature’s awesome creations – give yourself a gift of flowers from time to time.

I suppose we don’t actually NEED flowers in our daily schedules but since when did us humans stick to what we need? And anyway, bees need flowers and we need bees so no argument here!

Giving flower gifts is always a thoughtful experience and is a gift that’s definitely not about money. A large bouquet from the local florist will no doubt be beautiful and well worth the cash it costs but, equally, the small bouquet of wildflowers lovingly collected by an adored one will bring joy into your life.

And there are added bonuses:

Many blooms have traditional meanings attached to them. Roses for example are a sign of love, although roses are divided into colour meanings as well. Red = true everlasting love, yellow = friendship and pink = happiness.
Carnations have similar meanings. Red carnations are a symbol of admiration whereas white are a symbol of innocence, or pure love.

Sprays of dried flowers and grasses can make beautiful displays in your home over holiday seasons, or maybe everyday?

Flowers can be pressed into scrapbooks and journals. Why not create a journal of year round specimens – another flower gift idea.

They are also pressed for their scent and many perfumes are flower-based. Oils are extracted for natural remedies and cosmetic applications. To create ‘oil-based’ flower gifts, you’ll need to read some specialist material first. A little research can go a long way especially as ideas for other gifts may come to you.

Flower preparations can be time-consuming to produce and therefore often expensive to the consumer. The absolute best way round this is to go directly to the source and grow your own!

Check out a few online stores or your favourite garden centre. Amazon, of course, sell just about anything you could possibly want so that may be a good place to start even if you don’t directly buy from them. Thompson and Morgan (UK) have many products on Amazon including this Cottage Garden Flower Seed collection…

Mixed Cottage Garden Flower Seed Annuals Grow Your own Colourful Plants Such as Cornflowers, Mallow & Marigolds 200 g Pack by Thompson & Morgan

AND it doesn’t matter what month it is or what the weather’s playing at, you can still plan your flower garden.

The choice of flowers, plants and herbs available is so vast, you may as well start planning straight away!

Your flower garden can include all kinds of practical plants as well as simply looking gorgeous…

Herbs attract the nice guys in the bug world who in turn help rid your garden of pests! Thyme flowers are so delicate and beautiful they really should be part of your herb garden.

Edible flowers include marigolds, nasturtiums and even some roses.

NB: Always double check on edibility before you pop a plant in your mouth! List of 10 Edible Flowers here

Decide on themes, colours, scents and set about choosing your favourite blooms. A beautiful flower display can involve some careful planning. Alternatively you could buy a wildflower mix or a cottage garden mix mentioned above and scatter the seed randomly. Nature is often it’s own favourite artist!

Plan a beautiful display of flowers throughout the winter months and early Spring. Tulips, crocuses and hyacinths are just a few of the colourful flowers you could be growing right now!

If you’re still not convinced, browse through a few gardening catalogues. Wake up and smell the flowers – you won’t remember how you lived without them!

To the joy of nature

Linda x

Let’s get Growing

“We don’t have to grow EVERYTHING! But growing SOME of your own food involves fresh air, organic nutrition and glorious tastes, so why not give it a go? :-)”

We’re all wising up to the packaging and processing problems with our food supplies these days, so what better solution than to grow your own food. This isn’t really as difficult as it may sound. The bad press gardening has had revolves around having to produce ALL our own food. We don’t have to!

Let’s Get Growing….

Just a few herbs on the windowsill will add a touch of ‘je ne sais quoi’ to your every day meals – you won’t have to buy expensive processed pasta sauces if you have a few tomatoes and herbs available.

All in all, it may as well be a fun experience, so choose what you WANT to grow. As long as it’s indigenous to your region, you will get a crop, with a little TLC of course.

-Consider how much time you want to spend with your new hobby.

-Plants need watering – maybe every day, and perhaps a little maintenance later on (tomatoes need pinching out for example)

-Organize space for plants in the garden, or pots and containers.

Many vegetables can be grown in containers if outside space is limited. You can buy specially designed strawberry containers, potato barrels etc; simple large pots will be good enough for many vegetables. Research a few ideas before you go rushing off to the garden centre though.

And then there are herbs. Probably the most practical plant genre in existence. Herbs have been cultivated for culinary, medicinal and cosmetic uses for centuries, and beyond!

Flowers are a wonderful addition to your garden and many of them can be eaten as well as admired.

With a few basics and some good seeds, gardening is probably one of the most rewarding and healthiest hobbies you can undertake. Make this year a healthy one 🙂

Growing Everyday Vegetables is a quick download and a handy reference for your veggie growing:

Growing Everyday Vegetables

Growing Everyday Vegetables takes you step-by-step through the process of growing, harvesting and storing ten everyday vegetables:
Beans, Broccoli, Carrots, Garlic, Lettuce, Onions, Peppers, Potatoes, Tomatoes and Zucchini.
And, as an added bonus, there are recipe ideas so you can serve delicious food that the whole family will enjoy.

Let’s get growing!

Linda x

P.S. Related pages: er, really too many to list. Browse via the menu and get inspired 🙂

Growing Aloe Vera

The essential kitchen windowsill plant. Aloe vera gel (inside the leaf casing) is wonderful for soothing minor burns. I couldn’t do without an Aloe Vera in the house!

Medicinal uses for Aloe Vera

The medicinal uses for aloe vera are well documented and various. One particularly benefit is a treatment for burns. The sap in the leaves can be applied directly to a minor burn. It aids the body in its healing process and the wound will be much relieved.

The sap also relieves pain from stinging insects and plants. It will also soothe sunburn.

An interesting feature of aloe vera plants is that they continue to release oxygen and absorb carbon dioxide at night which makes them suitable plants to keep in the bedroom.

About Aloe Vera

Historical evidence suggests that aloe vera originated in Africa although it is now grown in many countries. In moderate climates, aloe is often grown as a houseplant and thrives well in containers. It will grow happily in humid conditions as long as the roots aren’t in water. The plant will tolerate very high temperatures as well as very cold air temperatures. But low ground temperatures will damage the roots.

The use of aloe vera in medicinal preparations has been recorded for more than 2000 years. The sap from the leaf of the plant is a thick gel and it is this gel that holds all the healing ingredients aloe vera is becoming more and more well-known for. There is a wide commercial trade in aloe vera and it has been proved to cure many minor ailments as well as some chronic conditions.

The plant is 95% water and is therefore frost tender. It is normally grown indoors as a houseplant in the UK and similar climates. In warmer climates aloe vera can be grown outside in full sun or very light shade.

Growing

Aloe vera has become very popular in recent years and is available in the form of ready grown plants from many garden suppliers. Plants should be kept on a sunny windowsill and kept indoors for most of the year. During warm summer months, pots can be put outside during the day. Don’t forget to bring them in before the temperature drops.

Offsets:

The quickest way to propagate aloe is to take the offsets from the main plant and re-pot immediately using new compost and a container that can be positioned in the sun. Offsets should be 3 or 4 inches (8-10cm) high or more with 3 or 4 leaves and removed carefully so as to minimize damage to the mother plant.

All pots and containers must be very well-drained. Add extra sand or gravel to compost before planting. Water immediately after planting and then let the soil dry out almost completely before watering again.

Use the offsets as they become large enough to remove from the plant, to produce new plants. Give them away if you have too many.

From seed:

Aloe vera can be grown from seed although it can take anything from one to six months to germinate. It must be kept warm during this time. It should be started in well-drained trays or pots of warm fresh compost and kept damp. Water gently but regularly.

When the plants are large enough to handle, prick out carefully into individual pots and keep warm. Position in a sunny spot, either in a greenhouse or on a windowsill. If you are planting outside choose the sunniest spot in the garden away from draughts and frost pockets.

Protect with a cloche or other cover during the night until the plant has become established, and during the next cold season. Remember aloe vera is a tropical plant and likes warm humid weather and plenty of sun.

Re-potting:

Plants will need re-potting every year or so, depending on the size of the pot, how well it grows, and also the quality of the original compost.

Aloe vera has shallow wide spreading roots and it should be re-potted into a container that is wider but not necessarily deeper than its current one. Always use fresh compost when re-potting and mix in some sand to help with the drainage.

During the summer months, aloe vera should be watered well and then left to dry out completely before watering again. During the winter months, the plant rests and requires very little water. When the soil is completely dry add a cup or two of water. The plant is a succulent so holds a lot of water within the leaves and roots, and will rot if watered too much and too often.

Storing

Aloe Vera is an evergreen succulent and available for use all year round. The gel inside the leaves can be stored and is widely processed in aloe vera preparations. However, in commercial processing, it is usual to use the whole leaf as it is more cost effective.

“One of the most practical plants you can grow indoors that doesn’t really need much looking after.”

Linda x

P.S. This article was stolen from 20 Occasional Herbs. Listed on the Herb Books page if you’d like to know more.