A World of Herbs

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Herbs hold some wonderful secrets that we can share if we venture into their world for a moment. My favourite herb of the moment is Aloe Vera. Not a culinary herb perhaps but the benefits of aloe vera are enormous.

For example, the sap inside the leaves will help soothe and repair your skin after a minor burn. Perfect to grow on the kitchen windowsill and you don’t even have to remember to water it every day.

Many herbs will grow on a bright windowsill, although care should be taken that the sun isn’t too hot through the glass as this will scorch the leaves of your herbs, and will dry the pots out very quickly. If you have direct sunshine on your chosen windowsill, create shade for your plants during the hottest part of the day.

The quickest way to get a herb garden going is to buy small plants all ready to go. Many supermarkets in the UK sell small herb plants but any garden centre should have a choice of herbs. Stick to three or four if you’re new to growing herbs. You can add to your garden later. Always check on the growing requirements when you buy plants. Some hybrid varieties are less robust and may need to be grown indoors in a moderate climate.

Other herbs need a fair amount of space and may not be practical for the space you have available. Double check before you buy. Same goes if you’re starting your plants from seed. Read through the recommendations on the back of the seed packet so that you get an idea how big your plants could grow and also check on indoor/outdoor requirements.

Follow any ‘instructions’ as far as possible for best results. It’s worth investing in a Herb Book to refer to and be inspired by.

A couple of culinary herbs that work well on the windowsill or in a herb garden are basil and chives:

Basil is generally known as one of the tomato herbs, as a tomato really doesn’t taste right without it. Many shop bought sauces are tomato and basil based, and growing basil on the windowsill will save a trip to the shops from time to time, as well as avoiding processed food – always a plus.

Basil is an annual plant in moderate climates but will grow as a bi-ennial in a warmer environment, producing flower and seed in the second year.

Chives are perfect to add a mild onion taste to your recipe. The flowers are edible and decorate a green salad perfectly. Every year or so, gently dig up plants or tip out of their pots, separate the roots and re-plant. Chive plants make great gifts if you find yourself with far too many to use.

There are many herbs that can be grown for medicinal purposes, although always refer to a reliable source before administering medicinal herbs.

At the first signs of a cold, a thyme and lemon tisane can soothe symptoms – especially with a little honey added -and possibly even stop the cold germs in their tracks! And, barring any allergies, this prevention plan is safe for practically everyone.

There are thousands of fascinating herbs and you can get lost for days in research 🙂 Sticking to a few at first might be easier. Check out the books on this page Herb Books and get inspired!

Happy Gardening!

Linda x

P.S. This gorgeous planter for the windowsill is one of Amazon’s star buys! I think I might treat myself 🙂

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Indoor Herb Garden Kit – by Viridescent – Wooden Windowsill Planter Box for the Kitchen. Includes All You Need to Grow Your Own Herbs. Personalize with Chalk Provided. Perfect Gift Idea!

Check it out here

10 Awesome Facts about Aloe Vera

healingplants-aloeveraAloe vera has been widely used as a medicinal plant for centuries and in the last decade or so, we westerners have finally proved it’s value beyond any doubt. So, of course, aloe vera now appears in every conceivable product from juices to shampoos, creams to potions and beyond!

These ten facts are just the tip of the iceberg – the research that has been done using this miracle of nature is totally mind blowing.

1. Aloe vera was discussed in an ancient Egyptian document – around 3500 years ago – and gives 12 formulas for mixing aloe with other agents to treat internal and external disorders.

2. In the first century AD, the Greek pharmaco-botanist Dioscorides describes aloe vera as being a useful treatment for boils, bruises and mouth irritations. He also attributed it’s juices to cleansing the stomach and inducing sleep.

3. In the 1850’s, aloe was used to expel intestinal worms.

4. In the 1950’s, research was carried out on patients with gum disease. Sap from the plant was injected into affected gums and the treatment eliminated gum disease in most of the 150 patients.

5. Aloe vera is antibacterial, antifungal and antiviral. In fact nature’s first aid kit in a leaf!

6. When aloe vera is applied to a wound, as it dries it contracts and closes the wound keeping it free from infection. This is particularly good for animal wounds because if they lick the wound they won’t be affected by any unnatural chemicals found in some over-the-counter products.

7. Aloe vera helps reduce and stabilise the BMI (Body Mass Index) by stimulating the metabolic rate in liver cells so we burn more energy – and therefore helps in weight loss programmes.

8. Besides building cells and repairing tissue, amino acids are essential to keep our bodies healthy. Aloe vera contains 19 of the 20 amino acids we require.

9. Aloe vera contains at least 3 anti-inflammatory fatty acids making it a very effective treatment for rheumatoid arthritis, ulcers, allergic reactions and, of course, burns and cuts. It’s also a powerful cholesterol reducer.

10. Aloe vera is a wonderful alternative to products we buy every day that contain chemicals, such as shampoos and conditioners. The gel can even be used on damp hair instead of ‘setting’ lotions before drying and styling.

This quotation was written by Christopher Columbus:

“Four vegetables are essential to a man’s health: wheat, grapes, olives and Aloe. The first is a nutrient, the second fortifies the spirit, the third brings harmony and the fourth heals.”

If this has inspired you to grow a few aloe vera plants, you can! I’ve grown aloe vera in pots indoors for many years and it has proved itself over and over as a wonderful natural healer.

I’ve never tried growing plants from seed although it must be possible I guess. The easiest way is to make a relatively small investment in one or two plants and with a little tlc they will produce babies year after year 🙂
These plants on Amazon UK are about two years old. Have a look around, but grab a cuppa first – there are some great plants to browse!

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Set of 2 Aloe vera plants – approx. 2 years old – 10,5cm pot

 

 

To Your Good Health!

Linda

The Magic of Weeds

Weeds are simply wild plants and can hold a huge range of medicinal and nutritional properties, just waiting to be used.

Flowering weeds will also help encourage bees to your garden, and plants can be easily contained if you harvest them before they seed.

Dandelions

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Dandelions may be a gardener’s nightmare, but they are amazing little plants;

-Young leaves can be added to salads – only use very young leaves as they become bitter with age.

-The milky sap inside the stem can help cure warts and verrucas. Dab onto wart as it begins to show.

-The flowers can be made into a jam. (“tried, tested and delicious!”)

-The roots are used in dandelion and burdock cordials and also can be roasted and ground to make a caffeine-free substitute for coffee.

indexDaisies

Don’t mow down the daisies before you enjoy their magic!

Daisies have been recorded as a medicinal herb for centuries. They have been used to treat many ailments.

-Make a tisane from the flowers to soothe stress and anxiety

-Daisies have been used to treat wounds on battlefields and can help soothe bruising.

-A concentrated liquor or essence of the roots can help chronic skin disease such as eczema.

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– Wear gloves to protect your skin – unless you’re into ‘grabbing the nettle’ 🙂

-Young nettle leaves are full of vitamins and minerals and can be used in salads and soups and steamed as a green vegetable.

-Make a tisane, adding other natural ingredients to taste, e.g. honey, lemon etc;

-And the whole plant can be used to make a greenish dye.

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Collect some or all of these garden ‘weeds’ in any combination, for a super tonic to relax in the bath with:

-lawn daisies (flowers)
-dandelions (flowers and leaves)
-nettles (young leaves)
-blackberry/bramble (leaves)

Crush flowers and leaves together and place on a square of muslin. Bring up the edges to form a bag and tie securely with a length of string. Make a loop in the string and hang over the hot tap. Let the hot water run through the herb bag. Lie back and enjoy.

NB: When self-medicating, double and triple check your plants, methods of preparation and recommended doses – Google recipes and cross reference before you start treating yourself. Don’t be put off by 5 or 10 minutes research though. The long term benefits are priceless!

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Your Good Health!

Linda x