Saturday, June 26, 2010

Banana Tree: A new offshoot

Well our solo Banana Tree has begun creating its own community with a new asexually produced cultivar offshoot sibling. Banana Trees are not actually trees... they are stems shooting up from underground roots or corns. Our banana tree is a Ladyfinger which is a favourite with the adults but not so popular with the kids. I'm sure they'll learn to love them.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Aloe Vera: Succulent Burn Cream

Aloe Vera is highly effective in treating burns and wounds. We have used it on oven burns as well as sun burns with great results. It is also apparently useful in treating diabetes and some blood diseases. This is thought to be due to the presence of compounds such as polysaccharides, mannans, anthraquinones and lectins.

It is a perennial hailing from North Africa and the Mediterranean and has been used in herbal medicine for over 5000 years.

"Research studies highlight the tremendous healing powers of aloe when used both internally and externally. Some of the benefits include: as a pain and allergy inhibitor, for inflammation, fluid retention, perspiration odours, itching, hemorrhaging and to close cuts for cell regeneration and healing, to destroy parasites, harmful bacteria and fungi in the intestinal tract, to relieve bowel tension and help produce bowel movements, moisturise skin, increase blood flow, remove toxins and dead tissue, penetrate skin to reach tendons, muscles, joints and the lymph system, and promote the growth of new tissue. It also has a normalising action on fluid levels and the acid/ alkaline balance in the body. Research has shown that aloe vera can increase the proliferation of lymphocytes and stimulate natural immunity through killer cell activity. Aloe has a strong effect on the immune system, by activating and stimulating macrophages, monocytes, antibodies and T-cells, as well as increasing the number of anti-body forming Bcells in the spleen.

One of the most important functions of aloe is to aid the digestive system, as poor digestion can be responsible for many diseases. Our food comprises proteins, carbohydrates and fats that must undergo a process of digestion, which consists of breaking down complex substances into simpler ones so they can be absorbed and used by the body. Aloe is able to assist the body by providing the active properties of a large range of amino acids, monosaccharides, fatty acids and enzymes that act as catalysts in breaking down complex foods so the body can assimilate the nutrients more efficiently." - source

We are lucky enough to have over half a dozen of these plants growing in our circle garden. they take very little maintenance or watering and are as easy to use as snapping off one of their succulent stalks and rubbing the gooey sap onto any wound or burn.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Avocado - Transplanted Twins

Sometimes when you stop trying hard for something it just seems to happen on its own. We have had a pair of avocado trees volunteer in the middle vege garden. How an avocado seed got in there we don't know but I suspect small hands and a bit of mischief might have something to do with it. Of course we can't have avocado trees growing in the middle of our vege garden so we made the decision to transplant them to the bottom of the chicken coop in the old sandy loam garden that was there. Avocados like lots of drainage so they should be happy there. Cross fingers... we might finally be on the way to some Persea americano goodness.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Ginger: A tuber delicacy

I have been told that we haven't given enough air time to the many other citizens of our growing plant community so the months of June & July are dedicated to herbs, roots and medicinal plants that add their many benefits to our self sufficiency table.

First up is Ginger. Well we just planted our first tuber delicacy so there isn't must to report on it's progress besides the fact that it now exists.

Ginger is a versatile root and can be used as a delicacy in its own right or as medicine or spice. It began in South Asia and has spread throughout the world with the galleons and junks of the spice traders. The characteristic odor and flavor of ginger is caused by a mixture of zingerone, shogaols and gingerols, volatile oils that compose one to three percent of the weight of fresh ginger. Ginger has what is called a sialagogue action which stimulates the production of saliva, making swallowing easier.

It also has medicinal properties and can assist with slowing diarrhea, nausea for those of you who get motion sickness, dyspepsia, colic, arthritis, cholesterol, heart disease, congestion, coughs and colds. A powerful tool of the natural world.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Capsicums: Let me be

We have grown Capsicums several times in our vege patch but have found that they do better being left alone a little. The seem to resent too much attention. They are another versatile food (I mean really - nature gives us everything we need!) and can be used as spices, vegetables or even medicines. We mainly grow the red capsicums which have very high levels of vitamin C (though yellow and green capsicums have nearly as much) and are also rich in beta carotene which the body makes into vitamin A (important for healthy skin, boosts the immune system, and aids in night vision). They are also generally the most popular as they contain about two teaspoons of natural sugar and are consequently more pleasing to the palate (yellow capsicums have almost as much, but the greens have very little and are more bitter as a result)

This photo is of a current bush that has volunteered itself in our middle garden. We have watered and tended it little leaving it to the odd sprinkle of rain to see how it fared. Very well thank you very much apparently.