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Snake Plant Growing Guide

Snake Plant Growing Guide

SHORTCUTS: Ideal Environment, How to Plant, How to Water, Companion Planting, How to Propagate, How to Harvest, Parts Used, Preparations, Uses, Key Constituents, Key Actions, Research.

Information

Sansevieria trifasciata, Snake Plant, Mother in law’s tongue
FAMILY ASPARAGACEAE
An evergreen perennial plant with stiff leaves that grow vertically from a base. The leaves are long and green with light greenish cross banding. The plant is said to be native to west Africa, it has several names around the world and is associated with a spirit being that holds the crossroads between our worlds and thus used for communication and in protective rituals, as well as other stories.

Growing Environment

Ideal Environment 

Mother in Law’s tongue prefers shaded areas and well drained soil.  The plant can tolerate a variety of soils but is native to tropical areas so prefers warmer weather.   It makes an excellent indoor plant, so you can grow one in cooler areas,  it requires little light and just a little bit of water.

How to Plant

How to Plant 

A mature plant can reach up to 1.5 meter high and will spread through a creeping rhizome, so provide enough space if planted outdoors.  For indoor planting you can use any medium to large pot, depending how big you want it to get.

Watering

How to Water

These plants really do not need allot of water, if planted outside and it is warm with no rain you can water every two to three weeks, during the winter months you can water ever other month to every two months.  The roots will rot if over watered.

Companion Plants

Companion Planting 

If your Sansevieria trifasciata is sharing its space with others make sure they require irregular watering and well draining soil too.

Here are the Companion Plants by group: Herbs, Flowers, Trees, Vegetables, Berries, Fruit and Mushrooms

How to Propagate

How to Propagate 

Mother in Law’s Tongue can easily be propagated by dividing the rhizome or by making cuttings.

Harvest

How to Harvest

Mother in Law’s Tongue is not edible, but the strong plant fibres do get used to make bowstrings and there are reports and research for various medicinal uses.

Medicinal Plants Parts Used

Parts Used

The leaves and rhizome are usually used.

Medicinal Preparations

Preparations

The plant should not be taken internally because it is toxic.  I have read recipes for warm juice that is dropped into the ear and decoctions that are used in research, but there is too little information available to make any conclusive remarks.

Plant Uses

Uses

Mother in Law’s tongue is really a beautiful house plant with great air filtering abilities. A study by NASA found that it is one of the best plants for improving indoor air quality by passively absorbing toxins such as nitrogen oxides and formaldehyde (19).

Constituents

Key Constituents

Alkaloids, saponins, flavonoids, phenols, glycosides, proteins, Anthocyanin, betacyanin, phytosterol, steroids and carbohydrates

Key Actions

Key Actions

Removes environmental toxins (19). Anti-bacterial, Anti-microbial (17), anti-diabetic and possibly more based on how it has been used in the past such as to treat shingles, ear infection etc. (17, 18).

Research

Research

According to NASA it is an important removed of the following environmental toxins: Benzene, formaldehyde, trichloroethylene, xylene, toluene, but not ammonia (19). The results obtained in one study suggest it might be usable in fever and inflammatory disorders (18).


USEFUL LINKS: About the Growing Guides, The Medicine Garden, Companion Plants, Basic Preparations and Plant Constituents. Disclaimer. References.

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Wine Cap Mushroom Growing Guide

Wine Cap Stropharia mushroom growing guide

SHORTCUTS: Ideal Environment, How to Plant, How to Water, Companion Planting, How to Propagate, How to Harvest, Parts Used, Preparations, Uses, Key Constituents, Key Actions, Research.

Information

Wine Cap Stropharia
Stropharia rugosoannulata
FAMILY STROPHARIACEAE
Stropharia mushrooms, also called “garden giant”, burgundy mushroom or king stropharia are beautiful and delicious mushrooms that you can grow in your garden and as a companion to vegetables. Wine Caps are easy to identify and can grow up to 20cm high and 30cm in diameter – huge!

Growing Environment

Ideal Environment 

You can grow wine cap stropharia mushrooms on a wood chip bed in a shady spot in your garden, under some trees or between ferns, corn or even behind a shed.  As far as mushrooms go the wine caps are more flexible in terms of their light requirements so they can tolerate semi shade when you are integrating it into the garden as opposed to an isolated bed.

How to Plant

How to Plant 

The easiest method is to purchase some stropharia mushroom spawn from a local supplier which you can use to inoculate your wood chip bed.  You will also need cardboard, wood chips (no older than 12 months) of mixed species and fresh straw (both soaked overnight and drained).  Clear an area and dig about 10cm deep, lay down overlapping cardboard and wet it, then layer wood chips, spawn, straw, with about 3 layers of wood chips.  On average 2kg of spawn will work for a bed of 2m x 1.5m.

Watering

How to Water

The stropharia mushroom bed should be watered thoroughly the day you make it and then once a week after that if there is no rain, especially during the warmer months / drier season.

Companion Plants

Companion Planting 

Wine cap stropharia mushrooms can be grown with vegetables, under trees and between trees or used to fill some lost space in the garden that is nice and shady.

Here are the Companion Plants by group: Herbs, Flowers, Trees, Vegetables, Berries, Fruit and Mushrooms

How to Propagate

How to Propagate 

Once you have established your stropharia mushroom bed it is easy to maintain by simply adding about 5cm of wood chips and/or  straw every season.  You can also create additional new beds by taking some of the chips from your bed and dividing it.  

Harvest

How to Harvest

Wine cap stropharia mushrooms will start fruiting anywhere between a few months and a year depending on your climate etc.  Harvest mushrooms by gently twisting and pulling them off (or cut them if you prefer).  They can be kept in a brown paper package for a few days in the fridge. 

Medicinal Plants Parts Used

Parts Used

Only the fruiting bodies of the stropharia mushrooms are eaten. Be sure to identify the mushrooms before harvesting! They have a reddish-brown cap that changes from dark to light as the mushroom matures, there is a “king crown” ring around the stem and the stem is fibrous and full of air pockets.

Medicinal Preparations

Preparations

Wine Cap stropharia mushrooms can simply be fried with a little butter and garlic, made into a sauce, great in stir fry, used in ristotto or pasta dishes, on sandwiches and burgers, in a stew, soup, pickled, a pate, in an omelette, ontop of mashed potatoes, on pizza etc.

Plant Uses

Uses

Stropharia mushrooms are best used as a regular addition to your diet, especially as a source of protein if you are vegetarian / vegan. 

Constituents

Key Constituents

Stropharia mushrooms are nutrient rich, high in protein, amino acids, and minerals.

Key Actions

Key Actions

Improved overall nutrition, increased vitamin D levels, improved immune function and improved digestion.

Research

Research

In the journal Applied and Environmental Microbiology one study found stropharia to have the ability to attack the nematode Panagrellus redivivus, for more information read about nematophagous fungus. 


USEFUL LINKS: About the Growing Guides, The Medicine Garden, Companion Plants, Basic Preparations and Plant Constituents. Disclaimer. References.

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Shiitake Mushroom Growing Guide

Shiitake Mushroom Growing Guide

SHORTCUTS: Ideal Environment, How to Plant, How to Water, Companion Planting, How to Propagate, How to Harvest, Parts Used, Preparations, Uses, Key Constituents, Key Actions, Research.

Information

Lentinula edodes
FAMILY MARASMIACEAE
Shiitake mushrooms are edible and delicious. They can be used fresh or dried, are native to East Asia and are known to have been cultivated for at least 1000-2000 years. Today we know you can grow these wonderful mushrooms at home on an oak wood log.

Growing Environment

Ideal Environment 

You can grow Shiitake mushrooms in a grow bag (saw dust usually) or on oak logs.  If treated correctly and placed in the right environment, it is said that logs can last for up to 5 years and fruit 3 times a year.  It takes a year or so before they start fruiting, but it is worth the wait if you have a shady spot in your garden.  The ideal temperature for them is somewhere around 8 to 23 degrees Celsius.

Cut the logs during the winter and inoculate them  in the spring.  Remember the bark should be in tact. Make sure the logs are stored in a shady spot (no direct sunlight), under some trees or between ferns, even under some garden sheet covering or behind a shed.  You can place several logs on-top of each other to create a structure that will not take up too much space and you can place them partially in the soil so that there is enough moisture.

How to Plant

How to Plant 

Purchase pre-made dowels (wooden plugs) from an online shop that already has the mycelium (the white stuff) growing on it, or buy you own plugs, spores etc. and make your own.  Drill a hole about as big as the dowel and insert the dowel, hammer it down till it is level with the surface and seal with a little bit of heated wax.  Repeat this for each hole, make about 12 to 18 per log, depending on the size, at least every 30 cm.

Watering

How to Water

The logs should never dry out completely, but it they are on top of the ground or some are, then it should be fine.  During the winter you can cover it with some leaves, a cover or even snow is fine.  During the harvest time you can shock the logs every 8 weeks to encourage fruiting (water and bump them against the ground), and you can keep the logs moist if you live in a drier area (if no rain, hose the logs down once every other week).

Companion Plants

Companion Planting 

Oak logs with shiitake mushrooms growing on them make an excellent feature in a garden.  Place them under trees, between trees or fill some lost space in the garden that is nice and shady.  In general mushrooms make fantastic companion plants, usually oyster or white mushrooms are the best.  Mushrooms that grow on the roots of plants help them take up additional nutrients. 

Here are the Companion Plants by group: Herbs, Flowers, Trees, Vegetables, Berries, Fruit and Mushrooms

How to Propagate

How to Propagate 

Shiitake mushrooms can be grown from spores (buying or collecting) or by cloning the mushrooms, by simply taking bits and placing it on the substrate.  Remember that you should work as clean as possible to avoid contamination, sterilise what you can.  After a couple of weeks you will start seeing the mycelium (white network growth).

Harvest

How to Harvest

Usually in Autumn in South Africa, but I have seen them at other times (around 18-20 degrees Celcius is good).  To encourage fruiting you can wet the logs and give it a good bump against the ground (shocking it), once every 8 weeks only.  Harvest mushrooms when they are open, well rounded with open gills underneath.  Pick them by gently twisting base or cutting them off, take care not to harm the mycelium.

Medicinal Plants Parts Used

Parts Used

Only the fruiting bodies of the mushrooms are eaten.  They can be used fresh or dried and is always cooked.

Medicinal Preparations

Preparations

In general you can use the mushrooms as you would brown mushrooms, for example they make an excellent sauce that can go with fish, chicken, pork, lamb or beef.  

You can use them in stir fry, soup, pickle them, make pate, add it to stews, sauces, in an omelette, thai soup or curry, with pasta, inside potato gratin,  risotto and allot of vegetarian dishes.

Plant Uses

Uses

Shiitake mushrooms are best used as an addition to your diet. Shiitake is used medicinally for diseases involving depressed immune function (including AIDS), cancer, environmental allergies, fungal infection, frequent flu and colds, bronchial inflammation, heart disease, hyperlipidemia (including high blood cholesterol), hypertension, infectious disease, diabetes, hepatitis and regulating urinary inconsistancies (14).

Constituents

Key Constituents

Shiitake mushrooms is known as a medicinal mushroom due to its long history of medicinal use, mostly in Asia. Shiitake mushrooms are a good source of Dietary Fiber, Riboflavin, Niacin, Vitamin B6, Zinc and Manganese, and a very good source of Pantothenic Acid, Copper and Selenium (9).

Key Actions

Key Actions

Possibly anti-bacterial, immune system boosting, and anti-viral.

In general mushrooms are very healthy to eat because of their Vitamin D content. You can also let them sundry for a day or so, apparently this adds extra vitamin D that stays in the mushrooms for at least 6 months according to a few sources.

Research

Research

There are some studies that show mushrooms, and specifically Shiitake mushrooms can boost the body’s immune system. Shiitake mushrooms are researched for their anticancer properties (14).


USEFUL LINKS: About the Growing Guides, The Medicine Garden, Companion Plants, Basic Preparations and Plant Constituents. Disclaimer. References.

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Adzuki Bean Growing Guide

Adzuki Bean Growing Guide

SHORTCUTS: Ideal Environment, How to Plant, How to Water, Companion Planting, How to Propagate, How to Harvest, Parts Used, Preparations, Uses, Key Constituents, Key Actions, Research.

Information

Vigna angularis
FAMILY FABACEAE
Adzuki beans are annual legumes, small dark red beans that have been cultivated since 4000 BC. They contain up to 25% protein which makes them a delicious super food that is easily digested. Adzuki beans grow on a vine, up to 60cm, with yellow flowers that form long green pods. They can be used in sweet and savory dishes, used fresh, dried (soaked before cooking) and sprouted.

Growing Environment

Ideal Environment 

Adzuki beans should be planted during frost free periods in rich, loamy and well drained soil.  They enjoy sun and can tolerate cooler evenings and partial shade.

How to Plant

How to Plant 

Beans are planted about 20mm deep.  Plants should be 10cm apart in rows that are 40cm apart. Soaking the beans overnight in water prior to planting will reduce the germination time

Watering

How to Water

Water daily until the beans have emerged, then every other day until they are about 10cm tall.  After that they should be watered at least once every 5 days if there is no rain.  In general, be generous with water but make sure they are well drained, they do not like sitting in wet soil for prolonged periods.

Companion Plants

Companion Planting 

Like other beans, they can fix nitrogen in the soil. Their vining nature covers the ground, sheltering moisture and thus providing a humid, cooler microclimate for surrounding plants such as carrots, celery, chards, corn, eggplant, potatoes, brassicas, beets, radish, strawberry and cucumbers.

Here are the Companion Plants by group: Herbs, Flowers, Trees, Vegetables, Berries, Fruit and Mushrooms

How to Propagate

How to Propagate 

Saving some of the beans for next season is the best way to ensure a steady supply.  Let some of the pods dry on the vine towards the end of the season, harvest them when they are dry or let them dry out for a week before breaking open the pods and saving the beans in a cool place in an airtight container.

Harvest

How to Harvest

Adzuki beans can be harvested when they are still young or when they are mature and dry, usually about 120 days.  During the growing season you can harvest the green beans when you can see the beans outlined in the pod, about once a week is sufficient.

Medicinal Plants Parts Used

Parts Used

The beans.

Medicinal Preparations

Preparations

They can be used in sweet and savory dishes, used fresh, dried (soaked before cooking) and sprouted.

Plant Uses

Uses

Incorporate the Adzuki beans as a regular item in your diet as a mineral rich source of protein.

Constituents

Key Constituents

Adzuki beans are a good source for a variety of minerals, with 1 cup of cooked beans providing an estimate of 4.5 mg of iron, 119 mg of magnesium, 1.2 g of potassium, 4 mg of zinc and 278 μg of folic acid.

Key Actions

Key Actions

Minerals are essential for a healthy mind-body. With up to 25% protein, Adzuki beans are a super food.

Research

Research

According to foodnutritionresearch.net Adzuki beans have been used in a rat study as a possible treatment for obesity with success. (27)


USEFUL LINKS: About the Growing Guides, The Medicine Garden, Companion Plants, Basic Preparations and Plant Constituents. Disclaimer. References.

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Celery Growing Guide

Celery Growing Guide

SHORTCUTS: Ideal Environment, How to Plant, How to Water, Companion Planting, How to Propagate, How to Harvest, Parts Used, Preparations, Uses, Key Constituents, Key Actions, Research.

Information

Apium Graveolens
FAMILY UMBELLLIFERAE
Celery is a biennial that grows about 40 cm high and is more familiar as a vegetable than medicine but it has long been used as a medicine. It is a good cleanser, diuretic, lowers blood pressure and the seeds are used for arthritic conditions (1).

Growing Environment

Ideal Environment 

Celery likes fertile soil with an abundance of organic matter, cool temperatures and constant moisture. It will not tolerate heat and can be hard to transplant.  Tie growing celery stalks together to keep them from sprawling.

How to Plant

How to Plant 

Seeds are sown in spring and covered with a thin layer of soil, 6 to 10mm.  Plants 25 x 30cm apart. Soaking seeds in warm water overnight prior to planting will reduce germination time.

Watering

How to Water

Be generous with water and make sure the soil does not dry out completely.

Companion Plants

Companion Planting 

Celery is said to go well with bush beans, the cabbage family, tomatoes and onions.

Here are the Companion Plants by group: Herbs, Flowers, Trees, Vegetables, Berries, Fruit and Mushrooms

How to Propagate

How to Propagate 

Propagation is done through seeds.  To save seeds let some plants go to flower and pick the stalks as they begin to dry and place them in the shade to dry completely,  when ready break open the seed heads.

Harvest

How to Harvest

Harvesting of the vegetable takes place midsummer to autumn, about 100 days after seeds were sown.  Seeds are harvested when the stalks begin to dry.

Medicinal Plants Parts Used

Parts Used

The stems are eaten raw for nourishment and can be made into juice. The seeds contain volatile oil and are the main part used medicinally.

Medicinal Preparations

Preparations

Juice (quarter cup a day) can be used for cleansing (add the same amount of carrot juice as an option) (1). An infusion of the seeds can be used for gout and arthritis (half a cup a day), 2 tsp crushed seeds/cup, infuse 15 min (1, 3). A tincture and powder of the seeds can also be made for rheumatism. Do not take during pregnancy, breastfeeding or if you are suffering from a kidney disorder(1, 3).

Plant Uses

Uses

Cleansing, rheumatism, gout, arthritis, reducing acid throughout the body, improve circulation, lower blood pressure, antiseptic, for cystitis, nutritious and can be combined with other medicinal plants. Can be used both topically and internally (1, 3).

Constituents

Key Constituents

Volatile oil 1.5-3% containing limonene (60-70%), phthalides and beta-selinene, Butylphthalide, Coumarins, Furanocoumarins (bergapten and Flavonoids (apiin) (1).

Key Actions

Key Actions

Anti-rheumatic, carminative, antispasmodic, diuretic, lowers blood pressure, sedative, anti-septic, anti-fungal, anti-inflammatory, analgesic, anti-gout, antispasmodic, stimulant, bitter, digestive tonic, uterine stimulant and urinary antiseptic (1, 3).

Research

Research

Research in Germany and China shows that the essential oil has a calming effect on the central nervous system and lowering blood pressure. Some of its constituents have antispasmodic, sedative and anticonvulsant actions (1). Studies in animal models suggest that butylphthalide may be useful for the treatment of hypertension and may have neuroprotective effects.


USEFUL LINKS: About the Growing Guides, The Medicine Garden, Companion Plants, Basic Preparations and Plant Constituents. Disclaimer. References.

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Strawberry Growing Guide

Strawberry Growing Guide

SHORTCUTS: Ideal Environment, How to Plant, How to Water, Companion Planting, How to Propagate, How to Harvest, Parts Used, Preparations, Uses, Key Constituents, Key Actions, Research.

Information

Fragaria × ananassa
FAMILY ROSACEAE
InformationStrawberries come in a wide assortment cultivated varieties and are delicious, juicy, sweet and known for their wonderful aroma. Strawberries are great in the garden because they are easy to grow, like a variety of soils, easy to propagate through runners and they are perennial, so you can keep them year after year, though it is recommended to replace mother plants every few years.

Growing Environment

Ideal Environment 

The best time to plant is in spring or  late summer.  A pH level of 6.0 to 6.5 is the best soil for growing strawberries, but a range of 5.5 to 7.0 is also acceptable.  Plant in full sun or dappled shade, and in somewhat sandy soil.  The addition of manure and a thin layer of straw mulch or other mulch / ground cover. 

How to Plant

How to Plant 

You can start from seed or you can buy your first plants from a nursery and then grow more from the runners yourself.  If planting from seed, put a couple of seeds into each 6mm deep hole, 15cm apart or in separate containers.

Watering

How to Water

Water strawberries immediately after planting. After that water once a week, or not at all if there is at least 30mm of rain.  If you are making new plants from runners keep them moist or in a party covered area so that they don’t dry out.

Companion Plants

Companion Planting 

Good companion plants for Strawberries is Borage, Garlic, Spinach, Lupin Flowers, Lettuce and Thyme.  

Avoid broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, collard greens, kale and kohlrabi.

Here are the Companion Plants by group: Herbs, Flowers, Trees, Vegetables, Berries, Fruit and Mushrooms

How to Propagate

How to Propagate 

Runners can be taken from the plant or removed to encourage more energy towards the fruit.  A good way to make new plants is to place the tip of the runner in a small growing container next to the mother plant and then cutting it off as soon as they have set roots in the growing container. 

Harvest

How to Harvest

Strawberries should ideally be harvested at least every other day. The berries are picked with the caps still attached and with at least 1.5cm of stem left.  Strawberries need to remain on the plant to fully ripen because they do not continue to ripen after being picked. 

Medicinal Plants Parts Used

Parts Used

The berries are harvested and used.  Unlike some other berries I have not found any information about the use of the leaves.

Medicinal Preparations

Preparations

Strawberries can be used fresh or frozen (fresh is always better) and can also be used to make a variety of preserves, fruit juice, ice cream, pies, cakes etc.

Plant Uses

Uses

The best way to get the benefits of strawberries is to include the fruit in your diet and eating them fresh whenever possible.

Constituents

Key Constituents

Flavonoids, Vitamin C, Manganese, tannins, acids, smaller amounts of other vitamins and minerals, as well as a variety of chemicals that make up the fragrance and pigment.

Key Actions

Key Actions

Anti-inflammatory, anticancer, antioxidant and decreased cardiovascular disease risk (12).

Research

Research

Studies show that the anticancer effects of berry bioactives are partially mediated through the ability to counteract, reduce, and also repair damage resulting from oxidative stress and inflammation(12).


USEFUL LINKS: About the Growing Guides, The Medicine Garden, Companion Plants, Basic Preparations and Plant Constituents. Disclaimer. References.

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Rooibos Growing Guide

Rooibos Growing Guide

SHORTCUTS: Ideal Environment, How to Plant, How to Water, Companion Planting, How to Propagate, How to Harvest, Parts Used, Preparations, Uses, Key Constituents, Key Actions, Research.

Information

Aspalathus linearis
FAMILY FABACEAE
InformationRooibos (meaning Redbush) is a shrub with needle-like leaves that can grow up to 2 metres in height. The Rooibos plant is endemic to a small part of the Western Cape in South Africa, forming part of the fynbos biome. It grows in a symbiotic relationship with local micro-organisms and according apparently difficult to grow elsewhere.

Growing Environment

Ideal Environment 

The native environment for Rooibos has a unique temperature range which drops to freezing in the winter, and reaches up to 48°C in the summer, similar to a Mediterranean climate.  The plant prefers deep coarse acidic sandy soil and they do not get irrigation in order to stimulate drought conditions.

How to Plant

How to Plant 

Rooibos can be grown from seed and planted in the late summer or spring, commercial growers germinate seeds in greenhouses and plant them out into the fields after four months during autumn. Seeds need to be scarifiedby cutting the seed coat using abrasion or thermal stress to encourage germination.

Watering

How to Water

According to various sources Rooibos is not watered very often to stimulate drought conditions, the best rooibos is said to come from areas with lower rainfall.  Areas where Rooibos is cultivated typically have a winter rainfall between 200 mm and 400 mm per year

Companion Plants

Companion Planting 

Look for plants that prefer similar soil and water conditions.  One commercial grower uses crop rotation with oats to return nutrients to the fields.

Here are the Companion Plants by group: Herbs, Flowers, Trees, Vegetables, Berries, Fruit and Mushrooms

How to Propagate

How to Propagate 

Propagation through seed is most common although root cuttings can be done from semi-woody cuttings in early spring.

Harvest

How to Harvest

Rooibos is harvested once a year during the summer but cutting the young branches,  chopping them finely, watering and airing.  The branches are then left to “sweat” in heaps so it develops the characteristically reddish color and sweet flavor. After sweating the tea is dried in the sun.

Medicinal Plants Parts Used

Parts Used

The leaves and twigs are used.

Medicinal Preparations

Preparations

Rooibos is taken as an infusion, a warm tea with or without milk and honey or sugar.  Rooibos also makes great iced tea.

Plant Uses

Uses

It is a popular health drink because it contains no harmful substances or caffeine. It is also used as a milk substitute for infants who are prone to colic. There is also evidence that the flavonoids contribute to a reduction in heart disease and other ailments. (21)

Constituents

Key Constituents

C-glucoside dihydrochalcones aspalathin and nothofagin amongst others. (21)

Key Actions

Key Actions

Antispasmodic, antioxidant, anti-mutagenic and anti-ageing effects. (21)

Research

Research

Animal studies show that rooibos has potent antioxidant, immune-modulating and chemopreventive effects. A review found no documentation of adverse side effects of consuming rooibos tea. (22)


USEFUL LINKS: About the Growing Guides, The Medicine Garden, Companion Plants, Basic Preparations and Plant Constituents. Disclaimer. References.

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Aloe Ferox Growing Guide

Aloe Ferox Growing Guide

SHORTCUTS: Ideal Environment, How to Plant, How to Water, Companion Planting, How to Propagate, How to Harvest, Parts Used, Preparations, Uses, Key Constituents, Key Actions, Research.

Information

Bitter Aloe, Umhlaba
FAMILY ASPHODELACEAE
Aloe Ferox is a robust plant that can grow to 3 meters high and it is indigenous to South Africa. It is one of several Aloe species used to make a purgative medication, and also yields a gel that can be used in cosmetics. The leaves are tick and fleshy with reddish-brown spines and red or orange flowers. Aloe ferox is listed on the plant list of endangered plants.

Growing Environment

Ideal Environment 

Aloe ferox prefers dry-tropical climates, open areas, sandy-loamy soils and full sun. Give each Aloe plant at least 1 meter spacing.

How to Plant

How to Plant 

You can grow Aloe Ferox from seeds, sow just under the surface in a sandy soil.  Water regularly and make sure the soil drains well.  Transplant into small pots or bags once they are about 4cm high (approximately 6 months).  From seed it takes about 4 to 5 years for the plants to reach the first harvest.

Watering

How to Water

Once the plant is established or from about 20 centimetres in size you can water moderately, once a week.  If you are growing your Aloe in a container take care not to over water.

Companion Plants

Companion Planting 

Aloe Ferox can grow with other plants that prefer full sun, open areas and well draining sandy soil, such as other Aloes or succulent plants.

Here are the Companion Plants by group: Herbs, Flowers, Trees, Vegetables, Berries, Fruit and Mushrooms

How to Propagate

How to Propagate 

Aloe ferox plants are propagated mainly from seed and cuttings.  The side branches or basal sprout are removed and the wound is allowed to dry off for some time before planting.

Harvest

How to Harvest

Harvesting is done in winter by manual leaf cutting. Only the 10 to 15 lower leaves of an adult Aloe Ferox plant are harvested. The leaves are cut as close to the stem as possible and stacked in a round tower so that the yellow exudate drips into a hollow in the centre which is lined with a plastic sheet.

Medicinal Plants Parts Used

Parts Used

Leaves and roots. The bitter yellow juice is found just under the surface of the leaf and is tapped to form a dark brown resin which is a solid lump.  Aloe gel comes from the inner fleshy part of the leaf and is often use in cosmetics.

Medicinal Preparations

Preparations

A small crystal about 5mm in size is taken orally as a laxative. Half the dose is taken for arthiritis. The fresh bitter sap is also instilled directly for conjunctivitis and sinusitis. (21)

Plant Uses

Uses

The leaves and roots can be boiled and used as a laxative, for arthritis, eczema, conjunctivitis, hypertension and stress.

Constituents

Key Constituents

The main purgative principle is the anthrone C-glucoside aloin (=barbaloin). The aloin content in exudate varies between 8,5 and 32%. The gel polysaccharides are binogalactan and rhamnogalacturonan types. Aloe gel is a watery mixture of pectic substances, amino acids, minerals, trace elements and organic acids amongst others. (21)

Key Actions

Key Actions

The wound-healing properties of aloe gel come from glycoproteins and is responsible for the hydrating, insulating and protective effects. The anthraquinone derivatives act as a laxative. (21)

Research

Research

Aloe vera has been the subject of numerous studies with results ranging from skin and wound-healing properties, laxative, anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, anti-cancer, antimalarial and anthelmintic activities. Aloe Ferox research is something that has started more recently, for example the Aloe Council of South Africa was founded in 2006.


USEFUL LINKS: About the Growing Guides, The Medicine Garden, Companion Plants, Basic Preparations and Plant Constituents. Disclaimer. References.

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Lemon Tree Growing Guide

Lemon Tree Growing Guide

SHORTCUTS: Ideal Environment, How to Plant, How to Water, Companion Planting, How to Propagate, How to Harvest, Parts Used, Preparations, Uses, Key Constituents, Key Actions, Research.

Information

Citrus Limon
FAMILY RUTACEAE
Lemons come from a beautiful evergreen tree. It is native to Asia but grown around the world for its distinctive sour taste (that comes from about 5% of citric acid). Lemons are incredibly versatile and has countless medicinal, culinary and non culinary uses.

Growing Environment

Ideal Environment 

Lemon trees like to grow in well drained soil in a sunny location and appreciate organic fertiliser every year.  If your soil drainage is poor it would be better to plant the tree in a raised bed.  The soil pH should be between 5.5 and 7.

How to Plant

How to Plant 

While you can grow them from seed it is probably best to buy a tree that has already been grafted onto a good root stock.  Plant the tree in fertile soil (use compost) in a sunny spot and allow enough room for the tree to grow without being crowded, or alternatively as a hedge or in a large pot.  You can plant add organic fertiliser in the spring and mulch year around.

Watering

How to Water

Water the lemon tree at least once a week if there is no rain. While the tree is young keep the soil moist without being saturated.

Companion Plants

Companion Planting 

The best companions for a Lemon (or any citrus tree) are Thyme, dill, hyssop, lemon balm, parsley, marigold, nasturtium, borage, comfrey, clover, and alfalfa.  Lemon trees will grow better with enough nitrogen so plant it with comfrey.

Here are the Companion Plants by group: Herbs, Flowers, Trees, Vegetables, Berries, Fruit and Mushrooms

How to Propagate

How to Propagate 

Growing lemon trees from seed is possible but they wont be true to their parent and it will take 3 to 6 years for it to produce fruit.  Its best to take a cutting from an existing tree, through air layered or purchase a tree from a nursery that has been grafted onto good root stock.  There are several varieties to choose from, even some that will produce flowers and fruit throughout the year.

Harvest

How to Harvest

The fruit is usually harvested in the winter when the vitamin C content is the highest. Cutting them off with pruning shears or simply full them from the stalk. Undamaged fruit can be stored for several weeks.

Medicinal Plants Parts Used

Parts Used

The fruit juice and peel are used, the pith and peel contain volatile oil and most of the flavonoids.

Medicinal Preparations

Preparations

The juice can be combined with hot water (and a pinch of cinnamon and clove of garlic) for colds and a sore throat (gargle). Drink lemon water first thing in the morning for cleansing (Do not brush your teeth immediately the citric acid can damage your enamel).

Plant Uses

Uses

Acne and Boils, arthritis, bites and stings, chilblains, colds and flu, cold sores, sore throats, weak digestion, preventative, immune system booster.

Grated lemon and/or the peel is excellent in food.

Constituents

Key Constituents

Volatile oil 2.5% of the pell, limone (up to 70%), alpha-terpinene, alpha-pinene, beta-pinene, citral, coumarins, Flavonoids, Vitamins A, B1, B2, B3 and C.

Key Actions

Key Actions

Antiseptic, Anti-rheumatic, Antibacterial, Antioxidant and reduces fever.


USEFUL LINKS: About the Growing Guides, The Medicine Garden, Companion Plants, Basic Preparations and Plant Constituents. Disclaimer. References.

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Elder Tree Growing Guide

Elder Tree Growing Guide

SHORTCUTS: Ideal Environment, How to Plant, How to Water, Companion Planting, How to Propagate, How to Harvest, Parts Used, Preparations, Uses, Key Constituents, Key Actions, Research.

Information

Sambucus nigra
FAMILY ADOXACEAE
InformationElder tree is a deciduous tree that grows up to 10 meters, with oval leaves, cream flowers and dark berries. There is allot of folklore attached to Elder tree, for example in England many people won’t cut down an Elder tree and woodcutters would apparently recite a placatory rhyme to the Elder Mother (1). Elder tree is mostly used for flu, colds, hay fever (1), diarrhea, rheumatism (3) and as food in cordials, marmalade and syrups.

Growing Environment

Ideal Environment 

Elder trees will grow in a variety of conditions including both wet and dry fertile soils, primarily in sunny locations. They can also be planted as a bush in a pot or outside in the garden. They are native to European woods and hedges (1).

How to Plant

How to Plant 

Its easiest to buy a tree or grow your own from a cutting taking during spring.  Plant in fertile soil (use compost) in a sunny or partly sunny spot and allow enough room for the tree to grow without being crowded (a few meters).  You can let the tree grow large or cut down a third every year which is said to increase fruit production.  You can also add organic fertiliser in the spring and mulch year around.

Watering

How to Water

Water the trees at least once a week during warmer and drier periods and every other week during the winter but ensure the ground does not dry out completely.  Elder trees prefer moist areas and should be watered frequently enough if there is no rain.  Mulch helps to keep weeds away and keep the moisture in the ground.

Companion Plants

Companion Planting 

Elder tree is beneficial because it attracts bees and insects when flowering and birds when the berries are ripening.

There are no specific plants but you can have other edible shrubs but remember to consider the shade given by the tree as many edible and medicinal plants prefer a sunny spot.

Here are the Companion Plants by group: Herbs, Flowers, Trees, Vegetables, Berries, Fruit and Mushrooms

How to Propagate

How to Propagate 

You can grow elder tree from seeds, sources recommend planting the seeds in trays and cover with plastic, keep them moist but not soggy, they will apparently germinate the following spring, but it can be sooner depend on how warm it is.  Its easy to create cuttings in late spring or early summer when the new growth appears. Take softwood cuttings from vigorous stems, strip off the leaves from the lower third, use rooting hormone or honey and insert into a prepared pot. New growth should appear four to six weeks later.

Harvest

How to Harvest

Flowers are harvested late spring and the berries are picked in early autumn. Its easiest to cut of entire clusters of flowers or berries.

The branches will start to drop when the berries are ready. You can remove the berries from the branches with a fork.  Unripe berries can be separated in water, they will float.

Medicinal Plants Parts Used

Parts Used

The fresh flowers can be used and also dried. The berries are toxic raw and should be cooked, both the fresh and dried berries can be used.

Medicinal Preparations

Preparations

Infusion of the flowering tops can be used for colds (take half a cup of infusion 3 times a day), a tincture of the flowering tops works for hay fever and rheumatism / arthritis (1 tsp with water taken a few times a day), a cream can be made from the flowering tops and berries, and a decoction of the berries can be used for rheumatic aches (1).

Plant Uses

Uses

Coughs and colds, catarrh and allergies, arthritis, acute infections with fever, headache and nausea, rhinitis, asthma, croup, hay fever, conjunctivitis, rheumatism, pharyngitis, diarrhea, tonsilitis, and stomatitis (1,3).

Constituents

Key Constituents

Flowers & Berries: Flavonoids, triterpenes, volatile oil, sterols, tannins, mucilage, Minerals, vitamin A & C, iron, sambucin, anthocyanocides, pectin, sugar, fixed oils (linoleic, linolenic). Leaves: Cyanogenic glycosides and Bark: Lectins, tannins, baldrianic acid (1, 3).

Key Actions

Key Actions

Flowers: mild diaphoretic, mild laxative, diuretic, alterative, demulcent, antirheumatic, antispasmodic, anticatarrhal, caminative, emetic, anti-inflammatory. Berries: diaphoretic, laxative, diuretic, anti-rheumatic, emunctory stimulant (all excretory organs or ducts), anti-neuralgic, alterative, carminative, emetic (1, 3).

Research

Research

In a placebo-controlled study from Norway, elderberry was shown to be effective for treating Influenza A and B. People using the elderberry extract recovered much faster than those only on a placebo (20).


USEFUL LINKS: About the Growing Guides, The Medicine Garden, Companion Plants, Basic Preparations and Plant Constituents. Disclaimer. References.