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Lemon Grass Growing Guide

Lemon grass 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

Cymbopogon ciatrus
FAMILY POACEAE
A tall Perennial plant that is a grass, apparently there are about 45-55 species of grass in this genus. They are tall with a swollen base and a lovely lemony fragrance. Lemon grass is now planted in most tropical and temperate areas around the world and widely used for its essential oil, in aromatherapy, addition in foods, companion plant and a variety of medicinal uses.

Growing Environment

Ideal Environment 

They generally prefer warm, moist and sunny areas with fertile, rich, well draining soil.  Many sources also recommend mulching to keep the area moist and warm.

How to Plant

How to Plant 

Can easily grow 50cm high and up to 1.5 meters in the garden so provide enough space.  They can also grow in pots quite easily.

Watering

How to Water

Water Lemon grass regularly during the warmer months (well watered at least once a week). Reduce watering in the winter to once every couple of weeks.

Companion Plants

Companion Planting 

Lemon grass repels many insects including mosquitoes, however in my experience you probably have to plant allot to really get the effect or at least a border around a porch or similar.  Lemon grass can work well as a companion plant in the herb garden and several sources list some herbs and other lemony plants.

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

How to Propagate

How to Propagate 

You can propagate lemon grass from stalks that have a little root on them.  You can also divide existing plants easily.

You can also grow them from seeds but it takes a bit of time.

Harvest

How to Harvest

You can start harvesting once the plants reach about knee heights and the stems are at least as thick as a finger.  Usually you harvest a stem or two at a time, just cut it out of the base of the plant with a sharp knife.  The outer leaf casing is peeled off and the tender stem in the middle is usually used.

Medicinal Plants Parts Used

Parts Used

The tender stem is used in foods and infusions (mostly the first 20cm from the swollen base).

The leaves can also be used in decoctions and the essential oil is taken from the whole plant.

Medicinal Preparations

Preparations

Infusions are most commonly used.

You can use 1-4 gram of dry material per cup of hot water or 1 mashed root (15), or 1 tablespoon fresh plant material per cup (1, 3). It is also great in soups, curries and Thai food.

Plant Uses

Uses

Lemongrass can be taken as a tea for digestive problems. It relaxes muscles of the stomach and gut, relieves cramping and flatulence (1). Other known uses include: fever reducing, poultice for arthritis, Anxiety, relieving nasal congestion, Fatigue, Headaches, High blood pressure, Infection, Insomnia, Pain, Ringworm and toothaches (1, 15).

Constituents

Key Constituents

Volatile oil with citral (about 70%) and citronella (1).

Luteolin, flavonoids quercetin, kaempferol and apiginin. The phenolic compounds elimicin, catecol, chlorogenic acid, caffeic acid and hydroquinone are also isolated from the plant (16).

Key Actions

Key Actions

Sedative (1), Antioxidant, Antiseptic, Carminative, Digestive, Insecticide, Stimulant, Tonic (15). Anti-fungal, anti-inflammatory, anti-malarial, anti-mutagenicity, anti-mycobacterial and anti-oxidant effects (16).

Research

Research

Studies indicate that Lemon grass has various pharmacological activities such as anti-amoebic, antibacterial, antidiarrheal, antifilarial, antifungal, anti-inflammator, antimalarial, anti-mutagenicity, anti-mycobacterial, antioxidants, hypoglycemic and neurobehaviorial have also been studied (16).


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

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Hops Growing Guide

Hops 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

Humulus Lupulus
FAMILY CANNABACEAE
Hops is a flowering, perennial vine (as opposed to a vine) that uses its own shoots to act as support for new growth. They are said to be native to Europe, west Asia and North America. Hops is the main ingredient (flavoring and stabilizing) in many beers and has many medicinal uses as a relaxant, sedative etc.

Growing Environment

Ideal Environment 

Hops prefer rich well draining soil with lots of manure or organic matter and will thrive in full sun.  Plant them next to a fence or use trellis, stakes, poles or wires.  Each plant should have about 1 metre space and can grow up to 7 meters high, depending on the variety.

How to Plant

How to Plant 

Depending on the source of your seeds they may need stratification (6 weeks in the refrigerator).  Plant the seeds in small containers, cover lightly with soil and keep them in a warm moist spot.  Germination is in about 4 weeks but can take longer.

Watering

How to Water

Hops enjoy plenty of water so water regularly, do not let the soil dry out.  You can use mulch of organic matter to keep the moisture in and you can add organic fertiliser seasonally.

Companion Plants

Companion Planting 

Hops will outgrow most things around it and they are heavy feeders (water and nutrients) so do not plant anything too close to them.  You can also grown hops in containers.

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

How to Propagate

How to Propagate 

You can propagate hops from the rhizomes or softwood cuttings. Usually 2 – 3 year old plants are divided.

Harvest

How to Harvest

The flowers will be ready when they begin to feel dry, sticky and papery with a visible yellow substance. The stems and leaves can be irritating to the skin so wear gloves. It is easiest to cut down the bine for harvesting, the plants will regrow next season. Dry the flowers and store in airtight containers in the freezer.

Medicinal Plants Parts Used

Parts Used

The dried flowers are used.

Medicinal Preparations

Preparations

You can make an infusion (1 teaspoon per cup of water), a powder and a tincture (dosage is around 2 to 4ml a day with max 40ml a week) (3).  You can also make creams and lotions.

Plant Uses

Uses

Hops are generally used for sleeplessness, reduce anxiety and nervous tension, including headache and indigestion.  Hops is also said to reduce sexual excitement in men and can be used for premature ejaculation (3).

In addition hops is also known to be used for ADHD, stomach infections, irritable bowel syndrome, ulcers, period pain, nerve pain, inflammation, muscle tension, fluid retention, some cancers, kidney and bladder infections and more.   Lotions and creams can be used for boils, bruises, cuts, dandruff, hair loss, wounds etc.

Constituents

Key Constituents

Oleo-resins containing bitter substances (acylphloroglucides, humulone, lupulone, valerianic acid), volatile oil (humulene), tannins, estrogenic substance, flavonoids (kaempferol, quercetin, rutin), chalcones, aspargin.

Key Actions

Key Actions

Nervine, strong sedative, hypnotic, tonic, diuretic, analgesic, aromatic bitter, anti-bacterial (topically), astringent, anti-pyretic, antispasmodic, anaphrodisiac (3).

Research

Research

There are quite a few studies that have confirmed the use of hops for insomnia / sleeplessness, some studies also combine hops with other herbs such as Valerian.   A 2012 study found that hop extract has better sedation, pre-anesthetic and anti-anxiety effects than diazepam (a prescription medication) (26).


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

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Bamboo Growing Guide

Bamboo 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

Bambusa balcooa, Dendrocalamus asper, Bambusa oldhamii, Oxytenanthera abyssinica, Bambusa vulgaris, Bambusa multiplex, Phyllostachys nigra…

FAMILY POACEAE
Bamboo is incredible, it has the potential to deliver a sustainable balance between habitat and community. This family of flowering perennial evergreen plants are some of the fastest-growing plants in the world. They are very versatile and used as a food source, for construction, scaffolding, crafts, paper, furniture, biomass fuel wood, crop supports, windbreaks and screens.

Growing Environment

Ideal Environment 

Bamboo will grow easily in a wide range of soils and conditions.  They do best with sunshine and regular watering but will not enjoy waterlogged soils.

How to Plant

How to Plant 

For a perimeter hedge or windbreak plant then 3m apart.  You can intercrop the clumping varieties with other plants for the first 2 to 3 years.  Make a hole 30cm x 30cm, fill the hole partially with compost so that the plant will be level, carefully remove the bag, plant and press the soil around the plant.

Watering

How to Water

When you plant the bamboo create a watering basin of about 1m around the plant to contain water.  Give the plan about 2-5 litres of water when planted and every week after that until they are established (about 1 year).

Companion Plants

Companion Planting 

Bamboo make an excellent windbreak and screen.  They can be intercropped with nearly anything for the first couple of years, after that they can provide a shady area for mushrooms or other shade loving plants, as long as you leave some space to access the bamboo for harvesting.

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

How to Propagate

How to Propagate 

Seeds are available but they are a little tricky to grow, if you have a supplier you can buy small plants (these are usually grown in a laboratory) or you can divide existing plants too.

Harvest

How to Harvest

Only clumbs of 3 to 4 years are harvested (during the dry season) after that they can be harvested each year.  During the wet season when new shoots emerge mark the new shoots, each year with a different colour (string, paint etc.)

Medicinal Plants Parts Used

Parts Used

Bamboo shoots, shavings, sap and leaves are used.

Medicinal Preparations

Preparations

Only a few types of bamboo produce edible shoots, the shoots are cut and prepared fresh by boiling them, then peeling them before adding them into a variety of dishes.

Plant Uses

Uses

There is quite a bit of literature on traditional recipes that include bamboo, so once I have experimented and spent some time studying it I will come back and update this section!

Constituents

Key Constituents

According to Subhuti Dharmananda, Ph.D., Director, Institute for Traditional Medicine, no systematic evaluation has been carried out, so it is difficult to determine which of the identified compounds might be among the primary active constituents which include selenium, potassium, acetylcholine and flavonoids (e.g., vitexin and orientin) used as antioxidants.

Key Actions

Key Actions

Traditional Chinese forumals for bamboo include treatments for reducing irritability, inflammation, promote circulation, inhibiting allergies, helping with coughs and excess sputum, and much more.

Research

Research

A research study from 2013, Bamboo shoots: a novel source of nutrition and medicine, discuss Various edible species and exotic food products (fermented shoots, pickle, vinegar etc.) and recipes of bamboo shoots (bamboo beer, bamboo cookies). (28)


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