Country Traditions

March 15, 2011

Flower power: Herbalist Christopher Robbins gathers together an essential flora medicine chest – Gardening, House & Home – The Independent

Filed under: herbs, home remedies — Tags: , , , — dmacc502 @ 7:29 am
Stinging Nettle Urtica dioica

Image by brewbooks via Flickr

Flower power: Herbalist Christopher Robbins gathers together an essential flora medicine chest – Gardening, House & Home – The Independent.

Dandelion The French name (pis-en-lit) is the best clue to its usefulness in the home-grown medicine chest: the leaves are a strong, safe and very effective diuretic, for anyone suffering from water retention. The bitterness aids digestion and acts also as a liver tonic. In some country areas, the milky sap that oozes out when you pick a leaf is still used to banish warts. The easiest way to use dandelion leaf is raw, in a salad. The common weedy ones are fine to eat, now, while they are young. But if you are in the extraordinary position of having no dandelions pushing up in your flower beds, you can grow the fancy French variety ‘Pissenlit a Coeur plein’ (Suffolk Herbs £1).

Nettle Stinging nettle is packed with vitamin A and vitamin C, and has almost twice as much iron in it as spinach, so it’s not surprising that it makes a brilliant spring tonic. We perhaps are not so keen now on flailing around in nettle beds to ease rheumatism. The sting inflames and warms and that process eases the ache in rheumaticky joints.

The simplest way to prepare nettle is in a soup and now is a great time to make it, before the leaves get dark and tough. The recipe I use is from Cooking Weeds by Vivien Weise. You need 500g potatoes peeled and cubed, 2 chopped onions, some butter, 1 litre good stock, 100g stinging nettle leaves stripped from the stems, 2tsp lemon juice, salt, pepper, 200ml double cream, 50g roasted, flaked almonds, 1 grated carrot. Fry the potatoes and onions until translucent. Add the stock and simmer for 10 mins. Add the nettle leaves and simmer for another 10 mins. Liquidise and add lemon juice, salt and pepper to taste. Reheat and stir in half the cream. Serve with the rest of the cream, the almonds and the carrot ready to garnish the soup.

Chickweed This is a very common annual weed, sprouting now on disturbed ground with pale green leaves. The starry white flowers come later. It’s the best of all plants, says Robbins, for treating itchy or inflamed skin. The simplest way to use it is as a poultice. You can pick a bunch of the stuff, wring it slightly to release the sap, then bind the poultice to whatever part of the skin needs it. If you suffer from mild eczema or dermatitis, try it. It won’t be hard to find, as each plant carries about 15,000 seeds and they germinate in almost every month of the year.



January 16, 2011

Home & Garden | Fig trees are easy to grow and offer garden beauty and fruit | Seattle Times Newspaper

Filed under: trees — Tags: , , , — dmacc502 @ 5:33 pm


Home & Garden | Fig trees are easy to grow and offer garden beauty and fruit | Seattle Times Newspaper.Bite into a warm juicy fig, picked fresh off the tree, and I guarantee you’ll want to grow a fig tree in your garden. A wide variety of bareroot fig trees will soon be available at local nurseries and mail-order catalogs. Besides the tasty fruit, these trees add a tropical flavor to your garden with their large lobed leaves and gnarled trunks.

These fast-growing beautiful trees can reach their ultimate height of 15-30 feet tall in about five years. Plant your fig in the sunniest spot you can find or train it against a south wall. Cut the tree to about 2 feet tall when you plant it.

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November 8, 2010

Gardening week ahead: Sowing sweet peas – Telegraph

Filed under: family, farming, gardening — Tags: , , , — dmacc502 @ 4:30 pm
Sweet pea

Image via Wikipedia sweet pea

Gardening week ahead: Sowing sweet peas – Telegraph.

via Gardening week ahead: Sowing sweet peas – Telegraph.

Remove the shoot tips when plants reach 4in to encourage branching Photo: MARTIN POPE

Help them by nicking the seed coat, avoiding the eye-like attachment scar. Do not soak seeds as this can encourage rotting. Brown or white seeds do not need pre-treatment.

Sow individually, half an inch deep, into sweet-pea tubes, 3in pots, deep modular trays or root-trainer modules filled with seed compost. They can remain in these until put in their final positions.

Cover pots with clear plastic or glass and keep at 60F.

Remove the cover once seedlings show above the compost and move pots to an unheated greenhouse, conservatory or cold frame. Good light and ventilation are crucial for sturdy plants, but close the vents if heavy frost is forecast.

Keep the compost just moist – don’t overwater and don’t feed. Remove the shoot tips when plants reach 4in to encourage branching.

Plant out in containers or in the garden next spring, after the final frosts.

September 12, 2010


Filed under: gardening — Tags: , , — dmacc502 @ 2:43 pm

Image via Wikipedia

Buy all your spring flowering  bulbs right now and plant them all except tulips. They will need planting in early November.

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