Grow Purple Cauliflower

growing purple cauliflower

Purple is one of the most popular colors on plant earth. Many people seek out purple vegetables and produce in the grocery store. The discovery of the purple cauliflower with its deep vibrant purple is a sight to behold. Knowing it comes from Mother Earth is an added bonus. All natural, fresh and packed with bioflavonoids, vitamin C, low in calories, growing purple cauliflower in your own garden is worth trying.

Around the turn of the century the purple cauliflower was created from natural selective crossbreeding after agricultural scientists noticed a natural color mutation and started hybridizing the crop.

As an heirloom the purple cauliflower does not date back as far as the white cauliflower but was first identified in the 6th century. As a member of the Brassica family the cauliflower is a close cousin of the cabbage and broccoli.

While the white cauliflower prefers cooler conditions and can be very particular about its growing conditions the purple cauliflower is less fussy. In good soil the harvested cauliflower head can weigh up to 3 pounds.

Starting Purple Cauliflower

Seeds should be started inside about 6 weeks before last frost and transplanted when the seedling shave 2 sets of leaves. Space your transplants 18-24 inches apart and 2-3 feet between rows. The crunchy purple head will be ready to harvest in 60-80 days. When planting seedlings remember cauliflowers will grow quickly and need lots of space.

The benefits of having a Mediterranean style garden

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Growing Purple Cauliflower

Cauliflower need watering and feeding. Give them about 1 inch water per week. Before planting mix in a few inches of organic compost or fertilizer. Alfalfa and Kelp meal are wonderful natural soil amendments and rich in nutrients to feed the soil and plants. Continue feeding every 2 weeks throughout the growing season until harvesting. Don’t forget to add worm tea also.

How to Prepare Purple Cauliflower

Purple cauliflower can be eaten fresh, blanched, roasted or steamed. Cooking time is less than 10 minutes and the color it adds to your plate makes it very rewarding.

Purple foods, particularly purple cauliflower are wonderful additions to your diet. Cauliflower is versatile and there are many possibilities. One popular serving ideas is mashing the purple cauliflower to resemble mashed purple potato, it adds vibrancy alongside dark leafy greens, tomatoes and other colorful vegetables. The rich purple color will create a visual palette and enhance appetite for fresh garden produce. Add seasonings of your choice.

Growing Purple Cauliflower
Home Grown Purple Cauliflower

Purple Cauliflower Health Benefits

Purple vegetables and herbs are rich in antioxidant-like properties that protect cells anthocyanin, which are well-known antioxidants they are also rich in in phytonutrients, vitamin C, B vitamins, and minerals. The purple cauliflower health benefits are well known and can help with digestive issues, erectile dysfunction, testosterone booster and libido booster in addition to overall immune health. Anthocyanins come from the red, purple, and blue hues seen in many vegetables fruits and flowers.

Popular succulents that are easy to grow

Purple produce may include higher levels of anthocyanins than white, green, or orange equivalents. These less florid fruits and vegetables provide higher lutein and beta-carotene and other nutrients that benefit health.

Cruciferous vegetables like cauliflower help our body’s natural detox methods.

Edible Weeds with Health Benefits

Healthy Weeds to Eat

Did you know weeds can be part of your balanced diet? You heard right! For many people, weeds are an unwanted, uninvited guest in their yards. Stop using weekd killer in your yards. Start enjoying, appreciating and using weeds. Weeds are less work, cost less money to maintain and are 100% natural. The beauty of weeds is often overlooked. Edible weeds with health benefits is not an oxymoron it is a fact.

In spring and summer time we are sprucing up our gardens, getting ready to plant our next round of veggies, herbs and flowers. We are looking for colors, scents and beauty, but then all of a sudden our beautiful picture is disrupted by the “unwanted ones” – weed.

Edible Weeds Have Many Purposes

Weeds may be unwanted in our garden but they serve many purposes. One of the major benefits of weeds is that they add missing elements to your soil. For example, clover, a legume and a wonderful source of nitrogen, grows best when the soil is low in nitrogen. As it is growing it will add protein to the soil. Over the years I have discovered that different weeds appear each year, almost like a cylce. The weeds that prosper are providing nutrients that are missing from the soil. They thrive without that missing element, but in turn are abundent in that element and add it to the soil.

Edible Weeds and Their Beauty

The other major benefits of weeds is their beauty, taste and health benefits is that they can be used in many culinary dishes. Don’t get us wrong, not all weeds are needed in our diet, we refer to the edible weeds, which is many.

Many weeds are actually edible – and very enjoyable. Incorporate them into your dishes and turn it from a simple platter to an amazing and exquisite one. Friends and neighbors are always delighted and amused when I share with them that unusual flower or hint of flavor.

Edible Weeds Are Nutrient Dense

Common unwanted weeds have some of the tastiest and nutrient dense properties. Not only are many weeds edible and packed with medicinal properties, they are also filled with minerals, vitamins, protein, and fiber, and they also boast of having low calories. They are abundant in health benefits.

Edible weeds have the best flavors when whey are still young and the leaves are full of color and healthy. Or if you desire the flowers, wait until they are in bloom. Roots of weeds are best harvested in spring or autumn when they are dormant.

Common Edible Weeds

Here’s a list of common edible weeds that have many health benefits, are easy to grow and have flowers that are also edible.

  1. Purslane
    Pussley or Purslane is a great source of nutrient, and allegedly the greatest source of Omega 3 fatty acids. Purslane has a crispy texture and tastes very succulent, its leaves and stems can be cooked or eaten raw. They are often found in lawns, beds, shady and moist areas.
  2. Clover
    Clover is a common weed that often goes unnoticed, but this weed is edible and its leaves and flowers are not only beautiful, but can be used to spice up any meal and dish. Either red, white or yellow, they can both be eaten raw or cooked, or even dried (to make tea). Sauteed, boiled, cooked or raw for salads, clover will never go unnoticed on your plates.
  3. Common Mallow (Malva sylvestris)
    Common Mallow as the name implies can be found everywhere as it is quite common. It has many edible and medicinal uses. It is enriched with a lot of nutrients – vitamins A, B, C, calcium, potassium, , and magnesium. Inspite of its high packing nutrients, it has a mild taste on the tongue. All parts of the Common Mallow can be eaten. Leaves, fruits, flowers, and seeds, it can be eaten cooked if they’re mature enough, or raw in salads if they’re young, tender, and tasty. It can be used in soups, to spice up every dish with its touch of green.
  4. Nettle (Urtica urens)
    Nettle is one of the best edible weeds when it comes to building the blood, as it aids with anemia. It has a very smooth taste when it’s blended in with the pineapples or oranges to make smoothies. It is very valuable that the leaves can be dried and stored. It is also quite rich in chlorophyll as it is one of the richest source of it.
  5. Comfrey (Symphytum officinale)
    Comfrey is known for it’s high protein content and medicinal properties, even if it doesn’t have an aromatic scent. Use only young leaves for your cooking. For medicinal properties, Comfrey contains allantoin which is used to treat wounds, it helps the skin cells to grow faster to quickly close up wounds.
  6. Chickweed (Stellaria media)
    Chickweed is an edible weed that is rich in protein, minerals, iron and Vitamin C. It can be used in soups, salads and as herbal tea. It also provides your body with calcium, cobalt, molybdenum, chromium, magnesium, zinc, Silicin and manganese. It’s very good for your digestive system and can also be used as a scrub and poultice for acne, sores and rashes. It has a mild and refreshing flavor. Leaves, flowers and stems of the Chickweed are all edible and can be used raw for salads or cooked in soups.
  7. Dandelion
    Dandelion is one of the highest nutrients packing edible weeds, it’s bitter taste makes it quite useful in salads, herbal tea and soups. Its leaves are used to stimulate digestion and its roots when roasted can be used as replacement for caffeine coffee. It is also a great blood purifier and builder as it acts as a tonic to the system by destroying acids in the blood. High in Vitamins A and C, Dandelions are quite effective in cleansing the liver.
  8. Plantain
    Don’t confuse this with the popular plantain plant, plantain weed is a common lawn weed that is used not only for medicinal purposes such as soothing of burns, wounds, rashes and stings, but also for dishes. Both young and mature leaves can be used, but while the young leaves can be cooked, eaten raw, sauteed, boiled or steamed, the mature leaves can only be boiled or cooked. They also serve as fiber supplements.
  9. Pigweed
    Pigweed or wild amaranth as it is also called is a great edible weed. The young leaves are tasty and soft, and are a great source of protein. The seeds can also be gathered and cooked as growth meal or as cooked whole grain.
  10. Curly Dock (Rumex crispus)
    Curly Dock is a prime source of both Vitamins A and C, it’s leaves can be eaten raw when it is young and soft, or cooked when it is mature. It can also be added to soups or salads. It is to be eaten moderately as they are highly packed with oxalic acid contents to avoid urinary tract irritations.
Edible Plant Seeds You Can Eat

When picking edible weeds to eat, it is important that you only pick the weeds you can identify and eat them in smaller quantities when you are incorporating them into your diet. Always make sure to pick them from safe areas which are free from chemicals and pesticides.

Mediterranean Wild Edible Plants

IS Zucchini Healthy?

How healthy are zucchini?

Living in Tulsa, OK for 11 years, I asked the locals if crime was a problem.  They replied, “well, in August you better be sure to lock your car, because otherwise someone might put a bag of zucchini in your car.”  🙂  People who grow zucchini, like me, harvest more than we can eat. Zucchini is a one of the healthiest vegetables, packed with nutrition, and with many health benefits. But, is zucchini healthy and should I grow it in my garden?

Zucchini, otherwise called summer squash, is a member of the gourd family. It originated from Central America from where it has spread to the rest of the world. This popular succulent vegetable does well in warm weather, in places with moist, fertile soil. It takes 35 to 60 days from planting to first harvest. The plant grows to a height of two and a half feet. For best flavor, zucchini fruits are harvested when they are 4-8 inches. Darker fruits are usually higher in nutrients. But what are the health benefits of zucchini?

Here are 9 health benefits of zucchini, they are packed with many nutritional benefits. They are a great addition to a healthy diet and super easy to grow in any container or garden bed.

1.     Zucchini and Digestive Health

Incorporating zucchini in your diet can help improve digestion including reducing the incidence of constipation and other digestive issues. Zucchini is high in water. It also contains significant amounts of fiber, electrolytes and other nutrients that are necessary for a healthier digestive system. Regular consumption of zucchini may also improve overall health of ulcers, IBS and colon cancer.

What are the health benefits of Mediterranean gardening?

2.     Zucchini Helps Slow Down Aging

Aging results from the activity of toxins, free radicals and inflammation that the body is exposed to over the years. These poisons and inflammation can be reduced by antioxidants and anti-inflammatory foods. Zucchini is rich in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory phytonutrients which help to rid the body of free radicals and excess inflammation. A popular health benefit of zucchini!

3.     Promotes Healthier Blood Sugar Levels

High blood sugar levels and diabetes are problems that are worsened by a diet high in carbohydrates and low in fiber. By including zucchini in your diet, you increase the intake of fiber. You can also reduce your carbohydrate intake because you will feel full for longer. These diet changes can help reduce your blood sugar levels and increase insulin sensitivity. This can mean that your body no longer requires excessive amounts of insulin to process sugar. This can change your risk of developing diabetes. Studies show that including at least 30 grams of fiber in your daily diet lowers your risk of getting diabetes significantly.

4.     Healthy Circulation and a Healthy Heart

Zucchini is low in fat and sodium, but high in fiber and potassium. These properties help to maintain healthy blood circulation. Low sodium and high potassium help to maintain healthy blood pressure while fiber such as the polysaccharide in zucchini lowers cholesterol levels. This combination works synergistically to maintain good circulation which is necessary for healthy blood pressure and a healthy heart, all leading to healthy living.

Is Zucchini Healthy?

5.     Zucchini Improves Eye Health

Zucchini is a good source of health protecting antioxidants and phytonutrients including vitamin C, beta-carotene, manganese, zeaxanthin and lutein. Zeaxanthin and lutein are especially useful in maintaining and improving eye health by fighting free radicals. This reduces the risk of developing age-related eye conditions like glaucoma, cataracts and macular degeneration. You can also use zucchini to treat puffy eyes by placing slices of raw zucchini over the eyes. Leave the slices in place for about 30 minutes and repeat several times in a day.  

Try this Eggplant Dip Recipe

6.     Zucchini Boosts Energy

Because zucchini is a rich source of B-vitamins, especially folate, riboflavin and B6, it can help to boost energy production in the body. This reduces fatigue and improves moods. The body requires B-vitamins for protein and carbohydrate metabolism. The vitamins also aid in various brain functions including cognition; a great way to a healthy lifestyle.

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7.     Zucchini Is Good for Weight loss

Because zucchini is low in calories and high in water and fiber, it is a great food for those wishing to reduce their body weight. It is worth to note that excess body weight usually results from regular consumption of carbohydrate and sugary foods. By including zucchini in your diet, you increase the fiber and water content of your food. This means that you will feel full for longer and end up eating less. In the long term, you will lose some of your excess weight.

8.     Improves Thyroid and Adrenal Functions

Zucchini contains high amounts of vitamin C and polyphenols, especially in the peels. Laboratory studies on rats by the Devi University found that the compounds in zucchini peels have positive effects on the thyroid and adrenal glands. Additionally, the compounds helped in the regulating insulin levels.

9.     Protects against Oxidation and Inflammation

Zucchini is rich in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds including vitamins A and C, glutathione peroxidase and superoxide dismutase. Large amounts of these compounds are found in zucchini skin. For this reason, you should eat the skin together with the flesh.

Eating zucchini regularly reduces oxidation and inflammation within the body. This boosts your immunity and protects against diseases associated with inflammation.

Zucchini Health Facts

Zucchini contains zero fat, is high in water and fiber. Zucchini is packed with nutrition, and contains the following highly nutritious vitamins and minerals :

  • Vitamin C
  • Vitamin K
  • Vitamin B6
  • Vitamin A
  • Riboflavin
  • Folate
  • Copper
  • Phosphorus
  • Thiamine
  • Potassium
  • Manganese

    This summer squash also contains antioxidant and anti-inflammatory phytonutrients.This makes zucchini, also known as courgette, a food rich in nutrition that you should include in your diet.

How to Grow Zucchini in Your Backyard

Zucchini grows best during the warmer months which is the reason it is also called summer squash. However, you can still grow it at other times provided it is shielded from extreme cold.  If you get your system down, zucchini plants can become extremely productive with fruits.

If you would like to grow zucchini in your backyard, here is what you need to do:

  1. Prepare the growing area by digging to loosen the soil.
  2. Add organic fertilizer and mix well into the soil
  3. Create mounds of about 2-feet diameter, up to 10 inches high and about 4 feet apart.
  4. Plant 6 seeds per mound, spacing them evenly. Cover each seed with soil no deeper than 1 inch and water them thoroughly.
  5. Thereafter, water your zucchini seeds once or twice a week depending on the weather.
  6. Once the seedlings emerge, wait until the healthiest are about 3 inches tall. Weed out the weaker ones, leaving two or three in each mound.
  7. Continue watering as needed, aiming to get the water near the roots.
  8. When your zucchini start flowering, you may need to add fertilizer to support growth of the fruits. Also water more often, especially if the weather is hot.
  9. Zucchini takes about 60 days from planting to harvesting. Harvest zucchini as you need them when they are about 6 inches long. Fruits taste best at this stage. If you let them to grow for too long, they start getting woody and won’t taste too good.
  10. Enjoy your home grown zucchini raw or cooked.

Tips on cooking Zucchini

Slice your zucchini in cross sections, like small steaks, then apply a thin coating of olive or avocado oil, then sprinkle your favorite seasoning, ideally home grown herbs and spices, then grill on the BBQ for 7 minutes on each side.  Or, if you tolerate dairy well, then make a pizza out of your zucchini by adding a big slice of tomato on top, then a layer of your favorite cheese, then bake in the oven at 350 F for 15 minutes.

References

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17846978

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19276533

Mediterranean Gardening for Better Health

It makes so much sense: “you are what you eat.” Veterinarians know the irreplaceable link between nutrient intake and health. Actually, most of our pets eat better than most Americans. Your dog or cat probably eats a balanced formula of protein, carbohydrate, fat, fiber, vitamins and minerals.  Mediterranean gardening is the most studied diet in the world and leads to better health according to a study published by Diet Review.

Yet, most humans chose our foods based upon taste, cost, emotional needs and convenience. The most commonly eaten food in America is heavily refined and nutritionally bankrupt white flour. Meanwhile, our livestock eat the more nutritious wheat germ and bran that we discard from whole wheat. When our crops are not doing well, we examine the soil for nutrients, fluid and pH content.

Popular Medicinal Plants For Your Own Backyard

Mediterranean Gardening

Our gardens prosper when we water, fertilize, and add a little broad spectrum mineral supplement.  Many people do not fully understand the sign posted near the junk food vending machines in a major city zoo warns: “Do not feed this food to the animals or they may get sick and die.” Think about it. Do you think that the food that might kill a 400-pound ape is okay for a 40-pound child who is biologically very similar?

If our gardens, field crops, pets, exotic zoo creatures and every other form of life on earth are all heavily dependent on their diet for health, then what makes us think that humans have transcended this dependence? And it all starts with the food we eat, which is why many have turned to growing their own foods.

The Mediterranean diet may be the simple key to your longer and healthier life.

There are over 100 different diets that are studied and followed around the world.  Paleo, keto, vegan, all raw, ayurvedic, fruitarian, etc.  The best studied and most nourishing of all these diets is the Mediterranean diet, which has been followed by people in the southern Mediterranean region of Europe for many centuries. 

Mediterranean Gardening Plants

The diet is plant based, with heavy emphasis on fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts, seeds, small amounts of chicken and fish, with rare samples of red meat and dairy.  Garlic, tomatoes, red wine, naps, and hikes are an integral part of the lifestyle in Greece, Italy, southern France, etc.  This diet has been shown in extensive scientific studies to dramatically lower the risk for heart disease, cancer, and all cause morbidity.  The highly restrictive and immoderate diets mentioned above are probably not necessary and might be harmful, especially those people who avoid fruits and emphasize meat and fat.

Mediterranean Foods are Nutrient Rich

1) All creatures on earth rely heavily of the quality and quantity of nutrient in take for their health and longevity.

2) Wear are facing a serious “healthcare Meltdown” in which our huge investment in a” drugs and surgery” has not rescued us from sickness and early death. We cannot buy health, we must earn it through a healthy lifestyle.

3) The majority of us are malnourished due to poor choices at the dinner table. Our quantity of food intake is enough, and maybe too much. However, our quality of choices is way off. We eat too much of the wrong stuff and not enough of the right stuff.

4) The body wants to be well. By nourishing the “life forces” within, you set the stage for wondrous miracles of health to occur. Nutrition, exercise, attitude, detoxification, body maintenance, and genetics are the greatest forces that influence our health.

Mediterranean Garden Has Long Lasting Health Benefits

First world countries have among the world’s highest incidences of heart disease, cancer, stroke, diabetes, arthritis, and obesity; we seem to ignore the irreplaceable link between eating whole foods and good health. The Surgeon General of the United States reports that up to·65% of all disease could be prevented through proper nutrition. There is a basic flaw in our thinking about health care in this country. We treat symptoms, not the underlying cause of the disease. Yet, the only way to provide long-lasting relief in any degenerative disease,  like cancer, arthritis and heart disease, is to reverse the basic cause of the disease. 

“There is a Link Between Eating Whole Foods and Good Health”

For example, let’s say that the first thing I do every morning when I arrive at-my office is to slam my thumb in the desk drawer. After the first few days, it really hurts. As I continue slamming my thumb each morning, the thumb turns black and blue. I go to the doctor for relief. Doctor A tells me: “I will give you a prescription for an anti­ inflammatory agent, cortisone, to reduce the swelling in your thumb.”

I want another opinion. Doctor B tells me: “I will give you a prescription for an analgesic drug, to help you better tolerates the pain.”

I still am not convinced that I have the right “answer, so I get a third opinion. Doctor C tells.. Me: “I am going to have to amputate that thumb, since it is obviously defective.” The real answer is “stop slamming your thumb in the desk drawer” or reverse the underlying problem and allow your natural healing forces to take over.

Mediterranean Gardening for Better Health

Change the Underlying Cause of Disease

You might say that my little story has nothing to do with your health problem. Let’s say that Mrs. Jones is suffering from degenerative rheumatoid arthritis. Her knuckles, hips, and other joints are so swollen that they limit Mrs. Jones’s activities. In this case, she could reverse the disease by avoiding the allergenic foods of dairy and wheat, while also taking supplements of fish oil, zinc, pantothenic acid, and bee pollen.

Doctor A tells her: “I will give you a prescription for an anti-inflammatory agent, cortisone, to reduce the swelling in your joints.” Doctor B tells her: “I will give you a prescription for an analgesic drug, to help you better tolerate the pain. “Doctor tells her:” I am going to have to do hip replacement surgery because those joints are defective. “The correct answer is to change the underlying causes of the disease, or “stop slamming your thumb in the drawer”. Again, the Mediterranean Diet is the most studied diet with many proven health benefits has the potential to change the underlying causes of disease.

In our health care system, we usually shift symptoms with medication or surgery, as if in a bizarre “, shell game”, when we really need to deal with the fundamental cause of the disease. Nutrition, and in particular, super foods from the Mediterranean garden can help change the underlying cause of many health problems.

Culinary-Plant-Seeds-1000

Mediterranean Gardening for the Kitchen

Most locations in the USA can grow a mediterranean kitchen garden, one of the most well known being rosemary. The freshest produce is the highest in nutrition. Think about adding some of these to your garden, indoors or out. Container planting is a possibility for apartment dwellers or the colder regions. Those living from Zone 10 through Zone 6 can plant outdoors.

Homegrown Mediterranean plants are delicious and hard to beat. Many Mediterranean vegetables can easily be grown outdoors from early spring through to late Fall. If you are fortunate enough to have an abundant harvest, think about investing in a dehydrator or canning equipment. And of course freezing is always an option. Nothing better in the cold of winter to enjoy your summer harvest.

Mediterranean dishes are famous for their generous use of herbs. Rosemary, oregano, chives parsley, sage and more are easy to grow indoors and out. Take cuttings and replant them. At the end of the season harvest and freeze. Also consider making infused oils and vinegars. Delicious and very healthy for you.

When growing remember companion planting. One of the many benefits is that it helps ward of pests, and you will be thankful for this in the heat of the summer when they come visiting.

Mediterranean Garden Plants to Grow in Your Backyard

  • Beets
  • Broccoli
  • Carrot
  • Onion
  • Peas
  • Artichoke
  • Asparagus
  • Basil
  • Chives
  • Cilantro
  • Dill
  • Marjoram
  • Oregano
  • Orange
  • Lemon
  • Lime
  • Figs
  • Peaches

Miracles of Gardening

There are miracles going on all around us if we merely take the time to notice. How does a tomato seed, the size of a BB become a plant the size of a man, then produce hundreds of tomato fruit, which each include dozens of seeds for future generations?

To garden is to touch the Divine. Nourishing plants whether for beauty or consumption is a connection with the Keeper of the Universe.

Gardening has many proven health benefits to mind and body. Gardens are now being added to hospitals and clinics for their healing value. Gardens have been added to thousands of schools across the country for their value in education and cooperative teamwork.

Eating what you grow is a true spiritual experience. Community gardens not only provide stress reduction, healthy food, and outdoor activities, but also nourish a sense of connection with others.

Excerpt “12 Keys to a Healthier Cancer Patient” by Dr Patrick Quillin, PhD,RD,CNS

Make Your Garden Sustainable

sustainable gardening

Soil, compost, mulch and water are the main elements behind a sustainable garden. Focusing on improving and utilizing these elements will not only make your garden more productive, but ultimately allows humans and nature to exist in harmony. Making your garden sustainable will help reduce waste and also provide the foundation for the next generation.

Growing our own foods is on an upward trend in the USA and around the world. Many people are reaping the benefits of gardening and this includes both the physical and mental benefits. Alongside the upward trend in growing our own food, is this upward trend and interest in sustainable gardening. The 2020 Garden Trends Report emphasized that regenerative gardening will continue to grow in popularity.

Basically, growing sustainable food can be considered a form of organic growing; farmers and homegrowers alike use organic materials and biologically natural methods in farming. Some cultures may consider sustainable growing very natural and traditional. Whereas for many in western civilization the clock is turning back to the more enriched and valuable methods of sustainable farming. Consumers are moving away from artificially enhanced crops and foods to more natural produce.

With the growing interest in sustainable gardening, more and more people see the value of organic growing; from the health benefits, to less waste, and reduced chemicals, which ultimately leads to cleaner air and waterways, and a much healthier environment.

Sustainable Gardening = Natural & Organic

The practice of organic growing is definitely a much preferable method and also more humane for the environment. The main reason for this is because sustainable gardening does not use any pesticides, insecticides and even synthetic fertilizers. Organic and sustainable growing means you are getting 100 percent natural, organic and safe ingredients.

Culinary-Plant-Seeds-1000

Conventional growing uses pesticides, insecticides, weed killers and other artificial materials to kill any negative substances that may hinder the full growth of their plants. Studies show that over time weed killers and other non-organic materials reduce the quality of the soil. It becomes less productive over the years.

However, with sustainable growing, the home grower focuses on natural and organic amendments. They make sure their plants receive the necessary fertilizer ingredients, NPK plus the necessary trace minerals. Clearly, it is true that sustainable growing methods are much safer for both the environment and the people, since the materials and ingredients used are purely sustainable and natural.

Grow healing plants in your own garden

Sustainable Gardening Means Improved Quality

The issue then may rise with the competition between sustainable food and conventional products. Cost can sometimes be a factor. Sustainable and organic food may cost a more than conventional products. Consider shopping weekly at your local farmers market is a worthwhile outing. The differences are noticeable. Close your eyes and enjoy the taste of organic produce, breathe in the fragrance. Plus, your body will thank you as you reduce your intake of chemicals. Many farmers markets have strict rules about the growing methods of their vendors.

Moreover, the positive health aspects is complemented with the nutritional value. Since organic food is made from all natural methods and farming, it is thus apparent that it is much more nutritious. The products are proven much fresher and known to have undergone only minor processes; thus, you can be assured that indeed, organic food is safe and nutritious to eat.

7 Easy Sustainable Gardening Tips

Here are 7 easy things you can do to become more sustainable.

1. Compost

Easy to start. The easiest method to compost is to simply bury kitchen waste deep in your garden. If you have green waste from your yard there are many compost options from vermicomposting, to burying directly in the soil, a simple chicken wire cage to an enclosed system. Composting is a great start on your sustainable gardening venture.

Over time the green waste breaks down. If you have a yard with trees and a garden, you may want to search Amazon and invest in a small home shredder or chipper, or you can use scissors and cut it manually. This will speed up the decomposition greatly. Also, buy a thermometer – the 3 foot variety. A composting story here.

Compost is humic and fulvic acid, which is the final breakdown of plant and animal matter and will add bacteria, funti, protozoa, earthworms and other microscopic creatures when mixed with the soil. These organisms are essential for plant growth and vigor and help convert organic matter into vitamins, minerals and other beneficial compounds and nutrients for the plants.

Make your Garden Sustainable

2. Go Native to Promote Sustainability

A native garden drastically reduces your water use, need for fertilizers and maintenance.

  • They will require much less attention, time and resources, and they will be much healthier.
  • Native plants require little or no fertilizers for sustainability.
  • In Southern California, native gardens use 85% less water each year.
  • Help prevent erosion.
  • Native plants help reduce air pollution.
  • Plus, a BIG benefit, native gardens provide a biodiverse habit for wildlife. You can enjoy abundant colors, scents and variety to attract beneficial insects, pollinators and birds.

3. Go Organic

Skip the chemicals. You will be surprised at how your garden will improve when you go organic and incorporate more sustainable practices. Organic matter is rampant with microbes and other organisms unseen and unknown to us, but you will see the benefits within one season.

Organic and sustainable gardening will also help retain topsoil, reduces toxic runoff, reduces death of insects, critters and birds, increases beneficial soil organisms and reduces pesticides, herbicides and fungicides.

The most important benefit of organic gardening is that vegetables and herbs are grown on rich, high-compost, well-mineralized soil. Food taste will be enhanced, your harvest will be nutrient rich and much higher in antioxidants and phytonutrients.

Ensure your family eats the best possible fruits and vegetables.

4. Edible Ornamentals

Plant trees or vegetables that can be ornamental as well as edible. No need to waste any space. Did you know that you can eat daylilies? What about dahlias? There are a number of common garden ornamentals that are safe and delicious to eat. The edible nature of these plants is often overlooked because they are known for their ornamental qualities, but they can bring a kick of flavor to your table as well as add beauty to your garden. Fold these plants into the soil at the end of the season and let the fungi and micro organisms break down the matter for you.

Try these culinary flowers

make your garden sustainable
Chamomile

5. Give Up the Grass

One of the major efforts in making your garden sustainable is giving up the grass. Children do need grass, but if you can replace the grass and need for watering, weeding and fertilizing and let it go natural. No more Sunday lawn mowing, or paying to have it done. If you cannot possibly giveup the grass, then try to to let your grass grow a little longer, be more tolerant of weeds.

6. Plant Swaps Groups

Find a plant swap group online. If you have additional native seedlings or plants, or maybe cuttings, see if you can trade, donate or swap. These swap groups are also popular for trading succulents which are wonderful for any sustainable garden. You will save $$$$$.

7. Harvest Rainwater

Harvesting rainwater is emerging as a popular sustainable effort, in both residential and commercial properties. Rainwater is free or inorganic contaminants. A local municipal water department tested for 93 contaminants, 92 were allowed in the water supply.

Plants LOVE rainwater. Given that much city water contains a vast number of chemicals, your plants and soil will thank you if you can extend the life of rainwater. Watch your plants thrive with this popular sustainable activity.

Sustainable gardening does require more time and effort, but if done correctly the benefits are worthwhile with bigger and healthier plants, which you and your family get to enjoy.

Medicinal Plants For Your Garden

Flowers can have an uplifting effect on the human spirit with their colors, scent and beauty. There are many popular flowers which also have natural medicinal healing properties. Flowers can be used for physical health enhancement as well as for safely managing emotional issues caused by life’s pressure and challenges.  Knowing the best medicinal plants to grow in your yard or patio can help provide health benefits as well as satisfaction and enjoyment.

Medicinal plants have been used as herbal medicine for centuries and have been regaining a resurgence in recent years. Often the entire plant can be used including flowers, leaves, stem and the root. These can be grown directly in the ground or in containers. These medicinal plants are easy to grow, are beautiful, fragrant and have multiple health benefits.

The National Library of Medicine has close to 100 herbs and flowers in their Medicine herb garden listings. “Plants have a long a rich history of medicinal use and, even in the era of modern medicine, their medicinal properties are still sought after.”

The benefits of using compost in your garden

Medicinal Plants for Herbal Medicine

Your body wants to be healthy. But are you providing the proper “building materials” to allow the body to maintain health?   Just like if a home builder is not supplied with the proper array of high quality lumber, concrete, pipes, nails, etc., then the workers cannot create a strong house. Many of the medicinal foods we need can be found in our kitchens and we can grow many in our own home gardens.

Though humankind has developed some advanced tools, like notebook computers, satellite communication, and laser surgery, we still cannot make a baby, or an apple or even leather. We have to rely on Nature for these gifts from the garden.

Grow sustainable food in your own garden

The same goes for our health.  Good health does not come from an endless series of trips to the doctor. Growing foods that are non GMO, pesticide free, heirloom, organic and fed the right nutrients to thrive, can provide long term benefits for all.

Good health has to be earned by working hand-in-hand with Nature.

Nature has the most remarkable, inexpensive, and non-toxic healing agents on the planet earth. Nature’s pharmacy has been around much longer than mankind’s pharmacies.

Medicinal Garden Seeds

Medicinal Plants that are Popular

The University of Rochester Medical Center inclues these 8 popular herbs in their Guide to Common Medicinal Herbs. These herbs are all easy to grow in the ground or containers and have been used for centuries for medicinal purposes. All are edible and can be used in teas.

While whole plants can be used, however the flowers are used for their phyto-chemical derivatives, which are beneficial for various health and healing purposes. The flower essences can prepared in several different ways, please be sure to use organic flowers.

  • Add flowers and/or leaves to hot water and consume as a tea
  • Dry flowers and/or leaves and add to your cooking
  • Mix with aloe to create a gel for applying to your body
  • Add to your bath for relaxation

Medicinal Plants Provide Multiple Benefits

Flowers have a powerful effect on human psyche and are beneficial for their natural health benefits. Healing flowers not only  improve physical ailments like hypertension, insomnia, allergies, asthma, eating disorders, migraines and bed wetting, but they also have a psychological component and can aid with stress, anxiety and depression.

Let your weeds grow, enjoy their beauty and eat them!

Flowers are known to have a rebalancing effect on emotions like fear, stress and aggression; flower therapy is also useful in cognitive issues like combating memory loss, improving stuttering and dyslexia; and enhancing learning skills.

Medicinal Flowers and Their Colors

The colors of flowers can symbolize different things as well as evoke different meanings and it is known that colors in general can stimulate the mind for different purposes.

The scent enjoyed by flowers can provide extraordinary benefits. While humans have five senses, our sense of smell is such a powerful memory enhancer, second only to vision. The scent of flowers can help improve our mood and provide uplifting feelings.

Here are the healing benefits of 8 commonly known flowers:

Medicinal Plants for your Garden

1. Dandelion

The Dandelion is native to Europe but found in temperate climates. The leaves, flowers and root have been used in Mexican and American medicinal herbal medicine. Today dandelion is promoted as a tonic and used for a variety of infections and digestive symptoms. The roasted root is used as a coffee substitute.

The edible Dandelion flowers are rich in minerals like iron, zinc and potassium; and vitamins A, B, C and D. This excellent nutritional composition makes dandelion flowers a tonic for overall well being and excellent medicinal plant for your garden.

Dandelion is often used to help with:

  • Laxative
  • Blood purification
  • Anemia
  • Digestion
  • Liver concerns
  • Gall bladder issues600
Medicinal Plants for your Garden

2. Lavender

Lavender is a most well-known medicinal plant for its strong fragrance and widely popular in aromatherapy. It also has excellent soothing properties. Its calming effect on nervous system has multiple therapeutic benefits.

The restorative effect of lavender on your mind also ensures better quality sleep at night. Besides enhancing overall sense of well-being lavender has antiseptic and antibacterial properties, which help in skin ailments. You can boil some dried lavender flowers, strain and drink this medicinal tea.

  • Relieves anxiety
  • Depression booster
  • Reduce Irritability
  • Mental fatigue
  • Panic attacks
  • Menstrual cramps
  • Hypertension

Lavender is easy to grow, but make sure the seeds have been chilled for about 30 days before planting. If you are in a warmer climate, place them in the fridge prior to planting. Also is a wonderful pollinator attractor.

Grow Beetroot in Your Garden

3. Borage

Borage contains the omega-6 fatty acid, gamma-linolenic acid which is also produced naturally in the body and may have anti-inflammatory properties. The borage flower and leaves are used for fever, cough, and depression. According to Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, Borage may be helpful for menopausal symptoms, depression, dermatitis, and gastrointestinal issues.  Buy Borage Seeds here.

Borage is easy to grow, with vivid blue flowers and leaves it has the flavor and scent of cucumbers. It can be started indoors 3-4 weeks before last frost or after danger of frost has passed. Plant next to tomatoes. It is supposed to deter tomato hornworms and improve the flavor of tomatoes growing nearby.

4. Chia Seeds

Despite their small size, chia seeds are full of important nutrients. They are an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids, rich in antioxidants, and they provide fiber, iron, and calcium. Omega-3 fatty acids help raise HDL cholesterol, the “good” cholesterol that protects against heart attack and stroke. Chia has become popular in recent years as a medicinal plant for your garden.

The seeds are tiny, but this plant will grow to about 3 foot. Flowers are purple or white. It is an annual is cooler climates, but in Zones 9 through 11 it can be a perennial. Plant in the ground or in pots.

Sunflower

5. Sunflowers

The sunflower could be considered medicinal for both its aesthetic appearance and it medicinal qualities. One of the fascinating aspects of sunflower is that they follow the sun (heliotropism). i.e. think about this when planting!

According to a study in 2017 the sunflower is abundant with nutrients and biological activities. The oils are known for their anti-inflammatory effects and contain tocopherols (vitamin E), linoleic acid, triterpenes and other polyphenolic compounds, providing many medicinal qualities, and easy to grown in your garden.

Research shows that sunflower seeds are packed with vitamin E and with almost zero cholesterol. Sunflower seeds are great for the skin, heart, liver and general health. They also have several critical phytosterols for the production of hormones in your body.

6. Sage

Sage is high in many nutrients and loaded with antioxidants. The leaf has been used for 100’s years as a herbal and medicinal remedy.  Sage is used for:

  • digestive problems, including loss of appetite, gas (flatulence), stomach pain (gastritis), diarrhea, bloating, and heartburn
  • reducing overproduction of perspiration and saliva
  • depression, memory loss, and Alzheimer’s disease
  • may easy menopause symptoms
  • may lower bad LDL cholesterol

Sage thrives in well-drained soil and can be grown in medium to full sun. Fairly drought tolerant and will grow well alongside Chia. Sage grows well in containers both indoors and out. Sage is a perennial in zones 5-9. An excellent choice for cuttings. Replant and share with friends.

7. Caraway

Caraway is another aromatic plant. It resembles the carrot with its feather leaves. The caraway seeds adds flavor to any dish and complements carrots and potatoes. It is also used in sauerkraut to help dispel gas and add flavor. Popular as a tea. Native to Western Asia, Europe and North Africa, caraway is happiest with warm sunny climates.

For medicinal purposes it is used for digestive problems including heartburn, bloating, gas, loss of appetite, and mild spasms of the stomach and intestines. An easy to grow medicinal plant in the garden. Caraway oil is also used to help people cough up phlegm, improve control of urination, kill bacteria in the body, and relieve constipation.

8. Chamomile

Studies show that substances in chamomile can kill bacteria and reduce inflammation, according to Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. The flowers have anti-fungal, anti-bacterial and analgesic properties making it an excellent choice as a medicinal plant in the garden. Use of Chamomile flowers after physical exertion helps with:

  • Inflammation
  • Tissue recovery,
  • Muscular cramps relief
  • Soothe digestive system
  • Ease nausea, stomach cramps, menstrual cramp and discomfort.

The soothing effect of Chamomile flowers also helps in healing various skin ailments and enhances health of your skin. The sweet fragrance of Chamomile flowers has uplifting effect on human psyche, which helps in relieving stress and improving quality of sleep. Make herbal tea from dried chamomile to get the myriad benefits of these flowers.

When growing chamomile, plant in the spring from seed or plant. Dividing is the easiest way to grow, but chamomile also does well from seed. Grow in cool conditions, part shade is preferred. Water when dry.

Do you know the best seed germination temperatures?

9. Calendula

Bright yellow or orange Calendula flowers are known for their antibacterial, antiviral and anti fungal properties. These flowers are often used externally to ease inflammation and heal wounds, burns, rashes and injuries. Calendula flowers when taken internally stimulate blood circulation and speed up recovery from colds and fevers. You can make a tea from calendula flowers and use this anti-inflammatory herbal formula: as face wash to treat acne, eyewash to treat conjunctivitis, mouthwash to treat mouth sores and vaginal wash to treat yeast infections.

Flowers are Mother Nature’s amazing gift; start enjoying the medicinal powers of these flowers and other healing herbs. Add them to your next season garden.

Grow these Culinary Plant Seeds

Start thinking now about what plant you will be growing next season in your garden that is edible and contains medicinal properties.

Composting Tips

Compost Tips

Composting will provide you with the best organic fertilizer possible. You will give your plants an ideal mix of nitrogen, potassium, phosphorus and a concoction of rich synergistic nutrients that your plants will thrive on. It is the best fertilizer you can provide your plants. And if you are striving for an organic garden, it is almost impossible to improve upon. Beginning composting is easy.

Composting, the Organic Fertilizer

Composting can be easy or difficult, slow or fast(ish). Decomposition is much like any other fermentation. Different in that the home composter rarely has exactly the same materials to work with from batch to batch, does not need to control the purity and nature of the organisms that will do the actual work of humus formation, and has a broad selection of materials that can go into a batch of compost.

Your plants will love any plant material you can add. Most plants will, within broad limits, happily tolerate wide variations in compost quality without complaint. Almost without fail your plants will show their appreciation for the organic fertilizer you have labored over throughout their growing season.

Some people who compost are very fussy and much like fine bakers or skilled brewers, take great pains to produce a material exactly to their liking by using complex methods. But, always this organic fertilizer with the natural nitrogen, phosophorus and potassium and the multitude of unknown and nutrients are a wonderful addition to any plant and garden.

According to Science Direct, composting is one of the oldest and simplest methods of organic waste stablization. It is a self-heating biological conversion, which generates suitable end products. This process also sanitizes the compost.

Medicinal Garden Seeds

1. Choose Composting Method

There are numerous ways of composting that produce a product that will add rich nutrients to your garden. The simpler methods require less work, but take considerably more time to decompose.

  • One unique method suited to handling kitchen garbage—vermicomposting (worms)– can work well for those with minimal or no backyard. Perfect for the ecologically concerned apartment dweller with a few house plants.
  • Then, we have the more common methods of simply allowing the plant material to break down with minimal effort on our part.
  • The home gardener can fasten this process buy manually breaking down the waste which we will outline below.

2. Composting Techniques

Having composted for well over 20 years, I’ve tried many methods of composting. Power chipper/shredders, home-made bins, chicken wire, plastic store bought bins and crude heaps, they’ve all been fair game; I’ve sheet composted, mulched, and used green manure from different animals. Ongoing turning of vegetable matter can be a back breaking task, but over time have discovered investing in a small home chipper/shredder method is less taxing physically, much faster at breaking down the matter and greatly speeds up the decomposition process.

Like many people, my first composting efforts were on a smaller lot where maintaining a tidy appearance was a necessary concern. Now, in a suburban neighborhood, with a little more space, the shredder and chipper have become invaluable tools.

Grow These Medicinal Flowers in Your Own Backyard

3. Consider Composting Tools

Today there are certain tools that help create an efficient system that produces beautiful earthy compost in the fastest time

  • 2 compost bins – constantly being rotated. One for new matter, the other cooking/ decomposing.
  • Thermometer – 3 foot to reach deep into the compost pile
  • Turning fork, spiral type
  • Chipper and leaf shredder – or large garden scissors
  • Water as needed
  • Occasional – organic manures, alfalfa meal, wood shavings
  • Your Time -shred/cut into smaller pieces if you want to speed up the process
composting tips

4. Add Compost Ingredients

When composting, it’s important to adapt to your growing conditions. Adapt your composting routine to your climate and environment. If you live in a warmer climate you can enjoy year-round gardening, composting is a year-round and constant activity – and it does require perseverance.

Small branches, stalks, twigs, vegetable trimmings, leaves, manures, kitchen waste. My favorite items, rich in nitrogen and other nutrients are the stalks of various members of the cruciferous family including broccoli, cabbage, brussels sprout that usually over winter locally. These vegetables usually go to flower by April. Many remain in the ground well beyond initial bloom because they are wonderful pollinator attractors i.e. they bring an abundance of bees and butterflies. By composting time these plants can be over 6ft tall.

Mediterranean gardening in your own backyard

Continue Adding to Compost Bin

These plants are easy to cut or simply let nature take care of it. But, having a chipper will allow you to turn the cruciferous plants into something that resembles coleslaw, and you could almost eat it!

As plant matter is acquired it is shredded then placed into the ‘working bin’. Our household generates considerable plant matter, both from the garden and the kitchen. Daily kitchen waste (fruit and veg only) is added to the center and stirred in immediately. This reduces the putrid smells and flies!

Remember what you add to your compost will reduce considerably, maybe 50%. Always add more than you think. It will quickly breakdown and the bulk will reduce dramatically.

Growing Beetroot

4. Get Your Compost HOT

The thermometer is a much used tool in “working bin’. It tells you when it is time to stir which is usually when the temperature returns to the outside temperature. Getting the bin to 140 degrees, which happens almost year round, always bring excitement. It’s nature at work.

To reach these high temperatures you need to balance the carbon and nitrogen. This will vary greatly depending on where you live and what plant matter you have available. Also important is to turn the outer corners into the center so the entire bin is well rotated.

Turning compost can be an impossible, sweat-drenching, back-wrenching chore, or it can be relatively quick and easy. This is where a chipper and/or shredder can be very useful. The smaller the matter the easier it is to turn. Also, the turning spiral fork can be much easier to use than a hay fork if you are working with smaller plant matter.

Use Your Thermometer

Get your thermometer in your bin. When you see the temperature drop it is time to turn, or add more nitrogen. As you become more experienced you will discover what and how much green and brown you need to get the pile hot. Seeing steam arising from the pile in mid-winter or mid-summer is always a joy.

With each turn of the pile, it is watered with a fine mist. This turning is much easier if you have smaller vegetable matter. The chunks that remain as visible entities are again turned into the new pile’s center; most of the bigger and less-decomposed matter comes from the outside of the old heap.

5. Spread Your Black Gold Compost

In the warmer months the bins can be finished cooking within 6 weeks. Nature at its best. The bins have been turned, watered and now have that wonderful earthy fragrance. The bins are looking and smelling wonderful. They are filled with crumbly dark brown or black soil and its origins are not recognizable. The compost pile has been reduced by 50% or more.

When the ‘working bin’ is ready you can spread the ‘completed bin’ around the yard. But first give it one final stir. Within 6-10 weeks you can have your own black gold. Always leave 2-10 gallons in the bottom as the starter for your next batch, depending on the size of your bin.

Compost and Neighbors

This method works well in most suburban backyards. You can keep the compost bins out of site or at least not draw attention and there is minimal odor when the pile is cooking. It does require some effort, but it is well worth it and your plants will show their thanks for it.

There are many compost methods that you can experiment with. There could be a small backyard method, the fast method, the apartment method, the wintertime method. An understanding of basics will enable you to experiment with your own available material and create the best compost organic fertilizer for your garden.

Powerful Antibiotics From the Garden

Mediterranean Gardening

Finding healing powers in plants is an ancient idea. Plants are rich in a wide variety of secondary metabolites, such as tannins, terpenoids, alkaloids and flavonoids, which have been found to have antimicrobial properties. A wide variety of these can be planted in your garden, either in containers or in garden beds. One of the benefits of growing strong scented herbs is that many animals are deterred by the fragrant oils and will leave it alone.

For centuries plant extracts and phytochemicals have been a valuable source of natural products for maintaining health. About 80% of individuals from developed countries use traditional medeicine, using compounds dervied from medicinal plants.

Each year in America 270 million prescriptions for antibiotics are written for 315 million total residents, of which conservative estimates are that 47 million of those prescriptions are unnecessary and even counter-productive.  When Alexander Fleming received his Nobel prize in 1945 for his work with penicillin as an antibiotic, it was hoped that antibiotics would become the new super drug, curing many ailments.

Turned out, after the Human Microbiome Project was launched in 2007 that bacteria in the gut are an essential part of human health.  Taking unnecessary antibiotics creates havoc on the gut microbiome.  Hence the need to look for natural antibiotic alternatives that boost the immune system to thwart infections while not harming the delicate balance of the 100 trillion commensal microbes that live peacefully within our gut.

Make foods with antibiotic properties your first line of defense to fight common infections. Besides being safe and effective in fighting off infections using nature’s medicine can boost your immune system without causing any resistance in the bacteria. Here are my top choices for powerful natural remedies.

health benefits of garlic

Garlic

Garlic is well documented as one of nature’s medicines and is frequently used in holistic health. This food is a very safe antibacterial and antiviral natural remedy. The powerful compound “Allicin” in garlic is capable of fighting microbial, fungal, parasitic and viral infections. It is even effective in treating multi-drug pathogens and drug-resistant microbial diseases. A powerful natural antibiotic

Additionally, another of the significant health benefits of garlic is that it boosts immunity by helping in detoxification and supporting growth of new cells in your body. It also works as a natural antiseptic to heal skin infections. Garlic has many properties that make it very popular in holistic health because it acts like a natural antibiotic because of its allicin compound.

Garlic has impressed scientists with its ability to inhibit Helicobacter Pylori, a bacteria in the stomach that commonly causes ulcers and other trouble.

For maximum antibiotic benefits crush few garlic pods and expose them to air for 30 minutes to fully activate ‘allicin’ before consuming. Garlic extract capsules (at least 1.3% allicin) are recommended at a dose of 600 – 1200 mg per day through the course of infection.

When should you plant garlic in your garden?

Lavender

An easy to grow powerful medicinal plant with antibiotic properties for your garden. Lavender oil has been very popular in recent years, and for good reason. The Lavender plant is aromatic and has a highly scented purple flower. There are many studies to support the claims that Lavender is good for you.

Medicinal Garden Seeds

The Journal of Neuroscience reports a study whereby lavender and rosemary improved cognitive performance and mood in health volunteers. Inhalation of lavender oil has been shown to have a sedation effect according to a study published by De Gruyter in Vienna, Austria.

Grow lavender in the ground or containers and harvest the flowers. It may help you with anxiety, mood, sleep, stress, blood pressure and migraine.

Basil

Basil has strong antibacterial properties. Several of the plant oils exhibit antimicrobial activity against bacteria including listeria, staphylococcus and salmonella.

Sweet basil is a popular herb in Mediterranean and Asian foods. It is the main ingredient in pesto and used in salads, pasta/ noodles and other dishes. Holy basil is used widely in Ayurvedic medicines.

Basil provides many vitamins, mineral and is rich in macro nutrients and antioxidants. Many studies show the medicinal benefits of the oil. Sweet basil has a high concentration of eugonol which gives the clove-like scent.

How to get that compost pile smoking!

A 2015 study showed that holy basil had a positive effect on liver health. A study in 2013 showed the phytochemicals in holy basil may help prevent certain types of skin, liver, oral and lung cancers.

Another study showed that sweet basil has properties that may help protect the skin from aging. The results suggested that basil extracts might improve skin hydration and reduce wrinkling.

Other benefits of basil include reduction in high blood sugar, improved cardiovascular health, improved mental health and reduction in inflammation.

Basil is very easy to grow. Rabbits dislike basil. Use it liberally in your cooking and sauces.

Thyme

Another easy to grow herb with a long history of dietary and medicinal uses. The flowers, leaves and oil of thyme all have antibacterial, insecticidal and possibly antifungal properties. During the Black Death plague thyme was used for embalming and protecting people.

Thymol, a naturally occurring compound known as biocides contains substances that can destroy harmful organisms. A study in the International Journal of Food Microbiology in 2010 shows that thymol can reduce bacterial resistance to common drugs.

Even at low concentrations, thyme has potential as a natural preservative of foods against many food borne bacteria. Combined with lavender oil, the combinations boosts resistance against Staphylococcus, Enteroccoccus, Escherichia and Pseudomonas bacteria.

Another little known benefit of thyme is it ability to prolong stability of cooking oils. Lipid oxidation is a problem during food processing and storage. A 2012 study from Poland suggests that the high polyphenol content of thyme may help as an antioxidant for stabilizing cooking oils.

Aloe Vera

Aloe vera gel is widely known to relieve sunburn and help heal wounds. But did you know that your favorite potted plant can be used for much more than sunburn relief and household décor?

The succulent has a long history of being used for medicinal purposes, dating back to ancient Egypt. The plant is native to North Africa, Southern Europe, and the Canary Islands. Today, aloe vera is grown in tropical climates worldwide. From relieving heartburn to potentially slowing the spread of breast cancer, researchers are just beginning to unlock the benefits of this universal plant and its many byproducts.

Aloe Vera Keeps Fruit & Vegetables Fresh

2014 study published online by the Cambridge University Press looked at tomato plants coated with aloe gel. The report showed evidence that the coating successfully blocked the growth of many types of harmful bacteria on the vegetables. Similar results were found in a different study with apples. This means that aloe gel could help fruits and vegetables stay fresh, and eliminate the need for dangerous chemicals that extend the shelf life of produce.

Mouthwash Alternative

In a 2014 studyTrusted Source published in the Ethiopian Journal of Health Sciences, researchers found aloe vera extract to be a safe and effective alternative to chemical-based mouthwashes. The plant’s natural ingredients, which include a healthy dose of vitamin C, can block plaque. It can also provide relief if you have bleeding or swollen gums.

Turmeric

Turmeric is the yellow colored herb found in curry and mustard.  Turmeric has been used for centuries in India as folk medicine.  Turns out that turmeric has abundant scientific backing as an anti-cancer, antibiotic, immune boosting herb with enormous natural antibiotic properties.

Turmeric May Reduce Inflammation

Turmeric is a one of nature’s more potent medicines, used for treating common infections (cold, flu and allergies). Active compound “curcumin” in turmeric is responsible for its color, taste and therapeutic properties. It also works as a natural antiseptic with analgesic effects. Essential oil of turmeric is used topically to prevent infections, reduce pain and swelling, and promote healing of the damaged skin. 

Add 1-2 teaspoon of turmeric in your various dishes or take a 500 grams supplement. To heal skin infection, make turmeric paste with water or honey and apply it on the skin. A powerful natural remedy for every kitchen.

Culinary-Plant-Seeds-1000

 Lemons

Grandmother was right about lemon juice when you had a cold or stuffy nose. She probably also used it as a disinfectant to clean the countertops. And, she probably also added it to her drinking water. There is much more to the ancient wisdom of grandmother’s use of lemon juice.

“Flavonoids” compounds in lemon have well-known natural antibiotic benefits. Besides having antibacterial and antiviral properties lemon juice is also high in vitamin C, which helps in boosting body’s immunity and aids in fighting infections. It is also an excellent detoxifying agent as it creates alkaline environment and helps in flushing out any external pathogens from your body. 

Add lemon to your daily diet to fight off colds, flu, and recurrent ear infections naturally. You can take up to 120 ml of lemon juice daily in diluted form. Another one of the powerful medicines of nature.

While fresh organic lemons are readily available at all grocery stores, it is very easy to grow compact lemon trees in a larger container. Or, plant in the ground. Lemon trees like sun and have a preference for organic fertilizers.

Is composting really worth it?

Ginger

Ginger has shown therapeutic benefits in health management since ancient time. Ginger is known for its antibacterial effects on respiratory and periodontal infections. The active components “Gingerols” and “Zingerone” in ginger are linked to its anti-bacterial effects. Ginger has also found effective in treating even drug-resistant forms of fungal infections. Additionally it is a potent anti-inflammatory agent and used as a natural remedy for pain. A study from 2014 stated that numerous active ingredients are present in ginger including terpenes and oleoresin, otherwise known as ginger oil.

You can use ginger in either extract form or as tea. However, alcohol based ginger extracts are better for therapeutic uses. You can make ginger tea by grating a cubic inch of ginger and boiling it in about 1½ cups of water for about 10 minutes.

Oregano

The essential oil extracted from oregano leaves is another of nature’s medicines. Oil of oregano contains a powerful compound “Carvacrol”, which is effective in fighting off bacterial, fungal, parasitic, viral and yeast infections. It is very strong in its pure form, so it is advisable to dilute it with other oils or purchase a diluted blend of oils from the market.

Add 2-3 drops of oregano oil to your vaporizer and inhale for a few minutes to get relief from respiratory congestion. You can either take 4-6 drops of oil of oregano diluted in water or 1 capsule (100 – 150 mg) per day for maximum seven to ten days to cure infections. The therapeutic use of oregano oil is not suitable for infants, children, pregnant or nursing women.

Grapefruit

Grapefruit seed extract (GSE) is a natural antibiotic, capable of killing a variety of pathogens i.e. parasites, protozoa, bacteria, yeast and some viruses. It is nontoxic and can be administered for up to several months to eliminate stubborn infections.

GSE can be used externally as a disinfectant to prevent infection in wounds. Internally you can use a total of 1500 mg GSE, 3 times per day to treat chronic infections.

Olive Leaf

Olive leaves have a natural ability to resist infections and is frequently used for holistic health. An active constituent called “Oleuropein” is responsible for its antibacterial, antiviral, and antifungal effects. The best thing about olive leaf extract is that it destroys harmful bacteria, fungi and yeasts but it allows beneficial bacteria to multiply. Besides being antimicrobial, olive leaves extract have analgesic effects too.

To maintain optimum health the recommended dosage for an adult is 25 mg per day, it can be taken as a supplement in capsule or liquid form without any risk of toxicity.

Growing Beetroot

Beetroots or beets are one of the most nutrient-packed root vegetables. Besides, making a great addition to your family’s diet, beets can be used for medicinal purposes and as natural colouring agent. Therefore, if you want to reap all the healing powers of this superfood, try growing beets in your backyard.

Beet (Beta vulgaris) is a biennial, fast-growing, versatile plant that can be easily included in your vegetable garden. Though, cool weather (60 -65 degrees F) is optimal for growing beets, they tolerate a wide range of conditions. The best season to grow beets is either spring (March and April) or fall (June to September).

Grandmothers Medicinal Seeds

For good growth in your home garden, plant beet seeds in well-drained, rich, light soil that is free from stones and clay. Beets, can tolerate a high soil pH, but they will perform better in a low soil pH to thrive, so get your soil tested and apply lime (if needed) to bring it to the recommended range of 6.2-6.8. Remember, there should be a gap of 30 days in between lime application and planting of beets.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is patrick-beetroot-300-300x280.jpg

Germinating Beetroot

As, beet seeds are slow to germinate, soak the seed clusters overnight to soften the shell and fasten the speed germination. Plant seeds, 1 inch deep and about 3 inches apart in rows, with each row about 15 inches apart. However, if you are interested in beet greens (primarily), plant seeds closely together (2 inches apart) in wide 2 to 3 foot beds, instead of rows to get high leaf yield. To avoid leaf spot disease and other insect problems, grow beets in full sun with good air circulation.

Not enough moisture and too much competition for space (from weeds and other plants), make beets stringy and tough. So, after planting beets, make sure the seeds get enough (about 1 inch) water every week to keep the soil moist but not saturated. Also, do thinning (soon after germination), to relieve early crowding and hand pulling of the weeds (time to time), to prevent them from crowding and deforming the roots.  Do you suffer from mineral deficiencies? What Is Your Soil Missing?

Start harvesting greens, when they are a couple of inches tall and most tender. Around 50-70 days after planting (depending on variety) beets will be ready for harvest. Tug or dig them, when they are small (1-2 inches in diameter) to get better flavour and texture. After harvesting, separate the leafy tops from the bulbous roots, leaving just about 1 inch of the stem attached to the bulb to preserve moisture. Beets are ideal cellar vegetables, as they can be stored for up to 4 months at freezing temperatures with high humidity.

Nutritional Value of Beets

Beets contain a variety of health-boosting nutrients such as vitamins (A, C, folate, thiamine, riboflavin, and pantothenic acid); minerals (iron, magnesium, potassium, copper, manganese, phosphorus); antioxidants (carotenoids, lutein/zeaxanthin, glycine, betaine, flavonoids called anthocyanins); and dietary fiber. Beet greens have even higher nutritional value, for being an excellent source of essential nutrients like protein, vitamin, mineral and fiber.

Health Benefits: Beets, the nutrient rich delicious super food, are good for your skin, bones, liver, kidneys, and pancreas. Beets are high nitrates which become nitric oxide in the body. Nitric oxide is a fascinating subject and was the topic of a nobel prize in Medicine in 1998. Nitric oxide or NO is a basic bioregulator in the human body, involved in blood flow, immune function and much more. Viagra is based on the principle of improving nitric oxide in the penis. Beets improve nitric oxide throughout the body for improved health, as shown below.

  1. Boosts Brain Health: Beets improve blood flow and oxygenation in certain areas of the brain, which help in slowing down the age related macular degeneration such as dementia. These are also rich in choline, a powerful anti-inflammatory compound that helps in boosting learning, memory and deep sleep.
  2. Improves Heart Health: Dietary fiber in beets helps in reducing bad cholesterol (LDL) and triglycerides and increasing good cholesterol (HDL). This helps in lowering the risk of heart related problems such as atherosclerosis, heart attacks, and strokes.
  3. Prevents Strokes: Vitamin-C and flavonoids in beets support capillary structure and fragility, which reduce chances of blood clotting or plaque formation along the walls of the blood vessels that eventually leads to heart attacks and strokes.
  4. Maintains Blood pressure: Potassium in beet helps in maintaining healthy nerve and muscle function by working as a vasodilator and relaxing the blood vessels. This helps in improving the blood flow, reducing blood pressure and maintaining it in the healthy range.
  5. Fights Inflammation: The antioxidant compounds in beets are found beneficial in fighting inflammation, protecting body from environmental stress and preventing chronic diseases.
  6. Anti-Cancer Properties: Phytonutrients and vitamins (A and C) in beets are natural antioxidants with strong anti-inflammatory properties. These compounds ward off certain cancers by defending free radical damage, inhibiting cell mutation and reducing cancerous cell growth.
  7. Supports Detoxification: Dietary fiber and phytochemicals in beets support detoxification process, which helps in purifying blood and stimulating the functions of the liver.
  8. Reduces Risk of Birth Defects: Beets are excellent source of vitamin B, folate that is essential for pregnant women to prevent neural tube defects in the developing baby.
  9. Boosts Immunity: Vitamin C in beets helps in strengthening the immune system and prevents several types of infections, allergies and illnesses.
  10. Delays Aging: Beta-carotene (vitamin A) in beets reduces macular degeneration caused by free radicals, which helps in preventing pre-mature aging and age-related blindness called cataracts.
  11. Improves Energy Levels: High carbohydrate content in beets provides sustained energy for efficient functioning of your body. Also, high nitrate content in beets increases oxygen uptake, which improves stamina and performance in sports.  

Beets are also found beneficial in treatment of anaemia, fever and digestive problems. Though, beets have high sugar content, most people can safely enjoy these, a few times a week in a variety of ways i.e. canned, pickled or frozen. To reap the amazing health benefits, remove the thin skin and slice them. Now, either add these slices to your salad or simply eat raw as a healthy snack with some salt, pepper and lemon juice. You can also steam or roast them to put in your soups and other savoury dishes. Enjoy fresh leaves and stems of beet tops in salads, vegetable juices and soups. If leaves are matured, steam or cook them with beets.

If you aren’t growing beets yet, they are worth the try, your growing beets in your backyard and your body both will appreciate the new addition.

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