Perhaps, St. John Wort is one of the most famous herbs worldwide (together with camomile, mint and a couple of others), treats heaps of diseases and maladies: from acne and gingivitis to depression (more later).
The application of this wonderful herb varies from country to country. Where I come from we have been using them for centuries to fight otitis, flu, angina, gastritis and acne. To my surprise, when I came here fourteen years ago, I realised that in western society, the main use of St. John's Wort is an anti – depressant and mood fluctuation!
So, what are the main components of this herb? It contains the following chemicals: tocopherols, flavonoids, hypericin, hyperforin, tannins, vitamin P, vitamin C, carotene, nicotinic acid, zulen, invert sugar. Active ingredients: quercetin, giperozid, kvertsitrin, izokvertsitrin, rutin, giperitsinol, tannins, pseudohypericin, carotene, resin, essential oil, niacin and ascorbic acid.
And here is the impressive list of the health benefits of St. John's Wort:
According to statistics, St. John capsules are among the best pharmaceutical sellers around the glob. The price of one jar in Australia varies from $11AUD to $25AUD. Considering that it'll start to kick in after three weeks and then you'll need to continue with your course it won't be cheap.
So, why not to grow your own St. John Wort in a backyard?
It's easy. St. John Wort is a weed.
Why to eat garlic?
Garlic is one of the most ancient plant that was used as a medicine for centuries, because its anti– inflammatory, anti – oxidant and anti – bacterial properties.
Some of the amazing benefits of eating garlic:
- It has anti – cancer properties: eating garlic can reduce risk if cancer (prostate, stomach, breast, colorectal, pancreatic).
- Fights colds and flu plus reduce the severity of symptoms once you start to consume garlic. Its also an awesome preventive measure. Frankly, I don't remember when I was sick last time.
I eat at least on clove of garlic every day, plus put a generous amount in the dishes I am cooking. Here some of my recipes that you might found useful: – liver – cleansing beetroot soup; - something very easy and healthy to cook.
- Garlic is a powerful detoxifier.
- Reduce the high blood pressure and its a natural blood thinner.
- Improves cholesterol level, making thus a prevention against heart deceases.
And finally, the feature I love the most, garlic is an antioxidant.
- Fight and prevent Alzheimer disease, believed to be caused by oxidative free radicals and
- Fight with aging, wrinkles and help to look younger!
Its recommended to eat 2 cloves of garlic daily to get all the above benefits.
Yes, I know. Garlic smells.
If you planed a date, don't eat garlic!
Also, they are can be some side effects as fatigues, problem with stomach (gas, bloating), sweating. Also some of my clients who like to meditate, refrain from eating garlic as it can potentially agitate the soul and body.
Why to grow garlic?
Try to grow your own garlic or at least buy locally grown, because: unfortunately, most of the garlic in the shops is imported. Its mean:
- that it was in the storing room for mounts (and there is no much of nutrition left in it), to prevent sprouting it was heavily sprayed with growth inhibitor together with gamma radiation. Gamma radiation is forbidden for food treatment in Australia, however it doesn't apply for the products that are imported.
- All those beautiful white garlic, most likely, come from China and was bleached with chlorine to look pretty and more customer – appealing.
As was reported by Henry Bell from Australian Garlic Industry Association, garlic that was brought from China (and most of imported garlic is from China) was grown in untreated sewerage http://www.theage.com.au/news/epicure/fresher-and-smellier/2005/07/18/1121538895265.html
- Australian custom regulation requires to fumigate all imported garlic with methyl bromide. Methyl bromide is a highly toxic gas, contributing to ozone layer depleting and as such is banned in many countries. This gas is also affect nerve system and kidney. Australian government recognises that methyl bromide is a dangerous substance for workers to handle, nevertheless, we are allowed to eat it in the form of imported products.
If I convinced you to grow your own garlic, then the next part of this post is for you:
How to grow garlic?
- In Victoria, plant garlic in autumn to get a good harvest. However, I plant it whole year around as its an excellent companion to strawberries, alpine strawberries, tomatoes and roses.
- Buy organic garlic from local organic producer or Australian nursery (remember, that even organic garlic that was imported was chemically treated in accordance with Australian custom standards). Break it gentle into cloves, if you damage the bottom disk of clove it won't sprout. Break it just before planting.
From big cloves you'll get the big bulbs, from small – little, that why I plant only the big.
- Prepare the soil in a sunny position: add manure, compost and blood and bone. Garlic like rich soil with neutral ph, without lumps. Remember that it will be in the bed all the rainy season, that why good drainage is crucial. Frankly, I was very surprise to get such a good harvest this year after so wet winter. Must be doing very well with my drainage.
- Don't plant garlic after potatoes as they prone the same deceases. They will loved a the spot where used to grow cabbages, zucchinis and pumpkins.
-Plant them 3 – 4 cm deep, pointy end up, 10 cm apart, 20 sm between the rows.
- Keep it weeds free by mulching (straw, coffee, mushroom compost) as garlic has a very thick root system and don't like competition.
- Water a few first weeks after planting.
- As it takes 6 – 8 months to mature, I usually interplant it with other more quicker growing plants – salad, radishes, parsley.
- When their leafs start to turn brown, its mean your garlic is ready. You can pull it at early stage, just you'll have one big bulb, without cloves. Be careful when you dig it out, its very easy to slice the bulb, that why I like to do it with a gardening fork.
- Before storing, dry garlic. If there is no rain you can just leave them in the bed. Store it in a well - aerated and dry space.
What is mulch and why do we need it?
Mulch is everything that can cover soil in your garden to protect it from sun and heat during the summer and keep warm during the winter. Some other benefits: soil erosion protection, weeds suppression (my favourite feature – I love shortcuts) and also, if you're using organic mulch, soil enrichment.
Also garden just looks nicer after mulch application.
All mulch can be categorised in two big groups:
a. improves soil, by increasing fertility and growth of micro-organisms.
b. by breaking down turns into precious humus and
c. holds water by reducing evaporation (around 60%).
So, what is the best mulch? Let's start with:
In my opinion not the best mulch as its low in nitrogen and high in carbon, meaning – they are not beneficial for soil. Pluses – it smells nice, lasts longer and you can get it for free from trees – removalists.
Hint! If you are still using it, don't forget to add fertiliser and check time to time soil's PH level, as bark usually increases acidity of the soil.
I use this type of mulch to cover paths between beds.
Straw is not expensive, breaks down easily (downside of that – you'll need to apply it a few times during the year), improve the soil, reflect the sun, easy to handle.
Why I am not a biggest fun of this mulch?
Its full of seeds (unless you are very confident in straw mulch quality that you are buying), that will become a weeds eventually. You can overcome this problem by making your bale wet, wait till the weeds germinate, then just pull them out. It bit too much hassle to me, and, yes, for that reason is not my favourite mulch either.
One of my favourite, because its turn down to humus very quickly, hold water very well and it cost nothing to me, because I am doing it by myself, and here is a link how to make your own compost how-to-make-compost.html. The excellent type of compost is animal manure one, just be sure that it was de composted for at least six months (I usually compost it for one year, just to be in a safer side).
Cocoa been Halls.
They are beautiful, with a rich colour that doesn't fade away, smell nice and decompost slowly (compare with straw, leafs and grass clipping). However, they have some minuses: not cheap, I noticed that during the hot and wet summer become mouldy and can be poisonous for pets.
Hint! After applying water them to prevent flying away.
Grass clipping is a source of nitrogen and will improve your soil too, just need to be dried before applying or be mix with another type of mulch, because its start to rot and stink.
Absolutely wonderful compost as it contains nitrogen and a lot of microelements, decompost very quickly, fantastic for water retention and improving your soil. I have a couple of beds where I was applying only leaves as a mulch, the soil there is dark, rich and smells so good! I usually stock up with my leaves mulch at the river beds – they are an absolute organic leaf mulch galore.
Hint! Before applying its a good idea to shred it as it would form impenetrable mat. Also before applying inspect leafs if they have any signs of mould or infection and in this case just chuck them away. And don't apply eucalyptus leafs.
Used coffee grounds.
This type of mulch I've started to use quite recently, for about two months, and because there is no enough data collected my observations are still limited:
- Its a source of nitrogen, though its worth to mention that it'll become a nitrogen after it'll break down.
- Smells divine.
- Look great, especially when applied around silver leafed plants.
- Breaks down very quickly.
- Cost nothing as its donated to my by coffee – shop.
- Some of the gardeners claim that it repel cats, birds and snail with its smell. I haven't notice about cats. My cat still has annoying habit of rolling on a beds and smells like a cup of cappuccino now. Birds.. Definitely, they dig less, however, when its come to the berries, they don't mind the coffee mulch. And, yes, it repels snails and slugs.
- And, by using coffee grounds, I am contributing to solving coffee – waste problem (around 75, 000 tones are going into land field every year in Australia).
Hint! Try to use organic coffee grounds as according the statistic, around 60 – 70% of coffee been sprayed with pesticides.
Non – organic mulch:
Quite a good mulch as it smoother weeds and hold the water. Just don't use glossy magazines.
Decompst very quickly.
Look great for landscaping purpose, never decompost, good for reducing soil evaporation, keep day's warmth and release it during the night, making it great for warm – loving plants (Mediterranean, for example).
First, positives. It keeps weeds away, together with another mulch make your garden to look neater and the water is passing through.
Now, why I don't use it. My head is always full of ideas, my garden is constant WIP and when its come to my favourite place on earth, I am a freaking perfectionist. So! This type of mulch doesn't let to transplant plant.
Also: its expensive, warms hate it and it's time consuming to install.
Never used it and don't advise to use it to anyone, because:
Garden needs to be mulched at least twice a year: spring and autumn. Also I add some mulch during the summer.
Before mulching, do a thorough weeding and watering of the plants (or do mulching after a rain).
Don't apply mulch to close to the stem/trunk as after it starts to decompost it can attract some insects.
Also, if you notice some mould, that can unfortunately happen during the wet season, rake your mulch to aerinite it.
In this post I touch the basics of mulching, if you want me to discuss some type of mulch in more details, or think that I missed something, please leave your comment.
Well, there is a long – waited summer come at least and my garden it's full of blossoming charming and subtle camomile. And while I was infusing my morning herb tea, I realised that I haven't posted an article about this amazing herb yet! And it's amazing because...
This herbs was used for centuries as a remedy against numerous illnesses, disorders and in cosmetology by Egyptians, Greeks, Romans and was mentioned 2,000 years ago.
There is two types of camomile – German and Roman. The most studied one is German, so I am going to talk about this type.
The are two major chemical components of this herb: alpha – bisabalol and apigenin. The first one demonstrates inflammatory, antiseptic and anti – spasmatic properties making camomile the perfect for:
Camomile is also is a good companion plant for onions and cabbages.
And here are some beauty tips: