If you are a Western reader, most likely, you've never heard about this berry even though it’s been used in traditional medicines for centuries.
The first mention of sea buckthorn can be found 5000 BC in Ayurvedic medicine; during the Tang Dynasty in China (VII – X centuries) it was recorded as a “The Holy Fruit of Himalayas”. According to the Greek legend, this berry was the major part of winged horse Pegasus diet.
Genghis Khan discovered buckthorn berry with it rejuvenating and stamina boosting properties during his conquest of Tibet and introduced it as a part of the diet to his army during his incredible and successful venture.
During the height of the space race between USA and USSR, sea buckthorn was an essential part of Soviet astronauts’ diet, to prevent them from radiation and also as a vitamin supplement.
In very recent history – Sea Buckthorn drink was a sponsored drink for Chinese athletes during Beijing Olympics.
Sea Buckthorn has an impressive list of more than 190 components. It contains Omega 3, 6, 9 and rare Omega 7. It has also flavonoids, lipids, essential minerals and vitamins. It is rich in vitamin C: has 12 times more vitamin C than oranges; the same amount of vitamin E as wheat germ; three times more of vitamin A than carrots and the highest ever recorded instance of vitamin K (important for blood clotting). Protection against free radical damage is four times stronger than from ginseng and the berries are loaded with anti-oxidants like phenols, terpenes and glucosides.
Besides boosting stamina, endurance and immune system, this super berry can prevent and reduce inflammation, protects liver, alleviate radiation, fights oxidative stress and bacteria, improves health of heart, assists in wound healing and prevent diabetes; there is also research on the way of the possible cancer fighting properties of this berry.
As it contain many fatty acids, vitamin A, C and E it's a truly a beauty berry that will nourish and heal you from inside and outside.
This wonderful berry is also comparatively low on calories – 82 calories per 100 gram.
How to plant, grow and harvest.
Sea buckthorn is a deciduous shrub that belongs to the family of Elaeagnaceae. Sea buckthorn has many varieties, but they all have a similar characteristic with the only difference that some species are tarter than the other.
Shrub can grow around 2 – 5 meters long, has lance – like silvery green leafs, thorns with a berries of orange colour and the size of smaller than blueberries.
For planting, this shrub requires a sunny position, its also tolerates a light shade, but the you will yield a poorer harvest.
This plant is quite hardy as it tolerates wide varieties of soil, from clay to sandy. Be careful not to water clog the roots.
It should be planted in rows, 3 metres between rows, and 1 metre between plants. Spread evenly male and female plants with 1 male to 8 – 10 females for the best pollination results. It is pollinated mainly by wind.
Sea Buckthorn will begin to yield in 2 – 3 years time, with the maximum harvest bearing in 3 – 5 years. It produces around 20 kg of berries per plant.
You can cultivate it by seeds or by cutting, but it spreads quite easily by root suckering.
It’s quite a hassle to harvest the berry, as the shrub is thorny A mechanical picker will squash delicate berries and if you shake it only half of berries will drop. This berry is definitely not for industrial production.
Prune it for the best results as needed for the foremost sun exposure. Be careful with the root suckering, they can be quite invasive.
This plant has a lot of secondary uses:
The whole plant can be used in medicine: berries, seeds, bark and leaves.
Oil is made from berries or seeds. The oil that is derived from the berries is reddish colour, the oil that comes from the seed is an orange colour and has a thinner consistency. The best oil is made from both seeds and berries as it contains most of goodness of the berry. Read the label carefully when you buying this product.
The leaves make a wonderful tea, from the bark or finely ground branches you can make healing powder, tincture or decoct.
Against diarrhea you can make: 35 g of berries, 250 ml water: brew them together for 10 minutes, strain and have it 20 ml 4 – 5 times a day.
For boosting immune system: 1 tablespoon of leave, 1 glass of boiling water; keep it warm au bain marie for 10 minutes; drink once a week.
Against gum inflammation and peritonitis: infuse 1 tea spoon of leafs and have it a tee once a day.
Various dermatitis: take 30 – 40 drops of Sea Buckthorn oil twice a day.
Sea Buckthorn jam: mix together 1 cup of berries with 1.5 cup of sugar and boil it till all sugar dissolve, keep refrigerated.
Sea Buckthorn compote: boil together 1200 ml of water and 1 kg of sugar, add to 1 kg of fresh berries; place the pot with compote into a boiling water for 10 minutes.
As with all the new biologically active substances be careful. If you are pregnant or breastfeeding consult with you doctor. Use of Sea Buckthorn can lower blood pressure, so if you already have a low blood pressure problem, better to avoid use. If you have a bleeding disorder be careful, this plant slows down blood clotting.
You can grow everywhere.
Many people think that growing your own fruits and veggies is very complicated task that requires a lot of time. The truth is that if you spend 2 – 3 hours a week in your backyard, you can have you own fresh supply EVERY DAY (and will burn an extra calories, here is my post about this topic
That’s the good news.
The bad news is that unfortunately, in a country like Australia with a great backyard culture, the size of blocks in the last decade has been decreasing dramatically and you can hardly squeeze a barbecue in some of the new blocks of land.
Don't be disheartened as even in a very limited space you can get a quite a good crop all year around; all you need to know is just a few little gardening tricks. And we are going to consider them by turn right now.
Evaluating the location, soil and already planted plants
Vertical garden is the most effective way to save space while gardening.
For a vertical garden you can use:
- Fence or walls: just hang your pots on the hooks;
- Poles with the nooks, where you can hang the pots;
- Old ladder, with planks/boards placed horizontally, etc.
And here some tips on how to look after the vertical garden:
In pots you can grow almost everything. I grow in pots the following: apples, persimmons, pears, avocados, kumquats, peaches, sour cherries, berries, almond and a lot of herbs and vegetables. Pots are real space savers, you can place them in any corner, on a concrete, window sill, porch, move around, hide the ugly spot or make boring spot bright and colourful.
I consider buying containers a complete waste of money. They are either donated to me or I pick up from the sides of roads anything that can hold dirt and I can punch holes in the bottom. Or, you can find heaps of them in your rubbish bean: tins, milk and yogurt containers, chlorine solution containers for swimming pool, etc.
Here are some tips how to look after plants in the pot:
A real treasure for people with limited space and time and a solution for a poor soil that will require a lot of time and investment for improving. It could be set up anywhere, be a different size and height and doesn't require so much work as a conventional bed. The other advantage of this type of bed: it discourages the growth of weeds and retains the moisture well.
The idea of a no-dig-bed is similar to composting: layers of straw (carbon) and manure (nitrogen) eventually will turn into rich, dark soil.
Soil is a complex eco-system with a millions of microorganisms and worms. When we are digging the soil, we destroying this eco – system and it takes a lot of years to restore. When we are digging the soil, we are damaging water retention and structure that leads to the erosion of soil. That why in a lot of way “non – dig gardening” and “organic gardening” are synonyms.
Here is my post on how to make a no-dig-bed: its-simple-make-your-own-no-dig-bed.html and the post that explain why tillage (digging and disturbing soil) is not the best way of farming: organic-food-organic-life-organic-fashion.html
Planting the right crop.
As we want to maximize our harvest we need to plant the right crop. And here are few tips how to do it:
If you have an excess of harvest you can sell it or exchange with a fellow gardener.
Freezing, preserving and fermenting.
You can freeze all you herbs, berries and some of the veggies (beets, carrots, pears etc.). Or preserve (cucumbers and tomatoes) and ferment them (carrot, cabbage, radish).
Share you success!
Don't keep you success for yourself, share your tips and hints via social media, we'd love to hear from you!
Autumn ill and adored
You die when the hurricane
blows in the roseries
When it has snowed
In the orchard trees
Dead in whiteness and riches
Of snow and ripe fruits
Deep in the sky
The sparrow hawks cry
Over the sprites with green hair the dwarfs
Who’ve never been loved In the far tree-lines the stags are groaning
And how I love O season how I love your rumbling
The falling fruits that no one gathers
The wind the forest that are tumbling
All their tears in autumn leaf by leaf
by Guillaume Apollinaire
Why do you need your own veggie patch?
There are so many reasons to have this little spot of heaven in our backyards…
Probably the most important one is that you are going to have a fresh supply of your own crop all year round and you'll have significant savings on your grocery bill. I need to specify, that fresh, for me, means picked right now. If it was picked in the morning and it’s now evening, it’s no longer fresh.
In which shop in the world you can find something that was picked five minutes ago? The only true answer is your own backyard or if you are lacking one - Julia's Organic Garden and Kitchen Place. You are always welcome here and you can pick up your lunch or dinner by yourself.
Another crucial consideration is that you know exactly what you put in your garden and that it is completely substance free.
If you have children, this little spot next to your house is going to be an endless supply of educational activities, lessons full of fun and precious uniting family projects. This little patch (hanging baskets, old boxes with punched holes in the bottom, egg cartoons filled with dirt... the list is endless and you’ll be surprised how creative you kids are) is a place where your children will learn to love and protect our only home.
Growing you own crop, means that you'll decrease the amount of polluting trucks that are bringing fruits and veggies to the shops. Regrettably, absolutely all the supermarkets in Australia adopted so-called “Just-In-Time” inventory approach, where units are purchased and brought only when they are wanted. It reduces cost for companies as Coles or Woolworth or Aldi, but at what price to the environment?
Another reason to start to grow something is that you'll decrease the amount of burnt calories (here is my article about this topic working-out-in-the-garden.html) and spend more time in the fresh air.
And finally, having your own fresh produce means a lot of saving on pills, doctors and time when you are unwell, and this is one of the best parts of having a healthy lifestyle.
Very often I meet people that have decided to start a garden and just rush to the nearest store to waste hundreds of dollars on unnecessary, overpriced stuff made overseas. When you start your patch, basically all you need is a waterproof container where you can punch holes in the bottom, dirt, seeds (and/or cuttings) and some space (even a tiny one). Even if you live in an apartment you still can utilize a windowsill, porch or wall/s.
If you are on a budget you can start by buying something very basic like a shovel and rake and then just slowly add to your tools and equipment over a gradual period of time. Another important argument not to hurry with buying equipment all at once is that you'll know with gaining gardening experience exactly what you’ll need.
However, even at the very beginner's level we still need:
- a shovel; when you are choosing shovels/rakes always buy with a long handle as they are much more back friendly than those with a short one.
- watering can; I prefer the metal one as the plastic one is (a) ecologically unfriendly and (b) becomes brittle very quickly;
-personally, I can't work in the garden without a motorbike belt, it’s a tremendous help with my back.
Where to shop to buy all of these?
The “Gum tree” website is an absolute El Dorado for gardeners, where you can get stuff for free, followed closely by “Trash and Treasure” markets. Those markets are the best places in the world not only for gardeners, but for everyone, because: (a) if you buy there you are actively participating in recycling process; (b) only there you can buy European tool for a cheap price. However, the drawback of these markets is there is no always what you need. In this case, you’ll have to go to a Bunnings.
Considering the bed/s position and type of bed.
When choosing the bed position always try to choose the sunniest and most raised place in you garden as it will save your back. You can make it yourself, buy in the store or pick up from the side of the road as it can be any box, former paint basket, old kiddies pool etc.
However in my opinion, the best option in the garden is the non-dig-bed as it requires a limited amount of work, can be implemented anywhere (over concrete or lawn), is easy to make, retains the moisture well and has less weeds than a normal bed.
Here is the link to my post how to make a non-dig-bed its-simple-make-your-own-no-dig-bed.html
Soil, compost and mulching.
Here is the good news: if you have good, healthy soil in your garden, half of your problems (fungi, pests, split and twisted roots etc.) would be sorted automatically. The bad news: you can't buy good soil in Australia. The quality of the soil that is sold over the counter is bad without any correlation to the price. That why it is advisable to make soil yourself. However in saying that, I always use the shop's soil for propagating spring seeds inside the house or when I run a master classes, because this soil is sterile.
Compost everything that you can compost and you'll:
- improve your soil (see above),
- decrease your ecological footprints,
- help to preventing green house emission,
- have your own mulch available at any time and save money.
You can buy a compost bin, or:
- make it yourself;
- go for a hunt in the local “Trash and Treasure” market;
- pick up from the side of the road anything that looks like a compost bin.
And here is the link how to compost how-to-make-compost.html
Mulching is another important part of being successful in gardening as mulch prevents soil from drying out during summer (it reduces the evaporation of moisture up to 70%) and it saves time on watering. During winter it protects soil from over – cooling, suppresses weeds and improves the quality of soil when it breaks down eventually and turns into valuable humus. There are quite a few types of compost: straw, hay, barks... they all available from stores, yet you can mulch you entire garden for free (coffee waste from local shop, rotten leaves from river banks, cleaning horse's supplier warehouse floor, etc.). You can follow this link to access my post about mulching: all-about-mulch.html
If you are just starting to make your first steps in gardening and don't know how to approach, it is advisable to read a few articles before starting your project, you can find them in the local library, in my web-site quite a few of them: juliaorganic.com.au and you can ask me questions via FB, Instagram or in a comment form below any of my posts.
Observe gardens of other people and you can pick up quite a few ideas.
You can save on seeds and cuttings if you pay a visit to your friends or relatives who already have a garden or exchange seeds with your gardeners’ colleagues. Don't forget to save seeds for the next year!
Always start with a little project, no more than fifteen minutes a day, otherwise you can end up with a sore back and completely disheartened. Increase your time in the garden slowly.
It is an excellent idea to have a few chooks in the garden as you'll have a luxurious fresh organic eggs on your table every day, an endless supply of organic manure and you'll also recycle your food scraps. Just before buying them, remember that they are basically pets and you'll need to look after them (feed them, change the water, clean their shed etc.). If you are not sure that you'll have enough time it is better to abandon this idea in the very beginning.
And it is absolutely fantastic to have bees. By having them you'll increase your harvest by 30% at least and you'll have your good quality raw and combed honey that is almost impossible to buy in any of the shops. Just a word of caution, before buying a beehive it is better to attend a bee-keeping course.
What we are planting?
Plant what you like to eat. For example, I love persimmons, that’s why I have two of them.
Plant what is easy to grow if you are a beginner. If you have never done gardening before I'd advise you to start with salad, parsley and cherry guava; leave cabbages and peaches for a later stage.
Arrange your bed according to height of plants. For example, long stemmed sunflowers can go to the back, then silver beet in the middle rows and carrots in the front. You'll find all the necessary instructions (height and spacing) on the back of your seeds’ bag.
Also take into a consideration the amount of sun your plants should receive when positioning them. For example, plant tomatoes and basil should be in the most sunny position; chives, dill and salad can go behind.
Boosting our harvest.
We can do it in a few different ways
1. Attract pollinating insects.
2. If you have a beehive in you backyard this problem is solved. All the same, if you are like most of us, unfortunately lacking this little bee house/s at your place, plant bee's and other pollinating insects attracting plants (oregano, rocket, zucchinis, plums, apples, lavender etc).
3. Fighting with pests/bad insects. In most of the cases, all you need is baby shampoo, olive oil, squashed garlic, cayenne pepper and ashes. The easiest concoction that stops almost all the pests is baby shampoo, olive oil garlic, cayenne pepper and a bucket of water. Or, put a handful of ashes on affected plant. The article with a more detail about how to fight pests organically is scheduled for publishing in April.
4. Attract insects that eat bad insects, ladybirds or praying mantises, for example.
5. Inter-plant crop with companion plants. In some sense, plants are like humans. With a time you'll notice that some plants like each other's company (classical example: tomatoes and basil), some can't stand each other, example: dill and carrot. Another examples of plants that compliment each other: strawberries and raspberries, apple tree and garlic.
Besides, if you inter - plant some of the plants it'll help to ward off pests (sage and chamomile as they are very pungent); or pests will prefer to eat the more tender leaves of nasturtium flowers if you plant them next to cabbages.
6. Adding mulch and manure. Don't forget to add manure to your garden, the best time for Victoria state is the end of July. Try to apply organic one. About mulch application, please, see above.
7. Don't forget to rotate your crop. It is a very important task if you want to maintain your garden healthy. Rotating crop means not to plant in the same spot plants from the same family, as they prone to same deceases and take the same nutrients from the soil. For example, tomatoes, potatoes and eggplants belong to the same family. Applying the crop rotation rule: don't plant any of them next year; plant legumes or cucumbers or salad.
I hope I have encouraged you to start gardening. It is a worthy investment and way to protect our planet. If you have you own tricks or tips on gardening or just questions I'd like to hear them from you.
Pizza Herb? Antioxidant Booster!
Fragrant oregano and honey tea during the cold Russian winter...
One of my first childhood memories.
We used to collect it during summer from meadows, buzzing with bees, drying it in a shed and preparing for a long winter.
Then I came to Australia and learned that its also an awesome addition for meat dishes, especially Mediterranean (one of my favourite dressing recipes that I learned here is below).
And here East meet West.
Oregano is a very underrated medicine herb in Western culture.
Its contains thymol, carvacrol and rosemarinic acid.
Thymol and carvacrol are two phytochemicals that considered to be an anti – bacterial and anti – fungal agents. If you are making your own soap or anti – bacterial spray, just add a few drops of oregano oil in your product.
Due to a high content of rosemarinic acid, Oregano is a champion among anti – oxidant food (its anti – oxidity activity level is more than 42 times than apple). It helps to fight with free radicals – by-products of metabolism that can potentially cause cancer. Making your own face tonic? Just drop inside a few leafs of this terrific herb to fight with the wrinkles (https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC1meHGwidFxNB9FPwrXBbag).
And here is the impressive list of vitamins that contained in 100 gram of Oregano (recommended daily allowance per 100 gr):
There are quite a few ways to add oregano in your dishes:
If you buy fresh, always look at the leafs and avoid the plant with yellow or dark – spotted foliage.
However, the best way to get your oregano is:
TO GROW IT IN YOUR BACKYARD
Its easy. Oregano is very handy.
Here are a few hints below that you may find useful.
There are two types of oregano:
You can grow it from seeds (this is what I did and now oregano plants are available for sale from my place), cuttings or divisions.
If you grow them from seeds, spread seeds on top of a moist soil, they will germinate approximately in one week. Transplant after they've grown around 3- 4 cm tall.
Oregano prefer full sun or part – shade. Main grows in a part – shade and doing really very well.
Oregano grow in any soil, you don't need to water it (only a few first week, when its establish), don't need to be fertilised either. Beautiful!
You need to cut it periodically to avoid woodenness and it becoming bushy.
The best time to harvest for drying is in mid – summer, before it starts to blossom to get the best flavour. However, the best tea is made from oregano's flowers and besides, oregano flowers attract a lot of beneficial insects to the garden, including bees. That why I always leave half of my oregano bed uncut.
Oregano is a good companion to beans and broccoli's. Main is also very happy to grow together with lemon balm.
You can dry oregano or freeze fresh in an air – tied container.
Here is the recipe of one of my favourite teas: