Just a short post to tell you about an idea from one of my wife’s pals. This lady, who is a real go-getter, decided she wanted to grow veggies and herbs in her tiny courtyard.
She measured one of the walls fronting the courtyard and off she went to her local building supplier and bought guttering and brackets long enough for the wall space available and got her husband to help her put up the guttering on the walls as blind gutters and fill the profiles with a good soil mix.
Next thing she was planting seeds and voila – they now have their own herbs and veggies growing close to the kitchen.
If you want to do this, get a good handyman to help you in the interests of neatness and a sturdy structure, as you will want 3 or 4 rows from top to bottom spaced at about 12 to 18 inches. (30 to 45 cm) Hers is very neat and looks great. Of course there is nothing stopping you from creating a floral display in this way, if you are looking for color on a bare wall.
I will try and get a photo, but in the meantime refer to my rough sketch. As you can see, you can make it any length and any amount or height of tiers. So plan carefully. Guttering is preformed, so choose a profile, choose a length, get extra brackets to handle the weight of the soil and give it a go.
I would put an extra profile right on top and use it as an easy drip feed for all the profiles underneath.
A really good handyman could build one as an indoor kitchen garden, given the right light conditions. Please send me photo’s if you decide to try this.
Indoor Gardening and Food Safety
With the many health benefits that a low carb diet has been demonstrated to provide, more and more people want to eat fresh vegetables these days. For some, this gives them the chance to combine their love of plants with a healthy diet by growing these vegetables themselves. Those who do not have a large enough outdoor area for a garden may still be able to have an indoor garden. However, even with an indoor garden, a gardener has to be careful to ensure that the foods grown are safe to use and that the garden itself poses no danger. There are several points to consider.
Protecting Your Health
Before you start your indoor garden, it would be a good idea to ask yourself whether you have done all the other things in your life that you can to protect your health and your family’s. This could range from starting a doctor approved exercise program to obtaining quality health insurance.
In today’s economy, with its skyrocketing medical costs, low cost health insurance plans provide people with peace of mind. You should also make every effort to reduce stress in your life, since this is a significant contributor to several diseases.
Benefits of Vegetables
Fresh vegetables have a host of positive effects on your health. The consumption of leafy greens and other low carbohydrate vegetables have been shown to help reduce the incidence of diabetes, heart disease and several other serious conditions. Even those who already have these conditions can lessen their effects by eating the right vegetables. Eating vegetables with lots of fiber in them will also help keep you regular.
Indoor Plant Safety
There are a number of things you can do to help ensure the safety of the vegetables you grow. You should avoid the use of dangerous insecticides inside your home. Insecticides intended to disperse outside and eventually break down will not do so in your home. Use natural, organic insecticides actually made for indoor use. The same applies to chemical fertilizers. Organic products are always preferable for indoor use. There are also other pest control tips that you should consider.
Washing and Storage
As important as the way you grow you plants is, the way you use them can also affect how safe they are. When you harvest your vegetables, make sure you wash and dry them thoroughly. You may choose to pick vegetables as you need them so they will always be fresh. On the other hand, you may prefer to store them. For example, you might want to try your hand at canning some of them. If you do, make sure that you follow the government’s recommendations for canning vegetables. Remember that if a container shows any signs of leakage or the lid is not concave do not eat the contents.
An indoor garden is a wonderful activity and a great way to give yourself healthy, inexpensive food. By using care and planning, you can also ensure that the foods you grow in your home are perfectly safe for you and your family.
Mountain Ash, Rowan
ROSACEAE Sorbus aucuparia
How often does nature not compensate for its bounty by imposing other strictures. The lovely Rowan is no exception to this phenomenon – its small white flowers have a most off-putting smell when approached closely. However, this does not detract from the great attraction of its fruit to bird life, who compensate for the feed by fertilizing and spreading the seeds in their droppings.
A small deciduous tree or shrub with a slender crown, shiny and smooth grey bark and sleek grey/brown twiglets. The alternate odd-pinnate leaves are dark green above and paler below, having 9—19 sessile, lanceolate and sharply serrated leaflets.
The edible fruits – rowan-berries – are small scarlet globular pomes. Their taste tends to the sour and astringent.
Rowan comes from the Old Norse name ‘raun’. Although not a true ash, its leaves are similar. The specific name, aucuparia (bird-catching) — refers to the berries being a favourite food of birds and were thus used by trappers as bait for their birding nets.
Rowan bark was used for dyeing and tanning and the flexible sturdy wood was prized for tool handles.
- The dried fruits or the pressed juice of fresh fruits is used for constipation and kidney disorders. Strictly avoid large doses.
- Ripe fruits are used medicinally. Ingredients include tannins, organic acids, sugars, pectin and vitamin C. These ingredients impart mild purgative, diuretic and general tonic properties.
- Fruits are a raw material for the manufacture of sorbose, a sweetening agent for diabetics.
- The fruits have been used as a laxative and to make drinks to prevent scurvy. Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) has also been extracted commercially from them.
- The berries, particularly those of cultivated sweet-fruited varieties, can be used to make syrups, compotes, conserves and wines.
- Berries are also used in certain liqueur manufacturing processes.
Rowan is native throughout the cool temperate regions of the Northern Hemisphere, where it grows in woods, scrub, on mountain rocks and by mountain streams, but is rare in lowland areas. The greatest species diversity, with many microspecies occuring, is in mountainous regions of western China and the Himalayas.
Flowering time: May to June – N. hemisphere.
ROSACEAE Rosa canina
A deciduous shrub with arched, downward-curving branches, which are armed with stout hooked prickles. The fruit consists of numerous hairy achenes enclosed in a fleshy, amphora-shaped, bright orange/red casing a.k.a. the well known rosehip.
It is an indication of how blase we can be when this lovely plant is so familiar that many people don’t stop to enjoy these roses. But that is their loss.
The plant can vary considerably in shape and form. Leaves are odd-pinnate with five to seven ovate to elliptic, serrated leaves. Petioles and midribs typically bear prickles while the sweet-scented flowers have large canopied pink or white petals.
Evidence of Dog Rose hips have been recorded in and around ancient settlements suggesting that the shrub has a long association with mankind.
The provenance of the common name – Dog Rose – is not clear. Popular belief holds that the name is a reference to the medieval Latin rosa canina, stemming from the ancient Latin (originally Greek) word cynorrhodon. The plants root was believed to be used as a herbal remedy to cure the effects of being bitten by a mad – or rabid – dog. Another theory is that the ancient Greeks may have just been denigrating the worth of Dog Rose as a garden plant by using the belittleing term ‘dog’.
The hips are the medicinally sought-after elements. Their makeup includes vitamin B complex, vitamin C, carotenes, pectin, tannins, sugars as well as malic and citric acids. The fruits contain fatty oil.
The best-known and widely used herbal remedy deriving from the plant is rosehip tea. which has mild diuretic, astringent, tonic and mildly laxative actions. Fresh hips are an outstanding source of vitamin C. Whether fresh or dried, they are beneficial for convalescents, against fatigue and colds. Rose hip tea is most effective when made by macerating the crushed hips (without the hard achenes) and not by a long boiling process.A decoction from the hips can be used as a gargle for bleeding gums and will alleviate toothache.
Fresh hips are also used for syrups, jams and tonic wine.
Dog Rose grows throughout Europe in scrub hedges and woods. It is the most common British wild rose, though less prolific in throughout Scotland.
Flowering time: June to July – N. hemisphere
SALICACEAE Populus tremula
The alternating, almost circular leaves possess bluntly toothed or wavy borders and emphatically sideways-flattened petioles, which tremble in the least breeze: they adorn a small deciduous tree with flat bark – at the onset yellowish but then developing darkish grey highlights.
The female blooms have purple stigmas. The flowers unfold before the leaves emerge. The fruit is a capsule which releases seeds with a white pappus.
The slightly sticky buds are sturdily oval. Aspen is dioecious with separate male and female catkins, that have purple hairy bracts.
Aspen and the archaic version, Asp, are taken from the Anglo-Saxon name aespetoithe tree. The word ‘asp’ was sometimes utilized to indicate tremulous, after the shaking leaves. The particular epithet also identifies this distinctive attribute of the tree.
Other than on the Continent, Aspen is not widely used in herbal medicine. A better-known resinous product from poplar buds is balm of Gilead, which is produced by the tree referred to as Balm of Gilead (P. gileadensis or P. candicans), from Balsam Poplar (P. balsamifera) or American Aspen (P. tremuloides).
Balm of Gilead is likewise gathered from a North American fir (Abies balsamea). The true balm of Gilead is, however, the resin of tropical bushes or small trees of the genus Commiphora.
Externally compresses, bathtub formulations and treatment-creams are used for haemorrhoids and management of burns. Preparations from fresh leaves are employed in homeopathy.
The leaf buds, sometimes the young bark and the leaves of Aspen, are all employed medicinally. Like the buds of Black Poplar (P.nigra), Aspen buds include an essential oil, bitter compounds, salicin and populin.
Such ingredients provide Aspen powerful diuretic, anti-inflammatory and antiseptic properties and the buds are used in an infusion for gout and rheumatism as well as for problems of the urinary tract and enlarged prostate gland.
Aspen grows all over Europe including the British Isles, in open woods, notably on poorer soils. It is also regularly placed in home gardens and avenues.
Flowering time: February to March. (Northern Hemisphere)
The leaves and stalk of the garden radish are stiffly fuzzy. The white or pinkish blossoms contain darkish veins and are structured in a longish terminal raceme. An annual or biennial herb with a round to spindle-shaped tuberous taproot of various colorations, branched stalk and pinnately lobed, toothed foliage. The fruit is a siliqua, which is extended into a narrow seedless beak; the seeds are brown colored.
The normal Garden Radish was grown as a herbal remedy and vegetable by the classical Egyptians as well as the Greeks and Romans were aware of a number of variations. Its actual origin is confused but it is thought to be a native of western Asia. Currently it is raised in various types, the black-rooted variation being the one used for medical-related purposes. The closely related Wild Radish (R. raphanis-trurri) is a common and troublesome weed all over Britain. This is injurious to farm animals should they consume it in large quantities. The familiar name, Radish, is a corruption of the Latin term radix, meaning root and also the Romans’ name for the plant.
- The dark roots feature antiseptic qualities, vitamin supplements C and B complex and mineral salts.
- They are often consumed uncooked and unpeeled and have antiseptic, tonic, choleretic, carminative and stomachic actions.
- One can use them sliced up or grated on bread and butter, or the pressed juice alone is ingested for hepatitis and gall bladder disorders, gallstones and digestive difficulties.
- Radish is likewise known as a herbal remedy in homeopathy.
- The well known red, red and white or white radishes (R. sativus var. radicula) are less potent but make great and nutritional salad vegetables. The leaves are usually edible.
Garden Radish can be naturalised and seen growing wild from scattered garden seeds in the British Isles.
Can be grown in an indoor herb garden kit in a sunny windowsill.
Flowering time: June to August
BORAGINACEAE Pulmonaria officinalis
True to the doctrine of signatures, lungwort both resembles and heals lungs. But it does a lot more than that:
A perennial herb with bell-shaped blossoms arranged in terminal monochasial cymes. They are pink at first, blue after fertilization. All portions of the plant have stiff hairs. Lungwort typically sports a creeping rhizome together with a clump of angled, unbranched, upright or ascending stems. The alternating leaves are oval or else cordate, generally white-spotted; the low ones are stalked, the higher ones sessile and clasping at the base. The fruit consists of four one-seeded nutlets.
History And Distribution
These particular lungworts should not be mixed-up with a lichen (Lobaria pulmonaria), which is the lungwort listed by herbalists nowadays and also used in chest complaints.
It is also often grown in gardens for its attractive spotted leaves, as is the related Bethlehem Sage (P. saccharata). The generic and well-known names of Lungwort denote the blotchy leaves, which are likened to diseased lung tissue in the past and the plant was previously used to improve assorted lung ailments. Narrow-leaved Lungwort (P. angustifolia) has also been employed medicinally. It is indigenous to the British Isles yet somehow crops up only in Hampshire, Dorset as well as the Isle of Wight.
The leaves and flowering stems are used medicinally. Their constituents incorporate tannins, mucilage, saponins, silicic acid solution and mineral salts. These substances grant Lungwort emollient, expectorant, anti-inflammatory, diuretic, diaphoretic and astringent attributes. It is found in herbal medicine in an infusion to calm bronchitis, cough and whooping cough, as well as to check diarrhoea.
On the outside it is included in compresses and bath water treatments for wounds and skin disorders.
Lungwort grows throughout Europe in woodland, wood margins, scrub and hedgerows. It is probably not native to the British Isles but is regionally naturalized in various locations, especially in the south.
Flowering time: March to May (Northern Hemisphere)
- Externally a decoction is used as a herbal remedy to deal with slow-healing cuts, skin rashes and eczema, chapped skin and in the form of a gargle and bath additive. Yarrow should be consumed in moderation and not for long periods because doing so might cause skin itching.
- It may be utilized as a sitz bath for sore, cramp-like ailments in the lower female pelvis (pelvic autonomic dysfunction).
- It is also employed for injuries, nosebleeds, ulcers, swollen eyes and hemorrhoidal inflamation.
- In folklore it is held as an outstanding cure for injuries and cuts.
- Yarrow oil is regularly utilised in hair shampoos.
- Aromatherapy and essential oil use.
- The fresh leaves — and the flowers — include numerous cosmetic uses.
- On the skin, it can be effective for slow healing injuries, together with open sores and it has an astringent function on the skin.
- Yarrow herbs are employed to stimulate hair growth and is indicated to attend to premature hair thinning.
- A yarrow-based healing tea-like drink is an efficient therapy for difficult colds and flu, for tummy ulcers, amenorrhea, abdominal cramping, abscesses, injuries and bleeding, and to cut down on irritation.
- Ingredients of yarrow exhibit antibiotic action and could also act like anti-neoplastic medication.
- Internally, this is used for colds, flu and measles, as well as to gastric excess mucus and dyspepsia.
- The flowers are utilized for diminished appetite and minor, spastic complications of the digestive tract and to protect against strokes and cardiac attack.
- Yarrow essential oil is especially good for gynecological conditions, for example irregular menstruation, uncomfortable periods, together with menopausal issues.
- The digestion of food is stimulated, urine formation supported and fever as well as congestion is eased.
- Whenever you are feeling low, yarrow might be the herbal remedy reviver that you need. It can be advantageous for the blood circulation and helps with varicose veins, rheumatic pains and neuralgia.
- The taste is somewhat bitter and peppery and fresh leaves, chopped up, bestow ‘bite’ to a muddled salad.
These herbs are easily grown and will subsist in inferior soil. It favors a well-drained soil in a sun-filled site. A first-rate “companion plant”, it safeguards the well being of plants growing close at hand and increases their essential oil substance thus making them a lot more resistant to insect predations and enhancing soil fertility.
We say again: Continuous application of high concentrations of this herbal remedy can result in allergic skin irritations in some individuals, making the skin hyper photosensitive.
Flowering period: June to August (Northern Hemispere)