|Gardening notes: April 2012|
Gardening Note 1: Nitrogen deficiency
What to do:
Also add some organic, slow release fertilizer to ensure long term availability of nitrogen.
Comfrey is a virtual "superfood" for other herbs, containing not only the macronutrients nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium, but several trace nutrients as well. Add Comfrey leaves to the compost heap where it will accelerate the composting process, or use it as mulch around the base of your other herbs.
Gardening Note 2: Health in a flower: Calendula
What if you could have a natural medicine chest growing in your own garden, especially if it will help to keep you healthy during the challenging winter months? Look no further than the bright and cheery Calendula winter annual.
It must be one of the most unappreciated herbs around and so easy to grow. Enjoy their colour in the garden as well as the medicinal properties, a true tonic for the body. Harvest the open flowers, separate the petals from the stalk and add to boiled water to make a soothing tea.
Enjoy up to 3 cups of Calendula tea a day and you may benefit from its anti-inflammatory as well as spasmolytic effect, healing inflammation and small ulcers in the mouth and throat, to improve digestion and stimulate the production of bile, healing gastric ulcers and regulating menstrual disorders.
It is used in folk medicine to treat ulcers, hepatitis, swollen glands, menstrual problems, and pelvic inflammatory disease, which seems to be supported by the scientific results of this colorful herb.
Gardening Note 3: Herb focus: Horseradish
The pungent horseradish sauce that delivers a kick to salads, sauces, mustard and even mayonnaise, is made from the grated raw root. The ground root also has many healing actions; as a mild antibiotic, expectorant and diuretic that promotes perspiration making it useful for breaking fevers, especially those associated with colds and flu. In other words, it is a good winter herb.
Horseradish is a fairly substantial deciduous perennial with a 1metre spread and garden height of 40cm. It requires full sun and well drained soil. Before planting prepare the soil to a depth of at least 30cm and add lots of compost to the top soil so that the soil is friable and drains easily.
It is a good companion plant for potatoes, and plum trees and an infusion of the root can be used as an anti-fungal spray for fruit trees and as a repellent for cucumber and potato beetles.
The main harvest of the roots is in autumn, although fresh roots can be lifted at any time during the year when needed. Digging up the entire plant and pruning the roots as well as the top growth, prevents the plant from spreading and becoming invasive. New growth will sprout in spring and the very young leaves can be added to salads or cooked like spinach.
Gardening Note 4: Herbal Foot Soak
If you feel run down and tired, give yourself a treat with a herbal foot soak. It is easy and quick to prepare with beneficial results. Enjoy a cup of your favourite herbal tea while you are soaking your feet to get double the value from your pampering time.
Remove the boiling water from the heat source and add the herbs. Let it cool down while the herbs are steeping. When the water has cooled to a comfortable level, add the Epson salts, stir in and soak your feet for as long as you like.