When choosing a house, one of the non-negotiable priorities for many buyers is that it must have a garden. There’s something about having that patch of lawn bordered by flower beds, or that useful patio, littered with pretty flowerpots, that we just can’t do without. And even when it’s the size of a postage stamp, we cherish it. So how can you appreciate your garden even more?
Having a solid wall between you and your slice of outdoors will never do. And whereas most people opt for a set of French or patio doors, this won’t invite the garden in like a bi or tri-fold sliding door. The beauty of this type of door is that it’s possible to have wall-to-wall glass, which then slides open and neatly folds out of the way.
With this type of door, you’re truly extending your kitchen or living area into the garden. Even when shut, you can see your garden unimpeded, plus the extra light brought in is a real bonus.
An interesting way of extending into the garden, is to have the same flooring going from room to patio. This ‘infinity’ look can be quite effective. Solid oak flooring is suitable for both inside and out, and together with the sliding, folding doors, will create a large, combined living space. If you’re not into the wood look, then limestone tiles would work equally well or some frost-proof porcelain tiles. If there is a step down, then you may want to consider raising the patio so that it’s on the same level.
By choosing varieties that are equally happy indoors as out, you can have mirrored plants. Get matching containers and pot them up with the same plants. Then place one just outside the door and its twin on the inside. This further confuses where the garden starts and the house ends. If you think flowering plants might require too much maintenance, why not choose some robust succulents, which include cacti and sedum.
To blur those lines even further, particularly if the room in question is a conservatory or living area, you may wish to consider all-weather furniture, both inside and out. There are some very attractive and comfortable sofas and chairs available, such as a mock rattan design.
With a little ingenuity, and by making relatively small changes, it’s very possible to give the illusion of bringing the garden into your home, for maximum enjoyment.
Comfrey is a very beautiful beneficial addition to any garden, and an important herb for medicine and permaculture. Other common names for Comfrey are knit-bone and boneset, because of its amazing ability to regenerate and stimulate the growth of bone. Comfrey is a must have for the first aid herbal kit, because it has demulcent, astringent and vulnerary herbal properties that make it ideal to treat any type of injury, whether it be sinew, bone, tissue or flesh.
Its powerful cell regeneration is mainly due to its allantoin content, which has a calcium type of effect that stimulates cell production that repairs collagen, connective tissue and bone.
Comfrey has tannins that produce so much astriction, which means tightening together of the skin, that stitches might be avoided.
It’s mucilage content is demulcent, sweet and moist, which relieves dryness, acute inflammation as well as swelling, and provides good treatment for burns. It provides a protective coating that soothes, moistens and cools, making it a good choice to treat any type of ulcers, internal or external, inside or out. It is also good to use for arthritis.
It is also a nutritious restorative having many vitamins and minerals in it, along with other healing phytonutrient properties.
PERMACULTURE – Works with the biodynamic forces of nature
There are countless uses for Comfrey in the garden, it adds much-needed nutrients and enriches the soil. Comfrey does not compete for nutrients with trees, so it is ideal to plant around fruit trees.
It attracts beneficial insects and earthworms, while it breaks up compacted soil and draws up nutrients.
The many uses in the garden include:
Compost- add to compost
Mulch- chop and drop mulch
Fertilizer- green manure
liquid fertilizer provides nutrients like potassium
FIRST AID MEDICINE:
Powerful cell and bone regenerator.
Stimulates the growth and healing of bone, flesh, connective tissues, collagen.
*Note that for broken bones, it is important they are set in the right place first before using comfrey to knit the bone together. If in any doubt about your injury please see a doctor for proper diagnosis first, before applying comfrey.
Use Comfrey leaves and root externally in the form of poultice, compresses, ointments, tea infusions or tincture. The fresh tincture is the best choice for serious injuries with pain, or mix it with clay.
There are other species of comfrey. Russian comfrey and prickly comfrey are all used in the same way, but the officinale species is the one herbalists use the most.
It is from the Borage family, and like borage it has pyrrolizidine alkaloids that have some cautions attached to it. Do not use internally, but caution comes from animal testing using isolated alkaloid constituents in high doses for long periods. There have been no human fatality cases reported.
Do not use internally when pregnant, lactating, liver disease, small children, frail elderly and caution with external use in these cases. Contains pyrrolizidine alkaloids, avoid long-term internal high dosage use due to potential liver damage. For external use only. Internal use see a qualified practitioner.
The alkaloids are least concentrated in the mature herb. The young spring leaves contains 8-10 times the amount found in the mature herb. The root has the most which is 4-5 times the alkaloid level in the mature herb. The alkaloid content is higher in the Russian variety than the prickly comfrey.
|Common Name||Comfrey herb/ root|
|Latin Name||Symphytum officinale|
|Parts Used||Perennial- flowers mid June to July pick from before flowering to mid flowering/ root rhizome- Fall/ Spring|
|Target Organs||skin, mucus membranes, skeletal-muscular, connective tissue, collagen, bones, respiratory, digestive, stomach,|
|Common Uses||External use only: broken bones, fractures, scars, ulcers, wounds, abrasions, burns, sunburn, bites, stings, bruises, dislocation, varicose veins, sprains, strains, any injury, periodontitis, pharyngitis, eye infections,
Internal use with supervision for inflammation and ulcers of the digestive tract, colitis,
|Properties||astringent, demulcent, vulnerary, anodyne, emollient, tonic, pectoral|
|Constituents||Pyrrolizidine Alkaloids, mucilage, gum, tannin, allantoin, Essential Oil, triterpenes, resin, inulin, choline, protein, steroidal saponins, mucopolysaccharide 29%, phenolic acids, vitamins A, B12, C, E, mineral iron, calcium, phosphorus, trace minerals|
|Cautions||Medium strength: Mainly external use only. Do not use internally when pregnant, lactating, liver disease, small children, frail elderly and caution with external use in these cases. Contains pyrolizidine alkaloids, avoid long-term high dosage use due to potential liver damage. There have been no human fatality cases reported, all research backing this toxicity claim were conducted on animals using isolated alkaloid constituents and not the whole plant. The alkaloids are least concentrated in the mature herb. The young spring leaves contains 8-10 times the amount found in the mature herb. The root has the most which is 4-5 times the alkaloid level in the mature herb. The alkaloid content is higher in the Russian variety than the prickly comfrey.|
|Dosage||the average dose is 10 g or 2-4mls of tincture|
I love the way Lilac shrubs/bushes/trees perfume the air in springtime. Come and sit in the garden and smell the fresh scent of lilacs blooming.
This Lilac is blooming now and the smell is really strong attracting hummingbirds, bees and hummingbird moths.
There are many edible flowers that are delicious and nutritious. Flowers have flavonoids which is a powerful antioxidant group that is responsible for the colour of the plants. Antioxidants also help protect the plant against stressors and protects our cells as well when we eat them.
Violas have a mild sweet fresh flavour and flowers are always best used fresh. Put in tea or toss raw in salads and add as a garnish to brighten any dish.
Learn more about Violas or Violets here >>> http://earthelixir.ca/2012/04/19/sweet-violets/
Besides stuffing squash and zucchini flowers with soft nut cheeses use other flowers like Nasturtiums and stuff them with herbal soft nut cheeses or thick dips. Nasturtiums are also a great addition to salads and the flower buds are pickled like capers, they have a real spicy flavour.
There are also many other flowers to use as a garnish or add to a salad. Flowers are better eaten raw because they are too delicate to cook and will lose nutrition and flavour.
There are also edible herb flowers that make an attractive garnish like chive flowers which look great floated in soups or added to salads. Add Mint flowers like bee balm, peppermint, spearmint, oregano, thyme, hyssop, rosemary to drinks and salads and they also make attractive and pleasant smelling garnish. Get creative with combinations.
Pansies look like Violas but don’t have much flavour like Violas do. They do make beautiful decorations for cakes, desserts and salads though.
Marigold/Calendula have a mild citrus fresh flavour and have brilliant orange yellow petals that remind me of saffron and are used in the same way. Use in desserts, salads, drinks and sprinkle on rice after cooking. There are so many varieties with varying flavours. I like these petite French citrus one I grow, it packs flavour taste.
Learn more about Calendula here >>> http://earthelixir.ca/herbs/calendula/
Lavender is used a lot in dessert recipes and the flavour is still strong even after baking with it.
Learn more about Lavender here >>> http://earthelixir.ca/2012/07/12/lavender/
Dandelion flowers are best known for use in making dandelion wine. Pickle the buds like capers. Young flowers are used in salads but old ones might need to be steamed for a minute or two.
Learn more about Dandelions here >>> http://earthelixir.ca/herbs/dandelion/
Wild roses are beautiful in drinks, salads or desserts.
Learn more about roses here >>> http://earthelixir.ca/2012/06/04/roses-for-you/
Making your own nut and seed milks are a healthier choice.
Recipe: 1 part nut to two-three parts water
1 cup of nuts, seeds like almond, hemp
2-3 cups of filtered water
add a date if desired
for hemp seeds I used 1 cup to 4 or 5 cups of filtered water and blend. No need to strain.
You don’t need to soak the seeds but if you are using Nuts soak them in filtered water just enough to cover them. Soak nuts overnight or at least 6 hours. Strain, rinse and discard water. Grind nuts in a blender and mix in 2 cups of water or 3 if you want more liquid. I used 2 cups of water. Strain through a fine mesh strainer or unbleached natural muslin cloth or don’t strain and VOILA!
I sew my own nut milk and herb strainer bags myself out of triangles of cut natural cloth. To strain put the cloth in a strainer over inside a bowl. Put the natural cloth in the strainer and pour the nut or seed milk to filter out the liquid. Pull the ends of the cloth together to wring out the last of the nut milk.
Add vanilla and syrup or agave nectar or the date.
Blend on high-speed for a couple of minutes.
I’m going to try some hazelnut with raw cacao for a chocolately nut treat. You can use walnut, cashew, chestnuts, sesame seeds….experiment with what you like! Take the leftover nuts and toast them so that they don’t go to waste. Spread the leftover crushed soaked nuts out on a baking sheet on low heat for a couple of hours and use as almond nut meal in recipes.
This was so easy, inexpensive, delicious and nutritious I’m surprised it isn’t the norm!
Put milk in a glass jar and store in the fridge.
This will keep for a week in the fridge.