Tuesday, 12 December 2017

Cool it with cucumber


Cucumber is so cooling - to eat and on your face!

I just harvested some cucumber from my permaculture kitchen garden for a dinner salad and couldn't resist nibbling a few slices while I was getting it ready. And, being the end of a hot day I suddenly felt compelled to grab a slice and wipe it all over my face too - not just my eyes, but my brow, my cheeks, my neck...

It felt so great! Immediately my face felt calm, relaxed and cool, and I did too. 



It has been a pretty hot and sticky subtropical afternoon, and I've been down to check on the cows at the paddock. Tomorrow is our weekly milking morning - we take turns in our lovely cow collective.

When I think of cucumber for the face, the obvious picture that comes to mind is someone lying down with them placed over their eyes. Being a busy mum with an active young family, I personally have never found the time to do this (to be honest, I think I'd get little bored  - maybe I need to practice slowing down more!).  

There's no need to do any special preparations with cucumber. Believe me, a quick swipe of freshly sliced cucumber all over your face still does wonders!  Even an hour after doing this simple thing, my face is still feeling so refreshingly cooled and clean.

Cucumber is mostly water but also contains vitamin C. It's probably a good idea to do this regularly - to soften skin, reduce swelling and puffiness, and take the heat out.  From now on, I'll make sure I always leave one slice for the face when I fill a plate!


One slice for me, one slice for my face

Because it takes out the heat, cucumber is great too for minor burns, sunburn and itches.

Cucumber is originally from India where it has been cultivated for at least 3000 years. I always look forward to cucumber season in my garden.

Here's a previous film clip I've made about saving cucumber seed:




Happy gardening. Feel free to share this post.



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Wednesday, 6 December 2017

My defeated silverbeet tells me it's time to focus on the summer greens. Read your garden.





I looked out this morning and saw my silverbeet wilted, defeated. It's not a lack of water... it's actually too wet and humid here now. What will I do? Nothing actually - I will not try to fix it.  

What I will do instead is feed this to the chooks, compost it and/or do a chop and drop, and eat something else.

This is a clear sign to turn to the plants that love the hot humid weather that we get here in the subtropics. Just up the path a little is this powering pumpkin. Look at all those amazing leaves! Dinner.... There's lots of great perennial greens around too.


New pumpkin leaves are totally edible and delicious. As soon as they are cooked, any sign of prickles disappears. I also steam them for a few minutes and make great wraps with them. (Don't overcook them, because they are so tender, take care not to overcook them or they will fall apart as a wrap) 

It was only a few days ago I was picking great big dark green leaves from this silverbeet. You can see the leaves in my handful of leafy greens below. How quickly things can change when the seasons change.  We've had rain for a week now and lots of heat too.  I don't mind, I know I'll get more silverbeet in Autumn.

Cycles of nature and the natural cycles in the garden remind us to keep diversifying so something is always thriving and there's always food. It reminds us to embrace the seasonal changes and to look beyond what we normally think of as the 'food' in our garden.

I love pumpkin leaves in anything I would have used silverbeet. They're excellent food. 




Read your garden, read your plants - it's a beautiful language full of richness and indicators for what we can do as gardeners who want to work with nature.

Here are a few of the other greens I will be focussing on now:

  • Surinam spinach
  • Brazilian Spinach
  • Sweet Potato leaves
  • Cranberry Hibiscus 

Happy gardening. Feel free to share this post.



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Tuesday, 5 December 2017

Yum plum pine

The Plum Pine (Podocarpus elatus) has such an interesting odd-looking fruit but sweet like a grape. It's also known as Illawarra plum, Brown Pine, Australian Plum.

It is a native Australian fruit that I've heard was quite popular with Aboriginal people in SE Qld and NSW.  Not surprisingly they were very tasty and very high in vitamin C. These fruits though are actually a seed sitting on top of a swollen stem. They are harvested around March-July.

I have a few of these planted in my garden, and I also know where there's lots of others around my streets. I love to go foraging for them.


What's drawn me to notice it at the moment in particular are it's gorgeous lime-green new growth with a tinge of red. It looks so full and heavy that the whole plant seems to be in a weeping form.  

There are lots of things you can use plum pines for.
  1. Eat the fruits fresh.
  2. Make jams and sauces 
  3. Cook it in sweets or savouries
  4. Plant it as an attractive edible screen or hedge - but tip prune it from a young age.
  5. Plant it in a pot.
  6. Plant it in your woodlot (if you have space). It is great for furniture and boat making.
  7. Plant it in your windbreak - the sturdy form and dense foliage makes it a good windbreak
  8. Being a rainforest plant, it's flammability is very low.  My fire sector and high wind sector are the same, so it is ideal here as a fire retardant windbreak.

Happy gardening. Feel free to share this post.



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Friday, 1 December 2017

Make great compost and mulch from this plant


This plant is a great source of chop-and-drop mulch and compost greens. Having a good and abundant supply of free mulching materials and compost ingredients is a real bonus for any gardener. 

I'm not recommending you go out and plant this tree because in many places it is considered a weed (check this in your local area - it could be OK), but if you happen to have it, I think there's a lot of benefit you can gain from using its leafy abundance.

This is Paulownia or Royal Empress Tree (Paulownia tormentosa). It is a magnificent tree - huge leaves, tall trunk, shading branches, beautiful flowers with amazing scent and bee hum. 

Paulownia is claimed to be the fastest growing tree in the world, drought hardy, and able to tolerate a wide range of soils. (USDA plant hardiness zones 5-9).

It is however also considered a weed in many places. It's a weed in my garden too. A neighbour planted some a few decades ago when it was 'the' timber tree to grow. He never did get any financial return but it has created lovely shade and habitat for many species, and has suckered successfully into my place. 

It sprouted where we dug our house pad and disturbed the roots. Rather than poison it, we just keep harvesting it keeping it low and accessible. For me, the best way to keep Paulownia in check in a garden is using it.  It grows fast and doesn't mind being coppiced. 

SOME USES OF PAULOWNIA LEAVES

  1. chop and drop leaves for mulch
  2. add leaves to compost as a valuable nitrogenous ingredient (when green) or carbon ingredient (when brown)
  3. use leaves as a nutrient rich fodder for cows
  4. eat the young leaves
The lightweight timber is excellent for craft and non-structural building purposes. 

Happy gardening. Feel free to share this post.



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Thursday, 30 November 2017

5 ways to use pomegranate leaves for food, tea and good health.


Did you know that you could use the leaves of your pomegranate tree, not just the fruit? 

  1. Use young leaves as a salad green.
  2. Use young leaves in a green smoothie or juice.
  3. Use young leaves as a spinach alternative - curries, pasta sauces, soups ...
  4. Make a leaf tea - fresh or dried.
  5. Make a paste from the leaf and put it on eczema directly.

Amongst other things, pomegranate leaf tea is good to:

  • drink just before bed for a good sleep
  • drink to soothe stomach and ease digestion issues.
  • drink (with tulsi) for coughs
You can also boil down a pomegranate tea to 1/4 of the liquid and use it on cold sores and mouth ulcers. 



While the leaves, the flowers, rinds, seeds and roots (see caution below) are all edible, typically pomegranate is grown for it's fruit - the sweet-tart fruit that is full of large dark edible seeds. It is prized for it's health-giving anti-oxidant properties. 

It can however take 5-6 years before the tree fruits well. So don't just wait. Respectfully harvest young soft leaves from the shrub. This actually helps to keep the shrub in good form. 

Consider perhaps growing a hedge of pomegranate. Your regular trimmings to keep it in shape become your food - and actually can easily be planted straight into the ground to make new plants. It makes a great living fence and also a potted plant. 

Pomegranate is not fussy about soil.  It's actually quite a hardy plant but very ornamental. I have one growing just off my verandah. The leaves are glossy and attractive, the flowers are beautiful and the fruit too is quite amazing - in looks, taste and healthiness.



Pomegrante (Punica granatum) was originally from Persia and Greece. It grows well in the Mediterranean. It likes hot and dry summers and sets more fruit if it gets a cooler winter. I can successfully grow it here in the subtropics, although I doubt I get as much fruit as in other areas - which is why I am looking at it's lovely leaves.



Plants are so amazing. I love learning about all the different ways we can use the diversity of trees in our edible gardens. They have so many benefits for us, and the garden system.

Caution: The root or bark of pomegranate are considered medicinal and because they contain alkaloids and need to be carefully consumed. The key is to not eat lots of this part - stick with the fruits and leavesHere's a detailed overview of the medicinal uses: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4007340/. 

Happy gardening. Feel free to share this post.



NEW ONLINE COURSE
I've recently launched my 6 week online course: THE INCREDIBLE EDIBLE GARDEN. Welcome to the wonderfully international group attending the inaugural program. The next starting date is January 28. http://www.thegoodlifeschool.net.  Gift Cards can be purchased  - click the link on the sidebar.

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Saturday, 25 November 2017

How do you eat and use your Hollyhock?


Hollyhock is completely edible - leaves, roots, flowers, seeds - not just an amazing looking flower, common in many cottage gardens. It's a valuable medicinal plant too and can be use in natural homemade skin care.

Who would have thought?  Hollyhock is a really useful and hardy self-seeding plant in a diverse polycultural garden that adds so much beauty too. 

Did you also know that many other common flowers are edible - Gardenia, Gladiolus, Pansy, Hibiscus, Fuchsia, Impatiens and Jasmine flowers are also edible.

Hollyhock (Alcea rosea) is a direct relation of Marshmallow and can be used interchangeably for that herb. The difference is that Hollyhocks have woodier and tougher roots making them less palatable than Marshmallow's softer roots.


So, how do you use Hollyhock?


1. Eat Hollyhock leaves

The leaves of Hollyhock can be used as a spinach. Choose the younger softer ones.


2. Eat Hollyhock flowers

The flowers of Hollyhock are edible and can be added to salads.


3. Hollyhock to sooth dry skin - face and body

Put flowers in warm water, crush a little and apply to dry or flaky skin on your face. You can add them to your bath too to soothe dry skin.


4. Make a Cold Infused Hollyhock Tea

Mashmallow and Hollyhock flowers, leaves and roots reduce pain and inflammation. They are good as a healing tea. Cold infused medicinal tea to soothe the respiratory tract, sore throat, dry cough, stomach issues and urinary tract inflammation. Note: do not boil this tea as it will loose lots of the healing properties. To make a cold infused tea, gather a handful of fresh flowers or leaves (dried is OK too) and place in a plunger, or wrap in a cheesecloth and tie with string as a homemade teabag. Leave overnight. Refrigerate and use within a day or two.


5. Make a Hollyhock Poultice

Hollyhock leaves can also be made into a poultice for chapped skin, splinters, and painful swellings. The leaves are quite thick so sometimes you might need to lightly steam them first to make them more flexible. Put the leaves on the affected area while the are still warm and strap it on for an hour or so.




Growing Hollyhock

Hollyhocks readily self-seed in the garden. They’re very drought resistant and do well in poor and hard soils. If you want to manage their self-seeding capabilities, remove the flowers before they drop the seeds.

My daughter introduced me to Hollyhock initially. I'd thought they were just flowers, not multi-functional. I'm so glad she asked to plant them.

Another bonus is that Hollyhock flowers are a loved by bees and are a host plant for Painted Lady Butterflies. Hummingbirds like them too!

Happy gardening. Feel free to share this post.



NEW ONLINE COURSE
I've recently launch my 6 week online course: THE INCREDIBLE EDIBLE GARDEN. Welcome to the wonderfully international group attending the inaugural program. You are welcome to join this week. After then, the next enrolments will open on HJan 28. http://www.thegoodlifeschool.net.  Gift Cards can be purchased  - click the link on the sidebar.

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Subscribe to my newsletter to receive my mini-guide - 12 Tips for a Thriving Edible Garden:



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If have enjoyed my blog and youtube channel, you may like to consider becoming my patron too. I think of it like a subscription to a magazine you like - but this one is online. From $1/month, you can be part of my the Our Permaculture Life supporter network. Click here to find out more:  https://www.patreon.com/moraggamble.

Wednesday, 22 November 2017

Propagate Rosemary with Ease (4 min film): Our Permaculture Life, Morag Gamble



Learn how to simply propagate Rosemary- the wonderfully hardy, aromatic and versatile herb. 


Rosemary is one of the most popular herbs grown by gardeners around the world. It is a perennial culinary and medicinal herb - excellent in a dry spot in your garden.

Watch my new short film (4 mins) to find out two simple methods to make many plants from one. 

Do this and you'll never need to buy rosemary again. Taking cuttings from rosemary, and other herbs, is easy and rewarding, and gives you a constant supply.


Christmas is coming soon and there's still enough time to grow some rosemary gifts. Perhaps there's some other plants too that you could also propagate in interesting upcycled pots.

Rosemary is great in so many meals, but it's also excellent for your hair. You can read my recent blogpost for more information about how rosemary helps promote healthy hair. http://our-permaculture-life.blogspot.com.au/2017/10/7-ways-that-rosemary-promotes-healthy.html


Happy gardening. Feel free to share this post.



NEW ONLINE COURSE
I've recently launch my 6 week online course: THE INCREDIBLE EDIBLE GARDEN. Welcome to the wonderfully international group attending the inaugural program. The next start date is 28 January http://www.thegoodlifeschool.net.  Gift Cards coming soon!

www.thegoodlifeschool.net


Subscribe to Morag Gamble's Newsletter to receive my mini-guide to an abundant garden - 12 Tips for a Thriving Edible Garden:



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Thank you to my Patreon community:

If have enjoyed my blog and youtube channel, you may like to consider becoming my patron too. I think of it like a subscription to a magazine you like - but this one is online. From $1/month, you can be part of my the Our Permaculture Life supporter network. Click here to find out more:  https://www.patreon.com/moraggamble.