Not long after I started on my backyard farm adventure I discovered this book on urban gardening. It has been a great source of information about sustainable gardening, seeds, crop rotation, soil and lots more. It’s one of the best books I’ve bought. It is informative, inspiring and encouraging.
I have recently become interested in permaculture principles and I have followed a local group on Facebook. Last night I attended a short presentation by a member of the group on the topic of edible weeds. This was fascinating as I realised I don’t have to aggressively pull every weed I see – especially those nasty nettles. Instead I can use them as a tea, which is good for blood purifying, as an expectorant and to help expel kidney stones (if I had them!) It is also used as a remedy for anaemia, sciatica, arthritis and infertility (really?)
I also discovered whilst reading Margaret Roberts’ “The Book of Herbs”, that the leaves can be eaten as spinach, and nettles have one of the highest concentrations of vitamins and minerals. And to think all this time I’ve thought of nettles as just another inconvenient, prickly nuisance – but I shall treat them with more respect in future.
An example of the humble nettle.
This weed has been growing in my garlic box. My instinct was to pull it out, but because it has such pretty yellow flowers I left it hoping it would attract bees. I discovered this morning that it’s called buttercup. It has been used in folk medicine for a long time. It’s not really edible but the leaves may be used as a poultice.
There are many other edible weeds. The Tree Hugger site gives a list of the main ones and their uses. I am mostly interested in nutrient-rich leaves one can add to a salad or stir fry.
This little corner is what I call my “bee corner”. The basil flowers, nasturtiums, pelargoniums and plumbago encourage bees to visit the garden. On a warm morning I hear the gentle buzz of the industrious little creatures and I smile. Of course that’s a good thing for pollination.
I wrote in my last post about the ladybugs that are starting to appear. The ladybugs are first attracted to the nasturtiums. Ladybugs love aphids so by attracting them to the garden they then go on to eat aphids. Aphids are a proper pest in a vegetable patch as they suck the sap from leaves and stems. I have had to do some serious battle with them. A solution of Bicarbonate of Soda and liquid soap sprayed on the leaves discourages them but after the next rain they are back.
One thing leads to another. Growing our food has helped me appreciate the simple things in life. There’s nothing like that fresh raw carrot, or a sweet juicy green bean eaten straight off the stalk. We haven’t had to buy much in the way of green vegetables this year.
Since reading about non-toxic options for pest control, such as Bicarbonate of Soda and vinegar, I have discovered that these two products can also be substituted for some of the expensive chemical cleaning products we use in our homes.
I now use Bicarb to clean the bath and I make a paste to clean mildew off grout in the bathroom and shower. One can use vinegar to clean the toilet bowl and once a week I wash the floors with a vinegar solution to discourage fleas. I find I visit less and less of the aisles in the supermarket that sell processed food and household products. Eggs and some vegetables come from a local farmers’ market. I also buy packs of free range chicken and some meat at the market. Butter, cheese and maas come from a dairy outlet in town. The maas is great for making cottage cheese at less than half the price. Every little step leads to another and so life becomes simpler…..