Bridget

Posts Tagged ‘nettles’

Neighbours, Herbal Lore and Wisdom…on country lanes.

In Folklore, herbal remedies on February 21, 2012 at 6:51 pm

Walking each day on the lane is great. It exercises myself and the dogs, it gives me a chance to observe the hedgerows and sometimes take pics for the blog, but best of all one has chance encounters with the neighbours. This I really enjoy as you never know where the conversation will lead. Yesterday , Joe, who farms sheep further up the lane was in a great mood for chatting. After the usual pleasantries about the weather and such Joe’s topic of the day was health, so many people taking tablets now and still in ill health. Joe is quiet elderly, one would’nt dare ask his age, but other neighbours say he is near 80. Anyway he is old enough to remember when folk did’nt take so many tablets and relied on herbal cures.

Joe has a great memory and he was happy to tell me of a few cures he remembers. One was for gout: in the Spring when nettles have some nice new growth, take a handful, boil with a couple of cabbage leaves. Strain and retain the juice. Keep the juice in a cool place and drink half a small glass  first thing each morning on an empty stomach. This has to be done for 9 days. The nettle and cabbage can be eaten as a vegetable.

The next cure was for an infected foot resulting from a thorn or walking on a rusty nail. Cut an onion in half and apply the cut side to the affected area. Bandage to keep in place overnight. Next morning the onion will have drawn the poison from the infected foot.

All this talk on herbal lore reminded me of a book given to me by years ago by an old lady when I lived in Tipperary. It is called Mrs Lavenders Herbal Book and as you can see isn’t in great shape. It does have all it’s pages and is an interesting read. Published in 1930 and sold at a cost of 6 old pence it talks of garden and wild plants as cures for all ailments.

On Beetroot Mrs Lavender says: “All who suffer from jaundice or similar liver troubles should eat the ordinary red beetroot freely. Also it is excellent for growing girls and women of all ages, doing much to strenghten them and to cure weakening diseases to which they are liable.”

St. John’s Wort is mentioned as “useful in all lung troubles, particularly if there is any tendency to phythisis. If the flower and leaves are chopped fine and added to melted clarified lard they form an ointment that will heal almost any wound.”

Burdock is recommended for kidney troubles. “Two ounces of burdock root boiled in half a gallon of water till the latter is reduced to a quart makes an excellent medicine for many kidney troubles such as gravel or stone, and also for those who are suffering from dropsy.”

So between Joe and Mrs. lavender’s guidance we should be able to cope with all eventualities in the health department!!

In future chats with Joe I hope to draw more of this wisdom from him. I have started writing it down as this is part of our folklore which needs to be held on to. As with Mrs. Lavender the turns of phrase are different to those used nowadays. I would however be a bit suspicious of some of her cures…especially the use of snails as a cure for consumption!!!!

 

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Making Jam & Eating Spinach @ Prospect Cottage.

In Cooking, Gardening, sustainable living on May 5, 2011 at 10:38 am

Thankfully the rain arrived yesterday, everything looks so fresh and green today. Even the Rhubarb which is heavily mulched was starting to go limp, it is looking all renewed again this morning. Have made a few batches of Rhubarb and Apricot jam recently. It is really nice, the addition of the Apricots helps to thicken the jam. Rhubarb itself is low in pectin.

Recipe for Rhubarb & Apricot Jam:

1kg Rhubarb.   1kg sugar.    250g dried Apricots.   150ml boiling water.

Layer the rhubarb in a basin with the sugar. Put the dried apricots in another bowl and cover with the water. Leave both mixtures for 24 hours. Put both mixtures into a preserving pan and bring to the boil, stirring until all the sugar is dissolved. Keep at a rolling boil for about 30 minutes, or until setting point is reached. Pour into warmed jars and seal immediately. Ginger, dried or crystallised can be added to the recipe.

In the polytunnel Spinach is ready to be harvested. It has grown quickly in the recent hot weather. It goes to seed quickly though. Will cook some this evening with Nettles, steamed to avoid losing the nutrients in the cooking water. Do be careful not to eat too much much Spinach as it is high in oxalic acid, same as Rhubarb leaves. Apparently Popeye was misinformed about the iron levels, they are not that high, similar to peas. Kale has a lot higher iron content.

Lettuce, Peaches & Nettles @ Prospect Cottage.

In Cooking, Folklore, Gardening on May 4, 2011 at 11:31 am

Rossa di Trento lettuce.

Lots of salad crops at the moment, the Lettuces seem to have formed heads overnight. We eat salad every day at this time of year, the perfect accompaniment to any meal. With a good dressing and some nice brown bread it makes for a complete meal in itself. This Rossa de Trento is one of my fave looseleaf lettuces. The seed was sourced from Seed Savers in Clare. I am going to try and save seed from this one. Have never had any luck saving Lettuce seed, the weather always seems to turn wet at the crucial time when the seed is almost ready to harvest, seed then gets mould. Will keep on trying. Loose leaf lettuces are great, just keep on picking leaves from them all Summer long. This variety is originally from Italy but it has adapted well to Irish growing conditions. The leaves are redder if grown outdoors.

Fruits have set on the Peach tree in the big polytunnel. Not as many as last year but it did get a severe pruning as it was coming close to the polytunnel roof. There is nothing like the joy of eating a home grown peach. Checking each day to see if they are ripe yet, the scent of them, the anticapation, and then the day comes, yeah, BLISS.

The Stinging Nettle(Urtica dioica), an important plant for creating bio diversity in the garden. It is host to the larvae of many butterflies, Small Tortoiseshell, Peacock, Red Admiral, Painted Lady and Comma. They can also be used to make liquid fertiliser, on their own or mixed with Comfrey. As they contain formic acid they also help to repel pests. There is an Irish tradition to eat Nettles 3 times in May to cleanse the blood, as the plant is high in vitamins and minerals this old tradition makes sense in the modern age. Nettles can be used to make a tea, not very nice but a teaspoon of honey makes it more palatable. They can also be cooked like Spinach or added to soups, they even make a good beer, have never tried this so I can’t vouch for it.

Comfrey is a valuable plant @ Prospect Cottage.

In Gardening, permaculture on May 3, 2011 at 8:18 am

Comfrey is such a valuable crop for anyone growing organically, it is easy to grow and can be harvested up to 4 times a year. This barrowfull was harvested from only 3 plants.It will be used to make a liquid feed. Nettles are also added to the brew, this gives a perfectly balanced fertiliser for all crops. The taproot from Comfrey travels down about 10ft bringing valuable minerals to the upper soil levels and to the plant itself.

To make the feed put the chopped up leaves, comfrey and some nettles, into a black dustbin. A smaller container if you have a small garden. A black container is good as it holds the Sun’s heat helping the mix to break down quicker. Cover leaves with water, use a stick to push the leaves down. Cover and wait 2 to 3 weeks. A WARNING! Don’t put the container near the house as the mix will stink, especially so when agitated! DO place it in a sunny spot, it will break down quicker. Use to feed any plants that need a boost. Dilute until the colour of weak tea. I use it on all veg crops, about every 10 days throughout the growing season.

Another way to use Comfrey is “chop and drop.” This is a term most often used in permaculture. Comfrey is planted near the crop it is to be used on, chop down to about 3 inches and spread around the base of the plant. It will rot down quickly providing mulch and nutrition for the plant.

The variety we have is Bocking 14, developed by Lawrence D Hills in Bocking, Essex. This variety is very high in nutrients and sterile so it won’t spread like mad. Propogation is by root cuttings only.