Thursday, December 10, 2009

Lively Lettuce



Lettuce’s Botanical Name : Latuca sativa

Germinating lettuce

Lettuce germinates readily, sometime within one to two days. Exposing the seed to light before planting stimulates germination. The small seeds can be scattered on the surface of the soil, either in a seed tray or bed. A light covering of soil is required.

Transplanting lettuce

Once the seedlings are about eight centimetres tall they can be transplanted to where you want them to grow. If growing in situ, you can thin the seedlings.
It is an ideal all year round crop. Lettuce prefers to grow in a semi-shaded position in the summer, as it tends to bolt in the very hot summer conditions.



"Bolting" lettuce

The term “bolt” means that the lettuce starts to become elongated and send out a stem on which to produce flowers as you can see on the red lettuce above. It will then start to produce seed, which can be harvested, especially if you have a particular kind of lettuce that you would like to grow again in the next season.

Lettuce pests

Growing organic lettuce is sometimes challenging, as there are a lot of nunu’s around that like to chomp of the soft tasty leaves. Use companion Planting to reduce the bugs.

Companions of Lettuce

Lettuce likes to grow with cucumber, strawberry, carrot, dill, turnip, cabbage, beetroot and radish. Onions and garlic help to keep the insects away. Wood ash sprinkled nearby is also helpful for this purpose.
If you have lots of nettles in your garden, a good mulch of nettle will keep your lettuce healthy.

Nutritional Value of Lettuce

Lettuce is packed with vitamins A, B and C. It also contains calcium. A naturally grown lettuce, is best consumed within 20 minutes of picking.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Grow Bananas



Banana Musa sapientum

Recently someone said to me, “The banana plant is not a tree. It is actually the world's largest herb!” I thought about this for a while. It may not be the largest herb, as there are many larger trees that have medicinal properties. However, the banana tree certainly has a myriad of medicinal uses and that may account for the tree’s reputation of being the world’s largest herb.

Banana’s botany and origins

Banana is better known in the botanical world as Musa sapientum. Musa species are varied and there are many improved varieties.
Originally bananas were found in Malaysia and traveled from there to India where Alexander the Great is credited for bringing the fruit to the Western World around 327 BCE.
Arabian slave traders are attributed with giving the banana its popular name.
The original bananas were small, about the size of a man finger and the name banana is derived from “banan”, which is Arabic for finger.
The tree is also known as Plantain, which originally came from the Spanish word “platano” as the banana tree is similar to the plane tree.

Growing bananas

The plant is frost sensitive and enjoys a well protected, frost free environment and lots of compost.
People in colder regions plant their bananas close a wall where the frost can’t get to them.
One banana tree will only produce one bunch of bananas.
It is then chopped down and used to compost the new suckers.
Suckers can be transplanted in spring.
Banana skins are incredibly good for the soil and should be used to fertilize the garden.
The burnt skins provide the soil with potash.


Nutritional value and Medicinal uses of banana

Bananas are extremely nutritious and they have a high sugar content. Vitamin A, C and Calcium are found in bananas.
Basil, Pawpaw and Comfrey thrive in the vicinity of Banana trees.
All parts of the plant are used medicinally.
Bananas are reported to cure biliousness, earache, menstrual disorders, blood diseases, diabetes, dyspepsia, leprosy, urinary discharges, diseases of uterus and vagina, consumption, bronchitis and diarrhea.
Bananas are a tonic and increase the appetite.
The leaves are good for the treatment of scabies and inflammations. Generally, bananas are good for the purification of blood, good digestion and for developing immunity.
All in all banana exude good health.
In some places banana leaves are used as plates.
It is said to improve the digestion and improve the flavour of the food when eating from this kind of plate.
It is environmentally friendly to compost your plate after the meal… for more information check out www.banana.com and many other sites.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Chasing Dandelions






Yesterday I was with my children and their friends. We were in Krugersdorp, which is west of Johannesburg. We found a high place to sit and observe the world. It was late afternoon and we found burnt Protea branches. There had been a fire there recently. The branch had burnt to a point, and in the unburnt section on the flowerhead, was a solitary bee, who had managed to survive, tucked safely into the hollow it had created.
The bush plants are recovering and with the little rain we have had lately, the wild flowers are starting to blossom.
We moved on, watching the sunset. There was a field of Dandelions and we stopped to blow the seeds into the wind. It was such fun. The "fairy" seeds, floated through the air, landing everywhere.
Dandelions, are generally considered to be weeds. They are excellent trap crops, especailly planted close to your cabbages. Aphids love Dandelions. Let them grow happily in your garden. Young Dandelion leaves are yummy in a spinch or added fresh to a salad.

Learn more about organic gardening and companion planting by getting your copy of the Family Organic Garden today.
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