Archive for the ‘Health & Awareness’ Category

Nature provides! I say no more, well I still have to give you all the basic recipe for this natural Immune System Booster.

At the moment, Elderberries (‘Sambucus nigra‘) are still available on most Elder trees (pay attention to trees that are mostly in shaded areas or situated behind / under larger shrub or trees as these will bare berries a little later or / the berries will take a bit longer to spoil).

 

I emphasise on the importance in obtaining Fresh berries as opposed to buying dried berries online, buying online should be a last resort only if you have actually made the effort in trying to locate the Trees and found none or if you live in a highly polluted area…

The steps are really simple and this syrup can be made into many different recipes for various Medicinal Benefits, here however, I am giving the very basic recipe and you can then go ahead to try different herbs / spices to make different batches for the Flu / Cold season.

What’s needed:

  • Harvested Elderberries that are enough to make Two Cups of loose berries (I recommend you pick a lot and freeze he rest but please, remember to leave some for birds and other wildlife),
  • Water (2x Cups),
  • Local Honey (One Jar per 2 cups of berries),
  • Muslin cloth or bags,
  • Optional: Cloves, Ginger, Thyme, Cinnamon sticks etc. for more advanced medicines

Method:

  • Place the Two Cups of Elderberries in a Saucepan / Pot together with the Two Cups of water and a cinnamon stick, then boil,
  • Once Boiling, lower the heat and simmer until the liquid reduces to around half the original volume,
  • Pour into a heat resistant container and let cool down to room temperature ( a measuring container might be best for your first time),
  • Once cool, pour the mixture through a Muslin cloth or bag into a new container, lift out the cloth / bag and give it a good squeeze to release extra juices,
  • Add the same amount of Local Honey as your leftover liquid so for example, if you had 350ml of the juice after it cooled down, then add 350ml of Local Honey and mix well,
  • Place into clean sterilised jars (I Highly recommend the Washing and Oven method)
sambucus nigra

‘Sambucus nigra’ – Ripe Elderberries

This recipe is to boost the immune system for the flu and cold months and needs to be placed in the fridge / freezer immediately.

Dosage:

  • Take one spoonful every morning during or near the flu season, increase to three times per day if you feel flu or a cold coming on.

In the fridge this should last 3-4 months only so I reccommend actually making a large batch (4x cups of Elderberries makes around 3 standard jam / honey jars with some leftover) and freezing the rest to keep aside for closer to December onwards.

One good idea I have seen is to pour them into ice trays for freezing, you can then remove a few cubes for your own use anytime between or before December!

elderberry syrup

Elderberry ‘Sambucus nigra’ Syrup, medicinal recipe

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I came across this festival via a pamphlet I got at the London Permaculture Festival last week and decided to help promote it, unfortunately the date of the event is just next week and is far too late for me to be able to even attampt to attend. I will now hopefully be able to book it for next year if possible …

This years event will be held between Thursday 10th to Saturday 13th of August 2017 and you can still book tickets on their website.

o g f 2017 ao g f 2017

Watching the video (3.5 mins long) this is definitely an event which is worthwhile to go to, I’m sadly going to miss the opportunity this year, it looks excellent especially for kids!

For those who are unable to watch the video or stream it for some reason, the following are some of the events and things to do at the festival based on last year’s video:

  • Archery,
  • Off Grid College,
  • Crafts and Tech area,
  • Well Being Area,
  • The Wildwood,
  • Off Grid Kids Area,
  • Live Music Barn,
  • Eco Build Demos
  • Organic Food and Drink,
  • Family Camping.

Another World Is Possible

Off Grid Festival Website (Click Here).

Other courses / talks on offer are:

New Economy – Permaculture – Eco-Build – 12v Technology (solar / wind power) – Bushcraft – Growing Food – Low-Impact Living – Land – Social Enterprise – Community Housing – Energy – Forest School – Conflict Resolution – Foraging & Wild Medicine – Yoga – Dance & Meditaion

Honestly, I’m contemplating faking a semi serious illness to get off from work now …. 🙂

Another Plant which I cannot see myself ever doing without unless moving to a climate which it cannot thrive in is the Artichoke Plant ‘Cynara Cardunculus’ (there are a few varieties). My obsession with these came when I snapped a photo of one flower head which had around 9 or so bees on it alone!

cynara-cardunculus-1

The plant has a pleasant ‘Silver Tone’ effect which covers Greys and Silvers in an ornamental bed (Perennials)

cynara-cardunculus-2

Multiple Flower Heads ‘Cynara cardunculus’

A friend of mine says that his Grandparents in the past, used to cook  the young shoots in a type of stew / broth recipe in the South of France.
There is the famous ‘Globe Artichoke’ which is edible and the varieties I am mainly focusing on here which do not produce edible flower heads such as the latter, but are great for Bees and Pollinators.
The plants are Perennial and once established should last years, in colder Temperate regions these Herbaceous plants will die down in a cold Winter and re-sprout in Spring. I am classing the Ornamental Artichoke ‘Cynara Cardunculus’ as Semi / Beneficial with the Edible ‘Globe Artichoke’ Variety as a good Beneficial Plant (Multiple Uses / Purposes) in a Sustainable / Permaculture System (Edible parts, good Cash Crop if grown in bulk, Perennial, Medicinal uses as described below and Pollinator attractant / forage plant. Another point is the leaves produce good green waste for composting and the tall woody stems you will chop down in Winter are great biomass, can be used as canes, in Hugel Mounds / Hugelkultur etc.)

 

cynara-cardunculus-3

Bees Love the Artichoke Plant ‘Cynara cardunculus’

The plants are used medicinally and the following is taken from WebMD:

” Artichoke is a plant. The leaf, stem, and root are used to make “extracts” which contain a high concentration of certain chemicals found in the plant. These extracts are used as medicine.

Artichoke is used to stimulate the flow of bile from the liver, and this is thought to help reduce the symptoms of heartburn and alcohol “hangover.” Artichoke is also used for high cholesterol, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), kidney problems, anemia, fluid retention (edema), arthritis, bladder infections, and liver problems.

Some people use artichoke for treating snakebites, preventing gallstones, lowering blood pressure, lowering blood sugar; to increase urine flow; and as a tonic or stimulant.

In foods, artichoke leaves and extracts are used to flavor beverages. Cynarin and chlorogenic acid, which are chemicals found in artichoke, are sometimes used as sweeteners.

Don’t confuse artichoke with Jerusalem artichoke (Helianthus tuberosus).

How does it work?

Artichoke has chemicals that can reduce nausea and vomiting, spasms, and intestinal gas. These chemicals have also been shown to lower cholesterol. ”

 

cynara-cardunculus

‘Cynara cardunculus’ grown commercially

The plants can be propagated by root division, take an established plant in dormancy (Winter / end of Winter towards Spring), using a spade, you will merely slice into the center of the root crown and dig around this newly sliced section, taking as much of the root with you as possible with soil to transplant to a nursing bed or in its final location. A layer of mulch is always a good idea once placed as protection from frost to ensure survival of the new plant.

Growing a couple of these plants in your garden together with other local / native as well as non native Bee Friendly plants will be very helpful for our Bee friends as an important food supply, ensure you study the different flowering times so that you can ensure that you alway have a plant or two supplying them with pollen and nectar most of the year round. You can even place one plant in a semi / shaded spot and this plant will flower later on, its flowers will still be going when the other plant has already finished its flushes.

mushroom-box

This weekend I have a fresh email interview between myself and Ivan from Mushroombox, I use them as my regular supplier of Mushroom Mycelium and will soon be placing a new order perhaps for something different this time (Last time it was Shiitake mushroom dowels for Outdoor logs).

Jeff:
Good Day Ivan,how are you? Has there been a pick up in business lately or

just business as usual?

Ivan:
Yes, business has picked up a lot over the last month or so. Autumn always
gets customers thinking about mushrooms, so we tend to see a steady
increase from about September onward. I also think that gardeners who
cannot grow much to eat in the garden at this time of year get interested
in the possibilities of quick-cycle mushroom growing indoors at this time
of year. Also, the mushroom kits we produce make excellent Christmas
presents, so we see a surge just before Christmas.

Jeff:
How long have you had this business and is it bourne out of a hobby /
interest including noticing a new market to explore?

Ivan:
We’ve been selling mushroom products probably for about 5 years now. It
was very much borne out of a hobby. I originally started looking into
mushroom-growing as a 14-year old, when I found a book in our local
bookshop about small-scale commercial mushroom growing. I was amazed to
read recently that Britons have on average eaten only two species of
mushrooms. Imagine if you had only ever eaten two types of plant!!

Jeff:
For those who have not followed my blog before, I ordered a reasonably
large batch of inoculated dowels from you which I posted about (To grow
Shiitake mushrooms on logs), pretty much a kit including collared drill
bits as well as sealant wax, I have since noted that you are now selling
bulk orders, is commercial / bulk cultivation picking up? Do you suspect
some may be just eco communities and / or individuals who are going for
the rural self sufficient lifestyle?
(more…)

Recently I added a recipe on making your own plum Compote, here is the very simple recipe on serving the compote with Natural Yogurt and some other bits …
This recipe can be made in a Vegan / dairy Free way by using Soya based Yogurts

Ingredients:

  1. Home made Compote,
  2. Natural non flavoured Organic Yogurt,
  3. Honey,
  4. Banana,
  5. mixed Crushed Nuts.

Method:

 

20160918_162127

Step 1: Place about 2-3 Tablespoons of your Compote into the bottom of a globe glass such as a wine glass etc. Top the latter with a few Tablespoons of Natural Yogurt then finally top with a tablespoon or so of more Compote.

20160918_162304

Step 2: Top the second layer of Compote with a layer of Banana Slices

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Step 3: Top the Banana Slices with the final layer of Natural Yogurt, then you can pour a little amount of honey followed by the Crushed Mixed Nuts

Step 4: Eat !

Click Here for the article on how to Make Your Own Plum Compote

One trending recipe that I have come across online quite a lot recently is the Sweet Potato toast recipe, here is my own personal toppings recipe and I also have some very important safety advice based on some personal experience – lets just say, luckily I was in the kitchen at that time!

sweet-potato-toast

Jeff’s Sweet Potato Toast Toppings Recipe

The general method to make the toast:

  1. Check the inside of your toaster, get any bread crumbs out from the bottom (not only the tray, try get as much out as possible),
  2. Peel your Potato (If organic, skip this part),
  3. Slice the potato lengthwise to the thickness of around 8mm to a maximum of 10mm,
  4. Place the slices in the toaster and set the toaster to half the maximum time (be careful the first time you do this!) the potato toast takes longer than bread to make toast and each toaster is different, you really need to do this a few times to be able to get to know your toaster to be able to re-create this recipe over and over with confidence,
  5. Once the toast pops out, use tongs to check, it is likely that it will need to be given another round in the toaster, the toast should become flexible and the skin should start forming ”bubbles” which also start going brown / black – then you know it is ready

NOTE: Regarding step 1, any old collated bread crumbs inside your toaster Can Set On Fire! This happened to me! The reason why is because when making Sweet Potato Toast, we are keeping the toaster on for such a longer time than Bread Toast, which can cause the crumbs to finally get hot enough to catch on fire.
I was in the kitchen and noticed it right away, the fire was strong enough to have actually made the toaster itself catch fire then subsequently the chipboard counter top and pretty much most of the kitchen!! Be Careful

Jeff’s Unique Sweet Potato Toast Topping:

Ingredients:

  1. Hoummous,
  2. Fresh Green Olives,
  3. Red Pesto,

Method:

  1. Spread the Red Pesto on the slice,
  2. Top this with 3-4 dollops of Hoummous using a teaspoon,
  3. Place a few half sliced Green Olives between the Hoummous Dollops,
  4. Eat !

There are quite a few topping recipes online, most of them are Avocado based which I didn’t have any at the time of experimenting with Sweet Potato Toast – I am really quite chuffed with that otherwise I would not have stumbled upon this really nice combination.

I also tried Hoummous only with Green Olives, this does suffice but is definitely not as tasty as with the Pesto.

If you come up with your own recipe, please do come here and comment / share (Remember, you Do Not need a wordpress account to comment on my blog, guests can comment too)

Allotments in Europe can best be described to those in other parts of the world as similar to community gardens, with the emphasis on that each individual gets a designated plot (if available) to grow primarily, healthy food for themselves and family.
This is not restricted to food growing, at least not in the UK that I am aware of, I have seen plots dedicated almost 100% to growing certain tree / shrubs which are good for weaving and others where the owner (tenant) just wants a small shed with some kind of cooking devices, seed storage, sitting area and a kettle to make tea or coffee with a garden mostly covered in ornamental flowers and plants.

Within the UK, interest in allotments surges during economic recessions etc. often causing dismay when people find out there is a 10 year waiting list for one in their area!


Allotment numbers in Europe are as follows (Source: allotmentphotogallery.com):

Germany 1.4 million allotments
United Kingdom 330,000
The Netherlands 240,000
Denmark 62,120
Sweden 51,000
Belgium 42,000
Austria 38,000
Switzerland  27,000
France 26,000
Finland  5,000
Norway  2,000
Malta 50

In countries like Denmark and England, allotment gardening can be traced back as far as the 1730’s, whilst the rest of Europe started joining in around the 1800’s onwards till today with Malta starting 50 allotments in April 2011. In Germany, the largest provider and user of Council / Municipal supplied allotments, the land used for the 1.4 million allotments accounts to 470 square Kilometers !

Click HERE for Quick Tour of Britain’s Best Allotment Winners Plot 2015 (Video)

Click HERE for a previous post of an Allotment site in Bristol which is managed by Mike Feingold, an old school Permaculturist (Video Tour / educational)