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Apr 9 2009

Posted By: Paul 08/05/2009 07:21:00

I have just looked at the weather forecast for the Easter break and it looks like we're in for some heavy showers with possible Thunder and Lightning. So a fairly typical Easter holiday then? Well, minus the snow of course. If you are lucky with the weather and it stays dry for you then outside seed sowing could be on the cards, but it looks like most of us will be sowing in trays and pots over the next week.

Never mind about the weather there are still loads of jobs to do. This year I am sowing indoor salad vegetables in some guttering, not some beautiful Victorian Cast Iron Guttering I'm afraid but just some basic plastic stuff. I am using 4 x 1 metre sections with end caps on, and then filling them with a compost mixture. Sow with Radish, Lettuce, and Rocket and place it on a window sill. Repeat the process every week or so and you will end up with continuous fresh salad through the Summer and well into the Autumn. You can also use the guttering for Herbs, and I am trying for the first time this year some Coriander 'Calypso' which is a cut-and-come-again variety of Coriander.

Also over Easter I am repotting my pet Aloe Vera plant 'Spiny Norman', who lives in the bathroom. Norman has had babies and they are over crowded in the current pot looking for a new and much larger home. Norman seems to thrive in the bathroom environment and has continually produced a strong crop of leaves each year, which I have used for medicinal uses. You can't beat the jelly for treating burns. I bought Norman at the Cerne Abbas Open Gardens event in 2007 for 50p, purely for the novelty value, and it was another year before I looked up the medicinal uses of Aloe Vera that I discovered it is actually a very important plant to have in you house. It's almost a self contained medicine cabinet in a pot. For example it's one of the only naturally occurring sources of vitamin B12, which for vegetarians and especially vegans very useful. It's main uses are as an Anti-Inflammatory, Anti-Viral, and Anti-Bacterial. It has also been shown to increase the production of White Blood cells which in turn help fight off infections and viruses. In the USA it has also been approved for the treatment of HIV!!. It can be used to treat a range of digestive tract problems, and can be used as for cleansing the stomach, liver, spleen, colon and bladder. You don't eat the green bit by the way, you have to cut off a leaf and then trim the outside off. You are left with a sticky gel like substance which is not really very appetizing and can taste bitter. If you prefer you can buy Tablets or Juice instead, but I personally like the idea of using unprocessed Aloe straight from the plant, there's a certain 'wholeness' to it. In it's raw form Aloe Vera has laxative properties, which I can't say I have ever experienced, but i think you have to eat quite a lot of it to have an effect. That brings me onto the usual disclaimer, which is, if you are currently using any form of medicine from your doctor you should consult them before you start any new medical treatment. You should also test a small amount on your skin incase of any allergies. So if you are visiting a garden centre this week, why not give an Aloe Vera a nice home.

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