Oh Lemon balm, my sweet balm, my companion and friend, travel with me on this journey and stay by my side. They say that it is not good for man to be alone, so will you be my companion in my life’s journey? In a world so full of haste and rush, waste and gush, we all need a true friend indeed, will you be mine?

This simple and unassuming plant, that doesn’t have the excitement of it’s cousins in the mint or specifically the ‘Mentha species’. We all know the wow factors of peppermint and spearmint, let alone their many other brothers and sisters, such as apple, chocolate, ginger, orange and pineapple mints. Yep, who needs a salad bowl when all you need to do is grow a range of mints.

But back to the story.

Lemon balm – Melissa officinalis, is a native of the Mediterranean and Central Europe, and now has become naturalised all over the world. The first documentation of its name is actually, melissophyllon, which means, ‘honey leaf’. But where did the name “Melissa” come from for Lemon balm? Actually, it is Latin for “bee”, why, because bees were often seen buzzing around the herbs flowers and seems to be a powerful attractant to them. The connection between bees and lemon balm don’t stop there, apparently lemon balm flowers make excellent honey, of which I don’t doubt. The plant was rubbed onto, and grown around the hives to prevent swarming and to settle them into their new homes.

It is also a great attractant to butterflies!

So in an age when bees are being massacred by the millions, maybe we should all be planting lemon balm everywhere.

Dioscorides, a famous ancient Greek physician, promoted the idea of drinking lemon balm in wine, plus, it could be used topically by placing the leaves on dog bites and scorpion stings.

A little side note: when I discuss with people the errors of alcohol consumption. I often get quoted back to me the Bible verse, ” use a little wine for thy stomach’s sake”, 1 Timothy 5:23, which is only a ‘cherry-picked’ quote. I am reminded that it was common place to use and dispense herbal remedies in alcohol back in ‘those days’. And honestly we haven’t changed, herbalists and pharmacists still use alcohol today, in herbal tinctures and cough medicine. That’s why when you read further on, it also says, “and thine often infirmities”. The Apostle Paul was telling Timothy, if you’re sick, take your medicine, sounds familiar?

Pliny the Elder, suggested lemon balm be used to stop bleeding, this would have been topically.

Theophrastus von Hohenheim, better known as ‘Paracelsus’, a medical revolutionary, believed that lemon balm was ‘to make the heart merry’ and ‘revived spirits’.

The art of healing comes from nature, not from the physician. Therefore the physician must start from nature, with an open mind.” — Paracelsus

Lemon Balm

Mr Nicholas Culpeper, calls lemon balm, simply Balm, and suggests the balm for many indications, but to quote from his book he states, and quotes Seraphio, ” It causes the mind and heart to become merry, and reviveth the heart, faintings, and swoonings, especially of such who are over taken in sleep, and driveth away all troublesome cares and thoughts out of the mind arising from melancholy or black choler; which Avicen also confirmeth.”

During the middle ages it was so often suggested for so many diseases that it was then that it began to be called by one of its common names – Cure-all. In the early times of America’s colonisation, lemon balm was regularly used for menstrual cramps, this was also eluded to in the time of Culpeper, suggesting that it “procure women’s courses”.

Now the herb lemon balm is used the world over, and has many different names for each country for example, in Russia, where it is called – Melissa lekarstvennaja, it is one of the most popular herbs for both culinary and medicinal use.

To give you an idea of just how wide spread across the world and the variety of names it has just check the ‘short list’.

  • Arabic – Louiza
  • Chinese – Xiang feng cao, (Mandarin); Heung fung chou (Cantonese)
  • Czech – Medunka lékarská
  • Dutch – Citroenmelisse
  • Estonian – Sidrunmeliss
  • Finish – Sitruunamelissa
  • French – Valverde boutons de fievre crème
  • German – Bienenfang
  • Hindi – Baadranjboyaa
  • Hungarian – Orvosi citromfu
  • Italian – Citronella
  • Korean – Kyullhyangphul
  • Nordic – Hjertensfryd or Moderurt
  • Persian – Badranjboya
  • Polish – Melissa lekarska
  • Brazilian – Erva-cidreira
  • Slovak – Citra
  • Slovenian – Navadna melisa
  • Spanish – Balsamita mayor
  • And in Sweden – Citronmeliss

How To Use Lemon Balm

Lemon Balm is an easy to use herb, simply because you are working with the leaf, you can either pick a few fresh leaves off the bush, grab a few dried leaves or powder out of the cupboard or use a few drops of oil out of a bottle.

Herbal Teas

Lemon balm tea is just so simple to make, and frankly most herbal teas are. Now I believe that one of the main things to do before you drink it is to allow a bit of aromatherapy to happen by breathing in deeply the volatile oils given off from the brew. Smell is just so important, and has more ‘power’ than we think over our minds.

Simple Lemon Balm Tea

  • Chop up enough to make two to three teaspoons of fresh lemon balm
  • Place the lemon balm into a tea cup or mug
  • Pour in boiling hot water
  • Cover to keep in the volatile oils
  • Allow to steep for 5 to 10 minutes (It doesn’t seem to become bitter like some teas.)
  • Add a sweetener, such as raw honey or stevia if needed and enjoy

Customised Lemon Balm Teas

Lemon balm can go with many other herbs, that you can ‘customise’ your own version of lemon balm tea. Straight away one can think of other ‘lemon’ flavoured ingredients to add, such as lemon grass, lemon verbena, and freshly squeezed lemon itself. Plus, you can add a selection of mints, such as apple, pineapple or orange mints.

Sometimes, I add in Ribwort to Lemon balm with lemon grass to help if I have a sore throat or a cold coming on, and to arrest it before it starts. Then there are other herbs which are calming, such as, chamomile, passionflower and even oats. Lemon and liquorice go together, so you could add anise, star aniseed, fenugreek or fennel. Yes, lemon balm is just so versatile.

To make your customised version you can either up the amount of lemon balm leaf first or just leave it at one heaped teaspoon, and then add a teaspoon of the other herbs of your choice, so basically so have equal parts of each herb.

Culinary Uses

Since it is obvious that ‘lemon balm’ has a ‘lemon taste’, it can be very useful in the kitchen, and lemon can be used in savoury and sweet dishes. So lemon balm can be good in meat dishes such as, chicken, lamb, pork, and seafood such as fish. Plus, a whole range of vegetables, from corn, beans and carrots to broccoli. Then you can add it to soups and stews, add the fresh leaf to salads, to soft cheeses like ricotta or cottage cheese, finely chopped leaves to jellies, marmalades, cakes with fruit, and lemon flavoured desserts, even yoghurt, milk kefir and over ice cream.

Another thing to remember about lemon balm is that it is also called ‘Sweet balm’, meaning that it does tend to sweeten, so adding it to recipes can reduce the amount of sugar or other sweeteners, and help with sourness. An example of this could be to add finely chopped fresh lemon balm leaves to sourdough bread in its final stage.

Health Uses of Lemon Balm

Most people are like me, ‘I don’t do exams’, so when I have a test of some form about to begin, I would make up a lemon balm tea. And I am convinced it works, and drinking lots of cuppas throughout the day, generally will keep you calm, throughout the day.

Since the tea is so healthful, helpful and calming it can be used on a larger scale too. You can make a larger amount of herbal tea and this can be poured into a bath to absorb its calming affects through the skin and the nose, or used in a foot bath to sooth tired and aching feet.

To prepare a lemon balm bath:

  • Put about 300 grams of fresh lemon balm into a bowl (About a good handful.)
  • Bring to boil 375ml / 2 1/2 cups of water
  • Pour in the boiling water in the bowl
  • Allow to steep for ten minutes
  • Strain and pour into your bath water
  • And relaaaaxxxxxx

When considering the idea of a foot bath or using a bathtub as just mentioned, lemon balm has real antimicrobial properties, as it is antifungal, antibacterial, antiseptic, antiviral and a insectifuge, therefore, a good soaking in the tea has benefits of topically relieving shingles, cold sores, infected cuts, and abrasions, boils, cystic acne, removing lice, soothing insect bites, and sunspots and due to its tannin content may help to stop bleeding. These conditions can also be greatly assisted by using compresses, which is the same as a fomentation.

Lemon balm is a very safe herb for anyone to use. Many women suffer from morning sickness when pregnant, and to assist her, she should make a simple lemon balm tea with some raw honey and slowly sipping it first thing when she gets up in the morning. Lemon balm tea is also good for calming your baby too, just add a little to their food or drink, just don’t use at full strength.

To remove bad breath, just eat a little sprig of the plant before heading out to socialise.

And finally you can make a sleep pillow from the leaves and stems.

Oil of Lemon Balm

Oil of lemon balm has the same properties as the rest of the plant, so it can be used in a similar fashion as the leaf, it is quite helpful during stressful situations, and can help with anxiety and mild depression. But I wouldn’t try to treat severe depression alone with it, as there may be other underlying causes to the severe depression.

To bypass the making of a tea for a bath or foot bath, you can place 10 to 20 drops of lemon balm oil into the water.

Potpourri

Lemon balm is used in potpourri, and a potpourri that is supposed to encourage ‘sweet dreams’ is an equal mix of spearmint and peppermint leaves, rosemary, lemon balm leaves, honesty (Lunaria annua), and Christmas roses (Helleborus niger), which is poisonous, so don’t eat it.

Gardening Uses of Lemon Balm

Lemon balm can be added to borders and other garden edges, in between pavers and rocks, especially where you may walk past and brush up against it and stir up a fragrance. (Mint also works like this.) Golden lemon balm and Variegata can add real colour to your garden.

Some farmers that are into organic framing of their cows actually grow lemon balm in the field for them to eat and to encourage milk production. For post-natal care, of their cows they also add sweet marjoram to the lemon balm to help strengthen them. The Arabs also believed that lemon balm made their animals more intelligent, this was probably caused by calming the animal, helping it to be less flighty and allow it to think and learn.

Lemon Balm is a good companion plant, as it seems that nobody isn’t a good companion to lemon balm. For the brassica family, such as, cauliflower, broccoli and cabbage, and tomatoes, onions, melons and squash. Fruits such as, apples and kiwi, plus, it can go with other herbs such as, nasturtiums, lavender, parsley, chives, basil rosemary and sage, angelica, chamomile, echinacea and hollyhocks. Amazingly, it even goes with Fennel!

Its aroma helps to hide the scent of other plants from insect attack. And as mentioned earlier, it is excellent at attracting bees and butterflies, therefore, it can help the whole garden with pollination, thereby gain a better and productive crop.


How to Grow Lemon Balm

Lemon balm is a branching perennial that can just about grow anywhere, but prefers a rich and moist, but well-drained soil and grows to about 60cm / 2′. It also prefers a neutral pH, but the soil can be somewhat either way. If you are in very cold climates, the above ground will die back but the roots are perennial.

Some good points about Lemon balm are that although it is part of the same family as mint, its roots are not as invasive and it tends to grow in clumps. It is a great companion in the garden attracting bees, and its flower is a white to cream two-lipped flower that form in clusters. The flowers don’t seem to do so well or form in the tropical to sub-tropical regions.


There are three main variations: (I have found much confusion on the Internet in regards to these cultivars! So here I make my stand.)

  • All Gold or Golden Lemon balm – Melissa officinalis ‘aurea’ , which has a selection with ‘yellow leaves‘, which prefers more shade
  • Variegata – Melissa officinalis ‘variegata’, has dark green leaves with golden yellow markings, which don’t put on their colours very well in subtropical regions
  • Lime – Melissa officinalis ‘lime’, is very similar to the Melissa officinalis, but with a distinctive lime aroma and mild flavour.

You can propagate lemon balm in four different ways, by seed, cuttings, root division, and by layering, all are relatively simple to do. Lemon balm does prefer a loose soil structure, rich and moist soil but complains after a while if its too dry. It likes to be fertilised every now and again, especially if you want a bigger healthier looking plant with large leaves. It can grow in the sun or shade, but I feel it does better with part sun and shade, as a lot of sun seems to create smaller leaves and a lighter green and sometimes it may begin to wilt in high heat.

From Seed

If you are starting from seed, remember that they don’t like frost, so if you live in a cold climate then start the process indoors.

  • Simply prepare a container or pot with good seed raising mix
  • The seed is small, so take some care when dispensing it out
  • Sprinkle the seed over the seed raising mix, but not too crowded
  • Just lightly rub your hand over the mix to gently work them in
  • Give the container a gentle misting enough to moisten the mix
  • Don’t wet the mix, as they don’t like being real wet
  • Typically the seeds will germinate in about 10 to 14 days, but may take longer
  • When they have about four leaves, you can use a screwdriver to prise them out
  • Then make a new hole either in the ground or a larger pot with the screwdriver
  • Then use the screwdriver to push the roots down into the soil
  • Press it in and lightly water in
  • P.S. you don’t specifically need a screwdriver, but something similar will do

From Cuttings

Cut out softwood lemon balm cuttings from the new growth from the early spring to summer. Remove any leaves at the bottom end by at least 4.5cm / 1- 3/4″. It may help to dip the ends of the cuttings into a root hormone compound, or honey will often work and even cinnamon will work sometimes. Poke a hole with a stick into the soil or potting mix, place the cutting into the hole, press around the cutting and lightly water in.

From Division

When the plant is growing successfully during its growing season, you can separate the root divisions and replant them with a little water.

From Layering

The plant as it spreads and the branches touch the ground naturally, it will make new roots on is own; these parts can be cut off and planted into a new pot. Water in and take care of it until it is established. This process can be done intentionally, but just make sure that you put the nodes just into the ground and peg down until the roots start to grow.

Maintenance

Lemon balm doesn’t seem to get any real issues if well maintained and cared for. But two things which may attack it are fungal diseases, such as verticillium wilt, powdery mildew and one that is similar to mint rust, and the other is scale, which I have seen growing on it, but the plant was a sick specimen. If you get any of the fungi, first make sure that the plants have plenty of space (at least 30cm / 1′ apart) and good ventilation, or spray the plants with a compost tea, which is a natural fungicide. If it is too bad, then cut back the plant and remove all material and dump it, and for scale all you need to do is hose it off with a jet of water.

Fertiliser

Many often suggest that you don’t need to fertilise lemon balm, and when planting, just throw in some compost, and you’ll be right. But I have found that it doesn’t hurt one bit to apply a small amount of good liquid or pelletised fertiliser every few months, therefore, I completely recommend it.


Collecting

The best time to harvest your lemon balm for ‘medicinal’ use is just before it goes into flower, as the energy is still in the leaf, and not moving to the flower or seed. For the best therapeutic value, use the fresh over the dried, but both will work. Otherwise you can even gather the flowers to use in your tea.

Collecting is easy, in the morning and once the dew has dried off the leaves, pick or trim off the ‘soft’ aerial parts of the plant, and this can include the stem if they are soft too, as all the aerial parts of the plant are useful. If you are making an infusion or decoction, you can chuck in the more harder and stiff bits, but I would advise finely chopping them. If you are just making a tea, then a few drops of dew are not a problem, and you can pick them first thing in the morning.

Drying

Drying must be done as soon as possible and don’t apply any real heat, otherwise the leaves will turn black. Place them on dry paper towelling or dry kitchen towels, that are in a well ventilated and airy room, and once dry and crispy they are ready for storage.

Storage

You can store the herb in two main ways, one is to put the fresh soft aerial parts into freezer bags and store in the freezer, or two, thoroughly dry them and store them in air-tight glass bottles out of sunlight (You can powderise the dry leaves for storage as well). Either way they should last at least 6 months.


Herbalism

The information below is for informational and education purposes only. So please do not “self-treat”. When seeking any ‘therapeutic’ advice always see a Qualified Health Care Professional first.

Common names:

Balm, Bee balm, Sweet balm, Melissa, Cure-all, Balm mint, Dropsy plant, Blue balm, Garden balm, Heart’s delight, Melissa, Common balm, English balm, Honey plant, Lemon Melissa, Mountain balm, and Sweet Mary

Parts used:

Aerial Parts

Dosage:

Daily minimum to maximum dosage: 6.0 – 12.0 grams

Main actions:

Carminative, spasmolytic, mild sedative, diaphoretic, TSH antagonist, antiviral – topically, tonic, appetiser, antidepressant, digestive, antihistamine, fungicidal, emmenagogue, stomachic, antioxidant, antibacterial, nervine, febrifuge, antiseptic, anticonvulsant and insectifuge

Indications:

Insomnia, anxiety, irritability, depression, infantile colic, flatulence, flatulent colic, intestinal colic, nervous dyspepsia, herpes – topically; hypothyroidism, migraine, stomach cramps, gout and urinary tract infection. Plus, fever, common cold, influenza, irritable bowel syndrome, promotes the onset of menstruation, and reduces painful menstruation and gout

Constituents:

Essential oil – citronellol, citronellal and citral, germinal, geraniol, linalool, tannins, bitters, resin, succinct acid, phenolic acids, flavonoids and terpenes 

Safety concerns:

Nothing major known, although use caution with hypothyroidism

Adulterants:

Adulteration has been with Nepeta cataria var. citriodora



Please remember, this blog cannot and should not replace a health care professional, and is for informational and educational purposes only and is not for medical advice or treatment, and no cure is implied in anyway. If you have a known serious condition, or are pregnant, please consult your health care professional, before use.

Kind Regards,

Russell a.k.a Herbal Panda

Website: http://www.theherbarius.com.au

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Email: theherbalist@theherbarius.com.au

Sales: sales@theherbarius.com.au

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Always be careful touching the truth, it may change you —Herbal Panda

Miss Raspberry! Please tell me, why O why are you so prickly yet so tasty! Miss Strawberry doesn’t behave like you, she is so bountiful and she doesn’t be so prickly. “Please understand kind person,” said Miss Raspberry, “I may be pretty, but I don’t come cheap.”

It is frankly no surprise that raspberries have been used for so long for so many purposes, for a start, its fruit is a treat to your taste buds, a melt-in-your-mouth deliciousness that nobody can deny.

It is also no surprise to find out that the ancient Chinese, Greeks, native American Indians and Indian ayurvedics all have used raspberry in the treating of many conditions over thousands of years. Over its history, it has been used in the same manner as blackberry, and in ‘general’ can be used interchangably too. In many ways, Miss Raspberry lived in Blackberry’s shadow, but in modern times she has come out to stand rightfully on her own.

Also, in the ancient times the raspberry bush grew abundantly on Mount Ida – Kazdağı, in Turkey and from here it gained its Latin name, Rubus idaeus‘Rubus’ coming from the Latin to mean ‘bramble’, and ‘idaeus’ because it came from Mt. Ida.

Raspberry – Rubus idaeus, part of the rose family, is a native of the northern hemisphere and is well known for its wonderful and most delicious fruit, ranging from pink to red cone shaped fruits that have tremendous flavour. Yes I know, I keep raving about the flavour, BUT, it also has a wonderful ability to add colour, texture and richness to any dessert, drink, smoothie or beverage, and a few other interesting meals if your daring enough. I have heard of omelettes.

Raspberries coming on

Culinary Uses

Raspberries have so many culinary uses, and as discussed earlier they are fantastic in desserts and drinks of all sorts, adding good nutrition to your diet. So I have decided here, not to suggest any cooking recipes as there are just so many in books and on the internet, that I didn’t feel it was necessary to share any.

Raspberry Herbal tea

Raspberry tea can be drunk just for the pleasure of it, but it can also be used medicinally internally for diarrhoea, menstrual issues, gargles and nausea, and when cooled, externally on burns, wound and as a wash for sore and tired eyes.

  • Place 1 to 2 teaspoons of dried or fresh finely chopped raspberry leaf in to cup
  • Pour in boiling hot water
  • Allow to steep for 3 to 4 minutes
  • Strain out the leaf
  • Add some sweetner if needed such as honey, stevia or erythritol
  • And enjoy

Raspberry vinegar

This vinegar preserves the vitamin C and other constituents found in the fruit. Drinking a little during cold and flu season may help prevent them, and can also be used as a gargle and mouthwash.

  • Gather enough bought or fresh organic raspberries to fill your chosen glass bottle
  • Fill and cover with a cider vinegar
  • Seal and store in a cool place for about three to four days
  • Give a little shake each day
  • Strain and reseal into a suitable sized glass bottle
  • Label and store in a cool dark place

Dosage

  • For prevention of winter chills, take 1 to 2 teaspoons with some warm water each day
  • For a gargle or mouthwash: prepare a mix of 3 parts water and 1 part raspberry vinegar. You can drink at this concentration if you already have a cold or flu too.

A Perfect Lady’s Herb

Apart from every girl loving raspberries, raspberry is a herb made in heaven for the women of this world, as it is up there with Chaste tree, Peony root, Cramp bark and Shatavari and oils like Evening primrose oil. Apart from weddings there isn’t a more stressful time than becoming a mother and then the baby arrives! No wonder so many women hit a wall when they become a first time mum, they are not weak, its just so much. Not to mention hormones, and everybody’s an expert too.

A little Story

Having kids can be rough; when my wife became a first time mum it really hit her, There I was at work, welding up farming equipment in the middle of the day and all of a sudden the wife of the manager of the firm comes and tells me that I need to go home. Why? Because my wife had just rang her in tears, totally distraught, so upset that her baby boy just wouldn’t stop crying. So off I went, and even though I couldn’t do much, at least I was there to support her, and at least it wasn’t serious, — she cried because she cared. (By the way, they gave me the rest of the day off with pay. (Thanks Irene and Ian.)

Sometimes women don’t want answers, mostly just a listening ear and to care.

Tears are more precious than makeup, that’s why they shine through –Herbal Panda

Raspberry Leaf or Fruit

When it comes to being ‘therapetic’, that is, having an affect on a person, it is the leaf that is most important, yes, the fruit does have benefits, but if you really want to make something happen, it is the leaf we need. Thankfully the leaf of the bush is available most of the time, that is, more than the fruit. Both fresh or dried leaf can be used in teas or decoctions and tinctures, plus, you can take the powder in capsules or mixed into smoothies.

Dried Raspberry Leaf

Raspberry leaf for Women

Menstruation

Raspberry leaf is great for ‘that time of the month’, as it is said that it helps to decrease a profuse menstrual flow as well as reducing painful menstruation and helps to regulate its flow as well. Raspberry leaf has a high iron content, therefore helping during iron loss.

Raspberry leaf for Childbirth

The suggestions given below are NOT medical advice, you should always check with your health care professional first. If you have had serious issues before with pregnancies, then you may be best to avoid it altogether. It is only given as educational and for informational purposes only.

Now getting back to the point of the story I was eluding to earlier, I believe that raspberry leaf can be used quite regularly by women for their benefit, but when is it the most helpful for motherhood? I would say from one to two months before attemping to conceive, “Skipping the first trimester” then right through to one to two months after birth.

Before Conception

The Mum to be, can take one to three cups a day of raspberry leaf tea, right up until conception. Always have this confirmed by a Medical Health Professional.

Conception to the Second Trimester

Completely avoid raspberry leaf in any form in the first trimester. Only use raspberry during the first trimester under strict guidance of a good health care professional never self treat.

From the Second Trimester to Third Trimester

During the second trimester, only take one cup on two different days of the week, for example, one on a Monday and one on a Thursday, it doesn’t have to be those days of course, so long as you keep them a couple days apart.

Third trimester to the last week before expected Birth

When you have reached the beginning of your third trimester, then you can have two cups of raspberry leaf tea per day. Take this until the last week ‘before’ the expected birth. You can add nettles to the tea if you are anaemic.

The Last week before Birth

Only in the last week before birth add two to three cloves to each cup of tea. Do not take cloves during the pregnancy, except for the ‘last week’.

At Birth

Have a large flask of raspberry leaf tea ready, and during the labour process you can drink freely. (It is your birthing, not the hospital’s, you have the right to have it as you like!) This can be mixed with any of your favourite relaxing herbs, such as Chamomile, Lemon balm or Linden flowers. (Some people are allergic to linden.)

After Birth

Add Fennel seeds to the raspberry leaf tea as this helps with milk production, amongst other things. If your milk production is sufficient, then you should stop, retake if you are dropping off again and you still want to keep feeding. You also add: Goat’s rue and Fenugreek too.


How to Grow Raspberry

Raspberry is a perennial that is decidious, that produces delicious fruit in the summer into autumn. It can be a rather vigorous and invasive plant and can grow into a dense spreading mass, and at times possibly considered impenetrable, if let go. Grow it in full sun in well-draining, loamy, rich and loose soil, and add either plenty of compost or mulch to the surface. Avoid clay and salty soils. Be aware, that ‘Primocane’ stems can pop out all over the place, but these are the best to take cuttings and root stock from not the floricanes, although they do work.

Raspberry Uses

Apart from growing heaps of delicious fruit that you can just eat straight off the bush, making wonderful dishes and desserts, drinks and beverages, the raspberry bush can be trained up trellises, over pergolas and other structures to act as wind breaks, sun shades and visual screens to gain privacy from neighbours, and have that secluded spot to rest. Also if placed carefully, trained and pruned well, they can be a thing of beauty, both in large pots and in garden. You could plant it in a spot to ‘intentionally’ let go wild, therefore making a hard to climb through hedge or barrier.

From seed

  • Sow seeds in a pot in mid- winter and keep indoors if you are in very cold climates, but not in snow or frozen ground of course
  • make holes in the mix about 2.5cm /1″ deep
  • Put one to two seeds into each hole
  • Cover and fill in with sand
  • Cover with a hessian bag or similar and put in cool place e.g. in the shade
  • Keep soil moist but not wet
  • In about a month and a half you should see leaves
  • When thy ehave at least four leaves transplant them into separate pots
  • When about 30cm / 1′ high transplant them into the ground
  • Water them in well and mulch to 7.5cm / 3″ deep
  • Train the branches as they grow

From Root Stock

  • If your root stock is dry, soak them for a couple of hours before planting
  • Plant about 8cm / 3″ below the soil
  • Plant the root stock about 60cm / 2′ apart
  • If planting in rows, keep the rows about 2.4 to 3.6m / 8′ to 12′ apart
  • Back fill each root stock and well water in, not flood in
  • Train as they grow

From Layering

You can progagate from first year canes by fixing the ends into the ground via a tent peg or similar.

Companion Planting

Good companions to raspberries are garlic, tansy, rue, turnip, marigold and even pine trees due to their pine needles helping to acidify the soil, as raspberries like a pH of 5.5 to 6.5.

Bad companions are members of the deadly nightshade family, such as, tomatoes, potatoes, eggplant, peppers, also they are not good neighbours to strawberries and fennel doesn’t seem to like anybody much except for Dill.

Maintenence

Pests

Raspberry Pests are Aphids, Raspberry fruit worms and Raspberry beetle, Red-necked cane borers, Raspberry cane borer, Raspberry crown borer, Japanese beetles, Spider mites, Tarnished plant bugs, Thrips, Squash bugs (rare), Vinegar flies and Birds, which can be avoided by covering with mesh. Otherwise encouarge preditory insects, such as lady bugs, green lacewings, wasps, dragonflies, spiders and birds when there is no fruit, or spray with a neem oil/water mix if getting out of control.

Diseases

Some diseases are: Sooty mould, Raspberry mosaic virus, Cane blight, Spur blight, Fire blight, Gray mould, Raspberry leaf spot, Yellow rust, Phytophthora root rot, Verticillium wilt, Raspberry ring spot, and Leaf curl. Generally these can be avoided by hygenic pruning, good ventilation, plenty of sunlight, good trellising and well-draining soil and just enough water to the ground.


Collecting

Fruit

Pick the fruit during mid-summer onwards into early autumn and during the mornings and only pick fruit that comes off easily with a very light tug. If selling, protect greatly against damage due to handling and stacking and rough transport, and keep cool and sell quickly as they don’t keep very long.

Leaf

Leaves can be picked anytime, but may be better just before blossoming, as this would collect the energy before it is directed into the flowers and then steer the energy into the flowers and then fruit, collecting the energy before it shifts into the reproduction process. Make sure you are collecting healthy leaves that are of similar colour, and after all the moisture has dried off, cut with snips or a sharp knife or carefully pick off with your fingers, don’t strip the plant of its leaves. Make sure that there are no defects, from insect damage, discolouration, fungi damage, and free from insects, such as spiders and aphids and insect eggs.

Drying

Simply place the leaves on clean paper towelling or on clean dry kitchen towels in a well ventilated room until brittle.

Storage

Fruit

The fruit does not store for long, unless using a freezer, so you may be better off just eating them off the bush or follow the raspberry vinegar mentioned above.

Leaves

When thoroughly dry and feel brittle, place them into sealable airtight glass jars, label and date, and store in a cool, dry and dark place.


Herbalism

The information below is for informational and education purposes only. So please do not “self-treat”. When seeking any ‘therapeutic’ advice always see a Qualified Health Care Professional first.

COMMON NAMES:

Raspberry, European wild raspberry, American red raspberry, Bramble of Mt. Ida, Hindberry, common or Red raspberry

PARTS USED:

Mostly the leaf, but the fruit can be used and sometimes the root

DOSAGE:

Daily minimum to maximum dosage: 2.0 – 6.0 grams

MAIN ACTIONS:

Astringent, febrifuge, partus preparator, uterine tonic, smooth muscle stimulant, parturifacient, refrigerant, anti-spasmodic, alterative and antidiarrhoeal 

INDICATIONS:

Preparation for labour, dysmenorrhoea, morning sickness – second trimester, acute diarrhoea, mouth ulcers, diarrhoea, stomatitis. Topically for: inflammation of the throat and mouth, tonsillitis, conjunctivitis, and pharyngitis. Plus, Uterine prolapse, uterine haemorrhage, and gastrointestinal bleeding

CONSTITUENTS:

Flavonoids – rutin and quercetin, tannins – gallotannins and dimeric ellagitannins, volatile oils, vitamin C and organic acids – gallic acid

SAFETY CONCERNS:

DO NOT use in first trimester, use only in second and third trimesters. Don’t use with mineral supplements or with constipation

ADULTERANTS:

Has been confused with bramble or blackberry leaf



Please remember, this blog cannot and should not replace a health care professional, and is for informational and educational purposes only and is not for medical advice or treatment, and no cure is implied in anyway. If you have a known serious condition, or are pregnant, please consult your health care professional, before use.

Kind Regards,

Russell a.k.a Herbal Panda

Website: http://www.theherbarius.com.au

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Email: theherbalist@theherbarius.com.au

Sales: sales@theherbarius.com.au

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“I must hippity-hop and I must not stop” said Mister Rabbit. So, Hippity hop, off went Mister Rabbit, hippity hop, hippity hop, but all of a sudden, Mister Rabbit felt very tired, Yawn and yawn again, in fact, he began to feel very sleepy, “think I have a little lie down, surely a little sleep won’t hurt” said Mister Rabbit. So he curled up under some tall green vines with florally fruity smelling flowers, and he slept the whole day away.

Hops or its botanical name Humulus lupulus, is so well known for its ‘Beer’ production, that some may think that this is what this post will be all about. There really isn’t any need for me to put forward any details and recipes of this process as many have thoroughly covered this subject in many ways and it would be rather superfluous for me to harp on about these subjects and there are those who know much more about this process than I.

Therefore, I am intending to keep with the herbal theme as this side of Hops isn’t as well documented. But where they are relating, or of interesting and just a ‘matter-of-fact’ details of things, that may cause some cross-over a bit, so yes some mentions of the history of beer will be made.

It is believed that the earliest details point this plant back to originating in ancient Eygpt, but others have suggested “northern temperate zones”, which I tend to believe. The ancient Greeks and Roman doctors used hops as a digestive aid and the ancient natrualist Pliny suggested it as a garden vegetable and during the first century was already being used in salads.

Ancient Traditonal Chinese practitioners also used it for leprosy, dysentry and tuberculosis.

As far as I can find, the first documentation of Hops detailing its cultivation is in the region of Hallertau or Holledau a region in Bavaria Germany in 736 AD. The next mention is in 768 AD, where Pepin the Short, who was the father of the famous Charlemagne, wrote in his will of leaving his hop garden to Cloister of Saint-Denis.

I find this small snippet and seemingly meaningless piece of information rather interesting, why, because why were they purposefully growing it in the first place? Salads maybe? Like seriously, practically nobody ever grew anything back in those days unless they ‘had to’ for example, for food and income, or they were rather rich and could afford to grow something that is more decorative or ornamental in nature. So what was Pepin the Short growing it for in the first place, you can’t tell me he liked the look of the vine and the smell of the flower!

Somewhere from then until the 13th century the use of hops in beer making must have been developed and made popular as the use of “Gruit” was starting to decline and no doubt the governments of the time taxing either the gruit or hops would have had an affect on the use of either ingredient, which would have affected what choices would be used due the cost of manufacturing. It is interesting to note that the Archbishop of Cologne, had a monopoly with rights to gruit.

So what is Gruit? Gruit was a mix of bitter herbs and flowers that was used to bitter or flavour the alcohol. Gruit was made of several different herbs, such as, dandelion, mugwort, horehound, wormwood, heather, marjoram, ground ivy, burdock, marigold and butcher’s broom, and I would not be surprised if a few other ‘secret’ ingredients weren’t added during those times. The interesting thing about this list of ingredients, is that they all have specific healthy benefits, and therefore the alcoholic drinks at the time would have acted similar to a tincture. Although the high alcohol consumption probably completely ‘discounted’ any real health benefits; you know, there is a difference between a teaspoon of tincture and a pint of beer.

John Gerard (1597) said of hops, “The buds or first sprouts which come forth in the spring are used to be eaten in sallads; yet are they, as Pliny saith, more toothsome than nourishment for they yeeld but very small nourishment.”

Nicholas Culpeper (1826), said of hops that “In cleansing the blood, they help to cure French disease, and all manner of scabs, itch and other breaking-out of the body … The decoction of the flowers and tops… expel poison that anyone hath drank.”

I’m frankly not sure what “French disease” is?

Hops has a male and female plant and it is the Female variety that is use medicinally and commercially. If you want to grow seed, you will need to have both growing together.

One of the principle differences between Beer and Ale, is that beer uses hops in its production and Ale uses malt without hops in its process.


Uses of Hops

A small square bowl of dried hops flowers for a cup of tea

Hops does have many other uses other than beer making, and also apart from the medicinal benefits, which are anti-anxiety, sedative, analgesic, antimicrobial, and diuretic for example, (but no good for depression) there are other practical uses that can be explored.

  • The stems of the vine were used in basket weaving, although I believe not as good as wicker
  • A reddish brown dye was made from the wax that formed on the vines tendrils
  • Also the leaf can help make a brown dye too
  • As a replacement for textile fibre, the fibres of the hop vine were collected and used
  • The un-used parts of the plant were used a fodder for livestock
  • It has been used in making floral arrangements, therefore has uses in potpourri
  • In making garlands and decorations for ceremonies at weddings or to wear bodily
  • When sugar beet is being processed, hops are used for an antibotic
  • Has been suggested as an antibotic used in ethanol production
  • As an antibacterial in the process of small goods, baker’s yeast and cornstarch
  • As a preservative during other fermenting processes (If you know of any others, other than beer, which everybody already knows, send me a line, I would love to hear from you.)

Herbal Teas

Hops can be used straight as a herbal tea that has lots of benefits, therefore making it worth the effort to drink it, you can also flavour it by adding chamomile, lemon balm or lemon verbena or to add more efficacy by adding other herbs such as passionflower or valerian to gain other actions or stronger sedativeness. If you are going to drive or operate dangerous equipment, I would not advise you to use hops or even in stronger mixes.

A Simple Herbal Tea

  • Add 1 teaspoon into a cup
  • Pour in boiling hot water
  • Cover and allow to steep for 10 to 15 minutes
  • Drink over the next hour or so

Culinary Uses of Hops

From a culinary point of view, the young shoots were added to salads as an interesting treat. They were basically steamed or lightly boiled and then they are eaten and used in recipes to that of asparagus. The male flowers can be used as well, here they are parboiled (partly cooked), then allowed to cool and then tossed into salads. The leaves of the hops can be used in soups and salads, but they will need to be blanched to help remove the bitterness.

Hops Sleep Pillow

To make a sleep pillow, either purchase a small breathable cloth bag, which you can close up in some way such as a zip or pull string, or you can make it yourself by obtaining two pieces a loose open weaved soft cloth about 10cm x 15cm / 4″ x 6″, and sew up three sides, then you can either sew in a pull string to close up the bag or you can sew it up entirely. When stuffing the bag, don’t pack it in tightly as you want it to allow air flow through the pillow and loose enough to be able to ‘fluff it up’ a bit. Here also you can mix in the herbs chamomile, lavender, rose, lemon balm, lemon verbena or any other herb that promotes relaxation.

Place the pillow next to your own pillow and allow yourself to breath its aromas.

Also make sure that the ingredients for the pillow are really quite dry, because if they are damp in any way it can become mouldy.

Antiseptic Wash

The very same recipe described in the herbal teas can actually be used as an antiseptic wash for wounds, cuts and abrasions, or can be used in making poultices. If unsure of its effectiveness, just double the hops.

Potpourri

There are several ingredients that can be used to colour potpourris and hops certainly can be one of them, due to either using its flowers or ‘cones’ or better called strobiles or from the shape, look and scent of the papery calyces.


Gardening Uses

As mentioned earlier, hops can be grown for its young shoots, which act some what like asparagus, therefore providing food, and you could also use the vines to make a simple means of tying up various plants in the garden or making a light weight type trellis. Just as you can use other plants that grow on a strong trellis, you can use hops as a screening to keep out nosey neighbours or winds or cool a wall from the sun. Or you can keep it in large pots and place them on porches or verandahs, to hide yucky areas or grow them over pergolas for shade.

For screening and ease of harvesting there is a “hedgerow” variety, which grows only up to 2.4m / 8″, literally called hedgerow developed by the Wye College.

If you live near a brewery ask for their spent hops, as it can make great mulch or compost material.

Companion Planting Hops

Here hops tends to have different uses when thinking companion planting for a few reasons. It is a decidious plant, therefore you can plant it with another plant or vine that tends to grow better during the colder months dying back exposing the other companion. Or you can grow hops with another variety called Golden Hops – Humulus lupulus ‘aureus’, which when intertwined can make a lovely display of colours.

It can grow on strong tall plants as each crop will draw nutrients differently, plus some plants like corn like having the base roots covered, and you can cut down both plants once they are spent.

A list of herbs to companion plant hops with are: marigolds, yarrow, chives, coriander and anise.

Growing Hops

Hops grow better in cooler temperate climates, but if need be, it can tolerate subtropical conditions if given some shade at times to rest from the heat. Tasmania, the southern most state in Australia commercially grows hops. It likes moist conditions or at least good access to water, with loamy yet well drain soils that have a pH of 6.5 to 8.0. They will need something to climb on, which will need be a strong trellis as mentioned earlier, but will climb wires and string etc. These will need to be strong due to the increasing weight and mass of the plant. Do not grow near electrical wires and cables as it may completely cover them and lead on to more serious issues around fittings, lights or switches, eaves, roofs and other structures.

Hops can grow up to 6m /20′ and can grow up to 30cm / 1′ per day in its peak growing season, so give it plenty of space. Also, if you are attempting to grow it in much colder climates you will need 4 months of no frosts.

From Seed

You can grow from seed when attempting to grow hops, but germination isn’t very reliable and can be slow to germinate, but cold scarification will encourage better results. The biggest issue with growing from seed is the fact that you do not know if it will be male or female. Now if you are for growing for shade or seed, then that dosen’t matter, but if you are growing for the flowers then you’ll need female plants only. So personally, I wouldn’t bother. But if you’re keen enough, just use a container with seed raising mix, and once sown, keep moist and keep in a warm area until they are up.

From Cuttings

Cuttings are one of the best methods to propagate hops.

  • Take your cuttings about late spring into summer
  • Prepare your ground or pots by making sure that they are well draining
  • It is best to use a sterile potting mix
  • Prepare your soil to about a pH of 6.5 to 8.0, neutral is fine
  • They do like good composting
  • Cuttings should be around 12.5cm to 15cm / 5″ to 6″ long
  • Poke a hole into the ground or mix
  • Push the cutting 3cm to 5cm / 1 1/4″ to 2″ deep with at least two nodes in the soil
  • Provide support for your cutting and keep the soil moist
  • If using pots, cover over with a plastic bag to prevent drying out when undercover
  • They should be ready in about two weeks

From Rhizomes

The rhizomes are found under the soil close to the original plant, and collect them late spring.

  • Dig out the rhizomes that are about 8cm / 3″ from the main crown
  • Cut them off at around 12.5cm to 15cm / 5″ to 6″ long
  • Use a clean sharp sterile knife or clippers
  • Prepare the ground or pots the same as with cuttings mentioned above
  • Place them 5cm / 2″ below the ground
  • Keep the ground moist, but not soaking
  • After about a week they should be shooting up and have roots
  • When they are 5cm / 2″ tall begin building suitable supports for training

Maintenance

A simple means to prevent disease in your hops plant is to keep the vine off the ground and well ventilated, meaning to keep it light and airy. Trim the lower branches to keep the lower end of the vine away from the ground and allow air flow underneath. When watering, using a drip supply to the ground is best, as it is easily affected by fungal diseases due to humid, damp and wet conditions.

Diseases

Some of its disease can be Hop mosaic virus and Sooty mold which are spread by aphids, then there is Fusarium canker, Verticillium wilt, Black root rot, powdery mildew, gray mould and crown rot


Collecting

One of the more important things to be careful of when collecting hops is not to lose the pollen from rough or poor handling. Harvest the female flowers early in the day but after all the dew or moisture has dried off. Harvest in autumn when they are turning an amber colour, but not brown and are firm to touch, and you should be seeing a yellow dust on them, not orange. The yellow dust is yellow lupulin, this has the resins and essential oils that have those sedating effects

Some people report that they develop a rash when picking the flowers that they call hop dermatitis, but so far no harm has been reported. If you do find that you do get a rash, just wear long gloves or any other protective clothing when picking.

If havesting the leaves gather them while they are young, but they will need to be blanched to remove any bitterness, and also the male flowers can be harvested any time, and then parboiled (partly cooked) and used in tossed salads as well.

Drying

Drying should also be done carefully and as soon as possible, it is suggested to dry them in an oven or similar at no higher than 60C / 140 F, checking them about every 20 minutes.

You can use a food dehydrator, but make sure that it doesn’t get too hot and has plenty of air flow. Or you can use a fine meshed screen with a fan and plenty of air flow around and under it. A warm dry location and if needed, a fan would help, plus, turn them over to encourage an even drying.

To test to see if they are properly dry, see if you can break it in half, if not, it isn’t ready yet. Also that yellow powder should easily fall out and the leaves of the cone should feel papery with a springiness to it.

Storage

Once throughly dry, carefully place the dried flowers into an air-tight sealed glass jar, and store in a cool darkplace, if using for flavour then use within three months, but medicinally it can be stored for about two years, but can become bitter. (Some medicinal values actually keep strengthening for up to two years.) If any mould forms throw it out.

They also can be stored in freezer bags and placed in the freezer, and try to remove as much air as possible.


Herbalism

The information below is for informational and education purposes only. So please do not “self-treat”. When seeking any ‘therapeutic’ advice always see a Qualified Health Care Professional first.

COMMON NAMES:

Hop bine, Hoppen, Wild Hops, Beer Hops

PARTS USED:

The female flower or ‘Strobile’

DOSAGE:

Daily minimum to maximum dosage: 1.5 – 4.0 grams

MAIN ACTIONS:

Anodyne, antitussve, antiviral – topically, bitter tonic, digestive, hypnotic, oestrogen modulating, sedative, spasmolytic, and a anaphrodisiac – male, 

INDICATIONS:

Sleep maintenance, sleep onset for insomnia, anxiety, excitability, restlessness, panic attacks, anorexia, nervous dyspepsia, neuralgia, tension headache, trigeminal neuralgia, excessive libido in men, Plus, Menopausal symptoms, irritable bowel syndrome, and excess androgen

CONSTITUENTS:

Phloroglucinol derivatives, – bitter resin – contains humulone, lupulone; essential oil, flavonoids, phenolic acids, and osetrogenic chalcone (xanthohumol)

SAFETY CONCERNS:

Oestrogen sensitive breast cancer, and depression

ADULTERANTS:

Contaminated with wild hops, which is less effective



Please remember, this blog cannot and should not replace a health care professional, and is for informational and educational purposes only and is not for medical advice or treatment, and no cure is implied in anyway. If you have a known serious condition, or are pregnant, please consult your health care professional, before use.

Kind Regards,

Russell a.k.a Herbal Panda

Website: http://www.theherbarius.com.au

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Email: theherbalist@theherbarius.com.au

Sales: sales@theherbarius.com.au

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Passionflower, passionflower, passionflower, O, the desires that are wrapped up in thee. She is the love of every truly beloved.

My Lady Miss Passionflower, one can see the beautifully ‘pulchritudinous’ character in you. (Now I would like to hear you say that word ten times real fast.) Beauty is found everywhere, and in the sight of the passionflower, this is so true, with so many varieties in so many places her beauty is spread so wide and free.

Passionflower, a native of the central and south Americas and the south east of the United States, was a food for the Incas, Aztecs and many other native tribal peoples of that region of the world for thousands of years, it must have been an inspiration to celebrate colour in their lives and in their dress. Beautiful and flowing, unashamed to bloom and shine with real presents, even the fruit has intense flavour, colour and aromas, this is a plant that is alive in everyway.

The Cherokee indians have been using passion flower for thousands of years both for culinary and medicinal purposes. Called “ocoee” by the Cherokee indians, eventually gave the name to the river and valley also by the same name.

Passiflora or Flos passionis – Passionflower – Passiflora incarnata, has a long history of use, as long as people have been in the Americas there has been some connection with passionflower, from the moment they viewed the flower and tasted its fruit, humans must have been captivated with this plant.

When the Conquistadors arrived with Priests of Rome, they also discovered this wonderful plant and gave and influenced its modern name, and due to their strong Roman Catholic beliefs named it from the Crucifixion and Passion of Christ. Historian and churchman, Giacomo Bosia gave the flower itself its religious interpretation in 1609 AD. The Spanish of that time called it the “La Flor de las cinco Llagas” meaning, “The flower with the five wounds” pointing to the wounds during Christ’s Crucifixion.

Locals in that region I believe still call it by that name today, I wonder what was the first peoples name for it, and why?

Although I see nothing wrong with naming the flower ‘passionflower’, I do really like the lesser known name “Sweet cup”, how about you, can you think of another name? Another name given to this plant is “maypop”, apparently and logically this is due to the result of stepping on the round egg-shaped fruit and it ‘may pop’. Others have applied this to mean at what month it comes out, that is the month of May in the northern hemisphere.

Brought to Europe during the eighteenth century has now been developed into many varieties and has spread around the world. It became popular in the Victorian era, but lost some of its notoriety, but is now gaining its proper status, in these recent times.

In Australia, there is a plant that is called Wild or Bush Passionfruit, passiflora foetida, it is not native to Australia, but is edible and quite tasty. Don’t eat the green fruit, you must wait until the fruit turn yellow. In some places, especially in the northern half of Australia and it is becoming quite invasive and damaging to native flora.


How to use Passionflower/passionfruit

Culinary Uses

Usually when speaking about culinary uses we tend to use ‘passionfruit’ not passionflower. Passionfruit has many uses, and the best known are the culinary uses, such as drinks and beverages of all sorts, for example, a fruit punch or smoothies, and the most popular would be desserts, and here in Australia it looks fantastic on Pavlova or cheese cake. Other sweet combinations can be with ice cream, tarts, meringues, jellies, cake, creams, cheese such as ricotta, curds, trifles, souffles, and slices, just to name a few, if you not feeling hungry already.

Yep, I’m hungry already

But apart from starring in many fantastic sweet dishes, it can be used in breads and buns, on salads, both fruit and leaf salads, and in sauces and butters, on meats such as prawns and fish, (oh I’m melting) also in your breakfasts with banana and berries, with vegetables such as carrots and sweet potato.

Herbal Teas

Passionflower’s main action is a nerve relaxant or a mild sedative, therefore it has a natural relaxing affect, and helps to reduce anxiety issues and sleeplessness, that is encouraging better sleep. This can help a person just by having a cup of herbal passionflower tea, which is very easy to make.

Passionflower Tea

  • Put 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of dried flower and leaf into a cup
  • Pour in boiling hot water
  • Allow to steep for 5 to 10 minutes
  • Add a little sweetener if needed
  • Enjoy

You can have 2 – 3 cups per day. Also you can mix passionflower with other herbs to alter the flavour or make stronger, examples of this could be ginger, chamomile, oats, hops or lemon balm.

Don’t use or make stronger if you are operating dangerous equipment.

It is advised not to take passionflower tea therapeutically if you are pregnant. I am not aware of any harm due to eating the fruit plup or seed, unless you have diverticula.

Passionflower seed carrier oil

This oil can be used in several different ways, one, it is a light non-greasy oil that can be used in aromatherapy or in the bath, and for a smooth massage oil. You can easily thicken the oil if needed with another carrier oil once you have added your prefered drops of essential oils. Passionflower carrier oil can be use in various skin creams and even hair products due to its light non-greasiness or simply apply it directly to your skin as is.

You can get a fragranced passionflower oil that is oil soluble (now that sounds odd), which can be used in soaps, shampoos and conditioners, plus lotions, cologne and used in potpourri and in candle making. If you wanted to improve the smell of your kerosene lantern, just add a 1 teaspoon to 240mls / 8oz of kerosene.

Gardening

From a gardening point of view, it is a great way of growing your own fruit for desserts and making all those incredible recipes, but it also can be used as a screen, to keep out prying eyes and neighbour’s noses, also it can make a wind block to protect from constant blowing, it can be used as a sun shield, protecting that hot and sunny side of the house or to cool a pond or over a Barbeque pergola. Since it can be a prolific producer, it can be an income too, or trade the fruit or cuttings for new plants with your neighbours for something else you may want.

One of several passionfruit plants I have recently planted for food, visual screening and wind breaks, as a lot of wind comes from this direction

How to grow Passionflower

Generally, passionflower is an easy thing to grow and if living in a wonderful position that it loves, frankly it can start to take over the thing it is growing on, and will definitly need trimming back. Passionflower prefers well draining loamy soils in a sunny position or some shade. Passionflower needs something to climb on such as a fence or trellis, climbing via its tendrils. It is a perennial with three lobe leaves 8 to 12 cm / 3 1/4″ to 4 3/4″ long. Most varieties require a warm climate except for a few such as banana passionfruit. One of its largest varieties is called Granadilla that grows a fruit the size of a football, and the corky passionfruit that grows the size of a pea.

From seed

Passionflower can grow from seed, but it can be slow and erratic at times and can take up to 18 months to two years to flower and then produce fruit shortly after. Planting should be done approximately in the spring to early summer and if you cannot plant the seed just yet, then keep the seeds dry and in an airtight container.

  • Collect your seed from some fruit that you have recently eaten as the fresher the seed the better.
  • Clean away any pulp
  • Fill a 10cm wide container with good seed raising mix
  • Moisten the seed raising mix
  • Place one to two seeds into 3 – 1cm deep holes and cover
  • Water in preferably with a seaweed type fertilser
  • If you are in cold climates keep the pot/s in a warm glass or hot house
  • Or put them into a foam/polystyrene box and cover over with a glass sheet
  • Do not put them direct sunlight
  • Keep the soil moist with a mist until seed germinates
  • Water gently with a fine spray fitting once seedlings are coming up
  • At a height of 5cm /2″ use a liquid plant fertiliser again
  • Repeat every two weeks with the fertiliser
  • Once the plants are 10cm /4″ high transplant into 15 to 20cm / 6″ to 8″pots
  • Water in well and firm around the plant
  • Supply a support of some form to allow the plant to grow on
  • At six weeks either plant into a much larger pot or into the garden

From cuttings

Often cuttings are the easiest and quickest way to propagate, but things are differnet with passionflower vines, and only seem to be slower, but this may be due to other factors and you may be just fine, so still give it a go.

  • Take the stem cuttings from the ‘softwood stage’
  • Cut 10 to 15cm / 4″ to 6″ long cuttings just below the node
  • Remove any leaves or tendrils at the bottom
  • Dip the bottom end into rooting hormone, some use raw honey and some don’t bother (Experiment)
  • Make up a mix of equal parts sand and peat
  • Fill a 10cm / 4″ pot
  • Make a hole in the mix with a stick
  • Place the cutting in the hole and press firmly in
  • Lightly water in
  • Cover the pot, cutting and all with a clear plastic bag that has just a few holes in it
  • Support the bag away from the cutting
  • Keep them moist but not wet and in a shady position
  • After about a month you should see new growth coming on
  • Only Transplant when the roots are well developed

You also can propagate by layering and this is one by tying or anchoring the stem down to the ground with a little dirt covering, this acts the same as striking cuttings.

Maintenance

Passionflower can get several diseases, such as anthracnose, scab, septoriosis and alternaia spot, as well some more nasty ones such as fusarium wilt, crown rot and collar rot and viruses such as woodiness virus and cucumber mosaic virsus for example.

Some of the most common causes for disease are poor ventilation, over crowding, hot and rainy weather promoting fungal growth, plus poor hygenie of gardening tools and aphids and nematodes.


Collecting

The time to harvest your passionflower is when your plant is mature and blooming. Cut off the amount you want to dry and store for use, tie them together with string but allow the air to get through and hang them up inside a sunny window.

Drying

Leave them there for two weeks until they are dry and brittle to touch.

Storage

Once your leaves are completely dry and break up easily to touch in your hand, untie the the stems and crush the leaves, flowers and stems with your fingers and place them in a sealed glass jar and label and date it. anything too big and hard just throw out.


Herbalism

The information below is for informational and education purposes only. So please do not “self-treat”. When seeking any ‘therapeutic’ advice always see a Qualified Health Care Professional first.

PARTS USED:

Aerial parts: leaves, stems, flower and roots in a tea (though not so well known)

DOSAGE:

Daily minimum to maximum dosage: 1.5 – 2.5 grams

MAIN ACTIONS:

Anxiolytic, mild sedative, hypnotic, and spasmolytic

INDICATIONS:

Maintenance and sleep onset, insomnia, anxiety, excitability, irritability, nervous tachycardia, tension headache, and palpitations, plus, Drug addition and abuse (generally needs additional herbs to go with), trigeminal neuralgia, spasmodic dysmenorrhoea, asthma, and epilepsy

CONSTITUENTS:

Flavonoids – Flavone-C-glycosides – isovitexin, and derivatives, malt, isomalzol, Harman alkaloids – traces

SAFETY CONCERNS:

No major problems found, but do not use during pregnancy without professional advice.

ADULTERANTS:

Adulterated with “white flower” species



Please remember, this blog cannot and should not replace a health care professional, and is for informational and educational purposes only and is not for medical advice or treatment, and no cure is implied in anyway. If you have a known serious condition, or are pregnant, please consult your health care professional, before use.

Kind Regards,

Russell a.k.a Herbal Panda

Website: http://www.theherbarius.com.au

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Email: theherbalist@theherbarius.com.au

Sales: sales@theherbarius.com.au

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“Passion is a fire that attracts, be wise with what you are attracted to, it must only burn away the dross, or you will suffer loss” —Herbal Panda

With this selection of blogs, I want to give attention to culinary herbs that you can grow for you and your family, that have great health benefits and can grow in a small area such as a patio, veranda, carport or landing for an apartment. I addressed parsley last time, and this week I have chosen chives, (Allium schoenoprasum). Mine are presently out in flower, sadly not as full as they could be, but, I thought I would choose this one anyway. Because there real and I don’t have to find someone else’s photo.

My little pot of Chives, of which I keep eating from, otherwise it would be much bigger

Chives are probably one of the most commonly known culinary herbs and when used in cooking they are used principally used to add onion flavour, but without the stronger onion intensity or in some cases repeating. I also add chives into my cooking because it is another way of sneaking in greens without great effort, plus nutrition, as most, if not all herbs are typically higher in vitamins and minerals than larger fruits and vegetables. They are nutritional power packs, allowing us to physically eat less yet get more.

Chives is a native to continental Europe and including Britain, but now grows world wide in any regions tha are ranging from temperate to hot, and regions that get very cold it is best to bring it inside out of the cold, although they are usually frost-hardy.

Back in the middle ages, it was called the rush leek, from the Greek word schoinos – rush and prason – leek.


Culinary uses for Chives

Such a simple herb, so why not grow them? They really take very little space and care and last years, producing free food and flavour for very little effort, and have a beautiful mauve colour in a cute ball shape. Therefore, they can make an interesting addition, both for colour and shape to a garden. Pests generally don’t like them due to their sulphur content, yet bees love them, sounds like a win-win to me.

From a culinary point of view they make great additions and can be used in many recipes. I often use them in mashed potatoes or sweet potatoes, plus omelettes and other egg dishes or just in plain ole scrambled eggs in the morning. In the morning, I just wander out into my carport grab a selection of herbs, parsley and chives are often the main choices, bring them into the kitchen, finely chop them and lightly cook them just before I throw in the scrambled eggs, and voila, a yummy breakfast, better than any dry cereal I my book, and can fit into many diets, from Vegan to Keto.

Eggs and Chives, just wonderful

Chives can be added to salads to add a little zest or bite, mixed into egg sandwiches, sprinkled onto soups and casseroles for colour, aroma and flavour. I have chopped up some freshly picked chives and added it into homemade ricotta cheese. The flowers can be eaten raw and fresh, put into salads or you can place the petals in a butter or a vinegar. The unopened flowers are used at times in asian cooking.

Chive Butter

Ingredients

  • 100grams or 4 oz of unsalted butter
  • 4 tablespoons of freshly chopped chives
  • 1 tablespoon of freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • Celtic or Himilayan salt for taste
  • A pinch of pepper

Process

  • Soften the butter enough to allow easy blending of the chives
  • Evenly mix in the chives and butter together
  • Beat in the lemon juice
  • Add salt and pepper to taste
  • Place and cool down in the fridge
  • When cool but still soft enugh to spread it is ready for use
  • Should last 3 – 4 days in the fridge

Storage

Chives don’t store really well, and if you are storing them in a bottle they will need to to dried, but won’t keep for a long time. But they do keep in the freezer all chopped up in plastic bags for about six months.


The Herb Files

The most common mistake with chives is that it gets mixed up with another chives, what?! There are specifically two plants often called chives, they are similar in some ways, but they are still reasonably different. They are Garlic chives and Onion chives, both get called chives, but they are different. Onion chives have a round tubular stem that is hollow, with a pale purple flower, although one species does have a white flower, whereas garlic chives has a flat blade like stem, with fragrant white flowers. The leaves for both are used in cooking, but the bulb of garlic chives is not edible. The main difference when used in cooking is that onion chives give a ‘onion flavour’ and ‘garlic chives’ gives a garlic flavour, amazing isn’t it! But for thos who want a gentle garlic flavour instead of garlic itself, then you can use garlic chives.

Beauty in a bundle

Gardening with Chives

Apart from the obvious culinary uses, chives can make an excellent decorative or ornamental border around flowering and vegetable gardens, placed in rockeries, gaps in rock walls and in or on ledges and edges. As they grow to 15 to 30 cm/6″ to 9″ high and in clumps that are approximately 15cm/ 6 ” wide with their flowers being a beautiful long-lasting pale purple or lilac. When planting in garden beds etc., plant with plenty of blood and bone or good seaweed fertilisers, plus itis a good idea to mulch around the plant to keep it weed free. Chives has very little pest and disease problems, but does have occassional attcks from aphids. Use a natural spray or if you are careful you can hose them off.

Simple Garden Edging

Companion Planting

If your into companion planting you can plant chives along side roses tomatoes, carrots and grapes as well as fruit trees.

How to grow it

Chives like a well-draining soil that is light but slightly moist, but during hotter months thya may want extra watering. They can grow in full sun but don’t mind just a little shade at times.

The easiest way to get started is during spring is to ask a friendly gardening neighbour if they have any chives, and if they do, ask them if you can have some by dividing a small sample off the original clump. Simply plant this into a pot about 20cm or 8″, water it in and just wait a couple of weeks before attempting to start harvesting. Yes, they really are tough plants to learn on.

Although not organic, at least they are cheaper in this world of ‘everything costs heaps’.

To grow from seed, and you have hot summers, only plant from autumn to spring, but if you have a more milder summer, then you can plant from spring to autumn.

To plant your seeds, prepare a container such as a tray, window box or pot with good vegetable potting mix, then push a few holes about 6mm or 1/4″ into the mix with your finger and about 15cm or 6″ apart, (as you won’t need many plants anyway, and four is heaps for a family, unless you are going to sell or trade them) and drop a couple of seeds into each hole. Once you have done that, simply cover them over, and gently water the mix. Keep the mix slightly moist, and all going good, they should be popping out of the ground in about 2 – 3 weeks, unless it quite cold there. Thin out if you have too many. Harvest the leaves close to the ground as you need them, and to keep them fresh or grow more if you intend to dry or freeze them for later use.

Some tips

If you have rather cold winters, bring your pot of chives inside to take care of it. Also, it is a good thing to divide your bunch of chives about every two years.

Tech stuff

From a more technical perspective, 50 grams has approximately 40% of your daily needs of vitamin A, and just under 50% of your daily needs of vitamin C. Plus, more than your daily needs of vitamin K, and over 10% of folate. It also has other vitamins such as: Thiamin, Niacin, Pantothenic Acid, Riboflavin, and Vitamin B6.

It has minerals such as, Calcium, Iron, Magnesium, Phosphorus, Zinc, Potassium, Copper and Manganese. Plus, good ole dietary fibre, yeah!


Please remember, this blog cannot replace a health care professional, and is for informational and educational purposes only and is not for medical advice or treatment. If you have a known serious condition, or are pregnant, please consult your health care professional, before use.

Kind Regards,

Russell a.k.a The Herbarius

Website: http://www.theherbarius.com.au

Email: theherbalist@theherbarius.com.au

Sales: sales@theherbarius.com.au