To combat the winter blues, try perking yourself up with a few of my home remedies plucked straight from the garden and I guarantee that you’ll soon be back in the mood to party.
Fresh mint in winter is a wonderful pick-me up. The familiar aroma of the leaves has an uplifting effect and relieves fatigue. Hang a bunch of eau de cologne mint under the tap when you are drawing a bath and it’ll help to keep you calm and composed during hectic times. A few fresh leaves will make refreshing cup of tea and ease a bloated stomach and aid digestion.
Growing tip Keep plants productive throughout the winter months by digging up some mint root now and pot it into small terracotta pots to fit on a well-lit windowsill indoors. Within two to three weeks you will notice new shoots appearing.
Lemon thyme is a must-have for relieving the symptoms of winter colds. Use the leaves to make a hot tea, which will also help revive you after an exhausting day at work, and add a few to your bath water to ease aching limbs after a hard day’s digging in the garden.
Growing tip To have a ready supply of leaves, pot up two plants, keeping one outside in a sheltered spot by the back door and the other on a cool, kitchen windowsill.
Sage is a useful herb for soothing the soul and relieving feelings of depression, rheumatism, sore throats and headaches? Gargle with an infusion made from fresh leaves daily and you’ll feel the benefits when flu strikes.
Growing tip Add plants to winter pots – they associate well with pansies in pink, white and mauve shades. Don’t forget that you can eat pansy flowers too and use them to decorate cakes, so keep a pot or two in a sheltered spot close to the house.
Rosemary is said to be helpful in improving the memory. Rosemary tea makes an excellent breath freshener and is a good antiseptic gargle too, so having plenty growing in the garden could be a lifesaver when there’s mistletoe around before Christmas! It has anti-fungal properties, which might come in handy for soaking smelly trainer feet and when mixed with oil can be massaged into aching joints.
Growing tip Grow it in a pot and protect the plant from drying winds. Top dressing the bare soil with gravel will help prevent water logging and using pot feet, or standing the container on bricks, will aid drainage.
Winter savory is a useful ingredient to add to bean stews for its said to help the digestion and prevent flatulence!
Growing tip Grow this dwarf evergreen shrub in a pot on a sheltered patio and in severe weather cover the plant with a cloche and you’ll be able to harvest it until spring.
Sweet Cicely Chew the seeds and you will banish bad breath for good and also help prevent throat infections. The boiled roots are also an excellent pick-me-up and especially for anyone who like to burn the candle at both ends!
Growing tip It’s one of the few herbs, which actually thrives in shade and will romp-away in poor soils.
Parsley It’s usual to chew fresh parsley leaves to freshen your breath after eating garlic, but did you know that chewing parsley will also promote healthy skin and as it’s packed with vitamin C, which will benefit smokers, who require twice as much in their diet as non-smokers. Adding a parsley infusion to bathwater will also help to soothe and cleanse and applying chopped fresh parsley to a new bruise may help ease pain and reduce inflammation.
Growing tip Parsley is said to grow best in a house where the woman wears the pants! Seeds are sown in spring in pots in the warmth indoors and germination is improved if the seeds are soaked overnight. Plants can be grown on outdoors when the risk of frost has passed and once successfully established, it readily self-sows. When the leaf stems have three segments, parsley is ready to be harvested.
Garlic was traditionally used in ancient cultures to reduce fatigue and enhance the work capacity of labourers. Most notably, it was also used to boost the performance of Olympic athletes in ancient Greece.
It contains a sulphur compound called Allicin, which has potent medicinal properties and is also responsible for the distinct garlic smell.
Calorie for calorie, garlic is fibre-rich and incredibly nutritious and packed with manganese, vitamin B6, vitamin C, selenium as well as copper, potassium, phosphorus, iron and vitamin B1.
Regularly eating garlic boosts the immune system, which means fewer bouts of winter colds and flu. It is also effective in reducing blood pressure and lowering cholesterol as well as reducing the risk of cancer, heart disease and strokes. Research has also shown that it can have beneficial effects on osteoarthritis.
Garlic also contains antioxidants that protect against cell damage and ageing, so it is now believed to be helpful in preventing Alzheimer disease and dementia.
Scientists suggest that it’s best eaten raw, although the benefits remain if it is allowed to rest for about 10 minutes after being chopped before cooking. It’s also important to know though, that raw garlic can irritate the gastrointestinal tract and affect people with an ulcer and as it is a natural blood thinner, it should be avoided by anyone taking blood-thinning medication.
Garlic is good in the garden too, as it helps to keep pests at bay and is useful for making an garden sprays. Always the good neighbour, garlic will also improve the health, vigour and even flavour of veggies growing nearby and will even strengthen rose bushes and boost their flowers’ fragrance.
Growing tip Late autumn is the best time to plant garlic cloves, as it will quickly develop roots and will become established by the time the cold weather puts the breaks on plant growth until the soil warms in early spring. It will be ready for harvesting by the middle of summer.
Use this home made garlic spray once a week to spray any plants, flowers, fruits, vegetables or herbs to repel pests
2 garlic bulbs
Put chopped garlic in the bottom of a screw top glass jar and cover with boiling water. Put lid on and steep overnight, then strain and add this garlic-water to a soap spray made using a couple of tablespoons of liquid soap (not washing up liquid) and 1 litre of water. Store leftover spray in the freezer until needed.
Be aware that garlic spray can irritate the skin and eyes, so always wear gloves and goggles when spraying.
An old wives tale claims that men can even smell more sexy to women after they’ve eaten garlic, so what’s not to like!
Other ‘teas’ that you have told me about…
To relieve an upset stomach, in Spain they boil some water and throw in a handful of celery leaves then let the leaves steep for five minutes, strain, and then drink the tea. Celery is the enemy of acid buildup.
In the Dominican Republic chamamile tea is very popular and calming colds and upset stomachs.
In China, people add four slices of fresh ginger to a cup of black tea. A British medical journal found that ginger is more effective than Dramamine in alleviating motion sickness.This is old news to Chinese medicine, which has made use of it for thousands of years.
In Cuba oregano tea is popular. Simply steep half a cup of dried oregano in a cup of boiling water and let it steep for five minutes before straining. The oil of the oregano leaves is a natural antibacterial.
Ginseng’s role in medicine began thousands of years ago in China. A morning brew will help you fight of fatigue.
Consume these teas at your own risk!
Everyone is welcome to share your own family remedies here as well as tips, from your kitchen garden