THE ASPARAGUS, ASPARAGUS OFFICINALIS.

February is the prime time to be out, roaming around in search of asparagus. Green asparagus is a hardy vegetable that can be found alongside the roads and in almost all abandoned fields and countryside in the Mediterranean climate. You can easily recognise the plant because of its length and spikes, with variations depending on the variety; there are more than 60!
Asparagus contains amongst other things saponins in its roots and shoots. Saponins in food have repeatedly been shown to have anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties, and their intake has also been associated with improved blood pressure, better control of blood fat levels and also improves blood sugar regulation. Alongside these anti-inflammatory phytonutrients, asparagus provides a wide variety of antioxidant nutrients, including vitamin A, C, E and B (B1, B2, B6), beta-carotene, iron, calcium and the minerals zinc, manganese, and selenium. Once it arrives at our large intestine, it becomes an ideal food source for certain types of bacteria that are associated with better nutrient absorption, and boosting of your immune system (Note: the properties and nutritional power of white asparagus are reduced by being deprived of the sun).
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For Hydrops, rheumatism, jaundice, diseases of the liver and heart it is suggested to boil 15 grams of asparagus roots in a pint of water, strain your broth very well. Take it several times during the day. Some studies have shown that the frequent and permanent consumption of asparagus contributes positively in the prevention of the cancer, reason why its habituation in the diet is advisable. To increase the benefits of asparagus it is prudent to avoid consuming too much red meat, since there is some relationship between that type of meat and the disease.
People suffering from diseases of the kidneys and bladder should not consume this plant, as it is contraindicated for these organs. It is also contraindicated in people who are nervous or who suffer from insomnia. With a really high respiration rate asparagus has one of the shortest shelf life amongst the vegetables, so it is advisable to consume it within 24 to 48 hours of acquiring. It is always worth to keep an eye out for this delicious veg; sometimes you can find big bushes with more than 10 asparagus on it!
​Happy Foraging!
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GROWING AVOCADOS FROM SEED

Avocado’s are easy and fun to start of, you caIMG_1554n do this yourself by saving the peep when
eating an avocado.  To do this successfully simply remove any excess flesh from the seed and once its dry you then peel its dark coloured outer coating. If you wait for it to dry it will flake off eventually but to speed up the process you can use a knife to peel this layer away.  Next choose the cup you want to use, after many attempts we noticed that they will grow faster if the cup you are using is opaque so that the sunlight doesn’t hit the newly formed roots. You will need 3 to 4 toothpicks with which you proceed to prick the seed tightly so as to make sure the toothpicks are secure and will be able to hold the seed properly for a couple of months. Take care of not pricking the seed where the centre line runs through, otherwise it can cause problems when it opens and may harm the core. Then place your avocado seed on top of the glass and top up with water, until the seeIMG_1551d is half covered or more. It is important to change its water regularly (On average once a week) so that the water doesn’t develop bacteria and mould that may cause your plants to suffer and impede its growth.

Choose a place for it, It shouldn’t be in direct sunlight and it should be warm, so ideally indoors is a controlled environment for it, with minimal temperature fluctuations. You can place it near a window , although avoid sun exposure. After a month or depending on your seed you will start to see the progress, The line that runs through the centre of the peep will open on the base and the first root will be visible and growing. If you notice any mould or rot forming rinse the seed under the tap and change the toothpicks for new ones, as well as replacing the water and container for clean ones.To prevent this from happening again simply change the water more regularly than before.IMG_1553.JPG

In 3 to 4 months you should have the root further developed and a stem come out the top of your peep. Depending on the variety of avocado its leaves should form. Your plant will be ready to transplant into the soil in a pot when it reaches around 20 to 30 cm in height,
it should have by then nice big leaves and a solid cluster of roots. Enjoy the process of planting your own avocado and watch it grow. Avocado trees start giving fruit after 3 years of maturity providing you give them the right conditions. It grows well in the Mediterranean climate, which you can always try and simulate with a greenhouse.
Continue reading GROWING AVOCADOS FROM SEED

DIY NEEM OIL INSECTICIDE AND FUNGICIDE

Neem oil insecticide is a very effective method to prevent pests and at the same time boost your plants. Neem oil is extracted from the seeds and other parts of the neem tree in india, it is therefore a natural and ecological way of treating your plants and edible crops as it leaves no dangerous residue in the soil and effectively reduces or kills pests, prevents root rot and protects the plants form powdery mildew.

Neem oil foliar spray has been proved to be more effective during the first stages of maturity of the plant, as it is in the beginning stages that the plant is more susceptible to diseases.

The way the oil works is by entering the vascular system of the plants either by foliar spray or watering the plants with your solution. The insects will then feed of your plant and the natural chemicals will cause them to stop feeding. It is a useful repellent against mites, whiteflies, scales amongst a long list of pests. It also prevents your plants from developing root rot and other fungal diseases making it the perfect ally for a gardener that wishes to protect their plants and crops ecologically.
You can either buy an already made solution or you can make it yourself as we did as it allows you to make a lot more of it. We bought some neem oil from Indian manufacturers and proceeded to make the solution.
To do this simply use a old bottle and dilute 5ml of neem oil into 1L of water and 1-2 ml of natural ecological detergent (optional, If you do not use soap the mix will leave some oil residue, this is not a problem as you can further dilute it with more water).
To apply the solution to your plants you can either spray the foliage or water the plants soil, we suggest using a spray bottle to spray your plants.
​Do not apply during direct sunlight and before spraying a an entire plant, test a small area on the plant and wait 24 hours to check to see if the leaf has any damage. If not then its is safe to fumigate the entire plant. It is also important to avoid application to plants that are stressed due to over watering or drought.

We have used this mix on our Avocado trees and it has had a very good result in getting rid of the insects that were sucking on the sap, curling their leaves. Now the young trees are thriving again.

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The Stinging Nettle, Using it to Our Advantage.

Uritica dioica ,commonly known as Stinging nettle is a plant with many therapeutic applications due to its benefits and medicinal properties, it is also used in some traditional recipes due to its content in vitamins and minerals. In order to take advantage of its medicinal and nutritional benefits, we can use the nettle both internally (preparing it in infusion, tincture, infused oil, purees, soups, stews, etc.) and externally (plasters and oils) Both fresh and dry. For medicinal purposes mainly the leaves are used but sometimes also the roots of the nettle are used.

Nettle leaves are very rich in minerals, providing good amounts of iron, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, copper, boron, zinc, silica and vitamins A, B2, B5, B9, C and K. Provides chlorophyll, mucilages, flavonoids and fiber. The root of the nettle contains tannins and is well known for having astringent effects.The root can be taken dry in tea or powder form.

Fun fact, comparing spinach with nettles: Ten grams of nettle contains 290 milligrams of calcium and 86 milligrams of magnesium. In comparison, 10 grams of raw spinach contains 10 milligrams of calcium and 8 milligrams of magnesium!

When taking it orally, via tea or other, its effects benefit mainly the kidneys improving its functions and increases urine output and removal of uric acid. Nettle tea is effective in reducing itching and sneezing provoked by rashes, eczema or hay fever, also promoting hair and nail growth and eliminates acne. Studies have also shown that this plant helps with diabetes, blood pressure and arthritis.

If you have a garden or live near nature it is easy to spot this plant remember to handle it with gloves or pick it up from the under part of the leaf (only the top surface stings). Start to incorporate Nettles it into your diet and feel re-energised!

By Delfina Heskett.

@ http://www.diypirates.com

Step by step on how to make your own Sourdough, Tips and Tricks.

Making the yeast from scratch, for home made bread, is a really simple process that you can do yourself at home, which will save you from buying processed yeast sachets ever again. To start with, get hold of whole grain rye flour , the reason is that the husks from the rye flour contain more yeast contents than the refined flours that have no husks.

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Getting started. (Day 1)
To start with choose a container, a glass jar with lid will do. Place a cup of your flour and a cup of lukewarm water inside the jar and mix it thoroughly until we obtain a “liquidy” but thick dough. We then close the jar and leave it to rest for 24 hours.
(Day 2)
We open the jar to check on our dough, but don’t do anything to it, as it will not be completely ready.
(Day 3)
There should be some bubbles and a strong smell coming out of your jar, this indicates that the yeast has already started to eat away, and will need food. For this reason what we do is , remove a couple of spoonfuls of our mix and discard them, and we add a couple of spoonfuls of new flour to it. At this stage we can use all purpose flour, although you can also carry on using your wholegrain, it will work just as well. Also add a couple of spoonfuls of lukewarm water and mix well so that you end up again with a glupy result.
(Day 4)
Repeat the same process as we did on day 3.

(Day 5)
Again repeat the same process as we did on day 3.
How to know if your sourdough yeast is ready?
Take 3 spoonfuls of your mix and place it in a jar. We add to this 3 spoonfuls of flour and water, we cover it and leave it. Mark the level of your mix inside the jar , so that when we come back to it we know if it has raised or not. Place it in a warm place for 2 hours. Take a look at it, if it has doubled in size then the sourdough will be ready. If this is not the case we feed the mix as we did the previous days and we continue the process one day more. Do this until the dough is ready.
How to know if its has gone off? It will smell rotten. Note: it naturally smells of fermentation, but not rotten.

How to preserve it?
If we make bread a couple of times per week we can feed it then, at room temperature. Even feed it every day to have a strong yeast. If we plan on making bread less than once a week we can store the sourdough inside the fridge , taking it out the day before making the bread to feed it and “wake her up”, so that is ready to use. To store it for longer or giving it as a gift you can also dry it. Simply spread some of your sourdough in a oven paper and leave it there for a couple of days. It should turn dry and flaky , when we want to use it we place some of it in a jar with lukewarm water and mix, after a day or so, this mixture should be ready to use.

When making the bread:
It is important when we make our bread that we add the water slowly to your flour, not all flours allow the same water quantities. For making a 500g. bread we will require 200g of sourdough approximately to make your bread rise. Replace the quantity of sourdough that you have used, with new flour and water so that the sourdough stays alive , you should mix and see instantly bubbles forming on the top. We mix the 200g. of sourdough with 300g. of flour plus salt and any seasoning, then add some water while you stir your dough constantly with a fork. (tip: add flour if your dough is too sticky, if its too crumbly add more water.)Once you have your dough ready , leave it aside to proof (ferment) for at least 1 hour. After this we push the air out of our dough, kneading it for a bit. Then proceed to leave it to rest for a couple more hours. Shape it as you wish or place it inside a bread tin. Bake and ready to enjoy. As you get confident with the technique you will get better results.

We hope this gets you motivated to DIY your own delicious bread !

Fast guide to Milk Kefir and its possiblitities

Kefir is nothing more than a fermented milk with well known nutritional values, but we also call Kefir to those nodules (small organisms) that are responsible for this fermentation process. There are different kinds of kefir, there is milk kefir, water kefir and tea Kefir or “Kombucha”. Contrary to what some might believe, fermentation is a traditional process that actually slows the deterioration of our foods and in some cases it even adds nutritional value to them. There are many well known fermented products ie: wine, beer, vinegar, bread, yoghurt, Kefir, Cheese, Soy sauce, Chucrut, amongst others.

20150726_185304.jpgAlthough these days you can acquire Kefir nodules in some establishments it has traditionally been shared between different collectives throughout history. It is difficult to pinpoint its origins however the artisan way of reproducing the Kefir nodules comes from some regions in the Caucasus mountain range. The Kefir nodules are a living organism in the form of granules that will ferment your milk and grow in the solution whilst doing so. It is for this reason that to maintain our Kefir we would save the milk that is inside the jar that contains the nutritional properties for our consumption replacing it with new milk so that the Kefir has new food to survive and grow, continuing to ferment your milk daily.
Kefir has a double fermentation process, lactic and alcoholic, that ensures the elimination of all germs that are detrimental to our health and for this reason it is safe for us to use fresh raw milk without any risks. In all supermarkets the only milk we can buy is milk that has been subjected to Ultra High Temperature (UHT) processes or is pasteurized , this type of milk has lost for this reason many types of vitamins and nutritional values along with the bacteria that “might” spoil our milk and reduce its shelf life. We can however use this milk to add it to our Kefir granules and they will ferment the milk, although in this case the resultant milk obtained will mostly benefit your gut flora facilitating intestinal absorption , preventing you from some infections and diseases . The best milk in the market that we can use would be the ecological full fat milk since it will be the most similar to the original product that we can buy. We however encourage you to get in touch with a small local farmer that produces his own milk from his animals to acquire your fresh supply of milk. If the animals are naturally grazing fields free of pesticides and aren’t full of antibiotics the better, we don’t want harmful toxins in our milk. You can also subject the milk to a triple boiling process yourself to eliminate any possible harmful bacteria & preserve almost all of the original vitamins of the milk that will in return nourish you more.

Specially for those that are lactose intolerant, there is also water Kefir and tea Kefir , which both need external sugars to survive in their solution and for the fungi to create the fermentation process. There is lots of evidence out there provided by many doctors whose research proves that consuming these products benefits your general condition and on the long term it increases your organisms natural defences, favouring your internal biochemical processes. CIMG4540
You can play growing your Kefir granules as you increase the amount of food you give them , so that with time you can share your Kefir granules and its health benefits with friends and family, or even start your own Kefir distribution business. Have fun “DIYing” your own products from this wonderful organisms called Kefir in its different forms. If you are interested in knowing more and acquiring your Kefir granules we suggest for you to consult one of the many books out there to expand your knowledge on the subject, also ask around to see who around you might already have some Kefir and can help you out, if not you can always source it on-line.

What to do with our Kefir nodules:
We will introduce our Kefir nodules in a glass jar (aprox. 250ml) and then add our milk to it, at room temperature. Although you can leave it with the lid open it is best if you close it, so that the anaerobic fermentation reaction is facilitated. If we place our jar in a dark protected environment the vitamins A and B2 that might be affected by light will be preserved. Also if it happens that you can’t attend your Kefir you can always leave it in the fridge and this will slow the fermentation process, however the perfect environment at which we should preserve our Kefir will be at room temperature, around 20 degrees centigrade. CIMG4542

We can consume the Kefir milk the next day of introducing it to the Kefir if we wish to drink milk with digestive properties as part of our regular diet. 24h. will result in a mild laxative effect whilst 36 hours will result in a mild astringent effect. We like to leave ours for longer, a week or so , so that the solution becomes clumpy and is totally fermented. We then proceed to strain through a fine strainer to preserve the Kefir granules, letting the produce fall into a cheese cloth that we then fold and tie with an elastic band and leave it hanging from a hook with a bowl placed underneath as dripping tray. The result, a nice spreadable cheese if you leave it hanging for a day or so, the longer you leave it the harder it will be as it looses all its fluid contents. You can experiment yourself making your own different selection of cheeses using different types of milk and seasoning, the possibilities are amazing. Experimenting with different methods of elaboration to see what results you obtain, mixing the flavours of your choice, is indeed a fun process. Our friend Vladimir Bures, likes to create bigger quantities of cheese so what he does is boils in a pan some raw milk and then adds the Kefir milk (sometimes with some Kefir nodules) to it , at around 80 degrees centigrade , the Kefir milk starts clumping the solution almost immediately, he then removes it from the heat stirring it for a bit allowing it to continue clumping , before placing it in a cheese cloth to leave hanging for days until the cheese has the selected texture he is looking for. There are many books with recipes that use milk Kefir to make cakes and much more. Ourselves we normally use triple boiled goats milk sourced locally to add to our Kefir nodules, not only the flavours are more prominent but also what the goats graze is from pastures free from pesticides. The result a nice spreadable goat cheese that tastes so much better than the ones you can buy in the shops, and also a much healthier option.
Below a list of health benefits amongst others (sourced from ,”Como cura el Kefir” written by Mercedes Blasco.):
– Regenerates intestinal flora because it possesses a great source of lactic acid that has antiseptic properties , that facilitates the cleansing of pathogenic germs.
– Its antibiotic and antiviral effects prevent certain diseases.
– Your intestine will be cleaner and in better shape to do its work properly allowing the absorption of more nutrients.
– Better bowl/gastric movement.
– It stimulates your appetite.

Water Kefir , is by itself a good remedy for treating herpes and certain allergies. Some of its properties are listed below:
– As remedy for stomach ulcers.
– To treat intestinal inflammation.
– To strengthen the nervous system; to combat stress and anxiety.
– Asthma.
– Eczema when applied topically.
– For anaemia.
– Arteriosclerosis, heart attack, hypertension and excess of cholesterol.
-For problems in the kidney and bladder and urinary infections.
– To revitalize tissues.

Bee Culture, Apiculture.

By Ricardo Canto and Delfina Heskett.

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Thriving as co-creators, bees follow natures rhythms. Much has been written about bees, as they are held responsible for the pollination of all flowering plants, including the ones we live off.

Their harmonious existence with all there is, makes a wonderful example of true unity for the perpetuation of the wheel of life. Taking this into consideration it is no surprise that the bee, throughout time, is considered an animal of great power ,symbolizing unity, fertility, diligence and responsibility.

Working at a constant buzz you find them spreading that love of life throughout their species, as their work is of benefit for all beings. From them, amongst other things, we can learn to group forming community; which they collectively support no matter the size. Creating good health, purpose and choices for their members, in an always evolving universe, bees have evolved possessing astounding sense of responsibility and loyalty. Their consciousness is merged with that of the fabric of nature as they display endurance in their endeavours and will create abundance and surplus with their attuned movements.

Bees understand the importance of the collective and will take it on the individuals to see a colony prosper without that destructive sense of competition, that is characteristic in us humans. The bees way of working with each other is a reflection of their movement and sacred geometry within their creations. Us humans have yet a lot to learn about these magical creatures for if we are to evolve our consciousness into a more natural co-creation sense of understanding, which will transform in a more holistic way of living as we merge with that which surrounds us, Nature itself .

Observing in bees that display of qualities, gives us the understanding that the individual holds all the keys to the collective hive, for it supports it, and vice versa, inspiring us to be greater than oneself, for the benefit of oneself and others. After all isn’t it our interest and attention as individuals that form part of an inherent collective to be at one with it and let it be at one with us, in this ever-expanding co -creation called life? We say, let nature run her course, as it always leads by example.