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.
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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.

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